Sheen and Shade (2)
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THE ANGEL'S TOMB.

 

OH!   Conscience will nevermore sleep,
    For Guilt's fatal thunders aye roll,
And God, like a tempest, doth sweep
    O'er the infinite deeps of my soul.

An Angel was sent me from Heaven,
    A child of the cherubic race,
And strict was the soul-warning given
    To govern and guide it apace;

To feed it on perishless food
    Was bountiful Heaven's behest;
But, alas! dust and ashes, and blood
    Of black vipers, I gave to my guest.

The child seemed to sicken and die,
    Yet I knew that it was not true death,
For a living Dream lurked in its eye,
    Though void of pulsation and breath.

I buried it under the turf,
    In Memory's verdant domain,
Which is washed by the flame-flowing surf
    Of Phantasy's ocean of Pain.

Twelve dissolute winters fled by,
    When I dreamed that this child of the skies
From the hollow grave heaved a faint sigh
    Which drew tears from pale Pity's wan eyes.

I arose in a sorrowing mood
    To revisit that narrow green tomb,
On the margin of Memory's wood,
    By thought-ruins shrouded in gloom.

But the bright sun of Virtue and Truth
    Had ceased to illumine that grove,
And dim as the star of my youth
    Waged the far-distant planet of Love.

I had dug the live corpse from its grave,
    My soul from Remorse to have screened;
But I feared lest the food which I gave
    Should have changed Heaven's child to a fiend.

Strange fear scared my soul from the spot,
    For Hope had forsaken me there,
And, resigned to my desolate lot,
    I shook hands with the Giant Despair.

But Conscience will nevermore sleep,
    For Guilt's fatal thunders aye roll,
And God, like a tempest, doth sweep
    O'er the infinite deeps of my soul.

 


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THE COFFIN AND THE SHROUD.

 

WHO hath not seen an Eagle, plumed with fire,
    With wide-spread wings in sun-flushed evening
            cloud?
I watched one once: it changed into a lyre—
    A sepulchre—a coffin—and a shroud!

I read that hieroglyphic prophecy,
    Whose baleful burden makes Life gloomy-browed;
For since that hour weird Fancy's eye doth see,
    Where'er it turns, a coffin and a shroud!

My soul feels strong as Atlas to support
    A world of woes, and burns with ardour proud
To war with Time for Fame's eternal fort,
    Yet trembles at a coffin and a shroud!

Love bends his radiant heaven above my head,
    Hope's gleaming rainbow spans Life's darkest cloud,
The live Earth seems to pulse beneath my tread,
    And yet I fear a coffin and a shroud!

Rich pearls of sound rain on the listening Earth,
    The Lark pours forth his music-flood love-loud,
The bright blue Heaven smiles sweetly as at birth,
    Still I behold a coffin and a shroud!

Though kingly Friendship round me draws a ring
    Of radiant souls, and worlds of bliss doth crowd
In that bright circle, crowning me—the king,
    Heart-throned, still sees a coffin and a shroud!

When Love, man's inward light and outward leaven,
    Within my soul, where Sin and Sorrow ploughed
Death-furrows, sows the living joys of Heaven,
    There stand the scare-crow coffin and the shroud!

O! would these eyes had never seen the light!
    Or would that the Almighty had endowed
These human hands with supramortal might!
    Grim Death should fill the coffin—wear the shroud!

It must be so: the Crown hangs o'er the Cross,
    Life's boat must over Death's dark stream be rowed,
The dying Christ redeems man's Eden-loss,
    And tramples on the coffin and the shroud!

A god beside the ghastly Gate of Death
    Seems statued in my memory, sorrow-bowed
And ringed with rayless glory!—now, beneath
    His feet I see a coffin and a shroud!

O! blissful sign!   Dear God! and shall I win
    Thy smile, and Fame's, by Sin and Death uncowed,
If I keep bright and pure Thy light within?
    Will faith-fire burn the coffin and the shroud?

Will Love's lamp light Pain's death-pyre!   Hope make
            wise?
    Truth's lightnings cleave the heart of Evil's cloud?
Fair Virtue ope the doors of Paradise?
    And Faith consume the coffin and the shroud?

Yes! and that wing-spread Eagle, plumed with fire,
    By gorgeous sunset limned in golden cloud,
No more shall fright me, turning to a lyre—
    A sepulchre—a coffin—and a shroud!

 


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A LIFE-LYRIC.

 

MY heart alway pure homage will pay
    To its Empress Poesy,
And the tapers that shine in her palace divine
    Will my load-star of life still be;
My soul, sleep-crossed by dreams of the lost
    Life-treasures in Hope's wrecked bark,
Must borrow a ray from the sun of Youth's day
    To make Manhood's night less dark.

