Poems by Isa (1)

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The past poured his lays
    Before a listening throng,
And loud and fervent was the praise
    That hailed each burst of song.
Not then, but after thought,
    When his quick heart was wise,
He knew that the glory he had sought,
    With the breath that wafts it dies;
And he longed to win for his sanest lay
Something that would endure for aye.

The poet poured a lay;
    There was but one to hear.
What doth the gentle maiden say,
    Than all his fame more dear?
"Not for the thoughts that glow,
    Or words that gush like wine,
I love it," and she whispered low—
    "I love it, for it is thine."
"This were enough for me," he said,
"But my lay must live when I am dead."

The poet poured his lays,
    He sang as sing the birds;
Or as the sun sends forth his rays,
    He sent forth living words.
Once, in his steadfast toil,
    He saw a man rejoice,
And stoutlier labour on the while,
    Lifting his rough deep voice.
"Can you tell," said the poet, whose song is this?
The toiler chanted a lay of his.

"No: but, where'er he be,
    I love him for that song:
When heart and hand work wearily,
    It seems to make me strong.
Along my life's dull march,
    Its words like music swell:
I find it when my soul doth parch
    As the thirsty find a well.
I whisper its words in a brother's ear,
Whene'er he hath need of hope and cheer."

'Twas the true poet's aim
    Not to be known, but felt;
He knew 'twas better than all fame
    Men's hearts to move and melt.
To give a deathless soul
    New thought, new hope, new strength,
He had set before him as his goal,
    And the prize was reached at length.
He had won what should endure for aye,
Though perished from earth his life and lay.





WHENCE hath come that ancient saying,
    Simple words and few,
All the truth of life displaying
    In a single view?
From the past a voice far reaching—
Would we better heed its teaching,
    If its source we knew?

What heart throbbed with fellow-feeling,
    Who these words first spoke—
With indignant voice appealing
    'Gainst the heavy yoke
That its victim slowly crusheth,
Slow but sure as life-blood gusheth
    At the murderer's stroke?

All things, one great law obeying,
    Life do get and give,
Each receiving and conveying,
    Thus "live and let live;"
Up to the Almighty Giver,
Who His hand withholdeth never,
    From whom all receive.

Nought hath for itself existed
    Since the world began;
Nought hath the great law resisted,
    Save the soul of man.
From the sun its light bestowing,
To the meanest thing upgrowing,
    Trace the wondrous plan.

When the cloud with water filleth,
    Floating o'er the main,
On the dry land it distilleth
    The refreshing rain;
And the thirsty earth receiveth,
And to all its verdure giveth
    Fresher life again.

But upon the rocks descending
    Vainly fall the dews;
All heaven's influences blending,
    Hearts of rock refuse;
Vainly, too, the sand is drinking,
Where the living well-spring sinking,
    Doth its waters lose.

Such is he who of life's graces
    Takes, yet nought imparts—
Earth hath few such barren places
    As such human hearts;
To the rock some wildling clingeth,
In the waste some floweret springeth,
    Where the well-spring starts.

Heaven with every wind is sowing—
    Let not such despair;
Everything that lives is growing;
    Heaven itself doth care
That the feeblest things be nourished;
Verdure where the wildling flourished,
    Crowns the rock once bare.

Where the spreading woods are waving
    Fell a single seed;
All the parching desert braving,
    Grew a single weed,
Where the sun the harvest gildeth,
And the date-palm clusters yieldeth,
    To man's joy and need.

Live! remembering that thou livest
    Not alone by bread!
Give! for in whate'er thou givest,
    Thy life forth is shed!
When the flower no leaf unfoldeth,
When the tree its fruit withholdeth,
    We pronounce it dead.

Have no light, no joy, no blessing,
    Which thou dost not share!
Bind no burden so oppressing,
    That thou couldst not bear!
Earth gives back her harvest smiling—
Should the brow that sweats with toiling,
    Want and sorrow wear?

Have you given to those who win ye
    All your wealth and pride,
What their waste of nerve and sinew,
    For your use supplied;
For the life spent daily dying,
For the souls within them crying,
    Owe you nought beside?

Say not, brother, poor and lowly,
    "This is not for me"—
To live with purpose true and holy,
    Never loss can be;
So this text and teaching humble
Shall not cause thy foot to stumble,
    Speaking thus to thee:—

Life hath things of which the sharing
    Doth increase the store,
Least hath he who sows most sparing,
    When the harvest's o'er:
Give a cup of water only,
To thy neighbour sick and lonely,
    If thou hast no more.





IT was a Christian Sabbath eve,
    And few were passing by
The dull and ancient little street,
    With its quiet churchyard nigh;
On a door-step an aged man
    Had sat down wearily.

When the door opened where he sat,
    He strove hard to arise,
Then looked up with a pleading look
    In his dark shrinking eyes,
As if expecting expecting to be spurned
    For something men despise.

Yes, he expected to be spurned,
    For on his face he knew,
As surely as the brand of Cain,
    Was stamped, A Poor Old Jew;
And so he strove to crawl away,
    Before a curse he drew.

But forth there stepped an ancient sire,
    Whose hairs were silver white;
He went to walk among the tombs
    In the still, solemn light—
Upon his soul as peacefully
    Would fall the grave's calm night.

And looking down with kindly smile,
    He met the shrinking eye,
And asked the stranger wherefore there
    He sat so wearily?
"A poor Jew of Jerusalem,
    I journey home to die."

The good man on his threshold paused
    "I am a Christian true,
And for my blessèd Master's sake,
    I welcome thee, poor Jew;
So turn thee in with me and rest,
    And then thy way pursue."

The Jew rose by his helping hand,
    And o'er the threshold stept,
As with the turning of a tide
    His wreck-strewn heart was swept;
And trembling, like a little child,
    Holding that hand, he wept.

He told how strangely each kind word
    Had sounded in his ear,
How strangely on his withered cheek
    He felt each gushing tear,
And how within his heart was that
    Which warned him death was near.

He said, "I've wandered all the earth,
    For me no home hath smiled,
Jerusalem hath been to me
    Mother, and wife, and child;
Therefore across all Germany
    With weary steps I toiled,

"For such a longing seized my heart
    Jerusalem to see.
O City, crown of all the earth,
    When shalt thou builded be,
And all thy weary wand'ring sons
    Come with their King to thee!

