May take a blemish from the breath of love,
And bear the blight for ever.
I have wept
With gladness at the gift of this fair child !
My life is bound up in her. But, God !
A "CHILD TIRED OF PLAY." 73
Thou know st how heavily my heart at times
Bears its sweet burthen ; and if Thou hast given
To nurture such as mine this spotless flower,
To bring it unpolluted unto Thee,
Take Thou its love, I pray thee ! Give it light
Though, following the sun, it turn from me !
But, by the chord thus wrung, and by the light
Shining about her, draw me to my child !
And link us close, God, when near to heaven !
ON THE PICTURE OF A "CHILD TIRED
TIRED of play ! Tired of play !
What hast thou done this livelong day !
The birds are silent, and so is the bee ;
The sun is creeping up steeple and tree ;
The doves have flown to the sheltering eaves,
And the nests are dark with the drooping leaves ;
Twilight gathers, and day is done
How hast thou spent it restless one ?
Playing 1 But what hast thou done beside
To tell thy mother at eventide ?
What promise of morn is left unbroken ?
What kind word to thy playmate spoken ?
Whom hast thou pitied, and whom forgiven 1
How with thy faults has duty striven ?
What hast thou learn d by field and hill,
By greenwood path, and by singing rill ?
There will come an eve to a longer day,
That will find thee tired but not of play !
74 TO A CITY PIGEON.
And thou wilt lean, as thou leanest now,
With drooping limbs and aching brow,
And wish the shadows would faster creep,
And long to go to thy quiet sleep.
Well were it then if thine aching brow
Were as free from sin and shame as now !
Well for thee if thy lip could tell
A tale like this, of a day spent well.
If thine open hand hath relieved distress
If thy pity hath sprung to wretchedness
If thou hast forgiven the sore offence,
And humbled thy heart with penitence
If Nature s voices have spoken to thee
With her holy meanings eloquently
If every creature hath won thy love,
From the creeping worm to the brooding dove
If never a sad, low- spoken word
Hath pled with thy human heart unheard-
Then, when the night steals on, as now,
It will bring relief to thine aching brow,
And, with joy and peace at the thought of rest,
Thou wilt sink to sleep on thy mother s breast.
TO A CITY PIGEON.
STOOP to my window, thou beautiful dove !
Thy daily visits have touch d my love ;
I watch thy coming, and list the note
That stirs so low in thy mellow throat,
And my joy is high
To catch the glance of thy gentle eye.
TO A CITY PIGEON. 75
Why dost thou sit on the heated eaves,
And forsake the wood with its freshen d leaves ?
Why dost thou haunt the sultry street,
When the paths of the forest are cool and sweet ?
How canst thou bear
This noise of people this sultry air ]
Thou alone of the feather d race
Dost looked unscared on the human face ;
Thou alone, with a wing to flee,
Dost love with man in his haunts to be ;
And the " gentle dove "
Has become a name for trust and love.
A holy gift is thine, sweet bird !
Thou rt named with childhood s earliest word !
Thou rt link d with all that is fresh and wild
In the prison d thoughts of the city child ;
And thy glossy wings
Are its brightest image of moving things.
It is no light chance. Thou art set apart,
Wisely by Him who has tamed thy heart.
To stir the love for the bright and fair
That else were seal d in this crowded air ;
I sometimes dream
Angelic rays from thy pinions stream.
Come then, ever, when daylight leaves
The page I read, to my humble eaves,
And wash thy breast in the hollow spout,
And murmur thy low sweet music out !
I hear and see
Lessons of heaven, sweet bird, in thee !
76 A CHILD S FIRST IMPRESSION OF A STAR.
A CHILD S FIRST IMPRESSION OF A STAR.
SHE had been told that God made all the stars
That twinkled up in heaven, and now she stood
Watching the coming of the twilight on,
As if it were a new and perfect world,
And this were its first eve. She stood alone
By the low window, with the silken lash
Of her soft eye upraised, and her sweet mouth
Half parted with the new and strange delight
Of beauty that she could not comprehend,
And had not seen before. The purple folds
Of the low sunset clouds, and the blue sky
That look d so still and delicate above,
Fill d her young heart with gladness, and the eve
Stole on with its deep shadows, and she still
Stood looking at the west with that half smile,
As if a pleasant thought were at her heart.
Presently, in the edge of the last tint
Of sunset, where the blue was melted in
To the faint golden mellowness, a star
Stood suddenly. A laugh of wild delight
Burst from her lips, and putting up her hands,
Her simple thought broke forth expressively
" Father ! dear father ! God has made a star ! "
LINES ON LEAVING EUROPE. 77
LINES ON LEAVING EUROPE.
