Miscellaneous Poems (3)
Home Up Biography Hours with the Muses Dreams and Realities Poetic Rosary Autumn Leaves Unpublished Poems Miscellanea Main Index Site Search


 

[Previous Page]


ABJURATION.

 

'Tis done! 'tis well!—I've freely signed
        The Pledge that prompts me to be wise.
To keep the balance of my mind,
        To cast the film from off my eyes:
Help me, divine unerring Power!
        To Thee, not man, do I appeal;
Oh! lend me strength this very hour,
        For my eternal weal.

How frail—how failing I have been
        In man's best duties here below!
My thoughts how dark, my pangs how keen,
        He, the All-Wise, can only know.
Yet I have yearned—in sorrow yearned
        To keep my soul unsoiled within;
For I too prematurely learned
        The misery of sin.*

To shun the cup that sometimes cheers,
        But often deadens and destroys,
Will not bring back my wasted years,
        My withered hopes, my banished joys:
But it may help to make the best
        Of what remains of mortal life,—
Yield me an interval of rest,
        And banish needless strife.

To scorn the draught that bringeth blight,
        Sad waste of body, dearth of soul,
Will not afford the perfect light,
        Nor make us calmly, truly whole.
But it may lend us strength to rise
        To higher duties, holier aims,—
Give us an impulse towards the skies,
        And purify our claims.

A crowd of enemies remain
        To curb or conquer, if we can;
A hundred nameless things, that stain
        And hurt the better part of man;—
The lust of passion, pride, and gold,
        The uncharitable thought and deed,
With errors mixed and manifold,
        Must fall ere we are freed.

Here I abjure the bane whose power
        Holds countless souls in shameful thrall;
Aroused to reason, from this hour
        I shun, scorn, loathe it, once for all!
Humbly, and with remorseful pain,
        I ask the merciful Supreme
To banish from my restless brain
        The past, a hideous dream.

Come, Temperance, pioneer and guide
        To purer regions of delight,
And help me not to turn aside
        From the true path of moral right;
But chiefly thou, Religion, come,
        Without thee other aids are frail;
Hope, faith, truth, virtue, are the sum,
        These over all prevail.


* From his earliest childhood to youth, the writer  was surrounded
 by intemperance, poverty, and  misery.

 

_________________________

 
[The three following Pieces were the Author's very first attempts
at verse-making, in the year 1827.]


A PASTORAL.

 

I RECLINED 'neath an oak, from the noon's fervid heat,
        That shadows yon bright winding stream;
The high soaring lark sang with ecstacy sweet,
        As I thought on his lay for a theme:

When Celia, a shepherdess artless and fair,
        Came thither to water her sheep;
A wreath of coy lilies bound up her brown hair,
        And a rose on her bosom did weep.

She bent o'er the brook with an aspect of grace,
        And viewed her own image awhile;
A sweet, modest pride was expressed in her face,
        And her lips were adorned with a smile.

Ye gods! with what wonder, and joy, and surprise,
        Did I gaze on her angelic charms!
While the glances that shot from her beautiful eyes
        Filled my breast with love's panting alarms.

Unheeded, the rose from her white bosom fell,
        (That bosom how madly admired!)
She gathered her lambkins, and (grievous to tell)
        Took up her light crook and retired.

With a feeling of rapture I gazed on the tide,
        Which had borne to my feet the fresh flower;
I seized it. "Come and live in my bosom," I cried,
        "As an emblem of her I adore."

The sun thrice has risen, and gloriously thrown
        A blush o'er the fair cheek of morn,
But still my fond heart, a poor captive, is lone,
        By love and despair sorely torn.

The flower I possess is quite scentless and pale,
        All its odours and beauties are fled;
It silently speaketh a sorrowful tale,
        And my few tender hopes are now dead.

The rose was deprived of the bower where it smiled,
        It languished, and went to decay;
So I without her who my soul has beguiled,
        Must experience as transient a day.

With my flock I will roam o'er these valleys and plains,
        And if by kind fortune we meet,
By love she shall make me the happiest of swains,
        Or behold me expire at her feet.

 

_________________________

 
THE SOLDIER OF PROGRESS.

 

WHAT are my glorious watchwords now?
        "Truth, Virtue, Freedom," these they are;
These, star-like, on my banner glow,
        And lead me to the war;
But not with fierce and fiery hordes,
Not booming cannon, slaughtering swords,
        Do I array the battle-van;
But with strong principles of right,
Sharp moral weapons for the fight,
        Achieving good for man.

Come forth, thrice-tempered steel of Truth,
        And thou, stern virtue, lend thy shield,
Immortal Freedom, strong in youth,
        Equip me for the field;
Buckle thy corslet on my breast,
Set thy unshivered lance in rest,
        Lend all thy panoply to-day;
Plant thy bright casket on my brow,
Crown me with snowy plumes.—Ah! now
        I'm ready for the fray.

Come on, in all your banded power,
        Oppression, falsehood, error, wrong;
If God but help in peril's hour,
        I in my cause am strong;
Come in the darkness of your guiles,
Lurk in the ambush of your wiles,
        Come in your bold and brazen strength,
Come in the midnight or the day,
March, menace, struggle, or waylay,—
        I'll conquer ye at length.

Long the unequal strife may last,
        With much of human waste and woe,
For the mixed records of the past
        Too truly tell me so;
Still will I strive to raise on high
My ever-glorious battle-cry,
        "Truth, Virtue, Freedom," words of light;
And though I'm baffled for a time,
Others will hear the sound sublime,
        And vindicate the right.

 

_________________________

 
SONNET TO A FRIEND.

 

THOUGH fate has willed that thou must change thy home,
        To seek that bread which thou art here denied,
Here where rank wealth can raise a lordly dome,
        By ill-fed worth and groaning toil supplied,
While we, alas! must bend to pampered pride,
        Reft of the guerdon labour ought to give,
Submissive tremble when our tyrants chide,
        And lack the human privilege to live;—
Yet thou wilt not forget the pleasant hours
        Which we in social intercourse have spent,
When Poesy has strewn her magic flowers,
        And calm Philosophy his wisdom lent.

Let memory its welcome missives send
To me, the youthful bard, who claims thee as his friend.

 

_________________________

 
POETRY:

AN ACROSTIC.

 

P URE and unstained, I live in Cowper's lore;
O n heavenward pinions I with Milton soar;
E ver and anon I change with playful Burns,
T he peasant's mirth, the lover's grief by turns;
R eft of all hope, with ill-starred White complain,
Y ielding to Byron all my scornful strain.

 

_________________________

 
A FLOWER OF THE HOUSEHOLD.

 

SWEET darling of our wedded souls,
        With beauty on thy brow,
We ask that God's best benison
        May follow thee from now;—
That little care, and less of sin,
        May meet thee on thy way,
Is our heart-uttered hope and prayer
        On this thy natal day.

As yet, thou wear'st the hues of Heaven,
        Whence thy young spirit came,
To share the chances of our lot,
        And bear our lowly name;
As yet, thou art unsoiled by sin,
        Aloof from painful strife,
In the first flush of childhood's prime,
        The Paradise of life:

Life's Paradise,—for angel eyes
        Look on thee from afar,
And see no envious shadow yet
        To dim thy natal star;
No messenger is at the gate
        To startle and expel,
And drive thee, weeping, from the place
        Where thou should'st ever dwell.

And thou hast brought unto our eyes,
        From a celestial shore,
Charms which suggest that happy realm
        Where seraphim adore;
Grace, innocence, and health, and joy,
        Are now thy precious dower;
What pity that the dust of earth
        Should stain so sweet a flower!

Gaily thou goest to and fro,
        Unconscious of all wrong,
With a sweet light upon thy face,
        And music on thy tongue;
And in thy presence we receive,
        What make our thoughts more bright,
A portion of thy purity,
        A share of thy delight.

Thy pure, spontaneous narratives
        Evince mind's growing powers;
Thy artless questions test the strength
        Of wiser minds than ours:
Thy transient moods of gravity,
        Thy bursts of happy glee,
Thy whole demeanour—brisk or calm—
        Strengthen our love for thee.

