Friday, August 12, 2016

Two poems by "Melville" in the Christian Watchman

1. From the Christian Watchman [Boston, Massachusetts] Friday, March 2, 1838; found in the online newspaper archives at Genealogy Bank.


For the Watchman.


Well, be it thus;— renounce the page
    Which tells of brighter worlds on high;
Then rest content, as stoic sage,
    In gloomy doubt, to grope and die.
Shut out the light which shines from heaven;
    To boastful creed of reason keep;
Say brutish life to me is given,
    And death is but eternal sleep.

But leave thy neighbor’s spirit free,
    Nor, with rash hand, the hope destroy,—
Blest hope of immortality,
    Which all dilates the heart with joy;
Nor wake the peaceful dreamer thou,
    The bitter dregs of life to taste:
If vain the hopes which bind us now,
    O, let the sweet delusion last!

If life a false speck can be shown,
    The ocean of eternity
Up from its heaving depth has thrown;
    If hapless man may never see
Aught when this anxious being dies,
    But sink to nothingness again,
As on the earth he shuts his eyes,
    O, let him wish and hope till then!

Go to the mother, as she gives
    Her first-born to the arms of death;—
How sinks her heart, which anguish rives
    Its chords to mark the final breath!
And wilt thou soothe her frenzied thought,
    With words of cold philosophy;
Or say the infant soul is nought,
    As her’s, anon, shall surely be?

Away, away, a voice within
    Gives thy vain sophistry the lie;
It pleads for that which is,—hath been,—
    And, all divine, can never die.
Hope, reason, Scripture,—all proclaim,
    To virtue’s ear, a nobler rest:
‘Tis writ, in characters of flame,
    On ev’ry heart, in ev’ry breast.

The holy light of day; the sun,
    Bright image of the Lord Supreme;
The clouds, the viewless wind; in one,
    All things which vast or lovely seem;
The hoary earth, the deep blue sea,
    Where nature’s subtler wonders meet;—

The sombre majesty of night,
    As o’er the pensive mind it steals;
The calm, bright moon, whose silver light
    In vain the fleecy cloud conceals;
The stars, so eloquent, which seem
    Of silent consciousness possest,
Which active fancy well might deem
    Kind heralds of the heavenly rest. 
Speak to the soul, and wake its glow,
    While the far-vault of heaven on high
Wide echoes to the deep below
    Its soft and sacred minstrelsy.
All mind, the universe, where’er
    A thought has ranged, or science trod,
With voice united, all declare
    A Spirit, and that Spirit’s God.


2.  From the Christian Watchman, Wednesday, November 28, 1838:

For the Christian Watchman.


Eternal Parent! through whose care,
   Mercy and truth illume our days,
‘Tis fit the teeming year should bear
    To Thee the tribute of our praise;
For ev’ry gift which crowns the land
   Is dealt from thine all bounteous hand.

The vernal hope, the summer’s bloom,
    When Sol his warm effulgence pours,
The sterner day of winter’s gloom,
   Made bright with autumn’s golden stores,
Spring from the fountain of thy grace,
    To bless Thy sons of earthly race.

Then, while to hallowed fane resort
    Thy saints, to raise the sacred lay,
Grant we, within Thy holy court,
   May give a voice to praise to-day;
Here let the contrite prayer be blent
   With rolling anthem heavenward sent.

When, ere the genial day’s decline,
   We glad surround the festal board,
While friends and home their joys combine,
    To bless the season’s grateful hoard;
Thy goodness let our spirits know,
    And all our brethren prove it too.

Thus, blest by Thee, Almighty Lord,
    Whate’er Thy hand withholds or gives,
The hope of glory, through the Word,
    Shall cast its sun-shine o’er our lives;
Till Thou remove our souls above,
    In nobler strains, to sing Thy love.


What if some camp on crags austere
The Stoic held ere Gospel cheer ?
There may the common herd abide,
Having dreamed of heaven? Nay, and can you? 
--Herman Melville, Clarel 3.21 - In Confidence

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