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The Sensitive Plant
Felt the sound of the funeral chant,
And the steps of the bearers, heavy and slow,
And the sobs of the mourners deep and low;
The weary sound and the heavy breath,
And the silent motions of passing death,
And the smell, cold, oppressive, and dank,
Sent through the pores of the coffin-plank;
The dark grass, and the flowers among the grass, Were bright with tears as the crowd did pass ; From their sighs the wind caught a mournful'tone, And sate in the pines, and gave groan for groan.
The garden, once fair, became cold and foul,
Like the corpse of her who had been its soul,
Which at first was lively as if in sleep,
Then slowly changed, till it grew a heap
To make men tremble who never weep.
Swift summer into the autumn flowed,
And frost in the mist of the morning rode,
Though the noonday sun looked clear and bright,
Mocking the spoil of the secret night.
The rose-leaves, like flakes of crimson snow,
Paved the turf and the moss below.
The lilies were drooping, and white, and wan,
Like the head and the skin of a dying man.
And Indian plants, of scent and hue
The sweetest that ever were fed on dew,
Leaf after leaf, day after day,
Were massed into the common clay.
And the leaves, brown, yellow, and grey,
And white with the whiteness of what is dead,
Like troops of ghosts on the dry wind past;
Their whistling noise made the birds aghast.
And the gusty winds waked the winged seeds,
Out of their birthplace of ugly weeds,
Till they clung round many a sweet flower's stem,
Which rotted into the earth with them.
The water-blooms under the rivulet
Fell from the stalks on which they were set ;
And the eddies drove them here and there
As the winds did those of the upper air.
Then the rain came down, and the broken stalks
Were bent and tangled across the walks ;
And the leafless net-work of parasite bowers
Massed into ruin ; and all sweet flowers.
How wonderful is Death,
Death and his brother Sleep!
One pale as yonder wan and horned moon,
With lips of lurid blue,
The other glowing like the vital morn,
When throned on ocean's wave
It breathes over the world : Yet both so passing strange and wonderful ! Hath then the iron-sceptred Skeleton, Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres, To the hell-dogs that couch beneath his throne Cast that fair prey ? Must that divinest form, Which love and admiration cannot view
Without a beating heart, whose azure veins
Steal like dark streams along a field of snow,
Whose outline is as fair as marble clothed
In light of some sublimest mind, decay ?
Nor putrefaction's breath
Leave aught of this pure spectacle
But loathsomeness and ruin ?
Spare aught but a dark theme,
On which the lightest heart might moralize ?
Or is it but that downy-winged slumbers
Have charmed their nurse coy Silence near her lids
To watch their own repose ?
Will they, when morning's beam
Flows through those wells of light,
Seek far from noise and day some western cave,
Where woods and streams with soft and pausing
A lulling murmur weave ?
Ianthe doth not sleep
The dreamless sleep of death :
Nor in her moonlight chamber silently
Doth Henry hear her regular pulses throb,
Or mark her delicate cheek
With interchange of hues mock the broad moon,
Outwatching weary night,
Without assured reward,
Her dewy eyes are closed ;
On their translucent lids, whose texture fine
Scarce hides the dark blue orbs that burn below
With unapparent fire,
The baby Sleep is pillowed :
Her golden tresses shade
The bosom’s stainless pride,
Twining like tendrils of the parasite
Around a marble column.
SWIFTLY walk o'er the western wave,
Spirit of night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone day-light,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,
Swift be thy flight!
Wrap thy form in a mantle grey,
Star in-wrought !
Blind with thine hair the eyes of day ;
Kiss her until she be wearied out;
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand;
When I arose, and saw the dawn,
I sigh'd for thee ! When light rode high, and the dew was gone, And noon lay heavy on flower and tree, And the weary day turn’d to his rest, Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sigh’d for thee.
LYRICAL, NARRATIVE, AND DESCRIPTIVE
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 from that oaten Pipe could draw
All sounds of winds and floods ;
Had built a Bower upon the green,
As if she from her birth had been
An Infant of the woods.