« PreviousContinue »
That, soon as loosed, booms with full twang away, His comfort, stay, and ever new delight!
The sudden rushing of the minnow shoal,
Scared from the shallows by my passing tread.
Dimpling the water glides, with here and there
A glossy fly, skimming in circlets gay
The treacherous surface, while the quick-eyed trout
Watches his time to spring; or from above,
Some feather'd dam, surveying midst the boughs,
Darts from her perch, and to her plumeless brood
Bears off the prize :-Sad emblem of man's lot!
He, giddy insect, from his native leaf,
(Where safe and happily he might have lurk'd,)
Elate upon ambition's gaudy wings,
Forgetful of his origin, and, worse,
Unthinking of his end, flies to the stream;
And if from hostile vigilance he 'scape,
Buoyant he flutters but a little while,
Mistakes th' inverted image of the sky
For heaven itself, and, sinking, meets his fate.
Now let me trace the stream up to its source
Among the hills; its runnel by degrees
Diminishing, the murmur turns a tinkle.
Closer and closer still the banks approach,
Tangled so thick with pleaching bramble shoots,
With brier, and hazel branch, and hawthorn spray,
That, fain to quit the dangle, glad I mount
Into the open air: Grateful the breeze
That fans my throbbing temples! smiles the plain
Spread wide below: how sweet the placid view!
But, O! more sweet the thought, heart-soothing
That thousands, and ten thousands of the sons
Of toil, partake this day the common joy
Of rest, of peace, of viewing hill and dale,
Of breathing in the silence of the woods,
And blessing Him who gave the Sabbath day.
Yes, my heart flutters with a freer throb,
To think that now the townsman wanders forth
Among the fields and meadows to enjoy
The coolness of the day's decline; to see
His children sport around, and simply pull
The flower and weed promiscuous, as a boon,
Which proudly in his breast they smiling fix.
Again I turn me to the hill, and trace
The wizard stream, now scarce to be discern'd;
Woodless its banks, but green with ferny leaves,
And thinly strew'd with heath-bells up and down.
Now, when the downward sun has left the glens,
Each mountain's rugged lineaments are traced
Upon the adverse slope, where stalks gigantic
The shepherd's shadow thrown athwart the chasm,
As on the topmost ridge he homeward hies.
How deep the hush! the torrent's channel dry,
Presents a stony steep, the echo's haunt.
But, hark, a plaintive sound floating along!
"Tis from yon heath-roof'd shielin; now it dies
Away, now rises full; it is the song
Which He, who listens to the hallelujahs
Of choiring seraphim,-delights to hear;
It is the music of the heart, the voice
Of venerable age, of guileless youth,
In kindly circle seated on the ground
Before their wicker door. Behold the man!
The grandsire and the saint; his silvery locks
Beam in the parting ray: before him lies,
Upon the smooth cropt sward, the open book,
While, heedless, at his side, the lisping boy
Fondles the lamb that nightly shares his couch.
AN AUTUMN SABBATH WALK.
WHEN homeward bands their several ways disperse,
I love to linger in the narrow field
Of rest, to wander round from tomb to tomb,
And think of some who silent sleep below.
Sad sighs the wind, that from those ancient elms
Shakes showers of leaves upon the wither'd grass:
The sere and yellow wreaths, with eddying sweep,
Fill up the furrows 'tween the hillock'd graves.
But list that moan! 'tis the poor blind man's dog,
His guide for many a day, now come to mourn
The master and the friend-conjunction rare!
A man indeed he was of gentle-soul,
Though bred to brave the deep: the lightning's flash
Had dimm'd, not closed, his mild, but sightless eyes,
He was a welcome guest through all his range
(It was not wide :) no dog would bay at him;
Children would run to meet him on his way,
And lead him to a sunny seat, and climb
His knee, and wonder at his oft-told tales.
Then would he teach the elfins how to plait
The rushy cap and crown, or sedgy ship;
And I have seen him lay his tremulous hand
Upon their heads, while silent moved his lips.
Peace to thy spirit! that now looks on me
Perhaps with greater pity than I felt
To see thee wandering darkling on thy way.
But let me quit this melancholy spot,
And roam where nature gives a parting smile.
