Miscellaneous Poems (1)
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THE COMING OF THE MAY.
 

ALL Nature seems to feel the power—
    The gracious influence of the time;
The quickening sun, the fostering shower
    Of the returning prime;
The tranquil and the lessening night,
    The genial and the lengthening day,
Which move us with a new delight,
    And speak of coming May.

Trees burge on into leafy grace;
    The hedge-rows wear a vernal fleece;
The brooklets leave a greener trace
    Along their paths of peace:
A flower-light dawns upon the leas;
    The woodland nooks grow sweetly gay;
And whispers every passing breeze,
    The coming of the May.

A voyager the clouds among,
    That sail athwart the ethereal sea,—
The lark pours forth his joyous song
    Of rich melodious glee:
The throstle in the forest dell
    Begins to chant his changeful lay;
And other voices soon will swell
    The music of the May.

Awhile, and the clear country air
    A thousand odours will diffuse;
And cultured gardens, here and there,
    Kindle with dazzling hues;
The meads will gleam with floral gold,
    With silver every hawthorn spray;
And children's eyes with joy behold
    The blooming of the May.

Young children—oh! how like they are
    To this enchanting month of flowers,
When through her realm they wander far,
    To spend their playful hours:
With shout and laughter on they speed
    Through pleasant field and woodland way;
And health and pleasure are their meed
    Beneath the smile of May.

And should not toiling man rejoice
    For every good the seasons bring,
Responsive to each gladsome voice
    That wakens with the Spring?
Let his soul open, and be calm,
    So that it may let in the day,
The bloom, the beauty, and the balm,
    The blessing of the May.

And while we love the glorious skies,
    The gifts and grandeurs of the sod,
Let the heart's hidden incense rise
    Unto the Giver—GOD!
May we so live a life of prayer,—
    The prayer of virtuous deeds,—alway,
That we may breathe the holier air
    Of Heaven's eternal May.

 

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THE SAVING ANGEL.

 

      How fair is England in her lofty state!
Great in her conquests, in her commerce great,
Great in her science and industrial arts,
Strong in her ready hands and willing hearts;
Rich in her means of fructifying good,
Prompt in each purpose rightly understood;
Fair, wise, magnificent, and mighty she,
And bearing the proud title "Country of the Free!"

      But, oh! how nobler were my native land,
If she could banish from her sea-girt strand
The Fiend which, roaming through this realm of ours,
Wastes her best strength, and weakens all her
            powers;
The nightmare of the nation, which weighs down
Her labouring breast; the blot on her renown;
The Fiend which paralyses heart and limb,
Makes virtue's star, and reason's lamp grow dim
Robs child and mother of their common right,
Home wants, home rectitude, and home delight;
Makes the frail father reckless and sin-worn,
Madman to-day, an idiot on the morn;
Makes the poor boasted freeman worse than
            slave;
And with unnumbered victims gluts a dis-
            honoured grave.

      Know ye the Demon?   Hear him in the street,
As ye pass onward with home-seeking feet;
Ye bear his voice from many a noisome den,
Where he deludes—degrades the minds of men;
Ye hear him in his temple, gaily dight,
All gaud and glitter in a blaze of light,
Where congregated bacchanals adore,
From beardless boyhood unto frail fourscore;
Ye hear him in the curses flung about,
In the wild song and the obstreperous shout
Ye see his looks in many a face and eye,
Maudlin or vicious, as ye hurry by;
Ye see him in the havoc he has made,
And in the bane of his abhorrent trade;
Ye feel him in the rudeness and the strife
Which shock you in the by-way paths of life;
Ye feel him in the sordidness and woe
That smite your senses as ye come and go:
Ye feel,—but how much less ye feel, than they
Who suffer hour by hour, and perish day by day.

      Look on this picture (many more there be
As sad and sombre ill their misery);—
Mark the cold aspect of this lowly place,
Devoid of comfort, cleanliness, and grace,
Where the pale mother sits beside the grate
With listless looks, as gloomy as her fate;
While her rude children, dirt-begrimed and lean,
With noisy squabbles fill the wretched scene;
Half slattern and half lunatic she seems,
Now loud in wrath, now lapsing into dreams;
Waiting for him who should be duly there,
To rule his household with a parent's care.

