Page images


O BLACKBIRD! sing me something well :

While all the neighbors shoot thee round,

I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground, Where thou may'st warble, eat, and well.

The espaliers and the standards all

Are thine; the range of lawn and park :

The unnetted black-hearts ripen dark, All thine, against the garden-wall.

Yet tho' I spared thee all the spring,

Thy sole delight is, sitting still,

With that cold dagger of thy bill To fret the summer jenneting.

A golden bill! the silver tongue,

Cold February loved, is dry:

Plenty corrupts the melody That made thee famous once, when young :

And in the sultry garden-squares,

Now thy flute-notes are changed to course,

I hear thee not at all, or hoarse As when a hawker hawks his wares.

Take warning ! he that will not sing

While yon sun prospers in the blue,

Shall sing for want, ere leaves are new, Caught in the frozen palms of Spring,


Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing :
Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-uying.

Old year, you must not die:
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year, you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move :
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend, and a true true-love,
And the New-year will take 'em away.

Old year, you must not go;
So long as you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho' his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.

Old year, you shall not die :
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I've half a mind to die with you,


must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die, across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he 'll be dead before.

Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my frien:1,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes ! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns luw:
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.

Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.


eyes : tie

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone.
Close his


his chin : Step from the corpse, and let him in That standeth there alone,

And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

TO J. S.

The wind, that beats the mountain. blows

More softly round the open wold, And gently comes the world to those

That are cast in gentle moull.

And me this knowledge bolder maile,

Or else I had not dared to flow
In these words toward you, and invade

Even with a verse your holy woe.

'T is strange that those we lean on most,

Those in whose laps our limbs are nursed, Fall into shadow, soonest lost :

Those we love first are taken first.

God gives us love. Something to love

He lends us ; but, when love is grown To ripeness, that on which it throve

Falls off, and love is left alone.

This is the curse of time. Alas!

In grief I am not all unlearn'd;
Once thro' mine own doors Death did pass ;

One went, who never hath return'd.

He will not smile not speak to me
Once more.

Two years his chair is scen Empty before us. That was he

Without whose life I had not been.

Your loss is rarer; for this star

Rose with you thro' a little arc Of heaven, nor having wander'd far

Shot on the sudden into dark.

I knew your brother: his mute dust

I honor and his living worth:
A man more pure and bold and just

Was never born into the earth.

I have not look'd upon you nigh,

Since that dear soul hath fall’n asleep. Great Nature is more wise than I:

I will not tell you not to weep.

And tho' mine own eyes fill with dew,

Drawn from the spirit thro' the brain, I will not even preach to you,

Weer, weeping dulls the inward pain."

Let Grief be her own mistress still.

She loveth her own anguish deep More than much pleasure. Let her will

Be done to weep or not to weep.

will not say

" God's ordinance Of death is blown in every wind;” For that is not a common chance

That takes away a noble mind.

His memory long will live alone

In all our hearts, as mournful light That broods above the fallen sun,

And dwells in heaven half the night.

Vain solace! Memory standing near

Cast down her eyes, and in her throat Her voice seem'd distant, and a tear

Dropt on the letters as I wrote.

I wrote I know not what. In truth,

How should I soothe you anyway, Who miss the brother of your youth ?

Yet something I did wish to say:

For he too was a friend to me:

Both are my friends, and my true breast Bleedeth for both; yet it may be

That only silence suiteth best.

Words weaker than your grief would make
Grief more.

'Twere better I should cease; Although myself could almost take

The place of him that sleeps in peace.

Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace:

Sleep, holy spirit, blessed soul,
While the stars burn, the moons increase,

And the great ages onward roll.

Sleep till the end, true soul and sweet.

Nothing comes to thee new or strange. Sleep full of rest from head to feet;

Lie still, dry dust, secure of change.

You ask me, why, tho' ill at ease,

Within this region I subsist,

Whose spirits falter in the mist, And languish for the purple seas ?

It is the land that freemen till,

That sober-suited Freedom chose,

The land, where girt with friends or foes A man may speak the thing he will;

« PreviousContinue »