Gerald Massey: My Lyrical Life IX.

Home Up Biography Poetry Prose Reviews News Reports Miscellanea Main Index Site Search
 


 

LADY MARIAN.


IN her Ancestral Tree's old smiling shade,
Spenser and Milton sang, and Shakspeare played.
I cannot prophesy immortal fame,
And endless honour for my Lady's name
Through my poor Verse; but it shall surely give
All that it gathers long as it may live.

She heard my Children singing in the street,
And smiled down on them starry-clear and sweet,
But half-way up in Heaven, and far from me,
As Shakspeare's Juliet in her balcony;
A radiant Creature all too rare to stay,
With waving white hand she would pass away!

Now I have seen her; heard her voice To-day,
And touched her hand; enriched my life for aye:
The thought in sunbeams gloriously upsprings,
To smile out in the saddest face of things.
After the gloom is gone, the worst is passed,
I know you, my good Fairy, found at last!

Though poor, and grim to tears, our lot might be,
We had proud visions in our poverty!
My Princess too, with darkly-sparkling e'en,
As I lay dreaming, over me would lean;
And now the silken clue of hidden power,
Hath led me to her beauty in its bower.

Lady! Giorgione should have painted you
With live warm flesh-tints golden through and through;
The sun-soul making luminous its prison
With splendours rarer than have ever risen;
Bird-peeps of brightnessdawn-dew—smiling fire—
Full of all freshness as a spring-wood choir;

A glow and glory of impetuous blood;
Brave spirits that crowd all sail to take the flood
Of large, abounding life, that in the sun
Heaves flashing, with a frolic fringe of fun:
A happy wit; creative genius, proved
In Pictures that Angelico would have loved:

A stately soul: yet with a laugh that brings
Echoes from Girlhood's heaven as it rings!
And that fine spirit of motion's airy charm,
Which hovers glancing round the flower of form:
A lofty lady of a proud old race,
Recklessly splendid in her gifts and grace.

Yet, as the life of some tall, towery tree
Climbs till atop it laughs exultingly
With all its leaves, using its pride of place
To look both earth and heav'n full in the face!
Thus—up through bole and branch of wealth and blood,
Breaks out her noble natural Womanhood.

My Lady Marian, you are good and true,
Most bountiful and gracious as the dew;
And glad Hearts—winged with Blessings—follow you
Far as the Earth is green, or Heaven is blue;
But, dear my lady, there is work to do
In England yet, and rare good work for you.

Why leave your own free air, and English Home,
For Paris—that Slave-Dancer—or for Rome?
With all their lustres, dazzlingly displayed,
They cannot match the sweetness of our shade;
Our leafier pathways cool with gladder green;
Our hearts, whose heavings lift you up—our Queen.

Much Mother's Milk wants sweetening with the Balms
That you can bring; much need of more than Alms!
In eyes wide open souls lie fast asleep;
With daylight on the face hearts darkly weep:
Our world has many a ward where wounds and wails
Cry for a thousand Florence Nightingales.

I know that Knowledge through our Shire doth trail
With slow illumination of a snail!
But still we dream of some bright better day,
And while we sleep the great Dawn comes our way.
Think how long Nature brooded over Earth
Before she quickened for her noblest Birth!

O, they shall bless you down in pit and den,—
Transforming slowly into Women and Men;
And smile, as leaves out-smile in first Spring-hours,
With livelier green, while fall the singing showers;
Or as the Winter mosses round your trees
Look up and smile at their good influences.

Your pardon, Lady, if my unskilled word,
Like a bad player, should mistake the chord!
No churlish charge, no plea of parasite,
Is mine; but leal heart-service of a knight
Who in old days had fought for you and bled;
Going to death as 'twere a bridal bed.

Our lost "Maid Marian" bore your name, and she
Yet works a very tender ministry;
And, somehow, when of her we sit and think,
Our hearts touch you by an invisible link.
Sacred to her, my sadder verses take;
And kindly think of them for Marian's sake.

Room for my Sea-Kings too, your heart will make,
From young Sir William Peel, to old King Hake.
You have the spirit born of the salt spray
That snuffs the sea-breeze meadowy miles away;
The Norse blood running seaward round the world,
That leaves the Celtic in the Homestead curled.

You love our Heroes! and you might have been
In battle-need our Boadicea Queen;
And stood up to the full majestic height
In your War-chariot beckoning on the fight!
A famous victory you would have wrought,
Or with your Heroes fallen as you fought.

1858.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


THE SEA KINGS.
___________


THE NORSEMAN.


A SWARTHY strength with face of light;
As dark sword-iron is beaten bright;
A brave, frank look, with health aglow,
Bonny blue eyes and open brow;
His friend he welcomes, heart-in-hand,
But foot to foot his foe must stand:
A Man who will face, to his last breath,
The sternest facts of life and death:
            This is the brave old Norseman.

The wild wave-motion weird and strange
Rocks in him! seaward he must range;
His life is just a mighty lust
To wear away with use, not rust!
Though bitter wintry-cold the storm,
The fire within him keeps him warm:
Kings quiver at his flag unfurled,
The Sea-King's master of the world!
            All-conquering rides the Norseman.

He hides at heart of his rough life,
A world of sweetness for the Wife;
From his rude breast a Babe may press
Soft milk of human tenderness,—
Make his eyes water, his heart dance,
And sunrise in his countenance:
In merriest mood his ale he quaffs
By firelight, and with jolly heart laughs
            The blithe, great-hearted Norseman.

But when the Battle-Trumpet rings,
His soul, a war-horse clad with wings!
Will drink delight in with the breath
Of Battle and the dust of death:
The Axes redden; spring the sparks;
Blood-soaken grow the gray mail-sarks;
Such blows might batter, as they fell,
Heaven's gate, or burst the booms of hell!
            So fights the fearless Norseman.

The Norseman's King must stand up tall,
If he would be head over all;
Mainmast of Battle! when the plain
Is miry-red with bloody rain!
And grip his weapon for the fight,
Until his knuckles grin tooth-white;
The banner-staff he bears is best
If double handful for the rest:
            When "follow me" cries the Norseman.

Valiant and true, as Sagas tell,
The Norsemen hated lies like hell;
Hardy from cradle to the grave,
'Twas their religion to be brave:
Great, silent fighting men, whose words
Were few, soon said, and out with Swords!
One saw his heart cut from his side
Living, and smiled; and smiling, died
            The unconquerable Norseman.

They swam the flood; they strode in flame;
Nor quailed when the Valkyrie came
To kiss the chosen for her charms,
With "Rest, my Hero, in mine arms."
Their spirits through a grim wide wound,
The Norse door-way to heaven found;
And borne upon the battle-blast,
Into the hall of Heroes passed:
            And there was crowned the Norseman.

The Norseman wrestled with old Rome,
For Freedom in our Island-Home;
He taught us how to ride the sea
With hempen bridle, horse of tree:
The Norseman stood with Robin Hood
By Freedom in the merry green wood,
When William ruled the English land
With cruel heart and bloody hand.
            For Freedom fights the Norseman.

Still in our race the Norse king reigns;
His best blood beats along our veins;
With his old glory we can glow,
And surely sail where he could row:
Is danger stirring? from its sleep
Our War-dog wakes his watch to keep,
Stands with our Banner over him,
True as of old and stern and grim!
            Come on, you'll find the Norseman.

When Swords are gleaming you shall see
The Norseman's face flash gloriously,
With look that makes the foeman reel;
His mirror from of old was steel!
And still he wields, in Battle's hour,
The old Thor's hammer of Norse power;
Strikes with a desperate arm of might,
And at the last tug turns the fight:
            For never yields the Norseman.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


OLD KING HAKE.


GOT by the Sea on a rocky coast
        Was old King Hake;
Where inner fire and outer frost
        Brave virtue make!
He was a hero in the old
        Blood-letting days;
An iron hero of Norse mould,
        And warring ways.
He lived according to the light
        That lighted him;
Then strode into the eternal night,
        Resolved and grim.
His grip was stern for free sword-play,
        When men were mown;
His feet were rough-shod for the day
        Of treading down.
When angry, out the blood would start
        With old King Hake;
Not sneak in dark caves of the heart,
        Where curls the snake,
And secret Murder's hiss is heard
        Ere the deed be done:
He wove no web of wile and word;
        He bore with none.
When sharp within its sheath asleep
        Lay his good sword,
He held it royal work to keep
        His kingly word.
A man of valour, bloody and wild,
        In Viking need;
And yet of firelight feeling mild
        As honey-mead.

Once in his youth, from farm to farm,
        Collecting Scatt,
He gathered gifts and welcomes warm;
        And one night sat,
With hearts all happy for his throne—
        Wishing no higher—
Where Peasant faces merrily shone
        Across the fire:
Their Braga-bowl was handed round
        By one fair girl:
The Sea-King looked and thought, "I've found 
        My hidden pearl." 
Her wavy hair was golden-fair,
        With sunbeams curled;
Her eyes clear blue as heaven, and there
        Lay his new world.
He drank out of the mighty horn,
        Strong, stinging stuff;
Then wiped his manly mouth unshorn
        With hand as rough,
And kissed her; drew her to his side,
        With loving mien,
Saying, "If they will make you a Bride,
        I will make you a Queen." 
And round her waist she felt an arm;
        For in those days
A waist could feel: 'twas lithe and warm,
        And wore no stays.
"How many brave deeds have you done?" 
        She asked her wooer,
Counting the arm's gold rings: they won
        One victory more.
The blood of joy looked rich and red
        Out of his face;
And to his manly strength he wed
        Her maiden grace.
'Twas thus King Hake struck royal root
        In homely ground;
And healthier buds with goodlier fruit
        His branches crowned.

But Hake could never bind at home
        His spirit free;
It grew familiar with the foam
        Of many a sea.
A rare good blade whose way was rent
        In gaps of war,
And wore no gem for ornament
        But notch and scar.
In day of battle and hour of strife,
        Cried old King Hake:
"Kings live for honour and not long life." 
        Then would he break
Right through their circle of shields, to reach
        Some Chief of a race
That never yielded ground, but each
        Died in his place.
There the old Norseman towered tall
        Above the rest
A head and shoulders, like King Saul;
        They saw his crest
Toss, where the war-wave reared and rode
        O'er mounds of dead,
Till all the battle-dust was trod
        A miry red.
For Odin, in the glad wide blue
        Of heaven, would laugh
With sunrise, and the ruddy dew
        Of slaughter quaff.

But, 'twas the bravest, goodliest show,
        To see him sit,
With his Long-serpent all aglow,
        And steering it
For the hot heart of fiercest fight,
        A grewsome shape!
The dragon-head rose, glancing bright,
        And all agape:
Over the calm blue water it came
        Writhingly on,
As half in sea and half in flame,
        It swam, and shone.
The sunlit shields link scale to scale
        From stem to stern,
Over the Steersman's head the tail
        Doth twist and burn:
With oars all moved at once, it makes
        Low hoverings;
Half walks the water, and half takes
        The air with wings.
The war-horns bid the fight begin
        With death-grip good:
King Hake goes at the foremost, in
        His Bare-Sark mood:
A twelvemonth's taxes spent in spears
        Hurled in an hour!
But in that host no spirit fears
        The hurtling shower.
And long will many a Mother and Wife
        Wait, weary at home,
Ere from that mortal murderous strife
        Their darlings come.

Hake did not seek to softly die,
        With Child and Wife:
He bore his head in death as high
        As in his life.
Glittering in eye, and grim in lip,
        He bade them make
Ready for sailing his War-Ship,
        That he, King Hake,
The many-wounded, gray, and old,
        His day being done,—
He, the Norse warrior, brave and bold,
        Might die like one.
And chanting an old battle-song,
        Thrilling and weird,
His soul vibrating, shook his long
        Majestic beard:
The gilded battle-axe, still red,
        In his right hand;
His shield on arm, his helm on head,
        They helped him stand,
And girded him with his good sword;
        Then, so attired,
With his dead warriors all abroad,
        The Ship he fired,
And lay down with his heroes dead,
        On deck to die;
Still singing, drooped his gray old head,
        With face to sky.

The wind blew seawards; gloriously
        The death-pyre glowed:
On his last Viking voyage he
        Exulting rode:
Floating afar between the Isles,
        To his last home,
Where open-armed Valhalla smiles,
        And bids him come.
There, as a sinking Sunset dies
        Down in the West,
The fire flamed out; the rude heart lies
        At rest—at rest,
And sleeping in his Ocean-bed,
        That burial-place
Most royal for the kingly dead
        O' the old sea-race!
So the Norse noble of renown,
        With fearless pride,
His flaming crown of death pulled down;
        And so he died.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


THE BANNER-BEARER OF KING OLAF.


THORD Folason carried King Olaf's flag;
Not the man to loiter or lag!
However they hurried who bore the brunt
O' the battle, there was Thord in front.
        Not the man to loiter or lag
        Was Thord, who carried King Olaf's flag.

Great joy of the onset Folason had,
As Banner-bearer at Stiklestad!
Mighty and free was his battle-play,
Cleaving and clearing an onward way.
        Not the man to loiter or lag
        Was Thord, who carried King Olaf's flag.

