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A CRY FOR POLAND.

 

How long shall injustice prevail?
    How long shall the weak rue the strong?
The children of Poland bewail
    The yoke of the Russian?—How long?

Lo! one generation goes by,
    And another succeeds as of old,
Yet no liberation is nigh—
    Yet theirs are afflictions untold.

The hero, whose lustre and worth,
    Might add to his nation's renown,
Still seeks at a far foreign hearth,
    The shelter denied at his own.

No star left her home to illume,
    The mother heart-broken and lorn—
The mother looks round on her gloom,
    And curses the hour she was born.

In sight of the husband, or sire,
    The wife or the daughter's defiled;
And to quench a demoniac ire,
    Both mercy and love are reviled.

The smoke of the blood of the wise,
    The holy, heroic, and good,
Ascends from the earth to the skies,
    And still crave the blood-hounds for blood.

How long shall injustice prevail?
    And insult, and murder, and wrong,
Cause high-hearted Poland to wail?
    Thou God of the helpless! how long?

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MISFORTUNE.

 

AWAY with the muses of frolic!—away
    With the haunts of diversion and folly!—and mine—
Ay, mine be the joy to awaken a lay,
    And to weave for misfortune a garland divine.

We shrink at life's shadows and fly to the bowl,
    Tho' warned and reminded again and again
That the death of the reason's the death of the soul,
    And what seemeth a loss may in fact be a gain.

Full often to us is the loss or the cross
    What the furnace itself's to the nugget of ore;
And the more we are freed from mortality's dross,
    The brighter the soul and her glory the more.

The saint is the grander when smitten by woe—
    The sinner excites a sweet thrill in our breast;
And still from the presence of sorrow shall flow
    What endeareth the spirit by sorrow possesst.

Cleopatra of old threw o'er Caesar a spell,
    And her life was a chain of such triumphs and yet
To the soul her real glory began when she fell,
    And her blood as a meal to the viper was set.

Not only the victims of virtue we mourn,
    But the victims of error our pity enthral;
And the tear we let fall o'er a Lucretia's urn,
    Leaves a tear o'er the urn of a Helen to fall.

Not alone round the brows of the martyrs of right,
    But a halo encircles the victims of wrong;
And if history's muse in a Hampden delight,
    Not less is a Stuart the idol of song.

Endeared thro' affliction, thro' anguish endeared,
    By pity to many a vigil is kept
Who else, with the idols by fashion revered,
    Unmourned in the waters of Lethe had slept.

The mortal immortal becomes upon earth,
    And the spirit thro' trials is helped to the goal,
Where the mantle of glory and girdle of worth,
    Are the meed that awaiteth the tender in soul.

Be our state e'er so lofty, down we must sink,
    When the dire wheel of fortune moves on, as it may,
But the greater the blow sooner broken the link
    By which we are bound to what smacks of the clay.

Then give me the gift to awaken a lay,
    And to weave for misfortune a garland divine;
And the world and its follies may go on their way—
    A rapture unknown to the giddy is mine.

_______________________
 
ALL IS VANITY:
OR, THE ASCETIC SAGE.

 

FROM pleasure's cup the sage had drank,
    Till from a surfeit plagued—till lo!
The blossom in his nostril stank,
    That once had set his heart a-glow.
By duty led he then began
    To paint the lures in language stern,
That but debase the inner man,
    And blind him to his weal eterne.

"From all that I have seen or heard
    This world," he said, "is but a show,
And only can the heart afford
    What tends to bitter strife and woe;
Nay in its clutch, do what we will,
    Upon our erring steps attend
Annoyance and vexation still,
    To cross and wrack us to the end.

"That bubble frail, in sheen unmatched,
    Attracted by its radiance rare,
Do we stretch out our hand to snatch't?
    The jewel melts into the air:
So will the golden wish we prize
    Seem all but in our fingers locked,
And then evanish from our eyes
    And leave us tantalized and mocked.

"Does glory captivate the soul?
    Do we for bay or laurel crave?
And do we seek the distant goal
    Assured the prize is for the brave?
Years roll away and life is past
    And in the end what at the most,
For sleepless nights and labours vast—
    What have we but a blank to boast?

"To drink we fly in woe, and drunk
    Is thus what makes us fools—in fact
Down to a lower level sunk,—
    The brute, in brutal acts, to act;
Again becoming self-possess'd,
    What rankles in the bosom—ay
What but a ten times direr pest
    Than that from which we strove to fly?

"By beauty's dazzling spells beset
    The strong, the weak, the grave, the gay,
On locks of gold, on eyes of jet,
    May dream the transient hours away;
May dream to wake, and what I to learn
    Those locks are worse than serpents fall;
Those eyes but fires of hate and scorn
    Ordained to make our life a hell.

