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Slow, solemn cranes, with drowsy eyes,
Nod in the shallow surf, breast-high:
And snow-white gulls, with hollow cries,
Flit softly by.

The turning tide runs slowly out;
I hear the marsh-birds calling shrill;
The toiling oarsmen's song and shout
Come to me still.

I hear their boat-songs through the night;
I think it is my heart that hears
The old songs sounding yet, despite
These long, long years.

White clouds are drifting out to sea;
Like clouds the great ships come and go,
As strange, and white, and silently,
As soft and slow.

From far-off lands, like tired things,
They wander hither o'er the deep.
Here all things rest; they fold their wings
And fall asleep.

Far off I see the dim coast wall,

A long, low reach of palm and pine,
The marsh between, and over all
The wide sunshine.

And far beyond, and farther yet,

Thank God, so far the loud world seemsThat seem its memories and regrets As wrecks of dreams,

When one awakens; all its rout,
And rivalry, and pain, and care,
So faint and far there comes a doubt
If it be there.

Here, care ebbs out with every tide,

And peace comes in upon the flood; The heart looks out on life, clear-eyed, And finds it good.

On that fair land, on that still sea,
A spell of mystery lies;

And all the thoughts they wake in me
Are mysteries.

Once more I stand upon thy shore-
How peaceful yon far world doth seem!
A willing exile, evermore,

Here let me dream.

AT THE LAST

A little upper chamber,

A taper by whose light

The wide and waiting casement shows,
A wicket in the Night!

The leaves without are trembling
Upon the autumn trees;
A solemn, fearful secret

Is whispered in the breeze.

The clock is silent in its place;
The fateful hands are still,
Or seem to creep along, or turn,
Responsive to your will.

A shadow hovers on its face;

Strange shadows course the wall, Where, as the dim light flares or fades, They run, and rise, and fall.

The curtain folds creep to and fro,
Touched by the fitful air;
Pale watchers stand about a bed,
And you are lying there,

Dumb, white and still, while over you The mask-faced doctor leans. What means it all? Ah, God alone, He knoweth all it means.

The tide is out; the moon is set;

How dark the dark has grown! A star or two were there but nowAnd now they, too, are gone.

You hear a voice of weeping;
Your brow grows strangely chill;
You wonder at the languor
That holdeth you so still.

You try to break the silence,
And move your lips in vain;
No word of yours, in all the world,
Will ever sound again.

You cannot see; you cannot speak;
You cannot move a hand;

There is so much that you would say-
But none may understand.

-Across the outer silence

A night-bird sudden calls; Strange echoes wake and answer In all the empty halls.

Draw their curtains down upon them,
Wistful eyes, that wonder so!
And the wasted fingers-fold them;
They are done with work, you know.

Close the poor, pale lips together,
Parted as in silent prayer;
Prayer, nor breath of praise, forever-
More may pass the seal set there.

A dreary, dreadful chamber,
Where, on the pallid wall,
Strange shadows dance and clamber,
And run, and rise, and fall.

A glimmer of pale roses:

A scent of jasmine bloom, Haunting with sickly sweetness The chilly, deathful room.

A Presence-felt, but seen not;

A bed; a cold white sheetWith folds and heaps that hide, and hint At head, and hands, and feet.

The candle, dimly flaring,

Seems swept by viewless wings;
The gathering, flitting shadows
Go by like formless things.

The leaves without are trembling
Upon the ancient trees;

A solemn, fearful secret
Is whispered in the breeze.

Would God that we could learn it;
Or would that we might hear
One word, from out the darkness,
To end our hope, or fear.

A life has drifted from us;
The Ages know no more;
Or to the dust from whence it came,
Or some eternal shore.

Lies there the way to Heaven—
Infinite life, and light?

Ah, that one ray might reach us here,
To gild this utter night!

TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY
Fly fast, O happy hours! we say;
There's music in your rustling wings,
And all days shall be as this day,
Our false hope sings.

Flit on, O happy hours! we say;
There's music in your flying feet,
And all days shall be as this day,
Only more sweet.

Come back, come back, O happy hours!

Bring back the Summer time, we say; O bitter fruits! Ye were fair flowers But yesterday!

Come back, O lost, lost hours! we say;
We watch for your returning feet.
O yesterday, fair yesterday,
So swift! so sweet!

SOUTH CAROLINA, 1876

Naked and desolate she stands,
Her name a byword in all lands,
Her scepter wrested from her hands.
-She smiles, a queen despite their bands!

Her crown is lying at her feet,

And mockers fill her rulers' seat;
The spoiler's work is near complete.
-Her broad, fair bosom still is sweet!

They've wasted all her royal dower;
They've wrought her wrong with evil power;
And is she faint, or doth she cower?
-She scorns them in her weakest hour!

Her daughters cling about her form,
Their faith and love still high and warm;
They trust in her protecting arm.
-Her dark eyes brood a wrathful storm!

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