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Posts Tagged ‘Julia Ward Howe’

The shell of objects inwardly consumed
Will stand till some convulsive wind awakes;
Such sense hath Fire to waste the heart of things,
Nature such love to hold the form she makes. 

Thus wasted joys will show their early bloom,
Yet crumble at the breath of a caress;
The golden fruitage hides the scathed bough;
Snatch it, thou scatterest wide its emptiness. 

For pleasure bidden, I went forth last night
To where, thick hung, the festal torches gleamed;
Here were the flowers, the music, as of old;
Almost the very olden time it seemed. 

For one with cheek unfaded (though he brings
My buried brothers to me in his look)
Said, ‘Will you dance?’ At the accustomed words
I gave my hand, the old position took. 

Sound, gladsome measure! at whose bidding once
I felt the flush of pleasure to my brow,
While my soul shook the burthen of the flesh,
And in its young pride said, ‘Lie lightly, thou!!’ 

Then, like a gallant swimmer, flinging high
My breast against the golden waves of sound,
I rode the madd’ning tumult of the dance,
Mocking fatigue, that never could be found. 

Chide not – it was not vanity, nor sense,
(The brutish scorn such vaporous delight,)
But Nature, cadencing her joy of strength
To the harmonious limits of her right. 

She gave her impulse to the dancing Hours,
To winds that weep, to stars that noiseless turn;
She marked the measure rapid hearts must keep,
Devised each pace that glancing feet should learn. 

And sure, that prodigal o’erflow of life,
Unvowed as yet to family or state,
Sweet sounds, white garments, flowery coronals
Make holy in the pageant of our fate. 

Sound, measure! but to stir my heart no more –
For, as I moved to join the dizzy race,
My youth fell from me; all its blooms were gone,
And others showed them, smiling, in my face. 

Faintly I met the shock of circling forms
Linked each to other, Fashion’s galley-slaves,
Dream-wondering, like an unaccustomed ghost
That starts, surprised, to stumble over graves. 

For graves were ‘neath my feet, whose placid masks
Smiled out upon my folly mournfully,
While all the host of the departed said,
‘Tread lightly – thou art ashes, even as we.’

 

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Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps.
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat:
O, be swift, my soul, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

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