Poems and Lyrics (5)

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 PART FIFTH.
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MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
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THOMAS CLARKSON.*


        MAN of the bold, brave heart!
God gifted thee with stemless will to dare,
And to achieve.   Men ne'er successless were
Who, with thy great endeavour, join'd a pure,
High, holy heart like thine, that could endure
Hatred, and scorn, and toil that would have crush'd
A weak, despairing spirit to the dust.
                                         And now!
Time tells thy name unto eternity;—
                                A noble man reveal'd.
                                Thy soul of light unseal'd,
                                Thy life a battle-field,
Where fearless manhood set a race from bondage free!

        Man of the dauntless soul!
Great in resistless goodness as was he
Who came like summer forth of Galilee!—
Who saves one living thing is ever bless'd;
Good actions soothe, like angel songs, his rest;
And good men worship round the hero's grave,
Who lived and died one land of earth to save!—

                                         But thou!
Found a whole race of God-created men
Slaves, bound and scourged, and vile with every stain—
                                         And now
They tell what one soal-strengthen'd man can do!
                                That race is fetterless
                                Thou pitiedst in distress;
                                Thee, saviour, they bless,
Great, Christ-like, pure and holy, good and true!

        Man of the stainless life!
True hearts adore thy faithful earnestness,
Thy hope, that, 'midst all trials, ne'er grew less,
Thy thoughtful love that hatred never quench'd,
And perseverance;—power that would have wrench'd
Aught good thy heart desired from fortune's hand:—
Chance, fate, and change, determin'd men command:

                                         But thou!
Hadst nobler aims than those the foolish prize;
Lov'dst mightier deeds than little men devise!
                                         And now,
Giver of freedom, who shall stand with thee?
                                Greater than thronëd kings,
                                Time o'er thy memory flings
                                Glorious imaginings!
A countless race arise and say, He made us free!


* This poem was sent to Laverock Bank with the following note, and,
 after Nicoll's death, was published in Tait's Magazine, in an article
 relating to Clarkson:—"The foregoing lines were suggested by the
 story Mrs. J— told me on Saturday of Clarkson.  When Wilberforce
 asked him if ever he thought of the welfare of his soul, he  answered
—'I can think of nothing save those poor slaves in the West Indies.'"


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THOUGHTS AND FANCIES.
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MILTON—A SONNET.


BLIND, glorious, aged martyr, saint, and sage!
    The poet's mission God reveal'd to thee,
    To lift men's souls to Him—to make them free;—
With tyranny and grossness war to wage—
A worshipper of truth and love to be—
    To reckon all things nought but these alone;
To nought but mind and truth to bow the knee;—
    To make the soul a love-exalted throne!
Man of the noble spirit!—Milton, thou
    All this didst do!   A living type thou wert
Of what the soul of man to be may grow—
    The pure perfection of the love-fraught heart!
Milton! from God's right hand, look down and see
For these, how men adore and honour thee!


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DESPONDENCY—A SONNET.
 
                   "Shall I he crush' d
While in eternity there's standing-room?"


O! I am weary of this grief-fraught life,
    With all its burthens of down-crushing care—
Its joyless peace—its ever-shouting strife—
    Its day dark-clouded, even when most fair;
I wish this weary spirit were away
    From all this change, and woe, and empty noise,
    Where grief comes often, and where gladness cloys—
Where friendship changes, and where love doth lay
Its trust on shadows—yea, where hope doth glow
    To burn the heedless heart it shineth on—
Where disappointment, clad in garb of snow,
    Snatches our hoped-for blessings every one!
Cold earth! I'll lay me down upon thy breast,
And dying, go to God, and be at rest!


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THE MORNING STAR.


                THY smile of beauty, star!
        Brings gladness on the gloomy face of night—
                Thou comest from afar,
        Pale mystery! so lonely and so bright,
A thing of dreams—a vision from on high—
A virgin spirit—light—a type of purity!

                Star! nightly wanderest thou
        Companionless along thy far, cold way:—
                From time's first breath till now,
        On thou hast flitted like an ether-fay!
Where is the land from whence thou first arose;
And where the place of light to which thy pathway goes?

                Pale dawn's first messenger!
        Thou prophet-sign of brightness yet to be!
                Thou tellest earth and air
        Of light and glory following after thee;
Of smiling day 'mong wild green woodlands sleeping;
And God's own sun, o'er all, its tears of brightness
    weeping!

                Sky sentinel! when first
        The nomade patriarch saw thee from his hill
                Upon his vision burst,
        Thou wast as pure and fair as thou art still;
And changeless thou hast looked on race, and name,
And nation, lost since then—but thou art yet the same!

                Night's youngest child! fair gem!
        The hoar astrologer o'er thee would cast
                His glance, and to thy name
        His own would join; then tremble when thou wast
In darkness; and rejoice when, like a bride,
Thou blush'd to earth—and thus the dreamer dreamed and
    died!

                Pure star of morning love!
        The daisy of the sky's blue plain art thou;
                And thoughts of youth are wove
        Round thee, as round the flowers that freshly blow
In bushy dells, where thrush and blackbird sing—
Flower-star, the dreams of youth and heaven thou back
    dost bring!

                Star of the morn! for thee
        The watcher by affection's couch doth wait;
                'Tis thine the bliss to see
        Of lovers fond who 'mid the broom have met;
Into the student's home thine eye doth beam;
Thou listenest to the words of many a troubled dream!

                Lone thing!—yet not more lone
        Than many a heart which gazeth upon thee,
                With hopes all fled and gone—
        Which loves not now, nor seeks beloved to be.
Lone, lone thou art—but we are lonelier far,
When blighted by deceit the heart's affections are!

                Mysterious morning star!
        Bright dweller in a gorgeous dreamy home,
                Than others nobler far—
        Thou art like some free soul, which here hath come
Alone, but glorious, pure, and disenthrall'd—
A spark of mind, which God through earth to heaven hath
    call'd!

                Pure maiden star! shine on,
        That dreams of beauty may be dream'd of thee!
                A home art thou—a throne—
        A land where fancy ever roameth free—
A God-sent messenger—a light afar—
A blessed beam—a smile—a gem—the Morning Star!


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THE EXILE'S SONG.


THIS land is rich—baith tree an' bower,
An' hill an' plain, are cover'd o'er
Wi' flowers o' monie, monie dyes,
Till maist it seems a paradise,
Where love an' beauty make their hame
Beside ilk flowin' silver stream:—
            I ken the land is heavenlie:
            But O! it's no my ain countrie!

Thae hills are green:—nae heather there
Waves in the caller mornin' air;—
Fu' pleasantly thae streamlets rin;
But O! they want the cheerfu' din
O' hame's sweet burns, that ever sung
To me my ain, my mountain tongue:—
            I ken the land is fair to see!
            But O! it's no my ain countrie!

The bonnet doesna hap the brow—
The plaidie wraps na bosoms true—
The harp's sweet tones 'mang echoes stray
Where I would like the pipes to play—
The nightingale sings a' night lang
Where I would like the throstle's sang:
            The land is fair as fair can be—
            But O! it's no my ain countrie!

When mirth's warm voice is laughin' hie
The groan o' care doth danton me—
I canna rest, I canna smile,
Awa' frae yonder rocky isle:
An exile's waefu' fate is mine,
Wha for his hame doth ever pine:—
            My heart is sick an' I will dee
            If I win na to my ain countrie!


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THE DEATH-SONG OF HOFER.


My hour of life is nearly past,—
    I shrink not from my doom:
The men of many lands will make
    A pilgrim-shrine my tomb;
My name will be in coming time
    The watchword of the free;
The mountains of my rugged home
    My monuments will be.

I have not borne a tyrant's thrall,
    But stood for liberty—
Among our mountains and our rocks,
    Where slaves can never be;
I stood, as stood the Switzer bold,
    When Uri's horn did swell,—
I fought, I bled—my name will live
    With that of William Tell.

Death! what is death in freedom's cause?—
    For thee, mine own Tyrol,
Had I a thousand, thousand lives,
    O! I would give the whole.
I die, as men should proudly do,
    For home and liberty,—
I sow the seed that yet shall grow
    And make my country free.

Farewell, my craggy native hills,
    My children all, farewell:
That Hofer was your father's name
    Full proudly ye may tell.
Farewell ye mountains, heart-enshrined,—
    God! shield a freeman's soul!
I die in joy—I die for thee—
    My own—my wild Tyrol.


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THE SWISS MOTHER TO HER SON.


"FLEET is thy foot, my only son;
    Thou art a mountain child;
Thy mother's breasts have suckled thee
    'Mid rocks and deserts wild—
Where shouting winds the echoes deep
    In dells and caves awoke—
Where every sound to heaven that rose
                Of Freedom spoke!

"Look up, my son ! yon cloud-crown'd rock
    Is mantled o'er with snow;
And from its breast the avalanche
    Careering down doth go!
Look down! a thousand pleasant vales
    Are sleeping 'neath thine eye,
And happy homes where Alpine streams
                Are rushing by!

