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I asked the ancient, venerable dead,
Sages who wrote, and warriors who bled:
From the cold grave a hollow murmur flowed,
"Time sowed the seed we reap in this abode !"
I asked a dying sinner, ere the tide
Of life had left his veins: "Time!" he replied;
"I've lost it! ah, the treasure!"—and he died.
I asked the golden sun and silver spheres,
Those bright chronometers of days and years:
They answered, "Time is but a meteor glare,"
And bade me for eternity prepare.
I asked the Seasons, in their annual round,
Which beautify or desolate the ground;
And they replied (no oracle more wise),
"Tis Folly's blank, and Wisdom's highest prize!"
I asked a spirit lost, but O the shriek
THE JESTER'S SERMON.
That pierced my soul! I shudder while I speak. THE Jester shook his hood and bells, and leaped
It cried, "A particle a speck! a mite
Of endless years, duration infinite!"
Of things inanimate my dial I
Consulted, and it made me this reply, -
"Time is the season fair of living well,
The path of glory or the path of hell."
I asked my Bible, and methinks it said,
"Time is the present hour, the past has fled;
Live! live to-day! to-morrow never yet
On any human being rose or set."
I asked old Father Time himself at last;
But in a moment he flew swiftly past,
His chariot was a cloud, the viewless wind
His noiseless steeds, which left no trace behind.
I asked the mighty angel who shall stand
One foot on sea and one on solid land:
The page played with the heron's plume, the
steward with his chain,
The butler drummed upon the board, and laughed with might and main ;
“Mortal!" he cried, "the mystery now is o'er; The grooms beat on their metal cans, and roared
Time was, Time is, but Time shall be no more!"
till they were red,
But still the Jester shut his eyes and rolled his witty head;
And I did laugh, sans intermission,
An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.
DUKE S. What fool is this?
JAQUES. O worthy fool! - One that hath been
a courtier ;
And says, if ladies be but young and fair,
They have the gift to know it: and in his brain-
Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
After a voyage - he hath strange places crammed
With observation, the which he vents
In mangled forms.
upon a chair,
The pages laughed, the women screamed, and
tossed their scented hair;
The falcon whistled, staghounds bayed, the lap-
dog barked without,
The scullion dropped the pitcher brown, the cook
railed at the lout!
The steward, counting out his gold, let pouch and money fall,
And why? because the Jester rose to say grace in the hall!
And when they grew a little still, read half a yard
And, waving hand, struck on the desk, then frowned like one perplexed.
"Good morrow, fool," quoth I. No, sir," quoth he,
"Dear sinners all," the fool began, "man's life is but a jest,
"Call me not fool, till heaven hath sent me for- A dream, a shadow, bubble, air, a vapor at the best,
And then he drew a dial from his poke,
In a thousand pounds of law I find not a single
ounce of love;
And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye,
Says very wisely, "It is ten o'clock:
A blind man killed the parson's cow in shooting
at the dove;
Thus may we see," quoth he, "how the world wags: The fool that eats till he is sick must fast till he
"T is but an hour ago since it was nine;
And after one hour more 't will be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale." When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,
That fools should be so deep contemplative;
The wooer who can flatter most will bear away the belle.
"Let no man halloo he is safe till he is through the wood;
He who will not when he may, must tarry when
He who laughs at crooked men should need walk | He frothed his bumpers to the brim ;
A jollier year we shall not see.
O, he who once has won a name may lie abed | But though his eyes are waxing dim,
And though his foes speak ill of him,
Make haste to purchase house and land, be very He was a friend to me.
slow to wed;
True coral needs no painter's brush, nor need be daubed with red.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I've half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.
He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.
How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro :
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
'T is nearly twelve o'clock.
Shake hands before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.
His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.
THE Conference-meeting through at last,
We boys around the vestry waited
To see the girls come tripping past
Like snowbirds willing to be mated.
Not braver he that leaps the wall
By level musket-flashes litten,
Than I, who stepped before them all,
Who longed to see me get the mitten.
But no; she blushed, and took my arm!
We let the old folks have the highway,
And started toward the Maple Farm
Along a kind of lover's by-way.
It is her thirtieth birthday! With a sigh
Her soul hath turned from youth's luxuriant
And her heart taken up the last sweet tie
That measured out its links of golden hours!
She feels her inmost soul within her stir
The snow was crisp beneath our feet,
The moon was full, the fields were gleaming; By hood and tippet sheltered sweet,
With thoughts too wild and passionate to speak;
Her face with youth and health was beaming. Yet her full heart — its own interpreter — Translates itself in silence on her cheek.
I can't remember what we said,
'T was nothing worth a song or story; Yet that rude path by which we sped
Seemed all transformed and in a glory.
From a fissure in a rocky steep He withdrew a stone, o'er which there ran Fairy pencillings, a quaint design, Veinings, leafage, fibres clear and fine, And the fern's life lay in every line! So, I think, God hides some souls away, Sweetly to surprise us, the last day.
To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language: for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty; and she glides
Into his darker musings with a mild
And gentle sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart,
Go forth under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around-
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air-
Comes a still voice, - Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again ;
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements;
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world, with kings,
The powerful of the earth, the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills,
Rock-ribbed, and ancient as the sun; the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between ;
The venerable woods; rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks,
That make the meadows green; and, poured
Old ocean's gray and melancholy waste, -
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber its bosom. Take the wings
Of morning, traverse Barca's desert sands,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
Save his own dashings, yet the dead are there!
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep, — the dead reign there alone!
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one, as before, will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall