Hours with the Muses (4)
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THE VOICE OF THE PRIMROSE.

 

THE sun's last glances through the clear air trembled
    And died in blushes on the changeful stream,
Till all the features of the scene resembled
    The dim remembrance of some blessèd dream:
A Bard sat musing by a woodland well,
Wrapt in the chain of Thought's delicious spell.

Far hills, green fields, and shadowy woods before him,
    Faded with gradual softness into shade,
And as the veil of twilight gathered o'er him,
    Each lingering sound to quiet hush was laid;
And, save a breezy whisper in the bower,
Nought broke the calm of that most tender hour.

At length, a voice of fragrant, breath, below him,
    Pronounced, in silvery syllables, his name:
But there was scarce a gleam of light to show him
    From whence the gentle voice and odour came;
Till, stooping down, the murmuring tones to meet,
He saw a Primrose smiling at his feet.

Thus spake the flower:—"Oh! Child of Fancy! listen,
    While I my sorrows and my hopes unfold;
And ere the dews upon my leaflets glisten,
    My weak ambition shall to thee be told;
And when thou minglest with thy kind again,
Tell them that flowers have griefs as well as men.

"I pine in solitude, unknown, unknowing,
    From morn's first blushes to the last of eve,
And as the generous sun is o'er me glowing,
    Beneath the splendour of his smile I grieve,—
Opening my bosom to the roving gale,
Far from my fragrant sisters of the vale.

"The burly peasants pass me by unheeding,
    As forth they loiter to their toil at morn;
And, as they pass, my little heart is bleeding,
    That I should linger in a world of scorn:
And then I hope again that I may be
The simple favourite of one like thee.

"When weeping twilight o'er this valley hovers,
    And sheds her tears upon the earth as now,
Oft do I listen to the talk of lovers,
    Beneath the shadow of that hawthorn bough;
And then I sigh to grace the bashful fair,
And be entwined within her braided hair.

"Young, happy children, through the woodlands
            roaming,
    Waking the echoes with their joyous play,
Oft cross my path, and as I see them coming,
    I wish that they would pluck me by the way:
Alas! regardless of my soft perfume,
They pass me o'er for things of gaudier bloom.

"I have beheld thee in thy fits of musing,
    Thy loose hair lifted by the zephyr's sighs;
And I have seen ecstatic tears suffusing
    The dreamy depths of thy soul-speaking eyes;
And I have spread my saffron leaves, perchance
To catch, though briefly, thy delighted glance.

"Now then hast seen me—heard me, and my story
    Shall fall in sweetness from thy magic tongue;
Oh! shrine me in the halo of thy glory—
    Give me a place in thine immortal song;
And when I die in this enchanted spot,
The lowly Primrose will not be forgot!"

 

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I GO FOR EVERMORE.

 

I GO, but ere my steps depart,—
    Before my lips pronounce thee free,—
While yet I hold thee to my heart,
    That bleeds—how vainly bleeds for thee;
Thou hears't my unavailing sighs,—
    The hidden strife will soon be o'er;
Thou seest the tears that dim mine eyes,—
    I go—I go for evermore!

I met thee in thy earliest youth,
    A meek and unassuming maid,—
The seeming light of holy truth
    O'er thine enchanting aspect played;
I loved thee;—that sweet dream is past,
    'Twas thine own falsehood broke the spell;
My baffled hopes expire at last,
    In one despairing word—Farewell!

 

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THE MOUNTAIN SPRING.

 

ALONE I lingered at the rocky foot
Of Snowdon's throne—Snowdon, the awful king
Of Cambria's mountain realm,—and as I gazed
With longing eyes upon his cloudy crown,
I yearned, with feelings strong as they were strange,
To plant my daring foot upon his head
Of glory and sublimity.   The wish
Inspired me with the power, and I prepared
With an enthusiast's ardour, to explore
The solitudes of mystery and might.
    Wild was the way, and weary was the steep,
Up which I travelled with a tardy pace;
The sun shone fiercely in the summer sky,
And scarce the mountain winds could temper down
His sultry splendour.   As I upward strained,
My brow was beaded with the dews of toil;
My tongue was wordless with increasing thirst,
Yet not a rill, or stream, or shaded well
Was seen to twinkle in the burning light.
Yet was the mind the conqueror; my dreams
Sustained and strengthened me along the way
Of savage desolation, till the crown,
The peaked, fantastic crown, on Snowdon's brow,
Loomed sternly, darkly in the azure air,
And lent new vigour to my panting heart.
A moment's rest, a moment's wildering thought,
    A moment's look upon the world below,
And up I bounded with renewed delight,
To end my toilsome task.   More wild and steep,
More terrible and strange, more silent yet,
Became the scene of grandeur I had sought;
And as I gained the goal of my desires,—
The utmost summit of the place of storms,
The highest stone in Cambria's magic land,
The granite diadem on Snowdon's head,—
A whirl of wonder and a gush of joy,
A mingled sense of terror and of love,
Came o'er my soul, and, languid as a child,
I sat in speechless ecstacy and awe!
    I may not tell in this imperfect strain,
The things I felt, the glories I beheld,
In this transcendant solitude; a pen
Dipped in a fountain of celestial fire,
And wielded by an angel's mystic hand,
Might fail in fitting language to convey
To mortal ear the feelings of my heart,
Or paint the matchless majesty that reigns
In this enchanting corner of the world.
    Thirsting and faint, and feeble with excess
Of pleasure and amazement, I essayed
To find some herb wherewith to cool my lips,
And stay the pangs of agonizing thirst.
Long was my search in vain; a scanty grass,
Brown, dry, and seared, was all I found,—anon
A line of glittering moisture on the stones
Caught my expectant eye; soon, soon I traced
The silvery promise to its source, and lo!
A cool delicious spring, a tiny well,
Scarce broader than a maiden's looking-glass,
Displayed its crystal bosom to my sight,
And wooed my willing lip.   With eager haste
I stooped to quaff its nectar, while a thrill
Of exquisite delight ran through my veins,
Imparting strength and gladness.   On its brink
I sat exulting in my loneliness,
Feeding my soul with poesy.   Afar
The dim blue circle of the level sea
Zoned the unbounded prospect; lakes and streams,
Gleaming and glittering in the valleys fair,
Mixed in the mighty picture; mountains vast,
Enclosing regions sterile, dark, and stern,
Bristled on every side, as if the world,
Tortured and tossed, like tempest-trodden waves,
To fury inconceivable, had turned
To sudden stone,—a monument of power
Built by the Eternal's wonder-working hand!
Soft snatches of green field, of waving wood,
Of human dwelling-places, towns, and towers,
And corn-producing plains, filled up the whole,
Leaving an impress on my mind and heart
Which time can never weaken or destroy!
    Another draught from the inspiring spring,
And I descended from the silent height
Of storm-defying Snowdon; as I went,
Grateful for dangers past, for beauties won,
For toils accomplished, and for pleasures felt,
In fancy then, but since in feeble words,
I sang the tiny Fountain of the Wild:—

"Well of the Mountain Wild! I leave thee now,
    No more to linger by thy crystal side;
No more to stand upon thy father's brow,
    Who owns a kingdom wonderful and wide;
Yet I would help thee to a far renown,
Thou brightest gem on Snowdon's awful crown!

"Other fair scenes may lure me from my home,
    Other bright springs may tempt me to partake;
But wheresoe'er my vagrant feet may roam,
    Still will I love thee for thy own sweet sake,
For thou didst soothe my painful fever down,
Thou brightest gem on Snowdon's barren crown!