"Look round, my son! your mother's cot
    Is peeping from the trees;—
Your sister, in its rose-wreath'd porch,
    Is kneeling on her knees!
Look on our lightning-riven peaks—
    Our mountain-pastures lone!
My only son! what land of earth
                Is like thine own?

"My noble boy, for such a land
    Who would not dare and die?
My son!—I see thy swelling breast—
    I see thy flashing eye!—
Thy drink has been the mountain-stream,
    Thou chamois-hunter free!
Thou'rt worthy, like thy sire, to die
                For liberty!

"My son! a field is lost and won—
    A field for freedom fought;
The herdsmen of our thousand hills
    A mighty work have wrought:
But mail-clad are the tyrants yet,
    And mighty is the foe!
Arouse thee, then, brave youth, and cry,
                ' For Uri, ho!'

"My son! thy father lifeless lies;
    But yet no tear I shed!
When we are free, thy mother, boy,
    Will mourn the glorious dead!
And thou! go take thy father's sword—
    To battle, with the free!
And fall or conquer, like thy sire,
                For home and me!"

"He hath buckled on his father's sword—
    My own, my noble boy—
He hath turn'd him to the Switzer camp
    With all a freeman's joy.
O! hearts like his and hands like his
    Will free our mountains grey!—
My daughter, with thy mother kneel,
                For him to pray!"


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THE GERMAN BALLAD-SINGER.


LIKE a passing bird with a sweet wild song,
    Thou hast come to my native land;
And amid the noisy crowded streets
    Of the stranger thou dost stand:
And thou pourest forth a ballad lay
    Of the land where the laden vine
Dips its rich, ripe fruit and its sheltering leaves
    In thine own beloved Rhine.

'Tis a tale of the deeds of other times—
    Of the proud high hearts of old;
Which thy mother, thine infant eyes to close,
    At the gloamin' often told:
Of a craggy steep, and a castle strong—
    Of a warder drunk with wine;
And a valorous knight, and his ladye-love,—
    By thine own beloved Rhine.

Proud singer! I see thy flashing eyes,—
    Thou art thinking on that river;
The rush of its waters deep and strong,
    Shall dwell in thine ear for ever:
Thou art sitting in dreams by that stream afar,
    And a fresh bright wreath you twine
Of the happy flowers that for ever blow,
    By thine own beloved Rhine.

Thou hast changed thy song to a soft low strain,
    And thy cheeks are wet with tears;
The home of thy youth, in thy fatherland,
    'Neath its sheltering tree appears!—
And thou seest thy parents far away,
    And thy sister, loved like mine;
O! they long for thee as thou for them
    And thine own beloved Rhine.

Thy song is done—we are parted now,
    And may never meet again;
But, wandering boy, thou hast touch'd a heart,
    And thy song was not in vain.
God's blessings on thee, poor minstrel boy,
    May a happy lot be thine!
May thy heart go uncorrupted back
    To thine own beloved Rhine!


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THE MOTHER'S MEMORIES OF HER INFANT CHILD.


IN the casket of my soul I keep
    Thy form and face, my child—
Like a primrose-star of love on me
    Frae heaven thou lang hast smiled;
I see thy mirthfu' glance,—thy hair
    Spread o'er thy brow sae wan—
And thy cherry lip,—but I canna kiss
    My dove—my Mary Ann!

Like a pleasant thought within the heart,
    Thou in my bosom slept;
And o'er thee dreaming there, my watch
    Of gladness aft I kept!
In sunlit hours, thy artless words,
    As round my knee thou ran,
Were sweet wild music to my soul—
    My lovesome Mary Ann!

The jewel of my young life's crown—
    The flower of hope wast thou;
But the gem affection prized is lost—
    The flower is wither'd now;
Short was thy stay in thy mother's hame,
    And short thy earthly span:
But monie a heart was in love with thee,
    My dearest Mary Ann!

How thou would'st clasp thy mother's neck,
    Thy mother's lips to kiss!—
To be by thee in thy love caress'd
    Was a dream of heaven-like bliss;
And deeper joy than mine, my dove,
    Ne'er bless'd since time began,
As I clasp'd, and kiss'd, and gazed upon
    My infant Mary Ann!

My life! my love! my precious babe!
    How dear thou wast to me
That mother only knows whom God,
    Hath bless'd with such as thee!
As the violet fades and the daisy dies
    When the blast of Yule has blawn.
The cauldrife hands of death have stown
    My darling Mary Ann!


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A ROMAUNT.


THE evening bell hath the curfew toll'd,
And the cloud of night on the earth hath roll'd;
The sea waves fall on the sandy shore,
Like sullen things, with an angry roar:
'Tis the lonesome, sleeping, midnight hour—
Why beams yon light from the castle tower?
Why tarries that boat on the surfy strand?
And why doth each rover clutch a brand?

Two forms appear through the dusky night—
'Tis a rover free and a lady bright:
She hath left her father's castle hall,
His broad fair lands, and his riches all,
The bride of a wanderer wild to be,
And to make her home on the tameless sea:—
Now the boat is launch'd on its ocean way,
And onward it speeds o'er the waters grey.

The morning is up, but the clouded sun
Throws not a ray on yon castle dun;
And O! there is weeping and wailing there—
The father's moan and the mother's prayer
For never again in their home shall be
The lost one, who sails on the foaming sea—
The flower hath been snapp'd from its parent stem,
And the garden hath lost its brightest gem.

Now in bright sunshine—now in gloomy shade—
That ship on the deep her home hath made:
She has felt the gales of many a land,
And her prow has look'd on many a strand:
But her hour hath come—the wild winds rave—
There swims on her track a giant wave:
And the rover wild, and his fair ladye,
Are sleeping now in the dark green sea!


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THE MOSSY STANE.


THAT ill-faur'd lump of mossy stane
Has lain amang the breckans lane,
And neither groan'd nor made a mane,
            For years six thousand!
That's fortitude—the Stoics gane
            Wad wagg'd their pows on't!

The heather blossom fades awa'—
The breathing winds of summer blaw—
The plover's wail—the muircock's craw—
            I'll lay a bodle,
It snoozes on through rain and snaw,
            Nor fykes its noddle!

It's pleasant wi' a stane to crack,
It ne'er objects to word or fact;
And then they ha'e an unco knack
            Of listening well—
They a' the story dinna tak'
            Upo' themsel'.

Aweel, whunstane! since there ye lay,
The world's gane monie an unco way—
We've a' been heathens—now we pray,
            And sing and wheeple,
And mak' a lang to-do and say
            Beside the steeple!

And there cam' men o' meikle power,
Wha gart the frighted nations glowr,
And did wi' swords mankind devour:
            Snoozed ye through all?—
Faith ! ye think little of a stour,
            Upon my saul!

Stane! if your lugs could better hear,
I doubt me if 'twad mend your cheer,
If ye but kent—I fear, I fear—
            That sorrow's round ye;
Though hard as tyrants' hearts, fu' sair
            The tale wad wound ye!

How priests, and kings, and superstition,
Have marr'd and ruin'd man's condition,
If I could tell, ye'd need a sneeshin'
            To clear your een:
Lord, stane ! but they deserve the creeshin'
            They'll get, I ween!

Look, there's the sun ! the lambkins loupin'
Are o'er amang the heather coupin';
The corbies 'mang the rocks are roupin'
            Sae dull and drowsy;
This summer day, my cracks, I'm houpin',
            To life will rouse ye!

Na, there ye lie—nought troubles thee:
Ye hae some use as well as me,
Nae doubt; but what that use can be
            The thought doth wrack me;
Wi' a' my een I canna see,
            The devil tak' me!

I'm sure there's naething made in vain
No even a mossy auld whunstane:
Ye powers aboon! I ken, I ken—
            Auld stane sae bonnie,
Ye just was made that I fu' fain
            Might rhyme upon ye.


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THE WANDERER.


WHERE roam the feet of the distant one—the wanderer far away?
Doth a tropic forest shelter him from the blaze of a tropic day?
Doth he rest 'mong the glorious golden flowers of an Indian
        valley lone?
Doth he drink of the Arab's desert fount?—O! where hath the
        wanderer gone?

He went forth from his father's house while hope was burning in
        his heart—
He went forth in joy while exultingly from his lips a song did
        part.
Hath the hope decay'd? Hath the brightness fled?  Hath the spirit
        sorrow known?
Or rejoices he in the sunlight still?—O! where hath the wanderer
        gone?

Hath he drunk the spirit-draught of love from the eye of an
        Indian maid?
Doth he linger now with a dear-loved one in an eastern forest's
        shade?
Hath he then forgot his infant dreams and his native mountains
        lone,
For the deep dark glance of a maiden's eye?—O! where hath the
        wanderer gone?