BRIGHT flag at yonder tapering mast !
Fling out your field of azure blue ;
Let star and stripe be westward cast,
And point as Freedom s eagle flew !
Strain home ! lithe and quivering spars !
Point home, my country s flag of stars !
The wind blows fair ! the vessel feels
The pressure of the rising breeze,
And, swiftest of a thousand keels,
She leaps to the careering seas !
Oh, fair, fair cloud of snowy sail,
In whose white breast I seem to lie,
How oft, when blew this eastern gale,
I ve seen your semblance in the sky,
And long d with breaking heart to flee
On cloud-like pinions o er the sea !
Adieu ! lands of fame and eld !
I turn to watch our foamy track,
And thoughts with which I first beheld
Yon clouded line come hurrying back ;
My lips are dry with vague desire,
My cheek once more is hot with joy
My pulse, my brain, my soul on fire !
Oh, what has changed that traveller- boy 1
As leaves the ship this dying foam,
His visions fade behind his weary heart speeds home
Adieu ! O soft and southern shore.
Where dwelt the stars long mijss d in heaven
78 LINES ON LEAVING EUROPE.
Those forms of beauty seen no more,
Yet once to Art s rapt vision given !
Oh, still th enamour d sun delays,
And pries through fount and crumbling fane,
To win to his adoring gaze
Those children of the sky again !
Irradiate beauty, such as never
That light on other earth hath shone,
Hath made this land her home for ever ;
And could I live for this alone
Were not my birthright brighter far
Than such voluptuous slaves can be
Held not the West one glorious star,
New-born and blazing for the free
Soar d not to heaven our eagle yet
Rome, with her Helot sons, should teach me to forget !
Adieu ! O fatherland ! I see
Your white cliffs on th 5 horizon s rim,
And though to freer skies I flee,
My heart swells, and my eyes are dim !
As knows the dove the task you give her,
When loosed upon a foreign shore
As spreads the raindrop in the river
In which it may have flow d before
To England, over vale and mountain,
My fancy flew from climes more fair
My blood, that knew its parent fountain,
Ran warm and fast in England s air.
Dear mother ! in thy prayer to-night
There come new words and warmer tears !
On long, long darkness breaks the light
Comes home the loved, the lost for years !
LINES ON LEAVING EUROPE. 79
Sleep safe, wave- worn mariner !
Fear not to-night or storm or sea !
The ear of Heaven bends low to her !
He comes to shore who sails with me !
The spider knows the roof unriven,
While swings his web, though lightnings blaze
And by a thread still fast on Heaven,
I know my mother lives and prays !
Dear mother ! when our lips can speak
When first our tears will let us see
When I can gaze upon thy cheek,
And thou, with thy dear eyes, on me
Twill be a pastime little sad
To trace what weight Time s heavy fingers
Upon each other s forms have had
For all may flee, so feeling lingers !
But there s a change, beloved mother !
To stir far deeper thoughts of thine ;
I come, but with me comes another
To share the heart once only mine !
Thou, on whose thoughts, when sad and lonely,
One star arose in memory s heaven
Thou, who hast watch d one treasure only
Water d one flower with tears at even
Room in thy heart ! The hearth she left
Is darken d to lend light to ours !
There are bright flowers of care bereft,
And hearts that languish more than flowers !
She was their light their very air
Room, mother, in thy heart ! place for her in thy prayer !
8o DEPARTURE OF REV. MR. WHITE.
ON THE DEPARTURE OF REV. MR. WHITE
FROM HIS PARISH,
WHEN CHOSEN PRESIDENT OF WABASH COLLEGE.
LEAVE us not, man of prayer ! Like Paul, hast thou
" Served God with all humility of mind,"
Dwelling among us, and " with many tears,"
" From house to house," " by night and day not ceasing,"
Hast pleaded thy blest errand. Leave us not !
Leave us not now ! The Sabbath-bell, so long
Link d with thy voice the prelude to thy prayer
The call to us from heaven to come with thee
Into the house of God, and, from thy lips,
Hear what had fall n upon thy heart will sound
Lonely and mournfully when thou art gone !
Our prayers are in thy words our hope in Christ
Warm d on thy lips our darkling thoughts of God
Follow d thy loved call upward and so knit
Is all our worship with those outspread hands,
And the imploring voice, which, well we knew,
Sank in the ear of Jesus that, with thee,
The angel s ladder seems removed from sight,
And we astray in darkness ! Leave us not 1
Leave not the dead ! They have lain calmly down
Thy comfort in their ears believing well
That when thine own more holy work was done,
Thou wouldst lie down beside them, and be near
When the last trump shall summon, to fold up
Thy flock affrighted, and, with that same voice
Whose whisper d promises could sweeten death,
Take up once more the interrupted strain,
And wait Christ s coming, saying, " Here am I,
DEPARTURE OF REV. MR. WHITE. Si
And those whom Thou hast given me ! " Leave not
The old, who, mid the gathering shadows, cling
To their accustom d staff, and know not how
To lose thee, and so near the darkest hour !
Leave not the penitent, whose soul may be
Deaf to the strange voice, but awake to thine !
Leave not the mourner thou hast sooth d the heart
Turns to its comforter again ! Leave not
The child thou hast baptized ! another s care
May not keep bright, upon the mother s heart,
The covenant seal ; the infant s ear has caught
Words it has strangely ponder d from thy lips,
And the remember d tone may find again,
And quicken for the harvest, the first seed
Sown for eternity ! Leave not the child !
Yet, if thou wilt if, " bound in spirit," thou
Must go, and we shall see thy face no more,
" The will of God be clone ! " We do not say
Remember us : thou wilt in love and prayer !
And thou wilt be remember d by the dead,
When the last trump awakes them by the old,
When of the " silver cord," whose strength thou knowest,
The last thread fails by the bereaved arid stricken,
When the dark cloud, wherein thou found st a spot
Broke by the light of mercy, lowers again
By the sad mother, pleading for her child,
In murmurs difficult, since thou art gone
By all thou leavest, when the Sabbath- bell
Brings us together, and the closing hymn
Hushes our hearts to pray, and thy loved voice,
That all our wants had grown to, (only thus,
Twould seem, articulate to God,) falls not
Upon our listening ears. Remember d thus
Remember d well in all our holiest hours
82 A TRUE INCIDENT.
Will be the faithful shepherd we have lost !
And ever with one prayer, for which our love
Will find the pleading words, that in the light
Of heaven we may behold his face once more 1
A TRUE INCIDENT.
UPON a summer s morn, a Southern mother
Sat at the curtain d window of an inn.
She rested from long travel, and, with hand
Upon her cheek in tranquil happiness,
Look d where the busy travellers went and came ;
And, like the shadows of the swallows flying
Over the bosom of unruffled water,
Pass d from her thoughts all objects, leaving there,
As in the water s breast, a mirror d heaven
For, in the porch beneath her, to and fro,
A nurse walk d singing with her babe in arms.
And many a passer-by look d on the child
And praised its wondrous beauty ; but still on
The old nurse troll d her lullaby, and still,
Blest through her depths of soul by light there shining,
The mother in her reverie mused on.
But lo ! another traveller alighted !
And now, no more indifferent or calm,
The mother s breath comes quick, and, with the blood
Warm in her cheek and brow, she murmurs low,
u Now, God be praised ! I am no more alone
In knowing I ve an angel for my child,
Chance he to look on t only ! " With a smile
The tribute of a beauty-loving heart
To things from God new-moulded would have pass d
The poet, as the infant caught his eye ;
A TRUE INCIDENT. 83
But suddenly he turn d, and, with his hand
Upon the nurse s arm, he stay d her steps,
And gazed upon her burthen. Twas a child
In whose large eyes of blue there shone, indeed,
Something to waken wonder. Never sky
In noontide depth or softly-breaking dawn
Never the dew in new-born violet s cup,
Lay so entranced in purity ! Not calm,
With the mere hush of infancy at rest,
The ample forehead, but serene with thought ;
And by the rapt expression of the lips,
They seemed scarce still from a cherubic hymn :
And over all its countenance there breathed
Benignity, majestic as we dream
Angels wear ever before God. With gaze
Earnest and mournful, and his eyelids warm
With tears kept back, the poet kiss d the child ;
And chasten d at his heart, as having pass d
Close to an angel, went upon his way.
Soon after, to the broken choir in heaven
This cherub was recall d, and now the mother
Bethought her, in her anguish, of the bard
(Herself a far-off stranger, but his heart
Familiar to the world,) and wrote to tell him,
The angel he had recognised that morn
Had fled to bliss again. The poet well
Remember d that child s ministry to him ;
And of the only fountain that he knew
For healing, he sought comfort for the mother.
And thus he wrote :
Mourn not for the child from thy tenderness riven,
Ere stain on its purity fell !
To thy questioning heart, lot an answer from heaven :
" IS IT WELL WITH THE CHILD ? " " IT IS WELL ! "
84 BIRTHDAY VERSES.
" The heart that we have lain near before our birth, is the only one that
cannot forget that it has loved us." PHILIP SLIXGSBY.
MY birthday ! beloved mother !
My heart is with thee o er the seas.
I did not think to count another
Before I wept upon thy knees
Before this scroll of absent years
Was blotted with thy streaming tears.
My own I do not care to check.
I weep albeit here alone
As if I hung upon thy neck,
As if thy lips were on my own,
As if this full, sad heart of mine
Were beating closely upon thine.
Four weary years ! How looks she now 1
What light is in those tender eyes ?
What trace of time has touch d the brow
Whose look is borrow d of the skies
That listen to her nightly prayer ?
How is she changed since he was there ?
Who sleeps upon her heart alway
Whose name upon her lips is worn
For whom the night seems made to pray
For whom she wakes to pray at morn
Whose sight is dim, whose heart-strings stir
Who weeps these tears to think of her !
BIRTHDAY VERSES. 85
I know not if my mother s eyes
Would find me changed in slighter things;
I ve wander d beneath many skies,
And tasted of some bitter springs ;
And many leaves, once fair and gay,
From youth s full flower have dropp d away
But, as these looser leaves depart,
The lessen d flower gets near the core,
And, when deserted quite, the heart
Takes closer what was dear of yore
And yearns to those who loved it first
The sunshine and the dew by which its bud was nursed.
Dear mother ! dost thou love me yet 1
Am I remember d in my home ?
When those I love for joy are met,
Does some one wish that I would come ?
Thou dost I am beloved of these !
But, as the schoolboy numbers o er
Night after night the Pleiades
And finds the stars he found before
As turns the maiden oft her token
As counts the miser aye his gold
So, till life s silver cord is broken,
Would I of thy fond love be told.
My heart is full, mine eyes are wet
Dear mother! dost thou love thy long-lost wanderer
Oh ! when the hour to meet again
Creeps on and, speeding o er the sea,
My heart takes up its lengthen d chain,
And link by link draws nearer thee
When land is hail d, and from the shore
Comes off the blessed breath of home,
86 SA TURD A Y A FTERNOON.
With fragrance from my mother s door
Of flowers forgotten when I come
When port is gain d, and, slowly now,
The old familiar paths are pass d,
And, entering unconscious how
I gaze upon thy face at last,
And run to thee, all faint and weak,
And feel thy tears upon my cheek
Oh ! if my heart break not with joy,
The light of heaven will fairer seem ;
And I shall grow once more a boy :
And, mother ! twill be like a dream
That we were parted thus for years
And, once that we have dried our tears,
How will the days seem long and bright
To meet thee always with the morn,
And hear thy blessing every night
Thy " dearest," thy " first-born ! "
And be no more, as now, in a strange land forlorn !
[Written for a Picture. ]
I LOVE to look on a scene like this,
Of wild and careless play,
And persuade myself that I am not old,
And my locks are not yet grey ;
For it stirs the blood in an old man s heart,
And makes his pulses fly,
To catch the thrill of a happy voice,
And the light of a pleasant eye.
REVERIE AT GLEN MARY. 87
I have walk d the world for fourscore years ;
And they say that I am old,
That my heart is ripe for the reaper, Death,
And my years are well-nigh told.
It is very true it is very true ;
I m old, and " I bide my time : "
But my heart will leap at a scene like this,
And I half renew my prime.
Play on, play on ; I am with you there,
In the midst of your merry ring ;
I can feel the thrill of the daring jump,
And the rush of the breathless swing.
I hide with you in the fragrant hay,
And I whoop the smother d call,
And my feet slip up on the seedy floor,
And I care not for the fall.
I am willing to die when my time shall come,
And I shall be glad to go ;
For the world at best is a weary place,
And my pulse is getting low ;
But the grave is dark, and the heart will fail
In treading its gloomy way ;
And it wiles my heart from its dreariness
To see the young so gay.
REVERIE AT GLEN MARY.
I HAVE enough, O God ! My heart to-night
Runs over with its fulness of content ;
And as I look out on the fragrant stars,
And from the beauty of the night take in
88 REVERIE AT GLEN MARY.
My priceless portion yet myself no more
Than in the universe a grain of sand
I feel His glory who could make a world,
Yet in the lost depths of the wilderness
Leave not a flower unfinish d !
Rich, though poor !
My low-roof d cottage is this hour a heaven.
Music is in it and the song she sings,
That sweet- voiced wife of mine, arrests the ear
Of my young child awake upon her knee ;
And with his calm eye on his master s face,
My noble hound lies couchant and all here
All in this little home, yet boundless heaven
Are, in such love as I have power to give,
Blessed to overflowing.
Thou, who look st
Upon my brimming heart this tranquil eve,
Knowest its fulness, as Thou dost the dew
Sent to the hidden violet by Thee ;
And, as that flower, from its unseen abode,
Sends its sweet breath up, duly, to the sky,
Changing its gift to incense, so, God !
May the sweet drops that to my humble cup
Find their far way from heaven, send up, to Thee,
Fragrance at Thy throne welcome !
From a Poem delivered at the Departure of the Senior Class of
Yale College in 1827.
WE shall go forth together. There will come
Alike the day of trial unto all,
And the rude world will buffet us alike.
Temptation hath a music for all ears ;
And mad ambition trumpeteth to all ;
And the ungovernable thought within
Will be in every bosom eloquent ;
But when the silence and the calm come on,
And the high seal of character is set,
We shall not all be similar. The flow
Of lifetime is a graduated scale ;
And deeper than the vanities of power,
Or the vain pomp of glory, there is writ
A standard measuring its worth for heaven.
The pathway to the grave may be the same,
And the proud man shall tread it, and the low,
With his bow d head, shall bear him company.
Decay will make no difference, and Death,
With his cold hand, shall make no difference ;
And there will be no precedence of power
In waking at the coming trump of God ;
9 2 COLLEGE POEMS.
But in the temper of the invisible mind,
The godlike and undying intellect,
There are distinctions that will live in heaven,
When time is a forgotten circumstance !
The elevated brow of kings will lose
The impress of regalia, and the slave
Will wear his immortality as free,
Beside the crystal waters ; but the depth
Of glory in the attributes of God
Will measure the capacities of mind ;
And as the angels differ, will the ken
Of gifted spirits glorify him more.
It is life s mystery. The soul of man
Createth its own destiny of power ;
And, as the trial is intenser here,
His being hath a nobler strength in heaven.
What is its earthly victory 1 Press on !
For it hath tempted angels. Yet press on !
For it shall make you mighty among men ;
And from the eyrie of your eagle thought,
Ye shall look down on monarchs. Oh, press on !
For the high ones and powerful shall come
To do you reverence, and the beautiful
Will know the purer language of your brow,
And read it like a talisman of love !
Press on ! for it is godlike to unloose
The spirit, and forget yourself in thought ;
Bending a pinion for the deeper sky,
And, in the very fetters of your flesh,
Mating with the pure essences of heaven !
Press on ! " for in the grave there is no work,
And no device." Press on ! while yet ye may !
So lives the soul of man. Tt is the thirst
COLLEGE POEMS. 93
Of his immortal nature ; and he rends
The rock for secret fountains, and pursues
The path of the illimitable wind
For mysteries and this is human pride !
There is a gentler element, and man
May breathe it with a calm, unruffled soul,
And drink its living waters till his heart
Is pure and this is human happiness !
Its secret and its evidence are writ
In the broad book of Nature. Tis to have
Attentive and believing faculties;
To go abroad rejoicing in the joy
Of beautiful and well-created things ;
To love the voice of waters, and the sheen
Of silver fountains leaping to the sea ;
To thrill with the rich melody of birds,
Living their life of music ; to be glad
In the gay sunshine, reverent in the storm ;
To see a beauty in the stirring leaf,
And find calm thoughts beneath the whispering tree ;
To see, and hear, and breathe the evidence
Of God s deep wisdom in the natural world !
It is to linger on " the magic face
Of human beauty," and from light and shade
Alike to draw a lesson ; tis to love
The cadences of voices that are tuned
By majesty and purity of thought ;
To gaze on woman s beauty, as a star
Whose purity and distance make it fair \
And in the gush of music to be still,
And feel that it has purified the heart !
It is to love all virtue for itself,
All nature for its breathing evidence ;
And, when the eye hath seen, and when the ear
Hath drunk the beautiful harmony of the world,
94 COLLEGE POEMS.
It is to humble the imperfect mind,
And lean the broken spirit upon God !
Thus would I, at this parting hour, be true
To the great moral of a passing world.
Thus would I like a just- departing child,
Who lingers on the threshold of his home
Remember the best lesson of the lips
Whose accents shall be with us now, no more !
And I would press the lesson ; that, when life
Hath half become a weariness, and hope
Thirsts for serener waters, go abroad
Upon the paths of Nature, and, when all
Its voices whisper, and its silent things
Are breathing the deep beauty of the world,
Kneel at its simple altar, and the God
Who hath the living waters shall be there !
From a Poem delivered at Brown University in 1830.
WHAT is ambition ? Tis a glorious cheat !
Angels of light walk not so dazzlingly
The sapphire walls of heaven. The unsearch d mine
Hath not such gems. Earth s constellated thrones