Sheen and Shade (3)
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POEMS FOR THE PEOPLE.

─────♦─────


A VOICE FROM THE COUNTRY.

 

COME forth, sons of Toil, from the mines and the mills,
    And, where the bright brooks through the green woodlands
            stray,
Come and drink in the beauties of Nature, who rills
    Richest lore through the hearts of her lovers alway;
Where the speckled lark springs from the dew-spangled sod,
    And breasting the sun-billows soars out of sight,
In homage to lay on the altar of God
    An offering of melody, love, and delight;
Where the flowers of the field look like heavenly things,
    As if the two goddesses Beauty hath crowned,
Aurora and Iris, had moulted their wings
    And scattered the plumage abroad on the ground,
The drudging and drooping to charm and to cheer;
    Where the Summer winds whisper "There's happiness here!"
Let Mammon relax his firm grasp for a day,
    By life-giving Leisure let Labour be crowned,
And Care, from his dark, dingy halls far away,
    In the full-flowing fountains of Joy shall be drowned;
Fresh vigour shall shoot through men's toil-shrunken limbs,
    The cheeks of pale maidens shall blush into bloom,
Sweet tongues and glad hearts flood the heavens with hymns,
    And Mirth fling a mantle of flowers o'er the tomb!
Then come to the country and scan the blue sky,
    O come to the country and press the green sod!
Dry the sweat from thy brow, dash the tear from thine eye,
    Who mingleth with Nature communeth with God!
Yea, come, son of Toil, thy sad spirit to cheer,
    Tastes the sweets of the country while SUMMER is here!

 


____________________

 
THE LOST JEWEL.

 

Oh!   I have lost a jewel Time can never,
    Nor Fortune, Fate, nor Circumstance restore—
A prize I prized not; but, when fled forever,
    I deeply felt the loss I now deplore;
For I have sat and seen the golden sun
Of Youth go down without one worthy labour done.

It must be the fatality of man,
    The cureless curse of this our human lot,
To deem the present blessing but a ban—
    Hate what we have, and love what we have not,
For oh! alas! we know not, till too late,
The latch we scorned to lift had opened Heaven's gate.

We class our dearest friends with darkest foes,
    Nor know, till their, departure undeceives;
We pass the brier unweeting of the rose
    That blooms embosomed in its bowery leaves;
We rudely drive our guardian angels hence—
To Hades bid them back, and deem them demons thence.

With Folly's wine we fill Youth's golden cup
    Till winking bubbles kiss the burning brim;
We fondly drink the fiery potion up
    Which poisons Peace, and think the Seraphim
Have no such nectar, taking Bliss to wife,
We blindly brush the blossoms from our tree of life.

Alas! how oft is Opportunity,
    That swiftest barge upon the stream of Time,
Seen sailing by and hailing us, but we
    Neglect to leap on board, because the rhyme
That Syren Pleasure sings hath this refrain
The tide which ebbs at morn ere night will flow again!"

Experience, the Pilot of existence
    That latest offspring of the lagging years—
From birth till death still lingers in the distance,
    Nor, till his aid is useless, once appears;
But, when o'erwhelming waves have entered it,
His light lays bare the rock on which our bark hath split.

Thus have I lost a jewel Time can never,
    Nor Fortune, Fate, nor Circumstance restore—
A prize I did not prize till lost forever,
    And now I sup with Sorrow evermore;
For I have sat and seen its sun go down
Without one worthy work my Youth's bright day to
            crown!

 


____________________

 
THE COTTAGE OF DISCONTENT.

 

    As I sat at my window pane,
        The crowd were passing by;
    "Ah! happy and gay, that pass this way,
        Are the people all," said I.

    "See—Youth with its mien of mirth,
        And Age with a tranquil brow,
And Childhood free in its bounding glee,
        And all are happy I trow;

        "Whilst I, so sad and lone,
        Sit in my silent cot,
Musing about the world without,
        And my most hapless lot."

    A stranger stepped from the crowd;
        I came to my cottage door;
We met as the wind and the waves would
            meet,
With a mutual bound each other to greet,
        Though strangers heretofore.

        "Young man, I read thy thought,"
        Said he, with a searching look,
"Through the visage of man his spirit I scan,
        Like truth in a written book.

        "Yet why dost thou complain,
        And murmur at thy fate?
The hand that piled thy load of care
Allotteth every soul its share—
        The greatest to the great!

        "Throughout yon countless crowd,
        Each hath some cause to pine:
As flowers are sprinkled upon a shroud,
Joy sunneth the soul that sorrow hath bowed,
        And makes its smile divine.

        "For couldst thou cares exchange
        With even the sunniest soul,
Then wouldst thou find, if thy choice were
            made,
The brighter the light the darker the shade,
        And thy lot not the worst of the whole!

        "Let patience purge thy soul
        Of all its fretfulness,
And faith in the future kindle a smile
On thy cheek, which will sweeten the chalice
            of toil,
        For hope ever beameth to bless."

    This said, he bade me adieu,
        And mingled with the throng;
But left a legacy rich behind,
More precious than gold—the treasures of
            mind,
        That make the spirit strong!

