poem – fountain’s abbey

NEVER more, when the day is o’er,
Will the lonely vespers sound;
No bells are ringing—no monks are singing,
When the moonlight falls around.

A few pale flowers, which in other hours
May have cheered the dreary mood;
When the votary turned to the world he had spurned,
And repined at the solitude.

Still do they blow ‘mid the ruins below,
For fallen are fane and shrine,
And the moss has grown o’er the sculptured stone
Of an altar no more divine.

Still on the walls where the sunshine falls,
The ancient fruit-tree grows;
And o’er tablet and tomb, extends the bloom
Of many a wilding rose.

Fair though they be, yet they seemed to me
To mock the wreck below;
For mighty the tower, where the fragile flower
May now as in triumph blow.

Oh, foolish the thought, that my fancy brought;
More true and more wise to say,
That still thus doth spring, some gentle thing,
With its beauty to cheer decay.

poem – kate kearney

WHY doth the maiden turn away
From voice so sweet, and words so dear?
Why doth the maiden turn away
When love and flattery woo her ear?
And rarely that enchanted twain
Whisper in woman’s ear in vain.
Why doth the maiden leave the hall?
No face is fair as hers is fair,
No step has such a fairy fall,
No azure eyes like hers are there.

The maiden seeks her lonely bower,
Although her father’s guests are met;
She knows it is the midnight hour,
She knows the first pale star is set,
And now the silver moon-beams wake
The spirits of the haunted Lake.
The waves take rainbow hues, and now
The shining train are gliding by,
Their chieftain lifts his glorious brow,
The maiden meets his lingering eye.

The glittering shapes melt into night;
Another look, their chief is gone,
And chill and gray comes morning’s light,
And clear and cold the Lake flows on;
Close, close the casement, not for sleep,
Over such visions eyes but weep.

How many share such destiny,
How many, lured by fancy’s beam,
Ask the impossible to be,
And pine, the victims of a dream.

poem – hannibal’s oath

AND the night was dark and calm,
There was not a breath of air,
The leaves of the grove were still,
As the presence of death were there;

Only a moaning sound
Came from the distant sea,
It was as if, like life,
It had no tranquillity.

A warrior and a child
Pass’d through the sacred wood,
Which, like a mystery,
Around the temple stood.

The warrior’s brow was worn
With the weight of casque and plume,
And sun-burnt was his cheek,
And his eye and brow were gloom.

The child was young and fair,
But the forehead large and high,
And the dark eyes’ flashing light
Seem’d to feel their destiny.

They enter’d in the temple,
And stood before the shrine,
It stream’d with the victim’s blood,
With incense and with wine.

The ground rock’d beneath their feet,
The thunder shook the dome,
But the boy stood firm, and swore
Eternal hate to Rome.

There’s a page in history
O’er which tears of blood were wept,
And that page is the record
How that oath of hate was kept.

poem – the sheperd boy

LIKE some vision olden
Of far other time,
When the age was golden,
In the young world’s prime
Is thy soft pipe ringing,
O lonely shepherd boy,
What song art thou singing,
In thy youth and joy?

Or art thou complaining
Of thy lowly lot,
And thine own disdaining
Dost ask what thou hast not?
Of the future dreaming,
Weary of the past,
For the present scheming,
All but what thou hast.

No, thou art delighting
In thy summer home;
Where the flowers inviting
Tempt the bee to roam;
Where the cowslip bending,
With its golden bells,
Of each glad hour’s ending
With a sweet chime tells.

All wild creatures love him
When he is alone,
Every bird above him
Sings its softest tone.
Thankful to high Heaven,
Humble in thy joy,
Much to thee is given,
Lowly shepherd boy.

OH lone and lovely solitude,
Washed by the sounding sea;
Nature was in a poet’s mood,
When she created thee.

How pleasant in the hour of noon
To wander through the shade;
The soft and golden shade which June
Flings o’er thy inland glade:

The wild rose like a wreath above,
The ash-tree’s fairy keys,
The aspen trembling, as if love
Were whispered by the breeze;

These, or the beech’s darker bough,
For canopy o’er head,
While moss and fragile flowers below
An elfin pillow spread.

Here one might dream the hours away,
As if the world had not
Or grief, or care, or disarray,
To darken human lot.

Yet ’tis not here that I would dwell,
Though fair the place may be,
The summer’s favourite citadel:—
A busier scene for me!

I love to see the human face
Reflect the human mind,
To watch in every crowded place
Their opposites combined.

There’s more for thought in one brief hour
In yonder busy street,
Than all that ever leaf or flower
Taught in their green retreat.

Industry, intellect, and skill
Appear in all their pride,
The glorious force of human will
Triumphs on every side.

Yet touched with meekness, for on all
Is set the sign and seal
Of sorrow, suffering, and thrall,
Which none but own and feel;
The hearse that passes with its dead,
The homeless beggar’s prayer,
Speak words of warning, and of dread,
To every passer there.

