By Fitz-Greene Halleck
(1790 - 1867)
 
 
Alnwick Castle
 
 
HOME of the Percys’ high-born race,
  Home of their beautiful and brave,
Alike their birth and burial-place,
  Their cradle and their grave!
Still sternly o’er the castle gate
Their house’s Lion stands in state,
  As in his proud departed hours;
And warriors frown in stone on high,
And feudal banners flout the sky
  Above his princely towers.
 
A gentle hill its side inclines,
  Lovely in England’s fadeless green,
To meet the quiet stream which winds
  Through this romantic scene
As silently and sweetly still,
As when at evening on that hill,
  While summer’s wind blew soft and low,
Seated by gallant Hotspur’s side,
His Katherine was a happy bride
  A thousand years ago.
 
Gaze on the Abbey’s ruined pile:
  Does not the succoring ivy, keeping
Her watch around it, seem to smile,
  As o’er a loved one sleeping?
One solitary turret gray
  Still tells, in melancholy glory,
The legend of the Cheviot day,
  The Percys’ proudest border story.
That day its roof was triumph’s arch;
  Then rang from isle to pictured dome
The light step of the soldier’s march,
  The music of the trump and drum;
And babe and sire, the old, the young,
And the monk’s hymn and minstrel’s song,
And woman’s pure kiss, sweet and long,
  Welcomed her warrior home.
 
Wild roses by the Abbey towers
  Are gay in their young bud and bloom;
They were born of a race of funeral-flowers
That garlanded, in long-gone hours,
  A templar’s knightly tomb.
He died, the sword in his mailed hand,
On the holiest spot of the Blessed land,
  Where the Cross was damped with his dying breath,
When blood ran free as festal wine,
And the sainted air of Palestine
  Was thick with the darts of death.
 
Wise with the lore of centuries,
What tales, if there “be tongues in trees,”
  Those giant oaks could tell,
Of beings born and buried here;
Tales of the peasant and the peer,
Tales of the bridal and the bier,
  The welcome and farewell,
Since on their boughs the startled bird
First, in her twilight slumbers, heard
  The Norman’s curfew-bell!
 
I wandered through the lofty halls
  Trod by the Percys of old fame,
And traced upon the chapel walls
  Each high heroic name,—
From him who once his standard set
Where now, o’er mosque and minaret,
  Glitter the Sultan’s crescent moons,
To him who, when a younger son,
Fought for King George at Lexington,
  A major of dragoons.
 
That last half stanza—it has dashed
  From my warm lips the sparkling cup;
The light that o’er my eyebeam flashed,
  The power that bore my spirit up
Above this bank-note world—is gone;
And Alnwick ’s but a market town,
And this, alas! its market day,
And beasts and borderers throng the way;
Oxen and bleating lambs in lots,
Northumbrian boors and plaided Scots,
  Men in the coal and cattle line;
From Teviot’s bard and hero land,
From royal Berwick’s beach of sand,
From Wooller, Morpeth, Hexham, and
  Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
 
These are not the romantic times
So beautiful in Spenser’s rhymes,
  So dazzling to the dreaming boy:
Ours are the days of fact, not fable,
Of knights, but not of the round table,
  Of Bailie Jarvie, not Rob Roy:
’T is what “our President” Monroe
  Has called “the era of good feeling”:
The Highlander, the bitterest foe
To modern laws, has felt their blow,
Consented to be taxed, and vote,
And put on pantaloons and coat,
  And leave off cattle-stealing:
Lord Stafford mines for coal and salt,
The Duke of Norfolk deals in malt,
  The Douglas in red herrings;
And noble name and cultured land,
Palace, and park, and vassal-band,
Are powerless to the notes of hand
  Of Rothschild or the Barings.
 
