Ernest Jones: Poems (4)
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WHAT?


What is Love?  It is the striving
    Of two spirits to be one:
Sweetness hungering after sweetness;
Want that thirsteth for completeness;
Two planets, formed by fate to be
Each other's dear necessity—
Each from each its light deriving,
Till they melt into a sun.


   June 15, 1849.


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THE GARDEN SEAT.


When the sea is still as glass,
And the whispering breezes pass

On messages from zone to zone, or waft from pole
                to pole,

A dewdrop of Savannah sweet—
A particle of Arab heat,

Commingling Nature's essences in one harmonious
                whole.


When the bright, magnetic stars
Seem leaning from their cars,

As drawn by some kind influence from clear
                familiar skies;

And thoughts, as dreams misprized,
Great truths, unrecognised!

Strike sudden chords from out the world's eternal
                harmonies.


When the sun sets in the sea,
Like Time in Eternity;

And space beyond horizon seems stretching
                without end:

Then come to an arbour still,
Halfway up a western hill,

That I destined for such an hour, and planted
                for such a friend,


A cedar from Assyria—
A willow from St. Helena—

A vine from classic Tusculum their branches
                intertwine;

A lily-rose from Mexico,
The vegetable southern snow!

Stand side by side—exotic bride!—with Norway's
                Scaldic pine.


The seat is formed of precious stone,
A fragment from old Babylon:

From Theseus' wall—Carthago's fall—perchance
                the Roman's seat!

From Theban sphinx's heartless breast—
From Aztec ruin of the west;

And a cornice from the capitol is spread beneath
                our feet.


And thence you may behold
A map of earth unrolled,

With the steamers on the ocean, and the railways
                on the land;

And hear the city's hum
Up the hillside deadened come,

Like the last ebb of the waters on a far-receding
                strand.


Oh! there, methinks, 'twere sweet
To sit in converse meet,

With palpable progression before our vision
                spread;

And trace the mighty plan
Of the destinies of man,

Measuring the living by the stature of the dead.


July 5th, 1849.


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EARTH'S BURDENS.


"WHY groaning so, thou solid Earth!
    Tho' sprightly summer cheers?
Or is thine old heart dead to mirth?
    Or art thou bowed by years?"

Nor am I cold to summer's prime,—
    Nor knows my heart decay;
Nor am I bowed by countless time,
    Thou atom of a day!

I loved to list, when tree and tide
    Their gentle music made;
And, lightly, on my sunny side,
    To feel the plough and spade.

I loved to hold my liquid way
    Thro' floods of living light;
To kiss the sun's bright hand by day,
    And count the stars by night.

I loved to hear the children's glee
    Around the cottage-door;
And peasant's song right merrily
    The glebe come ringing o'er.

But man upon my back has lain
    Such heavy loads of stone,
I cannot grow the golden grain:
    'Tis therefore that I groan.

And where the evening dew sank mild
    Upon my quiet breast,
I feel the tear of the houseless child
    Break burning on my rest.

Oh! where are all the hallowed sweets,
    The harmless joys I gave?
The pavements of your sordid street,
    Are stones o'er virtue's grave!

And thick and fast as autumn-leaves
    My children drop away:
A gathering of unripened sheaves
    By Premature Decay.

Gaunt misery holds the cottage-door;
    Black sin supports the throne;
And slaves are slavish more and more:—
    'Tis therefore that I groan.


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THE PRISONER'S DREAM.


The wind! the wind plays o'er the prison-bar,
    Still fresh from kissing the green forest-leaves;
Rending the wheat-fields in the country far;
    Shaking the woodbine round the cottage-eaves;
                Wreathing the buds and bells
                In sweet, secluded dells;
Ruffling the milky down upon the breast
Of soft swans sitting on their humid nest;
And by the large pond's silvery-dappled edge
Brushing the cool drops from the rustling sedge.

                And as I list the sound
His broad wings make the prison-roofs around,
                At times I close my eyes,
And visions of the beautiful arise:
The heathery highland stained with purpling line,
And water-lilies dripping rich with dew,
And evening sunbeams on white cottage-walls,
And cawing rookeries round ancestral halls,
And rural mills by sprightly river-falls.
                And with the music blent,
                Full many a sound and scent
                Come pouring, like a dream,
                From hill, and plain, and stream.
                And whence his viewless feet,
                Leaving here and there
The great red poppy rocking in the air,
Have prest the thymy stubble, odours sweet
In fairy frailness past the grating fleet.
And many feathery-footed thoughts arise,
Of sorrows past, and past prosperities,
And scenes where Recollection's treasury lies:

The old Elm-avenue that to the door
On summer-evenings brought the smiling poor,
While round the stately trees that lined the way
Their merry children ran in rose-enkindling play:
For in that land, where half my youth was spent,
The rich had not yet crushed their young content.
Ha! faithless Fancy! there I wake again!
The narrow walls oppress my swelling brain,
Big with great thoughts, that seek a vent in vain,
Still let me dream! for, while the world's half seeming,
And men are false, and villanies are scheming,
There lives a true philosophy in dreaming.

