James Russell Lowell poems

James Russell Lowell(22 February 1819 - 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)
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A Youthful Experiment In English Hexameters

- by James Russell Lowell 30

IMPRESSIONS OF HOMER

Sometimes come pauses of calm, when the rapt bard, holding his heart back,
Over his deep mind muses, as when o'er awe-stricken ocean
Poises a heapt cloud luridly, ripening the gale and the thunder;
Slow rolls onward the verse with a long swell heaving and swinging,
Seeming to wait till, gradually wid'ning from far-off horizons,
Piling the deeps up, heaping the glad-hearted surges before it,
Gathers the thought as a strong wind darkening and cresting the tumult.
Then every pause, every heave, each trough in the waves, has its meaning;
Full-sailed, forth like a tall ship steadies the theme, and around it,
Leaping beside it in glad strength, running in wild glee beyond it,
Harmonies billow exulting and floating the soul where it lists them,
Swaying the listener's fantasy hither and thither like drift-weed.

Above and Below

- by James Russell Lowell 30

I

O dwellers in the valley-land,
Who in deep twilight grope and cower,
Till the slow mountain's dial-hand
Shorten to noon's triumphal hour,
While ye sit idle, do ye think
The Lord's great work sits idle too?
That light dare not o'erleap the brink
Of morn, because 'tis dark with you?

Though yet your valleys skulk in night,
In God's ripe fields the day is cried,
And reapers, with their sickles bright,
Troop, singing, down the mountain-side:
Come up, and feel what health there is
In the frank Dawn's delighted eyes,
As, bending with a pitying kiss,
The night-shed tears of Earth she dries!

The Lord wants reapers: oh, mount up,
Before night comes, and says, 'Too late!'
Stay not for taking scrip or cup,
The Master hungers while ye wait;
'Tis from these heights alone your eyes
The advancing spears of day can see,
That o'er the eastern hill-tops rise,
To break your long captivity.

II

Lone watcher on the mountain-height,
It is right precious to behold
The first long surf of climbing light
Flood all the thirsty east with gold;
But we, who in the shadow sit,
Know also when the day is nigh,
Seeing thy shining forehead lit
With his inspiring prophecy.

Thou hast thine office; we have ours;
God lacks not early service here,
But what are thine eleventh hours
He counts with us for morning cheer;
Our day, for Him, is long enough,
And when He giveth work to do,
The bruised reed is amply tough
To pierce the shield of error, through.

But not the less do thou aspire
Light's earlier messages to preach;
Keep back no syllable of fire,
Plunge deep the rowels of thy speech.
Yet God deems not thine aeried sight
More worthy than our twilight dim;
For meek Obedience, too, is Light,
And following that is finding Him.

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