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A POET there stood upon a hill uprising

To meet each distant smiling of the sun,

Out from the forest multiform its base comprising,

Its leafage fusing in one shadow dun;

With sinuous outline in a summit ending,

In morning seemed it to the eastward bending,

In eve, as now, its pine-crowned crescent blending

With rays which, falling, sighed that day was done.

And much he saw, his loving eye far reaching,

For all the world around was lower land;

And many spirits mystic truths were teaching,

Nor human they, nor owning mortal bond;

And thus he mused, no man-made limit keeping,

Nor saw he sign of human strife or weeping,

But only dusky waves of forest, sweeping

Until they vanished in the vague Beyond.

And many winds about his brow were blowing,

Each breath a thought, of selfish subject purged;

For life is but a spirit, breathing, growing,

In boundless air whence spirit, soul, emerged. -

He deemed that through the night the winds were warring,

Each blast from diverse distance thither faring,

And many thoughts of clashing tenor bearing -

And so his spirit in the winds was merged:

I am the North-wind, - from the gleaming land

I bring the icy breath of crystal truth;

No cheating haze about my throne can stand,

Nor change, nor stupor ye call joy, in sooth!

Down o'er the hushed plains, with seething swoop,

I bleach the reedy rustle of the field;

Aha! see now each smooth-cheeked Cyprian stoop,

And, shivering, the myrtle pale and yield!

Far in the Northland, in the sharp white light,

Its clear-cut pinnacle my palace rears;

With myriad glancing spirits of the Right,

Cleanse I the world of hopes and lies and fears!

He ceased; and all the silvered forest, trembling, bowed;

The mystic shadows vanished and the far seemed near,

Nor won the lake a charm from changing moon or cloud,

But all eternal seemed, and each in beauty peer.

Soft, and hear me, - from the East advancing,

Come I from the lands of rich Cathay;

Fair-limbed nymphs of air are ever dancing

In the gardens where I hold my sway;

Ne'er we hear of toiling or of weeping,

Never to the cruel gods we pray;

No vigil for a fancied future keeping,

We seek the pleasures of the bright to-day.

And there are ever-changing flowers blooming,

Nor ever of their wondrous fragrance coy;

Hazily the future darkly looming

Fades before the golden wind of joy.

She ceased; and soft a timid breeze came, sighing,

From distant islets floating on the Southern Sea,

Each breath of aromatic incense dying

As waves that sink upon its bosom dreamily.

No wind am I, but am the breath of Sleep;

I free thee from thy fretted, lonely soul:

Forget that thou canst labor, laugh, or weep,

And cease to struggle for the mocking goal;

So blend thee in the happy, restful whole.

If memory be sorrow, then forget;

Refuse to know, if knowing bring thee dole;

If wish and will can naught but pain beget,

Await in rest a fairer world, - then wake not yet.

Faded her song, and the poet forgot

That past had been, or future e'er would be.

Slumbered the plants, the dew fell not,

The very brooks drank of the lotos-tree,

Began the breeze to whisper victory.

But while the poet slept, a spirit came,

And every flower deep inspired his breath;

It seemed a strange new sense without a name

Had freed each blushing hue from debt of death.

No murmured song was in the flowing air,

Intoned no lauding sonnet from the West,

But wondrous life beamed brightly everywhere;

And sang the poet from his deeper breast:

In the evening far there is a maid,

Yet here she ever seems;

'T is but her I see in the forest glade,

In my wandering, waking dreams.

All the beauty of forest or sky or lake

Can but say to my soul, "She lives!"

Be she lovely or no? I cannot tell, -

To the earth all its charm she gives;

Aught of good there may be in my poor dim soul

But reflects the glad light in her eye.

Sing ye joy? Far from her is but dreary dole,

And the one sad boon to die.

Sing ye rest? Naught can be until, lovingly one,

Our two souls flow in peace to the sea.

But the truth? That I love as I love the sun, -

She hath plighted her troth to me.

The wind of pleasure sought an easier sway,

The breath of slumber sought a warmer sun,

Then slowly sighed the northern breeze away, -

For well they knew the western wind had won.


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