Back to the streams of his youthhood's land, why hath not the
        wanderer come,
To rejoice in his mother's smile again, and to sit in his father's
        home?
Hath his cheek grown pale?  Hath his eye grown dim?  Doth he
        sleep beneath the stone?
Is his noble heart all mouldering now?—O! where hath the
        wanderer gone?

O! sings he the songs of another land, or remembers he yet his
        own?
Hath the veil of dim forgetfulness on his once-warm heart been
        thrown?
Why tarries he where a sister's eye hath never o'er him shone?—
Where a brother's voice he hath never heard?—Oh! where hath
        the wanderer gone?

Pure stars! as ye shine with unsleeping eye, can ye tell us aught
        of him?
Bright sun! doth he watch in a distant land your evening light
        grow dim?
Strong winds! have ye fann'd his cheek as o'er the earth ye have
        hurried on?
Sun, winds, and stars ! can ye answer us?—O! where hath the
        wanderer gone?

The sound of his foot shall be heard no more in his mourning
        father's hall—
His sweet young voice on his mother's ear again shall never fall;
His steed untired in the stable stands, and his hound may hunt
        alone;
For the woeful voice of the desolate calls, "O! where hath the
        wanderer gone?"

In a coral cave of the dark green sea the wanderer's bed is
        made—
'Mong the mysteries old of the mighty deep the waves his couch
        have spread;
And the tempest sweeps o'er his watery grave with a drear and
        sullen moan,
And asks, with its wildly wailing voice, "O! where hath the
        wanderer gone?"


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THE RUINED MANOR-HOUSE.


AGAINST the sky these walls their shadows cast,
    Tottering and crumbling in their mossy age,
Like dim remembrances of moments past
    Which time hath almost swept from memory's page:
Long ages they have faced the bitter blast,
    As the stern Stoic bears the world's rage;
But now the ceaseless breath of cold decay
Is wasting them, like snows of spring, away.

Four walls!—four roofless walls!—and this is all
    That desolation's gathering hand hath left
Of tower and pinnacle, and gilded hall;
    The roof is gone—the wall of rock is cleft—
The moonlight through each crevice down doth fall,
    Giving the spider light to weave its weft!
Is this the end of pride, and pomp, and power
The vanity and glory of an hour!

Is this the hearth round which have often met
    The young, the fair, the manly, and the gay?
Is this the hall where dancers oft were set
    With joyous mirth, till broke the lagging day?
Are these the chambers of luxurious state,
    Where men were far too proud to kneel and pray?
Is this the home where joy both loud and free
From year to year so blithesome used to be?

Is this the hearth?—A tree with fruit and flowers
    Doth o'er it spread its branches, budding green!
Is this the hall?   The nettle buildeth bowers
    Where loathsome toad and beetle black are seen.
Are these the chambers?   Fed by dankest showers
    The slimy worm hath o'er them crawling been!
Is this the home?   The owlet's dreary cry
Unto that asking makes a sad reply!

Where are the bright young eyes that here have beam'd?
    Where are the happy hearts that here have beat?
Where is the warrior, grim and proud who seem'd?
    Where is the sitter in the old man's seat?
Where is the joy that like rich sunlight gleam'd?
    Where are the faces fair, the nimble feet?
Where are the love, the glory, and the light,
That here had built for them a temple bright?

Bright eyes are dim, and mouldering in the clay;
    The happy hearts are moveless evermore;—
The warrior,—death hath met him in the fray;
    The old man sits no longer by the door;
The light of joy grew dim, and pass'd away;
    Fair faces keep not now the smile they wore;
Now love, and light, and glory, all have gone;
And nought remains but moss-clad dreary stone;

Is this the whole? and has this work been wrought
    To fill our hearts with gloom while dwelling here?
Amid decaying ruins have we sought
    And found no search-rewarding jewel near?—
No ! we have learn'd a lesson cheaply bought—
    A lesson which our gloom doth brightly cheer,—
That though this earth be woe and vanity,
There is a brighter land beyond yon holy sky!


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THE SAXON CHAPEL.


A BUILDING rear'd by Saxon hands!
    A fane, where Saxon hearts might pray!
They worshipped here long ages past—
                    We worship here to-day!

Since that low window-arch was bent,
    There have been many a rise and fall:
And this lone temple of the poor
                    Stands preaching over all!

The rude, rough Saxon, rear'd it up,
    The temple of his God to be;
And here, in simple earnestness,
                    He came and bent the knee.

Then came the Norman, in his pride,
    Attended by his Saxon slaves;
And then the priest of later times
                    Sang mass above their graves!

