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Whereat their stupid tongues, to
tease my pain, So draw it o'er again and o'er again. They hurt my heart with griefs I
cannot name: Always the same, the same.
Nature hath no surprise,
No ambuscade of beauty, 'gainst
mine eyes from brake, or lurking dell, or deep
No humors, frolic forms,— this mile,
that mile; No rich reserves or happy-valley
Beyond the bends of roads, the distant slopes.
Her fancy fails, her wild is all run tame:
Ever the same, the same.
Oh! might I through these tears
But glimpse some hill my Georgia high uprears,
Where white the quartz, and pink the pebbles shine.
The hickory heavenward strives, the muscadine
Swings o'er the slope; the oak's farfalling shade
Darkens the dog-wood in the bottom glade,
And down the hollow from a ferny nook
Bright leaps a living brook!
The sun has kissed the violet sea,
O Sea! wouldst thou not better be ,
The sun has burnt the rose-red sea:
O Sea! O Sea! mightst thou but be
HANNAH BINDING SHOES.
Poor lone Hannah, Sitting at the window, binding shoes,
Faded, wrinkled, Sitting, stitching, in a mournful muse.
Bright-eyed beauty once was she,
Not a neighbor,
To her whisper, "Is there from the fishers any news?" Oh, her heart's adrift, with one On an endless voyage gone! Night and morning, Hannah's at the window, binding shoes.
Fair young Hannah, Ben, the sunburnt fisher, gayly woos:
Hale and clever, Frv a willing heart and hand he sues. May-day skies are all aglow, And the waves are laughing so!
For her wedding Hannah leaves her window and her shoes.
May is passing: Mid the apple-boughs a pigeon coos,
Hannah shudders, For the mild southwester mischief brews
Round the rocks of Marblehead, Outward bound, a schooner sped: Silent, lonesome, Hannah's at the window, binding shoes.
'Tis November, Now no tear her wasted cheek bedews. From Newfoundland Not a sail returning will she lose, Whispering hoarsely, " Fishermen, Have you, have you heard of Ben?" Old with watching, Hannah's at the window, binding shoes.
Twenty winters Bleach and tear the ragged shore she views Twenty seasons,— Never one has brought her any news. Still her dim eyes silently Chase the white sails o'er the sea: Hopeless, faithful, Hannah's at the window, binding shoes.
The curtain of the dark
Out of the star-wells, spark on spark
Grief is a tattered tent Wherethrough God's light doth shine.
Who glances up, at every rent
Behold her there in the evening sun,
That kindles the Indian summer trees
To a separate burning bush, one by one,
Wherein the Glory Divine she sees!
Mate and nestlings she never had: Kith and kindred have passed away;
Yet the sunset is not more gently glad,
That follows her shadow, and fain would stay.
For out of her life goes a breath of bliss,
And a sunlike charm from her
cheerful eye, That the cloud and the loitering
breeze would miss; A balm that refreshes the passer
"Did she choose it, this single life?" Gossip, she saith not, and who can tell?
But many a mother, and many a wife,
Draws a lot more lonely, we all know well.
Doubtless she had her romantic dream,
Like other maidens, in May-time sweet,
That flushes the air with a lingering gleam,
And goldens the grass beneath her feet: —
A dream unmoulded to visible form, That keeps the world rosy with mists of youth, And holds her in loyalty close and warm,
To her fine ideal ot manly truth.
"But is she happy, a woman alone?" Gossip, alone in this crowded earth,
With a voice to quiet its hourly moan,
And a smile to heighten its rarer mirth 1
There are ends more worthy than
happiness: Who seeks it, is digging joy's
grave, we know. The blessed are they who but live to
She found out that mystery, long ago.
To her motherly, sheltering atmosphere,
The children hasten from icy homes:
The outcast is welcome to share her cheer;
And the saint with a fervent benison comes.
For the heart of woman is large as man's:
God gave her his orphaned world to hold,
And whispered through her His deeper plans To save it alive from the outer cold.
And here is a woman who understood
Herself, her work, and God's will with her, To gather and scatter His sheaves of good,
And was meekly thankful, though men demur.
Would she have walked more nobly, think,
With a man beside her, to point the way,
Hand joining hand in the marriagelink?
Possibly, Yes; it is likelier, Nay.
For all men have not wisdom and might:
Love's eyes are tender, and blur the map;
And a wife will follow by faith, not sight,
In the chosen footprint, at any hap.
