Caleb and Joshua

The mist-wrapp'd mountains stand like grisly shadows,
The driving clouds come blinding from the west,
O'er the black marshes, and the dripping meadows,
And the swollen river's breast.

The clouds hang heavily in laden masses
On the hilltops, or wildly eastward roll;
The struggling wind moans in the mountain passes,
Like an imprison'd soul.

Who now could call up gleams of sunny weather
Flooding the plain and dancing on the rill,
And those soft shadows of the purple heather,
Staining th' unclouded hill?

Ah, no! like rainbow tints that children capture,
Even from our grasp unrealized they part;
Dream as we will, the summer's golden rapture
Thrills not the wintry heart.

And hard it is, when visible shadows bound us,
Tied to its duties, by its chiding vex'd,
With all of this world ever, ever round us,
To realize the next.

Hard was it haply in the desert lonely,
For those two hearts that tedious forty years;
Caleb and Joshua—found faithful only,
Amid a people's fears.

When night by night, a ring of fiery lustre,
The hot sun burn'd into the dead white sand;
When day by day, in the same weary cluster,
The tents stood on the land;

And like the scanty plumes at some poor burial,
A few tall palms at furthest distance placed,
With their stiff shadows broke the blue ethereal
Of the monotonous waste:

Hard was it to call up the cornfields golden,
The purple vintage by the brook of grapes,
The giant cedars in the forest olden,
The graceful mountain shapes.

Yet for all this, through all the lone recesses,
Of those wild hills shall summer smile again,
The stream shall dimple to her bright caresses,
The flowers shall paint the plain.

Yet for all this, in Canaan Caleb's daughters
Dwelt by the upper and the nether springs,
Still Joshua led through Jordan's riven waters,
And o'er the necks of kings.

Yet for all this, true faith is eagle-sighted,
Steadying her gaze, though the weak heart will shrink,
Into the land of sun and moon unlighted,
O'er the dark river's brink;

Into that summer where these wintry sorrows,
That wrap us round and round shall fall away,
Where from past joys no light the spirit borrows,
Christ is its Light for aye!
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