The loved resorts of childhood sports,
    The spot where Thought first bloomed,
And blushed, and blew, and joy-buds out-threw,
    Now blighted and entombed;
That glory-trance in Life's romance,
    Whose glow Time's gloom ne'er shrouds,
Through Memory gleams, as the sunset streams
    Through a sea of golden clouds!

As in the shade of a hollow glade
    Where greening forests gloom,
A lonely Tree transfigured may be
    In the light of its golden bloom,
So I bask in the beams of my youthful dreams
    When immured in the Castle of Care,
Like a star ringed with gloom, or a soul in the tomb,
    Or a hope in the heart of Despair.

When, brooding and black as the thunder-rack,
    Grief's world-waves o'er me close,
On Poesy's wings my spirit upsprings
    From a surging sea of woes,
And I live in a world which Fancy hath furled
    Like a Heaven around my heart,
Lit up by the beams of my youthful dreams
    Whose lustre can never depart.

The glimmering nooks by the glassy brooks
    Where Oaks shook hands o'erhead,
And wild strawberries; as red as cherries,
    Looked up from their lush green bed,
The rush-isle dank, and the violet bank,
    The poplar's palsied leaves,
The robin's red breast, and the swallows that nest
    In the straw-thatched cottage eaves;

The green hedge-rows, where the wild rose grows,
    The daisy-dappled mead,
The cloud-like woods that follow the floods,
    And the dawn-flushed mountain-head,
And all the range of greenery, grange,
    Dim forest and flower-flushed field,
And wind-lashed trees, that surged like seas,
    In Memory stand revealed!

The doves that cooed, and all birds that brood
    In brake, bank, bush, or tree,
Like the lark that soars to Heaven's blue doors,
    Seemed ministrant spirits to me;
Queen Fancy teems with youth's Eden-dreams,
    Bewildering Sense and Thought,
And my spirit, in spite of Truth's blinding light,
    Is back to my childhood brought;

For Time and Space have lost their place
    On Reason's tear-dimmed chart,
And Sorrow and Hope are building a cope
    O'er the tomb of a martyred Heart!
Yet I live in a world which Fancy hath furled
    Like a Heaven around my soul,
Which lights Life's way from day to day,
    And will gild its gloomy goal.

 


____________________

 
THE FADED FLOWER.

 

ON the rough roadside of wintry life
    I found a faded flower,
With low-bent stem and petals pale,
And leaves which trembled while the gale
    Swept through its ruined bower.

I sighed that aught so beautiful,
    So redolent of God!
Should mingle with the meanest clay,
Should rot and wither in the way,
    And underfoot be trod.

I yearned to have transplanted it,
    Yet scarcely dared to do't;
But, anon, I took Love's pruning hook
    And bared it to the root.

That root was lank and lifeless grown
    As the cold white cheek of death,
For Mirth and Misery oft had met
    To blast it by their breath.

I clipped its withered tendrils close,
    And lopped each rotten root,
Then watered it with tears until
    Green leaves began to shoot.

I placed it in a genial soil,
    And turned it to the sun,
Where its blossoming may in summer repay
    Me double for labour done.

 


____________________

 
LOVED AND LOST.

 

    A FLOWER hath faded from my heart's own garden,
        Whose blossoms should have gemmed the crown of Life,
    Alas for me!   Hope's golden day was marred in
        Its purpling dawn, with richest promise rife,
    Hence have I felt that weariness of soul,
Which time no more can cure than reason can control.

    A star hath fallen from its dazzling zenith,
        And dark Eclipse hath dimmed the orb of Time,
    Alas for me!   Bliss bloomed awhile, and then with
        A sudden clash was heard the death-knell chime,
    My Lamp of Love was blown out in the dark,
And helm and compass torn from being's storm-lashed barque.

    The Present is a waste of desolation,
        The Future seems a sunless gulf of gloom,
    The Past, a glory-gleaming constellation,
        Whose lustre will but light me to the tomb,
    Since Fate hath ferry'd over Death's dark Sea
That sainted soul who should have walked this world with me.

 


____________________

 
NOT HERE BUT HEREAFTER.

 

WHEN all the world with wonder teemed,
More fair than Fancy ever dreamed,
And God through all things burned and beamed,
    And life was bliss supreme;
When, from Youth's care-unclouded skies,
Thought-Stars looked down with golden eyes
That peeped into Love's Paradise,
    Where Beauty lay a-dream,

I lavished my heart-store upon
As faithful and as fair a one
As e'er Life's sun shone proudly on,
    Or Death through envy smote;
Earth seemed what Heaven in glory is,
While Faith, in other worlds than this,
Was planting bowers of boundless bliss
    With fadeless flowers of thought.

