Poems and Lyrics (3)

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 PART THIRD.
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POEMS CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT, ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE
FEELINGS OF THE INTELLIGENT AND RELIGIOUS AMONG
THE WORKING-CLASSES OF SCOTLAND.
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STANZAS ON THE BIRTHDAY OF BURNS.


THIS is the natal day of him
    Who, born in want and poverty,
Burst from his fetters, and arose
    The freest of the free;—

Arose to tell the watching earth
    What lowly men could feel and do,—
To show that mighty heaven-like souls
    In cottage hamlets grew.

BURNS! thou hast given us a name
    To shield us from the taunts of scorn;
The plant that creeps amid the soil
    A glorious flower hath borne.

Before the proudest of the earth
    We stand with an uplifted brow;
Like us, THOU wast a toil-worn man,
    And we are noble now!

Inspired by thee, the lowly hind
    All soul-degrading meanness spurns;
Our teacher, saviour, saint, art thou,
    Immortal ROBERT BURNS!


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WE ARE LOWLY.


We are lowly—very lowly,
    Misfortune is our crime;
We have been trodden under foot
    From all recorded time.
A yoke upon our necks is laid,
    A burden to endure;
To suffer is our legacy,
    The portion of the poor!

We are lowly—very lowly,
    And scorned, from day to day;
Yet we have something of our own
    Power cannot take away.
By tyrants we are toiled to death—
    By cold and hunger killed;
But peace is on our hearts, it speaks
    Of duties all fulfilled!

We are lowly—very lowly,
    Nor house nor land have we;
But there's a heritage for us
    While we have eyes to see.
They cannot hide the lovely stars,
    Words in creation's book,
Although they hold their fields and lanes
    Corrupted by our look!

We are lowly—very lowly,—
    And yet the fairest flowers
That by the wayside raise their eyes,—
    Thank God, they still are ours!
Ours is the streamlet's mellow voice,
    And ours the common clew;
We still dare gaze on hill and plain,
    And field and meadow too!

We are lowly—very lowly,—
    But when the cheerful spring
Comes forth with flowers upon her feet
    To hear the throstle sing,—
Although we dare not seek the shade
    Where haunt the forest deer—
The waving leaves we still can see,
    The hymning birds can hear!

We are lowly—very lowly,—
    Our hedgerow paths are gone,
Where woodbines laid their fairy hands
    The hawthorn's breast upon;
Yet slender mercies still are left,—
    And Heaven doth endure,
And hears the prayers that upward rise
    From the afflicted poor!


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WE'LL MAK' THE WARLD BETTER YET.


THE braw folk crush the poor folk down,
    An' blood an' tears are rinnin' het;
An' meikle ill and meikle wae,
    We a' upon the earth have met.
An' Falsehood aft comes boldly forth,
    And on the throne of Truth doth sit;
But true hearts a'—gae work awa'—
    We'll mak' the Warld better yet!

Though Superstition, hand in hand,
    Wi' Prejudice—that gruesome hag—
Gangs linkin' still; though Misers wake
    Their heaven o' a siller bag:
Though Ignorance, wi' bloody hand,
    Is tryin' Slavery's bonds to knit—
Put knee to knee, ye bold an' free,
    We'll mak' the Warld better yet!

See yonder cooff wha becks an' bows
    To yonder fool wha's ca'd a lord:
See yonder gowd-bedizzen'd wight—
    Yon fopling a' the bloodless sword.
Baith slave, an' lord, an' soldier too,
    Maun honest grow, or quickly flit
For freemen a' baith grit an' sma',—
    We'll mak' the Warld better yet !

Yon dreamer tells us o' a land
    He frae his airy brain hath made—
A land where Truth and Honesty
    Have crushed the serpent Falsehood's head.
But by the names o' Love and Joy,
    An' Common-sense, and Lear an' Wit,
Put back to back,—and in a crack
    We'll mak' our Warld better yet!

The Knaves and Fools may rage and storm,
    The growling Bigot may deride—
The trembling Slave away may rin,
    And in his Tyrant's dungeon hide:
But Free and Bold, and True and Good,
    Unto this oath their seal have set
"Frae pole to pole we'll free ilk soul,—
    The Warld shall be better yet!"


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THE HERO.


My hero is na deck'd wi' gowd—
    He has nae glittering state;
Renown upon a field o' blood
    In war he hasna met!
He has nae siller in his pouch,
    Nae menials at his ca';
The proud o' earth frae him would turn,
    And bid him stand awa'!

His coat is hame-spun hodden-grey—
    His shoon are clouted sair—
His garments, maist unhero-like,
    Are a' the waur o' wear:
His limbs are strong—his shoulders broad—
    His hands were made to plough;
He's rough without, but sound within—
    His heart is bauldly true!

He toils at e'en, he toils at morn—
    His wark is never through;
A coming life o' weary toil
    Is ever in his view!
But on he trudges, keeping aye
    A stout heart to the brae,—
And proud to be an honest man
    Until his dying day.

His hame a hame o' happiness
    And kindly love may be;
And monie a nameless dwelling-place
    Like his we still may see.
His happy altar-hearth so bright
    Is ever bleezing there;
And cheerfu' faces round it set
    Are an unending prayer!