As yet the blue-bells linger on the sod
That copes the sheepfold ring; and in the woods
A second blow of many flowers appears;
Flowers faintly tinged, and breathing no perfume.
But fruits, not blossoms, form the woodland wreath
That circles Autumn's brow: the ruddy haws
Now clothe the half-leaved thorn; the bramble
Beneath its jetty load; the hazel hangs
With auburn branches, dipping in the stream
That sweeps along, and threatens to o'erflow
The leaf-strewn banks: oft, statue-like, I gaze,
In vacancy of thought, upon that stream,
And chase, with dreaming eye, the eddying foam;
Or rowan's cluster'd branch, or harvest sheaf,
Borne rapidly adown the dizzying flood.
A WINTER SABBATH WALK.
How dazzling white the snowy scene! deep, deep,
The stillness of the winter Sabbath day,-
Not even a foot-fall heard.-Smooth are the fields,
Each hollow pathway level with the plain:
Hid are the bushes, save that, here and there,
Are seen the topmost shoots of brier or broom.
High-ridged, the whirled drift has almost reach'd
The powder'd key-stone of the churchyard porch.
Mute hangs the hooded bell; the tombs lie buried,
No step approaches to the house of prayer.
The flickering fall is o'er; the clouds disperse,
And show the sun, hung o'er the welkin's verge;
Shooting a bright but ineffectual beam
On all the sparkling waste.
Now is the time,
To visit nature in her grand attire;
Though perilous the mountainous ascent,
A noble recompense the danger brings.
How beautiful the plain stretch'd far below!
Unvaried though it be, save by yon stream
With azure windings, or the leafless wood.
But what the beauty of the plain, compared
To that sublimity which reigns inthroned,
Holding joint rule with solitude divine,
Among yon rocky fells, that bid defiance
To steps the most adventurously bold!
There silence dwells profound; or if the cry
Of high-poised eagle break at times the calm,
The mantled echoes no response return.
But let me now explore the deep sunk dell.
No foot-print, save the covey's or the flock's,
Is seen along the rill, where marshy springs
Still rear the grassy blade of vivid green.
Beware, ye shepherds, of these treacherous haunts,
Nor linger there too long: the wintry day
Soon closes; and full oft a heavier fall
Heap'd by the blast, fills up the shelter'd glen,
While, gurgling deep below, the buried rill
Mines for itself a snow-coved way. O! then,
Your helpless charge drive from the tempting spot,
And keep them on the bleak hill's stormy side,
Where night-winds sweep the gathering drift
So the great Shepherd leads the heavenly flock
From faithless pleasures, full into the storms
Of life, where long they bear the bitter blast,
Until at length the vernal sun looks forth,
Bedimm'd with showers: Then to the pastures
He brings them, where the quiet waters glide,
The streams of life, the Siloah of the soul.
Silence was o'er the deep; the noiseless surge,
The last subsiding wave,-of that dread tumult
Which raged, when ocean, at the mute command,
Rush'd furiously into his new-cleft bed,—
Was gently rippling on the pebbled shore;
While, on the swell, the sea-bird with her head
Wing-veil'd, slept tranquilly. The host of heaven,
Entranced in new delight, speechless adored;
Nor stopp'd their fleet career, nor changed their
Encircular, till on that hemisphere,
In which the blissful garden sweet exhaled
Its incense, odorous clouds,-the Sabbath dawn
Arose; then wide the flying circle oped,
And soar'd, in semblance of a mighty rainbow
Silent ascend the choirs of seraphim;
No harp resounds, mute is each voice; the burst
Of joy and praise reluctant they repress,-
For love and concord all things so attuned
To harmony, that earth must have received
The grand vibration, and to the centre shook:
But soon as to the starry altitudes
They reach'd, then what a storm of sound tremendous
Swell'd through the realms of space! The morning stars
Together sang, and all the sons of God
Shouted for joy! Loud was the peal; so loud
As would have quite o'erwhelm'd the human sense;
But to the earth it came a gentle strain,
Like softest fall breathed from Æolian lute,
When 'mid the chords the evening gale expires.
Day of the Lord! creation's hallow'd close!
Day of the Loid! (prophetical they sang,)
Benignant mitigation of that doom
Which must, ere long, consign the fallen race,
Dwellers in yonder star, to toil and wo!
Six days the heavenly host, in circle vast,
Like that untouching cincture which enzones
The globe of Saturn, compass'd wide this orb,
And with the forming mass floated along,
In rapid course, through yet untravell'd space,
Beholding God's stupendous power, a world
Bursting from chaos at the omnific will,
And perfect ere the sixth day's evening star
On Paradise arose. Blessed that eve!
The Sabbath's harbinger, when, all complete,
In freshest beauty from Jehovah's hand,
Creation bloom'd; when Eden's twilight face
Smiled like a sleeping babe. The voice divine
A holy calm breathed o'er the goodly work;
Mildly the sun, upon the loftiest trees,
Shed mellowly a sloping beam. Peace reign'd,
And love, and gratitude; the human pair
Their orisons pour'd forth; love, concord, reign'd;
The falcon, perch'd upon the blooming bough
With Philomela, listen'd to her lay;
Among the antler'd herd, the tiger couch'd
Harmless; the lion's mane no terror spread
Among the careless ruminating flock.
THE FINDING OF MOSES.
SLOW glides the Nile: amid the margin flags,
Closed in a bulrush ark, the babe is left,—
Left by a mother's hand. His sister waits
Far off; and pale, 'tween hope and fear, beholds
The royal maid, surrounded by her train,
Approach the river bank,-approach the spot
Where sleeps the innocent: She sees them stoop
With meeting plumes; the rushy lid is oped,
And wakes the infant, smiling in his tears,
As when along a little mountain lake
The summer south-wind breathes, with gentle sigh,
And parts the reeds, unveiling, as they bend,
A water-lily floating on the wave.
JACOB AND PHARAOH.
PHARAOH upon a gorgeous throne of state
Was seated; while around him stood submiss
His servants, watchful of his lofty looks.
The patriarch enters, leaning on the arm
Of Benjamin. Unmoved by all the glare
Of royalty, he scarcely throws a glance
Upon the pageant show; for from his youth
A shepherd's life he led, and view'd each night
The starry host; and still, where'er he went,
He felt himself in presence of the Lord.
His eye is bent on Joseph, him pursues.
Sudden the king descends; and, bending, kneels
Before the aged man, and supplicates
A blessing from his lips! the aged man
Lays on the ground his staff, and stretching forth
His tremulous hand o'er Pharaoh's uncrown'd head,
Prays that the Lord would bless him and his land.
FROM Conquest Jephthah came, with faltering step
And troubled eye; his home appears in view;
He trembles at the sight. Sad he forbodes,-
His vow will meet a victim in his child:
For well he knows, that, from her earliest years,
She still was first to meet his homeward steps:
Well he remembers, how, with tottering gait,
She ran, and clasp'd his knees, and lisp'd, and look'd
Her joy; and how, when garlanding with flowers
His helm, fearful, her infant hand would shrink
Back from the lion couch'd beneath the crest.
What sound is that, which, from the palm-tree
Floats now with choral swell, now fainter falls
Upon the ear? It is, it is the song
He loved to hear,-a song of thanks and praise,
Sung by the patriarch for his ransom'd son.
Hope from the omen springs: O blessed hope!
It may not be her voice!-Fain would he think
'Twas not his daughter's voice that still approach'd,
Blent with the timbrel's note. Forth from the
She foremost glides of all the minstrel band:
Moveless he stands; then grasps his hilt, still red
With hostile gore, but, shuddering, quits the hold:
And clasps in agony his hands, and cries,
Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me low."
The timbrel at her rooted feet resounds.
DEEP was the furrow in the royal brow,
When David's hand, lightly as vernal gales
Rippling the brook of Kedron, skimm'd the lyre:
He sung of Jacob's youngest born,—the child
Of his old age,-sold to the Ishmaelite ;
His exaltation to the second power
In Pharaoh's realm; his brethren thither sent;
Suppliant they stood before his face, well known,
Unknowing, till Joseph fell upon the neck
Of Benjamin, his mother's son, and wept.
Unconsciously the warlike shepherd paused;
But when he saw, down the yet quivering string,
The tear-drop trembling glide, abash'd, he check'd,
Indignant at himself, the bursting flood,
And, with a sweep impetuous, struck the chords:
From side to side his hands transversely glance,
Like lightning 'thwart a stormy sea; his voice
Arises 'mid the clang, and straightway calms
The harmonious tempest, to a solemn swell
Majestical, triumphant; for he sings
Of Arad's mighty host by Israel's arm
Subdued; of Israel through the desert led
He sings; of him who was their leader, call'd
By God himself, from keeping Jethro's flock,
To be a ruler o'er the chosen race.
