I think of her whose gentle voice My drooping spirit cheered; In fancy see her eyes grow bright, When prosp'rous days appeared. And as—like vessels that from storms To quiet havens glide— We neared the haven of our hopes, I lost my darling bride. Softly sighs the evening breeze, And soothes my bosom sore, While angel voices seem to sing: "Not lost, but gone before."
DIED OCTOBER THE 14TH, 1864.
"For the charitable heart is as a flowing river: it moveth meekly and in silence, and scattereth abroad its blessings to beautify the world."
Ever the silent river flows Adown the mead in speechless eloquence, More telling than the language of the tongue; Its heart reflecting Heaven's own radiance In unmarred beauty as it glides along.
Ever the silent river flows: And in its depths, of untold wealth the source, What sleeping myst'ries, hidden and serene, Lie in their latent, undevelopt force; Yet on it moves as though it ne'er had been.
Ever the silent river flows: No shadowy nook escapes its placid glance; Tow'rds cavern dark with velvet step it steals; And passing on as though in dreamful trance, The story of its mission unreveals.
Ever the silent river flows: It clothes the meadows with a fleecy mist; Softens earth's arid heart with gentle rain, Till by the warm and sunny Morning kisst Nature looks upward—fresh and bright again.
Ever the silent river flows: And weeping willows, reaching prayerfully As though in adoration, droop to greet The dreamy river as it passes by; And throw their leafy blessings at its feet.
Ever the silent river flows: All Nature tells the story of its worth: A daily miracle—morn, noon, and night Softly beneficent: of joy the birth: A voiceless messenger of hope and light.
Ever the silent river flows: And so, in gentle meekness and sweet stealth, Out from the life of him whose loss we mourn There flowed of Charity a boundless wealth, To cheer the Poor by griefs and sorrows torn.
Ever the silent river flows: For ever and for ever flowing on: So runs the river of his goodness rare, A noble heritage from sire to son; With grateful hearts abounding everywhere.
SONG OF THE WORKER.
TO BE SUNG IN PRAISE OF THOSE WHO DESERVE IT, BY THOSE WHO THINK SO.
The strokes of the hammer ring out day and night, And the huge wheels whirl and they spin: The sky is on fire with the forge's light— Oh, Oh! for the roar and the din. The sparks fly aloft like a starry cloud, And the voices of workmen ring With a cheery refrain both happy and loud, And this is the song they sing: Bless thee, my master—bless thee; Prosperity always be thine. May plenty in store ever garnish thy door, And each day bring its blessings divine.
The cottage that stands by the mountain side Is bright with the cheerful fire, And the house-wife gazes with honest pride On the faces of husband and sire, Who, fresh from the forge, with their brawny hands The food that they eat have won, And this is the wish that each breast expands Ere the bountiful meal is begun: Bless thee, my master—bless thee; Prosperity always be thine. May plenty in store ever garnish thy door, And each day bring its blessings divine.
'Tis dark in that cottage: and sorrow is there; For sickness brings troubles amain; The sigh from affliction is heard on the air, And sad sounds the mournful refrain. But, sun-like in winter, a friend in their need Pours the light over lattice and floor: And these are the words that emblazon the deed From the heart that with love brimmeth o'er: Bless thee, my master—bless thee; Prosperity always be thine. May plenty in store ever garnish thy door, And each day bring its blessings divine.
A hand that is princely: the heart of a king: All kindness and goodness combined; A name that will long, with the virtues we sing, Deep—deep in our hearts be enshrined. And may the strong bond of affection like this Be the pledge of good faith to the end; For sad will the day be should ever we miss From our midst such a true-hearted friend. Bless thee—a thousand hearts bless thee: Prosperity always be thine. May plenty in store ever garnish thy door, And each day bring its blessings divine.
THE BROOKLET'S AMBITION.
In a sweet little glen, Far from footsteps of men, Once a bright-featured Brooklet was born, It could boast of its birth From a hole in the earth Well protected by bramble and thorn. For a time 'twas content, Nor on wandering bent, Till the raindrops fell plenteous and free, And disturbed the sweet rest Of the rivulet's breast, By whispering tales of the sea.
What the rain had to tell Made the rivulet swell, And grow large and more large by degrees, Till it broke with a bound From the hole in the ground, And was lost in a forest of trees. But it found its way out, And meandered about O'er the meadow, the lowland, and lea, Till it came, full of pride, With a thousand beside, And emptied itself in the sea.
But alas for the stream! And alas for its dream Of ambition! such dreamings were o'er, When it found to its cost As a stream it was lost The moment it leapt from the shore. So like rivulets—men, Humbly born in life's glen, Proudly dream as the lowlands they lave, That they're each one a sea, Whilst they're only—ah, me! Of life's ocean at best but a wave.
ST. VALENTINE'S EVE.
A dear little name I placed under my pillow On St. Valentine's eve, just to work out a charm, For 'twas said if I dreamed of the maiden who owned it, I should wed her as certain as sunshine is warm: And lo! in my sleep, a sweet vision came o'er me: A fair-featured maiden—and beauteous as fair— In attitude graceful stood smiling before me, With eyes dark and lustrous, and brown flowing hair: Her hand I took hold of, and gently endeavoured The rosiest of rose-coloured lips to impress; I whispered her name—and the vision departed: The name that I whispered was—No: you must guess!
