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Scenes and Hymns of Life (Felicia Hemans)

Published onApr 12, 2024
Scenes and Hymns of Life (Felicia Hemans)

Scenes and Hymns of Life, to William Wordsworth, Esq.

By Felicia Hemans


Scenes and Hymns of Life, to William Wordsworth, Esq.



Preface.—I trust I shall not be accused of presumption for the endeavour which I have here made to enlarge, in some degree, the sphere of religious poetry, by associating with its themes more of the emotions, the affections, and even the purer imaginative enjoyments of daily life, than may have been hitherto admitted within the hallowed circle.

It has been my wish to portray the religious spirit, not alone in its meditative joys and solitary aspirations, (the poetic embodying of which seems to require from the reader a state of mind already separated and exalted,) but likewise in those active influences upon human life, so often called into victorious energy by trial and conflict, though too often also, like the upward-striving flame of a mountain watch-fire, borne down by tempest-showers, or swayed by the current of opposing winds.

I have sought to represent that spirit as penetrating the gloom of the prison and the deathbed, bearing “healing on its wings” to the agony of parting love—strengthening the heart of the wayfarer for “perils in the wilderness”—gladdening the domestic walk through field and woodland—and springing to life in the soul of childhood, along with its earliest rejoicing perceptions of natural beauty.

Circumstances not altogether under my own control have, for the present, interfered to prevent the fuller development of a plan which I yet hope more worthily to mature; and I lay this little volume before the public with that deep sense of deficiency which cannot be more impressively taught to human powers than by their reverential application to things divine.—Felicia Hemans.




“Thy face

Is all at once spread over with a calm

More beautiful than sleep, or mirth, or joy!

I am no more disconsolate.” Wilson.

Scene I.—A Prison.

Edith alone.

Edith. Morn once again! Morn in the lone, dim cell,

The cavern of the prisoner’s fever-dream;

And morn on all the green, rejoicing hills,

And the bright waters round the prisoner’s home,

Far, far away! Now wakes the early bird,

That in the lime’s transparent foliage sings,

Close to my cottage-lattice—he awakes,

To stir the young leaves with his gushing soul,

And to call forth rich answers of delight

From voices buried in a thousand trees

Through the dim, starry hours. Now doth the lake

Darken and flash in rapid interchange

Unto the matin breeze; and the blue mist

Rolls, like a furling banner, from the brows

Of the forth-gleaming hills and woods that rise

As if new-born. Bright world! and I am here!

And thou, O thou! the awakening thought of whom

Was more than dayspring, dearer than the sun,

Herbert! the very glance of whose clear eye

Made my soul melt away to one pure fount

Of living, bounding gladness!—where art thou?

My friend! my only and my blessed love!

Herbert, my soul’s companion!

Gomez, a Spanish Priest, enters.

Gom. Daughter, hail!

I bring thee tidings.

Ed. Heaven will aid my soul

Calmly to meet whate’er thy lips announce.

Gom. Nay, lift a song of thanksgiving to heaven,

And bow thy knee down for deliverance won!

Hast thou not pray’d for life? and wouldst thou not

Once more be free!

Ed. Have I not pray’d for life?

I, that am so beloved! that love again

With such a heart of tendrils? Heaven! thou know’st

The gushings of my prayer! And would I not

Once more be free? I that have been a child

Of breezy hills, a playmate of the fawn

In ancient woodlands from mine infancy!

A watcher of the clouds and of the stars,

Beneath the adoring silence of the night;

And a glad wanderer with the happy streams,

Whose laughter fills the mountains! Oh! to hear

Their blessed sounds again!

Gom. Rejoice, rejoice!

Our queen hath pity, maiden! on thy youth;

She wills not thou shouldst perish. I am come

To loose thy bonds.

Ed. And shall I see his face,

And shall I listen to his voice again,

And lay my head upon his faithful breast,

Weeping there in my gladness? Will this be?

Blessings upon thee, father! my quick heart

Hath deem’d thee stern—say, wilt thou not forgive

The wayward child, too long in sunshine rear’d—

Too long unused to chastening? Wilt thou not?

But Herbert, Herbert! Oh, my soul hath rush’d

On a swift gust of sudden joy away,

Forgetting all beside! Speak, father! speak!

Herbert—is he, too, free?

Gom. His freedom lies

In his own choice—a boon like thine.

Ed. Thy words

Fall changed and cold upon my boding heart.

Leave not this dim suspense o’ershadowing me;

Let all be told.

Gom. The monarchs of the earth

Shower not their mighty gifts without a claim

Unto some token of true vassalage,

Some mark of homage.

Ed. Oh! unlike to Him

Who freely pours the joy of sunshine forth,

And the bright, quickening rain, on those who serve

And those who heed Him not!

Gom. (laying a paper before her.) Is it so much

That thine own hand should set the crowning seal

To thy deliverance? Look, thy task is here!

Sign but these words for liberty and life.

Ed. (examining and then throwing it from her.)

Sign but these words! and wherefore saidst thou not

—“Be but a traitor to God’s light within?”

Cruel, oh cruel! thy dark sport hath been

With a young bosom’s hope! Farewell, glad life!

Bright opening path to love and home, farewell!

And thou—now leave me with my God alone!

Gom. Dost thou reject heaven’s mercy?

Ed. Heaven’s! doth heaven

Woo the free spirit for dishonour’d breath

To sell its birthright?—doth heaven set a price

On the clear jewel of unsullied faith,

And the bright calm of conscience? Priest, away!

God hath been with me midst the holiness

Of England’s mountains. Not in sport alone

I trod their heath-flowers; but high thoughts rose up

From the broad shadow of the enduring rocks,

And wander’d with me into solemn glens,

Where my soul felt the beauty of His word.

I have heard voices of immortal truth,

Blent with the everlasting torrent-sounds

That make the deep hills tremble.—Shall I quail?

Shall England’s daughter sink? No! He who there

Spoke to my heart in silence and in storm,

Will not forsake His child!

Gom. (turning from her.) Then perish! lost

In thine own blindness!

Ed. (suddenly throwing herself at his feet.)

Father! hear me yet!

Oh! if the kindly touch of human love

Hath ever warm’d thy breast——

Gom. Away—away!

I know not love.

Ed. Yet hear! if thou hast known

The tender sweetness of a mother’s voice—

If the true vigil of affection’s eye

Hath watch’d thy childhood—if fond tears have e’er

Been shower’d upon thy head—if parting words

E’er pierced thy spirit with their tenderness—

Let me but look upon his face once more,

Let me but say—Farewell, my soul’s beloved!

And I will bless thee still!

Gom. (aside.) Her soul may yield,

Beholding him in fetters; woman’s faith

Will bend to woman’s love.

Thy prayer is heard;

Follow, and I will guide thee to his cell.

Ed. O stormy hour of agony and joy!

But I shall see him—I shall hear his voice!

[They go out.

Scene II.—Another part of the Prison.

Herbert, Edith.

Ed. Herbert! my Herbert! is it thus we meet?

Her. The voice of my own Edith! Can such joy

Light up this place of death! And do I feel

Thy breath of love once more upon my cheek,

And the soft floating of thy gleamy hair,

My blessed Edith? Oh, so pale! so changed!

My flower, my blighted flower! thou that wert made

For the kind fostering of sweet, summer airs,

How hath the storm been with thee? Lay thy head

On this true breast again, my gentle one!

And tell me all.

Ed. Yes! take me to thy heart,

For I am weary, weary! Oh! that heart!

