Sheen and Shade (4)
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THE SUNNY SIDE OF LIFE.

 

LIFE has a side which I term sunny,
Made of choice moments, bright and bonny
Pictures, fancies quaint and funny—
        The joke—the jest—
Bandied about, like current money,
        From breast to breast.

These are the sun-gleams of the soul—
The mind's meridian splendours—sole,
Sure summum bonum of the whole
        Social affections;
From east to west, from pole to pole,
        Our predilections

Are on the side of mirth and wit,
And humour, which is wit, close knit
And linked with love—by fancy lit—
        Whose flashing flames
Make people laugh and, almost split-
        Ing, shake their frames.

The racy, risible emotion
Makes joyous hearts heave like an ocean
Of dancing sunbeams, whose commotion
        And glowing tide
Just prove my transcendental notion
        Of Life's bright side.

Though Butler, Pope, Swift, Byron, Burns,
Launched forth wit's lightnings in their turns,
And sorely pinched poor Folly's corns,
        I must admit;
Yet, sweetest roses grow on thorns,
        So mirth on wit.

They lashed the foibles, fopperies, evil
Aims, custom, cant, shams, souls uncivil,
Nay, crucified the very Devil
        Of the ages
In which they lived; yet who would snivel
        At their bright pages?

Is it not truly mirth-provoking
To hear mere self-dubbed saints keep talking
About the blasphemy of joking,
        Deeming Wits enemies,
Because Wits wont cower with them croaking,
        Where nought but venom is?

Let me bask in the beams of mirth,
Where sons of Wit oft sally forth
To banish from the friendly hearth
        Life's cloudy glooms,
And I'll not envy wealth, rank, birth,
        Till Death me dooms.

And even after death, when even
That for which we all have striven,
The bright, the sunny side of Heaven,
        Shall have been gained,
We shall be fitter for what's given,
        By being trained

With foretastes of supernal bliss,
Whilst wading through a world like this,
Where Melancholy oft doth miss
        The moral road,
While Mirth is privileged to kiss
        Angels, thank God!

 


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WHEN WILL THE GOOD TIME COME?

 

WHAT rhapsodies were written, and what pæans sang in
        praise
Of that reign of love and light which had to dawn on future
        days,
When the weak should not be buffetted nor burdened by the
        strong,
But when Right should wave his banners o'er the battlements
        of Wrong;
When the haughty rich should feel no itch to overbear the
        poor,
But true brotherhood embrace the world and war be known
        no more;
My humble task is now to ask, while heart and harpstrings
        thrum
This hopeless interrogative—When will that good time come?

When the rich shall cease to grovel, making gold no more
        their god;
When the poor shall cease to grumble, and through paths of
        plenty plod;
When the barriers are broken that have severed class from
        class,
And both wealth and lofty lineage commingled with the mass;
When the crotchets shall have crumbled that have severed
        sect from sect,
And man's mind shall, like its mansion, point to heaven—
        stand erect!
Whilst the angel-voice of Freedom shall pronounce Oppression's
        doom,
'Mid the plaudits of Humanity—When will this good time
        come?

Our tantalizing teachers have been bold and over kind,
They have led us where they listed, as the blind would lead
        the blind;
They have told us what they knew not, left unuttered what
        they knew,
And our faith is failing in them, for their tenets are not true;
Those untruthful prophets fabled what the future had in store,
And their Oracles, responding, bore the news from shore to
        shore;
But those prophets sit in silence, and their Oracles are dumb,
While we ask, and Echo answereth—When will the good
        time come?

 


____________________

 
WHAT HAVE WE TO FEAR?

 

AT the footstool of the Future, while the Present kneels in
            prayer,
And beholds in trancëd vision, through the land of Toil and
            Care,
All her proud but painful passage to the citadel of Hope,
And those demons men call Dangers with which Courage has
            to cope,
How her fervent bosom heaveth, while the Deity within
That is ever urging onward spite of Danger, Death, and Sin,
Whispers "Triumph will be glorious as trial is severe!"
Winning wage to work proportionate, what have we to fear?

Through the grand but gloomy vista of the Past when we
            look back,
And behold the pit and pendulum, the dungeon and the rack,
And the thousand forms of torture, with the faggot and the
            stake,
That were suffered by the martyrs for our faith and freedom's
            sake,
How the grateful and the humble take possession of our
            hearts,
With a proud congratulation at the stage our travel starts!
For the channel of the stream is crossed, the bank is drawing
            near,
The river hath been forded well, then what have we to fear?

