Soft voices and light laughter wake the street,
Like notes of woodbirds, and where’er the eye
Threads the long way, plumes wave, and twinkling feet
Fall light, as hastes that crowd of beauty by.
The ostrich, hurrying o’er the desert space,
Scarce bore those tossing plumes with fleeter pace.
No swimming Juno gait, of languor born,
Is theirs, but a light step of freest grace,
Light as Camilla’s o’er the unbent corn,—
A step that speaks the spirit of the place,
Since Quiet, meek old dame, was driven away
To Sing Sing and the shores of Tappan bay.
Ye that dash by in chariots! who will care
For steeds or footmen now? ye cannot show
Fair face, and dazzling dress, and graceful air,
And last edition of the shape! Ah no,
These sights are for the earth and open sky,
And your loud wheels unheeded rattle by.
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our mother Nature laughs around;
When even the deep blue heavens look glad,
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren,
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space,
And their shadows at play on the bright green vale,
And here they stretch to the frolic chase,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There’s a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There’s a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There’s a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles
On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray,
On the leaping waters and gay young isles;
Ay, look, and he’ll smile thy gloom away.
Gather him to his grave again,
And solemnly and softly lay,
Beneath the verdure of the plain,
The warrior’s scattered bones away.
Pay the deep reverence, taught of old,
The homage of man’s heart to death;
Nor dare to trifle with the mould
Once hallowed by the Almighty’s breath.
The soul hath quickened every part—
That remnant of a martial brow,
Those ribs that held the mighty heart,
That strong arm—strong no longer now.
Spare them, each mouldering relic spare,
Of God’s own image; let them rest,
Till not a trace shall speak of where
The awful likeness was impressed.
For he was fresher from the hand
That formed of earth the human face,
And to the elements did stand
In nearer kindred, than our race.
In many a flood to madness tossed,
In many a storm has been his path;
He hid him not from heat or frost,
But met them, and defied their wrath.