Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  H. W. L.

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

John Nichol 1833–94

H. W. L.

THE ROAR of Niagara dies away,

The fever heats of war and traffic fade,

While the soft twilight melts the glare of day

In this new Helicon, the Muses’ glade.

The roof that shelter’d Washington’s retreat,

Thy home of homes, America, I find

In this memorial mansion, where we greet

The full-ton’d lyrist, with the gentle mind.

Here have thy chosen spirits met and flower’d,

Season on season, ’neath magnetic spells

Of him who, in his refuge, rose-embower’d,

Remote from touch of envious passion dwells.

Here Concord’s sage and Harvard’s wit contend:

The wise, the true, the learned of the land,

Grave thoughts, gay fantasies together blend

In subtle converse, ’neath his fostering hand.

With other forms than those of mortal guest

The house is haunted; visions of the morn,

Voices of night that soothe the soul to rest,

Attend the shapes, by aery wand reborn;

Serene companions of a vanish’d age,

Noiseless they tread the once familiar floors;

Or, later offspring of the poet’s page,

They throng the threshold, crowd the corridors.

“Sweet Preciosa” beside the listening stair

Flutters expectant while Victorian sings;

Evangeline, with cloistral eyes of prayer,

Folds her white hands, in shade of angels’ wings.

Conquistadors of Castile pace the hall;

Or red-skinn’d warriors pass the challenge round;

Or Minnehaha’s laughter, as the fall

Of woodland waters, makes a silver sound.

Thor rolls the thunders of his fiery vaunt,

The answering battle burns in Olaf’s eyes;

Or love-crown’d Elsie lures us with the chaunt

That lull’d the waves, ’neath star-hung Genoan skies.

Here grim-faced captains of colonial days

Salute the builders of old German rhyme;

And choral troops of children hymn the praise

Of their own master minstrel of all time.

Fair shrine of pure creations! linger long

His bright example, may his fame increase:

Discord nor distance ever dim his song,

Whose ways are pleasantness, whose paths are peace.

Nor Hawthorne’s manse, wïth ancient moss bespread,

Nor Irving’s hollow, is with rest so rife

As this calm haven, where the leaves are shed

Round Indian summers of a golden life.