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I wondered, while I paced along:
The woods were filled so full with song,
There seemed no room for sense of wrong.
So variously seemed all things wrought,
I marvelled how the mind was brought
To anchor, by one gloomy thought;
And wherefore rather I made choice
To commune with that barren voice,
Than him that said, "Rejoice! rejoice!"
FAITH. From "In Memoriam."— Ibil
That which we dare invoke to bless;
Our dearest faith, our ghastliest doubt;
He, They, One, All; within, without;
The Power in darkness whom we guess;
I found Him not in world or sun,
Or eagle's wing, or insect's eye;
Nor through the questions men may try,
The petty cobwebs we have spun:
If e'er when faith had fallen asleep,
I heard a voice, "Believe no more,"
And heard an ever-breaking shore
That tumbled in the Godless deep;
A warmth within the breast would melt
The freezing reason's colder part,
And like a man in wrath, the heart
Stood up and answered, "I have felt."
No, like a child in doubt and fear:
But that blind clamor made me wise;
Then was I as a child that cries,
But, crying, knows his father near;
And what I seem beheld again
What is, and no man understands;
And out of darkness came the hands
That reach through nature, moulding men.
O Love Divine, that stooped to share
Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear,
On Thee, we cast each earth-born care,
We smile at pain while Thou art near!
Though long the weary way we tread,
And sorrows crown each lingering year,
No path we shun, no darkness dread,
Our hearts still whispering, Thou art near!
When drooping pleasure turns to grief,
And trembling faith is changed to fear,
The murmuring wind, the quivering leaf,
Shall softly tell us, Thou art near!
On Thee we fling our burdening woe,
O Love Divine, forever dear,
Content to suffer while we know,
Living and dying, Thou art near!
EXTRACT FROM "ABT VOGLER."
Therefore to whom turn I but to Thee, the ineffable Name?
Builder and maker, Thou, of houses not made with hands!
What, have fear of change from Thee, who art ever the same?
Doubt that Thy power can fill the heart that Thy power expands? There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before; The evil is null, is naught, is silence implying sound;
What was good, shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in heaven, a perfect round.
All we have willed or hoped, or dreamed of good, shall exist;
Not its likeness, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist
When eternity affirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
Enough that He heard it once: we shall hear it by and by.
And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
For the fulness of the days? How we withered or agonized!
Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue
Why rush the discords in, but that harmony should be prized?
Strive; yet I do not promise,
The prize you dream of to-day,
Will not fade when you think to grasp it,
And melt in your hand away;
But another and holier treasure,
You would now perchance disdain,
Will come when your toil is over,
And pay you for all your pain.
Wait; yet I do not tell you,
The hour you long for now,
Will not come with its radiance vanished,
And a shadow upon its brow;
Yet far through the misty future,
With a crown of starry light,
An hour of joy you know not
Is winging her silent flight.
Pray; though the gift you ask for
May never comfort your fears,
May never repay your pleading,
Yet pray, and with hopeful tears;
An answer, not that you long for,
But diviner, will come one day;
Your eyes are too dim to see it,
Yet strive, and wait, and pray.
THE CLOSING SCENE.
Within this sober realm of leafless trees,
The russet year inhaled the dreamy air,
Like some tanned reaper in his hour of ease,
When all the trees are lying brown and bare.
The gray barns, looking from their hazy hills,
O'er the dim waters wid'ning in the vales,
Sent down the air a greeting to the mills,
On the dull thunder of alternate flails.
All sights were mellowed, and all sounds subdued,
The hills seemed farther, and the stream sang low;
As in a dream the distant woodman hew'd
His winter log, with many a muffled blow.
Th' embattled forests, erewhile armed in gold,
Their banners bright with every martial hue,
Now stood like some sad beaten hosts of old,
Withdrawn afar in times remotest blue.
On slumb'rous wings the vulture tried his flight,
The dove scarce heard his singing mate's complaint,
And like a star, slow drowning in the light,
The village church-vane seemed to pale and faint.
The sentinel cock upon the hill-side crew;
Crew trice, and all was stiller than before – Silent till some replying wanderer blew
His alien horn, and then was heard no more.
Where erst, the jay within the elm's tall crest,
Made garrulous trouble round the unfledged young;
And where the oriole hung his swinging nest
By every light wind like a censer swung.
Where sang the noisy masons of the eaves,
The busy swallows circling ever near,
Foreboding, as the rustic mind believes,
An early harvest and a plenteous year.
Where every bird which charmed the vernal feast,
Shook the sweet slumber from its wings at morn,
To warn the reapers of the rosy east:
All now was songless, empty, and forlorn.
Alone, from out the stubble piped the quail,
And croaked the crow, through all the dreary gloom;
Alone the pheasant, drumming in the vale,
Made echo to the distant cottage loom.
There was no bud, no bloom upon the bowers;
The spiders wove their thin shrouds night by night;
The thistle-down, the only ghost of flowers,
Sailed slowly by-passed noiseless out of sight.
Amid all this in this most cheerless air,
And where the woodbine sheds upon the porch
Its crimson leaves, as if the year stood there,
Firing the floor with his inverted torch -
Amid all this, the centre of the scene,
The white-haired matron, with monotonous tread,
Plied the swift wheel, and with her joyless mien,
Sat like a Fate, and watched the flying thread.
She had known sorrow. He had walked with her,
Oft supped, and broke with her the ashen crust,
And in the dead leaves, still she heard the stir
Of his black mantle trailing in the dust.
While yet her cheek was bright with summer bloom,
Her country summoned, and she gave her all;
And twice war, bowed to her his sable plume;
Re-gave the swords to rest upon the wall.
Re-gave the swords - but not the hand that drew
And struck for liberty the dying blow;
Nor him who to his sire and country true
Fell 'mid the ranks of the invading foe.
Long, but not loud, the droning wheel went on,
Like the low murmurs of a hive at noon,
Long but not loud the memory of the gone
Breathed through her lips a sad and tremulous tune.
At last the thread was snapped, her head was bow'd.
Life drooped the distaff through his hands serene;
And loving neighbors smoothed her careful shroud,
While Death and Winter closed the Autumn scene.
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.