He was the bulwark at Olaf's side;
Or, in front, the foremost in turning the tide
Of battle, and breasting it rooted as rocks,
Bearing his Banner high over the shocks.
        Never the man to loiter or lag
        Was Thord, who carried King Olaf's flag.

He got a death-thrust in the thick of the fight,
Gave it back,—and suddenly felt 'twas night;
He could see no longer to clear a space.
Then his spirit flew out in the Enemy's face!
        Never the man to loiter or lag
        Was Thord, the bearer of Olaf's flag.

As he plunged head-first on the field full-length,
He gathered his last remaining strength;
Biting his lip and holding his breath,—
'Twas his last,—he fell all his weight in death.
        Never the man to loiter or lag
        Was Thord, who carried King Olaf's flag.

He fell, but, in falling, stuck fast in the ground
His Banner, a-waving to all around,
Bearing the battle up, beckoning on
To keep them abreast of it when he was gone.
        Never the man to loiter or lag
        Was Thord, the bearer of Olaf's flag.

When the battle was over at last,
And Thord, still a leader in death, had passed,
They found his body, with teeth through lip,
His flag-staff clutched as fast in his grip,
        Stemming the tide like a fallen Crag:
        Living or dead he upheld the flag.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE'S LAST FIGHT.


OUR second Richard Lion-Heart,
    In days of Great Queen Bess,
He did this deed, he played this part,
    With true old nobleness;
And wrath heroic that was nursed
To bear the fiercest battle-burst,
When maddened Foes should wreak their worst.

Signalled the English Admiral,
    "Weigh or cut anchors."   For
A Spanish Fleet bore down, in all
    The majesty of war,
Athwart our tack for many a mile,
As there we lay off Florez Isle,
With Crews half sick, all tired of toil.

Eleven of our Twelve ships escaped;
    Sir Richard stood alone!
Though they were Three-and-Fifty sail—
    A hundred men to one—
The old Sea-Rover would not run,
So long as he had man or gun;
But he could die when all was done.

"The Devil's broken loose, my lads, 
    In shape of Popish Spain;
And we must sink him in the sea, 
    Or hound him home again. 
Now, you old Sea-Dogs, show your paws! 
Have at them tooth and nail and claws!

And then his long, bright blade he draws.

The deck was cleared, the Boatswain blew;
    The grim Sea-Lions stand;
The death-fires lit in every eye,
    The burning match in hand.
With mail of glorious intent
All hearts were clad; and in they went,
A force that cut through where 'twas sent.

"Push home, my hardy Pikemen,
For we play a desperate part;
To-day, my Gunners, let them feel
The pulse of England's heart!
They shall remember long that we
Once lived; and think how shamefully
We shook them!—One to Fifty-three
."

With face of one who cheerily goes
    To meet his doom that day,
Sir Richard sprang upon his foes;
    The foremost gave him way:
His round shot smashed them through and through,
At every flash white splinters flew,
And madder grew his fighting few.

They clasp the little Ship Revenge,
    As in the arms of fire;
They run aboard her, six at once;
    Hearts beat, hot guns leap higher.
Through bloody gaps the boarders swarm,
But still our English stay the storm,
The bulwark in their breast is firm.

Ship after ship, like broken waves
    That wash up on a rock,
Those mighty Galleons fall back foiled,
    And shattered from the shock.
With fire she answers all their blows;
Again, again in pieces strows
The girdle round her as they close.

Through all that night the great white storm
    Of worlds in silence rolled;
Sirius with green-azure sparkle,
    Mars in ruddy gold.
Heaven looked with stillness terrible
Down on a fight most fierce and fell—
A sea transfigured into hell.

Some know not they are wounded till
    'Tis slippery where they stand;
Then each one tighter grips his steel,
    As 'twere Salvation's hand.
Grim faces glow through lurid night
With sweat of spirit shining bright:
Only the dead on deck turn white.

At daybreak the flame-picture fades
    In blackness and in blood;
There, after fifteen hours of fight,
    The unconquered Sea-King stood
Defying all the power of Spain:
Fifteen Armadas hurled in vain,
And fifteen hundred foemen slain.

About that little bark Revenge,
    The baffled Spaniards ride
At distance. Two of their good ships
    Were sunken at her side;
The rest lie round her in a ring,
As round the dying Lion-king
The Dogs afraid of his death-spring.

Our pikes all broken, powder spent,
    Sails, masts to shivers blown;
And with her dead and wounded crew
    The ship was going down!
Sir Richard's wounds were hot and deep.
Then cried he, with a proud, pale lip,
"Ho, Master Gunner, sink the ship!

"Make ready now, my Mariners,
    To go aloft with me,
That nothing to the Spaniard
    May remain of victory.
They cannot take us, nor we yield;
So let us leave our battle-field,
Under the shelter of God's shield
."

They had not heart to dare fulfil
    The stern Commander's word:
With swelling hearts and welling eyes,
    They carried him aboard
The Spaniards' ship; and round him stand
The Warriors of his wasted band:
Then said he, feeling death at hand,

"Here die I, Richard Grenville,
    With a joyful and quiet mind;
I reach a Soldier's end, I leave
    A Soldier's fame behind,
Who for his Queen and Country fought,
For Honour and Religion wrought,
And died as a true Soldier ought
."

Earth never returned a worthier trust
    For hand of Heaven to take,
Since Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
    Was cast into the lake,
And the King's grievous wounds were dressed,
And healed, by weeping Queens, who blessed,
And bore him to a valley of rest.

Old Heroes who could grandly do,
    As they could greatly dare;
A vesture, very glorious,
    Their shining spirits wear,
Of noble deeds!   God give us grace,
That we may see such face to face,
In our great day that comes apace.

1859.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


ROBERT BLAKE.


OUR Happy Warrior! of a race
    To whom are richly given
Great glory and peculiar grace,
    Because in league with Heaven.
Not that the mortal course they trod
    Was free from briar and thorn;
Who wears the arrow-mark of God,
    Must first the wound have borne.

O like a Sailor Saint was he,
    Our Sea-king! grave and sweet
In temper after victory,
    Or cheerful in defeat;
And men would leave their quiet home
    To follow in his wake,
And fight in fire, or float in foam,
    For love of Robert Blake.

Like that drumhead of Zitska's skin,
    Thrills his heroic name;
And how the salt-sea-sparkle in
    Us, flashes at his fame!
His picture in our hearts' best books
    Still keeps its pride of place,
From which a lofty spirit looks
    With an unfading face;

The face as of an Angel, who
    Might live his Boyhood here!
And yet how deadly grand it grew,
    When Wrong drew darkening near.
All ridged, and ready trenched for war
    The fair frank brow was bent,
Then shone like sudden Scimitar,
    The lion-lineament.

