Poetic Rosary (2)
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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 faithfullest
    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,
    Nor 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 sang 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 trembling Age leans on his 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 and 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 soothes the pensive ear,
    And gives the heart no pain.

The Robin is the Poet's bird,
    Poetic is his name,
And British 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, and upward gaze
    To Him who guides and gives,—
Who moulds and moves, sustains and
            loves,
    The humblest thing that lives!

 

_____________________

 
EXTEMPORE LINES.

TO A YOUNG POET.

 

TAKE heed, my poor Friend, ere thou darest to climb
The height that o'erlooketh the far-coming time;
There's a penalty grievous to pay for thy fame,
A shadow to follow the light of thy name!
Beware, ere thou trustest too fondly and blindly
The Muse who, uncalled for, comes softly and kindly!
She is oftentimes fickle and faithless, though fair,
And is absent when most thou desirest her there.
When thy duties are done, she will breathe thee a spell,
And fill up an interval sweetly and well;
She'll console thee, refine thee, and rub off thy rust,
But, alas for her help when thou wantest a crust!
    Now, labour is honest, nay, some call it holy,—
Let it gall as it will, 'tis the lot of the lowly:
Hold thee fast to thy handicraft, be't ne'er so mean,
Till Fortune and Fame fling a change o'er the scene;
Guide the wheel, tend the loom, drive the plough, ply the
            spade,
Dig the quarry, make bargains, and dabble in trade;—
Turn pedlar or tinker, crack stones, cobble shoes,
Do aught but depend for thy bread on the Muse!
    Sing on, ne'ertheless, when the Spirit inspires,—
Disdain not her favours, restrain not her fires;
Pour forth all thy feelings, unmixed with alloy,
Let thy sadness be sadness,—thy joyfulness, joy.
And when thou art pleading 'gainst error and wrong,
Be thou fearless and earnest, but just in thy song;
And when wayward Fancy would take higher flight,
Let her freshen her wings in the fulness of light;
And when with sweet Nature thy soul would commune,
Be thou simple as she is,—as simple thy tune;
But by the word "simple" I mean not to say
That thou shouldst be silly, but manly alway.
And when 'bove the clouds thou hast taken thy round,
Come thee back, like the lark, to thy home on the ground;
Thou shouldst not forego and forget the ideal,
But the earthly—the human—the tangible—real,
Have a claim on thy gifts, and thy mission should be
To arouse the Enslaved, and advance with the Free!

 

_____________________

 
A WISH.

 

OH! give me a cot in some wood-shaded glen,
    Shut in from the clangour of conflict and pain,—
Far away from the turmoil of town-prisoned men,
    Who strive for subsistence, and struggle for gain!
Aloof from all envy, secure from annoy,
    My chiefest companions my wife and my child,—
I could think with some purpose, and labour with joy
    In that Home of Seclusion, far, far in the wild.

The lark should arouse me to action and thought,—
    I would take my first draught at the health-giving rill;
I would gaze on the beauties that morning had brought,
    As I strengthened my limbs up the slope of the hill.
The early prayer uttered, the early meal done.
    The day should bring uses and joys undefiled;
Some good should be gathered, some knowledge be won
    In that Home of Seclusion, far, far in the wild.

When the clouds which were golden grew faint in the west,
    The sun having left them to melt in the sky,—
When Nature seemed folding her mantle for rest,
    And Hesperus hung his bright cresset on high,—
I would draw up my household about the fireside,
    (Unless the dear Muses my spirit beguiled,)
To talk with and teach them, with pleasure and pride,
    In that Home of Seclusion, far, far in the wild.

I would have—would kind Fortune her bounty impart,
    Nor blind me to virtue, nor steel me to woe—
Some good thing and graceful in Genius and Art:—
    Some Music, to make my best feelings o'erflow;
Some touch of the Painter, to solace my eyes,
    Some books, to enchant my dark cares till they smiled;
Some shape of the Sculptor, to charm and surprise,
    In that Home of Seclusion, far, far in the wild.

Surrounded by Nature, I could not but see
    In each change of Season God's goodness unworn;
Young Spring would delight with bloom, beauty, and glee,
    Bright Summer with hay—harvest,—Autumn with corn.
Even Winter would charm; I should love to behold
    His frost-work fantastic, his snow-drifts up-piled,
His phalanx of storm-clouds arrayed and unrolled
    O'er that Home of Seclusion, far, far in the wild.

I would blend with benevolence nothing austere,—
    To the wayward be calm, to the humble be kind;
To the heart of the mourner bring comfort and cheer,
    And kindle new hopes in the cloudiest mind;
Thus earnest and helping, confiding and just,
    I should get my reward from a source undefiled;
With assurance of mercy go down to the dust,
    In that Home of Seclusion, far, far in the wild!

