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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 dwell.
The espaliers and the standards all
Are thine; the range of lawn and park:
The unnetted blackhearts ripen dark, All thine, against the garden wall.
Yet, though I spared thee all the spring,
Thy sole delight is, sitting still,
With that gold 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 coarse,
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.
THE DEATH OF THE OLD YEAR.
Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
Old year, you must not die ;
He lieth still : he doth not move:
Old year, you must not go;
He frothed his bumpers to the brim;
Old year, you shall not die;
He was full of joke and jest,
To see him die, across the waste
Every one for his own.
How hard he breathes ! over the snow
Shake hands, before you die.
His face is growing sharp and thin.
up his eyes: tie up his chin : Step from the corpse, and let him in That standeth there alone,
And waiteth 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 mould.
And me this knowledge bolder made,
Or else I had not dared to flow
Even with a verse your holy woe.
'Tis 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 unlearned ; Once through mine own doors Death did pass;
One went, who never hath returned.
He will not smile—not speak to me
Two years his chair is seen Empty before us. That was he
Without whose life I had not been.
Your loss is rarer; for this star
Rose with you through a little arc Of heaven, nor having wandered far,
Shot on the sudden into dark.
I knew your brother: his mute dust
A man more pure and bold and just
Was never born into the earth.
I have not looked upon you nigh,
Since that dear soul hath fallen asleep. Great Nature is more wise than I:
I will not tell you not to weep.
And though my own eyes fill with dew,
Drawn from the spirit through the brain, I will not even preach to you,
Weep, 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.
I 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 seemed distant, and a tear
Dropt on the letters as I wrote.