The mind grew free—the ancient faith,
    With all its pomp and pageantry,
Fell down; a spirit stern arose,
                    And said it should not be!

And now, to-day the peasant hind
    Beside that lowly altar knelt;
And 'neath that roof, had feelings such
                    As Normans, Saxons, felt!

Come, Saxon, in thy rude attire—
    Come, Norman, in thy coat of mail—
Come priest, with cross and counted beads—
                    And, parson, do not fail.

Beneath one roof ye all have prayd—
    Upon one floor have bent the knee;
Your creeds are far asunder rent—
                    But come and answer me.

As then you knelt, did upward rise
    Each heart in love and gratitude?
Did each, in different form and name,
                    Adore the true and good?

They answer, Yes! then vanish all
    Into oblivion once again:
There is a holy lesson here;
                    I'll carry it to men!

The priest may sneer—the bigot curse—
    I care not for the form and creed;
The earnest will be bless'd—the true
                    And pure, in word and deed!

The hands that rear'd these crumbling walls—
    The hearts that long have ceased to live—
They did their part—a temple reared—
                    Which lessons bright doth give.


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MADNESS.


GRIEF made its home within my breast
    Till my heart grew sad and cold—
Till my sunken cheek, and my dull, dim eye,
    Of its blighting presence told.

A blacker fiend came mocking then:—
    It was madness in its ire;
And its maniac-hands my heart-strings wrench'd,
    And it wrapt my brain in fire:—

And it fought with reason in my breast
    Till it had its direful will—
Till bound in its chains was the struggling soul,
    Which was wildly conscious still.

I spoke with madness' raving voice,
    And I glared with madness' eyes:
Flesh did its work, while the spirit wept
    O'er the body's sacrifice.

My feet and hands with chains were bound,
    And my body suffered blows;
And the dark fiend shriek'd from the spirit's home
    As the lash in menace rose.

The eye that once look'd kind on me
    Now fearful o'er me stole;
Then the fiend would turn with a mocking laugh
    To its trembling victim soul.

Months, years of torture such as this
    I do remember now,
Till my hair grew white and my body weak,
    And wrinkled grew my brow:

And then there came a dreary blank
    When all was dark within—
A howling night of unutter'd woe
    Where a moonbeam could not win.

And in that night I had a dream:
    I thought that far away
From the dungeon deep—my torture-home—
    On a morning I did stray.

I thought I lay within a wood,
    In its glorious summer prime;
And I heard the voice of Him who spans
    Eternity and time.

He bade the fiend resign its prey,
    And the prison'd soul go free;
And the dream was o'er, for I stood restored
    Beneath the forest-tree!


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LIFE'S PILGRIMAGE.


        INFANT! I envy thee
Thy seraph smile—thy soul, without a stain,
Angels around thee hover in thy glee
        A look of love to gain!

        Thy paradise is made
Upon thy mother's bosom, and her voice
Is music rich as that by spirits shed
        When blessed things rejoice!

        Bright are the opening flowers—
Ay, bright as thee, sweet babe, and innocent,
They bud and bloom ; and straight their infant hours,
        Like thine, are done and spent!

        Boy! infancy is o'er!
Go with thy playmates to the grassy lea,
Let thy bright eye with yon far lavrock soar,
        And blithe and happy be!

        Go, crow thy cuckoo notes
Till all the greenwood alleys loud are ringing—
Go, listen to the thousand tuneful throats
        That 'mong the leaves are singing!

        I would not sadden thee,
Nor wash the rose upon thy cheeks with tears:
Go, while thine eye is bright—unbent thy knee—
        Forget all cares and fears!

        YOUTH! is thy boyhood gone?
The fever hour of life at length has come,
And passion sits in reason's golden throne,
        While sorrow's voice is dumb!

        Be glad! it is thy hour
Of love ungrudging—faith without reserve—
And, from the right, Ill hath not yet the power
        To make thy footsteps swerve!

        Now is thy time to know
How much of trusting goodness lives on earth;
And rich in pure sincerity to go
        Rejoicing in thy birth!

        Youth's sunshine unto thee—
Love first and dearest, has unveil'd her face,
And thou hast sat beneath the trysting tree,
        In love's first fond embrace!

        Enjoy thy happy dream,
For life hath not another such to give;
The stream is flowing—love's enchanted stream;
        Live, happy dreamer, live!

        Though sorrow dwelleth here,
And falsehood, and impurity, and sin,
The light of love, the gloom of earth to cheer,
        Come sweetly, sweetly in!

        'Tis o'er—thou art a MAN—
The struggle and the tempest both begin
Where he who faints must fail—he fight who can
        A victory to win!

