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Best Famous Baptism Poems

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by Derek Walcott | |

A Citys Death By Fire

 After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales, Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar; Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails? In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths; To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails, Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

by John Milton | |

Paradise Regained: The Second Book

 Meanwhile the new-baptized, who yet remained
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly called
Jesus Messiah, Son of God, declared,
And on that high authority had believed,
And with him talked, and with him lodged—I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known,
With others, though in Holy Writ not named—
Now missing him, their joy so lately found,
So lately found and so abruptly gone, 
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
And, as the days increased, increased their doubt.
Sometimes they thought he might be only shewn, And for a time caught up to God, as once Moses was in the Mount and missing long, And the great Thisbite, who on fiery wheels Rode up to Heaven, yet once again to come.
Therefore, as those young prophets then with care Sought lost Eliah, so in each place these Nigh to Bethabara—in Jericho The city of palms, AEnon, and Salem old, Machaerus, and each town or city walled On this side the broad lake Genezaret, Or in Peraea—but returned in vain.
Then on the bank of Jordan, by a creek, Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering play, Plain fishermen (no greater men them call), Close in a cottage low together got, Their unexpected loss and plaints outbreathed:— "Alas, from what high hope to what relapse Unlooked for are we fallen! Our eyes beheld Messiah certainly now come, so long Expected of our fathers; we have heard His words, his wisdom full of grace and truth.
'Now, now, for sure, deliverance is at hand; The kingdom shall to Israel be restored:' Thus we rejoiced, but soon our joy is turned Into perplexity and new amaze.
For whither is he gone? what accident Hath rapt him from us? will he now retire After appearance, and again prolong Our expectation? God of Israel, Send thy Messiah forth; the time is come.
Behold the kings of the earth, how they oppress Thy Chosen, to what highth their power unjust They have exalted, and behind them cast All fear of Thee; arise, and vindicate Thy glory; free thy people from their yoke! But let us wait; thus far He hath performed— Sent his Anointed, and to us revealed him By his great Prophet pointed at and shown In public, and with him we have conversed.
Let us be glad of this, and all our fears Lay on his providence; He will not fail, Nor will withdraw him now, nor will recall— Mock us with his blest sight, then snatch him hence: Soon we shall see our hope, our joy, return.
" Thus they out of their plaints new hope resume To find whom at the first they found unsought.
But to his mother Mary, when she saw Others returned from baptism, not her Son, Nor left at Jordan tidings of him none, Within her breast though calm, her breast though pure, Motherly cares and fears got head, and raised Some troubled thoughts, which she in sighs thus clad:— "Oh, what avails me now that honour high, To have conceived of God, or that salute, 'Hail, highly favoured, among women blest!' While I to sorrows am no less advanced, And fears as eminent above the lot Of other women, by the birth I bore: In such a season born, when scarce a shed Could be obtained to shelter him or me From the bleak air? A stable was our warmth, A manger his; yet soon enforced to fly Thence into Egypt, till the murderous king Were dead, who sought his life, and, missing, filled With infant blood the streets of Bethlehem.
From Egypt home returned, in Nazareth Hath been our dwelling many years; his life Private, unactive, calm, contemplative, Little suspicious to any king.
But now, Full grown to man, acknowledged, as I hear, By John the Baptist, and in public shewn, Son owned from Heaven by his Father's voice, I looked for some great change.
To honour? no; But trouble, as old Simeon plain foretold, That to the fall and rising he should be Of many in Israel, and to a sign Spoken against—that through my very soul A sword shall pierce.
This is my favoured lot, My exaltation to afflictions high! Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blest! I will not argue that, nor will repine.
But where delays he now? Some great intent Conceals him.
When twelve years he scarce had seen, I lost him, but so found as well I saw He could not lose himself, but went about His Father's business.
What he meant I mused— Since understand; much more his absence now Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
But I to wait with patience am inured; My heart hath been a storehouse long of things And sayings laid up, pretending strange events.
" Thus Mary, pondering oft, and oft to mind Recalling what remarkably had passed Since first her Salutation heard, with thoughts Meekly composed awaited the fulfilling: The while her Son, tracing the desert wild, Sole, but with holiest meditations fed, Into himself descended, and at once All his great work to come before him set— How to begin, how to accomplish best His end of being on Earth, and mission high.
For Satan, with sly preface to return, Had left him vacant, and with speed was gone Up to the middle region of thick air, Where all his Potentates in council sate.
There, without sign of boast, or sign of joy, Solicitous and blank, he thus began:— "Princes, Heaven's ancient Sons, AEthereal Thrones— Daemonian Spirits now, from the element Each of his reign allotted, rightlier called Powers of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth beneath (So may we hold our place and these mild seats Without new trouble!)—such an enemy Is risen to invade us, who no less Threatens than our expulsion down to Hell.
I, as I undertook, and with the vote Consenting in full frequence was impowered, Have found him, viewed him, tasted him; but find Far other labour to be undergone Than when I dealt with Adam, first of men, Though Adam by his wife's allurement fell, However to this Man inferior far— If he be Man by mother's side, at least With more than human gifts from Heaven adorned, Perfections absolute, graces divine, And amplitude of mind to greatest deeds.
Therefore I am returned, lest confidence Of my success with Eve in Paradise Deceive ye to persuasion over-sure Of like succeeding here.
I summon all Rather to be in readiness with hand Or counsel to assist, lest I, who erst Thought none my equal, now be overmatched.
" So spake the old Serpent, doubting, and from all With clamour was assured their utmost aid At his command; when from amidst them rose Belial, the dissolutest Spirit that fell, The sensualest, and, after Asmodai, The fleshliest Incubus, and thus advised:— "Set women in his eye and in his walk, Among daughters of men the fairest found.
Many are in each region passing fair As the noon sky, more like to goddesses Than mortal creatures, graceful and discreet, Expert in amorous arts, enchanting tongues Persuasive, virgin majesty with mild And sweet allayed, yet terrible to approach, Skilled to retire, and in retiring draw Hearts after them tangled in amorous nets.
Such object hath the power to soften and tame Severest temper, smooth the rugged'st brow, Enerve, and with voluptuous hope dissolve, Draw out with credulous desire, and lead At will the manliest, resolutest breast, As the magnetic hardest iron draws.
Women, when nothing else, beguiled the heart Of wisest Solomon, and made him build, And made him bow, to the gods of his wives.
" To whom quick answer Satan thus returned:— "Belial, in much uneven scale thou weigh'st All others by thyself.
Because of old Thou thyself doat'st on womankind, admiring Their shape, their colour, and attractive grace, None are, thou think'st, but taken with such toys.
Before the Flood, thou, with thy lusty crew, False titled Sons of God, roaming the Earth, Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men, And coupled with them, and begot a race.
Have we not seen, or by relation heard, In courts and regal chambers how thou lurk'st, In wood or grove, by mossy fountain-side, In valley or green meadow, to waylay Some beauty rare, Calisto, Clymene, Daphne, or Semele, Antiopa, Or Amymone, Syrinx, many more Too long—then lay'st thy scapes on names adored, Apollo, Neptune, Jupiter, or Pan, Satyr, or Faun, or Silvan? But these haunts Delight not all.
Among the sons of men How many have with a smile made small account Of beauty and her lures, easily scorned All her assaults, on worthier things intent! Remember that Pellean conqueror, A youth, how all the beauties of the East He slightly viewed, and slightly overpassed; How he surnamed of Africa dismissed, In his prime youth, the fair Iberian maid.
For Solomon, he lived at ease, and, full Of honour, wealth, high fare, aimed not beyond Higher design than to enjoy his state; Thence to the bait of women lay exposed.
But he whom we attempt is wiser far Than Solomon, of more exalted mind, Made and set wholly on the accomplishment Of greatest things.
What woman will you find, Though of this age the wonder and the fame, On whom his leisure will voutsafe an eye Of fond desire? Or should she, confident, As sitting queen adored on Beauty's throne, Descend with all her winning charms begirt To enamour, as the zone of Venus once Wrought that effect on Jove (so fables tell), How would one look from his majestic brow, Seated as on the top of Virtue's hill, Discountenance her despised, and put to rout All her array, her female pride deject, Or turn to reverent awe! For Beauty stands In the admiration only of weak minds Led captive; cease to admire, and all her plumes Fall flat, and shrink into a trivial toy, At every sudden slighting quite abashed.
Therefore with manlier objects we must try His constancy—with such as have more shew Of worth, of honour, glory, and popular praise (Rocks whereon greatest men have oftest wrecked); Or that which only seems to satisfy Lawful desires of nature, not beyond.
And now I know he hungers, where no food Is to be found, in the wide Wilderness: The rest commit to me; I shall let pass No advantage, and his strength as oft assay.
