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A Rhapsody Of Summer
by [?]

There came into my life a time of strenuous effort, and I drank all the joys of labour to the lees. When the rich dark midnights of summer drooped over the earth, I could hardly bear to think of the hours of oblivion which must pass ere I felt the delight of work once more. And the world seemed very beautiful; and, when I looked up to the solemn sky, so sweetly sown with stars, I could see stirring words like “Fame” and “Gladness” and “Triumph” written dimly across the vault; so that my heart was full of rejoicing, and all the world promised fair. In those immortal midnights the sea spoke wonderful things to me, and the long rollers glittering under the high moon bore health and bright promise as they hastened to the shore. And, when the ships stole–oh, so silently!–out of the shadows and moved over the diamond track of the moon’s light, I sent my heart out to the lonely seamen and prayed that they might be joyous like me. Then the ringing of the song of multitudinous birds sounded in the hours of dawn, and the tawny-throated king of songsters made my pulses tremble with his wild ecstasy; and the blackbird poured forth mellow defiance, and the thrush shrilled in his lovely fashion concerning the joy of existence.

Pass, dreams! The long beams are drawn from the bosom of dawn. The gray of the quiet sea quickens into rose, and soon the glittering serpentine streaks of colour quiver into a blaze; the brown sands glow, and the little waves run inward, showing milky curves under the gay light; the shoregoing boats come home, and their sails–those coarse tanned sails–are like flowers that wake with the daisies and the peonies to feast on the sun. Happy holiday-makers who are wise enough to watch the fishers come in! The booted thickly-clad fellows plunge into the shallow water; and then the bare-footed women come down, and the harvest of the night is carried up the cliffs before the most of the holiday-folk have fairly awakened. The proud day broadens to its height, and the sands are blackened by the growing crowd; for the beach near a fashionable watering-place is like a section cut from a turbulent city street, save that the folk on the sands think of aught but business. I have never been able to sympathize with those who can perceive only vulgarity in a seaside crowd. It is well to care for deserted shores and dark moaning forests in the far North; but the average British holiday-maker is a sociable creature; he likes to feel the sense of companionship, and his spirits rise in proportion to the density of the crowd amid which he disports himself. To me, the life, the concentrated enjoyment, the ways of the children who are set free from the trammels of town life, are all like so much poetry. I learned early to rejoice in silent sympathy with the rejoicing of God’s creatures. Only to watch the languid pose of some steady toiler from the City is enough to give discontented people a goodly lesson. The man has been ground in the mill for a year; his modest life has left him no time for enjoyment, and his ideas of all pleasure are crude. Watch him as he remains passively in an ecstasy of rest. The cries of children, the confused jargon of the crowd, fall but faintly on his nerves; he likes the sensation of being in company; he has a dim notion of the beauty of the vast sky with its shining snowy-bosomed clouds, and he lets the light breeze blow over him. I like to look on that good citizen and contrast the dull round of his wayfarings on many streets with the ease and satisfaction of his attitude on the sands. Then the night comes. The dancers are busy, the commonplace music is made refined by distance, and the murmur of the sea gathers power over all other sounds, until the noon of night arrives and the last merry voices are heard no more. Poor harmless revellers, so condemned by men whose round of life is a search for pleasure! Many of you do not understand or care for quiet refinements of dress and demeanour; you lack restraint; but I have felt much gladness while demurely watching your abandonment. I could draw rest for my soul from the magnetic night long after you were aweary and asleep; but much of my pleasure came as a reflection from yours.