Here Hope built castles in the air,
Till Love believed we destined were
To walk this world, a peerless pair,
    By Sorrow unassailed;
But Death, that gloomy archer, sped
One fatal shaft, and Life's tree shed
Its blossoms as it passed, Hope fled,
    And Love's Utopia failed!

This once fair world grew dark and dim,
The stars no more seemed seraphim,
But fiends, fraught with the frown of Him
    Who reigns the stars above;
And mad as the wild ocean-wave,
When fierce Tornadian tempests rave,
My life-stream leapt, to gain the grave
    Which parts me from my love!

My rose of bliss is blighted, and
My star of hope is set—the Land
Of Promise lost in gloom.   Time's hand
    Moves slow—Death flies pursuit!
My Tree of Life will not resume
Its lustre-shedding load of bloom,
Till, set in soil beyond the tomb,
    It flowers for deathless fruit!

 


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THE AUTUMN-SPIRIT.

 

Now the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Earth, bedecked with symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign,
Makes us think about the season of the flowers with a sigh,
When life was lush in every tree—love laughed in every eye,
Whilst her lineaments of beauty were imprinted on the sod,
When the Spring with Winter wrestled, on that gala-day of
        God!
But the Spring is dead and buried, and the Summer's vital fire,
Like a heap of sullen embers, smoulders ready to expire;
For the Autumn-Spirit, reigning over mountain, vale and
        plain,
Robes the Earth in royal symbols emblematic of his reign!

Hark! a singing train of seraphim doth o'er its surface pass!
Mark! their flowing robes of flame have singed the green and
        speary grass!
Witness! every tender blade appeareth tipped and tinged with
        brown,
And the hedge is hemmed with rose-leaves, which their wings
        have shaken down,
Though the hind but hears the whirring of ten thousand
        pinions beat,
Sees a cloud of birds of passage trail its shadow by his feet,
For the pageantry of Heaven hath escaped his optics dim,
And he sees but birds of passage in the God-sent seraphim,
While the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Earth is robed in symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

While his tread is on the mountain, through the valley and
        the plain,
Like some Fate-commissioned angel, Desolation tracks his
        train,
And the glory of the Summer and the beauty of the Spring
Form a carpet for his feet, a fading, weird, and worn-out
        thing!
And his wings distil an odour, as of corpses in perfume,
Warbled through his ghastly whispers sound the sighs of
        buried bloom,
And his accents are dim echoes from the hollow caves of
        Death,
And the wailing woods are withered by his cold and crisping
        breath,
For the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and plain,
And the Earth is robed in symbols of the Autumn-spirit's
        reign!

Where the Poet loves to saunter in some unfrequented nook,
Or to sit and learn the language of the ever-babbling brook,
While its glassy surface mirrors the deep gulf of Heaven's
        blue,
Where the sunny cloud-ships, sailing, point to vapour lands
        in view,
There the river's creeks are mantled with red leaves and
        yellow foam,
And its broken banks are scattered with dead branches dipped
        in loam,
And a wail of desolation through the fading forest hums,
And the Winds grow chill by thinking of the Winter ere it
        comes,
While the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Earth is robed in symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

