Threnody

[Among the unprinted papers of the author of “Charles Auchester” and “Counterparts” was found this poem, addressed to a father on the death of a favorite son, whose noble disposition and intellectual gifts were all enlisted on the side of suffering humanity.]

O MOURNER by the ever-mourning deep,
Full as the sea of tears! imperial heart,
King in thy sorrow over all who weep!
O wrestler with the darkness set apart
In clouds of woe whose lightnings are the throb
Of thy fast-flashing pulses ! pause to hear
The lullabies of many an alien sob,
A storm of alien sighs, — so far ! so near !
Oh that our vigils with thy gentle dead
Could charm thee from thy night-long agonies,
Could steep thy brain in slumber mild, and shed
Elysian dreams upon thy closing eyes !
In vain ! all vain ! — ’t is yet the feast of tears ;
Sorrow for sorrow is the only spell ;
Nor wanders yet to melt in unspent years
The wringing murmur of our fresh farewell!
Thousands bereft strew wide the ashes dim;
Rich hearts, poor hands, the lovely, the unlearned,
Bemoan the angel of the age in him,
A star unto its starlight strength returned.
The City of Delights hath lost its gem,
The Sea the changeful glance so like its own,
Genius the darling of her diadem,
Whose smile made moonlight round her awful throne.
Those elfin steps their music moves no more
Beneath light domes to tune the festal train,
Nor at the moony eves along the shore
To brim with fairy forms that wizard brain.
Cold rocks, wild winds, and ever-changing waves,
Sad rains that fret the sea and drown the day,
We hail, — well pleased that stricken Autumn raves,
Though not with Winter shall our griefs decay.
On lurid mornings, when the lustrous sea
Is violet-shadowed from the warm blue air,
When the dark grasses brighten over thee,
And the winged sunbeams flutter golden there,—
Then to the wild green slope, thy chosen rest,
The blossoms of our spirits we will bring,
(Again a babe upon thy mother's breast,
An infant seed of the eternal Spring,) —
Thoughts bright and dark as violets in their dew,
Unfading memories of a smile more sweet
Than perfume of pale roses, hopes that strew
Ethereal lilies on those silent feet.
The ghost of Pain haunts not that garden-land
Where Passion’s phantom is so softly laid;
But Charity beside that earth doth stand,
Most lovely left of all, thy sister-shade.
Her baby-loves like trembling snowdrops lean
Above thy calm hands and thy quiet head,
When morn is fair, or noonday’s glory keen
Or the white star-fire glistens on thy bed.
Her eyes of heaven upon thy slumbers brood,
Her watch is o’er thy pillow, and her breath
Tells every breeze that stirs thy solitude
How thou didst earn that rest on earth called Death, —
Earned in such quickening youth and brilliant years !
For us too early, not too soon for thee ! —
So may we rest, when Death shall dry our tears,
Till everlasting Morning makes us free !