Methinks, by some clear day's departing light
I mount that old tradition-haunted height
And feel the cool breeze sweeping up from far,
Pure, as if wafted from you evening star.
One pine or two, with tingling branches spread,
Make soft, Eolian music over head;
Before me, tillage rich outruns the eyes,
'Till field and cottage melt in vague surmise;
Behind, dark pinewoods loom like mysteries;
And, far below, the grey hall wrapped in shade;
And clustering hamlet in the homely glade;
And bridge, and stream, and island, and the mill
And church low-nestling by the nether hill.

And upward soar the bleat, and low, and bay,
And village-cry, and blythe young roundelay:—
                And hark! the clock!
The tell-tale musical monotony
Whose constant voice men constantly forget,—
And all the sweet farewells of dying day,
By distance, magical musician! set
                To one enchanting key.

With quickening pace the weary labourer hies
From loitering gossip where the cross paths met;
The plodding shepherd drives his tinkling flock;
Strange echoes murmur round the untrodden rock;
White sheeted mists along the lowland rise;
The patient angler leaves the cloudy stream;
The scattered cottage-panes begin to gleam;
Down yon long hill, on slow foot nag, but sure,
Winds the grey pastor homeward to his cure;
And where yon distant horn makes pleasant din,
The heavy laden coach comes rattling in.

And so I mark the sleepy world grow dim,
Till twilight makes the dull horizon swim;
Then downward thread the pinewood's labyrinth
        green,
Till the grey postern of the house is seen;
But shun the brook, for, by its reedy brink,
The shy deer from the covert come to drink;
And, since to us they leave the garish light,
'Twere pity, sure! to scare their genial night.

And now, to give the eve a fitting crown,
Quaff one long draft of crystal rhenish down—
                And so, to bed—
While moonlight hangs around the silent room
Its shadowy arras from etherial loom,
                With tracery fancy-led;
And sighing winds the boughs quick shadow send
Across the window's white, moon-marbled bend;
                Or, thro' the dappled sky,
The pausing clouds their silken banners furl
As o'er their path some hushing meteor streams;
                Then let Imagination's alchemy
The fine material of its memories blend,
In the rich crucible of midnight dreams,
To some transparent palace of pure pearl—
And wake next morn a Poet!


Poesy!

Thro' thee I've felt my failing heart again,
And life re-thrilling thro' each flaccid vein,
And saved an hour from sleep, and snatched an
                hour from pain!
And borne upon thy wings as on a wind,
Soared up—up to the pinnacles of thought!
How care, pain, prison, dwindled far behind!
Oh! little cares!   Oh! visions glory-fraught!
There is—there is an empire in the mind!


    September, 1849.


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RESIGNATION.

Written in the Infirmary of Westminster Prison,
during severe illness, November, 1849.


We all have our allotted task;
    Their burden all must bear—
For God gave us our faculties
    To use, and not to spare.

Full oft I would, how gladly! rest,
    When sinks the frame o'erwrought;
But ever the feeble barque must drive
    Before the mighty thought.

I know I might have lingered still
    A span, from year to year;
But on a world that used me ill
    I close a brief career.

This form is but the armour frail
    I wore in many a strife,
Thro' that long war with misery,
    Men christen—"human life."

I spar'd it not in storm or toil;
    And when I pass afar,
Death will have but a sorry spoil
    To grace a conqueror's car.


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THE QUIET HOME.

Written in the prison Infirmary, February, 1850.


To a quiet land I'm steering;
    Steering ever, day and night;
A sailor—wreck unfearing—
    In a life-boat frail and slight.

No polar compass guides me,
    On whatever course I stand
Assured to find my haven
    When I least expect the land.

Nor sail, nor oar, nor engine
    I need to make my way;
For storms cannot impede me,
    And calms cannot delay.

Oh! the bells above the harbour
    Will sound me solemn cheers!
An exile home-returning
    From his wayfare of long years.

And in that quiet country
    I own a quiet home;
'Tis built of quarried marble,
    With a heavy leaden dome.

My banquet-hall is narrow,
    But 'tis lined with arras light;
With an oaken couch to lie on
    In a garment waxy white.

And though the door be fastened
    My guests will find their way
Ill numbers unexhausted,
    And, uninvited, stay.

And yet my best, ungrudging,
    Before them shall be set;
They'll feed upon my substance,
    But to thank their host forget.

And, when their fill they've eaten,
    One by one they'll drop away;
And my stony house shall moulder
    With a gradual, still decay.

And golden wheat and roses
    Shall grow above the spot;
But my children's children, haply,
    Shall pass, and know it not.


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THE LEGACY.

Written in the Infirmary of Westminster Prison, when not
expecting to recover, March, 1850.


Behold! unto my death bed sent,
    The notary draw near;
And, eager for my testament,
    Each heritor appear.

The pen impatient sickness holds,
    And Truth and Conscience read;
While Life the page reluctant folds—
    In witness of the deed.