Through our history gleameth now and then a glimpse of
            Freedom's form,
Like the fitful lightning flashing through the curtains of the
            storm,
And we know her form is beauty and her spirit boundless
            love,
And all of bliss e'er felt on earth or feigned of heaven above:
Let the future, like the past, be measured by a line of light,
Marked by deeds of martial bravery and works of mental
            might,
And when England shall, like Italy, have need of sword and
            spear,
Her Saxon sons can wield them well, then what have we to
            fear?

We have borne the load of life, which like a mountain-pile
            appears
Of those congregated Evils, the dark offspring of the Years!
We have worked the mine of mischief mid the gloom of
            mental night
Till our hellish task grew irksome and we laboured up to
            light;
We have got some little gold and made a mighty mound of
            dross,
We have battled for the Crown the while we bore the painful
            Cross,
But the Crown is in our reach now and the Cross is in our
            rear,
And our hope becomes reality, then what have we to fear?

Let us drape ourselves for action in the Drama of the Age,
Let our spirits move like Titans upon Time's o'ercrowded
            Stage,
Let true Valour, which is Virtue, ever fortify our souls
When the Stream of Life is troubled or to Death's dark
            ocean rolls,
Let us plough its rocky channels bright and fringe its banks
            with bloom,
And its flashing waves in death will fling a glory on the tomb,
And, if destiny hereafter be determined by us here,
Let us fill our days with deeds of love, and what have we to
            fear?

 


____________________

 
THE DEATH OF THE OLD YEAR, 1856.

 

FAREWELL, Old Year! while round thy dying bed
Time draws the pallid curtains close, grim Death
Stands mutely vigilant to clutch his prey;
Crime, like some Hadean monster, at thy head
Sits darkly glooming, and the tide of breath
Is slowly ebbing from thy frozen breast.
What baubles thou hast borne upon thy crest!
What gilded shams in thee have had their day!
Myriads of those that hailed thy birth now rest
Within the silent sepulchre; the grave
Hath glutted on the great, the good, the brave;
Lordly and lowly, mingling clay with clay,
Have bowed to thee, their conqueror, but thou

Must yield thy livid lips to Death's cold kisses now.


O! how it wrings the heart of the survivor
To view the vacant places of the dead!
The stream of ages is a blood-stained river
Whose whitest wave still bears a tinge of red,
Whose brightest billows gleam with crests of gore
That fling red light upon the Past's dim shore,
Where History's scorched feet by Fate are led.
Why murmur, man?   God's burning seal is set
On destiny.   The hours must aye be fed
On human lives.   Why make thy spirit food
For Sorrow's fangs?—but human hearts will fret
In spite of all philosophy—regret
Past joys—on loss and cross still brood,

And feel a joy-fraught woe in the soul's solitude.


But see the rising virtue of our race!
See! on the Present now begins to shine
The love-born lustre of the Future's face,
All-glorious as the smile of the Divine
On sinner saved!   'Twill light the murky mine
Where Labour moils in more than midnight gloom,
Trim Hope's faint lamp, Grief's channelled cheek illume;
Though Sin and Sorrow mock the mortal bier,
Mankind may yet be better—happier;—fear
Not, for the rose that now begins to bloom
On Freedom's cheek is fadeless; year by year
'Twill blush, and burn, and brightlier glow, and dear
As life be held—dearer than all save God!

Then farewell Year, thy death makes less Life's mountain-load.

 


____________________

 
BRITONS, BE BROTHERS.

 

BRITONS, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    Be bold
                    And high-souled,
            But be gentle and just:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    Let your love
                    Be above
            Either lucre or lust:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    Aid a man
                    If you can—
            On his heart stamp your bust:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    No shuffling
                    Nor scuffling,
            But down with your dust:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    Though the gauge
                    Of life's wage
            Be a crown or a crust,
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    It will serve
                    To preserve
            Your free spirits from rust:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    With a strong
                    Hate of wrong
            Give the tyrants a thrust:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    Be loyal
                    To Royal
            Victoria august:
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!
                    Never say
                    That you may,
            But acknowledge you must,
Britons, be brothers and true to your trust!

 


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SONNETS.


POETRY AND THE PRESENT AGE.

 

How often have we heard some shallow sage,
With Mammon's maxims crammed full to the crown,
In doleful accents tell us that the age
Of Poetry is past—the days have flown
That made our Shakspeares, Miltons, Youngs—and now
There's nought but mechanism on life's dull stage!
Oh! coward thought! the living streams will flow
From lifeless rocks when struck by the true rod
Of Moses!   Yea, 'tis now as 'twas of old,
The touch of Midas turns all things to gold!
'Tis on the soul, more pregnant than the sod,
That we depend for Poems that can bow
The world in homage!   Phœbus brings the morn—

When God appears, the bush can never fail to burn!