"Oh, would that I had strength these limbs
    In thy dear soil to lay,"—
He said; and from the setting sun
    He turned his face away,
For his beloved Jerusalem
    With hopeless heart to pray.

"Here let thy wanderings be done,"
    The saintly Christian said,
"I have a vacant chair to fill,
    I have a grave new made,
So we can rest together here,
    And there in sleep be laid."

Then answered him the weary man—
    "If all were Christians true,
We soon should build Jerusalem."
    That night the poor old Jew,
On Christian breast, went to his rest,
    Jerusalem the New.





    I AM an old man now,
And time hath bleached and thinned the hair
That once—but ask your mother there,
    What locks once graced my brow.

    When I was young as you—
I love to speak of these old days—
Thanks, every eye among you says,
    We love to listen too.

    I thought this life was hard,
Daily to toil for daily bread;
To live but to be clothed and fed,
    No aim and no reward.

    And much I envied those
Who sway the hearts and minds of men
With eloquence of tongue and pen—
    And held the rich my foes.

    But I have lived to find
That men in whatsoe'er estate
Are ever happy, rich, and great,
    Or mean, as is their mind.

    I saw the proud and high
Had cares as little and as vain,
As much of labour and of pain
    And weariness, as I.

    And found my noblest aim
To serve my God in His own way;
Bearing my burden all the day,
    At night reward to claim.

    All my life's common joys—
And what more sweet in any life—
Were with my home, my books, my wife,
    And you, my strong brave boys.

    These were but cordials given
To cheer me on, up life's steep hill;
For my reward is waiting still
    With Christ the Lord in heaven.

    Our hardest days were done,
And something for the time of need
Laid up—our toil had come God speed
    When came our youngest one.

    We marked a mind of might
Dawning in him; his brow, before
He left his cradle, often wore
    A look of soul-like light.

    And when to years he grew,
I thought on longings of my youth,
And gave him to the work of truth
    That shall the world renew.

    Ere long we saw his name,
Whose presence at our hearth we missed,
Stand first and foremost in the list
    Of the young heirs of fame.

    My boy of wondrous mind,
From mingling with the wise and great,
Came home to us from all their state,
    As ever meek and kind.

    When for his work prepared,
God did His youthful servant call
Up to Himself, and vain were all
    The hopes with him we shared.

    I marvelled he should die;
I ask'd, why was this waste decreed?
Till God me whispered, "I had need
    Of that young priest on high."

    Each serveth in his stead:
God let the agèd worker stand;
He spared for use the humble hand,
    And took the lofty head.

    Sons, ye are bred to toil;
Work on—nor think your labour mean;
Rough hands, but honest hearts and clean,
    Ye work for Him the while.




[Written in 1852, while the fate of Sir John Franklin's expedition was
yet unascertained.]



    O STAR, that from heaven's crown,
Watching the northern pole revolving round,
Within its icy circle bound,
    Lookest with fixed eye down!
        Thou couldst the mystery tell,
Whether eternal lightnings gild the pole,
Or whirling waters round it roll—
        Earth keeps her secret well.

    What hast thou seen of those
Who went that land of mystery to explore
Oh, brave and strong, must ye no more
    Come from that realm of snows!
        Reached they the fatal goal?
And on its dark and unknown waters lost,
Long drifted, by strange tempests test,
        In ships that mocked control.

    In the long Arctic night,
Thou hast beheld them upward to thee gaze,
While shone thy pure and steadfast ray,
    Through clouds of meteor light.
        Over the white expanse
That meteor light flashed wild and fitfully,
Its crystal hills and solid sea
        Revealing for a glance.

    Saw'st thou their first grave made—
A grave in which no other dust shall sleep?
Saw'st thou their best and noblest weep
    O'er him who there was laid?
        Saw'st thou our wanderers grow
Fewer and feebler, failing day by day?
And slept the last beneath thy ray,
        Till wrapt by falling snow?

    Oh, wind of the cold north,
With the fierce sweep of thy snow-feathered wing,
What mournful tidings dost thou bring
    From whence thou earnest forth?
        Hast crossed its, lone wastes vast,
And found all things white shrouded, as in death,
Or with the rage of thy last breath,
        Over our wanderers passed?

    Oft hast thou wafted round
Voices from those of whom we long to hear,
Though all too dimly for the ear
    To catch their faded sound.
        Thou'st heard the sailor tell
How yesternight he had a dream of home,
And say how oft the dream had come,
        And wish all might be well.

    Thou heardst the voice of prayer,
And the loud psalm, making the ice-rocks ring,
While folded calm was thy rude wing,
    And men kept Sabbath there.
        Thou heardst their eager cheers
Hailing the glad return of hope and light,
And when again came back the night,
        The whisperings of their fears.

    But more than voiceless things
The heart can tell of one its life that shares,
And life-bound hearts have followed theirs,
    As with star eyes and wings.
        We know how pure and high
Some souls would grow amid endurance strong,
How some would hope, and some would long,
        And some grow faint and die.

    Wife, when the midnight blast
Seemed wailing sadly, and thou couldst not sleep,
Thy spirit a night-watch did keep
    For him whose soul had passed.
        No longer at thy knee,
Thy boy, a baby when he went away,
Needeth his simple prayer to say,
        "For father at the sea."

    Mother, thy sailor brave,
Thy brown-haired boy, the echo of whose mirth
Seems yet to linger round thy hearth,
    Lies in a far, cold grave.
        Sad was thy home one eve,
'Twas then the death-chill swept his heart, grown weak,
And left the tear upon his cheek,
        While strangely thou didst grieve.

    Ye may return no more,
Brave voyagers, across the stormy sea,
But we are following, where ye e
    Have reached a further shore.
        We shall meet upon that strand.
We all shall reach, whether o'er Arctic snows,
Or from amid our home repose,





    MINE, sweet life, mine!
Thou art a jewel fair for me to keep
    And to make shine—
A mine's rich ore to gather in a heap
    And to refine—
A field to sow and reap.

    And, sweet life, thou
Art like an early morning when the sun
    First lights its brow,
Telling us of a glorious day begun;
    And such is now
Thy beauty, lovely one.