    I left my lonely cot,
        Shook hands with the world again,
And since that day have I faced its fray,
        And am happy as other men.

 


____________________

 
NEVER DESPAIR.

 

NEVER despair, though the skies gloom above thee,
    The footsteps of Darkness are trod by the Dawn,
Though friends become cold, while there's one soul to love
            thee,
    Should friendship and love from the world be withdrawn?
Though life-ills be Legion, still battle and bear,
True courage will conquer them,—never despair!

Never despair while there's room left to rally
    And glory to gain in the combat of life,
Though the mountains are bleak, there is bloom in the valley—
    The deeps of the ocean with riches are rife!
Though toiling and poverty fall to thy share,
There's hope for the humblest, so never despair!

Never despair, though enshrouded in sorrow,
    Bleak Winter gives way to the blossoming Spring;
The raindrops to-day will be roses to-morrow ;
    Joy gildeth the plumage of Woe's gloomy wing;
Nor fear thou, nor falter, life's pathway of care
Shall brighten with comforts, so never despair!

Never despair, although weakened and wearied,
    The angels unseen lend the hopeful their aid;
The fearless heart beats where the faint heart lies buried;
    By faith more than force is man's destiny swayed;
Dame fortune still favours the soul that can dare,
For Valour is Victory,—never despair!

Never despair! every soul hath its sorrows;
    A crown without cross is what God never gave,
Though Pain the appearance of Pleasure oft borrows—
    The daisy will bloom on the brink of the grave!
From the perilous Past to a Future all fair,
Man's journey is onward, so never despair!

 


____________________

 
PAUSE NOT ON THE PATH OF DUTY.

 

PAUSE not on the path of duty!
    Progress is life's law divine;
Rest doth rust—the rays of beauty
    Brightliest when fleetest shine.
Bliss treads on the heels of Merit;
    Action's flood Fame's shore doth lave;
Work will wealth and health inherit;
    Victory attends the brave!
Courage! all thy soul's strength muster!
    Fear-crowned Sloth digs Talent's grave,
While Success, with sun-like lustre,
    Ever gleams o'er Danger's wave!

Pause not on the path of duty!
    Honour's mount, though high to climb,
Harbours Hope, whose smiles salute thee—
    Hand-in-hand ascend with Time!
Mortal, on Life's wreck-strewn ocean,
    Death-encompassed, passion-tossed,
Right through thought-and-will commotion
    Cleave thy course to Virtue's coast!
Syren-Isles of Sin surround thee—
    Bowers of Bliss thy heart would snare
In Pleasure's chain, till Ruin crowned thee
    In his Palace of Despair!

Pause not on the path of duty!
    In the God-led march of Time,
Move with Angels!   Love—Truth—Beauty—
    Beacon Glory's goal sublime!
Winds may blow and lightnings quiver,
    Cloud-embosomed thunders roll—
Skies, serene and clear as ever,
    Soon will smile from pole to pole.
First the shell and then the kernel;
    Fruit is bitter ere 'tis sweet:
Winter ushers in the vernal
    Spring; Life sits at Labour's feet!

Pause not on the path of duty!
    Stagnant waters putrid grow;
Indolence doth oft transmute the
    Hero to a smile-crowned beau.
Patience, pains, and perseverance
    Must o'ercome all ills that may
Daunt the soul, till Death's appearance
    Ushers in Life's Judgment Day.
Toil and Task, man's earthly mission,
    Fit him for a future state:
First pursuit, and then possession;
    Trial guardeth Triumph's gate!

Pause not on the path of Duty!
    Suns and Seasons never tire,
But with alternating beauty
    Wrap the Earth in frost and fire;
Let thy course be like the planet's,
    Shedding light to gild life's gloom—
Tireless as sun-circling planets,
    Till eclipsed within the tomb:
Then thy soul, with bliss-born splendour,
    Bursting from its bonds of clay,
Back to God its beams will render—
    Blend with Heaven's supernal day!

 


____________________

 
PRESS FORWARD AND PREVAIL.

 

OUR hope is in our effort, and
    Luck lies our will within,
For Chance and Choice are brothers true,
    And Faith and Fate akin;
So from the ledger of our lives
    Let's blot that weak word "FAIL";
"Where there's a will there is a way"—
    Press forward and prevail!

There's serfdom for the craven heart,
    But freedom for the brave—
'Tis courage makes the conqueror,
    And cowardice the slave!
Then courage up! and colours up!
    Should want or woe assail,
"God helpeth those who help themselves"—
    Press forward and prevail!

The lowly sons of Labour, and
    The lofty lords of Gain,
Have each some higher goal to win—
    Some guerdon to obtain:
Let none of either bow the knee
    To Fear's phantasmal Baal,
For hope is help, and prowess strength—
    Press forward and prevail!

Those rock-ribbed towers and temples by
    Ambition built, one day
Will be nibbled down to nothing by
    That life-moth called Decay;
That moth can conquer castled forts,
    Where cannons nought avail,
By slight but sleepless energy—
    Press forward and prevail!

