Poetic Rosary (1)
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WELCOME TO SPRING.

 

 HAIL, jubilant Spring! thou bringer of bright hours!
    Thou poem, pictured to my grateful gaze,
With all thy wealth of constellated flowers,
    Thy lessening shadows, and thy lengthening days!
Thy gleesome voices and thy genial smile
    Have drawn the Dreamer from his sombre room,
To drink the spirit of thy breeze awhile—
    Thy breeze imbued with healing and perfume—
    Amid the quiet fields; that kindle into bloom.

Oh!   I have dreamt of thy glad coming long,
    Through many a weary day and wakeful night,
When the wild winds did shout their Winter song,
    When the sad sun shed ineffectual light;
When the sharp scourge of pain was on my brow,
    When the harsh hand of worldly care oppressed;
But thy blithe presence disenthrals me now,
    And I am with thee, a rejoicing guest,
    Pacing thy flowery floors, where I was ever blest.

I banquet on thy beauties, rich and rife,
    Flung without measure from thy lavish hand,—
Shapes, hues, and motions, redolent of life,
    And glorious promise to the glowing land;
Odours and harmonies on every side
    Refresh the sense, regale the raptured ear;
My heart is soothed, my soul is satisfied,
    My faith exalted, and my joy sincere,
    Because all Nature breathes—"Beneficence is here."

'Tis joy to feel this sunlight, soft and warm,
    Touch with a golden flow my pallid face;
To see these trees, unconquered by the storm,
    Greening, and growing into ampler grace;
To watch the lark careering up the sky,
    Bathing his wings the billowy clouds among,
While the calm earth, uplooking, seems to lie
    Listening, enamoured of that passionate song
    Which birds of kindred voice symphoniously prolong.

Lo! the rich Rainbow, with prismatic beams,
    Builds up the splendours of its braided bridge,
Strides o'er the valleys, glows upon the streams,
    Leans on the shoulder of the mountain ridge;
While the quick coming of the twinkling rain
    Takes the lone rambler with a sweet surprise,
And bough and blossom, now refreshed and fain,
    With flowers that ope their many-coloured eyes,
    Droop with a blessed boon—the largess of the skies.

The bow expires with weeping; woods resound,
    Heaven's cloudy curtain fades and flits away;
Breaks into brighter smiles the landscape round,
    Glad in the sun-god's renovating ray;
Each flowery cup, a living censer, flings
    Spontaneous perfume in the grateful air;
Thanksgiving from a thousand voices springs,
    (Hear, thankless Man! what Heaven and Earth declare!)
    And what is silent seems to stir with inward prayer.

There the pale primrose, lone and lovely, peeps
    From the green gloom of that thorn-shadowed nook;
Brightens the bank where fresher verdure creeps
    Along the sinuous borders of the brook;
Here crowd the daisies with a silvery smile,
    And gleam (Earth's "milky way") o'er vale and lea,—
Daisies, like daughters of my native isle,
    Like the true woman, wheresoe'er she be—
    Serene, yet cheerful all, lovely, erect, and free.

Here the wild woodlands build umbrageous halls,
    A sylvan realm of shifting lights and shades,
Where the lone streamlet leaps in tiny falls,
    Striving with brakes, and singing through the glades.
On every bough—through which the kindly skies,
    Flecked with loose clouds, look sweetly from above—
The light leaves quiver when the Zephyr sighs,
    Glancing like changeful plumage of the dove,
    As with the stir of youth, the ecstasy of love.

Hail, careless cuckoo! whose far call awakes
    Some sad, sweet memories of Boyhood's hours;
Hail, merry thrush! whose cheerful music makes,
    From dawn till dark, enchantment in the bowers;
Hail, joyous skylark! whose aspiring wing
    Soars bravely heavenward from the dewy sod,
Eager to meet the morn, so thou mayst sing—
    Even on the threshold by Aurora trod—
    Thy greeting to the sun, thy anthem unto God!

Hail, happy Spring! whose resurrection-day,
    To the prime law of steadfast Nature true,
Delights the loving, makes the gloomiest gay,—
    Moves the low pulse of languid life anew;
Unlocks the heart, gives thought a brighter dream,
    Ope's a fresh fountain in the fainting soul,
Wakes us to worship of that one Supreme,
    That sleepless Spirit of the wondrous WHOLE,
    By Whose august decree Suns—Systems—Seasons roll!

Oh! mother Earth! of Love and Wisdom born,
    Nurse of all placid thoughts, all pure desires,
Consoler of the weary heart forlorn,
    Creator of the Poet's chastest fires;—
How sweet to 'scape the thraldom of the town,
    Whose feverish air with sin, strife, sorrow rings,
On thy maternal breast to lay me down,
    Swathed in the joys thy unsoiled beauty brings—
    And catch rare glimpses thence of God's diviner things!

 

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A SONG FOR MARCH.

 

BURLY March rushes in with a boisterous wing—
    Give him welcome, though brawler he be;
He is here to announce that the beautiful Spring
    Re-appears on the forest and lea.
The blithe lark is aware, for his earliest song,
As he flutters the breeze-broken cloudlets among,
    Cometh down like melodious rain;
The thrush startles Echo with jovial voice,
And a thousand glad throats, that were made to rejoice,
    Will soon tremble with music again.

Already the pastures are greening anew,
    Waking Life is astir in the woods;
The speedwell re-opens its sweet eyes of blue,
    And the hawthorn is speckled with buds;
Already the daisy, wherever it dare—
The daisy, so English, so homely, yet fair—
    Looketh up with frank face to the sky;
In warm woodland hollows the violets unfold,
And their sun-loving sister, with chalice of gold,
    Hebe Kingcup, will come by and bye.

