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Thou hast looked on the gleaming wealth of old,
And wrecks where the brave have striven;
The deep is a strong and fearful hold,
But thou its bar hast riven!
A wild and weary life is thine,
A wasting task and lone;
Though treasure-grots for thee may shine,
To all besides unknown.
A weary life! but a swift decay
Soon, soon shall set thee free!
Thou 'rt passing fast from thy toils away,
Thou wrestler with the sea!
In thy dim eye, on thy hollow cheek,
Well are the death-signs read;
Go, for the pearl in its cavern seek,
Ere hope and power be fled.
And bright in beauty's coronal
That glistening gem shall be; A star to all the festive hall;
But who shall think on thee?
None; as it gleams from the queen-like head,
Not one, 'mid throngs, will say,
"A life hath been, like a rain-drop, shed,
For that pale and quivering ray."
Woe for the wealth thus dearly bought!
And are not those like thee,
Who win for earth the gems of thought?
O wrestler with the sea!
Down to the gulfs of the soul they go,
Where the passion-fountains burn,
Gathering the jewels far below,
From many a buried urn:
Wringing from lava-veins the fire
That o'er bright words is poured;
Learning deep sounds, to make the lyre
A spirit in each chord.
But oh! the price of bitter tears,
Paid for the lonely power,
That throws at last, o'er desert years,
A darkly glorious dower!
Like flower-seeds, by the wild wind spread,
So radiant thoughts are strewed;
The soul whence those high gifts are shed,
May faint in solitude.
And who will think, when the strain is sung,
Till a thousand hearts are stirred,
What life-drops from the minstrel wrung,
Have gushed with every word?
None, none! his treasures live like thine,
He strives and dies like thee;
Thou that hast been to the pearl's dark shrine,
O wrestler with the sea!
THE shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore,'mid snow and ice,
A banner, with the strange device,
His brow was sad his eye beneath
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung,
The accents of that unknown tongue,
In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,
"Try not the pass!" the old man said; "Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide!"
And loud that clarion voice replied,
"O stay," the maiden said, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered with a sigh,
"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche !"
This was the peasant's last good-night;
A voice replied, far up the hight,
At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,
A traveler, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,
There, in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,
A NAME IN THE SAND.
ALONE I walked the ocean strand;
A pearly shell was in my hand:
I stooped and wrote upon the sand
My name, the year, the day.
As onward from the spot I passed,
One lingering look behind I cast:
A wave came rolling high and fast,
And washed my lines away.
"And the youthful and the brave
With their beauty and renown,
To the hollow chambers of the wave
In darkness have gone down.
"They are vanished from their place;
Let their homes and hearths make moan!
But the rolling waters keep no trace
Of pang or conflict gone."
Alas! thou haughty deep!
The strong, the sounding far! My heart before thee dies:-I weep To think on what we are.
To think that so we pass,
High hope, and thought, and mind, Even as the breath-stain from the glass, Leaving no sign behind.
Saw'st thou naught else, thou main?
Thou and the midnight sky?
Naught save the struggle, brief and vain,
The parting agony?
And the sea's voice replied,
"Here nobler things have been;
Power with the valiant, when they died,
To sanctify the scene:
Courage, in fragile form,
Faith, trusting to the last,
Prayer, breathing heavenward through the storm,
But all alike have passed."
Sound on, thou haughty sea!
These have not passed in vain :
My soul awakes, my hope springs free
On victor wings again.
Thou, from thine empire driven,
Mayst vanish with thy powers;
But, by the hearts that here have striven,
A loftier doom is ours.