"Now, fathful, ye to every one
    His heritage consign;
My faults unto Oblivion;
    My virtues unto Time;

"My memory to Pity's care;
    To Love my latest breath;
And gladly give the largest share—
    My pains and woes—to Death.

''My body to the leafy sod
    Where warmest lies the light;
My soul to the eternal God!
    And to the world—Good night!"

'Twas ended—but contention strange
    Rose ere his eyes had closed:
Oblivion tried with Time to change—
    But Pity interposed.


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TO WORDSWORTH.

On hearing of his death.    April 27, 1850.


He's gone! tis said.—Be still, false tongue
He's with us yet in what he sung.
The Earth has taken all it gave,—
His body to its hallowed grave:
But Heaven mourns its missing due,
Since Earth has kept his spirit too.
And Nature let him live so long—
Her patriarch of modern song—
Confessing, ages shall have flown
Ere such another bard is known.


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ST. COUTTS'S ;

THE CHARITY CHURCH REARED OPPOSITE THE
PRISON GATE.


"Glory to God! the faine is raised!
    And they who the most have given
Will rank far over the niggard souls
    On the seats of a higher heaven!"

The seats in heaven are for the just,
    And neither bought nor sold:
God is not bribed with granite dust,
    As men are bribed with gold.

Tho' soar the dome, and spread the wall
    In pillared glory dight—
They weigh not, should you sum them all
    The Jewish widow's mite.

Were Christ to pass your pompous pile,
    He'd spurn it where it stands,
And say: "my father dwelleth not
    "In houses made of hands."

"Do justice!— help the poor and weak!—"
    "And let the oppressed go free!
"In lowly, loving hearts I seek
    "The temples fit for me!"

With feet, not minds, that move to God,
    And prayer from lip alone,
The modern Pharisees make broad
    Phylacteries of stone.

But, when are balanced act and thought
    Attesting saints shall read
How oft against each other brought
    The motive blots the deed!

More righteous far shall then appear,
    Before the Judgment-throne,
The holiness of flesh and blood,
    Than holiness of stone.


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WE ARE SILENT.


We are dead, and we are buried!
Revolution's soul is tame!
They are merry o'er our ashes,
And our tyrants rule the same!
But the Resurrection's coming
As the Resurrection came.

All in silence glides the larva
Thro' its veins of red-hot ore;
All in silence lightnings gather
Round the mountain's glacier hoar;
Weight on weight, and all in silence
Swells the avalanche's snow,
Till a scarce-heard whisper hurls it
Crushing on the world below;

Drop by drop, and all in silence,
At their mound the waters grow,
Till the last wave proves too heavy,
And away the barriers go!

In the depth of toiling masses
Feeds the fire and spreads the flame,
And the foot of freedom passes
O'er the doubtings of the tame.
God-like Freedom!   Glorious Freedom!
Kindling spirits into flame.

Times will set the coldest burning,
Times that come with great events,
Like the deluge-tides returning
On decaying continents,
Sweeping worn-out wrongs before them,
Wrecks, and wrongs, and discontents.

Silent as the snowflake sinking,
Truth on truth keeps gathering strong,
Till the nations turn to thinking,
Thinking of their right and wrong:
Then some sudden thaw of feeling,
Then some unomened whisper stealing,
Hurls the mighty mass along.

"We are dead and we are buried!"
Not so! life is in us yet.
There's too much of good to hope for—
Too much evil to forget!
Rich man! mark! the tide is turning!
See! the ripples backward roll!
Brains are thinking, hearts are burning
Nations tending to their goal.

Yes! there is a few among you!
Fear of freedom's coming day;
Like ghosts amid your palaces
Thoughts of poor men force their way.
Light your glittering chandeliers:
They must die when dawn appears,
Dawn of freedom's glorious day.


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THE WALK HOME FROM BELDAGON,

AFTER A CHARITY SERMON.


The rich are going to their homes,
    The clouds of dust arise;
For rich men always try to cast
    The dust in poor men's eyes.

The pavement bounds—the church resounds,
    The rush is at the gate;
The coursers prance—the chariots glance,
    And rings the pious plate.

And, wide, behold—the list unrolled
    Of squires, and lords, and dames:
Some give their silver, some their gold,
    And some bestow their names.

Oh! bitterest chain that cunning yet
    Has fashioned for the free;
To bind the mind of human kind,
    The chain of charity!

Go! poor man; on the butler fawn,
    The lacquey's favour sue,
That yours may be, by charity,
    What God made yours by due.

And bare the head, and meekly tread—
    The rich man passes by;
For he upon your toil is fed,
    You starve on charity.

On Soyer-soup, their dogs would spurn,
    They feast your fainting throng;
In schools, since you will think and learn,
    They teach you to think wrong;

In unions, gaols, and workhouses,
    Your separate flocks they tether;
And starve you singly, for they fear
    To let you starve together.

In naked hospitals they cage
    Your martyrdom's last sighs;
The homes that should have cheered your age,
    Their avarice denies.

Unhonoured, in a parish-grave
    Your toil-worn bones they toss:
Your labour was the ore they coined,
    Your body is the dross.