The age of bargaining, said Burke,
Has come: to-day the turbaned Turk
(Sleep, Richard of the lion heart!
Sleep on, nor from your cerements start)
  Is England’s friend and fast ally;
The Moslem tramples on the Greek,
  And on the Cross and altar-stone,
  And Christendom looks tamely on,
And hears the Christian maiden shriek,
  And sees the Christian father die;
And not a sabre-blow is given
For Greece and fame, for faith and heaven,
  By Europe’s craven chivalry.
 
You ’ll ask if yet the Percy lives
  In the armed pomp of feudal state?
The present representatives
  Of Hotspur and his “gentle Kate”
Are some half-dozen serving-men
In the drab coat of William Penn;
  A chambermaid, whose lip and eye,
And cheek, and brown hair, bright and curling,
  Spoke Nature’s aristocracy;
And one, half groom, half seneschal,
Who bowed me through court, bower, and hall,
From donjon-keep to turret wall,
For ten-and-sixpence sterling.
 
 
Burns
 
To a Rose Brought from Near Alloway Kirk, in Ayrshire, in the Autumn of 1822
 
 
WILD Rose of Alloway! my thanks;
  Thou ’mindst me of that autumn noon
When first we met upon “the banks
  And braes of bonny Doon.”
 
Like thine, beneath the thorn-tree’s bough,
  My sunny hour was glad and brief;
We ’ve crossed the winter sea, and thou
  Art withered—flower and leaf.
 
And will not thy death-doom be mine—
  The doom of all things wrought of clay—
And withered my life’s leaf like thine,
  Wild rose of Alloway?
 
Not so his memory,—for his sake
  My bosom bore thee far and long,
His—who a humbler flower could make
  Immortal as his song.
 
The memory of Burns—a name
  That calls, when brimmed her festal cup,
A nation’s glory and her shame,
  In silent sadness up.
 
A nation’s glory—be the rest
  Forgot—she ’s canonized his mind;
And it is joy to speak the best
  We may of human kind.
 
I ’ve stood beside the cottage-bed
  Where the Bard-peasant first drew breath;
A straw-thatched roof above his head,
  A straw-wrought couch beneath.
 
And I have stood beside the pile,
  His monument—that tells to Heaven
The homage of earth’s proudest isle
  To that Bard-peasant given!
 
Bid thy thoughts hover o’er that spot,
  Boy-minstrel, in thy dreaming hour;
And know, however low his lot,
  A Poet’s pride and power:
 
The pride that lifted Burns from earth,
  The power that gave a child of song
Ascendency o’er rank and birth,
  The rich, the brave, the strong;
 
And if despondency weigh down
  Thy spirit’s fluttering pinions then,
Despair—thy name is written on
  The roll of common men.
 
There have been loftier themes than his,
  And longer scrolls, and louder lyres,
And lays lit up with Poesy’s
  Purer and holier fires:
 
Yet read the names that know not death;
  Few nobler ones than Burns are there;
And few have won a greener wreath
  Than that which binds his hair.
 
His is that language of the heart,
  In which the answering heart would speak,—
Thought, word, that bids the warm tear start,
  Or the smile light the cheek;
 
And his that music, to whose tone
  The common pulse of man keeps time,
In cot or castle’s mirth or moan,
  In cold or sunny clime.
 
And who hath heard his song, nor knelt
  Before its spell with willing knee,
And listened, and believed, and felt
  The Poet’s mastery
 
O’er the mind’s sea, in calm and storm,
  O’er the heart’s sunshine and its showers,
O’er Passion’s moments bright and warm,
  O’er Reason’s dark, cold hours;
 
On fields where brave men “die or do,”
  In halls where rings the banquet’s mirth,
Where mourners weep, where lovers woo,
  From throne to cottage-hearth?
 
What sweet tears dim the eye unshed,
  What wild vows falter on the tongue,
When “Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,”
  Or “Auld Lang Syne” is sung!
 
Pure hopes, that lift the soul above,
  Come with his Cotter’s hymn of praise,
And dreams of youth, and truth, and love,
  With “Logan’s” banks and braes.
 
And when he breathes his master-lay
  Of Alloway’s witch-haunted wall,
All passions in our frames of clay
  Come thronging at his call.
 
