Edwin Waugh: Poems and Songs (1)

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The Moorland Flower.

I.


BENEATH a crag, whose forehead rude
    O'erfrowns the mountain side,—
Stern monarch of the solitude,
    Dark-heaving, wild, and wide,—
A floweret of the moorland hill
    Peeped out unto the sky,
In a mossy nook, where a limpid rill
    Came tinkling blithely by.


II.


Like a star-seed, from the night-skies flung
    Upon the mountains lone,
Into a gleaming floweret sprung,—
    Amid the wild it shone;
And bush and brier, and rock and rill,
    And every wandering wind,
In interchange of sweet good-will
    And mutual love did bind.


III.


In the gloaming grey, at close of day,
    Beneath the deepening blue,
It lifted up its little cup,
    To catch the evening dew:
The rippling fall, the moorfowl's call,
    The wandering night-wind's moan;
It heard, it felt, it loved them all,
    That floweret sweet and lone.


IV.

 
The green fern wove a screening grove
    From noontide's fervid ray;
The pearly mist of the brooklet kist
    Its leaves with cooling spray;
And when dark tempests swept the waste,
    And north winds whistled wild,
The brave old rock kept off the shock,
    As a mother shields her child.


V.


And when it died, the south wind sighed,
    The drooping fern looked dim;
The old crag moaned, the lone ash groaned,
    The wild heath sang a hymn;
The leaves crept near, though fallen and sere,
    Like old friends mustering round;
And a dew-drop fell from the heather-bell
    Upon its burial ground.


VI.


For it had bloomed content to bless
    Each thing that round it grew
And on its native wilderness
    Its store of sweetness strew
Fair link in nature's chain of love,
    To noisy fame unknown,
There is a register above,
    E'en when a flower is gone.


VII.


So, lovingly embrace thy lot,
    Though lowly it may be,
And beautify the little spot
    Where God hath planted thee
To win the world's approving eyes
    Make thou no foolish haste,
Heaven loves the heart that lives and dies
    To bless its neighbouring waste.

 

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The World.

I.


THIS foolish world doth wink
    Its cunning lid;
And when it thinks, it thinks
    Its thoughts are hid.


II.


Its piety's a screen
    Where vice doth hide;
Its purity's unclean;
    Its meekness, pride.


III.


Its charity's a bait
    To catch a name;
Its kindness covers hate;
    Its praise is blame.


IV.


Its wisdom soweth seeds
    Which follies prove;
And its repentance needs
    Repenting of.


V.


Its learning's empty talk;
    Its heart is cold;
Its church is an exchange;
    Its god is gold.


VI.


Its pleasures all are blind,
    And lead to pain;
Its treasures are a kind
    Of losing gain.


VII.


Lust moves it more than love,
    Fear more than shame;
Its best ambitions have
    A grovelling aim.


VIII.


Its laws are a disgrace;
    Its lords are slaves;
Its honours are misplaced,
    E'en on our graves.


IX.

 
Some sorrow doth attend
    Its happiest dreams;
And rottenness doth end
    Its rotten schemes.


X.


Oh, cure this moral madness,—
    This soul-disease;
Shew us that Vice brings sadness,
    And Virtue, ease:


XI.


And teach us in the hour
    Of Sin's dismay,
That Truth's the only flower
    Without decay.

 

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Keen Blows the North Wind.

I.


KEEN blows the north wind; the woodlands are bare;
    The snow-shroud lies white on the flowerless lea;
The red-breast is wailing the death of the year,
    As he cowers his wing in the frozen haw-tree.


II.


The leaves of the forest, now summer is o'er,
    Lie softly asleep in the lap of decay.
And the wildflower rests on the snow-covered shore,
    Till the cold night of winter has wandered away.


III.


Oh, where are the small birds that sang in yon bowers
    When last summer smiled on the green-mantled plain?
Oh, where do they shelter in winter's bleak hours?
    Will they come back with spring, to delight me again?


IV.


But I may be gone, never more to behold
    The wildflowers peep, when the winter has fled;
The chill drifts of sorrow the wanderer may fold,
    And the sunshine of spring melt the snow on his bed.


V.


