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When o'er the green undeluged earth,
Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,
How came the world's gray fathers forth
To watch thy sacred sign !
And when its yellow lustre smiled
O'er mountains yet untrod,
Each mother held aloft her child
To bless the bow of God.
Methinks, thy jubilee to keep,
The first-made anthem rang
On earth, delivered from the deep,
And the first poet sang.
Nor ever shall the Muse's eye,
Unraptured, greet thy beam ;
Theme of primeval prophecy,
Be still the poet's theme!
The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings,
When, glittering in the freshened fields,
The snowy mushroom springs.
How glorious is thy girdle cast
O'er mountain, tower, and town,
Or mirrored in the ocean vast,
A thousand fathoms down !
As fresh in yon horizon dark,
As young thy beauties seem,
As when the eagle from the ark
First sported in thy beam.
For, faithful to its sacred page,
Heaven still rebuilds thy span,
Nor lets the type grow pale with age,
That first spoke peace to man.
Once, in the flight of ages past,
There lived a man:-and WHO was HE ? -
Mortal! howe'er thy lot be cast,
That Man resembled thee.
Unknown the region of his birth,
The land in which he died unknown :
His name has perished from the earth ;
This truth survives alone :-
That joy and grief, and hope and fear,
Alternate triumphed in his breast;
His bliss and woe,-a smile, a tear !-
Oblivion hides the rest.
The bounding pulse, the languid limb,
The changing spirits' rise and fall,
We know that these were felt by him,
For these are felt by all.
He suffered, but his pangs are o’er ;
Enjoyed,—but his delights are fled;
Had friends,-his friends are now no more ;
And foes,-his foes are dead.
He loved,—but whom he loved, the grave
Hath lost in its unconscious womb :
Oh she was fair !—but nought could save
Her beauty from the tomb.
He saw whatever thou hast seen ;
Encountered all that troubles thee :
He was—whatever thou hast been ;
He is—what thou shalt be.
The rolling seasons, day and night,
Sun, moon, and stars, the earth and main,
Erewhile his portion, life, and light,
To him exist in vain.
The clouds and sunbeams, o'er his eye
That once their shades and glory threw,
Have left in yonder silent sky
No vestige where they flew.
The annals of the human race,
Their ruins since the world began,
Of HIM afford no other trace
Than this,—THERE LIVED A MAN !
O Reader! hast thou ever stood to see
The Holly Tree?
The eye that contemplates it well perceives
Its glossy leaves
Ordered by an Intelligence so wise,
As might confound the atheist's sophistries.
Below, a circling fence, its leaves are seen
Wrinkled and keen;
No grazing cattle through their prickly round
Can reach to wound;
But, as they grow where nothing is to fear,
Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear.
I love to view these things with curious eyes,
And in this wisdom of the Holly Tree
Can emblems see,
Wherewith perchance to make a pleasant rhyme,
One which may profit in the after-time.
Thus, though abroad perchance I might appear
Harsh and austere;
To those who on my leisure would intrude,
Reserved and rude ;
Gentle at home amid my friends I'd be,
Like the high leaves upon the Holly Tree.
And should my youth, as youth is apt I know,
Some harshness show,
All vain asperities I day by day
Would wear away,
Till the smooth temper of my age should be
Like the high leaves upon the Holly Tree.
And as when all the summer trees are seen
So bright and green,
The Holly leaves a sober hue display
Less bright than they ;
But when the bare and wintry woods we see,
What then so' cheerful as the Holly Tree?
So serious should my youth appear among
The thoughtless throng;
So would I seem amid the young and gay
More grave than they;
That in my age as cheerful I might be
As the green winter of the Holy Tree.
A slanting ray of evening light
Shoots through the yellow pane:
It makes the faded crimson bright,
And gilds the fringe again;
The window's gothic framework falls
In oblique shadows on the walls.
And since those trappings first were new,
How many a cloudless day,
To rob the velvet of its hue,
Has come and passed away!
How many a setting sun hath made
That curious lattice-work of shade!
Crumbled beneath the hillock green
The cunning hand must be,
That carved this fretted door, I ween,
Acorn and fleur-de-lis;
And now the worm hath done her part
In mimicking the chisel's art.
In days of yore (as now we call)
When the First James was king,
The courtly knight from yonder Hall
His train did hither bring,
All seated round in order due,
With broidered suit and buckled shoe.
On damask cushions decked with fringe,
All reverently they knelt ;
Prayer-books, with brazen hasp and hinge,
In ancient English spelt,
Each holding in a lily hand,
Responsive to the priest's command.
Now, streaming down the vaulted aisle,
The sunbearn, long and lone,
Illumes the characters awhile
Of their inscription-stone:
And there, in marble hard and cold,
The knight with all his train behold.
Outstretched together are exprest
He and my lady fair,