There's a lull in the winds, let us out while we may,
    To partake the first gifts of the prime;
How the lowliest thing that we pass by the way
    Seems to feel the fresh touch of the time!
What a genial balm! what a spring-breathing smell
From the mosses that mantle the old wood and well!
    What a scent from the sward, as we go!
What a silence! for Thought in this solitude sleeps,
Scarcely broken by bird-notes that drop from the steeps,
    Or the song of the brooklet below!

There is health for the ailing, who dare to be glad
    'Mid the broad fields of Nature awhile;
There is hope for the doubtfulest soul that is sad,—
    For the heart-stricken mourner a smile;
There is beauty for poets, and pastime for clowns;
There is solace for workers that weary in towns,—
    Let them snatch the rare joy as they can;
There are charms for the senses, in holiest guise,
There are teachers the spirit may hear, and grow wise,
    There are spells for the moodiest man.

What a painful and perilous year was the past!
    With dismay and disaster how rife!
While terror and slaughter swept fiercely and fast
    Through the highways and byways of life!
Let us bow to the rod, though the loss we deplore,
Let us utter great vows to retrieve, to restore,
    Under Heaven's magnificent arch;
If for deeds which may win their acceptance above,
If for peace and progression, for justice and love,
    Let our word of endeavour be—"March!"

 

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"THE WEARY OLD YEAR IS NO MORE."

 

THE weary, the wailing Old Year is no more!
    He is swathed in the shadowy shroud of the Past;
I heard his last moans 'mid the rout and the roar
    Of the woods and the waters, the rain and the blast;
He is gone! but his lusty heir, blithesome and bold,
    With laughter begins his dark course to pursue:
We have had little jesting or joy with the Old,
    Let us hope to be merry and wise with the New.

The weary Old Year! he was sadly beset
    By a multiform agony, 'gendered of strife;
With blood and with tears his rough pathway was wet,
    And a cloud and a curse seemed to hang o'er his life;
Scathed and scorned, in the dust hoary dynasties rolled,
    Like the sere leaves of Autumn, thrones—diadems flew:
We have had little promise or peace with the Old,
    Let us hope for more calm, and less care, with the New.

In France the dread soul-burst of fury began,
    Red Anarchy baring his arm for the fray;
From people to people the turbulence ran,
    While Liberty trembled with doubt and dismay;
King, Councillor, Concubine, struck from their hold
    On state—honour—title, in panic withdrew:
Strange chances and changes have harassed the Old,
    Let us hope for more firmness, more faith with the New.

Whilst Europe, with tumult and terror grown loud,
    Heaved, shouted, destroyed, like a storm-ridden sea,
My Country, though menaced, stood placid and proud,
    The fugitive's refuge, the rock of the free;
At once, 'neath the banner of Order enrolled,
    Her citizens mustered, to stay or subdue;—
Yet the wings of her Commerce were clipped in the Old,
    Let us hope but to fly with more strength in the New.

From Erin, the Nightmare of England, there came
    Sounds of treason and turmoil across the wild foam,
While the base breath of Demagogue fanned into flame
    The sparks of sedition that smouldered at home;
They were quelled—they were quenched—but we mourn to
            behold
    Deluded and fettered, the foolish and few:
We have fenced and made firmer some rights in the Old,
    Let us heal, or expel, many wrongs in the New.

Oh! deem not thy errors are cancelled or missed!
    There's a blot on thy 'scutcheon—a stain on thy hand;
Yet among the best nations on Liberty's list
    Thou are mightiest—wisest, my own native land!
Good laws and great truths will thy glory uphold,
    If justice and mercy thy spirit imbue:
Look back on the horrors that darkened the Old,
    And thence gather light for thy guide in the New.

Since the first feeble dawn of the weary Old Year,
    What bright links of love have been broken away!
Friendly forms and fair faces, to Memory dear,
    Have passed from our eyes into holier day!
Our hearts have grown vacant—our hearths have grown cold,
    From the absence of things that enamoured our view;
And the tears that we shed o'er each loss in the Old,
    Leave their trace on our features—insulting the New.

Rouse!   THINKING does much, but the DOING does more;
    Succumb not, though Fortune or Friendship withdraw;
Despair not, though soul-cherished visions are o'er,—
    Adversity proves a benevolent law;
There is good in things evil, as Wisdom hath told,
    And Experience declares the great words to be true:
The discords of Evil that jarred in the Old
    But prelude the music of good in the New.

JANUARY, 1849.

 

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THE HOUSEHOLD JEWELS.

 

A TRAVELLER, from journeying
    In countries far away,
Repassed his threshold at the close
    Of a blest Sabbath-day;
A comely face—a voice of love—
    A kiss of chaste delight,
Were the first things to welcome him
    On that sweet Sabbath-night.

He stretched his limbs upon the hearth,
    Before its friendly blaze,
And conjured up mixed memories
    Of gay and gloomy days;
Feeling that none of gentle soul,
    However far he roam,
Can e'er forego, can e'er forget,
    The quiet joys of Home!

"Bring me my children!" cried the Sire,
    With eager, earnest tone;
"I long to press them, and to mark
    "How lovely they have grown!
"Twelve weary months have passed away
    "Since I went o'er the sea,
" To feel how sad and lone I am
    "Without my babes and Thee!"

"Refresh thee, while 'tis needful," said
    The fair and faithful Wife,
The while her pensive features paled,
    And stirred with inward strife;—
"Refresh thee, Husband of my heart,—
    "I ask it as a boon;
"Our children are reposing, love,
    "Thou shalt behold them soon."

She spread the meal, she filled the cup,
    She pressed him to partake;
He sat down blithely at the board,
    And all for her sweet sake;
But when the frugal feast was done,
    The thankful prayer preferred,
Again Affection's fountain flowed,
    Again its voice was heard:—

"Bring me my children, darling Wife,
    "I'm in an ardent mood;
"My soul wants purer aliment,
    "I crave for other food!
"Bring forth my children to my gaze,
    "Or ere I rage or weep;
"I yearn to kiss their happy eyes
    "Before I turn to sleep."