"Thou art old giant Snowdon's tranquil eye!
    His one unsleeping eye without a veil,
Gazing for ever on the changeful sky,
    To watch the clouds career before the gale;
Undimmed by lightning or the tempest's frown,
Thou art a gem on Snowdon's lonely crown!

"It were, indeed, a joy by thee to rest,
    In calm companionship, throughout the night,
While the sweet dew-stars slumbered on thy breast,
    And the mild moon beheld her own pure light,
Until the dawn sent kindling glory down,
To wake thy smiles, rich gem on Snowdon's crown!

"By many a wanderer thy place and name
    Are known and sought, as they shall ever be;
To other men thy freshness and thy fame
    Shall go abroad, till they shall come to thee
From plain and glen, from hamlet and from town,
Thou brightest gem on Snowdon's awful crown!"

 

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THE POOR, MAN'S APPEAL.

 

LOOK down upon the people, gracious God!
    The suffering millions need thy special care;
For cruel laws are made to curse the sod
    Which thou hast made so fertile and so fair;
Laws which, like harpies on our vitals fed,
Snatch from our lips the life-sustaining bread.

Thou smilest on the fruit tree and the field,
    And beauteous bounty springeth into birth;
Thou breathest in the seasons, and they yield
    More than enough for every child of earth:
Then is it just that we should pine and die,
'Mid blessings broad and boundless as the sky?

Listen, ye wealthy magnates of the land,
    Girt with the splendour of your palace balls;
Listen, ye mingled law-creating band,
    Our chosen voice within the senate walls;
Let wisdom guide your delegated power,
For danger thrives with each succeeding hour.

Who raised our country's greatness?—Britain's slaves,
    Chained to the oar of unrequited toil;
The seaman wrestling with the winds and waves,—
    The ploughman fainting o'er the furrowed soil,
And all the victims of Misfortune's frown,
Who fill the windings of the sickly town:

The famished weaver, bending o'er his loom,
    Venting his agonies with smothered breath;
The miner, buried in unbroken gloom,
    Looking for life amid the damps of death;
Young children, too, have borne unheeded pains,
To swell the stream of your unhallowed gains.

If ye are husbands, loving and beloved,—
    If ye are fathers in your offspring blest,—
If ye are men, by human passions moved,
    Let truth and justice plead for the oppressed:
The sorrowing mothers of our babes behold,
Whose homes are sad, and comfortless and cold.

Lo! fettered Commerce droops her feeble wing,
    And ships lie freightless on the heaving main;
No more with busy sounds our harbours ring—
    The breezes come, the tides go back in vain;
And England's artizans, a squalid brood,
Creep from their homes and supplicate for food.

Our once proud marts are desolate and lone,—
    Our patriots trembling for the nation's fame;
Prison and poor-house, gorged with victims, groan
    With complicated misery and shame;
And public pride, and private joy, no more
Can find a place on our unhappy shore.

Behold where many-armed Rebellion walks,
    Gaunt, fierce, and fearless, in the eye of day;
And Crime, the offspring of Oppression, stalks
    'Mid scenes of strife, and terror, and dismay;
And Vengeance bares his arm, and lifts the brand,
To sweep Injustice from the groaning land.

Forth rush the multitude in mad career,
    For unrelenting Hunger goads them on;
Stern Anarchy is leagued with frantic Fear;
    Safety, and Peace, and Liberty are gone;
Mighty and mean are mingled in the fall,
Now Ruin comes and tramples upon all.

Such is or shall be, the disastrous end
    Of all your stubborn policy and pride:
A wakening people must and will contend
    For rights withheld, and sustenance denied;
Thoughts of the painful present and the past
Must bring the hour of reckoning at last.

Be timely just,—your granary gates unbar,—
    Let Plenty's golden banner be unfurled;
Let Trade with winged ships spread wide and far,
    Laden to every corner of the world:
Let Knowledge soothe, let Labour feed the poor,
And make the freedom of the land secure.

Then love, and peace, and virtue shall be found,
    Where erst sat discord, hatred, and despair;
Then man shall sow, and God shall bless the ground,
    And none shall murmur at another's share;
A social grandeur and a moral grace
Shall warm each heart, and brighten every face!

 

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TO J. P. WESTHEAD, ESQ.

 

BEFORE I lay my lowly harp aside,—
My constant hope, my solace, and my pride,
    Through all the changes of my grief or glee,—
Before its powers grow weaker and depart,
I weave the inmost feelings of my heart
    In one true song of thankfulness to thee.

My earthly lot hath been so strangely cast,
That all my musings on the chequered past
    Are but a kind of retrospective pain,
Without regret for any day gone by;
To Hopeful Campbell's polished song I fly,
    For gentle Rogers sings for me in vain.

When I was yet an unsuspecting child,
I was not thoughtless, frolicsome, and wild,
    To sport and pastime, or to mischief prone:
A moody, melancholy, wordless boy,
I always felt a strange and quiet joy
    In wandering companionless and lone.

But poverty, and pain, and darker things,
Threw much of withering poison in the springs
    Of better feeling in my youthful breast;
In every season and in every place
I wore a shade of sorrow on my face,—
    For I had troubles not to be expressed.

With none to strengthen and to teach my mind;
I groped my way like some one lost and blind,
    Within the windings of a tangled wood;
But still, my wakeful and enquiring thought,
My watchful spirit in its musings caught
    A partial glimpse of what was true and good.

I grew at last to manhood; fear and strife,
With all the bitterest ills of human life,
    Beset me round with wretchedness and gloom;
So low, so hopeless, was my abject state,
I thought it vain to wrestle with my fate,
    And bowed in passive patience to my doom.

Joyless I struggled on, till I became
A husband and a father; and the name
    Fell like the sound of music on my ear;
For spite of indigence and worldly wrong,
The guileless prattle of an infant's tongue
    Touched my sad heart, and made existence dear.

My troubles grew apace; my hopes grew less,
And, for my precious children's sake, distress
    Entered my spirit with a keener sting:
Man had no love and sympathy for me,
Nor I for tyrant man, who seemed to be
    A sordid, selfish, and ignoble thing.

Worn out, at length, I left my cheerless home,
Though rashly, in another land to roam,
    Where I became the poorest of the poor;
For I was forced (Oh! soul-degrading task!)
With low and supplicating voice, to ask
    The meed of bitter bread from door to door:

From house to house—from crowded town to town—
A wretched outcast, wandering up and down
    From every little comfort kept aloof;—
Without a shelter, naked, and unfed,
The cold and stony ground my only bed,
    The dark, inclement sky my only roof.

The vast and everlasting hills of God,—
The rock, the stream, the forest, and the sod,
    Exultingly I felt were all my own;
But when I mingled with the city's hum,
My soul grew joyless, and my heart grew dumb,
    For peopled places made me doubly lone.

By many a river, silent wood, and glen,
Far from the prying eyes of busy men,—
    By many a fertile vale, and castled steep,—
On many an ancient and romantic spot,
Where peaceful Nature was, but Man was not,—
    I sat me down to meditate and weep.

My mind drank beauty, as the sandy plain
Absorbs the freshness of the summer rain
    That falls so sweetly on its burning face;
At every forward step, some strange delight
Wakened my slumbering heart, and charmed my
            sight
    With some new feature of surpassing grace.

My wondering soul with poesy was fraught,
And higher, nobler, and serener thought,
    Which I had never felt or known before;
Back to my native land I gladly flew,
Resolved my best endeavours to renew,
    And quit my kindred and my home no more.

But, Oh! the many and the bitter tears,—
The daily sorrows and the nightly fears,
    My poor and patient wife had borne so long!
The cold, the want, the misery, the blame,
The vulgar scorn, the insult, and the shame,—
    'Twere vain to tell in this protracted song!

