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Behold him now unbar the prison-door,
And, lifting Guilt, Contagion from the floor,
To Peace and Health, and Light and Life restore;
Now in Thermopylæ remain to share
Death-nor look back, nor turn a footstep there,
Leaving his story to the birds of air;
And now like Pylades (in Heaven they write
Names such as his in characters of light)
Long with his friend in generous enmity,
Pleading, insisting in his place to die !
Do what he will, he cannot realize
Half he conceives—the glorious vision flies.
Go where he may, he cannot hope to find
The truth, the beauty pictured in his mind.
But if by chance an object strike the sense,
The faintest shadow of that Excellence,
Passions, that slept, are stirring in his frame;
Thoughts undefined, feelings without a name!
And some, not here called forth, may slumber on
Till this vain pageant of a world is gone;
Lying too deep for things that perish here,
Waiting for life—but in a nobler sphere !
Look where he comes ! Rejoicing in his birth, Awhile he moves as in a heaven on earth!
Sun, moon, and stars-the land, the sea, the sky
To him shine out as in a galaxy!
But soon ’tis past—the light has died away!
With him it came (it was not of the day)
And he himself diffused it, like the stone
That sheds awhile a lustre all its own,
Making night beautiful. 'Tis past, 'tis gone, ,
And in his darkness as he journies on,
Nothing revives him but the blessed ray
That now breaks in, nor ever knows decay,
Sent from a better world to light him on his way.
How great the Mystery! Let others sing
The circling Year, the promise of the Spring,
The Summer's glory, and the rich repose
Of Autumn, and the Winter's silvery snows.
Man through the changing scene let us pursue,
Himself how wondrous in his changes too!
Not Man, the sullen savage in his den;
But Man called forth in fellowship with men ;
Schooled and trained up to Wisdom from his birth ;
God's noblest work—His image upon earth!
The day arrives, the moment wished and feared ; The child is born, by many a pang endeared.
And now the mother's ear has caught his cry;
Oh grant the cherub to her asking eye!
He comes ... she clasps him. To her bosom pressed,
He drinks the balm of life and drops to rest.
Her by her smile how soon the Stranger knows;
How soon by his the glad discovery shows!
As to her lips she lifts the lovely boy,
What answering looks of sympathy and joy!
He walks, he speaks. In many a broken word
His wants, his wishes, and his griefs are heard.
And ever, ever to her lap he flies,
When rosy Sleep comes on with sweet surprise.
Locked in her arms, his arms across her flung,
(That name most dear for ever on his tongue)
As with soft accents round her neck he clings,
And, cheek to cheek, her lulling song she sings,
How blest to feel the beatings of his heart,
Breathe his sweet breath, and kiss for kiss impart;
Watch o'er his slumbers like the brooding dove,
And, if she can, exhaust a mother's love!
But soon a nobler task demands her care.
Apart she joins his little hands in prayer,
Telling of Him who sees in secret there ! -
And now the volume on her knee has caught
His wandering eye-now many a written thought
Never to die, with many a lisping sweet
His moving, murmuring lips endeavour to repeat.
Released, he chases the bright butterfly;
Oh he would follow-follow through the sky!
Climbs the gaunt mastiff slumbering in his chain,
And chides and buffets, clinging by the mane;
Then runs, and, kneeling by the fountain-side,
Sends his brave ship in triumph down the tide,
A dangerous voyage; or, if now he can,
If now he wears the habit of a man,
Flings off the coat so much his pride and pleasure,
And, like a miser digging for his treasure,
His tiny spade in his own garden plies,
letters sees his name arise ! Where'er he goes, for ever in her sight, She looks, and looks, and still with new delight!
Ah who, when fading of itself away, Would cloud the sunshine of his little day! Now is the May of Life. Exulting round, Joy wings his feet, Joy lifts him from the ground ! Pointing to such, well might Cornelia say, When the rich casket shone in bright array, “ These are my Jewels !” Well of such as he, When JESUS spake, well might his language be, “ Suffer these little ones to come to me!”
Thoughtful by fits, he scans and he reveres
The brow engraven with the Thoughts of Years;
Close by her side his silent homage given
As to some pure Intelligence from Heaven;
His eyes cast downward with ingenuous shame,
His conscious cheeks, conscious of praise or blame,
At once lit up as with a holy flame!
He thirsts for knowledge, speaks but to inquire;
And soon with tears relinquished to the Sire,
Soon in his hand to Wisdom's temple led,
Holds secret converse with the Mighty Dead;
Trembles and thrills and weeps as they inspire,
Burns as they burn, and with congenial fire !
Like Her most gentle, most unfortunate,
Crowned but to die—who in her chamber sate
Musing with Plato, though the horn was blown,
was won, And all in green array were chasing down the sun!
Then is the Age of Admiration—Then Gods walk the earth, or beings more than men; Who breathe the soul of Inspiration round, Whose very shadows consecrate the ground ! Ah, then comes thronging many a wild desire, And high imagining and thought of fire ! Then from within a voice exclaims Aspire !”