Carols from the Coal-Fields (2)

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THE RING.


There is a tradition that Essex had elicited from Queen Elizabeth a ring as a token of confidence, with the assurance that if ever he should incur her displeasure, or need her assistance, by the production of the said ring she should be pacified, or that assistance given. Afterwards the Earl was impeached for high treason, tried, and condemned, when to the last the Queen anxiously awaited the forthcoming of the token which should have secured his pardon. The talisman did not come, and the Earl was executed. Years after, the Queen discovered that the Earl had, by a confidant, sent to her the ring, but that from malicious motives it had not been delivered, whereat she went nearly frantic, and died a few days after of a broken heart.


'TIS dead of night.   Within a cloud
    The blood-red moon half shrouded lies;
A comet flares above; aloud
    "Tu-whit, to-whoo!" the owlet cries.

In such an hour in yonder tower,
    Why doth Britannia's Queen and pride
A vigil keep?   To sigh and weep
    For one who at the block hath died.

"O Essex, oh, my joy and woe
    Did on thy joy and love depend;
And, Essex, I was doomed to sigh
    That day which saw thy dismal end.

"The ring I gave in moments fled,
    Had'st thou to me that ring but sent,
Thy precious blood had not been shed,
    These bosom chords had not been rent.

"But thou would'st die, and I must sigh,
    Tho' slander dogs the heels of fame,
And would deny the fact that I
    Could ever feel affection's flame.

"They say I'm proud, tho' not aloud—
    It's spoken in a bitter tone;
Tho' not aloud, they say I'm proud,
    And that my heart's a heart of stone.

"Ah, could the world the veil up-lift—
    These tinsel trappings—and survey
My soul on storm-tost seas adrift,
    How would they start at the display?

"My tenderness has not come short
    Of hers whose tears had thawed the churl;
I've been the dupe, if not the sport,
    Of passions worthy of a girl.

"And he on whom my hope was built,
    Ah, even he, a cruel act!—
Immersed me in a sea of guilt,
    Then left me with a bosom rack'd.

"How could his pride the block have dyed
    With his own crimson drops, before
To me he'd yield, to me his shield,
    From faction's fangs in the days of yore.

"How could—but wasn't his pride so vast
    Upon himself the blow that dealt?
In agony what if I sigh
    For one who mocked the touch I felt?

"For one who scorned the royal ire?
    Despised the feelings of this breast?
Possessed me with a base desire
    To make of me a brothel jest?

"Awake, my soul! exert thy power;
    Another mine terrific sprung,
Take up thy burden, and this hour
    Be, be it into Lethe flung.

"Awake, and—oh!"—thus did she sigh—
    "Thou cruel Essex!"—when her ears
Are startled by a din, and by
    Her side a troubled dame appears.

"The Lady Nottingham to-night—
    This hour—upon her death-bed lies,
And lying in this woeful plight,
    'Go, bring the Monarch!' raves and cries.

"A secret rankles in her soul,
    The which she seems right fain to speak;
But when she tries, her eye-balls roll,
    And heavy sighs the sentence break."

For coach and steed at this with speed
    The Monarch calls in reason's spite,
And Queen, and guard, and coach and steed,
    Soon hurry thro' the vault of night.

Away they dart, the fleetful hart
    Not fleeter from the hounds away!
From bush and tree the small birds flee,
    One strikes the driver, in dismay.

O'er hills they hie, thro' dales that lie
    In shadows deep, they onward dash
Where at the beat of steel-shod feet
    Live sparks from out the pebbles flash.

The clang, crash, squeal of hoof and wheel,
    The shriek of birdie in despair,
Their echoes wake or blend and make
    Dire music on the midnight air.

Tho' dire it be as on they flee,
    Our riders heed it not.   One thought,
But one they know, and that is how
    They best may win the goal sought.

The groom's "whohoa" the ward's "holoa,"
    Are heard now in yon hall, wherein
In woeful wise a lady dies,
    And she—she moveth at the din.

Yet mark not this a trusty band,
    Who with o'er-burden'd feeling watch
That moment when death's cold, cold hand
    Shall life from her endearments snatch.

In truth the tear bedims their sight,
    And had conceal'd the fact, had they
Possessed a light more pure and bright
    Than what their sickly lamps display.

Too, man's but man; and how-be-it
    The spirit would her task fulfil,
The senses weary and remit
    Their aptness to obey the will.

Three nights have vanished since her end
    Appear'd but on the threshold; lo!
A bitter thing to see a friend
    Thus struggling with the common foe.

So feel they, muse they, cry "Ah, me!"
    Or whisper low, or shake the head,
When nears the mighty Queen, and see!
    The dying riseth on her bed.

The band that ties her hair unties,
    Her hair a-down her shoulders strays;
A gleam re-lights her sunken eyes,
    And o'er her ghastly features plays.

"Well thou art here," she gasps, "and well
    With death I've striven to reveal
What, what it racks my soul to tell,
    And doubly racks it to conceal.

"When he who late for treason bled,
    Had let the Spanish feel his sword,
The fame on which his spirit fed,
    Was it not graced by your regard?

"Then gave you not to him a ring,
    Averring 'If at any time
Thou shalt my frown upon thee bring,
    Show that and I'll forgive the crime?'

