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XCVIII.

CONFIRMATION.

THE shadow of th’ Almighty's cloud

Calm on the tents of Israel lay, While drooping paus’d twelve banners proud,

Till He arise and lead the way.

Then to the desert breeze unroll'd

Cheerly the waving pennons ily, Lion or eagle-each bright fold

A lodestar to a warrior's eye.

So should thy champions, ere the strife,

By holy hands o'er-shadow'd kneel, So, fearless for their charmed life,

Bear, to the end, thy Spirit's seal.

Steady and pure as stars that beam

In middle heaven, all mist above, Seen deepest in the frozen stream :

Such is their high courageous love.

And soft as pure, and warm as bright,

They brood upon life's peaceful hour, As if the Dove that guides their flight

Shook from her plumes a downy shower.

Spirit of might and sweetness too!

Now leading on the wars of God, Now to green isles of shade and dew

Turning the waste thy people trod;

Draw, Holy Ghost, thy seven-fold veil

Between us and the fires of youth ; Breathe, Holy Ghost, thy freshening gale,

Our fever'd brow in age to soothe.

And oft as sin and sorrow tire,

The hallow'd hour do Thou renew, When beckon'd up the awful choir

By pastoral hands, toward Thee we drew; When trembling at the sacred rail

We hid our eyes and held our breath, Felt thee how strong, our hearts how frail,

And long'd to own thee to the death.

For ever on our souls be trac'd

That blessing dear, that dove-like hand, A sheltering rock in Memory's waste,

O'er-shadowing all the weary land.

XCIX.

MATRIMONY.

THERE is an awe in mortals' joy,

A deep mysterious fear
Half of the heart will still employ,

As if we drew too near
To Eden's portal, and those fires
That bicker round in wavy spires,
Forbidding, to our frail desires,

What cost us once so dear.

We cower before th' heart-searching eye

In rapture as in pain;
Even wedded Love, till Thou be nigh,

Dares not believe her gain :
Then in the air she fearless springs,
The breath of Heaven beneath her wings,
And leaves her woodnotes wild, and sings

A tun'd and measur'd strain.

Ill fare the lay, though soft as dew

And free as air it fall,
That, with thine altar full in view,

Thy votaries would enthrall
To a foul dream, of heathen night,
Lifting her torch in Love's despite
And scaring, with base wildfire light,

The sacred nuptial hall.

Far other strains, far other fires,

Our marriage offering grace; Welcome, all chaste and kind desires,

With even matron pace Approaching down the hallow'd aisle ! Where should ye seek Love's perfect smile, But where your prayers were learn'd erewhile,

In her own native place?

Where, but on His benignest brow,

Who waits to bless you here?
Living, He own’d no nuptial vow,

No bower to Fancy dear :
Love's very self-for Him no need
To nurse, on earth, the heavenly seed:

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