Kindles the eye of Saul; his arm is poised ;-
Harmless the javelin quivers in the wall.
ELIJAH FED BY RAVENS.
SORE was the famine throughout all the bounds
Of Israel, when Elijah, by command
Of God, journeyed to Cherith's failing brook.
No rain-drops fall, no dew-fraught cloud, at morn
Or closing eve, creeps slowly up the vale;
The withering herbage dies; among the palms
The shrivell'd leaves send to the summer gale
An autumn rustle; no sweet songster's lay
Is warbled from the branches; scarce is heard
The rill's faint brawl. The prophet looks around
And trusts in God, and lays his silver'd head
Upon the flowerless bank; serene he sleeps,
Nor wakes till dawning: then with hands enclasp'd,
And heavenward face, and eyelids closed, he prays
To Him who manna on the desert shower'd,
To Him who from the rock made fountains gush:
Entranced the man of God remains: till roused
By sound of wheeling wings, with grateful heart,
He sees the ravens fearless by his side
Alight, and leave the heaven-provided food.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS ANNOUNCED.
DEEP was the midnight silence in the fields
Of Bethlehem; hush'd the folds; save that at times
Was heard the lamb's faint bleat: the shepherds,
On the green sward, survey'd the starry vault.
The heavens declare the glory of the Lord,
The firmament shows forth thy handy-work:
Thus they, their hearts attuned to the Most High-
When suddenly a splendid cloud appear'd,
As if a portion of the milky way
Descended slowly in the spiral course.
Near and more near it draws; then, hovering, floats
High as the soar of eagle, shedding bright,
Upon the folded flocks, a heavenly radiance,
From whence was utter'd loud, yet sweet, a voice,-
Fear not, I bring good tidings of great joy;
For unto you is born this day a Saviour!
And this shall be a sign to you,-the babe,
Laid lowly in a manger, ye shall find.—
The angel spake; when, lo! upon the cloud,
A multitude of seraphim, enthroned,
Sang praises, saying,-Glory to the Lord
On high; on earth be peace, good will to men,
With sweet response harmoniously they choir'd,
And while, with heavenly harmony, the song
Arose to God, more bright the buoyant throne
Illumed the land: the prowling lion stops,
Awe-struck, with mane uprear'd, and flatten'd
And, without turning, backward on his steps
Recoils, aghast, into the desert gloom.
A trembling joy th' astonish'd shepherds prove,
As heavenward reascends the vocal blaze
Triumphantly; while by degrees the strain
Dies on the ear, that, self-deluded, listens-
As if a sound so sweet could never die.
BEHOLD MY MOTHER AND MY BRETHREN. WHO is my mother, or my brethren? He spake, and look'd on them who sat around, With a meek smile of pity blent with love,
More melting than e'er gleam'd from human face,
As when a sunbeam, through a summer shower,
Shines mildly on a little hill-side flock;
And with that look of love he said, Behold
My mother and my brethren; for I say,
That whosoe'er shall do the will of God,
He is my brother, sister, mother, all.
BARTIMEUS RESTORED TO SIGHT.
BLIND, poor, and helpless Bartimeus sat,
Listening the foot of the wayfaring man,
Still hoping that the next, and still the next,
Would put an alms into his trembling hand.
He thinks he hears the coming breeze faint rustle
Among the sycamores; it is the tread
Of thousand steps; it is the hum of tongues
Innumerable: But when the sightless man
Heard that the Nazarene was passing by
He cried, and said," JESUS, thou Son of David,
Have mercy upon me!" and, when rebuked,
He cried the more, "Have mercy upon me!"-
Thy faith has made thee whole, so JESUS spake,
And straight the blind BEHELD THE FACE OF GOD.
LITTLE CHILDREN BROUGHT TO JESUS.
