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feeling that she had been in some sort the cause of this great misery. * * * She told me herself that, during the whole winter, the sounds of the waves rang in her ears like the moan of one dying." It was a year before she regained enough strength to return to her father's home. There she remained for seven years, an invalid, in a darkened room, at times so feeble that life seemed almost extinct. But it was from this sick chamber that some of her finest poems came, and, although they bear traces of her saddened life, her imagination and thoughts were as strong and as bright as ever. Mrs. Browning, unlike Tennyson, did not write an “In Memoriam;" indeed, she made no direct allusion to her deep sorrow, and, when ten years afterwards, she was about to be married, she extracted a promise from her husband that he would never refer to her brother's death. Her nature was too strong to allow grief to master it; instead, it deepened and elevated her whole life. She was not an egotist, but in her sonnets on “Comfort," "Bereavement, and “Consolation," there is a noble expression of grief bravely endured. In 1844 Mrs. Browning published a collection of her poems, including “The Drama of Exile." This volume was dedicated to her father, of whom she speaks so pleasantly, recalling olden days; “When your eyes fall upon this page of dedication, and you start to see to whom it is inscribed, your first thought will be of the time, far off, when I was a child, and wrote verses, and when I dedicated them to you, who were my public and my critic.”
In 1846 she became the wife of the great and famous poet, Robert Browning, for whom she poured out the wealth of her love in her “Sonnets from the Portugese.” These beautiful poems reveal the innermost and sacred feelings of her woman's heart, in such a charmingly simple and truthful manner.
A friend, writing of her, said: “From their wedding day, Mrs. Browning seemed to be endowed with new life. Her health visibly improved and she was enabled to make excursions in England, prior to her departure for the land of her adoption, Italy, where she found a second and a dearer home. For nearly fifteen years, Florence and the Brownings were one in the thoughts of many English and Americans.
Mrs. Browning was English born and reared, but her best affections were given to Italy. Her sympathy and love of liberty made America and the Americans especially dear to her, and, to-day, no nation loves and admires her more than America. “Aurora Leigh," a novel in blank verse, published in 1856, is probably the finest and most popular of all her works. It was written at a time
when the author had achieved her maturest and most finished powers. Her death in 1861, came before she had accomplished her life work of liberty, and shortly after this, Cabous, the great statesman, passed away, thus plunging Italy into mourning for the loss of a great poet and a great statesman.
In conclusion, we might add the following description of our dear poet, the advocate of liberty and the lover of humanity. “To those who loved Mrs. Browning (and to know her was to love her), she was singularly attractive. Hers was not the beauty of feature, it was the loftier beauty of expression. Her slight figure seemed hardly to contain the great heart that beat so powerfully within, and the soul that expanded more and more as one year gave place to another. It was difficult to believe that such a fairy hand could pen thoughts of such a ponderous weight, or that such a still, small voice could utter them with equal force. But, it was Mrs. Browning's face upon which one loved to gaze; that face and head which almost lost themselves in the thick curls of her darkbrown hair. That jealous hair could not hide the broad, fair forehead, royal with truth, as smooth as any girl's, and
'Too large for wreath of modern want.' Her large, brown eyes were beautiful, and were, in truth, the windows of her soul. They combined the confidingness of a child with the poet-passion of heart and of intellect, and in gazing into them it was easy to see why Mrs. Browning wrote. God's inspiration was her motive-power, and in her eyes was the reflection of his higher light."
E. M. K.
WHEN some beloved voice, that was to you
Both sound and sweetness, faileth suddenly,
And silence against which you dare not cry Aches round you like a strong disease and new, What hope? what help? what music will undo That silence to your sense? Not friendship's
sigh; Not reason's subtle count; not melody Of viols, nor of pipes that Faunus blew; Not songs of poets, nor of nightingales Whose hearts leap upward through the cypress
trees To the clear moon; nor yet the spheric laws Self-chanted, nor the angels' sweet All-hails,
Met in the smile of God: nay, none of these. Speak THOU, availing Christ! and fill this FINITE AND INFINITE.
The wind sounds only in opposing straits,
The sea beside the shore; man's spirit rends
Its quiet only up against the ends Of wants and oppositions, loves and hates, Where, worked and worn by passionate debates,
And losing by the loss it apprehends,
The flesh rocks round, and every breath it sends Is ravelled to a sigh. All tortured states Suppose a straitened place. Jehovah, Lord,
Make room for rest, around me! out of sight
Now float me, of the vexing land abhorred, Till, in deep calms of space, my soul may right Her nature, shoot large sail on lengthening cord,
And rush exultant on the Infinite.