One well-aimed blow in battle may
    Decide a nation's fate—
One right resolve can raise a soul,
    And unlock Heaven's gate—
One look can win the lover's heart—
    One fact turn Justice' scale:
True heart, though single handed, still
    Press forward and prevail!

Since many mighty fame-crowned floods
    From feeble fountains flow—
Since giant-limbed ship-building woods
    From single acorns grow—
Since one small wedge, with single edge,
    Can rend Earth's rocky mail,
Man! cleave thy way through life's world-fray—
    Press forward and prevail!

 


____________________

 
THERE'S DANGER IN DELAY.

 

TIME travels on a tireless steed
    Though hours unheeded fly,
Each other day and night succeed,
    The months move swiftly by;
Then let our lives keep pace with Time,
    Who pauses not for aye,
God's work is much, and must be done,
    There's danger in delay!

The poorest soul that plods through life
    Hath still some end in view,
To gain a name, or win a wife,
    Or wealth, or sport pursue;
So leave not till to-morrow that
    Which might be done to-day,
For Death calls unexpectedly,
    There's danger in delay!

One moment's indecision i'th'
    Ensanguined field of war,
May blast the hero's vision with
    Defeat, in Victory's car;
Her golden ball is from his feet
    By Fortune rolled away,
Ere Tardiness can touch the prize,
    There's danger in delay!

The forward are the fortunate;
    Prosperity's the son
Of Tact and Toil.   Proportionate
    Is luck to labour done.
Life's sun hath left the Orient,
    Let's labour while we may,
Ere it sink in the Occident,
    There's danger in delay!

Like Folly waiting the return
    Of Opportunity,
For wasted time's return we yearn
    Alas! that cannot be!
The law of life Progression is,
    Then bend we to its sway,
And punctual as the planets be,
    There's danger in delay!

Dear mothers, train your daughters, make
    Them fit for free men's wives;
Let truth and love and beauty break
    To blossom in their lives;
Make more of needle, brush and broom,
    Than concert, ball, or play;
And mould their morals while they're young,
    There's danger in delay!

True son of wisdom—earnest heart—
    That life-work hast to do,
No-longer linger in the mart,
    But prize and purchase too;
On swiftest pinions Pleasure flies,
    And brief is Youth's bright stay,
So, strike thy bargain, now's the time,
    There's danger in delay!

Ye victims of indulgence, of
    Whatever cast or kind,
That blots the bright effulgence of
    True merit from the mind,
No longer go, with Vice and Woe,
    From Reason's Realm astray,
But turn at once to Temperance,
    There's danger in delay!

'Tis not by days but deeds that men
    Should measure human life,
The hero conquers ages in
    An hour.   The Past is rife
With deathless deeds—mind's evergreens,
    That never can decay—
Then, let us make the Present bloom,
    There's danger in delay!

 


____________________

 
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.

 

WE may have run the race of life,
    Since first we did begin it,
On Pleasure's path, with pitfalls rife,
    And stumbled every minute;
We may have lingered late and long,
    And loath still be to sever
Ourselves from Folly's flaunting throng,
    But, better late than never!

How oft, when pleasures turned to pain
    Have stung us with vexation,
And, vowing to be good again,
    We purpose reformation,
Quoth wizard Custom, "Come this way
    And follow me forever!"
But, let us break his charm to-day,
    'Tis better late than never!

'Tis Age that brings experience,
    As Labour winneth wages;
'Tis Suffering that matureth Sense:
    The soul that near engages
In trial will no triumph win;
    Success attends Endeavour;
So now, let's wake the God within,
    'Tis better late than never!

'Tis work that makes the spirit whole;
    Life's lamp is lit by motion;
'Tis sorrow sanctifies the soul,
    As salt preserves the ocean;
Then let us bear and battle on,
    Since practice maketh clever,
Young Hope's bright Heaven may yet be won,
    And, better late than never!

 


____________________

 
ALL WILL BE WELL IN THE END.

 

THIS world is a world of glory and gloom,
    Of opposites in the extreme,
Of mirth and of misery—toil and the tomb!
    But things are not what they seem.
I dwelt in the vale of the Shadow of Death,
    And its storms broke over my head,
With pitiless peltings, that robbed me of breath,
    And I, coward-like, wished myself dead;
Yet I thought in my heart, as my spirit doth live,
    The troubles, that o'er me impend,
Are ordered by Heaven, some lesson to give,
    And right will be might in the end!

An Angel there came to my lattice one night,
    Beautiful, bright, and bold,
And bade me look up at the heavens so bright,
    All fretted with fire and gold,
And said there were worlds on worlds above,
    And God was the God of them all,
That, wanting His will, not a world might move,
    Nor even a sparrow might fall;
Then I said in my heart, as my spirit doth live,
    The sorrows that on me descend
Are governed by God, some lesson to give,
    And all will be well in the end!

 


____________________

 
THIS BAD WORLD IS BETTER THAN
GOOD MEN ALLOW.

 

How oft with dismay do good men think and say
That this wicked world groweth worse every day!
Yet I think, if they thought more profoundly, and brought
All their wits to the work, as a thinking man ought,
They might find, when at Truth's burning altar they bow,
This bad world far better than good men allow!

I know the fiend Crime tracks the footsteps of Time,
And that every age leaves behind it a slime
Of dark guilt, yet the path of the darkest age hath
More of glory than gloom—more of love than of wrath;
From the hut to the palace—from Adam till now,
This bad world's been better than good men allow!

Though on the wide heath of this world, from beneath
Every corner of Heaven, we see hunted to death
Infant Freedom, the beautiful, lovely, and dutiful,
Millions of throbbing hearts yearn to salute the full
Dawn of her planet, to crown that bright brow
Which one day shall shine where Oppression glooms now!

In the world-whelming strife between Right and Truth's knife
And Might with Wrong's heart for a mace, life for life
It may be, but a calm will succeed, when the palm
Shall be granted to Right in a world-chaunted psalm,
Whose burden will be human Brotherhood's vow
To rule this fair world where Ambition reigns now!

Though brave hearts may break in the struggle, a streak
Of red light limns the god upon Victory's peak;
While Evil and Good, like the flame and the flood
Dashed together in tempest, are neither subdued;
Yet the hope of the Earth is to bind Heaven's brow,
For this bad world is better than good men allow!

Let the bright bird of Hope brood beneath the clear cope
Of right Reason—not blindly in Fancy's realm grope—
And a Heaven upon earth, quickly bursting to birth,
Such as must in the fullness of time be brought forth,
Shall soon break through the shell of the Future, I trow,
For this bad world is better than good men allow!

 


____________________

 
MATE ME WITH CHILDREN OR LEAVE
ME ALONE!

 

THE sapling more gracefully grows than the tree,
In purity, dewdrops excel the deep sea,
The morning, in beauty, outlustres the noon,
Maiden May is more lovely than leaf-mantled June,
The home of our childhood we never forget,
The first kiss of love is the sweetest kiss yet,
No rose is so chaste as the the rose-bud unblown,
Then mate me with children or leave me alone!

They are haunted by angels, 'tis said, and it seems
That sweet fancy is true, for they smile in their dreams,
When their spotless young spirit strays thro' the blest bowers
Of the soul's inner Eden to gather God's flowers,
Where the angels may meet them, as doubtless they do—
What the heart holdeth good, let the reason hold true!
While Felicity reaps where Affection hath sown,
O mate me with children or leave me alone!

I have mingled with worthy and worthless men too,
I have met with the great—with the good and the true!
I have tasted of friendship, and know what it is
To have felt the sweet swoon of love's word-killing bliss,
But the happiest hour in life's loveliest day
Hath been' past amid childhood's sweet prattle and play—
While they lisp out their love in that Heaven-tinged tone,
O mate me with children or leave me alone!

I care not for company, revel and rout,
'Mid the boisterous laugh and the Bacchanal's shout
Should I lucklessly linger, my spirit will roam
To brood o'er its own little Heaven at home,
Where I've two charming children, a boy and a girl—
A rose and a lily, a pink and a pearl—
In that palace of life, and their love fills its throne,
So mate me with children or leave me alone!

When Summer glows golden o'er mountain and vale
And the perfume of roses enriches the gale,
To the bowery banks of yon stream let me hie
Where children chase butterflies bright as July,
Surpassing the splendour of Orient kings
By the powdery gloss of their moon-mottled wings,
Or to muse in yon ruin, with ivy o'ergrown,
Yes, mate me with children or leave me alone!

When Winter-broods o'er us with cloud-wings unfurled,
When frost flings a shroud o'er the face of the world,
When the Earth seems to suckle the Image of Death
At her snow-mantled breast, whence pulsation and breath
Have departed, and Leisure, when labour is done,
Turns his face to the fire, like the Earth to the Sun!
Though Pleasure to lure me hence loose her charmed zone,
Here, mate me with children and leave me alone!

They scatter new gloss upon Time's hoary wings,
String the harp to the heart with more musical strings,
Sow the sunshine of youth in the furrows of age
Making Spring greenly smile where grave Autumn looked sage;
Their love-litten laughter can pierce the dark pall
Settled Sorrow wraps round her, cause Care to let fall
His unbearable burden, still Misery's moan,
Then mate me with children or leave me alone!

 


____________________

 
THE TASK OF TO-DAY.

LOVE.

 

To love all that is lovely, and truthful, and pure,
    That the sages have said, or the poets have dreamed,
Whether lofty or lowly, far-famed or obscure,
    Whether worthy or worthless by worldly minds deemed;
To love man with a love that is boundless, and glows
    With a flame that is quenchless, that knows no decay,
But makes room in the heart both for friends and for foes,
    And is wide as the world, be our Task of To-day!


HOPE.


Let Hope, whose keen eye through the Future's dark veil,
    Can pierce the dim Heavens that are looming beyond,
With one look, mild as Christ's make her Enemy quail—
    Quell that demon Despair, who would have us despond!
Let her torch, like a beacon that burns through the night,
    While our tempest-lashed bark cleaves the billowy spray
On the Ocean of Life, become ever more bright,
    And to land in its light be our Task of To-day!


