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To look once more into each other's face ;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch :
A fearful hope was all the world contained;
Forests were set on fire-but hour by hour
They fell and faded-and the crackling trunks
Extinguished with a crash-and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnashed their teeth and howled; the wild birds shrieked,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawled
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless-they were slain for food;
And war, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again; a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails-men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured;
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the drooping dead
Lured their lank jaws! himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress he died.
The crowd was famished by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies; they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place,
Where had been heaped a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands.
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects-saw, and shrieked, and died-
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless-
A lump of death-a chaos of hard clay,
The rivers, lakes, and ocean, all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths:
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropped
They slept on the abyss without a surge-
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perished; darkness had no need
Of aid from them-She was the universe.
AN INDIAN AT THE BURYING-PLACE OF HIS
It is the spot I came to seek
My fathers' ancient burial-place,
Ere from these vales, ashamed and weak,
Withdrew our wasted race.
It is the spot-I know it well-
Of which our old traditions tell.
For here the upland bank sends out
A ridge toward the river side;
I know the shaggy hills about,
The meadows smooth and wide ;
The plains, that toward the southern sky,
Fenced east and west by mountains lie.
A white man, gazing on the scene,
Would say a lovely spot was here,
And praise the lawns so fresh and green
Between the hills so sheer.
I like it not-I would the plain
Lay in its tall old groves again.
The sheep are on the slopes around,
The cattle in the meadows feed,
And labourers turn the crumbling ground,
Or drop the yellow seed,
And prancing steeds, in trappings gay,
Whirl the bright chariot o'er the way.
Methinks it were a nobler sight
To see these vales in woods arrayed,
Their summits in the golden light,
Their trunks in grateful shade;
And herds of deer, that bounding go
O'er rills and prostrate trees below.
And then to mark the lord of all,
The forest hero, trained to wars,
Quivered and plumed, and lithe and tall,
And seamed with glorious scars,
Walk forth, amid his reign, to dare
The wolf, and grapple with the bear.
This bank, in which the dead were laid,
Was sacred when its soil was ours;
Hither the artless Indian maid
Brought wreaths of beads and flowers, And the grey chief and gifted seer Worshipped the God of thunders here. But now the wheat is green and high
On clods that hid the warrior's breast,
And scattered in the furrows lie
The weapons of his rest;
And there, in the loose sand is thrown
Of his large arm the mouldering bone.
Ah! little thought the strong and brave,
Who bore their lifeless chieftain forth,
Or the young wife, that weeping gave
Her first-born to the earth-
That the pale race, who waste us now,
Among their bones should guide the plough.
They waste us-ay, like April snow,
In the warm noon we shrink away;
And fast they follow, as we go
Towards the setting day-
Till they shall fill the land, and we
Are driven into the western sea.
But I behold a fearful sign,
To which the white men's eyes are blind;
Their race may vanish hence, like mine,
And leave no trace behind-
Save ruins o'er the region spread,
And the white stones above the dead.
Before these fields were shorn and tilled,
Full to the brim our rivers flowed;
The melody of waters filled
The fresh and boundless wood:
And torrents dashed, and rivulets played,
And fountains spouted in the shade.
Those grateful sounds are heard no more:
The springs are silent in the sun,
The rivers, by the blackened shore,
With lessening current run;
The realm our tribes are crushed to get
May be a barren desert yet.
The Spring is here-the delicate-footed May,
With its slight fingers full of leaves and flowers;
And with it comes a thirst to be away,
Wasting in wood-paths its voluptuous hours-
A feeling that is like a sense of wings,
Restless to soar above these perishing things.
We pass out from the city's feverish hum,
To find refreshment in the silent woods
And nature, that is beautiful and dumb,
Like a cool sleep upon the pulses broods.
Yet, even there, a restless thought will steal,
To teach the indolent heart it still must feel.
Strange, that the audible stillness of the noon,
The waters tripping with their silver feet,
The turning to the light of leaves in June,
And the light whisper as their edges meet-
Strange that they fill not, with their tranquil tone,
The spirit, walking in their midst alone.
There's no contentment, in a world like this,
Save in forgetting the immortal dream;
We may not gaze upon the stars of bliss,
That through the cloud-rifts radiantly stream; Bird-like, the prisoned soul will lift its eye And sing-till it is hooded from the sky.
TO THE ICE MOUNTAIN.—Rockwell.
Grave of waters gone to rest!
Jewel, dazzling all the main !
Father of the silver crest!
Wandering on the trackless plain,
Sleeping 'mid the wavy roar,
Sailing 'mid the angry storm,
Ploughing ocean's oozy floor,
Piling to the clouds thy form!
Wandering monument of rain,
Prison'd by the sullen north!
But to melt thy hated chain,
Is it that thou comest forth?
Wend thee to the sunny south,
To the glassy summer sea,