I tell you hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air Beat upward to God's throne in loud access Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare Of the absolute heavens. Deep-hearted man,
express Grief for thy dead in silence like to death
Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
WORK AND CONTEMPLATION.
The woman singeth at her spinningwheel
A pleasant chant, ballad, or barcarole;
She thinketh of her song, upon the whole,
With quick adjustment, provident control,
The lines, too subtly twisted to unroll,
Thus swift and steadfast, thus intent and strong;
The better for the sweetness of our song.
All are not taken: there are left behind
Living beloveds, tender looks to bring
And make the daylight still a happy thing, And tender voices to make soft the wind: But if it were not so, if I could find
No love in all the world for comforting,
Nor any path but hollowly did ring Where “dust to dust” the love from lite disjoined, And if, before those sepulchres unmoving
I stood alone (as some forsaken lamb
Goes bleating up the moors in weary dearth), Crying, "Where are ye, O my loved and loving ?"
I know a Voice would sound, "Daughter, I AM. Can I suffice for HEAVEN and not for earth?".
THE SOUL'S EXPRESSION.
THANK God, bless God, all ye who suffer not
More grief than ye can weep for. That is well;
That is light grieving! lighter, none befell Since Adam forfeited the primal lot. Tears!—what are tears? The babe weeps in its cot;
The mother singing; at her marriage-bell
The bride weeps; and before the oracle Of high-faned hills the poet has forgot Such moisture on his cheeks. Thank God for
grace, Ye who weep only! If, as some have done, Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place,
And touch but tombs, look up! those tears will
With stammering lips and insufficient sound
I strive and struggle to deliver right
That music of my nature, day and night With dream and thought and feeling interwound, And inly answering all the senses round
With octaves of a mystic depth and height
Which step out grandly to the infinite From the dark edges of the sensual ground. This song of soul I struggle to outbear
Through portals of the sense, sublime and whole, And utter all myself into the air;
But if I did it, as the thunder-roll Breaks its own cloud, my flesh would perish there,
Before that dread apocalypse of soul.
Soon in long rivers down the lifted face,
And leave the vision clear for stars and sun.
Of writing many books there is no end.
Alas! a mother never is afraid
That murmer of the outer Infinite
Women know The way to rear up children (to be just); They know a simple, merry, tender knack Of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes, And stringing pretty words that make no sense, And kissing full sense into empty words.
“Curse that stool!" Or else, at best, a cushion, where you lean And sleep, and dream of something we are not, But would be for your sake. Alas, alas! This hurts most, this,—that after all we are paid The worth of our work, perhaps.
For even prosaic men who wear grief long
God laughs in heaven when any man Says, “Here I'm learned; this I understand; In that I am never caught at fault or doubt.”
Life, struck sharp on death, Makes awful lightning.
The skies themselves looked low and positive,
Rejoice in the clefts of Gehenna,
My exiled, my host!
Heaven's empire was lost.
Smoke up in great joy!
Deform and destroy!
And darken the face
From glory and grace!
Pull down with us all.
Who's safe from a fall ?
Requicken that sod ?
The image of God.
More curse has been hurled:
The green of the world!
Good reigns not alone:
-A Drama of Exile.
Did Shakspeare and his mates
Dear Heaven, how silly are the things that live In thickets, and eat berries!
- Ibid. MELANCHOLY.
Some people always sigh in thanking God.
Here's a brave earth to sin and suffer on:
FRANCES LEWIS BRACKETT DAMON.
FRANCES LEWIS BRACKETT DAMON.
Only pity fitly can chastise. Hate but avenges.
Yon spectacle of cloud, Which seals the gate up to the final doom, Is God's seal manifest. There seem to lie A hundred thunders in it, dark and dead, The unmolten lightnings vein it motionless; And, outward from its depth, the self-moved sword Swings slow its awful gnomon of red fire From side to side, in penduluous horror slow, Across the stagnate ghastly glare thrown flat On the intermediate ground from that to this. The angelic hosts, the archangelic pomps, Thrones, domination, princedoms, rank on rank, Rising sublimely to the feet of God, On either side, and overhead the gate, Show like a glittering and sustained smoke Drawn to an apex.
Nay, death is fearful; but who saith “To die,” is comprehensible.
