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A WINTER'S EVENING HYMN TO MY
Meanwhile thou mellowest every word,
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
O thou of home the guardian Lar,
HOMESICK FOR THE COUNTRY.
I'n kind o' like to have a cot
Five acres more or less,
'T would suit my taste, guess, To have the porch with vines o'erhung,
With bells of pendant woodbine swung,
In every bell a bee ;
To solace mine and me,
Of wood-birds singing sweet ;
As who would say, “'Tis those, I ween, Whom lifelong armor-chafe makes lean
That win the laurel " ; While the gray snow-storm, held aloof, To softest outline rounds the roof, Or the rude North with baffled strain Shoulders the frost-starred window-pane ! Now the kind nymph to Bacchus borne By Morpheus' daughter, she that seems Gifted upon her natal morn By him with fire, by her with dreams, Nicotia, dearer to the Muse Than all the grapes' bewildering juice, We worship, unforbid of thee ; And, as her incense floats and curls In airy spires and wayward whirls, Or poises on its tremulous stalk A flower of frailest revery, So winds and loiters, idly free, The current of unguided talk, Now laughter-rippled, and now caught In smooth dark pools of deeper thought.
THE HOMES OF ENGLAND.
It was noon, and on flowers that languished around
In silence reposed the voluptuous bee; Every leaf was at rest, and I heard not a sound But the woodpecker tapping the hollow beech
And “Here in this lone little wood," I exclaimed, “With a maid who was lovely to soul and to
eye, Who would blush when I praised her, and weep if
I blamed, How blest could I live, and how calm could I
* By the shade of yon sumach, whose red berry
dips In the gush of the fountain, how sweet to
recline, And to know that I sighed upon innocent lips, Which had never been sighed on by any but
The stately Homes of England,
But where to find that happiest spot below, Who can direct, when all pretend to know? The shudd'ring tenant of the frigid zone Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own ; Extols the treasures of his stormy seas, And his long nights of revelry and ease : The naked negro, panting at the line, Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine, Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave, And thanks his gods for all the good they gave. Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam, His first, best country, ever is at home. And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare, And estimate the blessings which they share, Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find An equal portion dealt to all mankind ; As different good, by art or nature given, To different nations makes their blessing even.
The cottage Homes of England !
The free, fair Homes of England !
FILIAL AND FRATERNAL LOVE.
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer inine : There is a dungeon in whose dim drear light Go where I will, to me thou art the same, What do I gaze on? Nothing : look again !
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny,
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
The first were nothing, — had I still the last, Fresh as a nursing mother, in whose vein
It were the haven of my happiness ;
And mine is not the wish to make them less. With her unmantled neck, and bosom white and bare ?
A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress; Full swells the deep pure fountain of young life, Reversed for him our grandsire's fate of yore, Where on the heart and from the heart we took He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore. Our first and sweetest nurture, when the wife, Blest into mother, in the innocent look,
If my inheritance of storms hath been Or even the piping cry of lips that brook In other elements, and on the rocks No pain and small suspense, a joy perceives Of perils, overlooked or unforeseen, Man knows not, when from out its cradled nook I have sustained my share of worldly shocks,
She sees her little bud put forth its leaves - The fault was mine ; nor do I seek to screen What may the fruit be yet? I know not - Cain
My errors with defensive paradox ; was Eve's.
I have been cunning in mine overthrow, But here youth offers to old age the food,
The careful pilot of my proper woe. The milk of his own gift : it is her sire To whom she renders back the debt of blood Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward, Born with her birth. No! he shall not expire
My whole life was a contest, since the day While in those warm and lovely veins the fire That gave me being gave me that which marred Of health and holy feeling can provide
The gift, a fate, or will, that walked astray: Great Nature's Nile, whose deep stream rises And I at times have found the struggle hard, higher
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay : Than Egypt's river ; - from that gentle side
But now I fain would for a time survive, Drink, drink and live, old man ! Heaven's realm If but to see what next can well arrive. holds no such tide.
Kingdoms and empires in my little day The starry fable of the milky-way
I have outlived, and yet I am not old ; Has not thy story's purity; it is
And when I look on this, the petty spray A constellation of a sweeter ray,
Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled And sacred Nature triumphs more in this Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away : Reverse of her decree, than in the abyss
Something - I know not what — does still Where sparkle distant worlds :-0, holiest
uphold nurse !
A spirit of slight patience ; not in vain, No drop of that clear stream its way shall miss Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
To thy sire's heart, replenishing
- or perhaps of cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur, —
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
And with light armor we may learn to bear, ) My sister! my sweet sister ! if a name
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not Dearer and purer were, it should be thine, The chief companion of a calmer lot.
HIS SISTER, AUGUSTA LEIGH.
I feel almost at times as I have felt
Yet this was not the end I did pursue ; In happy childhood ; trees, and flowers, and Surely I once beheld a nobler aim, brooks,
But all is over ; I am one the more Which do remember me of where I dwelt, To baffled millions which have gone before.
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books, Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
And for the future, this world's future may My heart with recognition of their looks;
From me demand but little of my care ; And even at moments I could think I see
I have outlived myself by many a day : Some living thing to love, — but none like thee.
Having survived so many things that were ;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey Here are the Alpine landscapes which create Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
A fund for contemplation ; to adinire Of life which might have filled a century, Is a brief feeling of a trivial date ;
Before its fourth in time had passed me by. But something worthier do such scenes inspire. Here to be lonely is not desolate,
And for the remnant which may be to come, For much I view which I could most desire, I am content; and for the past I feel And, above all, a lake I can behold
Not thankless, -- for within the crowded sum Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb O that thou wert but with me!— but I grow My feelings farther. — Nor shall I conceal
The fool of my own wishes, and forget That with all this I still can look around, The solitude which I have vaunted so
And worship Nature with a thought profound. Has lost its praise in this but one regret; There may be others which I less may show; For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet I know myself secure, as thou in mine : I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
We were and are — - I am, even as thou art And the tide rising in my altered eye.
Beings who ne'er each other can resign ;
It is the same, together or apart, I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
From life's commencement to its slow decline By the old Hall which may be mine no more. We are intwined, — let death come slow or fast, Leman's is fair ? but think not I forsake
The tie which bound the first endures the last ! The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore ; Sad havoc Time must with my memory make,
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before ; Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
BERTHA IN THE LANE. Resigned forever, or divided far.
Put the broidery-frame away, The world is all before me; I but ask
For my sewing is all done! Of Nature that with which she will comply, – The last thread is used to-day, It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
And I need not join it on. To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
Though the clock stands at the noon, To see her gentle face without a mask,
I am weary! I have sewn,
Sweet, for thee, a wedding-gown.
Sister, help me to the bed,
And stand near me, dearest-sweet ! I can reduce all feelings but this one ;
Do not shrink nor be afraid, And that I would not; for at length I see
Blushing with a sudden heat ! Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
No one standeth in the street ! The earliest, – even the only paths for me,
By God's love I go to meet,
Love I thee with love complete.
These two hands, that I may hold
'Twixt their palms thy cheek and chin, With false Ambition what had I to do?
Stroking back the curls of gold. Little with Love, and least of all with Fame ! ”T is a fair, fair face, in sooth, And yet they came unsought, and with me grew, Larger eyes and redder mouth Andmade me all which they can make,
Than mine were in my first youth !
Thou art younger by seven years –
Ah! so bashful at my gaze
Grow too heavy to upraise ?
At the sight of the great sky;
Audibly did bud, — and bud ! Through the winding hedge-rows green,
How we wandered, I and you,
And the gates that showed the view;
Have I not been nigh a mother
To thy sweetness, - tell me, dear? Have we not loved one another
Tenderly, from year to year ?
Mother, mother, up in heaven,
Stand up on the jasper sea,
All the gifts required of me ;-
Till the pleasure, grown too strong,
Left me muter evermore ;
I walked out of sight, before ;
On the meadow-lands beyond.
Which leans over to the lane,
Did not promise any pain ;
Mother, mother, thou art kind,
Thou art standing in the room,
That rays off into the gloom !
But the sound grew into word
As the speakers drew more near Sweet, forgive me that I heard
What you wished me not to hear.
Ghostly mother, keep aloof
One hour longer from my soul,
Earth's warm-beating joy and dole !
When the night hides everything. Little sister, thou art pale !
Ah, I have a wandering brain ;
And my thoughts grow calm again.
Yes, and he too! let him stand
In thy thoughts, untouched by blame. Could he help it, if my hand
He had claimed with hasty claim !
Women cannot judge for men.
He would love but me alone ?
To our kin in Sidmouth town.
Dear, I heard thee in the spring,
Thee and Robert, through the trees, When we all went gathering
Boughs of May-bloom for the bees.
Could we blame him with grave words,
Thou and I, dear, if we might ? Thy brown eyes have looks like birds
Flying straightway to the light ; Mine are older. -- Hush !- look out Up the street! Is none without ? How the poplar swings about !
What a day it was, that day !
Hills and vales did openly Seem to heave and throb away,