An older, wiser, and a better man,
I strove to find some calm and steady plan,
    Whereby to banish restlessness and want:
Vain were my best resolves; I only found
The same unvaried, dull, and toilsome round
    Of unremitting slavery and scant.

Daily I laboured for uncertain food;
But yet my dearest hopes were not subdued
    By stern Misfortune's unrelenting frown;
A bright but distant future cheered my way,—
Oh! how I yearned to breathe a living lay,
    And win the glory of a Bard's renown!

For I had roamed in Fancy's fairy bower,
And rifled here and there some wilding flower
    That grew uncared for in the secret nooks;
I wandered oft in silence and alone,
Gathering some simple shell, some polished stone,
    From level sea-sands and meandering brooks.

At length some kind and kindred spirits came
To praise and flatter; and the smothered flame
    That burned so feebly in my fettered soul,
Flashed out at once with unexpected gleams,
Taking the shape of dear delicious dreams,
    That woke unceasingly and mocked control.

I thirsted then, and I am thirsting still,
Of Mind's imaginings to take my fill,
    And drink bright thoughts from fountains pure and
            free.
But I have talked too wildly, and too long;
Here let my willing, but my wayward song,
    Come back, respected Westhead! unto thee.

I have my friends—and valued ones—a few
For ever gentle and for ever true,
    Bearing the heart within the open palm;
Some are of good estate, and some are poor
Oh! may our mutual fellowship endure,
    And fill the cup of life with hallowed balm!

But thou hast been a steadfast friend indeed,—
For ever ready in the hour of need,
    To bid my sorrows and my wants depart;—
Not with a haughty patronising pride,
Taking a licence to condemn and chide,
    But with a perfect sympathy of heart.

A kind adviser thou hast been to me,
Leaving me still in thought and action free;
    Oh! let me thank thee for such just regard!
For I believe that thy superior aim
Is but to raise to comfort and to fame
    A long distressed, but now aspiring Bard.

To thee and generous Jellicorse I owe
Much—and my future gratitude shall show
    How well I can remember every debt;
The calm benevolence,—the manly tone,—
The care, —the kindly feeling ye have shown,
    Are things I cannot, if I would forget.

May peace be with ye both!   Should future time
Prosper my energies, and I should climb
    Where the far steep of glory proudly towers,
With what pure pleasure I shall then look back,
Along my perilous but upward track,
    And bless the friends who cheered my darker hours!

 

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THE SLAVE.

 

YE may tell of the gladness that wakes with the Spring,
When green-wood and welkin with melody ring;
When, strength in his pinion, and joy in his lay,
The lark flutters up in the face of the day;
When young bud and blossom are bursting to light,
And fields in their emerald freshness are bright:—
What boots this exulting o'er hill, field, and wave?—
Alas! it is lost to the ear of the Slave!

Ye may tell of the glories of Summer-born June,
Of the pride of its morning, the damp of its noon;
Of its beauty of sunset, ere night hath unfurled
His star-coloured veil o'er the face of the world;
When the breezes are sweet with the kisses of flowers,
Those odorous gems of the meadows and bowers:—
But the sweat-drops of toil his wan forehead that lave,
Embitter and darken these charms to the Slave.

Ye may tell of the treasures of Autumn's domain,
When fertile abundance enriches the plain;
When the warm blushing orchard begins to unfold
Its various fruitage of purple and gold;
When the song of the reaper grows loud in its mirth,
And the drones of the world claim the gifts of the earth;
Though his toil may deserve them, his poverty crave,
How few are bestowed on the comfortless Slave!

Ye may tell of the vigour that Winter sends forth,
On the health-bearing wings of the boisterous north,
When ye sit by the dear social hearth and its fire,
Shut in from the storm in its pitiless ire;
When dainty profusion encumbers the board,—
When ye feel the enjoyments that riches afford,—
Oh! think, when the turbulent elements rave,
How dreary and sad is the home of the Slave!

Ye may tell us that Knowledge hath shed on our isle
The glow of her pure and encouraging smile;
That all may sit down to the banquet, and share
The mental provision untaxed as the air;
But where shall the children of Poverty find
One hour to enlighten or solace the mind?
Farewell to the splendour that circles the knave,
When knowledge and truth are revealed to the Slave!

Ye may say there's a spirit of freedom in all,
Throughout the vast realm of this wonderful ball;—
In the gush of the stream and the fountain 'tis heard,
In the sigh of the gale, in the song of the bird;
'Tis seen in the sun-cloud's etherial sweep,—
'Tis known in the womb of the fathomless deep:
It lives in the cloud, in the gale, in the wave—
Oh, why is it kept from the labouring Slave!

Must we bear with those dens of pollutions that stand
Dark, frequent, and full o'er the once pleasant land,—
Those temples of Bacchus, were thousands are slain
By the poisonous cup at the altar of gain;
Where the mind of the man is degraded and tame,
Where the cheek of the maiden grows callous to shame;
Let them cease to destroy—let them cease to deprave,
Let us blot out the name of the Drunkard and Slave!

Go, watch the poor human automaton rise,
With a load at his heart, and reproach in his eyes,
The victim of poverty, vice, and disease;—
How haggard his visage! how feeble his knees!
When hunger hath made its most urgent appeal,
For labour incessant—how scanty the meal!
He hath but one hope, and that hope is the grave,
For life is a source of despair to the Slave!

Oh! merciful God of the poor and oppressed,
Who hath promised the sick and the weary one rest—
Look down on the thousands whose sweat has been spilt
To nurse the oppressor in grandeur and guilt!
Oh! let not the proud, the unpitying few,
The many—the broken in spirit-subdue!
Let the words of the gifted, the good, and the brave,
Ring out in behalf of the soul-stricken Slave!

 

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THE STUDENT OF NATURE.

A FRAGMENT.

 

BOOKS are a blessèd dower, when they enshrine
    Thoughts, words, and feelings of immortal men;—
Gushes of glory from a fount divine,
    Flashes of freedom from the chainless pen;
Mirrors of mental light, condensed and strong,
Pure treasures of philosophy and song;
Records of truth which all should understand,
Voices of wisdom heard in every land:
I have a passion for each page of power,
And love to try its spells at midnight's quiet hour!

But my chief study is in Nature's halls,
    For ever fair, magnificent, sublime;
The everlasting mountains are its walls,
    Which rarely shrink beneath the touch of Time,
Pictured with clouds that o'er its surface roam,
Its ceiling is vast heaven's eternal dome;
By day sunlit with splendour, and by night
Hung with a myriad lamps of never-dying light.

My study hath an ever-open door,
    Stretching away from golden east to west;
It hath a broad and variegated floor,
    The loveliest human foot hath ever pressed;
'Tis pranked with flowers of every form and hue,
Woven with streams of living crystal through;
Studded with silvery lakes and shadowy woods,
Glassed with the green expanse of Ocean's restless floods!

On every spot beneath the embracing skies,
    In every season, and in every place,
Some page of beauty lingers on my eyes,
    A blending of sublimity and grace;
Some living odour hangs upon the air,
From clustered leaves, fresh herbs, and blossoms fair;
Tones of strange melody, from sources dim,
Mingle to greet me with a choral hymn;
All air-born sounds, birds, bees, and gushing springs,
Breathe to my listening soul a thousand happy things!

If I go down to the unconquered deep,
    On the frail ship where man embarks his life,
When horror-winged storms around me sweep,
    Trampling the briny waters into strife—
Tossed upward to the lightning-riven clouds,
Dashed downward even to the topmost shrouds;—
I feel, or could feel, glory in the rout
Of angry waves, a language in the shout
Of wind to wind, of thunder unto thunder—
A wild and dreamy sense of danger and of wonder!

