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Fair is her cottage in its place,
Where yon broad water sweetly, slowly glides.
It sees itself from thatch to base
Dream in the sliding tides.
And fairer she, but, ah, how soon to die!
Her quiet dream of life this hour may cease.
Her peaceful being slowly passes by
To some more perfect peace.
Weave into this a story of some one well known to you, and whose home you may suppose this "fair cottage” to be; change the character, if necessary, to suit your purpose. In thus introducing narration, do not forget that the theme is principally descriptive, and that you should aim to produce a vivid picture of the scene.
Rustily creak the crickets: Jack Frost came down last night,
He slid to the earth on a starbeam, keen and sparkling and bright;
He sought in the grass for the crickets with delicate icy spear,
So sharp and fine and fatal, and he stabbed them far and near.
Only a few stout fellows, thawed by the morning sun,
Chirrup a mournful echo of by-gone frolic and fun.
But yesterday such a rippling chorus ran all over the land,
Over the hills and the valleys, down to the gray sea-sand.
Millions of merry harlequins, skipping and dancing in glee,
Cricket and locust and grasshopper, happy as happy could be.
Scooping rich caves in ripe apples, and feeding on honey and spice,
Drunk with the mellow sunshine, nor dreaming of spears of ice !
Was it not enough that the crickets your weapon of power should pierce?
Pray what have you done to the flowers ? Jack Frost, you are cruel and fierce.
With never a sign or a whisper, you kissed them, and, lo! they exhale
Their beautiful lives; they are drooping, their sweet color ebbs, they are pale,
They fade and they die! See the pansies, yet striving so hard to unfold
Their garments of velvety splendor, all Tyrian purple and gold.
But how weary they look, and how withered, like handsome court dames,
who all night Have danced at the ball till sunrise struck chill to their hearts with its light. Where hides the wood-aster? She vanished as snow-wreaths dissolve in
the sun The moment you touched her. Look yonder, where sober and gray as a nun The maple-tree stands that at sunset was blushing as red as the sky; At its foot, glowing scarlet as fire, its robes of magnificence lie, Despoiler! stripping the world as you strip the shivering tree Of color and sound and perfume, scaring the bird and the bee, Turning beauty to ashes–O to join the swift swallows and fly Far away out of sight of your mischief! I give you no welcome, not I!
How dazzling white the snowy scene! deep, deep
The stillness of the winter Sabbath day-
Not even a foot-fall heard. Smooth are the fields,
Each hollow pathway level with the plain:
Hid are the bushes, save that here and there
Are seen the topmost shoots of brier or broom.
High-ridged, the whirled drift has almost reached
The powdered key-stone of the church-yard porch.
Mute hangs the hooded bell; the tombs lie buried;
No step approaches to the house of prayer.
The flickering fall is o'er: the clouds disperse,
And show the sun, hung o'er the welkin's verge,
Shooting a bright but ineffectual beam
On all the sparkling waste.
How beautiful the plain stretched far below,
Unvaried though it be, save by yon stream
With azure windings, or the leafless wood!
But what the beauty of the plain, compared
To that sublimity which reigns enthroned,
Holding joint rule with solitude divine,
Among yon rocky fells that bid defiance
To steps the most adventurously bold?
There silence dwells profound; or if the cry
Of high poised eagle break at times the hush,
The mantled echoes no response return.
An angler by a brook doth lie;
Upon his hook, a painted fly;
A dream's soft shadow in his eye.
Thus, like a charmēd prince he seems,
Destined a glorious prize to win,
Which, like a jeweled javelin,
Poised, as in air, on quivering fin
Before his vision gleams.
With purest blue, the blissful sky
Pavilions him right royally.
Sometimes an oriole flames on high ;
A bee, impetuous, sparkles by;
A bobolink, ecstatic, Alings
Bubbles of music down the air ;
And so he gathers everywhere
From realms of ease, all joys most rare,
Like pearls on silken strings.
A Masque of Poets.
Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose.
There, as I passed with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that lowed to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-dog's voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind ;-
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
What has he in this glorious world's domain ?
Unreckoned loss which he counts up as gain;
Unreckoned shame, of which he feels no stain;
Unreckoned dead he does not know were slain.
What things does he take with him when he dies ?
Nothing of all that he on earth did prize:
Unto his groveling feet and sordid eyes
How difficult and empty seem the skies !
A Masque of Poets.
I HAD a beautiful garment,
And I laid it by with care;
I folded it close, with lavender leaves,
In a napkin fine and fair :
“It is far too costly a robe,” I said,
“For one like me to wear.”
There were guests who came to my portal,
There were friends who sat with me;
And clad in soberest raiment
I bore them company;
I knew that I owned a beautiful robe,
Though its splendor none might see.
There were poor that stood at my portal,
There were orphaned sought my care; I gave them the tenderest pity,
But had nothing beside to spare; I had only the beautiful garment,
And the raiment for daily wear.
At last on a feast-day's coming,
I thought in my dress to shine;
I would please myself with the luster
Of its shifting colors fine;
I would walk with pride in the marvel
Of its rarely-rich design.
So out from the dusk I bore it,
The lavender fell away,And fold on fold I held it up
To the searching light of day. Alas! the glory had perished
While there in its place it lay.