Poems: Patriotic, Religious, Miscellaneous

Part 4 out of 6

And the weary-voiced winds, in the outer gloom,
Are sad, and I hear them sighing.
The wind hath a voice to pine --
Plaintive, and pensive and low;
Hath it a heart like mine or thine?
Knoweth it weal or woe?
How it wails in a ghost-like strain,
Just against that window pane!
As if it were tired of its long, cold flight,
And wanted to rest with me to-night.
Cease! night-winds, cease!
Why should you be sad?
This is a night of joy and peace,
And heaven and earth are glad!
But still the wind's voice grieves!
Perchance o'er the fallen leaves,
Which, in their summer bloom,
Danced to the music of bird and breeze,
But, torn from the arms of their parent trees,
Lie now in their wintry tomb --
Mute types of man's own doom.

And thus with the night winds only,
And the fancies they unweave,
Alone, and yet not lonely,
I keep my Christmas eve.

How long have I been dreaming here?
Or have I dreamed at all?
My fire is dead -- my pictures fled --
There's nothing left but shadows drear --
Shadows on the wall:

Shifting, flitting,
Round me sitting
In my old arm chair --
Rising, sinking
Round me, thinking,
Till, in the maze of many a dream,
I'm not myself; and I almost seem
Like one of the shadows there.
Well, let the shadows stay!
I wonder who are they?
I cannot say; but I almost believe
They know to-night is Christmas eve,
And to-morrow Christmas day.

Ah! there's nothing like a Christmas eve
To change life's bitter gall to sweet,
And change the sweet to gall again;
To take the thorns from out our feet --
The thorns and all their dreary pain,
Only to put them back again.

To take old stings from out our heart --
Old stings that made them bleed and smart --
Only to sharpen them the more,
And press them back to the heart's own core.

Ah! no eve is like the Christmas eve!
Fears and hopes, and hopes and fears,
Tears and smiles, and smiles and tears,
Cheers and sighs, and sighs and cheers,
Sweet and bitter, bitter, sweet,
Bright and dark, and dark and bright.
All these mingle, all these meet,
In this great and solemn night.

Ah! there's nothing like a Christmas eve
To melt, with kindly glowing heat,
From off our souls the snow and sleet,
The dreary drift of wintry years,
Only to make the cold winds blow,
Only to make a colder snow;
And make it drift, and drift, and drift,
In flakes so icy-cold and swift,
Until the heart that lies below
Is cold and colder than the snow.

And thus with the shadows only,
And the dreamings they unweave,
Alone, and yet not lonely,
I keep my Christmas eve.

'Tis passing fast!
My fireless, lampless room
Is a mass of moveless gloom;
And without -- a darkness vast,
Solemn -- starless -- still!
Heaven and earth doth fill.

But list! there soundeth a bell,
With a mystical ding, dong, dell!
Is it, say, is it a funeral knell?
Solemn and slow,
Now loud -- now low;
Pealing the notes of human woe
Over the graves lying under the snow!
Ah! that pitiless ding, dong, dell!
Trembling along the gale,
Under the stars and over the snow.
Why is it? whence is it sounding so?
Is it a toll of a burial bell?

Or is it a spirit's wail?
Solemnly, mournfully,
Sad -- and how lornfully!
Ding, dong, dell!
Whence is it? who can tell?
And the marvelous notes they sink and swell,
Sadder, and sadder, and sadder still!
How the sounds tremble! how they thrill!
Every tone
So like a moan;
As if the strange bell's stranger clang
Throbbed with a terrible human pang.

Ding, dong, dell!
Dismally, drearily,
Ever so wearily.
Far off and faint as a requiem plaint
Floats the deep-toned voice of the mystic bell
Piercingly -- thrillingly,
Icily -- chillingly,
Near -- and more near,
Drearer -- and more drear,
Soundeth the wild, weird, ding, dong, dell!

Now sinking lower,
It tolleth slower!
I list, and I hear its sound no more.
And now, methinks, I know that bell,
Know it well -- know its knell --
For I often heard it sound before.

It is a bell -- yet not a bell
Whose sound may reach the ear!
It tolls a knell -- yet not a knell
Which earthly sense may hear.
In every soul a bell of dole
Hangs ready to be tolled;
And from that bell a funeral knell
Is often outward rolled;
And memory is the sexton gray
Who tolls the dreary knell;
And nights like this he loves to sway
And swing his mystic bell.
'Twas that I heard and nothing more,
This lonely Christmas eve;
Then, for the dead I'll meet no more,
At Christmas let me grieve.

Night, be a priest! put your star-stole on
And murmur a holy prayer
Over each grave, and for every one
Lying down lifeless there!

And over the dead stands the high priest, Night,
Robed in his shadowy stole;
And beside him I kneel as his acolyte,
To respond to his prayer of dole.

And list! he begins
That psalm for sins,
The first of the mournful seven;
Plaintive and soft
It rises aloft,
Begging the mercy of Heaven
To pity and forgive,
For the sake of those who live,
The dead who have died unshriven.
Miserere! Miserere!
Still your heart and hush your breath!
The voices of despair and death
Are shuddering through the psalm!
Miserere! Miserere!
Lift your hearts! the terror dies!
Up in yonder sinless skies
The psalms sound sweet and calm!
Miserere! Miserere!
Very low, in tender tones,
The music pleads, the music moans,
"I forgive and have forgiven,
The dead whose hearts were shriven."
De profundis! De profundis!
Psalm of the dead and disconsolate!
Thou hast sounded through a thousand years,
And pealed above ten thousand biers;
And still, sad psalm, you mourn the fate
Of sinners and of just,
When their souls are going up to God,
Their bodies down to dust.
Dread hymn! you wring the saddest tears
From mortal eyes that fall,
And your notes evoke the darkest fears
That human hearts appall!
You sound o'er the good, you sound o'er the bad,
And ever your music is sad, so sad,
We seem to hear murmured in every tone,
For the saintly a blessing; for sinners a curse.
Psalm, sad psalm! you must pray and grieve
Over our dead on this Christmas eve.
De profundis! De profundis!
And the night chants the psalm o'er the mortal clay,
And the spirits immortal from far away,
To the music of hope sing this sweet-toned lay.

