Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney Poems >>
Unspoken Language

LANGUAGE is slow. The mastery of wants
Doth teach it to the infant, drop by drop,
As brooklets gather.

Years of studious toil
Unfold its classic labyrinths to the boy;
Perchance its idioms and its sequences
May wear the shadow of the lifted rod,
And every rule of syntax leave its tear Its
For Memory's tablet.

He who would acquire
The speech of many lands, must make the lamp
His friend at midnight' while his fellows sleep,
Bartering to dusty lexicons and tomes
The hour-glass of his life.

Yet, there's a lore,
Simple and sure, that asks no discipline
Of weary years,--the language of the soul,
Told through the eye.

The mother speaks it well
To the unfolding spirit of her babe,
The lover to the lady of his heart
At the soft twilight hour,the parting soul
Unto the angels hovering o'er its couch,
With Heaven's high welcome.

Oft the stammering lip
Marreth the perfect thought, and the dull ear
Doth err in its more tortuous embassy;
But the heart's lightning hath no obstacle;
Quick glances, like the thrilling wires, transfuse
The telegraphic thought.

The wily tongue,
To achieve its purpose, may disguise itself,
Oft, 'neath a glozing mask; and written speech
Invoke the pomp of numbers to enrich
Its dialect; but this ambassador
From soul to sense may wear the plainest suit,--
Elm or hazel, azure-tint or gray,
It matters not: the signet-ring of truth
Doth give him credence.--

Once, old Ocean raged;
And a vex'd ship' by maddening waves impell'd,
Rush'd on the breakers. Mid the wild turmoil
Of rock and wave, the trumpet-clang, and tramp
Of hurrying seamen, and the fearful shock
With which the all-astonish'd mind resigns
The hope of life, a mother with her babe
Sate in the cabin. He was all to her,
The sole companion of her watery way,
And nestling towards her bosom, raised his face
Upward to hers.

Her raven hair fell down
In masses o'er her shoulders, while her eyes
Fix'd with such deep intensity, that his
Absorb'd their rays of thought, and seem'd to draw
The soul mature, with all its burdening cares,
Its wondrous knowledge, and mysterious strength,
Into his baby bosom.

Word nor sound
Pass'd 'tween that mother and her youngling child,
Too young to syllable the simplest name,--
And yet, methought, they interchanged a vow
Calmly beneath the unfathomable deep
Together to go down, and that her arm
Should closely clasp him mid its coral caves.
The peril pass'd; but the deep eloquence
Of that communion might not be forgot. ------

A youth and maiden' on the banks of Tweed,
Roved, mid the vernal flowers. At distance rose
The towers of Abbotsford, among the trees,
Which he, the great magician, who at will
Could summon "Spirits from the vasty deep,"
Had loved to plant.

Methought of him they spake,
Disporting in the fields of old romance
With Ivanhoe, or the proud knight who fell
At Flodden-field. Then, as the Sun drew low,
They sate them down, where the fresh heather grew,
Listing, perchance, the descant of the birds,
Or ripple of the Stream. The hazel eye
Of the young dweller 'neath the Eildon-Hills
Perused the fair one's brow' till o'er it stole
A deeper colouring than the rose-leaf tinge.
Of some unutter'd dialect did seem
Well understood by them. And so they rose,
And went their way.

There was a crowded kirk,
But not for Sabbath worship. With the train
Was more of mirth than might, perchance, beseem
Such sacred pIace. Wreaths too there were, and knots
Of marriage-favour, and a group that prest
Before the altar. And the trembling lip
Of that young white-robed bride, murmuring the vow
To love till death should part, interpreted
That strong and voiceless language of the eye
Upon the banks of Tweed.<

I had a friend
Beloved in halcyon days, whom stern disease
Smote ere her prime.

In curtain'd room she dwelt,
A lingerer, while each waning moon convey'd
Some treasured leaflet of our hope away.
The power that with the tissued lungs doth dwell,
Sweetly to wake the modulating lip,
Was broken,--but the violet-tinctured eye
Acquired new pathos.

When the life-tide crept
Cold through its channels, o'er her couch I bent.
There was no sound. But in the upraised glance
Her loving heart held converse, as with forms
Not of this outer world. Unearthly smiles
Gave earnest beauty to the pallid brow;
While ever and anon the emaciate hand
Spread its white fingers, as it fain would clasp
Some object hovering near.

The last faint tone
Was a fond sister's name, one o'er whose grave
The turf of years had gather'd. Was she there,--
That disembodied dear one? Did she give
The kiss of welcome to the occupant
Of her own infant cradle ?

So 'twould seem.
But that fix'd eye no further answer deign'd,
Its earthly mission o'er. Henceforth it spake
The spirit-lore of immortality.