My spirit was o'er-wearied with the toil
At which the heart revolts; and dark and chill
The world was hushed around me, and all life
Lay in a deathlike slumber. I alone
Was wakeful, and I looked upon the night
Beautiful in its cloudless firmament,
And in its canopy of myriad stars,
With such a sense of sorrow, as when one
Deeply enamored gazes on a form
Shaped to celestial beauty, with the keen
And bitter thought that he can only gaze,
And love and worship, but can never be
Loved with an equal passion. It was dark,
And all the light that looked upon the earth
Was in those glorious creatures which afar
Shone in their awful grandeur. No sweet moon
Lent to the twilight hills a softer day,
And threw upon the waving folds of mist,
Then curling from the valley, such a tint
Of purity, the far-off mountain snow
Is dim and faint beside it. It was still;
The winds were silent, and the forest boughs
Stood hushed without a motion, and their leaves
Sent out no more that harmony of sounds
By which the unseen ministers of air
Utter their low-tuned voices. All was mute,
Solemnly mute, but the faint-falling chime
Of a small rivulet, that stole away,
Buried in tufts of roses, through a grove,
That rose high-arching o'er it. This would come
At times upon my ear with such sweet sounds
Of clear, yet broken melody, my soul
Drank in the quiet rapture, and was filled
Awhile with a like sweetness, and I seemed
A portion of the pure and motionless air,
And that the voices of invisible forms,
All young and lovely, were enshrined within
The compass of my being, and myself
Was living with their music. Then it sank
Slowly away, and down the flowery bank,
That still sent up its offerings of balm,
And filled the night with odors wafted far
On the calm breathings of the western gale,
Which now seemed waking, and at times would wave
In a wide fold the drapery of my couch,
And shake the wild vine, where it clustered o'er
My half-raised casement, — down the flowery bank
Reflecting, in its beads of dropping dew
Hung on the bending grass, the many eyes
That calmly watched in heaven, and looked on earth,
As mothers on their infants, when the night
Draws near to its meridian, and the pale
Fast-dying taper throws its trembling light
Full on the innocent slumberer, whose repose
Is happiness; whose dreams, if it has dreams,
Are all in smiles; and as the day flits by
Light-winged, and without tears that are not pure,
So is its slumber full of deep delight,
And unembittered by the keen regret
Of past repented follies, or the fear
That darkens in the future, — down the bank
The tinkling of the water-fall would glide,
And stealing through its canopy of flowers,
It then would seem all silent; — yet my ear
Followed it, and I hung upon its sounds
Still warbling near in fancy, as we gaze
Intently on the lips that lately breathed
With a most tender music, and still seem
To listen to that deep, mysterious flow
Of spirit-touching melodies; and when
They tremble with her breath, as the full leaves
Shake on the rose when the still air awakes,
And comes to kiss their dews, — O, then we hear,
Though all is silent, such a strain, the heart
Beats quickly, and dissolves in tears away.

Thus were my feelings softened by the night,
Its silence, and its darkness, and the sounds
That made that silence deeper, as they came
Low-whispering through my window, like the voice
Of one who sighs in love, or as the breath
Of a pure spirit on its ministry
Of comfort to the wretched, or of hope
And courage to the failing. Then my thoughts,
Now freed from their dark burden, took a flight
Into a fonder region, and they went
Back to remembered days, when summer smiled,
Not only in the blue sky, and the fields
Ripe for the harvest, but more sweetly smiled
In my young heart, and in its livery dressed
All forms that moved around me, and endowed
The lovely with a spirit's loveliness,
And made them so divinely beautiful,
I lived in beauty, and it was the sum
Of all my thoughts and feelings, and it threw
Its mantle o'er all creatures, and it gave
An all-pervading color to my life,
And happiness alone was centred in
The contemplation of the fairest things;
And whether it were forms, or hues, or sounds,
Or looks that speak the heart, and shadow out
The workings of the faculty within
Which images all nature, and anew
Shapes it to fresh creations of a port
More lofty, and an attitude and air
More kindred to its tastes and tendencies, —
Whether it was in things that have no life,
The sports of Nature's handiwork, or those
Eternal statues where the soul of man
Stands fixed in immortality, — in flowers
Or leaves light-dancing, or in waving woods
Poised in luxuriant majesty aloft
On the uplifted mountain, — in the wing,
That glided through the yielding element
In every curve of gracefulness, and swept
Proudly the deepest bosom of the air,
And rode in light triumphant, — in the forms,
That bounding scoured the meadow, tense with life,
And nerved to trembling buoyancy, — or those
Who are like us in shape, in look and soul,
Only more beautiful, and nicely tuned
To a far softer harmony: — where'er
Nature was in its being, there my eye
Drank nothing in but Beauty , and my thoughts
Were hidden in a tide of loveliness,
And with the delicate motion of young life
My senses were one ecstasy, one thrill,
Which was not hushed, but heightened in my dreams.

I had gone back through darkly-shadowed years,
One round of fears and sorrows, and its long
And stagnant hours, which seemed for ever fixed
In one blank, joyless moment, as if time
Had grown eternity, and life could ne'er
Reach its long wished-for ending, — those dark years
Were passed like waves, when on the broken sea
Before the steady wind the vessel glides
Swift as a darting eagle, and my thoughts
Soon centred in those happy summer days,
And they were as realities, and seemed
Fairer than any I had seen before;
And in the deep intensity of soul,
Drawn from all outward things, and poised and bound
In this one pure enchantment, — then I formed
Visions of paradise, which to have known
And felt one fleeting moment, in their full
O'erpowering presence, it is more, ah! more
Than a whole age of cold and heartless years
Spent in one round of animal wants and toils,
With far less innocence and true delight
Than the keen feelings of the mother-bird
Who watches in the thicket o'er her young.
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