A dark form lingers on the lea, In the moon-lit night— In the cold white light, Beneath the shade of an old oak tree, Like a dusky sprite, Or ghost newly sped From the voiceless dead; And the flowers droop round it weeping, While the sad moon streams Her white-wan beams O'er the world as it lieth sleeping. And ere the morn A wail forlorn Will arise from a lost one weeping.
A soft step leaves the cottage door In the moon-lit night, Like a leaflet's flight; A pure heart leaps, full of rich love-lore, Tow'rds the dusky sprite That stands like a shade From the voiceless dead, And the flowers droop round them weeping, While the sad moon streams Her white-wan beams O'er the world as it lieth sleeping; And ere the morn A wail forlorn Will arise from a lost one weeping.
Little Lily she was fair— O how fair no tongue can tell! Life was bright beyond compare Filled with love and Lilybell.
Little Lily came the day Both our hearts were lorn and lone. Oh! what bliss it was to say "Lilybell is all our own!"
Little Lily stay'd and smiled On us for a year or so, Then they came and took the child Upward where the angels go.
Little Lily left a mark— Mark of light where e'r she trod: Left her footprints in the dark, Just to guide us up to God.
Upward, then, we look alway: Pray and shed the silent tear; Hoping soon will come the day We shall join our darling there.
SUGGESTED ON HEARING OF THE DEATH, ONLY A FEW DAYS APART, OF TWO INFANT CHILDREN OF AN ESTEEMED FRIEND.
Gone! Like a ray, that came and kissed some flow'rs, Charming their loneliness with many a hue; But cheering only, as such marvels do, A few short hours.
Gone! Like a dew-drop-jewel of the mist, That lives the briefest moment in the morn; Sparkling in purity upon a thorn; Then heaven-ward kisst.
Gone! Like a Summer-wind, that woke a thrill In every leaf it fondled as it fled, Then left each leaflet drooping low its head Mournful and still.
Gone! Like a swelling wail at Autumn time, That went with such sad cadences away, 'Twas thought a God from Heav'n had come astray Weeping sublime.
Gone! Like a dream of beauty in the night, That came to tell a fair and welcome tale, Then left the wakening dreamer to bewail The dead delight.
Behold yon truant schoolboy, cap in hand, Bound o'er the gilded mead with frantic whoop, And to each butterfly give ready chase; Till one more gaudy than the flutt'ring rest Starts up before his gaze. Then darts he forth To clutch the prize, which ever and anon Lingers on shiny flow'r till nearly caught, Then flickers off with tantalizing flirt. The youth with hopeful heart keeps up the chase, And so intent upon the game, that he Sees not the yawning slough beneath his feet, Until he finds himself o'er head and ears In dreary plight. And so it is through life: From youth to age man dreams of happiness: Grasps every gilded bubble that upsoars, Fondly believing each to be the prize His fancy pictured. Still the wished-for joy Is far beyond his reach as e'er it was; Yet, buoyed with hope, he sees, or thinks he sees, The coming future bearing in its arms The smiling Beauty that he pants to grasp. With palpitating heart and trembling hand He reaches forth to pluck the prize—when lo! The treach'rous earth expanding at his feet, He finds in place of happiness—a grave.
AEOLUS AND AURORA:
GIVING A LITTLE INFORMATION AS TO THE MUSIC OF THE GODS. (a)
Said Aurora to Aeolus, as they sat o'er their bohea, Surrounded by Zephyruses—exactly three times three— "Olus, dear, a new piano is the thing of things we want." I regret to say Aeolus raised his eyes and said "We dont!" So unlike his mournful manner, when his sweet sad harp he plays; And he heav'd a sigh regretful as he thought of other days— As he thought of early moments, ere Aurora's heart was won— Ere beefsteak was fifteen pence a-pound, and coals five crowns a-ton; Ere nine little West-winds murmured round his table every meal, And the tones of a piano nought but sweetness could reveal, As his own Aurora played it in the home of her mamma, Ere his own Aurora, blushing, had referred him to papa. All these feelings moved Aeolus, but to climax in "We dont!" As he heard "A new piano is the thing of things we want." It was settled—who could help it? For Aurora, like the rest Of winning little women, knew that kisses pleased the best; It was settled—who could help it? So, the local paper brought, The quick eye of Aurora these glad words of comfort caught (b) "Dear Aeolus," said Aurora, "this is quite the thing for me;" "All is just as it all should be—it's a lady's property: "P'rhaps her husband 's short of money; p'rhaps the rent they want to pay; "P'rhaps—" but cutting short my story, the piano came next day. Yes—the walnut case was "beautiful" for beeswax made it so; And the keyboard was by Collard—"Collard's registered," you know. It is true, it was full compass; but the "richness" wasn't much; And a feature felt in vain for was the "repetition touch." Yes—it was a "trichord cottage," and "but little used" had been; And the wood, like those who bought it, all inside was very green. It was worth a score of guineas—e'en if really worth a score: And the "lady" who was "leaving" ere she left sold three or four, Piping hot from minor makers, though all Collard's make-believe; And at each recurring victim laughed a laugh within her sleeve. Of course no breach of morals to the seller I impugn, Although it cost five pounds a-year to keep the thing in tune. I rather blame the buyers two for napping being caught: And that's the way "Aeolus dear" a new piano bought.
