Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 draws the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

THE VISION OF IMMORTALITY.

Ibid.

I who essayed to sing, in earlier days,
The Thanatopsis and The Hymn to Death,
Wake now the Hymn to Immortality.
Yet once again, oh! man, come forth and view
The haunts of Nature; walk the waving fields,
Enter the silent groves, or pierce again
The depths of the untrodden wilderness,
And she shall teach thee. Thou hast learned before
One lesson — and her Hymn of Death hath fallen
With melancholy sweetness on thine ear;
Yet she shall tell thee with a myriad tongue
That life is there— life in uncounted forms -
Stealing in silence through the hidden roots,
In every branch that swings — in the green leaves,
And waving grain, and the gay summer flowers
That gladden the beholder. Listen now,
And she shall teach thee that the dead have slept
But to awaken in more glorious forms —
And that the mystery of the seed's decay
Is but the promise of the coming life.
Each towering oak that lifts its living head
To the broad sunlight, in eternal strength,
Glorious to tell thee that the acorn died.
The flowers that spring above their last year's grave
Are eloquent with the voice of life and hope —
And the green trees clap their rejoicing hands,
Waving in triumph o'er the earth's decay!
Yet not alone shall flower and forest raise
The voice of triumph and the hymn of life.
The insect brood are there! each painted wing
That flutters in the sunshine, broke but now
From the close cerements of a worm's own shroud,
Is telling, as it flies, how life may spring
In its glad beauty from the gloom of death

Where the crushed mould beneath the sunken foot Seems but the sepulchre of old decay, Turn thou a keener glance, and thou shalt find The gathered myriads of a mimic world. The breath of evening and the sultry morn Bears on its wing a cloud of witnesses, That earth from her unnumbered caves of death Sends forth a mightier tide of teeming life. Raise then the Hymn to Immortality! The broad green prairies and the wilderness, And the old cities where the dead have slept, Age upon age, a thousand graves in one, Shall yet be crowded with the living forms Of myriads, waking from the silent dust. Kings that lay down in state, and earth's poor slaves, Resting together in one fond embrace, The white-haired patriarch and the tender babe, Grown old together in the flight of years. They of immortal fame and they whose praise Was never sounded in the ears of men,Archon and priest, and the poor common crowd,All the vast concourse in the halls of death, Shall waken from the dreams of silent years To hail the dawn of the immortal day. Aye, learn the lesson. Though the worm shall be, Thy brother in the mystery of death, And all shall pass, humble and proud and gay Together, to earth's mighty charnel-house, Yet the Immortal is thy heritage ! The grave shall gather thee: yet thou shalt come, Beggar or prince, not as thou wentest forth In rags or purple, but arrayed as those Whose mortal puts on Immortality! Then mourn not when thou markest the decay Of Nature, and her solemn hymn of death Steals with a note of sadness to thy heart. That other voice, with its rejoicing tones, Breaks from the mould with every bursting flower, O grave! thy victory!" And thou, oh! man, Burdened with sorrow at the woes that crowd Thy narrow heritage, lift up thy head In the strong hope of the undying life,

And shout the Hymn to Immortality.
The dear departed that have passed away
To the still house of death, leaving thine own,
The gray-haired sire that died in blessing thee,
Mother, or sweet-lipped babe, or she who gave
Thy home the light and bloom of Paradise, -
They shall be thine again, when thou shalt pass,
At God's appointment, through the shadowy vale,
To reach the sunlight of the Immortal Hills.
And thou that gloriest to lie down with kings,
Thine uncrowned head not lowlier than theirs,
Seek thou the loftier glory to be known
A king and priest to God, — when thou shalt pass
Forth from these silent walls to take thy place
With patriarchs and prophets and the blest
Gone up from every land to people heaven.
So live, that when the mighty caravan,
Which halts one night-time in the vale of Death,
Shall strike its white tents for the morning march,
Thou shalt mount onward to the Eternal Hills,
Thy foot unwearied, and thy strength renewed
Like the strong eagle's for the upward flight !

ODE.

William Wordsworth.

INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD.

The child is Father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;

Turn wheresoe'er I may,

By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight

Looli round her when the Heavens are bare ;

Waters on a starry night

Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;

But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
Now, while the Birds thus sing a joyous song,

And while the young Lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,

And I again am strong:
The Cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,

And all the land is gay ;

Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,

And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday ;-

Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy

Shepherd Boy!

Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call

Ye to each other make; I see
T'he heavens laugh with you in your Jubilee;

My heart is at your festival,

My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss I feel - I feel it all.

Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While the Earth herself is adorning

This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are pulling,

On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,

Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his mother's arm:-

I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

But there is a Tree, of many one, A single Field which I have looked upon,

Both of them speak of something that is gone :

The Pansy at my feet

Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam ?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream ?

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar,
Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come,

From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy !
Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy ;
The Youth, who daily farther from the East

Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own; Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind, And, even with something of a Mother's mind

And no unworthy aim,

The homely Nurse doth all she can To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,

Forget the glories he hath known, And that imperial palace whence he came. Behold the Child among his new-born blisses, A six years' Darling of a pigmy size! See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies, Fretted by sallies of his Mother's kisses, With light upon him from his Father's eyes ! See, at his feet, some little plan or chart, Some fragment from his dream of human life, Shaped by himself with newly-learned art,

« PreviousContinue »