Imagination’s world of air,
  And our own world, its gloom and glee,
Wit, pathos, poetry, are there,
  And death’s sublimity.
 
And Burns—though brief the race he ran,
  Though rough and dark the path he trod,
Lived—died—in form and soul a Man,
  The image of his God.
 
Through care, and pain, and want, and woe,
  With wounds that only death could heal,
Tortures—the poor alone can know,
  The proud alone can feel;
 
He kept his honesty and truth,
  His independent tongue and pen,
And moved, in manhood as in youth,
  Pride of his fellow-men.
 
Strong sense, deep feeling, passions strong,
  A hate of tyrant and of knave,
A love of right, a scorn of wrong,
  Of coward and of slave;
 
A kind, true heart, a spirit high,
  That could not fear and would not bow,
Were written in his manly eye
  And on his manly brow.
 
Praise to the bard! his words are driven,
  Like flower-seeds by the far winds sown,
Where’er, beneath the sky of heaven,
  The birds of fame have flown.
 
Praise to the man! a nation stood
  Beside his coffin with wet eyes,
Her brave, her beautiful, her good,
  As when a loved one dies.
 
And still, as on his funeral-day,
  Men stand his cold earth-couch around,
With the mute homage that we pay
  To consecrated ground.
 
And consecrated ground it is,
  The last, the hallowed home of one
Who lives upon all memories,
  Though with the buried gone.
 
Such graves as his are pilgrim-shrines,
  Shrines to no code nor creed confined—
The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
  The Meccas of the mind.
 
Sages with wisdom’s garland wreathed,
  Crowned kings, and mitred priests of power,
And warriors with their bright swords sheathed,
  The mightiest of the hour;
 
And lowlier names, whose humble home
  Is lit by fortune’s dimmer star,
Are there—o’er wave and mountain come,
  From countries near and far;
 
Pilgrims whose wandering feet have pressed
  The Switzer’s snow, the Arab’s sand,
Or trod the piled leaves of the West,
  My own green forest-land.
 
All ask the cottage of his birth,
  Gaze on the scenes he loved and sung,
And gather feelings not of earth
  His fields and streams among.
 
They linger by the Doon’s low trees,
  And pastoral Nith, and wooded Ayr,
And round thy sepulchres, Dumfries!
  The poet’s tomb is there.
 
But what to them the sculptor’s art,
  His funeral columns, wreaths and urns?
Wear they not graven on the heart
  The name of Robert Burns?
 
 
Marco Bozzaris
 
 
AT midnight, in his guarded tent,
  The Turk was dreaming of the hour
When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent,
  Should tremble at his power:
In dreams, through camp and court, he bore
The trophies of a conqueror;
  In dreams his song of triumph heard;
Then wore his monarch’s signet ring:
Then pressed that monarch’s throne—a king;
As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing,
  As Eden’s garden bird.
 
At midnight, in the forest shades,
  Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,
True as the steel of their tried blades,
  Heroes in heart and hand.
There had the Persian’s thousands stood,
There had the glad earth drunk their blood
  On old Platæa’s day;
And now there breathed that haunted air
The sons of sires who conquered there,
With arm to strike and soul to dare,
  As quick, as far as they.
 
An hour passed on—the Turk awoke;
  That bright dream was his last;
He woke—to hear his sentries shriek,
“To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!”
He woke—to die midst flame, and smoke,
And shout, and groan, and sabre-stroke,
  And death-shots falling thick and fast
As lightnings from the mountain-cloud;
And heard, with voice as trumpet loud,
  Bozzaris cheer his band:
“Strike—till the last armed foe expires;
Strike—for your altars and your fires;
Strike—for the green graves of your sires;
  God—and your native land!”
 
They fought—like brave men, long and well;
  They piled that ground with Moslem slain,
They conquered—but Bozzaris fell,
  Bleeding at every vein.
His few surviving comrades saw
His smile when rang their proud hurrah,
  And the red field was won;
Then saw in death his eyelids close
Calmly, as to a night’s repose,
  Like flowers at set of sun.
 