The hireling priest performs his part,
    Fit guide for such a goal!
And he, who helped to break your heart,
    Prays God to bless your soul.

Then bless the good Samaritan
    For every crumb he gave;
And live a beggared working-man!
    And die—a pauper slave!

But I will teach you how to live,
    Or shew you how to die;
And so shall do ten thousand more,
    All better men than I.

Your lords may think it wise to set
    The "rabble" an example,
And worshipping the decencies,
    Upon the duties trample ;

May bid your virtuous gratitude
    Their grasping sin surround,
May rob you first, and then restore
    A farthing in the pound!

But they shall find nor truce nor grace,
    Nor rest, nor peace, nor pause:
I'll tear the mask from off their face,
    The glove from off their claws.

A niggard tithe of all they won
    Their fear may well bestow,
To build another Beldagon,
    And scatter tracts like snow:

Time rent in twain—their feudal chain,
    And bail and bayonet fail—
But church and chapel may remain
    Your spiritual jail;

While mammon's scheme is working well
    Behind its ghostly curtain:
They keep you here in certain hell,
    Through fear of one uncertain.

They call the plagues, that common sense
    To their misrule can trace,
The anger of Omnipotence
    On your rebellious race;

But you should read, in want and need,
    The plagues our EGYPT smite,
Until its PHAROAHS shall have freed
    The festered Israelite!

And tell their bishops, bidding you
    In woe contented dwell;
The way that's trod—to go to GOD,
    Can never be through hell.

Then up, men! up! man's laws may pass,
    But earth and sky remain:
The Eden that has once been made,
    Can sure be made again!


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THE SEA SHELL ON THE DESERT.*


Mournful murmurer—whence thy music?
Singing chimes of distant seas!
Constant harper!—bard in exile,
Come! translate thy rhapsodies!

"Oh! 'mid waters green I listed,
Billows sing and oceans roar—
And the flowing in the deepness,
And the thunder on the shore!

"For in far back generations,
Here the tides majestic ran,
Till the cycles of creations
Dried them to a burning span.

And those boundless waters spurned me,
With their strong tempestuous hand—
Great, and huge, and wild they cast me
Into exile on the strand.

But the sea that bore me, perished
With its million mighty waves;
Sleeps the music that it cherished,
In their lone and arid graves!

Mountains lofty shake their heather
Where the depths of water flowed,
And where coral paths were shining,
Winds the dry and dusty road.

But the memory of those oceans,
And the grandeur of their tone,
I, the bard that they rejected,
Cherish and record alone.


* If a sea shell is placed near the ear, the murmur
  as of waters is always heard within it: it is a
  phenomenon dependent on its peculiar form.


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THE TREES.


A young tree from the Apennine
    Was taken far away,
And planted in a northern clime
    Beneath a colder day.

Far severed from its parent stem,
    That now deserted grew,
A sun created southern gem,
    A child of fire end dew!

The quick years rung their starry chime
    The seasons fleeting sped,
The lone child graced its northern clime,
    The southern tree lay dead.

But oft, at eve, the autumn wind
    The living branches plays,
Fresh whispering from that sunny grave
    Its melancholy lays.

Oh: how the branches wave and stir!
    Oh! how the sere leaves fall!
Cease! cease! most mournful messenger,
    Thus time dissevers all.


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A FINE YOUNG FOREIGN GENTLEMAN.

A NEW SONG TO AN OLD TUNE.


I'll sing you a song of the modern time—when
      honesty grows rare,
Of the fine young foreign gentleman, with his
      long and curly hair;
He lives in a garret up six pair—with table,
      bed, and chair,
And a bit of glass in the window-pane, to comb
      his curly hair.
But if you want to call on him, you'll never
      find out where.
Oh, the fine young foreign gentleman, with his
      long and curly hair.

He's an old box filled with sand and stones,
      which he calls his portmanteau,
And a shirt that's sometimes meant for use,
      and another meant for show;
And a hat that's good, for that he stole at an
      evening-rout you know.
A chain and ring, and brooch and pin, and
      watch that dos'nt go;
A coat, that never gets the worse, and waist-
      coat rich and rare.
Oh! the fine young foreign gentleman, with
      his long and curly hair.

'Tis true he speaks no English word, but he
      ogles, sighs, and sings,
Eats an enormous dinner too, but he utters
      nameless things.
He glides about all noiselessly, and such sweet
      nonsense flings,
Like an angel hovering round about, with
      whiskers for his wings;
And eyes that have the faculty to spy you
      everywhere,
Like a fine young foreign gentleman, with his
      long and curly hair.

And when you find him making love to your
      wife or daughter fair,
And just by way of a gentle hint you kick him
      down the stairs,
And you think he's gone away for good, to hide
      the Lord knows where,
On some fine day of spring at last, if you happen
      to be there,
You'll find him in your drawing-room, upon
      your easy chair,
Oh ! the fine young foreign gentleman, with
      his long and curly hair.


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TOO SOON.


'Mid the glories of youth's garden-land
    I gathered a wreath of flowers,
And I bound them all in a band
    Of pleasure's and hope's golden hours.

I gathered them fair and bright,
    And wore them a short sunny day;
Overpowered at length with delight
    In oblivious slumber I lay.

When I woke—oh! I clasped them again,
    But ah! all their beauty was o'er,
And I sought for a fresh wreath in vain;
    I could meet with those flowers no more!

Alas! I had gathered them all,
    Ere the blossom had ripened to bloom,
Nor could I their freshness recall!
    I had gathered my flowers too soon !


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LOVE AND SONG.

I.


The nightingale rests on a waving bough,
    And sings to a pure white rose;
The rose—she lists to her lover's vow,
    And a blush on her pale cheek glows.

For erst the rose was stainless snow,
    Till love in her bosom stealing,
Painted her brow with a crimson glow,
    The flame of her passion revealing.

The nightingale's song was happy and gay;
But alas! a change came over his lay!


II.


The flower he 'loved began to fade!
    Could nought the beautiful save?
She drooped,—and the westwind came and laid
    Her low in her grassy grave!

Since then all sad is the nightingale's strain,
    Tho' he tunes to music his sighs;
He sings in sorrow his passionate pain,
    He sings his sorrow—and dies!


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REBECCA AT THE WELL.


        In the desert of life I found thee,
In the wide, wide desert of life alone!
        The wilderness world around thee,
With its brains of dust, and its hearts of stone.
        The wind of its scorn comes ringing
O'er the lowly spot where the well is placed,
        But the music of heaven is ringing
In the one bright fountain that flows in the waste.

        Far past my reach it is lying,
And vainly, all vainly, I hang o'er the brink,
        Why should life be so near to the dying?
Oh! for a hand that shall reach me to drink!
        Thus stood the maiden of Judah
By the waters of hope as the spirit of bliss;
        Nor refused she the loving intruder!
Oh! Maid of the West! take a lesson from this?


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TO HER.


To love, and to love hopelessly,
    It is a bitter lot!
Not the idle I love that parts
Light as it comes, from fireless hearts,
    Felt, and remembered not!
But love so deep, that it must be
An agony or ecstacy!

Not the poor, cold-feeling, child
    To sickly, sentiment,
Whose fitful course is swiftly run,—
    But flame as wild
    As comet sent
Athwart a burning firmament;
    Yet lasting as a sun.

And could I fly away! away!
O'er land and main in search of rest,
    WERE I MORE BLEST?
For day by day
I am constrained that form of Heaven to see;
        Hear the soft sigh
    Breathed low; but not for me!
    Ah ! and how could it be?

            *     *     *     *     *     *     *
        This—this is agony!

    Yet could I fly away! away!
    Far as the bounds of night and day;
    Where mortal eye doth cease to see
    Still would thine image present be;
    Present—surpassing as thou art,—
    As tho' I'd eyes within my heart!
    To which earth's barriers are unknown,

Born to gaze on thee,—and gaze on thee alone !


What torture like to this hath man e'er given
A dying martyr—but who hopes no Heaven!
No solace for my heart—no guerdon for my pain;
But ever doomed to love!—and ever thus in vain!


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LIBERTY.


Thy birth-place, where, young Liberty?
    In graves, 'mid heroes' ashes.
Thy dwelling, where, sweet Liberty?
    In hearts, where free blood dashes.

Thy best hope, where, dear Liberty?
    In fast upwinging time.
Thy first strength, where, proud Liberty?
    In thy oppressor's crime.

Thy safety, where, stray Liberty?
    In lands, where discords cease.
Thy glory, where, bright Liberty?
    In universal peace.


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TO THE DEPARTED.


In a wretched, lonely, desolate spot
That nursed and cherished and sheltered it not,
        In a cold and wintry hour,
        I found a delicate flower!

It was so frail and so fair to view—
So slender of stem, and so soft of hue!
        Poor flower ! How came it there?
        So frail!—so sweet!—so fair!

In the midst of a desert I found it,
With the cold scaring wind blowing round it—
        And a cheerless heaven above!
        I pitied—and pity was love.

I would have cherished that flower so dear,
In a scene more bright—'neath a sky more clear.
        The world came between us and parted;
        How selfish!—how vain!—how cold-hearted! 

Life is a blank when hope is o'er—
And now I have nothing to hope for more!
        For the light of my being is flown,
        And has left me dark and alone.

The years will pass and repass o'er my brow,
But they bring no hope and no gift for me now!
        On me nor storm nor blast has power
        Since they killed that delicate flower!

And I shall sink in the dark gulf of years—
In the sea of time—that deep sea of tears!
        And those who wronged may then regret!
        I will but ask them—to forget!

I scorn the love that comes too late—
For sooner would I bid them hate!
        That would death's dull hours beguile—
        For I should then be calm—and smile!


[Return to Index]

_______________________

BREAD.

(FROM THE FRENCH OF PIERRE DUPONT).