Where the lily of the valley and the violet of the copse
Looked like Thoughts incorporated—like embodied youthful
        Hopes!
Where the golden-tubëd honeysuckle's pipes were interwound
With the ruddy-tinted roses breathing scented music round,
In the field or the forest, by the verdure-sheltered rills,
Where, in green and golden garments, Summer sate among
        the hills,
There the green is growing yellow, and the yellow turning
        sere,
And the Summer Sun, made mellow with the Autumn-Spirit's
        cheer,
Goeth reeling to his slumber every evening more soon,
While with nightly brighter lustre glows the silver-mantled
        Moon;
For the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and plain,
And the Earth is robed in symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the sanguine-featured Planet shows her forehead in
        the west,
While a sea of glowing silver rocks the god of day to rest,
And, above, a cloudy. canopy of purple tinged with gold
In its ruddy-flaming fringes doth the dying Day enfold,
And the drapery of Heaven is enwreathed around the brow
Of bright Eve, whose maiden blushes bathe the Earth in
        crimson glow,
And that orbëd angel, Vesper, in a flood of rosy light,
Laves her glowing limbs a, moment ere she ushers in the
        Night;
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Evening wears the symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the mellow-voicëd blackbird grows more plaintive in
        his tone,
And weird Fancy in its echo hears the Summer's dying groan,
While his tale of blissful sorrow doth the soul as much appal
As if some lost angel sang a song of Heaven e' er his fall;
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the twilight wears the symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the glowworm in the coppice on the mossy bank doth lie,
Like a jewel that had fallen from Jove's palace in the sky,
Or a pebble, by some angel cast o'er Heaven's battlement,
That had kindled in its coming by the speed of its descent,
And with soft and saintly lustre gleams and glitters on the sod,
Like a pearl from Air's blue ocean in the garments of a God!
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Night is robed in symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the roar of distant rivers, through the midnight's
        ghostly gloom,
Utters prophecies of stillness, sadness, silence, and the tomb;
When strange minstrelsy is mingled with the boding forest-
        breath,
Like the music of an organ fingered by the hand of Death,
While, through sheen and shade, through dusky dells, and
        moon-illumined bowers,
Elves and fairies walk in mourning at the funeral of the
        Flowers,
And a death-dance of pale Shadows is performed around the
        tomb,
Where the yew-trees' sable crosses and the dark-green hollies
        gloom,
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the midnight wears the symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the cloud-fiends dip their fingers in the purple blood
        of Dawn,
And ring Day's rising planet with a sanguine-cinctured zone,
Like a flame-enveloped vessel sailing in a sea of gore,
Then the sun through sanguine cloud-waves dim-red radiance
        down doth pour,
Which alarms the sleeping valleys, while their streams of
        purple mist,
Rising, wrap the blue hill-summits in a robe of amethyst,
And the hoar-frost and the sunlight, met upon the city spire,
Make it seem a glowing pyramid of mingled snow and fire,
And the trees all tinged with silver, and the buildings touched
        with white,
Show that Winter kissed the Earth beneath the canopy of
        Night;
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Morn is robed in symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the nuts upon the hazels seem to burn within their
        husks,
Like that ring of sullen fire which Pheebe's shining forehead
        dusks—
Like the bodyguard of Cherubim which belts her bright abode
When Old Æolus, the Wind-God, sends his blustering sons
        abroad;
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the bushes bear the symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's reign!

When the clouds appear like phantoms from the castle-keep
        of Care,
And the sky looks pale and lurid as the forehead of Despair,
When the Lake appears to labour with the Mountain's mighty
        form,
Wombed within her glassy deeps, to be delivered by the Storm,
As a starry midnight Heaven, brooding full of unborn Thought,
Waits and watches for the Bard by whom deliverance is
        brought,
When the aspect of the hills becomes more solemn, still, and
        strange,
And all Nature seems prophetic of some dark and deadly
        change,
And the Earth looks up in agony as if her end were nigh,
Whilst sable clouds, like sepulchres, hang in the hollow sky;
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the weather wears the symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's
        reign!

When the whirlwinds rock the steeples, and the hurricane
        sweeps by,
And the frown of God hangs glooming in the tempest-laden sky,
Till a gleaming gulf of lightning lays the Heart of Heaven bare,
And the growls of prisoned Thunder hurtle through the
        darkened air,
Then the giant rocks are splintered, and the oaks are cloven
        down,
And the Alpine crags, unwintered, wear a fierce and fiery
        crown,
While the mingled wrath of Tempests upon mountain, vale
        and plain,
Dashes down a fiery deluge and a surging sea of rain,
Till the roads are turned to rivers, and the rivers turned to
        roads,
Where the wealth of golden harvest-shocks the rushing
        torrent loads,
And the roar of rushing rivers, mixed with Ocean's hollow
        boom,
In the language of the Angels seems to sing the Song of Doom;
Then the Autumn-Spirit reigneth over mountain, vale and
        plain,
And the Storm is clad in symbols of the Autumn-Spirit's reign!

But the golden grain is gathered, and the glowing fruit no more,
With its purple globes and crimson, makes the branches kiss
        the floor;
And, anon, by wizard Winter in a snowy mantle dressed,
Sleeping Nature will be pressing Death's pale image to her
        breast;
For the golden gorgeous splendours of the Summer have
        decayed,
And brown Autumn's ghostly garb is on the Earth's green
        shoulders laid,
While she bows in silent homage to that pale and pensive train
Of Stars, that smile down glory on the Autumn-Spirit's reign!

 


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STANZAS

WRITTEN ON THE OPENING OF THE BLACKBURN CORPORATION PARK,
OCTOBER 22ND, 1857.


Ed. - it is reported that "there was plenty of drama on the opening day.  The cannon on the battery at the top of the park roared and thundered.  Many of the crowd had their own guns and they fired them enthusiastically into the air.  There were fireworks, rockets  which launched cascades of coloured fire, and illuminated set pieces."