The poor man in his humble hame,
    Like God, who dwells aboon,
Makes happy hearts around him there—
    Sae joyfu' late and soon!
His toil is sair, his toil is lang;
    But weary nights and days,
Hame—happiness akin to his—
    A hunder-fauld repays!

Go, mock at conquerors and kings!
    What happiness give they?
Go, tell the painted butterflies
    To kneel them down and pray!
Go, stand erect in manhood's pride—
    Be what a man should be—
Then come, and to my hero bend
    Upon the grass your knee!


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OUR KING.


We ha'e great folk—what for no?—
    In our Lowland clachan;
Our tailor's an anointed King—
    We carena for your laughin'.
Kings rare do guid,—but he's done some;
    And for the rest, I'm thinking—
To tell the truth and shame the deil—
    There's nae king like our ain King!

He has nae power to head or hang—
    'Mang tyrants ne'er was rankit;
Deil ane o' soldier kind has he—
    For that the Lord be thankit!
Nae courtiers bend around his knees,
    Wha fast to Nick are sinking,
Wi' rotten hearts and leein' tongues—
    There's nae king like our ain King!

The cash he spends is a' his ain,
    He taks nae poor man's siller;
Ae douce gudewife's enough for him,—
    He's kind and couthie till her.
The deil a penny debt has he—
    Nor scarlet madams blinking—
He ne'er was by that slavery cursed—
    There's nae king like our ain King!

Frae bloody wars and ill-faur'd strife
    His kingdom aye reposes,
Except when whiles the weans fa' out,
    And make some bloody noses.
And syne the tailor taks his taws
    And paiks them round like winking;
Our King redeems the bloody pack—
    There's nae king like our ain King!

His palace-roof is made o' strae—
    His crown is a blue bannet;
His sceptre is a pair o' sheers—
    His queen is christen'd Janet.
He's nae oppressor—tears o' wae
    He ne'er delights in drinking;
The first o' honest kings is he—
    There's nae king like our ain King!


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THE PUIR FOLK.

SONG.


SOME grow fu' proud o'er bags o' gowd,
    And some are proud o' learning:
An honest poor man's worthy name
    I take delight in earning.
Slaves needna try to rin us down—
    To knaves we're unco dour folk;
We're aften wrang'd, but, deil may care!
    We're honest folk, though puir folk!

Wi' Wallace wight we fought fu' weel,
    When lairds and lords were jinking;
They knelt before the tyrant loon—
    We brak his crown, I'm thinking.
The muckle men he bought wi' gowd—
    Syne he began to jeer folk;
But neither swords, nor gowd, nor guile,
    Could turn the sturdy puir folk!

When auld King Charlie tried to bind
    Wi' airn, saul and conscience,
In virtue o' his right divine,
    An' ither daft-like nonsense;
Wha raised at Marston such a stour,
    And made the tyrants fear folk?
Wha prayed and fought wi' Pym and Noll?
    The trusty, truthfu' puir folk!

Wha ance upon auld Scotland's hills
    Were hunted like the paitrick,
And hack'd wi' swords, and shot wi' guns,
    Frae Tummel's bank to Ettrick,—
Because they wou'dna let the priest
    About their conscience steer folk?
The lairds were bloodhounds to the clan—
    The martyrs were the puir folk!

When Boston boys at Bunker's hill
    Gart slavery's minions falter;
While ilka hearth in a' the bay
    Was made fair freedom's altar;
Wha fought the fight, and gained the day?
    Gae wa', ye knaves! 'twas our folk:
The beaten great men served a king—
    The victors a' were puir folk!

We sow the corn and hand the plough—
    We a' work for our living;
We gather nought but what we've sown—
    A' else we reckon thieving:—
And for the loon wha fears to say
    He comes o' lowly, sma' folk,
A wizen'd saul the creature has—
    Disown him will the puir folk!

Great sirs, and mighty men o' earth,
    Ye aften sair misca' us;
And hunger, cauld, and poverty
    Come after ye to thraw us.
Yet up our hearts we strive to heeze,
    In spite o' you and your folk;
But mind, enough's as guid's a feast,
    Although we be but puir folk!

We thank the Powers for guid and ill,
    As gratefu' folk should do, man;
But maist o' a' because our sires
    Were tailors, smiths, and ploughmen.
Good men they were, as staunch as steel—
    They didna wrack and screw folk:
Wi' empty pouches—honest hearts—
    Thank God, we come o' puir folk!


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THE BURSTING OF THE CHAIN,

AN ANTHEM FOR THE THIRD CENTENARY OF THE REFORMATION.
 
(Inscribed to the Reverend H, Clarke.)


AN offering to the shrine of Power
    Our hands shall never bring—
A garland on the car of Pomp
    Our hands shall never fling—
Applauding in the Conqueror's path
    Our voices ne'er shall be;
But we have hearts to honour those
    Who bade the world go free!

Stern Ignorance man's soul had bound
    In fetters rusted o'er
With tears—with scalding human tears—
    And red with human gore;
But men arose—the MEN to whom
    We bend the freeman's knee—
Who, God-encouraged, burst the chain,
    And made our fathers free!

Light dwelt where darkness erst had been—
    The morn of mind arose—
The dawning of that day of love
    Which never more shall close;
Joy grew more joyful, and more green
    The valley and the lea,—
The glorious sun from heaven look'd down,
    And smiled upon the free!

Truth came, and made its home below;
    And universal love,
And brotherhood, and peace, and joy,
    Are following from above:
And happy ages on the earth
    Humanity shall see;
And happy lips shall bless their names
    Who made our children free!

Praise to the good—the pure—the great—
    Who made us what we are!
Who lit the flame which yet shall glow
    With radiance brighter far:—
Glory to them in coming time,
    And through eternity!
They burst the captive's galling chain,
    And bade the world go free!


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WE ARE FREE.


LIKE lightning's flash,
    Upon the foe
We burst, and laid
    Their glories low!
Like mountain–floods
    We on them came—
Like withering blast
    Of scorching flame,
Like hurricane
    Upon the sea,—
Shout—shout again—
    Shout, WE ARE FREE!

We struck for God—
    We struck for life—
We struck for sire—
    We struck for wife—
We struck for home—
    We struck for all
That man doth lose
    By bearing thrall!
We struck 'gainst chains,
    For liberty!
Now, for our pains,
    Shout, WE ARE FREE!

Give to the slain
    A sigh—a tear;—
A curse to those
    Who spoke of fear!
Then eat your bread
    In peace; for now
The tyrant's pride
    Is lying low!
His strength is broken—
    His minions flee—
The VOICE hath spoken—
    Shout, WE ARE FREE!


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ENDURANCE.


IF you have borne the bitter taunts
    Which proud, poor men must bear:
If you have felt the upstart's sneer
    Your heart like iron sear;
If you have heard yourself belied,
    Nor answer'd word nor blow;
You have endured as I have done—
    And poverty you know!

If you have heard old Mammon's laugh,
    And borne of wealth the frown;
If you have felt your very soul
    Destroyed and casten down,—
And been compelled to bear it all
    For sake of daily bread—
Then have you suffered what is laid
    Upon the poor man's head!

If you have seen your children starved,
    And wish'd to bow and die,
Crush'd by a load of bitterness,
    Scorn, and contumely;
If misery has gnaw'd your soul
    Until its food grew pain—
Then you have shed the bloody tears
    That cheeks of poor men stain!

There is a Book,—and hypocrites
    Say they believe it true,—
Which tells us men are equal all!
    Do they believe and do?
No, vampires!   Christ they crucify
    In men of low degree:
Could souls decay—the poor man's soul
    A mortal thing would be!


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A BACCHANALIAN.


THEY make their feasts, and fill their cups—
    They drink the rosy wine—
They seek for pleasure in the bowl:—
    Their search is not like mine.
From misery I freedom seek—
    I crave relief from pain;
From hunger, poverty, and cold—
    I'll go get drunk again!

The wind doth through my garments run—
    I'm naked to the blast;
Two days have fluttered o'er my head
    Since last I broke my fast.
But I'll go drink, and straightway clad
    In purple I shall be;
And I shall feast at tables spread
    With rich men's luxury!

My wife is naked,—and she begs
    Her bread from door to door;
She sleeps on clay each night beside
    Her hungry children four!
She drinks—I drink: for why? it drives
    All poverty away;
And starving babies grow again
    Like happy children gay!

In broad-cloth clad, with belly full,
    A sermon you can preach;
But hunger, cold, and nakedness,
    Another song would teach.
I'm bad and vile—what matters that
    To outcasts such as we?
Bread is denied—come, wife, we'll drink,
    Again, and happy be!


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THE POOR MAN'S DEATH-BED.


THE winter floods frae bank to brae
    Gaed roaring to the sea,
When a weary man of toil cam' hame,
    And laid him down to dee.
And lowly was his bed of strae,
    And humble was his fare;
But high and strong his honest heart—
    Nor wish'd he to ha'e mair!

His bonnie bairns, sae fair and young,
    Around his bed they sat,
And their wae mither held his head,
    And lang and sair she grat.
"Why greet ye, wife?" said that poor man—
    "Why greet ye, bairns, for me?
If frae this toilsome world I win,
    Rejoicing ye should be.

"I've kept a house aboon my head
    This thirty years and mair,
And tried to hand the honest way
    By toils and struggles sair.
And God look'd down, and God did see
    The waes the poor maun dree,
And sent an angel frae aboon
    To come and ca' for me!

"O greet na, wife, though lang we've been
    As twa fond hearts should be;
For though I gang to heaven first,
    You soon will follow me.
And God, who minds the lintie young,
    And gars the lily grow,
Will care for you and our wee bairns,
    And gi'e ye love enow.

"Lang toil is coming on my bairns—
    Toil sair and sad, like mine;
But keep a high and sturdy heart;
    And never weakly pine.
Your father had an honest name,
    And be yo honest too;
What's fause ne'er say for living man—
    What's evil dinna do!

"My toil, and cauld, and hunger sair,
    Are well nigh past and done;
Your toil, and cauld, and hunger, dears,
    Are barely yet begun.
But live like brothers, lovingly,
    And honest-hearted dee;
And syne, where I am gaun to dwell.
    My bairns will come to me.