"He took that ring, the period came
    When he did need its magic might;
He gave it me to give—my shame!—
    It never met his monarch's sight.

"My lord to Essex being a foe,
    Prevailed on me to keep the boon;
The rest is known."—A moment, now,
    Her majesty is turned to stone.

Her late flushed cheeks are bleak and blanched,
    Her eyes shoot forth a frantic glare;
Her lips are writhed, her hands are clenched,
    And in their grasp her up-torn hair.

"Hell and damnation eat thee up—
    The seven vials the prophet saw
Be thine," at last she cried, "to sup
    For this base breach of human law.

"Great God, protect me, I am mad—
    This trial is too much for one
With might until this moment clad
    To trample death and terror down.

"Kingdoms have trembled at my frown,
    Or at my smile have danced for joy
But now the star of glory's flown,
    That shone upon the hours gone by.

"Ah, never more! ah, never more
    Will joy, will peace to me return!"
This said, she sank upon the floor,
    And there remained her woes to mourn.

Nor could she be consoled, nor would,
    But rather nursed her mind's distress;
Till sorrow gave her to her shroud,
    And thus did end the Good Queen Bess.

 

 
________________________

 
STANZAS.


THE hopes that allured me
    To cope with the worst,
At length have secured me
    The tortures accurst,
        Of fever and grief,
        And frenzy—in brief

Ills—ills from which Death is the only relief.


But Titan-like lieth
    My soul in her chains—
Hourly she sigheth,
    The answer she gains,
        But adds night and day
        To pain and dismay—

'Tis the scream of the vulture despair at his prey.

 

 
________________________

 
LO, THE DAY.


LO the day begins to rise,
    And the shadows of the night,
Overtaken with surprise,
    Blushing fly his presence bright;
Cease thy briny tears to flow,
    Not another murmur sigh;
Thine hath been the cup of woe,
    Now be thine the cup of joy.

Wakened by the voice of morn,
    See, the little urchin Mirth,
How she, laughing Care to scorn,
    Skippeth o'er the jocund earth;
Don, O, don thy best attire,
    Snatch, O, snatch this balm to pain,
Ere the beams of day retire,
    And thy night sets in again.

 

 
________________________

 
THE HELL BROTH.


THE devil and the devil's brood
    Around a boiling cauldron hung,
While in a nook in merry mood
    Grim Death a dainty ditty sung;
For guided by a baleful star
    The devil himself had caused to beam,
Lo, myriads hurried from afar
    To reap the fruit of a darksome dream:
On, on they came with cheek a-flame
    And lips that quivered as they sought
In tones subdued the demon brood,
    For but a drop of the magic pot.
—Anon around was the hell-broth spun,
    And a measure brimmed to old and young,
The while delighted with the fun,
    Grim Death a merry ditty sung.

That potion quaft in his conceit,
    Behold the dwarf a giant tread,
At least a hundred thousand feet
    Above his worthier neighbour's head;
Despising still or lord or serf,
    About the land he strutting goes,
'Till bang against a brother dwarf,
    The merry fellow runs his nose:
Thus many a one—loon, fop, and clown—
    A lesson to their sorrow got,
And yet aloud they pray the brood
    For deeper draughts of the magic pot.
—Anon around was the hell-broth spun,
    And a measure drained by old and young,
The while delighted with the fun,
    Grim Death a merry ditty sung.

New double-drugg'd the rout about
    A soul-consuming furnace bore,
And what they took to put it out,
    But only made it burn the more:
It burnt in heart, it burnt in brain,
    And from its fumes arose a sprite,
One, whom her favours to obtain
    They chased by day, they chased by night;
And still as they deemed her their prey,
    Away, away with a leer she shot,
'Mid cries right loud to the demon brood,
    For deeper draughts of the magic pot.
—Again around was the hell-broth spun,
    And a measure drained by old and young,
The while delighted with the fun,
    Grim Death a merry ditty sung.

So la, ta, la!—that fiery draught
    Now led their and all a dance:
Lo, ere the drug was wholly quaft,
    Each threw on each a lurid glance;
And from that glance a wasp took wing,
    From busy tongue to ear it flew,
And ever around it bore a sting
    The devil himself had cause to rue:
It stung them black, it stung them blue,
    And with each sting the louder got,
Their cries right loud to the demon brood,
    For deeper draughts of the magic pot.
—Again around was the hell-broth spun,
    And a measure drained by old and young,
The while delighted with the fun,
    Grim Death a merrier ditty sung.

That horrid draught being duly quaff,
    A cry o'er plain and mountain rolled,
At which the strong the weaker took,
    And bartered body and soul for gold:
And of the gold thus gotten, they
    At once a gloomy castle built,
Whose dome might from the eye of day
    Forever hide their horrid guilt:
Tombed in their victims' blood-price thus,
    Long revelled they and faltered not
To cry aloud to the demon brood,
    For deeper draughts of the magic pot.
—But around no more was the hell-broth spun;
    Awe-stuck the fiends in the pot had sprung,
The while surfeited with the fun,
    Death cursed the merry lay he'd sung.

 

 
________________________

 
THE REIGN OF GOLD.