 

A 19th century view of Blackburn Corporation Park.

 

THE withered leaves are from the branches falling,
The sky looks leaden, winds are chill, and, hark!
Through flowerless vales the voiceful brooks are brawling,
The hills grow bleaker, age begins to mark
The aspect of the year, the vital spark
Of Summer burns no more—his locks are hoary!
But where Joy walks Spring blooms! the "People's Park"
Lives in the people's hearts, a thing of glory,

Like Blackburn's proud To-day in Freedom's future story!


Our honoured Mayor and ruling Corporation
(And may the heavens rain blessings on their heads)
Choose this day for the Grand Inauguration
Of grounds whereon the poorest peasant treads,
And knows they're his, where Health with Freedom weds,
Hope broods, Toil drinks the cooling draught of Leisure,
While Sport and Ease on Flora's bright-green beds
Hold dalliance with the dainty goddess Pleasure,

Boon Love leads lusty Life through Bliss's blithest measure!

 

 

The palpitating air with music rings!
Hark! the loud thunder of the Russian guns,
As each to Heaven its salutation flings,
Is echoed by the voice of Labour's sons,
Through whose rude hearts Life's ruddy current runs
Bounding beneath Joy's arch of triumph, bended
Above its burning course, nor danger shuns
Nor death, but through Fate's wilderness hath wended

Its Godward way, and will, till Time's rough tour be ended!


The Saxon's soul is made of martial fire,
Its time-proof temper ever is the same,
Though caged in mills or trampled in the mire,
Or tombed in mines, at War or Freedom's name,
Its valour-flash, like the volcano's flame,
Streams red and radiant from its darkest deeps;
Though War and Glory branded be with shame,
Still to the cannon's roar his spirit leaps,

His prowess never dies, though Prudence seldom sleeps!

 

The Battery above Blackburn Corporation Park, 1857.

 

Here lies the secret of this grandest gathering
E'er known within the precincts of our town,
'Tis Liberty and Victory unsmothering
The God within the Briton's breast; no clown,
By labour bent or tyranny bowed down,
But feels the hero quicken in his blood;
He hears the guns, his cares and fears have flown,
His breast is brimmed with Valour's springtide flood,

Though why or wherefore be nor sought nor understood.


Thank God, my home is England, queen of nations!
The land of soul and song! the world's warm heart
Of worth and wisdom!   On such grand occasions
As this, how the old Proteus doth start
From his disguise! the drapery of Art
No longer hides the lineaments of Nature!
The Veil of Mystery is rent apart!
The serf regains his soul and social stature,

While Joy's rich accents ring through Freedom's nomenclature!

 

Blackburn Corporation Park.

 


____________________

 
A VOICE FROM THE OLD CHURCH TOWER.

WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF ITS PROPOSED DEMOLITION
BY THE CHURCHWARDENS, JUNE 2ND, 1857.

 


I, WHO have stood unharmed through one long week
Of centuries, whilst wrestling with my foe,
Have ever borne the belt from old King Time,
And though he still the victory doth seek,
As yet he hath not won one single throw;
Though gray in years, the greenness of my youth
Throbs in my veins, the vigour of my prime
I still retain, to mock the chafing years;
While on my furrowed front the gloomy growth
Of crusting ages calmly sits, who fears
That I shall ever fall?   Though Flood and Fire,
Whirlwind and Thunder all their wrath should blend,
To compass my swift overthrow conspire,

I still might stand, did not my keepers seek my end!


Then let them bear the burden of my curse,
Albeit they be unworthy of one's hate;
And, should my guardians disregard this verse,
Then may the curse of all who venerate
The "pictured past," revere Antiquity,
Prize History, or love their native town,
As ivy clingeth to a rotting tree,
Cling to their quickly-fading memory,
If ever with iconoclastic zeal
Their Vandal-hands my shrine shall desecrate;
And should my owners bring destruction down
On my time-honoured, ruin-wreathëd crown,
As flame eats flag, as rust devoureth steel,

May they be made Oblivion's swiftest, sweetest meal!

 


____________________

 
ELEGY

ON PAST GRAND JOHN KENYON, ONE OF THE TRUSTEES, AND
TREASURER OF THE PROSPEROUS YOUTH LODGE,
BLACKBURN DISTRICT, M. U. I. O.

 

A BROTHER dear hath mingled with the dust!
    A true Oddfellow,—brethren, was he not
True to his Order—faithful to its trust?
    If he had failings, let them be forgot!
If there's a world where good men may be blest,
Then safely may we say his soul is gone to rest.

A tender father, and a faithful spouse;
    A politician of the sager sort,
With him, reform begins at your own house,
    Nor endeth till it touch the Sovereign's court.
His motto was, to benefit mankind,
Nor in the race of life himself be left behind.

