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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By David Gray (1836–1888)

WHEN the great South-wind, loud,

Leaps from his lair of cloud,

And treads the darkness of the sea to foam;

When wild awake is night,

And, not too full nor bright,

The moon sheds stormy light

From heaven’s high dome;

Then, while I only keep

Watch of the sounding deep,

And midnight, and the white shore’s curving form,

Wakeful, I let the din

Of their shrill voices in,

And feel my spirit win

Strength from the storm.

Strength from the wrestling air

It wins, till I can bear

To beckon him who waits for me, apart—

Him, the long dead, whom love,

Deathless, hath set above

All other Lares of

My hearth and heart.

The house is still, and swept,

Save where the wind has crept,

And utters at the door its cry of fear.

While the weak moonbeams swim

Down from the casement dim,

I wait for sign of him:

Hush! he is here;

Betwixt the light and gloom

He fronts me, in mid-room;

I stir not, nor a greeting hand extend;

But the loud-throbbing breast

And silence greet him best,

Beloved, yet awful, guest—

Spirit, yet friend!

He speaks not, but I brook

In his calm eyes to look,

And dare an utterance of my dread delight:

Oh, as in midnights flown,

Bide with me, thou long-gone;

Are we not here alone—

We and the night?

Then gliding on a space,

He takes the ancient place,

Vacant so long, a sorrow’s desolate shrine.

Night shuts us in, yet seems

Lit, as in festal dreams,

And the storm past us streams

In song divine.

Slips, then, from my sick heart

Its covering of sad art;

Joy rushes back in speech as sweet as tears;

Tell me, I cry, O friend,

Whose calm eyes see the end,

Unto what issues bend

The awful years?

Tell me what view is won,

From mountains of the sun,

Over this earth’s unstarred and blackened sphere.

This life of weary breath

Vainly one questioneth—

Oh! from the halls of death

What cheer? What cheer?