But come, ye sweet warblers, and sport in the spray,
    Whose tender revival I never may see;
The young buds will leap to your welcoming lay,—
    'Twill cheer the sad-hearted, as oft it cheered me.


VI.


And should ye, returning, then find me at rest,
    Stay sometimes, and sing near the grave of a friend;
Drop a rosemary leaf on his turf-covered breast,
    And rejoice that his troublesome journey's at end.

 

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The Captain's Friends.

I.


I WANDERED down by yonder park one quiet autumn day,
When many a humble traveller was going on the way;
And there I saw a company of neighbours great and small,
All gathered round an ancient gate that leads unto the hall.


II.


The faded leaves that rustled in the mournful autumn wind
Awoke in me a train of thought that saddened all my mind;
And through the crowd of anxious folk there went a smothered
        wail,
So I sat me down upon a stone and hearkened to the tale.


III.


The sturdy farmer from his fields had hurried to the place,
The cripple on his crutches, and the sick with pallid face;
The poor old dame had wandered with her blind man to the
        ground,
And the lonely widow, weeping, with her children gathered
        round.


IV.


The well-remembered beggar, too, was there,—but not to beg;
And the stiff old Chelsea pensioner, upon a wooden leg:
From hamlet, fold, and lonely cot, the humble poor were there,
Each bringing in his moistened eye a tributary tear.


V.


Up spake the sturdy farmer to the porter, and he said,
"What news is this that's going round?  They say the Captain's dead!"
The quaint old porter laughed, "Aha!  Thank God, it isn't true!
It's but the Captain's dog that's dead,—they called it Captain' too!"


VI.


Then sprang the cripple on his crutch, and nearly came to ground;
The blind man wandered to and fro, and shook their hands all
        round;
The dame took snuff, the sick man smiled, and blest the happy day;
And the widow kissed her young ones, as she wiped the tears away.


VII.


Up rose the children's voices, mingling music with the gale,
And the beggar's dog romped with them, as he barked and wagged
        his tail;
The farmer slapt his thumbs, and cried, "Come on, I'll feast you all!"
And the stark old soldier with his stick kept charging at the wall.


VIII.


So, now the Captain's dog is dead and sleeping in the ground,
A kind old master by the grave bemoans his gallant hound;
He says, "My hair is white and thin!  I have not long to stay!
And, oh, my poor old dog, how I shall miss thee on the way!


IX.


Then here's to every noble heart that's gentle, just, and brave,
That cannot be a tyrant, and that grieves to see a slave.
God save that good old Captain long, and bring his soul to joy;
The countryside will lose a friend the day he comes to die.

 

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Willy's Grave.

I.


THE wintry wind was wailing wild,
    Across the moorland wold;
The cloudless vault of heaven was bright;
    With studs of gleaming gold;
The weary cotter's heavy lids
    Had closed with closing day;
And, on his silent hearth, a tinge
    Of dying fire-light lay.


II.


The ancient village seemed asleep
    Beneath the starry sky;
A little river, sheathed in ice,
    Came gliding gently by;
The grey church in the grave-yard,
    Where "the rude forefathers lay,"
Stood, like a mother, waiting till
    Her children came from play.


III.


No footsteps trod the tiny town;
    The drowsy street was still;
Save where the wandering night-wind sang
    Its requiem wild and shrill:
The stainless snow lay thick upon
    Those quaint old cottage eaves;
And wreathes of fairy frost-work hung
    Where grew last summer's leaves.


IV.


Each village home was dark and still,
    And closed was every door;
For gentle sleep had twined her arms
    Around both rich and poor,—
Save in one little cot, where, by
    A candle's flickering ray
A childless mother sighing sat,
    And combed her locks of grey.


V.


Her husband, and her children all,
    Were in the silent bed,
Where, one by one, she'd laid them down,—
    And left them with the dead;
Then, toiling on towards her rest,—
    A lonely pilgrim, she,—
For God and poverty were, now,
    Her only company.


VI.


Upon the shady window-sill,
    A well-worn bible lay;
Against the wall a coat had hung,
    For many a weary day;
And, on the scanty table-top,
    With crumbs of supper strewn,
There stood, beside a porringer,
    Two little empty shoon.


VII.


