Henrietta Cordelia Ray

H
Henrietta Cordelia Ray
Limitations
The subtlest strain a great musician weaves,
Cannot attain in rhythmic harmony
To music in his soul. May it not be
Celestial lyres send hints to him? He grieves
That half the sweetness of the song, he leaves
Unheard in the transition. Thus do we
Yearn to translate the wondrous majesty
Of some rare mood, when the rapt soul receives
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Lincoln
To-day, O martyred chief, beneath the sun
We would unveil thy form; to thee who won
Th’applause of nations for thy soul sincere,
A loving tribute we would offer here.
’T was thine not worlds to conquer, but men’s hearts;
To change to balm the sting of slavery’s darts;
In lowly charity thy joy to find,
And open “gates of mercy on mankind.”
And so they come, the freed, with grateful gift,
From whose sad path the shadows thou didst lift.

Eleven years have rolled their seasons round,
Since its most tragic close thy life-work found.
Yet through the vistas of the vanished days
We see thee still, responsive to our gaze,
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An Ocean Musing
Far, far out lie the white sails all at rest;
Like spectral arms they seem to touch and cling
Unto the wide horizon. Not a wing
Of truant bird glides down the purpling west;
No breeze dares to intrude, e’en on a quest
To fan a lover’s brow; the waves to sing
Have quite forgotten till the deep shall fling
A bow across its vibrant chords. Then, lest
One moment of the sea’s repose we lose,
Nor furnish Fancy with a thousand themes
Of unimagined sweetness, let us gaze
On this serenity, for as we muse,
Lo! all is restless motion: life’s best dreams
Give changing moods to even halcyon days.

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Self-Mastery
To catch the spirit in its wayward flight
Through mazes manifold, what task supreme!
For when to floods has grown the quiet stream,
Much human skill must aid its rage to fight;
And when wild winds invade the solemn night,
Seems not man’s vaunted power but a dream?
And still more futile, ay, we e’en must deem
This quest to tame the soul, and guide aright
Its restless wanderings, – to lure it back
To shoals of calm. Full many a moan and sigh
Attend the strife; till, effort merged in prayer,
Oft uttered, clung to – when of strength the lack
Seems direst – brings the answer to our cry:
A gift from Him who lifts our ev’ry care.

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Toussaint L’Ouverture
To those fair isles where crimson sunsets burn,
We send a backward glance to gaze on thee,
Brave Toussaint! thou was surely born to be
A hero; thy proud spirit could but spurn
Each outrage on the race. Couldst thou unlearn
The lessons taught by instinct? Nay! and we
Who share the zeal that would make all men free,
Must e’en with pride unto thy life-work turn.
Soul-dignity was thine and purest aim;
And ah! how sad that thou wast left to mourn
In chains ’neath alien skies. On him, shame! shame!
That mighty conqueror who dared to claim
The right to bind thee. Him we heap with scorn,
And noble patriot! guard with love thy name.

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