    Mine, sweet love, mine!
My name shall be the first those bright lips
    And pressed to mine
In blushing girlhood oft shall be thy cheek;
    Those arms shall twine
Around me old and weak.

    And thou wilt love—
And they who love must weep—but I will guide
    Thee early, dove,
Into an ark where thou may'st safely hide,
    Until above
Earth's storms thou dost abide.

    Mine, deathless, mine!
Oh that the spirit which hath found in thee
    Its mortal shrine,
And with the light of whose eternity
    Thy blue eyes shine,
New born of God may be!

    And, angel, when
Without this mask of flesh in God's own light
    We meet again,
Shall some mysterious tie our souls unite?
    Oh, shall I then
Have in thee this delight?

    Now, sweet life, now,
I lay thee back into thy mother's breast,
    And kiss thy brow;
There in thy clean white garments sweetly rest,—
    Be ever thou
In soul as whitely dress'd.

    Thou who dost share
This life, this love, this joy, this hope with me,
    Oh, let thy prayer
Of holiest love rise oft and fervently,
    That, even as there
Thus beautiful and blessed resteth she,
    So calm, so fair,
With the Eternal One her spirit's rest may be.






THE feast was prepared, and the friends were
    All friends, there was only one stranger-guest there;
'Mid branches and holly the lights flash'd and trembled;
    And all there were happy, and many were fair.

The children stole forth, while the feast they were
    Then softly returning, a fair minstrel band
At the door of the chamber with sweet voices singing,
    A carol for Christmas, they stood hand in hand:—

"Ye who with gladness your Christmas are keeping,
    Think of the woes which the wretched endure;
Many with cold and with hunger are weeping—
    Christians to-day should remember the poor.

"With them in the world cold and hunger and
    To-day came the Saviour for you to endure—
With them to-day Christ his Christmas is keeping;
    You give unto Him when you give to the poor."

The children then held forth their hands, and with
    Their parents and friends gave them gifts at the door,
The stranger, too, begged he might swell the rich
    And the sweet singers added their own little store.

Then they join'd in the feast, and in song, and in
    Their joy before God came up earnest and pure,
Because for His sake who shall judge us hereafter;
    There was feasting that night in some homes of
            the poor.





WHAT a glad and delightful month is May,
For having a general holiday,
            When the woods with song are ringing;
The trees are so green, and fresh, and bright,
The skies so blue, and the clouds so white,
            On the cool grass shadows flinging.

I'm glad when a holiday morning comes,
And thousands are leaving their city homes,
            With their smoke, and din, and bustle,
'Mong fields, and gardens, and woods to stray,
Where tiny brooklets murmur away,
            And leaves in the mild winds rustle.

While some, released from their desks and shops,
Have hied to the nearest mountain-tops,
            Lovers of nature and scenery,
Others have chosen some quiet sweet spot,
And, seated all on a grassy plot,
            Are dining out among greenery.

The toiler, that day from his task set free,
With his little family company,
            'Neath the pleasant shade reclineth;
The matron has smoothed her brow of care,
And children gather their treasures where
            The sun on the meadow shineth.

Is it strange that in every heart there springs
Such love for all nature's beautiful things,
            In dulness, and toil, and sadness?
Dwelling within us so deep and strong,
Making the hearts of us exiles long
            For a glimpse of our Eden gladness.

'Tis wearisome dragging life's daily load,
When the heart is dry as a dusty road
            Where care continual treadeth,
While nature poureth her waters clear,
And tuneth her songs, so sweet to hear,
            And her velvet couches spreadeth.

May blossoms are borne in triumph home,
Whose fragrance shall tell for a week to come
            Of a day not idly wasted;
But happy indeed, and holy too,
If the soul hath looked with a wider view,
            Or a deeper joy hath tasted.

For these are its life, and on heart and mind
All gladness and beauty should leave behind
            Some fragrant blossom to cherish;
The gentler word, and the kinder way,
That come on a summer holiday,
            Have a bloom that need not perish.





THEY are not at their play
    Around our lonely hearth,
And in our quiet home all day
    There are no sounds of mirth;
No voices from the lips that came
This hour their evening kiss to claim.

They are not in a dream,
    Those dreams so pure and meek,
That made our love a worship seem
    As o'er each glowing cheek
We bent again with kisses light.
The snow falls on their beds to-night.

They are not—all our three
    Away from us are gone,
Our girls, we thought so fair would be,
    We mourned them; but our son,
Oh, we were stricken, when our pride,
Our fondling, baby William died.

They are not, and our home
    Is sadly desolate;
No bounding feet to meet us come,
    No laugh from merry Kate;
No plaything in our parlour lies;
We hide their playthings from our eyes.

They are not, and our hearts
    Have nought their room to fill,
Save that their image ne'er departs,
    And that we love them still,
And that we know, however far
From sight like ours, they ARE, they ARE.

They are where angels be,
    In some star-bright abode,
They are where the pure-hearted see
    The blessèd face of God;
And by those cords of grief and love
They draw our earthly hearts above.





Is our Helen very fair?
    If you only knew her
You would doubt it not, howe'er
    Stranger eyes may view her.
We who see her day by day
    Through our household moving,
Whether she be fair or nay
    Cannot see for loving.

O'er our gentle Helen's face
    No rich hues are brightening,
And no smiles of feigned grace
    From her lips are lightening;
She hath quiet smiling eyes,
    Fair hair simply braided,
All as mild as evening skies
    Ere sunlight hath faded.

Our kind thoughtful Helen loves
    Our approving praises,
But her eye that never roves
    Shrinks from other gazes.
She, so late within her home
    But a child caressing,
Now a woman hath become,
    Ministering, blessing.

All her duty, all her bliss,
    In her home she findeth,
Nor too narrow deemeth this—
    Lowly things she mindeth;
Yet when deeper cares distress
    She is our adviser;
Reason's rules she needeth less,
    For her heart is wiser.

For the sorrows of the poor
    Her kind spirit bleedeth,
And because so good and pure,
    For the erring pleadeth.
Is our Helen very fair?
    If you only knew her
You would doubt it not, howe'er
    Stranger eyes may view her.