"The supple knee we yield to gold,
    And seek for happiness in pelf;
And what's our gain but cares untold?
    And what's our loss but manhood's self?
We lose what gold has never bought,
    We gain but what degrades the man,
And for the happiness thus sought
    We yet may find it—when we can.

"Deluded still are we! and should
    We grasp at last the boon esteemed,
The victim of a ban then would
    We deem it other than we deemed;
Nay, nay, our idol at the best
    Is e'er a thing defective found,
Which fails to satisfy the breast
    And less will satisfy than wound.

"The strife for gold, the chase of fame,
    Of pleasure's or of beauty's charms,
Subjects the soul to sin and shame,
    And to a thousand lesser harms;
Then let thy vain endeavour end,
    Its promised blessings let them go,
Unto thy spirit's weal attend—
    This world is but an empty show!"

_______________________
 
IÖ PÆAN.

 

TRIUMPHANT o'er trouble, triumphant o'er pain,
    Triumphant o'er all and thro' all we shall hie,
With the cry "Iö Pæan!" and Echo, the strain,
    From her cave "Iö Pæan!" enraptured shall cry.

The storm may set in and the summer may go,
    But when keenest the cold, and the keener the more,
Will a gleam in the cloud and a bloom in the snow,
    Give a pledge of a glory-girt future in store.

When from the dire Box of Pandora out-sprang
    The "ills of mankind," at the bottom was found
What a sweet panacea for every pang,—
    What should prove a sweet balsam for every wound.

As it was in the myth, so it is in the fact,
    And as long as the world on its axis shall move,
The Parcæ from mortals will never exact
    What a loam, not a boon, in the sequel will prove.

Not only our manfold evils externe,
    But the ashes-fill'd apples by error pluck'd, they—
Even they emanate from a fountain superne,
    And will prove to be true golden apples one day.

Thro' the regions of Erebus lay the rough road,
    By which the brave passed to the fields of the blest,
Yet once having enter'd Jove's envied abode,
    The trouble made sweeter the pleasure possesst.

Dragon-watched was the idol of Jason's desire,
    Yet a triumph awaited the noble and wise;
And as sure as the faggot but heatens the fire,
    As sure did the danger but brighten the, prize.

Creation itself from a chaos was born—
    So sang the Illumed of the centuries fled;
And Atë herself to an Eros would turn,
    If aright the vast drift of existence were read.

Nay, neither the gloom that o'er-shadows our skies
    Nor the danger that lies on the path to our goal,
Nor the keenest of pangs need awaken our sighs,
    From woe the soul wrings the delight of the soul!

Triumphant o'er trouble, triumphant o'er pain,
    Triumphant o'er all and thro' all we shall hie
With the cry "Iö Pæan!" and echo, the strain,
    From her cave "Iö Pæan!" enraptured shall cry.

_______________________
 
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.

_______________________
 
THE RING.*

 

THO' many a moon had roll'd away
    Since Essex at the block had died,
The Queen upon her night-couch lay,
    And o'er his end horrific sighed.

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

"It racks my breast and breaks my rest
    To think how in thy hour of gloom,
Thou didst neglect—I fear reject—
    The means had saved thee from thy doom.

"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 days of yore.

"How could—but was'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?
Possess'd 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 Great Eliza calls, and see!
Soon Queen and guard, and coach and steed,
    Away into the darkness flee

Away o'er hills and dales they dart,
    A hare-hound from the leash away!
The birds from out the hedges start
    And fly, confounded with dismay.

Echo awakes her myriad tongues,
    And with the tones of wild despair,
The clang of wheel and hoof prolongs;
    —Harsh music on the midnight air!

Roods, miles are pass'd, and shouts of "Queen!"
    Soon thro' a castle's halls are heard
Where you may see a wan dame's mien
    Change at the sound of that dread word.

Yet mark not this yon woeful band,
    Who with o'erburden'd feelings watch
That moment when death's clay-cold hand,
    Shall life from her endearment's snatch.

In truth the tear bedims their sight,
    And had concealed 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 threshhold; 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 binds 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, lo!
    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 't 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.

* NOTE.


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.

_______________________
 
ARACHNE.

 

I READ in an old book the myth
Of the Hellenian damsel with
The magic needle, when there fell
On me a power—a mystic spell—
I could not well to others tell.

But all at once my soul was swept
Into a sphere where sorrow kept
Her vigils sad.   There on my ear
Awoke in accents deep, yet clear,
What might in my weak English to
A sympathetic ear thus flow:—

"The guerdon of my heavy sin
Forever thus I toil and spin
The fatal cord, the lash accursed,
By which my heavy woo is nursed."

