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And he wandered
away With Nature, the dear old nurse, Who sang
to him night and day The rhymes of the universe.
And whenever the way seemed long,
Or his heart began to fail, She would sing a more wonderful song,
Or tell a more marvellous tale.
So she keeps him still a child,
And will not let him go
For the beautiful Pays de Vaud;
Though at times he hears in his dreams
The Ranz des Vaches of old, And the rush of mountain streams
From glaciers clear and cold ;
And the mother at home says,
“ Hark! For his voice I listen and yearn;
It is growing late and dark,
And my boy does not return !"
In your hearts are the birds and the sunshine,
In your thoughts the brooklets flow, But in mine is the wind of Autumn,
And the first fall of the snow.
Ah! what would the world be to us
If the children were no more ?
We should dread the desert behind us
Worse than the dark before.
What the leaves are to the forest,
With light and air for food, Ere their sweet and tender juices
Have been hardened into wood,
That to the world are children;
Through them it feels the glow Of a brighter and sunnier climate
Than reaches the trunks below.
Come to me, O ye children !
And whisper in my ear
In your sunny atmosphere.
For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books, When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks ?
Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said ;
And all the rest are dead.
Have you read in the Talmud of old, In the Legends the Rabbins have told
Of the limitless realms of the air,Have you
read it,—the marvellous story Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory,
Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer?
How, erect, at the outermost gates
With his feet on the ladder of light, That, crowded with angels unnumbered, By Jacob was seen, as he slumbered
Alone in the desert at night ?
The Angels of Wind and of Fire
With the song's irresistible stress ;
By music they throb to express.
But serene in the rapturous throng,
With eyes unimpassioned and slow,
To sounds that ascend from below;
From the spirits on earth that adore,
In the fervour and passion of prayer ; From the hearts that are broken with losses, And weary with dragging the crosses
Too heavy for mortals to bear.
And he gathers the prayers as he stands, And they change into flowers in his hands,
Into garlands of purple and red; And beneath the great arch of the portal, Through the streets of the City Immortal
Is wasted the fragrance they shed.
It is but a legend, I know,-
Of the ancient Rabbinical lore;
But haunts me and holds me the more.