Изображения страниц

It left my full soul, like the wing of a dove,
All fluttering with pleasure and fluttering with love.
I know that each moment of rapture or pain
But shortens the links in life's mystical chain;
I know that my form, like that bow from the wave,
Must pass from the earth, and lie cold in the grave;
Yet, oh! when Death's shadows my bosom encloud,
When I shrink at the thought of the coffin and shroud,
May Hope, like the rainbow, my spirit enfold
In her beautiful pinions of purple and gold!

THE OLD MAID. Why sits she thus in solitude ? her heart

Seems melting in her eye's delicious blue, And as it heaves, her ripe lips lie apart,

As if to let its heavy throbbings through; In her dark eye a depth of softness swells,

Deeper than that her careless girlhood wore And her cheek crimsons with the hue that tells

The rich, fair fruit is ripen'd to the core. It is her thirtieth birthday! with a sigh

Her soul hath turn'd from youth's luxuriant bowers, And her heart taken up the last sweet tie

That measured out its links of golden hours ! She feels her inmost soul within her stir

With thoughts too wild and passionate to speak;
Yet her full heart—its own interpreter-

Translates itself in silence on her cheek.
Joy's opening buds, affection's glowing flowers,

Once lightly sprang within her beaming track;
Oh, life was beautiful in those lost hours,

And yet she does not wish to wander back! No! she but loves in loneliness to think

On pleasures past, though never more to be: Hope links her to the future,-but the link

That binds her to the past is memory! From her lone path she never turns aside,

Though passionate worshippers before her fall, Like some pure planet in her lonely pride,

She seems to soar and beam above them all! Not that her heart is cold !-emotions new

And fresh as flowers are with her heart-strings knit: And sweetly mournful pleasures wander through

Her virgin soul, and softly ruffle it.
For she hath lived with heart and soul alive

To all that makes life beautiful and fair;
Sweet Thoughts, like honey-bees, have made their hive

Of her soft bosom-cell, and cluster there; Yet life is not to her what it hath been:

Her soul hath learn'd to look beyond its gloss,

And now she hovers like a star between

Her deeds of love,-her Saviour on the cross !
Beneath the cares of earth she does not bow,

Though she hath ofttimes drain'd its bitter cup,
But ever wanders on with heavenward brow,

And eyes whose lovely lids are lifted up!
She feels that in that lovelier, happier sphere,

Her bosom yet will, birdlike, find its mate,
And all the joys it found so blissful here

Within that spirit-realm perpetuate.
Yet, sometimes o'er her trembling heart-strings thrill

Soft sighs, for raptures it hath ne'er enjoy'd,-
And then she dreams of love, and strives to fill

With wild and passionate thoughts the craving void.
And thus she wanders on,-half sad, half blest, -

Without a mate for the pure, lonely heart
That, yearning, throbs within her virgin breast,

Never to find its lovely counterpart !


It lay upon its mother's breast, a thing

Bright as a dew-drop when it first descends,
Or as the plumage of an angel's wing

Where every tint of rainbow-beauty blends;
It had soft violet eyes, that, 'neath each lid

Half closed upon them, like bright waters shone,
While its small dimpled hands were slyly hid

In the warm bosom that it nestled on.

There was a beam in that young mother's eye

Lit by the feelings that she could not speak,
As from her lips a plaintive lullaby

Stirr'd the bright tresses on her infant's cheek,
While now and then with melting heart she press'd

Soft kisses o'er its red and smiling lips,
Lips, sweet as rose-buds in fresh beauty dress'd

Ere the young murmuring bee their honey sips.
It was a fragrant eve; the sky was full

Of burning stars, that tremulously clear
Shone on those lovely ones, while the low lull

Of falling waters fell upon the ear;
And the new moon, like a pure shell of pearl

Encircled by the blue waves of the deep,
Lay 'mid the fleecy clouds that love to curl

Around the stars when they their vigils keep.

My heart grew softer as I gazed upon

That youthful mother as she soothed to rest
With a low song her loved and cherish'd one,-
The bud of promise on her gentle breast;

For 'tis a sight that angel ones above

May stoop to gaze on from their bowers of bliss,
When Innocence upon the breast of Love

Is cradled, in a sinful world like this.


Thomas BUCHANAN READ was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1822. At the age of fourteen he removed to Cincinnati, where, from visiting the studio of Clevinger, he became ambitious to be a sculptor. He had made considerable proficiency in the art, when his master left for Europe. But the love of the beautiful was too strong in him to be repressed by such an occurrence, and he resolved to be a painter; and so successful was he in his first efforts that he concluded to go to the East, where he could have better advantages; and accordingly, in 1841 he removed to Boston, where he remained five years in the practice of his profession.

Up to this time Mr. Read, though he had frequently written fugitive verses, had published but little; but now he began to contribute to the leading periodicals, and soon became a favorite with readers. Most of his best poems appeared first in “Graham's Magazine." In 1846, he removed to Philadelphia, and in 1850 sailed for Europe, and spent a year in Italy, pursuing his studies as an artist. On his return home, he visited England, where he was engaged to paint a number of portraits, and, while doing so, published a volume of poems, which attracted much notice, and was warmly commended by the London press or The Closing Scene, the “North British Review" said, “It is an addition to the permanent stock of poetry in the English language."