"From whence this wail?" I inly asked,
When thro' the gloom I saw unmasked
One, from whose thin wan face and look,
I for the needle-worker took;
And lifting up my voice I said:—
"And art thou she of whom I've read—
Arachne's self?   No answer made
The image pale, nor turned, nor fled,
Nor into air, thin air dissolved:
But while within my thoughts revolved,
A something on my vision loom'd;
Tho' what it was might be presumed
Not clearly seen, at least by one,
Still bound to earth by flesh and bone;
But whatsoe'er it was or meant,
Anon thereon her gaze was bent;
And this way that, her white hands went,
Whilst to their motion keeping time,
Re-woke upon my ear the chime,
Which might in my weak English to
A sympathetic ear thus flow:—

"The guerdon of my ebon sin,
Forever thus I toil and spin,
The fatal cord, the lash accursed,
By which my heavy woe is nursed.

"The sun and moon, they come and go,
The ocean's waters ebb and flow;
My baleful star must ever burn,
My swollen tide know no return.

"Woe, woe the day, woe, woe the day
I first did feel that piercing ray,
Beneath whose magic touch, behold,
The rock's converted into gold.

"Ah, from that hour did earth become
To me a glad, a jewell'd home;
Where-e'er I turned enrapt I viewed,
A living fact the fair and good.

"Where-e'er I turned enrapt I viewed,
A living fact the fair and good,
Which to my spirit's chambers sped,
And with the inner beauty wed.

"As casquets in which gems are shrined,
So from the lustre of my mind,
My body borrowed splendour, till
My presence stood a living will.

"Entranced I took the web and wrought
A vision so with beauty fraught,
The gazer held his breath and crept
Into himself, and smiled and wept.

"Delusive tears, delusive smiles,
What were you but the serpent's toils?—
The nectar sparkling in yon cup,
To writhe the lips that quaff it up?

"Flushed with success I then did cast,
A scornful glance upon the past;
And from that moment I began,
A course which ended in this ban.

"The very God within me burns;
My soul a mortal triumph spurns;
Not mortals, o'er immortals must
I stride, or perish in the dust.

"Thus frantically cried I, when
Was flashed upon my inner ken
Minerva's might and sheen, and I,—
What was there left me but to die?

"A meteor in the night, her might
And sheen is flashed upon my sight;
But as the night by meteor cleft,
My soul again in gloom is left.

"I view the den in which I crawl,
I view what doth my soul appal;
But ah, ere I my plight can mend,
All hope to me hath found an end.

"And now instead of sylvan ground,
Where grief was lost, where joy was found;
My path is such each step I take,
Awakes the hissing of the snake.

"My night is still by horrors throng'd,
My day is but that 'night prolong'd;
The sun may set, the sun may rise,
No soothing slumber seals my eyes.

"Around, beneath, and over-head,
The finger of the Livine Dread
Has fix'd a curse which see—What's this
Would thus o'er-brim my heart with bliss?

"Yes, yes my hand that vision traced,
Mine ivory brow with wreaths are graced;
Aloud my pean's sung, aloud,
And she my rival's head down bowed.

"No, never since the world begun,
Was ever such a triumph won
By mortal or immortal—nay—
I've brook'd the worst an earth-born may.—

"The sun and moon they come and go,
The ocean's waters ebb and flow,
My baleful star must ever burn,
My swollen tide know no return.

"And, such the guerdon of my sin
Thus, thus to toil, and thus to spin
The fatal cord, the lash accursed,
By which my heavy woe is nursed."

Thus mourned the damsel; while she mourn'd,
Back into sense my soul return'd;
At which receded from my ken
The needle-worker's image, when
I wept heart-rent, and felt distrest,
Till thro' the chaos in my breast
Did break a light by which I saw,
That thro' the working of a law
Inwoven with our being, we
Can never brook but should be—
Can never brook, have never borne,
But what is for our weal eterne:
That furthermore this maid of old,
Tho' cast in a diviner mould,
Lack'd that by which we only can
—A knowledge of the inner man—
Become by wisdom blest, and so,
In the deep shades of Long Ago,
Erred as to her own gifts—their reach—
Erred as to what all gifts should teach;
How much to Him—the All in All—
In whom we live and move, and shall;
How much to Him—to me or you,
How very small the credit due
For any gift we vaunt.   In this,
Arachne her way did miss,
And so incurred what all incur,
Who in life's mystic maze thus err—
The doom her errors to deplore;
The doom should tear the veil aside,
Did from herself her failings hide,
And gift her with the needed light
By which to know herself aright;
The doom should show to her how vain
And weak is man, and must remain
Compared with gods who eras long,
Have scanned the lines of right and wrong;
The doom by which she in the end,
Would to the Inner Circle wend,
Where crowned with bliss, with glory crown'd,
A nobler labour should be found
To claim her cure than that which claim'd,
When she in Greece with pride was named;
And when the best were foremost found,
To honour her whose genius framed,
What their own triumphs shamed.