 


____________________

 
CHAUCER.

 

QUAINT-THOUGHTED Chaucer, sire of English song!
Nor song nor sonnet ever can rehearse
The multitude of merits that belong
To thy wide-ranging, vastly varied verse:
Thy piquant fancy, Proteus-like tongue,
Rare wit, rich humour, and amazing power
Of painting men and manners, words would wrong
By weak description.    eghaustless shower
Of thought-rain thou from spirit-skies dost pour
On endless ages, fresh as morning gales.
By none but Shakspeare equalled to this hour,
Thy mirth-exciting "Canterbury Tales"
Upon the tide of Time's rough wreck-strewn river,

Will, like a well-manned vessel, safely sail for ever!

 


____________________

 
SPENCER.

 

BRIGHT-FANCIED bard, who like some seraph wingest
Thy way through fairy scenes for ever new;
The lovely legends thou so sweetly singest
Make men admire and wish they were but true;
Ethereal as the unfathomed blue
Of heaven when summer skies are most serene,
That Limner-Thought whose witching pencil drew
Belphœbe's wondrous beauty must have been;
The fancy that could feign a Fairy Queen
Was winged for proudest flights of poesy;
Sweet poet of romance and chivalry,
Upon our path what flowers thou ever flingest!
To Britain what linguistic wealth thou bringest!

To Time a light—to Art a lasting legacy!

 


____________________

 
SHAKSPEARE.

 

WHAT muse but must with diffidence advance
To sing the praise of him who at a glance
Saw through all hearts—all passions could pourtray?
Whose matchless pen a magic halo flings
O'er peers and peasants, cardinals and kings—
To him, the world of spirits, open lay!
He forces fantoms of the dead to rise,
Or sets weird Witch-land full before our eyes,
Or touches men to tears with briefest lines;
For, like the sun through morning mist, his mind
Flames through weak words, with angel-thoughts confined
In human speech, immortal Shakspeare shines
Amongst dramatic poets broad and bright

As the unclouded moon amid the stars of night!

 


____________________

 
MILTON.

 

OF Homer's fire, and Virgil's majesty,
And Dante's depth possessed, great Milton's mind
Was rich and ripe as autumn.  

Well he knew
His plenitude of strength, and therefore threw
Into the world, immortal as our race,
A poem—like a planet into space
Hurled by Omnipotence.  Though old and blind,
And even poor, he trusted Memory,
And leaned on Hope, though Hope her lamp had lost,
And darkness like a sea without a coast
Encompassed him.   His Heaven-illumined soul
Dispelled the gloom and gained the glory-goal
Where now he sits transcendently sublime,

A peerless jewel sparkling in the crown of Time!

 


____________________

 
POPE.

 

WHAT would our English verse have been without
Pope's polish?—smoothest of the rhyming rout!
A more celestial piece of mechanism
Was never known.   The colours of the prism
Seem painted on his spirit, and its hues
Predominated as he deigned to choose.
A wit, sage, scholar, critic, bard, logician,
Sound moralist, profound metaphysician;
He understands himself all he tells you,
And minds to make you understand it too;
Whatever path he ventures to pursue,
He loses not, but leads the reader through;
'Twere well if such a wise and wholesome rule,

Were put in practice by our modern MYSTIC SCHOOL.

 


____________________

 
THOMSON.

 

SWEET poet of the Seasons! who shall peer
That fame-crowned feat by which in Time's abyss
Was chained the Phantasm of the burning Year?—
The while brow-bound with Fancy's fairest flowers,
Sate Piety enthroned on thy pure page.
How are we awed by such transcendent powers
When through one fervent soul a glowing age
Pours all its pith!   We thank thee, God, 'tis ours
To read him and admire!   'Tis very bliss
To think his thoughts, and dream his dreams, and sing
His songs of ecstacy! for Thomson is
True bard of Nature's build—as Autumn sage,
Sublime as Winter, beautiful as Spring,

And fruitful as bright Summer, Plenty's sun-crowned king!

 


____________________

 
BURNS.

 

As from the dark womb of a labouring cloud
Sublimely leaps the fire-fledged lightning forth,
So from the loreless Caledonian crowd
Sprang Burns, the mighty minstrel of the North!
The world with wonder saw the ploughboy bard,
Who drove a smoking furrow through the field
Of literature, refusing all reward,
With heart against corruption proudly steeled!
With steady hand his name he nobly ploughed
Upon the age, and stamped it with the worth
Of genius that to time can never yield.
In Scottish lays, though half his light lies hid,
Like flaming Titan in cloud-vapors veiled,

Yet in Thought-land he stands, a star-crowned pyramid!