 

_____________________

 
JUNE.

A SONNET.

 

HAIL! fervid, flowery, leafy, lusty June!
    First-born of Summer! heir of lavish light!
Month of the genial Morn, the glowing Noon,—
    The dreamy Evening,—the delicious Night!
Season of sunny Harvest, when the hand
    Of jocund Toil, 'mid busy-wingèd bees,
    Rifles the riches of the grassy leas,
And scatters rural fragrance o'er the land!
Fain would I hail thee, wheresoe'er and when
    My feelings prompted, or my fancy led;—
In slumberous forests—on the mountain's head—
By lonely streams, on moorlands high and dun,
    In ferny dingles shaded from the sun—
Apart, but not exiled, from cities and from men.

 

_____________________

 
SPRING.

A SONNET.

 

HOW bountiful is Nature! how replete
    With quiet good, magnificence, and power!
Again the welcome winds of Spring blow sweet,
    Rich with the odorous life of bud and flower:
    Blest sunshine clothes the land,—the genial shower
Gives lavish largess to the quickening ground;
    There's music 'mid the clouds, and every bower
Is resonant again with joyous sound!
Man only is discordant: he with pride
    Laughs at her laws, and learns to disobey,—
Flings Love—Peace—Order—Rectitude aside,
    And fills the world with clangour and dismay;
    Yet she rebukes him with a tranquil face,—
Sustains him with her gifts, and soothes him with her
            grace.

 

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"MY FATHER'S FARM."

(INSCRIBED TO J. L., ESQ.)

 

METHINKS I see my father's farm,
    In whose sweet fields I used to stray;
Then light of heart and lithe of arm,
I found in Nature every charm,—
    In life one summer's day.

I see it, and unbidden tears
    'Twere pain to quell, suffuse my eyes;
To that calm spot my earliest years—
Many my pleasures, few my fears—
    Were bound by holiest ties.

A moody, meditative boy,
    A young enthusiast, free to rove,
I found in every thing a joy,
In every thing some sweet employ,
    Something to learn and love.

In summer's freedom, winter's thrall,
    In calm or tempest, shade or shine,
In russet robe or snowy pall,
All Nature's garbs, I loved them all,
    And deemed each change divine.

I knew each old and stalwart tree,—
    Each savage glen, each sylvan nook,
Each wild wood, murmuring poesy,
Each bird about it flitting free,
    Each music-making brook;—

Each rustic gate and rugged stile,
    Each lonely cairn and crumbling wall,
Each fairy haunt, each storied pile,
Each silvery lake and slumbering isle,
    Each wildering waterfall.

To me each peasant girl that came
    Fresh from her cottage on the moor,
Seemed lovelier far than daintiest dame,
Though clothed with beauty, crowned with
            fame,
    That stepped o'er palace floor.

To me each peasant man that trod
    With sturdy foot the yielding soil,
Seemed worthy of his native sod,
A free, brave image of his God,
    A lord of honest toil.

Alas! that dear departed time
    Of irksome toil but pleasant play,
Of gladsome song, romantic rhyme,
Of dawning thought, of dream sublime—
    Has softly slid away!

And now, amid the human waves
    Heaving and clashing everywhere,—
I strive with Trade's untiring slaves,
Whose spirit ever gives and craves,
    And ask and give my share.

Man must not lie on sunny leas,
    Counting the daisies on the sward;
Duties well done must purchase ease!
Love—Labour—Virtue—Truth, 'tis these
    Must bring life's best reward.

But still some intermittent hours
    May come, apart from cares and schemes,
When I may thrid my native bowers,
Walk 'mong my native heather-flowers,
    Drink at my native streams.

Sweet hours! when I may dare to seek
    The old familiar dwelling-place,
Sit by my father's ingle-cheek,
Hear my fond mother gently speak,
    And see my sister's face!

Blest hours! when I may break away
    From sweat of brain, or toil of arm,
Roam sunny strath, and blooming brae,
And spend a joyous holiday
    Around my Father's Farm!

 

_____________________

 
ON THE DEATH OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT.

 

ANOTHER Poet dead!   And who will care
    That he hath gone from Life's tumultuous stage?
Ten thousand toiling, thinking men, who share
    The encumbered meed of Labour's heritage;—
Men for whose minds HE wrote inspiring thought,
    Tinged with stern glory, as the storm appears—
For whom, with whom his fearless spirit fought;
    These will not fail, 'mid sorrows, struggles, fears,

To guard his grave, and write his epitaph in tears.