"The blast blaws chill—I'm waxing faint—
    And when I'm ta'en awa',
Be to your mother, comforts, hopes,
    And joys and loves an' a';
Your father's dying counsels from
    Your bosoms never tine;
And if you live as he has lived,
    Your deaths will be like mine!”

The pious poor man sleeps at length,
    Where pains and toils are o'er;
The bitter wind—the hunger-fiend—
    Can torture him no more.
That land hath something to amend,
    And much to prize and bless,
Where poor men suffer and endure,
    Whose death-beds are like this.


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THE CAIRN.


No chieftain of the olden time
    Beneath this cairn doth lie,
And yet it hath a legend sad—
    A fireside tragedy.

A Highland mother and her child,
    Upon a winter day,
Went forth to beg their needful food
    A long and weary way!

The bitter wind blew stormily,
    And frozen was each rill;
And all the glens with drifted snow
    Were filled from hill to hill!

The day went past, the night came down,
    And in her hut was mourning,
And sad, young eyes look'd from the door—
    But she was not returning.

"And where is she?” her children said:
    "Why lingers she away?"
The snow-storm's howl did answer make
    Upon the muirland grey!

They sought her east—they sought her west—
    They sought her everywhere;
They search'd the folds and shielings lone
    Among the hills so bare.

The Highland mother was not found,
    Nor yet her fair-hair'd child:
And superstition whisper'd low,
    Of spirits in the wild!

The breath of spring came on the hills,
    And dyed their mantle blue;
And greenness came upon the grass,
    And scarlet heath-flowers too!

The shepherds wandering o'er the hills,
    And in this valley wild,
Calm, as in softest sleep, they found
    The mother and her child!

There lay the babe upon the breast
    That had the infant nurs'd;
A mother's love that bosom fill'd
    When death that bosom burst.

The daisies sweet, and lone, and pure,
    Were growing round the pair;
And shepherds o'er the victims rear'd
    This mossy cairn there!

A humble tale and unadorn'd,
    It is of humble woe;
But he who heeds not such may turn,
    And, if it likes him, go!


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I DARE NOT SCORN.


I MAY not scorn the meanest thing
    That on the earth doth crawl,—
The slave who dares not burst his chain,
    The tyrant in his hall.

The vile oppressor who hath made
    The widow'd mother mourn,
Though worthless, soulless, he may stand—
    I cannot, dare not scorn.

The darkest night that shrouds the sky
    Of beauty hath a share;
The blackest heart hath signs to tell
    That God still lingers there.

I pity all that evil are—
    I pity and I mourn;
But the Supreme hath fashion'd all,
    And, O!   I dare not scorn.


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THE PEOPLE'S ANTHEM.


LORD, from thy blessed throne,
Sorrow look down upon!
            God save the poor!
Teach them true liberty—
Make them from tyrants free—
Let their homes happy be!
            God save the poor!

The arms of wicked men
Do Thou with might restrain—
            God save the poor!
Raise Thou their lowliness—
Succour Thou their distress—
Thou whom the meanest bless!
            God save the poor!

Give them stanch honesty—
Let their pride manly be—
            God save the poor!
Help them to hold the right;
Give them both truth and might,
Lord of all life and light
            God save the poor!


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THE QUESTIONER.

A CHANT.


I ASK not for his lineage,
    I ask not for his name—
If manliness be in his heart,
    He noble birth may claim.
I care not though of world's wealth
    But slender be his part,
If yes you answer, when I ask—
    Hath he a true man's heart?

I ask not from what land he came,
    Nor where his youth was nurs'd—
If pure the stream, it matters not
    The spot from whence it burst.
The palace or the hovel,
    Where first his life began,
I seek not of; but answer this—
    Is he an honest man?

Nay, blush not now—what matters it
    Where first he drew his breath?
A manger was the cradle-bed
    Of Him of Nazareth!
Be nought, be any, everything—
    I care not what you be—
If yes you answer, when I ask—
    Art thou pure, true, and free?


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PART FOURTH
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POEMS, SERIOUS AND PATHETIC.
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THOUGHTS OF HEAVEN.


HIGH thoughts!
    They come and go,
        Like the soft breathings of a list'ning maiden,
    While round me flow
        The winds, from woods and fields with gladness laden;
When the corn's rustle on the ear doth come—
When the eve's beetle sounds its drowsy hum—
When the stars, dew-drops of the summer sky,
Watch over all with soft and loving eye—
                          While the leaves quiver
                          By the lone river,
                              And the quiet heart
                                      From depths doth call
                                      And garners all—
                              Earth grows a shadow
                                      Forgotten whole,
                              And heaven lives
                                      In the blessed soul!

High thoughts!
    They are with me
        When, deep within the bosom of the forest,
    Thy morning melody
        Abroad into the sky, thou, throstle! pourest,
When the young sunbeams glance among the trees—
When on the ear comes the soft song of bees—
When every branch has its own favourite bird
And songs of summer, from each thicket heard!—
                          Where the owl flitteth,
                          Where the roe sitteth,
                              And holiness
                                      Seems sleeping there;
                                      While nature's prayer
                              Goes up to heaven
                                      In purity,
                              Till all is glory
                                      And joy to me!