        Say, toilest thou for gold?
Will all that earth can give of drossy hues
Compensate for that land of love foretold,
        Which Mammon makes thee lose?

        Or waitest thou for power?
A proud ambition, trifler, doth thee raise!
To be the gilded bauble of the hour
        That fools may wond'ring gaze!

        But wouldst thou be a man—
A lofty, noble, uncorrupted thing,
Beneath whose eye the false might tremble wan,
        The good with gladness sing?

        Go, cleanse thy heart, and fill
Thy soul with love and goodness; let it be
Like yonder lake, so holy, calm, and still,
        And full of purity!

        This is thy task on earth—
This is thy eager manhood's proudest goal
To cast all meanness and world-worship forth—
        And thus exalt the soul!

        'Tis manhood makes the man
A high-soul'd freeman or a fetter'd slave,
The mind a temple fit for God to span,
        Or a dark dungeon-grave!

        God doth not man despise,
He gives him soul—mind—heart—that living flame ;
Nurse it, and upwards let it brightly rise
        To heaven, from whence it came!

        Go hence, go hence, and make
Thy spirit pure as morning, light and free!
The pilgrim shrine is won, and I awake—
        Come to the woods with me!


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SONG FOR A SUMMER EVENING.


THERE'S a drap o' dew on the blackbird's wing
    Where the willows wave the burnie over,
And the happy bird its song doth sing
    By the wimpling waves that the green leaves cover!
Sing louder yet, thou bonnie, bonnie bird,
    There's neither cloud nor storm to fear ye,
But thy sang, though glad as ear ever heard,
    Is wae to mine when I meet my dearie!

Yon lavrock lilts 'mang the snawy clouds
    That float like a veil o'er the breast of heaven;
And its strains come down to the summer woods
    Like the voice of the bless'd and God-forgiven!
Sing, laverock, sing thy maist holy sang,
    For the light o' heaven is round and near ye,
Syne song through thy fluttering heart will gang,
    As it runs through mine when I meet my dearie!

The daisy blinks by the broom-bush side,
    Pure as the eye o' a gladsome maiden—
Fair as the face o' a bonnie bride
    When her heart wi' the thoughts o' love is laden.
Bloom fairer yet, thou sweet lowly flower,
    There's ne'er a heart sae hard as steer thee,
I will think o' thee in that gloaming hour
    When I meet 'mang the wild green woods my dearie!


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IT'S NAE FUN, THAT! *

ANE CANTIE SANG.


YE may laugh brawly i' the now,
    Ye may joke as ye like;
But ye shouldna say the humie's good
    Afore you take the bike.
Love does weel to joke about
    When comes the gloamin' bat;
But marriage is an awful thing:
    It's nae fun, that!

We twa are geyan young yet,
    We ha'ena meikle gear,
And, if glaikitly we yokit,
    We wad aye be toilin' sair;
Maybe poverty wad mak' us
    Like our collie and the cat:
An' tearfu' een and scartit lugs—
    It's nae fun that!

The men are in a hurry aye—
    Will ye gie a body time?
And yet, I needna forward look,
    I canna see a styme;
To gi'e a body's sel' awa'
    For—'od! I kenna what,
It gars a thoughtless lassie think—
    It's nae fun, that!

And now the cloud is on your brow,
    I shouldna vex you sae,
Yet in my last free maiden hour,
    Why mind you what I say?
My first love and my last are you,
    My lassie's heart you caught—
O! guess my love by what ye feel—
    It's nae fun, that!


* It may not be out of place to state the circumstances under which
 the above "cantie sang" was written.  In a company, one evening, in
 Edinburgh, where Mr. Nicoll was present, a young lady was very
 much rallied on the subject of marriage; till, thinking that the joke
 was carried a little too far, she put an end to the teasing by
 exclaiming—"It's nae fun, that!"—a phrase which at once caught
 the humour of the poet, and the song was produced that same night.


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SONNET TO MR. J. R. F.


DOMESTIC love sits brooding o'er thy hearth,
    Like the fair cushat o'er the forest-boughs;
And happiness unto thy home is bound
    Close as the fragrance to the summer rose:
For woman's angel purity is there,
And woman's hand so soft and face so fair,
And woman's heart of love, and voice of song
Soft as the linnet's, hedgerow leaves among.
This heart so glad with thee in moments past,
Can wish for thee no better than thou hast;
But in this silent hour, when earth is grey,
To him who gave it all, this heart can pray:—
"Where joy is now, O! send no future pain—
May what is happy—happy aye remain!"