The fire was waning in the grate;
    The spinning-wheel at rest;
The cricket's song rang loudly in
    That lonely woman's nest;
As, with a napkin, thin, and worn,
    And wet with many a tear,
She wiped the little pair of shoon
    Her darling used to wear.


VIII.


Her widowed heart had often leaped
    To hear his prattle small;
He was the last that she had left,—
    The dearest of them all;
And, as she rocked her to and fro,
    While tears came dreeping down,
She sighed, and cried, "Oh, Willy, love,—
    These little empty shoon!"


IX.


With gentle hand she laid them by,—
    She laid them by with care;
For, Willy, he was in his grave,—
    And all her thoughts were there:
She paused before she dropped the sneck,
    That closed her lambless fold,—
It grieved her heart to bar the door,
    And leave him in the cold.


X.


A thread-bare cloak she lapped around
    Her limbs, so thin and chill;
She left her lonely cot behind,
    While all the world was still;
And through the solitary night,
    She took her silent way,
With weeping eyes, towards the spot
    Where little Willy lay.


XI.


The pallid moon had climbed aloft
    Into the welkin blue;
A snow-clad tree across the grave
    Its leafless shadow threw;
And, as that mournful mother sat
    Upon a mound thereby,
The bitter wind of winter sighed
    To hear her lonely cry!


XII.


My little Willy's cowd an' still,—
    He's not a cheep for me!
Th' last tremblin' leaf has dropt away
    Fro' this poor withered tree!
God help my heart! my comfort's gone!
    I'm lonely under th' sky!
He'll never clip my neck again,
    An' tell me not to cry!


XIII.


My darling' lad!  He's laid i'th dust!
    My little Willy's dead!
An' all that made me cling to life,
    Lies in his frosty bed!
He's gone!   He's gone!   My poor bare nest!
    Oh, what's this world to me!
My little love!  I'm lonely now!
    When mun I come to thee!


XIV.


He's crept into his last dark nook,
    And left me pining' here!
An' never-moor his two blue e'en
    For me mun twinkle clear!
He'll never say his prayers again
    At his poor mammy's knee!
Oh, Willy, love!  I'm lonely now;
    When mun I come to thee!


XV.


The snow-clad yew-tree stirred with pain
    To hear that plaintive cry;
The old church listened; and the spire
    Kept pointing to the sky;
With kindlier touch, the frosty wind
    Played in her locks of grey;
And the queenly moon, upon her head,
    Shone with a softened ray.


XVI.


She rose to leave that lonely bed;
    Her heart was grieving sore;
One step she took, and then, her tears
    Fell faster than before:
She turned and gave another look,—
    One lingering look she gave,—
Then, sighing, left him lying in
    His little wintry grave.

 

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Time is flying!

I.


            TIME is flying!
            Are we hieing
To a brighter, better bourne?
            Or, unthinking,
            Daily sinking
Into night that knows not morn?"


II.


            Oh, what is life
            But duty's strife?
A drill; a watchful sentry's round;
            A brief campaign
            For deathless gain;
A bivouac on battle ground:


III.


            An arrow's flight;
            A taper's light;
A fitful day of sun and cloud;
            A flower; a shade;
            A journey made
Between a cradle and a shroud.


IV.


            Oh, what is death?
            A swordless sheath;
A jubilee; a mother's call;
            A kindly breast,
            That offers rest
Unto the poorest of us all;


V.


            The wretched's friend;
            Oppression's end;
The outcast's shelter from the cold;
            To regions dim,
            The portal grim
Where misers leave their loads of gold;


VI.


            A voyage o'er;—
            A misty shore,
With time-wrecked generations strown;
            Where each mad age
            Has spent its rage
Upon a continent unknown.

 

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The Moorlands.

I.


SING, hey for the moorlands, wild, lonely, and stern,
Where the moss creepeth softly all under the fern;
Where the heather-flower sweetens the lone highland lea,
And the mountain winds whistle so fresh and so free!
I've wandered o'er landscapes embroidered with flowers,
The richest, the rarest, in greenest of bowers,
Where the throstle's sweet vesper, at summer day's close,
Shook the coronel dews on the rim of the rose;
But, oh for the hills where the heather-cock springs
From his nest in the bracken, with dew on his wings!
                                                  Sing, hey for the moorlands!


II.


I've lingered by streamlets that water green plains,
I've mused in the sunlight of shady old lanes,
Where the mild breath of evening came sweetly and slow
From green nooks where bluebells and primroses grow;
But, oh the wild hills that look up at the skies,
Where the green bracken wave to the wind as it flies!
                                                  Sing, hey for the moorlands!


III.


Away with the pride and the fume of the town,
And give me a lodge in the heatherland brown;
Oh there, to the schemes of the city unknown,
Let me wander with freedom and nature, alone;
Where wild hawks with glee on the hurricane sail,
And the mountain crags thrill to the rush of the gale!
                                                  Sing, hey for the moorlands!


IV.


In glens which resound to the waterfall's song,
My spirit shall play the wild echoes among:
I'd climb the dark steep to my lone mountain home,
And, heartsome and poor, o'er the solitude roam:
And the keen winds that harp on the heathery lea
Should sing the grand anthem of freedom to me!
                                                  Sing, hey for the moorlands!

 

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To the Rose Tree on my Window Sill.

I.


DARK is the lot of him with heart so dull
    By sensual appetite's unbridled sway,
As to be blind unto the beautiful
    In common things that strew the common way.
Trailing the dusty elements of death,
    He crawls, in his embruted blindness, proud;
To perishable ends he draws his breath;
    His life, a funeral passing through a crowd;

His soul, a shrunken corpse within his body, but a shroud.


II.


Nature! kind handmaid of the thoughtful soul,
    Be thy sweet ministrations ever mine;
Thy angel-influences keep me whole,
    And lead my spirit into things divine:
Holding thy lovely garment, when a child,
    I walked in simple ecstasy with thee;
And now, with sadder heart, and travel-toiled,
    Thou hast a sanctuary still for me,

Where oft I find repose from earthly care and misery.


III.


In cities proud, by grovelling factions torn,
    Where glittering pomp and stony-eyed despair,
Murder and stealth, the lordly and the lorn,
    Squalor and wealth, divide the Christian air;—
Where prowling outcasts hug with ignorant rage
    Some sense of wrong that smoulders deep within;—
Where mean intrigues their furtive battles wage;
    Where they are wrong that lose, and they are right that win,

And drowning virtue struggles with the waves of sin;—


IV.


Where drooping penitence, and pious pride;
    The sons of labour and the beasts of prey;
The spoilers and the spoiled, are side by side,
    Jostling unkindly on the crowded way;—
E'en there sweet Nature sings her heaven-taught songs,—
    Unheeded minstrel of the fuming street,—
For ever wooing its discordant throngs
    With sounds and shapes that teem with lessons meet,—

Like thee, fair rose-tree, on my window blooming sweet.


V.


Oh, floral comrade of my lonely hours,
    Sweet soother of my saddest mood,
The summer's glow, the scents of summer flowers,
    Are filling all my solitude:
The thick-leaved groves, whose sylvan roofless ring
    With blending lyrics poured from every tree,
The sleepy streams where swallows dip the wing,
    The wild flowers, nodding in the wind, I see,—

And hear the murmurous music of the roving bee.


VI.


Taking my willing fancy by the hand,
    Thou leadest me through nature like a child,
Where rustling forests robe the pleasant land,
    And lonely streamlets ripple through the wild;—
Through verdant nooks, where, on the long, cool grass
    The lingering dews light up the leafy shade,
In dreamy bliss, my wandering footsteps pass,
    Sweeping from many a lush and bending blade

The load of liquid pearls that such a twinkling made.


VII.


Now, through a sunny glade, away, away,—
    Oh, let me wander thus a while with thee,—
By many a pleasant streamlet we will play,
    And gad o'er many a field in careless glee:
Thus gently, thou, when on life's pathway rude
    My heart grows faint as gloomy shadows lower,
Leadest me back into a happier mood,
    By some sweet, secret, heaven-inspired power,

That lurks in thy fringed leaf and orient-tinted flower.


VIII.


