Behold the Esquimau—the Hottentot:
This doomed to regions of perpetual ice,
And that to constant summer’s heat and glow:
Inferior both, both gloomy and unblessed.
The home of happiness and plenty lies
Where autumn follows summer and the breath
Of spring melts into rills the winter’s snows.
How gladly, after summer’s blazing suns,
We hail the autumn frosts and autumn fruits:
How blithesome seems the fall of feathery snow
When winter comes with merry clang of bells:
And after winter’s reign of ice and storm
How glad we hail the robins of the spring.
For God hath planted in the hearts of men
The love of change, and sown the seeds of change
In earth and air and sea and shoreless space.
Day follows night and night the dying day,
And every day—and every hour—is change;
From when on dewy hills the rising dawn
Sprinkles her mists of silver in the east,
Till in the west the golden dust up-wheels
Behind the chariot of the setting sun;
From when above the hills the evening star
Sparkles a diamond ’mong the grains of gold,
Until her last faint flicker on the sea.
The voices of the hoar and hurrying years
Cry from the silence—“Change!—perpetual Change!”
Man’s heart responding throbs—“Perpetual Change,”
And grinds like a mill-stone: wanting grists of change
It grinds and grinds upon its troubled self.
Behold the flowers that spring and bloom and fade.
Behold the blooming maid: the song of larks
Is in her warbling throat; the blue of heaven
Is in her eyes; her loosened tresses fall
A shower of gold on shoulders tinged with rose;
Her form a seraph’s and her gladsome face
A benediction. Lo beneath her feet
The loving crocus bursts in sudden bloom.
Fawn-eyed and full of gentleness she moves—
A sunbeam on the lawn. The hearts of men
Follow her footsteps. He whose sinewy arms
Might burst through bars of steel like bands of straw,
Caught in the net of her unloosened hair,
A helpless prisoner lies and loves his chains.
Blow, ye soft winds, from sandal-shaded isle,
And bring the mogra’s breath and orange-bloom.
Fly, fleet-winged doves, to Ponce de Leon’s
And in your bills bring her the pearls of youth;
For lo the fingers of relentless Time
Weave threads of silver in among the gold,
And seam her face with pain and carking care,
Till, bent and bowed, the shriveled hands of Death
Reach from the welcome grave and draw her in.
Hark, the storm is raging high;
Beat the breakers on the coast,
And the wintry waters cry
Like the wailing of a ghost.
On the rugged coast of Maine
Stands the frugal farmer’s cot:
What if drive the sleet and rain?
John and Hannah heed it not.