No trifling, tinkling, moon-struck Bard was he,
    Chanting a love-lay in his lady's bower;
His words, like mountain winds, were fresh and free,
    And, like the lightnings, winged with withering power;
Like the sharp clang of tried and stubborn steel,—
    Like furnace blast,—like hammers tramping strong;
Like deafening drum-roll, startling trumpet-peal,—
    Like bruit of battle-cries—'gainst social wrong

His full and fervid soul leapt out in living song.


Yet do not deem, because he stood alone,
    The proud, unpensioned Laureate of the Poor,
Recording, echoing every grief and moan
    That hourly issued from the cottage door,
Oh! do not deem that in his earnest rhymes
    (Albeit their virtues he could not forsake)
He veiled their vices, or concealed their crimes;
    No! with a champion's well-won right he spake,

And with reproving truth made rudest bosoms quake.


Haply, sometimes, his too indignant mind,
    With an impetuous torrent's headlong force,
Rushed with too fierce an energy to find
    Pleasure and peace along its troublous course;
But then, the hideous evils which he saw
    Flung from the fingers of Oppression dire,
Opened his eyes to many a tyrant law,—
    Disturbed his soul, and woke its wildest fire,

As falling stones uprouse the Geyser's slumbering
            ire!


But he had gentler moods—(and who has not?
    Life, though discordant, is not all unrest)
Moments of pensive calm, when he forgot
    The outward world, and all that it possessed;
Then would his harp-strings, with serener strain—
    A sad voice calling from his proud heart's core—
Thrill to the memory of some placid pain,
    Stir the sweet springs of feeling, shut before,

And make the listener's eyes with tenderest tears run
            o'er.


No more shall haughty Stanege, bleak and bold,
    Clasp him in cloud robes, as the steep he scales;
No more Win Hill to his rapt gaze unfold
    The quiet beauty of his subject-vales;
No more shall Don and Rother, as they flow,
    Nor Rivilin, reflecting all that's fair,
Murmur responsive to his joy or woe;
    Yet there he reigns! and many a Child of Care,

From Sheffield's crowded glooms, shall seek his
            spirit there!

 

_____________________

 
AN ARTIZAN'S SONG.

 

I'M a brave-hearted Artizan, honest and free,
    And while I'm good-natured I strive to be just;
I've a wife for my bosom, a child for my knee,
    And a friend or two, worthy of kindness and trust;
I've a home which, though humble, is tranquil and neat,
    With a rood of trim garden that graces the door;
And across the low wicket, believe me, 'tis sweet
    To hand coin or crust to the wayfaring poor.

In that home there are fair signs of beauty and taste,
    Not costly and splendid, for fashion or show;
Some sweet spots of picture, instructive and chaste;
    Some books, which are marshalled in orderly row;
Some vases, to keep my pet flowers undefiled,
    And a sunny-faced clock that is constantly heard;
And music,—the pleasure-toned voice of my child,
    The chirp of the cricket, the song of my bird.

I am skilled in my handicraft—that of my sire—
    For my thoughts with my hands in my labour combine;
And it ministers well to each lawful desire,—
    Doing this, I respect it, and never repine;
I am strong, for I dare not encumber my health,
    'Tis my backstay, my breakwater, ballast and helm,
And whilst I thus cherish my blessing and wealth,
    Common storms may annoy me, but cannot o'erwhelm.

The tavern may tempt, but I steadily pass,
    While my co-mates drop in with a smile and a jeer;
Though the triumph is mine, they may laugh, but alas!
    Such laughter will generate sorrow, I fear.
I'm a silent self-thinker, yet love to enjoy
    The good thoughts of others, from tongue or from pen;
Though my chief love is given to my wife and my boy,
    I have feeling, I trust, for my own fellow men.

I turn not aside though, inviting my view,
    The partizan bluster, the demagogue bawl;
But when good men and true have a high task to do,
    I lend earnest help; be it never so small.
There are errors and wrongs in my country; I know,—
    Real tragedies, busy with sickening scenes;
But if wrongs must be riven, and errors laid low,
    I would rather achieve it by peacefullest means.

Bad times may come o'er me, but good times repay,
    Through my toil and my thrift, so I stoop not to care;
In my mirth, when I'm mirthful, I'm soberly gay,
    And my sorrow, when sorrowful, is not despair;
No, Hope through the darkness looks down as my friend
    Sweet Hope, like the lark, seeking heaven as she sings
But to lie and gaze after her, fails in the end,—
    We must follow, and Effort will lend us the wings.

I am glad when the Sabbath steals quietly in,
    Of all days the chief lustre, the "pearl" of the seven,
A season when man seems to pause in his sin,
    A time, rightly used, giving glimpses of heaven;
Then I seek, with my household, the temples of men,
    And to God offer up my own heart-uttered prayer;
But believe me not lost, if I go now and then
    To the temple of Nature, and worship Him there.

