Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Not alone in her vast dome of glory,

Not on graves of bird and beast alone,
But in old cathedrals, high and hoary,

On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone;

In the cottage of the rudest peasant,

In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers,
Speaking of the Past unto the Present,

Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers;
In all places, then, and in all seasons,

Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings,
Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons,

How akin they are to human things.
And with childlike, credulous affection

We behold their tender buds expand;
Emblems of our own great resurrection,

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,
There stood, as in an awful dream, | Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam
The army of the dead.

Portentous through the night.
White as a sea-fog, landward bound,

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 white pavilions rose and fell | The midnight phantoms feel the spell,
On the alarmèd air.

The shadows sweep away.
Down the broad valley fast and far Down the broad Vale of Tears afar
The troubled army fed ;

The spectral camp is fled ;
Up rose the glorious morning star, | Faith shineth as a morning star,
The ghastly host was dead.

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;
Caw! caw! the rooks are calling, No stain from its breath is spread
It is a sound of woe,

Over the glassy skies,
A sound of woe!

No mist or stain!
Through woods and mountain-passes Then, too, the Old Year dieto,
The winds, like anthems, roll;

And the forests utter a moan,
They are chanting solemn masses, Like the voice of one who crieth
Singing, “Pray for this poor soul, In the wilderness alone,
Pray,-pray!”

“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,
But their prayers are all in vain,

The wind Euroclydon,
All in vain !

The storm-wind!
There he stands in the foul weather, Howl ! bowl! and from the forest
The foolish, fond Old Year,

Sweep the red leaves away! Crowned with wild flowers and with Would the sins that thou abhorest, heather,

O Soul ! could thus decay,
Like weak, despised Lear,

And be swept away!
A king, -a king!

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 !
Gentle and low.

Christe, eleyson !

L'ENVOI.

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 !

Ballads.

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
Still in rude armour drest,

Comest to daunt me !
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,

Why dost thou haunt me?"

Then, from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the Northern skies

Gleam in December ;
Ana, like the water's flow
Under December's snow,
Came a dull voice of woe

From the heart's chamber

"I was a Viking old !

My deeds, though manifoid,
No Skald in song has told,

No Saga taught thee !
Take heed, that in thy verse
Thou dost the tale rehearse,
Else dread a dead man's curse !

For this I sought thee. “ Far in the Northern Land,

By the wild Balticis strand,
I, with my childish hand,

Tamed the ger-falcon ;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound

Trembled to walk on. " Oft to his frozen lair

Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare

Fled like a shadow ;
Oft through the forest dark
Pollowed the were-wolf's bark,
Until the soaring lark

Sang from the meadow.
But when I older grew,
Joining a corsair's crew,
O er the dark sea I flew

With the marauders.
Wild was the life we led;
Many the souls that sped,
Many the hearts that bled,

By our stern orders. “Many a wassail-bout

Wore the long Winter out;
Often our midnight shout

Set the cocks crowing,
As we the Berserk's tale
Measured in cups of ale,
Draining the oaken pail,

Filled to o'erflowing. “ Once, as I told in glee

Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft eyes did gaze on me,

Burning, yet tender ;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine

Fell their soft splendour. “I wooed the blue-eyed maid,

Yielding, yet half afraid,
And in the forest's shade

Our vows were plighted.

Under its loosened vest
Fluttered her little breast,
Like birds within their nest

By the hawk frighted. “ Bright in her father's hall

Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,

Chanting his glory;
When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter's hand,
Mute did the minstrel stand

To hear my story.
“ While the brown ale he quaffed,

Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft

The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn

Blew the foam lightly. “ She was a Prince's child,

I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,

I was discarded !
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew's flight,
Why did they leave that night

Her nest unguarded ? « Scarce had I put to sea,

Bearing the maid with me,-
Fairest of all was she

Among the Norsemen !
When on the white-sea strand,
Waving his armèd hand,
Saw we old Hildebrand,

With twenty horsemen.
“ Then launched they to the blast,

Bent like a reed each mast,
Yet we were gaining fast,

When the wind failed us ;
And with a sudden flaw
Came round the gusty Skaw,
So that our foe we saw

Laugh as he hailed us. And as to catch the gale

Round veered the flapping sail,
Death ! was the helmsman's hail,

Death without quarter !
Mid-ships with iron-keel
Struck we her ribs of steel;
Down her black hulk did reel

Through the black water,

As with his wings aslant,

Sails the fierce cormorant,
Seeking some rocky haunt,

With his prey laden :
So toward the open main,
Beating the sea again,
Through the wild hurricane,

Bore I the maiden.
“Three weeks we westward bore,

And when the storm was o'er,
Cloud-like we saw the shore

Stretching to leeward ;
There for my lady's bower
Built I the lofty tower,
Which, to this very hour,

Stands looking seaward. * There lived we many years ;

Time dried the maiden's tears ;
She had forgot her fears,

She was a mother ;

Death closed her mild blue eyes,
Under that tower she lies ;
Ne'er shall the sun arise

On such another !
“Still grew my bosom then,

Still as a stagnant fen !
Hateful to me were men,

The sunlight bateful !
In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,

Oh, death was grateful ! “ Thus, seamed with many scars,

Bursting these prison bars,
Up to its native stars

My soul ascended !
There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior's soul,
Skoal! to the Northland ! Skoal ! "*

-Thus the tale ended.

THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.
It was the schooner Hesperus,

That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,

To bear him company.
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,

That ope in the month of May.
The skipper he stood beside the helm,

His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow

The smoke now West, now South.
Then up and spake an old Sailor,

Had sailed the Spanish Main,
“I pray thee, put into yonder port,

For I fear a hurricane.
“Last night the moon had a golden ring,

And to-night no moon we see!”.
The skipper he blew a whiff from his pipe,

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,

« AnteriorContinuar »