Aye beautiful the dreaming brought
By valleys and green fields;
But deeper feeling, higher thought,
Is what the city yields.

poem – the sea shore

I SHOULD like to dwell where the deep blue sea
Rock’d to and fro as tranquilly,
As if it were willing the halcyon’s nest
Should shelter through summer its beautiful guest.
When a plaining murmur like that of a song,
And a silvery line come the waves along:
Now bathing—now leaving the gentle shore,
Where shining sea-shells lay scattered o’er.

And children wandering along the strand,
With the eager eye and the busy hand,
Heaping the pebbles and green sea-weed,
Like treasures laid up for a time of need.
Or tempting the waves with their daring feet,
To launch, perhaps, some tiny fleet:
Mimicking those which bear afar
The wealth of trade—and the strength of war.

I should love, when the sun-set reddened the foam,
To watch the fisherman’s boat come home,
With his well-filled net and glittering spoil:
Well has the noon-tide repaid its toil.
While the ships that lie in the distance away
Catch on their canvass the crimsoning ray;
Like fairy ships in the tales of old,
When the sails they spread were purple and gold.

Then the deep delight of the starry night,
With its shadowy depths and dreamy light:
When far away spreads the boundless sea,
As if it imaged infinity.
Let me hear the winds go singing by,
Lulling the waves with their melody:
While the moon like a mother watches their sleep,
And I ask no home but beside the deep.

poem – the funeral

MARK you not yon sad procession;
‘Mid the ruin’d abbey’s gloom,
Hastening to the worm’s possession,
To the dark and silent tomb!

See the velvet pall hangs over
Poor mortality’s remains;
We should shudder to discover
What that coffin’s space contains.

Death itself is lovely—wearing
But the colder shape of sleep;
Or the solemn statue bearing
Beauty that forbids to weep.

But decay—the pulses tremble
When its livid signs appear;
When the once-loved lips resemble
All we loathe, and all we fear.

Is it not a ghastly ending
For the body’s godlike form,
Thus to the damp earth descending,
Food and triumph to the worm?

Better far the red pile blazing
With the spicy Indian wood,
Incense unto heaven raising
From the sandal oil’s sweet flood.

In the bright pyre’s kindling flashes,
Let my yielded soul ascend;
Fling to the wild winds my ashes
‘Till with mother-earth they blend.

Not so,—let the pale urn keep them;
Touch’d with spices, oil, and wine;
Let there be some one to weep them;
Wilt thou keep that urn? Love mine!

poem – the minister

DIM thro’ the sculptured aisles the sunbeam falls
More like a dream
Of some imagined beam,
Than actual daylight over mortal walls.

A strain of music like the rushing wind,
But deep and sweet
As when the waters meet
In one mysterious harmony combined.

So swells the mighty organ, rich and full,
As if it were the soul
Which raised the glorious whole
Of that fair building, vast and wonderful.

Doth not the spirit feel its influence,
All vain and feverish care,
All thoughts that worldly are,
Strife, tumult, mirth, and fear are vanished hence.

The world is put aside, within the heart
Those hopes arise
Thrice sacred mysteries,
In which our earthly nature has no part.

Oh, Christian Fane, the soul expands in thee,
Thine altar and thy tomb
Speak of the hope and doom
Which leads and cheers man to eternity.

poem – the african prince

IT was a king in Africa,
He had an only son;
And none of Europe’s crowned kings
Could have a dearer one.

With good cane arrows five feet long,
And with a shining bow,
When but a boy, to the palm woods
Would that young hunter go.

And home he brought white ivory,
And many a spotted hide:
When leopards fierce and beautiful
Beneath his arrows died.

Around his arms, around his brow,
A shining bar was rolled;
It was to mark his royal blood,
He wore that bar of gold.

And often at his father’s feet,
The evening he would pass;
When, weary of the hunt, he lay
Upon the scented grass.

Alas! it was an evil day,
When such a thing could be:
When strangers, pale and terrible,
Came o’er the distant sea.

They found the young prince mid the woods,
The palm woods deep and dark:
That day his lion-hunt was done,
They bore him to their bark.

They bound him in a narrow hold,
With others of his kind;
For weeks did that accursed ship
Sail on before the wind.
Now shame upon the cruel wind,
And on the cruel sea,
That did not with some mighty storm,
Set those poor captives free:

Or, shame to those weak thoughts, so fain
To have their wilful way:
God knoweth what is best for all—
The winds and seas obey.

At length a lovely island rose
From out the ocean wave;
They took him to the market-place,
And sold him for a slave.

Some built them homes, and in the shade
Of flowered and fragrant trees,
They half forgot the palm-hid huts
They left far o’er the seas.

But he was born of nobler blood,
And was of nobler kind;
And even unto death, his heart
For its own kindred pined.

There came to him a seraph child
With eyes of gentlest blue:
If there are angels in high heaven,
Earth has its angels too.

She cheered him with her holy words,
She soothed him with her tears;
And pityingly she spoke with him
Of home and early years.

And when his heart was all subdued
By kindness into love,
She taught him from this weary earth
To look in faith above.

She told him how the Saviour died
For man upon the tree;
‘He suffered,’ said the holy child,
‘For you as well as me.’

Sorrow and death have need of faith—
The African believed;
As rain falls fertile on the earth
Those words his soul received.