Behold him, with his gallant band,
    On leaguered Lyme's red beach.
Shoulder to shoulder, see them stand,
    At Taunton in the breach.
Safe through the battle-shocks he went,
    With sword-sweep stern and wide;
Strode the grim heaps as Death had lent
    Him his White Horse to ride.

"Give in! our toils you cannot break;
    The Lion is in the net! 
Famine fights for us
." "No," said Blake,
    "My boots I have not ate." 
He smiled across the bitter cup;
    He gripped his good Sword-heft:
"I should not dream of giving up 
    While such a meal is left
."

Where trumpets blow and streamers flow,
    Behold him, calm and proud,
Bear down upon the bravest foe,
    A bursting thunder-cloud.
Foremost of all the host that strove
    To crowd Death's open door,
In giant mood his way he clove;
    Aye first to go before.

And though the battle-lightning blazed,
    The thunders roar and roll,
He to Immortal Beauty raised
    A statue with his soul.
And never did the Greeks of old
    Mirror in marble rare
A Wrestler of so fine a mould,
    An Athlete half so fair.

Homeward the dying Sea-king turns
    From his last famous fight,
For England's dear green hills he yearns
    At heart, and strains his sight.
The old cliffs loom out gray and grand,
    The old War-ship glides on,
With one last wave life tries to land,
    Falls seaward, and is gone.

With that last leap to touch the coast,
    He passed into his rest,
And Blake's unwearying arms were crossed
    Upon his martial breast.
And while our England waits, and twines
    For him her latest wreath,
His is a crown of stars that shines
    From out the dusk of death.

For him no pleasant age of ease,
    To wear what youth could win;
For him no Children round his knees,
    To gather his harvest in.
But with a soul serene, he takes
    Whatever lot may come;
And such a life of labour makes
    A glorious going home.

Famous old Trueheart, dead and gone,
    Long shall his glory grow,
Who never turned his back upon
    A friend, nor face from foe.
He made them fear old England's name
    Wherever it was heard,
He put her proudest foes to shame;
    And Peace smiled on his Sword.

With lofty courage, loftier love,
    He died for England's sake;
And 'mid the loftiest lights above,
    Shines our illustrious Blake.—
And shall shine! Glory of the West,
    And Beacon for the seas;
While Britain bares its sailor breast
    To battle or to breeze.

Great Sailor on the seas of strife;
    Victor by land and wave;
Brave liver of a gallant life;
    Lord of a glorious grave;
True Soldier set on earthly hill
    As Sentinel of heaven;
A King who keeps his kingdom till
    The last award be given.

Till she forget her old Sea-fame,
    Shall England honour him,
And keep the grave-grass from his name
    Till her old eyes be dim:
And long as free waves folding round,
    Brimful with blessing break,
At heart she holds him, calm and crowned,
    Immortal Robert Blake.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


AN OLD MAN-O'-WAR'S-MAN'S YARN.


AY, ay, good Neighbours, I have seen
    Him! sure as God's my life;
One of his chosen crew I've been;
    Haven't I, old Good Wife?
God bless your dear eyes! didn't you vow
    To marry me any weather,
If I came back with limbs enow
    To keep my soul together?

Brave as a Lion was our Nel,
    And gentle as a lamb:
It warms my blood once more to tell
    The tale—gray as I am—
It makes the old life in me climb,
    It sets my soul a-swim;
I live twice over every time
    That I can talk of him.

You should have seen him as he trod
    The deck, our joy, and pride;
You should have seen him, like a God
    Of storm, his War-horse ride!
You should have seen him as he stood
    Fighting for our good land,
With all the iron of soul and blood
    Turned to a sword in hand.

Our best beloved of all the brave
    That ever for Freedom fought;
And all his wonders of the wave
    For Fatherland were wrought!
He was the manner of man to show
    How victories may be won;
So swift, you scarcely saw the blow;
    You looked—the deed was done.

He sailed his Ships for work; he bore
    His sword for battle-wear;
His creed was "Best man to the fore;"
    And he was always there.
Up any peak of peril where
    There was but room for one:
The only thing he did not dare
    Was any death to shun.

The Nelson-touch his men he taught,
    And his great stride to keep;
His faithful fellows round him fought
    Ten thousand heroes deep.
With a red pride of life, and hot
    For him, their blood ran free;
They "minded not the showers of shot,
    No more than peas," said he.

Napoleon saw our Sea-king thwart
    His landing on our Isle;
He gnashed his teeth, he gnawed his heart,
    At Nelson of the Nile,
Who set his fleet in flames, to light
    The Lion to his prey,
And lead Destruction through the night
    Upon his dreadful way.

Around the world he drove his game,
    And ran his glorious race;
Nor rested till he hunted them
    From off the Ocean's face;
Like that old War-dog who, till death,
    Clung to the vessel's side
Till hands were lopped, then with his teeth
    He held on till he died.

Ay, he could do the deeds that set
    Old Fighters' hearts afire;
The edge of every spirit whet,
    And every arm inspire.
Yet I have seen upon his face
    The tears that, as they roll,
Show what a light of saintly grace
    May clothe a Sailor's soul.

And when our Darling went to meet
    Trafalgar's Judgment-day,
The people knelt down in the street
    To bless him on his way.
He felt the Country of his love
    Watching him from afar;
It saw him through the battle move;
    His heaven was in that star.

Magnificently glorious sight
    It was in that great dawn!
Like one vast sapphire flashing light,
    The sea, just breathing, shone.
Their ships, fresh-painted, stood up tall
    And stately: ours were grim
And weatherworn, but one and all
    In rare good fighting trim.

Our spirits were all flying light,
    And into battle sped,
Straining for it on wings of might,
    With feet of springy tread;
The light of battle on each face;
    Its lust in every eye;
Our Sailor-blood at swiftest pace
    To catch the victory nigh.

His proudly-wasted face, wave-worn,
    Was loftily serene;
I saw the brave, bright spirit burn
    There, all too plainly seen;
As though the sword this time was drawn
    Forever from the sheath;
And when its work to-day was done,
    All would be dark in death.

His eye shone like a lamp of night
    Set in the porch of power;
The deed unborn was burning bright
    Within him at that hour!
His purpose, welded at white-heat,
    Cried like some visible Fate,
"To-day we must not merely beat: 
    We will Annihilate."

He smiled to see the Frenchman show
    His reckoning for retreat,
With Cadiz port on his lee-bow;
    And held him then half beat.
They flew no Colours, till we drew
    Them out to strike with there!
Old Victory, for a prize or two,
    Had flags enough to spare.

