The morning mist is cleared away,
Yet still the face of Heaven is grey,
Nor yet this autumnal breeze has stirred the grove,
Faded yet full, a paler green
Skirts soberly the tranquil scene,
The red-breast warbles round this leafy cove.
Sweet messenger of “calm decay,”
Saluting sorrow as you may,
As one still bent to find or make the best,
In thee, and in this quiet mead,
The lesson of sweet peace I read,
Rather in all to be resigned than blest.
’Tis a low chant, according
With the soft solitary knell,
As homeward from some grave beloved we turn,
Or by some holy death-bed dear,
Most welcome to the chastened ear
Of her whom Heaven is teaching how to mourn.
O cheerful tender strain! the heart
That duly bears with you its part,
Singing so thankful to the dreary blast,
Though gone and spent its joyous prime,
And on the world’s autumnal time,
’Mid withered hues and sere, its lot be cast:
That is the heart for thoughtful
Watching, in trance nor dark nor clear,
Th’ appalling Future as it nearer draws:
His spirit calmed the storm to meet,
Feeling the rock beneath his feet,
And tracing through the cloud th’ eternal Cause.
That is the heart for watchman true
Waiting to see what god will do,
As o’er the Church the gathering twilight falls
No more he strains his wistful eye,
If chance the golden hours be nigh,
By youthful Hope seen beaming round her walls.
Forced from his shadowy paradise,
His thoughts to Heaven the steadier rise:
There seek his answer when the world reproves:
Contented in his darkling round,
If only he be faithful found,
When from the east the eternal morning moves.
Note: The expression, “calm delay,” is borrowed from a friend, by whose kind permission the following stanzas are here inserted.
To the red-breast.
Unheard in summer’s flaring ray,
Pour forth thy notes, sweet singer,
Wooing the stillness of the autumn day:
Bid it a moment linger,
Too soon from winter’s scowling eye.
The blackbird’s song at even-tide,
And hers, who gay ascends,
Filling the heavens far and wide,
Are sweet. But none so blends,
With calm decay, and peace divine.
Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and
I forgive him?
Matthew xviii. 21.
What liberty so glad and gay,
As where the mountain boy,
Reckless of regions far away,
A prisoner lives in joy?
The dreary sounds of crowded earth,
The cries of camp or town,
Never untuned his lonely mirth,
Nor drew his visions down.