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It is a terrible thing to dream
Of strangled throats and heart-blood spilt,
And ghosts that in the darkness gleam,
And horrid eyes of midnight guilt.
I love a dream, I dread a dream,
Sometimes all bright and full of gladness,
But other times my brain will teem
With sights that urge the mind to madness.
INFANT CHRIST, WITH A WREATH
FROM A PICTURE BY CORREGGIO.
YES, I can fancy, in the spring
Of childhood's sunny hours,
That nature's infant, priest, and king,
Lov'd to gaze on flowers:
For lightly, 'mid the wreck of all,
When torn from Eden's bowers,
Above the billows of the fall
Floated gentle flowers.
Unfallen, sinless, undefil'd,
Fresh bath'd in summer showers,
What wonder that the holy child
Lov'd to play with flowers?
In these he saw his Father's face,
All Godhead's varied powers,
And joy'd each attribute to trace
In sweet unconscious flowers:
In these he found where Wisdom hides,
And modest Beauty cowers,
And where Omnipotence resides,
And Tenderness, in flowers.
Innocent child, a little while,
Ere yet the tempest lowers,
Bask thy young heart in Nature's smile
Her lovely smile of flowers;
Thy young heart, — is it not array'd
In feelings such as ours?
Yes, being now of thorns afraid,
I see thee crown'd with flowers.
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE.
A SAD, Sweet gladness, full of tears
And thoughts, that never cloy,
Of careless childhood's happier years,
Is memory's tranquil joy.
A rapturous and delusive dream
Of pleasures, ne'er to be,
That o'er life's troubled waters gleam,
Is Hope's sweet reverie.
Yet, before Memory can look back,
When Hope is lost in sight,
Ah! where is Memory's fairy track,
Ah! where is Hope's delight?
The present is a weary scene,
And always wish'd away;
We live on "to be," and "has been
But never on "to-day."
ON A BULBOUS ROOT,
WHICH BLOSSOMED, AFTER HAVING LAIN FOR AGES IN THE HAND OF AN EGYPTIAN MUMMY.
WHAT, wide awake, sweet stranger, wide awake?
And laughing coyly at an English sun,
And blessing him with smiles for having thawed
Thine icy chain, for having woke thee gently
From thy long slumber of three thousand years?
Methinks I see the eye of wonder peering
From thy tall pistil, looking strangely forth
As from a watch-tow'r at thy fellow-flowers,
Admiring much the rich variety
Of many a gem in nature's jewel-case
Unknown to thee, the drooping hyacinth,
The prim ranunculus, and gay geranium,
And dahlias rare, and hearts-ease of all hues,
Mealy auriculas, and spotted lilies,
Gaudy carnations, and the modest face
Of the moss rose: methinks thy wondering leaves
And curious petals at the long-lost sun
Gaze with a lingering love, bedizen'd o'er
With a small firmament of eyes to catch
The luxury of his smile; as o'er the pool,
Hovering midway, the gorgeous dragon-fly
Watches his mates with thousand-facet vision;
Or as when underneath the waterfall,
Floating in sunny wreaths, the fretted foam
Mirrors blue heaven in its million orbs.
Methinks I see thy fair and foreign face
Blush with the glowing ardor of first love,
(Mindful of ancient Nile, and those warm skies,
And tender tales of insect coquetry,)
When some bright butterfly descends to sip
The exotic fragrance of thy nectarous dew;
Even so, Jabal's daughters in old time
Welcomed the sons of God, who sprang from heaven
To gaze with rapture on earth's fairest creatures,
And fan them with their rainbow-colored wings.
Didst ever dream of such a day as this,
A day of life and sunshine, when entranced
In the cold tomb of yonder shrivelled hand?
Didst ever try to shoot thy fibres forth
Through thy close prison-bars, those parchment fingers,
And strive to blossom in a charnel house?
Didst ever struggle to be free,
From that forced wedlock with a clammy corpse,
To burst thy bonds asunder, and spring up,
A thing of light, to commerce with the skies?
Or didst thou rather, with endurance strong,
(That might have taught a Newton passive power,)
Baffle corruption, and live on unharmed
Amid the pestilent steams that wrapped thee round,
Like Mithradates, when he wOULD not die,
But conquered poison by his strong resolve?
O life, thy name is mystery, that couldst
Thus energize inert, be, yet not be,
Concentrating thy powers in one small point;
Couldst mail a germ, in seeming weakness strong,
And arm it as thy champion against Death;
Couldst give a weed, dug from the common field,
What Egypt hath not, Immortality;
Couldst lull it off to sleep ere Carthage was,
And wake it up when Carthage is no more!
It may be, suns and stars that walked the heavens,
While thou wert in thy slumber, gentle flower,
Have sprung from chaos, blazed their age, and burst:
It may be, that thou seest the world worn out,
And look'st on meadows of a paler green,
Flowers of a duskier hue, and all creation,
Down to degenerate man, more and more dead,
Than in those golden hours, nearest to Eden,
When mother Earth and thou and all were young
And he that held thee, this bituminous shape,
This fossil shell once tenanted by life,
This chrysalis husk of the poor insect man,
This leathern coat, this carcase of a soul,
What was thy story, O mine elder brother?
I note thee now, swathed like a Milanese babe,
But thine are tinctur'd grave-clothes, fathoms long:
On thy shrunk breast the mystic beetle lies,
Commending thee to Earth, and to the Sun
Regenerating all; a curious scroll,
Full of strange written lore, rests at thy side;
While a quaint rosary of bestial gods,
Ammon, Bubastes, Thoth, Osiris, Apis,
And Horus with the curl, Typhon and Phthah,
Amulets ciphered with forgotten tongues,
And charmed religious beads, circle thy throat.
Greatly thy children honored thee in death,
And for the light vouchsafed them they did well,
In that they hoped, and not unwisely hoped,
Again in his own flesh to see their sire;
And their affection spared not, so the form
They loved in life might rest adorned in death.
But this dry hand, was it once terrible,
When among warrior bands thou wentest forth
With Ramses, or Sesostris, yet again
To crush the rebel Ethiop? wast thou set
A taskmaster to toiling Israël,
When Cheops or Cephrenes raised to heaven
Their giant sepulchres? —or did this hand,
That lately held a flower, with murderous grasp
Tear from the Hebrew mother her poor babe,
To fling it to the crocodile ? — or rather
Wert thou some garden-lover, and this bulb
Perchance most rare and fine, prized above gold,
(As in the mad world's dotage yesterday
A tulip root could fetch a prince's ransom,) —
Was to be buried with thee, as thy praise,
Thy Rosicrucian lamp, thine idol weed?