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THE LINNET.


THE songs of nature, holiest, best are they!
        The sad winds sighing through the leafy trees—
        The lone lake's murmurs to the mountain breeze—
The streams' soft whispers, as they fondly stray
        Through dingles wild and over flowery leas,
        Are sweetly holy; but the purest hymn—
A melody like some old prophet-lay—
        Is thine, poured forth from hedge, and thicket dim—
                                                       Linnet! wild Linnet!

The poor, the scorned and lowly, forth may go
        Into the woods and dells, where leaves are green,
        And 'mong the breathing forest flowers may lean;
And hear thy music wandering to and fro,
        Like sunshine glancing o'er the summer scene.
        Thou poor man's songster!—neither wealth nor power
Can match the sweetness thou around dost throw!
        O! bless thee for the joy of many an hour—
                                                       Linnet! wild Linnet!

In sombre forest, grey and melancholy,
        Yet sweet withal, and full of love and peace,
        And 'mid the furze wrapp'd in a golden fleece
Of blossoms, and in hedgerows green and lowly;
        On thymy banks, where wild-bees never cease
        Their murmur-song, thou hast thy home of love,
Like some lone hermit, far from sin and folly,
        'Tis thine through forest fragrances to rove—
                                                       Linnet! wild Linnet!

Some humble heart is sore and sick with grief,
        And straight thou comest with thy gentle song
        To wile the sufferer from his hate or wrong,
By bringing Nature's love to his relief.
        Thou charmest by the sick child's window long,
        Till cracking pain itself be wooed to sleep;
And when away have vanished flower and leaf,
        Thy lonely wailing voice for them cloth weep—
                                                       Linnet! wild Linnet!

God saw how much of woe, and grief, and care,
        Man's faults and follies on the earth would make;
        And thee, sweet singer, for his creature's sake
He sent to warble wildly everywhere,
        And by thy voice our souls of love to wake.
        O! blessed wandering spirit ! unto thee
Pure hearts are knit, as unto things too fair,
        And good, and beautiful of earth to be—
                                                       Linnet ! wild Linnet!


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DEATH.*


THE dew is on the summer's greenest grass,
    Through which the modest daisy blushing peeps;
The gentle wind that like a ghost doth pass,
    A waving shadow on the corn-field keeps;
But I who love them all shall never be
Again among the woods, or on the moorland lea!

The sun shines sweetly—sweeter may it shine—
    Bless'd is the brightness of a summer day;
It cheers lone hearts; and why should I repine,
    Although among green fields I cannot stray?
Woods!   I have grown, since last I heard you wave,
Familiar with death, and neighbour to the grave!

These words have shaken mighty human souls—
    Like a sepulchre's echo drear they sound—
E'en as the owl's wild whoop at midnight rolls
    The ivied remnants of old ruins round.
Yet wherefore tremble?   Can the soul decay?—
Or that which thinks and feels in aught e'er fade away?

Are there not aspirations in each heart,
    After a better, brighter world than this?
Longings for beings nobler in each part—
    Things more exalted—steeped in deeper bliss ?
Who gave us these!   What are they?   Soul! in thee
The bud is budding now for immortality!

Death comes to take me where I long to be;
    One pang, and bright blooms the immortal flower;
Death comes to lead me from mortality,
    To lands which know not one unhappy hour:
I have a hope—a faith;—from sorrow here
I'm led by death away—why should I start and fear!

If I have loved the forest and the field,
    Can I not love them deeper, better, there?
If all that power hath made, to me doth yield
    Something of good and beauty—something fair—
Freed from the grossness of mortality,
May I not love them all, and better all enjoy?

A change from woe to joy—from earth to heaven,
    Death gives me this—it leads me calmly where
The souls that long ago from mine were riven
    May meet again!   Death answers many a prayer.
Bright day! shine on—be glad:—Days brighter far
Are stretched before my eyes than those of mortal are!

I would be laid among the wildest flowers,
    I would be laid where happy hearts can come:—
The worthless clay I heed not; but in hours
    Of gushing noontide joy, it may be some
Will dwell upon my name; and I will be
A happy spirit there, affection's look to see.

Death is upon me, yet I fear not now:—
    Open my chamber-window—let me look
Upon the silent vales—the sunny glow
    That fills each alley, close, and copsewood nook:—
I know them—love them—mourn not them to leave,
Existence and its change my spirit cannot grieve!


* This poem is imagined to be the last, or among the very last, of
 Nicoll's compositions.

 



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