So from the world of spirits there descends,
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.
THE BELEAGUERED CITY: HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
I have read in some old marvellous tale,
Some legend strange and vague,
That a midnight host of spectres pale
Beleaguered the walls of Prague.
Beside the Moldau’s rushing stream,
With the wan moon overhead,
There stood, as in an awful dream,
The army of the dead.
White as a sea-fog, landward bound,
The spectral band was seen,
And with a sorrowful deep sound,
The river flowed between.
No other voice nor sound was there,
No drum nor sentry’s pace,
The mist-like banners clasped the air
As clouds with clouds embrace.
And when the old cathedral bell
Proclaimed the morning prayer,
The white pavilions rose and fell
On the alarmed air.
Down the broad valley fast and far
The troubled army fled:
Up rose the glorious morning star,
The ghastly host was dead.
I have read in the marvellous heart of man,
That strange and mystic scroll,
That an army of phantoms vast and wan
Beleaguer the human soul.
Encamped beside Life’s rushing stream,
In Fancy’s misty light,
Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam
Portentous through the night.
Upon its midnight battle-ground
The spectral camp is seen,
And, with a sorrowful, deep sound,
Flows the River of Life between.
No other voice nor sound is there,
In the army of the grave;
No other challenge breaks the air,
But the rushing of Life’s wave.
And then the solemn and deep church-bell
Entreats the soul to pray,
The midnight phantoms feel the spell,
The shadows sweep away.
Down the broad Vale of Tears afar
The spectral camp is fled;
Faith shineth as a morning star,
Our ghastly fears are dead.
A NEWPORT ROMANCE: BRET HARTE
They say that she died of a broken heart
(I tell the tale as ’twas told to me);
But her spirit lives, and her soul is part
Of this sad old house by the sea.
Her lover was fickle and fine and French;
It was more than a hundred years ago
When he sailed away from her arms,—poor wench!—
With the Admiral Rochambeau.
I marvel much what periwigged phrase
Won the heart of this sentimental Quaker,
At what gold-laced speech of those modish days
She listened,—the mischief take her!
But she kept the posies of mignonette
That he gave; and ever as their bloom failed
And faded (though with her tears still wet)
Her youth with their own exhaled.