Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

"'Twas Angels all, a dazzling throng, With wings of rose and golden down, With hair of sunbeams pale and long, To each bright face a streaming crown. 20.

"They floated o'er the trees and rocks,

They sat o'er all the grassy dell, They hid the hills in glancing flocks, And seemed amid the stars to dwell. 21. "And One to me, the nearest there, Upon a brown and craggy steep, Raised up toward heaven a face so

fair,

With inmost joy I longed to weep.

22. "He held a branch of darkest yew That dropped with glittering tears of rain,

And loud he sang a song that drew All things around beneath the strain. 23.

"He sang of love, and death, and life, And worlds and hearts, the homes of these ;

Of peace that conquers every strife, Of grief whose pang the spirit frees;

24.

More softly gleamed with shifting dyes,

And flushing drank the blissful sound. 26.

"Of all that is, and journeys on From worst of ill to best of good; For not a moment e'er is gone But in the next survives renewed. 25. "And while he sang, the earth and skies,

And all those countless forms around,

VOL. XLIV. NO, CCLXXIII.

[blocks in formation]

35.

"And when that frozen face I saw,
So calm, so chill, without a breath,
The giant shape I knew with awe,
And owned the king was Death.
36.

"The dread lips moved; a voice there

came,

Like midnight wind in trees:
All shook around, as waves a flame
Beneath a gusty breeze.

37.
"I claim my own,' the Shadow said;
If any answers, No!

His life must ransom this, my dead,
Who thus shall 'scape from wo.'
38.
"O'er all those Angel faces fell
A sad and helpless gloom;
The building seemed a mouldering
cell,

A dark and misty tomb.
39.

"Then loud I spake, with swelling voice,―

To him thy respite give,

And hear my swift and willing choice Nor taught me more to fear.
To die that he may live.'

47.

40.
"Before the lowly bier I knelt,
And kissed the lips and eyes,
And o'er the face a warmth I felt,
And saw new life arise.
41.

"There dawned again my Henry's look,
And feebly met my view;
With sighs and throbs his bosom shook,
His eyes my presence knew.

1.

Upon the spring-clad fields and woods, The churchyard graves and tall church-tower,

The warm, pure daylight softly broods,
And fills with life the morning hour.

2.

42.

"Above him poured a blaze of light,
And, looking whence it flowed,
The boundless form was dazzling
bright,

The darkness round him glowed.

The vast sepulchral Yew-tree waves,
And feels the sunshine cheer the shade,
And e'en the low and grassy graves
Appear in living slumber laid.

3.

The only sad and helpless thing,
That May-day makes not less forlorn,
Is that old man, to whom the spring
Is dead, and dead the breezy morn.

43. "Like God he sat, serene and mild, In snowy whiteness clad; His face with sunlike glory smiled, And made all being glad.

44.

4.

These live not now, for all is dead
With her who lies below the sod;
His daughter from his life is fled,"
And leaves but dust by spectres trod.

"No roof was there; the stars of heaven
Were shining round his head,
And o'er his brow a Crown of Seven
Their wondrous lustre shed.

45.

"In circling lines the Angel race,
A world of lights, rose high;
And joy shone bright in every face,
And love in every eye.

PART IX.

46.

"But Angels' looks were nought to

me,

Who saw beside me clear

My Henry's eyes, that now could see,

"No voice of God or Angel spoke,
And I was Henry's own;
But when upon my bed I woke,
I found myself alone.

48.

"But still I saw his fondest gaze,
Who bade affright be dumb;
And, filled with peacefullest amaze,
I knew my end was come."

5.

The smooth sweet air is blowing round,
It is a Spirit of hope to all;
It whispers o'er the wakening ground,
And countless daisies hear the call.
6.

It mounts and sings away to heaven,
And 'mid each light and lovely cloud;
To it the lark's loud joys are given,
And young leaves answer it aloud.

7. It skims above the flat green meadow, And darkening sweeps the gray mill

stream;

Along the hill it drives the shadow,
And sports and warms in the skiey beam.

8.

But round that hoar and haggard man
It cannot shed a glimpse of gladness;
He wastes beneath a separate ban,
An exile to a world of sadness.

9.

Upon a bench before his door He sits, with weak and staring eyes, He sits and looks, for straight before The grave that holds his daughter lies. 10. If any come with him to speak, In dull harsh words he bids them go; For this strong earth he seems too weak,

For breathing life too cramped and slow.

11. A gnawing rage, an aimless heat, Have scored and set his grating face; His eyes like ghosts the gazer greet, The guards of misery's dwelling-place.

12.

A sun-dial pillar left alone,
On which no dial meets the eye;
A black mill-wheel with grass o'er-
grown

That hears no water trickle by;
13.
Dark palsied mass of severed rock,
Deaf, blind, and sere to sun and rain ;
A shattered gravestone's time-worn
block

That only shows the name of Jane. 14. 'Tis thus he sits from hour to hour, Amid the breeze beneath the sky; And still, when beats the noisy shower, The cottage doorway keeps him dry.