My spirit burst its prison-house of care,
    And dreamily, with lingering feet, I stray
Where garden odours fill the golden air,
    And blossoms tremble to the wild birds' lay;—
O'er cool moist slopes, beneath the woodland shade,
    Where the blithe throstle in his chamber sings,
Then wonders at the music he has made;—
    Where the lush bluebell's little censer swings,

And pleasant incense to the wandering breezes flings.


IX.


Upon a shady bank, as I recline,
    Gazing, with silent joy, the landscape o'er,
I feel its varied glories doubly mine,—
    My heart's inheritance, my fancy's store;
Above me waves a roof of green and gold,—
    Delightful shelter from the noontide heat;
Beyond, a wandering streamlet I behold,
    Where wind and sunlight on the waters meet

In silvery shimmerings, past description sweet.


X.


I hear the skylark, poised on trembling wings,
    Teaching the heavenly quire his thrilling lay,
All nature seems to listen as he sings,
    Hushed into stillness by his minstrelsy;—
As the blithe lyric streams upon the lea,
    Steeping the wild flowers in melodious rain,
The very dewdrops, dancing to the glee,
    Look up with me, but, like me, look in vain

To find the heaven-hid singer of that matchless strain.


XI.


Now, on rough byways, sauntering through the sun,
    From fertile haunts of man I gladly stray,
Up to the sweet brown moorlands, bleak and dun,
    While rindling waters tinkle o'er my way;
Where the free eagle lords it in the sky;
    Where red grouse, springing from the heathery steep,
Wake the wild echoes with their lonely cry;
    And whistling breezes unrestrained sweep

O'er the old hills, that in the sunlight seem asleep.


XII.


O'er yon wild height, between the rugged steeps,
    From crag to crag, in many an airy bound
Of mighty glee, the mountain torrent leaps,
    And the lone ravine trembles to the sound:
Through cave and cleft, along the narrow glen,
    The rushing thunders rage, and roll afar,
Like untamed lions struggling in their den,—
    With unavailing rage,—each rocky scar

Hurls back the prisoned roar of elemental war.


XIII.


As homeward, down a winding path I stray,
    Where mazy midges in the twilight throng
In plaintive fits of liquid melody,
    I hear the lonely ousel's vesper-song;
Odours of unseen flowers the air pervade;
    As I sit listening on a wayside mound,
Watching the daylight and its business fade,
    The evening stillness fills with weird sound,

And distant waters sing their ancient choral round.


XIV.


Mild evening brings the gauzy fringe of dreams
    That trails upon the golden skirts of day;
And here and there a cottage candle gleams
    With cheerful twinkle o'er my drowsy way;
As flaxen-headed elves, from rambles wild,
    With straggling footsteps, to their mothers hie
With woodland trophies, and with garments soiled,
    All tired and pleased,—they know not, care not why;—

So from my wand'rings I return, as daylight quits the sky.


XV.


Oh, flowery leader of these fancy flights,
    Epitome of Nature's charms to me,
Filling my spirit with such fine delights
    As I can never more repay to thee,—
For my behoof thou donn'st the summer's sheen,
    Smiling benignly on thy prison-spot,
Though exiled from that native nook of green
    Where playmate zephyrs seek through bower and grot,

Through all the summer roses seek, but find thee not.


XVI.


Fair lamp of beauty, in my cloistral shade,
    Though brief at best the time thou hast to shine,
By an almighty artist thou wert made,
    And touched with light eternally divine.
Like a caged bird, in this seclusion dim,—
    Where slanting sunbeams seldom find a way,—
Singing with patient joy a silent hymn,
    That wafts my thought from worldly care away

Into the realms of Nature's endless holiday.


XVII.


Sweet specimen of Nature's mystic skill,
    Dost thou know aught of human joys and woes?
Can'st thou be gladdened by the glad heart's thrill,
    Or feel the writhing spirit's silent throes?
To me thou art a messenger of love,—
    A leaf of peace amid the storms of woe,—
Dropt in my path by that celestial Dove
    Who made all things in heaven and earth below,

That wandering man the beautiful and true might know.

 

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Christmas Carol.

I.


LONG time ago, in Palestine,
    Upon a wintry morn.
All in a lowly cattle shed,
    The Prince of Peace was born.


II.


The clouds fled from the gloomy sky;
    The winds in silence lay;
And the stars shone bright, with
        strange delight,
    To welcome in that day.


