In the hills' embraces holden,
In a valley filled with glooms,
Lies a cemetery olden,
Strewn with countless mould'ring tombs.
Ancient graves o'erhung with mosses,
Crumbling stones, effaced and green,--
Venturesome is he who crosses,
Night or day, the lonely scene.
Blasted trees and willow streamers,
'Midst the terror round them spread,
Seem like awe-bound, silent dreamers
In this garden of the dead.
One bird, anguish stricken, lingers
In the shadow of the vale,
First and best of feathered singers,--
'Tis the churchyard nightingale.
As from bough to bough he flutters,
Sweetest songs of woe and wail
Through his gift divine he utters
For the dreamers in the vale.
Listen how his trills awaken
Echoes from each mossy stone!
Of all places he has taken
God's still Acre for his own.
Not on Spring or Summer glory,
Not on god or angel story
Loyal poet-fancy dwells!
Not on streams for rich men flowing,
Not on fields for rich men's mowing,--
Graves he sees, of graves he tells.
Pain, oppression, woe eternal,
Open heart-wounds deep, diurnal,
Nothing comforts or allays;
O'er God's Acre in each nation
Sings he songs of tribulation
Tunes his golden harp and plays.