GARDENS, fair spots of earth,
    Carefully cherished and tended,
Loved as his place of birth
    By Man the Eden-descended!
Fairest garden of all,
    Home's sanctuary surrounding,
And with enclosing wall
    Its blessings jealously bounding!

Here every flower and tree
    Like friend familiar seemeth;
Amid the Christmas glee,
    The old holly's bright fruit gleameth;
There, in that dark nook, grow
    Primroses, earliest flowering;
Midsummer roses blow
    On the wall, their leaves down showering.

Here may be often seen
    A flutter of garments airy,
Glancing through branches green,
    Away like some startled fairy.
Then down the shady walks,
    Come voices, in music blending;
Flowers on their slender stalks,
    To the merry dance are bending.

Here the table is spread,
    And around they take their places;
Bowed is the reverend head,
    The children cover their faces;
The slight repast is made,
    And thanks to the Giver given—
Under the laurel shade,
    And the crystal roof of heaven.

Gardens, the summer bird
    From your bowers will soon be flying,
And snows by foot unstirred
    On your silent walks be lying.
Ye will be desolate.
    By flower and by song forsaken—
But the glad time ye wait,
    When both shall re-awaken.

Safe in the dark below,
    The precious seeds are in keeping,
And in their grave of snow
    The flowers are not dead, but sleeping.
Thus to our hearts ye bring
    The hope of the resurrection,
When from the dust shall spring
    Our buried flowers of affection.





WE have all met again;
    Dear ones, I've come,
After long wandering,
    To rest at home.
Mother, thine eye is dim,
    And thy cheek wet—
That we shall ever part,
    This night forget.

Oft when at household hearths
    Stranger I've been,
Mem'ry and hope would trace
    This happy scene.
I've dreamt a dream, and then
    Dreamt it unreal;
Father, thy hand again
    Thus now I feel.

Young brother, sister dear,
    Sit by me now,
Time hath passed lightly here,
    O'er each bright brow.
Dost thou remember me,
    Little one, eh?
Thou didst weep, when we said,
    Sadly, "Away."

No need to tell me this;
    All that I see,
"Thou hast ne'er been forgot,"
    Whispers to me.
Old things their places fill;
    There, on the wall,
Hangs my old school-bag yet,
    School-books and all.

This used to be my seat—
    Strangely I'll feel;
When at this chair to-night,
    With you I kneel.
And our old bed to-night,
    Brother, we'll share;
Have you forgot the tales
    Which we told there?

Let us not close our hearts
    In their full bliss,
But in our prayer to-night
    Let us breathe this—
Where'er a wand'rer longs
    No more to roam,
May such a meeting soon
    Wait him at home.





Is not yonder city fair?
    Look, my gentle sister,
How the setting sunbeams there
    On its windows glister;
Glowing like a jewelled bride,
When the lover at her side,
    Wedded, first hath kissed her.

Higher creep the shadows still,
    As the day declineth,
Though on spire, and height, and hill,
    Yet the glory shineth;
This grave-city lieth low,
As a widow in her woe,
    Clad in dark weeds, pineth.

As from spire and window now,
    Light by light is leaving,
Here men lay their cherished low,
    In the darkness grieving;
Yet from faith's unshadowed light,
Even in the deepest night
    Better light receiving.

Ah! you say, how many a tear
    Hath bedewed this garden—
Were it not for sorrows here,
    How our hearts would harden!
But in woe and death they long,
For all sin, and strife, and wrong,
    To find peace and pardon.

From the living, unto whom
    Each dark house belongeth,
To its silence and its gloom
    Still another throngeth;
But amid this city crowd,
None are selfish, none are proud—
    None the other wrongeth.

And this city hath its homes,
    Home we call it, whither
At nightfall a household comes,
    To repose together.
Thus we've gathered one by one,
Till we two are left alone,
    All our loved ones hither.

We shall sleep at length, and here,
    When we all awaken,
We shall—not in doubt and fear—
    None alone, forsaken—
Rise and from us darkness thrust,
Clasp each other ere the dust
    From our feet be shaken.

Close together we shall stand,
    In these walks all crowded,
Father—mother, hand in hand,
    With young brows unclouded;
And our little brother fair,
As the rose-bud we placed there,
    When his face we shrouded.

Round us falls an influence meek,
    While we, home repairing,
Growing too subdued to speak,
    Solemn thoughts are sharing,
Of the dwelling-place where we
Must abide eternally,
    And are now preparing.

Ah! thus onward shall we go,
    Homeward, heavenward gazing,
Though we walk earth's grave-place low,
    Our souls upward raising;
In that city shall we build
Holy temples, to be filled
    Evermore with praising.





IN that home was joy and sorrow
    Where an infant first drew breath,
While an agèd sire was drawing
    Near unto the gate of death.
His feeble pulse was failing,
    And his eye was growing dim;
He was standing on the threshold
    When they brought the babe to him.

While to murmur forth a blessing
    On the little one he tried,
In his trembling arms he raised it,
    Pressed it to his lips, and died.
An awful darkness resteth
    On the path they both begin,
Who thus met upon the threshold,
    Going out and coming in.

Going out unto the triumph,
    Coming in unto the fight—
Coming in unto the darkness,
    Going out unto the light,
Although the shadow deepened
    In the moment of eclipse,
When he passed through the dread portal,
    With the blessing on his lips.

And to him who bravely conquers
    As he conquered in the strife,
Life is but the way of dying—
    Death is but the gate of life;
Yet awful darkness resteth
    On the path we all begin,
Where we meet upon the threshold,
    Going out and coming in.





DARK clouds had gathered in the west,
And hung upon the ocean's breast,
        While cold, and clear, and still
Was all the spreading heaven beside;
Beneath it, stretching far and wide,
The waters of the swelling tide
        Were glittering, calm and chill.

But when into its bosom dun
The west received the sinking sun,
        All glorious it became;
The dark mass, crowned with living rays,
Seemed, as it changed beneath my gaze,
A mountain with its peak a-blaze—
        A ruin traced in flame.

When, like a curtain's parted fold,
Again the cloud asunder rolled,
        As from an opening tent,
The glorious orb looked forth once more,
Like faith the dark gulf bridging o'er,
A path of brightness to the shore
        Across the waves it sent.