III.


His parents they were simple folk,
    And simple lives they led;
And in the ways of righteousness
    This little Child was bred.


IV.


In gentle thought, and gentle deed,
    His early days went by;
And the light His youthful steps did
        lead
    Came down from heaven on high.


V.


He was the friend of all the poor
    That wander here below;
It was His only joy on earth
    To ease them of their woe.


VI.


In pain He trod His holy path,
    By sorrow sorely tried;
It was for all mankind He lived,
    And for mankind He died.


VII.


Like Him, let us be just and pure,
    Like Him, be true alway;
That we may find the peace of mind
    That never fades away.

 

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How Summers Sunlight Glowing.

I.


NOW, summer's sunlight, glowing,
    Streaks the woodland shade with gold;
And balmy winds are blowing
    Softly o'er the moorland-wold;
Now sweet smells the bluebell,
    'Neath the valley's leafy screen;
And thick grows the wild rose,
    Clust'ring o'er the hedges green.
The fern adorns the moorland steep;
    The smiling fields are flowered o'er;
And modest little daisies peep
    Like children at a mother's door!


II.


From dewy meadows springing,
    Yonder blinding skies among,
The poet-lark is singing,
    As if his heart was made of song!
While gladly and madly
    In every grove the wild birds vie,
All tingling and mingling
    In tipsy routs of lyric joy!
My throbbing heart with every part
    Is dancing to the chorus near,—
The gush, the thrill,—the wizard trill,—
    Like drops of water tinkling clear!


III.


The cottage matron, knitting
    In her little garden, sings,
As wild birds, round her flitting,
    Fan the blossom with their wings;
And twining, combining,
    The honeysuckle and the rose,
Sweet shading, and braiding,
    Round her winking lattice goes;
And wild bees through the flowers roam—
    The little happy buzzing thieves!—
Here and there, with busy hum,
    Rifling all the honeyed leaves.


IV.


Now, hamlet urchins roaming,
    All the sunny summer day,
From dewy morn till gloaming,
    Through the rustling wildwood stray;
There blithely and lithely,
    By warbling brook and sylvan grot,
They ramble and gambol,
    All the busy world forgot;—
Like birds that wing the sunny air,
    And warble in the tangled wild,
Unhaunted by the dreams of care,—
    Oh, to be again a child!


V.


Sweet scents and sunshine blending;
    The wildwoods, in their leafy pride,
To the gentle south wind bending;—
    Oh, the bonny summer tide!
The tinkling, the twinkling,
    Where little limpid rivers lave;
The sipping, the dipping
    Of wild-flowers in the gilded wave;—
The fruitful leas, the blooming trees,
    The pleasant fields, embroidered fair;
The wild birds' little melodies,
    Scattering gladness everywhere!

 

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Sea Weeds.

I.


THE land has its gardens of roses,
    Its flowers of every hue,
Which close as the daylight closes,
    And wake to the morning dew;
It has sweet scented groves of pleasure,
    Where the bee roves all day long,
And, at eve, with her load of treasure,
    Flies home to a drowsy song.


II.


There, summer her mantle of verdure,
    With posies so sweet enweaves,
That the sunshine delays on their beauty,
    Till it falls asleep in the leaves;
And the spell-bound rain comes dreeping,
    To brighten their eyes anew;
And their folds are by young winds fondled,
    And kilt by the silvery dew.


III.


But the grand old sea hides wonders
    That never met mortal eye,—
Bright bowers that never have rustled
    To soft wind's dreamy sigh;
Strange groves of mystical beauty,
    And flowers of rainbow hue.
Bloom wild in those old sea-gardens,
    All under the waters blue!


IV.


And when the pale moon is sleeping,
    At night on the trembling sea,
And the coral-paved halls of Neptune
    Re-echo the kelpies' glee:
Oh, the floral festoons of magic,
    That curtain those pearly caves,
Where the water-sprites revel in splendour,
    All under the drowsy waves!


V.


Ye fairy-tinged groves of ocean,—
    Your delicate banners wave,
Where the fisherman sleeps in the lonely
        deeps,
    In his cold uncrowded grave:
Wave on your beautiful tendrils,
    In your gardens wild and free,
Caressed by the gleaming waters,
    Of the grand old heaving sea!