The kind, the brave, the tender!—how my soul

Hath sicken’d in vain yearnings for the balm

Of rest on that warm heart!—full, deep repose!

One draught of dewy stillness after storm!

And God hath pitied me, and I am here—

Yet once before I die.

Her. They cannot slay

One young, and meek, and beautiful as thou,

My broken lily! Surely the long days

Of the dark cell have been enough for thee!

Oh! thou shalt live, and raise thy gracious head

Yet in calm sunshine.

Ed. Herbert! I have cast

The snare of proferr’d mercy from my soul,

This very hour. God to the weak hath given

Victory o’er life and death. The tempter’s price

Hath been rejected—Herbert, I must die.

Her. O Edith! Edith! I, that led thee first

From the old path wherein thy fathers trod—

I, that received it as an angel’s task,

To pour the fresh light on thine ardent soul,

Which drank it as a sunflower—I have been

Thy guide to death.

Ed. To heaven! my guide to heaven,

My noble and my blessed! Oh! look up,

Be strong, rejoice, my Herbert! But for thee,

How could my spirit have sprung up to God

Through the dark cloud which o’er its vision hung,

The night of fear and error?—thy dear hand

First raised that veil, and show’d the glorious world

My heritage beyond. Friend! love, and friend!

It was as if thou gavest me mine own soul

In those bright days! Yes! a new earth and heaven,

And a new sense for all their splendours born—

These were thy gifts; and shall I not rejoice

To die, upholding their immortal worth,

Even for thy sake? Yes! fill’d with nobler life

By thy pure love, made holy to the truth,

Lay me upon the altar of thy God,

The first fruits of thy ministry below—

Thy work, thine own!

Her. My love, my sainted love!

Oh! I can almost yield thee unto heaven;

Earth would but sully thee! Thou must depart,

With the rich crown of thy celestial gifts

Untainted by a breath. And yet, alas!

Edith! what dreams of holy happiness,

Even for this world, were ours!—the low sweet home,

The pastoral dwelling, with its ivied porch,

And lattice gleaming through the leaves—and thou

My life’s companion! Thou, beside my hearth,

Sitting with thy meek eyes, or greeting me

Back from brief absence with thy bounding step,

In the green meadow-path, or by my side

Kneeling—thy calm uplifted face to mine,

In the sweet hush of prayer! And now—oh, now!—

How have we loved—how fervently! how long!

And this to be the close!

Ed. Oh! bear me up

Against the unutterable tenderness

Of earthly love, my God!—in the sick hour

Of dying human hope, forsake me not!

Herbert, my Herbert! even from that sweet home

Where it had been too much of Paradise

To dwell with thee—even thence the oppressor’s hand

Might soon have torn us; or the touch of death

Might one day there have left a widow’d heart,

Pining alone. We will go hence, beloved!

To the bright country where the wicked cease

From troubling, where the spoiler hath no sway;

Where no harsh voice of worldliness disturbs

The Sabbath-peace of love. We will go hence,

Together with our wedded souls, to heaven:

No solitary lingering, no cold void,

No dying of the heart! Our lives have been

Lovely through faithful love, and in our deaths

We will not be divided.

Her. Oh! the peace

Of God is lying far within thine eyes,

Far underneath the mist of human tears

Lighting those blue, still depths, and sinking thence

On my worn heart. Now am I girt with strength,

Now I can bless thee, my true bride for heaven!

Ed. And let me bless thee, Herbert!—in this hour

Let my soul bless thee with prevailing might!

Oh! thou hast loved me nobly! thou didst take

An orphan to thy heart—a thing unprized

And desolate; and thou didst guard her there,

That lone and lowly creature, as a pearl

Of richest price; and thou didst fill her soul

With the high gifts of an immortal wealth.

I bless, I bless thee! Never did thine eye

Look on me but in glistening tenderness,

My gentle Herbert! Never did thy voice

But in affection’s deepest music speak

To thy poor Edith! Never was thy heart

Aught but the kindliest sheltering home to mine,

My faithful, generous Herbert! Woman’s peace

Ne’er on a breast so tender and so true

Reposed before. Alas! thy showering tears

Fall fast upon my cheek—forgive, forgive!

I should not melt thy noble strength away

In such an hour.

Her. Sweet Edith, no! my heart

Will fail no more. God bears me up through thee,

And by thy words, and by thy heavenly light

Shining around thee, through thy very tears,

Will yet sustain me! Let us call on Him!

Let us kneel down, as we have knelt so oft,

Thy pure cheek touching mine, and call on Him,

Th’ all-pitying One, to aid.

[They kneel.

Oh, look on us,

Father above!—in tender mercy look

On us, thy children!—through th’ o’ershadowing cloud

Of sorrow and mortality, send aid—

Save, or we perish! We would pour our lives

Forth as a joyous offering to thy truth;

But we are weak—we, the bruised reeds of earth,

Are sway’d by every gust. Forgive, O God!

The blindness of our passionate desires,

The fainting of our hearts, the lingering thoughts

Which cleave to dust! Forgive the strife; accept

The sacrifice, though dim with mortal tears,

From mortal pangs wrung forth! And if our souls,

In all the fervent dreams, the fond excess,

Of their long-clasping love, have wander’d not,

Holiest! from thee—oh! take them to thyself,

After the fiery trial—take them home

To dwell, in that imperishable bond

Before thee link’d, for ever. Hear!—thro’ Him

Who meekly drank the cup of agony,

Who pass’d through death to victory, hear and save!

Pity us, Father! we are girt with snares:

Father in Heaven! we have no help but thee.

[They rise.

Is thy soul strengthen’d, my beloved one?

O Edith! couldst thou lift up thy sweet voice,

And sing me that old solemn-breathing hymn

We loved in happier days—the strain which tells

Of the dread conflict in the olive shade?

Edith sings.

He knelt, the Saviour knelt and pray’d,

When but his Father’s eye

Look’d through the lonely garden’s shade

On that dread agony;

The Lord of all above, beneath,

Was bow’d with sorrow unto death.

The sun set in a fearful hour,

The stars might well grow dim,

When this mortality had power

So to o’ershadow Him!

That He who gave man’s breath, might know

The very depths of human woe.

He proved them all!—the doubt, the strife,

The faint perplexing dread,

The mists that hang o’er parting life,

All gather’d round his head;

And the Deliverer knelt to pray—

Yet pass’d it not, that cup, away!

It pass’d not—though the stormy wave

Had sunk beneath his tread;

It pass’d not—though to Him the grave

Had yielded up its dead.

But there was sent him from on High

A gift of strength for man to die.

And was the Sinless thus beset

With anguish and dismay?

How may we meet our conflict yet,

In the dark, narrow way?

Through Him—through Him that path who trod.

—Save, or we perish, Son of God!

Hark, hark! the parting signal.

[Prison attendants enter.

Fare thee well!

O thou unutterably loved, farewell!

Let our hearts bow to God!

Her. One last embrace—

On earth the last! We have eternity

For love’s communion yet! Farewell!—farewell!

[She is led out.

’Tis o’er!—the bitterness of death is past!


“Once when I look’d along the laughing earth,

Up the blue heavens and through the middle air,

Joyfully ringing with the skylark’s song,

I wept! and thought how sad for one so young

To bid farewell to so much happiness.

But Christ hath call’d me from this lower world,

Delightful though it be.” Wilson.

Apartment in an English country-house.—Lilian reclining, as sleeping on a couch. Her mother watching beside her. Her sister enters with flowers.