IT sounded in castle and palace,
    It sounded in cottage and shed,
It sped over mountains and valleys,
    And withered the earth as it sped
Like a blast in its fell consummation
    Of all that we holy should hold,
Thrilled, thrilled thro' the nerves of the
        nation,
    A cry for the reign of King Gold.

Upstarted the chiefs of the city,
    And sending it back with a ring,
To the air of a popular ditty,
    Erected a throne to the king:
'Twas based upon fiendish persuasions,
    Cemented by crimes manifold:
Embellished by specious ovations,
    That dazzled the foes of King Gold.

The prey of unruly emotion,
    The miner and diver go forth,
And the depths of the earth and the ocean
    Are shorn of their lustre and worth;
The mountain is riven asunder,
    The days of the valley are told;
And sinew, and glory, and grandeur,
    Are sapped for a smile of King Gold.

Beguiled of their native demeanour,
    The high rush with heirlooms and bays;
The poor with what gold cannot weigh, nor
    The skill of the pedant appraise;
The soldier he spurs with his duty,
    And lo! by the frenzy made bold,
The damsel she glides with her beauty,
    To garnish the brow of King Gold.

Accustomed to traffic forbidden
    By honour—by heaven—each hour,
The purest, by conscience unchidden,
    Laugh, laugh at the noble and pure;
And Chastity, rein's in a halter,
    Is led to the temple and sold,
Devotion herself, at the altar,
    Yields homage alone to King Gold.

Affection, on whose honey blossom,
    The child of affliction still fed—
Affection is plucked from the bosom,
    And malice implanted instead;
And dark grow the brows of the tender,
    And colder the hearts of the cold:—
Love, pity, and justice surrender
    Their charge to the hounds of King Gold.

See, see, from the sear'd earth ascending,
    A cloud o'er the welkin expands;
See, see, 'mid the dense vapour bending,
    Pale women with uplifted hands;
Smokes thus to the bridegroom of Circe,
    The dear blood of hundreds untold;
Invokes thus the angel of mercy
    A curse on the reign of King Gold.

It sounded in castle and palace,
    It sounded in cottage and shed,
It sped over mountains and alleys,
    And withered the earth as it sped;
Like a blast in its fell consummation
    Of all that we holy should hold,
Thrilled, thrilled thro' the nerves of the
        nation;
   "Cling! clang! for the reign of King Gold."

 

 
________________________

 
DAFFODIL AND DAISY.


D
ECK'D in a many gems of morn,
    A daffodil without a peer,
I reared my head, and treat with scorn
    A one-pearl-gifted daisy near.

That very hour, lo! wind-a-rock'd
    Was I left gemless evermore;
Nay, made to envy what I'd mocked,
    That one sweet pearl the daisy wore.

 

 
________________________

 
A LULLABY.

(Suggested by an old verse.)


THRO' the dark and dreary night,
    Golden slumbers kiss thine eyes;
Sleep, and in the early light
    With a golden smile arise!
        Sleep, my baby, do not cry
            —Lulla, lulla, lullaby
.

Trouble art thou? baby nay;
    Brightest star in all my sky,
Since was turned to night my day,
    And thy father—Do not cry!
        Sleep, my baby, do not cry
            —Lulla, lulla, lullaby
.

The round red moon, she's sinking low,
    The wind up-tears the very roof;—
The moon may sink, the wind may blow,
    For thee, my child, I'm tempest proof.
        Sleep, my baby, do not cry
            —Lulla, lulla, lullaby
.

 

 
________________________

 
THE COLLIER LAD.


MY lad he is a Collier Lad,
    And ere the lark awakes,
He's up and away to spend the day
    Where daylight never breaks;
But when at last the day has pass'd,
    Clean washed and cleanly clad,
He courts his Nell who loveth well
    Her handsome Collier Lad.

Chorus—There's not his match in smoky Shields;
                    Newcastle never had
                A lad more tight, nor trim, nor bright
                    Than is my Collier Lad.


Tho' doomed to labour under ground,
    A merry lad is he;
And when a holiday comes round,
    He'll spend that day in glee;
He'll tell his tale o'er a pint of ale,
    And crack his joke, and bad
Must be the heart who loveth not
    To hear the Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc.

At bowling matches on the green
    He ever takes the lead,
For none can swing his arm and fling
    With such a pith and speed;
His bowl is seen to skim the green,
    And bound as if right glad
To hear the cry of victory
    Salute the Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc.

When 'gainst the wall they play the ball,
    He's never known to lag,
But up and down he gars it bowne,
    Till all his rivals fag;
When deftly—lo! he strikes a blow
    Which gars them all look sad,
And wonder how it came to pass
    They play'd the Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc.

The quoits are out, the hobs are fix'd,
    The first round quoit he flings
Enrings the hob; and lo! the next
    The hob again unrings;
And thus he'll play a summer day,
    The theme of those who gad;
And youngsters shrink to bet their brass
    Against the Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc,

When in the dance he doth advance,
    The rest all sigh to see
How he can spring and kick his heels,
    When they a-wearied be;
Your one-two-three, with either knee
    He'll beat, and then, glee mad,
A heel-o'er-head leap, crowns the dance
    Danced by the Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc.

Besides a will and pith and skill,
    My laddie owns a heart
That never once would suffer him
    To act a cruel part;
That to the poor would ope the door
    To share the last he had;
And many a secret blessing's pour'd
    Upon my Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc.