15.

With open door he shelters there,
A pace behind his outward seat;
And, fixed upon his old arm-chair,
Looks through the rain from his re-
treat.

16.

Upon his daughter's grave he stares,
As if her form he thought would rise,
For all to him the semblance wears
Of mist that has his daughter's eyes.
17.
He heeds not passing beast nor men,
Nor wain at hand, nor distant plough;
Not e'en a burial draws his ken-
He is no longer Sexton now.
18.

But while, like some gray stump, he sits,

Dried up at root, and shorn of all, Still nature round him works and flits,

And fills and lights her festival. 19.

And e'en around his daughter's grave, Where Life for him in Death is cold, Fair growth goes on, and grasses wave, And coloured flies their revels hold.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

43.

He tended still the primrose flowers, He decked with them his Mary's mound,

From morning's burst to soothing eve He loitered near the hallowed spot; And though he never ceased to grieve, The pangs of grief he now forgot.

In what to him were Sabbath hours On Henry's grave he set them round.

44. And sometimes when a funeral came, With pensive eyes the train he saw; Bareheaded stood, and so would claim His share in others' grief and awe. 45. But once 'twas more than this. There died

A worn-out widow's only good, A daughter, all her help and pride, Who toiled to gain their daily food. 46. Who saw their state might well confess

Such boundless want was strange to

see,

For little can the rich man guess
The poor man's utter poverty.
47.

And when the burial all was o'er, And there the mother stayed alone, With fingers clasped, and weeping

[blocks in formation]

THOUGHTS ON ORPHEUS.

OH, the blessing upon and throughout the whole man, of the first real, warm, green light, and genial glow of Spring! Not as it is seen in towns, giving but a more brazen face to brick presumption, but as it steals gently upon the country, amid rocks and trees, into the deep shade, like a longmourned spirit returning re-embodied from the dead, bearing at once the twofold charm of earthly and Elysian loveliness. Such was Alcestis-Alcestis! the restored Alcestis! We have been reading the beautiful tale the volume of Euripides is open upon the now growing grass-our scholars, whose youthful, hopeful hearts, drew in from the gentle Greek generosity, and the sweet passion, even hence incipient, and soon ready to burst the bud, and open with the promise of perfect love our scholars have bounded away like young fawns stricken, not unconscious of the pleasing wound; and we, lying upon the sunny green, saw them upon the verge of the shade, the dark eye, as it were, of the deep dell before us-and a change came o'er them and us. Is it dream or vision? They have robed behind the trees, and bearded too-they present us with their tasks-we take them graciously.-So-they are signed, Euripides-Shakspeare - Alcestisthe Winter's Tale. Then two come up behind them, and look over their shoulders. We know them instinctively-Virgil and Ovid; and there leans the melancholy Orpheus beneath the caverned rock; and deep in its hollow are dimly seen Eurydice and Alcestis in parting embrace, and one with head averted, and in deeper shadow-Alcestis bending forwards, and half in a reflected mysterious light. Then came another, and took up the lyre which Orpheus had left unheeded beside him. He struck; it was Gluck's "Euridice:" "Che farò senza Euridice? dóve andrò senza il mio ben?" Oh, the heart-piercing sounds! Orpheus started up and rushed into the deepest wood, and the voice of his moaning was lost in the indistinct howling of the dimly moving tigers that followed the incantation of his wo. Then did the measure change

to a dying sound; and Alcestis fell back in the shade, fainting upon the supporting arm of a scarce distinguishable figure; and the music was also Gluck's, "Le pur cara è a me la vita." We awoke-the vision passed

Oh, that it would return!

But here is the most substantive presence of it still before us. Here lie the sun-lit pages worthy of such illumination-Euripides, Virgil, Ovid, Orpheus, Shakspeare; and, apart, what is this modest volume? Elton! His tale, too, is of Orpheus-it is a dream. We must, however, keep up our character of Master, and hear our class. The tale of Orpheus is, doubtless, the original of the plays. And how simple the story is! Örpheus, a man-more, a poet-a husband-more, an adoring husbandloses his wife. Lyre in hand, he descends to the infernal regions, and by his art of song obtains the boon h seeks her restoration, but upon the condition that he must not look back in the passage to the upper world. He is overcome by his love, and regards not the condition. He looks back, and she is lost to him-for ever! Here all is tragic, for Orpheus himself is torn to pieces by the Bacchants whose love he scorns. How could this tale have arisen but from a dream? how often does the blessedness of sleep restore!—Then the waking-the looking back—and what utter desolation is there of the heart! As Wordsworth says of his Lucy, "Oh! the difference to me," a fully exact translation of the passage in Euripides of the exclamation of the husband of Alcestis-Toλù yàg Tò μścov.

Admetus. Ω σχῆμα δόμων, πως εἰσέλθω;

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »