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- SWIFT cloud, swift light, now dark, now bright,
across the landscape played;
- And, spotted as a leopard's side in chasing sun and shade,
- To far dim heights and purple vales the upland rolled away,
- Where the soft, warm haze of summer days on all the distance lay.
- From shorn and hoary harvest-fields to barn and bristling stack,
- The wagon bore its beetling loads, or clattered empty back;
- The leaning oxen clashed their horns and swayed along the road,
- And the old house-dog lolled beside, in the shadow of the load.
- The children played among the sheaves, the hawk went sailing over,
- The yellow-bird was on the bough, the bee was on the clover,
- While at my easel by the oak I sketched, and sketched in vain:--
- Could I but group those harvesters, paint sunshine on the grain!
- While everywhere, in the golden air, the soul of beauty swims,
- It will not guide my feeble touch, nor light the hand that limns.
- (The load moves on--that cloud is gone! I must keep down the glare
- Of sunshine on my stubble-land. Those boys are my despair!)
- My fancies flit away at last, and wander like the gleams
- Of shifting light along the hills, and drift away in dreams;
- Till, coming round the farm-house porch and down the shady lane,
- A form is seen, half hid, between the stooks of shaggy grain.
- Beside my easel, at the oak, I wait to see her pass.
- 'T is luncheon-time: the harvesters are resting on the grass.
- I watch her coming to the gap, and envy Master Ben
- Who meets her there, and helps to bear her basket to the men.
- In the flushed farmer's welcoming smile, there beams a father's pride.
- More quiet grows, more redly glows, the shy youth by his side:
- In the soft passion of his look, and in her kind, bright glance,
- I read a little mystery, I read a sweet romance.
- with pewter mug, and old brown jug, she laughing kneels: I hear
- The liquid ripple of her lisp, with the gurgle of the beer.
- That native grace, that charming face, those glances coy and sweet,
- Ben, with the basket, grinning near--my grouping is complete!
- The picture grows, the landscape flows, and heart and fancy burn,--
- The figures start beneath my brush! (So you the rule may learn:
- Let thought be thrilled with sympathy, right touch and tone to give,
- And mix your colors with heart's blood, to make the canvas live.)
- All this was half a year ago: I find the sketch to-day,--
- Faulty and crude enough, no doubt, but it wafts my soul away!
- I tack it to the wall, and lo! despite the winter's gloom,
- It makes a little spot of sun and summer in my room.
- Again the swift cloud-shadow sweeps across the stooks of rye;
- The cricket trills, the locust shrills, the hawk goes sailing by;
- The yellow-bird is on the bough, the bee is on the thistle,
- The quail is near--"Ha hoyt!"--I hear his almost human whistle!
- John Townsend Trowbridge
- STALKING before the lords of life, one came,
- A Titan shape! But often he will crawl,
- Their most subservient, helpful humble thrall;
- Swift as the light, or sluggish, laggard, lame;
- Stony-eyed archer, launching without aim
- Arrows and lightnings, heedless how they fall,--
- Blind Circumstance, that makes or baffles all,
- Happiness, length of days, power, riches, fame.
- Could we but take each winged chance aright!
- A timely word let fall, a wind-blown germ,
- May crown our glebe with many a golden sheaf;
- A thought may touch and edge our life with light,
- Fill all its sphere, as yonder crescent worm
- Brightens upon the old moon's dusky leaf.
- John Townsend Trowbridge
Poets' Corner .
H O M E .