An Evening Walk
The Patriarch mild, who mused at evening-tide, Saw blessings come: they who with ordered feet Go forth like him, their blessings too shall meet,— Beauty, and Grace, and Peace, harmonious side by side; Whether the down purpled with thyme they tread, Woodland, or marge of brook, or pathway sweet By the grave rustling of the heavy wheat, Singing to thankful souls the song of coming bread. The restless whitethroat warbles through the copse; High sits the thrush and pipes the tree upon; Cloud-flushed the west, a sunny shower comes on; Up goes the twinkling lark through the clear slanting drops. In straight stiff lines sweet Nature will not run: The lark comes down—mute now, wings closed, no check, Sheer down he drops; but back he curves his neck, Look, too, he curves his fall just ere his nest be won. Here stands The Suffering Elm: in days of yore Three martyrs hung upon its bending bough; Its sympathetic side, from then till now Weeping itself away, drops from that issuing sore. Dryads, and Hamadryads; bloody groans Bubbling for vent, when twigs are torn away In haunted groves; incessant, night and day, Gnarled in the knotted oak, the pent-up spirit's moans; And yonder trembling aspen, never still, Since of its wood the rueful Cross was made,— All these, incarnated by Fancy's aid, Are but extended Man, in life, and heart, and will. Your eye still shifting to the setting sun, The diamond-drops upon the glistening thorns Are topazes and emeralds by turns; Twinkling they shake, and aye they tremble into one. Clouds press the sinking orb: he strikes a mist Of showery purple on the forest-tops, The western meadows, and the skirting slopes; Down comes the stream, a lapse of living amethyst. We tread on legends all this storied land: Dull flows yon ferry through the mountains black With pinewood galleries far withdrawing back; Man's heart is also there, and dwarfs those summits grand: The virgin martyrs, half the ferry o'er, By ruthless men were plunged into the tide, Singing their holy psalm; away it died, Bubbling in death. The moon a blood-red sorrow wore. And aye, they tell, when wan and all forlorn Sickening she looks upon our world of wrong, And would be gone for ever, far along The mournful ferry dim that dying psalm is borne. Yon peasant swarth, his day of labour done, Pipes at his cottage door; his wife sits by, Dancing their baby to the minstrelsy: To temperate gladness they their sacred right have won. Rest after toil, sweet healing after pain; Repent, and so be loved, O stubborn-viced— The Tishbite girt severe runs before Christ: Such is the double law complete to mortal men. Yon lordly pine bends his complying head To eve's soft breath, and the stupendous cloud Shifts silently: Man's world is fitliest bowed By power when gently used: Force not, love thou instead. One cool green gleam on yonder woodland high, And Day retires; gray Twilight folds with dew The hooded flowers; in gulfs of darkening blue The starry worlds come out to Contemplation's eye. Home now to sleep. No part in all man's frame But has its double uses, firm to keep, Help this, round that, and beautify; of sleep, Complex of sweet designs, how finely 'tis the same. Touched with the solemn harmonies of night, Down do we lie, our spirits to repair, And, fresh ourselves, make morning fresh and fair; Sleep too our Father gave to soften death's affright: In sleep we lapse and lose ourselves away, And thus each night our death do we rehearse. Oh, at the last, may we the oblivion pierce Of death, as aye of sleep, and rise unto the day.
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