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And by long strides are left behind
TO H. W. L.,
ON HIS BIRTHDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 1867.
Where limpid verse to limpid verse succeeds Smooth as our Charles, when, fearing lest he
wrong The new moon's mirrored skiff, he slides along,
Full without noise, and whispers in his reeds.
With loving breath of all the winds his name
Is blown about the world, but to his friends A sweeter secret hides behind his fame, And Love steals shyly through the loud acclaim To murmur a God bless you! and there ends.
As I muse backward up the checkered years
Wherein so much was given, so much was lost, Blessings in both kinds, such as cheapen tears, But hush! this is not for profaner ears;
Let them drink molten pearls nor dream the
Some suck up poison from a sorrow's core,
As naught but nightshade grew upon earth's ground;
Love turned all his to heart's-ease, and the more Fate tried his bastions, she but forced a door, Leading to sweeter manhood and more sound.
Even as a wind-waved fountain's swaying shade Seems of mixed race, a gray wraith shot with
So through his trial faith translucent rayed
A heart of sunshine that would fain o'errun.
Surely if skill in song the shears may stay
And of its purpose cheat the charmed abyss, If our poor life be lengthened by a lay, He shall not go, although his presence may,
And the next age in praise shall double this.
Long days be his, and each as lusty-sweet
As gracious natures find his song to be; May Age steal on with softly-cadenced feet Falling in music, as for him were meet
Whose choicest verse is harsher-toned than he! JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
VERSES BY HENRY MARTEN,
[Confined in prison by Charles II., where he died in 1681, after thirty years' imprisonment. The initial letters of the lines form an acrostic.]
HERE or elsewhere (all's one to you to me !) Earth, air, or water gripes my ghostless dust, None knowing when brave fire shall set it free. Reader, if you an oft-tried rule will trust, You'll gladly do and suffer what you must.
My life was worn with serving you and you,
INSCRIPTION FOR MARTEN'S PRISON
[The immolation of this republican judge was celebrated in the following lines by the youthful Southey during his short experience as a democratic regenerator. In their original publication they were called: "Inscription for the Apartment in Cheapstone Castle where Henry Marten the Regicide was imprisoned thirty Years." After Southey became Poet Laureate he endeavored to suppress the poem, but unsuccessfully.]
FOR thirty years secluded from mankind,
Did nature's fair varieties exist :
INSCRIPTION FOR BROWNRIGG'S CELL.
(Canning, who was retained by the other side, parodied Southey's honest lines in the "Anti-Jacobin," November 20, 1797, by the fol. lowing verses, entitled : “ Inscription for the Door of the Cell in Nougate where Mrs. Brownrigg the 'Prentice-cide was confined previous to her Execution.")
For one long term, or ere her trial came,
shall come When France shall reign, and laws be all repealed.
And streams their diamond mirrors hold
To summer's face returning,
Shall nevermore be lighter,
Stream, bower, and beam grew brighter ! But all the more intensely true
His soul gave out each feature Of elemental love, — each hue
And grace of golden nature, The deeper still beneath it all
Lurked the keen jags of anguish; The more the laurels clasped his brow
Their poison made it languish.
Of his own mournful singing,
While most the thorn was stinging.
Did fount bring freshness deeper Than that his placid rest this morn
Has brought the shrouded sleeper.
Where charnels choke the city,
The wren shall wake its ditty ;
Is dear to hearts regretting, Around that spot admiring thought
Shall hover, unforgetting.
ON RECEIVING A SPRIG OF HEATHER IN BLOSSOM.
WHENCE could arise the mighty critic spleen,
No more these simple flowers belong
To Scottish maid and lover; Sown in the common soil of song,
They bloom the wide world over.
The minstrel and the heather,
He sang of live together.
The moorlan flower and peasant ! How, at their mention, memory turns
Her pages old and pleasant ! The gray sky wears again its gold
And purple of adorning, And manhood's noonday shadows hold
The dews of boyhood's morning. The dews that washed the dust and soil
From off the wings of pleasure,
TO THE MEMORY OF THOMAS HOOD.
Take back into thy bosom, earth,
This joyous, May-eyed morrow, The gentlest child that ever mirth
Gave to be reared by sorrow ! 'T is hard while rays half green, half gold,
Through vernal bowers are burning,
It died upon the eye and ear,
No inward answer gaining; No heart had I to see or hear
The discord and the staining.
Let those who never erred forget
His worth, in vain be wailings ; Sweet Soul of Song !- I own my debt
Uncancelled by his failings !
Lament who will the ribald line
Which tells his lapse from duty, How kissed the maddening lips of wine,
Or wanton ones of beauty ; But think, while falls that shade between
The erring one and Heaven, That he who loved like Magdalen,
Like her may be forgiven.
I watched him while in sportive mood
I read “ The Twa Dogs'" story, And half believed he understood
The poet's allegory.
Grew brighter for that singing,
A dearer welcome bringing.