We, watch thy merry winsome ways,
        And inwardly rejoice;
Our ears are charmed, our hearts are moved,
        By thy seductive voice,
We touch thee with a fond caress,
        Our feelings brimming o'er,
And own that Heaven has lent to us
        One priceless blessing more.

And we, by help of light divine,
        Will strive to guide thee so
That hope, faith, firmness, peace, and joy,
        May mark thy lot below;
Such is our wish,—though we may fail
        In what we strive to do;
But the great, good, and guardian Power
        Will bring thee safely through.

Cares will be thine, for such we need
        To curb unjust desires,
To make us feel our littleness,
        And quench unhallowed fires;
But oh! when thou art called to leave
        This sphere of strife and sin,
May smiling angels stoop from Heaven,
        And take our darling in!

 

_________________________

 
AUTUMNAL DAYS.

 

THE Autumn's loosened leaves are falling fast,
        With a sad rustling sound,
And, chased by fitful breeze or fiercer blast,
        Race o'er the shadowy ground;
The solemn woods, though garbed in gorgeous hues,
        Are hastening to decay,
As listlessly I wander on, and muse
        On things that pass away.

The hardy robin on the garden rail,
        Though day is growing cold,
Sits and reiterates his tender tale,
        Most musically told;
For gentle robin, with a spirit brave,
        Sings in the gloomiest hours,
And even chants an uncomplaining stave
        In Winter's naked bowers.

Ere long the northern winds will keenly blow,
        The woods and waters roar,
And all the wondrous magazines of snow
        Pour forth their fleecy store;
Our window panes will gleam with silvery rime,
        Or sound with rattling hail,
And Winter's voice grow terribly sublime
        When angry storms prevail.

But with the resurrection of the Spring,
        Nature, will smile anew,
Resume her crown, and o'er her shoulders fling
        Robes of the loveliest hue:
Sweet Spring! that faintly pictures to the mind
        Glories beyond the skies,
Where tempest and decay no entrance find,
        Where beauty never dies.

 

_________________________

 
THE SOUL OF THE LAND IS AWAKE.

(A SONG FOR OUR VOLUNTEERS.)

 

THE soul of the land is awake,
        Whatever the scorner may say,
And nothing shall sadden her, nothing shall shake
        The spirit that moves her to-day;
With the faith and the firmness of yore,
        With souls that no threat can appal,
Her sons stand the girdle and shield of her shore,
        And are ready—aye, ready for all.

Behold how they throng o'er the land,
        From city, and hamlet, and plain,
A legion of freemen, a resolute band,
        Prepared to do battle again;
From the centre all round to the coast,
        They will muster when duty shall call;
Too steady to swerve, and too manly to boast,
        They are ready—aye, ready for all.

They seek not to strive with the foe,
        They challenge not kaiser or king;
They best love the blessings that peace can bestow,
        And the triumphs that commerce can bring:
But should reckless ambition presume
        To menace with danger and thrall,
Give them heroes to lead them, and plenty of room,
        And they're ready—aye, ready for all.

True Britons can never grow cold
        To dignity, honour, and right,
They can prove it to-day, as they proved it of old
        In many a glorious fight:
With courage undaunted and keen,
        Prepared for what chance may befall,
In defence of their freedom, their country and Queen,
        They are ready—aye, ready for all.

 

_________________________

 
THE LOVER'S CALL.

 

OH! when will the sweet Spring come,
        With its sunshine, odours, and flowers,
And bring my beloved one home,
        To brighten the vernal hours?
Like a worthless weed or a stone
        On the verge of the surging sea,
I am silent, and sad, and lone,
        Bereft of thy smiles and thee.

To the haunts where we used to rove,
        My loitering footsteps go,
Where I heard thy confession of love,
        So tremulous, sweet, and low:
But the rivulet seems to moan
        That thou art not also there,
And the trees send a plaintive tone,
        Like a sigh on the evening air.

I can find no charm in the day,
        No calm in the sombre night;
Thou hast ta'en my repose away,
        And clouded the cheerful light:
To the heart that can love thee best
        Return, if still loyal to me;
Come back, that my soul may rest,—
        I am weary waiting for thee.

 

_________________________

 
MY BIRTHDAY.

 

MY BIRTHDAY!—Old familiar sound!
        How hopeful once, how mournful now!
For Time's relentless hand has bound
        A wreath of wrinkles round my brow;
Has scattered sleet upon my head,
        Shed from his never-tiring wing,
And almost made my spirit dead
        To every joyous thing.

In boyhood, how I strove to scan
        The footsteps of advancing Time,
Longing that he would stamp me man,—
        Deeming that dignity sublime;
And each recurring birthday brought
        New hopes and yearnings to my soul,
With wishful and impatient thought
        To reach the golden goal.

Manhood was gained;—but oh! the change
        From the pure joy of childhood's hours,
When everything was bright and strange,
        And every pathway strewn with flowers
How different, when I came to tread
        The broad arena floor of life,
And for the meed of needful bread
        Waged a perpetual strife.

The summit, which seemed all a-glow
        With golden clouds, as seen from far,
When reached, was clothed with mist and snow,
        And dubious light without a star;
And now down life's precipitous steep
        I feel and falter as I go,
With a vague thought of joy or sleep
        In the calm vale below.

All! what are birthdays now to me,
        Save that which starts a holier life?—
A life from Time's rude changes free,
        In realms unknown to sin and strife.
'Tis sad when Faith grows faint and chill,
        And Hope withdraws her roseate smile;
Thank GOD, these twain are with me still,
        Though I am sad the while.

 

_________________________

 
ITALY AWAKENED.

 

WELL done at last, thou fair and storied land!
        For thou hast broken from the thrall of years,
        Cast off thy lethargy, dispelled thy fears,
And grappled tyranny with daring hand;
Watched by the nations, thou didst well withstand
        The stubborn Austrian, who oppressed thee sore,
        Banished the cruel Bourbon from thy shore,
And raised a wiser monarch to command.
Much hast thou done, but more remains to do
        Ere thy new freedom can unclouded shine;
        The City of the Waters must be thine,
With all her fertile provinces thereto;
And unprogressive Popedom must not stay
Thy glowing chariot wheels on thy triumphant way.

But in thy triumph thou must not forget
        That man of grand simplicity of mind,
        With whom thy destiny is now combined,
To whom thou owest a transcendant debt;
The hero-hermit of Caprera's rock
        Claims gratitude and trust, which are his due,
        For he is valiant, merciful, and true,
And ready to resist Oppression's shock.
He will not fail thee in the perilous hour,
        Nor hold a traitorous parley with thy foes;
        Where'er he goes, stern honour also goes,
And wisely guides his delegated power:
He wars for holiest purposes, and Fame
Will breathe with burning lips great Garibaldi's name.

Oh! for another Tasso, who could write
        Of Italy delivered, and rehearse
        In stirring, truthful, and immortal verse,
Thy patriotic prowess in the fight;—
Sing of her patient suffering through the past,
        Till the two tyrants goaded her to strife;—
        Speak of her present newly-kindled life,
And hopes, which may be realised at last;—
Expatiate on the future of her time,
        When Peace shall fold her in her stainless wing,
        And the pure light of Liberty shall bring
New charms to all the beauties of her clime.
Thus, with the in-born prescience of a seer,
The Poet would foreshow her glorious career.

 

_________________________

 
A NIGHT THOUGHT.

 

How grandly solemn is this arch of night,
        How wonderfully beautiful and vast,
Crowded with worlds enswathed in living light,
        Coeval with th' immeasurable past!
With what a placid and effulgent face
        The mild moon travels 'mid her golden isles,
And on the earth, asleep in night's embrace,
        Pours the sweet light of her serenest smiles!
Can I, O God, who tremble here with awe,
        Doubt the Designer, scoff at the design,
        Deny that all is of Thy wisdom Thine,
Fashioned by Thee, and governed by Thy law?

I marvel at that being who can see,
In those, Thy mighty works, no evidence of Thee.

 

_________________________

 
THE MOUNTAINS.