      He comes at length,—a curse is at the door,
And his scared offspring, starting from the floor,
Shrink into corners with a mute dismay,
Fearing the voice they learn to disobey.
He enters in, that man without control,
With the dread Demon sitting on his soul;
Raves and blasphemes, drinks deep, and calls
            for more,
Making the place more hideous than before.

      Alas! no sunshine cheers that narrow spot;
There knowledge, peace, and rectitude are not
No single bosom is divinely stirred,
No song of praise, no voice of prayer is heard;
No gentle accents of confiding love,
No gracious thoughts that wing their way above;
But sin and squalor, hopelessness and dread,
Surround the daily board, and haunt the nightly bed.

      But who is this, meandering down the street,
With brain beclouded, and with wavering feet,
Wild in his manner, with a glance of eye
Half brave, half bashful, as he hurries by?
That man is gifted; but the mental dower
Lies in abeyance to the Demon's power;
That man has commerced with the farthest skies,
And looked on Nature with a poet's eyes;
Has painted Virtue with a pen of grace,
Revered her, too, and loved the human race;
Panted for peaceful happiness and fame,
And had half won them when the tempter came,
Crossed the noon brightness of his hopeful pride,
And scared his better angel from his side.
Come back, sweet spirit of his joy and trust,
And exorcise the Fiend that bows him to the dust!

      Such, and so harrowing, are the ills that flow
From this dark type of sinfulness and woe!
Such, and more awful, are the things that lie
Hid from the notice of the public eye.

      Despair not yet, ye Christian souls,—for, hark!
A sound of solace cometh from the dark;
A bright form issues from the heavy gloom,
And as she passes on makes ampler room:
It is the angel Temperance;—rejoice!
And hail her advent with a thankful voice!
She comes to drive the Demon from his lair,
To cleanse from crime, and mitigate despair,
Comes with her handmaid Charity, to bless
The soul-bowed slaves of loathsome drunkenness.
Faces once shadowed, shall grow bright with peace;
Hearts once enthralled, shall find a glad release;
Minds once eclipsed, shall glow with purer fire,
Greatly expand, and gloriously aspire;
And home, once filled with sorrow and annoy,
Shall be a peaceful place of virtue and of joy.

      Come to her banner, ye upgrowing youth,
Strengthen her phalanx, men of nerve and truth,
Add to her numbers, ye of suasive tongues,
Swell her glad music, Poets, with your songs;
Together breathe her hallowed atmosphere,
And help her in her glorious mission here.
The day will come—let hope believe it so—
When we shall see the Demon's overthrow;
See the sweet Angel's standard wide unfurled,
And her white wings embrace all children of the
            world.

 

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THE HOLY LAND.

PROLOGUE TO AN UNFINISHED SACRED POEM.

 

OH! sad yet sacred land! lorn Palestine!
    God's chosen scene of man-redeeming power,
Land of a thousand mysteries divine,
    Linked with my own land's worship to this hour;
Would it were mine, from worldly thrall unbound,
To press with pilgrim foot thy storied ground!
Muse in thy vales, where solemn beauty reigns,
Watch on thy hills, and wander o'er thy plains;
Feel on my brow thy odorous winds, and taste
Thy scanty waters in the stony waste;
Pitch my rude tent beside thy sacred streams,
And fill my slumbers with exalted dreams;
Explore each spot, with thoughtful reverence due,
Which bard or prophet, saint or Saviour knew;
Catch inspiration from the humblest thing,
And plume my spirit with a holier wing!

      Not such my privilege; albeit I sigh
To look upon thy aspect, ere I die;
Yet even now, at Fancy's wondrous will,
I plant my footsteps on that holy hill,
Gigantic Tabor! round whose lofty crown
Sweep the wide regions of an old renown;
Where Hermon, on whose head the stars diffuse
The healing freshness of unfailing dews,
Tabor's twin sharer of the sun and gale,—
Uplifts his stalwart shoulders from the vale.