You think of the dead on Christmas eve,
Wherever the dead are sleeping,
And we from a land where we may not grieve
Look tenderly down on your weeping.
You think us far, we are very near,
From you and the earth, though parted;
We sing to-night to console and cheer
The hearts of the broken-hearted.
The earth watches over the lifeless clay
Of each of its countless sleepers,
And the sleepless spirits that passed away
Watch over all earth's weepers.
We shall meet again in a brighter land,
Where farewell is never spoken;
We shall clasp each other in hand,
And the clasp shall not be broken;
We shall meet again, in a bright, calm clime,
Where we'll never know a sadness,
And our lives shall be filled, like a Christmas chime,
With rapture and with gladness.
The snows shall pass from our graves away,
And you from the earth, remember;
And the flowers of a bright, eternal May,
Shall follow earth's December.
When you think of us think not of the tomb
Where you laid us down in sorrow;
But look aloft, and beyond earth's gloom,
And wait for the great to-morrow.
And the pontiff, Night, with his star-stole on,
Whispereth soft and low:
Requiescat! Requiescat!

Peace! Peace! to every one
For whom we grieve this Christmas eve,
In their graves beneath the snow.

The stars in the far-off heaven
Have long since struck eleven!
And hark! from temple and from tower,
Soundeth time's grandest midnight hour,
Blessed by the Saviour's birth,
And night putteth off the sable stole,
Symbol of sorrow and sign of dole,
For one with many a starry gem,
To honor the Babe of Bethlehem,
Who comes to men the King of them,
Yet comes without robe or diadem,
And all turn towards the holy east,
To hear the song of the Christmas feast.

Four thousand years earth waited,
Four thousand years men prayed,
Four thousand years the nations sighed,
That their King so long delayed.

The prophets told His coming,
The saintly for Him sighed,
And the star of the Babe of Bethlehem
Shone o'er them when they died.

Their faces towards the future,
They longed to hail the light
That in the after centuries
Would rise on Christmas night.

But still the Saviour tarried,
Within His father's home
And the nations wept and wondered why
The promised had not come.

At last earth's hope was granted,
And God was a child of earth;
And a thousand angels chanted
The lowly midnight birth.

Ah! Bethlehem was grander
That hour than Paradise;
And the light of earth that night eclipsed
The splendors of the skies.

Then let us sing the anthem
The angels once did sing;
Until the music of love and praise,
O'er whole wide world will ring.

Gloria in excelsis!
Sound the thrilling song;
In excelsis Deo!
Roll the hymn along.
Gloria in excelsis!
Let the heavens ring;
In excelsis Deo!
Welcome, new-born King
Gloria in excelsis!
Over the sea and land,
In excelsis Deo!
Chant the anthem grand.
Gloria in excelsis!
Let us all rejoice;
In excelsis Deo!
Lift each heart and voice.
Gloria in excelsis!
Swell the hymn on high;
In excelsis Deo!
Sound it to the sky.
Gloria in excelsis!
Sing it, sinful earth,
In excelsis Deo!
For the Saviour's birth.

Thus joyfully and victoriously,
Glad and ever so gloriously,
High as the heavens, wide as the earth,
Swelleth the hymn of the Saviour's birth.

Lo! the day is waking
In the east afar;
Dawn is faintly breaking,
Sunk in every star.

Christmas eve has vanished
With its shadows gray;
All its griefs are banished
By bright Christmas day.

Joyful chimes are ringing
O'er the land and seas,
And there comes glad singing,
Borne on every breeze.

Little ones so merry
Bed-clothes coyly lift,
And, in such a hurry,
Prattle "Christmas gift!"

Little heads so curly,
Knowing Christmas laws,
Peep out very early
For old "Santa Claus".

Little eyes are laughing
O'er their Christmas toys,
Older ones are quaffing
Cups of Christmas joys.

Hearts are joyous, cheerful,
Faces all are gay;
None are sad and tearful
On bright Christmas day.

Hearts are light and bounding,
All from care are free;
Homes are all resounding
With the sounds of glee.

Feet with feet are meeting,
Bent on pleasure's way;
Souls to souls give greeting
Warm on Christmas day.

Gifts are kept a-going
Fast from hand to hand;
Blessings are a-flowing
Over every land.

One vast wave of gladness
Sweeps its world-wide way,
Drowning every sadness
On this Christmas day.

Merry, merry Christmas,
Haste around the earth;
Merry, merry Christmas,
Scatter smiles and mirth.

Merry, merry Christmas,
Be to one and all!
Merry, merry Christmas,
Enter hut and hall.

Merry, merry Christmas,
Be to rich and poor!
Merry, merry Christmas
Stop at every door.

Merry, merry Christmas,
Fill each heart with joy!
Merry, merry Christmas
To each girl and boy.

Merry, merry Christmas,
Better gifts than gold;
Merry, merry Christmas
To the young and old.

Merry, merry Christmas,
May the coming year
Bring as merry a Christmas
And as bright a cheer.

"Far Away"

"Far Away!" what does it mean?
A change of heart with a change of place?
When footsteps pass from scene to scene,
Fades soul from soul with face from face?
Are hearts the slaves or lords of space?

"Far Away!" what does it mean?
Does distance sever there from here?
Can leagues of land part hearts? -- I ween
They cannot; for the trickling tear
Says "Far Away" means "Far More Near".

"Far Away!" -- the mournful miles
Are but the mystery of space
That blends our sighs, but parts our smiles,
For love will find a meeting place
When face is farthest off from face.

"Far Away!" we meet in dreams,
As 'round the altar of the night
Far-parted stars send down their gleams
To meet in one embrace of light
And make the brow of darkness bright.

