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As one who, walking in the twilight gloom,
Hears round about him voices as it darkens,
And seeing not the forms from which they
Pauses from time to time, and turns and hearkens;
So walking here in twilight, O my friends!
I hear your voices, softened by the distance,
And pause, and turn to listen, as each sends
His words of friendship, comfort, and assist-
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing be-
Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are
at rest and forever,
Thousands of aching brains, where theirs no
longer are busy,
Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs have
ceased from their labors,
If any thought of mine, or sung or told,
Has ever given delight or consolation,
Ye have repaid me back a thousand-fold,
By every friendly sign and salutation.
Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed their journey!
Kind messages, that pass from land to land;
Kind letters, that betray the heart's deep his-
In which we feel the pressure of a hand,-
One touch of fire,-and all the rest is mystery! |
Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches
Dwells another race, with other customs and lan-
Only along the shore of the mournful and misty
Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers
Wandered back to their native land to die in its
THE SEASIDE AND THE FIRESIDE.
The pleasant books, that silently among
Our household treasures take familiar places, And are to us as if a living tongue
Spake from the printed leaves or pictured faces!
But the endeavor for the selfsame ends,
With the same hopes, and fears, and aspira-
Thanks for the sympathies that ye have shown!
Thanks for each kindly word, each silent
That teaches me, when seeming most alone,
Friends are around us, though no word be Not interrupting with intrusive talk
The grand, majestic symphonies of ocean.
Therefore I hope to join your seaside walk,
Saddened, and mostly silent, with emotion;
Therefore I hope, as no unwelcome guest,
At your warm fireside, when the lamps are
To have my place reserved among the rest,
Nor stand as one unsought and uninvited!
A quiet smile played round his lips,
As the eddies and dimples of the tide
Play round the bows of ships,
That steadily at anchor ride.
And with a voice that was full of glee,
He answered, "Erelong we will launch
A vessel as goodly, and strong, and stanch,
As ever weathered a wintry sea!"
And first with nicest skill and art,
Perfect and finished in every part,
A little model the Master wrought,
Which should be to the larger plan
What the child is to the man,
Its counterpart in miniature;
That with a hand more swift and sure
The greater labor might be brought
To answer to his inward thought.
And as he labored, his mind ran o'er
The various ships that were built of yore,
And above them all, and strangest of all
Towered the Great Harry, crank and tall,
Whose picture was hanging on the wall,
With bows and stern raised high in air,
And balconies hanging here and there,
And signal lanterns and flags afloat,
And eight round towers, like those that frown
From some old castle, looking down
Upon the drawbridge and the moat.
And he said with a smile, "Our ship, I wis
Shall be of another form than this!"
It was of another form, indeed;
Built for freight, and yet for speed,
A beautiful and gallant craft;
Broad in the beam, that the stress of the blast,
Pressing down upon sail and mast,
Might not the sharp bows overwhelm;
Broad in the beam, but sloping aft
With graceful curve and slow degrees,
That she might be docile to the helm,
And that the currents of parted seas,
Closing behind, with mighty force,
Might aid and not impede her course.
In the ship-yard stood the master,
With the model of the vessel,
That should laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!
Covering many a rood of ground, Lay the timber piled around;
Timber of chestnut, and elm, and oak,
And scattered here and there, with these,
The knarred and crooked cedar knees;
Brought from regions far away,
From Pascagoula's sunny bay,
And the banks of the roaring Roanoke!
Ah! what a wondrous thing it is
To note how many wheels of toil
One thought, one word, can set in motion!
There's not a ship that sails the ocean,
But every climate, every soil,
Must bring its tribute, great or small,
And help to build the wooden wall!
The sun was rising o'er the sea,
And long the level shadows lay,
As if they, too, the beams would be
Of some great, airy argosy,
Framed and launched in a single day.
That silent architect, the sun,
Had hewn and laid them every one,
Ere the work of man was yet begun.
Beside the master, when he spoke,
A youth, against an anchor leaning,
Listened, to catch his slightest meaning.
Only the long waves, as they broke
In ripples on the pebbly beach,
Interrupted the old man's speech.
"Standing before IIer father's door,
He saw the form of his promised bride."
The jaded steers, panting beneath the goad.
It is the heart, and not the brain That to the highest doth attain, And he who followeth Love's behest Far excelleth all the rest!
Thus with the rising of the sun
Was the noble task begun,
And soon throughout the ship-yard's bounds
Were heard the intermingled sounds
Of axes and of mallets, plied
With vigorous arms on every side;
Plied so deftly and so well,
That, ere the shadows of evening fell,
The keel of oak for a noble ship,
Scarfed and bolted, straight and strong,
Was lying ready, and stretched along
The blocks, well placed upon the slip.
Happy, thrice happy, every one
Who sees his labor well begun.
And not perplexed and multiplied,
By idly waiting for time and tide!
And when the hot, long day was o'er,
The young man at the master's door
Sat with the maiden, calm and still.
And within the porch, a little more
Removed beyond the evening chill,
The father sat, and told them tales
Of wrecks in the great September gales,
Of pirates coasting the Spanish Main,
And ships that never came back again,
The chance and change of a sailor's life,
Want and plenty, rest and strife,
His roving fancy, like the wind,
That nothing can stay and nothing can bind,
And the magic charm of foreign lands,
With shadows of palms, and shining sands,
Where the tumbling surf,
O'er the coral reefs of Madagascar,
Washes the feet of the swarthy Lascar,
As he lies alone and asleep on the turf.
And the trembling maiden held her breath
At the tales of that awful, pitiless sea,
With all its terror and mystery,
The dim, dark sea, so like unto death,
That divides and yet unites mankind!
And whenever the old man paused, a gleam
From the bowl of his pipe would awhile illume
The silent group in the twilight gloom,
And thoughtful faces, as in a dream;
And for a moment one might mark
What had been hidden by the dark,
That the head of the maiden lay at rest,
Tenderly, on the young man's breast!
Day by day the vessel grew,
With timbers fastened strong and true,
Stemson and keelson and sternson-knee,
Till, framed with perfect symmetry,
A skeleton ship rose up to view!
And around the bows and along the side
The heavy hammers and mallets plied,
Till after many a week, at length,
Wonderful for form and strength,
Sublime in its enormous bulk,
Loomed aloft the shadowy hulk!
And around it columns of smoke, upwreathing,
Rose from the boiling, bubbling, seething
Caldron, that glowed,