"I have a question yet to ask,—
    "Be patient, Husband dear;
"A Stranger, one auspicious morn,
    "Did send some Jewels here;
"Until, to take them from my care,
    "But yesterday he came,
"And I restored them with a sigh;—
    "Dost thou approve, or blame?"

"I marvel much, sweet Wife, that thou
    "Shouldst breathe such words to me;—
"Repay to Man—resign to GOD,
    "Whate'er is lent to thee;
"Restore it with a willing heart,—
    "Be grateful for the trust;
"Whate'er may tempt or try us, Wife,
    "Let us be ever just."

She took him by the passive hand,
    And up the moonlit stair
She led him, to their bridal bed,
    With mute and mournful air;
She turned the cover down, and there,
    In grave-like garments dressed,
Lay the Twin Children of their love,
    In Death's serenest rest!

"These were the Jewels lent to me,
    "Which GOD has deigned to own;
"The precious caskets still remain,
    "But, ah! the gems are gone;
"But thou didst teach me to resign
    "What GOD alone can claim;
"He giveth, and He takes away,—
    "Blest be His holy Name!"

The Father gazed upon his Babes,—
    The Mother drooped apart,
While all the Woman's sorrow gushed
    From her o'erburdened heart;
And with the striving of her grief,
    Which wrung the tears she shed,
Were mingled low and loving words
    To the unconscious dead.

When the sad Sire had looked his fill,
    He veiled each breathless face,
And down in self-abasement bowed,
    For comfort and for grace;
With the deep eloquence of woe,
    Poured forth his secret soul,
Rose up, and stood erect and calm,
    In spirit healed and whole.

"Restrain thy tears, poor Wife!" he said;
    "I learn this lesson still,—
"GOD gives, and GOD can take away,—
    "Blest be His holy will!
"Blest are my Children, for they live,
    "From sin and sorrow free;
"And I am not all joyless, Wife,
    "With faith—hope—love, and THEE!"

 

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THE ROSE OF CAYPHA.

 

IN the sweet shades of Caypha there bloometh a flower,
By a fountain whose music pervadeth the bower;
'Tis the grace of the garden—the glory that gives
An aspect of Heaven to the spot where it lives.

Through palm-trees the sun sends his loveliest smile,
The winds, as they pass it, grow sweeter the while;
On its leaves are the love-drops of honey-dew shed,
And the nightingale sings his best song o'er its head.

Its eyes, which for tenderness shame the gazelle,
Have the soft, fitful light of the pearl-bearing shell;
Like a lotus that leans on the undulant tide,
The charms of its balmy breast heave and subside.

So rich is its fragrance that floats on the wind,
That the chieftain who flies from a foeman behind,
Checks his steed to inhale it—again to depart
With new strength in his sinews—new hope in his heart.

The blast of the Simoom may scatter away
Common odours, that cling to the garments of day
But this, where it enters, remains to imbue
The spirit with sweetness, and holiness, too.

Dear Maiden, whose shadowy tresses down flow,
In wavelets of jet, from the arch of thy brow,
Let me breathe in thine ear, in this eloquent hour,
The musical name of this exquisite flower.

Thou blushest! thou droopest! thine eye-lids drop down,
Like the pinions of Even, when sunlight is flown!
The swell of thy bosom enraptures my sight,—
That sigh makes enamoured the breezes of night!

Forgive me, dear Zora! for THOU art the Rose
Whose beauty hath broken my pride and repose;
Oh! let me transplant thee, that fondly I may
Watch over thy loveliness day after day!

I will cherish and cheer thee, my Peri—my dove,
With the dews of Affection, the sunshine of Love,
And the barrenest spot where thy presence may be
Will be blooming as Paradise, dearest, with Thee!

 

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BUCKTON CASTLE.


[Buckton, or, as it is commonly called, Buckton Castle, is a bold, rounded hill at the entrance to the valley of Saddleworth from Ashton-under-Lyne.  It is supposed to have been a Roman Station.  On its summit may be distinctly traced trenches, and the remains of ancient walls.  To the town-pent lover of Nature this romantic locality is well worth a visit.]

 

HAS Spring returned to give a golden close
    To old October's few, fast-fleeting hours?
A genial radiance through the calm air glows,
    So lately stirred with fitful winds and showers.
It seemeth Spring, albeit too tame and still,—
    Scentless the field, and verdureless the tree;
But the sweet Robin, at his cheerful will,
On the bare orchard-bough, or cottage sill,
    Pours from his ruddy throat a song of tender glee.

My thoughts are dwarfed, for lack of light and room,—
    Feeble the fluttering pulses in my breast;
My fancies dim, and voiceless as the tomb,—
    My laggard limbs unstrung, my brain oppressed.
Come forth, my staff, lie there, my peaceful books,—
    Sleep at thy fountain, idle pen, awhile;
Nature invites me, with her kindliest looks,
To pleasant pathways, and to peaceful nooks,—
    My very heart leaps up, and kindles at her smile.

Once more, once more, ere Winter lowers and storms,
    And the last wreath of waning Autumn rends,
I go to commune with those awful forms;
    The hoary hills, my old familiar friends;
Through devious tracks my eager footsteps stray,
    Where well-springs shine, where restless runnels sound;
The dead leaves linger on my lonely way,—
Crowd into hollows—with the breezes play,—
    Rush in a rustling race, and eddy round and round.

Where buxom mother, rosy babe in arms,
    Smiles in the sunshine at her cottage door,
My feet press on, by grey and quiet farms,
    Up the wild lane that seeks the swarthy moor;
Still on, while backward fades the distant town,—
    Town of tumultuous toil, and churlish care;
On, o'er the springy heath-lands, waste and brown,
Till the dark shoulders and defiant crown
    Of Buckton's barren steep loom in the smokeless air.