RS. DAMON, who is not only a poet of
phantasy and a sincere lover of nature, but a person of strong personality and sterling sense as well,-was born in a farmhouse in the outskirt of Dexter, Penobscot Co., Maine, May 21st, 1857. Of her parentage and ancestry she writes: “I can zig-zag back to a good deal of English, a little Irish, and a probable line of Scotch. My mother's parents were pioneers in Maine. They were, -Joel Towle, of fine, slim build, keen intellect, high blood, Universalist belief; and Lois Roberts,-robust, genial, level-headed, Quaker-trained, happily contrasted and united, with a life full of honest, homely interest. Father was the youngest of twelve children, a factory-boy, learning all the ins and outs of the trade, and for the greater part of his life supervising a large section. When his health failed he went to farming. The son of (maternal) Grandfather, Joel's brother, is George Makepeace Towle.” Her childhood passed contentedly; was not the world full of glad sights and sounds! she cannot remember weariness of heart, lonesomeness, or being “at a loss how to amuse” herself, though her elder sister, some ten years older, left her to play by herself. She “had scores of paper people” made, about whom she “constructed no end of stories.” Of her religious experience, she says: “When I was fourteen, on a certain day, all alone in my little room upstairs, I must believe, I gave my heart to Christ, and he drew instantly near to me. In a moment the Bible, which had hitherto been the dullestof dry books, opened up to me inconceivable splendors.” Her taste in literature was correspondingly improved and reformed, so that from “dribbling story papers ” she turned to "the sternest truths." The poets came with their successive charms, till she had decked her mind with their ornamental treasures. Whittier was her “first favorite," and as she was "slow in reaching the romantic age,' it happened that Tennyson came in later. “Mrs. Browning banished every other for a time; Longfellow came in gently with the rest;” Wordsworth became a specially dear friend;” she likes "a bit of Bryon, here and there,” and “Shelley has a wonderfully new and beauteous spell,” but Poe came closer to her affections. Of Burns she says, – “I have a love for ‘Bobby,' but I do not by any means like him all through, and do not care to have him at hand all the time."
In 1880 she was graduated from the Ca ne Normal School. Her husband, to whom she was married shortly after, was in the same class. Their first
Eve is a twofold mystery;
The stillness Earth doth keep,
Do each to either leap
- The Poet's Vow.
Beauty in the mind Leaves the hearth cold, and love-refined Ambitions make the world unkind.
-A Vision of Poets.
Life treads on life, and heart on heart:
For Grief walks the earth, And sits down at the foot of each by turns.
- Prometheus Bound.
year of married life was spent on her husband's farm in Dixmont; subsequently they removed to the Dexter home, where they continue to reside. Though not particularly literary or bookish in his bent, he is declared to have "an active interest' in and “general sympathy with,” all that concerns the life and pursuits of his song-loving companion.
A few words will record, in outline, her literary progress and achievement. Under the nom de plume of “Percy Larkin,” she has, for several years past, contributed lyrical pieces to the Portland Transcript, The Youth's Companion, and other journals, which have not as yet been collected into a volume. She can write excellent prose, as many sketches, editorials, etc., attest; and she is said to be ''the author of two or more novels, one of which is entitled “Idlewise.'” She was associated with her sister, Mrs. H. B. Pierce, in the editorship of Quiet Hours, a literary journal of a class too high to subsist. Pedagogy is a subject of vital and decided interest to her, and she has written considerable concerning it, beside having had several years of experience as a successful teacher. Reverent and devout, she is not now a member of any religious organization, not being in thorough accord with the creed of any. As she explains it: “I cannot be one with any denomination in the world, not because I see so many flaws, but, in truth, because I see so many virtues, in them all. I have my creed: content."
A. J. L.
'Twas then he made with Peace a vow;
Behold unto this day
Upon the meadows gray;
In jewel'd offering,
The friendship of the King;
Upon the yellow sand,
Into the river's hand.
The jewel'd water stretched his length
Upon his winding bed;
The cedars at his head;
The brook is frozen from bridge to brink;
Above it the snow is sweeping;
From ripples in sunlight leaping.
Stand still to their frozen duty.
And burst in a foam of beauty!
The sweetest of bloom is lying;
Are wings in wait of flying.
Sees under the snow the summer;
Reveal to the fair, sweet comer.
The shining stream had spent his strength,
And now his armor'd breast
With musical unrest.
He shook his helmet from his brow,
And threw it on the sand;
And broke it in his hand;
arm, And there unroll’d his weary palm.
ALEXANDER has drunk too deep;
Cæsar is dead of his thirty wounds; Anthony, Hannibal, Scipio sleep,
And sleep they will till the trumpet sounds.