Mother. Hush! lightly tread! Still tranquilly she sleeps,

As when a babe I rock’d her on my heart.

I’ve watch’d, suspending e’en my breath, in fear

To break the heavenly spell. Move silently!

And oh! those flowers! Dear Jessy! bear them hence—

Dost thou forget the passion of quick tears

That shook her trembling frame, when last we brought

The roses to her couch? Dost thou not know

What sudden longings for the woods and hills,

Where once her free steps moved so buoyantly,

These leaves and odours with strange influence wake

In her fast-kindled soul?

Jessy. Oh! she would pine,

Were the wild scents and glowing hues withheld,

Mother! far more than now her spirit yearns

For the blue sky, the singing birds and brooks,

And swell of breathing turf, whose lightsome spring

Their blooms recall.

Lilian, (raising herself.) Is that my Jessy’s voice

It woke me not, sweet mother! I had lain

Silently, visited by waking dreams,

Yet conscious of thy brooding watchfulness,

Long ere I heard the sound. Hath she brought flowers?

Nay, fear not now thy fond child’s waywardness,

My thoughtful mother!—in her chasten’d soul

The passion-colour’d images of life,

Which, with their sudden, startling flush, awoke

So oft those burning tears, have died away;

And night is there—still, solemn, holy night!

With all her stars, and with the gentle tune

Of many fountains, low and musical,

By day unheard.

Mother. And wherefore night, my child?

Thou art a creature all of life and dawn,

And from thy couch of sickness yet shalt rise,

And walk forth with the dayspring.

Lilian. Hope it not!

Dream it no more, my mother!—there are things

Known but to God, and to the parting soul,

Which feels His thrilling summons.

But my words

Too much o’ershadow those kind, loving eyes.

Bring me thy flowers, dear Jessy! Ah! thy step,

Well do I see, hath not alone explored

The garden bowers, but freely visited

Our wilder haunts. This foam-like meadow-sweet

Is from the cool, green, shadowy river-nook,

Where the stream chimes around th’ old mossy stones

With sounds like childhood’s laughter. Is that spot

Lovely as when our glad eyes hail’d it first?

Still doth the golden willow bend, and sweep

The clear brown wave with every passing wind?

And through the shallower waters, where they lie

Dimpling in light, do the vein’d pebbles gleam

Like bedded gems? And the white butterflies,

From shade to sun-streak are they glancing still

Among the poplar-boughs?

Jessy. All, all is there

Which glad midsummer’s wealthiest hours can bring;

All, save the soul of all, thy lightning-smile!

Therefore I stood in sadness midst the leaves,

And caught an under-music of lament

In the stream’s voice. But Nature waits thee still,

And for thy coming piles a fairy throne

Of richest moss.

Lilian. Alas! it may not be!

My soul hath sent her farewell voicelessly

To all these blessed haunts of song and thought;

Yet not the less I love to look on these,

Their dear memorials,—strew them o’er my couch

Till it grow like a forest-bank in spring,

All flush’d with violets and anemones.

Ah! the pale brier-rose! touch’d so tenderly,

As a pure ocean-shell, with faintest red,

Melting away to pearliness! I know

How its long, light festoons o’erarching hung

From the gray rock that rises altar-like,

With its high, waving crown of mountain-ash,

Midst the lone grassy dell. And this rich bough

Of honey’d woodbine tells me of the oak,

Whose deep, midsummer gloom sleeps heavily,

Shedding a verdurous twilight o’er the face

Of the glade’s pool. Methinks I see it now;

I look up through the stirring of its leaves

Unto the intense blue, crystal firmament.

The ringdove’s wing is flitting o’er my head,

Casting at times a silvery shadow down

Midst the large water-lilies. Beautiful!

How beautiful is all this fair, free world

Under God’s open sky!

Mother. Thou art o’erwrought

Once more, my child! The dewy, trembling light

Presaging tears, again is in thine eye.

Oh, hush, dear Lilian! turn thee to repose.

Lilian. Mother! I cannot. In my soul the thoughts

Burn with too subtle and too swift a fire;

Importunately to my lips they throng,

And with their earthly kindred seek to blend

Ere the veil drop between. When I am gone—

(For I must go)—then the remember’d words

Wherein these wild imaginings flow forth,

Will to thy fond heart be as amulets

Held there, with life and love. And weep not thus,

Mother! dear sister!—kindest, gentlest ones!

Be comforted that now I weep no more

For the glad earth and all the golden light

Whence I depart.

No! God hath purified my spirit’s eye,

And in the folds of this consummate rose

I read bright prophecies. I see not there,

Dimly and mournfully, the word “farewell

On the rich petals traced. No—in soft veins

And characters of beauty, I can read—

Look up, look heavenward!

Blessed God of Love!

I thank Thee for these gifts, the precious links

Whereby my spirit unto Thee is drawn!

I thank Thee that the loveliness of earth

Higher than earth can raise me! Are not these

But germs of things unperishing, that bloom

Beside th’ immortal streams? Shall I not find

The lily of the field, the Saviour’s flower,

In the serene and never-moaning air,

And the clear starry light of angel eyes,

A thousand-fold more glorious? Richer far

Will not the violet’s dusky purple glow,

When it hath ne’er been press’d to broken hearts,

A record of lost love?

Mother. My Lilian! thou

Surely in thy bright life hast little known

Of lost things or of changed!

Lilian. Oh! little yet,

For thou hast been my shield! But had it been

My lot on this world’s billows to be thrown

Without thy love, O mother! there are hearts

So perilously fashion’d, that for them

God’s touch alone hath gentleness enough

To waken, and not break, their thrilling strings!—

We will not speak of this!

By what strange spell

Is it, that ever, when I gaze on flowers,

I dream of music? Something in their hues,

All melting into colour’d harmonies,

Wafts a swift thought of interwoven chords,

Of blended singing-tones, that swell and die

In tenderest falls away. Oh, bring thy harp,

Sister! A gentle heaviness at last

Hath touch’d mine eyelids: sing to me, and sleep

Will come again.

Jessy. What wouldst thou hear?—the Italian peasant’s lay,

Which makes the desolate Campagna ring

With “Roma! Roma!” or the madrigal

Warbled on moonlight seas of Sicily?

Or the old ditty left by troubadours

To girls of Languedoc?

Lilian. Oh, no! not these.

Jessy. What then?—the Moorish melody still known

Within the Alhambra city? or those notes

Born of the Alps, which pierce the exile’s heart

Even unto death?

Lilian. No, sister! nor yet these—

Too much of dreamy love, of faint regret,

Of passionately fond remembrance, breathes

In the caressing sweetness of their tones,

For one who dies. They would but woo me back

To glowing life with those Arcadian sounds—

And vainly, vainly. No! a loftier strain,

A deeper music!—something that may bear

The spirit upon slow yet mighty wings,

Unsway’d by gusts of earth; something all fill’d

With solemn adoration, tearful prayer.

Sing me that antique strain which once I deem’d

Almost too sternly simple, too austere

In its grave majesty! I love it now—

Now it seems fraught with holiest power to hush

All billows of the soul, e’en like His voice

That said of old—“Be still!” Sing me that strain,

“The Saviour’s dying hour.”

Jessy sings to the Harp.

O Son of Man!

In thy last mortal hour

Shadows of earth closed round thee fearfully!

All that on us is laid,

All the deep gloom,

The desolation and the abandonment,

The dark amaze of death—

All upon thee too fell,

Redeemer! Son of Man!