Halt, hurrying Foot! pause, panting Heart! for here
    Bursts into ken the valley's glorious length;
Hill, hamlet, woodland, river, rock, appear
    Blent in harmonious loveliness and strength;
There lofty Haridge lifts his dusky crest
    Above his stalwart brethren of the vale;
There gloomy Warmton heaves his fir-clad breast;
In yon sharp crags stands Olderman confessed,
    Stern wooer of the sun, and scorner of the gale!

Before me, single in his solemn pride,
    Majestic Buckton swelleth towards the sky,
His belt of dwarf-oak reddening on his side,
    Flinging a flush of beauty on the eye.
Up, listless Foot! up, languid Heart!   I came
    To sit upon his forehead, bald and dun!
Down the rough slopes, o'er the meandering Tame,
Through dreamy wood-haunts, yet unknown to fame,
    Bravely and briefly speed, until the goal be won.

'Tis done! and lo, far towering o'er my head,
    The sullen giant stands! with strenuous bound,
Trampling the heather with determined tread,
    I grasp his locks, and gaze triumphant round.
Oh! what a draught of gladness in the breeze!
    Oh! what a feast of glory in the scene!
Moorlands, and mountain tops, and clustering trees,—
Hamlets and fanes, homes of luxurious ease,—
    Grandeur and gentle grace, with countless charms
            between!

Like seething cauldron fuming in the air,
    Our city sits on the horizon's rim,
Staining with lurid gloom what else were fair,
    Making the brightness of the sunset dim.
A place of wildering energy and din,
    And dauntless effort, is yon wondrous town.
Of cares and curses, wretchedness and sin;
Yet hath she noble hearts, brave souls, within,
    Pure and prolific minds, that make her world-renown.

No cloud, save heaven's, no strife, no clangour here;
    No shallow friends; no deep and desperate foes;
The spot is Nature's, undefiled and clear,
    Where all is sweetness, beauty, and repose;
No sound, save that of tuneful streams and rills,
    Whose hum floats upward as they fall and fret,
Or plaintive bleat of sheep upon the hills,
Or solemn sigh of swooping wind, that fills
    The chambers of the soul with music God hath set.

A change has come: some wandering clouds have kissed
    The rugged features of my mountain friend,
And I am mantled in a silvery mist,
    Rolling in waves that idly break and blend;
Yet all beneath lies tranquillized and bright,
    Bathed in the tender glow of evening hours;
The windows twinkle in the level light,
The sombre woods grow golden to the sight,
    And like a "burnished snake" the rambling river gleams.

Behold! the rainbow's many-clouded arch
    Springs from the vale, and sweeps the skies above,
A splendid path, where angel-shapes might march
    Sublimely earthward, messengers of Love!
Oh! glorious spectacle! oh! sacred sign,
    By matchless Mercy unto mortals given! flow
Noah must have loved thy hues divine,
When first o'er Ararat he saw thee shine,
    Limned by the hand of God upon the front of heaven!

In beauteous fragments breaks the bow away,
    Whilst envious shadows creep about the West;
The rain is spent, spent is the hurrying day,
    And all things lean most lovingly to rest:
Leaving old Buckton to the winds and stars,
    Downward with staggering steps I seek the plains;
And as I homeward muse, no discord jars
The music of my mind, no world-thought mars
    The vision of delight which in my spirit reigns.

Ye who in crowded town, o'ertoiled, o'erspent,
    For bread's sake cling to desk, forge, wheel, and loom,
Come, when the law allows, and let the bent
    Of your imprisoned minds have health and room;
So ye may gaze upon the free and fair,
    Receive fresh vigour from the mountain sod;
So ye may doff the chrysalis of care
In the pure element of mountain air,
    And on the wings of thought draw nearer unto God!

 

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KOSSUTH'S PRAYER.

 

GOD of my Country! and her dauntless Brave,
    Battling and bleeding with great souls unworn!
To whom the names of Tyrant and of Slave
    Are dread and discord—misery and scorn!
From the calm region of Thy starry sphere
Look down upon Thy lowly servant here,
Whilst from his lips a million prayers take flight,

Upward, to magnify Thy mystery and might!


My God!   Thy sun in the unmeasured sky
    Shines with beneficent and blessed light!
Beneath my feet in quiet glory lie
    The bones of brethren who have fallen in fight!
Blue are the heavens; the earth whereon I tread
With the pure blood of martyrdom is red,
The life-blood of the faithful—sons of sires

Who worshipped only Thee, and Freedom's sacred fires!


Oh! let the sun send forth his kindliest ray,
    That flowers may flourish on this holy sod!
Let not my brethren sink into decay—
    Back into lifeless nothingness, O God!
God of my fathers! hear the people's prayer!
God of the nations! hold them in Thy care!
Nerve them with power, amid the glare and gloom,

To snap the Bondsman's chain, and seal the Oppressor's
            doom!


As a free man, upon the sacred mould
    Which wraps my brethren in a last embrace,
I reverently kneel, yet firm and bold,
    True to the truth, and scorner of disgrace!
Such sacrifices sanctify the earth,—
Purge it from sin, and urge a purer birth;
My God! a Serf must never tread these graves,

The very soil would spurn the unhallowed feet of Slaves!


Great Father of my fathers!   Thou Most High!
    Sole Sovereign of the universe, whose might
Flung into space the countless worlds that lie
    Like diamond dust upon the breast of Night!
Behold! a cloud of living light ascends
From the dear ashes of my martyred friends,
Gleams on my warriors, till they seem to glow—

An emblem of their cause—in panoply of snow!