I fancied it the pathway given
To those about to pass to heaven:
        I seemed to see them tread
That dazzling way across the sea,
A shadowy white-robed company,
Each with a palm of victory
        And ray-encircled head.

The waves their dancing motion made,
Like quivering flames their ripples played,
        As o'er that track they rolled.
And when a boat made for the shore,
The stream of radiance passing o'er,
Amid its waters dipt, the oar
        Rose dripping molten gold.

Then faint and fainter grew the ray,
Narrow and narrower the way
        Along the ocean cast.
I saw the last flash, leaping higher,
Before my swimming eyes expire—
The waters seemed to quench the fire—
        The spirit vision passed.

But though no longer gleamed the oar,
The little craft plied to the shore,
        Straight as the track had glowed.
And then methought that line of light
Had imaged forth the path of right,
Oft to be trodden in the night,
        When heaven hath marked the road.





I WILL sing a song of summer,
    Of bright summer as it dwells
Amid leaves and flowers and sunshine,
    In lone haunts and grassy dells.
Lo! the hill-encircled valley
    Is like an emerald cup,
To its inmost depths all glowing,
    With sunlight brimming up.
Here I'd dream away the daytime,
    And let happy thoughts have birth,
And forget there's aught but glory,
    Aught but beauty on the earth.

Not a speck of cloud is floating
    In the deep blue overhead,
'Neath the trees the daisied verdure
    Like a broidered couch is spread.
The rustling leaves are dancing,
    With the light wind's music stirred,
And in gushes through the stillness
    Comes the song of woodland bird.
Here I'd dream away the daytime,
    And let gentlest thoughts have birth,
And forget there's aught but gladness,
    Aught but peace upon the earth.





FRANCES! fairy little Frances!
    Hadst thou lived in times gone by,
Knights ere long had broken lances,
For the witching, winning glances
    Of thy heaven-blue eye.

Frances! lovely little Frances!
    With that radiant brow of thine,
And those curls of nature's ringing,
Round thy fair neck closely clinging,
    With a golden shine.

Frances! thoughtful little Frances!
    With thy words so strangely wise,
And thy features ever playing,
And the soul-light changeful raying
    From thy clear child-eyes.

Frances! lovely little Frances!
    Unto fond hearts thou art prest,
With thy tiny arms caressing,
And thy rosy lips confessing
    Whom thou lovest best.

Frances! happy little Frances!
    Guileless heart, thy merry voice
Like a silver bell is ringing,
Or like lark at morning singing
    Up the sky, "Rejoice!"

Frances! fair, fond, happy Frances,
    Such then may'st not ever be;
Shadows grow as life advances,
Through its changes and its chances,
    Wise, yet guileless, God keep thee!





'Twas noon, we sat upon a grassy bank
Where green boughs overshadowed us; and where
We heard the sound of waters rushing near,
Although the stream we saw not.   It lay hid
Far in the bottom of the dell, 'mong trees
That to the summit clothed the further bank
With ample folds of many-shaded green,
From the pale willow, bending o'er its brink,
To the dark pine cresting the ridge's brow.
As we sat silent, listening, one said,
" 'Tis strange to think how, ages since, that stream
Was flowing there, with the same sound as now,
While those who heard it then have passed away."
It seemed a mournful thought—and yet not so.
From you old castle's battlements the view
Was fair as now, the summer sun as bright,
The earth as green, when thence o'er Roslin looked
Its ancient Earls.   The fairy rivulet danced
To its own music; and the wild rose blushed
Upon its banks as now, on such a noon,
When some proud Baron's daughter sought the shade
Of woods beside the water.   More than this,
They looked on these with the same hearts and eyes
As we do.   Nature and the human heart,
'Mid changing forms of life, are still the same;
Even as this fair scene delighted then,
It now delights, and shall delight for aye.
We taste those cool clear waters—so did they
Who went before, and they that follow us
Will drink them too; 'tis thus earth's bounteous Lord,
Ceaseless, as these gush o'er their pebbly bed,
Fresh streams of gladness and of bliss pours down
Life's old worn channels, filling to the brim
The fountains of enjoyment.





OH, come and gather gold where it lies
In glittering dust, beneath sunbright skies;
We'll heap together the precious ore,
Then homeward hie with an ample store—
The old folks will sit in their easy chair,
And the leal and the loved in our riches share.

No, there is truth in the tale that told
How dearly bought was the fiend's fire gold:
It lights a fire in the heart and brain,
Of lust that thou may'st not quench again,
And less, like the choked well, the heart will hold,
Of love or joy, as it fills with gold.

Thou goest to toil 'neath a burning sun,
Where life may waste ere thy task be done;
I'll stay, and gather gold where it lies,
Ripening beneath my own mild skies,
Where falls 'neath the sickle the golden grain,
And studded with sheaves is the smiling plain.

I'll gather gold at my own home hearth—
Love, and kindness, and peace, and mirth;
I'll gather, too, now in life's heyday,
Treasures which time shall not steal away,
Where the master spirits of every age
Pour their golden truths on the precious page;
The wise and the happy full rich must be,
The truest good, is the gold for me!




[The "Faid Rabane" (Divine Favour) was a small steam-vessel, constructed by Messrs Tod and Macgregor of Glasgow, for his Highness Abbas Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt, and fitted up in a style that rivals all that was  ever fabled of Eastern magnificence.  Its decorations were wholly the products of British art and manufacture.]


THOU sitt'st upon thy native Clyde,
A thing of beauty, power, and pride,
At which a gazer's heart might thrill;
Yet more than for that graceful mould,
Those forms of art, that blaze of gold,
Thou triumph of a nation's skill,
Mine would exult, because thou art
Like something with a living heart,
And living purpose to fulfil—
Because, through all thy wondrous frame,
Moving as guided by its aim,
Thou own'st the might of human will,
As the divided waters now
Rush swiftly 'neath thy gilded prow.
Go forth unto thy destined place!
And while thy path I seem to trace,
My thoughts go back through ages dim;
The waters of Old Nile glide past,
Where thy white foam-flakes, surging fast;
Float to its lotus-fringèd brim.
There in her barge that radiant Queen
Who thralled the hero's heart was seen
Sweep by amid her virgin train;
And there, amid yon rushes dark,
Was laid the little cradle-ark,
Of him who broke the bondsmen's chain.