(a) The foregoing lines were written several years ago, and published at the time, with the view of exposing a fraud too frequently practised upon people in search of so-called "bargains." Aeolus and Aurora are no imaginary characters.
(b) A lady removing from —————, is desirous of selling her Piano. A full rich tone, 7 octaves, in beautiful walnut case, trichord cottage, repetition touch, registered keyboard, by Collard, but little used. 27 guineas will be accepted, worth 60.—Apply to, &c.
ON BEING ASKED MY OPINION UPON THE MATTER TO WHICH IT REFERS.
Should'st thou find in thy travels a maid that is free, And content to love nought in the wide world but thee; With a face that is gentle—be 't dark or be 't fair; And a brow that ne'er ceases good-temper to wear; With a soul like a rosebud that's not yet unfurled— All strange to the tricks and the ways of the world; And a mind that would blush at its fanciful roam, Should it dream there are spheres more delightful than home, With a love that would love thee alone for thy sake In bonds which adversity never could break. Should'st thou find such a treasure—then unlock thy heart, And place the bright gem in its innermost part; Watch over it tenderly—love it with pride; And gratefully crown it thy heaven-sent bride.
SLEEPING IN THE SNOW.
"O, let me slumber—let me sleep!" The fair-haired boy in whispers sighed; Then sank upon the snowy steep, While friendly hearts to rouse him tried. "O, let me sleep!" and as he spake His weary spirit sought its rest, And slept, no more again to wake, Save haply there—among the blest. Sleep—sleep—sleeping: He sleeps beneath the starry dome; And far away his mother, weeping, Waits his coming home.
We raised him gently from the snow, And bore him in our arms away. The sweet white face is smiling now— Made whiter by the moon's pale ray. And when the sun in beauty rose We laid him in the silent tomb, Where mountains with eternal snows High up tow'rds Heaven grandly loom. Sleep—sleep—sleeping: He sleeps beneath the starry dome; And far away his mother, weeping, Waits his coming home. (a)
(a) The late Artemus Ward, in his "American Drolleries," tells a pathetic story of a boy, a German, who died from the severity of the weather, while travelling, in company with others, in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains. He was the only child of a widowed mother. The intense cold induced drowsiness; and while being forced along by his companions with the view of counteracting the effects of the frost, his continued cry, uttered with soul-stirring plaintiveness, was: "Let me sleep—let me sleep." Unable to save him, his companions permitted him to lie down and "fall asleep in the snow"—a sleep from which he never woke.
WITH THE RAIN.
A Dewdrop and a Violet Were wedded on an April day; The Dewdrop kisst his pretty pet, Then by the Sun was called away. The drooping flow'r bewailed her choice; "My love will never come again!" But from the clouds came answering voice: "I come, my darling, with the rain!"
The Violet had jealous fears, And told her sorrow to the Rose: "Say—is he faithful?" O those tears! The blossom whispered—"Goodness knows!" The recreant dewdrop came at last, And eased his love of all her pain: With kisses sweet her sorrows passed, And life anew came with the rain.
ON THE DEATH OF A VERY INTIMATE FRIEND, A YOUNG SURGEON, WHO DIED FROM FEVER, AFTER ATTENDING A PATIENT.
'Tis sad indeed to chant a dirge of gloom— To weave the cypress for a youthful brow: To moan a requiem o'er an early tomb, And sing in sorrow as I'm singing now. While men raise mausoleums to die brave— With flimsy flatt'ries gilded tombs besmear— We need no banner o'er our Brother's grave To tell what wealth of worth lies buried there.
Gone! and the word re-echoes with a sound Mournful as muffled bells upon the wind; Sad in its influence on all around— Telling of griefs that still remain behind. A thousand hearts may throb with tender swell— Though every soul in deepest sorrow grieves, How much he was beloved they only tell; But who shall gauge the yawning breach he leaves?
Dark is the social world in which he moved— Lending his aid unmindful of the cost. Stilled is the heart the sternest 'mongst us loved; Dim is the lustrous jewel we have lost. For souls like his, so tender and so great, Are pearls that stud the earth like stars the sky: Above—the password at celestial gate; Below—the germ of immortality.
Gone! Just as life was breaking, full of hope— Clothed in the gorgeous beauty of its morn; Free in Ambition's ever-widening scope, A pictured prospect exquisitely drawn. As void of self as angels are of sin, What sweet anticipations stirred his brain: What heights for others would he strive to win; What little for himself he'd seek to gain.
But while the world was bathed in golden light; While beauty breathed from every opening flower; While streamlets danced along with gay delight; While mellow music filled each songful bower; With heart-warm friends whose love ran brimming o'er For him who, full of life, stood with them then; In such an hour Death led him from the shore; And gone the worth we ne'er may know again.
ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND.
She left a mournful void upon our hearts; Within her home she left a vacant place: But, as the setting sun at eve imparts A holy twilight calm to nature's face, So, chastened, bend we o'er the early tomb Of one who to us all was very dear, Whose cherished memory, like a fragrant bloom, Will live embalmed in recollection's tear.
WRITTEN IN THE PRAYER BOOK OF A YOUNG LADY WHO HAD JILTED HER LOVER.