God! in Thy mercy guard this precious dust!
    Let it repose in sanctity and peace!
Inspire the living brave with hope and trust,
    That they may conquer, and their struggles cease!
Forsake them not, but teach them, and make strong
The arm that battles 'gainst a hideous wrong;
And let our triumph, blown from tongue and pen,

Invigorate the world!    My people cry "Amen!"

 

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FORGIVENESS.

 

MAN hath two attendant angels
    Ever waiting at his side,
With him wheresoe'er he wanders,
    Wheresoe'er his feet abide;
One to warn him when he darkleth,
    And rebuke him if he stray;—
One to leave him to his nature,
    And so let him go his way:

Two recording spirits, reading
    All his life's minutest part,
Looking in his soul, and listening
    To the beatings of his heart;
Each, with pen of fire electric,
    Writes the good or evil wrought;—
Writes with truth that adds not, errs not,
    Purpose—action—word, and thought.

One, the Teacher and Reprover,
    Marks each heaven-deserving deed;
Graves it with the lightning's vigour,—
    Seals it with the lightning's speed;
For the good that Man achieveth—
    Good beyond an angel's doubt—
Such remains for aye and ever,
    And can not be blotted out.

One (severe and silent Watcher!)
    Noteth every crime and guile,
Writes it with a holy duty,
    Seals it not, but waits awhile;
If the Evil-Doer cry not—
    "God, forgive me!" ere he sleeps,
Then the sad, stern Spirit seals it,
    And the gentler Spirit weeps.

To the Sinner if Repentance
    Cometh soon, with healing wings,
Then the dark account is cancelled,
    And each joyful angel sings;
Whilst the Erring One perceiveth—
    Now his troublous hour is o'er—
Music, fragrance, wafted to him
    From a yet untrodden shore.

Mild and mighty is Forgiveness,
    Meekly worn, if meekly won;
Let our hearts go forth to seek it,
    Ere the setting of the sun!
Angels wait, and long to hear us
    Ask it, ere the time be flown;
Let us give it, and receive it,
    Ere the midnight cometh down!

 

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THE DESERT AND THE CITY.

 

PENSIVE and sad, with weary steps I paced
    The Nile's old realm of grandeur in decay:
The hoary sands of Egypt's wondrous waste,
    Bare to the brazen splendours of the day.
Much did I marvel, in my toilsome course,
How Time had overcome, with noiseless force,
The mighty works of her meridian hour,

The vast material proofs of her stupendous power.


Methought I saw the Spoiler, proud and lone,
    Unsling his fearful scythe, so strong and keen,
And sit him down upon that mystic stone,
    The couchant Sphinx, of mild and solemn mien;
Methought he looked, with aspect stern and cold,
Towards voiceless Thebes, and mournful Memphis old,
Then turned away, as with a conqueror's frown,

From the Titanian walls which he had trampled down.


His silent sister, dark Oblivion, drest
    In many-folded robes of gloomy pride,
Half sleeping and half waking, leaned at rest
    On the great pyramid's gigantic side;
Lay making riddles of a thousand things
That wore the slumbrous shadow of her wings,
And, spite of human energies and schemes,

Changing all glories past to unsubstantial dreams.


To dubious History, shrinking in a cloud
    Which dim Tradition flung athwart her face,
With earnest question I exclaimed aloud—
    "Explain the marvels of this desert place!
"Who willed that these colossal shapes should be?
"Who builded up the sombre mystery?
"Answer, grey Chronicler! give up thy trust;

"Why are they desolate now, and crumbling into dust?"


Straightway a sound, as of a baffled wind
    In mountain passes, smote my startled ear;
As if some wakened spirit wailed, and pined
    For speech wherewith to make the secret clear;
Forgotten stories in forgotten tongues,
Old fitful legends, fragmentary songs,
Came mingling, moaning o'er the dreary land,—

I listened with mute awe, but nought could understand.


Once more I mused amid the whirl and roar
    Of mighty London—'mid the human waves
Whose restless tide, from centre unto shore,
    In countless currents rolls, and rolling, raves;
London, where some adventurous vessels sail
Safely, and tack with every veering gale;
While some, by adverse Fortune blown and tossed,

Fall into shattered wreck, and are for ever lost:


London, the world of gay and graceful life,
    Of lavish Wealth, and silken-seated Ease;
The place of harsh deformity and strife,
    Where Misery sits, "with children round her knees;"
London, where Loyalty upholds a throne,
And virtuous Penury starves and dies-unknown!
London, where friendless Genius toils and smarts,—

The paradise of thieves, the home of noblest hearts.


I looked upon her temples and her halls,
    Her river foaming with a thousand keels;
Her dens, where hopeless Wickedness appals,
    Where Passion revels, and where Reason reels;
Her myriad-branching streets; her spacious bowers,
Where flaunting Fashion spends its idle hours;
Her schools and jails; her pleasure-haunts and "hells,"

Where Guilt and Sorrow groan, where Folly shakes
            his bells.


I saw her merchant-palaces; her rooms
    Where lettered lore invites the better will;
Her gorgeous theatres; her dangerous glooms,
    Peopled with fallen women, reckless still;
Her Mint and Money-change, her crowded marts;
Her domes of Science, treasuries of Arts;
Her stores, where good or evil is supplied

To all who choose to come; and as I saw, I sighed.


Thus spake my soul:—Far Future, I command
    "Thy truthful answer to my question now!"—
Must this great city, and this greater land,
    "Flourish or fall,—be purified, or bow?
"Must they, like Egypt, sink by slow decay,
"And their transcendent glories pass away?
"Down thy abyss I send my inquiring cry!"

Alas! the depth was dumb,—it deigned me no reply!

 

_____________________

 
THE STREAM AND THE VINE.

