Poems by Isa (2)

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SEPULTE VIVE.
(A convent in Rome.)

 

LIKE a fair saint before the altar kneeling,
    Shorn of her long dark tresses,
Lightly, as if an inward peace revealing,
    Her hand her bosom presses.

Oh! can it be that she is not dissembling
    Some grief for all she leaveth?
On the resolved lip there is no trembling,
    No sigh the fixed heart heaveth.

Now pale as death within her coffin lying,
    Like a fair corse she seemeth,
While 'neath those lids the mockery denying,
    Life's unquenched light yet gleameth.

Draw near, and take your last look, weeping mother,
    Father, friend, sister, ye grow blind while gazing;
But come not thou who art nor friend nor brother,
    If she those lids were raising.

Eyes which have melted into thine, unshrinking,
    Would ask, Why cam'st thou hither?
Stand back amid the crowd, thy false heart sinking,
    Their glance thy soul would wither.

Buried alive!   Oh, friends, ye are bereft her,
    As if, in death reposing,
Amid the ashes of her sires ye left her,
    And now her tomb were closing.

Buried alive!   Across that prison grating
    She shall return—ah! never;
Within, the sombre sisterhood are waiting
    To hail her theirs for ever.

No gentle sister are they now receiving
    Within their drear seclusion,
One who hath found the peace of true believing,
    Even mid her creed's delusion.

One from the world a little sooner flying,
    That no loved voice might reach her,
That Heaven approved such bitter self-denying,
    Thus did her stern creed teach her.

One on whom all might lavish fond caressing,
    Her sick-bed daily tending;
While agèd sisters sought the young saint's blessing,
    Whose life with heaven seemed blending.

For whom, each heart beneath its nun's vest throbbing,
    At midnight all assembling,
Should prayer and chant, mixed with the sound of
            sobbing,
    Go up from voices trembling?

For thou shalt dwell apart and uncomplaining,
    No sympathy inviting;
Gentle but silent, cold and self-sustaining,
    Ne'er in their tasks uniting.

Wrapt in thy veil, along the cloisters gliding,
    Then, as in deep devotion,
Bowed at the shrine, an outward calm still hiding
    Thy spirit's wild emotion.

The sisterhood, to drowsy vigils rising,
    Each bell shall wake from sleeping;
But thee, the night shall witness agonising
    Cast on the ground, and weeping.

Each year the sisters come unto the grating,
    And friendly voices greet them.
Ah! some there be for whom no friend is waiting,
    Who have none left to meet them.

What woe to find voice after voice amissing,
    Into dread silence dying,
And to send forth that greeting, and that blessing,
    To which came none replying.

Think'st thou a heart beneath such anguish bleeding
    Offered to God will please Him;
Think'st thou that He is still a victim needing,
    Whose writhings may appease Him.

No: He who is our way unto the Father,
    For all our sin sufficing,
Hath taught us that He will have mercy rather
    Than costly sacrificing.

Not on the heart's affections did He trample
    Whose glory shone on Tabor,
For these are hallow'd by His great example
    Of earnest love and labour.

He could have given thee peace, himself revealing,
    And strength in all thy weakness—
For disappointed pride, the holy healing
    Of His light yoke of meekness.

But the sore conflict will be swiftly ended—
    To thee too long delaying;
I could not think upon thy soul as blended
    With nature's slow decaying.

Oh! when, unto the Sign of our salvation
    Thy dying eyes are turning,
Where seems the lamp in its accustomed station
    Dimmer and dimmer burning,

May He who is the Light, the gloom dispelling,
    Guide thee through death's dark portal,
Out from the tomb in which thou hast been dwelling,
    Into the life immortal.

 

________________

 


THE MIDNIGHT WRECK.

 

    FROM the harbour, richly laden,
            Sailed the gallant ship;
'Twas a precious freight she carried:
    Father, mother, youth, and maiden,
Wife and husband newly married,
            Watch her cable slip.
    And upon her deck they tarried,
While the land they left was fading,
Some their eager eyes are shading
        From the morning sun;
            As away they glide,
How the waters heave and glitter!
        And how many a one,
    Leaning o'er the vessel's side,
Seems to watch, but droppeth bitter
            Tears into the tide!
What though, at the consummation,
    We shall know our sad emotion,
To the joy of all creation,
    Was a teardrop to an ocean?
Ere midnight the wind had shifted,
        Rising to a gale.
Backward on her course she drifted,
    Heeding not her helm;
Now on giant waves uplifted,
    Threat'ning to o'erwhelm;
            Now adown a vale
Of dark angry waters driven;
While, like spirits chased from heaven,
        Loud the wild winds wail.
None that night had sought a pillow,
    Still the deck they crowd;
While to each successive billow
    The tall mast is bowed.
Hoarser sounds now meet their hearing—
    'Tis the breakers' roar,
And the hapless bark is nearing
    Fast the fatal shore.


                                A shock!
She hath struck the sunken rock,
And her lofty hull is shattered;
All her wealth must now be scattered
        On the raging waves.
Ah! but she was richly laden!
    And the precious freight she carried,
Father, mother, youth, and maiden,
    Bride and bridegroom newly married,
        There must find their graves.
In the darkness, near each other,
Clinging close by friend and brother—
And the tender nursing mother
        With her babe is there—
Some with hearts for terror failing,
Some with shrieking, some with wailing,
        Some with faith and prayer,
Some with noble self-devotion,
Stifling their own wild emotion,
        Seek to calm despair.

On the waves again uplifted,
Now her giant bulk is rifted,
    On the sharp rock driven.
O'er the breach the white foam streameth;
Now no hope on earth there seemeth,
    And no help in Heaven!
    One small boat is filled,
And amid the surges boiling,
Through the darkness men are toiling,
    Strong and bravely skilled.
On the strand the boat doth shiver;
Few are saved—it may be never
    Known how many lost—
Lost for ever!   Lost for ever!
    What a mighty cost!

Ah! the saved shall stand to-morrow,
With the dawn, in awful sorrow,
    On the wreck-strewn shore;
None who hath not lost another.
Child or parent, friend or brother;
    Than his soul loved more.
Does the sea deplore its doing?
Are the waves their wild work ruing?
With a mighty sorrow swelling
    Seems the ocean's breast;
Which its mournful voice seems telling,
    Thus—"No rest, no rest!"
What though, at the consummation,
    We shall know our sad emotion,
To the joy of all creation,
    Is a teardrop to an ocean?
Wherefore all this wreck and ruin,
    O Beneficent?
And is Thine eternity
Like this great and boundless sea,
    To o'erwhelm us meant?
Shall a few be safely landed
    On the eternal shore?
And a countless number stranded
    Where Thy breakers roar?
Ah! methinks the saved—
Few without one friend or other,
Child or parent, wife or brother,
    'Mong that awful host—
Evermore the glory scorning,
On that shore would wander mourning,
    Seeking for the lost.

