Page images
PDF
EPUB

Nor stooped their lamps the enthroned fires on high:

A single silent star

Came wandering from afar,
Gliding unchecked and calm along the liquid sky;
The eastern sages leading on,

As at a kingly throne,
To lay their gold and odours sweet

Before thy infant feet.

The earth and ocean were not hushed to hear
Bright harmony from every starry sphere;
Nor at thy presence brake the voice of song

From all the cherub quires,

And seraphs' burning lyres,
Poured through the host of heaven the charmed clouds along,
One angel troop the strain began, -

Of all the race of man
By simple shepherds heard alone

That soft hosanna's tone.

And when thou didst depart, no car of flame
To bear thee hence in lambent radiance came;
Nor visible angels mourned with drooping plumes :

Nor didst thou mount on high,

From fatal Calvary, .
With all thine own redeemed outbursting from their tombs.
For thou didst bear away from earth

But one of human birth;
The dying felon by thy side, to be

In paradise with thee.

Nor o'er thy cross the clouds of vengeance brake:
A little while the conscious earth did shake
At that foul deed by her fierce children done ;

A few dim hours of day

The world in darkness lay,
Then basked in bright repose, beneath the cloudless sun
While thou didst sleep beneath the tomb,

Consenting to thy doom;
Ere yet the white-robed angel shone

Upon the sealėd stone.

And when thou didst arise, thou didst not stand
With devastation in thy red right hand,

Plaguing the guilty city's murtherous crew;

But thou didst haste to meet

Thy mother's coming feet,
And bear the words of peace unto the faithful few
Then calmly, slowly, didst thou rise

Into thy native skies,
Thy human form dissolved on high .

In its own radiancy.

[blocks in formation]

[This example of blank verse requires attention to the full, slow, and

stately utterance, which is its appropriate characteristic. The style of the piece, throughout, is that of sublimity, mingled with solemnity. Deep notes, prolonged “quantity," and full “ median stress," sustained by perfectly distinct articulation, are the main elements of erpressive effect, in the reading of this piece. The “quality” is “effusive orotund.”

The sea is mighty; but a Mightier sways His restless billows. — Thou, whose hands have scooped His boundless gulfs and built his shore, Thy breath, That moved in the beginning o'er his face, Moves o'er it evermore. The obedient waves, To its strong motion roll, and rise, and fall. Still from that realm of rain Thy cloud goes up, As at the first, to water the great earth, And keep her valleys green. A hundred realms Watch its broad shadow warping on the wind, And, in the dropping shower, with gladness hear Thy promise of the harvest. I look forth Over the boundless blue, where, joyously, The bright crests of innumerable waves Glance to the sun, at once, as when the hands Of a great multitude are upward flung In acclamation. I behold the ships. Gliding from cape to cape, from isle to isle, Or stemming toward far lands, or hastening home From the old world. It is Thy friendly breeze That bears them, with the riches of the land,

And treasure of dear lives, till, in the port,
The shouting seaman climbs, and furls the sail.

But who shall bide Thy tempest, who shall face
The blast that wakes the fury of the sea ?
O God! Thy justice makes the world turn pale,
When on the armed fleet, that royally
Bears down the surges, carrying war, to smite
Some city, or invade some thoughtless realm,
Descends the fierce tornado. The vast hulks
Are whirled like chaff upon the waves; the sails
Fly, rent like waves of gossamer; the masts
Are snapped asunder; downward from the decks,
Downward are slung, into the fathomless gulf,
Their cruel engines; and their hosts, arrayed
In trappings of the battle-field, are whelmed
By whirlpools, or dashed dead upon the rocks.
Then stand the nations still with awe, and pause,
A moment, from the bloody work of war.