SUFFER that little children come to me,
Forbid them not. Imbolden'd by his words,
The mothers onward press; but finding vain
Th' attempt to reach the Lord, they trust their
To strangers' hands; The innocents, alarm'd
Amid the throng of faces all unknown,
And quits his hold; the voyagers, appall'd,
Shrink from the fancied Spirit of the Flood:
But when the voice of Jesus with the storm
Soft mingled, It is 1, be not afraid;
Fear fled, and joy lighten'd from eye to eye.
Up he ascends, and, from the rolling side,
Surveys the tumult of the sea and sky
With transient look severe: the tempest, awed,
Sinks to a sudden calm; the clouds disperse ;
The moonbeam trembles on the face divine,
Reflected mildly in th' unruffled deep.
His eyes uplifted, and his hands close clasp'd,
The dumb man, with a supplicating look,
Turn'd as the Lord pass'd by: Jesus beheld,
And on him bent a pitying look, and spake :
His moving lips are by the suppliant seen,
And the last accents of the healing sentence
Ring in that ear which never heard before.
Prostrate the man restored falls to the earth,
And uses first the gift, the gift sublime
Of speech, in giving thanks to him, whose voice
Was never utter'd but in doing good.
THE DEATH OF JESUS.
"TIS finished: he spake the words, and bow'd
His head, and died.-Beholding him far off,
They who had minister'd unto him hope.
'Tis his last agony: The temple's vail
Is rent; revealing the most holy place,
Wherein the cherubim their wings extend,
Shrink, trembling,-till their wandering eyes dis- O'ershadowing the mercy-seat of God.
The countenance of JESUS, beaming love
And pity; eager then they stretch their arms,
And, cowering, lay their heads upon his breast.
JESUS CALMS THE TEMPEST.
THE roaring tumult of the billow'd sea
Awakes him not: high on the crested surge
Now heaved, his locks flow streaming in the blast,
And now, descending 'tween the sheltering waves,
The falling tresses veil the face divine;
Meek through that veil, a momentary gleam
Benignant shines; he dreams that he beholds
The opening eyes, that long hopeless had roll'd
In darkness,-look around bedimm'd with tears
Of joy; but suddenly the voice of fear
Dispell'd the happy vision: Awful he rose,
Rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea,
Peace, be thou still! and straight there was a calm.
With terror-mingled gladness in their looks,
The mariners exclaim,-What man is this,
That e'en the wind and sea obey his voice!
Appall'd the leaning soldier feels the spear
Shake in his grasp; the planted standard falls
Upon the heaving ground; the sun is dimm'd,
And darkness shrouds the body of the Lord.
THE setting orb of night her level ray
Shed o'er the land, and on the dewy sward
The lengthen'd shadows of the triple cross
Were laid far-stretch'd,-when in the east arose,
Last of the stars, day's harbinger: No sound
Was heard, save of the watching soldier's foot:
Within the rock-barr'd sepulchre, the gloom
Of deepest midnight brooded o'er the dead,
The Holy One: but, lo! a radiance faint
Began to dawn around his sacred brow:
The linen vesture seem'd a snowy wreath,
Drifted by storms into a mountain cave:
Bright and more bright, the circling halo beam'd
Upon that face, clothed in a smile benign,
Though yet exanimate. Nor long the reign
Of death; the eyes that wept for human griefs
Unclose, and look around with conscious joy.
JESUS WALKS ON THE SEA, AND CALMS THE Yes; with returning life, the first emotion
Loup blew the storm of night; the thwarting surge
Dash'd, boiling, on the labouring bark: dismay,
From face to face reflected, spread around :-
When, lo! upon a towering wave is seen
The semblance of a foamy wreath, upright,
Move onward to the ship: The helmsman starts,
That glow'd in JESUS' breast of love was joy
At man's redemption, now complete; at death
Disarm'd; the grave transform'd into the couch
Of faith; the resurrection and the life.
Majestical he rose: trembled the earth;
The ponderous gate of stone was roll'd away;
The keepers fell; the angel, awe-struck, sunk
Into invisibility, while forth
The Saviour of the world walk'd, and stood Before the sepulchre, and view'd the clouds Impurpled glorious by the rising sun.
Of justice, temperance, and the life to come,
The judge shrinks trembling at the prisoner's voice.