" He ceased, and heard their grant in loud acclaim; Then forthwith to him takes a chosen band Of Spirits likest to himself in guile, To be at hand and at his beck appear, If cause were to unfold some active scene Of various persons, each to know his part; Then to the desert takes with these his flight, Where still, from shade to shade, the Son of God, After forty days' fasting, had remained, Now hungering first, and to himself thus said:— "Where will this end? Four times ten days I have passed Wandering this woody maze, and human food Nor tasted, nor had appetite.
That fast To virtue I impute not, or count part Of what I suffer here.
If nature need not, Or God support nature without repast, Though needing, what praise is it to endure? But now I feel I hunger; which declares Nature hath need of what she asks.
Yet God Can satisfy that need some other way, Though hunger still remain.
So it remain Without this body's wasting, I content me, And from the sting of famine fear no harm; Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts, that feed Me hungering more to do my Father's will.
" It was the hour of night, when thus the Son Communed in silent walk, then laid him down Under the hospitable covert nigh Of trees thick interwoven.
There he slept, And dreamed, as appetite is wont to dream, Of meats and drinks, nature's refreshment sweet.
Him thought he by the brook of Cherith stood, And saw the ravens with their horny beaks Food to Elijah bringing even and morn— Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they brought; He saw the Prophet also, how he fled Into the desert, and how there he slept Under a juniper—then how, awaked, He found his supper on the coals prepared, And by the Angel was bid rise and eat, And eat the second time after repose, The strength whereof sufficed him forty days: Sometimes that with Elijah he partook, Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse.
Thus wore out night; and now the harald Lark Left his ground-nest, high towering to descry The Morn's approach, and greet her with his song.
As lightly from his grassy couch up rose Our Saviour, and found all was but a dream; Fasting he went to sleep, and fasting waked.
Up to a hill anon his steps he reared, From whose high top to ken the prospect round, If cottage were in view, sheep-cote, or herd; But cottage, herd, or sheep-cote, none he saw— Only in a bottom saw a pleasant grove, With chaunt of tuneful birds resounding loud.
Thither he bent his way, determined there To rest at noon, and entered soon the shade High-roofed, and walks beneath, and alleys brown, That opened in the midst a woody scene; Nature's own work it seemed (Nature taught Art), And, to a superstitious eye, the haunt Of wood-gods and wood-nymphs.
He viewed it round; When suddenly a man before him stood, Not rustic as before, but seemlier clad, As one in city or court or palace bred, And with fair speech these words to him addressed:— "With granted leave officious I return, But much more wonder that the Son of God In this wild solitude so long should bide, Of all things destitute, and, well I know, Not without hunger.
Others of some note, As story tells, have trod this wilderness: The fugitive Bond-woman, with her son, Outcast Nebaioth, yet found here relief By a providing Angel; all the race Of Israel here had famished, had not God Rained from heaven manna; and that Prophet bold, Native of Thebez, wandering here, was fed Twice by a voice inviting him to eat.
Of thee those forty days none hath regard, Forty and more deserted here indeed.
" To whom thus Jesus:—"What conclud'st thou hence? They all had need; I, as thou seest, have none.
" "How hast thou hunger then?" Satan replied.
"Tell me, if food were now before thee set, Wouldst thou not eat?" "Thereafter as I like the giver," answered Jesus.
"Why should that Cause thy refusal?" said the subtle Fiend.
"Hast thou not right to all created things? Owe not all creatures, by just right, to thee Duty and service, nor to stay till bid, But tender all their power? Nor mention I Meats by the law unclean, or offered first To idols—those young Daniel could refuse; Nor proffered by an enemy—though who Would scruple that, with want oppressed? Behold, Nature ashamed, or, better to express, Troubled, that thou shouldst hunger, hath purveyed From all the elements her choicest store, To treat thee as beseems, and as her Lord With honour.
Only deign to sit and eat.
" He spake no dream; for, as his words had end, Our Saviour, lifting up his eyes, beheld, In ample space under the broadest shade, A table richly spread in regal mode, With dishes piled and meats of noblest sort And savour—beasts of chase, or fowl of game, In pastry built, or from the spit, or boiled, Grisamber-steamed; all fish, from sea or shore, Freshet or purling brook, of shell or fin, And exquisitest name, for which was drained Pontus, and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast.
Alas! how simple, to these cates compared, Was that crude Apple that diverted Eve! And at a stately sideboard, by the wine, That fragrant smell diffused, in order stood Tall stripling youths rich-clad, of fairer hue Than Ganymed or Hylas; distant more, Under the trees now tripped, now solemn stood, Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn, And ladies of the Hesperides, that seemed Fairer than feigned of old, or fabled since Of faery damsels met in forest wide By knights of Logres, or of Lyones, Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore.
And all the while harmonious airs were heard Of chiming strings or charming pipes; and winds Of gentlest gale Arabian odours fanned From their soft wings, and Flora's earliest smells.
Such was the splendour; and the Tempter now His invitation earnestly renewed:— "What doubts the Son of God to sit and eat? These are not fruits forbidden; no interdict Defends the touching of these viands pure; Their taste no knowledge works, at least of evil, But life preserves, destroys life's enemy, Hunger, with sweet restorative delight.
All these are Spirits of air, and woods, and springs, Thy gentle ministers, who come to pay Thee homage, and acknowledge thee their Lord.
What doubt'st thou, Son of God? Sit down and eat.
" To whom thus Jesus temperately replied:— "Said'st thou not that to all things I had right? And who withholds my power that right to use? Shall I receive by gift what of my own, When and where likes me best, I can command? I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou, Command a table in this wilderness, And call swift flights of Angels ministrant, Arrayed in glory, on my cup to attend: Why shouldst thou, then, obtrude this diligence In vain, where no acceptance it can find? And with my hunger what hast thou to do? Thy pompous delicacies I contemn, And count thy specious gifts no gifts, but guiles.
" To whom thus answered Satan, male-content:— "That I have also power to give thou seest; If of that power I bring thee voluntary What I might have bestowed on whom I pleased, And rather opportunely in this place Chose to impart to thy apparent need, Why shouldst thou not accept it? But I see What I can do or offer is suspect.
Of these things others quickly will dispose, Whose pains have earned the far-fet spoil.
" With that Both table and provision vanished quite, With sound of harpies' wings and talons heard; Only the importune Tempter still remained, And with these words his temptation pursued:— "By hunger, that each other creature tames, Thou art not to be harmed, therefore not moved; Thy temperance, invincible besides, For no allurement yields to appetite; And all thy heart is set on high designs, High actions.
But wherewith to be achieved? Great acts require great means of enterprise; Thou art unknown, unfriended, low of birth, A carpenter thy father known, thyself Bred up in poverty and straits at home, Lost in a desert here and hunger-bit.
Which way, or from what hope, dost thou aspire To greatness? whence authority deriv'st? What followers, what retinue canst thou gain, Or at thy heels the dizzy multitude, Longer than thou canst feed them on thy cost? Money brings honour, friends, conquest, and realms.
What raised Antipater the Edomite, And his son Herod placed on Juda's throne, Thy throne, but gold, that got him puissant friends? Therefore, if at great things thou wouldst arrive, Get riches first, get wealth, and treasure heap— Not difficult, if thou hearken to me.
Riches are mine, fortune is in my hand; They whom I favour thrive in wealth amain, While virtue, valour, wisdom, sit in want.
" To whom thus Jesus patiently replied:— "Yet wealth without these three is impotent To gain dominion, or to keep it gained— Witness those ancient empires of the earth, In highth of all their flowing wealth dissolved; But men endued with these have oft attained, In lowest poverty, to highest deeds— Gideon, and Jephtha, and the shepherd lad Whose offspring on the throne of Juda sate So many ages, and shall yet regain That seat, and reign in Israel without end.
Among the Heathen (for throughout the world To me is not unknown what hath been done Worthy of memorial) canst thou not remember Quintius, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus? For I esteem those names of men so poor, Who could do mighty things, and could contemn Riches, though offered from the hand of kings.
And what in me seems wanting but that I May also in this poverty as soon Accomplish what they did, perhaps and more? Extol not riches, then, the toil of fools, The wise man's cumbrance, if not snare; more apt To slacken virtue and abate her edge Than prompt her to do aught may merit praise.
What if with like aversion I reject Riches and realms! Yet not for that a crown, Golden in shew, is but a wreath of thorns, Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and sleepless nights, To him who wears the regal diadem, When on his shoulders each man's burden lies; For therein stands the office of a king, His honour, virtue, merit, and chief praise, That for the public all this weight he bears.
Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king— Which every wise and virtuous man attains; And who attains not, ill aspires to rule Cities of men, or headstrong multitudes, Subject himself to anarchy within, Or lawless passions in him, which he serves.
But to guide nations in the way of truth By saving doctrine, and from error lead To know, and, knowing, worship God aright, Is yet more kingly.
This attracts the soul, Governs the inner man, the nobler part; That other o'er the body only reigns, And oft by force—which to a generous mind So reigning can be no sincere delight.
Besides, to give a kingdom hath been thought Greater and nobler done, and to lay down Far more magnanimous, than to assume.
Riches are needless, then, both for themselves, And for thy reason why they should be sought— To gain a sceptre, oftest better missed.

by John Milton | |

Paradise Regained: The First Book

 I, who erewhile the happy Garden sung
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recovered Paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully tried
Through all temptation, and the Tempter foiled
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste Wilderness.
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious Eremite Into the desert, his victorious field Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire, As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute, And bear through highth or depth of Nature's bounds, With prosperous wing full summed, to tell of deeds Above heroic, though in secret done, And unrecorded left through many an age: Worthy to have not remained so long unsung.
Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand To all baptized.
To his great baptism flocked With awe the regions round, and with them came From Nazareth the son of Joseph deemed To the flood Jordan—came as then obscure, Unmarked, unknown.
But him the Baptist soon Descried, divinely warned, and witness bore As to his worthier, and would have resigned To him his heavenly office.
Nor was long His witness unconfirmed: on him baptized Heaven opened, and in likeness of a Dove The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who, roving still About the world, at that assembly famed Would not be last, and, with the voice divine Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man to whom Such high attest was given a while surveyed With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage, Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air To council summons all his mighty Peers, Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved, A gloomy consistory; and them amidst, With looks aghast and sad, he thus bespake:— "O ancient Powers of Air and this wide World (For much more willingly I mention Air, This our old conquest, than remember Hell, Our hated habitation), well ye know How many ages, as the years of men, This Universe we have possessed, and ruled In manner at our will the affairs of Earth, Since Adam and his facile consort Eve Lost Paradise, deceived by me, though since With dread attending when that fatal wound Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve Upon my head.
Long the decrees of Heaven Delay, for longest time to Him is short; And now, too soon for us, the circling hours This dreaded time have compassed, wherein we Must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound (At least, if so we can, and by the head Broken be not intended all our power To be infringed, our freedom and our being In this fair empire won of Earth and Air)— For this ill news I bring: The Woman's Seed, Destined to this, is late of woman born.
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause; But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying All virtue, grace and wisdom to achieve Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great Prophet, to proclaim His coming, is sent harbinger, who all Invites, and in the consecrated stream Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so Purified to receive him pure, or rather To do him honour as their King.
All come, And he himself among them was baptized— Not thence to be more pure, but to receive The testimony of Heaven, that who he is Thenceforth the nations may not doubt.
I saw The Prophet do him reverence; on him, rising Out of the water, Heaven above the clouds Unfold her crystal doors; thence on his head A perfet Dove descend (whate'er it meant); And out of Heaven the sovraign voice I heard, 'This is my Son beloved,—in him am pleased.
' His mother, than, is mortal, but his Sire He who obtains the monarchy of Heaven; And what will He not do to advance his Son? His first-begot we know, and sore have felt, When his fierce thunder drove us to the Deep; Who this is we must learn, for Man he seems In all his lineaments, though in his face The glimpses of his Father's glory shine.
Ye see our danger on the utmost edge Of hazard, which admits no long debate, But must with something sudden be opposed (Not force, but well-couched fraud, well-woven snares), Ere in the head of nations he appear, Their king, their leader, and supreme on Earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook The dismal expedition to find out And ruin Adam, and the exploit performed Successfully: a calmer voyage now Will waft me; and the way found prosperous once Induces best to hope of like success.
" He ended, and his words impression left Of much amazement to the infernal crew, Distracted and surprised with deep dismay At these sad tidings.
But no time was then For long indulgence to their fears or grief: Unanimous they all commit the care And management of this man enterprise To him, their great Dictator, whose attempt At first against mankind so well had thrived In Adam's overthrow, and led their march From Hell's deep-vaulted den to dwell in light, Regents, and potentates, and kings, yea gods, Of many a pleasant realm and province wide.
So to the coast of Jordan he directs His easy steps, girded with snaky wiles, Where he might likeliest find this new-declared, This man of men, attested Son of God, Temptation and all guile on him to try— So to subvert whom he suspected raised To end his reign on Earth so long enjoyed: But, contrary, unweeting he fulfilled The purposed counsel, pre-ordained and fixed, Of the Most High, who, in full frequence bright Of Angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake:— "Gabriel, this day, by proof, thou shalt behold, Thou and all Angels conversant on Earth With Man or men's affairs, how I begin To verify that solemn message late, On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure In Galilee, that she should bear a son, Great in renown, and called the Son of God.
Then told'st her, doubting how these things could be To her a virgin, that on her should come The Holy Ghost, and the power of the Highest O'ershadow her.
This Man, born and now upgrown, To shew him worthy of his birth divine And high prediction, henceforth I expose To Satan; let him tempt, and now assay His utmost subtlety, because he boasts And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng Of his Apostasy.
He might have learnt Less overweening, since he failed in Job, Whose constant perseverance overcame Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man, Of female seed, far abler to resist All his solicitations, and at length All his vast force, and drive him back to Hell— Winning by conquest what the first man lost By fallacy surprised.
But first I mean To exercise him in the Wilderness; There he shall first lay down the rudiments Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes.
By humiliation and strong sufferance His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength, And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh; That all the Angels and aethereal Powers— They now, and men hereafter—may discern From what consummate virtue I have chose This perfet man, by merit called my Son, To earn salvation for the sons of men.
" So spake the Eternal Father, and all Heaven Admiring stood a space; then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved, Circling the throne and singing, while the hand Sung with the voice, and this the argument:— "Victory and triumph to the Son of God, Now entering his great duel, not of arms, But to vanquish by wisdom hellish wiles! The Father knows the Son; therefore secure Ventures his filial virtue, though untried, Against whate'er may tempt, whate'er seduce, Allure, or terrify, or undermine.
Be frustrate, all ye stratagems of Hell, And, devilish machinations, come to nought!" So they in Heaven their odes and vigils tuned.
Meanwhile the Son of God, who yet some days Lodged in Bethabara, where John baptized, Musing and much revolving in his breast How best the mighty work he might begin Of Saviour to mankind, and which way first Publish his godlike office now mature, One day forth walked alone, the Spirit leading And his deep thoughts, the better to converse With solitude, till, far from track of men, Thought following thought, and step by step led on, He entered now the bordering Desert wild, And, with dark shades and rocks environed round, His holy meditations thus pursued:— "O what a multitude of thoughts at once Awakened in me swarm, while I consider What from within I feel myself, and hear What from without comes often to my ears, Ill sorting with my present state compared! When I was yet a child, no childish play To me was pleasing; all my mind was set Serious to learn and know, and thence to do, What might be public good; myself I thought Born to that end, born to promote all truth, All righteous things.
Therefore, above my years, The Law of God I read, and found it sweet; Made it my whole delight, and in it grew To such perfection that, ere yet my age Had measured twice six years, at our great Feast I went into the Temple, there to hear The teachers of our Law, and to propose What might improve my knowledge or their own, And was admired by all.
Yet this not all To which my spirit aspired.
Victorious deeds Flamed in my heart, heroic acts—one while To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke; Then to subdue and quell, o'er all the earth, Brute violence and proud tyrannic power, Till truth were freed, and equity restored: Yet held it more humane, more heavenly, first By winning words to conquer willing hearts, And make persuasion do the work of fear; At least to try, and teach the erring soul, Not wilfully misdoing, but unware Misled; the stubborn only to subdue.
These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving, By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced, And said to me apart, 'High are thy thoughts, O Son! but nourish them, and let them soar To what highth sacred virtue and true worth Can raise them, though above example high; By matchless deeds express thy matchless Sire.
For know, thou art no son of mortal man; Though men esteem thee low of parentage, Thy Father is the Eternal King who rules All Heaven and Earth, Angels and sons of men.
A messenger from God foretold thy birth Conceived in me a virgin; he foretold Thou shouldst be great, and sit on David's throne, And of thy kingdom there should be no end.
At thy nativity a glorious quire Of Angels, in the fields of Bethlehem, sung To shepherds, watching at their folds by night, And told them the Messiah now was born, Where they might see him; and to thee they came, Directed to the manger where thou lay'st; For in the inn was left no better room.