 

________________

 
THE SISTERS OF MERCY.

 

IN a valley where the vines grew wild, a calm secluded
        spot,
Close to a peaceful convent's walls, a battle once was
        fought.
Within, the trembling sisters in their chapel met to
        pray,
While rolled the frightful shout and clang—now near,
        now far away,
As back and forward, through the vale, the combat
        seem'd to sway.

The Abbess near the altar knelt, and led the praying
        band,
High-born she was, and beautiful, a lady of the land:
"Sisters, now let us pray," she said, "for all our
        prayers who need,
For each soul that shall pass away, for each heart
        that shall bleed,
Whether it be of friend or foe, of true or hostile
        creed."

Without they fought, within they prayed, as long as
        there was light,
Down on the valley darkness came at length, and
        closed the fight:
The silent night came down, and hushed seem'd every
        sound of dread,
The watchfires blazed upon the heights, the vanquish'd
        host had fled,
Alone upon the field were left the dying and the dead.

Then issued from the convent gate that pious sister
        band,
Into that moonless, starless night, each with a lamp
        in hand,
And she who led them forth said thus—"Give help
        to all who need,
To each soul that doth pass away, to each heart that
        doth bleed,
Whether it be of friend or foe, of true or hostile
        creed."

And now they search the valley through, among the
        heaps of slain,
Guided by cries of agony, and groans of mortal pain,
To where, amid his comrades dead, the wounded
        soldier lay,
Who marvell'd in life's parting trance what angel
        forms were they,
Shedding a light upon his face like mercy's holy ray.

And two by two they plied their task amid the carnage
        thick,
Their cheeks grew pale at ghastly sights, their very
        souls grew sick;
Yet ere the life-tide ebb'd away, they closed the
        gushing wound,
They pressed the cordial to the lips, the aching brow
        they bound,
And whisper'd comfort to the soul of those they dying
        found.

They passed their convent gates again ere rising of
        the sun,
For with the earliest dawn of day the soldiers had
        begun
To clear the field, and heap the spoil, and then they
        knew what led
The watchers of the camp to quake with superstitious
        dread,
As trembling lights moved up and down all night
        among the dead.

And soon beneath the convent walls the foe victorious
        stood,
The rude hands of these ruthless men reek'd with the
        guiltless blood;
But, mercy to the merciful, to pass, the word is given.
Though men, for what they deem the truth, with
        direful hate have striven,
They own the universal faith that mercy is of
        Heaven!

 

________________

 
THE TRUTH.

 

WITHIN the old cathedral dim
    A solemn group are met,
And hearts are glowing in their heat,
    And cheeks with tears are wet;
The Book is chained to the desk,
    And from its page the throng
Listen to Him of Nazareth,
    Or Zion's holy song.

Ah! well may tyrants fear the truth
    That sets the spirit free,
And fain would they have quenched
            in blood
    Its glorious liberty;
But kindled was a beacon-light,
    That higher towered and higher—
Ho, people! answer with a shout,
    "Is not my word a fire?"

Ay, kindled were a thousand hearts,
    And quenchless was the flame,
The spirit it had called to life
    Nor rack nor stake could tame:
'Twas folded 'neath the bloody plaid
    Of him who grasped the sword,
And fought, for kirk and covenant,
    The battles of the Lord.

The chainless truth, our country's boast
    Through many a glorious age,
The truth that gilds her high renown,
    And lights her letter'd page—
That teaches no commands of men,
    But wisdom from above,
And needs no weapons but its own
    Strong faith and holy love.

The chainless truth, we'll speed it forth,
    Till, like electric cords,
Shall land to land transmit its glad,
    Its everlasting words;
And nations, blinded and enslaved,
    Shall rouse as from a sleep,
And Error, for her fallen shrines
    And broken idols, weep.

O'er all our holiest sympathies
    Its holier light we'll shed,
Its blessing on the baby brow,
    Its hope above the dead;
Its words first taught our childish lips
    Themes that are sung on high,
And kindred hands will find it near
    Our pillows when we die.

 

________________

 
I LOVE THEE, STAR.

 

I LOVE thee, star, because one weary night,
    Whose long unhappy hours I watched away,
Thou cheered me with thy light;
    When to thy place in heaven I turned my eye,
I met thy holy and unclouded ray,
    Sent to me from on high.

I love thee, star, for all that weary night—
    Hope, hope in heaven thou ever seemed to say;
And thou didst speak aright.
    Thine is a calm, untroubled path, and mine
Is tempest-visited, and oft astray;
    But He who bade thee shine

Into my chamber then, and take with thee
    A message to my soul of peace and love,
My God and guide shall be;
    And when I saw thee fading into day,
Sweet calm had filled my spirit from above,
    For thou hadst bid me pray.

 

________________

 
"THE AFFLICTED'S PRAYER."

 

OH! spare the rod,
    Thy wrath remove,
And visit me in love,
    My Father, God.

Thou art all-wise—
    Erring I've been And,
Father, thou hast seen
    Need to chastise.

And now I say
    Thy will be done,
My will with Thine make one,
    Father, I pray.

These earthly things
    Fill not my heart,
Thou alone fountain art
    Of its deep springs.

Thy love is best—
    Give me but this;
All else is weariness—
    Thy love is rest.

 

________________

 
TO A DEPARTED SPIRIT.

 

                    WHERE art thou?
            Above the stars of light,
            Beyond thought's utmost flight,
                    Art thou now?
                Or art thou near,
            In thine old household ways,
        Where we could see thee, if to mortal gaze
            A spirit might appear,
            Looking with sad amaze
            On all our folly here?
                Say, dost thou roam
            From world to world afar?
            Or is you radiant star
                Thy blessed home?
            Oh, stars! I've thought ye were
The many mansions of our Father's home.
                Spirit, where'er
            Thou art, there we shall come.
                        What art thou?
                Such as the angels bright,
                Something as swift as light,
                        Art thou now?
                    Dost thou retain
                Shape of thy mortal mould?
            So that, if but permitted to behold,
                We would thee know again—
                Or formless, uncontrolled,
                Spirit, dost thou remain?
                    Floatest thou in air,
                Sightless and voiceless all,
                Can change ne'er on thee fall,
                    A rapture, a despair?
                But this we know, that were
Our souls—as soon they must—from earth set free,
                    Spirit, whate'er
                Thou art, that we shall be.

 

________________

 
THE MYSTERIES OF GOD.

 

TRUTH is eternal as its source,
    For suns had burned and planets rolled,
Though man had never learnt the course
    Of nature to unfold,
But deemed those thousand points of light
    Were spangles on the brow of night.

Yet mighty is the mind of man;
    For giant power to it is given
The awful realms of space to span,
    And scale the boundless heights of heaven,
And trace in nature's changeless laws
    The image of her glorious cause.