      Here, turned in pastoral quiet towards the skies,
The field of many fights, Esdraelon lies;
And yonder, towering up in calm disdain,
Majestic Carmel stems the audacious main:
There, with its barren belt of wave-worn steeps,
Blue Galilee in tranquil splendour sleeps,
Whence willowy Jordan, joyous here and free,
Bounds on its journey to a joyless sea.
Lo! in romantic hollow, like a nest,
Secluded Cana's lowly dwellings rest;
And many a rocky haunt, sublime and wild,
And many a fertile landscape undefiled,
Hamlet and ancient town, lone mosque and tower,
And quiet convent shut in cypress bower,
Mix in the mighty theatre, and throng
The heart with feelings all too deep for song:
While, far remote, like white clouds soaring high
In the serener ether of the sky,
The wintry peaks of Lebanon aspire,
Tinged with the glowing kiss of sunset's golden fire.

      Again my fancy bears me on;—and lo!
A childless widow, voiceless in her woe,
Smit by the awful vengeance of the Just,
Forsaken Salem sitteth in the dust,
Her beauty faded, and her garments torn,
Her sceptre broken, and her power outworn,—
A lonely spectacle of grief and gloom,
A ruined record of prophetic doom!

      Here, from the Hill of Olives, dark and bold,
The whole sad city is at once unrolled;
Queen of a stony wilderness, she lies
In sombre beauty, looking towards the skies:
Fair to the eye, but silent to the ear,
And solemn to the heart, she seemeth here;
No music ringeth from her towers and domes,
No smoke-wreath springeth from her clustering homes
No busy crowds, with social life elate,
No chariot-wheels forth issue from her gate;
Still as a region of unpeopled glooms,
Sad as a place of congregated tombs,
A shape bereft of spirit, she appears
Too desolate and dead for either joy or tears!

      But now some sadder features of the scene
Tempt my lone footsteps to a dim ravine,
Where, scarce illumined by meridian day,
The scanty Kedron makes its weary way.
Behold Gethsemane's impressive shade,
For inward prayer, and heavenward musing made,
Beneath whose roof, of giant boughs inwrought,
The dear Redeemer worshipped, wept, and taught:
Here Judas, reckless of eternal bliss,
Betrayed and sold Him with unholy kiss;
Here His disciples slumbered through the hour
He strove, in silence, with His passion's power,
Shook and adored, and on His trembling knees
Drank the deep draught of sorrow to the lees;—
While the o'erflowing sweat drops of His pain
Bedewed His patient brow with sanguinary stain!

      A little farther, and the place of graves,
Where the pent wind in mournful madness raves,
Gloomy Jehosophat's funereal vale,
To the rapt spirit tells a fearful tale.
Once from that terrace, Titan-like and high,
The towering Temple clomb the quiet sky;
In mystic silence sprang, and stood alone,
A vast, majestic miracle of stone!
Hail, holy Zion! David's home of pride,
Revered and hallowed o'er the world beside;
Zion, whose echoes answered to the lyre,
Whose chords were kindled with seraphic fire!
Transcendant Minstrel! whose exalted song
Ten thousand brighter ages shall prolong,
What earthly harp may yet compare with thine,
Then regal heir of Poesy divine!
Triumph and trial, prophecy and praise,
Found mighty utterance in thy living lays:
When peril threatened, and when pain oppressed,
When woe or worship trembled in thy breast,
When God's dread shadow o'er thy spirit came,
When prescient ardour lit thy soul with flame,—
Thy songs, true, tender, terrible, sublime,
Sent mighty voices forth to all succeeding time!

 

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SONNET TO WORDSWORTH.

 

BUT thy last gift!—how precious to my sight!
      But to my soul much more, is the rich page
      Of Wordsworth, bard, interpreter, and sage
Of Nature in her majesty and might!
With what an earnest, yet serene delight,
      He seeks her beauties, all her moods and forms,
      And gives them language, till his spirit warms
With a desire to take the loftiest flight!
I like him well, when "'mid the untrodden ways,"
      Among the lowly dwellings of the poor,
      He finds some wisdom at the humblest door,
And weaves it in the tissue of his lays.

Who with right feeling reads his tranquil song,
Should grow more calm and wise, more purified and
            strong.

 

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THE MARINER OF LIFE.

