Page images

What touch such music could inspire !

What harp such lays of joy could sing ! The murmurs of the shaded rills,

The birds that sweetly warbled by, And the soft echo from the hills, Were heard not where that harp was nigh.

3. When the last light of fading day,
Along the bosom of the west,

In colors softly mingled lay,
While night had darkened all the rest,

Then, softer than that fading light,
And sweeter than the lay that rung

Wild through the silence of the night As solemn Philomela sung,

That harp its plaintive murmurs sighed Along the dewy breeze of even;

So clear and soft they swelled and died, They seemed the echoed songs of heaven.

4. Sometimes, when all the air was still, · And not the poplar's foliage trembled,

That harp was nightly heard to thrill With tones, no earthly tones resembled.

And then upon the moon's pale beams, Unearthly forms were seen to stray,

Whose starry pinions' trembling gleams Would oft around the wild harp play.

5. But now the bloom of summer fled, In earth and air it shone no more ;

Each flower and leaf fell pale and dead, While skies their wintry sternness wore.

One day, loud blew the northern blast,
The tempest's fury raged along;

Oh for some angel, as they passed,
To shield the harp of heavenly song!

6. It shrieked,-how could it bear the touch, The cold, rude touch of such a storm,

When e'en the zephyr seemed too much
Sometimes, though always light and warm.

It loudly shrieked,—but ah! in vain;
The savage wind more fiercely blew;

Once more,-it never shrieked again,
For every chord was torn in two!

It never thrilled with anguish more,
Though beaten by the wildest blast;

The pang that thus its bosom tore
Was dreadful, but it was the last.

And though the smiles of summer played
Gently upon its shattered form,

And the light zephyrs o'er it strayed,
That lyre they could not wake or warm.

Questions. What is the lesson taught by this selection ? Meaning of the expression, “shell of mermaid? Why were not the rills and the birds - heard where that harp was nigh”? What is “ Philomela”? Why called “solemn”? Meaning of " zephyr" ?


0. W. HOLMES. 1. I was sitting with my microscope, upon my parlor rug, With a very heavy quarto and a very lively bug;

The true bug had been organized with only two antennæ, But the humbug in the copper-plate would have them twice as

many. 2. And I thought, like Dr. Faustus, of the emptiness of art, How we take a fragment for the whole, and call the whole a

part, When I heard a heavy footstep that was loud enough for two, And a man of forty entered, exclaiming, “How d’ye do ?” 3. He was not a ghost, my visitor, but solid flesh and bone; He wore a Palo Alto hat; his weight was twenty stone; (It's odd how hats expand their brims as riper years invade, As if, when life had reached its noon, it wanted them for

shade!) 4. I lost my focus,—dropped my book,—the bug, who was a

flea, At once exploded, and commenced experiments on me. They have a certain heartiness that frequently appalls, – Those mediæval gentlemen in semi-lunar smalls ! 5. “My boy,” he said (colloquial ways,— the vast, broad

hatted man), “Come dine with us on Thursday next, you must, you know

you can; We're going to have a roaring time, with lots of fun and noise, Distinguished guests, et cætera, the Judge, and all the boys."

6. “ Not so," I said ; "my temporal bones are showing pretty

clear It's time to stop, -just look and see that hair above this ear ; My golden days are more than spent; and, what is very

strange, If these are real silver hairs, I'm getting lots of change..

7. “Besides — my prospects — don't you know that people

won't employ A man that wrongs his manliness by laughing like a boy? And suspect the azure blossom that unfolds upon a shoot, As if wisdom's old potato could not flourish at its root?

8. “It's a very fine reflection, when you're etching out a smile On a copper-plate of faces that would stretch at least a mile, That, what with sneers from enemies, and cheapening shrugs

of friends, It will cost you all the earnings that a month of labor lends !

9. “It's a vastly pleasing prospect, when you're screwing out a

laugh, That your very next year's income is diminished by a half, And a little boy trips barefoot that Pegasus may go, And the baby's milk is watered that your Helicon may flow !

10. “No:—the joke has been a good one,— but I'm getting

fond of quiet, And I don't like deviations from my customary diet; So I think I will not go with you to hear the toasts and

speeches, But stick to old Montgom’ry Place, and have some pig and


11. The fat man answered :-"Shut your mouth, and hear the

genuine creed; The true essentials of a feast are only fun and feed; The force that wheels the planets round, delights in spinning

tops, And that young earthquake ť other day was great at shaking


12. “I tell you what, philosopher, if all the longest heads
That ever knocked their sinciputs in stretching on their beds
Were round one great mahogany, I'd beat those fine old folks
With twenty dishes, twenty fools, and twenty clever jokes !

13. “Why, if Columbus should be there, the company would

[ocr errors]

He'd show that little trick of his of balancing the egg ! Milton to Stilton would give in, and Solomon to Salmon, And Roger Bacon be a bore, and Francis Bacon gammon !

14. “And as for all the 'patronage' of all the clowns and boors That squint their little narrow cyes at any freak of yours, Do leave them to your prosier friends,—such fellows ought to

die, When rhubarb is so very scarce and ipecac so high !” 15. And so I come, like Lochinvar, to tread a single meas

ure, To purchase, with a loaf of bread, a sugar-plum of pleasure, To enter for the cup of glass that's run for after dinner, Which yields a single sparkling draught, then breaks and cuts

the winner,

16. Ah, that's the way delusion comes,—a glass of old Ma

deira, A pair of visual diaphragms revolved by Jane or Sarah, And down go vows and promises without the slightest ques

tion If eating words won't compromise the organs of digestion ! 17. And yet, among my native shades, beside my nursing

mother, Where every stranger seems a friend, and every friend a


« PreviousContinue »