They stream across the fading western sky
A sable cloud, far o’er the lonely leas;
Now parting into scattered companies,
Now closing up the broken ranks, still high
And higher yet they mount, while, carelessly,
Trail slow behind, athwart the moving trees
A lingering few, ’round whom the evening breeze
Plays with sad whispered murmurs as they fly.
A lonely figure, ghostly in the dim
And darkening twilight, lingers in the shade
Of bending willows: “Surely God has laid
His curse on me,” he moans, “my strength of limb
And old heart-courage fail me, and I flee
Bowed with fell terror at this augury.”
What of our life when this frail flesh lies low
A withered clod, and the free soul has burst
Through the world-fetters? Not of souls accursed
With cherished lusts that mar them, those who sow
Evil and reap the harvest, and who bow
At Mammon’s golden shrine, but those who thirst
For Truth, and see not,—spirits deep immersed
In doubt and trouble,—hearts that fain would know?
The soul is satisfied. The spirit trained
For the divine, because the beautiful,
Now with the body gone, free and unstained,
Doubts swept away like clouds of scattering wool
Before a blast,—e’er Heaven’s pure paths are trod
Is perfected to understand its God.
There is no God? If one should stand at noon
Where the glow rests, and the warm sunlight plays,
Where earth is gladdened by the cordial rays
And blossoms answering, where the calm lagoon
Gives back the brightness of the heart of June,
And he should say: “There is no sun”—the day’s
Fair shew still round him,—should we lose the blaze
And warmth, and weep that day has gone so soon?
Nay, there would be one word, one only thought,
“The man is blind!” and throbs of pitying scorn
Would rouse the heart, and stir the wondering mind.
We feel, and see, and therefore know,—the morn
With blush of youth ne’er left us till it brought
Promise of full-grown day. “The man is blind!”
The light has left the hill-side. Yesterday
These skies shewed blue against the dusky trees,
The leaves’ soft murmur in the evening breeze
Was music, and the waves danced in the bay.
Then was my heart, as ever, far away
With you,—and I could see you as one sees
A mirrored face,—and happiness and ease
And hope were mine, in spite of long delay.