網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

The bugle's wild and warlike blast
Shall muster them no more;
An army now might thunder past,
And they heed not its roar.
The starry flag, 'neath which they fought,
In many a bloody day,
From their old graves shall rouse them not ;
For they have pass'd away.

LINEs, suggested BY A Picture BY WAshingtoN allStox.

The tender Twilight with a crimson cheek
Leans on the breast of Eve. The wayward Wind
Hath folded her fleet pinions, and gone down
To slumber by the darken'd woods; the herds
Have left their pastures, where the sward grows green
And lofty by the river's sedgy brink,
And slow are winding home. Hark, from afar
Their tinkling bells sound through the dusky glade
And forest-openings, with a pleasant sound;
While answering Echo, from the distant hill,
Sends back the music of the herdsman's horn.
How tenderly the trembling light yet plays
O'er the far-waving foliage Day's last blush
Still lingers on the billowy waste of leaves,
With a strange beauty—like the yellow flush
That haunts the ocean, when the day goes by.
Methinks, whene'er earth's wearying troubles pass
Like winter shadows o'er the peaceful mind,
'Twere sweet to turn from life, and pass abroad,
With solemn footsteps, into Nature's vast
And happy palaces, and lead a life
Of peace in some green paradise like this.
The brazen trumpet and the loud war-drum
Ne'er startled these green woods:—the raging sword
IIath never gather'd its red harvest here !
The peaceful summer day hath never closed
Around this quiet spot, and caught the gleam
Of War's rude pomp :-the humble dweller here
Hath never left his sickle in the field,
To slay his fellow with unholy hand:—
The maddening voice of battle, the wild groan,
The thrilling murmuring of the dying man,
And the shrill shriek of mortal agony,
Have never broke its Sabbath solitude.

NATHANIEL PARKER WILL.S.

NATn ANIEL PARKER Willis was born in Portland, Maine, January 20, 1807." After being fitted for college at Phillips Academy, Andover, he entered Yale, at sixteen years of age, and soon distinguished himself as a poet of true genius by writing a series of pieces on scriptural subjects, pieces which have not been, surpassed by any thing he has subsequently written, and which gave him at once a wide-spread and enviable reputation. On leaving college, in 1827, he was engaged by S. G. Goodrich (“Peter Parley”) to edit “The Legendary” and “The Token.” In 1828, he established the “American Monthly Magazine,” which he conducted for two years and a half, when it was merged in the “New York Mirror,” and Mr. Willis went to Europe, and travelled through Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, Turkey, and England, in which latter country he was married to Mary Leighton Stace, daughter of Commissary-General William Stace, then having charge of the arsenal at Woolwich. The letters he wrote while abroad were first published in the “New York Mirror,” under the title of Pencillings by the Way. In 1835, he published Inklings of Adventure, a series of tales which appeared originally in a London magazine. In 1837, he returned home, and retired to a beautiful place on the Susquehanna, near Owego, New York, which he named Glenmary in compliment to his wife. In 1839, he became one of the editors of the “Corsair,” a literary gazette in New York City, and towards the close of that year again went to London, where he published Loiterings of Travel, and two tragedies, Tortesa the Usurer and Bianca Visconti, under the united title of Tico Ways of Dying for a Husband. In 1840 appeared an illustrated edition of his poems, and Letters from under a Bridge. In 1843, in conjunction with General George P. Morris, he revived the “New York Mirror,” but withdrew from it upon the death of his wife in 1844, and again visited England. On his return home the next year, he issued a complete edition of his works, in an imperial octavo of eight hundred pages. In October, 1846, he was married to a daughter of the Hon. Joseph Grinnell, member of Congress from Massachusetts, and removed to his present country home of Idlewild. He is now associated with General Morris as editor of the “Home Journal,” a weekly literary paper, which is always enriched, more or less, with pieces from his pen, and which is hailed by its numerous readers, every week, as a genial and instructive fireside companion.

Though Mr. Willis's prose writings are full of beauty and wit, of rich paintings of natural scenery, and delicate and humorous touches of the various phases of social life, it is by his poetry, especially by his sacred poetry, that he will be chiefly known and prized by posterity. There is a tenderness, a pathos, and a richness of description in it which give him a rank among the first of American poets.”

1 His father was Nathaniel Willis, who, a few years after the birth of Nathaniel, removed to Boston, and projected and edited the “Boston Recorder,” the first religious journal established in this country.

2. “No man has appeared in our literature, endowed with a greater variety

HAGAR IN THE WILDERN ESS.

The morning broke. Light stole upon the clouds
With a strange beauty. Earth received again
Its garment of a thousand dyes; and leaves,
And delicate blossoms, and the painted flowers,
And every thing that bendeth to the dew,
And stirreth with the daylight, lifted up
Its beauty to the breath of that sweet morn.

