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A dim and mighty minster of old Time !
A temple shadowy with remembrances
Of the majestic past !—the very light
Streams with a colouring of heroic days
In every ray, which leads through arch and aisle
A path of dreamy lustre, wandering back
To other years ;—and the rich fretted roof,
And the wrought coronals of summer leaves,
Ivy and vine, and many a sculptured rose-
The tenderest image of mortality-
Binding the slender columns, whose light shafts
Cluster like stems in corn-sheaves,—all these things
Tell of a race that nobly, fearlessly,
On their heart's worship poured a wealth of love!
Honour be with the dead !—the people kneel
Under the helms of antique chivalry,
And in the crimson gloom from banners thrown,
And midst the forms, in pale proud slumber carved
Of warriors on their tombs.—The people kneel
Where mail-clad chiefs have knelt; where jewelled crowns
On the flushed brows of conquerors have been set;
Where the high anthems of old victories
Have made the dust give echoes. Hence, vain thoughts!
Memories of power and pride, which, long ago,
Like dim processions of a dream, have sunk
In twilight depths away. Return, my soul !
The cross recals thee.-Lo! the blessed cross !
High o'er the banners and the crests of earth,
Fixed in its meek and still supremacy!
And lo ! the throng of beating human hearts,
With all their secret scrolls of buried grief,
All their full treasuries of immortal Hope,
Gathered before their God! Hark! how the flood
Of the rich organ harmony bears up
Their voice on its high waves !-a mighty burst !-
A forest-sounding music!-every tone
Which the blasts call forth with their harping wings
From gulfs of tossing foliage there is blent :
And the old minster-forest-like itself-
With its long avenues of pillared shade,
Seems quivering all with spirit, as that strain
O’erflows its dim recesses, leaving not
One tomb unthrilled by the strong sympathy
Answering the electric notes.—Join, join, my soul !
In thine own lowly, trembling consciousness,
And thine own solitude, the glorious hymn.
I come to thee, O Earth! With all my gifts :—for every flower, sweet dew, In bell, and urn, and chalice, to renew
The glory of its birth.
Not one which glimmering lies
Far amidst folding hills or forest-leaves,
But, through its views of beauty, so receives
A spirit of fresh dyes.
I come with every star : Making thy streams, that on their noon-day track Gave but the moss, the reed, the lily back,
Mirrors of worlds afar.
I come with peace; I shed Sleep through thy wood-walks o'er the honey-bee, The lark's triumphant voice, the fawn's young glee,
The hyacinth's meek head.
On my own heart I lay
The weary babe, and, sealing with a breath
Its eyes of love, send fairy dreams, beneath
The shadowing lids to play.
I come with mightier things!
Who calls me silent ?-I have many tones :
The dark skies thrill with low mysterious moans
Borne on my sweeping wings.'
I waft them not alone
From the deep organ of the forest shades,
Or buried streams, unheard amidst their glades,
Till the bright day is done.
But in the human breast
A thousand still small voices I awake,
Strong in their sweetness from the soul to shake
The mantle of its rest.
I bring them from the past :
From true hearts broken, gentle spirits torn,
From crush'd affections, which, though long o'erborne,
Make their tone heard at last.
I bring them from the tomb;
O’er the sad couch of late repentant love,
They pass-though low as murmurs of a dove-
Like trumpets through the gloom.
I come with all my train :
Who calls me lonely –Hosts around me tread,
Th' intensely bright, the beautiful, the dread-
Phantoms of heart and brain !
Looks from departed eyes,
These are my lightnings !-filled with anguish vain,
Or tenderness too piercing to sustain,
They smite with agonies.
I, that with soft control
Shut the dim violet, hush the woodland song,
I am th’ Avenging One !--the armed, the strong,
The searcher of the soul !
I, that shower dewy light Through slumbering leaves, bring storms !—the tempest birth Of memory, thought, remorse :-be holy, Earth!
I am the solemn Night!
The rose was in rich bloom on Sharon's plain,
When a young mother, with her firstborn, thence
Went up to Zion; for the boy was vowed
Unto the temple service. By the hand
She led him; and her silent soul, the while,
Oft as the dewy laughter of his eye
Met her sweet serious glance, rejoiced to think
That aught so pure, so beautiful, was her's,
To bring before her God !
So passed they on, O'er Judah's hills ; and wheresoe'er the leaves Of the broad sycamore made sounds at noon, Like lulling rain-drops, or the olive boughs, With their cool dimness, crossed the sultry blue Of Syria's heaven, she paused, that he might rest : Yet from her own meek eyelids chased the sleep That weighed their dark fringe down, to sit and watch The crimson deepening o'er his cheeks' repose, As at a red flower's heart; and where a fount Lay, like a twilight star, ʼmidst palmy shades, Making its banks green gems along the wild, There, too, she lingered, from the diamond wave Drawing clear water for his rosy lips, And softly parting clusters of jet curls To bathe his brow.
At last the fane was reached,The earth's one sanctuary; and rapture hushed Her bosom, as before her, through the day It rose, a mountain of white marble, steeped In light like floating gold. But when that hour Waned to the farewell moment, when the boy Lifted, through rainbow-gleaming tears, his eye Beseechingly to her’s,—and, half in fear, Turned from the white-robed priest, and round her arm Clung, even as ivy clings, the deep spring-tide Of nature then swelled high; and o'er her child Bending, her soul brake forth, in mingled sounds Of weeping and sad song.–“ Alas !” she cried,
“ Alas! my boy! thy gentle grasp is on me,
The bright tears quiver in thy pleading eyes,
And now fond thoughts arise,
And silver cords again to earth have won me,
And like a vine thou claspest my full heart,
How shall I hence depart?
“ How the lone paths retrace, where thou wert playing So late along the mountains at my side?
And I, in joyous pride,
By every place of flowers my course delaying,
Wove, even as pearls, the lilies round thy hair,
Beholding thee so fair!