Mattie Griffith Browne Poems >>
The Student

ALONE he sat. His broad and lofty brow
Was bent upon his thin, pale hand; his locks
Of jet hung o'er it with a darkened shade;
His black and glistening eye gleamed with some deep
And sad and earnest thought; his cheek was white--
White as the Parian stone; his quivering lip
Was blanched to Death's own hue; and the blue veins
That branched along his temples seemed to throb
With the strong spirit's fever.

All alone,
In the dim twilight's calm and solemn hour,
He sat and mused upon his far-off home,
His happy childhood's faded years, and all
The beauty and the glory that had passed
With them for evermore. He sadly thought
Of his sweet sister, with her golden hair
Streaming and waving on the morning wind--
His bold young brother sporting at his side,
With a free shout, as joyous as the sound
Of bright, glad waters, leaping to the sheen
Of early Spring--his mother's gentle kiss,
Her sad, sweet smile, her holy words of love--
His gray-haired father's fervent blessing, breathed
With quivering lip, at the last parting hour,
When his own tears fell like the Summer rain--
And her, the dearer still, whose soft, blue eye,
Through dark and gloomy years, had been to him
The day-star of his being. Ay, he thought
Of these, all sleeping in the church-yard now,
And 'mid his mournful musings he forgot
The world, his many triumphs, and his wild
And maddening love of fame, that in the dim
And distant future might make melody,
Dear melody for his now lonely ear;
And then he bowed his strong and lofty heart,
And, 'mid his sad and holy memories, wept
His stern, dark pride away.

From his deep trance--
His long, deep trance of memory, love and grief--
He started up, and clenching his pale hands
In strong resolve, he raised his eyes to Heaven,
And moved his thin and bloodless lips, and vowed
To win a name a nation should adore--
To write it on the broad and glorious scroll
Of living greatness. Then, as o'er his heart
The vision stole with bright and burning power,
That would not be controlled, he smiled, and quelled
The rushing tide of passion's flood, and pressed
The one bright picture to his breast--the dear,
Prized picture of his future glory.

Among the foremost of his country's sons
That student stands. The wild and stormy souls
Of multitudes bow to his master-will,
Even as the sheaves the dreaming patriarch saw
Bow to the master sheaf. Each lightning flash
Of his sublime and glorious intellect
Is followed by the long, loud thunder-peal
Of popular acclaim. Lone and bereft
In heart, he sways a mighty people's hearts,
And moves majestic in his pride of place,
Lord of the realm's applause. Ah, little know
The idolizing world the bitter throes
That rend his soul, the weary woe he bears
Without a word or sign. His power and fame
Are all they know or seek to know. No eye
Save God's may see him in his solitude,
When, 'mid the holy stillness of the night,
He turns from all life's glittering pomp away,
And weeps and sobs, ay, like a very child.