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For I did not bring home the river and sky;— He sang to my ear,—they sang to my eye.
in. The delicate shells lay on the shore; The bubbles of the latest wave Fresh pearls to their enamel gave; And the bellowing of the savage sea Greeted their safe escape to me. I wiped away the weeds and foam, I fetched my sea-born treasures home; But the poor, unsightly, noisome things Had left their beauty on the shore, With the sun, and the sand, and the wild uproar.
The lover watched his graceful maid,
As 'mid the virgin train she strayed,
Nor knew her beauty's best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white choir.
At last she came to his hermitage,
Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage;—
The gay enchantment was undone,
A gentle wife, but fairy none.
Then I said, "I covet truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat;
I leave it behind with the games of youth."—
As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet's breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Over me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and of deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;—
Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.
R. W. Emerson.
LXXIV.—INVENTIVE GENIUS AND LABOR.
IN some respects, our mental education resembles the system pursued by some of the ancient islanders of the Mediterranean. In order to teach their children the use of the bow and the art of war, they suspended their breakfast every morning from the bough of a tree, and made them shoot for it, well knowing that their hunger would sharpen their aim as well as their appetites. So a benevolent Providence, in order to impose upon us a similar necessity and motive of mental activity, has hung, not only our food, but the gratification of every sense, as it were, upon a tall tree, and taught our ideas to shoot for it—or, without the figure, to think for it. Everything that can satisfy our natural wants or the yearnings of sense, we are obliged to bring into communication with us by some invention or the manufacture of some artificial faculty.
2. Let us look in upon man while engaged in the very act of adding to his natural strength these gigantic faculties. See him yonder, bending over his stone mortar, and pounding, and thumping, and sweating, to pulverize his flinty grain into a more esculent form. He stops and looks a moment into the precipitous torrent thundering down its rocky channel. There! A thought has struck him. He begins to whistle; he whittles some, for he learned to whittle soon after he learned to breathe. He gears together, some horizontally and others perpendicularly, a score of little wooden wheels. He sets them a-going, and claps his hands in triumph to see what they would do if a thousand times larger.
3. Look at him again. How proudly he stands with folded arms, looking at the huge things that are working for him! He has made that wild raging torrent as tame as his horse. He has taught it to walk backward and forward. He has given it hands, and put the crank of his big wheel into them, and made it turn his ponderous grindstone. What a taskmaster!
4. Look at him again! He is standing on the ocean beach, watching the crested billows, as they move in martial squadrons over the deep. He has conceived or heard that richer productions, more delicious fruits and flowers, may be found on yonder invisible shore. In an instant his mind sympathizes with the yearnings of his physical nature.
5. See! there is a new thought in his eye. He remembers how he first saddled the horse; he now bits and saddles the mountain wave. Not satisfied with taming this proud element, he breaks another into his service. Kemembering his mill-dam, he constructs a floating dam of canvas in the air, to harness the winds to his ocean-wagon. Thus, with his water-horse and air-horse harnessed in tandem, he drives across the wilderness of waters with a team that would make old Neptune hide his diminished head for envy, and sink his clumsy chariot beneath the waves.
6. See now! he wants something else; his appetite for something better than he has grows upon what he feeds on. The fact is, he has plodded about in his one-horse wagon till he is disgusted with his poor capacity of locomotion. The wings of Mercury, modern eagles and paperkites, are all too impracticable for models. He settles down upon the persuasion that he can make a great Iron Horse, with bones of steel and muscles of brass, that will run against time with Mercury, or any other winged messenger of Jove—the daring man!
7. He brings out his huge leviathan hexapede upon the track. How the great creature struts forth from his stable, panting to be gone! His great heart is a furnace of glowing coals; his lymphatic blood is boiling in his veins; the strength of a thousand horses is nerving his iron sinews. But his master reins him in with one finger, till the whole of some Western village, men, women, children, and half their horned cattle, sheep, poultry, wheat, cheese and potatoes, have been stowed away in that long train of wagons he has harnessed to his foaming steam-horse.
8. And now he shouts, interrogatively, "all Right?" and, applying a burning goad to the huge creature, away it thunders over the iron road, breathing forth fire and smoke in its indignant haste to outstrip the wind. More terrible than the war-horse in Scripture, clothed with louder thunder, and emitting a cloud of flame and burning coals from his iron nostrils, he dashes on through dark mountain-passes, over jutting precipices and deep ravines. His tread shakes the earth like a traveling Niagara, and the sound of his chariot-wheels warns the people of distant
towns that he is coming.
LXXV.—THE WITCH'S DAUGHTER.
IT was the pleasant harvest-time
On Esek Hardcn's oaken floor,
And thither came young men and maids,
They took their places; some by chance,
. And others by a merry voice
How pleasantly the rising moon,
Between the shadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elm-boughs !On sturdy boyhood, sun-imbrowned,
On girlhood with its solid curves
Of healthful strength and painless nerves! And jests went round, and laughs that made
The house-dog answer with his howl,
And kept astir the barnyard fowl.
But still the sweetest voice was mute
For Mabel Martin sat apart,
And let the hay-mow's shadow fall
She sat apart, as one forbid,
The seasons scarce had gone their round,
And mocked the palsied limbs of age,
Few questioned of the sorrowing child,
Poor Mabel from her mother's grave
Crept to her desolate hearthstone,
And wrestled with her fate alone.
Her faith, and trusted that her way,
So dark, would somewhere meet the day.