Page images
PDF
EPUB

In every dark and untried path

His Presence goes before ;
Though rough and stormy be life's sea,

He guideth to the shore.
Therefore, in confidence and hope,

New Year, I fain would greet thee;
And with no fearful faithless heart

Would I go forth to meet thee.
Thou bring'st me one step nearer death ;

But why should I repine ?
Thou bring'st me one step nearer life,

Eternal and divine.

S. H. P.

THE DREAM OF THE YEAR.

Tell me the dream of the infant year,

As he lay in the arms of his rugged nurse; Or was it too secret for mortal ear,

For mortal tongue to rehearse ?

I know that her song was sad and wild,

As she cradled him on her icy breast;
And he struggled and wept, like a froward child,

That will not be laid to rest.

She looked at his restless, rounded limbs,

She knew the hour was come to part, She chose the sweetest of all her hymns,

And folded him to her heart.

Thou art weary of me now, fair lad !

But wait for the hour of sorrow and pain; When thou art feeble, old, and sad,

I will come to thee again.'

She bade him listen ;-and low and deep

Were the last notes he heard her sing; Once more on her bosom he sank to sleep,

But he woke in the arms of Spring.

Spring led the boy to her fairest bowers,

Where all was lovely, fresh, and gay;
She showed him her children, the birds and flowers,

And bade them together play.

He knew not, he cared not, the heedless child,

That all was fleeting, though so sweet; In the height of his pleasure the birds flew wild,

The flowers died at his feet.

He looked for the tracks of his morning guide,

The shining showers, the silver dew; Summer, still Summer, was by his side,

With a flush in her eyes of blue.

With words that he could not understand,

She led him captive for many a mile, He felt the touch of her burning hand,

And drank the strength of her smile.

He bowed his head to the thunder shower,

He climbed the mountain so steep and stern, He looked in her face from hour to hour,

And learned what he had to learn.

He pleaded hard for an hour of rest

Life was dreary and far to roam;
She pointed him on to the shining west,

And whispered of love and home.
Weary and worn at last he crept,

And laid him down at close of day;
Sweet Summer kissed him as he slept,

And went upon her way.
Then Autumn shook, among the leaves,

Her breezy song of stars and streams;
He heard her walking through the sheaves,

And loved her in his dreams.

He thought together they wandered far,

Through corn-fields ripe for him that reaps, To find the home of the evening star,

And the cave where the west wind sleeps.

But the cold dew frosted her shining hair,

And clouds came over the starry night; She floated by like a spirit of air,

And vanished out of his sight.

And an icy hand was on his brow,

And he heard that old sad song again, *Child of the snow-drift, I come to thee now,

In the hour of grief and pain.'

And she wrapped her rugged arms once more

Around his weary wasted form,
And her lullaby, as in days of yore,

Was the wild sad song of the storm.

And the snow came up from the northern clime,

With soft white vesture and noiseless tread,
And muffled the bells of the midnight chime,

Because the old year was dead.

M. C.

MEDIEVAL SEQUENCES AND HYMNS.

No. XIII.-FOR THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL.

(Tuba Domini Paule maxima)

MIGHTIEST trump of our militant Lord,
Paul, let thy thunder from Heaven be poured,
Scatter our foes by the breath of His Word.

Thou of the Gentiles' Apostles the first,
Full of all wisdom divinely rehearsed,
Vessel of grace to extinguish our thirst.

At morn a Benjamin, ravenous of mood,
Thou didst at even distribute the food,
Wherewith the life of the world is renewed.*

Once the untameable unicorn thou,
Whom the great Husbandman yoked to His plough,
Breaking and harrowing earth's valleys now.t

He the unjust steward well doth requite,
Largely commending his anxious foresight,
Now become zeal for the children of light.

Laud to the Three everlastingly One,
Laud to the Captain of armies, the Son,
Laud to the Father and Spirit be done.

Amen.

A SEQUENCE OF PETER ABAELARD.

* Gen. xlix. 27.

+ Job, xxxix. 10.

THE DIVINA COMMEDIA OF DANTE.

