Oh, deem not they are blest alone
Whose lives a peaceful tenor keep;
The Power who pities man, has shown
A blessing for the eyes that weep.
The light of smiles shall fill again
The lids that overflow with tears;
And weary hours of woe and pain
Are promises of happier years.
There is a day of sunny rest
For every dark and troubled night;
And grief may bide an evening guest,
But joy shall come with early light.
And thou, who, o’er thy friend’s low bier,
Sheddest the bitter drops like rain,
Hope that a brighter, happier sphere
Will give him to thy arms again.
Nor let the good man’s trust depart,
Though life its common gifts deny,–
Though with a pierced and broken heart,
And spurned of men, he goes to die.
For God has marked each sorrowing day
And numbered every secret tear,
And heaven’s long age of bliss shall pay
For all his children suffer here.
“NO MAN KNOWETH HIS SEPULCHRE.”
When he, who, from the scourge of wrong,
Aroused the Hebrew tribes to fly,
Saw the fair region, promised long,
And bowed him on the hills to die;
God made his grave, to men unknown,
Where Moab’s rocks a vale infold,
And laid the aged seer alone
To slumber while the world grows old.
Thus still, whene’er the good and just
Close the dim eye on life and pain,
Heaven watches o’er their sleeping dust
Till the pure spirit comes again.
Though nameless, trampled, and forgot,
His servant’s humble ashes lie,
Yet God has marked and sealed the spot,
To call its inmate to the sky.
A WALK AT SUNSET.
When insect wings are glistening in the beam
Of the low sun, and mountain-tops are bright,
Oh, let me, by the crystal valley-stream,
Wander amid the mild and mellow light;
And while the wood-thrush pipes his evening lay,
Give me one lonely hour to hymn the setting day.
Oh, sun! that o’er the western mountains now
Goest down in glory! ever beautiful
And blessed is thy radiance, whether thou
Colourest the eastern heaven and night-mist cool,
Till the bright day-star vanish, or on high
Climbest and streamest thy white splendours from mid-sky.
Yet, loveliest are thy setting smiles, and fair,
Fairest of all that earth beholds, the hues
That live among the clouds, and flush the air,
Lingering and deepening at the hour of dews.
Then softest gales are breathed, and softest heard
The plaining voice of streams, and pensive note of bird.
They who here roamed, of yore, the forest wide,
Felt, by such charm, their simple bosoms won;
They deemed their quivered warrior, when he died,
Went to bright isles beneath the setting sun;
Where winds are aye at peace, and skies are fair,
And purple-skirted clouds curtain the crimson air.
So, with the glories of the dying day,
Its thousand trembling lights and changing hues,
The memory of the brave who passed away
Tenderly mingled;–fitting hour to muse
On such grave theme, and sweet the dream that shed
Brightness and beauty round the destiny of the dead.
For ages, on the silent forests here,
Thy beams did fall before the red man came
To dwell beneath them; in their shade the deer
Fed, and feared not the arrow’s deadly aim.
Nor tree was felled, in all that world of woods,
Save by the beaver’s tooth, or winds, or rush of floods.
Then came the hunter tribes, and thou didst look,
For ages, on their deeds in the hard chase,
And well-fought wars; green sod and silver brook
Took the first stain of blood; before thy face
The warrior generations came and passed,
And glory was laid up for many an age to last.
Now they are gone, gone as thy setting blaze
Goes down the west, while night is pressing on,
And with them the old tale of better days,
And trophies of remembered power, are gone.
Yon field that gives the harvest, where the plough
Strikes the white bone, is all that tells their story now.
I stand upon their ashes in thy beam,
The offspring of another race, I stand,
Beside a stream they loved, this valley stream;
And where the night-fire of the quivered band
Showed the gray oak by fits, and war-song rung,
I teach the quiet shades the strains of this new tongue.
Farewell! but thou shalt come again–thy light
Must shine on other changes, and behold
The place of the thronged city still as night–
States fallen–new empires built upon the old–
But never shalt thou see these realms again
Darkened by boundless groves, and roamed by savage men.
HYMN TO DEATH.
Oh! could I hope the wise and pure in heart
Might hear my song without a frown, nor deem
My voice unworthy of the theme it tries,–
I would take up the hymn to Death, and say
To the grim power: The world hath slandered thee
And mocked thee. On thy dim and shadowy brow
They place an iron crown, and call thee king
Of terrors, and the spoiler of the world,
Deadly assassin, that strik’st down the fair,
The loved, the good–that breathest on the lights
Of virtue set along the vale of life,
And they go out in darkness. I am come,
Not with reproaches, not with cries and prayers,
Such as have stormed thy stern, insensible ear
from the beginning. I am come to speak
Thy praises. True it is, that I have wept
Thy conquests, and may weep them yet again:
And thou from some I love wilt take a life
Dear to me as my own. Yet while the spell
Is on my spirit, and I talk with thee
In sight of all thy trophies, face to face,
Meet is it that my voice should utter forth
Thy nobler triumphs; I will teach the world
To thank thee.–Who are thine accusers?–Who?
The living!–they who never felt thy power,
And know thee not. The curses of the wretch
Whose crimes are ripe, his sufferings when thy hand
Is on him, and the hour he dreads is come,
Are writ among thy praises. But the good–
Does he whom thy kind hand dismissed to peace,
Upbraid the gentle violence that took off
His fetters, and unbarred his prison cell?
Raise then the hymn to Death. Deliverer!
God hath anointed thee to free the oppressed
And crush the oppressor. When the armed chief,
The conqueror of nations, walks the world,
And it is changed beneath his feet, and all
Its kingdoms melt into one mighty realm–
Thou, while his head is loftiest and his heart
Blasphemes, imagining his own right hand
Almighty, thou dost set thy sudden grasp
Upon him, and the links of that strong chain
That bound mankind are crumbled; thou dost break
Sceptre and crown, and beat his throne to dust.
Then the earth shouts with gladness, and her tribes
Gather within their ancient bounds again.
Else had the mighty of the olden time,
Nimrod, Sesostris, or the youth who feigned
His birth from Libyan Ammon, smitten yet
The nations with a rod of iron, and driven
Their chariot o’er our necks. Thou dost avenge,
In thy good time, the wrongs of those who know
No other friend. Nor dost thou interpose
Only to lay the sufferer asleep,
Where he who made him wretched troubles not
His rest–thou dost strike down his tyrant too.
Oh, there is joy when hands that held the scourge
Drop lifeless, and the pitiless heart is cold.
Thou too dost purge from earth its horrible
And old idolatries;–from the proud fanes
Each to his grave their priests go out, till none
Is left to teach their worship; then the fires
Of sacrifice are chilled, and the green moss
O’ercreeps their altars; the fallen images
Cumber the weedy courts, and for loud hymns,
Chanted by kneeling multitudes, the wind
Shrieks in the solitary aisles. When he
Who gives his life to guilt, and laughs at all
The laws that God or man has made, and round
Hedges his seat with power, and shines in wealth,–
Lifts up his atheist front to scoff at Heaven,
And celebrates his shame in open day,
Thou, in the pride of all his crimes, cutt’st off
The horrible example. Touched by thine,
The extortioner’s hard hand foregoes the gold
Wrung from the o’er-worn poor. The perjurer,
Whose tongue was lithe, e’en now, and voluble
Against his neighbour’s life, and he who laughed
And leaped for joy to see a spotless fame
Blasted before his own foul calumnies,
Are smit with deadly silence. He, who sold
His conscience to preserve a worthless life,
Even while he hugs himself on his escape,
Trembles, as, doubly terrible, at length,
Thy steps o’ertake him, and there is no time
For parley–nor will bribes unclench thy grasp.
Oft, too, dost thou reform thy victim, long
Ere his last hour. And when the reveller,
Mad in the chase of pleasure, stretches on,
And strains each nerve, and clears the path of life
Like wind, thou point’st him to the dreadful goal,
And shak’st thy hour-glass in his reeling eye,
And check’st him in mid course. Thy skeleton hand
Shows to the faint of spirit the right path,
And he is warned, and fears to step aside.
Thou sett’st between the ruffian and his crime
Thy ghastly countenance, and his slack hand
Drops the drawn knife. But, oh, most fearfully
Dost thou show forth Heaven’s justice, when thy shafts
Drink up the ebbing spirit–then the hard
Of heart and violent of hand restores
The treasure to the friendless wretch he wronged.
Then from the writhing bosom thou dost pluck
The guilty secret; lips, for ages sealed,
Are faithless to the dreadful trust at length,
And give it up; the felon’s latest breath
Absolves the innocent man who bears his crime;
The slanderer, horror-smitten, and in tears,
Recalls the deadly obloquy he forged
To work his brother’s ruin. Thou dost make
Thy penitent victim utter to the air
The dark conspiracy that strikes at life,
And aims to whelm the laws; ere yet the hour
Is come, and the dread sign of murder given.
Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been found
On virtue’s side; the wicked, but for thee,
Had been too strong for the good; the great of earth
Had crushed the weak for ever. Schooled in guile
For ages, while each passing year had brought
Its baneful lesson, they had filled the world
With their abominations; while its tribes,
Trodden to earth, imbruted, and despoiled,
Had knelt to them in worship; sacrifice
Had smoked on many an altar, temple roofs
Had echoed with the blasphemous prayer and hymn:
But thou, the great reformer of the world,
Tak’st off the sons of violence and fraud
In their green pupilage, their lore half learned–
Ere guilt had quite o’errun the simple heart
God gave them at their birth, and blotted out
His image. Thou dost mark them flushed with hope,
As on the threshold of their vast designs
Doubtful and loose they stand, and strik’st them down.
* * * * *
Alas! I little thought that the stern power
Whose fearful praise I sung, would try me thus
Before the strain was ended. It must cease–
For he is in his grave who taught my youth
The art of verse, and in the bud of life
Offered me to the muses. Oh, cut off
Untimely! when thy reason in its strength,
Ripened by years of toil and studious search,
And watch of Nature’s silent lessons, taught
Thy hand to practise best the lenient art
To which thou gavest thy laborious days,
And, last, thy life. And, therefore, when the earth
Received thee, tears were in unyielding eyes
And on hard cheeks, and they who deemed thy skill
Delayed their death-hour, shuddered and turned pale
When thou wert gone. This faltering verse, which thou
Shalt not, as wont, o’erlook, is all I have
To offer at thy grave–this–and the hope
To copy thy example, and to leave
A name of which the wretched shall not think
As of an enemy’s, whom they forgive
As all forgive the dead. Rest, therefore, thou
Whose early guidance trained my infant steps–
Rest, in the bosom of God, till the brief sleep
Of death is over, and a happier life
Shall dawn to waken thine insensible dust.
Now thou art not–and yet the men whose guilt
Has wearied Heaven for vengeance–he who bears
False witness–he who takes the orphan’s bread,
And robs the widow–he who spreads abroad
Polluted hands of mockery of prayer,
Are left to cumber earth. Shuddering I look
On what is written, yet I blot not out
The desultory numbers–let them stand,
The record of an idle revery.
THE MASSACRE AT SCIO. deg.
Weep not for Scio’s children slain;
Their blood, by Turkish falchions shed,
Sends not its cry to Heaven in vain
For vengeance on the murderer’s head.
Though high the warm red torrent ran
Between the flames that lit the sky,
Yet, for each drop, an armed man
Shall rise, to free the land, or die.
And for each corpse, that in the sea
Was thrown, to feast the scaly herds,
A hundred of the foe shall be
A banquet for the mountain birds.
Stern rites and sad, shall Greece ordain
To keep that day, along her shore,
Till the last link of slavery’s chain
Is shivered, to be worn no more.
THE MASSACRE AT SCIO.
This poem, written about the time of the horrible butchery of the Sciotes by the Turks, in 1824, has been more fortunate than most poetical predictions. The independence of the Greek nation, which it foretold, has come to pass, and the massacre, by inspiring a deeper detestation of their oppressors, did much to promote that event.]