A Star, not seen before, in heaven appearing, Guided the Wise Men thither from the East, To honour thee with incense, myrrh, and gold; By whose bright course led on they found the place, Affirming it thy star, new-graven in heaven, By which they knew thee King of Israel born.
Just Simeon and prophetic Anna, warned By vision, found thee in the Temple, and spake, Before the altar and the vested priest, Like things of thee to all that present stood.
' This having heart, straight I again revolved The Law and Prophets, searching what was writ Concerning the Messiah, to our scribes Known partly, and soon found of whom they spake I am—this chiefly, that my way must lie Through many a hard assay, even to the death, Ere I the promised kingdom can attain, Or work redemption for mankind, whose sins' Full weight must be transferred upon my head.
Yet, neither thus disheartened or dismayed, The time prefixed I waited; when behold The Baptist (of whose birth I oft had heard, Not knew by sight) now come, who was to come Before Messiah, and his way prepare! I, as all others, to his baptism came, Which I believed was from above; but he Straight knew me, and with loudest voice proclaimed Me him (for it was shewn him so from Heaven)— Me him whose harbinger he was; and first Refused on me his baptism to confer, As much his greater, and was hardly won.
But, as I rose out of the laving stream, Heaven opened her eternal doors, from whence The Spirit descended on me like a Dove; And last, the sum of all, my Father's voice, Audibly heard from Heaven, pronounced me his, Me his beloved Son, in whom alone He was well pleased: by which I knew the time Now full, that I no more should live obscure, But openly begin, as best becomes The authority which I derived from Heaven.
And now by some strong motion I am led Into this wilderness; to what intent I learn not yet.
Perhaps I need not know; For what concerns my knowledge God reveals.
" So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise, And, looking round, on every side beheld A pathless desert, dusk with horrid shades.
The way he came, not having marked return, Was difficult, by human steps untrod; And he still on was led, but with such thoughts Accompanied of things past and to come Lodged in his breast as well might recommend Such solitude before choicest society.
Full forty days he passed—whether on hill Sometimes, anon in shady vale, each night Under the covert of some ancient oak Or cedar to defend him from the dew, Or harboured in one cave, is not revealed; Nor tasted human food, nor hunger felt, Till those days ended; hungered then at last Among wild beasts.
They at his sight grew mild, Nor sleeping him nor waking harmed; his walk The fiery serpent fled and noxious worm; The lion and fierce tiger glared aloof.
But now an aged man in rural weeds, Following, as seemed, the quest of some stray eye, Or withered sticks to gather, which might serve Against a winter's day, when winds blow keen, To warm him wet returned from field at eve, He saw approach; who first with curious eye Perused him, then with words thus uttered spake:— "Sir, what ill chance hath brought thee to this place, So far from path or road of men, who pass In troop or caravan? for single none Durst ever, who returned, and dropt not here His carcass, pined with hunger and with droughth.
I ask the rather, and the more admire, For that to me thou seem'st the man whom late Our new baptizing Prophet at the ford Of Jordan honoured so, and called thee Son Of God.
I saw and heard, for we sometimes Who dwell this wild, constrained by want, come forth To town or village nigh (nighest is far), Where aught we hear, and curious are to hear, What happens new; fame also finds us out.
" To whom the Son of God:—"Who brought me hither Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.
" "By miracle he may," replied the swain; "What other way I see not; for we here Live on tough roots and stubs, to thirst inured More than the camel, and to drink go far— Men to much misery and hardship born.
But, if thou be the Son of God, command That out of these hard stones be made thee bread; So shalt thou save thyself, and us relieve With food, whereof we wretched seldom taste.
" He ended, and the Son of God replied:— "Think'st thou such force in bread? Is it not written (For I discern thee other than thou seem'st), Man lives not by bread only, but each word Proceeding from the mouth of God, who fed Our fathers here with manna? In the Mount Moses was forty days, nor eat nor drank; And forty days Eliah without food Wandered this barren waste; the same I now.
Why dost thou, then, suggest to me distrust Knowing who I am, as I know who thou art?" Whom thus answered the Arch-Fiend, now undisguised:— "'Tis true, I am that Spirit unfortunate Who, leagued with millions more in rash revolt, Kept not my happy station, but was driven With them from bliss to the bottomless Deep— Yet to that hideous place not so confined By rigour unconniving but that oft, Leaving my dolorous prison, I enjoy Large liberty to round this globe of Earth, Or range in the Air; nor from the Heaven of Heavens Hath he excluded my resort sometimes.
I came, among the Sons of God, when he Gave up into my hands Uzzean Job, To prove him, and illustrate his high worth; And, when to all his Angels he proposed To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud, That he might fall in Ramoth, they demurring, I undertook that office, and the tongues Of all his flattering prophets glibbed with lies To his destruction, as I had in charge: For what he bids I do.
Though I have lost Much lustre of my native brightness, lost To be beloved of God, I have not lost To love, at least contemplate and admire, What I see excellent in good, or fair, Or virtuous; I should so have lost all sense.
What can be then less in me than desire To see thee and approach thee, whom I know Declared the Son of God, to hear attent Thy wisdom, and behold thy godlike deeds? Men generally think me much a foe To all mankind.
Why should I? they to me Never did wrong or violence.
By them I lost not what I lost; rather by them I gained what I have gained, and with them dwell Copartner in these regions of the World, If not disposer—lend them oft my aid, Oft my advice by presages and signs, And answers, oracles, portents, and dreams, Whereby they may direct their future life.
Envy, they say, excites me, thus to gain Companions of my misery and woe! At first it may be; but, long since with woe Nearer acquainted, now I feel by proof That fellowship in pain divides not smart, Nor lightens aught each man's peculiar load; Small consolation, then, were Man adjoined.
This wounds me most (what can it less?) that Man, Man fallen, shall be restored, I never more.
" To whom our Saviour sternly thus replied:— "Deservedly thou griev'st, composed of lies From the beginning, and in lies wilt end, Who boast'st release from Hell, and leave to come Into the Heaven of Heavens.
Thou com'st, indeed, As a poor miserable captive thrall Comes to the place where he before had sat Among the prime in splendour, now deposed, Ejected, emptied, gazed, unpitied, shunned, A spectacle of ruin, or of scorn, To all the host of Heaven.
The happy place Imparts to thee no happiness, no joy— Rather inflames thy torment, representing Lost bliss, to thee no more communicable; So never more in Hell than when in Heaven.
But thou art serviceable to Heaven's King! Wilt thou impute to obedience what thy fear Extorts, or pleasure to do ill excites? What but thy malice moved thee to misdeem Of righteous Job, then cruelly to afflict him With all inflictions? but his patience won.
The other service was thy chosen task, To be a liar in four hundred mouths; For lying is thy sustenance, thy food.
Yet thou pretend'st to truth! all oracles By thee are given, and what confessed more true Among the nations? That hath been thy craft, By mixing somewhat true to vent more lies.
But what have been thy answers? what but dark, Ambiguous, and with double sense deluding, Which they who asked have seldom understood, And, not well understood, as good not known? Who ever, by consulting at thy shrine, Returned the wiser, or the more instruct To fly or follow what concerned him most, And run not sooner to his fatal snare? For God hath justly given the nations up To thy delusions; justly, since they fell Idolatrous.
But, when his purpose is Among them to declare his providence, To thee not known, whence hast thou then thy truth, But from him, or his Angels president In every province, who, themselves disdaining To approach thy temples, give thee in command What, to the smallest tittle, thou shalt say To thy adorers? Thou, with trembling fear, Or like a fawning parasite, obey'st; Then to thyself ascrib'st the truth foretold.
But this thy glory shall be soon retrenched; No more shalt thou by oracling abuse The Gentiles; henceforth oracles are ceased, And thou no more with pomp and sacrifice Shalt be enquired at Delphos or elsewhere— At least in vain, for they shall find thee mute.
God hath now sent his living Oracle Into the world to teach his final will, And sends his Spirit of Truth henceforth to dwell In pious hearts, an inward oracle To all truth requisite for men to know.
" So spake our Saviour; but the subtle Fiend, Though inly stung with anger and disdain, Dissembled, and this answer smooth returned:— "Sharply thou hast insisted on rebuke, And urged me hard with doings which not will, But misery, hath wrested from me.
Where Easily canst thou find one miserable, And not inforced oft-times to part from truth, If it may stand him more in stead to lie, Say and unsay, feign, flatter, or abjure? But thou art placed above me; thou art Lord; From thee I can, and must, submiss, endure Cheek or reproof, and glad to scape so quit.
Hard are the ways of truth, and rough to walk, Smooth on the tongue discoursed, pleasing to the ear, And tunable as sylvan pipe or song; What wonder, then, if I delight to hear Her dictates from thy mouth? most men admire Virtue who follow not her lore.
Permit me To hear thee when I come (since no man comes), And talk at least, though I despair to attain.
Thy Father, who is holy, wise, and pure, Suffers the hypocrite or atheous priest To tread his sacred courts, and minister About his altar, handling holy things, Praying or vowing, and voutsafed his voice To Balaam reprobate, a prophet yet Inspired: disdain not such access to me.
" To whom our Saviour, with unaltered brow:— "Thy coming hither, though I know thy scope, I bid not, or forbid.
Do as thou find'st Permission from above; thou canst not more.
" He added not; and Satan, bowling low His gray dissimulation, disappeared, Into thin air diffused: for now began Night with her sullen wing to double-shade The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couched; And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam.