High thoughts!
    They are my own
        When I am resting on a mountain's bosom,
    And see below me strown
        The huts and homes where humble virtues blossom
When I can trace each streamlet through the meadow,
When I can follow every fitful shadow—
When I can watch the winds among the corn,
And see the waves along the forest borne;
                          Where blue-bell and heather
                          Are blooming together,
                              And far doth come
                                      The Sabbath bell,
                                      O'er wood and fell;
                          I hear the beating
                                      Of nature's heart:
                          Heaven is before me—
                                      God!   Thou art!

High thoughts!
    They visit us
        In moments when the soul is dim and darken'd;
    They come to bless,
        After the vanities to which we hearken'd:
When weariness hath come upon the spirit—
(Those hours of darkness which we all inherit)—
Bursts there not through a glint of warm sunshine,
A winged thought which bids us not repine?
                          In joy and gladness,
                          In mirth and sadness,
                              Come signs and tokens;
                                      Life's angel brings,
                                      Upon its wings,
                              Those bright communings
                                      The soul doth keep—
                              Those thoughts of heaven
                                      So pure and deep!


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AROUSE THEE, SOUL!


                        AROUSE thee, Soul!
            God made not thee to sleep
Thy hour of earth, in doing nought-away;
           He gave thee power to keep.
O! use it for His glory, while you may.
                      Arouse thee, Soul!

                      Arouse thee, Soul!
           O! there is much to do
For thee, if thou wouldst work for human kind—
           The misty future through
A greatness looms—'tis mind, awaken'd mind!
                      Arouse thee, Soul!

                      Arouse thee, Soul!
           Shake off thy sluggishness,
As shakes the lark the dew-drop from its wing;
           Make but one error less,—
One truth—thine offering to mind's altar bring!
                      Arouse thee, Soul!

                      Arouse thee, Soul!
           Be what thou surely art,
An emanation from the Deity,—
           A flutter of that heart
Which fills all nature, sea, and earth, and sky.
                    Arouse thee, Soul!

                      Arouse thee, Soul!
           And let the body do
Some worthy deed of human happiness
           To join, when life is through,
Unto thy name, that angels both may bless!
                      Arouse thee, Soul!

                      Arouse thee, Soul!
           Leave nothings of the earth;
And, if the body be not strong, to dare
           To blessed thoughts give birth,
High as yon heaven, pure as heaven's air:
                      Arouse thee, Soul!

                      Arouse thee, Soul!
           Or sleep for evermore,
And be what all nonentities have been,—
           Crawl on till life is o'er:
If to be aught but this thou e'er dost mean,
                      Arouse thee, Soul!


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VISIONS.


"MY hand is strong, my heart is bold,
    My purpose stern," I said;
"And shall I rest till I have wreath'd
    Fame's garland round my head?
No! men shall point to me, and say,
    ' See what the bold can do!'"
"You dream!" a chilling whisper said;
    And quick the vision flew.

"Yes, I will gain," I musing thought,
    "Power, pomp, and potency;
Whate'er the proudest may have been,
    That straightway will I be.
I'll write my name on human hearts
    So deep, 't will ne'er decay!"
"You dream!" and as the whisper spoke,
    My vision fled away.

"I'm poor," I said; "but I will toil
    And gather store of gold;
And in my purse the fate of kings
    And nations I will hold:
I'll follow fortune, till my path
    With wealth untold she strew!"
Again, "You dream!" the whisper said,
    And straight my vision flew.

"I'll breathe to men," I proudly thought,
    "A strain of poesy,
Like the angelic songs of old,
    In fire and energy.
My thoughts the thoughts of many lands,
    Of many men shall grow;"
"You dream!" the whisper, scorning, said—
    I dared not answer, No.

If I can gain nor name nor power,
    Nor gold, by high emprize,
Bread to the hungry I will give,
    And dry the orphan's eyes:
Through me the sun of joy shall find
    Its way to sorrow's door:
"The wildest dream of all," then said
    The whisper—"You are poor!"

"I'm poor, unheeded; but I'll be
    An honest man," I said;
"Truth I shall worship, yea, and feel
    For all whom God hath made:—
The poor and honest man can stand,
    With an unblenching brow,
Before earth's highest,—such I'll be:—
    The whisper spoke not now!


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THE HERD LASSIE.


I'm fatherless and motherless,
    There's nane on earth to care for me;
And sair and meikle are the waes
    That in the warld I maun dree.
For I maun work a stranger's wark,
    And sit beside a stranger's fire;
And cauld and hunger I maun thole
    From day to day, and never tire!

And I maun herd frae morn to e'en,
    Though sleety rain upon me fa';
And never murmur or complein—
    And be at ilka body's ca'.
I needna deck my gowden hair,
    Nor make mysel' so fair to see;
For I'm an orphan lassie poor—
    And wha would look or care for me?

The lave ha'e mothers good and kind,
    And joyfu' is ilk daughter's heart;
The lave ha'e brothers stieve and strang,
    To haud ilk loving sister's part.
But I'm a poor man's orphan bairn,
    And to the ground I laigh maun bow;
And were it nae a sinfu' wish,
    O, I could wish the world through!

The caller simmer morning brings
    Some joy to this wae heart o' mine;
But I the joy of life would leave,
    If I could wi' it sorrow tine.
My mother said, in Heaven's bliss
    E’en puir herd lassies had a share:
I wish I were where mother is—
    Her orphan then would greet nae mair!


