Under the Willows, and Other Poems

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Fields, Osgood, 1869 - American poetry - 286 pages
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Page 266 - I sweep them for a paean, but they wane Again and yet again Into a dirge, and die away, in pain. In these brave ranks I only see the gaps, Thinking of dear ones whom the dumb turf wraps, Dark to the triumph which they died to gain: Fitlier may others greet the living, For me the past is unforgiving; I with uncovered head Salute the sacred dead, Who went, and who return not.
Page 33 - And still fluttered down the snow. I stood and watched by the window The noiseless work of the sky, And the sudden flurries of snow-birds, Like brown leaves whirling by. I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn, Where a little headstone stood; How the flakes were folding it gently, As did robins the babes in the wood. Up spoke our own little Mabel, Saying,
Page 32 - THE snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. Every pine and fir and hemlock Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm-tree Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
Page 262 - Nature, they say, doth dote, And cannot make a man Save on some worn-out plan, Repeating us by rote: For him her Old World moulds aside she threw, And, choosing sweet clay from the breast Of the unexhausted West, With stuff untainted shaped a hero new, Wise, steadfast in the strength of God, and true.
Page 256 - ... toil, With the cast mantle she hath left behind her. Many in sad faith sought for her, Many with crossed hands sighed for her; But these, our brothers, fought for her, At life's dear peril wrought for her, So loved her that they died for her...
Page 264 - Great captains, with their guns and drums, Disturb our judgment for the hour, But at last silence comes; These all are gone, and, standing like a tower, Our children shall behold his fame, The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man, Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame, New birth of our new soil, the first American.
Page 34 - The snow that husheth all, Darling, the merciful Father Alone can make it fall ! " Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her ; And she, kissing back, could not know That my kiss was given to her sister, Folded close under deepening snow.
Page 261 - But then to stand beside her, When craven churls deride her. To front a lie in arms and not to yield, This shows, methinks, God's plan And measure of a stalwart man, Limbed like the old heroic breeds. Who stands self-poised on manhood's solid earth, Not forced to frame excuses for his birth, Fed from within with all the strength he needs.
Page 255 - Mother welcomes back Her wisest Scholars, those who understood The deeper teaching of her mystic tome, And offered their fresh lives to make it good: No lore of Greece or Rome, No science peddling with the names of things, Or reading stars to find...
Page 260 - Bursts up in flame ; the war of tongue and pen Learns with what deadly purpose it was fraught, And, helpless in the fiery passion caught, Shakes all the pillared state with shock of men : Some day the soft Ideal that we wooed...

About the author (1869)

Essayist, poet, literary critic, humorist, editor, professor, ambassador, letter writer, Lowell was one of the most versatile of nineteenth-century authors. Public recognition of his verse came early in his career, both in the United States and in England, even though his lyrical poetry, so greatly honored during his lifetime, is the weakest of his compositions. Only later, when he turned his hand to humorous verse, satire, and public odes, did he achieve distinction. "The Biglow Papers" (1848), occasioned by the war between the United States and Mexico, 1846-48, is a wonderful satiric medley in prose and verse, in vernacular Yankee speech and classic English of the best literary traditions, by far the greatest political satire written during that century. His public poems, such as the "Ode Recited at the Harvard Commemoration" (1867) for Harvard men who died in the Civil War, and the "Concord Ode," are fine examples of a form as old as Pindar; designed to give dignity and meaning to the events that bind communities of men and women. But Lowell's real strengths as a writer are better found in his prose essays than in his verse. A man great in literary learning (he was professor of belles-lettres at Harvard College for many years), wise and passionate in his commitments, he was a great upholder of tradition and value. His essays on the great writers of England and Europe still endure, distinguished not only by their astute insights into the literary classics of Western culture, but also by their spectacular style and stunning wit. Nor was Lowell merely a dweller in an ivory tower. In his youth, he worked passionately for the cause of abolition, risking his literary reputation for a principle that he saw as absolute. In his middle years, he was founding editor of the Atlantic Monthly and guided it during its early years toward its enormous success. In his final years, this great example of American character and style represented the United States first as minister to Spain (1877--80), and afterwards to Great Britain (1880--85).

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