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Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires ; The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.
These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high, Come from the influence of an unseen star,
An undiscovered planet in our sky.
And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light, Across whose trembling planks our fancies
crowd Into the realm of mystery and night, —
So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this, O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and
bends, Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.
IN THE CHURCHYARD AT CAMBRIDGE.
In the village churchyard she lies,
No more she breathes, nor feels, nor stirs;
At her feet and at her head
Lies a slave to attend the dead,
But their dust is white as hers.
Was she a lady of high degree,
And foolish pomp of this world of ours?
Or was it Christian charity,
The richest and rarest of all dowers?
Who shall tell us ? No one speaks ;
Either of anger or of pride,
By those who are sleeping at her side.
Hereafter ? — And do you think to look On the terrible pages of that Book
To find her failings, faults, and errors ? Ah, you will then have other cares, In your own short-comings and despairs,
In your own secret sins and terrors !
THE EMPEROR'S BIRD'S-NEST.
Once the Emperor Charles of Spain,
With his swarthy, grave commanders,
Some old frontier town of Flanders.
Up and down the dreary camp,
In great boots of Spanish leather, Striding with a measured tramp, These Hidalgos, dull and damp,
Cursed the Frenchmen, cursed the weather.
Thus as to and fro they went,
Over upland and through hollow, Giving their impatience vent, Perched upon the Emperor's tent,
In her nest, they spied a swallow.
Yes, it was a swallow's nest,
Built of clay and hair of horses, Mane, or tail, or dragoon's crest, Found on hedge-rows east and west,
After skirmish of the forces.
Then an old Hidalgo said,
As he twirled his gray mustachio,
« Sure this swallow overhead
Thinks the Emperor's tent a shed,
And the Emperor but a Macho!"
Hearing his imperial name
Coupled with those words of malice,