"Far Away!" we meet in tears,
That tell the path of weary feet;
And all the good-byes of the years
But make the wanderer's welcome sweet,
The rains of parted clouds thus meet.

"Far Away!" we meet in prayer,
You know the temple and the shrine;
Before it bows the brow of care,
Upon it tapers dimly shine;
'Tis mercy's home, and yours and mine.

"Far Away!" it falls between
What is to-day and what has been;
But ah! what is meet, what is not,
In every hour and every spot,
Where lips breathe on "I have forgot."

"Far Away!" there is no far!
Nor days nor distance e'er can bar
My spirit from your spirits -- nay,
Farewell may waft a face away,
But still with you my heart will stay.

"Far Away!" I sing its song,
But while the music moves along,
From out each word an echo clear
Falls trembling on my spirit's ear,
"Far Away" means "Far More Near".


We borrow,
In our sorrow,
From the sun of some to-morrow
Half the light that gilds to-day;
And the splendor
Flashes tender
O'er hope's footsteps to defend her
From the fears that haunt the way.

We never
Here can sever
Any now from the forever
Interclasping near and far!
For each minute
Holds within it
All the hours of the infinite,
As one sky holds every star.


The winds are singing a death-knell
Out on the main to-night;
The sky droops low -- and many a bark
That sailed from harbors bright,
Like many an one before,
Shall enter port no more:
And a wreck shall drift to some unknown shore
Before to-morrow's light.

The clouds are hanging a death-pall
Over the sea to-night;
The stars are veiled -- and the hearts that sailed
Away from harbors bright,
Shall sob their last for their quiet home --
And, sobbing, sink 'neath the whirling foam
Before the morning's light.

The waves are weaving a death-shroud
Out on the main to-night;
Alas! the last prayer whispered there
By lips with terror white!
Over the ridge of gloom,
Not a star will loom!
God help the souls that will meet their doom
Before the dawn of light!

* * * * *

The breeze is singing a joy song
Over the sea to-day;
The storm is dead and the waves are red
With the flush of the morning's ray;
And the sleepers sleep, but beyond the deep
The eyes that watch for the ships shall weep
For the hearts they bore away.


The moan of a wintry soul
Melted into a summer song,
And the words, like the wavelet's roll,
Moved murmuringly along.

And the song flowed far and away,
Like the voice of a half-sleeping rill --
Each wave of it lit by a ray --
But the sound was so soft and so still,

And the tone was so gentle and low,
None heard the song till it had passed;
Till the echo that followed its flow
Came dreamingly back from the past.

'Twas too late! -- a song never returns
That passes our pathway unheard;
As dust lying dreaming in urns
Is the song lying dead in a word.

For the birds of the skies have a nest,
And the winds have a home where they sleep,
And songs, like our souls, need a rest,
Where they murmur the while we may weep.

* * * * *

But songs -- like the birds o'er the foam,
Where the storm wind is beating their breast,
Fly shoreward -- and oft find a home
In the shelter of words where they rest.

A Thought

Hearts that are great beat never loud,
They muffle their music when they come;
They hurry away from the thronging crowd
With bended brows and lips half dumb,

And the world looks on and mutters -- "Proud."
But when great hearts have passed away
Men gather in awe and kiss their shroud,
And in love they kneel around their clay.

Hearts that are great are always lone,
They never will manifest their best;
Their greatest greatness is unknown --
Earth knows a little -- God, the rest.


Gone! and they return no more,
But they leave a light in the heart;
The murmur of waves that kiss a shore
Will never, I know, depart.

Gone! yet with us still they stay,
And their memories throb through life;
The music that hushes or stirs to-day,
Is toned by their calm or strife.

Gone! and yet they never go!
We kneel at the shrine of time:
'Tis a mystery no man may know,
Nor tell in a poet's rhyme.


Brief while they last,
Long when they are gone;
They catch from the past
A light to still live on.

Brief! yet I ween
A day may be an age,
The poet's pen may screen
Heart-stories on one page.

Brief! but in them,
From eve back to morn,
Some find the gem,
Many find the thorn.

Brief! minutes pass
Soft as flakes of snow,
Shadows o'er the grass
Could not swifter go.

Brief! but along
All the after-years
To-day will be a song
Of smiles or of tears.


God knows all things -- but we
In darkness walk our ways;
We wonder what will be,
We ask the nights and days.

Their lips are sealed; at times
The bards, like prophets, see,
And rays rush o'er their rhymes
From suns of "days to be".

They see To-morrow's heart,
They read To-morrow's face,
They grasp -- is it by art --
The far To-morrow's trace?

They see what is unseen,
And hear what is unheard,
And To-morrow's shade or sheen
Rests on the poet's word.

As seers see a star
Beyond the brow of night,
So poets scan the far
Prophetic when they write.

They read a human face,
As readers read their page,
The while their thought will trace
A life from youth to age.

They have a mournful gift,
Their verses oft are tears;
And sleepless eyes they lift
To look adown the years.

To-morrows are to-days!
Is it not more than art?
When all life's winding ways
Meet in the poet's heart?

The present meets the past,
The future, too, is there;
The first enclasps the last
And never folds fore'er.

It is not all a dream;
A poet's thought is truth;
The things that are -- and seem
From age far back to youth --

He holds the tangled threads,
His hands unravel them;
He knows the hearts and heads
For thorns, or diadem.

Ask him, and he will see
What your To-morrows are;
He'll sing "What is to be"
Beneath each sun and star.

To-morrows! Dread unknown!
What fates may they not bring?
What is the chord? the tone?
The key in which they sing?

I see a thousand throngs,
To-morrows for them wait;
I hear a thousand songs
Intoning each one's fate.

And yours? What will it be?
Hush! song, and let me pray!
God sees it all -- I see
A long, lone, winding way;

And more! no matter what!
Crosses and crowns you wear:
My song may be forgot,
But Thou shalt not, in prayer.


What has been will be,
'Tis the under law of life;
'Tis the song of sky and sea,
To the key of calm and strife.