 

A MARINER sailed on a perilous sea,
And though frail was his bark, a brave spirit he:
Hope beckoned Him onward, Faith strengthened his
            soul,
And Love gave him impulse, to steer for the goal,—
That glorious land, o'er the main far away,
Whose skies have the lustre of loveliest day,
Whose flowers have the breath of unfailing perfume,
Whose fields wear the lines of perpetual bloom.

He had trust in his Anchor, should wild waves assail,
And rouse into rage at the scourge of the gale;
He had trust in his Compass, which pointed afar
To the orb of one bright and particular star;
He had trust in his Glass, which was searching and clear,
And warned him when outward obstruction was near;
He had trust in his Chart, for no error was there,
And its truthfulness kept him from doubt and despair.

Yet strife was around him, and danger, and dark,
And wild waters battered the ribs of his bark,
And treacherous currents oft turned him aside,
And mists gathered thick o'er the face of the tide,
And icebergs encumbered the breast of the sea,
And winds howled about him in boisterous glee;
But, oh! there were moments of sunshine and calm,
When the billows were bright, and the breezes were
            balm.

His food was unfailing from day unto day,
A provision that suffered nor scant nor decay,
A manna to satisfy, strengthen, sustain,
And give him new courage to battle with pain;
His drink from an ever-free, fountain o'erflowed,
And great were the comfort and joy it bestowed,
A heart-helping, soul-cheering chalice of wine,
Replenished alway from a vintage divine.

Still, still he sped on towards the land that he sought,
Recruited in vigour, exalted in thought;
But many and sad were the things that he saw,
While he yearned with compassion, and trembled with awe.
Other barks foundered round him, all filled with despair,
Though he helped when he could, both with effort and
            prayer;
And the few GOD permitted His servant to save,
Smoothed the mariner's path o'er the turbulent wave.

Still, still he sped onward, but nearer the goal,
For he felt a new effluence, touching his soul;
And hills swathed in purple arose on his sight,
And lands that lay lovely in soft golden light,
And glory and quiet reigned over the seas,
And perfume and music came rich on the breeze;
And Christian, the mariner, knew he was blest,
For he entered the haven of heavenly rest.

 

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THE BEGGAR BOY.

 

A BEGGAR boy sank at a lordly door,
    Feeble with hunger and cold;
His father had died of the poorest poor,
    And his mother waxed weary and old;
He had left her alone in their sordid shed,
    In darkness to mutter and grieve,
And had come to crave for the bitterest bread,
    'Mid the snows of Christmas-eve.

He saw the broad windows gaily shine,
    He heard the glad sounds within;
He fancied the flow of the fragrant wine,
    And the greetings of friends and kin:
And children were there,—for he heard the sound
    Of their laughter, blithely elate;
And the beggar boy wept with a grief profound,
    As he thought of his own sad fate.

He beat the steps with his tingling feet,
    And wished for the coming of day;
He caught each sound in the sombre street,
    But thought of his mother alway.
He brushed the snow from his piteous face,
    To gaze at the starless sky,
And anon he appealed with a touching grace
    To the heart of each passer-by.

In vain—in vain! for no ear was bent
    To hearken his sorrowful plaint;
And he felt that his heart was crushed and rent,
    As his words grew fewer and faint:
In vain! for his suppliant murmurs died
    Unheard in the misty air;
Careless or callous, all turned aside,
    And left him to perish there.

At length, from a hundred old towers rang
    The tones of the midnight chime;
And a hundred voices joyously sang
    A lay of the hallowed time.
The boy looked up with a glad surprise,
    At those sweet sounds of the night;
And lo! there appeared to his startled eyes
    A Vision, divinely bright.

'Twas an angel shape, and its raiment shone
    Like the moon in her brightest hour;
Its voice had a soft and persuasive tone,
    That thrilled with a wondrous power:
"Poor child!" it said, "enough hast thou striven,
    "Thou shalt hunger and grieve no more;
"I am CHRIST,—come and live in the climes of
            Heaven,
    "Where thy mother has gone before.

"I am ready and glad!" cried the beggar boy,
    As he sprang through the blinding snow,
While his young heart throbbed with a tremulous
            joy,
    And his face had an angel's glow.
He went with the Vision;—and when morn smil'd,
    On the pitiless pavement lay
All that remained of the orphan child,
    For the spirit had passed away.