To love unbeloved—O how painful the bliss! By such passion our heart-strings we sever: Like raindrops in rivers, which die with a kiss, We are lost in life's waters for ever.
WRITTEN AND SENT AS A VALENTINE TO MY HEN-PECKED SCHOOLMASTER.
I wonder if thy Tyrant knows That every peck she gives to thee Brings down a perfect show'r of blows On my companions and on me. Martyrs vicarious are we all: Too great a coward thou to rule Thy wife, or let thy vengeance fall On her—and so thou flog'st the school.
WRITTEN AT TUNBBRIDGE WELLS IN 1854, AFTER HAVING SEEN LADY NOEL BYRON, WIDOW OF THE POET, LORD BYRON, WHO WAS STAYING THERE FOR THE BENEFIT OF HER HEALTH.
Like the Moon that is waning, thou movest along— Silent, pensive, and pale—through thy sorrow's dark Night; For thou draw'st from the rays of our bright Sun of Song The white coldness that lives where reflected 's the light.
And the stars which in fancy around thee I see, As in bright golden fire they eternally shine, Seem to cast from their splendour a lustre on thee, As of light from thy husband's effusions divine.
In the flush of his fame were thy virtues unseen, By his blinding effulgence of genius hid: Could he now see thy face, with its sorrow serene, Much might he unsay—undo much that he did,
For I see in that face all the sorrows he told— All the sadness he meant in his marvellous lore; And the shadows of Memory, silent and old, Seem to come with the light from Eternity's shore.
And I feel, though the world said his spirit and thine Were as wide as the sun and the moon are apart, That the beams of his love o'er thy bosom still shine— That the thought of his passion still nurtures thy heart.
WHEN A YEAR OLD.
My sweet one, thou art starting now In life's heart-saddening race, With Innocence upon thy brow And Beauty in thy face; A tiny star among the host That fleck the arc of life; A tiny barque on ocean tossed, To brave its billowy strife. May Virtue reign supremely o'er And round thy footsteps cling; While Faith and Hope for evermore Celestial numbers sing. O may thy life be one glad dream Of bright unclouded joy; Thy love one pure and sunny theme Of bliss without alloy. Should Fate or Fortune's dazzling rays Lead thee to other climes, Then, darling, let this meet thy gaze, And think of me sometimes.
THE ORATOR AND THE CASK
INTRODUCING A CHARACTER FROM LIFE.
A speaker of the suasive school, Who more resembled knave than fool, His prospects gauged once on a time, And sought how he might upward climb. The scheme Political had failed; The star of Piety had paled; The Convert Drunkard would not tell— His friends the cheat had learnt to smell. All things our changeful friend had tried— Had spouted far and shouted wide. When all at once—ah! happy thought: The Temp'rance cause in tow was brought. And with it, up and down the land, Our hero roamed with lofty hand, Consigning to a dreadful place, Whose name this fable must not grace, All men—the one who touched a drop, With him who knew not when to stop. Arriving in a town one day, He on his string began to play; And mounted on a brandy cask With noisy speech went through his task. The barrel on whose head he stood At length gave vent in warmth of blood: "Ungracious varlet—stay thy hand: "What! run down those on whom you stand?" Then, utterance-choked, he tumbled o'er, Casting the speaker on the floor. And as he rolled along the street— "Let me consistent teachers meet!" He said—"or give me none at all To teach me how to stand or fall!" Thus seekers after Truth declaim 'Gainst teachers—teachers but in name— Who live by what they deprecate, And love the thing they seem to hate— Who like the speaker raised on high On barrel-top, 'gainst barrels cry: Who, though of others Temp'rance ask, Are slaves themselves to th' brandy flask.
THE MAID OF THE WAR.
SET TO MUSIC AND PUBLISHED ON THE DEPARTURE OF MISS FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE AND HER STAFF OF NURSES FOR THE CRIMEA.
When the cannon's loud rattle Told tales of the battle, And the nations turned pale at the rout; When the clarion rang madly, And maidens wept sadly, And swords leapt with fire-flashes out; One frail girl of beauty Shrank not from her duty, But raised her sweet voice 'bove the roar; Her bright smiles of kindness Played o'er the dark blindness: 'Twas Florence, the Maid of the War.
When thousands, down-falling, For help were out-calling— Neglected, on straw-pallet cast— A fair form drew near them To aid and to cheer them; Her shadow they kissed as it passed, (a) When they droopt in their sadness, Or raved in their madness, She left her glad home from afar To heal up their sorrows, And tell of bright morrows; 'Twas Florence, the Maid of the War.
(a) So impressed were some of the wounded soldiers in the hospital at the kindness and gentle treatment received at the hands of Miss Nightingale, that, unable otherwise to testify their gratitude, they kissed her shadow as it fell upon the pillow of the pallets, on which they lay. One poor fellow is said to have done this with his latest breath.
ON BEING ASKED BY A LADY TO WRITE A VERSE IN HER ALBUM.
If I could place my thoughts upon thy heart As on this virgin page I now indite, What words unspoken would I not impart Which only on my own I dare to write?
DIED MAY 30TH, 1860.