Explore creation's regions wide,
    For things that are revealed are thine!
But search not, mortal, in thy pride,
    The counsels of the will Divine!
As well make yonder cloud thy car,
    And think to reach the farthest star.

Match with the infant of a day
    A mind in its developed might,
The little soul can hold no ray
    Of all its intellectual light—
Can thine, within its compass small,
    The mind that made and moveth all?

All mysteries are truths, but set
    Above us in the depths of night;
We reach them—and lo! further yet
    Are worlds of undiscovered light:
The mysteries of God are far
    Beyond where things created are.

Life is a mystery—we are,
    Before, behind, beyond, above,
Lost in the dread immensity
    Of Him in whom our spirits move.
Life is a mystery—death shall fill
    Our souls with higher mysteries still.

 

________________

 
THE FIRST KING.

 

HE stood among his fellows, giant-moulded,
His eye their leader, and his lip their rein,
His breast with nought but majesty enfolded,
Girt with the skin of the brute monarch slain—
The "mighty hunter " stood on Shinar's plain.

They crowned him—placed upon his brow the token
Of right to rule; and a true king was he,
Nor yet because a people's voice had spoken,
But in the right of his own sov'reignty
Of spirit, he was meet a king to be.

They bowed before him—though each arm that
        wielded,
Among that tide of men, a spear or bow
Might have struck death into that breast unshielded,
But that his royalty had fenced him so.
Before him bent the fiercest spirit low.

What crowned they?—glorious beauty that delighted
Their eyes to look on.   In their heaven-made king
All they conceived of power they saw united—
His fleetness matched the eagle on the wing,
And at his bound the lion crouched affrighted.

What bowed they to?—it was a greater spirit
That drew and yoked them to its stronger will;
How oft are they uncrowned who crowns inherit?
A throne is such a mighty space to fill,
A tottering seat to whom it fitteth ill.

Yet shameless brows have worn the circlet golden,
Before whom bent the great, the wise, the good;
And feeble hands have royal sceptres holden,
Before whom such have unresisting stood,
Save when a country's wrongs roused patriot blood.

And with love, passing love, of life and heaven,
Have kings been loved, yea, mean and puny things;
They to whom kingly natures were not given—
For men's desire even to the shadow clings:
The hearts of men are still the thrones of kings.

The woof was mingled for all times and stories,
The hour—first king of men!—thy reign began,
Though not by kings have been achieved the glories
That gather round the destinies of man—
In ruin's march they oftener lead the van:

But not upon the ruin of another
Thine empire grew, thy kingly power arose;
Not by down-trampling of thy weaker brother,
But that thou wert the mightiest to oppose
The foes of men, and men were not the foes.

Brute conqueror thou wert, and they who crown'd thee
Brought a chained lion at thy feet to cower.
Brute force, 'tis thus when men to thrones have bound
        thee
That kings unloose at will thy lion power,
And give thy fangs commission to devour.

Do we not see in this half mythic story,
Truths that have glimmered the dim ages through—
Oh, when will kings perceive their highest glory,
Conquer the brute, the lion power subdue:
To reign by mind alone is man's dominion true.

 

________________

 
ODE TO CORINNA,

A BEAUTIFUL STATUE.

 

            GENTLE, and beautiful,
        Again thou wear'st the crown!
    Yes, thou art crown'd anew,
Though not in sunny garden of old Greece,
    Fresh leav'd the laurels grew;
The sculptor's hand hath wreathed for thee
        Another garland of renown—
            Gentle and beautiful,
        Again thou wear'st the crown!

    Thou fair embodiment, if I might be
    In the weird moonlight all alone with thee,
Scarce strange would seem the passing of that trance,
Scarce strange would seem the uplifting of that glance;
        In fix'd thought downward bent,
            So spirit-like thou art,
    One might expect those silent lips to part,
And stand awaiting with unstartled ear
One of thy long-forgotten songs to hear.

    A song as radiant, pure
As sunlight glancing on a white dove's wing—
A glorious song of morning and of spring—
How green'd the vales, and how the blossoms blew,
Or how the tender twilight wept in dew;
How the stars rose, and how the evening breeze
Whisper'd its sorrows to the cypress trees.

    Of some young poet's dream,
Immortal beauty, and immortal love—
    Of haunted spring and grove,
Haunted by spirits of the wood and stream.
The mystic meaning of all mortal things
Took shape into such wild imaginings.

    Thou didst not strive for fame;
On some heart-altar were thy wreaths laid down
    Not without tears to fade,
        And now I trace
A touch of human sadness in that face,
A shadow on that brow's serenest grace,
    More than the laurel's shade.

                                        And fancy gives
    To that dream-song a deeply mournful fall.
Though hearts were lighter in those younger days,
When was grief absent from the poet's lays?
    And thine were not of peace and pleasure all,
Nor without sorrow were thy song complete,
For sweetest notes are sad, and saddest still are sweet.

 

________________

 
SONNETS.
_____

LOWLINESS.

I.

 

FAIR valley, clothed with richest, freshest green,
While parched are all the world's wide ways beside,
Thine is the shady spot, the verdant screen,
The gentle banks where quiet waters glide.
'Tis sweet to wander in thy narrow ways,
Too narrow for the chariot-wheels of pride;
'Tis sweet to shelter from the noontide rays,
Where all unsunned thy cool-eyed flowerets hide:
To feed thy stream flows many a tinkling rill,
Hastening with tribute it may not refuse.
With gushing crystal thus its founts to fill,
The thirsty heights are drained of all their dews;

And thus into the heart that lieth low,
The purest streams of highest wisdom flow.

 

________________

 
LOWLINESS.

II.

 

THE violet in thy shade all meekly lies,
And spends its hidden life in sweet perfume,
Till, meekly shutting up its dying eyes,
It yields to fresher buds a space to bloom.
The apple stands not on the wind-swept hill,
Where storms may toss its branches to and fro,
And nip its blossoms with untimely chill,
In their first crimson flush, ere pale they grow,
To their white death; but in the vale it dwells,
Spreading its cloud of bloom, delicious show!
And golden green and ruddy fruitage swells,
Till heavy hangs the richly-laden bough:

And thus within the heart that lieth low,
The fruits of love to all their fulness grow.

 

________________

 
LOWLINESS.

III.

 

OH! happy he who here hath his retreat;
Feeble, he falls not here, nor strays, though blind;
And when the storms of adverse fortune beat,
A covert here he faileth not to find.
Come hither, all of happiness in quest;
Further from here, further from her ye stray;
Here white-winged peace hath built her downy nest,
And vainly would you beckon her away,
Or bear her hence, a bosom-cherished guest.
She will escape, and thither wing her way
Back to her native bower with ruffled breast—
Like Noah's fainting dove, she finds no rest
Save in her shelt'ring haunt; and even so

Peace dwelleth in the heart that lieth low.

