Massey's early poems: 1847-51 (2)

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"'TWAS CHRISTMAS EVE!"


'Twas Christmas Eve!   In the palace, where Knavery
    Crowds all the treasures the fair world can render;
Where spirits grow rusted in silkenest slavery,
    And life is out-panted in golden-garbed splendour;—
In gladness and glory, Wealth's darlings were meeting,
    And jewel-clasp'd fingers linked softly again;
New friendships were twining, and old friends were
            greeting,
    And young hearts were bound by God's own golden
            chain!

'Twas Christmas Eve!   In a poor man's hovel
    Were huddled in silence a skeleton family;
Church-bells were laughing in musical revel:
    They heard the loud mockery with brows throbbing
            clammily:
All in the merry time there they sat mourning
    Two sons—two brothers—in penal chains
            bleeding!
Their hearts wander'd forth to the never-returning,
    Who rose on their vision, pale, haggard, and
            bleeding!

'Twas Christmas Eve!   For 'the great'—as in duty—
    Taste pandered, and ruby wine wooed on the board;
Eyes smiled in feigned glory on frail forms of beauty,
    And lying lips flattered the thing called a "Lord;"
Love-kisses sobbed out 'twixt the rollick and rout,
    And Hope went forth reaping her long-promised
            treasure:
What matter, tho' hearts may be breaking without?
    Their groans are unheard in the palace of Pleasure!

'Twas Christmas Eve; but the poor ones heard
    No neighbourly welcome—no kind voice of kin!
They looked at each other, but spoke not a word,
    While through cranny and crevice the sleet drifted in.
In a desolate corner, one, hunger-killed, lies!
    And a mother's hot tears are the bosom-babe's food!
Ah! wonder, ye Senators, full-fed and wise,—
    Such, misery nurseth crime's dark viper-brood!

Men—angel-imaged in Nature's fair mint—
    Oh, where is your God-spark—the signet divine—
The freedom of soul, Immortality's print?
    We are tyrants and slaves, bound in one deadly
            twine:
That a few like to Gods may stride over the earth,
    Millions, born to heart-murder, are given in
            pawn!
Oh, when cometh Liberty's world-cheering birth—
    She who waiteth with eager wings beating the
            dawn?

False Priests, dare ye say 'tis the will of your God,
    (And veil Jesu's message in dark sophistry,)
That these millions of paupers should bow to the sod?
    Up, up, trampled hearts! it's a lie, it's a lie!
They may carve "State" and "Altar" in characters
            golden,
    But Tyranny's symbols are ceasing to win!
Be stirring, O People! your scroll is unfolden—
    Bright, bright, be the deeds ye emblazon therein!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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A CALL TO THE PEOPLE.


SONS of old England, from the sod
    Uplift each noble brow!
Gold apes a mightier power than God,
    And fiends are worshipped, now!
In all these toil-ennobled lands
    Ye have no heritage:
They snatch the fruits of youthful hands,
    The staff from weary age!
Oh, tell them in their palaces—
    These Lords of Land and Money—
They shall not kill the poor like bees,
    To rob them of life's honey!

Through long dark years of blood and
            tears,
    We've toiled, like branded slaves,
Till Power's red hand hath made a land
    Of paupers—prisons—graves!
But our meek sufferance endeth now
    Within the souls of men
The bursting buds of promise blow,
    And Freedom lives again!
Oh, listen in your palaces,
    Proud Lords of Land and Money—
Ye shall not kill the poor like bees,
    To rob them of life's honey!

Too long have Labour's nobles knelt
    Before exalted "rank":
Within our souls the iron's felt—
    We hear our fetters clank!
A glorious voice goes throbbing forth,
    From millions stirring now,
Who, yet, before these gods of earth
    Shall stand with unblenched brow.
Your day—OUR day of reck'ning comes,
    Proud Lords of Land and Money—
Ye shall no longer wreck our homes,
    Nor rob us of life's honey!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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THE THREE VOICES.


