Within an Old World, classic vase
She blossomed like a flower,
And made Italian summer days
Seem fleeting as an hour;
Then left the antique vase in gloom,—
Yet o’er its edges climb
Some petals, with a sweet perfume
That triumphs over time.
The Critic grieves at Virtue’s loss,
And rails at Evil’s stride,
But Love still holds aloft the Cross,
And shows the Crucified.
One, safe in a secure retreat,
Disdains the maddened throng;
The other braves the seething street,
And strives to right the wrong.
Self shudders at the angry waves,
And dreams of what should be,
But Love the sinking sinner saves,
And stills the stormy sea.
A thousand eyes, by thee made bright,
Have read thy cheering lines;
A thousand hearts have felt the light
That through thy poetry shines;
Thou dost not know them all, ’tis true,
But they all wait for thee,
As wait the rosebuds for the dew,
Queen of the Christmas Tree!
His letter lies before me here,
Scarce written ere the hand grew cold
That traced the lines so fine and clear,
Which still of love and friendship told.
This fragile film of black and white,—
A traveller over land and sea—,
Is all the bond I have to-night
Between the friend I loved and me.
I know not where his form may rest,
Yet well I know Death cannot take
His memory from the Central West
And its proud city by the lake.
But where are now his loyal soul,
His loving heart and gifted mind;
Do they survive—a conscious whole—
The dwelling they have left behind?
Beyond this tiny orb we tread
Who can the spirit’s pathway trace,
Or find a haven for our dead
In seas of interstellar space?
O silent stars, that flash and burn
Across the bridgeless vault of blue,
Ye may receive, but ne’er return,
The dead we sadly yield to you.
In vain we urge the old request;
In vain the darkness we explore;
Light lie the turf above thy breast,
O friend, whom I shall see no more!
If it be true, as some have dreamed,
That all have lived and loved before,
I cannot wonder it hath seemed
That on some other shore,
In former ages long ago,
Our souls had met and learned to know
The truths that now upon the sea
Establish our affinity.
Heart leaps to heart and mind to mind:
A look, a word, a smile, a phrase,—
And we at once a kinship find,
A relic of those days,
When we both watched the sunset kiss
The storied Bay of Salamis,
Or paced beside the classic stream
That borders Plato’s Academe.—