 

______________________

 
Things Gone By.

I.


TWAS evening; sad November's gale
    Was moaning wild and cold;
Night's deepening shade had
        dimmed the vale,
    And hid the distant wold;
In dreamy mood, as all grew still
    Beneath the waning sky,
I sat beside my window-sill,
    And thought of things gone by.


II.


An old and lonely man was there,
    By labour sorely worn;
The frost of age had thinn'd his hair,
    And sorrow made him lorn;
His wrinkled cheek long time had play'd
    With wind, and rain, and sun;
That weary man, he sigh's, and said—
    "It's dark—and nothing done."


III.


On life, and death, and mortal fret,
    I musing then began;
And on the dangers that beset
    The pilgrimage of man:
I thought of days for ever flown,
    And hopes for ever fled;
I sigh'd for friends asunder thrown,
    Or sleeping with the dead.


IV.


Since life's first wandering step began
    They've strewn the fatal way,
And only here and there a man
    Has reach's the close of day;
Like leaflets, drifted to and fro,
    When autumn's cold winds rave,
Some fluttering wild, some trampled low,
    Some mould'ring in the grave.


V.


The days are gone when light and free,
    I roved the mountains wild;
The light no more will shine for me
    On morning's hour that smiled:
No sun or rain can e'er again
    Revive youth's faded flowers;
No sad regret, nor sigh of pain,
    Recall the fleeted hours.

 

______________________

 
To a Married Lady.

I.


AH, this wild voyage o'er the sea of life
    Needs all the help that heaven to earth can
        give;
Through its dark storms, and shoals, and battle-
        strife,
    God must be pilot to the ships that live.


II.


Happy the heart that finds a haven of love,
    Where in the tempest it can sweetly moor,
And taste, below, the bliss that but above,
    Is ever stainless, and is ever sure.


III.


And blest the hearth where pure affections glow
    The husband's and the father's best retreat;
Where heavenward souls in one direction grow,
    With darling tendrils round them twining sweet.


IV.


Such be thy home; through earth's mutations
        strange,
    A garden, where the flowers of heaven grow;
And, sheltered there from blight, through every
        change,
    Its loves, its hopes, no touch of ruin know.


V.


May Time, whose withering finger ever brings.
    To Nature's best the doom of sure decline,
Float over thee with gently-fanning wings,
    And find the twilight of thy life divine.


VI.


And, ever hand in hand, along your path,—
    For thee and thine thus doth the poet pray,—
That ye may walk in joy from life to death,
    And earth's night be the dawn of heaven's day.

 

______________________

 
Cultivate Your Men.

I.


TILL as ye ought your barren lands,
    And drain your moss and fen;
Give honest work to willing hands,
    And food to hungry men;
And hearken—all that have an ear—
    To this unhappy cry,—
"Are poor folks' only chances here
    To beg, or thieve, or die?"


II.


With kindly guerdon this green earth
    Rewards the tiller's care,
And to the wakening hand gives forth
    The bounty slumbering there;
But there's another, nobler field
    Big with immortal gain,—
The morasses of mind untilled;—
    Go,—cultivate your men!


III.


Oh, ponder well, ye pompous men,
    With Mammon-blinded eyes,
What means the poverty and pain
    That moaning round you lies:
Go, plough the wastes of human mind
    Where weedy ignorance grows,—
The baleful deserts of mankind
    Would blossom like the rose.


IV.


But penny-wise, pound-foolish thrift
    Deludes this venal age;
Blind selt's the all-engrossing drift,
    And pelf, the sovereign rage.
E'en in the Church the lamp grows dim,
    That ought to light to heaven,
And that which fed its holy flame,
    To low ambition's given.


V.


Just retribution hovers near
    This play of pride and tears;
To heaven all worldly cant is clear,
    Whatever cloak it wears;
And high and low are on one path,
    Which leads unto the grave,—
Where false distinctions flit from death,
    And tyrant blends with slave.

 

______________________

 
Old Man's Song.

I.