A WAILING Voice comes up a desolate road
                                                                        Drearily,—
Where mankind hath trodden the byeway of blood
                                                                        Wearily,—
Like a sound from the Dead Sea shrouded in glooms,
    With breaking of hearts, chains clanking, men
            groaning,
Or chorus of ravens that croak among tombs,
    It comes with a mournful moaning,
                            Crying, "Weep!"
                   Yoke-fellows listen,
                   Till your tearful eyes glisten:
'Tis the voice of the Past—the dark, guilty Past,
Sad as the shriek of the midnight blast.
Weep tears, to wash out the red, red stains,
                   Where earth was fatted
                   By brave hearts that rotted,
And life ran a deluge of hot bloody rains:
                   Weep, weep, weep!

There cometh a voice from the millions that bend
                                                                        Tearfully,—
From hearts which the scourges of slavery rend
                                                                        Fearfully,—
From many a worn, noble spirit, that breaks
    In the world's solemn shadows, deep down in
            life's vallies;
From mine, forge, and loom, trumpet-tongued it
            awakes
    On the soul wherein Liberty rallies,—
                            Crying, "Work!"
                   Yoke-fellows listen,
                   Till your earnest eyes glisten:
'Tis the voice of the Present! It bids us, my brothers,
Be free!—and then work for the freedom of others;
For the Many—a holocaust, long, to the Few,
                   O work while ye may,—
                   O work while 'tis day,—
And cling to each other, united and true:
                   Work, work, work!

There cometh another voice sweetest of all,
                                                                        Cheerily,—
And the heart leapeth up to its god-like call,
                                                                        Merrily,—
It comes, like the touch of the soft Spring,
            unwarping
    The thrall of Oppression that bound us;
It comes like a choir of the seraphim harping
    Their gladsomest music around us
                            Singing, "Hope!"
                   Yoke-fellows listen,
                   Till your gleeful eyes glisten,
To the voice of the Future, the sweetest of all,
That makes the heart leap to its god-like call:
Brothers, step forth in the Future's van,—
                   For the worst is past,—
                   Truth conquers at last,—
And a better day dawns upon suffering man,
                   Hope, hope, hope!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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THE CRY OF THE UNEMPLOYED.


Tis' hard! tis' hard! to wander on through this bright world of ours,—
Beneath a sky of smiling blue,—on velvet paths of flowers:
With music in the woods, as there were nought but pleasure known,
Or angels walked earth's solitudes:—and yet with want to groan!
To see no beauty in the stars, nor in the sun's glad smile;
To wail and wander misery-cursed! willing, but cannot toil!
There's burning sickness at my heart: I sink down famished:
God of the wretched, hear my prayer!   I would that I were dead!

Heaven droppeth down with manna still in many a golden shower,
And feeds the leaves with fragrant breath, with silver dew, the
        flower:
There's honeyed fruit for bee and bird, with bloom laughs out the
        tree;
There's food for all God's happy things; but none gives food to me!
Earth decked with Plenty's garland-crown, smiles on my aching eye;
The purse-proud, swathed in luxury, disdainful pass me by:
I've eager hands—I've earnest heart—but may not work for bread;
God of the wretched, hear my prayer!   I would that I were dead!

Gold art thou not a blessed thing?   A charm above all other,
To shut up hearts to nature's cry, when brother pleads with brother!
Hast thou a music sweeter than the loving voice of kindness?
No, curse thee, thou'rt a mist twixt God and men in outer blindness!
"Father, come back!"   My children cry!   Their voices once so sweet,
Now quiver-lance-like, in my bleeding heart!   I cannot meet!
The looks that make the brain go mad, of dear ones asking bread!
God of the wretched hear my prayer!   I would that I were dead!

Lord, what right have the poor to wed?   Love's for the gilded great!
Are they not formed of nobler clay who dine off golden plate?
'Tis the worst curse of poverty to have a feeling heart:
Why can I not, with iron grasp, thrust out the tender part?
I cannot slave in yon Bastile!   Ah, no! 'twere bitterer pain—
I'd wear the pauper's iron within, than clank the convict's chain!
To work but cannot—starve, I may—but will not beg for bread:
God of the wretched, hear my prayer!   I would that I were dead!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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THE KINGLIEST CROWN.


