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NORTON, Caroline

My heart is like a withered nut

My heart is like a withered nut,

Rattling within its hollow shell;

You cannot ope my breast, and put

Any thing fresh with it to dwell.

The hopes and dreams that filled it when

Life’s spring of glory met my view,

Are gone! And ne’er with joy or pain

That shrunken heart shall swell anew.

My heart is like a withered nut;

Once it was soft to every touch,

But now ‘tis stern and closely shut;–

I would not have to plead with such.

Each light-toned voice once cleared my brow,

Each gentle breeze once shook the tree

Where hung the sun-lit fruit, which now

Lies cold, and stiff, and sad, like me!

My heart is like a withered nut—

It once was comely to the view;

But since misfortune’s blast hath cut,

It hath a dark and mournful hue.

The freshness of its verdant youth

Nought to that fruit can now restore.

And my poor heart, I feel in truth,

Nor sun, nor smile shall light it more!

As When From Dreams Awaking

As when from dreams awaking

The dim forms float away

Whose visioned smiles were making

Our darkness bright as day;

We vainly strive, while weeping,

From their shining spirit track,

(Where they fled while we were sleeping,)

To call those dear ones back!

Like the stars, some power divides them

From a world of want and pain;

They are there, but daylight hides them,

And we look for them in vain.

For a while we dwell with sadness,

On the beauty of that dream,

Then turn, and hail with gladness

The light of morning's beam.

So, when memory's power is wringing

Our lonely hearts to tears,

Dim forms around us bringing

That brightened former years:

Fond looks and low words spoken,

Which those dreamy days could boast,

Rise; till the spell be broken,

We forget that they are lost!

But when the hour of darkness rolls

Like heavy night away;

And peace is stealing o'er our souls,

Like the dawn of summer day:

The dim sweet forms that used to bless,

Seem stealing from us too;

We loved them — but joy's sunniness

Hath hid them from our view!

Oh could day beam eternally,

And Memory's power cease,

This world, a world of light would be,

Our hearts were worlds of peace:

But dreams of joy return with night,

And dwell upon the past —

And every grief that clouds our light,

Reminds us of the last!

My Childhood's Home

I have tasted each varied pleasure,

And drunk of the cup of delight;

I have danced to the gayest measure

In the halls of dazzling light.

I have dwelt in a blaze of splendour,

And stood in the courts of kings;

I have snatched at each toy that could render

More rapid the flight of Time's wings.

But vainly I've sought for joy or peace,

In that life of light and shade;

And I turn with a sigh to my own dear home—

The home where my childhood played!

When jewels are sparkling round me,

And dazzling with their rays,

I weep for the ties that bound me

In life's first early days.

I sigh for one of the sunny hours

Ere day was turned to-night;

For one of my nosegays of fresh wild flowers,

Instead of those jewels bright.

I weep when I gaze on the scentless buds

Which never can bloom or fade;

And I turn with a sigh to those gay green fields—

The home where my childhood played.


OH! if the winds could whisper what they hear,

When murmuring round at sunset through the grove;

If words were written on the streamlet clear,

So often spoken fearlessly above:

If tell-tale stars, descending from on high,

Could image forth the thoughts of all that gaze,

Entranced upon that deep cerulean sky,

And count how few think only of their rays!

If the lulled heaving ocean could disclose

All that has passed upon her golden sand,

When the moon-lighted waves triumphant rose,

And dashed their spray upon the echoing strand.

If dews could tell how many tears have mixed

With the bright gem-like drops that Nature weeps,

If night could say how many eyes are fixed

On her dark shadows, while creation sleeps!

If echo, rising from her magic throne,

Repeated with her melody of voice

Each timid sigh—each whispered word and tone,

Which made the hearer's listening heart rejoice.

If Nature could, unchecked, repeat aloud

All she hath heard and seen—must hear and see—

Where would the whispering, vowing, sighing crowd

Of lovers, and their blushing partners, be?

I do not love thee

I DO not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!

And yet when thou art absent I am sad;

And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,

Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,

Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:

A,nd often in my solitude I sigh

That those I do love are not more like thee!

