I slew my friend, and now I live
To feel perdition’s glowing flame.
His missile cut the upward air—
Mine, winged with murder won its way,
Straight to his manly bosom,—there
He fell, unconscious as the clay!
One thrill of triumph through me swept,—
But, as I gazed upon his brow,
A chilling horror o’er me crept,—
And I am what thou seest now!
[Illustration: The Moonlit Prairie]
bosom cannot know
The desolation of the soul,
When the rough, gale hath ceased to blow,
Yet o’er it bids the billow roll.
A helmless wreck upon the tide—
An earthquake’s ruin wrapped in gloom—
A gnarled oak blasted in its pride—
Are feeble emblems of my doom.
There is a tongue in every leaf,
A sigh in every tossing tree—
A murmur in each wave; of grief
They whisper, and they speak to me.
Nature hath many voices—strings
Of varied melody: and oft
Lone spirits come on breezy wings,
To wake their music sad or soft.
But in the wilderness, where Heaven
Is the wrapt listener, the tone
Is ever mournful: there is given,
A chorus for the skies, alone.
At night, when the pale moonlight falls
O’er prairies, sleeping like a grave,
And glorious through these mountain halls,
Pours in a flood its silvery wave—
I climb the cliff, and hear the song,
That o’er the breast of stillness steals:
I hear the cataract thundering strong
From far; I hear the wave that peals
Along the lone lake’s pebbly shore;
I hear the sweeping gust that weaves
The tree tops, and the winds that pour
In rippling lapses through the leaves.
And as the diapason sweeps
Across the breast of night, the moan
Of wolves upon the spirit creeps,
Lending the hymn a wilder tone.
The panther’s wail, the owlet’s scream,
The whippoorwill’s complaining song,
Blend with the cataract’s solemn theme,
And the wild cadences prolong.
And often when the heart is chilled
By the deep harmony, the note
Of some light-hearted bird is trilled
Upon the breeze. How sweet its throat!
Yet, as a gem upon the finger
Of a pale corse, deepens the gloom,
By its bright rays that laugh and linger
In the dread bosom of the tomb;
So doth the note of that wild bird,
Sadden the anthem of the hills,
And my hushed bosom, spirit-stirred,
With lonelier desolation thrills.