LABOUR.


Let us labour for all that we hope for, and fling
    A life in the balance to weigh against Wrong;
Let us worst this old World in its own wrestling ring—
    Worthy feats well performed make the soul-sinews strong!
Baptized in the fire of the battle of Life,
    When the conqueror, Death, comes to finish the fray,
We have courage to cope with his terrible knife,
    Lent by Labour whose lore is the Task of To-day!


COURAGE.


On our perilous path through the valley of Care,
    Where to fear is to faint, and to faint is to fail,
We have ills to encounter and dangers to dare
    That will put to the proof both our courage and mail:
Let us temper our swords in the martyr's death-flame,
    And inspirit our souls with a life-giving lay,
Keep our minds free from rust, and our lives free from blame,
    Since, to dare unto death is the Task of To-day!


ENDURANCE.


Let us steadily steer for the Island of Good;
    Through Evil's rude ocean-swell rushes and rolls;
We must fish Wisdom's pearls up from Suffering's flood,
    For pain is the purification of souls!
The race must be run ere the prize can be won;
    To-morrow the heart-eating vulture may slay,
But as Night must be gone ere we hail the bright Sun,
    Like the Titan to bear is the task of to-day!


PERSISTENCE.


As insects can huge coral continents form,
    As the moment-drop fills the deep ocean of years,
So, a life-lasting siege with that citadel storm
    Where the Bridge of the Soul droops in bondage, and tears;
Let the Waters that bore through the rock-hearted hills,
    Let the Wind that can wear marble statues away,
Teach the Soul how to conquer linked legions of Ills,
    Like all Time, by persistence the Task of To-day!


THE SOUL.


Like the love-burdened Christ, sunk in Sorrow's eclipse,
    The pure Soul, pent in Silence, feels Thought murder Speech,
Utters heaven-truths that faint on Earth's fallible lips,
    Lives a lore that's too lofty for language to reach;
Defiant of Danger and Death, Time and Fate,
    Let her hope and endure, love and labour alway,
Since to-morrow she panteth to pass the Pearl Gate—
    Seek the lost key of Heaven, 'tis her Task of To-day!

 


____________________

 
THE GOLDEN GOD.
A PAGE FOR THE AGE.

 

OH! this is a steam-born and iron-bound age
    Of factories and foundries, of gold and of gain,
Of prisons and workhouses—Want's heritage!
    Of railways and rivalry, paupers and pain,
Of printing and preaching, and men who mortgage
Their souls to serve Mammon, the god of the age!

And this is a cold and mechanical age,
    Its symbols are seen upon every hand,
The key and the compass, the rule and the gauge,
    To hedge in Man's spirit, lest it should expand!
Whilst Mammon of metal is moulding a cage
To immure human souls in—Alas for this age!

And this is a truckling and trafficking age
    Of coin, not of conscience—of money, not men—
Not morals, but merchants!—peer, parson, and page
    Are anxious for interest—love lucre—and, when
There's a prospect of profit, most gladly engage
To serve yellow Mammon, the god of the age!

And this is a servile and superfine age!
    The world is a warehouse of shams and of shows,
Of follies and fashions, and fine equipage,
    Of cant of coquetry, and belles and beaux,
Whilst Reason retires to his old hermitage
Leaving sin-sceptered Gold regnant god of the age!

And this is an anti-poetical age!
    Even God-given talent like lumber is bought,
And the last glowing link of the bright lineage
    Of Genius is crushed 'neath Trade's huge Juggernaut!
But the spirit derived from its high parentage
Is deathless and will sing the dirge of this age!

For gold is the god of this iron-girt age!
    For its smiles the best vigour of manhood is sold;
'Tis the vision of Youth, and the passion of Age,
    Though heartless, and soulless, and callous, and cold!
Cast your eyes where you will, on the simple or sage,
Their actions prove Gold is the god of the age!

Yes!   Gold is the god of this iron-girt age!
    For its kisses free conscience consents to be chained;
'Tis caressed by the rich, it is worked for as wage
    By the poor, though the latter but little have gained
In this struggle and strife Mammon-thirst to assuage,
For Gold is the pitiless god of the age!

Ay!   Gold is the god of this iron-girt age!
    Its love is a tether that ties up the soul;
Its lust makes the miser grow rampant, and rage
    To defraud even widows and orphans of dole;
And, wherever you look upon Life's motley stage,
Every scene showeth Gold is the god of the age!

True, Gold is the god of this iron-girt age!
    The red-handed assassin drinks courage to kill
From a fountain of gold, or its stream-patronage!
    Yet surely the bright hand of Genius will,
In letters of fire upon history's page,
Write "Gold was the god of the iron-girt age!"

Though Gold is the god of this iron-girt age,
    My soul bids me say that a change must take place;
His spirit will break through its vile vassalage
    And Man shall exist as a holier race;
And counters and commerce no longer shall wage
A war with pure conscience in that happy age!