When on the stream's deserted bank
    No busy mill shall fan the air, 
And, idling on the pasture dank,
    The lazy mules no burden bear,—

Then, as a wolf at noontide roams,
    While gathering tempests load the sky
Hunger shall break into men's homes,
    And deeply roll the rising cry:


Ye tyrants! ye shall hush in vain
    A hungering people's clamour dread;
For nature bids us cry amain—
    Bread! bread! we must—we will have
        bread!


Grim hunger from the village comes—
    He enters through the city arch:
Go meet him with your pikes and drums!
    Repel him with your iron march!

Despite your cannon's hottest shower,
    He mocks you with his eagle flight,
And, on your rampart's highest tower,
    His sable banner clouds the light,


Ye despots!   Ye shall hush in vain
    A hungering people's clamour dread;
For nature bids us cry amain—
    Bread! bread! we must—we will have
        bread!


Array your hireling legions all,
    With equal pace, and arm, and boast—
But from our rustic arsenal
    We too have armed grim hunger's post.

From forth the sod we've torn the spade;
    The sickle from the waiting corn,
Nay, e'en the soft breast of the maid
    Against the sword beats full and warm.


Ye despots! ye shall hush in vain
    A hungering people's clamour dread;
For nature bids us cry amain—
    Bread! bread! we must—we will have
        bread!


Up! swell the people's fearless flood,
    Whoever bears a scythe or pike!
Let thirsty tyrants threaten blood!
    Let scaffolds rise and axes strike!

But when the axe has flickered fast
    Above the gloomy circling crowd,
And life's last throb of pride has passed,
    Our blood itself shall cry aloud—


Ye despots! ye shall hush in vain
    A hungering people's clamour dread;
For nature bids us cry amain—
    Bread! bread! we must—we will have
        bread!


Bread! bread's our right!—Bread! Bread's our
        need!
    Like air and water,—(ours as yet!)
We are the ravens God must feed—
    He owed us bread—his mighty debt!

But lo! he paid the debt he owed;
    He gave the land to grow the corn,
And suns have o'er his harvests glowed,
    For all that live of woman born !


Ye despots! ye shall hush in vain
    A hungering people's clamour drea :
For nature bids us cry amain—
    Bread! bread! we must—we will have
        bread!


[Return to Index]

_______________________

THE MARRIAGE FEAST.


Come to the marriage-feast
    Where the glittering tables wait—
Where the greatest shall be the least,
    And the least shall be made the great.
From the street and the bleak highway,
    From hovel, and hut, and shed:
'Tis the feast of the Lord to day,
    The giver of life and bread.

Ho! stay thee! thou proud Pharisee!
    Ho! stay thee! thou changer of gold!
Tho' gorgeous thy garments may be,
    There's a stain on their glittering fold,
See! There ran the tear of the child!
    See! There flowed the blood of the poor!
The feast of the Lord is defiled!
    Away with him, out from the door!

Ho, stay thee! thou hypocrite, priest,
    Who hast made of religion a mock!
Who ever bade THEE to my feast,
    Overgorged with the spoil of my flock?
Thou sinner, of all most abhorred!
    Thy temples of Baal are no more:
Come, seize him, ye saints of the Lord,
    Away with him, out from the door!

Ho, stay thee, thou scourge of the brave!
    Ho, stay thee, thou proud sceptered thing!
Not mine was the unction they gave:
    'Twas the devil who crowned thee a king!
Thou hast ruled by the axe and the sword,
    Thou hast lived on the death of the poor:
Not for thee is the feast of the Lord,
    Away with him, out from the door!

Who art thou with horse-hair and gown
    Who makest of justice a trade?
In the Gospel my laws are writ down,
    I know not the laws ye have made.
Who art thou, with forehead accurst,
    Deep, tinted in blood to the knee!
I doomed thee one Cain at the first,
    To the last they shall perish as he!

Without, there is gnashing of teeth
    Without, there is ringing of hands!
'Twixt his servitors dread, LIFE and DEATH,
    The Lord of the Universe stands.
And past him they flit—Priest and King,
    All the lords of land, labour, and gold,
They come, from each new tyrant thing,
    To each cankerworn privilege old.

And away they are cast from the door:
    For the hell they have preached of so fast,
With which they long frightened the poor,
    Was kept for themselves at the last!
And the earth that was turned to a hell,
    And the heaven men knew but by name,
Since the many-fold MAN-SATAN fell,
    Were found to be one and the same.

Then hail to the marriage-feast
    Where the glittering tables wait,
And the greatest are made the least,
    And the least are made the great.
By the waters that Adam once trod,
    The gardens of Paradise spread,
For the God of our praise is "the God
    Of the living, and not of the dead."


[Return to Index]

_______________________

THE PRISONER TO THE SLAVES.


From my cell, I look back on the world—from
            my cell,
    And think I am not the less free
Than the serf and the slave who in misery dwell
    In the street and the lane and the lea.

What fetters have I that ye have not as well,
    Though your dungeon be larger than mine?
For England's a prison fresh modelled from
            hell,
    And the jailors are weakness and crime.