He seldom goes to church, I own,
    And when he does, why then,
He with a leer will sit and hear,
    And doubt the holy men;
This very much annoys my heart;
    But soon as we are wed,
To please the priest, I'll do my best
    To tame my Collier Lad.

        Chorus—There's not his match, etc.

 

 
________________________

 
THE SEATON TERRACE LASS.


MY love at Seaton Terrace dwells,
    A hale and hearty wight,
Who lilts away the summer day,
    Also the winter night;
The merriest bird with rapture stirr'd,
    Could never yet surpass
The melody awaken'd by
    The Seaton Terrace lass!

Chorus.—Her like is not in hall or cot;
                    And you would vainly pass
                From Tweed to Wear for one to peer
                    The Seaton Terrace lass.


She's graceful as a lily-wand,
    Right modest too is she,
And then ye'll search in vain the land
    To find a busier bee;
Like silver clear her iron gear,
    Like burnished gold, the brass—
For tidiness there's none to peer
    The Seaton Terrace lass.

        Chorus.—Her like is not, etc.

More restless than a clucking hen
    About her, Minnie stirs;
"Go, jewel, knit your fancy net,
    And I will scour the floors."
"Enjoy the day, a-down the way
    Where greenest grows the grass;
No help I need," replies with speed
    The Seaton Terrace lass.

        Chorus—Her like is not, etc.

She'll knit or sew, she'll bake or brew
    She'll wash the clothes so clean,
The very daisy pales beside
    Her linen on the green;
Then what she'll do, with ease she'll do,
    And still her manner has
A charm would gar a stoic woo
    The Seaton Terrace lass.

        Chorus—Her like is not, etc.

Discomfort flies her dark brown eyes,
    And when the men folk come
All black and weary from the pit,
    They find a welcome home:
Her brothers tease her, and a pride,
    The father feeleth as
Again he meets, again he greets
    The Seaton Terrace lass.

        Chorus—Her like is not, etc.

When day is past and night at last
    Begins to cloud the dell,
She'll take her skiel and out she'll steal,
    And meet me at the well;
Then, oh! how fleet the moments sweet
    Yet fleeter shall they pass,
That night the Bebside laddie weds
    The Seaton Terrace lass.

Chorus—Her like is not in hall or cot,
                    And vainly would you pass
                From Tweed to Wear for one to peer
                    The Seaton Terrace lass.

 
________________________

 
WONDER-BOUND.


THEY'D told me he was hoar and old,
    They'd told me he was weak and worn,
And wonder-bound did I behold
    Him merry as a summer morn.

Bound, wonder-bound; but when I found
    Thine eyes upon his eyes had beam'd,
I only had been wonder-bound
    Had he to me less merry seem'd.

 
________________________

 
KIT CLARK.


MEG MILLER skipt over to Horton,
    And sang as she went like the lark;
"A pair of bright eyes hath Tim Morton,
    Yet not his the blink of Kit Clark.

"Bob Harkas hath hair crisp and curly;
    And when to his queer jokes, we hark,
Dour Doll even fails to look surly—
    Yet Bob cannot joke like Kit Clark.

"Bill Nichol can whistle so clearly,
    The dogs run around him and bark;
And Nan likes to hear him right dearly
    Yet Bill cannot pipe like Kit Clark.

"Tom Smith like a frantic one danceth
    As down the row comes he from wark;
And Nell's tinder heart he entranceth—
    Yet Tom lacks the spring of Kit Clark.

"Jos Rutter—who dresses like Rutter?
    The lad is a bit of a spark;
He puts Bella's heart in a flutter—
    Yet Jos—what is Jos to Kit Clark?

"Kit Clark is both handsome and clever,
    His eyes shine like stars in the dark
Has Cowpen his equal?—no, never!
    Not one is a match for Kit Clark."

 
________________________

 
MY LOVED ONE.


MY loved one appears
    In a vision by night,
The loveliest jewel
    Ever gladdened the sight;
With her pensive blue eyes,
    And her forehead, downcast,
She comes to relieve
    My racked bosom at last:
Anon upon Love's
    Golden pinions I fly,
And my arms are outstretched
    To encompass my joy;
But ere she's embraced,
    I awake—and awake,
My heart the day long—
    Oh my heart's like to break!

 
________________________

 
THE SEER.


WOULD I could waken numbers, brighter, sweeter,
    Than is the lark's song in the cloud above,
Then would I tell you in befitting metre,
    How much the Seer is worthy of your love.

Shy, sensitive is he, and far from equal
    Unto the battle of material life,
He strives unheeded and, too oft the sequel,
    Unheeded falleth in the bitter strife.

Averse to falsehood and pretences hollow,
    Averse to slander, cruelty, and wrong,
He scorns the gilded car of pomp to follow,
    And underneath is trampled by the throng.

Too nobly strung of self to brook the mention—
    Too sweetly strung to give another pain—
Too finely strung to pleasure in contention,
    He seeks within the meed he would obtain.

Unlike the crowd who never dare look inward,
    Lest they a hideous spectre there should meet,
Would point to secret longings prompting sinward,
    He looks within and finds a solace sweet.

