The sunset’s glowing embers die,
The snow-peaks lose their crimson hue,
Through deepening shades the ruddy sky
Burns slowly down to darkest blue,
Wherein a million worlds of light
Announce the coming of the night.
I gaze, and slowly my despair
At human wretchedness and crime
Gives place to hopes and visions fair,—
So much may be evolved by time!
So much may yet men’s souls surprise
Beneath the splendor of God’s skies!
Some day, somewhere, in realms afar
His light may make all problems plain,
And justice on some happier star
May recompense this planet’s pain,
And earth’s bleak Golgothas of woe
Grow lovely in life’s afterglow.
In Bordighera’s groves of palm
I linger at the close of day,
And watch, beyond the ocean’s calm,
A range of mountains far away.
Their snowy summits, white and cold,
Flush crimson like a tinted shell,
As sinks the sun in clouds of gold
Behind the peaks of Esterel.
No unsubstantial shapes are they,—
The offspring of the mist and sea;
No splendid vision of Cathay,
Recalled in dreamful revery;
Their solid bastions,—towering high
Though rooted in earth’s primal plan,—
Proclaim to every passer by
The cradle of the Corsican.
What martial soul there found rebirth,
When on those cliffs, then scarcely known,
There once more visited the earth
The spirit called Napoleon?
Three islands, like the sister Fates,
His life-thread wove upon their loom
From fair Ajaccio’s silvered gates
To Saint Helena’s mournful tomb;—
The first, his birthplace; whence appeared
His baleful star with lurid glow;
Next, Elba, where the world still feared
The fugitive from Fontainebleau;
Last, England’s lonely prison-block,
Grim fragment ’neath a tropic sky,
Where, like Prometheus on his rock,
The captive Caesar came to die,
O Corsica, sublimely wild
And riven by the winds and waves,
Thy fame is deathless from thy child,
Whose glory filled a million graves.
TO THE VENUS OF MELOS
O goddess of that Grecian isle
Whose shores the blue Aegean laves,
Whose cliffs repeat with answering smile
Their features in its sun-kissed waves!
An exile from thy native place,
We view thee in a northern clime;
Yet mark on thy majestic face
A glory still undimmed by Time.
Through those calm lips, proud goddess, speak!
Portray to us thy gorgeous fane,
Where Melian lovers thronged to seek
Thine aid, Love’s paradise to gain;
And where, as in the saffron east,
Day’s jewelled gates were open flung,
With stately pomp the attendant priest
Drew back the veil before thee hung;