Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Or was it Christian charity,
And lowliness and humility,

The richest and rarest of all dowers?

Who shall tell us? No one speaks ;
No color shoots into those cheeks,

Either of anger or of pride,
At the rude question we have asked;
Nor will the mystery be unmasked

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,

your own secret sins and terrors !

In

THE EMPEROR'S BIRD'S-NEST.

ONCE the Emperor Charles of Spain,

With his swarthy, grave commanders,
I forget in what campaign,
Long besieged, in mud and rain,

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,
Half in anger, half in shame,
Forth the great campaigner came

Slowly from his canvas palace.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Swift as bowstring speeds a shaft,

Through the camp was spread the rumor, And the soldiers, as they quaffed

Flemish beer at dinner, laughed. 1. riii

At the Emperor's pleasant humor.

So unharmed and unafraid

Sat the swallow still and brooded,
Till the constant cannonade
Through the walls a breach had made,

And the siege was thus concluded.

Then the army, elsewhere bent,

Struck its tents as if disbanding,
Only not the Emperor's tent,
For be ordered, ere he went,

Very curtly, “Leave it standing !"

So it stood there all alone,

Loosely flapping, torn and tattered,
Till the brood was fledged and flown,
Singing o'er those walls of stone
Which the cannon-shot had shattered.

THE TWO ANGELS.

Two angels, one of Life and one of Death,

Passed o'er our village as the morning broke; The dawn was on their faces, and beneath,

The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of smoke.

Their attitude and aspect were the same,

Alike their features and their robes of white; But one was crowned with amaranth, as with flame,

And one with asphodels, like flakes of light.sul

I saw them pause on their celestial way; torill!

Then said I, with deep fear and doubt oppressed, “Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray

The place where thy beloved are at rest!" in

And he who wore the crown of asphodels,

Descending, at my door began to knock, And my soul sank within me, as in wells

The waters sink before an earthquake's shock.

I recognized the nameless agony,

The terror and the tremor and the pain, That oft before had filled or haunted me,

And now returned with threefold strength again.

The door I opened to my heavenly guest,

And listened, for I thought I heard God's voice; And, knowing whatsoe'er He sent was þest,

Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice.

Then with a smile, that filled the house with light,

"My errand is not Death, but Life," he said; And ere I answered, passing out of sight,

On his celestial embassy he sped.

'T was at thy door, O friend! and not at mine,

The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing, descended, and with voice divine,

Whispered a word that had a sound like Death.

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features fair and thin;
And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,

Two angels issued, where but one went in.

All is of God! If He but wave his hand,

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud, Till, with a smile of light on sea and land,

Lo! He looks back from the departing cloud.

[ocr errors]

Angels of Life and Death alike are his;

Without his leave they pass no threshold o'er; Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this,

Against his messengers to shut the door?

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« ПредишнаНапред »