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,

I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)

Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone

Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,

With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,

Between me and the midnight heaven arise,

Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

I know I do not love thee! Yet, alas!

Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;

Ands oft I catch them smiling as they pass,

Because they see me gazing where thou art.

Bingen on the Rhine

A soldier of the legion lay dying in Algiers,

There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears;

But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away,

And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say.

The dying soldier faltered, as he took that comrade's hand,

And he said, "I never more shall see my own, my native land:

Take a message and a token to some distant friends of mine;

For I was born at Bingen—at Bingen on the Rhine.

"Tell my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around,

To hear my mournful story, in the pleasant vineyard ground

That we fought the battle bravely, and when the day was done,

Full many a corpse lay ghastly pale beneath the setting sun:

And 'mid the dead and dying were some grown old in wars—

The death-wound on their gallant breasts, the last of many scars;

And some were young, and suddenly beheld life's morn decline—

And one had come from Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine.

"Tell my mother that her other son shall comfort her old age;

For I was still a truant bird, that thought his home a cage.

For my father was a soldier, and even as a child

My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of struggles fierce and wild;

And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty hoard,

I let them take whate'er they would—but kept my father's sword;

And with boyish love I hung it where the bright light used to shine,

On the cottage wall at Bingen—calm Bingen on the Rhine.

"Tell my sister not to weep for me, and sob with drooping head,

When the troops come marching home again, with glad and gallant tread,

But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and steadfast eye,

For her brother was a soldier, too, and not afraid to die;

And if a comrade seek her love, I ask her in my name,

To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame,

And to hang the old sword in its place (my father's sword and mine),

For the honour of old Bingen—dear Bingen on the Rhine.

"There's another—not a sister; in the happy days gone by,

You'd have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye;

Too innocent for coquetry—too fond for idle scorning—

O, friend! I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning!

Tell her the last night of my life (for ere the moon be risen,

My body will be out of pain, my soul be out of prison)—

I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow sunlight shine

On the vine-clad hills of Bingen—sweet Bingen on the Rhine.

"I saw the blue Rhine sweep along—I heard, or seemed to hear,

The German songs we used to sing in chorus sweet and clear;

And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill,

The echoing chorus sounded through the evening calm and still;

And her glad blue eyes were on me, as we passed with friendly talk,

Down many a path beloved of yore, and well-remembered walk!

And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine—

But we meet no more at Bingen—loved Bingen on the Rhine."

His trembling voice grew faint and hoarse; his grasp was childish weak;

His eyes put on a dying look; and he sighed and ceased to speak;

His comrade bent to lift him, but the spark of life had fled;

The soldier of the Legion in a foreign land—was dead!

And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down

On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corpses strown;

Yes, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine,

As it shown on distant Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine.

The Future

I WAS a laughing child, and gaily dwelt

Where murmuring brooks, and dark blue rivers roll'd,

And shadowy trees outspread their silent arms,

To welcome all the weary to their rest.

And there an antique castle rais'd its head,

Where dwelt a fair and fairy girl: perchance

Two summers she had seen beyond my years;

And all she said or did, was said and done

With such a light and airy sportiveness,

That oft I envied her, for I was poor,

And lowly, and to me her fate did seem

Fraught with a certainty of happiness.

Years past; and she was wed against her will,

To one who sought her for the gold she brought,

And they did vex and wound her gentle spirit,

Till madness took the place of misery.

And oft I heard her low, soft, gentle song,

Breathing of early times with mournful sound,

Till I could weep to hear, and thought how sad.

The envied future of her life had prov'd.

And then I grew a fond and thoughtful girl,

Loving, and deeming I was lov'd again:

But he that won my easy heart, full soon

Turn'd to another:—she might be more fair,

But could not love him better. And I wept,

Day after day, till weary grew my spirit,

With fancying how happy she must be

Whom he had chosen—yet she was not so;

For he she wedded, loved her for a time,

And then he changed, even as he did to me,

Though something later; and he sought another

To please his fancy, far away from home.

And he was kind: oh, yes! he still was kind.

