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Ah! how often beneath this oak, returning from labor,
Thou hast lain down to rest, and to dream of me in thy
slumbers. When shall these eyes behold, these arms be folded about
thee?” Loud and sudden and near the note of a whippoorwill
sounded, Like a Nute in the woods; and anon, through the neighbor
ing thickets, Farther and farther away it floated and dropped into silence. “Patience!” whispered the oaks from oracular caverns of
darkness; And, from the moonlit meadow, a sigh responded, “Tomorrow!"
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
Our bugles sang truce,-for the night-cloud had lowered,
And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky; And thousands had sunk on the ground overpowered, The
weary to sleep, and the wounded to die.
When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain; At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.
Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,
Far, far I had roamed on a desolate track: 'Twas autumn,—and sunshine arose on the way
To the home of my fathers, that welcomed me back.
I flew to the pleasant fields traversed so oft
In life's morning march, when my bosom was young; I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.
Then pledged we the wine-cup; and fondly I swore,
home and my weeping friends never to part; My
little kissed me a thousand times o’er, And
wife sobbed aloud in her fullness of heart.
“Stay, stay with us,-rest, thou art weary and worn ”;
And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay;-But sorrow returned with the dawning of morn,
And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.
The road was lone; the grass was dank
With night-dews on the briery bank
Whereon a weary reaper sank.
His garb was old; his visage tanned;
The rusty sickle in his hand
Could find no work in all the land.
He saw the evening's chilly star
Above his native vale afar;
A moment on the horizon's bar
It hung, then sank, as with a sigh;
And there the crescent moon went by,
An empty sickle down the sky.
To soothe his pain, Sleep's tender palm
Laid on his brow its touch of balm;
His brain received the slumberous calm;
And soon that angel without name,
Her robe a dream, her face the same,
The giver of sweet visions came.
She touched his eyes; no longer sealed,
They saw a troop of reapers wield
Their swift blades in a ripened field.
At each thrust of their snowy sleeves
A thrill ran through the future sheaves
Rustling like rain on forest leaves.
They were not brawny men who bowed,
With harvest voices rough and loud,
But spirits, moving as a cloud.
Like little lightnings in their hold,
The silver sickles manifold
Slid musically through the gold.
O, bid the morning stars combine
To match the chorus clear and fine,
That rippled lightly down the line, -
A cadence of celestial rhyme,
The language of that cloudless clime,
To which their shining hands kept time!
Behind them lay the gleaming rows,
Like those long clouds the sunset shows
On amber meadows of repose;
But, like a wind, the binders bright
Soon followed in their mirthful might,
And swept them into sheaves of light.
Doubling the splendor of the plain,
There rolled the great celestial wain,
To gather in the fallen grain.
Its frame was built of golden bars;
Its glowing wheels were lit with stars;
The royal Harvest's car of cars.
The snowy yoke that drew the load,
On gleaming hoofs of silver trode;
And music was its only goad.
To no command of word or beck
It moved, and felt no other check
Than one white arm laid on the neck,-
The neck, whose light was overwound
With bells of lilies, ringing round
Their odors till the air was drowned:
The starry foreheads meekly borne,
With garlands looped from horn to horn,
Shone like the many-colored morn.
The field was cleared. Home went the bands,
Like children, linking happy hands,
While singing through their father's lands;
Or, arms about each other thrown,
With amber tresses backward blown,
They moved as they were music's own.
The vision brightening more and more,
He saw the garner's glowing door,
And sheaves, like sunshine, strew the floor,-
The floor was jasper,-golden flails, Swift-sailing as a whirlwind sails, Throbbed mellow music down the vales.
He saw the mansion,-all repose,-
Great corridors and porticos,
Propped with the columns, shining rows;
And these--for beauty was the rule-
The polished pavements, hard and cool,
Redoubled, like a crystal pool.
And there the odorous feast was spread;
The fruity fragrance widely shed
Seemed to the floating music wed.
Seven angels, like the Pleiad seven,
Their lips to silver clarions given,
Blew welcome round the walls of heaven.
In skyey garments, silky thin,
The glad retainers floated in
A thousand forins, and yet no din:
And from the visage of the Lord,
Like splendor from the Orient poured,
A smile illumined all the board.
Far flew the music's circling sound;
Then floated back, with soft rebound,
To join, not mar, the converse round,-
Sweet notes, that, melting, still increased,
Such as ne'er cheered the bridal feast
Of king in the enchanted East.
Did any great
door It seemed the birth-time of repose, The faint sound died where it
arose; And they who passed from door to door, Their soft feet on the polished floor Met their soft shadows,-nothing more.
Then once again the groups were drawn
Through corridors, or down the lawn,
Which bloomed in beauty like a dawn.
Where countless fountains leapt alway,
Veiling their silver heights in spray,
The choral people held their way.
There, midst the brightest, brightly shone
Dear forms he loved in years agone, -
The earliest loved,—the earliest flown.
He heard a mother's sainted tongue,
A sister's voice, who vanished young,
Wbile one still dearer sweetly sung!
No further might the scene unfold;
The gazer's voice could not withhold;
The very rapture made him bold:
He cried aloud, with clasped hands,
“O happy fields! O happy bands!
Who reap the never failing lands.
“O master of these broad estates,
Behold, before your very gates
A worn and wanting laborer waits!
Let me but toil amid your grain,
Or be a gleaner on the plain,
So I may leave these fields of pain!
“A gleaner, I will follow far,
With never look or word to mar,
Behind the Harvest's yellow car;
All day my hand shall constant be,
And every happy eve shall see
The precious burden borne to thee!”
At morn some reapers neared the place,
Strong men, whose feet recoiled apace;
Then gathering round the upturned face,
They saw the lines of pain and care,
Yet read in the expression there
The look as of an answered prayer.
Was it the chime of a tiny bell
That came so sweet to my dreaming ear, Like the silvery tones of a fairy's shell,
That he winds on the beach so mellow and clear,