by George Herbert | |

H. Baptism II

 Since, Lord, to thee
A narrow way and little gate
Is all the passage, on my infancy
Thou didst lay hold, and antedate
My faith in me.
O let me still Write thee great God, and me a child: Let me be soft and supple to thy will, Small to my self, to others mild, Behither ill.
Although by stealth My flesh get on, yet let her sister My soul bid nothing, but preserve her wealth: The growth of flesh is but a blister; Childhood is health.

by Kahlil Gibran | |

Giving chapter V

 Then said a rich man, "Speak to us of Giving.
" And he answered: You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable? There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving.
" The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed? See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.

by Thomas Campbell | |

Gertrude of Wyoming


On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall,
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring,
Of what thy gentle people did befall;
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall, And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore, Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore! Delightful Wyoming! beneath thy skies, The happy shepherd swains had nought to do But feed their flocks on green declivities, Or skim perchance thy lake with light canoe, From morn till evening's sweeter pastimes grew, With timbrel, when beneath the forests brown, Thy lovely maidens would the dance renew; And aye those sunny mountains half-way down Would echo flageolet from some romantic town.
Then, where of Indian hills the daylight takes His leave, how might you the flamingo see Disporting like a meteor on the lakes-- And playful squirrel on his nut-grown tree: And every sound of life was full of glee, From merry mock-bird's song, or hum of men; While hearkening, fearing naught their revelry, The wild deer arch'd his neck from glades, and then, Unhunted, sought his woods and wilderness again.
And scarce had Wyoming of war or crime Heard, but in transatlantic story rung, For here the exile met from every clime, And spoke in friendship every distant tongue: Men from the blood of warring Europe sprung Were but divided by the running brook; And happy where no Rhenish trumpet sung, On plains no sieging mine's volcano shook, The blue-eyed German changed his sword to pruning-hook.
Nor far some Andalusian saraband Would sound to many a native roundelay-- But who is he that yet a dearer land Remembers, over hills and far away? Green Albin! what though he no more survey Thy ships at anchor on the quiet shore, Thy pelloch's rolling from the mountain bay, Thy lone sepulchral cairn upon the moor, And distant isles that hear the loud Corbrechtan roar! Alas! poor Caledonia's mountaineer, That wants stern edict e'er, and feudal grief, Had forced him from a home he loved so dear! Yet found he here a home and glad relief, And plied the beverage from his own fair sheaf, That fired his Highland blood with mickle glee: And England sent her men, of men the chief, Who taught those sires of empire yet to be, To plant the tree of life,--to plant fair Freedom's tree! Here was not mingled in the city's pomp Of life's extremes the grandeur and the gloom Judgment awoke not here her dismal tromp, Nor seal'd in blood a fellow-creature's doom, Nor mourn'd the captive in a living tomb.
One venerable man, beloved of all, Sufficed, where innocence was yet in bloom, To sway the strife, that seldom might befall: And Albert was their judge, in patriarchal hall.
How reverend was the look, serenely aged, He bore, this gentle Pennsylvanian sire, Where all but kindly fervors were assuaged, Undimm'd by weakness' shade, or turbid ire! And though, amidst the calm of thought entire, Some high and haughty features might betray A soul impetuous once, 'twas earthly fire That fled composure's intellectual ray, As AEtna's fires grow dim before the rising day.
I boast no song in magic wonders rife, But yet, oh Nature! is there naught to prize, Familiar in thy bosom scenes of life? And dwells in day-light truth's salubrious skies No form with which the soul may sympathise?-- Young, innocent, on whose sweet forehead mild The parted ringlet shone in simplest guise, An inmate in the home of Albert smiled, Or blest his noonday walk--she was his only child.
The rose of England bloom'd on Gertrude's cheek-- What though these shades had seen her birth, her sire A Briton's independence taught to seek Far western worlds; and there his household fire The light of social love did long inspire, And many a halcyon day he lived to see Unbroken but by one misfortune dire, When fate had reft his mutual heart--but she Was gone--and Gertrude climb'd a widow'd father's knee.
A loved bequest,--and I may half impart-- To them that feel the strong paternal tie, How like a new existence to his heart That living flower uprose beneath his eye Dear as she was from cherub infancy, From hours when she would round his garden play, To time when as the ripening years went by, Her lovely mind could culture well repay, And more engaging grew, from pleasing day to day.
I may not paint those thousand infant charms; (Unconscious fascination, undesign'd!) The orison repeated in his arms, For God to bless her sire and all mankind; The book, the bosom on his knee reclined, Or how sweet fairy-lore he heard her con, (The playmate ere the teacher of her mind:) All uncompanion'd else her heart had gone Till now, in Gertrude's eyes, their ninth blue summer shone.
And summer was the tide, and sweet the hour, When sire and daughter saw, with fleet descent, An Indian from his bark approach their bower, Of buskin limb, and swarthy lineament; The red wild feathers on his brow were blent, And bracelets bound the arm that help'd to light A boy, who seem'd, as he beside him went, Of Christian vesture, and complexion bright, Led by his dusky guide, like morning brought by night.
Yet pensive seem'd the boy for one so young-- The dimple from his polish'd cheek had fled; When, leaning on his forest-bow unstrung, Th' Oneyda warrior to the planter said, And laid his hand upon the stripling's head, "Peace be to thee! my words this belt approve; The paths of peace my steps have hither led: This little nursling, take him to thy love, And shield the bird unfledged, since gone the parent dove.
Christian! I am the foeman of thy foe; Our wampum league thy brethren did embrace: Upon the Michigan, three moons ago, We launch'd our pirogues for the bison chase, And with the Hurons planted for a space, With true and faithful hands, the olive-stalk; But snakes are in the bosoms of their race, And though they held with us a friendly talk, The hollow peace-tree fell beneath their tomahawk! It was encamping on the lake's far port, A cry of Areouski broke our sleep, Where storm'd an ambush'd foe thy nation's fort And rapid, rapid whoops came o'er the deep; But long thy country's war-sign on the steep Appear'd through ghastly intervals of light, And deathfully their thunders seem'd to sweep, Till utter darkness swallow'd up the sight, As if a shower of blood had quench'd the fiery fight! It slept--it rose again--on high their tower Sprung upwards like a torch to light the skies, Then down again it rain'd an ember shower, And louder lamentations heard we rise; As when the evil Manitou that dries Th' Ohio woods, consumes them in his ire, In vain the desolated panther flies, And howls amidst his wilderness of fire: Alas! too late, we reach'd and smote those Hurons dire! But as the fox beneath the nobler hound, So died their warriors by our battle brand; And from the tree we, with her child, unbound A lonely mother of the Christian land:-- Her lord--the captain of the British band-- Amidst the slaughter of his soldiers lay.
Scarce knew the widow our delivering hand; Upon her child she sobb'd and soon'd away, Or shriek'd unto the God to whom the Christians pray.
Our virgins fed her with their kindly bowls Of fever-balm and sweet sagamite: But she was journeying to the land of souls, And lifted up her dying head to pray That we should bid an ancient friend convey Her orphan to his home of England's shore; And take, she said, this token far away, To one that will remember us of yore, When he beholds the ring that Waldegrave's Julia wore.
And I, the eagle of my tribe, have rush'd With this lorn dove.
"--A sage's self-command Had quell'd the tears from Albert's heart that gush'd; But yet his cheek--his agitated hand-- That shower'd upon the stranger of the land No common boon, in grief but ill beguiled A soul that was not wont to be unmann'd; "And stay," he cried, "dear pilgrim of the wild, Preserver of my old, my boon companion's child!-- Child of a race whose name my bosom warms, On earth's remotest bounds how welcome here! Whose mother oft, a child, has fill'd these arms, Young as thyself, and innocently dear, Whose grandsire was my early life's compeer.
Ah, happiest home of England's happy clime! How beautiful even' now thy scenes appear, As in the noon and sunshine of my prime! How gone like yesterday these thrice ten years of time! And Julia! when thou wert like Gertrude now Can I forget thee, favorite child of yore? Or thought I, in thy father's house, when thou Wert lightest-hearted on his festive floor, And first of all his hospitable door To meet and kiss me at my journey's end? But where was I when Waldegrave was no more? And thou didst pale thy gentle head extend In woes, that ev'n the tribe of deserts was thy friend!" He said--and strain'd unto his heart the boy;-- Far differently, the mute Oneyda took His calumet of peace, and cup of joy; As monumental bronze unchanged his look; A soul that pity touch'd but never shook; Train'd from his tree-rock'd cradle to his bier The fierce extreme of good and ill to brook Impassive--fearing but the shame of fear-- A stoic of the woods--a man without a tear.
Yet deem not goodness on the savage stock Of Outalissi's heart disdain'd to grow; As lives the oak unwither'd on the rock By storms above, and barrenness below; He scorn'd his own, who felt another's wo: And ere the wolf-skin on his back he flung, Or laced his mocassins, in act to go, A song of parting to the boy he sung, Who slept on Albert's couch, nor heard his friendly tongue.
"Sleep, wearied one! and in the dreaming land Shouldst thou to-morrow with thy mother meet, Oh! tell her spirit, that the white man's hand Hath pluck'd the thorns of sorrow from thy feet; While I in lonely wilderness shall greet They little foot-prints--or by traces know The fountain, where at noon I thought it sweet To feed thee with the quarry of my bow, And pour'd the lotus-horn, or slew the mountain roe.
Adieu! sweet scion of the rising sun! But should affliction's storms thy blossom mock, Then come again--my own adopted one! And I will graft thee on a noble stock: The crocodile, the condor of the rock, Shall be the pastime of thy sylvan wars; And I will teach thee in the battle' shock To pay with Huron blood thy father's scars, And gratulate his soul rejoicing in the stars!" So finish'd he the rhyme (howe'er uncouth) That true to nature's fervid feelings ran; (And song is but the eloquence of truth:) Then forth uprose that lone wayfaring man; But dauntless he, nor chart, nor journey's plan In woods required, whose trained eye was keen, As eagle of the wilderness, to scan His path by mountain, swamp, or deep ravine, Or ken far friendly huts on good savannas green.
Old Albert saw him from the valley's side-- His pirogue launch'd--his pilgrimage begun-- Far, like the red-bird's wing he seem'd to glide; Then dived, and vanish'd in the woodlands dun.
Oft, to that spot by tender memory won, Would Albert climb the promontory's height, If but a dim sail glimmer'd in the sun; But never more to bless his longing sight, Was Outalissi hail'd, with bark and plumage bright.
A valley from the river shower withdrawn Was Albert's home, two quiet woods between, Whose lofty verdure overlook'd his lawn And waters to their resting-place serene Came freshening, and reflecting all the scene: (A mirror in the depth of flowery shelves;) So sweet a spot of earth, you might (I ween,) Have guess'd some congregation of the elves, To sport by summer moons, had shaped it for themselves.
Yet wanted not the eye far scope to muse, Nor vistas open'd by the wandering stream; Both where at evening Alleghany views Through ridges burning in her western beam Lake after lake interminably gleam: And past those settlers' haunts the eye might roam Where earth's unliving silence all would seem; Save where on rocks the beaver built his dome, Or buffalo remote low'd far from human home.