And then to loiter on the shell-paved shore,
    When calm broods o'er the billows like a dove,—
Are there not things around me as before,
    To see, to feel, to dream upon, and love?
Pensive to wander on the sandy verge,
And watch the snow-fringed and advancing surge
Come rolling up from out the tranquil sea,
Is peace, is joy, is luxury to me!
While the far murmur of the waves at play
Sounds like a grateful voice for troubles passed away.

Away on Fancy's world-exploring pinions,
    To Araby's wide wilderness—away;
Where the high sun hangs o'er his dread dominions,
    With looks that make intolerable day,
Save when the swift and terrible simoom
Covers the face of heaven with burning gloom;
Walks o'er the surface of the sandy sea,
A formless fiend of dark sublimity;
Builds baseless mountains by his sultry breath,
And reigns, the scourge of life, the minister of death!

'Tis eve—and hark! the camel-bell is ringing;
    The caravan, with perilous toils oppressed,
Stays where the tree-girt well is sweetly springing,
    To snatch some fleeting hours of blessèd rest.
The sun is set, and twilight, like a veil,
Floats o'er the cooling skies; the stars are pale,
But ere another hour the breath of night
Shall fan them till they burn intensely bright;
While the lone wanderers of that desert plain
Shall dream of hope and home till morn return again.

In thought I sojourn in the solitudes,
    The silent regions of the western star,—
The awful, dark, interminable woods,
    The level prairies, stretching fair and far;
The uninvaded mountain peaks, that stand
Like the stern barriers to an unknown land;
And mighty hollows, where the Storm alone
Hath dared to plant his footsteps and his throne,—
Caverns of gloomy grandeur, where the power
Of Art hath never triumphed to this hour;
And all the thousand mysteries sublime
Which rose when Earth began, the co-mates of old Time.

I come once more unto the milder charms
    Of calm, green England, the enlightened Isle
Which lies encircled by old Ocean's arms,
    And wears upon its face a placid smile;
I come unto her pastoral vales, to dream
Beneath the sylvan shadows, where the stream
Twinkles with chequered radiance, as it singeth
Through grassy dingles where the wild flower springeth.
Bent by the butterfly and gorgeous bee;
Where birds from sunny shy and trembling tree
Fill the bright summer with melodious voice;
So that my spirit cannot but rejoice
That heaven hath dropped such pleasures from above,
To cheer the human soul with poesy and love!

 

_________________________

 
A FRAGMENT FOR THE PEOPLE.

 

OH! I am sick of this degrading strife,
This harsh reiteration of a theme
Which men call Politics,—this lust of power
By those who would abuse the precious boon,—
This yearning after fame, or infamy,—
(They care not which, so the base end be won)—
This cant of patriotism, too, from lips
That sell their country with a Judas kiss;—
This restless striving for unhallowed gain,—
This false ambition, which, exalting one,
Brings unprotected thousands to the dust;—
This mockery of millions who have toiled,
Yet pine for bread for which they toil in vain!
    Is it not sad to see a mass of men,—
The sinews of the State—the heart of wealth—
The never-failing life-blood of the land;
Is it not sad to see them stand like trees,
Swayed by the breath of every wind that blows:—
Drinking with greedy ear the specious tale
Of some deluding orator?   And, when
The artful speaker with a flourish makes
The accustomed pause, shouting they know not why,—
Acting they know not how,—till, having sent
The exulting demagogue in triumph home,
They find, alas! what they have ever found,
For freedom—scorn, and words instead of bread.
    When will this suffering people learn to think,
And, thinking learn to know the good from ill,—
The true from false,—the metal from the dross?
When will they watch their own frail steps, and shun
That subtle serpent shining in their path,
Whose glance is danger, and whose tongue is death?
Behold, the town is all astir; each house
Sends forth its eager inmates; to and fro,
Promiscuous crowds are hurrying in haste,
With haggard looks, and savage.   In the air
Gay banners flaunt it bravely; square and street
Echo the sound of music, and the shouts
Of gathered multitudes.   In Reason's eyes,
This is a foolish jubilee of shame,
When Britons sell their manhood for a promise—
"Held to the ear but broken to the hope."
    A few more hours of riotous display—
Of wolfish warfare and of party strife—
And Night shall draw her curtain o'er a scene
Unworthy of the glory of the sun:
Then shall this mass of artizans retire
To pass the midnight in a rude debauch,
Till Morn shall wake them to a painful sense
Of all that was and is;—babes without food,—
Wives without peace,—themselves without a hope
Of aught save vengeance for a thousand wrongs!
Poor sons of toil! your destiny is dark,
Without the light of Knowledge; sad your lot,
Without the cheering influence of Truth;
Vain your resolves, till Virtue shall inspire
Your souls with moral dignity, and bring
The power to win what God has given for all.
    Come, let me turn from this tumultuous din
Of human voices—this discordant jar
Of human thoughts and passions,—let me turn
To live and think for some few fleeting hours,
In the calm presence of unsullied Nature;
Where I could live for ever, were it not
That I had sympathy with man, and hope
To walk with him the way to happier times.
Where now I stand the very sky puts on
A frowning face,—the very air feels rank
With falsehood and corruption.   Fast and far
I fly contamination, till at length
The mingled uproar of the distant town
Sounds like the moaning of a far-off sea.
    I pause to rest and meditate, and lo!
The fresh, fair country smiles upon me; skies
Bend in their brightness o'er me; slumbering woods
Keep twilight yet, save where the parted boughs
Let in brief intervals of golden day.
Like living things of music and of light,
Streams dance upon their journey,—pastures green,
Studded with quiet cattle, calmly give
Their verdurous bosoms to the summer sun;
Luxuriant meadows, sighing for the scythe,
And prodigal of beauty, rise and fall
Beneath the frolic footsteps of the breeze.
The birds, with ceaseless voices, fill the ear
With pure and delicate melody; the lark,
Caged in the centre of a silvery cloud,
Lets fall a shower of gladness upon earth;
The desultory bees that sing and toil,
Fill up the chorus with their soothing hum;
The flowers, from tiny chalices, pour out
A draught of fragrance for the thirsty soul;
All, all is harmony, and light, and bloom,
Freedom and freshness, peacefulness and joy.
    Oh! thou Almighty and Beneficent God!
Beneath the span of glorious heaven, I kneel
Upon thine own fair earth, and ask of thee
The boon of truth and liberty for man!
Look down, I pray thee, on this groaning land,
Where Wrong rides rampant o'er the prostrate form
Of helpless Right,—where crime of every shape
Is rife, and that of greatest magnitude
Allowed to go unpunished;—true it is,
That harsh injustice is the chief of all.
The flower of social virtue scarcely lives,
But droops and saddens 'mid the weeds of vice
That grow on every side.   Gaunt Famine sits
Upon the threshold of a thousand homes;
The holy bonds of brotherhood are loosed,
And Man, a worshipper of Self, lifts up
His hand against his neighbour.   Every door
Of misery and death is opened wide:
Madness, and suicide, and murder bring
Unnumbered victims to the ready grave;
In parish prisons many pine and die,
And many on their own cold hearths unseen,
Some, bolder than their fellows in distress,
Snatch at the means of life, and find their way
To lonely dungeons, and are sent afar,
From wife and children severed, o'er the seas,
Or else, perchance, the gallows is their fate,
Which waits to take them from a cruel world.
    O God of Mercy, Justice, Love, and Peace!
How long must we despair?   When wilt thou make
This part of thy creation like the rest?
Thy universe is wonderful, and vast,
And beautiful, and pure—sustained and kept
By Thee in perfect harmony for ever!
Then why should Man, thine image, still remain
The jarring string of thine eternal harp?
Bright Essence of all Good!   Oh, deign to give
To human hearts a portion of the bliss
Which thou hast promised in thy written Word!
Give to the nations liberty, and love,
And plenty of the fruits of thy fair earth,
And charity, and knowledge, and a thirst
For Truth's bright fountains, and a trusting hope
To share, at last, thine immortality!

 

_________________________

 
THE POET AT THE GRAVE OF HIS CHILD.


[The Poet here alluded to, is my friend Mr. Samuel Bamford, of Middleton, a gentleman possessing high poetical powers, which, had they been more extensively cultivated, would have made him one of the most eminent, if not the most eminent of our Lancashire Bards.]

 

A BARD stood drooping o'er the grave
    Where his lost daughter slept,
Where nothing broke the stillness, save
    The breeze that round him crept;
And as he plucked the weeds away
That grew above her slumbering clay,
    He neither spoke nor wept:
But then he could not all disguise
The sadness looking from his eyes.

Indeed, it was a fitting tomb
    For one so young and fair,
Where flowers, as emblems of her bloom,
    Scented the summer air.
The primrose told her simple youth,
The violet her modest truth;—
    Thus had a father's care
Brought the sweet children of the wild,
To deck the head-stone of his child.

Around that spot of hallowed rest
    Grew many a solemn tree,
Where many a wild bird built its nest,
    And sung with constant glee;
And hills upreared their mighty forms
Through Summer's light and Winter's storms;
    And streams ran fresh and free,
Through many a green and silent vale,
Kept pure by heaven's untainted gale.

I looked upon the furrowed face
    Of that heart-breaking sire,
Where I, methought, could plainly trace
    The spirit's fading fire;
For he had stemmed the tide of years
In care, captivity, and tears;
    And yet he touched the lyre
With cunning and unfailing hand,
For freedom in his native land.

But now the darling child he had,
    The last and only one,
Which always made his spirit glad,
    From earth to heaven had gone,
And left him in his hoary age
To finish life's sad pilgrimage;
    And, as he travelled on,
To soothe the sorrows of his mate,
And brood upon his lonely fate.

How oft together did they climb
    The steep of Tandle hill,
And pause to pass the pleasant time
    Beside the mountain rill;
Then he would read some cherished book
Within some leafy forest nook,
    All cool, and green, and still:
Or homeward as they went along,
Sing of his own some artless song.

Such were the well-remembered themes
    That told him of the past,
And well might these recurring dreams
    Some shade of sadness cast:
Those hearts whose strong affections cling
Too closely round some blessèd thing,
    Too often bleed at last,
When Death comes near the stricken heart,
To tear its dearest ties apart.

True Poet! touch thy harp again,
    As was thy wont of yore;
Its voice will charm the sting of pain,
    As it hath done before:
Husband, subdue a mother's sorrow,—
Father, expect a brighter morrow,
    And nurse thy grief no more;
Man, bow thee to the chastening rod,
And put thy holiest trust in God!

 

_________________________

 
THE INQUIRY.

 

"TELL me, where canst thou be seen,
                                      Poesy?
I yearn to see thy face serene,
                                      Poesy!"
"Ask the stars, the dews, the flowers,
Ask the hills, the brooks, the bowers;
Ask the clouds when lightning-riven,
Or gleaming with the gold of even;
Ask the bow that spans the plain,
Ask the sunny-twinkling rain,—
                      And they will answer thee!"

"Tell me, where canst thou be heard,
                                      Poesy?
Alas! I pine with hope deferred,
                                      Poesy!"
"Ask the thunders as they leap,
Ask the never sleeping deep;
Ask the winds that roar, or sigh,
Ask the waters babbling by;
Ask the bee who sings and sips
Sweets from a thousand fragrant lips;
Ask the language of the leaves,
The shivering thrill of golden sheaves,
The coo of doves, the rush of wings:
Ask the breeze awakened strings,—
Ask the birds in sun and shade,—
Ask all sounds that God hath made,—
                      And they will answer thee!"

"Tell me, how canst thou be known,
                                      Poesy?
Make thy spirit all my own,
                                      Poesy!"
"Ask the feelings which awake
Within thee for compassion's sake;
Ask the sorrows of thy soul,
Ask the joy which mocks control;
Ask thy hopes—affections—love;
Ask thy dreams of bliss above,—
                      And they will answer thee!"

"Tell me, how canst thou be spoken,
                                      Poesy?
Give me some unfailing token,
                                      Poesy!"
"Ask the wailings of the poor,
A stricken crowd who much endure;
Ask the child's endearing tongue,
And the mother's answering song;
Ask the fervent vows of youth,
Ask the words of steadfast truth;
Ask the poet who hath brought
Rich language from the mines of thought;
Ask the breathings of despair,
Ask the contrite sinner's prayer;
Ask the syllables that fall
From Nature's lips—the best of all,—
                      And they will answer thee!"

"I thank thee with a gladdened heart,
                                      Poesy;
Henceforth my fears shall all depart,
                                      Poesy!
I'll go abroad upon the earth,
And give my dreamy feelings birth;
My every sense of sadness lull,
By gazing on the beautiful;
'And rise from out my mean estate,'
By mingling with the good and great,
Whose aim has been, mid toil and strife,
To give a thousand charms to life.
I'll follow thee in all thy moods,
Through Nature's awful solitudes;
I'll seek the ruins of the past,
Mid regions still, and wild, and vast;
Where pride and splendour once have been,
Where weary wastes are only seen
To mock the pilgrim's eye, and show
His lasting home is not below.
Through peopled towns my feet shall pass,
And o'er the barren, dark morass,
And o'er the mountain's giant form,
The nurse and birth-place of the storm.
My lonely footsteps shall abide
In forests wildering and wide,
And on the banks of mighty rivers,
Whose waves are broken into shivers
By gusty winds that o'er them sweep,
Or rocks precipitously steep.
And in the desert I will linger,
When early Morning's golden finger
Plays on Memnon's mystic stone,
And wakes it into music lone.
Where'er thy genial spirit reigns,
On wintry wastes, or sunny plains,
My vagrant feet shall find a place,
Where I will gaze upon thy face,
Until I utter words of flame,
To wreathe with light my humble name.
I'll talk with thought exalted things,
Until, on Fancy's strengthened wings,
I pierce the infinite afar,
And journey on from star to star,
Through dazzling files of sun-like spheres,
Which seen from earth, are but like tears
Which hang on blade, and flower, and thorn,
Shook from the dewy locks of Morn.
Or I will travel on the path
Which the mysterious comet hath,
Perchance to see it past me driven,
Filling with fire the cope of heaven,
And roaring like ten thousand seas,
Through its vast realms of mysteries,
Till fierce and far it fades away,
Beyond where human thoughts can stray.
    "Grown faint with splendour, Fancy falls
Down from the blue and boundless halls,
Where distant planets wax and wane,
To rest awhile on earth again.
Still thou art with me here below,
Spirit of Song! and well I know now
Thou art the soul of every thing
That comes with renovating Spring,—
Of all that Summer wakes to light,
Luxuriant, blooming, green, and bright,—
Of all that reeling Autumn yields,
Of luscious fruits and laden fields,—
Of all that Winter ushers in
With stormy revelry and din;—
The pictures of fantastic frost,
The feathery snow-shower, tempest tost,
The fierce and unexpected hail,
Smit downwards by the raging gale;
The trees that sway and groan aghast,
Beneath the wrestling of the blast,
And all the powers which reign sublime
Throughout that cold tumultuous time.
Thou art a spirit, too, at rest
Within the human soul and breast;
Felt beneath the palace dome,
And in the peasant's cottage home;
Spoken by the watchful sage,
Written on the poet's page,
Dispensing light to many a mind,
With joys exalted and refined.
    "Spirit of beauty, sound, and feeling
So calmly o'er my visions stealing,
Lend me thy purest, holiest fire
To raise my aspirations higher,
Until I seem to spurn the sod,
And feel thine essence—which is God!

 

_________________________

 
THE ROBIN.

A POEM FOR CHILDHOOD.

 

THE Robin is an English bird, fond of his native sky,
Whate'er the season, fierce or calm, he never deigns to fly;
He, like a patriot tried and true, braves every varying time,
And seems to cling the faithfulest when storms are in his
            clime.

The Robin is a bonny bird, as merry childhood knows,
Although he wears no gaudy crown, and dons no dainty
            clothes;
Although no sun-hues paint his wing, or play about his
            crest,
One ruddy flush of beauty burns upon his buoyant breast!

The Robin is a sacred bird, by Nature's nameless charm,
Romance and song have hallowed him, and shielded him
            from harm:
The school-boy, as he roams about, on mischief bent, or
            play
Peeps in upon his callow brood, but takes them not away.

The Robin is a gentle bird, for so old legends tell;—
The babes that died in the forest wide, he guarded long
            and well;
He made for them a winding sheet of fragrant leaves and
            flowers,
And sung a daily dirge for them in the dim cathedral
            bowers.

The Robin is a tuneful bird,—how oft at shut of day
With his familiar music, he disturbs the dewy spray!
With song so quaint and querulous, and yet so sweet and
            wild,
That age leans on his trembling staff, and listens like a
            child.

The Robin is a social bird, that loves the kindly poor,—
He scorns the palace porch, but comes to haunt the cottage
            door;
For bit or crumb he is not dumb, nor insolent, nor shy,
He sets his thanks to melody, and bids his friends good-bye!

The Robin is a patient bird, for in the sternest hour
His grateful anthem gushes forth with most consoling power,
And though a touch of sadness seems to mingle with the
            strain,
'Tis such as suits the pensive ear, and gives the heart no
            pain.

The Robin is the Poet's bird, poetic is his name,
And mortal minstrels, not a few, have linked him with their
            fame;
Poor Robin Bloomfield spake his praise, as eke did Robin
            Burns;
And Redbreast sings a requiem above their honoured urns.

The Robin is a welcome bird, when frost is creeping round,
When snow-wreaths wrap the ghostly trees, and clothe the
            stilly ground;
But woe to them who have no heart to love his simple lay,
For birds, like flowers, are pleasant things that never lead
            astray.

Then from the Robin let me learn some lessons good and
            wise,
Firm faithfulness, sweet cheerfulness, beneath the sternest
            skies,
A hymn of praise, an upward gaze to Him who guides and
            gives,
Who moulds and moves, sustains and loves, the humblest
            thing that lives!

 

_________________________

 
THE THREE ANGELS.

A VISION.

 

IN the shadow of slumber as dreaming I lay,
While the skies kindled up at the coming of day,
Three Angels, with pinions of splendour unfurled,
Came down with the softness of light on the world.
Grace, glory and gentleness compassed them round,
And their voices came forth with mellifluous sound,
As they uttered sweet words, heard and echoed above,
And departed on God-given missions of love.
From nation to nation one wandered afar,
And the tumult, the broil, the delirium of War,
The music that mocked the last struggle of life,
The trumpet that wailed through the pauses of strife,
The sod-staining revel, the cloud-cleaving roar,
Were awed into silence to waken no more;—
The death-dealing bolts of the cannon were stayed,
The soldier flung from him the blood-reeking blade,
The plume was uncared for, the helmet unworn,
The laurel was withered, the banner was torn,
The gorgeous delusion of warfare was past,
And the spirit of Brotherhood triumphed at last!
    Then Science arose from his thraldom, and stole
From the keeping of nature new gifts for the soul;
Then valorous Enterprise waved his proud hand,
And might and magnificence covered the land;
Then Commerce, from bonds of oppression set free,
Linked country to country, and sea unto sea;
Then Art, with a dream-like devotion, refined
Into beauty and purity, matter and mind;
Then Knowledge let loose all her treasures, and found
Goodly seed springing up in the stoniest ground;
Then lowly-born Industry learned to be blest,
Grew proud of his labour, and pleased with his rest;
The fields with unfailing abundance grew rife,
The cities were peopled with prosperous life;
Power, Plenty, Intelligence, prospered amain,
Secure of a placid and permanent reign;
While the Poet, a prophet, a teacher in song,
Sang hymns of rejoicing to gladden the throng;—
And well might such multiform blessings have birth,
For the Angel of Peace had re-hallowed the earth!
    Another dear visitant, sweetly sublime,
Went forth as a pleader for error and crime;
In the palace she tempered the soul of the king,
While his heart opened out at the touch of her wing:
In the senate she governed with eloquent awe,—
She swayed in the council, she lived in the law;
In the prison, mid apathy, terror, and gloom,
To the wretch who lay waiting the word of his doom,
She whispered of hope, breathed a calm o'er his fears,
Till his eyes overflowed with the blessing of tears,—
Till his spirit shook off the sad slouch of despair,
And his lips were inspired with the fervour of prayer.
By the side of grave Justice she took her proud stand,
And touched the dread scales with so lenient a hand
That the guilty, o'erburthened with gladness, withdrew
To a life of repentance, and usefulness, too,—
To a life which atoned to the world for the past,
And cancelled their records of sinning at last.
Then the axe of the headsman lay rotting with rust,
Then the gallows and guillotine crumbled to dust;
Then those legalized slaughters, which reddened the sod
With a sacrifice foul and offensive to God,
Being hideous and useless, went down to decay,
For the Angel of Mercy had willed them away!
    That Peace had accomplished, this Mercy had done,
But a great moral conquest had yet to be won,
And the third of these Angels came down to reclaim
A multitude steeped in sin, squalor, and shame.
Mid the children of Penury, Passion and Toil,
The town-fettered craftsmen, the sons of the soil;
Mid the bye-ways of life, pestilential and cold,
Mid the haunts where the draughts of destruction were sold;
Midst the hovels whose hearthstones were sordid and bare;
Mid the ravings of frenzy, the tears of despair;
Mid fathers that clung to the thraldom of sin,
Mid mothers that revelled in lewdness and din,
Mid children, poor aliens to comfort and rest,
Who learnt a dread vice as they hung at the breast,
Mid the lowly who made their sad destiny worse,
Mid the gifted who writhed in the coils of the curse—
The Angel walked forth, clothed in goodness and grace,
And the demon of Drunkenness fled from her face!
    But, inspired by her presence, the gifted looked up—
The lowly threw down the insidious cup,
The father grew blest in the love of his child,
The mother cast from her the things that defiled,
While her offspring grew docile, and happy, and wise;
And beheld their own joy in affectionate eyes;
The dwelling, though poor, became quiet and clean,
And harmony reigned where disorder had been;
Home pleasures, home treasures, home duties, home rest,
Were found to be holiest, calmest, and best;
The haunts of excitement grew empty and still,
Or peopled with souls of a healthier will;
The craftsman in bearing grew sober and trim,
The peasant rejoiced in a sturdier limb;
The tongues of the timid found words to declaim
'Gainst theills that oppressed them with sorrow and shame!
And a mission of Brothers, age, manhood, and youth,
Went out to instil the new essence of truth;
The Orator caught a new theme for his speech,
The Pastor grew glad the new doctrine to teach,
And the Poet, who stood in the van of the throng,
Found his spirit expanding with loftier song:
And well might his thoughts to new triumphs aspire,
For the Angel or Temperance kindled his fire!
    Then the voice of the multitudes burst into glee,
Like the swell and the shout of a turbulent sea:—
"Peace, Mercy, and Temperance!" Earth seemed to cry—
"Peace, Mercy, and Temperance!" echoed the Sky;
And I started from sleep with a bound and a scream,
Overawed by the splendour and power of my dream!
    Disdain not the night vision's mystical lore,
"For coming events cast their shadows before:"
And the Angels are coming, broad winged on the wind,
And the pinions of Freedom press closely behind!