For guard we as we may,
What is to be will be,
The dark must fold each day --
The shore must gird each sea.

All things are ruled by law;
'Tis only in man's will
You meet a feeble flaw;
But fate is weaving still

The web and woof of life,
With hands that have no hearts,
Thro' calmness and thro' strife,
Despite all human arts.

For fate is master here,
He laughs at human wiles;
He sceptres every tear,
And fetters any smiles.

What is to be will be,
We cannot help ourselves;
The waves ask not the sea
Where lies the shore that shelves.

The law is coldest steel,
We live beneath its sway,
It cares not what we feel,
And so pass night and day.

And sometimes we may think
This cannot -- will not -- be:
Some waves must rise -- some sink,
Out on the midnight sea.

And we are weak as waves
That sink upon the shore;
We go down into graves --
Fate chants the nevermore;

Cometh a voice! Kneel down!
'Tis God's -- there is no fate --
He giveth the Cross and Crown,
He opens the jeweled gate.

He watcheth with such eyes
As only mothers own --
"Sweet Father in the skies!
Ye call us to a throne."

There is no fate -- God's love
Is law beneath each law,
And law all laws above
Fore'er, without a flaw.

Sorrow and the Flowers

A Memorial Wreath to C. F.


A garland for a grave! Fair flowers that bloom,
And only bloom to fade as fast away,
We twine your leaflets 'round our Claudia's tomb,
And with your dying beauty crown her clay.

Ye are the tender types of life's decay;
Your beauty, and your love-enfragranced breath,
From out the hand of June, or heart of May,
Fair flowers! tell less of life and more of death.

My name is Sorrow. I have knelt at graves,
All o'er the weary world for weary years;
I kneel there still, and still my anguish laves
The sleeping dust with moaning streams of tears.

And yet, the while I garland graves as now,
I bring fair wreaths to deck the place of woe;
Whilst joy is crowning many a living brow,
I crown the poor, frail dust that sleeps below.

She was a flower -- fresh, fair and pure, and frail;
A lily in life's morning. God is sweet;
He reached His hand, there rose a mother's wail;
Her lily drooped: 'tis blooming at His feet.

Where are the flowers to crown the faded flower?
I want a garland for another grave;
And who will bring them from the dell and bower,
To crown what God hath taken, with what heaven gave?

As though ye heard my voice, ye heed my will;
Ye come with fairest flowers: give them to me,
To crown our Claudia. Love leads memory still,
To prove at graves love's immortality.

White Rose:

Her grave is not a grave; it is a shrine,
Where innocence reposes,
Bright over which God's stars must love to shine,
And where, when Winter closes,
Fair Spring shall come, and in her garland twine,
Just like this hand of mine,
The whitest of white roses.


I found it on a mountain slope,
The sunlight on its face;
It caught from clouds a smile of hope
That brightened all the place.

They wreathe with it the warrior's brow,
And crown the chieftain's head;
But the laurel's leaves love best to grace
The garland of the dead.

Wild Flower:

I would not live in a garden,
But far from the haunts of men;
Nature herself was my warden,
I lived in a lone little glen.
A wild flower out of the wildwood,
Too wild for even a name;
As strange and as simple as childhood,
And wayward, yet sweet all the same.

Willow Branch:

To sorrow's own sweet crown,
With simple grace,
The weeping-willow bends her branches down
Just like a mother's arm,
To shield from harm,
The dead within their resting place.


The angel flower of all the flowers:
Its sister flowers,
In all the bowers
Worship the lily, for it brings,
Wherever it blooms,
On shrines or tombs,
A dream surpassing earthly sense
Of heaven's own stainless innocence.

Violet Leaves:

It is too late for violets,
I only bring their leaves,
I looked in vain for mignonettes
To grace the crown grief weaves;
For queenly May, upon her way,
Robs half the bowers
Of all their flowers,
And leaves but leaves to June.
Ah! beauty fades so soon;
And the valley grows lonely in spite of the sun,
For flowerets are fading fast, one by one.
Leaves for a grave, leaves for a garland,
Leaves for a little flower, gone to the far-land.


"Forget-me-not!" The sad words strangely quiver
On lips, like shadows falling on a river,
Flowing away,
By night, by day,
Flowing away forever.
The mountain whence the river springs
Murmurs to it, "forget me not;"
The little stream runs on and sings
On to the sea, and every spot
It passes by
Breathes forth a sigh,
"Forget me not!" "forget me not!"

A Garland:

I bring this for her mother; ah, who knows
The lonely deeps within a mother's heart?
Beneath the wildest wave of woe that flows
Above, around her, when her children part,
There is a sorrow, silent, dark, and lone;
It sheds no tears, it never maketh moan.
Whene'er a child dies from a mother's arms,
A grave is dug within the mother's heart:
She watches it alone; no words of art
Can tell the story of her vigils there.
This garland fading even while 'tis fair,
It is a mother's memory of a grave,
When God hath taken her whom heaven gave.


Farewell! I go to crown the dead;
Yet ye have crowned yourselves to-day,
For they whose hearts so faithful love
The lonely grave -- the very clay;
They crown themselves with richer gems
Than flash in royal diadems.


Thine eyes are dim:
A mist hath gathered there;
Around their rim
Float many clouds of care,
And there is sorrow every -- everywhere.

But there is God,
Every -- everywhere;
Beneath His rod
Kneel thou adown in prayer.

For grief is God's own kiss
Upon a soul.
Look up! the sun of bliss
Will shine where storm-clouds roll.

Yes, weeper, weep!
'Twill not be evermore;
I know the darkest deep
Hath e'en the brightest shore.

So tired! so tired!
A cry of half despair;
Look! at your side --
And see Who standeth there!

Your Father! Hush!
A heart beats in His breast;
Now rise and rush
Into His arms -- and rest.


They are so sad to say: no poem tells
The agony of hearts that dwells
In lone and last farewells.

They are like deaths: they bring a wintry chill
To summer's roses, and to summer's rill;
And yet we breathe them still.

