Page images
PDF
EPUB

Where outworn creeds, like Rome's grey senate, quake.
Hearing afar the Vandal's trumpet hoarse,
That shakes old systems with a thunder-fit.

The time is ripe, and rotten-ripe for change : 5 Then let it come. I have no dread of what

Is called for by the instinct of mankind.
Nor think I that God's world will fall apart
Because we tear a parchment more or less.

Truth is eternal, but her effluence,
10 With endless change, is fitted to the hour ;

Her mirror is turned forward, to reflect
The promise of the future, not the past.
I do not fear to follow out the truth,

Albeit along the precipice's edge.
16 Let us speak plain : there is more force in names

Than most men dream of; and a lie may keep
Its throne a whole age longer, if it skulk
Behind the shield of some fair seeming name.

Let us call tyrants tyrants, and maintain
20 That only freedom comes by grace of God,

And all that comes not by His grace must fall;
For men in earnest have no time to waste
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth.

LESSON CXXXV.--LIBERTY TO ATHENS.---JAMES G. PERCIVAL.

yore,

5

The flag of freedom floats once more

Around the lofty Parthenon ;
It waves, as waved the palm of

In days departed long and gone;
As bright a glory from the skies,

Pours down its light around those towers,
And once again the Greeks arise,

As in their country's noblest hours;
Their swords are girt in virtue's cause,

Minerva's sacred hill is free,
Oh! may she keep her equal laws,

While man shall live, and time shall be !
The pride of all her shrines went down ;

The Goth, the Frank, the Turk had reft
The laurel from her civic crown ;

Her helm by many a sword was cleft:

10

16

foes ;

She lay among her ruins low,
Where

grew the palm, the cypress rose,
And, crushed and bruised by many a blow,
5
She cowered beneath her

savage
But now, again she springs from earth,

Her loud, awakening trumpet speaks ;
She rises in a brighter birth,

And sounds redemption to the Greeks. 10 It is the classic jubilee,

Their servile years have rolled away;
The clouds that hovered o'er them flee,

They hail the dawn of freedom's day;
From Heaven the golden light descends,

The times of old are on the wing,
And glory there her pinion bends,

And beauty wakes a fairer spring ;
The hills of Greece, her rocks, her waves,

Are all in triumph's pomp arrayed ; 20 A light that points their tyrants' graves,

Plays round each bold Athenian's blade.

15

LESSON CXXXVI.-THE ARSENAL AT SPRINGFIELD.

H. W. LONGFELLOW.

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling

Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing

Startles the villagers with strange alarms.
5 Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,

When the Death-Angel touches those swift keys ! What loud lament and dismal Miserere

Will mingle with their awful symphonies !

I hear, even now, the infinite fierce chorus, 10 The cries of agony, the endless groan,

Which, through the ages that have gone before us,

In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,

Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song, 15 And loud amid the universal clamor,

O'er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.

I hear the Florentine, who from his palace

Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
And Aztec priests, upon their teocallis,

Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin. 5 The tumult of each sacked and burning village ; The shout, that every prayer

for
mercy

drowns ;
The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage,

The wail of famine in beleaguered towns !

The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder, 10 The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;

And ever and anon, in tones of thunder,

The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, О man, with such discordant noises,

With such accursed instruments as these,
15 Thou drownest nature's sweet and kindly voices,

And jarrest the celestial harmonies ?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror,

Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,

Given to redeem the human mind from error, 20 There were no need of arsenals and forts.

The warrior's name would be a name abhorred!

And every nation that should lift again
Its hand against its brother, on its forehead

Would wear for evermore the curse of Cain ! 25 Down the dark future, through long generations,

The echoing sounds grow fainter, and then cease ;
And, like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ

say,

« Peace!” Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals 30 The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies !

But beautiful as songs of the immortals,

The holy melodies of Love arise.

LESSON CXXXVII.-IMMORTALITY.-RICHARD H. DANA, SEN.