It vex'd her more; for though she knew his love

Had faded like the primrose after spring,

Yet there was nothing which she might complain,

Had cause to grieve her; he was gentle still.

She would have given all the store she had,

That he would but be angry for an hour,

That she might come and soothe his wounded spirit,

And lay her weeping head upon his bosom,

And say, how freely she forgave her wrongs:

But still, with calm, cold kindness he pursued

(Kindness, the mockery of departed love!)

His way—and then she died, the broken-hearted;

And I thanked heaven, who gave me not her lot,

Though I had wish'd it.

Again, I was a wife, a happy wife;

And he I loved was still unchangeable,

And kind, and true, and loved me from his soul;

But I was childless, and my lonely heart

Yearned for an image of my heart's beloved,

A something which should be my 'future' now

That I had so much of my life gone by;

Something to look to after I should go,

And all except my memory be past.

There was a child, a little rosy thing,

With sunny eyes, and curled and shining hair,

That used to play among the daisy flowers,

Looking as innocent and fair as they;

And sail its little boat upon the stream,

Gazing with dark blue eyes in the blue waters,

And singing in its merriment of heart

All the bright day: and when the sun was setting,

It came unbid to its glad mother's side,

To lisp with holy look its evening prayer:

And, kneeling on the green and flowery ground,

At the sweet cottage door—he fixed his eyes

For some short moments on her tranquil face,

As if she was his guiding star to God;

And then with young, meek, innocent brow upraised,

Spoke the slow words with lips that longed to smile,

But dared not. Oh! I loved that child with all

A mother's fondest love; and, as he grew

More and more beautiful from day to day,

The half-involuntary sigh I gave

Spoke but too plain the wish that he were mine—

My child—my own. And in my solitude,

Often I clasped my hands and thought of him,

And looked with mournful and reproachful gaze

To heaven, which had denied me such a one.

Years past: the child became a rebel boy;

The boy a wild, untamed, and passionate youth;

The youth a man—but such a man! so fierce,

So wild, so headlong, and so haughty too,

So cruel in avenging any wrongs,

So merciless when he had half avenged them!

At length his hour had come—a deed of blood,

Of murder, was upon his guilty soul.

He stood in that same spot, by his sweet home,

The same blue river flowing by his feet,

(Whose stream might never wash his guilt away

The same green hills, and mossy sloping banks,

Where the bright sun was smiling as of yore:

With pallid cheek and dark and sullen brow,

The beautiful and lost; you might have deemed

That Satan, newly banished, stood and gazed

On the bright scenery of an infant world.

For, fallen as he was, his Maker's hand

Had stamped him beauteous, and he was so still.

And his eyes turned from off his early home

With something like a shudder; and they lighted

On his poor broken-hearted mother's grave.

And there was something in them of old times,

Ere sin had darkened o'er their tranquil blue,

In that most mournful look—that made me weep;

"For I had gazed on him with fear and anguish

Till now. And, "weep for her," my favourite said,

For she was good—I murdered her—I killed

Many that harmed me not." And still he spoke

In a low, listless voice; and forms came round

Who dragged him from us. I remember not

What followed then. But on another day,

There was a crowd collected, and a cart

Slowly approached to give to shameful death

Its burden; and there was a prayer, and silence,

Silence like that of death. And then a murmur!

And all was over. And I groaned, and turned

To where his poor old father had been sitting;

And there he sate, still with his feeble limbs

And palsied head, and dim and watery eyes,

Gazing up at the place where was his son;

And with a shuddering touch I sought to rouse him,

But could not, for the poor old man was dead.

And then I flung myself upon the ground,

And mingled salt tears with the evening dew;

And thanked my God that he was not my son;

And that I was a childless, lonely wife.

To-morrow I will tell thee all that now

Remains to tell—but I am old and feeble.

And cannot speak for tears.

She rose and went,

But she returned no more. The morrow came,

But not to her;—the tale of life was finished,

Not by her lips, for she had ceased to breath.

But, by this silent warning joined to hers,

How little we may count upon the future,

Or reckon what that future may bring forth!