In the comfort of home who is gladder than she? Yet, stirred by no murmur of "might have been,"
Her heart as a carolling bird soars free,
With the song of each nest she has glanced within.
Having the whole, she covets no part:
Hers is the bliss of all blessed things.
The tears that unto her eyelids start,
Are those which a generous pity brings;
Or the sympathy of heroic faith With a holy purpose, achieved or lost.
To stifle the truth is to stop her breath,
For she rates a lie at its deadly cost.
Her friends are good women and faithful men, Who seek for the true, and uphold the right; And who shall proclaim her the weaker, when Her very presence puts sin to flight?
"And dreads she never the coming years?"
Gossip, what are the years to her?
All winds are fair, and the harbor nears,
And every breeze a delight will stir.
Transfigured under the sunset trees, That wreathe her with shadowy gold and red, She looks away to the purple seas, Whereon her shallop will soon be sped.
She reads the hereafter by the here: A beautiful Now, and a better To Be:
In life is all sweetness, in death no fear,—
You waste your pity on such as she.
HAND IN HAND WITH ANGELS.
Hand in hand with angels,
Through the world we go; Brighter eyes are on us
Than we blind ones know; Tenderer voices cheer us
Than we deaf will own; Never, walking heavenward,
Can we walk alone.
Hand in hand with angels,
In the busy street,
Everywhere,— we meet,
Birds of Paradise; Heaven looks at us daily
Out of human eyes.
Hand in hand with angels;
Oft in menial guise;
Prince and beggar rise.
Toil-imbrowned and worn, Then one link with heaven
From our life is torn.
Hand in hand with angels:
Some are fallen,— aias!
Over all they pass.
Bid them seek the sky!
When they cease to fly.
Hand in hand with angels;
Some are out of sight,
Into paths of light.
From our earthly clasp,
With a firmer grasp.
Hand in hand with angels,—
'Tis a twisted chain, Winding heavenward, earthward,
Linking joy and pain. There's a mournful jarring,
There's a clank of doubt, If a heart grows heavy,
Or a hand's left out.
Hand in hand with angels
Walking every day; —
None of us can say.
From earth's lowliest one, To the shining seraph,
Throned beyond the sun.
Hand in hand with angels!
Blessed so to be!
Giving light, they see.
Strengthens more t ban one; Sinking earth he grapples
To the Great White Throne.
A STRIP OF BLUE.
I DO not own an inch of land,
But all I see is mine,— The orchard and the mowing-fields,
The lawns and gardens fine. The winds my tax-collectors are,
They bring me tithes divine,—
A tribute rare and free:
My window keeps for me
A little strip of sea.
Richer am I than he who owns
Great fleets and argosies; I have a share in every ship
Won by the inland breeze To loiter on yon airy road
Above the apple-trees. I freight them with my untold
Each bears my own picked crew; And nobler cargoes wait for them
Than ever India knew,—
Across that outlet blue.
Sometimes they seem like living
shapes,— The people of the sky,— Guests in white raiment coming
From heaven, which is close by:
As one by one draws nigh,
From violet mists they bloom! The aching wastes of the unknown
Are half reclaimed from gloom, Since on life's hospitable sea
All souls find sailing-room.
The ocean grows a weariness
Spread out from morn to night: We miss the warm, caressing shore,
Its brooding shade and light.
By hints are mysteries told;
God's sweeping garment-fold, In that bright shred of glimmering sea,
I reach out for, and hold.
The sails, like flakes of roseate pearl,
Float in upon the mist; The waves are broken precious stones,—
Sapphire and amethyst, Washed from celestial basement walls
By suns unsetting kissed.
Out through the utmost gates of space,
Past where the gay stars drift, To the widening Infinite, my soul
Glides on, a vessel swift; Yet loses not her anchorage
In yonder azure rift.
Here sit I, as a little child:
The threshold of God's door
Now the vast temple floor,
I bow my head before.
In height or depth, to me;
Content am I to be;
Some sea-like glimpse of thee.
BE AVE N NEAR THE VIRTUOUS.
They whose hearts are whole and strong,
Wearing truth's white dress,—
Wearily need climb;
From these shores of time.
Only the anointed eye
Sees in common things,— Gleams dropped daily from the sky;
Heavenly blossomings. To the hearts where light has birth
Nothing can be drear; Budding through the bloom of earth,
Heaven is always near.