But one short hour She came and tripped it o'er the rugged earth, Like a light sunbeam o'er the troubled wave; Then shrank in silence to her little grave, A rose-bud bitten at its opening birth.
The hand of death Had ta'en before her one who loved her well With all the fondness of a Mother's heart, Whose darling's soul was made of Heav'n a part E're sank the echoes of her own death-knell.
And so she died: Before her mind scarce knew the way to live. But sorrowing tears 'twere useless now to shed: Our hopes must bloom, or mingle with the dead, As Heav'n alone deems fit to take or give!
ON THE MARRIAGE OF MISS ELIZABETH MARY NICHOLL CARNE, FEBRUARY 6TH, 1868.
Oh, blessed Love! that clothes with laughing flowers Life's martyr-crown of thorns, and raises up The heart to hold communion with its God, 'Tis thine, this day, with golden clasp, to bind The volume of a life, where sterling worth And beauty go to make the story up. A maiden, one, who, when on tiptoe, sees Her history running through a line of Kings: In fame how excellent; in life how pure; As though the virtues of her ancestry Had found new utterance in her virtuous self. As rain-drops, trickling through the hills of Time, Commingling gather, till, in sparkling life, They come, a streamlet, happy in the sun, To gladden all with beauty, so the gems That thickly fleck an old ancestral name From time how distant, centre in the soul Of her who comes this day with loving smile To crown a husband with such wealth of worth As 'tis her own to give. Thrice happy pair! May cloudlets never dim the arc of light That should engirdle all their lives, and make Their home a paradise. If such should come, May they be transient as a summer cloud That mars but for a moment, yet to make The sky more beautiful. May truest Love Be with them ever, garnishing their lives With bliss perpetual, and lighting up Their footsteps o'er the earth, as when, of old, God's angels walked with men. So shall they live A life which loving hearts alone may know.
ON THE DEATH OF MR. THOMAS KNEATH, A WELL-KNOWN TEACHER OF NAVIGATION, AT SWANSEA.
He pupils taught to brave the gale Secure on life's tempestuous sea; Then, pupil he of Death, set sail To navigate Eternity.
The students taught by him—return In safety to their friends ashore; But tutor Death, so cold and stern, Brings back his pupils—never-more.
EXTRACTS FROM SOME UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT.
Blame not the world: But blame its law that makes it crime akin To be of lowly birth—to lack the gold Whereby to coat the mask to cheat the world Of sterling merit. See yon beauteous fly Breaking its plumage 'gainst the glassy pane, Till spent and weary, yearning tow'rds the sun. E'en so the lowly-born but large of soul See not, but feel, the chilling barrier Set up by Pride to mar their sky-ward flight To liberty and life.
See, when the simple moth doth blindly rush To reach the flame, its life oft pays the debt Of folly. Yet 'tis nobler thus to die Midst all the brightness of a waking life, Than from the world ooze out through darkened ways By beggarly instalments—none to feel Thy life but thine own poor ignoble self: And none to tell the moment of thy death Save those who profit by it.
Ne'er seek, by artful guise of words, to taint The truth with falsehood's hue. Poor, trembling Truth! Trust in her would be boundless, if our tongues Uttered the coin as fashioned in the heart. And then poor Heart would have no need to send Her champion blushes to the cheeks to tell The world how basely she had been traduced.
O love sublime! How thy sweet influence agitates the soul, Voicing its hidden chords, as breathing winds Wake the rude harp to thrilling melody. All things must pass away; but love shall live For ever. 'Tis th' immortal soul of life. Scathless and beauteous midst th' incongruous mass Of desolated hearts and stricken souls, And spirits faintful 'neath a world of woe, And dusky millions in the mine of life; And all the rank corruption of the earth— Its weeds, its thorns, its sadness-breeding hate; Its selfishness, its swallow-pinioned friends; Its rottenness of core and lack of truth: When all have changed, save Nature and itself, This Heaven-sent flow'r of Eden—peerless love— Shall blossom in Evangel purity, And sanctify a host to people Heaven.
VALUE OF ADVERSITY.
Friction with sorrow rubs perception keen; And dear-bought knowledge makes us prophets all.
What! Is the graveyard sod less fresh and green— The daisies there less like the meadow flow'r— Because pollution slumbers at their roots? Judge not thou, then, by what appears to be, But what exacting Conscience tells thee is.
As fair a soul as ever came from God, And one more gentle never walkt the earth In mortal guise. Of sweet external, too: Fresh as the wakening morn with violet breath; And every action, look, thought, word, and trace, Were strung to tuneful melody. Her life Was music's echo—stealing o'er the soul Like dying strains, soft and retiringly. In childish grace to womanhood she grew, And like the virgin lily stood and smiled— Flinging around the fragrance of herself Unweeting of the blessings that she brought.
All human actions are ordained of God, And for the common good: yet men see not The strings that keep earth's puppets on the move; But whine and whimper—wondering at the ways By which unlook'd-for ends are brought about: As blind imprisoned birds bruise out their lives Against the cruel bars they cannot see.