Ay, in a conscience pure he sees a charmer—
    A harper from whose harp such tones are hurl'd,
They act as mighty spells, as tested armour,
    To shield him from the malice of the world.

"Go on, brave heart," he hears an anthem chanted,
    The distant echoes of that harp's weird tones;
"Go on—to thee a richer dower is granted
    Than that which gilds a hundred monarchs' thrones.

"Thou may'st be thrust aside and scorned and taunted
    As being a lunatic, a knave or fool,
Thou hast within thy inner being planted
    A power that yet shall put the world to school.

"Thou rnay'st be destined here to tribulation;
    Thy every pang shall prove a key, by which,
Thou shalt unlock some safe of the Creation,
    And with its precious stores thy mind enrich.

"Illumined by that sun forever burning,
    Deep in the centre of the inner spheres,
Thou shalt be gifted with the gift of learning
    What lieth hidden from thy mortal peers.

"In every planet in the midnight heaven—
    In every hue doth in the rainbow blend,
Shalt thou perceive a lore and meaning, given
    To very few on earth to comprehend.

"The very flower upon the meadow blowing—
    The very weed down trampled on the road,
Shall be to thee a priceless casquet, glowing
    With glories hinting of the light of God.

"In every breezelet—nay, in the commotion
    Of raging winds—in every streamlet clear—
Nay, in the roaring of the mighty ocean,
    Shalt thou hear sounds will gladden thee to hear.

"Thus shalt thou in the Universe external,
    The Universe internal read, and so
Possess what shall be to the weal eternal
    Of earth's benighted 'habitants to know.

"The buried eons of the Past—their history,
    Still glows in characters that thou shalt read;
And from the future thou shalt pluck its mystery,
    And point the goal to where the moments lead.

"Whatever thrills the heart with feelings precious,
    Whatever tends to cast the spirit down,
The deed delightful, or the hint pernicious,
    Shall claim withal in turn thy smile or frown.

"Remind shalt thou the soul aweary, weary
    Even with the battle thou thyself hast fought,
How thro' deep failure and thro' toil uncheery,
    Must every triumph worth his care be wrought,

"Nay even at the hest of a volition
    Still, still to highest purposes attuned,
Shalt thou go forth a monarch, and ambition
    And evils many with thy glance confound.

"'Woe,' black-browed guilt shall cry; and 'woe' and
        vanish
    Despair and desolation, sisters sad;
And for the hydra-brood thou thus shalt banish,
    Celestial Love shall make the spirit glad.

"Uplifting them by slow yet sure gradations,
    From spheres inferne into the spheres superne,
Shalt thou thus prove a boon unto the nations,
    And in return a boon divine shalt earn.

"If not in monuments of brass or marble,
    Deep in men's spirits shall thy glory glow;
And little ones shall of the wonders warble
    Accomplished by the wise man long ago.

"All this and more than this shall be thy guerdon,—
    The sense of having acted right!"—So says
The happy echo of that harp's sweet burden
    A certain Seraph in his bosom plays.

And this enableth the true seer ever
    To triumph tho' he falleth, and to pray
That theirs like his may be a portion, never,
    Who plot and plan to take his life away.

Ah, to the last his words and deeds are sweeter
    Than is the lark's song in the cloud above,
And rare the bard could find befitting metre,
    To hymn the love we owe this child of Love!

 
________________________

 
TIT-FOR-TAT.


"SAY, whither goes my buxom maid
    All with the coal-black e'e?"
"Before I answer that," she said,
    "Give ear, and answer me.

"Pray, hast thou e'er thy counsel kept?"
    "Ay, and still can," said he:
"And so can I," said she, and swept
    A-lilting o'er the lea.

 
________________________

 
ANNIE.


COAL black are the tresses of Fanny,
    But never a mortal could see
The coal-coloured tresses of Annie,
    And be as a body should be.

White, white, is her forehead, and bonnie—
    And when she goes down to the well,
The beat of the footstep of Annie,
    The wrath of a tiger would quell.

Red, red, are her round cheeks and bonnie—
    And when she is knitting, her tone—
The charm of the accents of Annie,
    Would ravish the heart of a stone.

Nay, rare are her graces and many,
    But whatever nothing can be
Compared to the sweet glance of Annie,—
    The glance she has given to me.

 
________________________

 
AWAY TO THE WELL.


AWAY to the well lilted Annie—
    Away with her skiel to the well;
Away to the well whistled Johnnie,
    The pride and delight of the dell.

Sweet, sweet is the well; but ah, sweeter,
    The words of the silver-tongued elf;
I counsel the youth who shall meet her,
    To keep a strict guard on himself.

Deep, deep is the well; but ah, deeper,
    The guile of the silver-tongued elf;
And the laugher she'll turn to a weeper,
    Unless he look well to himself.

'Twas thus proved the mortal to Johnnie:
    Lo, pale, now, he wanders the dell,—
Pale, pale with the potion that Annie
    Had caused him to drink at the well.

 
________________________

 
SYMPATHY.


IN despite of the cold and the gloom,
To ornament summer's bleak tomb,
    Blooms the snowdrop; and lo! at the sight,
    Sad Flora is thrilled with delight,
And exults in the moments to come.

