The Hymn Of The Wiltshire Laborers – Charles Dickens

O God! who by Thy prophet’s hand 

Didst smite the rocky brake, 

Whence water came, at Thy command, 

Thy people’s thirst to slake; 

Strike, now, upon this granite wall, 

Stern, obdurate, and high; 

And let some drops of pity fall 

For us who starve and die! 
The God who took a little child 

And set him in the midst, 

And promised him His mercy mild, 

As, by Thy Son, Thou didst: 

Look down upon our children dear, 

So gaunt, so cold, so spare, 

And let their images appear 

Where lords and gentry are! 
O God! teach them to feel how we, 

When our poor infants droop, 

Are weakened in our trust in Thee, 

And how our spirits stoop; 

For, in Thy rest, so bright and fair, 

All tears and sorrows sleep: 

And their young looks, so full of care, 

Would make Thine angels weep! 
The God who with His finger drew 

The judgment coming on, 

Write, for these men, what must ensue, 

Ere many years be gone! 

O God! whose bow is in the sky, 

Let them not brave and dare, 

Until they look (too late) on high, 

And see an Arrow there! 
O God, remind them! In the bread 

They break upon the knee, 

These sacred words may yet be read, 

‘In memory of Me!’ 

O God! remind them of His sweet 

Compassion for the poor, 

And how He gave them Bread to eat, 

And went from door to door!

Squire Norton’s Song – Charles Dickens

The child and the old man sat alone 

In the quiet, peaceful shade 

Of the old green boughs, that had richly grown 

In the deep, thick forest glade. 

It was a soft and pleasant sound, 

That rustling of the oak; 

And the gentle breeze played lightly round 

As thus the fair boy spoke:- 
‘Dear father, what can honor be, 

Of which I hear men rave? 

Field, cell and cloister, land and sea, 

The tempest and the grave:- 

It lives in all, ’tis sought in each, 

‘Tis never heard or seen: 

Now tell me, father, I beseech, 

What can this honor mean?’ 
‘It is a name – a name, my child – 

It lived in other days, 

When men were rude, their passions wild, 

Their sport, thick battle-frays. 

When, in armor bright, the warrior bold 

Knelt to his lady’s eyes: 

Beneath the abbey pavement old 

That warrior’s dust now lies. 
‘The iron hearts of that old day 

Have mouldered in the grave; 

And chivalry has passed away, 

With knights so true and brave; 

The honor, which to them was life, 

Throbs in no bosom now; 

It only gilds the gambler’s strife, 

Or decks the worthless vow.’

Little Nell’s Funeral – Charles Dickens

And now the bell, – the bell 

She had so often heard by night and day 

And listened to with solemn pleasure, 

E’en as a living voice, – 

Rung its remorseless toll for her, 

So young, so beautiful, so good. 
Decrepit age, and vigorous life, 

And blooming youth, and helpless infancy, 

Poured forth, – on crutches, in the pride of strength 

And health, in the full blush 

Of promise, the mere dawn of life, – 

To gather round her tomb. Old men were there, 

Whose eyes were dim 

And senses failing, – 

Grandames, who might have died ten years ago, 

And still been old, – the deaf, the blind, the lame, 

The palsied, 

The living dead in many shapes and forms, 

To see the closing of this early grave. 

What was the death it would shut in, 

To that which still could crawl and keep above it! 
Along the crowded path they bore her now; 

Pure as the new fallen snow 

That covered it; whose day on earth 

Had been as fleeting. 

Under that porch, where she had sat when Heaven 

In mercy brought her to that peaceful spot, 

She passed again, and the old church 

Received her in its quiet shade. 
They carried her to one old nook, 

Where she had many and many a time sat musing, 

And laid their burden softly on the pavement. 

The light streamed on it through 

The colored window, – a window where the boughs 

Of trees were ever rustling 

In the summer, and where the birds 

Sang sweetly all day long.

Gabriel’s Grub Song – Charles Dickens

Brave lodgings for one, brave lodgings for one, 

A few feet of cold earth, when life is done; 

A stone at the head, a stone at the feet; 

A rich, juicy meal for the worms to eat; 

Rank grass overhead, and damp clay around, 

Brave lodging for one, these, in holy ground!

A Child’s Hymn – Charles Dickens

Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father, 

Ere I lay me down to sleep; 

Bid Thy angels, pure and holy, 

Round my bed their vigil keep. 
My sins are heavy, but Thy mercy 

Far outweighs them, every one; 

Down before Thy cross I cast them, 

Trusting in Thy help alone. 
Keep me through this night of peril 

Underneath its boundless shade; 

Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee, 

When my pilgrimage is made. 
None shall measure out Thy patience 

By the span of human thought; 

None shall bound the tender mercies 

Which Thy Holy Son has bought. 
Pardon all my past transgressions, 

Give me strength for days to come; 

Guide and guard me with Thy blessing 

Till Thy angels bid me home.

Poem – George Edmunds’ Song – Charles Dickens

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, lie strewn around he here; 

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, how sad, how cold, how drear! 

How like the hopes of childhood’s day, 

Thick clust’ring on the bough! 

How like those hopes in their decay- 

How faded are they now! 

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, lie strewn around me here; 

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, how sad, how cold, how drear! 
Wither’d leaves, wither’d leaves, that fly before the gale: 

Withered leaves, withered leaves, ye tell a mournful tale, 

Of love once true, and friends once kind, 

And happy moments fled: 

Dispersed by every breath of wind, 

Forgotten, changed, or dead! 