These restless surges eat away the shores
Of earth's old continents; the fertile plain
Welters in shallows; headlands crumble down;
And the tide drifts the sea-sand in the streets
Of the drowned city. Thou, meanwhile, afar
In the green chambers of the middle sea,
Where broadest spread the waters, and the line
Sinks deepest, — where no eye beholds thy work,
Creator! Thou dost teach the coral worm
To lay his mighty reefs. From age to age,
He builds beneath the waters, till, at last,
The bulwarks overtop the brine, and check
The long wave rolling from the southern pole
To break upon Japan. Thou bidd'st the fires,
That smoulder under ocean, heave on high
The new-made mountains, and uplift their peaks,
A place of refuge for the storm-driven bird.
The birds and wafting willows plant the rifts
With herb and tree; sweet fountains gush; sweet airs
Ripple the living lakes, that, fringed with flowers,
Are gathered in the hollows. Thou dost look
On Thy creation, and pronounce it good.
Its valleys, glorious with their summer green,
Praise Thee, in silent beauty; and its woods,
Swept by the murmuring winds of ocean, join
The murmuring shores in a perpetual hymn.

[blocks in formation]

(An example of perfect tranquillity and " pure tone,” in its “ subdued

form. A soft, but clear and distinct utterance prevails, throughout
the reading. The “movement” is “slow ;” and the pauses are:
long.)

O’er the broad vault of heaven, so calmly bright,
Twilight has gently drawn her veil of gray,
And tinged with sombre hue the golden clouds,
Fast fading into nothing. —

Fair empress of the sky! while viewing thee,
A sweet and pensive calm o'erspreads my soul; —
Unerring Memory hastens to my aid :
With her, I view again my own dear home, -
My native village, 'neath thy cloudless sky
Serenely sleeping: -

Thy rays are dancing on the gentle river,
In one unbroken stream of molten silver,
And marking, in the glassy Saranac,
Thy graceful outline; while the fairy isles
Which on its bosom rest, are slumbering
In thy light, and the fair branches, bending
O’er the wave, turn their green leaves above,
And bathe in one celestial flood of glory.

There, on its banks, I view the dear old home,
That ever loved and blooming theatre,
Where those I most revered have borne their parts,
Amid its changing scenes. Before the threshold
Tower the lofty trees; and each high branch
Is gently rocking in the summer breeze,
And sending forth a low, sweet murmur,
Like the soft breathings of a seraph’s harp.
Around its humble porch entwines the vine;
While the sweetbrier and the blushing rose
Now hang their heads in slumber, and the grass
And fragrant clover scent the loaded air.
O my loved home! how gladly would I rove
Amid thy soft retreats, and from decay
Protect thy mouldering mansion, tend thy flowers,
Prune the wild boughs, and there in solitude

Listless remain, unknowing and unknown!--
Oh! no, not quite alone, for memory;
And hope, and fond delight, shall mingle there

EXERCISE XXIII.

THE RHINE. Anon. [The following extract is an example of lively and beautiful descrip

tion: it requires the “animated” utterance of “pure tone, in its moderate force. The “ movement” is varied with the character of the scene, slow, where it is majestic, rapid, where it is abrupt.]

My second day upon the Rhine was more interesting than my first. The scenery was wilder; the castles were gloomier. The rush of water was more rapid, and in a narrower bed, through narrower defiles.

An excellent road runs all along the banks of the river, at the foot of the mountains. The Englishman's coach was often seen upon it. The bugle of the Prussian postilion would sound now and then, and echo from hill to hill. Here and there was a cross, with some woman kneeling at its foot. The church bell would strike at times; the drum of the soldier was often rolled. Here, a chateau; there, the thickly clustering vineyards. Here, peeping over the cliffs on the plains above, the rich golden harvests waving in the breeze; - and there, the hills feathered with little trees. Now the Rhine would branch off into the broad lake in quiet beauty, and, pent up ainong the mountains, hiding its ingress and egress too, quite deceive you ; — and anon it would foam, and fret, and chafe, in anger as it were, that it was passing in such a wild defile.

Glorious river! - glorious in fact, and in fancy, too. Of all the things around, thou art alone unchanged. Castle has fallen ; nations have thrown their flags upon thy cliffs; war has often vexed thy bosom; — but thou art the same as ever, in perpetual youth and beauty; and one does not marvel why feudal lord and fiery chief should seek thy sweet repose.

All now is ruins, ruins, on the peak of almost every lofty cliff, — prettier, lighter, more classic, than the Gothic ruins of English castles. What dens for robbery on the far-reaching Rhine, its petty lords threw up! What a state of society,

« PreviousContinue »