But silent not that adverse eastern path, Which saw Aurora's hills th' horizon crown; There was the river heard, in bed of wrath, (A precipice of foam from mountains brown,) Like tumults heard from some far distant town; But softening in approach he left his gloom, And murmur'd pleasantly, and laid him down To kiss those easy curving banks of bloom, That lent the windward air an exquisite perfume.
It seem'd as if those scenes sweet influence had On Gertrude's soul, and kindness like their own Inspired those eyes affectionate and glad, That seem'd to love whate'er they look'd upon; Whether with Hebe's mirth her features shone, Or if a shade more pleasing them o'ercast, (As if for heavenly musing meant alone;) Yet so becomingly th' expression past, That each succeeding look was lovelier than the last.
Nor guess I, was that Pennsylvanian home, With all its picturesque and balmy grace, And fields that were a luxury to roam, Lost on the soul that look'd from such a face! Enthusiast of the woods! when years apace Had bound thy lovely waist with woman's zone, The sunrise path, at morn, I see thee trace To hills with high magnolia overgrown, And joy to breathe the groves, romantic and alone.
The sunrise drew her thoughts to Europe forth, That thus apostrophised its viewless scene: "Land of my father's love, my mother's birth! The home of kindred I have never seen! We know not other--oceans are between: Yet say, far friendly hearts! from whence we came, Of us does oft remembrance intervene? My mother sure--my sire a thought may claim;-- But Gertrude is to you an unregarded name.
And yet, loved England! when thy name I trace In many a pilgrim's tale and poet's song, How can I choose but wish for one embrace Of them, the dear unknown, to whom belong My mother's looks; perhaps her likeness strong? Oh, parent! with what reverential awe, From features of thine own related throng, An image of thy face my soul could draw! And see thee once again whom I too shortly saw!" Yet deem not Gertrude sighed for foreign joy; To soothe a father's couch her only care, And keep his reverend head from all annoy: For this, methinks, her homeward steps repair, Soon as the morning wreath had bound her hair; While yet the wild deer trod in spangling dew, While boatmen carol'd to the fresh-blown air, And woods a horizontal shadow threw, And early fox appear'd in momentary view.
Apart there was a deep untrodden grot, Where oft the reading hours sweet Gertrude wore, Tradition had not named its lonely spot; But here (methinks) might India's sons explore Their fathers' dust, or lift, perchance of yore, Their voice to the great Spirit:--rocks sublime To human art a sportive semblance bore, And yellow lichens color'd all the clime, Like moonlight battlements, and towers decay'd by time.
But high in amphitheatre above, Gay tinted woods their massy foliage threw: Breathed but an air of heaven, and all the grove As if instinct with living spirit grew, Rolling its verdant gulfs of every hue; And now suspended was the pleasing din, Now from a murmur faint it swell'd anew, Like the first note of organ heard within Cathedral aisles,--ere yet its symphony begin.
It was in this lonely valley she would charm The lingering noon, where flowers a couch had strown; Her cheek reclining, and her snowy arm On hillock by the pine-tree half o'ergrown: And aye that volume on her lap is thrown, Which every heart of human mould endears; With Shakspear's self she speaks and smiles alone, And no intruding visitation fears, To shame the unconscious laugh, or stop her sweetest tears.
And naught within the grove was heard or seen But stock-doves plaining through its gloom profound, Or winglet of the fairy humming-bird, Like atoms of the rainbow fluttering round; When, lo! there enter'd to its inmost ground A youth, the stranger of a distant land; He was, to weet, for eastern mountains bound; But late th' equator suns his cheek had tann'd, And California's gales his roving bosom fann'd.
A steed, whose rein hung loosely o'er his arm, He led dismounted; here his leisure pace, Amid the brown leaves, could her ear alarm, Close he had come, and worshipp'd for a space Those downcast features:--she her lovely face Uplift on one, whose lineaments and frame Wore youth and manhood's intermingled grace: Iberian seem'd his booth--his robe the same, And well the Spanish plume his lofty looks became.
For Albert's home he sought--her finger fair Has pointed where the father's mansion stood.
Returning from the copse he soon was there; And soon has Gertrude hied from dark greenwood: Nor joyless, by the converse, understood Between the man of age and pilgrim young, That gay congeneality of mood, And early liking from acquaintance sprung; Full fluently conversed their guest in England's tongue.
And well could he his pilgrimage of taste Unfold,--and much they loved his fervid strain, While he each fair variety retraced Of climes, and manners, o'er the eastern main.
Now happy Switzer's hills,--romantic Spain,-- Gay lilied fields of France,--or, more refined, The soft Ausonia's monumental reign; Nor less each rural image he design'd Than all the city's pomp and home of humankind.
Anon some wilder portraiture he draws; Of Nature's savage glories he would spea,-- The loneliness of earth at overawes,-- Where, resting by some tomb of old Cacique, The lama-driver on Peruvia's peak Nor living voice nor motion marks around; But storks that to the boundless forest shriek, Or wild-cane arch high flung o'er gulf profound, That fluctuates when the storms of El Dorado sound.
Pleased with his guest, the good man still would ply Each earnest question, and his converse court; But Gertrude, as she eyed him, knew not why A strange and troubling wonder stopt her short.
"In England thou hast been,--and, by report, An orphan's name (quoth Albert) may'st have known.
Sad tale!--when latest fell our frontier fort,-- One innocent--one soldier's child--alone Was spared, and brought to me, who loved him as my own.
Young Henry Waldegrave! three delightful years These very walls his infants sports did see, But most I loved him when his parting tears Alternately bedew'd my child and me: His sorest parting, Gertrude, was from thee; Nor half its grief his little heart could hold; By kindred he was sent for o'er the sea, They tore him from us when but twelve years old, And scarcely for his loss have I been yet consoled!" His face the wanderer hid--but could not hide A tear, a smile, upon his cheek that dwell; "And speak! mysterious strange!" (Gertrude cried) "It is!--it is!--I knew--I knew him well; 'Tis Waldegrave's self, of Waldegrave come to tell!" A burst of joy the father's lips declare! But Gertrude speechless on his bosom fell; At once his open arms embraced the pair, Was never group more blest in this wide world of care.
"And will ye pardon then (replied the youth) Your Waldegrave's feign'd name, and false attire? I durst not in the neighborhood, in truth, The very fortunes of your house inquire; Lest one that knew me might some tidings dire Impart, and I my weakness all betray, For had I lost my Gertrude and my sire I meant but o'er your tombs to weep a day, Unknown I meant to weep, unknown to pass away.
But here ye life, ye bloom,--in each dear face, The changing hand of time I may not blame; For there, it hath but shed more reverend grace, And here, of beauty perfected the frame: And well I know your hearts are still the same-- They could not change--ye look the very way, As when an orphan first to you I came.
And have ye heard of my poor guide, I pray? Nay, wherefore weep ye, friends, on such a joyous day!" "And art thou here? or is it but a dream? And wilt thou, Waldegrave, wilt thou, leave us more!" "No, never! thou that yet dost lovelier seem Than aught on earth--than even thyself of yore-- I will not part thee from thy father's shore; But we shall cherish him with mutual arms, And hand in hand again the path explore Which every ray of young remembrance warms, While thou shalt be my own, with all thy truth and charms!" At morn, as if beneath a galaxy Of over-arching groves in blossoms white, Where all was odorous scent and harmony, And gladness to the heart, nerve, ear, and sight: There, if, O gentle Love! I read aright The utterance that seal'd thy sacred bond, 'Twas listening to these accents of delight, She hid upon his breast those eyes, beyond Expression's power to paint, all languishingly fond-- "Flower of my life, so lovely, and so lone! Whom I would rather in this desert meet, Scorning, and scorn'd by fortune's power, than own Her pomp and splendors lavish'd at my feet! Turn not from me thy breath, move exquisite Than odors cast on heaven's own shrine--to please-- Give me thy love, than luxury more sweet, And more than all the wealth that loads the breeze, When Coromandel's ships return from Indian seas.
" Then would that home admit them--happier far Than grandeur's most magnificent saloon, While, here and there, a solitary star Flush'd in the darkening firmament of June; And silence brought the soul-felt hour, full soon Ineffable, which I may not portray; For never did the hymenean moon A paradise of hearts more sacred sway, In all that slept beneath her soft voluptuous ray.
O Love! in such a wilderness as this, Where transport and security entwine, Here is the empire of thy perfect bliss, And here thou art a god indeed divine.
Here shall no forms abridge, no hours confine The views, the walks, that boundless joy inspire! Nor, blind with ecstacy's celestial fire, Shall love behold the spark of earth-born time expire.
Three little moons, how short! amidst the grove And pastoral savannas they consume! While she, beside her buskin'd youth to rove, Delights, in fancifully wild costume, Her lovely brow to shade with Indian plume; And forth in hunter-seeming vest they fare; But not to chase the deer in forest gloom, 'Tis but the breath of heaven--the blessed air-- And interchange of hearts unknown, unseen to share.
What though the sportive dog oft round them note, Or fawn, or wild bird bursting on the wing; Yet who, in Love's own presence, would devote To death those gentle throats that wake the spring, Or writhing from the brook its victim bring? No!--nor let fear one little warbler rouse; But, fed by Gertrude's hand, still let them sing, Acquaintance of her path, amidst the boughs, That shade ev'n now her love, and witness'd first her vows.
Now labyrinths, which but themselves can pierce, Methinks, conduct them to some pleasant ground, Where welcome hills shut out the universe, And pines their lawny walk encompass round; There, if a pause delicious converse found, 'Twas but when o'er each heart th' idea stole, (Perchance a while in joy's oblivion drown'd) That come what may, while life's glad pulses roll, Indissolubly thus should soul be knit to soul.
And in the visions of romantic youth, What years of endless bliss are yet to flow! But mortal pleasure, what art thou in truth? The torrent's smoothness, ere it dash below! And must I change my song? and must I show, Sweet Wyoming! the day when thou art doom'd, Guiltless, to mourn thy loveliest bowers laid low! When were of yesterday a garden bloom'd, Death overspread his pall, and blackening ashes gloom'd! Sad was the year, by proud oppression driven, When Transatlantic Liberty arose, Not in the sunshine and the smile of heaven, But wrapt in whirlwinds, and begirt with woes, Amidst the strife of fratricidal foes; Her birth star was the light of burning plains; Her baptism is the weight of blood that flows From kindred hearts--the blood of British veins-- And famine tracks her steps, and pestilential pains.
Yet, here the storm of death had raged remote, Or seige unseen in heaven reflects its beams, Who now each dreadful circumstance shall note, That fills pale Gertrude's thoughts, and nightly dreams! Dismal to her the forge of battle gleams Portentous light! and music's voice is dumb; Save where the fife its shrill reveille screams, Or midnight streets re-echo to the drum, That speaks of maddening strife, and blood-stained fields to come.
It was in truth a momentary pang; Yet how comprising myriad shapes of wo! First when in Gertrude's ear the summons rang, A husband to the battle doom'd to go! "Nay meet not thou( she cried) thy kindred foe! But peaceful let us seek fair England's strand!" "Ah, Gertrude, thy beloved heart, I know, Would feel like mine the stigmatising brand! Could I forsake the cause of Freedom's holy band! But shame--but flight--a recreant's name to prove, To hide in exile ignominous fears; Say, ev'n if this I brook'd, the public love Thy father's bosom to his home endears: And how could I his few remaining years, My Gertrude, sever from so dear a child?" So, day by day, her boding heart he cheers: At last that heart to hope is half beguiled, And, pale, through tears suppress'd, the mournful beauty smiled.