 


____________________

 
BYRON.

 

VAST, deep, and gloomy! wild, and bright, and strong—
Resembling Ocean, flushed with solar rays,
Was Byron, that proud prince of modern song,
And Wit's rich heir to deathless blame and praise.
All nature found a mirror in his breast,
Till, schooled by Scorn, he learned to laugh and jest
At all things—even at his own spirit's haze!
Pride bore him Wrong, Wrong Sorrow, that slew Hope
And nursed dark Doubt with whom he dared not cope,
And yet his inmost soul did Truth admire!
In all its moods, with master-hand he sways
The human heart; and, when he will, displays
Titanic force winged with electric fire,

As if Apollo played on Milton's mighty lyre!

 


____________________

 
KEATS.

 

LIKE some bright Vision from the land of dreams
Did Keats appear and pass; yet sweetly rings
His harp in realms of Poesy.   Pale gleams
Of classic splendour flash along his themes,
Like jewel-sheen in crowded courts of kings,
Or lunar light, when shed on Alpine streams!
His soul was one vast reservoir of sweets
With melody and beauty overfilled:
Alas! that fullest cups are soonest spilled—
That falls are frequent from the highest seats!
As falcons seize the song-bird while he sings,
So screech-owl critics killed the poet Keats;
Yet with a pulse warm, wild, and fresh as Spring's,

Embalmed in deathless song his heart for ever beats!

 


____________________

 
EDGAR ALLAN POE.

 

COLD are thine ashes now, Columbian bard!
But warm, and wide, and fast, and far thy fame
Is spreading, like swift sunbeams on the sward
Of Continents—all Europe lauds thy name!
Her strongest minds must tremble when they try,
Like thine, to sound the depths of Mystery;
For thou couldst probe dark problems, quick as when
Jove's lightning cleaves the cloud-rocks—clear as pen
Of poet pierces through the gloom of ages!
But poets may be neither saints nor sages,
For Vice hath vanquished many mighty souls—
Archangels have by evil been undone,
As thou hast, Poe.   Alas! thy planet rolls

A globe of ghastly splendour, far from Virtue's sun!

 


____________________

 
ALEXANDER SMITH.

 

A SUMMER sky, flushed with Auroral splendours,
Thy genius in its gorgeous dawn resembles—
Warm, grand, and graceful, destined to endure;
An Angel, that on golden pinions trembles
Above a sleeping infant, scarcely renders
A picture so poetically pure
As is thy muse!   She moves in music, lives
In light, and loves intensely as a God!
The danger-daring flights that she doth take
Make even Shakspeare's mighty planet shake
In Admiration's utmost zenith with
The sweep of her wide wings; yet, sweetest Smith,
Angels have fed on earthly food; Earth gives

Antæus strength; let earth by thee be oftener trod!

 


____________________

 
GERALD MASSEY.

 

SWEET-NUMBERED poet, proudly we thy name
Behold among the British bards inscribed,
In golden letters, on the List of Fame!
A second Burns, that never could be bribed,
By Fear or Favour, to forsake the class
Whence thou didst spring—the lowly labouring mass,
Whose feelings, fears, and hopes have tipped with flame
Thy potent pen!   Let not occasion pass—
Portray their wrongs, regardless of the blame
Which Cant may cast on thee, in hope to tame
Thy scathing indignation!   Let thy tongue
Be ever heard in humble Worth's defence,
And may the Muses still inspire thy song

With truth, and love, and life-instilling eloquence!

 


____________________

 
LOVE.

 

O THIS fair world were dreary, dull, and dark,
But for the presence of the light of Love—
That Sun of Life—that quintessential spark
Which kindled worlds through Night's dark wilderness!
It is God's highest attribute no less
Than Man's most golden gift—his spirit-ark
That floats on Time's deep deluge, as a bark
Sits on the sleeping Ocean; 'tis the boat
That bears him to the haven of his hopes—
Truth's Land of Promise.   Ever let him bless
God for the gift, and use it as he ought—
Plant groves of Bliss on Life's most barren slopes,
Till Earth in virtue vies with Heaven above,

And Love in every breast sits like the brooding dove!

 


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BLISS BEHIND THE GRAVE.

 

'TIS sweet to see the rainbow's prismal arch
Bestride the mist-robed mountains of the earth;
'Tis sweet to see the golden Sun upmarch
From gloomy clouds and give the Morning birth;
'Tis sweet to hear the peals of infant mirth
In childhood's pleasant sports at close of day;
'Tis sweet to sit beside a glowing hearth
And listen to the night-winds' fearful play—
To stand upon a stormless mountain brow,
While white-winged lightnings leap from clouds below,
And watch the warring elements, is sweet;
But sweeter far it is to feel and know,
When face to face with darksome Death we meet,

That life and love, and bliss outwear the winding sheet!

