Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the bright fields of fair renown

The right of eminent domain.

25

We have not wings, we cannot soar ;

But we have feet to scale and climb By slow degrees, by more and more,

The cloudy summits of our time.

30

The mighty pyramids of stone

That wedge-like cleave the desert airs, When nearer seen, and better known,

Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear

Their solid bastions to the skies, Are crossed by pathways, that appear

As we to higher levels rise.

35

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

40

Standing on what too long we bore

With shoulders bent and downcast eyes, We may discern-unseen before

A path to higher destinies,

45

Nor deem the irrevocable Past

As wholly wasted, wholly vain, If, rising on its wrecks, at last,

To something nobler we attain.

THE WARDEN OF THE CINQUE PORTS.

A MIST was driving down the British Channel,

The day was just begun,
And through the window-panes, on floor and panel,

Streamed the red autumn sun.

5

It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon,

And the white sails of ships ;
And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon

Hailed it with feverish lips.

10

Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hythe, and Dover,

Were all alert that day,
To see the French war-steamers speeding over,

When the fog cleared away.

Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions,

Their cannon, through the night,
Holding their breath, had watched, in grim defiance,

The sea-coast opposite.

15

And now they roared at drum-beat from their stations

On every citadel ;
Each answering each, with morning salutations,

That all was well.

20

And down the coast, all taking up the burden,

Replied the distant forts,

As if to summon from his sleep the Warden

And Lord of the Cinque Ports.

25

Him shall no sunshine from the fields of azure,

No drum-beat from the wall,
No morning gun from the black fort's embrasure,

Awaken with its call !

[ocr errors]

No more, surveying with an eye impartial

The long line of the coast,
Shall the gaunt figure of the old Field Marshal

Be seen upon his post !

For in the night, unseen, a single warrior,

In sombre harness mailed,
Dreaded of men, and surnamed the Destroyer,

The rampart wall had scaled.

[ocr errors]

He passed into the chamber of the sleeper,

The dark and silent room,
And as he entered, darker grew, and deeper,

The silence and the gloom.

40

He did not pause to parley or dissemble,

But smote the Warden hoar;
Ah! what a blow! that made all England tremble

And groan from shore to shore.

45

Meanwhile, without, the surly cannon waited,

The sun rose bright o’erhead; Nothing in Nature's aspect intimated

That a great man was dead.

EVANGELINE.

A TALE OF ACADIE.

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines

and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct

in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their

bosoms. Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neigh- 5

boring ocean Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail

of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the

hearts that beneath it Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland

the voice of the huntsman ? Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Aca

dian farmers, Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the 10

woodlands, Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image

of heaven?

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers for

ever departed! Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts

of October Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them

far o'er the ocean. Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village 15

of Grand-Pré.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures,

and is patient, Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's

devotion, List to the mournful tradition, still sung by the pines

of the forest; List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

PART THE FIRST.

I.

In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of 20

Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pré
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to

the eastward,

« PreviousContinue »