No more, then, shall Gold be the god of the age,
    When Right conquers Might, and when loveth killeth Fear—
When Peace shall companion the life-pilgrimage
    Of Mankind, tracking truth, then the world's pioneer—
When Freedom's pure fountains shall flow to assuage
The Oppression-born thirst of this iron-bound age!

No more shall bright gold be the god of the age
    When Knowledge, Religion, and brotherly Love
A Heaven upon Earth to mankind shall presage,
    Making mortals as happy as angels above;
And the past shall appear but as Mind's pupilage,
When Gold was the god of an iron-bound age!

 


____________________

 
THEY CRUSH BECAUSE WE CRINGE.

 

    OH! wherefore are the people thus oppressed?
        Why do the haughty tread the humbler down?
    Why have the poor this mountain on their breast?
        The rich breathe freely—Crime still wears the crown,
    While Want and Wealth the social world unhinge!
Is Heaven at fault?   Ah, no! they crush because we cringe!

    Has God not gifted us with souls as great—
        With energy to struggle and endure?
    Are we than lords less heirs of man's estate,
        Our aims less holy, or our lives less pure?
    Must Cain's dread curse our fevered foreheads singe
While theirs are cool—Pride crush and Penury still cringe?

    'Twas Pride plucked down the Morning Star from Heaven,
        Wreathing the dawn-crowned brow of Lucifer
    With darkness, wrath, and ruin.   Of the seven
        Named deadly sins, oh! none is deadlier
    Than Pride, that child of Power and Wealth, who tinge
Pure souls with Satan, hence Chiefs Crush and Helots cringe!

    Wealth would not be a god but for the prayers
        Of Poverty—the High rests on the Low!
    Fear forms his fiends, Hope builds her heavens, and there's
        No stream but will's supplies the sea of woe!
    To mesh bright Hope, men make Despair's dark springe,
Noose Freedom's neck, nor Crowns could crush did Crowds
            not cringe!

    Men judge this world by standards most unjust,
        'Tis dimmed by Doubt, made fair by Faith and Love,
    'Tis God's grand garment or 'tis dead men's dust
        As joy or gloom the juror's pulse doth move;
    Thus, seeming fact may seeming fact impinge,
But Truth is One!   God's good!   Kings crush and cowards cringe!

    Let Labour brush the care-cloud from his brow,
        Nor look as if the earth held nought but graves;
    The dawn of his redemption neareth now—
        Oppression's night of tyrants and of slaves
    Is passing!   Thought, with Truth's fire-scourge, will swinge
Those wasters from the world who either crush or cringe!

    Proud Wrong shall be dethroned by regal Right,
        And Evil cease to lord it over Good,
    When, ruled by mental not by martial might,
        Mankind becomes one world-wide brotherhood:
    'Tis Fear lets Force on Liberty infringe—
No fiends would dare to crush did fools not deign to cringe!

 


____________________

 
LET US HELP EACH OTHER ONWARD.

 

LET us help each other onward,
    For old Time appears to wait
Till the last o'ertake the foremost,
    Ere he ope the golden gate
Of Love, which leads to Liberty
    Within the land of Bliss,
Where the darkest days are brighter
    Than the brightest days of this;
Let us help each other onward,
    And, if Tyranny should frown,
Our wedded palms will weave a cord
    To bind the demon down.

Let us help each other onward
    To the dawn of Freedom's day,
Earth and Air, and Flood and Flame will
    Aid and waft us on our way;
Let us shun Contention's Maelstrom
    And with steady hand, prepare
To steer the bark of Hope across
    The gulf-stream of Despair;
Let us help each other onward,
    And, if Selfishness should frown,
Social Brotherhood will chaunt a charm
    To bind the demon down.

Let us help each other onward!
    When beneath his load of care
Falls and faints the poor life-pilgrim,
    Let us raise him, share and bear
Equal portions of his burden
    Till the sands of Time be crossed—
In Eternity's deep ocean
    Deeds of love are never lost!
Let us help each other onward,
    And, if Hell-born Hate should frown,
Our love-linked hearts will form a chain
    To bind the demon down.

Let us help each other onward
    Until Labour's priest at length,
As a text for Life's grand sermon,
    Taketh "Union is strength!"
Let our province be the Possible,
    Our standard be the Just,
All that wisdom says we might do
    Let stern Will declare we must!
Let us help each other onward,
    And, if giant Fear should frown,
The hand of Hope, with Valour's rope,
    Must bind the demon down.

Let us help each other onward!
    Fathom Truth's profoundest lore,
She will not teach us now to reach
    The fruit of Bliss, but more—
That the Soul must hope and struggle,
    And on Sorrow's bed lie down,
And feel the martyr's flame, and win
    And wear the martyr's crown!
Let us help each other onward,
    And, when darkest Death shall frown,
Sweet-smiling Faith and Fortitude
    Will tread the demon down.

 


____________________

 
LET US LABOUR ONE AND ALL.

 

TOILING, hoping, suffering Brothers,
    Workmen of my native land,
Mark this truth above all others—
    Mind must evermore expand!
Man must wrestle for the blessing,
    Ever up at Duty's call,
Light increasing, life progressing,
    Let us labour one and all!

