Heart and Hearth

WE sat and watched the hearth-fire blaze,
My friend and I together;
The crickets sang of harvest-days,
The wood of summer weather.
It told of shade, of storm and sun,
Its native Oakland story ;
To him it only spake of one
Who turned all gloom to glory.
The cricket carolled still of noon,
Bright with the sun’s caresses ;
To him it called a form like June,
Aflush with golden tresses.
Within the flame a spirit seemed To soar and sway and falter,
While in his heart a presence beamed More steadfast on its altar.
The embers, in their ashen bed,
Looked out with transient flashes ;
He only saw sweet eyes that shed
Their rays through twilight lashes.
O’er stubbled fields the autumn wailed,
In low and mournful closes;
He only heard a song that sailed O’er charmed realms of roses.
His eyes, once lit with battle-ire,
Aflame with warrior science,
Forgot their fierce, controlling fire,
Their flashes of defiance ;
But with a dreamy love-light blest,
More luminous grew and tender,
As if the image in his breast Had lit them with its splendor.
The voice that once his ardor proved,
Along the roaring column,
Now to mysterious measures moved Subdued, serenely solemn.
He named her, — and the soft words came In musical completeness,
As if the breathing of that name Had touched his lips with sweetness.
We grow like what we contemplate, —
And all his face was laden With light, as it would emulate The brightness of the maiden.
The moon, full blown to lily-white,
Looked in, with love-lorn pallor;
She knew his frame forgot its might,
His will forgot its valor.
She kissed his brow and smoothed his hair,
Like a consoling mother,
And whispered, “ I too only wear The brightness of another.
“ Like Ruth, I walk his broad domain,
And wait his lordly gesture; I glean his light, but reach in vain To touch his princely vesture.”
With many a sympathetic guest,
The air hung, star-beleaguered,
When lo ! to her who filled his breast,
Pale Dian stood transfigured.
She smiled on her Endymion,
And charmed his dreamy vision,
And all his soul new glory won Before the sweet transition.
The vision fled, — my friend was gone,
And left me idly gazing ;
But in the hearth-light I was shown A future altar blazing.