Is this thy prison-house, thy grave, then, Love? And doth Death cancel the great bond that holds Commingling spirits ? Are thoughts that know no bounds

But, self-inspired, rise upward, searching out 5 The Eternal Mind,

the Father of all thought,

Are they become mere tenants of a tomb ?-
Dwellers in darkness, who the illuminate realms
Of uncreated light have visited, and lived ?-

Lived in the dreadful splendor of that throne, 5 Which One, with gentle hand, the veil of flesh

Lifting, that hung 'twixt man and it, revealed
In glory ?-throne, before which, even now,
Our souls, moved by prophetic power, bow down,

Rejoicing, yet at their own natures awed ?
10 Souls, that Thee know by a mysterious sense,

Thou awful, unseen Presence! are they quenched ?
Or burn they on, hid from our mortal eyes
By that bright day which ends not; as the sun

His robe of light flings round the glittering stars ? 15 And with our frames do perish all our loves?

Do those that took their root, and put forth buds,
And their soft leaves unfolded, in the warmth
Of mutual hearts, grow up and live in beauty,

Then fade and fall, like fair unconscious flowers ? 20 Are thoughts and passions, that to the tongue give speech,

And make it send forth winning harmonies,
That to the cheek do give its living glow,
And vision in the eye the soul intense

With that for which there is no utterance,
25 Are these the body's accidents ?—no more ?-

To live in it, and, when that dies, go out
Like the burnt taper's flame ?

Oh! listen, man !
A voice within us speaks that startling word,
30 “Man, thou shalt never die !” Celestial voices

Hymn it unto our souls ; according harps,
By angel fingers touched, when the mild stars
Of morning sang together, sound forth still

The song of our great immortality :
35 Thick clustering orbs, and this our fair domain,

The tall, dark mountains, and the deep-toned seas,
Join in this solemn, universal song.
Oh! listen, ye, our spirits; drink it in

From all the air. 'Tis in the gentle moonlight; 40 'T is floating midst Day's setting glories; Night,

Wrapped in her sable robe, with silent step
Comes to our bed, and breathes it in our ears :
Night, and the dawn, bright day, and thoughtful eve,

All time, all bounds, the limitless expanse,
As one vast mystic instrument, are touched
By an unseen, living Hand, and conscious chords

Quiver with joy in this great jubilee.
5 The dying hear it; and, as sounds of earth

Grow dull and distant, wake their passing souls
To mingle in this heavenly harmony.

LESSON CXXXVIII.- THE GRAY OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN.

HARRY HIBBARD.

(A Natural Image in Franconia Mountain Notch.)
Where a tall post beside the road displays
Its lettered arm, pointing the traveller's eye,
Through the small opening mid the green birch trees,

Toward yonder mountain summit towering high,
5 There pause. What doth thy anxious gaze espy?

A crag abrupt hung from the mountain's brow!
Look closer ! scan that bare sharp cliff on high ;

Aha! the wondrous shape bursts on thee now! A perfect human face,-neck, chin, mouth, nose, and brow! 10 And full and plain those features are displayed,

Thus profiled forth against the clear blue sky;
As though some sculptor's chisel here had made
This fragment of colossal imagery,

The compass of his plastic art to try.
15 From the curved neck up to the shaggy hair

That shoots on pine trees from the head on high,

All, all is perfect: no illusions there
To cheat the expecting eye with fancied forms of air !

Most wondrous vision ! the broad earth hath not, 20 Through all her bounds, an object like to thee,

That traveller e'er recorded, nor a spot
More fit to stir the poet's phantasy.
Gray Old Man of the Mountain, awfully

There from thy wreath of clouds thou dost uprear 25 Those features grand, the same eternally!

Lone dweller mid the hills! with gaze austere
Thou lookest down, methinks, on all below thee here!

And curious travellers have descried the trace

Of the sage Franklin's physiognomy
30 In that most grave and philosophic face.

If it be true, Old Man, that we do see
Sage Franklin's countenance, thou indeed must be

« PreviousContinue »