 


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THE RISING SUN.

 

THOUGH midnight heavens a-glow with stellar light
With deathless thoughts may fill and fire his muse,
Though silver-crowned Astartè, Queen of Night,
May claim his homage, or the rainbow hues
Of Flora's cheek fling lustre o'er his lay,
Not all the stars that stud Night's dim blue arches,
Nor all the flowers that fill the lap of May,
Nor Queen Astartè when she stately marches
O'er sable cloud-rocks robed in silver grey,
May through the poet's raptured fancies ray
Such regal splendour as the golden-grand—
The God-reflecting, fire-crowned King of Day,
When on some dawn-flushed hill, the bard doth stand

To watch him scale the sky, o'erlustring sea and land!

 


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CONISTON WATER AND THE OLD MAN.

 

I'VE trod thy woodland shore, wild Coniston!
Around whose marge, dark, rock-ribbed mountains rise,
When, laved in lustre by the setting Sun,
Their purple peaks gleamed in the summer skies
And glassed their splendour in the lake below,
Upon whose placid bosom nightly lies
The giant spectrum of that Man of Stone,
Who, in the realm of Thunder, Wind, and Storm—
With gloom or glory crowned, or capt with snow—
In lonely grandeur fills his granite throne,
And seems, while lightning-heralds on him wait,
As if some dread Sublimity had form
And feature found, and here in awful state

With cloud-wreathed sceptre swayed his kingdom desolate!

 


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THE PEOPLE'S PARK.

 

PERAMBULATING "Blackburn People's Park,"
I scaled the rocky ridge of Revidge hill,
And sat beside the Russian guns, to mark
The lakes below that slumbered calm and still;
The white and winding ways, through which a dark
And devious stream of men and maidens strolled,
Beneath my feet lay like a map unrolled,
Where land and water formed as fair a scene
As ever slept beneath the soft, serene
Autumnal heavens, or blushed beneath the smile
Of rosy Spring, who robes the Earth in green
And golden garb.   In this unconquered Isle,
Where Cromwell fought, and Milton tuned the lyre,

Such scenes show Freedom's heart still throbs with martial
            fire!

 


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THE MALTHUSIAN PHILOSOPHY.

 

HER population multiplies so fast,
Malthusians say the Earth will be o'errun
By Nakedness and hunger—that one vast,
Wide, world-extended empire will be won
By Want and Woe from fair Felicity—
That Misery's bark must sink in Death's dark Sea,
Or Famine's horny eyes out-gaze the Sun!
Their purblind souls to man's high destiny
Can pierce not with prophetic glance; they see
No scrip borne by Time's Pilgrim.   Mind hath stored
Within itself the means of life.   Though Birth
Leave Death behind till Life-floods drench the Earth
Men need not starve; for, God be still adored,

The Sea of Soul hath some green isles yet unexplored!

 


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SALFORD BRIDGE.
THAT POPULAR RESORT OF THE GREAT UNWASHED.

 

BLAKEWATER hath a broad bridge stretched across
It, consecrated to the goddess Sloth;
There may be seen the vulgar, vile, and gross,
The lame and lazy-rich and ragged, both;
And many a greasy fop in threadbare cloth;
The idle huxter, and slink butcher too;
Men that do nought, and men with nought to do;
The Monday-lurking tailor, smith, and snob;
"Jours," tramps, and scamps, and beggars out of job,
And vagabonds whose names the muse would loathe
Pronounce lest they pollute the listener's ear;
By ignorance urged on, with many an oath,
Some graceless ragamuffin in the rear

Insults the passer-by with shocking gibe and jeer.

 


____________________
 

ACROSTICS.


TO A YOUNG POET.

 

GREATNESS, dear friend, is destined for the few;
Exceeding high is the ascent of Fame;
O'er hills of pain and perseverence, you,
Resigning pleasure, onward still must plod,
Glowing with hope and aspiration true,
Enamoured of the muse, fired by the flame
Serene which erst within the breast of god
Apollo glowed; in Promœthean fire
Let heaven-born Poesy embalm thy name!
Is there no path of poetry untrod?
Surely there is! and genius such as thine—
Bright, strong, profound and fertile—may acquire
Unprecedented laurels, which will shine
Refulgent for the future to admire,

Yield, therefore, to the promptings of the tuneful Nine!

 


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FRIENDSHIP.