Ho! ye who in a noble work
    Win scorn, as flames draw air,—
Who, in the way where lions lurk,
    God's image bravely bear,
Tho' trouble-tried and torture-torn—
The kingliest crown's a crown of thorn!

Life's glory, like the bow in heaven,
    Still springeth from the cloud;
And soul ne'er soared the starry seven,
    But pain's fire-chariot rode:
They've battled best who've boldliest
            borne:
The kingliest crown's a crown of thorn!

As beauty in Death's cerement sleeps,
    And stars bejewel darkness,
God's splendour lies in dim heart-deeps;
    And strength in suffering's starkness:
The murkiest hour is mother of morn:
The kingliest crown's a crown of thorn!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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A LAY OF LOVE.


HEAVEN hath its crown of stars, the
            Earth
    Her glory-robe of flowers;
The grand old woods have music,
    Green leaves, and silver showers;
The birds have homes where honeyed
            blooms
    In beauty smile above;
High-yearning hearts their rainbow
            dreams;
    And we, sweet, we have love!

There's suffering for the toiling poor
    On Misery's bosom nurst;
Rich robes for ragged souls; and
            crowns
    For branded-brows, Cain-cursed!
But cherubim with clasping wings,
    Ever about us be;
And, happiest of God's happy things,
    There's love for you and me!

We walk not with the jewelled great,
    Where Love's dear name is sold;
Yet have we wealth we would not give
    For all their world of Gold!
We revel not in corn and wine,
    Yet have we from above
Manna divine!   Then we'll not pine:
    Do we not live and love?

I know, dear heart, that in our lot
    May mingle tears and sorrow!
But Love his rainbow builds from tears,
    To-day, with smiles, to-morrow!
The sunshine from our sky may die,
    The greenness from Life's Tree;
But ever 'mid the warring storm!
    Thy nest shall sheltered be!

I see thee—Ararat of my life!—
    Smiling, the waves above;
Thou hails't me, victor in the strife;
    And beacon'st me with Love!
The world will never know, dear,
    Half what I've found in thee;
But tho' nought to the world, dear,
    Thou'rt all the world to me!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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THIS WORLD IS FULL OF BEAUTY.


There lives a voice within me, a guest-angel of my heart,
    And its sweet lispings win me, till tears do often start:
Up evermore it springeth like hidden melody,
    And evermore it singeth this Song of Songs to me—
"This world is full of beauty as other worlds above;
And if we did our duty, it might be full of love!"

If men were more forgiving, and kind words were oft'ner
            spoken,
    Instead of scorn so grieving, there might be few heart-
           broken;
Were Truth our utter'd language, Angels might talk with
            men,
    And God-illumined earth should see the Golden Age
            again:
For this world is full of beauty as other worlds above;
And if we did our duty, it might be full of love!

While plenty round us smileth why wakes this cry for
            bread?
    Why are crushed millions toiling, gaunt, clad in rags,
            unfed?
The sunny hills and vallies blush ripe with fruit and grain,
    But the Lordling in the palace, still robs his fellow men!
Yet, this world is full of beauty as other worlds above;
And if we did our duty, it might be full of love!

Oh God! what hosts are trampled amid this crush for gold!
    What noble hearts are sapped of love, what spirits lose
            life's hold!
And yet upon this God-blessed earth there's room for every
            one;
    Millions of acres wait the seed, and food rots in the sun!
This world is full of beauty as other worlds above;
And if we did our duty, it might be full of love!

The leaf-tongues of the forest, the flower-lips of the sod,
    The birds that hymn their raptures into the ear of God,
And the living wind that bringeth sweet music from the sea,
    Have each a voice that singeth this Song of Songs to me—
"This world is full of beauty its other worlds above;
And if we did our duty, it might be full of love!"

GERALD MASSEY

 

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SONG.