 

________________

 
MAMMON.

I.

 

IN God's great temple Mammon sits on high,
And countless worshippers around him throng;
On a wheeled throne, by thousands borne along,
Behold the world's grand idol passing by.
A heavenly glory through the temple streamed,
And there were altars, whence ascending up
A ceaseless cloud of odorous incense steamed,
While viewless hands waved many a censer cup.
'Twas he who built the temple, who adorned
Those altars, and upheld their service mute;
Yet by the throng was their pure worship scorned;
And their flower off'rings trodden under foot,
As on they rushed, while falling victims bled
Beneath the wheels, and their remorseless tread.

 

________________

 
MAMMON.

II.

 

THE image was of gold, and shone so bright
That still to near it press the crowd behind,
Though they who look on it with eager sight,
With their long gazing to all else grow blind—
Blind to the flowers that spring beneath their feet,
Wooing to gladness with their looks of love;
Blind to the heavenly messengers they meet;
Blind to the life-light pouring from above—
So blind, a brother they ne'er recognise,
If he but in a meaner garment dress;
Regarding him with cold and slaty eyes,
If wearing not their idol's badge, success;
Yoking their fellows to its murderous car,
And knowing not what slaves themselves
        they are.

 

________________

 
MAMMON. III.

 

STRANGE babbling sounds the temple filled, while mirth,
And pain, and madness, hideous outcries made,
And some were treading others to the earth;
Some sobbed in anguish, and some shrieked for aid;
Women held up their worn imploring hands,
And loveless faces in the fearful crush,
And children, gathered not in playful bands,
Were borne along and trampled in the rush.
Faster and faster the great wheels go round,
Now to the car seem harnessed steeds of fire;
Faster those thousand tramplings beat the ground,
Yet to the goal of rest they come no nigher.
Still 'neath the wheels unwilling slaves were dragged,
And in the dust were trodden all who lagged.

 

________________

 
MAMMON.

IV.

 

TO walk apart, and rush not with the rest,
Keeping the child's heart in the man's brave breast,
The worshippers of God thus stand confest;
Yet roll great wheels adown Time's steepening slope.
Roll on—ye drag the Dagon to his fall;
In every quickening of your speed is hope,
That men shall yet be freed from Mammon's thrall—
That while the glad earth feels her generous veins
Flooding with her green life's abundant juice,
While o'er her valleys nod the golden grains,
And her fruits ripen for man's liberal use,
Of the great Father's bounty all be blest,
All lightly toil, and all enjoy, and rest,
And one thanksgiving song roll round from east to
        west.

 

________________

 
"HEART-EASING THINGS."

I.

 

To spend a calm bright summer-day alone
In one of nature's sanctuaries holy,
Where the uncounted hours glide on so slowly,
That the long day-dream seems a life by-gone;
In leafy place, with water flowing nigh it,
Where faintly sounds the never-ceasing gush,
Low whispering its everlasting hush,
Itself the only breaker of the quiet;
On the cool shining grass so still to lie,
That you can see the thrush's glancing eye,
Her soft bright eye, and mark her speckled breast,
As near she comes, in doubt a moment hovering,
Then, darting through the curt'ning boughs,
        discov'ring
Low in the alder her leaf-hidden nest.

 

________________

 
"HEART-EASING THINGS."

II.

 

OR, lying on a lonely hillside, to
Look upward through the unfathomable blue,
Beyond the earth-born clouds across it driven,
Calm, changeless, everlasting, called heaven—
The sapphire floor, trodden by angel legions,
At least the way to reach their blissful regions;
To watch the floating cloudlets, soft and fair,
And long to be a spirit thin as air;
To sink half-way into their downy pillows,
And roll to westward 'mong the crimson billows,
Stranded upon the sunset's golden sand;
While clear and still is the mild air above—
Embracing all, like the infinite love—
Unpillar'd dome, roofing earth's temple grand.

 

________________

 
"HEART-EASING THINGS."

III.

 

O TO the weary what a heaven is rest!
How all earth's o'erworn workers might be blest,
If, leaving worldliness, and care, and sorrow,
Taking no thought of any coming morrow,
They would lay down the load of life awhile—
Nay oft—and live as trees and flowers do,
Lying quite still; growing in Heaven's glad smile.
If we would live to God and nature true,
Unto our hearts would happiness be given,
And, being happiest, we are nearest heaven.
And when the heart of worldliness is eased,
It joys in nature, glad to be released—
As when a river, spending all its force
In turning iron wheels, flows down its own sweet
        course.

 

________________

 
ENDURANCE.

 

BEND to receive the cross, and lift it up,
And bear it on, and set it on a hill.
Take from thy Father's hand the bitter cup,
Whate'er its mixture; meekly say, "I will."
Art thou despised and wretched, poor and mean.
For gentle deeds repaid with wrath and wrong?
Endure in faith as seeing things unseen;
Endure in love, for love alone is strong.
Suffering sublimes and sanctifies our lives,
Sorrow refines our souls, and leaves them pure.
Since all must suffer, he is wise who strives
To suffer best; 'tis Christ-like to endure.

A rest remains; endurance is the road,
Whose sorest thorns were bound about the brow
            of God.

________________

 
SONNET.

 

WHEN conquering Rome was mistress of the world,
When the earth shook beneath her armies' tread,
When to each sky her eagle wings were spread,
And to each breeze her banners were unfurled;
She knew not that she was commissioned
A highway 'mong the nations to prepare
For the Messiah's kingdom; that the bare
Worn pilgrim-feet of His apostle band,
They of the crownless brow and swordless hand,
Might go forth to their mightier victories.
And whensoe'er the warring nations meet,
May not the fiery war-path cleave a way
For the swift coming of Thy glorious feet,
Thou Prince of Peace, whom all the kingdoms shall
            obey?

 

________________

 
SONNET.

 

WHO hath not treasured something of the past,
The lost, the buried, or the far away,
Twined with those heart-affections which outlast
All save their memories?—these outlive decay:
A broken relic of our childhood's play,
A faded flower that long ago was fair,
Mute token of a love that died untold,
Or silken curl, or lock of silv'ry hair,
The brows that bore them long since in the mould.
Though these may call up griefs that else had slept,
Their twilight sadness o'er the soul to bring,
Not every tear in bitterness is wept,
While they revive the drooping flowers that spring
Within the heart, and round its ruined altars cling.

 

________________

 
SPRING.

 

I LOVE the spring, although her changeful skies
Weep oftener than smile—a child in tears,
With a smile lurking in her glad blue eyes;
And on her brow a coronal appears
Of fair and dewy flowers—the primrose pale,
And crocus bud of purple, white, and gold,—
While woodland voices all her coming hail,
And at her touch the cradled leaves unfold.
I love the spring-time for the lengthening light
And coming beauty.   'Tis like childhood's hours,
When life is all before us stretching bright,
And full with promise of its summer flowers,—
When tears are soonest shed and soonest dried,
And love hath no disguise, and beauty hath no pride.

