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The Walk at Midnight

         
        ‘Tremulo sub limine.’–VIRGIL.

      Soft, shadowy moon-beam! by the light
          Sleeps the wide meer serenely pale:
      How various are the sounds of night,
          Borne on the scarely-rising gale!

      The swell of distant brook is heard,
          Whose far-off waters faintly roll;
      And piping of the shrill small bird,
          Arrested by the wand’ring owl.

      Come hither! let us thread with care
          The maze of this green path, which binds
      The beauties of the broad parterre,
          And thro’ yon fragrant alley winds.

      Or on this old bench will we sit,
          Round which the clust’ring woodine wreathes;
      While birds of night around us flit;
          And thro’ each lavish wood-walk breathes,

      Unto my ravish’d senses, brought
          From yon thick-woven odorous bowers,
      The still rich breeze, with incense fraught
          Of glowing fruits and spangled flowers.

      The whispering leaves, the gushing stream,
          Where trembles the uncertain moon,
      Suit more the poet’s pensive dream,
          Than all the jarring notes of noon.

      Then, to the thickly-crowded mart
          The eager sons of interest press;
      Then, shine the tinsel works of art–
          Now, all is Nature’s loneliness!

      Then, wealth aloft in state displays
          The glittering of her gilded cars;
      Now, dimly stream the mingled rays
          Of yon far-twinkling, silver stars.

      Yon church, whose cold grey spire appears
          In the black outline of the trees,
      Conceals the object of my tears,
          Whose form in dreams my spirit sees.

      There in the chilling bed of earth,
          The chancel’s letter’d stone above–
      There sleepeth she who gave me birth,
          Who taught my lips the hymn of love!

      Yon mossy stems of ancient oak,
          So widely crown’d with sombre shade,
      Those ne’er have heard the woodman’s stroke
          Their solemn, secret depths invade.

      How oft the grassy way I’ve trod
          That winds their knotty boles between,
      And gather’d from the blooming sod
          The flowers that flourish’d there unseen!

      Rise! let us trace that path once more,
          While o’er our track the cold beams shine;
      Down this low shingly vale, and o’er
          Yon rude rough bridge of prostrate pine.
       


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