For pure as altar-lights hearts pass away;
Hearts! we said to them, "Stay with us! stay!"
And they said, sighing as they said it, "Nay."

The sunniest days are shortest; darkness tells
The starless story of the night that dwells
In lone and last farewells.

Two faces meet here, there, or anywhere:
Each wears the thoughts the other face may wear;
Their hearts may break, breathing, "Farewell fore'er."

Song of the River

A river went singing adown to the sea,
A-singing -- low -- singing --
And the dim rippling river said softly to me,
"I'm bringing, a-bringing --
While floating along --
A beautiful song
To the shores that are white where the waves are so weary,
To the beach that is burdened with wrecks that are dreary.
A song sweet and calm
As the peacefulest psalm;
And the shore that was sad
Will be grateful and glad,
And the weariest wave from its dreariest dream
Will wake to the sound of the song of the stream;
And the tempests shall cease
And there shall be peace."
From the fairest of fountains,
And farthest of mountains,
From the stillness of snow
Came the stream in its flow.

Down the slopes where the rocks are gray,
Thro' the vales where the flowers are fair --
Where the sunlight flashed -- where the shadows lay
Like stories that cloud a face of care,
The river ran on -- and on -- and on --
Day and night, and night and day;
Going and going, and never gone,
Longing to flow to the "far away",
Staying and staying, and never still;
Going and staying, as if one will
Said, "Beautiful river, go to the sea;"
And another will whispered, "Stay with me:"
And the river made answer, soft and low --
"I go and stay" -- "I stay and go."

But what is the song, I said, at last?
To the passing river that never passed;
And a white, white wave whispered, "List to me,
I'm a note in the song for the beautiful sea, --
A song whose grand accents no earth-din may sever,
And the river flows on in the same mystic key
That blends in one chord the `forever and never'."

December 15, 1878.


Over the silent sea of sleep,
Far away! far away!
Over a strange and starlit deep
Where the beautiful shadows sway;
Dim in the dark,
Glideth a bark,
Where never the waves of a tempest roll --
Bearing the very "soul of a soul",
Alone, all alone --
Far away -- far away
To shores all unknown
In the wakings of the day;
To the lovely land of dreams,
Where what is meets with what seems
Brightly dim, dimly bright;
Where the suns meet stars at night,
Where the darkness meets the light
Heart to heart, face to face,
In an infinite embrace.

* * * * *

Mornings break,
And we wake,
And we wonder where we went
In the bark
Thro' the dark,
But our wonder is misspent;
For no day can cast a light
On the dreamings of the night.

Lines ["Sometimes, from the far-away,"]

Sometimes, from the far-away,
Wing a little thought to me;
In the night or in the day,
It will give a rest to me.

I have praise of many here,
And the world gives me renown;
Let it go -- give me one tear,
'Twill be a jewel in my crown.

What care I for earthly fame?
How I shrink from all its glare!
I would rather that my name
Would be shrined in some one's prayer.

Many hearts are all too much,
Or too little in their praise;
I would rather feel the touch
Of one prayer that thrills all days.

A Song

Written in an Album.

Pure faced page! waiting so long
To welcome my muse and me;
Fold to thy breast, like a mother, the song
That floats from my spirit to thee.

And song! sound soft as the streamlet sings,
And sweet as the Summer's birds,
And pure and bright and white be the wings
That will waft thee into words.

Yea! fly as the sea-birds fly over the sea
To rest on the far-off beach,
And breathe forth the message I trust to thee,
Tear toned on the shores of speech.

But ere you go, dip your snowy wing
In a wave of my spirit's deep --
In a wave that is purest -- then haste and bring
A song to the hearts that weep.

Oh! bring it, and sing it -- its notes are tears;
Its octaves, the octaves of grief;
Who knows but its tones in the far-off years
May bring to the lone heart relief?

Yea! bring it, and sing it -- a worded moan
That sweeps thro' the minors of woe,
With mystical meanings in every tone,
And sounds like the sea's lone flow.

* * * * *

And the thoughts take the wings of words, and float
Out of my spirit to thee;
But the song dies away into only one note,
And sounds but in only one key.

And the note! 'tis the wail of the weariest wave
That sobs on the loneliest shore;
And the key! never mind, it comes out of a grave;
And the chord! -- 'tis a sad "nevermore".

And just like the wavelet that moans on the beach,
And, sighing, sinks back to the sea,
So my song -- it just touches the rude shores of speech,
And its music melts back into me.

Yea, song! shrink back to my spirit's lone deep,
Let others hear only thy moan --
But I -- I forever shall hear the grand sweep
Of thy mighty and tear-burdened tone.

Sweep on, mighty song! -- sound down in my heart
As a storm sounding under a sea;
Not a sound of thy music shall pass into art,
Nor a note of it float out from me.


Farewell! that word has broken hearts
And blinded eyes with tears;
Farewell! one stays, and one departs;
Between them roll the years.

No wonder why who say it think --
Farewell! he may fare ill
No wonder that their spirits sink
And all their hopes grow chill.

Good-bye! that word makes faces pale
And fills the soul with fears;
Good-bye! two words that wing a wail
Which flutters down the years.

No wonder they who say it feel
Such pangs for those who go;
Good-bye they wish the parted weal,
But ah! they may meet woe.

Adieu! such is the word for us,
'Tis more than word -- 'tis prayer;
They do not part, who do part thus,
For God is everywhere.

St. Stephen

First champion of the Crucified!
Who, when the fight began
Between the Church and worldly pride
So nobly fought, so nobly died,
The foremost in the van;
While rallied to your valiant side
The red-robed martyr-band;
To-night with glad and high acclaim
We venerate thy saintly name;
Accept, Saint Stephen, to thy praise
And glory, these our lowly lays.