In 1852, Mr. Read returned home, and passed the following winter in CincinDati. The next year he went abroad the second time, accompanied by his family, and settled in Florence, enjoying the intercourse of a delightful society of artists and men of letters; and subsequently spent two years in Rome. In 1858, he returned to Philadelphia with some of the richest specimens of art,--the creations of his own genius,-all of which were engaged at prices that show that our countrymen know how to appreciate and reward true merit.

Mr. Read's first collection of Poems was printed in Boston in 1847. In 1848 he published, in Philadelphia, Lays and Ballads, and in 1853 appeared The Pilgrims of the Great St. Bernard,-a prose romance. His more recent publications are Sylvia; or the Last Shepherd,-an Eclogue : and other Poeme; The House by the Sea,-a Poem ; and The New Pastoral... The last consists of a series of sketches of rustic and domestic life, mostly of primitive simplicity, and so truthful as to be not less valuable as history than attractive as poetry.

1 Beautiful editions of the last three poems have been published by Parry & McMillan. His Selection from the “Female Poets of America, with Biographical Notices," should be noticed,-an elegant book published by E. H. Butler & Co., which has reached the seventh edition.


Within this sober realm of leafless trees,

The russet year inhaled the dreamy air, Like some tann'd reaper in his hour of ease,

When all the fields are lying brown and bare. The gray barns, looking from their hazy hills

O'er the dim waters widening in the vales,
Sent down the air a greeting to the mills,

On the dull thunder of alternate flails.
All sights were mellow'd, and all sounds subdued,

The hills seem'd farther, and the streams sang low; As in a dream, the distant woodman hew'd

His winter log with many a muffled blow. The embattled forests, erewhile arm'd in gold,

Their banners bright with every martial hue,
Now stood, like some sad beaten host of old,

Withdrawn afar in Time's remotest blue.
On slumberous wings the vulture tried his flight;

The dove scarce heard his sighing mate's complaint; And, like a star slow drowning in the light,

The village church-vane seem'd to pale and faint. The sentinel cock upon the hill-side crew,

Crew thrice, and all was stiller than before, Silent till some replying wanderer blew

His alien horn, and then was heard no more. Where erst the jay within the elm's tall crest

Made garrulous trouble round the unfledged young; And where the oriole hung her swaying nest

By every light wind like a censer swung;

Where sang the noisy masons of the eves,

The busy swallows circling ever near,
Foreboding, as the rustic mind believes,

An early harvest and a plenteous year;
Where every bird which charm'd the vernal feast

Shook the sweet slumber from its wings at morn,
To warn the reapers of the rosy east,

All now was songless, empty, and forlorn.

Alone from out the stubble piped the quail,

And croak'd the crow through all the dreary gloom; Alone the pheasant, drumming in the vale,

Made echo to the distant cottage-loom.
There was no bud, no bloom, upon the bowers;

The spiders wove their thin shrouds night by night; The thistle-down, the only ghost of flowers,

Sail'd slowly by-pass'd noiseless out of sight.

Amid all this,-in this most cheerless air,

And where the woodbine sheds upon the porch Its crimson leaves, as if the year stood there,

Firing the floor with his inverted torch, Amid all this, the centre of the scene,

The white-hair'd matron, with monotonous tread, Plied her swift wheel, and with her joyless mien

Sat like a Fate, and watch'd the flying thread. She had known Sorrow. He had walk'd with her,

Oft supp'd, and broke with her the ashen crust, And in the dead leaves still she heard the stir

Of his black mantle trailing in the dust. While yet her cheek was bright with summer bloom,

Her country summon'd, and she gave her all,
And twice war bowd to her his sable plume;

He gave the swords to rest upon the wall.
Re-gave the swords,-but not the hand that drew,

And struck for liberty the dying blow;
Nor him who, to his sire and country true,

Fell 'mid the ranks of the invading foe.
Long, but not loud, the droning wheel went on,

Like the low murmurs of a hive at noon;
Long, but not loud, the memory of the gone

Breathed through her lips a sad and tremulous tune.

At last the thread was snapp'd, her head was bow'd :

Life droop'd the distaff through his hands serene; And loving neighbors smoothed her careful shroud,

While Death and Winter closed the autumn scene.


Ancient road, that wind'st deserted

Through the level of the vale,
Sweeping toward the crowded market

Like a stream without a sail ;
Standing by thee, I look backward,

And, as in the light of dreams,
See the years descend and vanish,

Like thy whitely tented teams.
Here I stroll along the village

As in youth's departed morn ;
But I miss the crowded coaches,

And the driver's bugle-horn,
Miss the crowd of jovial teamsters

Filling buckets at the wells,
With their wains from Conestoga,

And their orchestras of bells.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »