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XXII. — BREATHINGS OF SPRING.
[FELICIA DOROTHEA BROWNE was born at Liverpool, in Englaud, September 25, 1794, was married to Captain Hemans, an officer in the British army, in 1812, and died May 12, 1835. She wrote two tragedies, The Siege of Valencia, and The Vespers of Palermo; a narrative poem called The Forest Sanctuary, and a great number of lyrical poems; in which last her genius appears to the best advantage. Her poetry is remarkable for ite elevated tone, its exquisite imagery, its deep sense of the beauty of nature, and the truth and tenderness with which it expresses the domestic affections. Her poems, as they appeared from time to time in the periodical publications of the day, during her life time, were universally read and admired, both in England and America; but they are less popular now that they have been collected and are read continuously. Her life was not happy; and this has contributed to throw a shadow of melancholy over her writings, which, while it deepens the charm of a single effusion of feeling, becomes some. what monotonous when prolonged from page to page. Her diction sometimes becomes dazzling to the eye of the mind from its too uniform brilliancy.
Mrs. Hemans's knowledge and range of reading were quite extensive. She was acquainted with the principal languages of modern Europe, and drew the subjects of her poems from a great variety of sources. She has much skill in catching and pre serving the spirit of a remote age or a foreign people. She was pleasing in her personal appearance; her manners were graceful and animated; and she was beloved, as well as admired, by her friends. She bore with gentle sweetness the burdens of life, and shrank from none of its duties. Her later poems are deeply and beautifully penetrated with religious feeling.)
What wak'st thou, Spring ?-Sweet voices in the woods,
And reed-like echoes, that have long been mute; Thou bringest back, to fill the solitudes,
The lark's clear pipe, the cuckoo's viewless flute, Whose tone seems breathing mournfulness or glee,
Even as our hearts may be.
And the leaves greet thee, Spring !--the joyous leaves,
Whose tremblings gladden many a copse and glade, Where each young spray a rosy flush receives,
When thy south wind hath pierced the whispery shade, And happy murmurs, running through the grass,
Tell that thy footsteps pass.
And the bright waters--they, too, hear thy call,
Spring, the awakener! thou hast burst their sleep! Amidst the hollows of the rocks their fall
Makes melody, and in the forests deep, Where sudden sparkles and blue gleams betody
Their windings to the day.
And flowers—the fairy-peopled world of flowers!
Thou from the dust hast set that glory free,
And pencilling the wood-anemone:
Glows with mute poesy.
But what awak'st thou in the heart, O Spring
The human heart, with all its dreams and sighs ? Thou that giv'st back so many a buried thing,
Restorer of forgotten harmonies ! Fresh songs
and scents break forth where'er thou art: What wak'st thou in the heart?
Too much, O, there too much !- we know not well
Wherefore it should be thus; yet, roused by thee, What fond, strange yearnings, from the soul's deep cell,
Gush for the faces we no more may see. How are we haunted, in thy wind's low tone,
By voices that are gone!
Looks of familiar love, that never more,
Never on earth, our aching eyes shall meet, Past words of welcome to our household door,
And vanished smiles, and sounds of parted feet. Spring, 'midst the murmurs of thy flowering trees,
Why, why reviv'st thou these?
Vain longings for the dead !-- why come they back
With thy young birds, and leaves, and living blooms? 0, is it not that from thine earthly track
Hope to thy world may look beyond the tombs ? Yes, gentle Spring; no sorrow dims thine air,
Breathed by our loved ones there.
XXIV. - SUMMER.
[DONALD G. MITCHELL is an American author, a graduate of Yale College, of the clash of 1841, who, under the assumed name of Ike Marvel, has written The Battle Summer in Europe, Reveries of a Bachelor, and Dream Life. His prose is graphic and musical; poetical in spirit, and characterized by purity, as well as tenderness, of feeling. This extract is from Dream Life.]
I FEEL a great deal of pity for those honest, but misguided people who call their little, spruce, suburban towns, or the shaded streets of their inland cities, the country; and I have still more pity for those who reckon a season at the summer resorts country enjoyment. Nay, my feeling is more violent than pity; and I count it nothing less than blasphemy so to take the name of the country in vain. I thank heaven every summer's day of my
lot was humbly cast within the hearing of romping brooks, and beneath the shadow of oaks. And from all the tramp and bustle of the world, into which fortune has led me in these latter years of my life, I delight to steal away for days and for weeks together, and bathe my spirit in the freedom of the old woods, and to grow young again lying upon the brook-side, and counting the white clouds that sail along the sky, softly and tranquilly-even as holy memories go stealing over the vault of life. I am deeply thankful that I could never find it in my
heart so to pervert truth as to call the smart villages, with the tricksy shadow of their maple avenues, the country.
I love these in their way, and can recall pleasant passages of thought, as I have idled through the Sabbath-looking towns, or lounged at the inn door of some quiet New England village. But I love far better to leave them behind me, and to dash boldly out to where
out-lying farm house sits, like a witness, under the shelter of wooded hills, or nestles in the lap of a noiseless valley. In the town, small as it may be, and darkened as it may
be with the shadows of trees, you cannot forget men. Their
voice, and strife, and ambition come to your eye in the painted paling, in the swinging sign board of the tavern, and, worst of all, in the trim-printed "Attorney at Law.” Even the little milliner's shop, with its meagre show of leghorns, and its string across the window, all hung with tabs and with cloth roses, is a sad epitome of the great and conventional life of a city neighborhood.
I like to be rid of them all, as I am rid of them this midsummer's day. I like to steep my soul in a sea of quiet, with nothing floating past me, as I lie moored to my thought, but the perfume of flowers, and soaring birds, and shadows of clouds.
Two days since I was sweltering in the heat of the city, jostled by the thousand eager workers, and panting under the shadow of the walls. But I have stolen away, and for two hours of healthful regrowth into the darling past. I have been lying, this blessed summer's morning, upon the grassy bank of a stream that babbled me to sleep in boyhood. Dear old stream, unchanging, unfaltering,— with no harsher notes now than then, -never growing old, smiling in your silver rustle, and calming yourself in the broad, placid pools; I love you as I love a friend.
But now that the sun has grown scalding hot, and the waves of heat have come rocking under the shadow of the meadow oaks, I have sought shelter in a chamber of the old farm house. The window blinds are closed; but some of them are sadly shattered, and I have intertwined in them a few branches of the late-blossoming white azalia, so that every puff of the summer air comes to me cooled with fragrance. A dimple or two of the sunlight still steals through my flowery screen, and dances, as the breeze moves the branches, upon the oaken floor of the farm house.
Through one little gap, indeed, I can see the broad stretch of meadow, and the workmen in the field bending and swaying to their scythes. I can see, too, the glistening of the steel, as they wipe their blades ; and can just catch, floating on the air, the measured, tinkling thwack of the rifle stroke.
Here and there a lark, scared from his feeding-place in the grass, soars up, bubbling forth his melody in globules of silvery sound, and settles upon some tall tree, and waves his wings, and sinks to the swaying twigs. I hear, too, a quail piping from the meadow fence, and another trilling his answering whistle from the hills. Nearer by, a tyrant king-bird is poised on the topmost branch of a veteran pear tree; and now and then dashes down, assassin-like, upon some home-bound, honeyladen bee, and then, with a smack of his bill, resumes bis fredatory watch.
A chicken or two lie in the sun, with a wing and a leg stretched out, lazily picking at the gravel, or relieving their ennui from time to time with a spasmodic rustle of their feath
An old matronly hen stalks about the yard with a sedate step; and with quiet self-assurance she utters an occasional series of hoarse and heated clucks. A speckled turkey, with an astonished brood at her heels, is eying curiously, and with earnest variations of the head, a full-fed cat, that lies curled up and dozing upon the floor of the cottage porch.
As I sit thus, watching through the interstices of my leafy screen the various images of country life, I hear distant inutterings from beyond the hills.
The sun has thrown its shadow upon the pewter dial, two hours beyond the meridian line. Great cream-colored heads of thunder clouds are lifting above the sharp, clear line of the western horizon; the light breeze dies away, and the air becomes stifling, even under the shadow of my withered boughs in the chamber window. The white-capped clouds roll up nearer and nearer to the sun, and the creamy masses below grow
dark in their seams. The mutterings that came faintly before now spread into wide volumes of rolling sound, that echo again and again from the eastward heights.
I hear in the deep intervals the men shouting to their teams in the meadows; and great companies of startled swallows are dashing in all directions around the gray roofs of the barn.
The clouds have now well nigh reached the sun, which seems