Go forth to Egypt's marvel land,
Where still those giant structures stand,
Like mountain masses piled on high—
Alas! ere half the task was done,
O'erburdened 'neath the flaming sun
Ten thousand weary slaves would die.
And thou and they are both sublime
Types of a people, and a time
Dark, moveless, lifeless; for the dead
Are they—thou, type of onward speed,
And mental light's superior force,
And a world union, which shall spread
Of what we have, and what they need,
To all.   Go, on thy peaceful course,
And bear the blessing of thy name
Unto that land of ancient fame.

* Ed. - Listed as "Faid Rebaney", 600 tons, paddle steamer,
 built 1852.  In 1854, Abbas Pasha I was murdered by
 two of his slaves.





WE were baith neebor bairns, thegither we played,
We loved our first love, an' our hearts never strayed;
When I got my young lassie her first vow to gie,
We promised to wait for each ither a wee.

My mother was widow'd when we should hae wed,
An' the nicht when we stood roun' my father's deathbed,
He charged me a husband and father to be,
While my young orphan sisters clung weepin' to me.

I kent nae, my Mary, what high heart was thine,
Nor how brightly thy love in a dark hour wad shine,
Till, in doubt and in sorrow, ye whispered to me,
"Win the blessing o' Heaven for thy Mary and thee."

An' years hae flown by deeply laden wi' care,
But Mary has helped me their burden to bear,—
She gave me my shield, in misfortune and wrong,
'Twas she that aye bade me be steadfast and strong.

Her meek an' quiet spirit is aye smooth, as now
Her saft shinin' hair meekly shades her white brow,
A few silver threads 'mang its dark fit faulds I see,
They tell me how lang she has waited on me.

Her cheek has grown paler, for she too maun toil;
Her sma' hands are thinner, less mirthfu' her smile;
She aft speaks o' heaven, and if she should dee,
She tells me that there she'll be waitin' on me.





IN you rude lanely sheilin',
Near nae ither house nor hauld,
There dwelt a hillside shepherd,
Wi' the ae lamb o' his fauld.
A grey-haired rugged carle was he,
Wi' broo fu' stern an' bauld,
Wha said his sweet wee Janet
Was the ae lamb o' his fauld.

Oh! blithe an' bonny was the bairn,
A gleesome thing was she,
As wi' her flock she strayed amang
The hills where rises Dee.
Her weel-loe'd mother dee'd when she
Was scarce six simmers auld,
An' left the shepherd lanely
Wi' the ae lamb o' the fauld.

He took her in the simmer where
A bothy he had made,
Whene'er she tired he carried her,
An' wrapped her in his plaid;
An' he sang wild Border ballads,
An' fairy tales he tauld,
While restin' on the hillside
Wi' the ae lamb o' his fauld.

In winter she would trim the fire
When daylight wore awa,
An' in the window set the lamp
To guide him through the snaw;
Then, laid aside his drippin' plaid,
Her arms wad him enfauld,
When he cam back weet an' weary
To the ae lamb o' his fauld.

The mountain blasts are bleak an' chill,
An' she grew thin an' weak;
There cam a wild licht to her ee,
A strange red to her cheek;
And oh! sae fast she faded, till
Ae winter mornin' cauld,
Dead, on her father's bosom,
Lay the ae lamb o' the fauld.

He stood uncovered in the drift.
An' saw the wee grave made,
Nane daured to comfort, when away
He tearless turned, an' said—
"There's nae licht in the sheilin' noo,
My hearth will aye be cauld,
I've nocht on earth to care for
Sin' my ae lamb's i' THE FAULD."





"FAITHER come hame, for I heard heard mother say
That her puir heart wad break if ye stayed lang away;
For she sits in the dark, an' she hasna a licht,
Au' she says our wee brither is deein' the nicht."

Wi' their pale tearfu' faces they looked up in his;
Oh, wha could resist sic a pleading as this?
Though his heart was sair hardened, it wasna to stane,
Sao he's taen their wee handies, an' wi' them has gane—

Like the angels that drew the auld patriarch away,
When in the doomed city he fain wad delay;—
Oh, men, ye wad tarry the fire frae above,
If ye're hands werena drawn by the angels o' love.

Their young hearts were lightened, they sorrow nae mair—
Oh, woe that sic hearts should be heavy wi' care'.—
They tripped at his side, an' kept prattlin' wi' glee,
They didna think noo their wee brither wad dee.

His laddie said, "Faither, when I grow a man,
I'll work for my mother an' you if I can,
If ye aye wad come hame, an' no leave us alane,
And then we would never be hungry again.

"We aft hide for fear when ye come to the door,
An' mother greets sair when ye fa' on the floor;
An' she says we'd be happy if ye wad come hame."
It was dark, but I ken his cheek reddened wi' shame.

Then swift his wee lassie flew up the dark stair,
The tidin's o' joy to her mother to bear,
Wha spak nae her thanks, but wi' hope-lichtit ee
Looked up through the darkness to Him wha can see.

And in that solemn hour, when their bairnie was taen,
Tears fell on her sad face that werena her ain,
And a broken voice whispering, "I've been to blame,"
Frae the bosom she wept on repentantly came.





THE wee blind beggar bairnie sits
    Close to that woman's feet,
An' there he nestles frae the cauld,
    An' shelters frae the heat.
I ken nae if he be her ain,
    But kindly does she speak,
For blessèd God makes woman love
    The helpless an' the weak.

I'm wae to see his wistfu' face,
    As weary day by day
He cowers sae still an' silent there,
    While ither bairnies play.
The sigh that lifts his breastie comes,
    Like sad winds frae the sea,
Wi' sic a dreary sough, as wad
    Bring tears into yer ee.

I'm wae to see his high braid broo,
    Sae thochtfu' an' sae wan;
His look o' care, that were mair fit
    For a warld-weary man.
Oh! the dark emptiness within,
    Thochts that no rest can know,
An' shapeless forms that vex him,
    Wi' their hurrying to an' fro.