I can dig me up gold from the desert of life,
    For my joys, when I will it, are many and pure;
If I injure no neighbour, engender no strife,
    Nor get fretful at trifles, my peace is secure;
Thus at eve, after labour, I take up my flute,
    And breathe a sweet spell 'gainst vexation and pain;
While my wife, whose sweet sympathy cannot be mute,
    Lends her voice to the words of some old ballad strain.

In the summer my garden,—in winter my room,
    Gives delights which are harmless, exalted, refined,
And I oftentimes fancy I hear, 'mid the gloom,
    Many voices that utter great truths to my mind.
A sublime swell of music, a story well told,
    Or a poem inspired, makes my rapture run o'er;
For I feel hidden faculties stir and unfold,
    And I go to my toil more refreshed than before.

Thus I walk through the maze of existence, erect,
    And erect in my soul may I be to the last;
I would have the sweet heart-flowers, Love and Respect,
    Flourish on to my memory when I have passed;
When my friends lay me down 'neath the turf-covered clay,
    Their eyes with the tears of true sorrow impearled,
I would have them be able sincerely to say—
    "He was true to his order, himself, and the world!"

 

_____________________

 
SPRING.

 

SOME renovating spirit seems to near me,
    Weaving a spell which every heart obeys,—
Some sweet and welcome influence seems to cheer me
    With the fresh rapture of my early days;
My clouded soul seems kindling into brightness,
    My thoughts, like wild birds, seem to flit and sing.
Bound all my pulses with unwonted lightness,—
    Joy! 'tis another advent of the Spring!

The merry children, who are out a-playing,
    With silvery voices thrill the genial air,
And tiny feet are in the woodlands straying,
    Where eager fingers pluck the floweret fair;
Then back they come, of healthful Nature breathing,
    And at our feet their fragrant offerings fling,
Garlands and crowns of Childhood's artless wreathing,—
    Childhood, the type and favorite of Spring.

They tell me that the primrose tufts are blowing,
    With moon-like colours, and with wine-like smells;
That hazle-bough and hawthorn-bush are growing
    Greener beside the wood-paths and old wells;
And that the daisies, scattered without number,
    O'er every field their starry lustre fling,
And that in loneliest nooks the violets slumber
    In dewy sweetness, redolent of Spring.

They tell me that in cloudland larks are panting
    With the deep ecstasy of prodigal song,
And that the thrush is never tired of chanting
    The deepening shades of forest trees among;
That the sweet season's blithesome call is bringing
    Back to our eaves the swallow's weary wing,
And the glad husbandman is proudly flinging
    Promise of plenty o'er the breast of Spring.

Oh! let me share the festival of Nature,—
    Share all her fragrance, all her sounds of joy!
Gaze on her varied harmony of feature,
    With the delight and wonder of a boy;
Break out, my mind! in blossoms of sweet musing,—
    Back to my heart its long lost music bring,
That I may feel the hand of Heaven transfusing
    Peace in my soul, and know that all is Spring!

 

_____________________

 
THE SHEPERD'S DOG.

 

BRAVE dog was Steadfast, brave and strong,
    Faithful as dog has ever been,—
Docile, and never prone to wrong,
    With all his instincts quick and keen;
Sagacious, for he reasoned well,
    Or seemed to reason, with right will,
And many a shepherd loves to tell
    His countless deeds of canine skill.

Duly at morning's early prime
    Up the old stair he softly crept—
True to the moment of his time—
    To wake his master, if he slept;
With gentle touches of his paw
    He stroked his master's drowsy head,
And thus—for custom was his law—
    Quickly aroused him from his bed.

From fold to verdurous holm and height,
    O'er rugged hill and rifted rock,
It was his duty and delight
    To guide and guard the wayward flock;
If danger threatened by the way,
    His wakeful instinct told him where,
Then half in earnest, half in play,
    He kept aloof his fleecy care.

Sometimes the winter winds would rave
    Abrupt among the scattered sheep,
And hurl them in the roaring wave,
    Or tomb them in the snow-drift deep;
Then would the dog, with dauntless breast,
    Plunge through the storm, blast, rain, or frost,
Nor would he quit his weary quest
    Till he had found the treasure lost.

From field to field, from stream to stream,
    By stony hollow, reedy fen,
Where chainless cataracts dash and gleam,
    On mountain side, in cloven glen—
Bold Steadfast searches, close and well,
    His nostrils neighbouring with the ground,
Till he stops short with bark and yell,—
    Sign that the buried sheep are found.