 

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BIRTHDAY SONNET.

 

UPON the threshold of another year,
      Let me shake off the sordid mire of sin,
      And with a reverent feeling enter in,
Thoughtful as if my final hour was near;
And let me supplicate for light to cheer
      My darkling soul, that stumbles through the gloom
      Which shrouds the dubious pathway to the tomb,
The end of all our strife and struggle here.
True aspirations towards the good should clear
      My grief-beclouded mind; good thoughts should bring
      The power to do a good and holy thing,
Making me strenuous, steadfast, and sincere;
Good deeds should help me o'er the rugged way
To a diviner realm.   Let me begin to-day.

 

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THE MOUNTAIN TARN.

 

THOU lonely tarn, with rocks begirt around,
      Gleaming amid this wilderness of hills,
      Fed by the passing clouds, the neighbouring rills,
And cradled in a solitude profound,—
How goes the world with thee?   What changes pass
      O'er the calm surface of thy crystal face,
      When o'er thee the fierce tempest rides apace,
And the dread thunder sings its wondrous bass?
Spring doth awake thee into smiles of light;
      Summer doth tinge thee with celestial blue;
      Autumn with many a sunset's gorgeous hue;
And Winter with the shadows of his might.
      Oh! for a hermitage, where I might be
      With God, high thought, calm solitude, and thee!

 

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CANZONETTE.

 

I KNOW a star, whose gentle beams
    Shine with a pure and constant ray,
Inspire me with delicious dreams,
    And cheer me on my lonely way:
I gaze upon its tender light,
    And to it bow the adoring knee;
But, oh! how dreary were my night
    Were it to shine no more for me!

I know a flower of beauteous form,
    Whose sweetness is beyond compare;
I fain would shield it from the storm,
    And keep it ever young and fair:
It glads my eyes, it soothes my heart,
    It is a daily charm to see;
But, oh! how bitter were my smart,
    Were it to bloom no more for me?

Thou art the star—thou art the flower,
    My precious, peerless maiden, mine!
And from our first fond meeting hour,
    My love, my life, were wholly thine:
But wert thou called beyond the spheres,
    How joyless would the wide world be!
How sad my sighs, how true my tears,
    Wert thou to live no more for me!

 

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SPRING SONNETS.

 

BE glad my spirit, for the world of snows
      Has turned to one of greenness and of grace;
No longer the harsh breath of Winter blows,
      But genial breezes fan me in the face;
Voices, long silent, wake to joyous sound,
      Waters, long sullen, twinkle as they run;
Fresh flowers begin to constellate the ground,
      Warmed into beauty by a brighter sun.
All seasons have their charms; but unto me,
      Whose ailing frame has shivered in the blast,
      Whose mind with sombre cares is overcast,
How sweet is Springtide's hope-inspiring glee!
April, on welcome but capricious wing,
Leaps o'er the verdant hills, and Nature cries "'Tis Spring!"

Month of sweet promise! her mixed tears and smiles
      Shed light and fragrance on the grateful earth;
Her very changefulness the heart beguiles,
      And in the soul wakes thoughts of gladsome birth.
Sometimes she is as buoyant and as bright
      As is the wood-nymph in her native bowers;
Sometimes a nun enswathed in chastened light;
      Anon a very Magdalen in showers.
Yet all her moods are pleasant to our eyes,
      And all her sighs are breathing of perfumes,
Lovely precursor of serener skies,
      Of richer verdure, and of brighter blooms:
Behind her I behold her sister May,
Waiting to usher in her own delicious day.

 

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SUNSHINE:

(A STATUE, BY J. DURHAM.)

 

A FORM of sweet simplicity, whose hand
      Shades her young eyes from the meridian blaze,
      As if she bent her fixed and longing gaze
O'er gleaming seas, or o'er the glowing land.
She seems to sit upon a sunny strand,
      To mark some coming ship, too long away;
Or from some green hill-side she sees a band
      Of merry rustics 'mid the odorous hay.
Strange fancies, and yet pleasant, for her mien
      Suggesteth Summer in her noontide hours,
      Rich fields, bright waters, and umbrageous bowers,
Young love, and maiden innocence serene.