 

"JOY! joy!" said the jolly-voiced mountain Vine—
"What a pleasant and care-killing nature is mine!
"How glorious am I, in the glad vintage time,
"When joyance rings loud in the soft sunny clime;
"When my lithe, laden branches droop heavily down
"O'er the damsel bedecked with my leaf-woven crown;
"When my full purple fruitage is gathered and pressed,
"To exalt the dull brain, and enrapture the breast;
"Whilst my idol-god, Bacchus, with beaker in hand,
"Reels, laughing and quaffing, all over the land,
"And the dear eyes of Beauty with wilder light shine—
"Joy! joy!" said the jolly-voiced mountain Vine.

"Joy! joy!" said the merry-toned mountain Stream,
As it babbled and blushed in the moon's early beam—
"With a silvery song, and a frolicsome flow,
"I purify, strengthen, and cheer, as I go;
"The grass groweth greener wherever I run,
"And brighter the flowers, in shadow or sun;
"The traveller loveth my crystalline wave,
"The peasant knows well that I solace and save;
"I carry no poison, engender no strife,
"But offer the boon of a rational life;
"My waters give blessings wherever they gleam—
"Joy! joy!" said the merry-toned mountain Stream. "

"Behold!" said the Vine, "friendly fellows are met,
"A jovial crew, a convivial set,
"Who sprinkle libations to Bacchus and me,
"And quaff my red blood with a boisterous glee;
"As up goes the goblet, and down goes the juice,
"Frail Reason gets fettered, while Folly gets loose;
"Groweth louder the laugh, groweth lewder the tongue,
"And the bard breaketh out in delirious song.
"On roars the rude revel, till, drunken and dim,
"Lamp, bottle, and Bacchanal stagger and swim;
"Why, the whole human herd are gone frantic with wine!
"Joy! joy!" said the jolly-voiced mountain Vine!

"Behold!" said the Stream, "in yon temple of light
"What a vision of peace, what a beauteous sight!
"Strong thinkers and workers, in orderly guise,
"Fair women, with grateful and joy-beaming eyes,
"Hale Age, with the countenance radiant with truth,
"Mild Manhood, self-governed, and reverent Youth;—
"They assemble to listen, to learn, and to teach
"High thought that o'erflows in clear current of speech:
"They converse of reforms, and at once they essay
"To hasten the dawn of a holier day;
"And Heaven will help the benevolent scheme
"Joy! joy!" said the merry-toned mountain Stream.

"Thou art lovely to see," said the Vine to the Stream,
"But thy draught is as dull as an idiot's dream;
"Thou hast but a paltry and puny control,
"Thou lendest no fire to the slumbering soul!"
    "Thou art graceful to see," said the Stream to the Vine,
"But a deadly and dangerous spirit is thine ;
"For madness is born of thy boisterous mirth,
And thy victims grow reckless of heaven or earth!"
    Oh! ye who are striving to lift us and bless,
And ye, too, who grovel in savage excess,
Ye fettered and fallen, ye upright and free,
Say, which has your homage—the Wave or the Tree?

 

_____________________

 
THE THREE ANGELS.

 

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-seeking 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 its 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 dreamlike 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 rehallowed 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,
And 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 slough 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'erburdened with gladness, withdrew
To a life of repentance, and usefulness, too.
Then the axe of the headsman lay rotting with rust,—
Then the gallows and guillotine crumbled to dust,—
Then those legalised 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 craftsman, the sons of the soil;—
'Mid the byways of life, pestilential and cold,
'Mid the haunts where the draughts of destruction were sold;
'Mid the hovels whose hearthstones were sordid and bare,
'Mid the ravings of frenzy, the tears of despair;
'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 all things that defiled;
The dwelling, though poor, became quiet and clean,
And harmony reigned where disorder had been;
Home pleasure, 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 the ills 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 was 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 soul to new triumphs aspire,
For the Angel of TEMPERANCE kindled his fire!
    Then the voice of the multitudes burst into glee,
Like the swell and the shout of a limitless sea:—
"Peace, Mercy, and Temperance!" Earth seemed to cry—
"Peace, Mercy, and Temperance!" echoed the Sky;
And I started from sleep in the day's early beam,
Overpowered by the splendour and power of my dream!
    Oh! 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 WINTER'S WALK.

INFLUENCE OF NATURE.

 

How beautiful is Nature! and how kind,
    In every season, every mood and dress,
To him who woos her with an earnest mind,—
    Quick to perceive and love her loveliness!
    With what a delicate yet mighty stress
She stills the stormy passions of the soul,—
Subdues their tossings with a sweet control,
    Till each spent wave grows gradually less,
And settles into calm!   The worldling may
    Disdain her, but to me, whate'er the grief,—
Whate'er the anger lingering in my breast,
    Or pain of baffled hopes,—she brings relief;
Scares the wild harpy-brood of cares away,

And to my troubled heart sublimely whispers—"Rest!"


Forth on this white and dazzling winter noon,
    Serene the earth, the heavens with beauty hung—
I come to her, that she may reättune
    Discordant thoughts, and feelings all unstrung.
    Sorrows the world believeth not have wrung
My heart until it bleeds, but bleeds unseen;
Distressful circumstance has come between
    Endeavour and Fruition.   I had flung
My hopes unto the winds, but Nature's smile
    Cheers the lone chamber where my sorrows dwell;
    Her gentle hand is on me, and the spell
My spirit doth of all its fears beguile;
My better being reäwakes and stirs,

And sings an inward song in unison with hers.


Ah, yes! the humblest of external things
    Whereby she deigns to enchant us and to teach,
(If loving heart the human learner brings,)
    Are signs of her grand harmonies and speech;—
The lapse of waters o'er a rugged stone,—
    A pool of reeds,—a moorland weed or flower,—
A dimpling spring,—a thorn with moss o'ergrown,—
    Are symbols of her universal power.
These speak a language to the favoured ear
    Loud as the thunder, lofty as the lights
    That crowd the cope of cloudless winter nights,
And fill the soul with worship, hope, and fear;
Dull must he be, oppressed with earthly leaven,

Who looks on Nature's face, yet feels no nearer heaven!

