« AnteriorContinuar »
Not alone in her vast dome of glory,
Not on graves of bird and beast alone,
On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone;
In the cottage of the rudest peasant,
In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers,
Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers;
Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings,
How akin they are to human things.
We behold their tender buds expand;
Emblems of the bright and better land.
THE BELEAGUERED CITY.
I HAVE read, in some old marvellous I have read, in the marvellous heart of tale,
man, Some legend strange and vague,
That strange and mystic scroll, That a midnight host of spectres pale That an army of phantoms vast and wan Beleaguered the walls of Prague.
Beleaguer the human soul. Beside the Moldau's rushing stream,
Encamped beside Life's rushing stream, With the wan moon overhead,
In Fancy's misty light,
Portentous through the night.
Upon its midnight battle-ground The spectral camp was seen,
The spectral camp is seen, And, with a sorrowful, deep sound,
| And, with a sorrowful, deep sound, The river flowed between.
Flows the River of Life between.
No other voice nor sound is there, No other voice nor sound was there,
In the army of the grave; No drum, nor sentry's pace;
No other challenge breaks the air, The mist-like banners clasped the air
But the rushing of Life's wave. As clouds with clouds embrace.
And, when the solemn and deep churchBut, when the old cathedral bell
bell Proclaimed the morning prayer,
Entreats the soul to pray,
The shadows sweep away.
The spectral camp is fled ;
Our ghastly fears are dead.
MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING YEAR.
Yes, the Year is growing old,
To the crimson woods he saith, And his eye is pale and bleared!
To the voice gentle and low Death, with frosty hand and cold, Of the soft air, like a daughter's breath, Plucks the old man by the beard,
"Pray do not mock me so ! Sorely,--sorely !
Do not laugh at me!". The leaves are falling, falling,
| And now the sweet day is dead ! Solemnly and slow;
Cold in his arms it lies;
Over the glassy skies,
No mist or stain!
And the forests utter a moan,
“Vex not his ghost !" And the hooded clouds, like friars, Then comes, with an awful roar,
Tell their beads in drops of rain, Gathering and sounding on, And patter their doleful prayers ;
The storm-wind from Labrador,
The wind Euroclydon,
Sweep the red leaves away! Crowned with wild flowers and with Would the sins that thou abhorest, heather,
O Soul ! could thus decay,
And be swept away!
For there shall come a mightier blast, Then comes the summer-like day,
There shall be a darker day; Bids the old man rejoice!
And the stars, from heaven down-cast, His joy! his last! Oh, the old man gray Like red leaves be swept away! Loveth that ever-soft voice,
Kyrie, eleyson !
Christe, eleyson !
Ye voices, that arose
| Go, mingle yet once more After the Evening's close,
With the perpetual roar And whispered to my restless heart of the pine forest, dark and hoar ! repose !
Tongues of the dead, not lost, Go, breathe it in the ear
But speaking from death's frost, Of all who doubt and fear,
Like fiery tongues at Pentecost ! And say to them, “Be of good cheer !"
Glimmer, as funeral lamps, Ye sounds, so low and calm,
Amid the chills and damps That in the groves of balm
Of the vast plain where Death enSeemed to me like an angel's psalm! I camps !
THE SKELETON IN ARMOUR.
PREFATORY NOTE The following Ballad was suggested to me while riding on the seashore at Newport. A year or two previous a skeleton had been dug up at Fall River, clad in broken and corroded armour; and the idea occurred to me of connecting it with the Round Tower at Newport, generally known hitherto as the Old Windmill, though now claimed by the Danes as a work of their early ancestors. Professor Rafn, in the Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, for 1838-9, says,
“There is no mistaking in this instance the style in which the more ancient stone edifices of the North were constructed, the style which belongs to the Roman or AnteGothic architecture, and which, especially after the time of Charlemagne, diffused itself from Italy over the whole of the West and North of Europe, where it continued to predominate until the close of the twelfth century; that style which some authors have, from one of its most striking characteristics, called the round-arch style, the same which in England is denominated Saxon and sometimes Norman architecture.
“On the ancient structure in Newport there are no ornaments remaining which might possibly have served to guide us in assigning the probable date of its erection. That no vestige whatever is found of the pointed arch, nor any approximation to it, is indicative of an earlier rather than of a later period. From such characteristics as remain, however, we can scarcely form any other inference than one, in which I am persuaded that all who are familiar with Old Northern architecture will concur, THAT THIS BUILDING WAS ERECTED AT A PERIOD DECIDEDLY NOT LATER THAN THE TWELFTH CENTURY. This remark applies, of course, to the original building only, and not to the alterations that it subsequently received; for there are several such alterations in the upper part of the building which cannot be mistaken, and which were most likely occasioned by its being adapted in modern times to various uses, for example, as the substructure of a windmill, and latterly as a hay magazine. To the same times may be referred the windows, the fireplace, and the apertures made above the columns. That this building could not have been erected for a windmill is what an architect will easily discern."
I will not enter into a discussion of the point. It is sufficiently well established for the purpose of a ballad, though doubtless many an honest citizen of Newport, who has passed his days within sight of the Round Tower, will be ready to exclaim with Sancho," Goa bless me! did I not warn you to have a care of what you were doing, for that it was nothing but a windmill ? and nobody could mistake it but one who had the like in his head."
“ SPEAK ! speak ! thou fearful guest !
Who, with thy hollow breast
Comest to daunt me !
Why dost thou haunt me?"
Then, from those cavernous eyes
Gleam in December ;
From the heart's chamber
"I was a Viking old !
My deeds, though manifoid,
No Saga taught thee !
For this I sought thee. “ Far in the Northern Land,
By the wild Balticis strand,
Tamed the ger-falcon ;
Trembled to walk on. " Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grisly bear,
Fled like a shadow ;
Sang from the meadow.
With the marauders.
By our stern orders. “Many a wassail-bout
Wore the long Winter out;
Set the cocks crowing,
Filled to o'erflowing. “ Once, as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Burning, yet tender ;
Fell their soft splendour. “I wooed the blue-eyed maid,
Yielding, yet half afraid,
Our vows were plighted.
Under its loosened vest
By the hawk frighted. “ Bright in her father's hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Chanting his glory;
To hear my story.
Loud then the champion laughed,
The sea-foam brightly,
Blew the foam lightly. “ She was a Prince's child,
I but a Viking wild,
I was discarded !
Her nest unguarded ? « Scarce had I put to sea,
Bearing the maid with me,-
Among the Norsemen !
With twenty horsemen.
Bent like a reed each mast,
When the wind failed us ;
Laugh as he hailed us. “ And as to catch the gale
Round veered the flapping sail,
Death without quarter !
Through the black water,
“ As with his wings aslant,
Sails the fierce cormorant,
With his prey laden :
Bore I the maiden.
And when the storm was o'er,
Stretching to leeward ;
Stands looking seaward. * There lived we many years ;
Time dried the maiden's tears ;
She was a mother ;
Death closed her mild blue eyes,
On such another !
Still as a stagnant fen !
The sunlight bateful !
Oh, death was grateful ! “ Thus, seamed with many scars,
Bursting these prison bars,
My soul ascended !
-Thus the tale ended.
THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.
That sailed the wintry sea;
To bear him company.
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
That ope in the month of May.
His pipe was in his mouth,
The smoke now West, now South.
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
For I fear a hurricane.
And to-night no moon we see!”.
And a scornful laugh laughed he.
* In Scandinavia this is the customary salutation when drinking a health. I have lightly changed the orthography of the word, in order to preserve the correct pronuntation,