Page images

I saw thee first, when hope arose

On youth's triumphant wing,
And thou wast lovelier than the light

Of early dawning spring.
Who then could dream, that health and joy

Would e'er desert the brow,
So bright with varying lustre once, -

So chill and changeless now?

That brow! how proudly o'er it then,

Thy kingly beauty hung,
When wit, or eloquence, or mirth,

Came burning from the tongue;
Or when upon that glowing cheek

The kindling smile was spread, Or tears, to thine own woes denied,

For others' griefs were shed.

Thy mind! it ever was the home

Of high and holy thought;
Thy life, an emblem of the truths

Thy pure example taught;
When blended in thine eye of light,

As from a royal throne,
Kindness, and peace, and virtue, there,

In mingled radiance shone.

One evening, when the autumn dew

Upon the hills was shed,
And Hesperus far down the west

His starry host had led,
Thou said'st how sadly and how oft

To that prophetic eye,
Visions of darkness and decline,

And early death were nigh.

It was a voice from other worlds,

Which none beside might hear;-
Like the night breeze's plaintive lyre,

Breathed faintly on the ear;
It was the warning kindly given,

When blessed spirits come,
From their bright paradise above,

To call a sister home.

How sadly on my spirit then,

That fatal warning fell !
But oh! the dark reality

Another voice may tell ;
The quick decline, – the parting sigh, -

The slowly moving bier, —
The lifted sod, — the sculptured stone,

The unavailing tear!

The amaranth flowers that bloom in heaven,

Entwine thy temples now;
The crown that shines immortally,

Is beaming on thy brow;
The seraphs round the burning throne

Have borne thee to thy rest,
To dwell among the saints on high,

Companion of the blest.

The sun hath set in folded clouds, –

Its twilight rays are gone;
And, gathered in the shades of night,

The storm is rolling on.
Alas! how ill that bursting storm

The fainting spirit braves,
When they, — the lovely and the lost, —

Are gone to early graves !



H. F. Gould.

[This piece forms an example of lively style requiring spirited utter

ance, free, flowing expression,brisk movement," and all the other natural characteristics of animated and gay conversation. In the reading of such pieces, it is important to guard the style of enunciation against colloquial negligence.]

Did ever it come in your way to pass
The silvery pond with its fringe of grass,
And, threading the lane hard by, to see
The veteran “ Elm of Newbury?.

You saw how its roots had grasped the ground, As if it had felt the earth went round, And fastened them down, with determined will To keep it steady, and hold it still. — Its aged trunk, so stately and strong, Has braved the blasts as they've rushed along, Its head has towered, and its arms have spread, While more than a hundred years have fled !

Well, that old elm, that is now so grand,
Was once a twig in the rustic hand
Of a youthful peasant, who went, one night,
To visit his love, by the tender light
Of the modest moon and her twinkling host, -
While the star that lighted his bosom most,
And gave to his lonely feet their speed,
Abode in a cottage beyond the mead!

'Twas the peaceful close of a summer's day; Its glorious orb had passed away; The toil of the field, till the morn, had ceased, For a season of rest to man and beast. The mother had silenced her humming wheel, The father returned, for the evening meal, The thanks of one who had chosen the part Of the poor in spirit, the rich in heart, — The good old man in his chair reclined, At an humble door, with a peaceful mind, While the drops from his sunburnt brow were dried By the cool, sweet air of the eventide.

The son from the yoke had unlocked the bow, Dismissing the faithful ox to go And graze in the close. He had called the kine For their oblation at day's decline. He'd gathered and numbered the lambs and shecp, And fastened them up in their nightly keep. He'd stood by the coop till the hen could bring Her huddling brood safe under her wing; And made them secure from the hooting owl, Whose midnight prey was the shrieking fowl. When all was finished, he sped to the well Where the old gray bucket hastily fell,

And the clear cold water came up to chase
The dust of the field from his neck and face,
And hands and feet, till the youth began
To look renewed in the outward man;
And soon arrayed in his Sunday's best,
The stiff new suit had done the rest;
And the hale, young lover was on his way,
Where, through the fen and the field it lay,
And over the bramble, the brake, and the grass,
As the shortest cut to the house of his lass.

It is not recorded how long he staid In the cheerful home of the smiling maid; But when he came out, it was late and dark, And silent, — not even a dog would bark, To take from his feeling of loneliness, And make the length of his way seem less : lle thought it was strange, that the treacherous moon Should have given the world the slip so soon; And, whether the eyes of the girl had made The stars of the sky in his own to fade, Or not, it certainly seemed to him, That each grew distant, and small, and dim; And he shuddered to think he now was about To take a long and a lonely route; For he did not know what fearful sight Might come to him through the shadows of night!

An Elm grew close by the cottage eaves; So he plucked him a twig well clothed with leaves, And sallying forth with the supple arm, — To serve as a talisman parrying harm,Ile felt that, though his heart was so big, 'T'was even the stouter for having the twig For this, he thought, would answer to switch The horrors away, as he crossed the ditch, The meadow and copse, wherein, perchance, Will-o'-the-wisp might wickedly dance; And wielding it, keep him from feeling a chill At the menacing sound of “ Whip-poor-will!” And his flesh from creeping, beside the bog, At the harsh, bass voice of the viewless frog:In short, he felt that the switch would be. Guard, plaything, business, and company!

When he got safe home, and joyfully found
He still was himself, and living, and sound, —
He planted the twig by his family cot,
To stand as a monument marking the spot
It helped him to reach; and, - what was still more,
Because it had grown by his fair one's door.

The twig took root; and as time flew by,
Its boughs spread wide, and its head grew high;
While the priest's good service had long been done,
Which made the youth and the maiden one;
And their young scions arose and played
Around the tree, in its leafy shade.

But many and many a year has fled
Since they were gathered among the dead.
And now their names, with the moss o'ergrown,
Are veiled from sight on the churchyard stone,
That leans away, in a lingering fall,
And owns the power that shall level all
The works that the hand of man hath wrought,
Bring him to dust, and his name to nought;
While, near in view, and just beyond
The grassy skirts of the silver pond,
In its green old age," stands the noble tree,
The veteran “ Elm of Newbury.


THE FARMER. Anonymous. [An example of animated conversational style, requiring attention,

principally, to easy, lively, and fluent utterance.] Of all the conditions of men, — and I have mingled with every variety, - I believe that none is so independent as that of an industrious, frugal, and sober farmer.' None affords more the means of contentment and substantial enjoyment; none, — where early education has not been neglected, presents better opportunities for moral and intellectual improvement; none calls more loudly for religious gratitude; none is suited to give a more lively and deeper impression of the goodness of God.

« PreviousContinue »