The chosen twelve with chrismed hand
And burning zeal within,
Led forth their small yet fearless band
On Pentecost, and took their stand
Against the world and sin --
While rang aloud the battle-cry:
"The hated Christians all must die!
As died the Nazarene before,
The God they believe in and adore."
Yet Stephen's heart quailed not with fear
At persecution's cry;
But loving, as he did, the cause
Of Jesus and His faith and laws,
Prepared himself to die.

He faced his foes with burning zeal,
Such zeal as only saints can feel;
He told them how the Lord had stood
Within their midst, so great and good,
How he had through Judea trod,
How wonders marked his way -- the God,
How he had cured the blind, the lame,
The deaf, the palsied, and the maimed,
And how, with awful, wondrous might,
He raised the dead to life and light;
And how his people knew Him not --
Had eyes and still had seen Him not,
Had ears and still had heard Him not,
Had hearts and comprehended not.
Then said he, pointing to the right,
Where darkly rose Golgotha's height:
"There have ye slain the Holy One,
Your Saviour and God's only Son."

They gnashed their teeth in raging ire,
Those dark and cruel men;
They vowed a vengeance deep and dire
Against Saint Stephen then.
Yet he was calm; a radiant light
Around his forehead gleamed;
He raised his eyes, a wondrous sight
He saw, so grand it was and bright,
His soul was filled with such delight
That he an angel seemed.
Then spoke the Saint: "A vision grand
Bursts on me from above:
The doors of heaven open stand,
And at the Father's own right hand
I see the Lord I love."

"Away with him," the rabble cry,
With swelling rage and hate,
But Stephen still gazed on the sky,
His heart was with his Lord on high,
He heeded not his fate.

The gathering crowd in fury wild
Rush on the 'raptured Saint,
And seize their victim, mute and mild,
Who, like his master, though reviled,
Still uttered no complaint.

With angry shouts they rend the air;
They drag him to the city gate;
They bind his hands and feet and there,
While whispered he for them a prayer,
The martyr meets his fate.

First fearless witness to his belief
In Jesus Crucified,
The red-robed martyrs' noble chief,
Thus for his Master died.
And to the end of time his name
Our Holy Church shall e'er proclaim,
And with a mother's pride shall tell
How her great proto-martyr fell.

A Flower's Song

Star! Star, why dost thou shine
Each night upon my brow?
Why dost thou make me dream the dreams
That I am dreaming now?

Star! Star, thy home is high --
I am of humble birth;
Thy feet walk shining o'er the sky,
Mine, only on the earth.

Star! Star, why make me dream?
My dreams are all untrue;
And why is sorrow dark for me
And heaven bright for you?

Star! Star, oh, hide thy ray,
And take it off my face;
Within my lowly home I stay,
Thou, in thy lofty place.

Star! Star, and still I dream,
Along thy light afar
I seem to soar until I seem
To be, like you, a star.

The Star's Song

Flower! Flower, why repine?
God knows each creature's place;
He hides within me when I shine,
And your leaves hide His face.

And you are near as I to Him,
And you reveal as much
Of that eternal soundless hymn
Man's words may never touch.

God sings to man through all my rays
That wreathe the brow of night,
And walks with me thro' all my ways --
The everlasting light.

Flower! Flower, why repine?
He chose on lowly earth,
And not in heaven where I shine,
His Bethlehem and birth.

Flower! Flower, I see Him pass
Each hour of night and day,
Down to an altar and a Mass
Go thou! and fade away.

Fade away upon His shrine!
Thy light is brighter far
Than all the light wherewith I shine
In heaven, as a star.

Death of the Flower

I love my mother, the wildwood,
I sleep upon her breast;
A day or two of childhood,
And then I sink to rest.

I had once a lovely sister --
She was cradled by my side;
But one Summer day I missed her --
She had gone to deck a bride.

And I had another sister,
With cheeks all bright with bloom;
And another morn I missed her --
She had gone to wreathe a tomb.

And they told me they had withered,
On the bride's brow and the grave;
Half an hour, and all their fragrance
Died away, which heaven gave.

Two sweet-faced girls came walking
Thro' my lonely home one day,
And I overheard them talking
Of an altar on their way.

They were culling flowers around me,
And I said a little prayer
To go with them -- and they found me --
And upon an altar fair,

Where the Eucharist was lying
On its mystical death-bed,
I felt myself a-dying,
While the Mass was being said.

But I lived a little longer,
And I prayed there all the day,
Till the evening Benediction,
When my poor life passed away.


In the valley of my life
Sings a "Singing-Bird",
And its voice thro' calm and strife
Is sweetly heard.

In the day and thro' the night
Sound the notes,
And its song thro' dark and bright
Ever floats.

Other warblers cease to sing,
And their voices rest,
And they fold their weary wing
In their quiet nest.

But my Singing-Bird still sings
Without a cease;
And each song it murmurs brings
My spirit peace.

"Singing-Bird!" O "Singing-Bird!"
No one knows,
When your holy songs are heard,
What repose

Fills my life and soothes my heart;
But I fear
The day -- thy songs, if we must part,
I'll never hear.

But "Singing-Bird!" ah! "Singing-Bird!"
Should this e'er be,
The dreams of all thy songs I heard
Shall sing for me.


Sometimes a single hour
Rings thro' a long life-time,
As from a temple tower
There often falls a chime
From blessed bells, that seems
To fold in Heaven's dreams
Our spirits round a shrine;
Hath such an hour been thine?

Sometimes -- who knoweth why?
One minute holds a power
That shadows every hour,
Dialed in life's sky.
A cloud that is a speck
When seen from far away
May be a storm, and wreck
The joys of every day.

Sometimes -- it seems not much,
'Tis scarcely felt at all --
Grace gives a gentle touch
To hearts for once and all,
Which in the spirit's strife
May all unnoticed be.
And yet it rules a life;
Hath this e'er come to thee?

Sometimes one little word,
Whispered sweet and fleet,
That scarcely can be heard,
Our ears will sudden meet.
And all life's hours along
That whisper may vibrate,
And, like a wizard's song,
Decide our ev'ry fate.