But the keen pang

Wherewith the silver cord

Of earth’s affection from the soul is wrung;

The uptearing of those tendrils which have grown

Into the quick, strong heart;

This, this—the passion and the agony

Of battling love and death,

Surely was not for thee,

Holy One! Son of God!

Yes, my Redeemer!

E’en this cup was thine!

Fond, wailing voices call’d thy spirit back:

E’en midst the mighty thoughts

Of that last crowning hour—

E’en on thine awful way to victory,

Wildly they call’d thee back!

And weeping eyes of love

Unto thy heart’s deep core

Pierced through the folds of death’s mysterious veil.

Suffer! thou Son of Man!

Mother-tears were mingled

With thy costly blood-drops,

In the shadow of the atoning cross;

And the friend, the faithful,

He that on thy bosom

Thence imbibing heavenly love, had lain—

He, a pale sad watcher,

Met with looks of anguish

All the anguish in thy last meek glance—

Dying Son of Man!

Oh! therefore unto thee,

Thou that hast known all woes

Bound in the girdle of mortality!

Thou that wilt lift the reed

Which storms have bruised,

To thee may sorrow through each conflict cry,

And, in that tempest-hour, when love and life

Mysteriously must part,

When tearful eyes

Are passionately bent

To drink earth’s last fond meaning from our gaze,

Then, then forsake us not!

Shed on our spirits then

The faith and deep submissiveness of thine!

Thou that didst love

Thou that didst weep and die—

Conqueror! thou Son of God!


“They dreamt not of a perishable home

Who thus could build. Be mine in hours of fear

Or grovelling thought, to seek a refuge here.”


A dim and mighty minster of old time!

A temple shadowy with remembrances

Of the majestic past! The very light

Streams with a colouring of heroic days

In every ray, which leads through arch and aisle

A path of dreamy lustre, wandering back

To other years!—and the rich fretted roof,

And the wrought coronals of summer leaves,

Ivy and vine, and many a sculptured rose—

The tenderest image of mortality—

Binding the slender columns, whose light shafts

Cluster like stems in corn-sheaves;—all these things

Tell of a race that nobly, fearlessly,

On their heart’s worship pour’d a wealth of love!

Honour be with the dead! The people kneel

Under the helms of antique chivalry,

And in the crimson gloom from banners thrown,

And midst the forms, in pale, proud slumber carved,

Of warriors on their tombs. The people kneel

Where mail-clad chiefs have knelt; where jewell’d crowns

On the flush’d brows of conquerors have been set;

Where the high anthems of old victories

Have made the dust give echoes. Hence, vain thoughts!

Memories of power and pride, which long ago,

Like dim processions of a dream, have sunk

In twilight-depths away. Return, my soul!

The Cross recalls thee. Lo! the blessed Cross!

High o’er the banners and the crests of earth,

Fix’d in its meek and still supremacy!

And lo! the throng of beating human hearts,

With all their secret scrolls of buried grief,

All their full treasures of immortal hope,

Gather’d before their God! Hark! how the flood

Of the rich organ-harmony bears up

Their voice on its high waves!—a mighty burst!

A forest-sounding music! Every tone

Which the blasts call forth with their harping wings

From gulfs of tossing foliage, there is blent:

And the old minster—forest-like itself—

With its long avenues of pillar’d shade,

Seems quivering all with spirit, as that strain

O’erflows its dim recesses, leaving not

One tomb unthrill’d by the strong sympathy

Answering the electric notes. Join, join, my soul!

In thine own lowly, trembling consciousness,

And thine own solitude, the glorious hymn.

Rise like an altar-fire!

In solemn joy aspire,

Deepening thy passion still, O choral strain!

On thy strong rushing wind

Bear up from humankind

Thanks and implorings—be they not in vain!

Father, which art on high!

Weak is the melody

Of harp or song to reach thine awful ear,

Unless the heart be there,

Winging the words of prayer

With its own fervent faith or suppliant fear.

Let, then, thy Spirit brood

Over the multitude—

Be thou amidst them, thro’ that heavenly Guest!

So shall their cry have power

To win from thee a shower

Of healing gifts for every wounded breast.

What griefs that make no sign,

That ask no aid but thine,

Father of mercies! here before thee swell!

As to the open sky,

All their dark waters lie

To thee reveal’d, in each close bosom-cell.

The sorrow for the dead,

Mantling its lonely head

From the world’s glare, is, in thy sight, set free;

And the fond, aching love,

Thy minister to move

All the wrung spirit, softening it for thee.

And doth not thy dread eye

Behold the agony

In that most hidden chamber of the heart,

Where darkly sits remorse,

Beside the secret source

Of fearful visions, keeping watch apart?

Yes! here before thy throne

Many—yet each alone—

To thee that terrible unveiling make:

And still, small whispers clear

Are startling many an ear,

As if a trumpet bade the dead awake.

How dreadful is this place!

The glory of thy face

Fills it too searchingly for mortal sight.

Where shall the guilty flee?

Over what far-off sea?

What hills, what woods, may shroud him from that light?

Not to the cedar-shade

Let his vain flight be made;

Nor the old mountains, nor the desert sea;

What, but the Cross, can yield

The hope—the stay—the shield?

Thence may the Atoner lead him up to thee!

Be thou, be thou his aid!

Oh, let thy love pervade

The haunted caves of self-accusing thought!

There let the living stone

Be cleft—the seed be sown—

The song of fountains from the silence brought!

So shall thy breath once more

Within the soul restore

Thine own first image—Holiest and Most High!

As a clear lake is fill’d

With hues of heaven, instill’d

Down to the depths of its calm purity.

And if, amidst the throng

Link’d by the ascending song,

There are whose thoughts in trembling rapture soar;

Thanks, Father! that the power

Of joy, man’s early dower,

Thus, e’en midst tears, can fervently adore!

Thanks for each gift divine!

Eternal praise be thine,

Blessing and love, O Thou that hearest prayer!

Let the hymn pierce the sky,

And let the tombs reply!

For seed, that waits the harvest-time, is there.


“Move along these shades

In gentleness of heart: with gentle hand

Touch—for there is a spirit in the woods.”—Wordsworth.


Child. There are the aspens, with their silvery leaves

Trembling, for ever trembling; though the lime

And chestnut boughs, and those long arching sprays

Of eglantine, hang still, as if the wood

Were all one picture!

Father. Hast thou heard, my boy,

The peasant’s legend of that quivering tree?

Child. No, father: doth he say the fairies dance

Amidst the branches?

Father. Oh! a cause more deep,

More solemn far, the rustic doth assign

To the strange restlessness of those wan leaves!

The cross he deems, the blessed cross, whereon

The meek Redeemer bow’d his head to death,

Was framed of aspen wood; and since that hour,

Through all its race the pale tree hath sent down

A thrilling consciousness, a secret awe,

Making them tremulous, when not a breeze

Disturbs the airy thistle-down, or shakes

The light lines of the shining gossamer.

Child., (after a pause.) Dost thou believe it, father?

Father. Nay, my child,

We walk in clearer light. But yet, even now,

With something of a lingering love, I read

The characters, by that mysterious hour,

Stamp’d on the reverential soul of man

In visionary days; and thence thrown back

On the fair forms of nature. Many a sign

Of the great sacrifice which won us heaven,

The woodman and the mountaineer can trace

On rock, on herb, and flower. And be it so!

They do not wisely that, with hurried hand,

Would pluck these salutary fancies forth

From their strong soil within the peasant’s breast,

And scatter them—far, far too fast!—away

As worthless weeds. Oh! little do we know

When they have soothed, when saved!

But come, dear boy!

My words grow tinged with thought too deep for thee.

Come—let us search for violets.

Child. Know you not

More of the legends which the woodmen tell

Amidst the trees and flowers?

Father. Wilt thou know more?

Bring then the folding leaf, with dark-brown stains

There—by the mossy roots of yon old beech,

Midst the rich tuft of cowslips—see’st thou not?

There is a spray of woodbine from the tree

Just bending o’er it with a wild bee’s weight.

Child. The Arum leaf?

Father. Yes. These deep inwrought marks,

The villager will tell thee, (and with voice

Lower’d in his true heart’s reverent earnestness,)

Are the flower’s portion from th’ atoning blood

On Calvary shed. Beneath the cross it grew;

And, in the vase-like hollow of its leaf,

Catching from that dread shower of agony

A few mysterious drops, transmitted thus

Unto the groves and hills, their sealing stains,

A heritage, for storm or vernal wind

Never to waft away!

And hast thou seen

The passion-flower? It grows not in the woods,

But midst the bright things brought from other climes.

Child. What! the pale star-shaped flower, with purple streaks,

And light green tendrils?

Father. Thou hast mark’d it well.

Yes! a pale, starry, dreamy-looking flower,

As from a land of spirits! To mine eye

Those faint, wan petals—colourless, and yet

Not white, but shadowy—with the mystic lines

(As letters of some wizard language gone)

Into their vapour-like transparence wrought,

Bear something of a strange solemnity,

Awfully lovely!—and the Christian’s thought

Loves, in their cloudy penciling, to find

Dread symbols of his Lord’s last mortal pangs

Set by God’s hand—the coronal of thorns—

The cross, the wounds—with other meanings deep

Which I will teach thee when we meet again

That flower, the chosen for the martyr’s wreath,

The Saviour’s holy flower.

But let us pause:

Now have we reach’d the very inmost heart

Of the old wood. How the green shadows close

Into a rich, clear, summer darkness round,

A luxury of gloom! Scarce doth one ray,

Even when a soft wind parts the foliage, steal

O’er the bronzed pillars of these deep arcades;

Or if it doth, ’tis with a mellow’d hue

Of glow-worm colour’d light.

Here, in the days

Of pagan visions, would have been a place

For worship of the wood-nymphs! Through these oaks

A small, fair gleaming temple might have thrown

The quivering image of its Dorian shafts

On the stream’s bosom, or a sculptured form,

Dryad, or fountain-goddess of the gloom,

Have bow’d its head o’er that dark crystal down,

Drooping with beauty, as a lily droops

Under bright rain. But we, my child, are here

With God, our God, a Spirit, who requires

Heart-worship, given in spirit and in truth;

And this high knowledge—deep, rich, vast enough

To fill and hallow all the solitude—

Makes consecrated earth where’er we move,

Without the aid of shrines.

What! dost thou feel

The solemn whispering influence of the scene

Oppressing thy young heart, that thou dost draw

More closely to my side, and clasp my hand

Faster in thine? Nay, fear not, gentle child!

’Tis love, not fear, whose vernal breath pervades

The stillness round. Come, sit beside me here,

Where brooding violets mantle this green slope

With dark exuberance; and beneath these plumes

Of wavy fern, look where the cup-moss holds

In its pure, crimson goblets, fresh and bright,

The starry dews of morning. Rest awhile,

And let me hear once more the woodland verse

I taught thee late—’twas made for such a scene.

Child speaks.


Broods there some spirit here?

The summer leaves hang silent as a cloud;

And o’er the pools, all still and darkly clear,

The wild wood-hyacinth with awe seems bow’d;

And something of a tender cloistral gloom

Deepens the violet’s bloom.

The very light that streams

Through the dim, dewy veil of foliage round

Comes tremulous with emerald-tinted gleams—

As if it knew the place were holy ground;

And would not startle, with too bright a burst,

Flowers, all divinely nursed.

Wakes there some spirit here?

A swift wind, fraught with change, comes rushing by;

And leaves and waters, in its wild career,

Shed forth sweet voices—each a mystery!

Surely some awful influence must pervade

These depths of trembling shade!

Yes! lightly, softly move!

There is a power, a presence in the woods;

A viewless being that, with life and love,

Informs the reverential solitudes:

The rich air knows it, and the mossy sod—

Thou—thou art here, my God!

And if with awe we tread

The minster-floor, beneath the storied pane,

And, midst the mouldering banners of the dead,

Shall the green, voiceful wild seem less thy fane,

Where thou alone hast built?—where arch and roof

Are of thy living woof?

The silence and the sound,

In the lone places, breathe alike of thee;

The temple-twilight of the gloom profound,

The dew-cup of the frail anemone,

The reed by every wandering whisper thrill’d—

All, all with thee are fill’d!

Oh! purify mine eyes,

More and yet more, by love and lowly thought,

Thy presence, holiest One! to recognise

In these majestic aisles which thou hast wrought

And, midst their sea-like murmurs, teach mine ear

Ever thy voice to hear!

And sanctify my heart

To meet the awful sweetness of that tone

With no faint thrill or self-accusing start,

But a deep joy the heavenly guest to own—

Joy, such as dwelt in Eden’s glorious bowers

Ere sin had dimm’d the flowers.

Let me not know the change

O’er nature thrown by guilt!—the boding sky,

The hollow leaf-sounds ominous and strange,

The weight wherewith the dark tree-shadows lie!

Father! oh! keep my footsteps pure and free,

To walk the woods with thee!


“Soul of our souls! and safeguard of the world!

Sustain—Thou only canst—the sick at heart;

Restore their languid spirits, and recall

Their lost affections unto thee and thine.”—Wordsworth.

Night—holy night—the time

For mind’s free breathings in a purer clime!

Night!—when in happier hour the unveiling sky

Woke all my kindled soul

To meet its revelations, clear and high,

With the strong joy of immortality!

Now hath strange sadness wrapp’d me, strange and deep—

And my thoughts faint, and shadows o’er them roll,

E’en when I deem’d them seraph-plumed, to sweep

Far beyond earth’s control.

Wherefore is this? I see the stars returning,

Fire after fire in heaven’s rich temple burning:

Fast shine they forth—my spirit-friends, my guides,

Bright rulers of my being’s inmost tides;

They shine—but faintly, through a quivering haze:

Oh! is the dimness mine which clouds those rays?

They from whose glance my childhood drank delight!

A joy unquestioning—a love intense—

They that, unfolding to more thoughtful sight

The harmony of their magnificence,

Drew silently the worship of my youth

To the grave sweetness on the brow of truth;

Shall they shower blessing, with their beams divine,

Down to the watcher on the stormy sea,

And to the pilgrim toiling for his shrine

Through some wild pass of rocky Apennine,

And to the wanderer lone

On wastes of Afric thrown,

And not to me?

Am I a thing forsaken?

And is the gladness taken

From the bright-pinion’d nature which hath soar’d

Through realms by royal eagle ne’er explored,

And, bathing there in streams of fiery light,

Found strength to gaze upon the Infinite?

And now an alien! Wherefore must this be?

How shall I rend the chain?

How drink rich life again

From those pure urns of radiance, welling free?

—Father of Spirits! let me turn to thee!

Oh! if too much exulting in her dower,

My soul, not yet to lowly thought subdued,

Hath stood without thee on her hill of power—

A fearful and a dazzling solitude!

And therefore from that haughty summit’s crown

To dim desertion is by thee cast down;

Behold! thy child submissively hath bow’d—

Shine on him through the cloud!

Let the now darken’d earth and curtain’d heaven

Back to his vision with thy face be given!

Bear him on high once more,

But in thy strength to soar,

And wrapt and still’d by that o’ershadowing might,

Forth on the empyreal blaze to look with chasten’d sight.

Or if it be that, like the ark’s lone dove,

My thoughts go forth, and find no resting-place,

No sheltering home of sympathy and love

In the responsive bosoms of my race,

And back return, a darkness and a weight,

Till my unanswer’d heart grows desolate—

Yet, yet sustain me, Holiest!—I am vow’d

To solemn service high;

And shall the spirit, for thy tasks endow’d,

Sink on the threshold of the sanctuary,

Fainting beneath the burden of the day,

Because no human tone

Unto the altar-stone

Of that pure spousal fane inviolate,

Where it should make eternal truth its mate,

May cheer the sacred, solitary way?

Oh! be the whisper of thy voice within

Enough to strengthen! Be the hope to win

A more deep-seeing homage for thy name,

Far, far beyond the burning dream of fame!

Make me thine only!—Let me add but one

To those refulgent steps all undefiled,

Which glorious minds have piled

Through bright self-offering, earnest, childlike, lone,

For mounting to thy throne!

And let my soul, upborne

On wings of inner morn,

Find, in illumined secrecy, the sense

Of that bless’d work, its own high recompense.

The dimness melts away

That on your glory lay,

O ye majestic watchers of the skies!

Through the dissolving veil,

Which made each aspect pale,

Your gladdening fires once more I recognise;

And once again a shower

Of hope, and joy, and power,

Streams on my soul from your immortal eyes.

And if that splendour to my sober’d sight

Come tremulous, with more of pensive light—

Something, though beautiful, yet deeply fraught

With more that pierces through each fold of thought

Than I was wont to trace

On heaven’s unshadow’d face—

Be it e’en so!—be mine, though set apart

Unto a radiant ministry, yet still

A lowly, fearful, self-distrusting heart,

Bow’d before thee, O Mightiest! whose bless’d will

All the pure stars rejoicingly fulfil.


Father! guide me! Day declines,

Hollow winds are in the pines;

Darkly waves each giant bough

O’er the sky’s last crimson glow:

Hush’d is now the convent’s bell,

Which erewhile with breezy swell

From the purple mountains bore

Greeting to the sunset-shore.

Now the sailor’s vesper-hymn

Dies away.

Father! in the forest dim,

Be my stay!

In the low and shivering thrill

Of the leaves that late hung still;

In the dull and muffled tone

Of the sea-wave’s distant moan;

In the deep tints of the sky,

There are signs of tempests nigh.

Ominous, with sullen sound,

Falls the closing dusk around.

Father! through the storm and shade

O’er the wild,

Oh! be Thou the lone one’s aid—

Save thy child!

Many a swift and sounding plume

Homewards, through the boding gloom,

O’er my way hath flitted fast

Since the farewell sunbeam pass’d

From the chestnut’s ruddy bark,

And the pools, now lone and dark,

Where the wakening night-winds sigh

Through the long reeds mournfully.

Homeward, homeward, all things haste—

God of might!

Shield the homeless midst the waste!

Be his light!

In his distant cradle-nest,

Now my babe is laid to rest;

Beautiful its slumber seems

With a glow of heavenly dreams—

Beautiful, o’er that bright sleep.

Hang soft eyes of fondness deep,

Where his mother bends to pray

For the loved and far away.

Father! guard that household bower,

Hear that prayer!

Back, through thine all-guiding power,

Lead me there!

Darker, wilder grows the night;

Not a star sends quivering light

Through the massy arch of shade

By the stern, old forest made.

Thou! to whose unslumbering eyes

All my pathway open lies,

By thy Son who knew distress

In the lonely wilderness,

Where no roof to that bless’d head

Shelter gave—

Father! through the time of dread,

Save—oh, save!


Scene.—The banks of a solitary river in an American forest. A tent under pine-trees in the foreground. Agnes sitting before the tent, with a child in her arms apparently sleeping.

Agnes. Surely ’tis all a dream—a fever-dream!

The desolation and the agony—

The strange, red sunrise, and the gloomy woods,

So terrible with their dark giant boughs,

And the broad, lonely river!—all a dream!

And my boy’s voice will wake me, with its clear,

Wild singing tones, as they were wont to come

Through the wreath’d sweetbrier at my lattice-panes

In happy, happy England! Speak to me!

Speak to thy mother, bright one! she hath watch’d

All the dread night beside thee, till her brain

Is darken’d by swift waves of fantasies,

And her soul faint with longing for thy voice.

Oh! I must wake him with one gentle kiss

On his fair brow!

(Shudderingly.) The strange, damp, thrilling touch!

The marble chill! Now, now it rushes back—

Now I know all!—dead—dead!—a fearful word!

My boy hath left me in the wilderness,

To journey on without the blessed light

In his deep, loving eyes. He’s gone!—he’s gone!

Her Husband enters.

Husband. Agnes! my Agnes! hast thou look’d thy last

On our sweet slumberer’s face? The hour is come—

The couch made ready for his last repose.

Agnes. Not yet! thou canst not take him from me yet!

If he but left me for a few short days,

This were too brief a gazing time to draw

His angel image into my fond heart,

And fix its beauty there. And now—oh! now,

Never again the laughter of his eye

Shall send its gladdening summer through my soul

—Never on earth again. Yet, yet delay!

Thou canst not take him from me.

Husband. My beloved!

Is it not God hath taken him? the God

That took our first-born, o’er whose early grave

Thou didst bow down thy saint-like head, and say,

“His will be done!”

Agnes. Oh! that near household grave,

Under the turf of England, seem’d not half—

Not half so much to part me from my child

As these dark woods. It lay beside our home,

And I could watch the sunshine, through all hours,

Loving and clinging to the grassy spot;

And I could dress its greensward with fresh flowers,

Familiar meadow-flowers. O’er thee, my babe!

The primrose will not blossom! Oh! that now,

Together, by thy fair young sister’s side,

We lay midst England’s valleys!

Husband. Dost thou grieve,

Agnes! that thou hast follow’d o’er the deep

An exile’s fortunes? If it thus can be,

Then, after many a conflict cheerily met,

My spirit sinks at last.

Agnes. Forgive! forgive!

My Edmund, pardon me! Oh! grief is wild—

Forget its words, quick spray-drops from a fount

Of unknown bitterness! Thou art my home!

Mine only and my blessed one! Where’er

Thy warm heart beats in its true nobleness,

There is my country! there my head shall rest,

And throb no more. Oh! still, by thy strong love,

Bear up the feeble reed!

(Kneeling with the child in her arms.)

And thou, my God!

Hear my soul’s cry from this dread wilderness!

Oh! hear, and pardon me! If I have made

This treasure, sent from thee, too much the ark

Fraught with mine earthward-clinging happiness,

Forgetting Him who gave, and might resume,

Oh, pardon me!

If nature hath rebell’d,

And from thy light turn’d wilfully away,

Making a midnight of her agony,

When the despairing passion of her clasp

Was from its idol stricken at one touch

Of thine Almighty hand—oh, pardon me!

By thy Son’s anguish, pardon! In the soul

The tempests and the waves will know thy voice—

Father! say, “Peace, be still!”

(Giving the child to her husband.)