He dwelt amongst us, and we did not deem
    That darksome Death would sever us so soon;
His barque went down when midway o'er Life's stream,
    As though the summer sun should set at noon.
Weep, brothers weep! shed one fraternal tear
Upon his tomb, to whom our Order was so dear.

 


____________________

 
TO MARY.

 

    WHEN, weary with the labours of the day,
        And nature needs replenishment and rest,
    From Mammon's Mill I homeward bend my way
        Like travelled bird returning to its nest,
    Repose and richest viands are to me
But dust and ashes, save when sunned by smiles from thee.

    When taste or business bids me hence depart,
        By cities, hills and hamlets fair to roam,
    Thine image, like an angel in my heart,
        Sits smiling, as thou wilt when I come home,
    While every bud and blossom that I see
Is embleming thy beauty, life, and love to me.

    When on my lonely couch at dead of night,
        While in the clasp of Death all nature seems,
    Before my fancy flits a Form of light
        Filling the land of sleep with golden dreams
    And fairest forms, which, waking, still I see
With eyes so dark and beautiful—bright Eidolons of thee!

    Thou art the sun that lights my path by day,
        The moon whose glory gilds my darkest night,
    And, whether near to thee or far away,
        Thy love is like a beacon burning bright;
    Yea! night or day, wherever I maybe,
Dear maiden, thou art more than all the world to me!

 


____________________

 
THE POET'S MISSION.

 

As an heir doomed to wait for a princely estate
    Till the epoch of manhood appears,
Often inwardly sighs to possess the proud prize,
    Fondly wishing mere months counted years;
Even so the poor bard, who is labouring hard
    With a burden of beauty and love,
As he stands on the slope of the mountain of hope,
    Often sighs for the summit above.
Yet, still he must wait, toiling early and late,
    Till the bright-beaming goal is at hand,
Nor pause to look back on the dangerous track;
    Like a pilot approaching the land,
He must cautiously steer, from the rocks keeping clear,
    And the channel of rectitude keep,
Then into port heave, cast his anchor, and leave
    His proud barque at safe moorings to sleep.
Thus will he wed fame, win a world-honoured name,
    If he truthfully trust his own soul—
Use the unction and rod that were given him by God,
    To chasten and purify all.
Aspiring for ever by hope and endeavour
    His pain-purchased laurels are won,
With true self-reliance he bids proud defiance
    To Fortune, however she run.
The true and the good he pours forth like a flood,
    From a fountain deep laid in his heart,
But the false and the bad, though in golden robes clad,
    Of his lash must lie under the smart;
The bright and the beautiful, lovely and dutiful,
    Delicate, soft, or sublime—
Man's mirth and his madness, his sorrow and sadness,
    Are subjects awaiting his rhyme.
The Sun and the Moon, and the star-chanted tune,
    Which none but the poet can hear,
Are as fresh and as new as the bright-glowing blue
    Of the heavens, when cloudless and clear;
And the Earth is as green as when first it was seen
    By old Adam, in God's Paradise,
And its waters still flow with a luminous glow,
    Like the lustre of Eve's lovely eyes.
Then let not Despair make his desolate lair
    In thy love-litten heart, Poet-sage,
But with fervour and fire strike thy spirit-tuned lyre,
    And utter the life of the age;
Through the deeps of thy soul, though dark passion-waves roll,
    By God were thy faculties given
To find Music and Life in Death, Discord, and Strife,
    To robe Earth in the garments of Heaven.
Fair Fancy may stray from the glare of the day,
    From the glory and grandeur of noon,
To the stillness of night, when the hills become bright,
    Washed with floods of white flame by the moon;
Or, laved in the streams of sky-mingled star-gleams,
    May play with the planets on high,
Or down in the deep where the dolphin's bright leap
    Flings an iris on Ocean's dim sky;
Or by the abodes of the angels and gods,
    Mid the groves of Elysian bloom,
Or the mansions of woe in the regions below,
    Through the languageless gate of the tomb;
But the shadow she flings from her magical wings,
    Wherever her flight may extend,
Over land or the sea should as beautiful be
    As the rainbow's ethereal bend.
As a falcon that flies in the clear summer skies
    Self-balanced and still as the night,
Yet upward doth spring with unfaltering wing
    To preserve an unvarying height,
So the poet whom Fame hath saluted by name,
    Whom the press and the people have crowned,
Must higher and higher for ever aspire
    If he would not recede from his ground;
Let him spurn Ease the charmer and put on the armour
    Of Action, and fearlessly fight,
Daring Peril and Pain in defence of the reign
    Of Truth, Liberty, Reason and Right;
Let him sail with Hope's breeze on the Future's bright seas,
    And their fruitfulest islands explore,
Whilst the world's barque remains bound by Destiny's chains
    To the bleak barren Present's dull shore.
Behold what a list of bright names, through the mist
    Of dull centuries gleams like a star!
Let the lustre thus cast on his path by the Past
    Kindle courage for life-lasting war
With aught that would e'er check or change his career,
    Be it pleasure, sloth, slander or praise,
Like the course of the sun his bright race must be run,
    Shedding light on the shortest of days;
And should Vice with "red gold," for which Virtue is sold,
    To purchase his praise ever try,
Let him boldly refuse, and, like Burns, ever choose
    To wed Poverty rather than lie;
For the muse never ought to be bartered or bought,
    Since by mortals it cannot be given,
But was sent upon earth with the bard at his birth
    As a badge of the knighthood of Heaven.
Though the Present with blame seek to blot his fair fame,
    And a satire-lashed age curse his rhyme,
Yet his bolts may be hurled in the face of the world,
    For the poet's protector is Time!
Then courage, sweet bard, thou shalt reap thy reward,
    In the future thy planet will shine;
Let thy step steady keep while ascending Fame's steep,
    For the summit is safe and divine;
Yea, banish dark doubt and the death-boding rout
    Of fierce Phantoms that feed on thy brain:
See! the Angel of Hope fills with glory the cope
    Of yon heaven, and Success tracks his train!