 

_________________________

 
THE OAK AND THE SAPLING.

 

I BEHELD an oak, a goodly oak,
    In his pride he seemed to flourish:
For the sun o'er his boughs in beauty broke,
    And the rain came down to nourish:
He shook from his locks the acorn cup,
    To the grassy earth around him,
And soon a kindred plant sprang up,
    From the fertile soil that bound him.

Then the goodly oak looked calmly down
    On the infant stem beside him,
And spread his broad, umbrageous crown,
    To shelter, shade, and guide him;
Some summer seasons came and passed,
    Some wintry times of danger
While the thunder stroke, and the boreal blast,
    Swept harmless o'er the stranger.

But the tempest came in its ruthless ire,—
    Alas, for the fondly cherished!
For the storm-bolt fell with its fatal fire,
    And the shattered sapling perished;
Then the parent tree, a lonely one,
    Drooped fast in every weather,
And both, ere many moons were gone,
    Lay stretched on the plain together.

 

_________________________
 

LYRICS FOR THE PEOPLE.

No I.

"LET THE BOISTEROUS BACCHANAL."

 

LET the boisterous Bacchanal sing of his bowl,
That blight of the body, that scourge of the soul;
Let the libertine boast of the wreck he hath made,—
Of the hearts he hath tempted, and won, and betrayed;
Let the soldier exult o'er the blood-seeking sword,
Though his deeds have by thousands been cursed and
            deplored:
Be mine the proud pleasure to weave at command,
A song for the poor of my own fatherland.

Let the tyrant send forth his iniquitous law,
To insult the sad millions, and keep them in awe;
Although it were wiser to govern and guide
By justice and love, than oppression and pride;
Let a self-seeking priesthood preach patience to man,
Though to "reck their own rede" be no part of their plan:
Be mine the proud glory to weave at command,
A song for the poor of my own fatherland.

Let the venal bard flatter, and court the caress
Of "the minions of splendour who shrink from distress;"
Let him turn from the lowly, and shut from his songs
Their faith and affections, their rights and their wrongs;
Let him cling to the mighty, and flutter his hour
In the warm smile of plenty, the sunshine of power;
Be mine the proud duty to weave at command,
A song for the poor of my own fatherland.

 

_________________________

 
No II.

"MAN OF TOIL."

 

MAN of Toil, wouldst thou be free?
    Lend thine ear to Reason's call;
There's folly in the Drunkard's glee—
    There's madness in the midnight brawl;
The ribald jest, the vulgar song,
    May give a keener sting to care;
The riot of a reckless throng
    May lead to ruin and despair:
Let Truth unloose thy fettered soul,—
There is no freedom in the bowl.

Man of Toil, wouldst thou be wise?
    The paths of moral right explore;
Pierce the human heart's disguise,
    And track its motives to the core;
Creation's boundless beauties scan,
    Observe its wonders—search its laws;
Look on the vast harmonious plan,
    And learn to love the Eternal cause:
Let Truth illume thy darkened soul,—
There is no wisdom in the bowl.

Man of Toil, wouldst thou be blest?
    Give thy purest feelings play;
Bring all that's noble to thy breast,
    Let all that's worthless pass away.
Let generous deeds bid sorrow cease,
    Let gentlest words thy lips employ;
Scatter the seeds of love and peace,
    And reap a harvest full of joy:
Let Truth make glad thy harassed soul—
There are no blessings in the bowl.

 

_________________________

 
No III.

"THERE IS BEAUTY ON EARTH."

 

THERE is beauty on earth, wherever our eyes
    May rest on the wonders that tell of a God;
For glory and grandeur look down from the skies,
    And loveliness breathes from the streamlet and sod;
But, alas for the poor! they are grievously blind
    To the charms which have lived since creation begun;
For sorrow and ignorance brood o'er the mind,
    As the shadows of winter brood over the sun.

There is plenty on earth; for the soil that we tread,
    In reward of our labour, is sterile no more;
The broad lands are laden with fruitage and bread,
    That all may sit down and partake of the store;
But alas for the poor! they may plant, they may sow,
    They may gather the grain, and the tillage renew,
But the blessings which God hath seen good to bestow,
    Are torn from the millions to pamper the few.

There is freedom on earth; for a thousand glad wings
    In ecstasy sweep o'er the mountains and plains;
The light from its fountain spontaneously springs,—
    The winds have no fetters, the waters no chains;
But, alas for the poor! they are shackled through life,
    They are bondsmen in word, and in action the same;
They are wed to the curse of toil, famine, and strife,
    And a hope for the future is all they can claim.

A voice speaks within me I cannot control,
    Which tells of a time when these ills shall depart;
When knowledge shall win its bright way to the soul,
    And beauty, like music, shall soften the heart;
When plenty shall wait on the labours of all,
    And pleasure, with purity, sweeten each hour;
When freedom shall spurn degradation and thrall,
    And man rise exulting in virtue and power!

 

_________________________

 
No IV.

"SAD AND SICK UNTO DEATH."

 

SAD and sick unto death, on his pallet reclining,
    A pauper of England was heard to deplore;
The last beam of day on his pale cheek was shining,
    From the sun whose return he might never see more.
No child to receive his last blessing was near him,—
No wife of his bosom to comfort and cheer him;
No kinsman to pity, no friend to revere him,
    And smooth the rough way to a happier shore.

"Oh! Sons of my Country! forsaken I leave ye,
    Let the lips of a dying man bid ye beware;
Of freedom and bread cruel men would bereave ye,
    And force ye to struggle with famine and care.
Be brave, in the name of your fathers before ye,—
Be wise, for the sake of yourselves, I implore ye,—
Let hope and endeavour combine to restore ye
    Those rights which ye plead for, but plead in despair.

"I look back to childhood, when life was a pleasure,
    And health and enjoyment came pure from above;
I look back to youth, when I found a new treasure
    In the fair form of woman, who taught me to love;
I look back to manhood, when, fearing to sever,
I plighted my faith to my Mary for ever,
And strove, by unceasing and honest endeavour,
    The joys of a husband and father to prove.

"My cottage looked out on the meadows and mountains,
    Where the odours of Summer came rich on the breeze;
My gardens were watered by Nature's own fountains;
    I had kine in my pastures, and fruit on my trees:
My home was a heaven of domestic affection—
Even now there is joy in the sweet recollection—
And the dear ones who looked for my love and protection,
    In dutiful fondness encircled my knees.

"But, alas! in a moment of strife and distraction,
    My blessings were banished, my visions o'erblown;
My country was raging with tumult and faction,
    And Anarchy threatened the cottage and throne:
The sweet Dove of Peace on her olive lay bleeding,—
Stern fathers were cursing, sad mothers were pleading;
But the Lords of Oppression turned cold and unheeding
    From thousands whom hunger had worn to the bone.