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I AM BLIND.


THE woodland!   O! how beautiful,
    How pleasant it must be!
How soft its grass—how fresh the leaves
    Upon each forest tree!
I hear its wild rejoicing birds
    Their songs of gladness sing;
To see them leap from bough to bough
    Must be a pleasant thing:
I must but image it in mind,
    I cannot see it—I am blind!

I feel the fragrance of the flowers,—
    Go, pull me one, I pray:
The leaves are green upon its stalk—
    'Tis richly red you say?
O! it must full of beauty be—
    It hath a pleasant smell;
Could I but see its loveliness
    My heart with joy would swell!
I can but image it in mind—
    I ne'er shall see it—I am blind!

The trees are glorious green, you say—
    Their branches widely spread;
And Nature on their budding leaves
    Its nursing dew hath shed.
They must be fair; but what is green?
    What is a spreading tree?
What is a shady woodland walk?
    Say, canst thou answer me?
No! I may image them in mind—
    But cannot know them—I am blind!

The songsters that so sweetly chant
    Within the sky so fair,
Until my heart with joy doth leap,
    As it a wild bird were—
How seem they to the light-bless'd eye?
    What! are they then so small?
Can sounds of such surprising joy
    From things so tiny fall?
I must but image them in mind—
    I cannot see them—I am blind!

A something warm comes o'er my hand:
    What is it? pray thee tell:
Sunlight come down among the trees,
    Into this narrow dell ?
Thou seest the sunlight and the sun,
    And both are very bright,
'Tis well they are not known to me,
    Or I might loathe my night:
But I may image them in mind—
    I ne'er shall see them—I am blind!

My hand is resting on your cheek—
    'Tis soft as fleecy snow:
My sister, art thou very fair?
    That thou art good, I know.
Thou art—thou art!  I feel the blush
    Along thy neck doth wend!
Thou must be fair—so carefully
    Thy brother thou dost tend!
But I must image thee in mind—
    I cannot see thee—I am blind!

The changes of the earth and sky—
    All Nature's glow and gloom—
Must ever be unknown to me—
    My soul is in a tomb!
O!   I can feel the blessed sun,
    Mirth, music, tears that fall,
And darkness sad, and joy, and woe,—
    Yea, Nature's movements all:
But I must image them in mind—
    I cannot see them—I AM BLIND !


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WILD FLOWERS.


BEAUTIFUL children of the woods and fields!
    That bloom by mountain streamlets 'mid the heather,
    Or into clusters, 'neath the hazels, gather,—
Or where by hoary rocks you make your bields,
    And sweetly flourish on through summer weather—

I love ye all!


Beautiful flowers! to me ye fresher seem
    From the Almighty hand that fashion'd all,
    Than those that flourish by a garden-wall;
And I can image you, as in a dream,
    Fair, modest maidens, nursed in hamlets small:—

I love ye all!


Beautiful gems ! that on the brow of earth
    Are fix'd, as in a queenly diadem;
    Though lowly ye, and most without a name,
Young hearts rejoice to see your buds come forth,
    As light erewhile into the world came,—

I love ye all!


Beautiful things ye are, where'er yo grow!
    The wild red rose—the speedwell's peeping eyes—
    Our own bluebell—the daisy, that doth rise
Wherever sunbeams fall or winds do blow;
    And thousands more, of blessed forms and dyes,—

I love ye all!


Beautiful nurslings of the early dew!
    Fann'd in your loveliness, by every breeze,
    And shaded o'er by green and arching trees:
I often wish that I were one of you,
    Dwelling afar upon the grassy leas,—

I love ye all!


Beautiful watchers! day and night ye wake!
    The evening star grows dim and fades away,
    And morning comes and goes, and then the day
Within the arms of night its rest doth take;
    But ye are watchful wheresoe'er we stray,—

I love ye all!


Beautiful objects of the wild-bee's love!
    The wild-bird joys your opening bloom to see,
    And in your native woods and wilds to be.
All hearts, to nature true, ye strangely move;
    Ye are so passing fair—so passing free,—

I love ye all!


Beautiful children of the glen and dell—
    The dingle deep—the moorland stretching wide,
    And of the mossy fountain's sedgy side!
Ye o'er my heart have thrown a lovesome spell;
    And, though the worldling, scorning, may deride—

I love ye all!


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THE ANEMONE.


WHEN autumn winds blaw cauld and chill,
    Why droop ye flowerie, sae?
Why leave us for your winter cell,
    Sweet, wild Anemone?

Dost think our hearts refuse to prize
    The things we see alway?
To see thee is to love thee well,
    Sweet, wild Anemone!

Why need ye fear the bitter wind
    That through the woods doth gae?
Its heart is cold, but thee 'twould spare,
    Sweet, wild Anemone!

A fit ensample then mightst take
    The hopping robin frae—
The emblem pure of constancy,
    Sweet, wild Anemone!

If winter fields be cauld and bare—
    If winter skies be blae—
The mair we need thy bonny face,
    Sweet, wild Anemone!

But so it is; and when away
    For dreary months you be,
The joy of meeting pays for all,
    Sweet, wild Anemone!