No jewelled beauty is my love,
    Yet in the heaven of her face,
There's such a winning tenderness
    She needs no other gift or grace:
Her smiles and words around my
            heart,
    In blessed light and music twine,
And dear, oh, very dear to me—
    Is this sweet love of mine!

'Tis sweet to know there's one fond
            heart
    That ever beateth true to me;
It sets mine leaping like a lyre
    When sweetest strings make melody:
My soul upsprings a Deity—
    Heaven-crowned to hear her voice
            divine,
And dear, oh, very dear to me—
    Is this sweet love of mine!

If ever I have sighed for wealth,
    'Twas all for her dear sake, I trow,
And, if I win fame's blushing wreath,
    I'll twine it on her bonny brow!
There may be forms more beautiful,
    And eyes of love with sunnier shine,
But none, oh none, so dear to me,
    As this sweet love of mine!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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PRESS ON!  PRESS ON!


Press on, press on, ye Rulers, in the stirred world's onward track!
It moves too sure for ye to put the clock of Freedom back!
We're gathering up from near and far, with souls in fiery glow;
And Right doth bare its arm of might to hurl the spoilers low!
Kings, Priests, ye're far too costly, and we weary of your rule;
We crown no more "Divinity" where Nature writeth "Fool!"
Ye must not bar our glorious path, as in the days bygone;
You know that God made Men, not Kings, or knavish Priests:—
            press on!

Press on, press on!   Ah, nobles, ye have played a daring game;
But your stars are falling, and outfades the prestige of your name!
Too long have ye been fed and nursed on human blood and tears;
The naked truth is known, and Labour leaps to life, and swears
His pride of strength to bloated Ease he will no longer give,
For all who live should work, Lords: then, all who work might
            live!
The contest comes, make much of what ye've wrung from
            Fatherland;
Press on, press on!   To-day we plead;—to-morrow we'll command!

Press on! A million pauper-foreheads bend in Misery's dust;
The champions of the golden Truth still eat the mouldy crust;
This damning curse of tyrants must not kill the nation's heart;
The spirit in a million slaves doth pant, on fire to start,
And strive to mend the world, and walk in Freedom's march
            sublime,
While myriads sink heart-broken, and the land o'er swarms with
            crime!
"Oh God!", they cry, "We die, we die! and see no earnest won!"—
Brothers join hand and heart, and to the work—press on, press on!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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THERE'S NO DEARTH OF KINDNESS.


There's no dearth of kindness
    In this world of ours;
Only in our blindness
    We gather thorns for flowers;
Outward we are spurning,
    Trampling one another;
While we are inly yearning
    With the name of "brother!"

There's no dearth of kindness,
    Or love among mankind;
But we do not know each other:
    World-wealth makes us blind!
Full of kindness tingling,
    Soul is shut from soul,
When they might be mingling
    In one kindred whole!

There's no dearth of kindness
    Tho' it be unspoken;
From the heart it buildeth up
    Rainbow-smiles, in token
That there are none so lowly
    But have some angel-touch;
Yet, nursing loves unholy,
    We live for self too much!

There's no dearth of kindness
    In this world of ours;
Only in our blindness
    We gather thorns for flowers!
And if men will hanker
    Ever for golden dust,—
The heart will surely canker—
    The spirit gather rust!

As the wild-rose bloweth,
    As runs the happy river,
Kindness freely floweth
    In the heart for ever!
Cherish this God's best giving,
    Falling from above!
Life were not worth the living,
    Were it not for love!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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THE FAMINE-SMITTEN.