Come to the bridal-chamber, Death!
  Come to the mother’s, when she feels,
For the first time, her first-born’s breath;
  Come when the blessed seals
That close the pestilence are broke,
And crowded cities wail its stroke;
Come in consumption’s ghastly form,
The earthquake shock, the ocean storm;
Come when the heart beats high and warm
  With banquet-song, and dance, and wine;
And thou art terrible—the tear,
The groan, the knell, the pall, the bier,
And all we know, or dream, or fear
  Of agony are thine.
 
But to the hero, when his sword
  Has won the battle for the free,
Thy voice sounds like a prophet’s word;
And in its hollow tones are heard
  The thanks of millions yet to be.
Come, when his task of fame is wrought—
Come, with her laurel-leaf, blood-bought—
  Come in her crowning hour—and then
Thy sunken eye’s unearthly light
To him is welcome as the sight
  Of sky and stars to prisoned men;
Thy grasp is welcome as the hand
Of brother in a foreign land;
Thy summons welcome as the cry
That told the Indian isles were nigh
  To the world-seeking Genoese,
When the land wind, from woods of palm,
And orange-groves, and fields of balm,
  Blew o’er the Haytian seas.
 
Bozzaris! with the storied brave
  Greece nurtured in her glory’s time,
Rest thee—there is no prouder grave,
  Even in her own proud clime.
She wore no funeral-weeds for thee,
  Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume
Like torn branch from death’s leafless tree
In sorrow’s pomp and pageantry,
  The heartless luxury of the tomb;
But she remembers thee as one
Long loved and for a season gone;
For thee her poet’s lyre is wreathed,
Her marble wrought, her music breathed;
For thee she rings the birthday bells;
Of thee her babe’s first lisping tells;
For thine her evening prayer is said
At palace-couch and cottage-bed;
Her soldier, closing with the foe,
Gives for thy sake a deadlier blow;
His plighted maiden, when she fears
For him the joy of her young years,
Thinks of thy fate, and checks her tears;
  And she, the mother of thy boys,
Though in her eye and faded cheek
Is read the grief she will not speak,
  The memory of her buried joys,
And even she who gave thee birth,
Will, by their pilgrim-circled hearth,
  Talk of thy doom without a sigh;
For thou art Freedom’s now, and Fame’s:
One of the few, the immortal names,
  That were not born to die.
 
 
On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake
 
 
GREEN be the turf above thee,
  Friend of my better days!
None knew thee but to love thee,
  Nor named thee but to praise.
 
Tears fell when thou wert dying,
  From eyes unused to weep,
And long, where thou art lying,
  Will tears the cold turf steep.
 
When hearts, whose truth was proven,
  Like thine, are laid in earth,
There should a wreath be woven
  To tell the world their worth;
 
And I who woke each morrow
  To clasp thy hand in mine,
Who shared thy joy and sorrow,
  Whose weal and woe were thine;
 
It should be mine to braid it
  Around thy faded brow,
But I ’ve in vain essayed it,
  And feel I cannot now.
 
While memory bids me weep thee,
  Nor thoughts nor words are free,—
The grief is fixed too deeply
  That mourns a man like thee.
 
 
Red Jacket
 
 
COOPER, whose name is with his country’s woven,
  First in her files, her PIONEER of mind—
A wanderer now in other climes, has proven
  His love for the young land he left behind;
 
And throned her in the senate-hall of nations,
  Robed like the deluge rainbow, heaven-wrought;
Magnificent as his own mind’s creations,
  And beautiful as its green world of thought:
 
And, faithful to the Act of Congress, quoted
  As law authority, it passed nem. con.,
He writes that we are, as ourselves have voted,
  The most enlightened people ever known;
 
That all our week is happy as a Sunday
  In Paris, full of song, and dance, and laugh;
And that, from Orleans to the Bay of Fundy,
  There ’s not a bailiff or an epitaph;
 
And furthermore—in fifty years, or sooner,
  We shall export our poetry and wine;
And our brave fleet, eight frigates and a schooner,
  Will sweep the seas from Zembla to the Line.
 