Praise to the sculptor, whose poetic thought
Conceived this shape of grace, so delicately wrought.

 

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THE PALACE OF ART.

(THE MANCHESTER ART-TREASURES EXHIBITION.)

 

BEHOLD this treasury of glorious things,
      This shrine of genius, this enchanting place,
Where every muse some precious tribute brings
      Of blended beauty, majesty, and grace!
Enter with calm and reverential heart,
      With earliest purpose and unclouded mind,
So that thy soul, amid transcendant art,
      May feel at once refreshed, exalted, and refined.

Hark to that tremulous harmony, that swells
      Into a gentle surge of solemn sound,
That with a magic influence dispels
      The silence, and pervades the air around.
It makes the breast with new emotions sigh,
      It stirs the hidden fountains of our tears,
And seems to lift the longing spirit high,
      Even to the loftier choir of the according spheres.

While those sweet sounds yet linger in the ear,
      Let's thread this glowing wilderness of charms,
And calmly ponder on each object here
      That moves, refines, and fascinates, and warms;
Lovely creations that, in happiest hour,
      The painter's hand has o'er the canvas thrown,
And shapes of beauty, that the sculptor's power
      Has fashioned in his mind, and conjured from the stone.

Those mighty masters of the early art,
      Those magic wizards of the elder day,
From worldly thoughts and worldly things apart,—
      What grandeur did their faculties display!
Lofty conceptions did their souls pervade,
      And took immortal shapes at their command
While reverential feeling moved and swayed,
      And wondrously inspired the cunning of their hand.

And have not we, in this our later time,
      Our own art-treasures, famous, and not few,
The gay, the graceful, even the sublime,
      The sweetly tender, and the grandly true?
Amid the walks of intermingled life
      We make our study, find our pictures there,
And send imagination—richly rife
      With germs of glorious thought—into a holier air.

Oh, genius! whose mysterious powers invite
      The restless spirit to serenest things,
Fill its recesses with a purer light,
      And lend its aspirations heavenward wings;
A noble energy pertains to thee,
      A hopeful and a hallowed task is thine,
To set our natures from low passions free,
      And give unto our souls glimpses of realms divine!

Music, with stirring or with soothing tones,
      Painting, with all thy harmony of hues,
Sculpture, that sitteth upon marble thrones,
      And thou, not least of these, poetic muse;—
If ye from earth at once were swept away,
      With all the memory of your magic powers,
And all the fires of genius in decay—
      Oh, what a priceless loss, what a sad world were ours!

This may not be; for ye shall more and more
      Expand in kindred majesty and grace,
And mingle with each other mighty lore,
      To cheer, refine, exalt the human race.
He who inspired the great ones of the past,
      He by whom good and beauteous things are given,
Will deign to leave His children to the last
      This intellectual dower, this one foretaste of Heaven.

Praise to the well of energy who planned
      This princely place, this, treasure-crowded hall!
Praise to the wealthy of our native land,
      Who nobly answered to a noble call!
And when these riches, which improve the heart,
      Are to their wonted places back consigned,
May this transcendant spectacle of art
      Be mirrored in our souls, leaving its light behind.

 

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THE BENEFACTRESS.

 

I KNOW thee not, lady, in feature or form,
    For distance and circumstance keep us apart,
But I know that thy feelings are kindly and warm,
    For the Angel of Charity sits at thy heart.

And long may the spirit remain in thy breast,
    To prompt thee to actions both gentle and wise;
Together with Hope, a celestial guest,
    And Faith that uplifteth the soul to the skies.

Not charity only in helping the low
    With what thou canst spare from thy scrip and thy
            store,
But in word, thought, and judgment, that blessings
            may flow
    From sources unopened, unheeded before.

May the cold shade of poverty keep from thy way,
    Nor deaden thy efforts and sicken thy soul;
Peace watch thee by night, and contentment by day,
    Till thou of life's pilgrimage draw near the goal.

And when the calm twilight of age cometh on,
    And thou longest to rise from mortality's leaven,
May the summons that bids thee prepare and be gone
    Be the voice of an angel, who calls thee to Heaven.