 

RIGHT glad am I to know that there is one
On whom my heart serenely can repose,
Beneath the wings of well-tried friendship; none
E'er prized a boon more dearly: friends and foes
Rude jostling meet—life's storm-tost waves roll on—
Too many these, alas! too few we find of those!
Mankind might make this earth a blissful heaven
If Sympathy's bright circle were complete;
Lest Want should walk the earth with bleeding feet,
Let Charity apply her spirit-leaven,
Sweet Brotherhood will weave dark Discord's winding-sheet.
Eternal God! how would the green Earth smile,
Sage Time's dull visage brighten, toil grow sweet
Quite conscious of the change!   Let us, meanwhile,
Upon the path of duty ever plod,
In earnest work and wait as is most meet,
Repine not—Patience smooths Truth's rugged road—

Endeavour to do right and leave the rest to God!

 


____________________

 
THE SWEETS OF LOVE.

 

SWEET is the breath of Spring through roses blowing,
And sweet the song of birds within the grove;
Rich are the flowery meads in sunlight glowing,
And music of the streams which through them move
How sweet! yet sweeter is the voice of those we love!
How shall my pen pourtray that peerless grace,
Or paint the glance of that soul-speaking eye,
Undimmed by aught—of evil not a trace!
Love's rainbow bent o'er Beauty's cloudless sky
Glows in the living lustre of her brow;
Regnant thereon sit Purity and Youth,
And modest Mirth chaste as the vestal vow:
Virtue and Honour, Innocence and Truth,

Encircle, and may Hymen find her fair as now!

 


____________________

 
SINGULAR BUT SO.

 

MAIDEN, with what sweet, strange mind-music fraught
Are memories of our late chance-meeting brought
Right home to this sad, sorrow-stricken heart!
Years cannot cancel it—'twill be a part,
Believe me, dearest, of the treasure-store
Enshrined within the poet's soul.   Nay, more!
Are not such meetings of two kindred spirits
Re-unions?   Frail Memory inherits
Dim, dream-like thoughts that we before have met—
Seen—spoken—known—yea, loved each other! yet
Where?   When?   Not in this earth-life surely!   Let—
O let me hide the thought! alas! I've striven—
Reproach me not when Fancy whispers "Heaven!"
There, must our souls, ere doomed to tread the earth,

Have been betrothed, but Recollection dies at birth.

 


____________________

 
ONE SMILE OF THINE.

 

MORE than blind Chance directed our first meeting,
And, lit by Love's bright lamp, dear Margaret,
Remembrance ever dwells on that heart-greeting,
Gilding Life's skies with stars that never set!
Around the shores of Hope forever fret
Rude billows of the Ocean of Despair,
Engulphing oft her golden sands—vain threat—

They will not overwhelm thy heart-throned image there!

Before the everlasting throne of Heaven
Enraptured have I sought Truth's holy shrine,
Naming the gifts a bounteous God bath given
To crown them all with one sweet smile of thine;
Let Fortune frown or smile, in shade or sheen,
Either in gloom or glory pass my days,

Yet still my heart shall own, my pen proclaim thy praise!

 


____________________

 
TIME WILL TELL.

 

MALIGNANT is the aspect of that star
Athwart Love's world which throws its beams to mar
Repose—which doth the death of Hope discover,
Yea, blast the very heart-bloom of the lover!
Alas! fond Fancy dwells on days gone o'er,
Now sweetly lock'd in Memory's golden store,
Now gone for aye, but flinging evermore
Round Life's dull sphere a halo of delight,
Enclosing it; else would Despair's dark night
Drape my sad soul in Sorrow's sable shroud:
So do I think and feel, and yet a cloud
Hangs o'er my spirit, shading it with doubt!
Art thou unchanged in heart, who seemest to flout

While hopeless I repine?   The future will find out!

 


____________________

 
A BLESSING.

 

MILD be the aspect of thy ruling planet,
And smooth the path thy fairy feet shall tread,
Ringed round with roses be thy marriage bed,
God give thee bliss with ne'er a blight to ban it
And love for love through life when thou shalt wed,
Riches without the vices they beget,
Endearing friend, with not one foe to fret

Thy peace while Heaven rains blessings on thy head

Let all the world say what they will, still I
Am bound to speak of thee as I have found,
Yearning to raise thy spirit from the ground
Like prisoned eagle aiming at the sky,
Alas! sweet love, youth flies so swiftly by!
Nor should it lag, yet earlier had we met

Dear girl our lives had blent, and love may link them yet.

 


____________________

 
THE MOTHER TO HER CHILD.

 

MY little darling, Mary Jane,
As she clings to my bosom,
Raising her ruddy lips to mine,
Yielding the very blossom

Just blowing on the tree of life
And love's ripe fruit persaging,
Ne'er dreams of what her parent feels,
Engaged, life's rude war waging.

