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Farewell, Life! My Senses Swim
Farewell, Life! My senses swim,
And the world is growing dim;
Thronging shadows cloud the light,
Like the advent of the night,—
Colder, colder, colder still,
Upward steals a vapor chill—
Strong the earthy odor grows—
I smell the mould above the rose!
Welcome, Life! the Spirit strives!
Strength returns, and hope revives;
Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn
Fly like shadows at the morn,—
O'er the earth there comes a bloom—
Sunny light for sullen gloom,
Warm perfume for vapor cold—
I smell the rose above the mould!
Ah, sweet, thou little knowest how
I wake and passionate watches keep;
And yet while I address thee now,
Methinks thou smilest in thy sleep.
'Tis sweet enough to make me weep,
That tender thought of love and thee,
That while the world is hush'd so deep,
Thy soul's perhaps awake to me!
Sleep on, sleep on, sweet bride of sleep!
With golden visions of thy dower,
While I this midnight vigil keep,
And bless thee in thy silent bower;
To me 'tis sweeter than the power
Of sleep, and fairy dreams unfurl'd,
That I alone, at this still hour,
In patient love outwatch the world.
'Coming events cast their shadow before.'
I had a vision in the summer light—
Sorrow was in it, and my inward sight
Ached with sad images. The touch of tears
Gushed down my cheeks:—the figured woes of years
Casting their shadows across sunny hours.
Oh, there was nothing sorrowful in flowers
Wooing the glances of an April sun,
Or apple blossoms opening one by one
Their crimson bosoms—or the twittered words
And warbled sentences of merry birds;—
Or the small glitter and the humming wings
Of golden flies and many colored things—
Oh, these were nothing sad—nor to see Her,
Sitting beneath the comfortable stir
Of early leaves—casting the playful grace
Of moving shadows in so fair a face—
Nor in her brow serene—nor in the love
Of her mild eyes drinking the light above
With a long thirst—nor in her gentle smile—
Nor in her hand that shone blood-red the while
She raised it in the sun. All these were dear
To heart and eye—but an invisible fear
Shook in the trees and chilled upon the air,
And if one spot was laughing brightest—there
My soul most sank and darkened in despair!—
As if the shadows of a curtained room
Haunted me in the sun—as if the bloom
Of early flow'rets had no sweets for me,
Nor apple blossoms any blush to see—
As if the hour had brought too bright a day—
And little birds were all too gay!—too gay!—
As if the beauty of that Lovely One
Were all a fable.—Full before the sun
Stood Death and cast a shadow long before,
Like a dark pall enshrouding her all o'er,
Till eyes, and lips, and smiles, were all no more!
Ode to Autumn
I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.
Where are the songs of Summer?—With the sun,
Opening the dusky eyelids of the south,
Till shade and silence waken up as one,
And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.
Where are the merry birds?—Away, away,
On panting wings through the inclement skies,
Lest owls should prey
Undazzled at noon-day,
And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.
Where are the blooms of Summer?—In the west,
Blushing their last to the last sunny hours.
When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest
Like tearful Proserpine, snatch'd from her flow'rs
To a most gloomy breast.
Where is the pride of Summer,—the green prime,—
The many, many leaves all twinkling?—Three
On the moss'd elm; three on the naked lime
Trembling,—and one upon the old oak tree!
Where is the Dryad's immortality?—
Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,
Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through
In the smooth holly's green eternity.
The squirrel gloats on his accomplish'd hoard,
The ants have brimm'd their garners with ripe grain,
And honey been save stored
The sweets of summer in their luscious cells;
The swallows all have wing'd across the main;
But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone,
With the last leaves for a love-rosary;
Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drownëd past
In the hush'd mind's mysterious far-away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, gray upon the gray.
O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair;
She wears a coronal of flowers faded
Upon her forehead, and a face of care;—
There is enough of wither'd everywhere
To make her bower,—and enough of gloom;
There is enough of sadness to invite,
If only for the rose that died, whose doom
Is Beauty's,—she that with the living bloom
Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light:
There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,—
Enough of chilly droppings from her bowl;
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!