IN the tears of the morning
    And smiles of the sun,
The green earth's adorning
    Told Spring had begun:
The woods donn'd their beauty,
            wrought
    Through long, still nights;
And soft winds and kisses, brought
    Flowery delights.
The humming leaves flashed
    Rich in light, with sweet sound,
And the glad waters dashed
    Their starry spray round;
The woodbines up-climbing
    Laugh'd out, pink-and-golden;
And bees made sweet chiming
    In roses half folden.
But where is that infant band
    Wont, in spring-weather,
To wander forth hand-in-hand
    Violets to gather?
Whose hearts like plumed powers
    Leap'd up from the sod—
Raining music in showers
    As guesting a god?
Alas! they are sleeping—
    Dear blossoms of Love!
Where green grass is creeping,
    And boughs bend above.
With musical gladness
    The golden air swells,
But there's mourning and madness
    In Poverty's cells!
For Famine hath smitten
    Their pride of life low,
And agony's written
    On heart, brain, and brow!
Sweet from the boughs the birds
    Sang in their mirth;
The lark messaged heavenwards
    Blessings from earth;
But I turn'd to the Lost,
    Where they lay in their dearth:—
They heard not nor heeded
    The sounds of life o'er them;
They felt not, nor needed
    The hot tears wept for them!
But to see earth's flowers springing
    O'er human flowers' grave—
Oh, God! what heart-wringing
    Their tender looks gave!
They died!—died of hunger—
    By bitter want blasted,—
While Wealth for the Wronger
    Ran over untasted!
While Pomp in joy's rosy bowers
    Wasted life's measure—
Chiding the lagging hours,
    Wearied of pleasure!
They died, while men hoarded
    The free gifts of God!
They died!—tis recorded
    In letters of blood!
Yet the corn on the hill
    Waves its showery-gold crown,—
Still nature's lap fills
    With the good heav'n rains down!
Oh, this world might be lighted
    With Eden's first smile,—
Angel-haunted, unblighted—
    With freedom of toil!
Hark! mirth rings from palace,
    From hail, dome, and rafter!
Ah, laugh on ye callous—
    In hell there'll be laughter!
But tremble inhuman
    Oppressors of men!
They have risen from your shadow;
    And will rise again!
There be stern days a-coming—
    The dark days of reckoning!
The clouds are uplooming—
    The long-nurs'd storms wak'ning!
On heaven blood shall call
    Earthquake with pent thunder;
And shackle and thrall
    Shall be riven asunder!
It will come! it shall come!
    Impede it what may:—
Up, People! and welcome
    Your glorious day!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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SONG.


Sweet smile, on the cheek of thy home,
            where
    Joy burst on thy young spirit's waking—
Canst give its endearments, to come where
    Life hath many a hot heart-aching?
Hast thou counted the cost to stand by me
    In the battle I fight for man?
And shall thy angel-love deify me
    Who stand in the world's dark ban?
Oh, a daring high soul thou wilt need, Love,
    To brave the life-battle with me—
For thy dear heart may oftentimes bleed,
            Love,
    And thy sweet eyes dim tearfully!

Dost thou know of the fine hearts
            perishing—
    Gallant spirits that dumbly bow?
For a little of fortune's cherishing
    They are breaking in agony now!
And without the sunshine that life needeth
    Alas, sweet, for me and for you,
How little the callous world heedeth—
    For love like ours tender and true!
Oh, a daring high soul thou wilt need,
            Love,
    To brace the life-battle with me
For thy dear heart may oftentimes bleed,
            Love,
    And thy sweet eyes dim tearfully!

Well, you've sworn—I have sworn—God
            hath bound us!
    And that covenant the world shall not
            part;
I have flung my love's mantle around us,
    And you live in each beat of my heart.
It may be that our names in earth's story
    Shall endure when we are no more,—
For truth lives like the stars in their glory,
    And the flowers on the earth's verdant
            floor!
But a daring high soul thou wilt need, Love,
    To brave the life-battle with me,—
For thy dear heart may oftentimes' bleed,
            Love,
    And thy sweet eyes dim tearfully!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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SONG OF THE RED REPUBLICAN.


Ay, tyrants, build your bulwarks! forge your fetters! link your
        chains!
As brims your guilt-cup fuller, our's of grief runs to the drains:
Still, as on Christ's brow, crowns of thorn for Freedom's martyrs
        twine,—
Still batten on live hearts, and madden o'er the hot blood-wine!
Murder men sleeping; or awake—torture them dumb with pain,
And tear with hands all bloody-red Mind's jewels from the brain!
Your feet are on us, tyrants: strike, and hush Earth's wail of
        sorrow!
Your sword of power, so red to-day, shall kiss the dust to-morrow!
Oh, but 'twill be a merry day, the world shall set apart,
When Strife's last sword is broken in the last crown'd pauper's
        heart!
And it shall come—despite of rifle, rope, and rack, and scaffold:
Once more we lift the earnest brow, and battle on unbaffled!

Alas! the hopes that have gone down, the young life vainly spilt,
Th' Eternal Murder still sits crown'd and thron'd in damning guilt!
Still in God's golden sun the tyrants' bloody banner burns;
And priests—Hell's midnight bravoes—desecrate Rome's patriot
        urns!
See how, th' oppressors of the poor with serpents hunt our blood!
Hear from the dark the groan and curse go madd'ning up to God!
They kill and trample us poor worms till Earth is dead men's dust;
Death's red tooth daily drains our hearts; but end—ay, end it must!
The herald of our coming Christ leaps in the womb of Time;
The poor's grand army treads the Age's march with step sublime!
Our's is the mighty Future, and what marvel, brother men,
If the devoured of ages should turn devourers, then?

Our hopes ran mountains high,—we sung at heart,—wept tears of
        gladness,—
When France, the bravely beautiful, dash'd down her sceptred 
        madness;
And Hungary her one hearted race of mighty heroes hurled
In the death-gap of the nations, as a bulwark for the world!
Oh, Hungary—gallant Hungary—proud and glorious thou wert,
Feeding the world's soul like a river gushing from God's heart!
And Rome—where Freedom's heroes bled, to make her breast beat
        higher,
How her eyes redden'd with the flash of her ancestral fire!
Mothers of children, who shall live the gods of future story—
Your blood shall blossom from the dust, and crown the world with
        glory!
We'll tread them down yet—curse and crown, Czar, Kaizer, King,
        and Slave;
And Mind shall lord it in the court of high-throned fool and knave!

Oh, brothers of the bounding heart!   I look thro' tears and smile;
Our land is rife with sound of fetters snapping 'neath the file;
I lay my hand on England's heart, and in each life-throb mark
The pealing thought of freedom ring its tocsin in the dark!
I see the toiler hath become a glorious, Christ-like preacher,
And as he wins a crust shines proudly forth the great world-
        teacher;
Still he toils on; but, tyrant, 'tis a mighty thing when slaves,
Who delve their lives into their work, know that they dig your 
        graves!
Anarchs, your doom comes swiftly, brave and eagle spirits climb
To ring Oppression's thunder knell from the watch-towers of time!
A spirit of Cromwellian might is stirring at this hour;
And thought burns eloquent in men's eyes with more than 
        speechful power!

Old England, cease the mummer's part! wake starveling, serf and
        slave!
Rouse, in the majesty of wrong, great kindred of the brave!
Speak, and the world shall answer with her voices myriad-fold;
And men, like gods, shall grapple with the giant wrongs of old!
Now, mothers of the people, give your babes heroic milk!
Sires, soul your sons to daring deeds: no more soft words of silk!
Great spirits of the heaven-homed Dead—take shape, and walk our
        mind!
Their glory smites our upward look: we seem no longer blind!
They tell us how they broke their bonds, and whisper "so may ye!"
One sharp, stern struggle, and the slaves of centuries are free!
The people's heart, with pulse like cannon, panteth for the fray!
And brothers, gallant brothers! we'll be with you in that day!

GERALD MASSEY.

 

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A NIGHT MUSING.