Mast-high the famous signal ran;
    Breathless we caught each word:
"England expects that every man 
    Will do his duty."   Lord,
You should have seen our faces! heard
    Us cheering, row on row;
Like men before some furnace stirred
    To a fiery fearful glow!

'Twas Collingwood our Lee line led,
    And cut their centre through.
"See how he goes in!" Nelson said,
    As his first broadside flew,
And near four hundred foemen fall.
    Up went another cheer.
"Ah, what would Nelson give," said Coll
    "But to be with us here!"

We grimly kept our vanward path;
    Over us hummed their shot;
But, silently, we reined our wrath,
    Held on, and answered not,
Till we could grip them face to face,
    And pound them for our own,
Or hug them in a war-embrace,
    Till one or both went down.

How calm he was! when first he felt
    The sharp edge of that fight.
Cabined with God alone he knelt;
    The prayer still lay in light
Upon his face, that used to shine
    In battle,—flash with life,
As though the glorious blood ran wine,
    Dancing with that wild strife.

"Fight for us, Thou Almighty One! 
    Give victory once again! 
And if I fall, Thy will be done: 
    Amen, Amen, Amen!" 
With such a voice he bade good-bye;
    The mournfullest old smile wore:
"Farewell!   God bless you, Blackwood, I 
    Shall never see you more."

And four hours after, he had done
    With winds and troubled foam.
The Reaper was borne dead upon
    Our load of Harvest-home—
Not till he knew the Old Flag flew
    Alone on all the deep;
Then said he, "Hardy, is that you? 
    Kiss me."   And fell asleep.

Well, 'twas his chosen death below
    The deck in triumph trod;
'Tis well. A Sailor's soul should go
    From his good ship to God.
He would have chosen death aboard,
    From all the crowns of rest;
And burial with the Patriot sword
    Upon the Victor's breast.

"Not a great sinner."   No, dear heart,
    God grant in our death-pain,
We may have played as well our part,
    And feel as free from stain.
We see the spots on such a star,
    Because it burned so bright;
But on the other side they are
    All lost in greater light.

And so he went upon his way,
    A higher deck to walk,
Or sit in some eternal day,
    And of the old time talk
With Sailors old, who, on that coast,
    Welcome the homeward bound;
Where many a gallant soul we've lost
    And Franklin will be found.

Where amidst London's roar and moil
    That cross of peace upstands,
Like Martyr with his heavenward smile,
    And flame-lit, lifted hands,
There lies the dark and mouldered dust;
    But that magnanimous
And manly Seaman's soul, I trust,
    Lives on in some of us.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


TURNER'S TEMERAIRE.


ANOTHER glorious tale to tell,
    When nights are long and mirk;
How well she fought our fight, how well
    She did our England's work;
    The French ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire.

Bravely over the breezy blue
    They went to do or die;
Proudly upon herself she drew
    The Battle's burning eye:
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire.

Round her the glory fell in flood,
    From Nelson's loving smile,
When, raked with fire, she ran with blood
    In England's hour of trial!
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

And when our darling of the Sea
    Sank dying on his deck,
With her revenging thunders she
    Struck down his foe—a wreck.
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

Her day now draweth to its close
    With solemn sunset crowned;
To death her crested beauty bows,
    The night is folding round
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

No more the big heart in her breast
    Will heave from wave to wave.
Weary and war-worn, ripe for rest,
    She glideth to her grave.
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

In her dumb pathos desolate
    As night among the dead!
Yet wearing an exceeding weight
    Of glory on her head.
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

Good-bye! good-bye! Old Temeraire,
    A sad and proud good-bye!
The stalwart spirit that did wear
    Your sternness, shall not die.
    Our good ship Temeraire!
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

Through battle-blast, and storm of shot,
    Your banner we shall bear;
And fight for it like those who fought
    Our good ship Temeraire.
    The grand old Temeraire.
See her tugged to her last berth,
    The fighting Temeraire!

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


SIR ROBERT'S SAILOR SON.


OUR Country has no need to raise
    The Ghost of glories gone;
Such Heroes dying in our days
    Still pass the live torch on.
Brave blood as bright a crimson gleams,
    Still burns as goodly a zeal;
The old heroic radiance beams
    In men like William Peel.

So mild in peace, so stern in war,
    He walked our English way,
Just one of Shakespeare's Warriors for
    A weary working day.
With beautiful bravery clothèd on,
    And such high moral grace,
The flash of rare soul-armour shone
    Out of his noble face!

His Sailors loved him so on deck,
    So cheery was his call,
They leapt on land, and in his wake
    Followed him, guns and all.
For, as a battle-brand white-hot,
    His Spirit grew and glowed,
When in his swift War-chariot
    The Avenger rose and rode.

Sleep, Sailor-Darling, true and brave,
    With our dead Soldiers sleep!
That so the Land you lived to save,
    You shall have died to keep.
You may have wished the dear Sea-blue
    To have folded round your breast,
But God had other work for you,
    And other place of rest.

We might have reached you with our wreath
    If living; but laid low,
You grow so grand! and after death
    The dearness deepens so!
To have gone so soon, so loved to have died,
    So young to wear that crown,
We think. But with such thrills of pride
    As shake the last tears down.

God rest you, gallant Captain Peel,
    With those whom England leaves
Scattered as still she plies her steel,
    But we glean up in sheaves.
We'll talk of you on land, a-board,
    Till Boys shall feel they are Men,
And forests of hands clutch at this Sword
    Death gives us back again.

Our old Norse Fathers speak in you,
    Speak with their strange sea-charm,
That sets our hearts a-beating to
    The music of the storm.
There comes a Spirit from the deep,
    The salt wind waves its wings,
That rouses from its Inland sleep
    The blood of the old Sea Kings.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


THE STOKER'S STORY.


SAFE, once more, in Old England:
    That Heaven of a Sailor's dream!
No place like jolly Old England,
    For a fellow to blow off the steam.
Bad luck to the Lubbers who sent us to die,
    Or live on four ounces a day;
Running us out betwixt Sea and Sky
    In that devil-may-care kind of way!

All who ever had sailed in her
    Found the Megoera unlucky.
Hearts of the stoutest have quailed in her;
    She was miserable and mucky.
Curses enough to sink her,
    If curses can cling, she bore:
She was rusted, rotten, rat-forsaken,
    Cankered and cursed to the core.

Why did I sail?   Well, you see, Sir,
    Somehow, a way we have got,
To stick to our duty, nor shirk it
    Should we chance to draw a bad lot.
Some big-wig aloft overlooked the Ship,
    It wasn't for us to complain.
And so, all round, 'twas a stiff upper lip,
    If we never saw England again.

