William Gilmore Simms poems

William Gilmore Simms(1806 - 1870 / USA)
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The Lost Pleiad

- by William Gilmore Simms 15

NOT in the sky,
Where it was seen
So long in eminence of light serene,—
Nor on the white tops of the glistering wave,
Nor down in mansions of the hidden deep,
Though beautiful in green
And crystal, its great caves of mystery,—
Shall the bright watcher have
Her place, and, as of old, high station keep!

Gone! gone!
Oh! nevermore, to cheer
The mariner, who holds his course alone
On the Atlantic, through the weary night,
When the stars turn to watchers, and do sleep,
Shall it again appear,
With the sweet-loving certainty of light,
Down shining on the shut eyes of the deep!

The upward-looking shepherd on the hills
Of Chaldea, night-returning with his flocks,
He wonders why his beauty doth not blaze,
Gladding his gaze,—
And, from his dreary watch along the rocks,
Guiding him homeward o'er the perilous ways!
How stands he waiting still, in a sad maze,
Much wondering, while the drowsy silence fills
The sorrowful vault!—how lingers, in the hope that night
May yet renew the expected and sweet light,
So natural to his sight!

And lone,
Where, at the first, in smiling love she shone,
Brood the once happy circle of bright stars:
How should they dream, until her fate was known,
That they were ever confiscate to death?
That dark oblivion the pure beauty mars,
And, like the earth, its common bloom and breath,
That they should fall from high;
Their lights grow blasted by a touch, and die,
All their concerted springs of harmony
Snapt rudely, and the generous music gone!

Ah! still the strain
Of wailing sweetness fills the saddening sky;
The sister stars, lamenting in their pain
That one of the selectest ones must die,—
Must vanish, when most lovely, from the rest!
Alas! 't is ever thus the destiny.
Even Rapture's song hath evermore a tone
Of wailing, as for bliss too quickly gone.
The hope most precious is the soonest lost,
The flower most sweet is first to feel the frost.
Are not all short-lived things the loveliest?
And, like the pale star, shooting down the sky,
Look they not ever brightest, as they fly
From the lone sphere they blest!

The Angel Of The Church

- by William Gilmore Simms 12

I.
Aye, strike with sacrilegious aim
The temple of the living God;
Hurl iron bolt and seething flame
Through aisles which holiest feet have trod;
Tear up the altar, spoil the tomb,
And, raging with demoniac ire,
Send down, in sudden crash of doom,
That grand, old, sky-sustaining spire.

II.

That spire, for full a hundred years,[1]
Hath been a people's point of sight;
That shrine hath warmed their souls to tears,
With strains well worthy Salem's height;
The sweet, clear music of its bells,
Made liquid soft in Southern air,
Still through the heart of memory swells,
And wakes the hopeful soul to prayer.

III.

Along the shores for many a mile,
Long ere they owned a beacon-mark,
It caught arid kept the Day-God's smile,
The guide for every wandering bark;[2]
Averting from our homes the scaith
Of fiery bolt, in storm-cloud driven,
The Pharos to the wandering faith,
It pointed every prayer to Heaven!

IV.

Well may ye, felons of the time,
Still loathing all that's pure and free,
Add this to many a thousand crime
'Gainst peace and sweet humanity:
Ye, who have wrapped our towns in flame,
Defiled our shrines, befouled our homes,
But fitly turn your murderous aim
Against Jehovah's ancient domes.

V.

Yet, though the grand old temple falls,
And downward sinks the lofty spire,
Our faith is stronger than our walls,
And soars above the storm and fire.
Ye shake no faith in souls made free
To tread the paths their fathers trod;
To fight and die for liberty,
Believing in the avenging God!

VI.

Think not, though long his anger stays,
His justice sleeps--His wrath is spent;
The arm of vengeance but delays,
To make more dread the punishment!
Each impious hand that lights the torch
Shall wither ere the bolt shall fall;
And the bright Angel of the Church,
With seraph shield avert the ball!

VII.

For still we deem, as taught of old,
That where the faith the altar builds,
God sends an angel from his fold,
Whose sleepless watch the temple shields,
And to his flock, with sweet accord,
Yields their fond choice, from THRONES and POWERS;
Thus, Michael, with his fiery sword
And golden shield, still champions ours!

VIII.

And he who smote the dragon down,
And chained him thousand years of time,
Need never fear the boa's frown,
Though loathsome in his spite and slime.
He, from the topmost height, surveys
And guards the shrines our fathers gave;
And we, who sleep beneath his gaze,
May well believe his power to save!

IX.

Yet, if it be that for our sin
Our angel's term of watch is o'er,
With proper prayer, true faith must win
The guardian watcher back once more I
Faith, brethren of the Church, and prayer--
In blood and sackcloth, if it need;
And still our spire shall rise in air,
Our temple, though our people bleed!

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