 

 
THE SOLITUDE.

 

As farther, farther from the town I go,
    And on the loneliest haunts my steps intrude,
The hills in new-donned surplices of snow—
    Hills, the old Priesthood of the Solitude—
    From their uplifted altars, rent and rude,
Seem preaching to this slumberous grove of pine
Some homily that's wordless, yet divine,
    Whereby my listening spirit is subdued.
Whilst, 'mid the calm and congregated trees,
    (Hooded like friars in their cloisters chill,)
Whispers with reverent "Hush!" the languid breeze,—
    Wanders away, and all is doubly still;
And I perceive—so Fancy says apart—

The full, perpetual throb of Nature's sleepless heart.


Hushed is the broad and beautiful expanse
    Of moorland, mountain, woodland, vale, and fell;
The Earth is slumbering in a holy trance,
    The gentle thraldom of a mystic spell;
    Whilst from her bosom—as a sea-born shell
Sings to the ear-mysterious murmurs creep
Upward, as she were moaning in her sleep,
    And muttering marvels which she cannot quell:
Vague sounds and dubious syllables they seem,
    As though a pensive nun, serene and fair,
    Sighed through her veil for joys she cannot share,
Recalling of the past some pleasant dream;
Or like a virgin in her secret bower,

Who whispers prayer to God before the bridal hour.

 

 
THE ROBIN.

 

BEHOLD our minstrel Robin! trustful, tame,
    Bird with the stomacher of glowing hue!
How caught his little breast that badge of flame?
    Thus, if old legends tell the story true:—
'Tis said—poetic faith believes the tale—
    He drank some blood-drops of that precious Fount
    Which gushed on awful Calvary's holy mount,
When Nature shuddered, and when men grew pale.
Then, says the legend—let none scorn to hear—
    His sympathetic bosom took the stain,
    That crimson evidence of Hallowed pain
Which unto Mercy drew the sinner near;
And from that dread yet Man-redeeming day,

Robin became the bird which children fear to slay.


Ah, gentle Robin! I delight to hear,
    From hawthorn, apple-tree, or cottage sill,
Thy melting melody, so soft and clear,
    Light as the tinklings of a tiny rill.
    The wild notes issuing from thy eloquent bill
Are partly sorrowful, and partly sad,
Like chastened Grief, endeavouring to be glad,
    And wile with words the memory of ill.
But the consoling sounds, wherever heard,
    Fall on my heart like drops of genial balm;
Soothe the sharp pangs of many a hope deferred,
    And interfuse a sense of inward calm,—
A sense of resignation to the Will

That smites, some hidden goodness to fulfil.


Oh! patient Robin! may I learn from thee,
Thou little teacher on that naked tree,—
    A due submission unto Heaven's behest,—
Cheerful humility, and conscious power
To meet and struggle with the roughest hour,
    Whate'er the trial, and whate'er the test;
Thankful for smallest blessings, when they come,
Calm in my sorrows, in my triumphs dumb,
    Unbowed by care, unawed by lawless wrong;
Firm to endure, but ready to enjoy,
Heedless of scorn, superior to annoy,
    And prompt to sing an uncomplaining song,—
A song of praise, too, Robin, like thine own,

Haply to reach the everlasting Throne!

 

 
THE OLD MILL.

 

HERE'S the old Mill, shaken, but not outworn,
    Which sends its busy "click-clack " down the vale,
Bringing to Fancy fields of waving corn,
    Telling of Plenty many a pleasant tale.
    'Tis silent now, for, lo! the waters fail;
Yet the blithe Miller, neither hurt nor crossed
By the fantastic doings of John Frost,
    Inhales his pipe, and quaffs his horn of ale
At home; or haply to "The Plough" he wends,
    Famous for cozy nooks and pots of power—
Where, with a trio of his ancient friends,
    He wings the gay, sometimes the noisy hour;
Cracks jokes, laughs loudly, roars a lusty song,

Heedless of Winter's cold, or Woman's sharper tongue.


The Mill is silent only for a space;
    When southern winds have set the waters free,
Again the ponderous stones shall run their race,
    Whilst the blithe Miller carols in his glee.
Meanwhile, how grand the fettered wheel appears,
    Stayed for a time in its industrious whirl—
Bristling with pendent icicles, like spears,
    Its mantling mosses hung with glistering pearl!
The Stream, arrested in its wildest course,
    How beautifully petrified, and tossed
Into the loveliest shapes, by noiseless force
    And wondrous magic of mysterious Frost!
Is not the whole a picture to engage

The Painter's pencil or the Poet's page!

 

 
THE VILLAGE.

 

SWEET Village, bosomed in "ancestral trees,"
    Naked and silent now—I love to come
    When, in the summer time, a dubious burn
Floats from the valley on the evening breeze.
But thou art ever pleasant;—with what ease
    The Parsonage seems to nestle in its nook,
    Wearing a calm and comfortable look,
With its bay-windows and quaint cornices!
How well the venerable Church agrees
    With all the ancient features of the scene;—
    The low, square tower, and through its ivy screen,
The dial, preaching quiet homilies!
But, hark! that bell proclaims some soul's release,
And calls my footsteps to the "Court of Peace!"

The Court of Peace! ay, verily, no strife
    Of soul, heart, voice, comes this lone realm within;
All who were different in their mortal life,
    Lofty or low, are equal here, and kin!
    All passions quenched, the sources of their sin
Shut up and sealed for ever, here they lie,
    Waiting—Oh! awful Mystery!—the din
Of the last trumpet-summons from on High!
Alas! with what dull thought and careless eye
    We look upon these graves! as if the strain
Of glorious promise, uttered in the sky
    By Angel-tongues, were fabulous and vain!
Brothers in Death!   I leave you to your sleep,

So eloquently still, so solemn, and so deep!


