Then said I, “From its consecrated cerements
I will not drag this sacred dust again,
Only to give me pain;
But, still remembering all the lost endearments,
Go on my way, like one who looks before,
And turns to weep no more.”
Into what land of harvests, what plantations
Bright with autumnal foliage and the glow
Of sunsets burning low;
Beneath what midnight skies, whose constellations
Light up the spacious avenues between
This world and the unseen!
Amid what friendly greetings and caresses,
What households, though not alien, yet not mine,
What bowers of rest divine;
To what temptations in lone wildernesses,
What famine of the heart, what pain and loss,
The bearing of what cross!
I do not know; nor will I vainly question
Those pages of the mystic book which hold
The story still untold,
But without rash conjecture or suggestion
Turn its last leaves in reverence and good heed,
Until “The End” I read.
Burn, O evening hearth, and waken
Pleasant visions, as of old!
Though the house by winds be shaken,
Safe I keep this room of gold!
Ah, no longer wizard Fancy
Builds her castles in the air,
Luring me by necromancy
Up the never-ending stair!
But, instead, she builds me bridges
Over many a dark ravine,
Where beneath the gusty ridges
Cataracts dash and roar unseen.
And I cross them, little heeding
Blast of wind or torrent’s roar,
As I follow the receding
Footsteps that have gone before.
Naught avails the imploring gesture,
Naught avails the cry of pain!
When I touch the flying vesture,
’T is the gray robe of the rain.
Baffled I return, and, leaning
O’er the parapets of cloud,
Watch the mist that intervening
Wraps the valley in its shroud.
And the sounds of life ascending
Faintly, vaguely, meet the ear,
Murmur of bells and voices blending
With the rush of waters near.
Well I know what there lies hidden,
Every tower and town and farm,
And again the land forbidden
Reassumes its vanished charm.
Well I know the secret places,
And the nests in hedge and tree;
At what doors are friendly faces,
In what hearts are thoughts of me.
Through the mist and darkness sinking,
Blown by wind and beaten by shower,
Down I fling the thought I’m thinking,
Down I toss this Alpine flower.
MAY 23, 1864
How beautiful it was, that one bright day
In the long week of rain!
Though all its splendor could not chase away
The omnipresent pain.
The lovely town was white with apple-blooms,
And the great elms o’erhead
Dark shadows wove on their aerial looms
Shot through with golden thread.