Farewell, my babe!

Go from my bosom now to other rest!

With this last kiss on thine unsullied brow,

And on thy pale, calm cheek these contrite tears,

I yield thee to thy Maker!

Husband. Now, my wife!

Thine own meek holiness beams forth once more

A light upon my path. Now shall I bear,

From thy dear arms, the slumberer to repose—

With a calm, trustful heart.

Agnes. My Edmund! where—

Where wilt thou lay him?

Husband. See’st thou where the spire

Of yon dark cypress reddens in the sun

To burning gold?—there—o’er yon willow-tuft?

Under that native desert monument

Lies his lone bed. Our Hubert, since the dawn,

With the gray mosses of the wilderness

Hath lined it closely through; and there breathed forth,

E’en from the fulness of his own pure heart,

A wild, sad forest hymn—a song of tears,

Which thou wilt learn to love. I heard the boy

Chanting it o’er his solitary task,

As wails a wood-bird to the thrilling leaves,

Perchance unconsciously.

Agnes. My gentle son!

The affectionate, the gifted! With what joy—

Edmund, rememberest thou?—with what bright joy

His baby brother ever to his arms

Would spring from rosy sleep, and playfully

Hide the rich clusters of his gleaming hair

In that kind, useful breast! Oh! now no more!

But strengthen me, my God! and melt my heart,

Even to a well-spring of adoring tears,

For many a blessing left.

(Bending over the child.) Once more, farewell!

Oh, the pale, piercing sweetness of that look!

How can it be sustain’d? Away, away!

(After a short pause.)

Edmund! my woman’s nature still is weak—

I cannot see thee render dust to dust!

Go thou, my husband! to thy solemn task;

I will rest here, and still my soul with prayer

Till thy return.

Husband. Then strength be with thy prayer!

Peace on thy bosom! Faith and heavenly hope

Unto thy spirit! Fare thee well a while!

We must be pilgrims of the woods again,

After this mournful hour.

(He goes out with the child.—Agnes, kneels in prayer.—After a time, voices without are heard singing.)


Where the long reeds quiver,

Where the pines make moan,

By the forest-river,

Sleeps our babe alone.

England’s field-flowers may not deck his grave,

Cypress shadows o’er him darkly wave.

Woods unknown receive him,

Midst the mighty wild;

Yet with God we leave him,

Blessed, blessed child!

And our tears gush o’er his lovely dust,

Mournfully, yet still from hearts of trust.

Though his eye hath brighten’d

Oft our weary way,

And his clear laugh lighten’d

Half our hearts’ dismay;

Still in hope we give back what was given,

Yielding up the beautiful to heaven.

And to her who bore him,

Her who long must weep,

Yet shall heaven restore him

From his pale, sweet sleep!

Those blue eyes of love and peace again

Through her soul will shine, undimm’d by pain.

Where the long reeds quiver,

Where the pines make moan,

Leave we by the river

Earth to earth alone!

God and Father! may our journeyings on

Lead to where the blessed boy is gone!

From the exile’s sorrow,

From the wanderer’s dread

Of the night and morrow,

Early, brightly fled;

Thou hast call’d him to a sweeter home

Than our lost one o’er the ocean’s foam.

Now let thought behold him,

With his angel look,

Where those arms enfold him,

Which benignly took

Israel’s babes to their Good Shepherd’s breast

When his voice their tender meekness blest.

Turn thee now, fond mother!

From thy dead, oh, turn!

Linger not, young brother,

Here to dream and mourn:

Only kneel once more around the sod,

Kneel, and bow submitted hearts to God!


There is a wakening on the mighty hills,

A kindling with the spirit of the morn!

Bright gleams are scatter’d from the thousand rills,

And a soft visionary hue is born

On the young foliage, worn

By all the embosom’d woods—a silvery green,

Made up of spring and dew, harmoniously serene.

And lo! where, floating through a glory, sings

The lark, alone amidst a crystal sky!

Lo! where the darkness of his buoyant wings,

Against a soft and rosy cloud on high,

Trembles with melody!

While the far-echoing solitudes rejoice

To the rich laugh of music in that voice.

But purer light than of the early sun

Is on you cast, O mountains of the earth!

And for your dwellers nobler joy is won

Than the sweet echoes of the skylark’s mirth,

By this glad morning’s birth!

And gifts more precious by its breath are shed

Than music on the breeze, dew on the violet’s head.

Gifts for the soul, from whose illumined eye

O’er nature’s face the colouring glory flows;

Gifts from the fount of immortality,

Which, fill’d with balm, unknown to human woes,

Lay hush’d in dark repose,

Till thou, bright dayspring! madest its waves our own,

By thine unsealing of the burial stone.

Sing, then, with all your choral strains, ye hills!

And let a full victorious tone be given,

By rock and cavern, to the wind which fills

Your urn-like depths with sound! The tomb is riven,

The radiant gate of heaven

Unfolded—and the stern, dark shadow cast

By death’s o’ersweeping wing, from the earth’s bosom past.

Girt with the slumber of the hamlet’s dead,

Time, with a soft and reconciling hand,

The covering mantle of bright moss hath spread

O’er every narrow bed:

But not by time, and not by nature sown

Was the celestial seed, whence round you peace hath grown.

Christ hath arisen! Oh, not one cherish’d head

Hath, midst the flowery sods, been pillow’d here

Without a hope, (howe’er the heart hath bled

In its vain yearnings o’er the unconscious bier,)

A hope, upspringing clear

From those majestic tidings of the morn,

Which lit the living way to all of woman born.

Thou hast wept mournfully, O human love!

E’en on this greensward: night hath heard thy cry,

Heart-stricken one! thy precious dust above—

Night, and the hills, which sent forth no reply

Unto thine agony!

But He who wept like thee, thy Lord, thy guide,

Christ hath arisen, O love! thy tears shall all be dried.

Dark must have been the gushing of those tears,

Heavy the unsleeping phantom of the tomb

On thine impassion’d soul, in elder years,

When, burden’d with the mystery of its doom,

Mortality’s thick gloom

Hung o’er the sunny world, and with the breath

Of the triumphant rose came blending thoughts of death.

By thee, sad Love! and by thy sister, Fear,

Then was the ideal robe of beauty wrought

To vail that haunting shadow, still too near,

Still ruling secretly the conqueror’s thought,

And where the board was fraught

With wine and myrtles in the summer bower,

Felt, e’en when disavow’d, a presence and a power.

But that dark night is closed: and o’er the dead,

Here, where the gleamy primrose-tufts have blown,

And where the mountain-heath a couch has spread,

And, settling oft on some gray, letter’d stone,

The redbreast warbles lone;

And the wild-bee’s deep drowsy murmurs pass,

Like a low thrill of harp-strings, through the grass:

Here, midst the chambers of the Christian’s sleep,

We o’er death’s gulf may look with trusting eye;

For Hope sits, dove-like, on the gloomy deep,

And the green hills wherein these valleys lie

Seem all one sanctuary

Of holiest thought—nor needs their fresh, bright sod,

Urn, wreath, or shrine, for tombs all dedicate to God.

Christ hath arisen! O mountain-peaks! attest—

Witness, resounding glen and torrent-wave!

The immortal courage in the human breast

Sprung from that victory—tell how oft the brave

To camp midst rock and cave,

Nerved by those words, their struggling faith have borne,

Planting the cross on high above the clouds of morn!