In despite of the sneers of the proud,
To garnish my hope's ebon shroud,
    Glows thy tear-drop; and lo! I'm possessed
    Of Flora's rich feelings, when blest
With the sight of the first of her brood.

But once having granted my fill
Of sympathy's heart-cheering rill,—
    Beloved! refrain; it were base,
    To sweep yon sweet rose from its vase
That the thistle might blossom at will.

 
________________________

 
NANNY TO BESSY.


ELEVEN long winters departed
    Since you and he sailed o'er the main?
Dear, dear—I've been thrice broken-hearted,
    And thrice—but, ah, let me refrain.—

There was not a lassie in Plessy,
    Nay, truly there was not a lad,
That morning you left us all, Bessy,
    But dropped a kind tear and look's sad.

A week ere ye went ye were married—
    Yes, yes, I remember aright;
The lads and the lasses all hurried
    To dance at your bridals that night.

With others, were Mary from Horton,
    And Harry from over the fields;
Your prim cousin Peggy from Chirton,
    And diddler Allen from Shields.

Piper Tom, with his pipes in the corner,
    Did pipe till the red morn a-broke;
And we danced and we sung in our turn, or
    Gave vent to our glee in a joke.

That seems but last night, tho' eleven
    Black winters have flown since, and yet
Ye're bright as yon star in the heaven,
    Whilst I—but I winnot regret.

Ye're just bright and fresh and as rosy
    As when ye last left us all, just;
Whilst I am a poor wither'd posy
    The passer has strampt in the dust.

This was not so always; no, clearly
    —When lasses—the burnie has shown
The rose on your dimpled cheek nearly
    Out-matched by the rose on my own.

Twinn'd sisters appeared we, and canny
    Together we'd link o'er the wold,
When Bessy's bit secrets to Nanny,
    And Nanny's to Bessy were told.

Nay's one, we grew up until Harry
    Was mine—but, was mine for how long?
Then, the changes that followed,—the worry,
    The guilt, and the shame, and the wrong?

—Ye knew my 'curst bane and besetter?
    Brown?   Piers with the thievish black e'e?
He danced at your wedding, and better
    Than any but Harry danced he.

The sight sent the lasses a-skarling,
    Whenever he came into view;
And many a fond mother's darling
    Has lived his deception to rue.

Meg Wilson, a-down the green loaning,
    Skipped with him a fine afternoon;
When last she went there she was moaning,
    Her heart like a harp out of tune.

Even Cary, the dour-looking donnet,
    Who'd looked on my downfall with scorn,
Was smit with his blink, and her bonnet
    One Monday was found in the corn.

Nay, many with him tripped and tumbled
    As I'd tripped and tumbled—what then?
Not one by her fall was so humbled,
    Or put to one half of my pain.

When Harry was brought on a barrow,
    A corpse from the pit, had I known
—But Brown, who had long been his marrow,
    Then, who was so kind as Piers Brown?

He showed himself ready and willing
    To lighten the load I endured;
He gather'd me many a shilling,
    And whatso I needed procured.

The bones of my Harry right duly
    Were laid in the grave by his aid;
Then slipt he to see me—too truly
    So slipt till my pride was low laid.

There's many to point and to titter
    At one who has happen'd a fall—
And into the cup that is bitter,
    The petty still empty their gall.

There's many to point and to titter
    At one that has happened to fall—
And into my potion so bitter,
    The petty so emptied their gall.

Then mine was a hardship and trouble;
    When touch'd by deceit's magic mace,
My pride went away like a bubble,
    Then mine was a pitiful case.

Then deep on my cheek burn'd the scarlet,
    The token of sin and of shame;
And many did call me a harlot,
    More worthy than I of the name.

Then mishap to mishap, like billow
    To billow succeeded, and I
Was laid with my head on my pillow,
    And no one to solace me nigh.

Then perished the darlings you kindly
    Remember and ask for—alorn,
I lay by the morsels and blindly,
    Then cursed the dark hour I was born.

A-lorn by the dead lay I—driven
    To frenzy by grief, shame, and scorn,
And lifted my two hands to heaven,
    Then cursed the dark hour I was born.

I cursed—felt accursed—nay, that hourly
    I'd dogged by a black devil been;
And he, when he'd speeded most surely,
    Had held in derision my teen.

He'd dazzled and led me to yamour,
    For baubles one ought to despise,
Then whipt from my vision the glamour,
    And shown the sad truth to my eyes.

He'd mounted the air, and a snelling
    Bleak blast had swept valley and plain,
And the dwelling of joy made the dwelling
    Of dire desolation and pain.

Years long the keen thought of the cruel
    Black lot of thy crony a-led
Her to feel, and to prate thus, and—jewel!—
    Yet puts a mill-wheel in her head.

The pale morning finds me a-wringing
    My hands for the decries in vain;
The day passes by without bringing
    Me any relief to my pain.

Evermore on my heart feeds the canker,
    The cruel reflection that—ay—
That they for a morsel did hanker,
    I had not a penny to buy.

Overcome by despair in confusion
    Of mind, I will wander oft, when
The prey of a charming delusion,
    They seem to me living again.

Again on their hazels a-prancing,
    They hie as they hied o'er the way,
The midges above them a-dancing,
    Are not half so merry as they.