_______________________
 
"GET UP!"

 

"GET UP!" the caller calls, "Get up!"
    And in the dead of night,
To win the bairns their bite and sup,
    I rise a weary wight.

My flannel dudden donn'd, thrice o'er
    My birds are kiss'd, and then
I with a whistle shut the door
    I may not ope again.

_______________________
 
THE ANGEL MOTHER.

 

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

"I've pass'd 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.

"The body's perished, but the spirit's risen,
    And in a body beautifuller far
Than that which was its cradle and its prison,
    And now is number'd with the things that were.

"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 vanished,
    Not of one golden hope am I bereft.

"The self-same spirit, nay, 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—to wind
My way through halls my change left desolated,
    A blessing to the dear ones left behind.

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

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

"Full often o'er the welkin of his vision
    I see an ebon cloudlet stealing, when
A sigh is utter'd lost 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 realize 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 gruel 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 doth 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?"

_______________________
 
FREEDOM.

 

WOULD I could to freedom awaken a song
    Half worthy the theme, then, a song would be sung
Would be echoed on high by the seraphic throng,
    And re-echoed on earth till with rapture earth rung.

I would tell of the glory she gives to the soul—
    I would tell of the manifold gifts and the grace
She confers upon those who durst spurn a control
    That our honour would stain and our manhood deface.

I would tell of the bearing she gives—I would tell
    Of the truth in the forehead expansive reveal'd;
Of the tones which ring out like the tones of a bell,
    Of the smiles in whose dimples no fraud is conceal'd.

Of the manifold griefs she's endured since the morn
    Man emerged into being, I'd tell—of the pain—
Ay, the deaths out of which she has risen to scorn
    The demons who labour her limbs to enchain.

As from its own ashes the mythic bird sprang,
    So oft from the dust has she sprung, and will spring,
Ere she suffers or ever can suffer the pang
    That would yield her dark foemen a triumph to sing.

Not dead is she found when her foes deem her dead,
    But, like the blest spirit she thrills and adorns,
She never can die, never sleep on death's bed,
    Whilst a star in the dome of the universe burns.

Of the worth of her children I'd tell, and the weird
    And wild music that's felt in the sound of each name
Of the heroes who bow to her mandates revered;
    Of the souls who have battled to shield her from shame.

On the pinions of rapture a legion would come
    Of the shades of the brave, yea, and hark with delight,
Whilst I sang of a high-hearted Gracchus of Rome,
    An Erin's loved Emmet, an Albion's Bright.

I would chant of the glory that vested the Queen,
    Even Bonduca's self—and Caractacus too—
The sheen of whose souls o'er their fall threw a sheen,
    That into the shade their foes victories threw.

The name of the Maid of Orleans should be heard,
    To the shame and the glory of down-trodden Gaul,—
The God-inspired Seeress whose will was a sword,
    Which severed the spell had long held her in thrall.

To the Greek Leonidas the lion-nerved king—
    To Rome's Cincinnatus and he, his last peer,
Garibaldi himself then a pæan would ring,
    The sternest oppressor would tremble to hear.

Nor unsung would'st thou be noble Washington, thou,
    Thou, whose name should be written in letters of gold;
Nay, priest-ridden Spain would in ecstasy glow,
    Whilst the deeds of the Maiden of Seville were told.

All this would I do could I sate my desire,
    But alas, I must leave what I feel is a want,
To a mightier bard and a richer toned lyre;
    But where's now the bard Freedom's anthem to chant?

Where, where is a Milton, a Shelley, and where
    Is a Burns or a Byron? where?   Woe is me!
We are mealy-mouthed men without courage to dare
    What becomes Freedom's children to do and to be.

_______________________
 
LET ENGLAND BEWARE.

The following appeared in the "Newcastle Weekly Chronicle,"
November 18th, 1876.

 

LET England beware, ere for war she declare,
    She incur not the mark of the beast—
That she march not her power the State to secure
    Of the blood-imbued wolf of the East;
It might be her gain that State to maintain—
    It might serve a purpose—it might—
But, if so, let her ask, how much nobler the task
    To battle for God and the Right!

The Bulgarians—they and the Servians may
    Have their faults and their failings—what then?
They are men, are they not? and if so, we are taught
    By our feelings what men owe to men:
'Neath their dark doom they cry, and their voice from
            on high,
    Wrings an answer that nerves for the fight—
Nay, Europe is thrilled, and her children have willed
    To battle for God and the Right!