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TIME'S CHANGES.


LIKE mist upon the lea,
    And like night upon the plain,
Auld age comes o'er the heart
    Wi' dolour and wi' pain,
Blithe youth is like a smile,
    Sae mirthfu' and sae brief;
Syne wrinkles on the cheek
    Come like frost upon the leaf.

O! were I young again,
    Were my heart as glad and free,
And were my foot as firm
    As it was wont to be,—
I would in youth rejoice
    Mair than I yet ha'e done:
'Tis a happy, happy time,
    But it passes unco soon.

Frae a distant stranger land
    I came to sit again
In the hame that shelter'd me
    Ere I sail'd across the main:
But its wa's were lying low,
    And the bonnie tree that grew
By that couthie hamestead's door,
    Like mysel', was wither'd now.

I sought my youthfu' friend,—
    His heart was deadly cauld;
He had lost the gamesome glee
    O' the merry days of auld.
He took my offer'd hand,
    But he scarcely rais'd his e'e;
And a chill came o'er my heart—
    There was nae place there for me.

I sought a maiden's hame
    Whom I had loved in youth;
But nae maiden now was there—
    She had slighted love and truth:
I fand her wi' the bairn
    Of anither on her knee;
And I turn'd and cam' awa'
    Wi a tear-drap in my e'e.

When my brother's ha' I sought—
    Wha had sleepit on my breast
When we baith were bairnies young—
    I found he was at rest:
And my sisters, dearly loved,
    Were awa' amang the lave,
Aneath the chilly mools
    In a cauld but peacefu' grave.

I sought the broomy howes,
    Where I was wont to gang
When the flowers were buskit a'—
    When the summer days were lang:
But as I sat me down
    Beside the water-fa',
A shadow as of age
    Grew dark upon them a'.

A spreading tree was there,
    Which I in youth had set
Beside the gowany green,
    Where the neebor bairns met.
There were bees on ilka bud,
    And birds on ilka spray,
And its leafy head was green,
    While mine was frosted grey.

The burnie blithely ran,
    And the lintie lilted sweet—
The laverock was on hie;
    But, mourning, I did greet:
For I fand I couldna lo'e
    What I Wed a mirthfu' boy;
As the heart that dwells in pain
    Grows without a wish for joy.

It wasna like the time
    When, singing, I ha'e run
Where the bluebell and the breckan
    Lay beeking in the sun;
Or, to catch the glancing trout,
    Ha'e waded in the burn,
While my blue-e'ed neebor lassie
    My father's kye would turn.

I thought the hills were changed—
    The brown and bonnie hills;
And the woods sae fu' o' sang,
    And the wimplin' mountain rills:
But nae years could alter them,
    Sae the thought was vanitie;
And my bosom whisper'd laigh,
    "The change is a' in thee."

I sought the nameless grave
    Where my mother's banes did lie—
Where the lips that pray'd for me
    Were dust and ashes dry:
I thought that kirkyard mould
    Might on me pity take;
But the very grave was gane—
    O! my heart is like to break.

And I am sitting now
    Upon the kirkyard wa',
And gloamin's ghostly veil
    Upon the earth doth fa'.
The cloud o' night is mirk;
    But there's darker gloom on me—
The gloom o' friendless hearts:
    For tears I canna see.

My auld eon winna greet,
    When their day o' life is past;
For the wishes o' my heart
    Are ayont the world cast:
My feet are in the grave,
    And I'm sinking slowly down;
And the grass will shortly grow
    My weary head aboon.

O, were that moment come!
    O, were that moment gane!
O, were the spirit flown
    Frae this mortal flesh and bane!
Were my coffin in the yird,
    And my soul to God awa',
I, worshipping, would say,
    "May thou be bless'd for a'!"


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THE FORSAKEN.


THE rowing waves, the ocean tides,
    Are changefu' baith at e'en and morn,—
Like sunshine and its following shade
    Upon the dew-wet, yellow corn;
The burn sings saftly o'er the lea,
    Where ance it like a torrent ran;
But a' are steadfastness itsel'
    When liken'd to the heart o' man.

Ane sought my love, when in my teens,
    A thoughtless lassie, I was gay;
A trusted, as a woman trusts,
    And made his love my bosom's stay;
And when, to gather gowd, he gaed
    To some far land ayont the main,
I lang'd at e'en, I lang'd at morn,
    To see my loved one back again.

I ne'er gaed near the youngsters' dance;
    But, when the light o' day grew dim,
I sought the broomy trysting knowe,
    Where quietness dwelt, to think on him,
Years cam' an gaed; but hame to me
    He hied na, as he should ha'e done:
But, O! I ne'er mistrusted him—
    His name I cherish'd late an' soon.

My father and my mother baith
    Were laid aneath the cauldrife yird,
And I was left alane, alane,
    A mourning and a mateless bird.
He came at length,—and O! my heart
    Was glad as heart can ever be,—
He came wi' a' his treasured love,
    He came to gi'e it a' to me.

I heard his foot on my door-stane—
    He stood upon my lanely floor—
I gazed upon the manly form
    That did my lassie's heart allure;
And bitter thoughts came in my breast:
    For pride was dancing in the e'e
Whence love should ha'e been smiling sweet
    To bless, and glad, and comfort me.

