BELLS of the Past, whose long-forgotten music
Still fills the wide expanse,
Tingeing the sober twilight of the Present
With color of romance!
I hear your call, and see the sun descending
On rock and wave and sand,
As down the coast the Mission voices, blending,
Girdle the heathen land.
Within the circle of your incantation
No blight nor mildew falls;
Nor fierce unrest, nor lust, nor low ambition
Passes those airy walls.
Borne on the swell of your long waves receding,
I touch the farther Past;
I see the dying glow of Spanish glory,
The sunset dream and last!
Before me rise the dome-shaped Mission towers,
The white Presidio;
The swart commander in his leathern jerkin,
The priest in stole of snow.
Once more I see Portala’s cross uplifting
Above the setting sun;
And past the headland, northward, slowly drifting,
The freighted galleon.
O solemn bells! whose consecrated masses
Recall the faith of old;
O tinkling bells! that lulled with twilight music
The spiritual fold!
Your voices break and falter in the darkness,—
Break, falter, and are still;
And veiled and mystic, like the Host descending,
The sun sinks from the hill!