Such horrific crimes belong to past times—
    And the coldest and hardest heart bleeds,
And a blush for our race paints with crimson each face
    When we think of the Turk and his deeds:
Too awful are they for relation, nor may
    Men know them and know a respite
To their heart-pangs till they have resolved for the fray,
    And battle for God and the Right!

An unbounded thirst for lucre accurst
    Must the down-trodden sate—even so—
And in this should they fail they are destined to wail
    The merciless scourge of the foe:
On stakes will the Turk fix his victim and work
    Him such anguish and woe, at the sight
The veriest serf grasps his sabre, resolved
    To battle for God and the Right!

See! those dearer than life, the daughter and wife,
    A prey to the torturer's lust,
And the Rayah heart-torn, and yet ridiculed, mourn
    His losses 'mid ashes and dust?
With his dear home despoiled, and his dear ones defiled,
    And a wreck what was once his delight,
What wonder if he in delirium should flee
    To battle for God and the Right!

The temple is burned and the altar's o'erturned,
    And with blood the street runnelets run;
And the prey-bird and beast hie in legions to feast
    On the corpses that rot in the sun.
And the ban-dog's harsh tones, as he crashes the bones,
    Strike the wayfaring man in the night
With a deep sense of dread, while a voice from the dead
    Seems to cry, "Arm for God and the Right!"

For God and the Right, the Revolted States fight,
    And whatever the sequel and end,
If then too must fight—fight for God and the Right,
    And God shall in turn be thy friend:
The gold-kings may shrink at the dictum, but think,
    Yea, hold-to thy duty, and smite—
Smite the cold-blooded Turk till he find higher work,
    Than to battle 'gainst God and the Right.

_______________________
 
NIL DESPERANDUM.

 

WHY thus mourn o'er star-hopes faded?
    They are only from thy ken,
By a passing vapour shaded,
    And will soon appear again:
Would thou prove a moral warrior,
    Up, and make the present thine!
Trust me every doubt's a barrier
    To life's heritage divine.

Not the Cytherean, truly
    Vain its pursuit and unwise;
But the joy Uranian duly
    Seek we that, and rich the prize:
But for that be our endeavour
    And, afar our doubt and fear,
We shall be a loser never,
    Tho' a loser we appear.

Tho' by many foes encircled
    Is the outer life, the worst,
By whose shadow life is darkled,
    In the heart is hatched and nursed:
All the ill to man else render'd,
    Is a jest of merry elf,
When compared to what's engender'd
    Thro' the sense-born syren self.

From our bosom the infernal—
    All that's mean, and low, and base,
Every wish and longing carnal,
    Chase we then or seek to chase;
Clearer to us then, and clearer
    Would life's complex riddle seem,
And our vanished Edens nearer
    Than at present we may deem.

Then would in our bosom clearly,
    Tho' in miniature be seen,
Not the lifeless image merely,
    But the God in all his sheen;
Yea, we'd there, stamped with the Ego
    Of the All in All unworn
Thro' time's Alpha and Omega,
    Find the best of all we mourn.

Lose we may the husk, and perish
    What the outer senses prize—
What the inner love and cherish,
    Never from us fades nor flies;
Hid it may be from the spirit,
    Only for awhile it's hid,
And one day will gift our merit
    With a joy to sense forbid.

One with the Eternal ever,
    Even thus to man's reveal'd,
Time from him his hopes may sever,—
    Time at last to him must yield;
Let but this be comprehended,
    Death to our despair were dealt,
And our selfish murmurs ended,
    Sweet the thrill within us felt.

Glory-dowered the task before us
    Then would cease to be a task;
Nay, we'd have what could secure us
    Whatsoever we would ask;
Should a thorn then pierce our bosom,
    E'en before the pang had flown—
Even that would bloom a blossom,
    Our right royal heads to crown.

"Valor's born from self-denial,
    Wisdom from each stern rebuke,
Power from every pain and trial,
    That the human soul may brook;
"This, or anthem more impassion'd,
    Would express the faith we'd hold,
And for us a girth be fashion'd,
    Richer than a girth of gold.

Smiles would leap to hail us victor,
    From each flower and running brook,
Beauty would herself impicture
    On whatever we might look;
Stars, the blessed stars my brother,
    Would attend us in the night,
And creation's self be other
    Than it seems to common sight.

Would'st thou prove a moral warrior
    Up and make the present thine!
Trust me every doubt's a barrier,
    To life's heritage divine;
Sagest heroes, heroic sages,
    So have taught since time began;
Up and earn a hero's s wages,
    Up, then up! and be a man.

_______________________
 
THE THOUGHT TOILER.