Lithe as a mole, with busy strength
    He digs a gallery towards the soil,
And human helpers come at length
    To aid him in his eager toil;
The flock is saved; a simple feast
    Relieves his hunger and his cold,
While all exclaim—"That faithful beast
    Is worth his weight in sterling gold!"

Such was old Steadfast; but, alas!
    Death smote his master in the night;
They dared not let the creature pass,
    When came the morning's golden light,
Lest, with his usual care, he sought
    To touch the dumb and ghastly head,
And with a sad, instinctive thought,
    Lifted his wail above the dead.

They sent him to a distant spot,
    Till the funereal rites were o'er,
And when they deemed he had forgot,
    They called poor Steadfast home once more;
But, no! he had a different choice,—
    He would not tread that dwelling-place;
He did not hear his master's voice,
    He did not see his kindly face.

He thought him lost among the hills,
    And daily sought him everywhere,
By all the well-known streams and rills,
    On all the moorlands brown and bare;
He marshalled each disordered flock
    He met by chance upon his way,
But still roamed on from rock to rock,
    From dawn until the dusk of day.

But duly at the twilight hour
    He came for his allotted food,
And nightly he would whine and cower
    Without, in woful solitude;
They spoke to him with stern command,—
    They called with gentle words and fair,
They coaxed him with a friendly hand,
    In vain, he could not enter there.

From day to day the creature grew
    More steeped in gloom, more gaunt and thin;
To wean him home they strove anew,—
    Alas! he would not enter in.
His food, his rambles, he forsook,
    As if all efforts had been tried,—
Lay down with sad and piteous look,
    And on his native threshold—died!

 

_____________________

 
THE WORKMAN'S EVENING SONG.

 

I'M glad to see yon springtide sun
    Go down, albeit I love his light;
My bread is won, my labour done,
    My reason clear, my conscience right;
And as I take my homeward way,
    I see, with not irreverent eyes,
The grandeur of departing day,
    In the rich glory of the skies;
Whilst yet the shadowy coppice rings,
Where the brave throstle blithely sings.

To-morrow, when his earliest beams
    Turn to loose gold the quivering rills,—
Rekindle the rejoicing streams,—
    In purple vesture swathe the hills,—
With buoyant mind, and sinews strong,
    I'll go, with willing heart, to bear
What burdens to my lot belong,
    Of honest toil my needful share;
And on my way see beauteous things,
Whilst the glad skylark blithely sings.

But now I seek that quiet nest,
    Shut from the outward world's annoy,
My home, where I am ever blest,
    The sanctuary of my joy;
There will my gentle wife with me
    Partake the cheerful evening meal,—
Talk with confiding speech and free,
    Sweetly and calmly, till I feel
The peace, the bliss her presence brings,
Whilst the bright kettle blithely sings.

Then will I sit me at my ease,
    Absorbed in some enchanting page,
Something to teach me or to please,—
    Tale-teller, Annalist, or Sage;
But chief the Poet shall instil
    Into my inmost depths of heart
The lofty spirit of his will;
    The essence of his tuneful art;
And lift me high on Fancy's wings,
Whilst the shrill cricket blithely sings.

When Sabbath comes, God's holy boon,—
    Blest day, so dear and fugitive!—
I'll ask yon sun, which leaves us soon,
    For all the light that he can give;
I'll fly to Nature's tranquil breast,
    With the same feelings as of old,
And lay me down for thought and rest
    In fields of fluctuating gold;
Or murmur sweet imaginings
Where the fresh brooklet blithely sings.

I'll tread the upland's starry floors,
    Climb the rough mountain's shadowy side,
Feel the deep silence of the moors—
    Silence that awes all human pride;
The voice of birds 'mid forest glooms,
    The lapse of waters in the shade,—
Shapes, colours, motions, sounds, perfumes,
    Of Nature's making, shall pervade
My senses with delightful things,
Whilst my rapt soul serenely sings.

 

_____________________

 
"AS WELCOME AS FLOWERS IN MAY."

 

"As welcome as flowers in May!"
    Kind words with a musical sound;
What can be more welcome than they,
    When fair-footed Spring cometh round?
Glad Spring! ever welcome to each,
    To Childhood, to Manhood, and Age,
For she comes to delight us and teach,
    And she opens a beautiful page.