New glory over Woman ;
No longer poor and common.
Of fact and feeling better
A still repining debtor :
The themes of sweet discoursing;
In every tongue rehearsing.
Of loving knight and lady,
Were wandering there already?
The romance underlying ;
Of Fancy skyward flying.
The same sweet fall of even,
And sank on crystal Devon.
A POET'S EPITAPH.
What bird in beauty, flight, or song
Can with the bard compare, Who sang as sweet, and soared as strong
As ever child of air ?
His plume, his note, his form, could Burns
For whim or pleasure change ; He was not one, but all by turns,
With transmigration strange :
The blackbird, oracle of spring,
When flowed his moral lay ; The swallow, wheeling on the wing,
Capriciously at play;
STOP, mortal! Here thy brother lies,
The poet of the poor.
The meadow and the moor;
The tyrant, and the slave,
The palace, and the grave ! Sin met thy brother everywhere !
And is thy brother blamed ?
He no exemption claimed.
He feared to scorn or hate ;
The equal of the great, He blessed the steward, whose wealth makes
The poor man's little more ; Yet loathed the haughty wretch that takes
From plundered labor's store.
A heart to feel and dare,
Who drew them as they are.
The humming bird from bloom to bloom
Inhaling heavenly balm ;
The halcyon, in the calm ;
In “auld Kirk Alloway," the owl,
At witching time of night ; By “Bonny Doon,” the earliest fowl
That carolled to the light.
He was the wren amidst the grove,
When in his homely vein ; At Bannockburn the bird of Jove,
With thunder in his train ;
The wood-lark, in his mournful hours ;
The goldfinch, in his mirth ; The thrush, a spendthrift of his powers,
Enrapturing heaven and earth;
The swan, in majesty and grace,
Contemplative and still ; But, roused, - no falcon in the chase
Could like his satire kill.
REAR high thy bleak majestic hills,
Thy sheltered valleys proudly spread, And, Scotia, pour thy thousand rills,
And wave thy heaths with blossoms red ; But, ah ! what poet now shall tread
Thy airy heights, thy woodland reign, Since he, the sweetest bard, is dead,
That ever breathed the soothing strain ? As green thy towering pines may grow,
As clear thy streams may speed along, As bright thy summer suns may glow,
As gayly charm thy feathery throng; But now unheeded is the song,
And dull and lifeless all around, For his wild harp lies all unstrung,
And cold the hand that waked its sound.
The linnet in simplicity,
In tenderness the dove ; But more than all beside was he
The nightingale in love.
0, had he never stooped to shame,
Nor lent a charm to vice, How had devotion loved to name
That bird of paradise !
What though thy vigorous offspring rise,
In arts, in arms, thy sons excel ; Though beauty in thy daughters' eyes,
And health in every feature dwell ; Yet who shall now their praises tell
In strains impassioned, fond, and free, Since he no more the song shall swell
To love and liberty and thee !
Peace to the dead !- In Scotia's choir
Of minstrels great and small,
That heaven's beloved die early,
Prophetic Pity mourns ;
Died giant-hearted Burns.
That sank beneath his plough! Or, “neighbor meet," that “skylark sweet !”
Say, are they nothing now? That mouse,
our fellow mortal," Lives deep in Nature's heart ; Like earth and sky, it cannot die
Till earth and sky depart.
Is many minds in one ;
Of glory's peasant son.
And might have been thy Tell ;
And would have fought as well.
Of earth's unpolished gem ; And “Bonny Doon,” and “heaven aboon,"
For Burns hath hallowed them. Be proud, though sin-dishonored
And grief-baptized thy child ; As rivers run, in shade and sun,
He ran his courses wild.
Strong sense, deep feeling, passions strong,
A hate of tyrant and of knave,
Of coward and of slave;
That could not fear and would not bow, Were written in his manly eye
And on his manly brow. Praise to the bard ! his words are driven,
Like flower-seeds by the far winds sowni, Where'er beneath the sky of heaven
The birds of fame have flown.
Grieve not though savage forests
Looked grimly on the wave, Where dim-eyed flowers and shaded bowers
Seemed living in the grave.
Its headlong course was riven,
Niagara from heaven !
Praise to the man! a nation stood
Beside his coffin with wet eyes,
As when a loved one dies.
Men stand his cold earth-couch around,
To consecrated ground.
The last, the hallowed home of one
For sometimes gently flowing,
And sometimes chafed to foam, O'er slack and deep, by wood and steep,
He sought his heavenly home.
BYRON. FROM "THE COURSE OF TIML" Take one example to our purpose quite. A man of rank, and of capacious soul, Who riches had, and fame, beyond desire, An heir of flattery, to titles born, And reputation, and luxurious life : Yet, not content with ancestorial name, Or to be known because his fathers were, He on this height hereditary stood, And, gazing higher, purposed in his heart
His is that language of the heart
In which the answering heart would speak, Thought, word, that bids the warm tear start,
Or the smile light the cheek ;