I think God Almighty picked the weather,
    From Queenstown to the Cape:
But strive as we might to pull together,
    We never got things ship-shape:
And you caught a look in the eyes of some
    Who were married, that tried not to tell
Tales of the heart that had gone back home
    With a blessing and last farewell.

But you can't keep a Sailor's soul from springing
    And cresting the wave on his way,
Any more than the Lark will be stopped from
        singing
    Even in the dawn of the day
When Battle lets loose the flood of its strife
    For a world to be drowned in its wave,
And he, and his mate, and his young, out of life
    Will be ground, with their nest for a grave.

Eleven days after we left the Cape,
    Mast-high our troubles ran.
The Shadow that followed at last took shape—
    On that day we lost a man,
And the fellows all said that in taking his trip
    To the bottom, he sent his foot through
The thin frail side of the rotten old ship,
    For his messmates to follow him too!

The next we sprang a leak; in the hold
    Were two feet of water already!
A gale had arisen; the old Craft rolled
    As if with her drinking unsteady.
Three days we pumped, and swore, and prayed,
    And it seemed but a waste of breath:
Three days a lively game we played
    At hide-and-seek with Death!

'Twas "Scottie" who crawled by himself at night,
    Under the bunkers to keek;
With his head down one big hole, and his light
    Through another, he found the leak.
And we looked, and we saw a sight in the gloom
    Made us hold our breath for a space:
Wide open below was the door of doom;
    Death close to us, face to face!

The water sprang like a plug in the street,
    When the force is on at the main:
With such a Geyser under our feet,
    No wonder we pumped in vain.
And as she lurched the waters rolled
    With the sound of a sea inside;
Death-rattles that made your blood run cold.
    And we found her iron hide

As full of holes as the sponge you wring;
    Honey-comb'd through and through!
You couldn't patch the infernal thing,
    For she wouldn't hold a screw:
Her mast's whole weight on a rotten plate
    Of the bulging bottom!   And we
Were sixteen hundred miles from land,
    On a sail-less, island-less sea.

I once knew a Chap in consumption, who
    Was spitting himself away
Bodily as he walked, and drew
    His life out, day by day,
With his hacking, horrible cough.   So it seemed
    That our poor old Ship must be
A-spitting herself away, as she steamed,
    Piecemeal, into the sea.

The pumps turned her inside out, each pull:
    (Grave-diggers digging our grave!)
Till choked by the bits of the rotten old hull
    They were cruelly trying to save.
And the old Ship shook, with her driving force,
    As if body and soul must rive,
And throbbed, like the heart of a runaway horse
    Ready to jump out alive.

Each thunder-thud of the piston-lunge
    Made every rivet leap,
And I thought on my soul we should momently
        plunge
    Right through her, all of a heap!
I felt each blow, through her thinness, smite
    As the Condemned may hark
To the Scaffold Hammers, through his last
        night,
    Working for death in the dark.

There we were, as good as entombed!
    Our Captain gathered us then,
And told us as how the ship was doomed,
    But, like true Englishmen,
We should stick together and make the most
    Of the little chance we had.
So he gave the word to run for the coast
    Of St. Paul, and work like mad!

Our grand Old Man hadn't much to say,
    But he looked as firm as the land,
And got pretty near men's hearts that day:
    Not a shake in his voice or his hand!
Through the Shadow of Death, that was gathering
        grim,
    He saw his duty clear,
And did it. That was enough for him;
    No time, no room for fear!

Just the Sailor you'd like to be
    By your side on a sinking deck:
Just the man who would wait to see
    The last soul safe from the wreck!
We cheered him in front of the battle, again
    And again; three proud cheers gave him,
And then went at it, to live like men
    Or die, as such, to save him!

We floundered in shallow water at last;
    More dangerous than the deep!
"All hands on deck," was the order passed;
    Each man stood ready to leap—
Where were we? oh, down in our grave;
    Nobody seemed to think
That we like the rest had Spirits to save:
    And hadn't a drop to drink!

Stokers were forced to remain below
    And keep on a strong head of steam:
I felt, each moment, the pipe must go.
    Not one of us dared to dream
Of escape; my hair was on end, I know,
    As the war-tug came to the worst.
But I thought we were nearest to death, and so
    Perhaps might reach heaven first.

Then as she neared the bar we all
    Shook hands and bade good-bye;
Each man, turning his face to the wall,
    Drew himself up to die—
When, face to face suddenly brightens!
    There's a babble of witless words!
And a spirit lives in us that lightens
    Like air in the bones of birds!

Beautiful! light as an eggshell, over
    The bar at a bound she springs,
As though all heaven had stooped, and given
    Us a lift, and we went upon wings!
Death was past, we had leisure at last,
    And a gasp of fresh breath to pray:
And I can tell you we were in heaven—
    Had reached it another way.

*            *            *            *            *            *

We are safe.   But, my God! if our England
    In a coming hour should be found
Rust-eaten right to the heart of her,
    And have to be run a-ground,
Wrecked at a shock, like our Hulk on the rock;
    Whipped from the wide proud round
Of her own wave-world, with her Union Jack
        furled,
    Of all her glory discrowned!

Saviours of England's money,
    Is it so you think to save?
By stopping of holes with your Seamen's souls,
    And ships like that for a grave?
To the other side o' the world you send
    Us: which, doesn't matter a rap.
But we think it is cruel hard to end
    Like rats that are drowned in a trap.

We never mind Death, for the land we love,
    In the good old-fashioned way,
Should we mount to the glorified souls above
    Through the smoke of some desperate day
That makes all safe for the Island-Home:
    Proudly the last of our breath
We will send you, blood-bubbling up through the
        foam;
    Only let us deserve our death!

Heart of Oak that our England
    Should never neglect or forget—
Heart of Oak that our England
    Must swim by, or sink in yet—
Ocean-home of the old Sea-Race—
    Shall it become the prey
O' the mean and base, and a breeding-place
    For the Creatures of Decay?

If we cannot keep the Sea, you Lubbers!
    Your Cent. per Cent. must stop.
If we do not keep the sea, you Lubbers!
    You cannot keep the Shop!
Our Empire's built a-top of the wave,
    Not at the bottom, and we
Think they are the only men to save
    By land, who will save us at Sea.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


THE CAPTAIN OF THE "NORTHFLEET."


SO often is the proud deed done
    By men like this at Duty's call;
So many are the honours won
    By them, we cannot wear them all!

They make the heroic common-place,
    And dying thus the natural way;
And yet, our world-wide English race
    Feels nobler, for that death, To-day!