 

I HAVE a passion for the mountains; they
        Lift me above the din of earthly things,
        And seem to lend imagination wings
To roam in wondrous regions far away;
They have a nameless power, by night or day,
        Which doth attract, yet overawe the mind
        With grandeur and with silence, till we find
The soul expand, obedient to their sway.
The passing clouds linger about their forms,
        Or the light milky mists enswathe them round,
        Or their dim glens and cavities resound
With the wild clamour of invading storms;
Then is the hour their rugged heights to climb,
And hear, behold, enjoy, the turbulence sublime.

The mountain peak feels the first breath of day,
        And first reflects Aurora's rosy wing,
While scattered clouds bestrew the eastern way,
        And kindle at the coming of their king:
Then does he bask in the full sheen of light,
        His aspect changing with each passing hour,
Until the cold dominion of night
        Returns again with its mysterious power.
Then the winds swoop upon his shadowy breast,
        And the stars cluster round his giant head
Like swarms of golden bees; the moonbeams shed.
        A calm, sweet glory on his heathery crest,
Soften the features of his rocky face,
And to his beauteous vales add a serener grace.

The mountains soonest catch the precious rains
        Engendered in the wondrous firmament,
        Receive and heard them in their countless veins,
Till they are purified, whence they are sent
In streams of fruitfulness o'er all the land,
        Gathered at last to the insatiate main,
Till the attraction of the Master hand
        Draws them to travel in the clouds again:
While their feet bathe in the bright summer glow,
        The mountains lift old Winter from the vales,
And seat him on their shoulders, where the snow,
        With a profuse supply that never fails,
Feeds the gigantic glacier, old and hoar,
Which creeps adown the slopes, and moveth evermore.

A sense of strength and freedom they impart
        To those who 'mong them first drew breath of life;—
Hence Toll and Schamyl, each with dauntless heart,
        Battled for liberty, a glorious strife.
On the scarred front of Sinai's fearful height
        Did the Almighty give the graven Law
        To Moses, who, with reverence and awe,
Shook and adored through many a day and night.
And on the Mount the dear Redeemer wept,
        And prayed, and suffered sanguinary sweat,
        Until the ground with bloody drops was wet;
While His disciples, bowed with sorrow, slept.
Then blessed be the mountains, for they bring
Strange memories, and dreams of many a wondrous thing.

 

_________________________

 
A WIFE'S EVENING PRAYER.

(FROM THE GERMAN.)

 

A DAY well spent, as a just God approves,
        Is more than earthly wealth—far more than gold
Some care, indeed, my anxious spirit moves,
        Yet are my daily sufferings briefly told.

But I have been sustained in heart and powers;
        At my right hand my gracious Lord has stood;
In needful toil I've gladly passed my hours,
        And a fond mother's busy life pursued.

Now wondrous sleep its leaden sceptre sways,
        Till morning shall begin the day anew;
And every grateful spirit humbly prays
        For help, for pardon, and for blessing too.

My little inmates are already sleeping
        (How free from care!) in sombre night's embrace,
While I alone a silent watch am keeping,
        Inwardly asking for more strength and grace.

I, too, O Guardian Lord! shall soon be resting;
        But then dost wake while all Thy creatures sleep;
I toil, and think, and meditate, still trusting
        That thou a Father's watch will near me keep.

Defend me, Lord, from bitter Pain and sorrow,
        And with sweet quiet all my being bless,
And grant me, on the dawning of the morrow,
        Thy gracious Spirit's inward joyfulness.

And now my weary head in calm reposes,
        Safe in Thy love and in Thy watchful sight;
Sweet prayer my daily joys and duties closes,
        At peace with all mankind I hope to rest this night.

 

_________________________

 
LILLY AND HER NEWFOUNDLAND DOG.

[Hector is a large and handsome black and white, Newfoundland
dog (well known in Manchester), the property of Mr. James Travis,
of Hulme.]

 

TRULY 'tis a pleasant picture—
        (O, that we should e'er grow old!)
Lilly with her brave companion,
        Hector, beautiful and bold;
Lilly, graceful in her girlhood,
        Hector, generous in his pride,
Sporting cheerfully together,
        Friends whom nothing can divide.

Painter, take thy cunning pencil,
        Dip it in the brightest hues,
And portray these playful creatures,
        Worthy of the poet's muse;
Then the father's heart with gladness,
        And the mother's eyes with tears,
Will confess that thou has left them
        Pleasure for their after years.

Death, inevitable spoiler,
        Sharp and sudden, stern and slow,
All too soon may snatch their treasure,
        And o'erwhelm their souls with woe.
Then the dear and mute resemblance
        Oft will draw their earnest gaze,
And with silent power remind them
        Of the joys of former days.

Better far such simple pictures,
        Than the glare of warlike things,
Than the deeds of tragic story,
        Than the gorgeous pomp of kings:
For they keep the home affections
        Ever fresh with life and bloom;
Soothe the heart in its bereavement,
        Mitigate the spirit's gloom.

Lilly, first-born of thy mother,
        'Neath whose eye thy beauty grew,
Earliest offspring of thy father,
        Chiefest darling of the two—
Now thy nature is unsullied,
        Free from shadow, free from care,
May no unexpected sorrow
        Come upon thee unaware.

May thy mind, which is but dawning
        With a rich and rosy ray,
Quicken gently, softly open,
        Into clear and ample day;
May thy heart receive all goodness,
        With its passions at command,
Till thy loving parents see thee
        "Perfect woman, nobly planned."

Changeful time, perchance, may bring thee
        Sterner duties to fulfil;
May'st thou meet them, and perform them,
        With calm spirit and goodwill.
Whosoever wins and claims thee
        For his hearthstone and his heart,
May he cherish thee, and keep thee
        From all evil things apart.

And should children come around thee,
        Cheering home with gladsome din,
May they long remain beside thee,
        Free from sorrow—safe from sin.
But through all life's chances, changes,
        Keep thy feelings undefiled;
Loving still thy father, mother,
        Even as a little child.

Whatsoever may betide thee,
        Good or evil, foul or fair,
Strive to keep thy soul exalted
        'Bove the clouds of common care,
Thank thy God for smallest blessing,
        Meet His stroke with soul resigned,—
Still believing that all darkness
        Has some mercy-light behind.

As for Hector, he will never
        Waver in his love for thee;
But, perhaps, hereafter gambol
        With the children round thy knee.
Cherish, then, thy true companion,
        With his fond, sagacious ways;
While he lives he will remind thee
        Of thy happy early days.

 

_________________________

 
HYMN TO THE CREATOR.

 

PRAISE unto GOD! whose single will and might
Upreared the boundless roof of day and night,
        With systems, suns, and gorgeous cloud-wreaths hung;
The emblazoned veil which hides the Eternal's throne;
The glorious pavement of a world unknown,
        By angels trodden, and by mortals sung!
To God! who fixed old ocean's utmost bounds,
And bade the moon in her harmonious rounds
        Govern His waters with her quiet smiles;
Bade the obedient winds, though seeming free,
Walk the tumultuous surface of the sea,
        And place man's restless foot upon a thousand isles.

Praise unto God! who thrust the rifted hills,
With all their golden veins and gushing rills,
        Up from the burning centre, long ago;
Who spread the deserts, verdureless and dun,
And those stern realms forsaken of the sun,
        Where frost hath built his palace-halls of snow.
To God! whose hand hath anchored in the ground
The forest-growth of ages,—the profound
        Green hearts of solitude, unsought of men:
God! who suspends the avalanche; who dips
The Alpine hollows in a cold eclipse,
        And hurls the headlong torrent shivering down the
                 glen.

Praise unto God! who speeds the lightning's wing
To fearful flight, making the thunder spring
        Abrupt and awful from its sultry lair,
To rouse some latent function of the earth,
To bring some natural blessing into birth,
        And sweep disorder from the sluggish air.
To God! who bids the hurricane awake,
The firm rock shudder, and the mountain quake
        With fierce and inextinguishable fires:
Who urges ghastly pestilence to wrath,
Sends withering famine on his silent path,—
        The holy purpose hid from our profane desires.

Praise unto God! who fills the fruitful soil
With wealth, awaking to the hand of toil,
        With germs of beauty and abundance too;
Who bends athwart the footstool of the skies
His braided sun-bow, of resplendent dyes.
        Melting in rain-drops from the shadowy blue.
To God! who sends the seasons, "dark and bright,"
Spring's frequent resurrection of delight,
        Summer's mature tranquillity of mien,
The generous flush of the Autumnal time,
The ever-changing spectacle sublime
        Of purgatorial Winter, savage or serene.

Praise unto God! for this my lower life
Of pleasures and of penalties; this strife
        Of the impatient spirit with its clay;
This prelude to a harmony supernal;
This passage to the promised land eternal;
        This far-off glimmer of a perfect day.
To God! who gives the luxury to know,
By the quick sense, grace, excellence below,
        Shapes, notions, splendours, voices of the earth;
The glow and glory of the solar beams,
Lone haunts, and early birds, bright stars, and streams;
        The languid luscious air, where flowers and fruits
                have birth.

Praise unto God! the Artizan Divine,
Who breathed into this feeble frame of mine
        The sleepless, deathless principle of mind,
With all its powers for rectitude and wrong,
Its struggles and its triumphs, and its throng
        Of thoughts which leave light's subtle shafts
                behind.
To God! for feelings which adorn and bless
My loneliest pathway in the wilderness,
        My sternest trial-time of grief and gloom:
Praise for the angel Hope, whose, onward wings,
Touched with the tincture of celestial things,
        Allure me towards the fields of everlasting bloom

Praise unto God! whose wisdom placed me here,
A lowly dweller on this lovely sphere,—
        This temporary home to mortals given,
Which holds its silent and unerring way
Among the innumerable orbs that stray,
        Singing and burning, through the halls of heaven.
To God! who sent me hither to prepare,—
By wordless worship, or by uttered prayer,
        By suffering, humility, and love,
By sympathies and deeds, from self apart,
Nursed in the inmost chambers of the heart,
        For that transcendent lot of purity above.

Praise unto God! for greater things than these;—
And here upon my reverential knees,
        Let soul, heart, lip, be burdened all with praise;
Praise for that Blessed Book, that Page of Life,
With holiest solace and assurance rife,
        Whose light breaks in upon my middle days.
To Him! the gentle and the glorified,
Who left the shadow of Jehovah's side,
        To toil, teach, suffer, mediate, and die;—
Who came with peace upon His lips, and power,
With love which lightened the atoning hour,
        To ransom captive souls, and train them for the sky.

 

_________________________

 
WINTER THOUGHTS.

 

STERN WINTER! stormy, sullen, cold, and dun,
Then joyless outcast from the genial sun,
Thou gloomiest offspring of the rolling year,
With front forbidding, awful, and austere,—
I feel thy shadows round about me fall,
Heavy and silent, like a funeral pall;
And bow beneath thy season of decay,
As though my hopes of Spring had passed away.

        Thou fierce disturber of the flight of time,
Pregnant with painful thoughts, and deeds of crime,
With every rush of the impetuous gale,
O'er the sad landscape comes thy voice of wail.
Thy threatenings look incessant from the skies,
Which seem to sicken in thy dark disguise,
And bend,—a mighty canopy of woe,—
O'er the blank features of the world below.

        Mournful remembrancer! thy presence brings
A thousand pictures of distressful things
Within the town's thick wilderness of walls,
Where want prevails, where wretchedness appals;
Of beings crowded in their sordid homes,
Where hope, nor joy, nor sunlight ever comes;
Where houseless vice, and houseless virtue, too,—
Prospective death and danger in their view,—
Lie down together on the cruel stones,
And stir the air with curses and with groans!

        Even where Royalty, with graceful pride,
Hath spread its gardens, beautiful and wide;
Where smooth lakes slumber, and where fountains play
In curves of crystal in the face of day,
To please the ear, and sparkle in the eye
Of idle Fashion, as it flutters by;—
There, even there, when night holds solemn reign,
The heirs of wedded penury and pain,
The lost, the scorned, the trampled of their kind,—
Fellows in misery, if not in mind,—
Herd like the brutes, forgetfulness to win,
A hideous heap of indigence and sin!

