poem – the record

HE sleeps, his head upon his sword,
His soldier’s cloak a shroud;
His church-yard is the open field,–
Three times it has been plough’d:

The first time that the wheat sprung up
‘Twas black as if with blood,
The meanest beggar turn’d away
From the unholy food.

The third year, and the grain grew fair,
As it was wont to wave;
None would have thought that golden corn
Was growing on the grave.

His lot was but a peasant’s lot,
His name a peasant’s name,
Not his the place of death that turns
Into a place of fame.

He fell as other thousands do,
Trampled down where they fall,
While on a single name is heap’d
The glory gain’d by all.

Yet even he whose common grave
Lies in the open fields,
Died not without a thought of all
The joy that glory yields.

That small white church in his own land,
The lime trees almost hide,
Bears on the walls the names of those
Who for their country died.

His name is written on those walls,
His mother read it there,
With pride,–oh! no, there could not be
Pride in the widow’s prayer.

And many a stranger who shall mark
That peasant roll of fame,
Will think on prouder ones, yet say
This was a hero’s name.

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poem – the power of words

Tis a strange mystery, the power of words!
Life is in them, and death. A word can send
The crimson colour hurrying to the cheek.
Hurrying with many meanings; or can turn
The current cold and deadly to the heart.
Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy
Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:–
A word is but a breath of passing air.

poem – the pilgrim

Vain folly of another age,
This wandering over earth,
To find the peace by some dark sin
Banish’d our household hearth.

On Lebanon the dark green pines
Wave over sacred ground,
And Carmel’s consecrated rose
Springs from a hallow’d mound.

Glorious the truth they testify,
And blessed is their name;
But even in such a sacred spot,
Are sin and woe the same.

O pilgrim! with each toilsome step,
Vain every weary day;
There is no charm in soil or shrine,
To wash thy guilt away.

Return, with prayer and tear, return
To those who weep at home;
To dry their tears will more avail,
Than o’er a world to roam.

There’s hope for one who leaves with shame,
The guilt that lured before;
Remember, He who said, ‘Repent,’
Said also, ‘Sin no more.’

Return, and in thy daily round
Of duty and of love,
Thou best wilt find that patient faith
Which lifts the soul above.

In ev’ry innocent prayer, each child
Lisps at his father’s knee: –
If thine has been to teach that prayer,
There will be hope for thee.

There is a small white church, that stands
Beside thy father’s grave,
There kneel and pour those earnest prayers,
That sanctify and save.

Around thee draw thine own home-ties,
And, with a chasten’d mind,
In meek well-doing seek that peace,
No wandering will find.

In charity and penitence,
Thy sin will be forgiven: –
Pilgrim, the heart is the true shrine,
Whence prayers ascend to Heaven.

poem – the poor

Few, save the poor, feel for the poor:
The rich know not how hard
It is to be of needful food
And needful rest debarred.

Their paths are paths of plenteousness,
They sleep on silk and down;
And never think how heavily
The weary head lies down.

They know not of the scanty meal,
With small pale faces round;
No fire upon the cold, damp hearth
When snow is on the ground.

They never by the window lean,
And see the gay pass by;
Then take their weary task again,
But with a sadder eye.

poem – the orphan

Alone, alone! – no other face
Wears kindred smile, kindred line;
And yet they say my mother’s eyes.
They say my father’s brow, is mine;
And either had rejected to see
The other’s likeness in my face,
But now it is a stranger’s eye,
That finds some long forgotten trace.

I heard them name my father’s death,
His home and tomb alike the wave;
And I was early taught to weep,
Beside my youthful mother’s grave.
I wish I could recall one look, –
But only one familiar tone;
If I had aught of memory,
I should not feel so all alone.

My heart is gone beyond the grave,
In search of love I cannot find,
Till I could fancy soothing words
Are whisper’d by the ev’ning wind:
I gaze upon the watching stars,
So clear, so beautiful above,
Till I could dream they look on me
With something of an answering love.

My mother! does thy gentle eye
Look from those distant stars on me?
Or does the wind at ev’ning bear
A message to thy child from thee?
Dost thou pine for me, as I pine
Again a parent’s love to share?
I often kneel beside thy grave,
And pray to be a sleeper there.

The vesper bell! – ’tis eventide,
I will not weep, but I will pray:
God of the fatherless, ’tis Thou
Alone canst be the orphan’s stay!
Earth’s meanest flower, heaven’s mightiest star,
Are equal to their Maker’s love.
And I can say, ‘Thy will be done,’
With eyes that fix their hopes above.

poem – secrets

LIFE has dark secrets; and the hearts are few
That treasure not some sorrow from the world–
A sorrow silent, gloomy, and unknown,
Yet colouring the future from the past.
We see the eye subdued, the practised smile,
The word well weighed before it pass the lip,
And know not of the misery within:
Yet there it works incessantly, and fears
The time to come; for time is terrible,
Avenging, and betraying.

poem – revenge

Ay, gaze upon her rose-wreathed hair,
And gaze upon her smile;
Seem as you drank the very air
Her breath perfumed the while:

And wake for her the gifted line,
That wild and witching lay,
And swear your heart is as a shrine,
That only owns her sway.

‘Tis well: I am revenged at last,—
Mark you that scornful cheek,—
The eye averted as you pass’d,
Spoke more than words could speak.

Ay, now by all the bitter tears
That I have shed for thee,—
The racking doubts, the burning fears,—
Avenged they well may be—

By the nights pass’d in sleepless care,
The days of endless woe;
All that you taught my heart to bear,
All that yourself will know.

I would not wish to see you laid
Within an early tomb;
I should forget how you betray’d,
And only weep your doom:

But this is fitting punishment,
To live and love in vain,—
Oh my wrung heart, be thou content,
And feed upon his pain.

Go thou and watch her lightest sigh,—
Thine own it will not be;
And bask beneath her sunny eye,—
It will not turn on thee.

‘Tis well: the rack, the chain, the wheel,
Far better hadst thou proved;
Ev’n I could almost pity feel,
For thou art nor beloved.