It stirs us with a sense of wings
    That strive to lift the earthiest soul;
It brings the thoughts that fathom things
    To anchor fast where billows roll.

Love was so new, and life so sweet,
    But at the call he left the wine,
And sprang full-statured to his feet,
    Responsive to the touch divine.

"Nay, Dear, I cannot see you die.
    For me, I have my work to do
Up here. Down to the boat. Good-bye,
    God bless you. I shall see it through
."

We read, until the vision dims
    And drowns; but, ere the pang be past,
A tide of triumph overbrims
    And breaks with light from heaven at last.

Through all the blackness of that night
    A glory streams from out the gloom;
His steadfast spirit lifts the light
    That shines till Night is overcome.

The sea will do its worst, and life
    Be sobbed out in a bubbling breath;
But firmly in the coward strife
    There stands a man who has conquered Death!

A soul that masters wind and wave,
    And towers above a sinking deck;
A bridge across the gaping grave;
    A rainbow rising o'er the wreck.

Others he saved; he saved the name
    Unsullied that he gave his wife:
And dying with so pure an aim,
    He had no need to save his life.

Lord! how they shame the life we live,
    These Sailors of our sea-girt isle,
Who cheerily take what Thou mayst give,
    And go down with a heavenward smile!

The men who sow their lives to yield
    A glorious crop in lives to be:
Who turn to England's Harvest-field
    The unfruitful furrows of the sea.

With such a breed of men so brave,
    The Old Land has not had her day;
But long, her strength, with crested wave,
    Shall ride the Seas, the proud old way.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________

A BIRTHDAY ON BOARD.

(To Captain McMickan, of the Umbria.)


YOUR Birthday, Captain! And we come
    To greet you, Matron, Mother, and Maid:
Service like yours, Men tell us, from
    The Ladies' lips is best repaid!

We greet you for your Birthday's sake,
    But still more warmly for your own;
No truer Sailor treads the deck.
    How many a Triumph, all unknown,

You have won by night from Death the grim,
    Where Danger lurked like some Sea-Elf:
We take the larger pride in him
    Who shows so little for himself.

We give our lives into his hand,
    And trust him where we cannot aid:
He guides us safe from land to land;
    He makes the fearful unafraid.

When the Sea rises, ridge on ridge,
    Against us, like some serried foe,
We think "the Captain's on the bridge,"
    And we can safely rest below.

Through all its Vast may Ocean roll,
    Its billows beat, its voices rave,
'Tis but the servant of the Soul
    That rules the Wind and rides the Wave.

We lack the words to speak your worth,
    But when the Voyage of life is o'er,
Safe Harbour to you!   And a Berth
    A l, on an Eternal Shore.

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


THE SEA KINGS.


THE Spaniard thought to wear our Crown,
    Three hundred years ago;
And bow the head of England down
    To kiss the Pope's great toe!
And next the Dutchman swept the Sea
    With Besom top-mast high.
Gone is their Ocean sovereignty;
    To-day, how low they lie!

And now the Frenchman's old wounds burn
    Like devils in their pain,
And bode the weather of war will turn
    To a bath of bloody rain.
Tingle and ring the ears of France
    With sound of battle-hymns;
As on Ambition's dark, mad trance
    The bloody vision swims.

Sons of the old Norse sailors brave,
    We fill their place to-day,—
No wisp of foam upon the wave,
    To flash and pass away.
Our perilous prize we guard and keep
    Till last relief God brings,
Then lie in calm majestic sleep
    Along with the old Sea Kings.

Well may your proud eyes sparkle, ye
    Rough Sea-Kings, young and old;
The salt Sea-spirit laughs to see
    The Frenchman grown so bold.
Sword-bayonets, Rifled Cannon, may
    The poor of heart alarm,
But pluck at last will win the day
    With naked strength of arm.

We are not beaten at a dash,
    Nor swiftly overthrown,—
Let Ship with Ship together lash,
    We know who must go down.
No man in Gallic land will live
    To see us dispossessed;
When our sun sets at sea we give
    Its glory to the West.

Those old unconquerable waves,
    They mock at Tyranny;
And never can a land of Slaves
    Be Ruler of the Sea.
But would you see their Empress, now
    Behold her! here she smiles,
This Diadem on Ocean's brow;
    This Glory of the Isles.

We have fed the Sea with English souls,
    And every mounded wave
To Heaven bears witness, as it rolls
    Some English seaman's grave!
Our Rivers carry heroic dust
    For burial in the sea,
Which helps to keep our noble trust,
    And battles for the Free.

Not always down the Primrose path
    Of dalliance can we tread,
Oft-times the Chosen People hath
    To climb with foot-prints red:
Our highest life with cross, and scorn,
    And tears, may yet be trod,
And England wear a crown of thorn,
    Whose Roses bloom in blood.

We have immortal quarrel with
    The men who war with Right;
We will not own him kin or kith,
    Who fails us in this fight.
No room for him on British ground,
    No bed in Ocean's breast,
Who draws her purple curtains round
    Unfathomable rest.

If those old Greeks for Beauty wrought
    Their ten-years' daring deed,
Shall it be said that less we fought
    For Freedom in her need?
No. Fight till all the Brave lie dead,
    And grass grows on the mart;
But Freedom here shall rest her head
    Upon our England's heart.

Like some old Eagle on her nest,
    Up in her pride of place,
Our England sits with brooding breast,
    And looks with sharpened face!
She feels the Shadow of a Hand,
    But ere it touch her brood,
The Sea that narrows round our land
    Shall run a moat of blood.

Wave out, Old Bird! or still brood on!
    They shall not bring you low;
A thousand years have come and gone,
    A thousand more shall go!
Our True Hearts still shall tread the deck,
    Our Ships sail every sea,
And ride like those who rein the neck
    Of rearing Tyranny.

We've mounted many a windy wave,
    We've weathered many storms;
Unshaken still we hear them rave,
    Safe in the Eternal arms.
For if the worst comes—every man—
    We perish in our place,
And then our Conqueror, if he can,
    May lead the new Sea-Race!

1860.

 

 

[Top of page]
_______________________


A DAUGHTER OF THE SEA-KINGS.


MANY a time, from out the North,
    The fire-eyed Raven flew,
And England watched its sailing forth,
    With eyes of wistful blue;
Many a time her True-hearts stood
    All ranked and ready for
Grim welcome, should the Bird of Blood
    Swoop down on wings of war!

To-day, another Norland Bird
    Comes floating o'er the foam;
And England's heart of hearts is stirred
    To have the dear bird Home.
She comes soft-eyed, with brooding breast,
    On swiftening wings of love;
And Britain, to her bridal nest,
    Welcomes the Daneland Dove.