Sometimes a sudden look,
That falleth from some face,
Will steal into each nook
Of life, and leave its trace;
To haunt us to the last,
And sway our ev'ry will
Thro' all the days to be,
For goodness or for ill;
Hath this e'er come to thee?

Sometimes one minute folds
The hearts of all the years,
Just like the heart that holds
The Infinite in tears;
There be such thing as this --
Who knoweth why, or how?
A life of woe or bliss
Hangs on some little Now.

M * * *

When I am dead, and all will soon forget
My words, and face, and ways --
I, somehow, think I'll walk beside thee yet
Adown thy after days.

I die first, and you will see my grave;
But child! you must not cry;
For my dead hand will brightest blessings wave
O'er you from yonder sky.

You must not weep; I believe I'd hear your tears
Tho' sleeping in a tomb:
My rest would not be rest, if in your years
There floated clouds of gloom.

For -- from the first -- your soul was dear to mine,
And dearer it became,
Until my soul, in every prayer, would twine
Thy name -- my child! thy name.

You came to me in girlhood pure and fair,
And in your soul -- and face --
I saw a likeness to another there
In every trace and grace.

You came to me in girlhood -- and you brought
An image back to me;
No matter what -- or whose -- I often sought
Another's soul in thee.

Didst ever mark how, sometimes, I became --
Gentle though I be --
Gentler than ever when I called thy name,
Gentlest to thee?

You came to me in girlhood; as your guide
I watched your spirit's ways;
We walked God's holy valleys side by side,
And so went on the days.

And so went on the years -- 'tis five and more;
Your soul is fairer now;
A light as of a sunset on a shore
Is falling on my brow --

Is falling, soon to fade; when I am dead
Think this, my child, of me:
I never said -- I never could have said --
Ungentle words to thee.

I treated you as I would treat a flower,
I watched you with such care;
And from my lips God heard in many an hour
Your name in many a prayer.

I watched the flower's growth; so fair it grew,
On not a leaf a stain;
Your soul to purest thoughts so sweetly true;
I did not watch in vain.

I guide you still -- in my steps you tread still;
Towards God these ways are set;
'Twill soon be over: child! when I am dead
I'll watch and guide you yet.

'Tis better far that I should go before,
And you awhile should stay;
But I will wait upon the golden shore
To meet my child some day.

When I am dead; in some lone after time,
If crosses come to thee,
You'll think -- remembering this simple rhyme --
"He holds a crown for me."

I guide you here -- I go before you there;
But here or there -- I know --
Whether the roses, or the thorny crown you wear
I'll watch where'er you go,

And wait until you come; when I am dead
Think, sometimes, child, of this:
You must not weep -- follow where I led,
I wait for you in bliss.

God in the Night

Deep in the dark I hear the feet of God:
He walks the world; He puts His holy hand
On every sleeper -- only puts His hand --
Within it benedictions for each one --
Then passes on; but ah! whene'er He meets
A watcher waiting for Him, He is glad.
(Does God, like man, feel lonely in the dark?)
He rests His hand upon the watcher's brow --
But more than that, He leaves His very breath
Upon the watcher's soul; and more than this,
He stays for holy hours where watchers pray;
And more than that, He ofttimes lifts the veils
That hide the visions of the world unseen.
The brightest sanctities of highest souls
Have blossomed into beauty in the dark.
How extremes meet! the very darkest crimes
That blight the souls of men are strangely born
Beneath the shadows of the holy night.

Deep in the dark I hear his holy feet --
Around Him rustle archangelic wings;
He lingers by the temple where His Christ
Is watching in His Eucharistic sleep;
And where poor hearts in sorrow cannot rest,
He lingers there to soothe their weariness.
Where mothers weep above the dying child,
He stays to bless the mother's bitter tears,
And consecrates the cradle of her child,
Which is to her her spirit's awful cross.
He shudders past the haunts of sin -- yet leaves
E'er there a mercy for the wayward hearts.
Still as a shadow through the night He moves,
With hands all full of blessings, and with heart
All full of everlasting love; ah, me!
How God does love this poor and sinful world!

The stars behold Him as He passes on,
And arch His path of mercy with their rays;
The stars are grateful -- He gave them their light,
And now they give Him back the light He gave.
The shadows tremble in adoring awe;
They feel His presence, and they know His face.
The shadows, too, are grateful -- could they pray,
How they would flower all His way with prayers!
The sleeping trees wake up from all their dreams --
Were their leaves lips, ah, me! how they would sing
A grand Magnificat, as His Mary sang.
The lowly grasses and the fair-faced flowers
Watch their Creator as He passes on,
And mourn they have no hearts to love their God,
And sigh they have no souls to be beloved.
Man -- only man -- the image of his God --
Lets God pass by when He walks forth at night.


Poets are strange -- not always understood
By many is their gift,
Which is for evil or for mighty good --
To lower or to lift.

Upon their spirits there hath come a breath;
Who reads their verse
Will rise to higher life, or taste of death
In blessing or in curse.

The Poet is great Nature's own high priest,
Ordained from very birth
To keep for hearts an everlasting feast --
To bless or curse the earth.

They cannot help but sing; they know not why
Their thoughts rush into song,
And float above the world, beneath the sky,
For right or for the wrong.

They are like angels -- but some angels fell,
While some did keep their place;
Their poems are the gates of heav'n or hell,
And God's or Satan's face

Looks thro' their ev'ry word into your face,
In blessing or in blight,
And leaves upon your soul a grace or trace
Of sunlight or of night.

They move along life's uttermost extremes,
Unlike all other men;
And in their spirit's depths sleep strangest dreams,
Like shadows in a glen.

They all are dreamers; in the day and night
Ever across their souls
The wondrous mystery of the dark or bright
In mystic rhythm rolls.

They live within themselves -- they may not tell
What lieth deepest there;
Within their breast a heaven or a hell,
Joy or tormenting care.

They are the loneliest men that walk men's ways,
No matter what they seem;
The stars and sunlight of their nights and days
Move over them in dream.

They breathe it forth -- their very spirit's breath --
To bless the world or blight;
To bring to men a higher life or death;
To give them light or night.

The words of some command the world's acclaim,
And never pass away,
While others' words receive no palm from fame,
And live but for a day.

But, live or die, their words leave their impress
Fore'er or for an hour,
And mark men's souls -- some more and some the less --
With good's or evil's power.

A Legend

He walked alone beside the lonely sea,
The slanting sunbeams fell upon his face,
His shadow fluttered on the pure white sands
Like the weary wing of a soundless prayer.
And He was, oh! so beautiful and fair!
Brown sandals on His feet -- His face downcast,
As if He loved the earth more than the heav'ns.
His face looked like His Mother's -- only hers
Had not those strange serenities and stirs
That paled or flushed His olive cheeks and brow.
He wore the seamless robe His Mother made --
And as He gathered it about His breast,
The wavelets heard a sweet and gentle voice
Murmur, "Oh! My Mother" -- the white sands felt
The touch of tender tears He wept the while.
He walked beside the sea; He took His sandals off
To bathe His weary feet in the pure cool wave --
For He had walked across the desert sands
All day long -- and as He bathed His feet
He murmured to Himself, "Three years! three years!
And then, poor feet, the cruel nails will come
And make you bleed; but, ah! that blood shall lave
All weary feet on all their thorny ways."
"Three years! three years!" He murmured still again,
"Ah! would it were to-morrow, but a will --
My Father's will -- biddeth Me bide that time."
A little fisher-boy came up the shore
And saw Him -- and, nor bold, nor shy,
Approached, but when he saw the weary face,
Said mournfully to Him: "You look a-tired."
He placed His hand upon the boy's brown brow
Caressingly and blessingly -- and said:
"I am so tired to wait." The boy spake not.
Sudden, a sea-bird, driven by a storm
That had been sweeping on the farther shore,
Came fluttering towards Him, and, panting, fell
At His feet and died; and then the boy said:
"Poor little bird," in such a piteous tone;
He took the bird and laid it in His hand,
And breathed on it -- when to his amaze
The little fisher-boy beheld the bird
Flutter a moment and then fly aloft --
Its little life returned; and then he gazed
With look intensest on the wondrous face
(Ah! it was beautiful and fair) -- and said:
"Thou art so sweet I wish Thou wert my God."
He leaned down towards the boy and softly said:
"I am thy Christ." The day they followed Him,
With cross upon His shoulders, to His death,
Within the shadow of a shelt'ring rock
That little boy knelt down, and there adored,
While others cursed, the thorn-crowned Crucified.


By sound of name, and touch of hand,
Thro' ears that hear, and eyes that see,
We know each other in this land,
How little must that knowledge be?

How souls are all the time alone,
No spirit can another reach;
They hide away in realms unknown,
Like waves that never touch a beach.

We never know each other here,
No soul can here another see --
To know, we need a light as clear
As that which fills eternity.

For here we walk by human light,
But there the light of God is ours,
Each day, on earth, is but a night;
Heaven alone hath clear-faced hours.

I call you thus -- you call me thus --
Our mortal is the very bar
That parts forever each of us,
As skies, on high, part star from star.

A name is nothing but a name
For that which, else, would nameless be;
Until our souls, in rapture, claim
Full knowledge in eternity.

Lines ["The world is sweet, and fair, and bright,"]

The world is sweet, and fair, and bright,
And joy aboundeth everywhere,
The glorious stars crown every night,
And thro' the dark of ev'ry care
Above us shineth heaven's light.

If from the cradle to the grave
We reckon all our days and hours
We sure will find they give and gave
Much less of thorns and more of flowers;
And tho' some tears must ever lave

The path we tread, upon them all
The light of smiles forever lies,
As o'er the rains, from clouds that fall,
The sun shines sweeter in the skies.
Life holdeth more of sweet than gall

For ev'ry one: no matter who --
Or what their lot -- or high or low;
All hearts have clouds -- but heaven's blue
Wraps robes of bright around each woe;
And this is truest of the true:

That joy is stronger here than grief,
Fills more of life, far more of years,
And makes the reign of sorrow brief;
Gives more of smiles for less of tears.
Joy is life's tree -- grief but its leaf.


Do we weep for the heroes who died for us,
Who living were true and tried for us,
And dying sleep side by side for us;
The Martyr-band
That hallowed our land
With the blood they shed in a tide for us?

Ah! fearless on many a day for us
They stood in front of the fray for us,
And held the foeman at bay for us;
And tears should fall
Fore'er o'er all
Who fell while wearing the gray for us.

How many a glorious name for us,
How many a story of fame for us
They left: Would it not be a blame for us
If their memories part
From our land and heart,
And a wrong to them, and shame for us?

No, no, no, they were brave for us,
And bright were the lives they gave for us;
The land they struggled to save for us
Will not forget
Its warriors yet
Who sleep in so many a grave for us.

On many and many a plain for us
Their blood poured down all in vain for us,
Red, rich, and pure, like a rain for us;
They bleed -- we weep,
We live -- they sleep,
"All lost," the only refrain for us.

But their memories e'er shall remain for us,
And their names, bright names, without stain for us:
The glory they won shall not wane for us,
In legend and lay
Our heroes in Gray
Shall forever live over again for us.

The Seen and The Unseen

Nature is but the outward vestibule
Which God has placed before an unseen shrine,
The Visible is but a fair, bright vale
That winds around the great Invisible;
The Finite -- it is nothing but a smile
That flashes from the face of Infinite;
A smile with shadows on it -- and 'tis sad
Men bask beneath the smile, but oft forget
The loving Face that very smile conceals.
The Changeable is but the broidered robe
Enwrapped about the great Unchangeable;
The Audible is but an echo, faint,
Low whispered from the far Inaudible;
This earth is but an humble acolyte
A-kneeling on the lowest altar-step
Of this creation's temple, at the Mass
Of Supernature, just to ring the bell
At Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! while the world


Back to Full Books