 

________________

 
SONNET.

 

OH, there are few so friendless or so vile
As to have none to stand about their bed
Of dust when it is making, for a while
With solemn brow and an uncovered head.
If I knew such a one, I think I must
Go pay him that last rev'rence, where he proves
Himself a life-born brother of the dust.
The kindred of the grave have no removes;
Men equal homage yield at the grave's close:
The infant and the hon'rable—who knows
Of what they know, or how, or where they be,
If ranked on man's one grand equality,
Perfection, or the least, the greatest—
Ah, who knows!

 

________________

 
HE LIETH DEAD.

 

HE lieth dead, he lieth dead,
    A man of many years;
The crown of life upon his head,
    The hoary crown, he wears.
A man of wisdom and of might,
    A man of world renown,
The first in council and in fight,
    Was he who wears that crown;
Put all of glory or of pride,
    Save it, he hath laid down.

He lieth coffined and alone,
    With many a host who stood
When to the ever-silent throne
    Went up the cry of blood.
And where he waved his glittering
            sword
    Fast fell the brave, the young,
The fate of thousands on a word
    From those pale lips has hung;
And senates waited for the breath
    Of that commanding tongue.

Rest, aged warrior, rest at last!
    What glory is thy meed!
Within the gates where thou hast passed
    What triumph is decreed!
Oft ere the fight is well begun
    Night falleth on the field,
But thine has lasted with the sun—
    Home hast thou borne thy shield;
Ah! who have lost, or who have won,
    Know none where all must yield.

He lieth dead, he lieth dead,
    A nation's greatest name
Whose praise from lip to lip hath spread
    Mid vict'ry's loud acclaim;
Whose deeds his country's muse shall
            write
    The proudest page she owns,
For to her hero's conqu'ring might
    Have monarchs owed their thrones;
He made her name a word for right
    Where'er oppression groans.

He lieth in a stately hall,
    And thousands come to gaze,
A solemn pageant 'tis, for all
    The glitter and the blaze.
Standards that trampled, soiled and torn,
    Still o'er the battle swayed,
The trophies from his vict'ries borne,
    Are on the walls displayed;
And all the honours he hath worn
    Heaped at his feet are laid.

He lieth dead, he lieth dead,
    There follow to the grave,
With rev'rent brow and measured tread,
    The great, the wise, the brave.
We mock not at these honours proud,
    But, ah! who does not know
What draws along the eager crowd!
    The tinsel, and the show.
Not him who wrapt but in his shroud
    Down to the dust doth go.

Who mourneth him, who mourneth him?
    What hearts are inly moved?
What eyes in anguish have grown dim?
    They only mourn who loved.
Their hearts alone are steeped in woe,
    Whose lips the stern lips pressed,
Whose hands in friendship's gen'rous
            glow
    Clasped with the hand at rest;
Oh, love! of all the joys we know,
    The truest and the best.

He lieth in the sacred place
    Amid a mighty throng,
The prayer is made for heavenly grace,
    The anthem pours along.
But hearts that with that anthem rose
    Must back to earth again—
Earth that still seems in hours like those
    So empty and so vain.
"Dust unto dust"—Lo, this the close—
    The soul to God.   Amen!

He lieth dead, he lieth dead,
    Left buried and alone,
The pomp hath passed, the tear is shed,
    The eager crowd are gone.
And year by year shall glide away,
    While falleth on his tomb,
All silently, the light of day,
    And midnight's solemn gloom;
And oft through moonlight's ghostly ray
    The mighty aisles shall loom.

And there beneath the lofty dome
    He sleepeth on profound,
And men of other times shall come
    And call it hallow'd ground;
And say, "It is the grave of one
    That we might rest who fought—
The better day we deem begun
    In war's stern mould he wrought;
For peace by warfare must be won,
    'Tis glory's goal that spot,"

 

________________
 

CRIMEAN WAR POEMS.

(ED.—see also Gerald Massey's War Waits and
 Hugh Miller, 'Characteristics of the Crimean War')
______



WAR.

[Written after the battle of Oltenitza]

 

TAKE up a wailing—nation against nation
    Again goes forth to war;
Again a battle's notes of desolation
    Have reached us from afar.

Again, alas! unceasing round our planet
    The sounds of conflict roll.
Red slaughter, since the first-born man began it,
    Hath reeked from pole to pole.

There hath been but one year amid its ages
    In which all war did cease;
And still, despite the dreams of saints and sages;
    There are no signs of peace.

Take up a wailing—nation against nation
    Again goes forth to war;
Oh, Europe! let thy voice in lamentation
    Be lifted up afar.

Where have not fierce destruction's fires been gleaming
    On those fair plains of thine?
Where is thy river yet unredden'd streaming,
    From Danube unto Rhine?

And hosts are trampling now, and armies slaying
    War shakes thy ground again;
Thy mighty ones that fearful game are playing
    Of castles, crowns, and men.

'Tis but begun—perchance the broil will thicken,
    And roll from shore to shore;
While thousands 'neath the death-shot reel and sicken,
    And die amid their gore.

Thousands! yes, but they elsewhere would have perish'd
    By pangs as sharp as these;
Nor can the sight of beings lov'd and cherish'd
    The pain of parting ease.

Better to perish, too, wrong overthrowing,
    Than to the wrong resigned—
Peace! is it but the dream of hearts o'erflowing
    With love to all their kind?

And such believed with longing expectation
    That war's long reign should end,
That all things to the glorious consummation,
    By love and peace might tend.

All things are to that consummation tending,
    Though not as they believed;
It was in blood and mortal anguish rending
    Redemption was achieved.

Thus it may be, until all wrongs are righted,
    That strife shall more increase—
Before the ransomed nations, all united,
    Begin the reign of peace.

 

________________
 


WHEN OUR HEROES RETURN.

 

SHOUTING we sent them forth,
To the south and to the north—
    Brave men and strong—
For the just cause and right,
Though not our own, to fight.
    Where there is wrong,
As to stand tamely by
    Noble hearts spurn;
And the tyrant shall fall
    Ere our heroes return!

Trembling hearts heard the cheer—
Down rolled the starting tear,
    Up rose the prayer,
Which still, where'er they be,
Follows o'er land and sea,
    Shielding them there.
Still to the happy time,
    Longing we turn,
When the tyrant shall fall,
    And our heroes return!

Clasped to the kindred breast,
Unto the banquet prest,
    Shall they be then!
Dearer for dangers done,
All love and honour won,
    Dear to brave men!
Victory's midnight blaze
    Brightly shall burn,
When the tyrant shall fall,
    And our heroes return!