And yet her eyes, brimful of joy,
Shew glimpses of the morrow—
How, when the Maid is merged in Wife,
Will mingle Care and Sorrow!
O that her path through Time may be
Richly bestrewn with flowers,
To compensate the ills that Fate
Heaps on this life of ours!


____________________
 

EPISTLES.


THE INFIRMARY.

A LAY OF GRATITUDE TO WM. PILKINGTON, ESQ., MAYOR OF
BLACKBURN, FOR HIS HANDSOME SUBSCRIPTION TOWARDS
THE PROPOSED INFIRMARY, JAN. 1ST, 1857.

 

Blackburn Infirmary in 1865.

Ed. - William Pilkington became Blackburn's fifth mayor in November, 1856, an honour he acknowledged by announcing his intention to create an infirmary, a project he inaugurated with a £2,000 donation towards the building fund together with an endowment of £100 a year. The foundation stone of the Blackburn Infirmary was laid in May 1858 and the building completed six years later.  Throughout this period he served as chairman of the Building Committee, later becoming President for the remainder of his life.

 

O THOU, that sittest in the civic chair,
Vouchsafe to listen to my humble lays!
Chief Magistrate of Blackburn! merit rare
In thee demands the workman-poet's praise;
And workmen will ten thousand voices raise
To peal this anthem in the World's wide ear,
Praying for health and wealth and length of days
To thee and thine, whose names, held fondly dear,

Are shrined within our hearts, like light in Day's bright sphere.


Sincerity doth sit upon thy soul
In such unsullied purity as snows
Upon the Alpine mountains or the Pole,
Or as the dew doth hang upon the rose,
For thou hast deeply quaffed the wave which flows
In streams through every philanthropic heart,
Ordained by God to drown all human woes,
Of Poverty to heal the bitter smart,

And make thy fellow-man as happy as thou art.


Go on, good man!   God speed thee on thy mission
Of mercy!   Bear aloft the olive rod!
Rule mildy! emulate the Great Physician!
Tread all the paths Benevolence hath trod;
It is the highest attribute of God,
The fairest feature of the sons of earth;
It leadeth men from Sorrows sad abode
And lights the cheeks of Woe with smiles of mirth,

And sheds a halo round the town which gave thee birth!


How will the poor of Blackburn ever prize
That priceless boon, which had its origin
Within thy breast, whose bounties tide-like rise
To sweep away their sufferings!   Within
Thy native town, what blessings wilt thou win
For myriads, that will bless the memory
Of him, who, Howard-like, walked foremost in
The Christ-trod track of true Philanthrophy,

When Blackburn points with pride to her INFIRMARY!

 


____________________

 
TO A POET-FRIEND.

 

THANKS! my dear friend, for your humorous letter,
    So pregnant with poesy, wisdom, and wit;
Displaying such fancy, and—what is far better—
    A heart whose affections with mine are still knit!

One dash of your pen, or one stroke of your pencil—
    Take which phrase ye will, since by both are expressed
What I mean, and I hope that your usual good sense will
    Select that which pleases your palate the best—

One dash of your pen, then I say, is sufficient
    To rouse from its slumbers in Memory's chasm,
The ghost of past Pleasure, when thought, act, and wish went
    In unison!   Lo! I behold the Phantasm!

'Tis robed in the evergreen garments of Nature,
    And crowned with a mountain of sky-sweeping woods;
Its belt is the rainbow, its rude rocky stature
    Is washed to its base by the white-foaming floods!

On its breast I behold where our holiday rambles
    Extended afar over plain, heath, or hill,
To Pendle—or Ribble, whose banks, fringed with brambles
    And hazels, embosom that fountain-born rill,

Where the bell of the lily was changed to a chalice
    Whence we drank holy water to drown the fiend Thirst,
While the song of the birds rippled down the green valleys
    Where rose-wreathed briars into blushes had burst;

Where we lay on the grass, 'neath the sun-shading hedges,
    To rest, and to feast on the poet's sweet dreams,
After leading the chase o'er the broom-blossomed ridges
    And light, as the antelope leaping the streams!
*                *                *                *                *                *                *
But, farewell dear friend! in the far-distant future,
    May joys bright as Youth's gild thy path to Life's goal!
Exercise is Health's handmaid—Man's noblest tutor—
    And mirth is the sunshine that brightens the soul!

 


____________________

 
PEOPLE'S COLLEGES.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE BLACKBURN TIMES.