In my cell, in my cell!—Yet I should not
            repine
    Tho' lying in Solitude's lap:
These walls will all crumble, far sooner than
            time
    Can raze them by siege and by sap.

They may shut out the sky—they may shut
            out the light
    With the barriers and ramparts they raise:
But the glory of knowledge shall pierce in
            despite,
    With the sun of its shadowless days.

They may stifle the tongue with their silencing
            rules,
    They may crush us with cord and with block:
But oppression and force are the folly of fools,
    That breaks upon constancy's rock.

They shall hear us again on the moorland and
            hill,
    Again in street, valley and plain:
They may beat us once more—but we'll rush at
            them still—
    Again—and again—and again!


[Return to Index]

_______________________

THE FISHERMEN.


Three fishermen sat by the side
    Of the many toned popular stream,
That rolled with its heavy proud tide,
    In the shade of its own dark dream.

Now sullen, a quiet, and deep,—
    Now fretful, and foaming, wild;
Now like a giant asleep,
    And now like a petulant child.

First sat there the fisher of France,
    And he smiled as the waters came,
For he kindled their light with a glance
    At the bait of a popular name.

Next the fisher of Russia was there,
    Fishing for German States,
And throwing his lines with care,
    He made his own daughters the baits.

Next the Austrian fisher dwarf set
    His snares in the broad river's way—
But so widely he stretched his net
    It half broke with the weight of his prey.

And next on an Island I saw
    Many fishermen catching with glee,
On the baits of peace, freedom, and law,
    Slave-fish, while they christened them "free."

And still as they hooked the prize,
    They cried with a keen delight,
And held up the spoil to their eyes:
    "The gudgeons! they bite! they bite!"

But the hooks with time grow dull,
    And the lines grow weak with age,
And the thaw makes the rivers full,
    And the wind makes the waters rage.

And spoilt is the fishermen's trade,
    And the zest of their bait is passed,
And those on the fish who prey'd,
    Are the prey of the fish at last.


[Return to Index]

_______________________

CHRISTIAN LOVE.


Oh! Christian Love is a thing divine,
    And Charity saveth ten fold;
But a Christian HATE is a thing as sublime—
The hatred of sin and the idol's shrine,
    Where Mammon is worshipped in gold.

The hatred of murder, and craft, and deceit,—
    The upholdeth the money-lord's sway:
Oh! if British hearts had a manful beat,
Tho' the tyrants stood thick as the stones in
        the street,
I'd trample them down like the dust at my feet,
    In the light of a single day!

Oh!  War, they say, is a sinful thing,
    And a blessing is peace, they say—
And obedience and patience their guerdon shall
        bring:
But well they may preach to the suffering—
    When none are the gainers but they!

They may shrink in horror from bloodshed and
        fight,
    And the words that they speak may be true:
But there is such a thing as the Wrong and the Right,
And there is such a thing as tyrannical might;
And the tears of the many are worse in my
        sight,
    Aye! e'en than the blood o f the few.


Llanidloes, Aug. 18, 1851


[Return to Index]

_______________________


DEMOCRATIC SONGS

TO POPULAR AIRS
_________


I. — THE PEOPLES' ANTHEM.

(A
IR :— " God save the Queen.")


THE God of Freedom bless,
With strength for self-redress,
        The People's might;
The cause of man to save,
Arouse each willing slave!
Unite the ready brave!
        UNITE!  UNITE!

Awake, ye slavish things!
Beneath your Priests and Kings!
        Long curbed by lies!
The altar's but a sod,
The sceptre but a rod,
A People is a god!
        O God, arise!

Think! as your fathers thought;
Teach! as your fathers taught;
Fight! as your fathers fought;
        When words are vain!
Tear up the rooted wrong!
Strike down the falsely strong!
Slave-herds, degraded long,
        Be men again!

A few, a very few,
Still struggle bravely through,—
        And call for aid!
Confound the open foe;
Lay tool and trickster low,
Unmask the specious show,
        Of knaves by trade.

Unseal the People's eyes,
Teach them to fathom lies,
        And know the true!
Give them the sense to care,
Give them the strength to hear,
Give them the soul to dare,
        And hand to do!

The reign of wrong shall end,
When every slave's a friend,
        To win the right;
One thought in million brains,
One pulse in million veins,
Will break the strongest chains,
        UNITE!  UNITE!

E. J.


[Return to Index]

_______________________

II. — THE SONG OF THE LOW.

(To a Popular Melody.)


WE'ER low—we're low—we're very very low,
        As low as low can be;
The rich are high—for we make them so—
        And a miserable lot are we!
        And a miserable lot are we! are we!
                A miserable lot are we!

We plough and sow—we're so very very low,
    That we delve in the dirty clay,
Till we bless the plain with the golden grain,
    And the vale with the fragrant hay.
Our place we know—we're so very low,
    'Tis down at the landlords' feet:
We're not too low—the bread to grow,
    But too low the bread to eat.
                We're low, we're low, etc.

Down, down we go—we're so very very low,
    To the hell of the deep sunk mines.
But we gather the proudest gems that glow,
    When the crown of a despot shines;
And whenever he lacks—upon our backs
    Fresh loads he deigns to lay,
We're far too low to vote the tax.
    But not too low to pay.
            We're low, we're low, etc.

We're low, we're low—mere rabble, we know,
    But at our plastic power,
The mould at the lordling's feet will grow
    Into palace and church and tower—
Then prostrate fall—in the rich man's hall,
    And cringe at the rich man's door,
We're not too low to build the wall,
    But too low to tread the floor.
            We're low, we're low, etc.

We're low, we're low—we're very very low,
    Yet from our fingers glide
The silken flow—and the robes that glow,
    Round the limbs of the sons of pride.
And what we get—and what we give,
    We know—and we know our share.
We're not too low the cloth to weave—
    But too low the cloth to wear.
            We're low, we're low, etc.

We're low, we're low—we're very very low,
    And yet when the trumpets ring,
The thrust of a poor man's arm will go
    Through the heart of the proudest king!
We're low; we're low—our place we know,
    We're only the rank and file,
We're not too low—to kill the foe,
    But too low to touch the spoil.
            We're low, were low, etc.

ERNEST JONES.


[Return to Index]

_______________________

III. — THE SONG OF THE POOR.

(AIR : "A Life on the Ocean Waves!")


A vote in the Laws they make!
    A home in the land I till!
Where the hearts of the many break,
    The cup of the few to fill.
By the right of their laws I pine:
    But what are their laws to me?
For I live by right divine,
    And that's the right to be free.
A home in my native isle!
    A share in the wealth I heap!
Where the rich in their revels smile,
    And the poor in their anger weep.

We weep, we weep, we weep, in want and
            thrall!
They laugh, they laugh, they laugh, in tower
            and hall!


The strength that in numbers lies,
    Each hour is making known!
Pioneers of the truth! arise!
    And you shall not be left alone!
We'll scatter their knavish rule
    Like a prisoned storm set free,
Till tyrant, and tyrant's tool,
    Have vanished from sea to sea!
A home in my native isle!
    A share in the wealth I heap!
Where the rich in their revels smile,
    And the poor in their anger weep!

We know, we know, we know, the time has
            come!
They fear—they fear—they fear—approaching
            doom!


At the word of the cruel few,
    The clouds of the battle frown.
But, long as the many are true,
    We'll say let the storm come down!
And on as the masses sweep,
    Our cry shall meet them still:
"A share in the wealth we heap!
    A home in the land we till!"
A home in my native isle,
    A share in the wealth I heap,
Then the rich, if they like, may smile,
    But the poor shall cease to weep.

Awake! awake! awake! each slumbering
            slave!
Unite! unite! unite! ye ready brave.


[Return to Index]

_______________________

IV. — THE SONG OF THE FUTURE.

(AIR: "The Four-leaved Shamrock.")*

1.


The land it is the landlords';
    The traders' is the sea;
The ore the usurer's coffer fills,
    But what remains for me?
The engine whirls for masters' craft,
    The steel shines to defend,
With labor's arms, what labor raised,
    For labors' foe to spend.
The camp, the pulpit, and the law
    For rich men's sons are free;
Their's, their's is learning, art and arms;
    But what remains for me?
The coming hope, the future day,
    When wrong to right shall bow,
And but a little courage, man!
    To make that future—NOW!


2.


I pay for all their learning,
    I toil for all their ease;
They render back in coin for coin,
    Want, ignorance, disease.
Toil—toil—and then a cheerless home,
    Where hungry passions cross.
Eternal gain to them that give
    To me eternal loss!
The hour of leisure happiness
    The rich alone may see;
The playful child, the smiling wife—
    But what remains for me?
The coming hope, the future day,
    When wrong to right shall bow.
And but a little courage, man!
    To make that future—NOW!


3.


They render back, those rich men,
   A pauper's niggard fee,
Mayhap a prison, then a grave,
   And think they're quits with me.
But not a fond wife's heart that breaks,
   A poor man's child that dies;
We score not on our hollow cheeks,
   And in our sunken eyes.
We read it there, whene'er we meet,
   And, as the sum we see,
Each asks: "the rich have got the earth,
   And what remains for me?"
The coming hope, the future day,
   When wrong to right shall bow,
And but a little courage, man!
   To make that future—NOW!


4.


We bear the wrong in silence,
   We store it in our brain;
They think us dull—they think us dead:
   But we shall rise again:
A trumpet thro' the lands will ring;
   A heaving thro' the mass;
A trampling thro' their palaces,
   Until they break like glass.
We'll cease to weep by cherished graves,
   From lonely homes will flee,
And still as rolls our million-march
   Its watchword brave shall be:
The coming hope—the future day,
   When wrong to right shall bow,
And but a little courage, man!
   To make that future—NOW!


* In the " Four-leaved Shamrock " there are three verses in each
   stanza. I have written four—the third being a repetition of the
  melody of the second. Of course, this can occasion no difficulty
  in the singing. E. J.

________________________]

 



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