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Apathy And Enthusiasm

(1860-1.)


I

O the clammy cold November,
  And the winter white and dead,
And the terror dumb with stupor,
  And the sky a sheet of lead;
And events that came resounding
  With the cry that All was lost,
Like the thunder-cracks of massy ice
  In intensity of frost--
Bursting one upon another
  Through the horror of the calm.
  The paralysis of arm
In the anguish of the heart;
And the hollowness and dearth.
  The appealings of the mother
  To brother and to brother
Not in hatred so to part--
And the fissure in the hearth
  Growing momently more wide.
Then the glances 'tween the Fates,
  And the doubt on every side,
And the patience under gloom
In the stoniness that waits
The finality of doom.


II So the winter died despairing, And the weary weeks of Lent; And the ice-bound rivers melted, And the tomb of Faith was rent. O, the rising of the People Came with springing of the grass, They rebounded from dejection And Easter came to pass. And the young were all elation Hearing Sumter's cannon roar, And they thought how tame the Nation In the age that went before. And Michael seemed gigantical, The Arch-fiend but a dwarf; And at the towers of Erebus Our striplings flung the scoff. But the elders with foreboding Mourned the days forever o'er, And re called the forest proverb, The Iroquois' old saw: Grief to every graybeard When young Indians lead the war.

Herman Melville