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I Only polished am in mine own dust —
Naught else against my hardness
will prevail: And thou, O man, in thine own
sufferings must Be polished: every meaner art will
Angels are we, that, once from
But have their keen-eyed watchers
Now the third and fatal conflict for the Persian throne was done,
Harmosan. the last and boldest the invader to defy,
Captive overborne by numbers, they were bringing forth to die.
Then exclaimed that noble captive: "Lo! I perish in my thirst;
In his hand he took the goblet, but awhile the draught forbore,
Well might then have paused the bravest — for around him angry foes
"But what fear'st thou?" cried the caliph; — " is it, friend, a secret blow? Fear it not! — our gallant Moslem no such treacherous dealing know.
"Thou mayst quench thy thirst securely, for thou shalt not die before Thou hast drunk that cup of water— this reprieve is thine — no more!"
Quick the satrap dashed the goblet down to earth with ready hand,
"Thou hast said that mine my life is, till the water of that cup
I have drained; then bid thy servants that spilled water gather up!"
For a moment stood the caliph as by doubtful passions stirred —
"Bring another cup, and straightway to the noble Persian give:
John Townsend Trowbridge.
THE NAME IN THE BARK.
The self of so long ago,
And the self I struggle to know, —
To-day the shadow I am
Returns in the sweet summer calm
Once more in the dewy morn
I came through the whispering corn;
The ribboned and tasselled grass
Leaned over the flattering glass,
To the gray old birch I came.
Where I whittled my school-boy name:
The blackbirds down among
The alders noisily sung,
I came, remembering well
How my little shadow fell.
There, stooping a little, I found
A half-healed, curious wound.
Then the wise old boughs overhead
Took counsel together, and said,— And the buzz of their leafy lips like a murmur of prophecy passed,—
"He is busily carving the name
In the tough old wrinkles of fame;
Sadly I pondered awhile,
Then I lifted my soul with a smile,
Still hurting ourselves with the knife,
As we toil at the letters of life, Just marring a little the rind, never piercing the heart of the tree."
And now by the rivulet's brink
I leisurely saunter, and think
If then the real I am
Descend from the heavenly calm,
THE RESTORED PICTURE.
In later years, veiling its unblest face
In a most loathsome place, The cheap adornment of a house of shame, It hung, till, gnawed away By tooth of slow decay, It fell, and parted from its mouldering frame.
The rotting canvas, faintly smiling still,
From worldly puff and frill, Its ghastly smile of coquetry and pride,
Crumpling its faded charms And yellow jewelled arms. Mere rubbish now, was rudely cast aside.
The shadow of a Genius crossed the gate:
He, skilled to re-create In old and ruined paintings their lost soul
And beauty,— one who knew The Masters touch by true, Swift instinct, as the needle knows the pole,—
Looked on it, and straightway his searching eyes Saw through its coarse disguise Of vulgar paint and grime and varnish stain The Art that slept beneath.— A chrysalis in its sheath, That waited to be waked to life again.
Upon enduring canvas to renew
This is the miracle, his chosen task!
With loving touch removes their alien mask.
For so on its perfection time had laid
An early mellowing shade; Then hands unskilled, each seeking to impart Fresh tints to form and face. With some more modern grace. Had buried quite the mighty Master's Art.
First, razed from the divine original,
Brow, cheek, and lid, went all That outer shape of worldliness; when, lo! Beneath the varnished crust Of long-embedded dust A fairer face appears, emerging slow,—
The features of a simple shepherdess!
Pure eyes, and golden tress, And, lastly, crook in hand. But deeper still The Master's work lies hid; And still through lip and lid Works the Restorer with unsparing skill.
Behold, at length, in tender light revealed, The soul so long concealed!
All heavenly faint at first, then softly bright,
As smiles the young-eyed Dawn When darkness is withdrawn, A shining angel breaks upon the sight!
Restored, perfected, after the divine
Imperishable design, Lo, now! that once despised and outeast thing Holds its true place among The fairest pictures hung In the high palace of our Lord the King!
The speckled sky is dim with snow, The light flakes falter and fall slow;
Athwart the hill-top, rapt and pale,
I watch the slow flakes as they fall
Tipping the apple-boughs, and each Light quivering twig of plum and peach.
On turf and curb and bower-roof The snow storm spreads its ivory woof;
It paves with pearl the garden walk; And lovingly round tattered stalk And shivering stem its magic weaves A mantle fair as lily-leaves.
The hooded beehive, small and low,
All day it snows: the sheeted post
In the dark tresses of the pine.
The ragged bramble, dwarfed and old,
Still cheerily the chickadee
As snow-flakes, on my soul alight,
Till all my being seems to be
Becalmed along the azure sky,
Far off their pearl-white peaks uplift.
Through all the long midsummerday
The meadow-sides are sweet with hay.
I seek the coolest sheltered seat, Just where the field and forest meet,—
Where grow the pine-trees tall and bland,
The ancient oaks austere and grand, And fringy roots and pebbles fret The ripples of the rivulet.
I watch the mowers, as they go Through the tall grass, a whitesleeved row. With even stroke their scythes they swing.
In tune their merry whetstones ring. Behind the nimble youngsters run. And toss the thick swaths in the sun. The cattle graze, while, warm and still,
Slopes the broad pasture, basks the hill.
And bright, where summer breezes break.
The green wheat crinkles like a lake.
The butterfly and bumble-bee
The brooklet rings its tinkling bells, The swarming insects drone and hum.
The partridge beats his throbbing drum,
The squirrel leaps among the boughs,
Two tiny feathers fall and float.
As silently, as tenderly,
A dear Companion here abides;
The pleasant grounds are greenly turfed and graded; A sturdy porter waiteth at the gate;
The graceful avenues, serenely shaded,
And curving paths, are interlaced and braided In many a maze around my fair
Here bloom the early hyacinth, and clover
And amaranth and myrtle wreathe the ground; The pensive lily leans her pale cheek over;
And hither comes the bee, lighthearted rover,
Wooing the sweet-breathed flowers with soothing sound.
Entwining, in their manifold digressions,
Lands of my neighbors, wind these peaceful ways.
The masters, coming to their calm possessions,
Followed in solemn state by long processions,
Make quiet journeys these still summer days.
This is my freehold! Elms and fringy
Maples and pines, and stately firs
of Norway, Build round me their green pyramids
and arches; Sweetly the robin sings, while slowly
The stately pageant past my verdant doorway.
Oh, sweetly sing the robin and the sparrow! But the pale tenant very silent rides
A low green roof receiveth him; — so narrow
His hollow tenement, a schoolboy's arrow
Might span the space betwixt its grassy sides.
The flowers around him ring their wind-swung chalices, A great bell tolls the pageant's slow advance.
The poor alike, and lords of parks and palaces,
From all their busy schemes, their fears and fallacies, Find here their rest and sure inheritance.
No more hath Caesar or Sardanapalus!
Of all our wide dominions, soon or late.
Only a fathom's space can aught avail us;
This is the heritage that shall not fail us:
Here man at last comes to his Real
"Secure to him and to his heirs forever"!
Nor wealth nor want shall vex his spirit more. Treasures of hope and love and high endeavor
Follow their blest proprietor; but never
Could pomp or riches pass this little door.
Flatterers attend him, but alone he enters, — Shakes off the dust of earth, no more to roam.
His trial ended, sealed his soul's indentures,
The wanderer, weary from his long adventures, Beholds the peace of his eternal home.