I saw his glance o' meikle scorn
    Upon my lanely maiden hame;
And O! I thought my heart wad break
    Where laigh I murmur'd forth his name.
He gazed upon my alter'd form,—
    I kent what in his e'e did gleam:—
He thought na, in his cruelty,
    The change was wrought by waiting him.

He cauldly spake o' youthfu' days;
    And o' his plighted faith spake he;
And syne I scorn'd the world's slave,
    And proudly told him he was free.
He turn'd him wi' a mocking smile,
    And offer'd gowd and offer'd gear:
And then I sought in vain to dee,—
    For this I cou'dna, cou'dna bear.

Truth, love, and woman's faith, in youth,
    A dwellin' place had biggit me,—
A hame where joy upon my heart
    Had blinkit sunshine wondrouslie;
But falsehood came, and to the earth
    That palace o' the soul did fa':
For woman's trustin' faith was gane,
    And truth and love were far awa'.

I bared my breast beneath a ray
    Sent frae love's bonnie simmer sun;
But, ere I wist, cauld winter cam',
    And hope and joy gaed one by one.
I maybe loved a thing o' earth
    O'er weel, and heaven burst the chain;
I ken na; but my heart is sair,
    And age is comin' cauld and lane!


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A THOUGHT.


YON sail on the horizon's verge
    Doth like a wandering spirit seem,—
A shadow in a sea of light—
    The passing of a dream.

A moment more and it is gone!
    We know not how—we know not where;
It came—an instant stayed—and then
    It vanish'd into air.

Such are we all: we sail awhile
    In joy, on life's fair summer sea;
A moment—and our bark is gone
    Into eternity.


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THE THOUGHT SPIRIT.


WHENCE comest thou?
                                             Far, far away,
I have chased the shadows of morning grey;
Up through the mists where the stars are shining,
Like the blest, in their homes of light reclining—
Away through the wilds of immensity,
Where man is afar, and where God is nigh,
I have looked at the things which thou shalt see
When the earth-bound spirit is soaring free!

Whence comest thou?
                                             I have wandered far,
Where the graves of the patriot martyrs are:
I have knelt 'mid the leaves of the forest-land—
By the graves of the pilgrim fathers' band;
Within their forests, beneath their trees,
I have breath'd a prayer to the midnight breeze—
A prayer for a heart of the mighty and free,
Whose lives were a gospel of liberty!

Whence comest thou?
                                             I have wandered free,
With the fearless bark, o'er the cold north sea;
I have swung in the hammock and heard the tale,
And followed the ship through storm and gale,
Till I sank in the wave where the tempest sweeps,
Then I turned to the home where the mother weeps—
Where the wife and the orphan sigh and mourn
For the brave and the bold who will ne'er return!

Whence comest thou?
                                             'Neath a tropic sky,
I have laid me down a sweet streamlet nigh;
And that sunny land was so sweet and fair,
That I longed to recline for ever there;
But man came near; and his soul was dark,
God's image defiled with the tyrant's mark—
The sterile land is the land for me,
If man is mighty, and thought be free!


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FOREST MUSINGS.


THE green leaves waving in the morning gale—
    The little birds that 'mid their freshness sing—
The wild-wood flowers so tender-ey'd and pale—
    The wood-mouse sitting by the forest spring—
The morning dew—the wild bee's woodland hum,
All woo my feet to Nature's forest home.

'Tis beautiful, from some tall craggy peak
    To watch the setting of the blessed sun—
To mark his light grow weaker, and more weak,
    Till earth and sky be hid in twilight dun:
'Tis beautiful to watch the earliest ray,
That sparkling comes across the ocean gray.

But, O! more beautiful—more passing sweet
    It is to wander in an hour like this—
Where twisted branches overhead do meet,
    And gentle airs the bursting buds do kiss—
Where forest paths, and glades, and thickets green,
Make up, of flowers and leaves, a world serene.

To the pure heart, 'tis happiness to mark
    The tree-tops waving in the warm sunshine—
To hear thy song, thou cloud-embosom'd lark,
    Like that of some fair spirit all divine—
To lie upon the forest's velvet grass,
And watch the fearful deer in distance pass.

O! gloriously beautiful is earth!—
    The desert wild, the mountains old and hoar,
The craggy steep, upthrown at Nature's birth,
    The sweeping ocean wave, the pebbled shore,
Have much of beauty all; but none to me
Is like the spot where stands the forest-tree.

There I can muse, away from living men,
    Reclining peacefully on nature's breast,—
The woodbird sending up its God-ward strain,
    Nursing the spirit into holy rest!
Alone with God, within his forest fane,
The soul can feel that all save Him is vain.

Here it can learn—will learn—to love all things
    That he hath made—to pity and forgive
All faults, all failings.   Here the heart's deep springs
    Are open'd up, and all on earth who live
To me grow nearer, dearer than before—
My brother loving I my God adore.

A deep mysterious sympathy doth bind
    The human heart to Nature's beauties all;
We know not, guess not, of its force or kind;
    But that it is we know.   When ill doth fall
Upon us—when our hearts are sear'd and riven—
We'll seek the forest land for peace and heaven.


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