Page images
PDF
EPUB

And soon that toil shall end;

Soon shalt thou find a summer home and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.

Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.

He who, from zone to zone,

Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,

Will lead my steps aright.

That noble poem, Thanatopsis, so full of Miltonic grandeur and harmony, was composed by Mr. Bryant, in his eighteenth year. Listen to its majestic lines:

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 healing 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.

*

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

What can be finer than the closing passage :

So live, that, when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves

To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,

Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

A playful fancy pervades the following beautiful lines addressed to

a bird, known to us by the name Bob-o-link :

*

Merrily swinging on brier and weed,

Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,

Robert of Lincoln is telling his name:
"Bob-o-link, bob-o-link, spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe is that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers:

Chee, chee, chee."

Robert of Lincoln is gayly drest,
Wearing a bright black wedding-coat;

White are his shoulders and white his crest;
Hear him call in his merry note,
"Bob-o-link, bob-o-link, spink, spank, spink;
Look, what a nice new coat is mine,
Sure there was never a bird so fine-

Chee, chee, chee."

Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife,

Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,

Passing at home a patient life,

Broods in the grass while her husband sings—
"Bob-o-link, bob-o-link, spink, spank, spink:
Brood, kind creature; you need not fear
Thieves and robbers while I am here-

Chee, chee, chee."

Modest and shy as a nun is she;
One weak chirp is her only note.

Braggart, and prince of braggarts is he,

Pouring boasts from his little throat:
"Bob-o-link, bob-o-link, spink, spank, spink:
Never was I afraid of man ;

Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can-
Chee, chee, chee."

*

The Prairies :

*

These are the gardens of the Desert, these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
For which the speech of England has no name-
The Prairies. I behold them for the first,

And my heart swells, while the dilated sight.
Takes in the encircling vastness.

Lo! they stretch

In airy undulations, far away,

As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,

Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed,

And motionless forever.

Motionless?

No- they are all unchained again. The clouds
Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath,
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the
eye;
Dark hollows seem to glide along and chase
The sunny ridges. Breezes of the South!
Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers,

« PreviousContinue »