Experience tells the world it were as mad To link the Present with the sluggish Past, As wed the ways of winsome, wanton youth, To lean and laggard age. I pitied her: Made her the mistress of my countless wealth— Loving with doting and uxorious love. And the ripe graces of her radiant mind Shone out resplendent. But my withered life Woke to her love with sere and sickly hope; As some departed June, won with the sighs Of waning Winter, turns and spends a day For very pity with the lonely eld, Who greets her sunny visit with a glance Of cold inanity, and strives to smile. O had I known this little hour of time When life was young—or knew it not at all! Then my heart's buoyance, at such love as her's, Had blossom'd brightly—as the merry May Skips from the golden South with balmy breath, Breathing upon the dark and thorn-clad fields, Till fragrant buds peep out like love-lit eyes, And hedges redden as she walks along. As these—her love and mine. But now—alas!
O that the wretchedness entailed by sin Might form the prelude—not the after-piece. How few there are would brave the hurricane: How few the crimes mankind would have to count.
My heart is dark again. My tree of life but yestermorn was flusht With golden fruit: to-day it creaks in pain, And wintry winds moan through its leafless boughs. Time, some hours younger, saw me clasp the sky Of hope with radiant brow: the plodding churl May see me now go stumbling in the dark, And blindly groping for the hand of Death To lead me hence. O life! O world! O woman!
A MOTHER'S ADVICE.
Mother. Clarence, my darling boy, The world to which thou yearn'st is grey with crime; And glittering Vice will bask before thy face, As serpents lie in sedgy, o'ergrown grass, In glossy beauty, whilst Life's potent glance Will thrall thy soul as with a spirit-spell: But hold thy heart, a chalice for the Good And Beautiful to crush, with pearly hands, The mellow draught which purifies the thought, And lights the soul. Thirst after knowledge, child. Thy face shall shine, then, brightly as a king's, As did the prophets' in the olden time When holding converse with the living God. As rain-drops falling from the sky above Upon the mountain-peak remain not there, But hasten down to voice the simple rill, So knowledge, born of God, should be attained By peasant as by peer—by king or slave. Have faith—large faith. Some of life's mightiest great Have peered out, like the moon from frowning hills, Then ventured forth, and walkt their splendour'd night In pale, cold majesty; while some have dasht On sun-steeds through the ocean of the world, As comets plough the shoreless sea of stars, Blinding old Earth with wreaths of splendid foam And sparkling sprays: others have strode the world Like a Colossus, and the glory-light That streamed up from the far, far end of time, Hath smote their lofty brows, and glinted down Upon the world they shadowed: some have lived And cleft their times with such a whistling swoop That plodding minds seemed reeling 'tother way— Men who had suffering-purified their souls To angel rarity, that they might scan, Like old Elijah, e'en the throne of God, And live.
Clarence. Thy voice doth marshal on my soul To battle, and to dream of noble things. Thy golden words I'll graft upon my heart Like blossoms wedded to the granite rock. But, Mother, weep not! Why should April tears Come with the sunshine of thy voice?
Mother. Bless thee, God bless thee, Clarence! May thy sorrows be Light and evanescent as vapoury wreaths That fleck the Summer blue. My dreams shall wing Their way to thee, as moonbeams pierce the night. And I will send my soul up in a cloud Of thought to Heav'n, wreathed with a Mother's prayer, For thee. Farewell—and be thou blest.
SUNRISE IN THE COUNTRY.
What a sweet atmosphere of melody And coolness falls upon the troubled heart, Like oil upon the wave. Dance on—dance on— Ye couriers of the sun—full-throated choir; And sky-ward fling your sobbing psalmody— A sunrise offering to the coming day. On—on: still higher! Still rolls the torrent down, Bearing the soul up in a cloud of sprays, The world seems deluged with a golden shower: Myriads of larks trill out their morning psalm, As though the stars were changed to silver bells Timbrelling forth their sweet melodious bursts In joyous welcome of the maiden Morn.
FAITH IN LOVE.
Man's faith in woman's love Is all the darken'd earth can boast of Heaven. That faith destroyed—farewell to happiness, And joy, and worldly hope, and all that goes To deify mankind.
She was a simple cottage-girl, But lovely as a poet's richest thought Of woman's beauty—and as false as fair. I've writhed beneath the witchery of her voice As cornfields palpitate beneath the breeze— Have sued with praying hands—lavished my life Upon her image, as the bright stars pour Their trembling splendours on the cold-heart lake— Wounded my manliness upon the rock Of her too fatal beauty, like a storm That twines with sobbing fondness round the neck Of some sky-kissing hill, bursts in his love, Then slowly droops and flows about her feet A puling streamlet,—whilst a gilded cloud Is toying with the brow of his Beloved! 'Twas gold that sear'd the love-bud of her heart; To bitter ashes turned my life's sweet fruit; And sent my soul adrift upon the world A wandering, worthless wreck.
THE POET'S TROUBLES.
To be possess'd of passion's ecstasy Outswelling from the heart; the teeming brain Afire with glowing light; as when the sun Catches the tall tree-tops with Summer warmth, And draws the trembling sap with impulse sweet Through every fibre up to th' glory-crown; To feel the breath of some rare influence Of subtle life suck at the throbbing soul As though into infinity to kiss The yielding passion subtle as itself; To see the hand of God in everything; To hear His voice in every sound that comes; To long, and long, with passionate desire, To speak the language which the dream divine Incessantly implies; to live and move In Fancy's heav'n—yet know that earth still holds The fancy captive: these the daily death Of many minds that wrestle all in vain 'Gainst that which Heav'n in cruel kindness sends To teach mankind humility. Ah, me! The pow'r to feel the touch of Paradise And to enjoy it not—as hungering men Have died ere now, gazing upon the food By heartless gaolers placed beyond their reach.
ECHOES FROM THE CITY.
The modern Babylon Sleeps like a serpent coil'd up at my feet. London—huge model of the great round earth, The teeming birthplace and the mausoleum Of millions; where dark graves and drawing-rooms Gaze from each other into each; where flow'rs Of blushing life droop in the grasp of Vice Like blossoms in the fingers of a corpse; Where cank'rous gold sways, millions with a nod To abject slavery, buying men up As toys for knaves to play with in the game Of life; where Truth is kicked from foot to foot, Till in bewilderment she cries aloud And swears to save her life she is a lie; Where Love and Hate, in masquerading guise, Pell-mell dance on; chameleon Charity, In all its varying phases, crawls along— Now shrinking up dark courts in russet tint, And then, in bold and gaudy colours dresst Which publish trumpet-tongued its whereabouts, It takes a garish stand before the world And calls itself an angel. Thus for aye— For ever, rolls the dark and turbid stream In feverish unrest.
When Beauty smiles upon thee—have a care. Kingdoms ere this have hinged upon a kiss From woman's lips: and smiles have won a crown. Glances from bright eyes of a gentle maid, Whose cheeks would redden at a mouse's glance, Have hearts befool'd that in their noble strength Had shaken Kingdoms down. Have thou a care.
HAZARD IN LOVE.
My sorrowing heart is like the blasted oak That claspt the dazzling lightning to its breast, Yielding its life up to the burning kiss. Springs came along and fondled all in vain, And Summers toy'd with warm and am'rous breath; But nought in life could e'er again restore The greening foliage of its early days. Man never loves but once—then 'tis a cast For life or death. If death—alas the day! If life—'twere perfect Paradise.
A MOTHER'S LOVE.
And friends fell from me—all, save God, and one Beside—and she my mother—gentle, true. As the bleak wind sweeps o'er the trembling limbs Of some fair tree denuded of its dress, How oft is seen, upon the topmost spray, One lonely leaf, which braves the passing storm Of Winter, and when gladsome Spring arrives, And blossoms bloom in beauty all around, It bends its brow and silent falls away. So droopt that friend, who, through the livelong day Of icy cold that chill'd my inmost life, Sat like a bird upon the outside branch, And sweetly sang me songs of coming Spring.
"THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS."
'Tis everywhere! The babe that sees with pain The look of feign'd displeasure on the face Of doting mother; and the mother who Lays down the babe to rest—no more to wake; The youth and maiden fair who tempt the stream Of love that never brings them to the goal Their fancy pictured; hearts that droop and break: Upon life's thorny way; old age that sees Long-hoped for peace among the silent dead And deems it life to die. The shadow falls Athwart the sunny hopes of every heart, And shadowy most when gentle arms extend For love's embrace, and find it not—as night Is darkest near the dawn. Brighter the flame Of light celestial 'twixt which and our hearts The blessed Cross doth stand, sharper the shade That falls upon our lives, as greatest gains Involve the pains of great adventurings; Or, nearer Death, nearer eternal Life.
CURATES AND COLLIERS.
ON READING IN A COMIC PAPER VERY ABSURD COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE WAGES OF CURATES AND COLLIERS.
If colliers were curates, and curates were colliers, I wonder what price the best coal would be then; Whether meat would be dearer, or Heaven be nearer, Or truth be less earnestly preached among men.
I know that the incomes of curates are slender; But curates get luxuries colliers ne'er see, Which they don't have to pay for, nor work night and day for, In mines dark and slushy on back and bent knee.
Keep pulpits for curates—but pay them good stipends: Keep mines for the colliers—but pay colliers well: O, the Pit—no detraction—brings Pulpit reaction, For pulpits would sicken if collieries fell.
Then go, sneering cynic—write nonsense and fiction On champagne and velvet, on satin and sin; Though the joke may be able, 'tis false as a fable, And shows what a fog Fleet-street sometimes gets in.
WANTED: A WIFE.
A VOICE FROM THE LADIES.
Being a reply to "M. C. D.," who advertised in a Swansea Newspaper for a wife, 1856.
Deputed by some lady friends, Who think, with me, when ought offends, 'Tis best to have it out at once, Not nurse your wrath like moping dunce, I venture forth—(now don't be hard, And sneer, "Dear me, a female bard!" I'm not the only Bard that's seen Inditing verse in crinoline. (a) I say—deputed by a few Young ladies: 'tis no matter who: I come—(of vict'ry little chance)— With "M. C. D." to break a lance; To intimate our great surprise To hear ourselves called—merchandise, To be obtained—(there's no disguising The fact)—obtained by advertising! Obtained for better or for worse, Just like a pony, pig, or horse. And now, Sir, Mister "M. C. D.," Pray, tell us, whomso'er you be, D'ye think a lady's heart you'll gain By such a process? O how vain!
(a) These monstrosities—I mean the balloons, not the bards—are now out of date—thank goodness!