OH! sweetly the morning of childhood
    Awoke me to careless delight;
And blithe as a bird of the wildwood
    I played in its beautiful light;
The world was a magical treasure
    That filled me with wonder and joy;
And I fluttered from pleasure to pleasure,
    Delighted—I couldn't tell why:
        If I thought of to-morrow,
        I dreamt not of sorrow;
    And I smiled as the day went by.


II.


Gay youth, with its glittering hours,
    Came frolicking on, full of glee,
Where hope's charming sunlighted bowers
    Were thickly in blossom for me;—
My heart was an harp whose emotion
    Awoke to all beautiful things,
And love was the dearest devotion
    That played in its tremulous strings:
        So, I dallied, delighted,
        And carelessly slighted
    Old Time and his rustling wings.


III.


Now, the noontide of life has gone by me,
    The visions of morning have died;
And the world is beginning to try me
    With struggles that chasten my pride;—
As the twilight of time, softly stealing,
    Comes o'er me with shadows of grey,
I feel the sad truth now revealing,—
    It draws to the close of the day;
        And thoughtfully eyeing
        The past, I sit sighing,
    And wondering how long I shall stay.

 

______________________

 
Bide On.

I.


WHEN thy heart 'neath its trouble sinks down,
    And the joys that misled it are gone,—
When the hopes that inspired it are flown,
    And it gropes in thick darkness, alone,—
                Let faith be thy cheer,
                Scorn the whispers of fear,
        Be righteous, and bravely bide on.


II.


When fancy's wild meteor-ray
    Allures thee from duty to roam,
Beware its bewildering way,
    And rest with thy conscience at home;—
                Give ear to its voice;
                Let the stream of thy joys
        From the fountain of purity come.


III.


When, by failure and folly borne down,
    The future looks hopelessly drear;
And each day, as it flies, with a frown,
    Tells how helpless, how abject we are;
                Let nothing dismay
                Thy bold effort to-day;—
        Be patient, and still persevere.


IV.


Be steady, in joy and in sorrow;
    Be truthful, in great and in small;
Fear nothing but sin, and each morrow
    Heaven's blessing upon thee shall fall:
                In thy worst tribulation
                Shun low consolation,
        And trust in the God that sees all.

 

______________________

 
The Moorland Witch.

I.


THERE lives a lass on yonder moor,—
    She wears a gown of green;
She's handsome, young, and sprightly,
    With a pair of roguish een;
She's graceful as the mountain doe
    That snuffs the forest air;
And she brings the smell of the heather-bell
    In the tresses of her hair.


II.


'Twas roaming careless o'er the hills,
    As sunlight left the sky,
That first I met this moorland maiden
    Bringing home her kye:
Her native grace, her lovely face,
    The pride of art outshone;—
I wondered that so sweet a flower
    Should blossom thus alone.


III.


Alas, that ever I should meet
    Those beaming eyes of blue,
That round about my thoughtless heart
    Their strong enchantment threw.
I could not dream that falsehood lurked
    In such an angel smile;
I could not fly the fate that lured
    With such a lovely wile.


IV.


And when she comes into the vale,
    To try her beauty's power,
She'll leave a spell on many a heart
    That fluttered free before.
But, oh, beware her witching smile,—
    'Tis but a fowler's snare;
She's fickle as the mountain wind
    That frolics with her hair!

 

______________________

 
The Church Clock.

I.


OH, thou who dost these pointers see,
    And hear'st the chiming hour,
Say, do I tell the time to thee,
    And tell thee nothing more;—
I bid thee mark life's little day
    By strokes of duty done;—
A clock may stop at any time,
    But time will travel on.


II.


I am a preacher to a few,—
    A servant unto all,
As here I stand tick, ticking,
    Like a death-watch in a wall;
And, it were well that those who see
    These fingers gliding on,
Should think a moment, now and then,
    How fast the moments run.


III.


There's some of you are wealthy,
    And some of you are proud;
And some are poor, and some are sad,
    And waiting for a shroud;—
Be patient yet a while, for see
    This little yard below,—
The man who goes the longest way,
    Has not so far to go.


IV.


A christ'ning; then, a wedding comes;
    And then, a passing bell;
'Tis just the ancient tale that time
    Has always had to tell:
The very clock that marks the hour,
    With ticking wears away;
The gladdest pulse of life contains
    The music of decay.



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