"Then the Angel of Death brooded over my dwelling,
    Where poverty reigned with perpetual gloom;
No tears could I shed, though my torn heart was swelling,
    As my children were borne, one by one, to the tomb.
My wife mourned aloud with a mother's fond madness,
But her grief was subdued into silence and sadness,
Till her spirit was called to the regions of gladness,
    And mine left alone to its desolate doom.

"Forlorn in the wide world, and weary with anguish,—
    Expelled from the home which my forefathers gave,
I sought the sad spot where I now lie and languish,
    From the stern laws of England a death-bed to crave.
I go to a land where no care can distress me,
Where no sorrow can come, where no power can oppress me,
Where the beings I loved will receive me and bless me,—
    Oh! God of the lowly! I pine for the grave!"

 

_________________________

 
No. V.

"SONS OF MY MOTHER, ENGLAND."

 

SONS of my mother, England,
    List to the voice of song,
And turn from that degrading path
    Which ye have trod so long;
Shake off that mental slavery
    Which lays your manhood low;—
Up! awake! for Freedom's sake,
    As through the world ye go;
Lift up your faces from the dust,
    As through the world ye go.

Sons of my mother, England,
    I feel a pang of pain,
That ye should breathe the bondsman's
            sigh,
    And wear the bondsman's chain;
That ye should seek, 'mid scenes of sin,
    A refuge from your woe,—
Still to bear the sting of care,
    As through the world ye go,
And toil through life for bitter bread,
    As through the world ye go.

Sons of my mother, England,
    I know ye are oppressed;
But let not vengeance fire the soul,
    Nor burn within the breast;
Let wiser thoughts, let higher deeds,
    Let milder language flow,
Nor cherish strife, the bane of life,
    As through the world ye go;
But walk with hope and charity,
    As through the world ye go.

Sons of my mother, England,
    Ye have unconquered been,
On deadly War's unhallowed ground,
    'Mid many a fearful scene;—
A nobler warfare ye must wage
    With many a subtle foe,
If ye would rise more free and wise,
    As through the world ye go,
And with a bloodless banner march,
    As through the world ye go.

Sons of my mother, England,
    Brave deeds must yet be done;
But 'tis not by man's strength of arm,
    That liberty is won;
But ye must bear unclouded minds,
    And hearts with love that glow;
And Truth must guide your steps of pride,
    As through the world ye go,
And shine your constant beacon fire,
    As through the world ye go.

Sons of my mother, England,
    Girt with her wall of waves,
Let not your fair and fruitful soil
    Give birth to future slaves:
Arise with God-like energy,
    Each lingering curse o'erthrow,
And firmly stand by fatherland,
    As through the world ye go,
For hearth and home, for each and all,
    As through the world ye go.

Sons of my mother, England,
    The worst will soon be past,
For knowledge from a thousand springs
    Is pouring pure and fast;
The star of Freedom soon shall burn,
    With wider, brighter glow,
And ye shall be the blest and free,
    As through the world ye go,—
A mighty and enlightened race,
    As through the world ye go.

 

_________________________

 
No. VI.

"OH! DESPISE NOT MY HARP."

 

OH! despise not my harp,—I have cherished it long,
And its voice hath been hailed by the lovers of song;
It hath been my best solace mid labour and care,
And strengthened my soul in the hour of despair:
It hath wakened the spirit of love in my heart,
And raised me bright dreams which can never depart;
But, better than all, from my morning of youth,
It hath sounded for freedom and pleaded for truth.

It hath said to the rich—"Ye are wealthy and great,—
Oh! scorn not the thousands of lowly estate;
For the treasures ye hold, and the powers ye possess,
Were lent you to soften the woes of distress:
A bountiful Providence put ye in trust,—
As His stewards on earth be ye gentle and just!
And still let this beautiful truth be believed,
That 'a blessing bestowed is a blessing received.'"

It hath said to the poor—"Ye are feeble and frail,
And well may the hand of oppression prevail,
For passion and ignorance rule ye in turn,
As with sadness ye droop, as with anger ye burn:
Indeed ye have sorrows, and heavy ones, too,
And a feeling of wrong which ye cannot subdue;
Let me teach ye to hope and prepare for the day,
When your chains shall be broken, your griefs pass away."

Thus singeth my harp,—thus it ever shall sing,
To the lord and the peasant, the priest and the king;
And though it may pour out its breathings in vain,
It shall never relapse into silence again:
'Till the breast of the bondsman with liberty thrill,
The harp of the poet should never be still;
And mine, while the fire in my soul shall endure,
Shall respond unto all that may plead for the poor.

 

_________________________

 
No. VII.

"LET US DRINK TO THE BARDS."

 

LET us drink to the Bards of our own native land,
    The inspired, the humane, and the brave,
Who have touched the loud lyre with so mighty a hand,
    That it thrills to the soul of the slave;
In the army of truth they have marched in the van,
    A gifted and glorious band:—
Come, bring me the wine, let me drink like a man,
    To the Bards of my dear native land.

When Shakespear came down, like a god from the skies,
    Such a light from his spirit he cast,
That he startled the world into love and surprise,
    And quenched many stars of the past:
Every passion that sleeps in the depths of the mind
    He hath melted and moved at command;
Let us drink to the best of our country and kind,—
    The Bards of our dear native land.

Then Milton arose like a rocket of fire,
    When the nation was buried in gloom,
And the garland he wreathed with the strings of the lyre,
    Wore the hues of celestial bloom:
For freedom and glory, for virtue and truth,
    He flung the proud tones from his hand:—
Let us drink to the sons of perpetual youth,—
    The Bards of our dear native land.

There was Burns, who hath hallowed the mountains and
            streams,—
    There was Byron, the stern and the strong;
There was Shelly who lived in the purest of dreams,
    There is Moore, the unshackled in song;
All, all have combined, with a wonderful power,
    The heart and the soul to expand:—
Let us drink to the heirs of a heavenly dower;—
    The Bards of our dear native land.

 

_________________________

 
No. VIII.

"THE PEN AND THE PRESS."

 

YOUNG Genius walked out by the mountains and streams,
Entranced by the power of his own pleasant dreams,
Till the silent, the wayward, the wandering thing,
Found a plume that had fallen from a passing bird's wing:
Exulting and proud, like a boy at his play,
He bore the new prize to his dwelling away;
He gazed for awhile on its beauties, and then
He cut it, and shaped it, and called it a PEN.

But its magical use he discovered not yet,
Till he dipped its bright lips in a fountain of jet;
And, Oh! what a glorious thing it became,
For it spoke to the world in a language of flame;
While its master wrote on like a being inspired,
Till the hearts of the million were melted or fired;
It came as a boon and a blessing to men,—
The peaceful, the pure, the victorious PEN!

Young Genius went forth on his rambles once more,
The vast sunless caverns of earth to explore;
He searched the rude rock, and with rapture he found
A substance unknown, which he brought from the ground;
He fused it with fire, and rejoiced at the change,
As he moulded the ore into characters strange,
Till his thoughts and his efforts were crowned with success,
For an engine uprose, and he called it a PRESS.

The Pen and the Press, blest alliance! combined
To soften the heart and enlighten the mind;
For that to the treasures of knowledge gave birth,
And this sent them forth to the ends of the earth;
Their battles for truth were triumphant indeed,
And the rod of the tyrant was snapped like a reed;
They were made to exalt us, to teach us, to bless,
Those invincible brothers, the PEN and the PRESS!




FINIS.



H. G. Collins, 12, Paternoster-Row, London.

 



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