Imágenes de página



As ships, becalmed at eve, that lay

With canvas drooping, side by side, Two towers of sail at dawn of day

Are scarce long leagues apart descried ;


When fell the night, upsprung the breeze,

And all the darkling hours they plied, Nor dreamt but each the self-same seas

By each was cleaving, side by side.


E'en so — but why the tale reveal

Of those, whom year by year unchanged, Brief absence joined anew to feel,

Astounded, soul from soul estranged?

At dead of night their sails were filled,

And onward each rejoicing steered - Ah, neither blame, for neither willed,

Or wist, what first with dawn appeared !


To veer, how vain! On, onward strain,

Brave barks! In light, in darkness too, Through winds and tides one compass guides –

To that, and your own selves, be true.


But o blithe breeze! and O great seas,

Though ne'er, that earliest parting past, On your wide plain they join again,

Together lead them home at last.


One port, methought, alike they sought,

One purpose hold where'er they fare,
O bounding breeze, O rushing seas !

At last, at last, unite them there!




A YOUTH was I. An elder friend with me,
'Twas in September o'er the autumnal sea
We went; the wide Atlantic ocean o’er
Two amongst many the strong steamer bore.
Delight it was to feel that wondrous force

That held us steady to our purposed course
The burning resolute victorious will
'Gainst winds and waves that strive unwavering still.
Delight it was with each returning day
To learn the ship had won upon her way
Her sum of miles, — delight were 'mornings grey
And gorgeous eves, nor was it less delight,
On each more temperate and favouring night,
Friend with familiar or with new-found friend,
To pace the deck, and o’er the bulwarks bend,

And the night watches in long converse spend;
While still new subjects and new thoughts arise
Amidst the silence of the seas and skies.

Amongst the mingled multitude a few,
Some three or four, towards us early drew;
We proved each other with a day or two;
Night after night some three or four we walked,
And talked, and talked, and infinitely talked.

Of the New England ancient blood was one;
His youthful spurs in letters he had won,

25 Unspoilt by that, to Europe late had come, Hope long deferred, — and went unspoilt by Europe home. What racy tales of Yankeeland he had ! Up-country girl, up-country farmer lad; The regnant clergy of the time of old In wig and gown; — tales not to be retold


30 35




By me. I could but spoil were I to tell :
Himself must do it who can do it well.

An English clergyman came spick and span
In black and white a large well-favored man,
Fifty years old, as near as one could guess.
He looked the dignitary more or less.
A rural dean, I said, he was, at least,
Canon perhaps ; at many a good man's feast
A guest had been, among the choicest there.
Manly his voice and manly was his air:
At the first sight you felt he had not known
The things pertaining to his cloth alone.
Chairman of Quarter Sessions had he been ?
Serious and calm, 'twas plain he much had seen,
Had miscellaneous large experience had
Of human acts, good, half and half, and bad.
Serious and calm, yet lurked, I know not why,
At times, a softness in his voice and eye.
Some shade of ill a prosperous life had crossed;
Married no doubt: a wife or child had lost?
He never told us why he passed the sea.

My guardian friend was now at thirty-three,
A rising lawyer — ever, at the best,
Slow rises worth in lawyer's gown compressed;
Succeeding now, yet just, and only just,
His new success he never seemed to trust.
By nature he to gentlest thoughts inclined,
To most severe had disciplined his mind;
He held it duty to be half unkind.
Bitter, they said, who but the exterior knew;
In friendship never was a friend so true :
The unwelcome fact he did not shrink to tell,
The good, if fact, he recognized as well.
Stout to maintain, if not the first to see;
In conversation who so great as he?
Leading but seldom, always sure to guide ;
To false or silly, if 'twas borne aside,
His quick correction silent he expressed,
And stopped you short, and forced you to your best.




70 75



Often, I think, he suffered from some pain
Of mind, that on the body worked again;
One felt it in his sort of half-disdain,
Impatient not, but acrid in his speech;
The world with him her lesson failed to teach
To take things easily and let them go.

He, for what special fitness I scarce know,
For which good quality, or if for all,
With less of reservation and recall
And speedier favor than I e'er had seen,
Took as we called him, to the rural dean.
As grew the gourd, as grew the stalk of bean,
So swift it seemed, betwixt these differing two
A stately trunk of confidence up-grew.

Of marriage long one night ey held discourse
Regarding it in different ways, of course.
Marriage is discipline, the wise had said,
A needful human discipline to wed;
Novels of course depict it final bliss,
Say, had it ever really once been this?

Our Yankee friend (whom, ere the night was done,
We called New England or the Pilgrim Son),
A little tired, made bold to interfere ;

Appeal,” he said, “ to me; my sentence hear.
You'll reason on till night and reason fail ;
My judgment is you each shall tell a tale ;
And as on marriage you cannot agree,
Of love and marriage let the stories be.”
Sentence delivered, as the younger man,
My lawyer friend was called on and began.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]



A YOUTH and maid upon a summer night
Upon the lawn, while yet the skies were light,
F.dmund and Emma, let their names be these,
Among the shrubs within the circling trees,



[ocr errors]


I 20

Joined in a game with boys and girls at play:
For games perhaps too old a little they;
In April she her eighteenth year begun,
And twenty he, and near to twenty-one.
A game it was of running and of noise ;
He as a boy, with other girls and boys
(Her sisters and her brothers), took the fun ;
And when her turn, she marked not, came to run,
“ Emma,” he called, then knew that he was wrong,
Knew that her name to him did not belong.
Her look and manner proved his feeling true,
A child no more, her womanhood she knew;
Half was the color mounted on her face,
Her tardy movement had an adult grace.
Vexed with himself, and shamed, he felt the more
A kind of joy he ne'er had felt before.
Something there was that from this date began ;
'Twas beautiful with her to be a man.

Two years elapsed, and he who went and came,
Changing in much, in this appeared the same;
The feeling, if it did not greatly grow,
Endured and was not wholly hid below.
He now, o’ertasked at school, a serious boy,
A sort of after-boyhood to enjoy
Appeared — in vigor and in spirit high
And manly grown, but kept the boy's soft eye:
And full of blood, and strong and lithe of limb,
To him 'twas pleasure now to ride, to swim ;
The peaks, the glens, the torrents tempted him.
Restless he seemed, – long distances would walk,
And lively was, and vehement in talk.
A wandering life his life had lately been,
Books he had read, the world had little seen.
One former frailty haunted him, a touch
Of something introspective overmuch.
With all his eager motions still there went
A self-correcting and ascetic bent,
That from the obvious good still led astray,
And set him travelling on the longest way;





« AnteriorContinuar »