For the spread of mutual kindness,
    For the freedom of our class,
For the sons we leave behind us,
    Fettered by our faults, alas!
Still the path of toil pursuing,
    Truth and love our guide and goal,
Vices vanquished, hopes renewing,
    Let us labour one and all!

To obtain a firmer footing
    On the ground of happiness,
Planting right, and wrong uprooting,
    Chasing discord and distress;
On the world of woman's folly
    Let the dew of pity fall,
And, to make her pure and holy,
    Let us labour one and all!

Men must love and trust each other
    Ere the truth can make them free,
Each regarding each as brother,
    Bound in social unity;
By a wise co-operation,
    Whilst our class we disenthral,
Winning wisdom, wealth, and station,
    Let us labour one and all!

Let us husband our resources,
    Hoard up for a "rainy day"
Thrift and forethought are the forces
    That keep Care and Want at bay;
Then those fiends, which men call famine,
    May no more our minds appal;
For ourselves we will examine
    All things—labouring one and all!

Truth and freedom let us cherish,
    Prize them more than priest and king!
Then our tree of life will flourish,
    Labour's heart for gladness sing!
Why should we, like steeds in harness,
    Stand in some proud master's stall,
When we for ourselves might furnish
    All things, working one and all!

Let us drill and bore the mountain,
    Till the blessed light of day,
Breaking through, displays the fountain
    Whence the floods of evil stray;
Let us curb Pride's wrathful current,
    Fling from bank to bank a "caul;" *
And, to stem dark Error's torrent,
    Let us labour one and all!

None may rest on Hope's bright anchor
    Save the soul that bravely strives;
Work wears off the rust and canker
    From the hinges of our lives;
On ourselves be our reliance
    Sternly built, a bastion tall,
Bidding Fate a proud defiance:
    Let us labour one and all!

Skill sits at the helm of Fortune!
    Perseverance, his first mate,
Backed by Courage, wins his portion;
    Worth will triumph soon or late!
Misery from Misdeed still floweth,
    Bliss sits throned in Virtue's Hall;
Myriads reap what one man soweth—
    Labour for the good of all.

Woe to him that would restrain us
    In our on and upward march;
O'er their graves that seek to chain us
    Build we our triumphal arch!
For the crown and throne of Labour,
    Fenced by Freedom's flaming wall,
Brother, friend, companion, neighbour,
    Let us labour one and all!

For our glorious Queen and country's
    Welfare—for Old England's name,
Gleaming through the gloom of centuries,
    First in freedom as in fame—
For our homes, and hearts within them,
    Though our pittance be but small,
Life has blessings, and to win them
    Let us labour one and all!

Still increase our store of knowledge,
    Not alone from book or scroll,
But from Nature's boundless college,
    Free to every searching soul!
Whilst the vernal Year still wingeth
    Round this mighty mundane ball
Her bright way, she ever singeth
    "Love, and labour, one and all."

* CAUL, the technical term for a dam-bank
   or water-break.

 


____________________

 
LET US HOPE FOR BETTER DAYS.

 

IN true men's lives it is not true
    That Labour plays a losing game;
Though Fame but chronicles the few,
    She leaves you room to write your name;
Then fearlessly the feat perform,
    Nor heed what hateful envy says,
But stem the stream and brave the storm
    And live in hopes of better days.

'Tis hard, when two fond hearts are linked
    In love that lasts for evermore—
When, quick, as if the welkin winked
    And darkness shed from shore to shore,
A grave is thrown across the path
    Of life, and withers all its bays,
And blights the fairest bloom it hath—
    'Tis hard to hope for better days.

'Tis hard to bear the bitter smart
    Of care and pinching poverty,
Till brain is frenzied and the heart
    Is frozen into apathy;
But fickle Fortune frown thy fill!
    The freaks thy eldest daughter plays
Shall never rob me of the will
    To bear till dawn of better days!

Oppression's gloomy clouds may lower
    And Slander's blighting winds may blow,
But patience in the peril-hour
    Shall triumph o'er the double foe;
Though Danger and Disaster come
    And hedge me in a thousand ways,
Still, smiling in the face of Doom,
    I'll wait and watch for better days.

Be humble but hold up your heads,
    Though want and scant may be your lot,
For they that sleep on downy beds
    May in a paupers coffin rot,
While many, who with Indigence
    Are plodding now, shall proudly raise
Themselves to wealth and eminence;
    So let us hope for better days.

The morning dawns upon the night,
    And Spring the Winter still succeeds,
And Wrong is vanquished by the Right,
    And Truth dispels the darkest creeds,
And for the worthy working man
    Shall still ring out my rugged lays,
To break the dull despairing ban
    And bid him hope for better days.

 


____________________

 
THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE.

 

THERE'S a principle at work, and neither silently nor slow
But with firm unfaltering footstep ever onward it will go,
Till the suffering sons of Labour shall be lifted from the dust
By their faith in one another—mutual help and mutual trust;
'Tis the golden "good time coming" by the bard and by the
            sage
Limned with light in their deep musings—'tis the spirit of the
            age!

There's a principle at work that is both vigilant and strong,
That with patience seeks the right and bears with fortitude
            the wrong,
That is fervent as the prophet and persistant as Old Time,
And will make this desert planet bloom like Eden in its
            prime;
'Tis abroad among the people, who with hand and heart
            engage,
And will work their own redemption through the spirit of
            the age!

There's a principle at work, and let us aid it every one
Both with earnestness and energy—'twill help but injure
            none;
Let us put our pence together, and, with Union Flag unfurled,
See a bloodless revolution wrought throughout the social
            world;
Let the word "COÖPERATION" be emblazoned on the page
Of the Present, by the people, 'tis the spirit of the age!

There's a principle at work that marches hand in hand with
            Hope,
A champion with whom the foes of freedom cannot cope,
For he wields the sword of justice, and, in truth and honour
            mailed,
Stands the only people's champion that never was assailed;
For he's mild as he is mighty, and his marvel-deeds presage
A Paradise on earth to crown this spirit of the age!

There's a principle at work that flings a lustre on the crowd,
And their gloom is lit with glory, as the lightning fires the
            cloud;
From his helmet flashed the splendours of the bright millennial
            star,
And his voice, like volant thunder, is reëchoed from afar,
As he cheers the people onward, while they move from stage
            to stage,
Crying "Follow through the future!"  "Track the spirit of
            the age!"

 


____________________

 
THE UNCROWNED CONQUEROR.

 

THOUGH numberless lays are resounding in praise
    Of the heroes of death-dealing War,
Yet I cannot but deem that the conqueror Steam
    Was born under a loftier star:
As a Stream leaps to birth from the bosom of Earth
    And channels its course to the Sea,
Rejoicing forever a full-gushing river,
    From rocky immurement set free,
So, from being close pent in the crude element;
    Beneath fateful Watt's wizard hand,
He leapt into life when Necessity's knife
    Cut Condition's umbilical band.
Fate sanctioned that hour the birth of a Power
    More mighty than cannon-girt kings,
Old customs and laws topple down as he goes
    And up springs a new order of things.
Fair England first hath been the field of his path,
    And a change darkened over our isle,
Huge factories now rear their tall chimneys in air
    Where the once lovely landscape did smile;
And the flame of the forge flashes up from the gorge
    Of her mountains once wild as a dream;
And her valleys and downs, dark with smoke-mantled towns,
    Show the footprints of fire-nurtured Steam!
See him now on the rail, while a sulphurous trail
    Of dense vapour is hanging behind,
As he moves slow at first, like some demon accurst,
    Breathing fire and just snuffing the wind:
Brazen sinews are strained till his speed is attained—
    As the hurricane sweeps on its course,
Resistless as Death, snorting thunder for breath,
    He pants forth with an earthquake of force!
Every snort flings a flake of white smoke in-his wake,
    As with Titan-like vigour he plies,
While the loud whistle shrills, through the heart of the hills
    Like the cloud-cleaving lightning he flies!
He hath gone to his goal, and a vaporous pall
    Hangs gloomily over his track;
But a moment! and then he will greet you again
    With his meteor eyes flashing back!
This old World seems to wait for the fulness of fate,
    Till some bard crown the King of this brood
Of Titans, that fly on our railways and ply
    In our mills iron-limbed and brass-thewed.
Shall we mourn o'er the ills that prevail in those mills,
    And the misery caused by machines
Which supersede men in Toil's mart?   Must we then
    Sigh and groan o'er those huge magazines
Of War and of Wealth, which are bought by the health
    Of myriads of Mammon-led slaves?
No! these are the ships of Industry, whose trips
    Are to Freedom o'er Destiny's waves!
I say it in sooth—'tis the kernel of truth—
    For never hath irony curled
My lip at the mass, while I flattered that class
    Which is fed on the wrongs of the world.
I know there is Wrong, but the strain of my song
    Need not stoop to chastise the fiend here;
Though the earthquake may split even mountains, still it
    Cannot alter the course of the sphere!
Such trifles disturb it not, in the wide orbit
    Through which it unerring doth roll,
The confusion of parts from its path never starts
    The whole planet, nor man as a whole!
Trace Evil's dark flood—to the Ocean of Good!
    See Progress pricked on by her pains!
Even Sin, with her goad, whips the World on the road
    Of true Wisdom, for God guides the reins!
Every river of Right, through the channel of Might,
    Must flow ere it gain the true goal,
And the ocean of Might become rivers of Right,
    For Virtue is Strength after all!
And Steam, without fail, o'er the earth must prevail,
    Till his webwork encompass mankind;
'Tis the Spirit of God breathing life in the clod
    'Tis the marriage of Matter and Mind!
Let no murmurs be heard, let no famine be feared,
    For old Time treads a Heavenward track;
Though bleak mountains be seen, fruitful valleys between
    Never dread that his journey will lack.
Then hail unto Steam! 'tis the base of the Dream
    Of the Future unfolding to sight—
'Tis the Spirit of Man breaking through the World-Ban
    Ere he leapeth to leisure and light!



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