Earth, garnish'd bride-like, bares her bosom to the nestling night,
Who hath come down in glory from the heavenly halls of light:
Ten thousand tender starry eyes smile o'er the world at rest—
The weary world—hush'd like a tired child on its mother's breast!
The grand old hills up-lift their brows in the rich sleeping light—
That in the storm-war stagger 'neath the leaping thunder's might.
When the red lightning-dagger smites the black clouds blazing
    bright:
How proudly grand and still they stand, worshipping God to-night!
No green tide sweeps the sea of leaves, no wind-sigh stirs the sod;
While holiness broods dove-like on the soul, begetting thoughts of
    God!
The flowers have hung their cups with gems of their own sweetness
    wrought,
And muse upon their silken stems in ecstasy of thought:
I see them gleaming thro' the grass, tender with nature's drops,
And they have all a crown of beauty on their silken tops:
Sweet Hour! thou wakest the feelings we never know by day—
Call'st the heart's hidden music forth, and sweeter thoughts in play:
For Angel-eyes look down and read the spirit 'neath the clay!
Even while I list such music stealeth in upon my soul,
As tho' adown heaven's stair of stars the seraph-harpings stole!
My soul flings off the weight of years, and lovingly turns back
To the dear time of mirthfulness that glistens on its track:
Memory's sered leaves grow green again, and fresh with childhood's
    spring,
As byegone times welcome me back within their rainbow-ring:
The past with all its fairy charms beckons me back in joy,
And loving hearts and open arms clasp me, once more a boy!
The voices of the lost and loved are stirring at my heart,
And memory's miser'd treasures leap to life with sudden start,
As thro' her darken'd chambers the warm sunlight creeps in,
And ' Langsyne' glimps'd in glorious tears my toil-worn heart doth
    win:
Thou art looking, smiling on me, Mother, as thou hast looked and
    smiled 
And I am sitting by thy side, at heart a very child;
I'm with thee now, sweet Mother, as much as in those hours,
When all my wealth was in thy love, and in the birds and flowers;
When the long summer days seem'd short, for my glad soul to live—
The happy fullness of the bliss each golden hour could give!
When Heaven sang to my innocence, and every nodding grove
And sunlit forest ached with song, as my young heart with love;
When life oped like a flower, where clung my lips to quaff its honey;
And joys throng'd like a shower of gold king-cups in meadows
    sunny!
Sweet thoughts of happiness and home, what business have ye here?
And yet I bless ye that ye come to free the struggling tear!
Tear-thoughts! how eloquent they tell that I am changed now!
I cannot choose but weep and press to earth my burning brow!
Sweet thoughts, ye rush like joy-springs up the furrows of my mind;
But, ebbing all too soon, will leave a deeper waste behind!
Mother, I'll tell thee since we met, stern changes have come o'er me.
Then life smiled like a paradise: the world was all before me:
Oh, I was full of trustful faith; and, in my glee and gladness,
I deem'd not others had begun as bright whose end was madness:
I knew not smiles could light up eyes, like sunset's laughing glow
On some cold stream that burns above, while all runs dark below;
That on Love's sunny sea great souls go down,—while some, grown
    cold,
Seal up Affection's living spring, and sell their love for gold!
How they on whom we'd staked the heart forget the early vow;
And they who swore to love thro' life, would pass all coldly now;
How in the soul's dark hour, love's temple-veil is rent in twain—
As the heart quivers thorn-crowned on the cross of fiery pain;
And shatter'd idols—broken dreams—come crowding on my brain—
As speaks the Spirit voice of days that never come again!
It tells of golden moments lost—hearts sear'd in passion's thrall—
Love's spring-tide-blossoms run to waste—life's honey turned to gall!
It tells how many and how oft the high resolve and strong
Shaped on the anvil of my heart, hath died upon my tongue!
I left thee, Mother, in sweet May, the merry month of Flowers,
To toil away in dusty gloom the golden summer hours;
I left my world of love behind, with soul for life a-thirsting
My burning eyelid dropp'd no tear, altho' my heart was bursting;
For I had knit my soul to climb with Poverty its burden
Give me but time! oh, give me time! and I would win the guerdon!
Ah, Mother! many a soul hath all my aspiration cherished,
And fallen in the trampling strife, and in the life-march perished!
We see the bleeding victims lie on grim gold's ghastly altar,
And one by one young feelings die, and dark doubts make us falter!
Mother, the world hath wreak'd its part on me with scathing power—
Yet the dearest life that heaves my heart runs for thee at this hour!
And by these holy yearnings—by these eyes with sweet tears wet—
I know there is a spring of love wells thro' my being yet!

GERALD MASSEY.

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