 

A THOUGHT TOILER faint and o'er-come by his labours,
And the manifold troubles by which he was girt,
Combined with the titters and sneers of his neighbours,
Lost heart and thus vented the pangs of his heart:—

"I'm a-weary with care, I'm a-weary with care,
Surrounded with woes that no mortal can bear,
Whilst I gaze on the night of my ills and survey,
Not a star to direct my lorn soul on her way.

"I'm shorn of my strength and the few are my years,
The winter of life on my aspect appears;
Ay, the feeling of death steals apace round my core,
Like the sea-waves around yon lone rock on the shore."

So rang the wild wail when a voice from the spheres,
Where dwell the good angels awoke on his ears—
"Refrain from thy tears, from thy sorrows refrain,
The gloom that engirts thee shall vanish again.

"Tho' in shadows the car of thy destiny's driven,
And thy hopes are extinguished, thy bosom-cords riven,
Not, not in one battle for right hast thou striven,
Unwitness'd by God and the angels of heaven.

"And could but thy eyes now be open'd as they
Will be open'd and not in a far distant day,
Thou would'st see for thy trials a guerdon more bright
Than the jewels that garnish the mantle of night.

"For the lava of thought that has sparkled and burned,
In thy inner-most soul's to a diadem turned;
And every tear thou hast shed is a gem,
That enhances the worth of that rare diadem.

"And every sigh thou hast breathed to a tone
Far sweeter than music on waters has grown;
And that music will flow in thy new-opened ears,
With a might that shall lead thee to bless the past years,

"Ah then shalt thou see not in vain hast thou wept;
Not in vain hast thou laboured whilst others have slept;
Not in vain hast thou sorrowed whilst others entranced
With the pleasures that perish have giggled and danced.

"And every trouble and every burden,
And every pang thou hast felt and endured,
Shalt thou find," cried the voice, "has its own precious
            guerdon!"
And the Toiler at this to his strength was restored.

_______________________
 
A FACT.

 

Now Gladstone's party bears the bell,
    And now Disraeli's—now
The people really cannot tell,
    For whom their hands to show.

Now this way, la, now that inclined,
    A giddy vane they go,
The victim of each puff of wind
    The demagogues may blow.
                                                          1868.

_______________________
 
THISTLE AND NETTLE.

 

'TWAS on a night, with sleet and snow
    From out the north a tempest blew,
When Thistle to her cot did go
    The little Nettle's self to woo.

His errand known, she, with a frown,
    Up from a sock a-knitting sprung;
Down took the broom and swept the room,
    While like a bell her clapper rung.

"Have I not seen enough to be
    Convinced for ever soon or late
The maid shall rue the moment she
    Attendeth to a wooer's prate?

"How long ago since Phemie Hay
    To Harry at the Mill fell wrong?
How long since Hall a prank did play
    Shall e'er be rued by Ellen Strong?

"How long ago since Adam Smith
    Wooed Annie on the Moor, and left
The lassie with a stain? yea, with
    A heart of every hope bereft?

"But what need instant cases? lo!
    Have I not heard thee chaunt the lay
'The fraud of men was ever so
    Since summer first was leafy?' eh?

"When men are to be trusted, then,
    —But never may that time befall;
Of five times five-and-twenty men,
    There's barely five are men at all.

"Before the timmèd maid they'll fall,
    And smile and weep and sigh and sue;
Till once they get her in their thrall,
    And then she's doomed her lot, to rue.

For her a subtle snare they weave,
    And when the bonny bird is theirs,
Then, then they giggle in their sleeve;
    Then, then they laugh at all her fears.

"Another western wind, they woo
    The bloom its treasures to unfold;
Extracts its wealth—their way pursue,
    And leaves her pining on the wold.

"—When men are men, come woo me then—
    Till then, lo I am on my guard,
And he the loon that brings me down,
    He, he'll be pardoned on my word!"

Thus for an hour her tongue was heard,
    By this, her words grown faint and few;
She raised the broom at every word,
    And thumped the floor to prove, it true.

In ardent words the youth replied:—
    "Dread hollow-heart guile thou must,
But deem not all of honour void
    Nor punish all with thy mistrust.

"A few, not all the lash have earn'd,
    Let but that few be lashed.   Nay, sure,
The world were topsy-turvy turned,
    Did not some sense of right endure.

"Destroy the weed, but spare the flower;
    Consume the chaff but keep the grain;
Nor harry one who'd die before
    He'd give thy little finger pain."

On hearing this, she sat her down,
    Took up her needle-work again,
And tho' she strove to wear a frown,
    Made answer in a milder strain.

"Forego thy quest.   Deceitful words
    May be, as they have been, may be
A fatal lure to lighter birds,
    They'll never prove the like to me.

"Still by my chastity I vow
    As I have kept the cheat at bay,
So, should I keep my senses, so
    I'll keep him till my dying day.

"The best that man can do or say,
    The love of gold or rubies rare,
Not all that wealth can furnish, may
    Once lure to leave me in a snare.

"So end thy quest."   He only prest
    His ardent suit the more, while she
At every word he uttered, garr'd
    Her fleeing needles faster flee.

"My quest by honour's justified;
    I long have eyed and found thee still
The maid I'd like to be my bride;
    Would I could say the maid that will.

"Hadst thou but been a daffodil
    That with the breezes sport and play
For all thy suitor valued, still
    Thou so hadst danced thy life away.

"But thou so fair art chaste."   Thus he
    Unto her answer answers e'er,
And that too in a way that she
    Must will or nill his answer hear.

And then a chair he'd ta'en, his chair
    Unto her chair he nearer drew;
Recurr'd to memories sweet and rare,
    And in a softer key did woo.

He spake of moments vanished, when
    The happiest pair of all the young
They hand in hand a-down the glen
    Together sported, danced and sung.

The linnet's self the boughs among,
    The lammie skipping o'er the way,
Sang not than they, a sweeter song,
    Played not a merrier prank than they.

"Ah, these were golden times!"   Thus goes
    His descant till her brow grows sleek,
Till lo! the lily drives the rose.
    The rose the lily from her cheek.

And now the iron sparking hot
    Around with might and main he swings,
And down upon the proper spot
    With bang on bang the hammer brings.

"Be, be my suit but undenied,
    And ere the moon is on the wane
A knot shall by the priest be tied,
    The priest shall never loose again.

"In heart and hand excelled by none,
    Henceforth I'd front the ills of life,
And every victory I won
    Should be a jewel for my wife.

"So should the people of the dell
    When they convened to gossip say,
For harmony we bore the bell,
    And bore it with a grace away.

"Nay, lift thy head, be not ashamed
    If thus to feel—and thus—and, O!
As matters sinful might be blamed—
    Then saints were sinners long ago."

Here silence deep ensued.   The cat
    That lately to the nook had stept
To mark the sequel of their chat,
    Came forth, lay on the hearth, and slept.

The needles that flew here and there,
    And in their glee had sought to vie
A moon-beam dance upon the mere,
    Neglected on her apron lie.

In concord with the storm within,
    The storm without forbears to blow;
And 'tween the sailing clouds begin
    The joyous stars to come and go.

O'er all delight prevails.   Nor swayed
    By doubt and dread she longer seems,
But on our hero's bosom laid
    The maid a dream of rapture dreams.

Dream on blest maid!   An hour like this
    Annuls an age of care and strife,
And turns into a drop of bliss
    The bitter cup of human life.

The tear is by a halo gilt,
    The thorns of life are changed to flowers;
The dirge into a merry lilt,
    When love return'd for love is ours.

And so our heroine felt.  In soft
    Sweet tones, at length her accents flow—
"I've heard of honied tongues full oft,
    But never felt their force till now.

"Still would I fume as day by day
    I've seen our damsels bought and sold
By some I'd scorn'd to own, had they
    Outweighed their very weight in gold.

"My hour of triumph's o'er.   In vain
    Did I my fellow maids abuse,
I've snatched the cup and drank the bane
    That sets me in their very shoes.

"That turns a heart of adamant
    To pliant wax; and in my turn
Subjects me to the bitter taunt
    The vanquish'd victor's ever borne.

"That leaveth Nettle satisfied
    To leave her kith and kin, and by
Her ever faithful Thistle's side
    To shelter till the day they die."

_______________________
 
THE HARTLEY CALAMITY.

 

THE Hartley men are noble, and
    Ye'll hear a tale of woe;
I'll tell the doom of the Hartley men—
    The year of sixty-two.

'Twas on a Thursday morning, on
    The first month of the year,
When there befell the thing that well
    May rend the heart to hear.

Ere chanticleer with music rare
    Awakes the old homestead,
The Hartley men are up and off
    To earn their daily bread.

On, on they toil; with heat they broil,
    And streams of sweat still glue
The stour unto their skins, till they
    Are black as that they hew.

Now to and fro, the putters go
    The waggons to and fro,
And echoes clang of wheel and hoof
    Within the mine below.

The din and strife of human life
    Awake in "wall" and "borde,"
When, lo! a shock is felt which makes
    Each human heart-beat heard.

Each bosom thuds, as each his duds
    He snatches and away,
And to the shaft in terror flees
    With all the speed he may.

Each, all, they flee—by two—by three
    They seek the shaft, to seek
An answer in each other's face,
    To what they may not speak.

"Are we entombed?" they seem to ask,
    "The shaft is closed, and no
Escape have we to God's bright day
    From out the night below."

So stand in pain the Hartley men,
    And o'er them swiftly comes
The memory of home and all
    That links us to our homes.

Despair at length renews their strength,
    And they the shaft must clear;
And soon the sound of mall and pick
    Half drowns the voice of fear.

And hark! to the blow of the mall below
    Do sounds above reply?
Hurra, hurra, for the Hartley men,
    For now their rescue's nigh.

Their rescue nigh?   The sounds of joy
    And hope have ceased, and ere
A breath is drawn a rumble's heard
    Re-drives them to despair.

Together, now behold them bow;
    Their burden'd souls unload
In cries that never rise in vain
    Unto the living God.

Whilst yet they kneel, again they feel
    Their strength renew'd—again
The swing and the ring of the mall attests
    The might of the Hartley men.

And hark! to the blow of the mall below
    Do sounds above reply?
Hurra, hurra, for the Hartley men
    For now their rescue's nigh.

But lo! yon light, erewhile so bright
    No longer lights the scene;
A cloud of mist yon light hath kiss'd,
    And shorn it of its sheen.

A cloud of mist yon light hath kiss'd,
    See! how along it steals,
Till one by one the lights are smote,
    And deep the gloom prevails.

"O, father, till the shaft is rid
    Close, close beside me keep;
My eye-lids are together glued,
    And I—and I—must sleep."

"Sleep, darling, sleep, and I will keep
    Close by—heigh-ho!"—To keep
Himself awake the father strives;
    But he—he too—must sleep.

"O, brother, till the shaft is rid
    Close, close beside me keep;
My eye-lids are together glued,
    And I—and I—must sleep."

"Sleep, brother, sleep, and I will keep
    Close by—heigh-ho!"—To keep
Himself awake the brother strives;
    But he—he too—must sleep.

"O, mother dear! wert, wert then near
    Whilst—sleep!"—The orphan slept;
And all night long by the black pit-heap
    The mother a dumb watch kept.

And fathers and mothers, and sisters
            and brothers;
    The lover and the new-made bride;
A vigil kept for those who slept,
    From eve to morning tide.

But they slept—still sleep—in silence
    dread,
Two hundred old and young,
    To awake when heaven and earth have
            sped,
And the last dread trumpet rung!

ED.—see also Alexander Anderson, Thinking of Michael

_______________________
 
MOTHER WEPT.

 

MOTHER wept, and father sighed;
    With delight a-glow
Cried the lad, "to-morrow," cried,
    "To the pit I go."

Up and down the place he sped,
    Greeted old and young,
Far and wide the tidings spread,
    Clapped his hands and sung.

Came his cronies, some to gaze
    Wrapped in wonder; some
Free with counsel; some with praise;
    Some with envy dumb.

"May he," many a gossip cried,
    "Be from peril kept;
"Father hid his face and sighed,
    Mother turned and wept.

_______________________
 
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'd sad.

A week ere ye went ye were married—
    Yes, yes, I remember aright;
The lads and the lassies 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 Allan 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 lassies—the burnie has shown
The rose on your dimpled cheek nearly
    Out-matched by the rose on my own.

Nay; as twins we grew up till another
    Was mine—but, another how long?
Then the changes that followed each other,—
    The guilt, and the shame, and the wrong?

—Ye knew my 'curst bane and besotter?
    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 loning,
    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 happen'd to fall—
And into my potion so bitter,
    The petty so emptied their gall.

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

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

Despised by the world, until riven
    By want were my bairnies from me—
Despised by the world, till mad-driven
    Was I, and mad-driven must be.

Despised by the world, and mad-driven
    Was I, and am fated to be;
There's not under all the blue heaven
    A wofuller woman nor me.

The pale morning finds me a-wringing
    My hands for my jewels in vain;
The day passes by without bringing
    A moment's relief to my pain.

O'ercome by despair in confusion
    Of thought, I will wander oft, when
—Alas, for the charming delusion!
    They glisten as wont in my ken.

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
    Atween their bit hands and the earth,
Till rapture their senses confoundeth,
    And laughter gives vent to their mirth.

Again—"they both live!" my woe banished
    I cry "they both live!" and e'en so,
Awake but to find the birds vanished
    With all that I valued below!

—Nay bann'd from my birth, and attended
    I've been by some devil, and he—
He's laughed when my best dream was ended
    And all that has happen'd to me.

He's dazzled and led me to yammour
    For baubles I ought to despise;
Then whipt from my vision the glamour,
    And shown the sad truth to my eyes.

He's mounted the air, and a snelling
    Bleak blast's ridden valley and plain;
And the dwelling of joy made the dwelling
    Of dark desolation and pain.—

But let me refrain—since we parted,
    Ah, Bessy!—But let me refrain;
Since then I've been thrice broken-hearted—
    But what have I not been since then?



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