A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. XX.—JULY, 1867.—NO. CXVII.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by Ticknor and Fields, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
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The following three poems:
are the poetry selections in the July 1867 Atlantic Monthly.
(Candidates for a hypothetical BAP that year, maybe?)
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by Alice Cary
In the porch that brier-vines smother,
At her wheel, sits Mona’s mother.
O, the day is dying bright!
Roseate shadows, silver dimming,
Ruby lights through amber swimming,
Bring the still and starry night.
Sudden she is ‘ware of shadows
Going out across the meadows
From the slowly sinking sun,–
Going through the misty spaces
That the rippling ruby laces,
Shadows, like the violets tangled,
Like the soft light, softly mingled,
Till the two seem just as one!
Every tell-tale wind doth waft her
Little breaths of maiden laughter.
O, divinely dies the day!
And the swallow, on the rafter,
In her nest of sticks and clay,–
On the rafter, up above her,
With her patience doth reprove her,
Twittering soft the time away;
Never stopping, never stopping,
With her wings so warmly dropping
Round her nest of sticks and clay.
“Take, my bird, O take some other
Eve than this to twitter gay!”
Sayeth, prayeth Mona’s mother,
To the slender-throated swallow
On her nest of sticks and clay;
For her sad eyes needs must follow
Down the misty, mint-sweet hollow,
Where the ruby colors play
With the gold, and with the gray.
“Yet, my little Lady-feather,
You do well to sit and sing,”
Crieth, sigheth Mona’s mother.
“If you would, you could no other.
Can the leaf fail with the spring?
Can the tendril stay from twining
When the sap begins to run?
Or the dew-drop keep from shining
With her body full o’ the sun?
Nor can you, from gladness, either;
Therefore, you do well to sing.
Up and o’er the downy lining
Of your bird-bed I can see
Two round little heads together,
Pushed out softly through your wing.
But alas! my bird, for me!”
In the porch with roses burning
All across, she sitteth lonely.
O, her soul is dark with dread!
Round and round her slow wheel turning,
Lady brow down-dropped serenely,
Lady hand uplifted queenly,
Pausing in the spinning only
To rejoin the broken thread,–
Pausing only for the winding,
With the carded silken binding
Of the flax, the distaff-head.
All along the branches creeping,
To their leafy beds of sleeping
Go the blue-birds and the brown;
Blackbird stoppeth now his clamor,
And the little yellowhammer
Droppeth head in winglet down.
Now the rocks rise bleak and barren
Through the twilight, gray and still;
In the marsh-land now the heron
Clappeth close his horny bill.
Death-watch now begins his drumming
And the fire-fly, going, coming,
Weaveth zigzag lines of light,–
Lines of zigzag, golden-threaded,
Up the marshy valley, shaded
O’er and o’er with vapors white.
Now the lily, open-hearted,
Of her dragon-fly deserted,
Swinging on the wind so low,
Gives herself, with trust audacious,
To the wild warm wave that washes
Through her fingers, soft and slow.
O the eyes of Mona’s mother!
Dim they grow with tears unshed;
For no longer may they follow
Down the misty mint-sweet hollow,
Down along the yellow mosses
That the brook with silver crosses.
Ah! the day is dead, is dead;
And the cold and curdling shadows,
Stretching from the long, low meadows,
Darker, deeper, nearer spread,
Till she cannot see the twining
Of the briers, nor see the lining
Round the porch of roses red,–
Till she cannot see the hollow,
Nor the little steel-winged swallow,
On her clay-built nest o’erhead.
Mona’s mother falleth mourning:
O, ‘t is hard, so hard, to see
Prattling child to woman turning,
As to grander company!
Little heart she lulled with hushes
Beating, burning up with blushes,
All with meditative dreaming
On the dear delicious gleaming
Of the bridal veil and ring;
Finding in the sweet ovations
Of its new, untried relations
Better joys than she can bring.
In her hand her wheel she keepeth,
And her heart within her leapeth,
With a burdened, bashful yearning,
For the babe’s weight on her knee,
For the loving lisp of glee,
Sweet as larks’ throats in the morning,
Sweet as hum of honey-bee.
“O my child!” cries Mona’s mother,
“Will you, can you take another
Name ere mine upon your lips?
Can you, only for the asking,
Give to other hands the clasping
Of your rosy finger-tips?”
Fear on fear her sad soul borrows,–
O the dews are falling fair!
But no fair thing now can move her;
Vainly walks the moon above her,
Turning out her golden furrows
On the cloudy fields of air.
Sudden she is ‘ware of shadows,
Coming in across the meadows,
And of murmurs, low as love,–
Murmurs mingled like the meeting
Of the winds, or like the beating
Of the wings of dove with dove.
In her hand the slow wheel stoppeth,
Silken flax from distaff droppeth,
And a cruel, killing pain
Striketh up from heart to brain;
And she knoweth by that token
That the spinning all is vain,
That the troth-plight has been spoken,
And the thread of life thus broken
Never can be joined again.
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by John G. Whittier
Freedom in Brazil
With clearer light, Cross of the South, shine forth
In blue Brazilian skies;
And thou, O river, cleaving half the earth
From sunset to sunrise,
From the great mountains to the Atlantic waves
Thy joy’s long anthem pour.
Yet a few days (God make them less!) and slaves
Shall shame thy pride no more.
No fettered feet thy shaded margins press;
But all men shall walk free
Where thou, the high-priest of the wilderness,
Hast wedded sea to sea.
And thou, great-hearted ruler, through whose mouth
The word of God is said,
Once more, “Let there be light!”—Son of the South,
Lift up thy honored head,
Wear unashamed a crown by thy desert
More than by birth thy own,
Careless of watch and ward; thou art begirt
By grateful hearts alone.
The moated wall and battle-ship may fail,
But safe shall justice prove;
Stronger than greaves of brass or iron mail
The panoply of love.
Crowned doubly by man’s blessing and God’s grace,
Thy future is secure;
Who frees a people makes his statue’s place
In Time’s Valhalla sure.
Lo! from his Neva’s banks the Scythian Czar
Stretches to thee his hand
Who, with the pencil of the Northern star,
Wrote freedom on his land.
And he whose grave is holy by our calm
And prairied Sangamon,
From his gaunt hand shall drop the martyr’s palm
To greet thee with “Well done!”
And thou, O Earth, with smiles thy face make sweet,
And let thy wail be stilled,
To hear the Muse of prophecy repeat
Her promise half fulfilled.
The Voice that spake at Nazareth speaks still,
No sound thereof hath died;
Alike thy hope and Heaven’s eternal will
Shall yet be satisfied.
The years are slow, the vision tarrieth long,
And far the end may be;
But, one by one, the fiends of ancient wrong
Go out and leave thee free.
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by James Russell Lowell
How strange are the freaks of memory!
The lessons of life we forget,
While a trifle, a trick of color,
In the wonderful web is set,–
Set by some mordant of fancy,
And, despite the wear and tear
Of time or distance or trouble,
Insists on its right to be there.
A chance had brought us together;
Our talk was of matters of course;
We were nothing, one to the other,
But a short half-hour’s resource.
We spoke of French acting and actors,
And their easy, natural way,–
Of the weather, for it was raining
As we drove home from the play.
We debated the social nothings
Men take such pains to discuss;
The thunderous rumors of battle
Were silent the while for us.
Arrived at her door, we left her
With a drippingly hurried adieu,
And our wheels went crunching the gravel
Of the oak-darkened avenue.
As we drove away through the shadow,
The candle she held in the door,
From rain-varnished tree-trunk to tree-trunk
Flashed fainter, and flashed no more,–
Flashed fainter and wholly faded
Before we had passed the wood;
But the light of the face behind it
Went with me and stayed for good.
The vision of scarce a moment,
And hardly marked at the time,
It comes unbidden to haunt me,
Like a scrap of ballad-rhyme.
Had she beauty? Well, not what they call so:
You may find a thousand as fair,
And yet there’s her face in my memory,
With no special right to be there.
As I sit sometimes in the twilight,
And call back to life in the coals
Old faces and hopes and fancies
Long buried,–good rest to their souls!–
Her face shines out of the embers;
I see her holding the light,
And hear the crunch of the gravel
And the sweep of the rain that night.
‘Tis a face that can never grow older,
That never can part with its gleam;
‘Tis a gracious possession forever,
For what is it all but a dream?