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, lie strewn around me here! 

Autumn leaves, autumn leaves, how sad, how cold, how drear!

Poem – The Ivy Green – Charles Dickens

Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green, 

That creepeth o’er ruins old! 

Of right choice food are his meals, I ween, 

In his cell so lone and cold. 

The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed, 

To pleasure his dainty whim: 

And the mouldering dust that years have made 

Is a merry meal for him. 

Creeping where no life is seen, 

A rare old plant is the Ivy green. 
Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings, 

And a staunch old heart has he. 

How closely he twineth, how tight he clings 

To his friend the huge Oak Tree! 

And slyly he traileth along the ground, 

And his leaves he gently waves, 

As he joyously hugs and crawleth round 

The rich mould of dead men’s graves. 

Creeping where grim death hath been, 

A rare old plant is the Ivy green. 
Whole ages have fled and their works decayed, 

And nations have scattered been; 

But the stout old Ivy shall never fade, 

From its hale and hearty green. 

The brave old plant, in its lonely days, 

Shall fatten upon the past: 

For the stateliest building man can raise 

Is the Ivy’s food at last. 

Creeping on where time has been, 

A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

Poem – The Song of the Wreck – Charles Dickens

The wind blew high, the waters raved, 

A ship drove on the land, 

A hundred human creatures saved 

Kneel’d down upon the sand. 

Threescore were drown’d, threescore were thrown 

Upon the black rocks wild, 

And thus among them, left alone, 

They found one helpless child. 
A seaman rough, to shipwreck bred, 

Stood out from all the rest, 

And gently laid the lonely head 

Upon his honest breast. 

And travelling o’er the desert wide 

It was a solemn joy, 

To see them, ever side by side, 

The sailor and the boy. 
In famine, sickness, hunger, thirst, 

The two were still but one, 

Until the strong man droop’d the first 

And felt his labors done. 

Then to a trusty friend he spake, 

‘Across the desert wide, 

Oh, take this poor boy for my sake!’ 

And kiss’d the child and died. 
Toiling along in weary plight 

Through heavy jungle, mire, 

These two came later every night 

To warm them at the fire. 

Until the captain said one day 

‘O seaman, good and kind, 

To save thyself now come away, 

And leave the boy behind!’ 
The child was slumbering near the blaze: 

‘O captain, let him rest 

Until it sinks, when God’s own ways 

Shall teach us what is best!’ 

They watch’d the whiten’d, ashy heap, 

They touch’d the child in vain; 

They did not leave him there asleep, 

He never woke again.

Poem – Lucy’s Song – Charles Dickens

How beautiful at eventide 

To see the twilight shadows pale, 

Steal o’er the landscape, far and wide, 

O’er stream and meadow, mound and dale! 
How soft is Nature’s calm repose 

When ev’ning skies their cool dews weep: 

The gentlest wind more gently blows, 

As if to soothe her in her sleep! 
The gay morn breaks, 

Mists roll away, 

All Nature awakes 

To glorious day. 

In my breast alone 

Dark shadows remain; 

The peace it has known 

It can never regain.

Poem – A Fine Old English Gentleman – Charles Dickens

I’ll sing you a new ballad, and I’ll warrant it first-rate, 

Of the days of that old gentleman who had that old estate; 

When they spent the public money at a bountiful old rate 

On ev’ry mistress, pimp, and scamp, at ev’ry noble gate, 

In the fine old English Tory times; 

Soon may they come again! 
The good old laws were garnished well with gibbets, whips, and chains, 

With fine old English penalties, and fine old English pains, 

With rebel heads, and seas of blood once hot in rebel veins; 

For all these things were requisite to guard the rich old gains 

Of the fine old English Tory times; 

Soon may they come again! 
This brave old code, like Argus, had a hundred watchful eyes, 

And ev’ry English peasant had his good old English spies, 

To tempt his starving discontent with fine old English lies, 

Then call the good old Yeomanry to stop his peevish cries, 

In the fine old English Tory times; 

Soon may they come again! 
The good old times for cutting throats that cried out in their need, 

The good old times for hunting men who held their fathers’ creed, 

The good old times when William Pitt, as all good men agreed, 

Came down direct from Paradise at more than railroad speed. . . . 

Oh the fine old English Tory times; 

When will they come again! 
In those rare days, the press was seldom known to snarl or bark, 

But sweetly sang of men in pow’r, like any tuneful lark; 

Grave judges, too, to all their evil deeds were in the dark; 

And not a man in twenty score knew how to make his mark. 

Oh the fine old English Tory times; 

Soon may they come again! 
Those were the days for taxes, and for war’s infernal din; 

For scarcity of bread, that fine old dowagers might win; 

For shutting men of letters up, through iron bars to grin,

Because they didn’t think the Prince was altogether thin, 

In the fine old English Tory times; 

Soon may they come again! 

But Tolerance, though slow in flight, is strong-wing’d in the main; 

That night must come on these fine days, in course of time was plain; 

The pure old spirit struggled, but Its struggles were in vain; 

A nation’s grip was on it, and it died in choking pain, 

With the fine old English Tory days, 

All of the olden time. 
The bright old day now dawns again; the cry runs through the land, 

In England there shall be dear bread — in Ireland, sword and brand; 

And poverty, and ignorance, shall swell the rich and grand, 

So, rally round the rulers with the gentle iron hand, 

Of the fine old English Tory days; Hail to the coming time!