If he were with me, King of Tuscarora!
  Gazing, as I, upon thy portrait now,
In all its medalled, fringed, and beaded glory,
  Its eye’s dark beauty, and its thoughtful brow—
 
Its brow, half martial and half diplomatic,
  Its eye upsoaring like an eagle’s wings—
Well might he boast that we, the Democratic,
  Outrival Europe, even in our kings!
 
For thou wast monarch born. Tradition’s pages
  Tell not the planting of thy parent tree,
But that the forest tribes have bent for ages
  To thee, and to thy sires, the subject knee.
 
Thy name is princely—if no poet’s magic
  Could make RED JACKET grace an English rhyme,
Though some one with a genius for the tragic
  Hath introduced it in a pantomime—
 
Yet it is music in the language spoken
  Of thine ownland, and on her herald-roll;
As bravely fought for, and as proud a token
  As Cœur de Lion’s of a warrior’s soul.
 
Thy garb—though Austria’s bosom-star would frighten
  That medal pale, as diamonds the dark mine,
And George the Fourth wore, at his court at Brighton,
  A more becoming evening dress than thine;
 
Yet ’t is a brave one, scorning wind and weather
  And fitted for thy couch, on field and flood,
As Rob Roy’s tartan for the Highland heather,
  Or forest green for England’s Robin Hood.
 
Is strength a monarch’s merit, like a whaler’s?
  Thou art as tall, as sinewy, and as strong
As earth’s first kings—the Argo’s gallant sailors,
  Heroes in history and gods in song.
 
Is beauty?—Thine has with thy youth departed;
  But the love-legends of thy manhood’s years,
And she who perished, young and broken-hearted,
  Are—but I rhyme for smiles and not for tears.
 
Is eloquence?—Her spell is thine that reaches
  The heart, and makes the wisest head its sport;
And there ’s one rare, strange virtue in thy speeches,
  The secret of their mastery—they are short.
 
The monarch mind, the mystery of commanding,
  The birth-hour gift, the art Napoleon,
Of winning, fettering, moulding, wielding, banding
  The hearts of millions till they move as one:
 
Thou hast it. At thy bidding men have crowded
  The road to death as to a festival;
And minstrels, at their sepulchres, have shrouded
  With banner-folds of glory the dark pall.
 
Who will believe? Not I—for in deceiving
  Lies the dear charm of life’s delightful dream;
I cannot spare the luxury of believing
  That all things beautiful are what they seem;
 
Who will believe that, with a smile whose blessing
  Would, like the Patriarch’s, soothe a dying hour,
With voice as low, as gentle, and caressing,
  As e’er won maiden’s lip in moonlit bower;
 
With look like patient Job’s eschewing evil;
  With motions graceful as a bird’s in air;
Thou art, in sober truth, the veriest devil
  That e’er clinched fingers in a captive’s hair!
 
That in thy breast there springs a poison fountain
  Deadlier than that where bathes the Upas-tree;
And in thy wrath a nursing cat-o’-mountain
  Is calm as her babe’s sleep compared with thee!
 
And underneath that face, like summer ocean’s,
  Its lip as moveless, and its cheek as clear,
Slumbers a whirlwind of the heart’s emotions,
  Love, hatred, pride, hope, sorrow—all save fear.
 
Love—for thy land, as if she were thy daughter,
  Her pipe in peace, her tomahawk in wars;
Hatred—of missionaries and cold water;
  Pride—in thy rifle-trophies and thy scars;
 
Hope—that thy wrongs may be by the Great Spirit
  Remembered and revenged when thou art gone;
Sorrow—that none are left thee to inherit
  Thy name, thy fame, thy passions, and thy throne!
 
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