JESUS APPEARS TO THE DISCIPLES. THE evening of that day, which saw the Lord Rise from the chambers of the dead, was come. His faithful followers, assembled, sang
A hymn, low-breathed; a hymn of sorrow, blent With hope; when, in the midst, sudden he stood; The awe-struck circle backward shrink; he looks Around with a benignant smile of love,
And says, Peace be unto you: Faith and joy Spread o'er each face, amazed; as when the moon, Pavilion'd in dark clouds, mildly comes forth, Silvering a circlet in the fleecy ranks.
PAUL ACCUSED BEFORE THE TRIBUNAL OF
LISTEN that voice! upon the hill of Mars,
Rolling in bolder thunders than e'er peal'd
From lips that shook the Macedonian throne;
Behold his dauntless outstretch'd arm, his face
Illumed of heaven:-he knoweth not the fear
Of man, of principalities, of powers.
The stoic's moveless frown; the vacant stare
Of Epicurus' herd; the scowl and gnash malign
Of superstition, stopping both her ears;
The Areopagite tribunal dread,
From whence the doom of Socrates was utter'd ;-
This hostile throng dismays him not: he seems
As if no worldly object could inspire
A terror in his soul; as if the vision,
Which, when he journey'd to Damascus, shone
From heaven, still swam before his eyes,
Outdazzling all things earthly; as if the voice,
That spake from out th' effulgence, ever rang
Within his ear,
inspiring him with words,
Burning, majestic, lofty, as his theme,-
The resurrection, and the life to come.
Who healeth all thy diseases: who redeemeth thy life
from destruction: who crowneth thee with loving-kind
ness and tender mercies.-PSALM Ciii. 3, 4.
THESE eyes, that were half-closed in death,
Now dare the noontide blaze;
My voice, that scarce could speak my wants,
Now hymns Jehovah's praise.
How pleasant to my feet unused,
To tread the daisied ground!
How sweet to my unwonted ear
The streamlet's lulling sound.
How soft the first breath of the breeze
That on my temples play'd!
How sweet the woodland evening song,
Full floating down the glade!
But sweeter far the lark that soars
Through morning's blushing ray;
For then unseen, unheard, I join
His lonely heavenward lay.
And sweeter still that infant voice,
With all its artless charms ;-
'Twas such as he that Jesus took,
And cherish'd in his arms.
O Lord my God! all these delights
I to thy mercy owe;
For thou hast raised me from the couch
Of sickness, pain, and wo.
"Twas thou that from the whelming wave
My sinking soul redeem'd; 'Twas thou that o'er destruction's storm A calming radiance beam'd.
PAUL ACCUSED BEFORE THE ROMAN
GOVERNOR OF JUDEA.
THE judge ascended to the judgment-seat;
Amid a gleam of spears th' apostle stood.
Dauntless he forward came, and look'd around,
And raised his voice, at first in accents low,
Yet clear; a whisper spread among the throng:-
So when the thunder mutters, still the breeze
Is heard, at times, to sigh; but when the peal
Tremendous, louder rolls, a silence dead
Succeeds each pause,-moveless the aspen leaf.
Thus fix'd and motionless, the listening band
Of soldiers forward lean'd, as from the man
Inspired of God, truth's awful thunders roll'd.
No more he feels, upon his high-raised arm,
The ponderous chain, than does the playful child
The bracelet, form'd of many a flowery link.
Heedless of self, forgetful that his life
Is now to be defended by his words,
He only thinks of doing good to them
Who seek his life; and while he reasons high
ON VISITING MELROSE,
AFTER AN ABSENCE OF SIXTEEN YEARS.
YON setting sun, that slowly disappears,
Gleams a memento of departed years:
Ay, many a year is gone, and many a friend,
Since here I saw the autumn sun descend.
Ah! one is gone, whose hand was lock'd in mine,
In this, that traces now the sorrowing line:
And now alone I scan the mouldering tombs,
Alone I wander through the vaulted glooms,
And list, as if the echoes might retain
One lingering cadence of her varied strain.
Alas! I heard that melting voice decay,
Heard seraph tones in whispers die away;
I mark'd the tear presageful fill her eye,
And quivering speak,-I am resign'd to die.
Ye stars that through the fretted windows shed
A glimmering beam athwart the mighty dead,
Say to what sphere her sainted spirit flew,
That thither I may turn my longing view,
And wish, and hope, some tedious seasons o'er,
To join a long lost friend, to part no more.