All things are dark to sorrow; and the light,
And loveliness, and fragrant air were sad
To the dejected HAGAR. The moist earth
Was pouring odors from its spicy pores,
And the young birds were singing as if life
Were a new thing to them; but, oh! it came
Upon her heart like discord, and she felt
How cruelly it tries a broken heart
To see a mirth in any thing it loves.
She stood at ABRAHAM's tent. Her lips were press'd
Till the blood started; and the wandering veins
Of her transparent forehead were swell'd out,
As if her pride would burst them. Her dark eye
Was clear and tearless, and the light of heaven,
Which made its language legible, shot back
From her long lashes, as it had been flame.
Her noble boy stood by her, with his hand
Clasp'd in her own, and his round, delicate feet,
Scarce train'd to balance on the tented floor,
Sandall'd for journeying. He had look'd up

of fine qualities. He possesses an understanding quick, acute, distinguishing even in excess: enriched by culture, and liberalized and illuminated by much observation. He commands all the resources of passion, at the same time that he is master of the effects of manner. The suggestions of an animated sense are harmonized by feeling, and are adorned by a finished wit. His taste is nice, but it is not narrow or bigoted, and his sympathies with his reader are intimate and true. His works exhibit a profusion of pointed and just comment on society and life; they sparkle with delicate and easy humor; they display a prodigality of fancy, and are fragrant with all the floral charm of sentiment. He possesses surprising saliency of mind, which in his hasty effusions often fatigues, but in his matured compositions is controlled to the just repose of art. But distinct from each of these, and sovereign over them all, is the vivifying and directing energy of a fine poetical talent, that prophetic faculty in man whose effects are as vast as its processes are mysterious; whose action is a moral enchantment that all feel, but none can fathom. This influence it is which, entering into and impregnating all his other faculties, gives force to some, elevation to others, and grace and interest to them all.”—Literary Criticisms, by Horace Binney Wallace.

Read a good review of Willis's writings—prose and poetry—in the “North American Review,” xliii. 384, in which he is ably defended from the attack in the fifty-fourth volume of the “London Quarterly.” This paper was written by Lockhart, who, in condemning Willis for his personalities in his Pencillings by the Way, forgot that he himself was far more open to the same charge in his “Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk,” in which he makes very free with the •ociety at Edinburgh.

Into his mother's face until he caught
The spirit there, and his young heart was swelling
Beneath his dimpled bosom, and his form
Straighten’d up proudly in his tiny wrath,
As if his light proportions would have swell'd,
Had they but match'd his spirit, to the man.

Why bends the patriarch as he cometh now
Upon his staff so wearily His beard
Is low upon his breast, and his high brow,
So written with the converse of his God,
Beareth the swollen vein of agony.
His lip is quivering, and his wonted step
Of vigor is not there; and, though the morn
Is passing fair and beautiful, he breathes
Its freshness as it were a pestilence.
Oh! man may bear with suffering: his heart
Is a strong thing, and godlike, in the grasp
Of pain that wrings mortality; but tear
One chord affection clings to—part one tie
That binds him to a woman's delicate love, -
And his great spirit yieldeth like a reed.

He gave to her the water and the bread,
But spoke no word, and trusted not himself
To look upon her face, but laid his hand
In silent blessing on the fair-hair’d boy,
And left her to her lot of loneliness.

Should HAGAR weep? May slighted woman turn, And, as a vine the oak hath shaken off, Bend lightly to her leaning trust again? Oh, no! by all her loveliness, by all That makes life poetry and beauty, no! Make her a slave; steal from her cheek the rose, By needless jealousies; let the last star Leave her a watcher by your couch of pain; Wrong her by petulance, suspicion, all That makes her cup a bitterness, yet give One evidence of love, and earth has not An emblem of devotedness like hers. But oh estrange her once,—it boots not how, -By wrong or silence,—anything that tells A change has come upon your tenderness, And there is not a high thing out of heaven Her pride o'ermastereth not.

She went her way with a strong step and slow, Her press'd lip arch'd, and her clear eye undimm’d, As it had been a diamond, and her form Borne proudly up, as if her heart breathed through. Her child kept on in silence, though she press'd His hand till it was pain’d ; for he had caught, As I have said, her spirit, and the seed Of a stern nation had been breathed upon.

The morning pass'd, and Asia's sun rode up In the clear heaven, and every beam was heat.

[ocr errors]

The cattle of the hills were in the shade,
And the bright plumage of the Orient lay
On beating bosoms in her spicy trees.
It was an hour of rest but HAGAR found
No shelter in the wilderness, and on
She kept her weary way, until the boy
Hung down his head, and open'd his parch'd lips
For water; but she could not give it him.
She laid him down beneath the sultry sky—
For it was better than the close, hot breath
Of the thick pines—and tried to comfort him;
But he was sore athirst, and his blue eyes
Were dim and bloodshot, and he could not know
Why God denied him water in the wild.
She sat a little longer, and he grew
Ghastly and faint, as if he would have died.
It was too much for her. She lifted him,
And bore him further on, and laid his head
Beneath the shadow of a desert-shrub ;
And, shrouding up her face, she went away,
And sat to watch, where he could see her not,
Till he should die; and, watching him, she mourn' i :-

“God stay thee in thine agony, my boy:
I cannot see thee die; I cannot brook
Upon thy brow to look,
And see death settle on my cradle-joy.
How have I drunk the light of thy blue eye'
And could. I see thee die?

“I did not dream of this when thou wast straying,
Like an unbound gazelle, among the flowers;
Or wiling the soft hours,
By the rich gush of water-sources playing,
Then sinking weary to thy smiling sleep,
So beautiful and deep.

“Oh, no! and when I watch'd by thee the while,
And saw thy bright lip curling in thy dream,
And thought of the dark stream
In my own land of Egypt, the far Nile,
How pray'd I that my father's land might be
An heritage for thee!

“And now the grave for its cold breast hath won thee!
And thy white, delicate limbs the earth will press;
And, oh! my last caress
Must feel thee cold, for a chill hand is on thee.
How can I leave my boy, so pillow'd there
Upon his clustering hair!”

She stood beside the well her God had given
To gush in that deep wilderness, and bathed
The forehead of her child until he laugh'd
In his reviving happiness, and lisp'd
His infant thought of gladness at the sight
Of the cool plashing of his mother's hand.

« 上一頁繼續 »