There are many things welcome as these,
    As we thread the dim mazes of life;
A calm sense of pleasure and ease
    After seasons of sorrow and strife—
A feeling of safety and glee
    When a danger, long threatened, is past,
And even the knowledge to see
    That the worst has befallen us at last;—

Fresh health on the cheek of a child,
    That we feared was escaping above;—
A smile from the maid undefiled,
    Who hath kindled one's soul into love;—
The sound of the blithe marriage bell
    To the bride who has given her heart,
And the words of her husband, that tell
    His devotion well never depart;—

The birth of a child, when we feel
    We can foster it, guard it, and guide,
While the smiles of its mother reveal
    Her matchless affection and pride;—
Its first broken syllables, made
    More closely our bosoms to bind,
And its upgrowing beauty, displayed
    In the promising dawn of its mind;—

The first pleasant glimpse of our home,
    After travel, with toil and annoy,
When we vow for the moment to roam
    No more from its threshold of joy;—
Each form more expanded in grace,—
    Each voice more melodious grown;
The soul-beaming gladness of face
    Of the whole household treasure, our own;—

Old Ocean's magnificent roar
    To a voyager loving the sea,
And the sight of his dear native shore
    When be cometh back scathless and free;—
The music of brooks and of birds
    To a captive just loosened from thrall,
And the love-lighted looks and sweet words
    Of his wife, who is dearer than all;—

The soul-touching penitent-tears
    Of those who have strayed from the light,
When they come, with their hopes and their fears,
    To ask us to lead them aright;—
The frank, cordial look of a foe
    We have conquered by kindness and peace,
And the pure satisfaction to know
    That a friendship begun will increase;—

And then, in our calm chimney nook,
    Alone, with a fire burning bright,
How welcome a newly-brought book,
    That has startled the world with delight!
How welcome one's own printed name
    To our first happy efforts in song,
And the first grateful whisper of Fame,
    That bids us speed bravely along!

There are many more subjects, no doubt,
    If my Muse had but language and time;
But there's something I must not leave out,
    It will gracefully finish my rhyme:
From a friend how heart-warming to hear,
    What his lips with sincerity say,
"Why, your presence brings comfort and cheer;—
    "You're as welcome as flowers in May!"

 

_____________________

 
CHRISTMAS.

 

ONE cannot choose but love the bells,
    With their harmonious din,
Those speaking bells, whose falls and swells
    Ring merry Christmas in;
They sound like angel-voices sent
    From some serener sphere,
Singing from out the firmament—
    "The Prince of Peace is here!"

"Good will fulfil, fulfil good will!"
    Their glad lips seem to say,—
"The best ye can for brother man!"
    Goes on the cheerful lay.
And shall we scorn such fancy-songs—
    If fancy-songs they be—
Which lift us up from woes and wrongs,
    And bid our joys be free?

No; rouse to life the laughing blaze,—
    Draw round it, every one;
Away, sad thoughts of former days!—
    Cares of to-day, begone!
Ah, now ye wear a Christmas look,
    A bright and earnest grace,
Even the old clock within the nook
    Trims up its burnished face.

Now pledge we in the wassail bowl,
    Warm wishes, long to last!—
'Tis done! we feel from soul to soul
    The friendship-flame has passed;
And sternest hearts will now forgive,
    And gentlest hearts forget;
Let's live to love, and love to live,
    And we'll be happy yet.

Now for an anthem, such as rung
    In halls and homes of old;
Let every thought to joy be strung,
    Each voice flow free and bold.
Lo! as ye sing, each voiceless thing
    Stirs at the tuneful call,
For the berries that blush 'mid the holly-
            bush
    Tremble upon the wall!

Dear Christmas Days! how fair ye seem,
    Glad, holy, and sublime!
Like prints of angel feet ye gleam
    Along the path of Time!
Foot-prints whereon sweet heart-flowers
                blow,
    By worldly storms unriven,
That we may mark them as we go,
    And find our way to Heaven.

 

_____________________

 
A LOVE MELODY.

 

IN the morning of Life, when our feelings are new,
And our pathway is pleasant with sunshine and dew;
When many-toned music pervadeth the air,
And the commonest thing that we look on is fair,—
How sweet the first passion, that prompts us to stray
With one who adds beauty to beautiful May!
While a voice seems to steal through the shade of the bowers,
Singing—"Love is the odour of heavenly flowers!"

When wedded, and home groweth bright with the bride,
An angel to walk through the world by our side,—
When day after day we're enraptured to find
New graces of manner, new treasures of mind,—
Calm temper, clear foresight, disdain of all guile,
For the mournful a tear, for the mirthful a smile,—
How deeply we feel, when such blessing is ours,
That "Love is the odour of heavenly flowers!"

And, ah! when the fond name of Father we hear,
From young lips and voices, all rosy and clear,—
When the multiplied charms of the Mother are seen
In the cherub-like feature, the infantile mien,
A fountain of joy, undiscovered before,
Opens up in the heart, and runs tenderly o'er,
While expand in the soul fresh affections and powers,—
Such love is "the odour of heavenly flowers!"