Again up and down the ball boundeth,
    A-tween their bit hands and the earth,
Till rapture their senses confoundeth,
    And laughter gives vent to their mirth.

Again—in my sight—my woe banished,—
    The birds seem a-living again,
Then quickly I find them a-vanished,
    And sorrow yet with me, and pain.

While yet but a lassie, I married;
    While yet in my teens I was left;
Ere olden to frenzy was harried
    Ere olden of hope I'm a-reft.

A reed by the wild wind a-broken
    Am I, and my tongue in vain seeks
To utter the tale which a-spoken,
    Would hurry that rose from your cheeks.

But let me refrain.   Since we parted—
    Ah lass, since ye went o'er the main;
Since then I've been thrice broken-hearted,
    And thrice—but ah, let me refrain.

 
________________________

 
LOVE WITHOUT HOPE.


THEE glory of her charms I felt,
    And thro' my frame electric ran
What made my stubborn heart to melt,
    And feel as hearts of passion can;
And from that hour, her eyes of jet,
    And every trait and every hue,
In her delightful being met,
    Pursues me and shall e'er pursue.

A vision bright, a form of light,
    She glides before my inner eyes;
And tho' anear she doth appear,
    In vain for her my bosom sighs—
In vain, in vain, and woe and pain
    Are mine—and woe and pain alone—
Another's arms must fold those charms,
    Which I would give a world to own.

Upon the block with nerve of rock,
    This hour would see my head reclined,
Could this but show o'er all below
    My image in her heart were shrined;
Yes, yes, for this unequalled bliss,
    Upon the wings of rapture borne,
My soul would cleave the air and leave
    Her mortal bonds asunder torn!

A niche possessed within her breast,
    Ay, more than life I'd value that—
What were it then, could I but strain
    Her to my heart my own? ay, what?
Entranced I feel,—my senses reel,—
    Up in a fiery whirlwind caught
Away, fly they, and leave me—ay,
    Half frantic at the very thought!

What would I have, what do I crave?
    What were a sin for me to touch!—
Yon radiant star that beams from far,
    Her lustre equals twenty such;
She's past compare a jewel rare,
    Of value more than crowns can boast;
Whilst I who sigh—ah what am I?
    A wretch who merits scorn at most.

Far, far above my worth and love
    Is she—and were she less divine,
Another's arms would fold her charms,
    And I were destined still to pine;
Thus double doomed to be consumed
    By passion's raging fires, I know
On earth a hell as fierce and fell,
    As aught a future state could show.

Alas! alas! we seldom love
    Where love may equal love obtain;
Our idols in our fancy move—
    Fleet phantoms we may chase in vain;
We either love what's little worth,
    And live to rue the sequel; or,
What never can be ours on earth,
    And so must evermore deplore!

 
________________________

 
THE STARS ARE TWINKLING.


THE stars are twinkling in the sky,
    As to the pit I go;
I think not of the sheen on high,
    But of the gloom below.

Not rest nor peace, but toil and strife,
    Do there the soul enthral;
And turn the precious cup of life
    Into a cup of gall.

 
________________________

 
THE QUESTION.


WHAT can he ail? I hear them ask
    And what can make his cheek so pale?
Ah, that to answer were a task
    For which no effort could avail,
To say I love were but to say
    What many another might as well,
Who never felt the cruel sway
    Which makes my heart with sorrow swell.

Dear are the pains of love and sweet,
    Yet he who loves, and loves in vain,
Endures a torment more complete
    Than any love unsweetened pain,
Nay, keener than the savage fangs,
    Which limb from limb their victim tear,
And much more cruel are the pangs
    Which drive a lover to despair.

With feelings racked, without a spark
    Of hope to give those feelings rest,
The darksome grave is not so dark
    As is the chaos in his breast:
The brightest hour that comes and goes,
    Might just as well be dull as bright,
His grief o'er all a shadow throws,
    That hides the splendour from his sight.

Unmoved he eyes the sun arise,
    Yea, doth without a thrill behold
The sun down go at ev'ning, tho'
    He settles in a sea of gold:
The sweetest flower of field or bower,
    The brightest star by night revealed,
To him's not rare, nor sweet, nor fair,
    For him no joyous beam can yield.

The tempest swells and roars and yells,
    Up-tears and heaves to earth the oak;
The death-bolts crash, the lightnings flash,
    And cities wrap in flame and smoke:
Let thunder crash, and lightnings flash,
    And bid him perish as they can;
The storm he hears no death-dart bears,
    Like that which makes his life a ban.

O'er all he sees, o'er all he hears,
    The raven shades of woe are cast;
And all his hopes, delights, and fears,
    Are now but phantoms of the past;
The past, the present, future, ay
    To all he's dead and cold, except
The worm that eats the heart away,
    Wherein Peace long her vigils kept.

He wanders wide of human haunts,
    What others do he little reeks
Their very sympathy or taunts,
    Can little soothe, can little vex;
Where-e'er he moves, where-e'er he turns,
    One, but one image meets his ken;
For that he yearns and pines and mourns,
    And yearns and mourns for that in vain.

Away! away with questions, which
    No mortal yet could answer—nay,
My pangs are far beyond the pitch
    Of seraph-tongue or pen to say;
To speak of love were but to speak
    Of what another might, whose heart
Was never forced like mine to break,
    Yet while it breaks to hide the smart!