We propose to bring before our readers a series of translations from Dante's great poem, selected in such a way as to preserve the unity of its conception, while omitting those portions of the narrative which may be thought to have less weighty claims than the rest upon the special attention of English readers. In general, Dante may be trusted to tell his own story with sufficient clearness, though now and then we find allusions to the history or beliefs of his time, which demand a few words of explanation. In addition to this, however, the imagery of the vision will frequently be found susceptible of various allegorical interpretations, which have exercised the ingenuity of numberless commentators; these will be briefly noticed as they occur. The same must be said of the astronomy of Dante, which is for the most part extremely involved and difficult, though this perhaps is due rather to the obscurity of his language than to the abstruseness of his ideas.

The night in which Dante conceives himself as lost in the wood, is that preceding March 25, the Good Friday of the year 1300. He was then in his 35th year, in the mid pathway' of man's allotted time. The Sun (who is the planet' of the 17th verse) was then of course in Aries, the first of the signs of the Zodiac, in which Dante imagines him to have been placed on the fourth day of creation. The dark wood, the glowing mountain, the three beasts,--the leopard, the lion, and the wolf,-all have their interpretations, both allegorical and political. Dante, the type of human nature, while in a state of misery and alienation from God, out of which his own vices prevent his extricating himself, is led by Virgil, the representative of natural science, to acknowledge the claims of morality and virtue; and by Beatrice, the representative of revealed theology, to adore the mysteries of Christianity exhibited to his view in Paradise. The political interpretations naturally have far less interest for readers of our own time and country, and since Italian commentators themselves are not agreed as to the personages represented by the wolf and the greyhound, we may be excused from giving our readers any lengthened exposition of their views. It may suffice to say that the Ghibellines, and Dante among them, had been expelled from Florence in the year 1300, and that the poet anticipates the restoration of his party and the expulsion of the Guelfs, either by the Emperor or by some Ghibelline captain of the time. It should be remarked that (since Virgil is excluded from Paradise) St. Peter's gate, at the end of the canto, must refer to the gate of Purgatory : though that is afterwards described as kept by an angel, while St. Peter is conceived as holding the keys of Paradise, according to our Lord's saying.

THE INFERNO.-CANTO I.

10

20

In the mid pathway of our earthly travel,

Encompassed by a wood obscure I found me,

Where I no road could find, no clue unravel. Ah me, how savage was that wood around me,

I scarce can say, so tangled and unbroken,

That ev'n its memory in new fear hath bound me. So bitter, that it seemed death's very token ;

But to relate the good which there I learned,

All else that did befall me shall be spoken. How I came thither, might not be discerned,

To such o'erpowering slumber was I given,

When from the path direct my steps I turned. But when I to a mountain's foot had striven,

At last the limit of that valley shewing,

Which with such deadly fear my heart had riven, I looked on high, and saw its shoulders glowing

Already with that planet's rays invested

Which guides all men aright wherever going. Then was the fear within me somewhat rested

That swayed the currents of my heart's recesses,

Throughout that night with so much woe infested. And like as one, whom laboured breath oppresses,

Forth from the dangerous tide to land ascended,

Turns and surveys the scene of his distresses ; So then my mind, its flutterings yet unended,

Turned back to gaze upon the pass up-slanting,

Where yet no living man his way had wonded. Thus to my weary limbs some respite granting,

Across the desert strand again I bore me,

Always my hinder foot securely planting.
But when I thought to scale the steep slope o'er me,

Behold a leopard, quick and nimble-paced,

With gaily spotted skin, appeared before me; Nor moved away, but aye against me faced ;

And hindered so my path with gesture warning,

That oft I turned, and near my steps retraced. It was the time of scarce unfolded m

morning; Up rose the sun, with that same constellation

Which circled him, when Love divine adorning The universe, gave those fair lights creation ;

So that the hour of day, the season's sweetness,

Gave me good cause to cherish expectation
Of overcoming that gay creature's fleetness,

Had not a lion suddenly appearing
Brought back again my fear in its completeness.

30

40

« PreviousContinue »