Page images


By HENRY W. LONGFELLOW, a poet of America.

I stood on the bridge at midnight,

As the clocks were striking the hour, And the moon rose o'er the city,

Behind the old church-tower.

I saw her bright reflection

In the waters under me, Like a golden goblet falling

And sinking into the sea. And far in the bazy distance

Of that lovely night in June The blaze of the flaming furnace

Gleam'd redder than the moon.

Among the long, black rafters

The wavering shadows lay, And the current that came from the ocean

Seem'd to lift and bear them away ;

As sweeping and eddying through them

Rose the belated tide,
And streaming into the moonlight

The seaweed floated wide.

And like those waters rushing

Among the wooden piers,
A flood of thought came o'er me

That fill'd my eyes with tears.
How often, O, how often,

In the days that had gone by,
I had stood on that bridge at midnight

And gazed on that wave and sky!

How often, O, how often,

I had wish'd that the ebbing tide Would bear me away on its bosom

O'er the ocean wild and wide ?


For my heart was hot and restless,

And my life was full of care,
And the burden laid upon me

Seem'd greater than I could bear.
But now it has fallen from me,

It is buried in the sea,
And only the sorrow of others

Throws its shadow over me.

Yet whenever I cross the river

On its bridge with wooden piers,
Like the odour of brine from the ocean,

Comes the thought of other years.
And I think how many thousands

Of care-encumber'd men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,

Have cross'd the bridge since then.
I see the long procession

Still passing to and fro;
The young heart, hot and restless,

And the old, subdued and slow.
And forever, and forever,

As long as the river flows,
As long as the heart has passions,

As long as life has woes ;
The moon, and its broken reflection,

And its shadows, shall appear
As the symbol of love in heaven,

And its wavering image here.

SPRING SHOWERS. A passage of graphic description from The Seasons, by Thomsox. The north-east spends his rage; he now shut up Within his iron cave, the effusive south Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heaven Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent.

At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,
Scarce staining ether; but, by swift degrees,
In heaps on heaps the doubling vapour sails
Along the loaded sky, and mingling deep,
Sits on the horizon round, a settled gloom :
Not such as wintry storms on mortals shed,
Oppressing life; but lovely, gentle, kind,
And full of every hope and every joy,
The wish of Nature. Gradual sinks the breeze
Into a perfect calm, that not a breath
Is heard to quiver through the closing woods,
Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves
Of aspen tall. The uncurling floods, diffused
In glassy breadth, seem through delusive lapse
Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all,
And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks
Drop the dry sprig, and mute-imploring eye
The falling verdure. Hush'd in short suspense,
The plumy people streak their wings with oil,
To throw the lucid moisture trickling off;
And wait the approaching sign to strike, at once,
Into the general choir. Even mountains, vales,
And forests seem, impatient, to demand
The promised sweetness. Man superior walks
Amid the glad creation, musing praise,
And looking lively gratitude. At last,
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields ;
And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool
Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow,
In large effusion, o'er the freshen'd world.
The stealing shower is scarce to patter beard,
By such as wander through the forest walks,
Beneath the umbrageous multitude of leaves.
But who can hold the shade while Heaven descends
In universal bounty, shedding herbs
And fruits and flowers on Nature's ample lap!
Swift Fancy fired anticipates their growth ;
And, while the milky nutriment distils,
Beholds the kindling country colour round.

Thus all day long the full-distended clouds
Indulge their genial stores, and well-shower'd earth
Is deep enrich'd with vegetable life;
Till, in the western sky, the downward sun

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Looks out, effulgent, from amid the flush
Of broken clouds, gay shifting to his beam.
The rapid radiance instantaneous strikes
The illumined mountain, through the forest streams,
Shakes on the floods, and in a yellow mist,
Far smoking o'er the interminable plain,
In twinkling myriads lights the dewy gems.
Moist, bright, and green, the landscape laughs around.
Full swell the woods; their every music wakes,
Mix'd in wild concert with the warbling brooks
Increased, the distant bleatings of the hills,
And hollow lows responsive from the vales,
Whence, blending all, the sweetend zephyr springs.
Meantime, refracted from yon eastern cloud,
Bestriding earth, the grand ethereal bow
Shoots up immense and every hue unfolds,
In fair proportion running from the red
To where the violet fades into the sky.
Here, awful Newton, the dissolving clouds
Form, fronting on the sun, thy showery prism;
And to the sage-instructed eye unfold
The various twine of light, by thee disclosed
From the white mingling maze. Not so the boy;
He wondering views the bright enchantment bend,
Delightful, o'er the radiant fields, and runs
To catch the falling glory; but amazed
Beholds the amusive arch before him fly,
Then vanish quite away. Still night succeeds,
A soften'd shade, and saturated earth
Awaits the morning beam, to give to light,
Raised through ten thousand different plastic tubes,
The balmy treasures of the former day.

STANZAS. By John HAMILTON REYNOLDS, who published, in 1820, a volume of poems under the assumed name of “ Peter Corcoran, of Grays' Inn, Stadent at Law.". These stanzas powerfully describe the emotions and sufferings of his strangely erratic life.

2“ and muttered lost, lost, lost."-SIR WALTER SCOTT.

'Tis vain to grieve for what is past,
The golden hours are gone;
My own mad hand the die hath cast,
And I am left alone:

'Tis vain to grieve- I now can leave
No other bliss-yet still I grieve!
The dreadful silence of this night
Seems breathing in my ear;
I scarce can bear the lonely light
That burns, oppress’d and near.
I stare at it, while half reclined,
And feel its thick light on my mind.
The sweetest fate have I laid waste,
With a remorseless heart;
All that was beautiful and chaste,
For me seem'd set apart;
But I was fashion'd to defy
Such treasure, so set richly by.
How could I give up her, whose eyes
Were fill'd with quiet tears,
For many a day-when thoughts would rise ;
Though darken’d with just fears
Of all


vices !—Memory sees
Her eyes' divine remonstrances.
A wild and wretched choice was mine;
A life of low delight:
The midnight rounds of noise and wine,
That vex'd the wasted night ;
The bitter jest, the wearied glee,
The strife of dark society.
To those who plunged me in the throng
Of such disastrous joys ;
Who led me, by low craft, along,
And stunn'd my mind with noise-
I only wish they now could look
Upon my life's despoiled book.
When midnight finds me torn apart
From vulgar revelry,
The cold, still Madness of the heart,
Comes forth, and talks with me;
Talks with me, till the sky is grey
With the chill light of breaking day.

« PreviousContinue »