An' now she lifts him in her arms,
    His wakin' nicht is past,
An' round his sma' and wasted form
    Her tattered shawl is cast.
His face is buried in her neck,
    An' close to her he clings,
For faith an' love hae filled his heart,
    An' they are blessèd things.

She bears him through the bustlin' crowd,
    But noo he fears nae harm,
He'll sleep within her bosom too,
    To him it's saft and warm.
Oh, her ain weary heart wad close
    In wretchedness an' sin,
But he keeps in't an open door,
    For God to enter in.





BROUGHT to the light once more,
Long in safe keeping
'Mong, this old treasured store
Thou hast lain sleeping.
Who was thy sender?
That doth not matter much—
Many have written such
Eloquence tender.

She whom he loved was fair,
This thou assurest—
Blue eyes and golden hair
Up thou coujurest.
Soul beauty higher,
Say, was it love that shed
That halo round her head,
Love, beautifier?

Say, did her fingers small
Trembling unfold thee?
Did she, unseen by all,
To her lips hold thee?
Or wert thou slighted,
Held as a merry jest?
Nay, set all doubt at rest—
They were united.

No sad mischance there came
These twain to sever,
Where a regretful blame
Each beareth ever.
She was removed,
All happiness and pride,
To her new home, a bride,
Young, fair, belovèd.

Love-letter! dim with age
Is thy fond tracing;
There hath passed o'er thy page
Time's hand effacing.
Time bringeth changes—
Ah! it is sad to know
All this was long ago—
Time love estranges.

Say, did his e'er wax dim,
Like thy page, growing
Fainter? or hers for him
Ever cease glowing?
Ashes left only
On household hearths I've seen,
And hearts where love hath been,
As cold and lonely.

Smiling together, they
Bent o'er the letter—
"Though the gold locks are grey,
I love thee better,"
Whispered the sender;
And his mute answer was
One beaming look, such as
Words cannot render.





I KNOW that I must die;
For weaker every day I'm growing;
The blossoms in our orchard blowing
Fall not so soon as I.

But though the truth I know,
My heart is still in hope denying;
And ye, unto that hope replying,
Say it shall not be so.

Oh! let me pass the woe
That there must be before we sever.
"Yes, thou art dying, love!" now never
Speak more of hope below.

Let me look forth once more.
Can death to Nature charms be lending?
I never saw the sun descending
So gloriously before.

Never seemed earth so fair;
I sink with rapture in beholding.
Yet stay—long as your arms enfolding,
Their burden frail can bear.

Seems it so sad to you,
This fate of mine—this early dying?
Seems it God's goodness all belying?
To me thus seemed it too.

When first it came, the fall
Of sudden night, while we were gazing
On this fair scene in noontide blazing,
Could not so sore appal.

Life had nought dark or dim,
Eager its sparkling draught I waited.
As when the drunkard's soul, unsated,
Hangs on the bright cup's brim.

Then to my hand was given
The cup of death; but round me shining,
And bright'ning still with life's declining,
Rose the pure light of heaven.

I feel it sweet to be
Thus early gathered, never knowing
The chill that falls on all life's glowing—
Its winter ne'er to see.

Remember you last year
Of yonder tree a leaf retaining
Upon the topmost bough, remaining
All desolate and sear?

That seemed like growing old—
I'd rather be the flower that perished
Upon some bosom, fondly cherished,
Than keep life's latest hold.

Changes my face, you say?
It is not death yet, but a feeling
His presence to my soul revealing.
To-night I'll be away.





SNOW, snow, beautiful snow,
Falling so widely on all below:
As heavenly gifts do ever—
Filling each hollow among the hills,
Hiding the track of the frozen rills,
Lost in the rushing river.

Snow, snow, beautiful snow,
Lying so lightly on all below,
Garden and field spread over
White as a spotless winding-sheet;
The flowers are lifeless, and thus 'tis meet
The face of the dead to cover.

Snow, snow, beautiful snow,
Melting so softly from all below,
Into the cold earth sinking:
Soon thy last traces shall disappear,
And spring, with carpet of flowers, be here,
And none of the snow be thinking.

Yet greener the hollows among the hills,
And fuller the flow of the sparkling rills,
Since the snow with moisture fed them.
Thus when our lives shall melt away,
Fresh and bright would their influence stay,
If in holy deeds we shed them.





    NIGHT on the solemn sky—
        But every kindling star,
        That beameth from afar,
    Around heaven's altar high,
Telleth that even in the depths of night
            There liveth light.

    Night on the lonely sea,
        So deep that you might think
        You stood upon the brink
    Of void infinity,
Save that from out its bosom murmurs swell,
            Of life to tell!

    Night on the fields and flowers;
        Nature needs no repose,
        Swiftly each green blade grows
    Through all the silent hours;
While over the thick-dewed and bending grass
            The night-winds pass.

    Each blossom hangs its head,
        Its young buds folded up,
        Yet doth each moistened cup
    A richer odour shed,
And, blowing now in yonder rayless bower,
            Night hath a flower.

    Night on the woods and groves,
        Where scarce a leaf is stirred,
        As sleeps the wearied bird
    Close to the nest he loves;
Yet one sweet warbler, waking all night long,
            Pours forth his song.

    That song—oh, hush! and hark!—
        Hath nought of grief or fear,
        Only the rich notes clear
    Sound solemn in the dark,
Even as as a loved voice and a holy theme
            This hour would seem.

    Night on the haunts of men—
        And the great city's roar
        Ascends to heaven no more,
    Till morning come again.
Its lights are quenched, save in yon chamber high,
            Where death is nigh.

    Rest, weary brother, rest!
        Sleep, sister, woe-begone!
        Mount then thy vision-throne,
    Clasp thou thy phantom blest.
Oh! swift and far the sleepless souls have fled
            In joy and dread.

    Night on the silent graves—
        Mourning the breeze sweeps by,
        And, like a dying sigh,
    Moans where the yew-tree waves.
This is thy kingdom, Night—around, beneath,
            Darkness and death.

    Nay, light hath pierced the gloom,
        And many a radiant star
        Of hope beams, from afar,
    Upon the night-wrapt tomb:
The morn has risen on another sphere
            When night falls here.