 


____________________

 
LOVE'S LABOUR LOST.

 

I MET with a wild and a wayward Fawn,
    Who had no ill intent,
But lawless left in the forest alone
    Was often on mischief bent.

The Wolf and the Bear her playmates were,
    The wily Fox and the Lynx
Had learnt her their lore till her countenance wore
    The aspect of the Sphynx.

Though Truth might trace in her form and face
    The lineaments of the Fawn,
She, left at large to the wild beasts' charge,
    Had into a wild beast grown,

And day by day did her white feet stray
    Through Danger's darkling path,
Where reptiles lurked that daily worked
    Her direful woe and scath.

The full-gushing fountains of Pity let loose,
    Did leap in the sunlight of Love,
"Alas! then," said I "that the Daw and the Pie
    Should mate with the beautiful Dove.

"Alas, that a jewel so rich and rare,
    Obscured by the pebbles around,
Like a midnight star in the misty air,
    Should hide itself in the ground!"

My heart did flame with a wish to tame
    And wash the lily-white feet
Of that changeling Fawn, once bright as the dawn,
    Now dark as the dingy street.

Whilst Sorrow and Ruth shook hands with Truth,
    Joy dancing before them the while,
From the anchor of Hope I snatched the rope
    And noosed her neck with a smile.

I led her away to where lambkins play
    Around the shepherd's fold,
Far from the wood where the savage brood
    Of tameless creatures howled.

I found her rest and food of the best,
    I fed her from Plenty's full horn,
I gave her a part of my home and my heart,
    And she paid me back with scorn!

Still ever I strove with a fervent love,
    Nor toil nor time could tire,
To tame that Fawn and make her my own—
    'Twas pouring oil on fire!

She said I had prisoned and pent her up,
    And kept her in a cage;
And then amain for the forest again
    She raved with a wild beast's rage.

I shewed her the mound whence Peace was drowned,
    Who Pleasure's wave would quaff,
And hinted such fate did herself await,—
    But she answered me with a laugh.

At length subdued by ingratitude
    More cold than the winter's frost,
From her neck the noose I did unloose,
    Thus Love his labour lost.

 


____________________

 
A WINTER MORNING'S WALK.

 

WEIRD Silence round the Earth her robe had wound,
'Twas Winter, and I wandered forth alone;
'Twas morning, and the hoar-frost on the ground,
Like silver frieze when smit by moonlight, shone;
Far in the East appeared the glimmering Dawn,
Whose broad glance made the stars' bright eyes grow tame
And faint in heaven's light azure; but, anon,
Above the mountain brows the bright Sun came,

To melt the candid meads and flush the skies with flame.


Aurora, having ushered in the Morn,
With bars of gold had bolted the blue doors
Of Dawn.   Apollo's gleaming locks, unshorn,
Where trailed o'er silver seas and sandy shores,
And shining lakes, frost-paved with glassy floors,
And streams, whence Ocean his wide basin fills;
The mist fled from the valleys and the moors,
Down gushed the molten crystal from the hills,

And Music's voice arose from twice ten thousands rills.