Night came,--and in their lighted bower, full late, The joy of converse had endured--when, hark! Abrupt and loud, a summons shook their gate; And heedless of the dog's obstrep'rous bark, A form had rush'ed amidst them from the dark, And spread his arms,--and fell upon the floor: Of aged strength his limbs retained the mark; But desolate he look's and famish'd, poor, As ever shipwreck'd wretch lone left on desert shore.
Uprisen, each wond'ring brow is knit and arch'd: A spirit form the dead they deem him first: To speak he tries; but quivering, pale, and parch'd, From lips, as by some powerless dream accursed Emotions unintelligible burst; And long his filmed eye is red and dim; At length the pity-proffer'd cup his thirst Had half assuaged, and nerved his shuddering limb When Albert's hand he grasp'd;--but Albert knew not him-- "And hast thou then forgot," (he cried forlorn, And eyed the group with half indignant air,) "Oh! hast thou, Christian chief, forgot the morn When I with thee the cup of peace did share? Then stately was this head, and dark this hair, That now is white as Appalachia's snow; But, if the weight of fifteen years' despair, And age hath bow'd me, and the torturing foe, Bring me my boy--and he will his deliverer know!"-- It was not long, with eyes and heart of flame, Ere Henry to his loved Oneyda flew: "Bless thee, my guide!"--but backward as he came, The chief his old bewilder'd head withdrew, And grasp'd his arm, and look'd and look'd him through.
'Twas strange--nor could the group a smile control-- The long, the doubtful scrutiny to view: At last delight o'er all his features stole, "It is--my own," he cried, and clasp'd him to his soul.
"Yes! thou recallest my pride of years, for then The bowstring of my spirit was not slack, When, spite of woods and floods, and ambush'd men, I bore thee like the quiver on my back, Fleet as the whirlwind hurries on the rack; Nor foreman then, nor cougar's crouch I fear'd, For I was strong as mountain cataract: And dost thou not remember how we cheer'd, Upon the last hill-top, when white men's huts appear'd? Then welcome be my death-song, and my death Since I have seen thee, and again embrac'd.
" And longer had he spent his toil-worn breath; But with affectionate and eager haste, Was every arm outstretch'd around their guest, To welcome and to bless his aged head.
Soon was the hospitable banquet placed; And Gertrude's lovely hands a balsam shed On wounds with fever'd joy that more profusely bled.
"But this is not a time,"--he started up, And smote his breast with wo-denouncing hand-- "This is no time to fill the joyous cup, The Mammoth comes,--the foe,--the Monster Brandt,-- With all his howling desolating band; These eyes have seen their blade and burning pine Awake at once, and silence half your land.
Red is the cup they drink; but not with wine: Awake, and watch to-night, or see no morning shine! Scorning to wield the hatchet for his bribe, 'Gainst Brandt himself I went to battle forth: Accursed Brandt! he left of all my tribe Nor man, nor child, nor thing of living birth: No! not the dog that watch'd my household hearth, Escaped that night of blood, upon our plains! All perish'd!--I alone am left on earth! To whom nor relative nor blood remains.
No! not a kindred drop that runs in human veins! But go!--and rouse your warriors, for, if right These old bewilder'd eyes could guess, by signs Of striped, and starred banners, on yon height Of eastern cedars, o'er the creek of pines-- Some fort embattled by your country shines: Deep roars th' innavigable gulf below Its squared rock, and palisaded lines.
Go! seek the light its warlike beacons show; Whilst I in ambush wait, for vengeance, and the foe!" Scarce had he utter'd--when Heaven's virge extreme Reverberates the bomb's descending star, And sounds that mingled laugh,--and shout,--and scream,-- To freeze the blood in once discordant jar Rung to the pealing thunderbolts of war.
Whoop after whoop with rack the ear assail'd; As if unearthly fiends had burst their bar; While rapidly the marksman's shot prevail'd:-- And aye, as if for death, some lonely trumpet wail'd.
Then look'd they to the hills, where fire o'erhung The bandit groups, in one Vesuvian glare; Or swept, far seen, the tower, whose clock unrung Told legible that midnight of despair.
She faints,--she falters not,--th' heroic fair, As he the sword and plume in haste array'd.
One short embrace--he clasp'd his dearest care-- But hark! what nearer war-drum shakes the glade? Joy, joy! Columbia's friends are trampling through the shade! Then came of every race the mingled swarm, Far rung the groves and gleam'd the midnight grass, With Flambeau, javelin, and naked arm; As warriors wheel'd their culverins of brass, Sprung from the woods, a bold athletic mass, Whom virtue fires, and liberty combines: And first the wild Moravian yagers pass, His plumed host the dark Iberian joins-- And Scotia's sword beneath the Highland thistle shines.
And in, the buskin'd hunters of the deer, To Albert's home, with shout and cymbal throng-- Roused by their warlike pomp, and mirth, and cheer, Old Outalissi woke his battle song, And, beating with his war-club cadence strong, Tells how his deep-stung indignation smarts, Of them that wrapt his house in flames, ere long, To whet a dagger on their stony hearts, And smile avenged ere yet his eagle spirit parts.
Calm, opposite the Christian father rose, Pale on his venerable brow its rays Of martyr light the conflagration throws; One hand upon his lovely child he lays, And one th' uncover'd crowd to silence sways; While, though the battle flash is faster driven,-- Unaw'd, with eye unstartled by the blaze, He for his bleeding country prays to Heaven,-- Prays that the men of blood themselves may be forgiven.
Short time is now for gratulating speech: And yet, beloved Gertrude, ere began Thy country's flight, yon distant towers to reach, Looks not on thee the rudest partisan With brow relax'd to love? And murmurs ran, As round and round their willing ranks they drew, From beauty's sight to shield the hostile van.
Grateful on them a placid look she threw, Nor wept, but as she bade her mother's grave adieu! Past was the flight, and welcome seem'd the tower, That like a giant standard-bearer frown'd Defiance on the roving Indian power, Beneath, each bold and promontory mound With embrasure emboss'd, and armor crown'd.
And arrowy frise, and wedg'd ravelin, Wove like a diadem its tracery round The loft summit of that mountain green; Here stood secure the group, and eyed a distant scene-- A scene of death! where fires beneath the sun, And blended arms, and white pavilions glow; And for the business of destruction done, Its requiem the war-horn seem'd to blow: There, sad spectatress of her country's wo! The lovely Gertrude, safe from present harm, Had laid her cheek, and clasp'd her hands of snow On Waldegrave's shoulder, half within his arm Enclosed, that felt her heart, and hush'd its wild alarm! But short that contemplation--sad and short The pause to bid each much-loved scene adieu! Beneath the very shadow of the fort, Where friendly swords were drawn, and banners flew; Ah! who could deem that root of Indian crew Was near?--yet there, with lust of murd'rous deeds, Gleam'd like a basilisk, form woods in view, The ambush'd foeman's eye, his volley speeds, And Albert--Albert falls! the dear old father bleeds! And tranced in giddy horror Gertrude swoon'd; Yet, while she clasps him lifeless to her zone, Say, burst they, borrow'd from her father's wound, These drops?--Oh, God! the life-blood is her own! And faltering on her Waldegrave's bosom thrown; "Weep not, O Love!"--she cries, "to see me bleed; Thee, Gertrude's sad survivor, thee alone Heaven's peace commiserate; for scarce I heed These wounds;--yet thee to leave is death, is death indeed! Clasp me a little longer on the brink Of fate! while I can feel thy dear caress; And when this heart hath ceased to beat--oh! think, And let it mitigate thy wo's excess, That thou hast been to me all tenderness, And friend no more than human friendship just.
Oh! by that retrospect of happiness, And by the hopes of an immortal trust, God shall assuage thy pangs--when I am laid in dust! Go, Henry, go not back, when I depart, The scene thy bursting tears too deep will move, Where my dear father took thee to his heart, And Gertrude thought it ecstacy to rove With thee, as with an angel, through the grove Of peace, imagining her lot was cast In heaven; for ours was not like earthly love.
And must this parting be our very last! No! I shall love thee still, when death itself is past.
-- Half could I bear, methinks, to leave this earth,-- And thee, more loved than aught beneath the sun, If I had lived to smile but on the birth Of one dear pledge;--but shall there then be none In future times--no gentle little one, To clasp thy neck, and look, resembling me? Yet seems it, even while life's last pulses run, A sweetness in the cup of death to be, Lord of my bosom's love! to die beholding thee!" Hush'd were his Gertrude's lips! but still their bland And beautiful expression seem'd to melt With love that could not die! and still his hand She presses to the heart no more that felt.
Ah, heart! where once each fond affection dwelt, And features yet that spoke a soul more fair.
Mute, gazing, agonizing as he knelt,-- Of them that stood encircling his despair, He heard some friendly words;--but knew not what they were.
For now, to mourn their judge and child, arrives A faithful band.
With solemn rites between 'Twas sung, how they were lovely in their lives, And in their deaths had not divided been.
Touch'd by the music, and the melting scene, Was scarce one tearless eye amidst the crowd:-- Stern warriors, resting on their swords, were seen To veil their eyes, as pass'd each much-loved shroud, While woman's softer soul in wo, dissolved aloud.
Then mournfully the parting bugle bid Its farewell, o'er the grave of worth and truth; Prone to the dust, afflicted Waldegrave hid His face on earth; him watch'd, in gloomy ruth, His woodland guide; but words had none to soothe The grief that knew not consolation's name; Casting his Indian mantle o'er the youth, He watch'd, beneath its folds, each burst that came Convulsive, ague-like, across his shuddering frame! "And I could weep;"--th' Oneyda chief His descant wildly thus begun: "But that I may not stain with grief The death-song of my father's son, Or bow this head in wo! For by my wrongs, and by my wrath! To-morrow Areouski's breath, (That fires yon heaven with storms of death,) Shall light us to the foe: And we shall share, my Christian boy! The foeman's blood, the avenger's joy! But thee, my flower whose breath was given By milder genii o'er the deep, The spirits of the white man's heaven Forbid not thee to weep:-- Nor will the Christian host, Nor will thy father's spirit grieve, To see thee, on the battle's eve, Lamenting take a mournful leave Of her who loved thee most: She was the rainbow to thy sight! Thy sun--thy heaven--of lost delight! To-morrow let us do or die! But when the bolt of death is hurl'd, Ah! whither then with thee to fly, Shall Outalissi roam the world? Seek we thy once-loved home? The hand is gone that cropt its flowers; Unheard their clock repeats its hours! Cold is the hearth within their bowers! And should we thither roam, Its echoes, and its empty tread, Would sound like voices from the dead! Or shall we cross yon mountains blue, Whose streams my kindred nation quaff'd And by my side, in battle true, A thousand warriors drew the shaft? Ah! there, in desolation cold, The desert serpent dwells alone, Where grass o'ergrows each mouldering bone And stones themselves to ruin grown Like me are death-like old.
Then seek we not their camp,--for there-- The silence dwells of my despair! But hark, the trump!--to-morrow thou In glory's fires shalt dry thy tears: Ev'n from the land of shadows now My father's awful ghost appears, Amidst the clouds that round us roll; He bids my soul for battle thirst-- He bids me dry the last--the first-- The only tears that ever burst From Outalissi's soul; Because I may not stain with grief The death-song of an Indian chief!"

by Walt Whitman | |

France the 18th year of These States.

A GREAT year and place; 
A harsh, discordant, natal scream out-sounding, to touch the mother’s heart closer
 any yet.
I walk’d the shores of my Eastern Sea, Heard over the waves the little voice, Saw the divine infant, where she woke, mournfully wailing, amid the roar of cannon, curses, shouts, crash of falling buildings; Was not so sick from the blood in the gutters running—nor from the single corpses, nor those in heaps, nor those borne away in the tumbrils; Was not so desperate at the battues of death—was not so shock’d at the repeated fusillades of the guns.
2 Pale, silent, stern, what could I say to that long-accrued retribution? Could I wish humanity different? Could I wish the people made of wood and stone? Or that there be no justice in destiny or time? 3 O Liberty! O mate for me! Here too the blaze, the grape-shot and the axe, in reserve, to fetch them out in case of need; Here too, though long represt, can never be destroy’d; Here too could rise at last, murdering and extatic; Here too demanding full arrears of vengeance.
4 Hence I sign this salute over the sea, And I do not deny that terrible red birth and baptism, But remember the little voice that I heard wailing—and wait with perfect trust, no matter how long; And from to-day, sad and cogent, I maintain the bequeath’d cause, as for all lands, And I send these words to Paris with my love, And I guess some chansonniers there will understand them, For I guess there is latent music yet in France—floods of it; O I hear already the bustle of instruments—they will soon be drowning all that would interrupt them; O I think the east wind brings a triumphal and free march, It reaches hither—it swells me to joyful madness, I will run transpose it in words, to justify it, I will yet sing a song for you, MA FEMME.

by Julia Ward Howe | |

Mothers Day Proclamation

 Arise then.
women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: "We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, Will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
" From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with Our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
" Blood does not wipe our dishonor, Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil At the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace.
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God - In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality, May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient And the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions, The great and general interests of peace.

by Thomas Hardy | |

De Profundis


"Percussus sum sicut foenum, et aruit cor meum.
" - Ps.
ci Wintertime nighs; But my bereavement-pain It cannot bring again: Twice no one dies.
Flower-petals flee; But, since it once hath been, No more that severing scene Can harrow me.
Birds faint in dread: I shall not lose old strength In the lone frost's black length: Strength long since fled! Leaves freeze to dun; But friends can not turn cold This season as of old For him with none.
Tempests may scath; But love can not make smart Again this year his heart Who no heart hath.
Black is night's cope; But death will not appal One who, past doubtings all, Waits in unhope.
De Profundis II "Considerabam ad dexteram, et videbam; et non erat qui cognosceret me When the clouds' swoln bosoms echo back the shouts of the many and strong That things are all as they best may be, save a few to be right ere long, And my eyes have not the vision in them to discern what to these is so clear, The blot seems straightway in me alone; one better he were not here.
The stout upstanders say, All's well with us: ruers have nought to rue! And what the potent say so oft, can it fail to be somewhat true? Breezily go they, breezily come; their dust smokes around their career, Till I think I am one horn out of due time, who has no calling here.
Their dawns bring lusty joys, it seems; their eves exultance sweet; Our times are blessed times, they cry: Life shapes it as is most meet, And nothing is much the matter; there are many smiles to a tear; Then what is the matter is I, I say.
Why should such an one be here? Let him to whose ears the low-voiced Best seems stilled by the clash of the First, Who holds that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst, Who feels that delight is a delicate growth cramped by crookedness, custom, and fear, Get him up and be gone as one shaped awry; he disturbs the order here.
De Profundis III "Heu mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est! Habitavi cum habitantibus Cedar; multum incola fuit aninia mea.
There have been times when I well might have passed and the ending have come - Points in my path when the dark might have stolen on me, artless, unrueing - Ere I had learnt that the world was a welter of futile doing: Such had been times when I well might have passed, and the ending have come! Say, on the noon when the half-sunny hours told that April was nigh, And I upgathered and cast forth the snow from the crocus-border, Fashioned and furbished the soil into a summer-seeming order, Glowing in gladsome faith that I quickened the year thereby.
Or on that loneliest of eves when afar and benighted we stood, She who upheld me and I, in the midmost of Egdon together, Confident I in her watching and ward through the blackening heather, Deeming her matchless in might and with measureless scope endued.
Or on that winter-wild night when, reclined by the chimney-nook quoin, Slowly a drowse overgat me, the smallest and feeblest of folk there, Weak from my baptism of pain; when at times and anon I awoke there - Heard of a world wheeling on, with no listing or longing to join.
Even then! while unweeting that vision could vex or that knowledge could numb, That sweets to the mouth in the belly are bitter, and tart, and untoward, Then, on some dim-coloured scene should my briefly raised curtain have lowered, Then might the Voice that is law have said "Cease!" and the ending have come.

by Robert Herrick | |


 Charm me asleep, and melt me so
With thy delicious numbers;
That being ravish'd, hence I go
Away in easy slumbers.
Ease my sick head, And make my bed, Thou Power that canst sever From me this ill;-- And quickly still, Though thou not kill My fever.
Thou sweetly canst convert the same From a consuming fire, Into a gentle-licking flame, And make it thus expire.
Then make me weep My pains asleep, And give me such reposes, That I, poor I, May think, thereby, I live and die 'Mongst roses.
Fall on me like a silent dew, Or like those maiden showers, Which, by the peep of day, do strew A baptism o'er the flowers.
Melt, melt my pains With thy soft strains; That having ease me given, With full delight, I leave this light, And take my flight For Heaven.