Maiden of the lofty brow,
Mournful eye and cheek of snow;
Thou whose gaze is ever cast
On the pageant of the Past;
Tell me what thou seest there;
Tell me what its voices bear.
"Wheresoe'er I turn mine eyes,
Gorgeous visions on them rise.
In the distance, dim and far,
I see the glorious pomp of war:
Grecian phalanx, Persian host,
Darken now yon rocky coast;
Now the youth of Macedon,
Half the trembling earth has won;
Now o'er barbaric hordes and kings,
The Roman eagle flaps his wings.
Where the Crusaders' ranks advance,
I see their burnished armor glance;
And turban'd Turk, in eastern garb,
Spur to the charge his fiery barb.
Kings and nobles I behold;
Steel-clad knights and barons bold;
Slaves and serfs, a countless band,
Throng the misty, phantom-land.
"Through cathedrals, old and dim,
Echo anthem, prayer, and hymn;
And holy priests, in flowing stoles,
Chaunt masses for departed souls.
I see the breathing forms of Art,
From the Grecian marble start;
Immortal pictures live and glow,
From Raphael and Angelo.
And voices, like the rushing blast,
Swell through this temple of the past:
Homer strikes his thrilling strings,
And to the listening ages sings;
Shakspeare's voice joins in the chime,
Echoing through the vaults of Time;
With the two to whom 'tis given
To lift the veil that curtains Heaven.
And while these changing shades appear,
And while these voices green mine ear,
Still, with vision backward cast,
I must mourn the vanished past."