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Fate had already given. Where, man of woe !
Where, wretched father ! is thy boy? Thou call'st
His name in vain :-he cannot answer thee !
Loudly the father called upon his child :
No voice replied! Trembling and anxiously
He searched their couch of straw ;—with headlong haste
Trod round his stinted limits, and, low bent,
Groped darkling on the earth :- :-no child was there !
Again he called :— again, a farthest stretch
Of his accursed fetters—till the blood
Came bursting from his ears, and from his eyes
Fire flashed :-he strained, with arm extended far,
And fingers widely spread, greedy to touch
Though but his idol's garment. Useless toil !
Yet still renewed :-still round and round he goes,
And strains, and snatches—and with dreadful cries
Calls on his boy! Mad frenzy fires him now ;
He plants against the wall his feet ;-his chain
Grasps ;-tugs with giant strength to force away
The deep-driven stape, -yells and shrieks with rage :
-But see !—the ground is opening-a blue light
Mounts, gently waving—noiseless :--thin and cold
It seems, and like a rainbow tint, not flame :
But, in its lustre, on the earth outstretched,
Behold the lifeless child !--his dress singed,
And over his serene face, a dark line
Points out the lightning's track !
The father saw
And all his fury fed :-a dead calm fell
That instant on him ; speechless, fixed he stood,
And, with a look that never wandered, gazed
Intensely on the corse. Those laughing eyes
Were not yet closed--and round those pouting lips
The wonted smile returned.
Silent and pale
The father stands :—no tear is in his eye :--
The thunders bellow—but he hears them not :-
The strong walls grind and gape-the vaulted roof
Takes shapes like bubble tossing in the wind-
See ! he looks up and smiles ;—for death to him
Is happiness. Yet, could one last embrace
Be given, 'twere still a sweeter thing to die!
It will be given. Look how the rolling ground,
At every swell, nearer and still more near
Moves towards the father's outstretched arms his boy :-
Once he has touched his garment ;-how his eye
Lightens with love, and hope, and anxious fear!
Ha! see! he has him now !-he clasps him round-
Kisses his face-puts back the curling locks
That shaded his fine brow-looks in his eyes--
Grasps in his own, those little, dimpled hands--
Then folds him to his breast, as he was wont
To lie when sleeping---and, resigned, awaits
And death came soon, and swift,
And pangless. The huge pile sunk down at once
Into the opening earth. Walls--arches-roofs-
And deep foundation stones—all mingling fell !
LXX.--A CHURCH-YARD SCENE.
EE yonder hallowed fane! the pious work of names once famed ; now,
dubious, or forgot, and buried mid the wreck of things that were. The wind is up: hark ! how it howls : methinks till now I never heard a sound so dreary. Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird, rooked in the spire, screams loud ; the gloomy aisles black plaistered, and hung round with shreds of scutcheons and tattered coats of arms, send back the sound laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults—the mansions of the dead. Roused from their slumbers, in grim array the grisly spectres rise, green horrible and obstinately sullen, pass and repass, hushed as the foot of night. Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound! I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill.
)! at the couch where infant beauty sleeps,
Her silent watch the mournful mother keeps :
She, while the lovely babe unconscious lies,
Smiles on her slu nbering child with pensive eyes,
And weaves a song of melancholy joy:-
“Sleep, image of thy father !-sleep, my boy!
“No lingering hour of sorrow shall be thine;
“No sigh, that rends thy father's heart and mine.
“Bright, as his manly sire, the son shall be
“In form and soul; but, ah! more bless'd than he !
“Thy fame, thy worth, thy filial love, at last,
“Shall soothe his aching heart for all the past ;
“With many a smile my solitude repay,
“And chase the world's ungenerous scorn away.
“And say, when summoned from the world and thee,
“I lay my head beneath the willow-tree,
“Wilt thou, sweet mourner! at my stone appear,
“And soothe my parted spirit lingering near?
“Oh! wilt thou come at evening hour, to shed
“The tears of memory o'er my narrow bed ;
“With aching temples on thy hand reclined,
“Muse on the last Farewell!' I leave behind;
“Breathe a deep sigh to winds that murmur low,
“And think on all my love, and all my woe?''
So speaks affection, ere the infant eye
Can look regard, or brighten in reply:
But, when the cherub's lip hath learned to claim
A mother's ear by that endearing name ;
Soon as the playful innocent can prove
A tear of pity, or a smile of love;
Or‘cons his murmuring task beneath her care,
I turned to look at the ragged form,
That, in the midst of the pitiless storm,
Pinched and haggard and old with care,
In accents pleading, was standing there.
'Twas a little boy not twelve years old :
He shivered and shook in the bitter cold,
His eyes were red—with weeping, I fear-
And adown his cheeks there rolled a tear
His misery struck me dumb ;
'Twas a street in a crowded city slum,
Where an errand of duty led my feet
That day, through the storm and blinding sleet.
“ Poor little fellow !" at last I said,
“ Have you no father ?''
• No, he's dead !”
The answer came : “« You've a mother, then,?”
“ Yes, sir”'' he said, with a sob; "she's been
Sick for a year, and the doctor said
Sh'd never again get up from bed.”
“ You are hungry, too?" I asked, in pain,
As I looked at his poor, wan face again.
Hungry,” he said, with
That would melt to pity a heart of stone ;
“I am starved ; we all are starving," he said,
- We haven't had a crust of bread-
Me, nor mother, nor baby Kate-
Since yesterday morning.'
I did not wait
To ask him more. “Come, come,
-- You shall not hunger ;'' and at my side
His poor little pattering footsteps fell
On my ear with a sadness I cannot tell ;
But his eyes beamed bright when he saw me stop
Before the door of a baker's shop,
And we entered.
“Now eat away, my boy,
As much as you like," I said. With joy,
And a soft expression of childish grace,
He looked up into my friendly face,
And sobbed, as he strove to hide a tear :
“Oh, if mother and baby Kate were here!”
“But eat," said I, “never mind them, now.”
A thoughtful look stole over his brow,
And lo! from his face the joy had fled.
“What! While they're starving at home !" he said :
“O, no, sir ! I'm hungry, indeed, 'tis true,
But I cannot eat till they've had some too.'
The tears came rushing—I can't tell why-
To my eyes, as he spoke these words. Said I:
“God bless you ! Here, you brave little man,
Here, carry home all the bread you can."
Then I loaded him down with loaves, until
He could carry no more. I paid the bill;
And before he could quite understand
Just what I was doing, into his hand
I slipped a bright new dollar ; then said,
“Good-by," and away on my journey sped.
'Twas four years ago.
But one day last May,
As I wandered by chance through east Broadway,
A cherry voice accosted me. Lo!
'Twas the self same lad of years ago,
Though larger grown-and his looks, in truth,
Bespoke a sober, industrious youth.
“Mister,” he said, “I'll never forget
The kindness you showed when last we met.
I work at a trade, and mother is well,
So is baby Kate; and I want to tell
You this—that we owe it all to you.
'Twas you—don't blush, sir—that helped us through
In our darkest hour; and we always say
Our luck has been better since that day
When you sent me home with bread to feed
Those starving ones in their hour of need,”
LXXIII.-THE DEATH OF THE REVELLER.
HE lights were gleaming and the feast was spread,
And at the table sat the boisterous guests,
Shouting and singing snatches of coarse songs.
The giver of the feast was an old man,
Grown old in sin, and hardened more and more.
Till age found him, 'mid the boisterous crew,
A guide and prompter into any path
That led away from virtue or from truth.
His snow-white hairs upon his shoulders fell
In twining ringlets; and his silver beard,
Grizzled with age, clung to his hollow cheeks ;
And on his brow the plough of time had made
Deep furrows; and his eyes were growing dim.
But still his hollow voice rang on the night,
And his eye glistened at the obscene jests
Of his companions, and his skinny hands
Beat on each other with a hollow sound
At the rude singing of the rabble crew.
It was an awful sight to see him there,
So old and withered, yet so wildly gay ;
So like a patriarch, yet so like a fiend.
The ruddy wine was poured incessantly;
And as the brimming goblets passed along,
The old man chuckled, and his eyes grew bright.
He seized a flagon in his trembling hands,
And held it to his lips, and shrieked aloud,
The while it ran like blood upon his beard,
And trickled to the floor. At each fresh draught
New vigor seemed to nerve his aged limbs,
And he sat more erect, and lifted up
His trembling voice and sang an ancient song,
The vaulted roof re-echoed with the shouts
Of the mad revellers when the song was o'er,
And eagerly they called out “Sing again !"
The old man took another draught of wine,
And, smiling, once again, essayed to sing.
It was a love-song,—a sweet, simple thing,-
A song he oft had sung in his fresh youth,
When his young heart was gay as any bird's,
And life was like a glorious dream of flowers.
His trembling voice grew stronger as he sang,
And his hard features softened, and a smile,
Played o'er his face, and in his glistening eye
A tear-drop stood. His inmost soul was stirred
With thoughts of other days, and his harsh voice
Grew soft as woman's, and his radiant face
Beamed with the light of tender memories.
But suddenly his cheek turned deadly pale,
And he fell backward, with his long lean hand
Pressed to his side, as if with sudden pain.
The guests, alarmed, ran quickly to his aid,
And raised him up, and pressed a brimming cup
Against his lips. But with a gesture he
Put it away, and lifting up his head,
Spake in a solemn voice, unlike his own,
While the dazed revellers stood silent by :
“Nay, tempt me not again !
I will not touch the wine-cup in this hour--
Too often have I felt its deadly power ;
And I would clear my brain
In these last trembling moments, for I feel
Death's icy hand across my temples steal.