    And all those sleepless things—
        The stars that nightly glow,
        The flowers that nightly blow,
    And bird that nightly sings,
Proclaim that love and joy, and life and light,
            Last through the night.

    And night must pass away;
        The darkest hour of all,
        As with a funeral pall,
    Precedes the coming day.
What lies beyond thee, Night of death, declare—
            "There's no night there."




"WRITE a poem on a dewdrop,"
    A friend once said to me;
"Nay, smile not—it is worthy theme
    Of gentle song to be."
To what, then, shall I liken it—
    Unto a diamond clear?
"Oh, no, not to that hard cold thing;
    'Tis likest to a tear."

It lieth on the lily
    Like tear on mourner's cheek;
It droppeth like sweet sympathy
    From violet eyelids meek:
Like tear of holy happiness
    On rose-heart it appears—
Joy must be pure, that, while it lasts,
    Not after, bringeth tears.

But for the dewdrop, leaf and flower
    Ere morn had withered been,
Now shedding fresher fragrance,
    And glowing brighter green;
And tears—ay, even when they fall
    In dark and heavy showers—
Like dews revive and freshen these
    Else withered hearts of ours.





IT grew in no fair garden spot,
    By sister flowers embraced,
No clinging tendrils with its own
    Were fondly interlaced.
It bore no radiant dyes, it gave
    No odours to the gale,
There drooped upon its slender stem
    A single blossom pale.

It was a close and narrow street,
    Where seldom sunlight's smile
Could enter, and a broken jar
    Contained its scanty soil.
Yet even in that scanty soil
    It grew and blossomed still,
A thing of nature's loveliness,
    Amid man's art and ill.

Though thine no name of high renown,
    Though thine no lofty state
Though neither rich nor beautiful,
    Though neither wise nor great,
A gentle heart, an earnest mind;
    These thou mayest seek and own,
For round life's lowliest way the soul's
    True beauty may be thrown.




THREE youthful comrades joyously
    On eve of parting met;
They met to drown in careless glee
    Their friendship's first regret;
But ever and anon the three
    Their purpose would forget.

Leaving their quiet studious ways
    For thronging haunts of men,
Amid the world's perplexing maze,
    To meet they knew not when;
Leaving the joys of bygone days,
    That could not come again.

And though each glorious brow did shine,
    And flashed each ardent eye,
It needed not the sparkling wine
    To make their pulses fly—
They could not that bright past resign,
    Nor heave a single sigh.

One who, amid his comrades young,
    Wore beauty's dazzling crown,
Whose cordial laugh had highest rung,
    That rising sigh to drown,
Back from his radiant forehead flung
    His clustering locks of brown.

"We have lived twenty years," said he,
    Of the threescore and ten;
I wonder where we all shill be
    In twenty years again.
What say you?—let us all agree
    To meet together then.

"On this night twenty years to come,
    Whate'er our lot hath been,
And wheresoe'er we've made our home,
    Though seas should intervene—
To tell, since we began to roam,
    What pleasures we have seen."

Then answered one, "I like it well,
    That when those years have run,
If 'mong the living still we dwell,
    Where'er beneath the sun,
We three should meet again, to tell
    What honours we have won."

Then spoke the last with earnest mien—
    "We'll meet, to tell each one,
Not of what pleasures we have seen,
    What honours we have won,
But, as our place and power hath been,
    What good deeds we have done."

The twenty years had passed away
    As twenty years will do,
Bringing sad changes every day,
    Some many and some few:
They who were young waxed old and grey,
    And babes to manhood grew.

They met to make their promise good,
    Their youthful haunts among;
They met not in a careless mood,
    But with emotion strong,
For in each eye the moisture stood,
    Each hand its grasp held long.

One told of luxury and pride,
    Of beauty's syren power,
And, caring not the truth to hide,
    Of revel's midnight hour,
Where to the earth, ere life's noontide,
    Its blossoms barren shower.

Ah! not as when they saw it last
    That noble face remained,
The spirit light away had passed,
    The soul was deeply stained—
From him he trust in men had cast,
    Nor faith in Heaven retained.

The next was he who Fame had sought—
    She wreathed his locks of jet,
And turned them grey, his brow of thought
    With furrowed lines she set,
While his soul cried, 'Tis nought, 'tis nought,
    I'm void and empty yet.

He told of all his gathered spoil
    From minds of ancient days,
Of hours spent in consuming toil
    By the lamp's midnight blaze,
And then of envy's scornful smile,
    And folly's worthless praise.

The other in a village mean
    Had taught the truth divine
To simple minds, by men unseen
    Had lived a life benign—
And earnest love, and peace serene,
    From his blue eyes did shine.

He said, "Oh, brothers! life's great plan
    Is mingled good and ill,
To do whate'er of good we can,
    Our highest good is still;
I hold to bless my fellow man
    Life's purpose to fulfil.

"When twenty years have passed, oh! shall
    We meet again all three?"
Yes, for his grave, if one should fall,
    Our meeting-place shall be."
And said the last, "If we should all,
    Then meet with God must we."

The twenty years they passed away
    As twenty years will do,
Bringing sad changes every day,
    Some many and some few:
They who were old had passed away,
    And young men old men grew.

And how hath fared those comrades three?
    The grave hath long held one;
To where the meeting-place should be
    An old man came alone,
Though long and sadly waited he,
    To meet him there was none.

He asked a sexton old and grey
    Where such an one was laid;
He calmly flung the earth away,
    And, resting on his spade,
'I'm digging graves here every day,
    I cannot tell," he said.

As one who gropes in midnight gloom
    For lamp extinguishèd,
Oh, Fame!   I cannot find the tomb
    Where thou hast laid thy dead,"
He answering mused; then asked, "For whom
    Make you that narrow bed?"

"Like pilgrim to our town he came,
    And on the public way
They found him dead, and none to claim,
    And nought a grave to pay,
Though there were some who knew his name
    When he was rich as they."

The stranger heard that name, his eye
    With blinding tears did swell;
"In pauper grave he shall not lie,
    Old man—I knew him well;
Find thou that other tomb, for nigh
    We three in death must dwell."

Each for the prize we sought to own
    We life's short race have run,
Past are the pleasures we have known,
    Vain are the honours won,
And there remain to us alone
    The good deeds we have done.


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