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The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden fight, But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes, We may discern-unseen before
A path to higher destinies.
Nor deem the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain, If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
THE PHANTOM SHIP.
In Mather's Magnalia Christi,
Of the old colonial time,
That is here set down in rhyme.
A ship sailed from New Haven,
And the keen and frosty airs, That filled her sails at parting,
Were heavy with good men's prayers.
"O Lord! if it be thy pleasure"
Thus prayed the old divine“To bury our friends in the ocean,
Take them; for they are thine!"
But Master Lamberton muttered,
And under his breath said he, “This ship is so crank and walty,
I fear our grave she will be!"
And the ships that came from England,
When the winter months were gone, Brought no tidings of this vessel,
Nor of Master Lamberton.
This put the people to praying
That the Lord would let them hear What in his greater wisdom
He had done with friends so dear.
And at last their prayers were answered:
It was in the month of June, An hour before the sunset
Of a windy afternoon,
When steadily steering landward,
A ship was seen below, And they knew it was Lamberton, Master,
Who sailed so long ago.
On she came with a cloud of canvas,
Right against the wind that blew, Until the eye could distinguish
The faces of the crew.
Then fell her straining topmasts,
Hanging tangled in the shrouds,
And blown away like clouds.
And the masts, with all their rigging,
Fell slowly, one by one,
As a sea-mist in the sun!
And the people who saw this marvel
Each said unto his friend,
And thus her tragic end.
And the pastor of the village
Gave thanks to God in prayer,
He had sent this Ship of Air.
THE WARDEN OF THE CINQUE PORTS. A wist was driving down the British Channel,
The day was just begun, And through the window-panes, on floor and panel,
Streamed the red autumn sun.
It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon,
And the white sails of ships; And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon
Hailed it with feverish lips.
Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hithe, and Dover
Were all alert that day,
When the fog cleared away.
Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions,
Their cannon, through the night, Holding their breath, had watched, in grim defiance,
The seacoast opposite.
And now they roared at drumbeat from their stations
On every citadel;
That all was well.
And down the coast, all taking up the burden,
Replied the distant forts,
And Lord of the Cinque Ports.
Him shall no sunshine from the fields of azure,
No drumbeat from the wall, No morning gun from the black fort's embrasure,
Awaken with its call!
No more, surveying with an eye impartial
The long line of the coast,
Be seen upon his post!
For in the night, unseen, a single warrior,
In sombre harness mailed,
The rampart wall has scaled.
He passed into the chamber of the sleeper,
The dark and silent room,
The silence and the gloom.
He did not pause to parley or dissemble,
But smote the Warden hoar; Ah! what a blow! that made all England tremble
And groan from shore to shore.
Meanwhile, without, the surly cannon waited,
The sun rose bright o'erhead; Nothing in Nature's aspect intimated
That a great man was dead.
All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.
We meet them at the doorway, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go, Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.
There are more guests at table, than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
As silent as the pictures on the wall.
The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear; He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.