He died in hope as only those
Who die in Christ depart—
One blessed name within his lips,
One hope within his heart.

poem – the crusader

He is come from the land of the sword and shrine,
From the sainted battles of Palestine;
The snow plumes wave o’er his victor crest,
Like a glory, the red cross hangs at his breast;
His courser is black, as black can be,
Save the brow star, white as the foam of the sea,
And he wears a scarf of broidery rare,
The last love gift of his lady fair;
It bore for device a cross and a dove,
And the words – ‘I am vowed to my God and my love.’

He comes not back the same that he went;
For his sword has been tried, and his strength has been spent,
His golden hair has a deeper brown,
And his brow has caught a darker frown;
And his lip has lost its youthful red,
And the shade of the South o’er his cheek is spread,
But stately his step, and his bearing high,
And wild the light of his fiery eye;
And proud in the lists were the maiden bright,
Who might claim the Knight of the Cross for her knight.

He rides for the home he had pined to see,
In the court, in the camp, in captivity!
He reached the castle – his own step was all
That echoed within the deserted hall;
He stood on the roof of the ancient tower;
And, for banner, there waved one pale wall flower,
And, for sound of the trumpet and peal of the horn,
Came the scream of the owl, on the night wind borne.
The turrets were falling, the vassals were flown,
And the bat ruled the halls, he had called his own;
His heart throbbed high – Oh! never again
Might he soothe with sweet thoughts his spirit’s pain;
He never might think of his boyish years,
Till his eyes grew dim with those sweet warm tears,
Which hope and memory shed when they meet –
The grave of his kindred was at his feet –
He stood alone, the last of his race,
With the cold wide world for his dwelling place;
The home of his fathers gone to decay,
All but their memory had passed away –
No one to welcome, no one to share
The laurel, he no more was proud to wear.
He came, in the pride of his war-success,
But to weep over very desolateness.

They pointed him to a barren plain,
Where his father, his brothers, his kinsmen were slain;
They shewed him the lowly grave, where slept
The maiden, whose scarf he so truly had kept;
But they could not shew him one living thing,
To which his withered heart could cling –

Amid the warriors of Palestine
Is one, the first in the battle line.
It is not for glory he seeks the field,
For a blasted tree is upon his shield,
And the motto it bears is, ‘I fight for a grave.’
He found it – That warrior has died with the brave.

poem – hebe

YOUTH! thou art a lovely time,
With thy wild and dreaming eyes;
Looking onwards to their prime,
Coloured by their April skies,
Yet I do not wish for thee,
Pass, oh! quickly pass from me.

Thou hast all too much unrest,
Haunted by vain hopes and fears;
Though thy cheeks with smiles be drest,
Yet that cheek is wet with tears.
Bitter are the frequent showers,
Falling in thy sunny hours.

Let my heart grow calm and cold,
Calm to sorrow, cold to love;
Let affections loose their hold,
Let my spirit look above.
I am weary—youth pass on.
All thy dearest gifts are gone.

She in whose sweet form the Greek
Bade his loveliest vision dwell;
She of yon bright cup and cheek,
From her native heaven fell:
Type of what may never last,
Soon the heaven of youth is past.

Oh! farewell—for never more
Can thy dreams again be mine;
Hope and truth and faith are o’er,
And the heart which was their shrine
Has no boon of thee to seek,
Asking but to rest or break.

poem – a suttee

GATHER her raven hair in one rich cluster,
Let the white champac light it, as a star
Gives to the dusky night a sudden lustre,
Shining afar.

Shed fragrant oils upon her fragrant bosom,
Until the breathing air around grows sweet;
Scatter the languid jasmine’s yellow blossom
Beneath her feet.

Those small white feet are bare—too soft are they
To tread on aught but flowers; and there is roll’d
Round the slight ankle, meet for such display,
The band of gold.

Chains and bright stones are on her arms and neck;
What pleasant vanities are linked with them,
Of happy hours, which youth delights to deck
With gold and gem.

She comes! So comes the Moon, when she has found
A silvery path wherein thro’ heaven to glide.
Fling the white veil—a summer cloud—around;
She is a bride!

And yet the crowd that gather at her side
Are pale, and every gazer holds his breath.
Eyes fill with tears unbidden, for the bride—
The bride of Death!

She gives away the garland from her hair,
She gives the gems that she will wear no more;
All the affections, whose love-signs they were,
Are gone before.

The red pile blazes—let the bride ascend,
And lay her head upon her husband’s heart,
Now in a perfect unison to blend—
No more to part.

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.

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.

poem – children

A word will fill the little heart
With pleasure and with pride;
It is a harsh, a cruel thing,
That such can be denied.

And yet how many weary hours
Those joyous creatures know;
How much of sorrow and restraint
They to their elders owe!

How much they suffer from our faults!
How much from our mistakes!
How often, too, mistaken zeal
An infant’s misery makes!

We overrule and overteach,
We curb and we confine,
And put the heart to school too soon,
To learn our narrow line.

No: only taught by love to love,
Seems childhood’s natural task;
Affection, gentleness, and hope,
Are all its brief years ask.