 

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NOW AND THEN.

 

Now is a constant warning stroke
    Beat by the ceaseless clock of Time,
A voice our wisdom to evoke,
    A mandate solemnly sublime
It bids us keep the soul awake,
    To do the best our means allow,
To toil for truth and virtue's sake,
    And make the effort Now.

Now is the watchword of the wise,
    And often wins its wondrous way
Through hosts of dangers in disguise,
    That wait to baffle and betray.
The specious Then doth oft deceive,
    Brings pain of heart, and gloom of brow;
But would we some good work achieve,
    Let's make the effort Now.

Now gilds the banner of the brave,
    And Prudence wears it on her breast;
That talisman has power to save
    From vain remorse and sad unrest.
Then leads us by an easy rein,
    And breaks our well-intentioned vow:
But would we earn some sterling gain,
    Let's make the effort Now.

Then may not come,—but Now is here,
    All ready at our own right hand,
Perhaps with aspect half austere,
    Yet prompt to help, if we command:
Strive with it, and its blessings fall,
    Like sweet fruit from a laden bough;
But we must feed on husks of gall,
    If we neglect the Now.

In youth, if just ambition fire,
    And seem to lift the soul on wings;
If the heart glow with pure desire
    For worthy and exalted things;
Wait not, but rouse your latent power,
    Nor shrink your purpose to avow;
The only safe, propitious hour,
    Is the fresh foremost Now.

In manhood, with our passions strong,
    Oft hard to conquer or to guide,
If some insidious power of wrong
    Has drawn our faltering feet aside,
Sorrows will come, regrets and fears
    Will make the humbled spirit bow;
But, to atone for wasted years,
    Let's seek the right, and Now.

If 'mid the world's rude shock and strife,
    Thou hast no sense of things divine,
No longing for the holier life,—
    Oh, what a priceless loss is thine!
If thou would'st hope, strength, comfort find,
    God's oracle will teach thee how;
Go, with a mock, inquiring mind,
    And hear its voices Now.

Procrastination, foe to bliss,
    Curse far more baneful than it seems,
What treasure we have lost by this,
    In vain and unsubstantial dreams!
From this dear moment, let us start
    With brave endeavour, righteous vow
Up, drooping soul! up, languid heart!
    And seize the golden Now!

 

_________________________

 
THE POWER OF PLEASANT MEMORIES.

 

Low drooping o'er my toil this afternoon,
      With downward aspect, sombre as the air
      That slept around me, echoes of despair
Passed through my thoughts, and put them out of tune.
Strong hope, of man the blessing and the dower,
      With the calm will to fashion dreams, which rose
      Instinct with mental splendour and repose,
Seemed shorn of their consolatory power.
Thus as I sat, with melancholy face,
      Resisting sadness with a faint endeavour,
      "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,"—
That verse of truthful melody and grace,
Flashed through my darkened spirit, like the smile
      Of sudden sunlight o'er a solemn pile.

As from her trance upleaps the joyous Spring,
      Like a young virgin on her bridal morn,
      Flushed with expanding glories newly born,
While earth and air with merry greeting ring,
And Nature, strengthened by her rest, is rife
      With fascinating purity and gladness;—
      So did my fancy, from its sleep of sadness,
Start into active and delightful life.
Straightway I stood amid the classic glooms
      Flung from the lavish pencil of young Keats,—
      Realms of immortal shapes, of mingled sweets,
Uncloying music, and unfading blooms,
The shadows of creation, which the boy
Nursed in his soul, and watched with silent joy.

Not one, but legion, were the forms and places,
      Laughing and lovely, solemn and serene,
Which came with all their wonders and their graces,
      From Memory's treasure-halls, where they had been
      Hoarded with miser passion.   Spenser's sheen,
            And grandeur of romance, great Shakspere's muse,
That holds all human sympathies between
            The foldings of her pinions; Milton's hues
Stolen from the deathless amaranths of Heaven,
            And woven in his own seraphic song,—
These to my wakened faculties were given,
            An ever shifting, ever pleasing throng;
Until I stood enraptured and alone,
In a strange world of beauty, boundless, and my own.



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