« PreviousContinue »
the silent tribute of pity, or the prayer of gratitude. The rivalries of the world will here drop from the heart; the spirit of forgiveness will gather new impulses; the selfish ness of avarice will be checked; the restlessness of ambition will be rebuked; vanity will let fall its plumes ; and pride, as it sees
what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue," will acknowledge the value of virtue as far, immeasurably far, beyond that of fame.
But that which will be ever present, pervading these shades like the noonday sun, and shedding cheerfulness around, is the consciousness, the irrepressible consciousness, amidst all these lessons of human mortality, of the higher truth, that we are beings, not of time, but of eternity; that “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality;" that this is but the threshold and starting-point of an existence, compared with whose duration the ocean is but as a drop — nay, the whole creation an evanescent quantity.
CXXXI.- HYMN AT THE CONSECRATION OF A
[This beautiful hymn was sung at the consecration of a cemetery belonging to the aty of Cambridge, in October, 1854. It was written by the Rev. WILLIAM NEWELL, & graduate of Harvard College of the class of 1824, and pastor of the First Congregational Church in Cambridge. Dr. Newell has published very little; but this poem shows him to be capable of giving beautiful expression to genuine religious feeling.)
CHANGING, fading, falling, flying
them birth, Autumn leaves, in beauty dying,
Seek the mother breast of earth.
Soon shall all the songless wood
Shiver in the deepening snow,
Like some Rachel in her woe
Slowly sinks yon evening sun,
Softly wanes the cheerful light, And the twelve hours' labor done
Onward sweeps the solemn night.
So on many a home of gladness
Falls, O Death, thy winter gloom; Stands there still in doubt and sadness
Many a Mary at the tomb.
But the genial spring, returning,
Will the sylvan pomp renew,
Kindle rainbows in the dew.
So shall God, his promise keeping,
To the world by Jesus given, Wake our loved ones, sweetly sleeping,
At the breaking dawn of heaven.
Light from darkness! Life from death!
Dies the body, not the soul; From the chrysalis beneath
Soars the spirit to its goal.
Father, when the mourners come
With the slowly moving bier, Weeping at the open tomb
For the lovely and the dear,
Breathe into the bleeding heart
Hopes that die not with the dead; And the peace of Christ impart When the joys of life have fled!
CXXXII. - THE CONQUEROR'S GRAVE.
[This poem, one of Bryant's latest productions, which appeared originally in Pat nam's Magazine, is one of the most beautiful compositions that ever was written; admirable in sentiment, admirable in expression. From such poetry we learn how much we owe to those poets whose genius is under the control of moral feeling; who make the imagination and the sense of beauty ministering servants at the altar of the highest good and the highest truth.)
WITHIN this lowly grave a conqueror lies;
And yet the monument proclaims it not,
Nor round the sleeper's name hath chisel wrought
A simple name alone,
To the great world unknown,
Lean lovingly against the humble stone.
Here, in the quiet earth, they laid apart
No man of iron mould and bloody hands,
Who sought to wreak upon the cowering lands
Gentlest in mien and mind
Of gentle womankind,
Its haunt, like flowers by sunny brooks in May;
Of sweeter sadness chased the smile away.
Nor deem that when the hand that moulders here
And armies mustered at the sign as when
Gray captains leading bands of veteran men
Alone her task was wrought;
Alone the battle fought;
She met the hosts of sorrow with a look
That altered not beneath the frown they wore; And soon the lowering brood were tamed, and took
Meekly her gentle rule, and frowned no more. Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath,
And calmly broke in twain
The fiery shafts of pain,
By that victorious hand despair was slain.
Her glory is not of this shadowy state,
Glory that with the fleeting season dies; But when she entered at the sapphire gate,
What joy was radiant in celestial eyes ! How heaven's bright depths with sounding welcomes rung And flowers of heaven by shining hands were flung!
And He who, long before,
Pain, scorn, and sorrow bore, The mighty Sufferer, with aspect sweet, Smiled on the timid stranger from his seat; He who, returning glorious from the grave, Dragged Death, disarmed, in chains, a crouching slave.
See, as I linger here, the sun grows low;
Cool airs are murmuring that the night is near. O gentle sleeper, from thy grave I go Consoled, though sad, in hope, and yet in fear.
Brief is the time, I know,
The warfare scarce begun; Yet all may win the triumphs thou hast won; Still flows the fount whose waters strengthened thee.
The victors' names are yet too few to fill Heaven's mighty roll; the glorious armory, That ministered to thee, is open
CXXXIV. - THE OLD MANSE AT CONCORD.
[NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE is a native of Salem, Massachusetts, and was graduated at Bowdoin College in 1825. He is the author of The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Ra mance, and The House of the Soven Gables; of Twice-told Tales, Mosses from an Old Manse, and The Snow Image and other Twice-told Tales — the last three being colleotions of papers contributed to annuals and periodicals. He has also written three or four books for children.
Hawthorne is a man of peculiar and original genius; and no writer of our times is less indebted to the thoughts and words of other men than he. Reserved in his tastes, and secluded in his habits, his mind has grown by a self-contained law of increase. He combines a rare imaginative faculty with a vein of deep, often mournful, reflection. He has an unequalled power of moving in that twilight region which lies between the real and the unreal, of bringing forms before the eye which seem half of the earth and half beyond it, and of so clearing up his mystery as still to leave the shadow of doubt resting upon it. He is a fine and sharp observer, and paints characters with admirable discrimination and effect. His scenes and incidents are mostly drawn from the history and life of New England; and it is a proof of no common genius in him to have found the elements of romantic interest in a soil generally deemed unpropitious to such growth. His popularity is very great, and perhaps would be greater were it not for the frequent intrusion into his pages of dark and sad visions, which fascinate but do not charm. The Scarlet Letter, the most original of all his productions, is a powerful but painful book. It is read with absorbing interest, but is not often taken up a second time.
Hawthorne's style is of rare beauty and finish. He writes with perfect correctness, - hardly any living writer, English or American, is equal to him in this respect, - and yet without any stiffness or appearance of elaboration. The music of his delicious cadences never palls upon the ear, because it is always natural, and never monotonous. He has a poet's sense of beauty; and his descriptions of natural scenes have all the elements of poetry except the garb of verse.
The following extract from the Mosses from an Old Manse is a part of his description of a clergyman's residence in Concord, Massachusetts.)