With us, we hold in blank disgrace The man who fears to show his face. A tim'rous heart we all despise: But we adore the flashing eyes, The manly form—the lofty hand; The soul created to command. Love comes to us, no bidden guest, For him who loves and rules us best. The rosy god lights not his taper For him who, in a trading paper, Behind a printed notice screens, And fears to tell us what he means. Why don't he to the busy marts Come forth and seige our tender hearts? 'Tis wrong to buy pigs in a poke: To wed so—what a silly joke! In promenade, church, or bazaar, At proper moments, there we are, To be secured by manly hearts, And, when secured, to do our parts To temper life with him we love, And woman's fondest instincts prove; To yield submission to his will, And, faulty though, to love him still. Then "M. C. D." I pray refrain: By means like these no wife you'll gain: If you've no manlier mode to try, We'll single live, and single die.
FRAGMENTS AND TRIFLES.
A Wit, reduced in means, in Market-place Hawk'd buns all hot. A chum, with sorrowing face, Came up—condoled: the Wit exclaimed "Have done! "Your sympathy be bothered—BUY A BUN!"
Once on a time a grimy sweep Was creeping down the street, When Quartern Loaf, the biker's boy, Below he chanced to meet: "Sweep!" sneered the baker: and the sweep Gave Puff a sooty flout; But Puff-crumb did not deal in soot, So turned his face about; Nor did he care to soundly drub The imp of dirty flues: "Go change your clothes!" said he, "and then "I'll thrash you when you choose! "It will not do for me to fight "With such a sooty elf; "My jacket's white, 'twould soon be black "By tussling with yourself!"
LAW VERSUS THEOLOGY:
ON AN EMINENT COUNTY COURT JUDGE.
Some pulpit preachers think so very deep That drowsy listeners find themselves asleep; But the deep-thoughted law which —— teaches Makes "wide awake" all those to whom he preaches.
THE BROKEN MODEL:
TO ONE WHO WELL DESERVED THE STRICTURES WHICH THESE LINES CONTAIN.
When Nature saw she'd made a perfect man She broke the mould and threw away the pieces, Which being found by Satan, he began And stuck the bits together—hence the creases, The twists, the crooked botches, that we find— Sad counterfeits of Nature's perfect moulding; Hearts wrongly placed—a topsy-turvy mind— Things that deserve the scorn of all beholding. It needs no oracle in Delphic shade To name the model from which thou wert made.
ON AN INVETERATE SPOUTER.
If wealth of words men wealth of wisdom call'd, And measured Genius by the way she bawled, Then —— would be the head of all the crew, The King of Genius and of Wisdom too.
In childhood spoilt: a misery at school; In wooing, what you might expect—a fool. In small things honest, and in great a knave; At home a tyrant, and abroad a slave.
ON A PAUPER WHOSE WEALTH GREW FASTER THAN HIS MANNERS.
Paupers grown rich forget what once they've been, Though, born a pig the snout is always seen.
ON THE HESITATION OF THE CZAR TO FORCE A PASSAGE OF THE DANUBE, JUNE, 1877.
Aye—hesitate! "Soldiers who stop to think Are lost." So said a soldier (a) ere he died: Lost, then, art thou—thus shivering on the brink. Death was thy father's cure for humbled pride!
THE TEST OF THE STICK.
Mick Malone on the tramp, weary, dusty, and warm, Thought a pint of good ale wouldn't do him much harm; But before he indulged—just for Conscience's sake— He thought he'd the views of Authority take. So poising his stick on the ground—so they say, He resolved on the beer if it fell the beer way; If it went the contrary direction—why then He'd his coppers retain, and trudge onward again. The shillalegh, not thirsty, went wrong way for Mick, Who again and again tried the Test of the Stick, Till, worn out with refusing, the sprig tumbled right: "Bring a pint!" sang out Pat, which he drank with delight; And smacking his lips as he finished his beer, Cried—"Success, Mick, me boy! always persevere!"
CONCERNING IUAN WYLLT, AN EISTEDDFOD AT NEATH, AND MY FIRST PRIZE POEM.
I think I ought to mention here, that the "Ode on the Death of a very Intimate Friend" (page 199), was written in 1853, before I came to reside in Wales. About three or four years after this—I forget the date—a prize was offered at an Eisteddfod held at Neath, by Mr. James Kenway, the then Mayor, for the best monody on the death of Mr. Edward Evans. I competed for the prize, and obtained it. The model of the Ode was taken by me in writing the Monody, the general conditions of the two events being somewhat similar, and much of the same language is used in both poems. I may add, as a matter that may be interesting to some, that the Neath Eisteddfod prize was the first for which I competed, and the first I obtained. The adjudicator was the late Mr. J. Roberts (Iuan Wyllt), whose death, as I write these lines, is being recorded in the newspapers. In adjudicating upon the poem, Mr. Roberts said: "In this production we have the traces of a muse of a superior order. The language is chaste and poetic, the versification is clear and melodious, and the mournfully pathetic strain that pervades the whole elegy harmonises well with the sorrowful character of the subject. As regards both matter and manner, the writer has excelled by many degrees all the other competitors, and his elegy is fully deserving the offered prize." It is not too much to say, that to the encouragement contained in the foregoing remarks of Iuan Wyllt was due the spirit of emulation which led me subsequently to compete at the various Elsteddfodau in the Principality with so much success.