 

DEAR SIR:—I need make no apologies
For writing about People's Colleges,
Since, in one of your last weeks "Leaders,"
By you the attention of your readers
Was directed to this matter,
In terms by no means meant to flatter
Their prejudices for the rules
Of byegone days respecting schools.
Like you, we think that knowledge should
Be free as air!   And that it would
Be well if we had some such plan
As you propose.   But, pray how can
We bring this fig-tree to fruition
In Blackburn?—That's beyond my vision!
The reason, I make bold to mention
This, is to draw your attention
To the subject once again,
That you may make it quite as plain
To other minds, throughout the town,
As it, no doubt, is to your own.
    Oh! how my heart leaps at the thought,
That science will at length be brought
Within our reach!   That saving lore
Shall knock at every workman's door!
That Truth shall come, so that we may
Move with the movements of the day,
Probe all the problems of the ages
And ride with Progress stage by stage,
Sail on the philanthropic flood
Of Universal Brotherhood
And, casting anchor in Hope's bay,
Meet the Millennium on its way!
And hail it as it moves along,
And cheer it till it reach the throng
Of those that labour far behind,
Beset with adverse waves and wind,
Waiting with hope-firm, not forlorn—
The dawning of man's moral morn,
When Virtue, Love, and Light shall rush
To pluck the rose from Bliss's bush!
    But it is time I should conclude,
Fearing those figures seem but crude
In this my long-drawn-out epistle,
Which, like my last one, if you list will
Now be left at your own option
For rejection or adoption,
Either way will just please me,
Hence I remain yours W. B.

 


____________________

 
LEISURE MOMENTS.
TO JOHN BARON, THE GRIMSHAW PARK POET.

 

'Tis night! once more my daily task is done,
And now my leisure moments are to me
A priceless boon; I seize them one by one,
And, as the bud is rifled by the bee,
Extract their sweets, before I let them flee
Adown the Stream of Time, broad, deep, and vast,
Which ever moveth towards that mighty sea,
That dark, dim, shoreless ocean, called the Past,

And with them weave a lay, destined perchance to last.


And BARON, I would consecrate to thee
(An offering not unworthy thine applause)
This lowly lay, from servile flattery free,
Though not exempt from many frets and flaws;
Though wanting much in cadence, point, and pause,
And warring oft with order, art, and taste,
Yet holding strict adherence to the laws
Of friendship, in whose fire our hearts incased

Glow like two verdant worlds by solar beams embraced.


Have we not lived and loved and known each other
A period that passeth twenty years?
Hast thou not been to me a more than brother—
Joyed in my hopes, and sorrowed for my fears
But chiefly that which soul to soul endears
Is that we both have mated with the Muse,
In amity, nor envied our compeers
Their fortune, who to follow Mammon choose,

But let him have his way, who sordid wealth pursues.


His be the Godless gain, and ours the glory
Of sowing seed to bring forth mental fruit
To bud and blossom when our locks are hoary:
'Tis ours the ranks of Reason to recruit,
To "teach the young idea how to shoot,"
To multiply the triumphs of the mind,
To charm the angel and to chain the brute,
To make the age more moral and refined,

And link our lives with Toil to serve our suffering kind.


O let us seize on every idle hour
And sacrifice it at the shrine of Art!
The pioneers of thought possess a power
That kings might envy—that shall not depart
With life, but live in lustre on the chart
Of Time, and point the ages to their goal—
Nay, build a bridge of progress, high athwart
The stream of years, whereby the human soul

May win its way to bliss, as streams to oceans roll!


Then string thy harp once more, and strike with fervour
A strain to purge and purify our town;
Fame hath in store, for every true deserver
Who bears her faithful cross, a fadeless crown;
The cries of Crime have brought Jove's thunder down
And blanched with mist the moral firmament,
So strike thy lyre, and let its numbers drown
The voice of Vice, like prophet heaven-sent,

Unburden thy rapt soul, and give the God full vent!


And I will hail thee 'mid the moral fray,
And cheer thee in thy on-and-upward course;
Still gaining heart and hope, as streams alway
Increase in breadth; and volume from their source;
Nor shall Misfortune, Time, or Death divorce
Our spirits, or destroy our love of song,
Find us the right loss forward to enforce,
Or backward to do battle with the wrong,

But still in Freedom's van, with flame-tipped pen and
            tongue!


But Business bids me come to a conclusion
For now my Leisure Time is at an end,
Hence I in haste transmit this soul-effusion
With diffidence; to .my indulgent friend,
Still hoping you will kindly condescend
To smile upon my rude unpolished lay,
To strive with, me Life's rugged road to mend,
To speed the dawn of the Millennial day—

I sign myself YOUR FRIEND for ever and for aye.

 



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