Ho, ho! what rout is here?   The Village Boys
    In mimic warfare with their balls of snow,
Vociferating with triumphant noise,
    As they o'ercome some temporary foe!
    Poor, thoughtless imps! how soon ye must forego
This harmless conflict for a sterner strife
    With Passion, Error, Circumstance, and Woe,
On the arena-ground of future life!
    What tongue may tell, what prophecy foreshow
Your coming lot, the course of your career?
    In intellect and virtue some may grow;
Some live in shame, and ignorance, and fear;
Sorrow may bow, danger encompass some;—

'Tis well for human peace we know not what's to come!


How shines this low-roofed shed beside the way,
    Where the bluff Blacksmith holds his "pride of
            place!"
Roars the huge bellows, well-timed hammers play
    On the responsive anvil's stubborn face;
Amid the shower of sparkles, idling stand
    The Village Gossips, who delight to feel
    The warmth that issues from the glowing steel,
And mark the cunning of the craftsman's hand.
He tells them tales of many a foreign scene,
    Where battle raged, where blood was shed like rain,
Towns sacked and fields laid waste; for he hath been
    Soldier and farrier on the tented plain;
But now—far better than the work of wrong—
He fashions ploughshares, sings a peaceful song.

 

 
SUNSET.

 

HOMEWARD, before the pinions of the Night
    Swoop on my path.   Behold! yon westering Sun
Flushes the heavens with many-coloured light,
    A gorgeous signal that the day is done.
Piled in stupendous masses, many a change,
    Wondrous and beautiful, the clouds assume,—
Titanic structures, ever new and strange,
    With splendours streaming through their cloven
            gloom.
Now they are moulded into mountains, rent
    And burning to their centres; now they break,
    And float apart, like silent ships that seek
Blest isles amid the ethereal element;
Whilst the broad Sun pours forth his latest beams,—
Gently withdraws, and leaves me to my dreams.

The orb is gone, yet on the earth and sky
    Lingers some lovely shape, some vestige fair:
Light fleeces, faintly blushing, calmly lie
    Like beds of roses in the middle air.
Meanwhile, my soul is softened, and subdued
    Into a quiet tenderness of thought;
Feeling, imagination, are imbued
    With things that Nature to my gaze hath brought.
My Home receives me; at the chimney-side,
    Consoled, invigorated, frame and mind
Better for action nerved and purified—
    I sit me down, to worldly cares resigned;
Review, with something like a calm content,
The day which has not been unprofitably spent!

 

_____________________

 
DEATH'S DOINGS.

 

DEATH on his steed of shadow
    Went forth into the night,
For he had many a mission-deed
    To do ere morning's light;
Many a soul to loosen
    From Life's uneasy thrall,
And many a hopeful heart to lay
    Beneath the shroud and pall.

Each star was blinking brightly,
    As if no ill were near,—
As if all earthly things were calm
    As its own silent sphere;
The drifted clouds were floating
    High in the middle air,
And to the placid moonlight turned
    Their shifting fringes fair.

Death on his awful mission
    Kept his appointed way,
He bore with him the fiat-word
    Which does not brook delay;
He stepped aside, and often,
    To snatch some final sigh,
But left behind the breaking heart
    The sad surviving cry.

He reached the sickly city,
    Dread with incessant din,
The maelstrom of the multitudes,
    The crater-mouth of sin;
Strange tragedies were acting
    Within that swarming town,
And Pestilence had beckoned him
    To pull the curtain down.

He knocked at palace-portals,
    He trod the marble floors,
And many a hasty summons breathed
    At humbler dwelling doors;
He walked the weary workhouse,
    He pierced the crowded jail,
And at his presence countless
    Faces grew for ever pale.

He sought the crooked alleys,
    The burrow-holes of men,
The haunt of vicious revelry,
    The dim and sordid den;
He plunged into the cellar,
    He clomb the garret stair,
And fearful were the ravages
    His hand committed there.

To souls of doubt and darkness
    A Demon's form he bore,
But unto eyes that looked beyond,
    An Angel's likeness wore;
He came to punish and appal,
    He came to cheer and save,—
So different did the world receive
    The Monarch of the Grave!

Death stole into a mansion
    Of princely shape and size,
And filled with splendid mockeries,
    To dazzle worldly eyes;
On a couch of gorgeous seeming
    Lay stretched a man of sin,
Who shrieked with agony to feel
    The Shadow coming in.

This man had scorned the lowly,
    Had sneered at holiest things,
Had pierced the heart of Innocence
    With sorrow's keenest stings;
In warfare with all goodness,
    Had grown untimely old,
Till all his passions merged in one.
    The burning greed of gold.

Ah! what availed his treasure,
    In this his hour of woe?
It melted from his eager hand
    Like early flakes of snow;
Death on his cloudy courser
    Bore him the sad night through,
To answer for the evil things
    Which he had dared to do.

Into a meaner dwelling
    The dread Deliverer passed,
Where one had waited for him long,
    And welcomed him at last—
One who beheld no sternness
    In Death's triumphant mien,
So truthful and so beautiful
    His earthly life had been!

Imbued with gentlest virtues,
    Endowed with mental powers,
He left a fair and fruitful name
    To grace this world of ours;
But in his work of wisdom
    He overtasked his frame,
And smiled with hope and thankfulness
    When his Deliverance came.

Death took them on his courser,
    Two souls, how different they!
But neither saw, and neither heard
    The other on the way;
And as through mist and darkness
    Death urged his steed apace,
To one he showed a scowling front,
    To one a shining face.

To one low words he uttered,
    As stern as they were sad,
But to the other songs of joy,
    Which made the spirit glad:
Thus through a realm of shadows
    The Inevitable passed—
The eternal Gulph of Mystery,
    Which all must leap at last!

 

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