 
________________________

 
THE DANCE.


MET we in the festal hall,
    Met—our feelings blended!
Love alone shall lead the ball,
    Truth alone shall end it.

Wakes an air, and here and there,
    Soon the dance we tread, when
Ladies bright admire the knight,
    Gallant knights the maiden.

Here and there, an envied pair
    Mid the bright we shimmer;
Cheer right rare responds to cheer,
    Brimmer clinks with brimmer.

Dance we still, and dance we till
    On our vision waneth
Every light that gilds the night,
    And love in triumph reigned.

Praised by all we left the hall,
    But, within us ever,
Rapture's self still lead a ball
    Peace should end—ah! never.

 
________________________

 
THE SPELL.


"LOVE'S a pleasure, love's a treasure,
    Why the joys of love withstand?"
Alf so pleadeth, Effie heedeth
    And—What ails the lily-wand?

Lighter grow her airs and lighter—
    Glances she would shun she seeks;
Brighter burn her eyes, and brighter
    Burns the scarlet on her cheeks.

Leaps her heart within her; cheerly
    Smiles the earth in silence girt;
Dance the stars above, and rarely,
    All in concord with her heart.

Redder than the red rose blowing
    Sinks she in her woer's arms
Many a mad, mad vow avowing
    Melt they in each other's charms.

For a season vanished reason—
    Vanished to return and view
Loved and lover—doomed for ever—
    Doom'd the spell of love to rue.

 
________________________

 
THE ANGEL MOTHER.


I HAD a vision of the dear departed,
    The while stone-dead to outer thing I lay;
And "Go," she said—"and tell the broken-hearted,
    What now my will shall to thy mind convey.

"I've passed the portals I so often dreaded,
    And by the fiery trial unconsumed
I find myself to life, not death, yet wedded—
    Even I whose relics you beheld entombed.

"To me the baubles of the world have vanished,
    Even with the garments I behind have left;
But not one treasure from my heart is banished,
    Not of one golden hope am I bereft.

"The self-same soul am I, the self-same being
    In every human faculty the same,
Save with a clearer, keener sense of seeing
    What path to glory leads, and what to shame.

"The wife's devotion and affection tender,—
    The mother's sweet solicitude and all
That did our home a thing of beauty render,
    Is mine, or haunts me still, and ever shall.

"Even from my sphere beyond your sphere located
    I'm oft permitted to return—return!
To seek the halls my change left desolated,—
    To bless the dear ones left that change to mourn.

"I see the brave man by the hearth-stone sitting,
    To whom my being was and yet is wed,
I see the past before his vision flitting,—
    I see the tear-drops for his lost one shed.

"Not void of hope the dust be saw enshrouded,
    Itself was but a cerement to a soul,
Whose vision never could by death be clouded—
    He yet hath sorrows he can not control.

"Full often o'er the welkin of his vision
    I see an ebon cloudlet stealing, when
A sigh is uttered lest his hope, elysian,
    Is but a phantom of the minds of men.

"Upon my knees, unseen, before him kneeling
    I gaze into those eyes tear-blinded, till
A sense of sadness yieldeth to a feeling
    As sweet as ever did a bosom thrill.

"I point the images of those yet living,
    —Thus speak I still as I when with you spake—
When from the past into the present driven,
    His heart is up and toiling for their sake.

"'Even for my girl,' he cries, 'so bright and airy—
    Even for my little boy just lisping, I
Must try this death-bell monotone to vary,
    And on life's harp awake life's battle cry.'

"As he resolveth even so he doeth,
    And all the little I can do, I do
To help him to the object he pursueth,
    Or open vistas brighter to his view.

"I cannot wash as wont our jewels' faces,—
    I cannot comb as wont their golden hair;
But I can lock them in my fond embraces,
    And I can gild their minds with fancies rare.

"I cannot fetch the lisper sweet his rattle,
    Nor for the other the piano ring;
But I can aid my boy-child in his prattle,
    And I can prompt my girl-child how to sing.

"I cannot lead them to the daisied meadows,
    But I can over-look them when they're there
And give a golden glow to passing shadows,
    And make the fair sunshine to them more fair.

"I cannot give them supper in the even,
    Nor on the morn to them their toast convey
But when they kneel before the Lord of heaven,
    Them I can prompt for what and how to pray.

"Ay, tho' they cannot see or hear me, ever
    Into the soul of babe and father flows
The presence of their mourn'd one like a river,
    That wakens music where-so-e'er it goes.

"So, as by those the idols of my bosom,—
    Touch'd by the carol of the unseen bird;
Touch'd by the perfume of the unseen blossom,
    The hearts of others to their depths are stirr'd.

"Nay, by each spirit sweet with whom my spirit
    In state harmonic moved and breathed, I'm felt;
And still alive to every form of merit,
    Still dwells my love with those with whom it dwelt.

"Alive to these—to each high aspiration—
    To every base-born passion yet alive;
To all that tendeth to man's elevation,—
    To all that downward cloth the spirit drive.

"Alive to all most worthy to be cherish'd,
    Alive to all should most excite our dread;
And being thus, albeit the body's perish'd,
    How can it be averr'd that I am dead?"



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