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They dart across my path, — but lo,
Each ready with a plaintive whine !
Said I, “ Not half an hour ago
Your Mother has had alms of mine."
“That cannot be,” one answered, “she is dead”:
I looked reproof, — they saw, -
but neither hung his head.
“She has been dead, Sir, many a day.”. “Hush, boys ! you 're telling me a lie; It was your Mother, as I say !” And, in the twinkling of an eye, “Come! come!” cried one, and, without more ado, Off to some other play the joyous Vagrants flew !
COMPOSED MANY YEARS AFTER.
WHERE are they now, those wanton Boys?
For whose free range the dædal earth
Was filled with animated toys,
And implements of frolic mirth;
With tools for ready wit to guide ;
And ornaments of seemlier pride,
More fresh, more bright, than princes wear;
For what one moment flung aside,
Another could repair:
What good or evil have they seen
Since I their pastime witnessed here,
Their daring wiles, their sportive cheer?
I ask, – but all is dark between!
They met me in a genial hour,
When universal nature breathed
As with the breath of one sweet flower, -
A time to overrule the
Of discontent, and check the birth
Of thoughts with better thoughts at strife,
The most familiar bane of life
Since parting Innocence bequeathed
Mortality to Earth!
Soft clouds, the whitest of the year,
Sailed through the sky; the brooks ran clear;
The lambs from rock to rock were bounding;
With songs the budded groves resounding;
And to my heart are still endeared
The thoughts with which it then was cheered;
The faith which saw that gladsome pair
Walk through the fire with unsinged hair.
Or, if such faith must needs deceive,
Then, Spirits of beauty and of grace,
Associates in that eager chase, -
Ye who within the blameless mind
Your favorite seat of empire find,
Kind Spirits ! may we not believe
That they, so happy and so fair
Through your sweet influence, and the care
Of pitying Heaven, at least were free
From touch of deadly injury?
Destined, whate'er their earthly doom,
For mercy and immortal bloom ?
Yet are they here, the same unbroken knot
Of human beings, in the selfsame spot!
Men, women, children, yea, the frame
Of the whole spectacle the same!
Only their fire seems bolder, yielding light,
Now deep and red, the coloring of night,
That on their Gypsy faces falls,
Their bed of straw and blanket-walls. Twelve hours, twelve bounteous hours are gone,
while I Have been a traveller under open sky,
Much witnessing of change and cheer,
Yet as I left I find them here!
The weary Sun betook himself to rest ;
Then issued Vesper from the fulgent west,
Outshining like a visible God
The glorious path in which he trod.
ascending, after one dark hour And one night's diminution of her power,
Behold the mighty Moon ! this way
She looks as if at them, — but they Regard not her. O better wrong and strife (By nature transient) than this torpid life,
Lite which the very stars reprove,
As on their silent tasks they move!
Yet, witness all that stirs in heaven or earth!
In scorn I speak not ; - they are what their birth
And breeding suffer them to be ;
Wild outcasts of society!
WHEN Ruth was left half desolate,
Her Father took another Mate;
And Ruth, not seven years old,
A slighted child, at her own will
Went wandering over dale and hill,
In thoughtless freedom, bold.
And she had made a pipe of straw,
And music from that pipe could draw
Like sounds of winds and floods;
Had built a bower
green, As if she from her birth had been An infant of the woods.
Beneath her father's roof, alone
She seemed to live; her thoughts her own ;
Herself her own delight;
Pleased with herself, nor sad, nor gay;
And, passing thus the livelong day,
She grew to woman's height.
There came a Youth from Georgia's shore,—
A military casque he wore,
With splendid feathers drest;
He brought them from the Cherokees;
The feathers nodded in the breeze,
And made a gallant crest.
From Indian blood you deem him sprung:
But no! he spake the English tongue,
And bore a soldier's name;
And, when America was free
From battle and from jeopardy,
He 'cross the ocean came.
With hues of genius on his cheek,
In finest tones the Youth could speak :
- While he was yet a boy,