Paul Hamilton Hayne Poems >>
THE pine-trees lift their dark bewildered eyes--
Or so I deem--up to the clouded skies;
No breeze, no faintest breeze, is heard to blow:
In wizard silence falls the windless snow.
It falls in breezeless quiet, strangely still;
'Scapes the dulled pane, but loads the sheltering sill.
With curious hand the fleecy flakes I mould,
And draw them inward, rounded, from the cold.
The glittering ball that chills my fingertips
I hold a moment's space to loving lips;
For from the northward these pure snow-flakes came,
And to my touch their coldness thrills like flame.
Outbreathed from luminous memories nursed apart,
Deep in the veiled adytum of the heart,
The type of Norland dearth such snows may be:
They bring the soul of summer's warmth to me.
Beholding them, in magical light expands
The changeful charm that crowns the northern lands,
And a fair past I deemed a glory fled
Comes back, with happy sunshine round its head.
For Ariel fancy takes her airiest flights
To pass once more o'er Hampshire's mountain heights,
To view the flower-bright pastures bloom in grace
By many a lowering hill-side's swarthy base;
The fruitful farms, the enchanted vales, to view,
And the coy mountain lakes' transcendent blue,
Or flash of sea-waves up the thunderous dune,
With wan sails whitening in the midnight moon;
The cataract front of storm, malignly rife
With deathless instincts of demoniac strife,
Or, in shy contrast, down a shaded dell,
The rivulet tinkling like an Alpine bell;
And many a cool, calm stretch of cultured lawn,
Touched by the freshness of the crystal dawn,
Sloped to the sea, whose laughing waters meet
About the unrobed virgin's rosy feet.
But, tireless fancy, stay the wing that roams,
And fold it last near northern hearts and homes.
These tropic veins still own their kindred heat,
And thoughts of thee, my cherished South, are sweet--
Mournfully sweet--and wed to memories vast,
High-hovering still o'er thy majestic past.
But a new epoch greets us; with it blends
The voice of ancient foes now changed to friends.
Ah! who would friendship's outstretched hand despise,
Or mock the kindling light in generous eyes?
So, 'neath the Quaker-poet's tranquil roof,
From all dull discords of the world aloof,
I sit once more, and measured converse hold
With him whose nobler thoughts are rhythmic gold;
See his deep brows half puckered in a knot
O'er some hard problem of our mortal lot,
Or a dream soft as May winds of the south
Waft a girl's sweetness round his firm-set mouth.
Or should he deem wrong threats the public weal,
Lo! the whole man seems girt with flashing steel;
His glance a sword thrust, and his words of ire
Like thunder-tones from some old prophet's lyre.
Or by the hearth-stone when the day is done,
Mark, swiftly launched, a sudden shaft of fun;
The short quick laugh, the smartly smitten knees,
And all sure tokens of a mind at ease.
Discerning which, by some mysterious law,
Near to his seat two household favorites draw,
Till on her master's shoulders, sly and sleek,
Grimalkin, mounting, rubs his furrowed cheek;
While terrier Dick, denied all words to rail,
Snarls as he shakes a short protesting tail,
But with shrewd eyes says, plain as plain can be,
"Drop that sly cat. I'm worthier far than she."
And he who loves all lowliest lives to please,
Conciliates soon his dumb Diogenes,
Who in return his garment nips with care,
And drags the poet out, to take the air.
God's innocent pensioners in the woodlands dim,
The fields and pastures, know and trust in him;
And in their love his lonely heart is blessed,
Our pure, hale-minded Cowper of the West!
. . . . .
The scene is changed; and now I stand again
By one, the cordial prince of kindly men,
Courtly yet natural, comrade meet for kings,
But fond of homeliest thoughts and homeliest things.
A poet too, in whose warm brain and breast
What birds of song have filled a golden nest,
Till in song's summer prime their wings unfurled,
Have made Arcadian half the listening world,
Around whose eve some radiant grace of morn
Smiles like the dew-light on a mountain thorn.
Blithely he bears Time's envious load to-day:
Ah! the green heart o'ertops the head of gray.
Alert as youth, with vivid, various talk
He wiles the way through grove and garden walk,
Fair flowers untrained, trees fraught with wedded doves,
Past the cool copse and willowy glade he loves.
Here gleams innocuous of a mirthful mood
Pulse like mild fire-flies down a dusky wood,
Or keener speech (his leonine head unbowed)
Speeds lightning-clear from thought's o'ershadowing cloud.
O deep blue eyes! O voice as woman's low!
O firm white hand, with kindliest warmth aglow!
O manly form, and frank, sweet, courteous mien,
Reflex of museful days and nights serene!
Still are ye near me, vivid, actual still,
Here in my lonely fastness on the hill;
Nor call ye wane till cold my life-blood flows,
And fancy fades in feeling's last repose.
What! snowing yet? The landscape waxes pale;
Round the mute heaven there hangs a quivering veil,
Through whose frail woof like silent shuttles go
The glancing glamours of the glittering snow.
Yes, falling still, while fond remembrance stirs
In these wan-faced, unwonted messengers.
Dumb storm! outpour your arctic heart's desire!
Your flakes to me seem flushed with fairy fire!
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Based on Keywords: cowper, scapes, norland, breezeless, innocuous, pensioners, museful, leonine, diogenes, homeliest, ertops