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OMAR IN HEAVEN.
Ah, sweet the prospect of a bliss pursued,
Yet sweeter still the bliss we gained and lost; O clutch it not with fingers fondly rude,
Or else to-morrow we shall count its cost.
We slay the white swan for his peerless plume,
He falls, to splash in mire his snowy down; We gather grapes,-our hands brush off their bloom;
The creamy lily that we touch turns brown.
What though the damsel struggle from my arm?
What though she laughs and runs beyond my reach? The cherry's tartness proves its chiefest charm,
The topmost bough withholds the reddest peach.
Only one game is ever worth dispute,
Well won with ardors of an anxious day,– To chase the prize, uncertain in pursuit,
And having won, soon feel it slip away.
I envy Earth its secret, stolen bliss,
Its fond embraces, half withheld, then given, Its lover's quarrels, crushed beneath a kiss,
Its fond farewells, that make a hell seem heaven.
I love the world,-its spice of doubts and fears,
Its sugared fictions, hiding heartless truth, Its silvery laughter, shining through its tears,
The sweet, uncertain tenure of its youth.
OMAR IN HEAVEN.
I beg the Prophet from his judgment seat
To let me steal to Earth from heights above, Once more to test its wine-cup's dear deceit,
And taste the bitter honey of its love.
They do me wrong who say I come no more
When once I knock and fail to find you in; For every day I stand outside your door,
And bid you wake, and rise to fight and win.
Wail not for precious chances past away,
Weep not for golden ages on the wane! Each night I burn the records of the day,–
At sunrise every soul is born again!
Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped,
To vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb; My judgments seal the dead past with its dead,
But never bind a moment yet to come.
Though deep in mire, wring not your hands and weep;
I lend my arm to all who say “I can!” No shame-faced outcast ever sank so deep,
But yet might rise and be again a man!
Dost thou behold thy lost youth all aghast?
Dost reel from righteous Retribution's blow? Then turn from blotted archives of the past,
And find the future's pages white as snow.
Art th a mourner? Rouse thee from thy spell;
Art thou a sinner? Sins may be forgiven; Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell,
Each night a star to guide thy feet to heaven.
THE CAPTURED BATTLESHIP.
In days long past no happier ship than I
Flung forth her empire's banner to the breeze; No bolder bark withstood a stormy sky,
With fiercer ardor fought the foaming seas.
But then at last a day of evil came
On which we met the onslaught of the foe. Oh, who shall tell the story of my shame,
My desolation, my disgrace, my woe?
My hull was splintered by their bursting shells,
My tottering turrets down the deck were hurled; I heard my dying seamen's shrieks and yells, As red flames through the black smoke waved and
I saw my gunners fall beside their guns,
I saw my captain, sword in hand, drop dead; Shot after shot struck down my splendid sons,
And splashed my bosom with a frightful red.
Ah, could I then have foundered in the flood,
And won the glorious death that waits the brave! Could I have sunk, baptized in precious blood,
To endless honor in an ocean grave!
THE CAPTURED BATTLESHIP.
But no, they took me to their far-off shore,
And nailed their haughty standard to my mast; I served my king, my fatherland, no more;
I fought the flag I bled for in the past !
So, like a Judas, I must sail the sea,
A traitor to the master loved so well; A hated outcast, still I flee and flee,
Around me ocean—in my heart a hell!
And since that time, when days of peace
have come, I sometimes meet old comrade-ships I knew; Ah, how they spurn me as they spurn the scum,
And pass me, shamed, and shrinking from their view!
Sometimes at dusk I hear my sailors call,
And see their hands up-beckoning from the deep; “Oh, come!” they tell me, "show them after all,
Your faith, your honor, you will die to keep!”
God grant some night an awful storm shall rise,
And give me chance for vengeance on this foe; How I should gloat to hear their craven cries,
As I should pitch to take them all below!
Then I should shout above their last wild yell,
“I bring them, sons, a sacrifice to you! They lied who said I did not love you well;
O, darling sailor boys, my soul is true!”