        Funereal month! thy cold oppressive frown,
Piercing the tangled byways of the town,
Shadows a thousand hearthstones, where the soul
Is warped and withered, by the stern control
Of such realities as almost seem
The dark distortions of a madman's dream:
Fathers sit brooding o'er their wretched state,
With looks of anger, and with hearts of hate;
Mothers, with haggard and bewildered air,
Survey their little starvelings, and despair;
Children, grown prematurely old, decay
In apathetic squalor, day by day,
And still and stealthy cunning takes the place
Of childhood's natural gaiety and grace;
While their harsh destiny implants such seeds
As rankly germinate in moral weeds,
Which thrust the flowers of gentleness apart,
And drain the dews of goodness from the heart.

        Perchance within those lazar-dens of shame,
Insidious sickness worms the famished frame;
Pierces the vitals of its passive prey,
And drinks the life-blood, drop by drop, away.
Where is the yielding couch, the quiet room,
The constant taper-light to cheer the gloom,
The cleanly hearthstone, and the genial fire,
The cordial ready at the lips' desire,
The kind hand, busy in its sad employ,
The gentle tongue that speaks of future joy,
The punctual visit of the skilful leech,
Who comes to practice patience, not to preach,
The Pastor, asking comfort from above,
The mild, anticipating looks of love,
Of those whose welcome presence has the power
To take some sadness from the dying hour?—
Alas! not there!   No solace, no repose
In the lone lurking-place of many woes
No cup of balm, no pillow softly laid,
No earthly hope, no spiritual aid;
But darkness, desolation, and despair,
With craving hunger's selfish cries, are there:
While time, suspended on his weary wings,
Seems hovering like a nightmare, till he brings
Death, the dread waker from the sleep of life,—
The inevitable power which quells all mortal strife.

        Strange contrast!—see, yon palace windows gleam
From rooms made gorgeous as an eastern dream,
Where Art hath brought her triumphs, rich and rare,
Where subtle perfumes hang upon the air;
Where mirrors shine with oft-reflected blaze,
And glowing canvas tempts the listless gaze;
Where splendid trifles strew the yielding floor,
Where lusty lacqueys loiter at the door;
Where costly dainties court the pampered taste,
And southern nectars run to wanton waste;
Where silken couches woo the languid form,
And all is bright, and indolent, and warm:
While mazy music, skilfully expressed,
Lulls Fortune's weary idol into rest.

        And yet, there are, within a Christian's call,
Without the barrier of that stately wall,
Shapes of humanity, unhoused, unfed,
The sky their curtain, and the earth their bed,
Which writhe like vipers near the rich man's feet,
Frenzied for food his dogs refuse to eat;
Or suffer uncomplainingly, and die,
Mid blessings broad and boundless as the sky!

        In God's own Book I read to understand—
"The poor shall never cease from out the land:"
But shall they pine, with sickening hope deferred,
For what kind Nature gives to brute and bird?
Shall they exist in darkness and distrust,
Doubting if God be merciful and just?
Formed with immortal faculties, by Him
Adored and circled by the Seraphim,
Him who has given the humblest worm a law,
Sustained the skies, and kept the stars in awe,—
Shall they, oppressed with famine and with fears,
Sow health and hope, and gather nought but tears?
Obey and toil, grow fretful and complain,
Reason, implore, grow mad, —and all in vain?

        Forbid it, GOD, who gavest these creatures birth!
Forbid it, lovely and prolific earth!
Ye mild and moral principles of right,
Rise up against it with a face of light;
And all ye holier sympathies that lie
Hid in the depths of our humanity,
Wake from your useless slumbers, and withstand
This growing grievance of our fatherland.

        Strong Wealth, hast thou no largess to bestow
On the poor child of ignorance and woe?
Hast thou no slender sacrifice to make,
No self-denial for thy brother's sake?
Thou hast the power,—oh! cultivate the will
To 'meliorate the dire extent of ill
Which spreads and threatens, even at thy side,
Flinging reproach upon thy thoughtless pride.
Search for the truth, and thou shalt find a way
To hoard up comfort for a future day;
Search for the truth, and let the truth impart
A pure and generous impulse to thy heart;—
An impulse whose sweet exercise shall be
A tenfold blessing back again to thee!



[Next Page]

 



[Home] [Up] [Biography] [Hours with the Muses] [Dreams and Realities] [Poetic Rosary] [Autumn Leaves] [Unpublished Poems] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

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