________________


She comes; across the waters spread the sails;
    She comes, to play her brave, uncommon part;
The Princess who will wear the name of Wales;
    The Woman who shall win our England's heart.
The Nation's life up-leaps to meet her;
And England with one voice goes forth to greet
        Her!

Our Lady cometh from the North,
    The tender and the true,
Whose fire of darkest glow hath rarest worth;
For love more inly nestles in the North,
To give, like fire in frost, its fervours forth:
    Whose flowers can keep their dew;
And a look in its Women's eyes is good
As the first fresh breath of the salt Sea-flood,
    Or the bonniest blink of its blue:
And from its dark Fiords, with sails unfurled,
    Came the fair-haired Norsemen,
        The men that moved the world.

______________


They were the pride and the darlings of Ocean,
    Rocked on her breast by a hundred storms;
Tossed up with joyfullest Motherly motion;
    Caught to her heart again—clasped in her arms.
No Slaves of the Earth but Sea-kings, the rough
        Rovers
    Took wings of the wind and flew over the foam.
Yet, the old True-hearts, like faithfullest lovers,
    Came back with the fruitfuller feeling of Home.
Kings were they of the royallest blood
That was blue with the hue of the salt Sea-flood.

______________


Come! stir the Norse fire in us mightily!
Come, conquering hearts as they the heaving sea.
Come, wed the people with their Prince, and
        bless
Them from your neighbouring heaven of nobleness.
There's nothing like a Beauty of the Blood
To set the fashion of a loftier good!
There's nothing like a true and womanly Wife
To help a man, and make melodious life.
For, she can hold his heartstrings in her hand,
And play the tune her pleasure may command,
And cause his climbing soul to grow in stature,
Trying to reach the heights of her diviner
        nature.

______________


Come in your beauty of promise;
    Come in your Maiden glee;
Let your sunshine scatter from us
    The shadow of Misery.
Hearts in the dark have been aching,
But now the clouds are breaking.
Come as come the swallows
    Over the brightening sea,
And we know that Summer follows
    With the sunny days to be.
Come and give us your glad good-morrow,
    The Joy-bells shall ring,
    And the merry birds sing;
Dumbly drooping, the Bird of Sorrow
    Shall hide his old head under his wing.

______________


And now a shining Vision blooms;
    I see the rich Procession glide
Serenely 'twixt the swaling plumes,
    All nodding in their pride:

Walking with sweet precision, she
    Moves slowly onward, softly nigher
The Altar; meek in purity,
    Yet filled with stately fire.

The dawn upon her sweet young face
    The dewy spring-light in her eyes,
And round about her form of grace
    The airs of paradise.

But lo! a Shadow dims the scene!
    We lift our eyes and sadly see
How lonely stands the wistful Queen;
    No leaning-place hath she,

Who, in her darkness seeks to hide,
    While the wed pair move whitely on
As swans go gliding side by side,
    And all their splendours sun.

O Widow's gloom! O wedding joys!
    O white fringe to the Mourning-pall!
With the dead Father's hovering voice
    In music over all!

______________


This world is but a newer paradise,
To that glad spirit looking through the eyes
Of Love, that sees all bright things dancing toward
It, gaily coming of their own accord.
For 'tis as though the lightsome heart should
        climb
Up in the head, to look from heights sublime
And sing, and swing as it would never drop—
The merry reveller in the tall tree-top!
Where Life is with such lofty gladness crowned,
And all the Pleasures dance in starry circle round.
But may this love be true as Hers who sees
Ye, like a smiling future at her knees:
The Wife who held God's gifts the richest wealth;
Our Queen of Home who sweetened England's
        health;
The Widow in whose face we looked to see
That great black cloud of our calamity
On the side nearest heaven, and marked her rise
In stature, calm to meet her sacrifice:
As one with faith to feel Death's darkness brings
Almighty Love on overshadowing wings.

______________


True love is no mere incense that will swim
Up from the heart a lover's eyes to dim,
But, such a light as gives the jewel-spark
To meanest things it looks on in their dark,—
A spring of heaven welling warm to bless
And sanctify each grain of earthiness.
True love will make true life, and glorify
Ye very proudly in the nation's eye.
Ah, Prince, a-many hopes up-fold the wing
Within the Marriage-nest to which ye bring
Your Bride, the life ye live there will be rolled
Through endless echoes, mirrored manifold.

______________


We charge you, when you look on your young
        Wife,
And watch the ascending brightness of new life
In the sweet eyes that double the sweet soul,
That ye forget not others' dearth and dole.

______________


Just now, the North wind wails
As though the Cold were crying
Over the hills and over the dales,
And sinking hearts know well what ails
The sound of the wintry sighing:
It bears the moan of the dying;
Dying down in the starving Shires,
Without food, and without fires.
The bitter nights are cruel cold,
One cannot help but wake, and think
Of the poor milch-lambs of the human fold
That have no milk to drink.

______________


A Royal Worker to his grave went down
A little year ago, without his crown.
He dreamed the time would come when Rich and
        Poor
Might shake hands, strove to open wide the door.
He tried to till our waste-land,—sought to see
It glad in good, the stern world Poverty.
His was a heart that nobly beat to bless,
And heaved with doubled-breasted bounteousness
Like very woman's.
                                        But, 'tis ever so;
He's gone where all our golden sunsets go;
Gone from us!   Yet his memory makes a light,
Enriching life with tints of pictured bloom,
Like firelight warm upon the walls of night,
An inner glow against the outer gloom.
Do thou but live, and work as Albert willed,
And he shall smile in heaven to see his dream
        fulfilled.

Heroic deeds of toil are to be done,
And lofty palms of peace are to be won.
Life may be followed by a fame that rings
With nobler music than the Battle sings,
When Death, astride the black Guns, laughs to see
That flashing out of souls, and grins triumphantly.
Bear high the banner of our England's fame,
And let the evil-doers fear her name.
We joy to serve her, least of all the race;
Yours is the chance to fill a foremost place.

______________


Like some proud River, stretching forth before ye
    Through all the land, your widening way doth
        lie,
Brimming and blessing as it rolls in glory,
    Broadening and brightening till it reach the sky.
A splendi:d Vision! the green corn looks gay;
    The Bird of Happiness sings overhead:
And may the Autumn uplands far away
    Rise with the Harvest ripe in Evening's red;
Your crescent Honey-Moon laugh out above
The gathered Sheaves it gilds, at full with love.

______________


[Next page]

 



[Home] [Up] [Biography] [Poetry] [Prose] [Reviews] [News Reports] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk