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In the centre of the lagoon between Venice and the inouths of the Brenta, supported on a few mouldering piles, stands a small shrine dedicated to the Madonna dell' Acqua, which the gondolier never passes without a prayer.
AROUND her shrine no earthly blossoms blow,
No footsteps fret the pathway to and fro;
No sign nor record of departed prayer,
Print of the stone, nor echo of the air;
Worn by the lip, nor wearied by the knee,
Only a deeper silence of the sea :
For there, in passing, pause the breezes bleak,
And the foam fades, and all the waves are weak,
The pulse-like oars in softer fall succeed,
The black prow falters through the wild seaweed-
Where, twilight-borne, the minute thunders reach,
Of deep-mouthed surf, that bays by Lido's beach,
With intermittent motion traversed far,
And shattered glancing of the western star,
Till the faint storm-bird on the heaving flow,
Drops in white circles, silently, like snow.
Not here the ponderous gem, nor pealing note,
Dim to adorn-insentient to adore
But purple-dyed, the mists of evening float,
In ceaseless incense from the burning floor
Of ocean, and the gathered gold of heaven
Laces its sapphire vault, and, early given,
The white rays of the rushing firmament
Pierce the blue, quivering night, through wreath or rent,
Of cloud inscrutable and motionless,
Hectic, and wan, and moon-companioned cloud !
Oh! lone Madonna-angel of the deep-
When the night falls, and deadly winds are loud,
Will not thy love be with us while we keep
Our watch upon the waters, and the gaze
Of thy soft eyes, that slumber not, nor sleep?
Deem not thou, stranger, that such trust is vain ;
Faith walks not on these weary waves alone,
Though weakness dread, or apathy disdain,
The spot which God has hallowed for His own.
They sin who pass it lightly—ill divining
The glory of this place of bitter prayer;
And hoping against hope, and self-resigning,
And reach of faith, and wrestling with despair,
And resurrection of the last distress,
Into the sense of heaven, when earth is bare,
And of God's voice, when man's is comfortless.
THE LOST ONE.
By Mary Howitt.
We meet around the board, thou art not there;
Over our household joys hath pass'd a gloom;
Beside the fire we see thy empty chair,
And miss thy sweet voice in the silent room.
What hopeless longings after thee arise !
Even for the touch of thy small hand I pine ;
And for the sound of thy dear little feet.
Alas! tears dim mine eyes,
Meeting in every place some joy of thine,
Or when fair children pass me in the street.
Beauty was on thy cheek; and thou didst seem
A privileged being, charter'd from decay; And thy free spirit, like a mountain stream
That hath no ebb, kept on its cheerful way.
Thy laugh was like the inspiring breath of spring,
That thrills the heart, and cannot be unfelt.
The sun, the moon, the green leaves and the flowers,
And every living thing,
Were a strong joy to thee; thy spirit dwelt
Gladly in life, rejoicing in its powers.
Oh! what had death to do with one like thee,
Thou young and loving one; whose soul did cling,
Even as the ivy clings unto the tree,
To those that loved thee? Thou, whose tears would
Dreading a short day's absence, didst thou go
Alone into the future world unseen,
Solving each awful untried mystery,
The dread unknown to know;
To be where mortal traveller hath not been,
Whence welcome tidings cannot come from thee?
My happy boy! and murmur I that death
Over thy young and buoyant frame had power ?
In yon bright land love never perisheth,
Hope may not mock, nor grief the heart devour.
The beautiful are round thee; thou dost keep
Within the Eternal Presence; and no more
Mayst death, or pain, or separation dread:
Thy bright eyes cannot weep,
Nor they with whom thou art thy loss deplore;
For ye are of the living, not the dead.
Thou dweller with the unseen, who hast explored
The immense unknown; thou to whom death and
heaven Are mysteries no more; whose soul is stored With knowledge for which man hath vainly striven ;
Beloved child, oh! when shall I lie down
With thee beneath fair trees that cannot fade?
When from the immortal rivers quench my thirst ?
Life's journey speedeth on;
Yet for a little while we walk in shade ;
Anon, by death the cloud is all dispersed;
Then o'er the hills of heaven the eternal day doth burst.
By Mrs. HEMANS. FROM a ruin thou art singing,
Oh lonely, lonely bird! The soft air is ringing,
By thy summer music stirr'd; Though the castle echoes catch no tone
Of human step or word; Though the fire be quench'd, and the feasting done
Oh lonely, lonely bird !
How can that flood of gladness
Rush through the fiery lay,
From the haunted place of sadness,
From the bosom of decay ?
Where dirge-notes in the breezes moan,
Through the ivy-garland heard,
Come blent with thy rejoicing tone,
Oh lonely, lonely bird !
There's many a heart, wild singer,
Like thy forsaken tower,
Where joy no more may linger,
Where Love hath left his bower:
And there's many a spirit e'en like thee,
To mirth as lightly stirr’d,
Though it soar from ruins in its glee-
Oh, lonely, lonely bird !
SHE'S GANE TO DWALL IN HEAVEN.
A ballad, by ALLAR CUNNINGHAM. She's gane to dwall in heaven, my lassie,
She's gane to dwall in heaven: “ Ye're owre pure," quo' the voice o' God,
“For dwalling out o'heaven!”
O what 'll she do in heaven, my lassie ?
O what 'll she do in heaven? She 'll mix her ain thoughts wi' angels' sangs,
An' make them mair meet for heaven,
She was beloved by a,' my lassie,
She was beloved by a';
But an angel fell in love wi' her,
An' took her from us a'.
Lowly there thou lies, my lassie,
Lowly there thou lies;
A bonnier form ne'er went to the yird,
Nor frae it will arise !
Thy lips were ruddy and calm, my lassie,
Thy lips were ruddy and calm;
But gane was the holy breath o' heaven
That sang the evening psalm.
There's naught but dust now mine, lassie,
There's naught but dust now mine; My soul's wi' thee i' the cauld grave,
An' why should I stay behin!