Unto household and kindred, to friend and to man,
If we give all the love that we ought—that we can,
We lose not, we lack not;—such giving is gain,
As the earth gets her own exhalations in rain:
Kind words and good offices go to increase,—
Reverberate sweetly, and bless us with peace;
Let us foster the faith, in this rough world of ours,
That "love is the odour of heavenly flowers!"

 

_____________________

 
THE GOLDEN LAND OF POESY.

 

FORTH on a venturous voyage I went,
    When young, and full of ardent schemes,
To seek some isle or continent
Swathed in a purer element—
    Foreshadowed in my daily dreams.
I knew a small and favoured band
    Had crossed the intervening sea;
Gifted in soul, had reached the strand,
Had roamed and revelled in the land,
    The golden land of Poesy.

They brought from that delicious clime
    Rare things, and beautiful withal;
They told, in lofty, living rhyme,
Of many a spectacle sublime,—
    Of pleasures that can never pall,—
Of odorous flowers, and fruits that twine
    Together on one parent tree,—
Of magic sounds,—of shapes that shine
From light within, and make divine
    That golden land of Poesy.

My bark was Hope, all gaily dight,
    My crew were Passions, good and ill,—
Some ready with the waves to fight,
Obedient to the rule of right,
    And some rebellious to my will;
I had no helm wherewith to steer,
    No chart whereby my way to see,
No compass guiding my career
To that resplendent hemisphere,
    The golden land of Poesy.

My task was sterner than I deemed,
    For scornful voices filled the air;
Storms rose, and lightnings round me gleamed,—
Rude winds and angry waters seemed
    To threaten danger and despair;
My crew, impatient of control,
    Were mutinous for liberty;
But the best instincts of my soul
Still led me onwards towards the goal,
    The golden land of Poesy.

At length, oh, joy! the enchanted shore
    Loomed up in far-off loveliness,
And I grew eager to explore
The wondrous realm; my tears ran o'er
    With very gladness of success.
Odours of spices and of flowers
    Came on the breezes, blowing free;
Rich branches reft from gorgeous bowers
Bestrewed the wave;—the land was ours,—
    The golden land of Poesy!

Not yet! a barrier crossed my way,—
    My shrinking vessel back recoiled;
I could not reach the sheltering bay,
For rocks and shoals about me lay,
    And winds opposed, and waters boiled.
Thus baffled by the Poet-god,
    I only brought—alas for me!—
Some waifs and strays from that bright sod
Which I have seen, but have not trod,—
    The golden land of Poesy!

May I not now my hopes renew?—
    Must failure teach me to be wise?
Meseems I was not of the few
Destined to "feed on honey-dew,
    "And drink the milk of Paradise."
Must I content me with the gain
    Which loftier spirits bring to me,—
They who are privileged to reign
Lords of that far and fair domain,
    The golden land of Poesy?

Perchance 'twere best; albeit that fame
    Is a rich guerdon to forego;
To win a Bard's exalted name,
Hailed by a nation's high acclaim,
    Is an endowment few can know.
But let me, then, for solace' sake,
    Send my thoughts thither, fancy-free,—
Dream that I follow in the wake
Of those who hasten to partake
    The golden land of Poesy!

 

_____________________

 
THE RESCUE.

 

IN a dim court, shut inward from a street,
Where lounging Vice and toiling Misery meet;
Where squalid forms and cunning faces stray
Idly about, the live-long summer day,
Creeping to crime as wanes the evening light,
Till brawl and revel rouse the middle night;—
A fair girl stands, amid a babbling crowd
Of shameless women, reckless, rude, and loud,
Whose tongues run riot on some evil theme,
Whose restless eyes with wanton passions gleam,—
Whose mien and manner shock the modest mind,—
Whose very words profane the passing wind,
And tell how fallen from virtue and from grace
Are they, poor outcasts of an erring race!
I watch the Maid, and in her pensive eyes
Read thoughts that thrill me with a sad surmise;
I see her quake with sorrow or regret,
I see her cheek with recent weeping wet;
The hues of health and innocence appear
Fresh on her youthful face—What doth she here?
    In raiment seemly, and in aspect mild,
A Stranger comes, to cheer the drooping child;
Scatters the crowd, and, taught to teach and feel,
Questions the damsel with a kindly zeal;
To which she answers, with an artless truth
That adds a charm to her unguarded youth:—

    "Believe me, Stranger, though my steps have strayed,
"I am not lost, yet wildered and dismayed.
"Three days ago I left our cottage door,
"My once sweet home—a home for me no more!—
"Because since Death's inevitable hand
"Beckoned my mother to the better land,
"My father, once our pattern and our pride,
"Has turned from peaceful rectitude aside,
"And a dread shadow sits upon his soul,—
"The frantic spirit of the baneful bowl.
"His lips, whereon hung moving words and mild,
"Are now with curses and the cup defiled;
"His eyes, once eloquent with gentlest fire,
"Burn with the craving of a low desire;
"His heart, erewhile with worthiest feelings glad,
"Is warped and withered, turbulent or sad,
"And that small homestead where my sisters grew,
"Like flowers entwining,—where my brothers, too,
"Gamboled together, 'neath a mother's gaze
"Of sweet solicitude, of silent praise,—
"That little spot has now become the lair
"Of guilt and grief, disorder and despair,—
"Of waste and want, of solitude or din,—
"Remorse and tears, and still-recurrent sin.

    "Pain-worn at length, grown weary of the strife,
"The taint, the torment of this later life,
"Forlorn I came to this tumultuous town,
"Through its vast mazes wandered up and down,
"In the vain quest of refuge, labour, bread,
"Or meanest pillow for my aching head;
"Till here I stumbled upon dangerous ground,
"Verge of a gulf appalling and profound!
"Last night, entoiled within that squalid den,
"'Mong wanton women, and lascivious men,
"I passed in fear the laggard hours away,
"And looked with longing for the dawn of day.
"With lavish care, and words in kindly guise,
"With glowing lures, with rainbow-coloured lies,
"They strove to make me that lost thing whose name
"Is linked with sorrow, turpitude, and shame;
"And hopeless, helpless, friendless, and alone,
"My courage flying, and my quiet flown,
"No warning voice, no shield or shelter near,
"I might have fallen—but God has sent you here!"—

    "His be the praise!" the pitying Stranger cried;—
"Be Him thy Stay, thy Councillor, thy Guide!
"I, a poor servant of His sovereign will,
"Would help to snatch thee from impending ill,—
"Would rescue from disaster and disgrace,
"The fearful chances of this dangerous place."

    "Thanks, from my heart!" exclaimed the grateful Maid,
While the quick joy o'er all her features played;
"Those gentle precepts which my mother taught,
"For the clear guidance of each dawning thought,
"And the blest quiet of those Sabbath days
"Which tuned my soul to peace, my tongue to praise,
"Brood in my memory; and I would not scare—
"Would Heaven permit—the bright things nestling there.
"Give me a lowly home, apart from strife,
"'Mid the sweet elements of blameless life,
"Bread for my labour, knowledge for my pains,
"Cheerful religion—'bove all earthly gains,
"A faith in all the wondrous Word reveals,
"A power to soothe when misery appeals,
"And I will go where good men's feet have trod,
"Honour the giver, and adore my God!"

    "Come," said the Stranger, whose consoling eye
Beamed with the triumph of humanity;
"Come, I will lead thee unto hearts that glow
"With pure compassion for all human woe;
"Who strive with sin, and long to make it less,
"Who yearn to teach, to succour, and to bless:
"There, if thy better genius rule the while,
"And God vouchsafe the favour of His smile,
"Thou mayest expand in goodliness and grace,
"Peace in thy heart, and pleasure in thy face;
"And so look back to this remembered day
"As a new portal to the better way."

    True to her nature, unto virtue true,
Begirt with guardian friends, the Maiden grew,—
Grew into glorious womanhood, a thing
That seemed o'ershadowed by an angel's wing.
Not for herself, her labours and her love,
Nor the deep prayer-thoughts hourly winged above,—
Not for herself alone, but human kind,
And the dear home-ties she had left behind.
Refined in speech, in mental vigour strong,
Tender and quiet, bashful in the throng,
In spirit pure, in moral purpose high,
With all her feelings mirrored in her eye,
Growing in goodness as she grew in grace,
Again she sought the old familiar place,—
Stepped o'er the threshold like a shape of light,
Her bosom bounding, and her aspect bright;
Flew to the parent-breast, so long estranged,
While her quick glance around the dwelling ranged;
With words bedipt in Truth's celestial fire
Appealed, nor vainly, to the man, the sire;
Bound him anew beneath Love's pure control,
Drove out the demon from his sinking soul;
Until, his eyes with free tears gushing o'er,
He kissed her cheek, and vowed to sin no more!

    Thus, a kind word with a resistless charm
Drew a poor woman from impending harm;
Thus a good deed, so promptly, wisely done,
Back unto peace an erring mortal won.
The law of kindness hath a noble sway,
Which hardest hearts instinctively obey:
Let us enforce the gentle, genial power,
And so snatch pleasure from each passing hour!



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