roll on. We cannot, it is true, penetrate to the heart, but in our sympathy we would be with them, intreating them not to stand still, lest they should fall back. No stage or step in life can form a halting place. Life must be one perpetual move; no sooner is the foot planted on one vantage ground, than a look must be cast upon the next—and so it must go on to the end. God speed the eager, and strengthen the failing feet, till the summit is gained and the weary may rest!


[blocks in formation]

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.


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.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

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.



(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.†

[blocks in formation]


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.

« VorigeDoorgaan »