Not Spring, with all her rainbows and her roses,
Green shoots, and buds, and blossoms rich and rare,
Nor Summer, though supernal power reposes
With life and light fused through the sultry air,
When earth and heaven, close meeting, as it were
In dreams of Paradise, appear to kiss,
Nor Autumn, with his ripe and mellow fare,
Can boast a scene whose grandeur equals this,

When from Death's icy chains earth bounds to life and bliss.

 


____________________

 
CHRISTMAS.

 

        OLD Christmas cometh round
        With the snow of ages crowned,
And the weight of one more winter on his brow;
        As he sits enthroned sublime
        On the hoary crest of Time,
See the welcoming world before him bow!
       
        Let us hail him as of yore,
        When his saintly visage wore,
To our boyish minds, a smile of boundless bliss;
        Let us greet him as of old,
        When the lords and barons bold
Strewed his footprints with flowers of happiness.
       
        Hark! the merry midnight bells!
        How their rapture-laden swells,
And their musically-modulated falls
        Scatter Christmas Carols round
        With a sweet and holy sound,
Waking palace, castle, cottages, and halls!

        While the berried holly blushes
        'Twixt the bay and laurel bushes,
Crowning Christmas the king of festal mirth,
        Let roast beef and brown beer,
        And plum pudding be our cheer,
And of music, song, and dance, be there no dearth.

        While her stock of Fairy Tales
        With the granddame never fails,
Nor the music-laugh of wee ones, let our toast
        Be "The Future and the Past,"
        And let the reign of Christmas last
Till this old decrepit Year gives up the ghost!

        Then with loyal hearts and true
        We'll the task of life renew,
And what we can for brother man we'll do;
        To further every movement
        Tending to the world's improvement,
Let us love and labour—hope and struggle too.

        Let the largest and the least
        Sit together at our feast;
Let the poor be not forgotten, but forgiven
        Be every grudge and wrong,
        While each happy, love-tuned tongue
Riseth jubilant in homage-strains to heaven!

        And when Christmas cometh round
        With the snow of ages crowned,
And another winter's weight upon his brow,
        May we meet on Life's high road,
        Twelve months' travel nigher God
With this world more wise and better than 'tis now.

 


____________________

 
FAREWELL TO THE OLD YEAR
OF 1855.

 

FAREWELL, old year, for thy death-knell has rung!
One solemn peal, flung from the tower of Time,
Proclaims that to the mighty Past belong
Thy works and woes—misfortunes—deeds sublime!
Dark sin—deep sore!   Thy catalogue of crime
Hath greatly grown beneath War's bloody hand,
And Valour now, as in her ancient prime,
Hath laurels won for this her native land,

And stormed Oppression's walls, when Freedom gave
            command.


The fiery feet of desolating War
Were kissed by Fame and Famine, till the reign
Of death-born Sorrow, stretching wide and far,
Had dipped the World in Grief's pale sea of pain;
Ten thousand maidens mourn their lovers slain,
Ten thousand wives their husbands—fathers, sons,
By Mars rude-mangled on the ball-paved plain,
Or crushed and buried by their splintered guns,

Have sunk to glorious death, as Fate's dark current runs.


But thou hast hung thy helmet in the skies
Of History, and trod beneath thy feet,
Trade, Commerce, Peace and Progress, while the cries
Of want-worn Labour filled thy ear!   Go greet
The sea of years and ages obsolete,
And be the darkest wave that rolls thereon!
Whilst journeying the Future, may we meet
No more like thee, dim, gory, weeping one!

Thy daughter's at our door—Old Year now get thee gone!

 


____________________

 
TIME.

 

    What a mighty illusion is Time!
    That tyrannous phantom, Old Time!
        Though withered and bald,
        Still conqueror called;
Yet wherefore? this Nought—this condition of Thought—
This spell, which the fallible Senses have wrought,
    Is dispelled by the Spirit sublime!

    Free spirit, unfettered by crime,
    To the loftiest Thought-Summit clime!
        There, wouldst thou be wise,
        Then lift up thine eyes
And thou shalt see Spirit and Matter shake hands,
Where the sea of Eternity washes the sands
    Of the cloud-mantled island of Time!

    When Genius doth grapple with Time—
    That mental delusion called Time!
        Mind's conquering grip
        Doth God's matter-robe strip;
'Tis thus to immortals that moments and years
Are as one, for the goddess Eternity wears
    For ever the bloom of her prime!

    The Soul nestles not on the sod,
    But builds on the bosom of God!
        Time—Matter—and Space,
        In Truth's heart, have no place!
Like the lightning's swift track through the gloomy cloud-
            rack,
Through such thought-mists the heaven-fledged spirit flies
            back
    To its home on the bosom of God!



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