Ah! but for those who come
No more to hearth or home,
    Many shall weep.
On red fields of slaughter,
And 'neath the dark water,
    Many shall sleep.
While shouts of welcome ring,
    Fond hearts shall mourn,
For brave ones who come not.
    When our heroes return!

 

________________
 


THEY DIED AT ALMA.

 

THEY died at Alma in the fight—
                Glorious Alma!
When the chainèd lightning bore
News of victory to our shore—
And before it reached our strand,
As it sped from land to land—
Thousands, with a glad acclaim,
Hailed thy triumph and thy name,
                Glorious Alma !
But, ah! speak not of glory now,
Tell not of the good to come,
Victory! veil thy dazzling brow,
Triumph! let thy songs be dumb.
There are many mourners made,
And our triumph in their ears
Sounds like far-off battle-cries;
Glory yet their weeping eyes
See not through the mist of tears;—
Let the tribute first be paid
                To our soldiers' biers.
They died at Alma in the fight—
                Fatal Alma!
Bursting forward, side by side,
Falling 'mid thy crimsoned tide,
Rushing on with noble ire
Steadfast through a hail of fire.
Then was many a dauntless breast
Pierced as up thy heights they prest,
                Fatal Alma!
Down the slippery steep they roll'd,
Falling standards in their hold;
There the dying soldier lay,
Pillowed on the bloody clay;
As the battle thunder pealed,
Earth seemed sinking 'neath his head,
And the skies above him reeled,
                As his bosom bled.


They died at Alma in the fight—
                Mournful Alma!
The maiden weeps her brother,
Or mourns her lover slain;
In anguish grieves the stricken mother
Ne'er to behold her sons again—
Entranced in woe, she seems to see
The bright-hair'd boy still by her knee,
And clasps, to shield it from the blow,
That head upon thy field laid low,
                Mournful Alma!
And tears are on the widow's veil,
And hark the helpless orphans' tale,
"Our father died at Alma."
They died at Alma in the fight—
                Deathless Alma!
When the smoke of battle clears,
When hath dried the mist of tears,
And the war-cloud passed away,
Then 'twill be enough to say
                They died at Alma.

 

________________
 

NIGHT-WATCHES.
__________



No. I.—THE GRAVES OF INKERMANN.

 

'TWILL be a tempest yet, though now the stars are
            burning bright—
The wind blows as it had a mind to blow them out
            to-night.
See how they wink their hundred eyes as the strong
            gust sweeps by,
And seem to flicker in its breath like taper-lights
            that die.

The hills around like giants sit upon their steadfast
            thrones,
And hark! the night-wind like a sad bewildered wan
            derer moans;
Upon their brows the moon sheds down a splendour
            silver-white,
Which mantles o'er their shoulders while their feet
            are wrapt in night.

The hills around like giants sit upon their silent
            thrones,
Unmoved as tyrants listening to a suffering people's
            groans.
They sit light-robed and splendour-crowned, and hear
            the frantic wail
That rushes round their footstools, as the blast sweeps
            through the vale.

Through all the shadowy valley now shine down the
            moonbeams wan,
Their soft cold light is resting on the graves of
            Inkermann.
That fierce gust past, the wind has hushed into a
            murmur low
That sinks upon those turfless mounds, as mourners
            faint in woe.

It comes before me vision-like, that morn of misty
            rain—
That desperate fight from dawn till night, and those
            brave comrades slain—
The flashing of the deadly guns, where now the moon-
            light lies—
The echo of the rattling shot—the fiercely mingled cries.

Oh! never yet a bloodier field was left beneath the
            stars,
Which with their hundred eyes from heaven have
            watched the world's old wars
Since the years that sad night-wanderer swept round
            Troy's beleaguered walls;
And deadlier yet may be the fray ere this proud
            fortress falls.

We shall remember when it falls who would have led
            our van—
The nameless heroes resting in the graves of Inker-
            mann !
When, rushing on to victory, we tread above their dust
Who pledged their dear lives in its cause.   We shall
            redeem the trust!

Oh! hallowed graves of Inkermann, ye seem to plead
            for peace;
"An old world feud lies buried here—one day all
            feuds shall cease."
So pleadeth many a gallant heart that groans for
            human ill,
And hates to shed the red life-wine, the sacred blood
            to spill.

The hallowed graves of Inkermann shall claim rem-
            embrance meet
When peaceful summers green those mounds beneath
            the pilgrim's feet.
An old world feud lies buried here—France, England,
            side by side,
Who once had fought as deadly foes, as brothers
            fought and died!

 

________________
 


No. II.—AT HOME.

 

THE threatening clouds are hurrying past along the
            midnight sky,
Like scattered armies that before the foe pursuing fly,
For pressing on their broken ranks the gathering
            darkness blends,
And from the blackening face of heaven the beating
            storm descends.

Now for a moment flashing forth a flame-burst rends
            the gloom,
While o'er the howling storm is heard the cannon's
            thunder-boom,
And forth destruction's bolt is launched, with dark-
            ness for its path—
'Tis like the work of demons this, in their malignant
            wrath!

Another flash! another yet! from yon abyss of black,
And vengeful fires are hurling now thy fires, dark
            City! back;
More sheltering some lone cottage eaves were now
            than roof of thine,
And than thy girdling wall of fire its naked clasping
            vine.

Within thy marble halls to-night there are no dancers'
            feet,
But through the rent and blackened wall drives in
            the drenching sleet;
No children's voices round thy hearths, no household
            sanctity,
No voice of bridegroom or of bride is heard at all in thee.

The battling wind is armed with hail and sleety
            showers that drench,
While many a youthful soldier sinks on outpost and
            in trench,
Where, as the deadly sleep comes on and numbs the
            reeling brain,
He haply dreams himself at home, 'mong loving ones
            again.

At home!   Ah, how they sit at home on such a night
            as this,
And pity all the shelterless, amid their household bliss!
What happy gatherings, too, are there, this glad time
            of the year—
Ay, and it warms our hearts to know that theirs are
            with us here!

From many a dwelling there this eve for us a prayer
            arose,
Where night now listens silently the breathings of
            repose;
And where around the social board the festal lights
            yet shine,
They speak of us with throbbing hearts—they pledge
            us in their wine,

While sighs are on the lovely lips that touch the
            goblet's brim,
And soft eyes brighten through the tears in which
            their star-lamps swim.
By every lowly hearth at home are told our triumphs
            dear,
And England's Mistress weeps and prays for her brave
            soldiers here.

At home! their hearts are with us here, the palace
            and the cot
Alike sent forth their bravest ones to share the sol-
            dier's lot;
And higher beats his heart to know what pride, what
            pity moves
The Royal Lady whom he serves, the People whom
            he loves.

 

________________
 


No. III.—"IS'T MORNING YET?"

 

IS'T morning yet?   The dull grey dawn is breaking
            o'er the hills,
And with a dim uncertain light the plain and valley
            fills;
Now stand revealed the mountain-tops, all whitened
            with the snow,
Their heads grown hoary in a night—in one wild
            night of woe.

And like an age of grief, so slow, so heavily hath sped,
This watch by one brave comrade more now with our
            thousand dead;
To him at danger's post to-night the hero's death was
            sent,
And bleeding from his mortal wound we bore him to
            his tent.

Wrapped in his soldier's cloak he lay—"Is't morning
            yet?" he cried,
Awaking from his trance of pain one moment ere he
            died;
And as we looked forth from the tent to tell if day
            were born,
Upon our gallant comrade's soul arose the eternal
            morn.

He spoke not with his dying lips of scenes of warfare
            here,
But murmured words of peace and prayer, and names
            we knew were dear;
Nor deemed he, as his wandering hand sought mine
            with feeble grasp,
'Twas a rude brother soldier's thus he held in gentle
            clasp.

Ah! we shall miss him as we miss full many such
            as he
Around our camp-fires, where at first we met with
            careless glee;
Yet, in his gayest mood, his soul with glorious things
            was rife,
And yearned for that fond dream of youth, a grand
            and noble life.

Ah! what high hopes have perished here for this
            proud tyrant's mood!
What glowing hearts to dust gone down, quenched
            in their own bright blood!
We fight not now with warrior joy, vain glory's
            wreath to earn,
But to win back the world to peace with hearts grown
            sad and stern.

"Is't morning yet?" there seems to rise a sad and
            longing cry,
A mournful voice thus questioning from all humanity;
Borne from the ages of the past 'mid terror and
            affright,
From shades of death and dungeon glooms—Oh, when
            will it be light?

"Is't morning yet?"—when shall we look abroad o'er
            earth, and say
That there hath risen on the land that never-ending
            day,
When the long night of storm and fight, of watch
            and battle o'er,
The glad long promised age shall come when war
            shall be no more?

 

________________
 



THE VETERANS.

 

A NOBLE army, bent like men to quit them,
Began the campaign of the age gone by:
Not ours to write their names, themselves have writ
            them—
Their country writes them, where they shall not die.

Each right to guard—each wrong, to overthrow it,
Arose that dauntless host of mighty men;
Statesman and judge, and warrior and poet,
The heroes of the sword and of the pen.

In fame's proud fight more than one glorious winner
Reached forth and took the crown, and passed away;
And still as they advanced their ranks grew thinner,
Like wind-swept boughs upon an autumn day.

At length, in our revering sight remaining,
Only a few brave veterans lingered on,
Till, like a blast to earth the sear leaves raining,
Death's whirlwind passed, and nearly all are gone.

We shall remember, through our generation,
Each well-known form with its familiar name—
The heroes of our youthful veneration,
Whose praise was honour, and whose voice was fame.

'Twas meet, though they have left a blank among us,
That when their work was done their toil should cease;
'Twas meet, ere burst the war-cloud which o'erhung us,
That the brave veterans should rest in peace.

Think of the blissfulness of their reunion
In the delightful fellowships of yore;
Think of the rapture of their high communion
With the great spirits who have gone before.

Think of them now, without a veil between them
And the illimitable source of truth—
Spiritual forms, yet such as we have seen them
In all the freshness of immortal youth.

And standing crowned, perhaps, these veterans hoary,
With all who ever mingled in the strife,
With eyes intent, from off the heights of glory,
Are looking down upon the ranks of life.

'Tis ours to grasp the swords which they have quitted,
Take up the songs which on their lips have died,
And in the cause of truths they have transmitted,
To seize the pens which they have laid aside;

And from the vantage-ground on which they leave us,
Advancing lead the generations on,
Till the great victor from our posts relieve us,
Like the brave veterans of the age bygone.

 

________________
 


SEBASTOPOL.

 

            SHE sat upon the shore,
And looked defiance from her hundred guns,
When France and England's warrior sons
            Came the blue waters o'er.
            'Twas harvest in the land;
'Mid peaceful farms and piled sheaves,
And clustering grapes, and autumn leaves,
            They leapt upon the strand.
    To meet the foe they rushed;
On Alma's slopes they trod the vine—
Earth drank the fiercely mingled wine
    From Death's red vintage crushed.

            Before her granite walls
They came, and back her proud defiance hurled,
And their brave boast rang through the world—
            "Oppression's stronghold falls!"
            The storied times of old
With battle and with siege are rife;
But this prolonged, gigantic strife
            Mocks all that hath been told.
    Immortal fields of fight
Those fiercely leaguered walls surround—
Each spot a bloody battle-ground,
    River, and vale, and height.

            There, on the plain below,
Contending armies gazed and held their breath,
While England's horsemen rode to death
            As for a martial show.
            There, on our sleeping host,
Through mist the foe's dark masses stole,
Burst wave on wave, like thunder-roll
            Of breakers on the coast.
    As mists before the sun
Are scattered up the vale at morn,
That day beheld them backward borne—
    And Inkermann was won!

            And oft the silent night,
With all her train of stars, would seem to flee,
While burst upon the dreaming sea
            Destruction's baleful light.
            Like suns to darkness hurled,
With their first blaze the cannon's flash
Flamed out, and there was crash on crash
            As of a rending world.
    Yet Freedom's hopes grew pale
As sunk the brave and quailed the bold—
For "who can stand before His cold"
    Who sendeth forth the hail?

            And armies low were laid,
And in the Silent Land, 'mid thronging ghosts,
The Leader met his vanished hosts,
            With Him the strife who made.
            Leaders and legions gone,
Fresh leaders and fresh legions rose;
And hosts were slaughtered of the foes,
            And other hosts came on—
    For many a warlike horde,
From fertile plains and northern snows,
As far as Don and Volga flows,
    To the doomed city poured.

            From wife and mother torn,
The dull serf, rooted to his native soil,
Is summoned from his sluggish toil,
            And to the war-field borne.
            He fainteth by the way,
Yet on the marching columns haste—
Across the wide and withering waste
            Their trampling sinks away.
    As the young peasant dies
He sees his river gleam again,
His low hut on the grassy plain
    Stands in his swimming eyes.

            Crimean vales along
Tchernaya flowed—her icy lips unsealed
To her wild flowers, by wood and field,
            She sang her summer song.
            On plains of peace afar
Ripened the grape and waved the grain,
And it was harvest-time again
            On fields unscathed by war.
    And glimmering in the dawn
Of autumn morn, Tchernaya flows
A gentle river, between foes
    In battle-order drawn.

            Soon on her banks the dead
Lay heaped, and mangled corpses choked the stream;
No morning cloud's reflected gleam
            Those mingling streaks of red.
            And thrice the foe advance,
Across the bridge they charge—they fly;
Triumphs the hope of Italy
            With England and with France.
    Yet still the fortress frowned
Defiance on the fierce attack,
And hurled the bleeding columns back
    From towers iron-bound.

            The death-gripe sterner grew,
As tighter folds the deadly serpent twines;
Till, vaulting from the close-drawn lines,
            They storm her strength anew.
            A rush!—they reach the walls,
Or through the hail of death advance.
Now, glory to the flag of France!
            The mighty stronghold falls!
    And darkness to the skies
Beheld her roof forsaken flame,
And fires with suicidal aim
    From her proud decks arise.

            Cities whose power has fled,
And from whom crowns and thrones have pass'd away,
Yet a mild lustre in decay
            From their past glories shed.
            But not to thee belong
Their glories—none of these are thine.
Majestic learning, art divine,
            Immortal names and song—
    'These, ere their sun went down,
Shed o'er the world benignant rays—
Thou but the lightning's lurid blaze—
    Thy Fall thy sole renown.

 

________________

 
MARTHA AND MARY.

PART I.

 

THEY bore the gentle names
    Of the sisters of Bethany—
Their love was more than kindred claims,
    Yet kindred were not they.

Their fathers ploughed and planted,
    And every day they said—
"Our Father which art in heaven,
    Give us our daily bread."

Poverty, pain, and labour,
    They shrank not to endure—
The stay and strength of a nation
    Are the strong and patient poor.

Beyond the town their dwellings
    Stood in a little row,
And the roofs were green with mosses,
    The walls were white and low.

So green were the roofs with mosses,
    So green were the roofs, and low,
It seemed that the tiny houses
    Would lift their heads, and grow.

There little Martha and Mary
    Were neighbours' children born,
They came to the world together
    One sweet midsummer morn.

Next summer they crept about
    With wondrous speed all-fours,
Or stumbled together in and out
    At the open cottage doors.

And they both had round red cheeks,
    And heads of flaxen hair;
Both looked out with wide clear eyes
    In ever-wondering stare.

Anon they were sent together,
    Each with her little stool,
And a peat in winter weather,
    To be taught in the old dame's school.

There they learnt to read the proverbs
    Of Solomon the wise,
And the gospels four that tells us
    Of Christ and his sacrifice.


PART II.


Out in the pleasant country,
    Where the corn and the clover grows,
In a field beside the river
    The busy factory rose.

The gloomy building ever
    Through smoky vapour looms,
And ever the giant chimney
    Sends up its murky fumes;

Up to the pearly morning,
    With its gold and crimson bars,
Up, with a trailing shadow,
    To the clear night, and the stars.

Hither, from town and hamlet,
    Come troops of old and young,
When, with its sharp loud summons,
    The workers' bell is rung.

And Mary, early stirring,
    At Martha's window-pane
Tappeth, and standeth waiting
    In the sunshine and the rain.

And then the twain together
    Go forth to their daily toil,
'Mong whirling wheels, and plying shafts,
    And bands that ceaseless coil.

Yet blithely they go tripping,
    And singing on their way;
Fresh and fair are their faces,
    Their hearts are light and gay.

Fresh and fair are their faces,—
    Many a one, I ween,
Hath said they were the fairest
    Ever their eyes had seen.

Mary had dark-brown tresses,
    And her eyes were soft and deep,
Within them a trembling shadow,
    Like the river's moonlit sleep;

While Martha's were blue and glancing,
    Like laughing streams that run,
And break into sparkles dancing
    And flashing in the sun.

Her long bright hair was braided
    In many a sunny fold,
With massive coil encircling
    Her head like a crown of gold.


PART III.


The young green corn is growing,
    The hawthorn blossoms gay,
Over the fields is blowing
    The scented breath of May.

And Mary's brown hair glances,
    And Martha's gold locks shine,
Over the meadow passing
    In the sunbeams' slanting line.

They go to meet a lover,
    A sailor lad is he,
Mate of the good ship Rover,
    And master soon to be.

Which of the twain does William love?
    For they are ne'er apart,—
And, which of them loves William?
    For they have both one heart.

Merrily jest the maidens
    While William walks between,
And deep his brown cheek reddens
    At Martha's mocking een.

But with the gentler Mary
    His speech is frank and gay,
And though he meets her smiling eyes,
    He never turns away.

At night the maidens whisper—
    Their parting words are few—
"Oh, Mary!   William loves you:"
    "Nay, Martha, it is you!"


PART IV.


"Oh, Mary!   I have found you now,"
    Said William, hastily—
"The greatest favour e'er I asked,
    I have to ask of thee.

Get Martha to come alone to-night,
    Alone to meet with me,
It may be long till I come back—
    To-morrow we put to sea.
I love you next to her," he said;
    "Will you do this for me?"

He laid his hand upon her arm,
    And she had not power to stir
The while that true and simple heart
    Told of his love to her.

Her every heart-beat pained her side,
    "Yes" only could she say—
They saw not Martha cross their path,
    And haste the other way.

Where William left her Mary stood,
    And clasped her hands awhile;
But when she hastened on again,
    Her white cheek wore a smile.

That day they met not as they wont,
    For Martha held aloof,
Another love hath come to put
    Their sister-love to proof.

At length, together side by side,
    As at their task they stood,
Mary, with trembling whisper, broke
    On Martha's silent mood.

But half that whisper Martha heard,
    When wildly flashed her eye,
And, "Speak to me no more," she said;
    "You cheat me with a lie."

She shook off Mary's pleading touch,
    And stept back in her pride,
She felt her long and glittering braid
    Down from its fastenings slide.

And round flew the remorseless wheel—
    It will not quit its prize,—
Nest moment, Martha on the floor
    Blinded and bleeding lies.

Blinded and bleeding lies she there
    Stript of her beauty's pride,—
As forth her senseless form they bear,
    They say 'twere well she died.

Oh, William, William! wait no more,
    Thy love hath met disdain,
His proud heart whispers, and away
    He turns, and comes again;
But soon his boat speeds from the shore—
    Speeds faster for his pain.


PART V.


In a small wayside cottage
    Two aged women dwell—
Two meek and patient women,
    Whose story few can tell.

And one is scarred and sightless,
    And both are worn and grey;
To look upon them, none would guess
    How fair in youth were they;

Nor if they sore had sorrowed,
    Nor if they much had loved;
And God, He only knoweth
    The things their hearts have proved,

But in her fair youth, Mary—
    She with the pleasant brow—
Bound herself to the other
    As with a wedding vow.

Blind Martha, with her knitting,
    Sits at the cottage door,
And Mary comes and leads her in
    When her day's task is o'er.

And there is joy and gladness
    Beside their lowly hearth,
While many a proud one cries,
    "There is No joy in all the earth!"

While Mary reads the story
    Of Christ's great sacrifice,
And they say that He is with them,
    Who reigns beyond the skies;
And that they are rich and blessed,
    For Christ hath given them eyes.

_________________


THE END.

 



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