The Alps have heard sweet hymnings for to-day—

Ay, and wild sounds of sterner, deeper tone

Have thrill’d their pines, when those that knelt to pray

Rose up to arm! The pure, high snows have known

A colouring not their own,

But from true hearts, which, by that crimson stain,

Gave token of a trust that call’d no suffering vain.

Those days are past—the mountains wear no more

The solemn splendour of the martyr’s blood;

And may that awful record, as of yore,

Never again be known to field or flood!

E’en though the faithful stood,

A noble army, in the exulting sight

Of earth and heaven, which bless’d their battle for the right!

But many a martyrdom by hearts unshaken

Is yet home silently in homes obscure;

And many a bitter cup is meekly taken;

And, for the strength whereby the just and pure

Thus steadfastly endure,

Glory to Him whose victory won that dower!

Him from whose rising stream’d that robe of spirit-power.

Glory to Him! Hope to the suffering breast!

Light to the nations! He hath roll’d away

The mists which, gathering into deathlike rest,

Between the soul and heaven’s calm ether lay—

His love hath made it day

With those that sat in darkness. Earth and sea!

Lift up glad strains for man by truth divine made free!


“A dancing shape, an image gay,

To haunt, to startle, to waylay.


A being breathing thoughtful breath,

A traveller between life and death.”   Wordsworth.

I saw him at his sport erewhile,

The bright, exulting boy!

Like summer’s lightning came the smile

Of his young spirit’s joy—

A flash that, wheresoe’er it broke,

To life undreamt-of beauty woke.

His fair locks waved in sunny play,

By a clear fountain’s side,

Where jewel-colour’d pebbles lay

Beneath the shallow tide;

And pearly spray at times would meet

The glancing of his fairy feet.

He twined him wreaths of all spring-flowers,

Which drank that streamlet’s dew;

He flung them o’er the wave in showers,

Till, gazing, scarce I knew

Which seem’d more pure, or bright, or wild,

The singing fount or laughing child.

To look on all that joy and bloom

Made earth one festal scene,

Where the dull shadow of the tomb

Seem’d as it ne’er had been.

How could one image of decay

Steal o’er the dawn of such clear day?

I saw once more that aspect bright—

The boy’s meek head was bow’d

In silence o’er the Book of Light,

And, like a golden cloud—

The still cloud of a pictured sky—

His locks droop’d round it lovingly.

And if my heart had deem’d him fair,

When, in the fountain-glade,

A creature of the sky and air,

Almost on wings he play’d;

Oh! how much holier beauty now

Lit the young human being’s brow!

The being born to toil, to die,

To break forth from the tomb

Unto far nobler destiny

Than waits the skylark’s plume!

I saw him, in that thoughtful hour,

Win the first knowledge of his dower.

The soul, the awakening soul I saw—

My watching eye could trace

The shadows of its new-born awe

Sweeping o’er that fair face:

As o’er a flower might pass the shade

By some dread angel’s pinion made!

The soul, the mother of deep fears,

Of high hopes infinite,

Of glorious dreams, mysterious tears,

Of sleepless inner sight;

Lovely, but solemn, it arose,

Unfolding what no more might close.

The red-leaved tablets, undefiled,

As yet, by evil thought—

Oh! little dream’d the brooding child

Of what within me wrought,

While his young heart first burn’d and stirr’d,

And quiver’d to the eternal word.

And reverently my spirit caught

The reverence of his gaze—

A sight with dew of blessing fraught

To hallow after-days;

To make the proud heart meekly wise,

By the sweet faith in those calm eyes.

It seem’d as if a temple rose

Before me brightly there;

And in the depths of its repose

My soul o’erflow’d with prayer,

Feeling a solemn presence nigh—

The power of infant sanctity!

O Father! mould my heart once more

By thy prevailing breath!

Teach me, oh! teach me to adore

E’en with that pure one’s faith—

A faith, all made of love and light,

Child-like, and therefore full of might!


“Be mute who will, who can,

Yet I will praise thee with impassion’d voice!

Me didst thou constitute a priest of thine

In such a temple as we now behold,

Rear’d for thy presence; therefore am I bound

To worship, here and every where.”—Wordsworth.

The blue, deep, glorious heavens!—I lift mine eye,

And bless thee, O my God! that I have met

And own’d thine image in the majesty

Of their calm temple still!—that, never yet,

There hath thy face been shrouded from my sight

By noontide blaze, or sweeping storm of night:

I bless thee, O my God!

That now still clearer, from their pure expanse,

I see the mercy of thine aspect shine,

Touching death’s features with a lovely glance

Of light, serenely, solemnly divine,

And lending to each holy star a ray

As of kind eyes, that woo my soul away:

I bless thee, O my God!

That I have heard thy voice nor been afraid,

In the earth’s garden—midst the mountains old,

And the low thrillings of the forest-shade,

And the wild sound of waters uncontroll’d—

And upon many a desert plain and shore—

No solitude—for there I felt thee more:

I bless thee, O my God!

And if thy spirit on thy child hath shed

The gift, the vision of the unseal’d eye,

To pierce the mist o’er life’s deep meanings spread,

To reach the hidden fountain-urns that lie

Far in man’s heart—if I have kept it free

And pure, a consecration unto thee:

I bless thee, O my God!

If my soul’s utterance hath by thee been fraught

With an awakening power—if thou hast made

Like the wing’d seed, the breathings of my thought,

And by the swift winds bid them be convey’d

To lands of other lays, and there become

Native as early melodies of home:

I bless thee, O my God!

Not for the brightness of a mortal wreath,

Not for a place midst kingly minstrels dead,

But that, perchance, a faint gale of thy breath,

A still small whisper, in my song hath led

One struggling spirit upwards to thy throne,

Or but one hope, one prayer,—for this alone

I bless thee, O my God!

That I have loved—that I have known the love

Which troubles in the soul the tearful springs,

Yet, with a colouring halo from above,

Tinges and glorifies all earthly things,

Whate’er its anguish or its woe may be,

Still weaving links for intercourse with thee:

I bless thee, O my God!

That by the passion of its deep distress,

And by the o’erflowing of its mighty prayer,

And by the yearning of its tenderness,

Too full for words upon their stream to bear,

I have been drawn still closer to thy shrine,

Well-spring of love, the unfathom’d, the divine,

I bless thee, O my God!

That hope hath ne’er my heart or song forsaken,

High hope, which even from mystery, doubt, or dread,

Calmly, rejoicingly, the things hath taken

Whereby its torchlight for the race was fed:

That passing storms have only fann’d the fire

Which pierced them still with its triumphal spire,

I bless thee, O my God!

Now art thou calling me in every gale,

Each sound and token of the dying day;

Thou leav’st me not—though early life grows pale,

I am not darkly sinking to decay;

But, hour by hour, my soul’s dissolving shroud

Melts off to radiance, as a silvery cloud.

I bless thee, O my God!

And if this earth, with all its choral streams,

And crowning woods, and soft or solemn skies,

And mountain sanctuaries for poet’s dreams,

Be lovely still in my departing eyes—

’Tis not that fondly I would linger here,

But that thy foot-prints on its dust appear:

I bless thee, O my God!

And that the tender shadowing I behold,

The tracery veining every leaf and flower,

Of glories cast in more consummate mould,

No longer vassals to the changeful hour;

That life’s last roses to my thoughts can bring

Rich visions of imperishable spring:

I bless thee, O my God!

Yes! the young, vernal voices in the skies

Woo me not back, but, wandering past mine ear,

Seem heralds of th’ eternal melodies,

The spirit-music, imperturb’d and clear—

The full of soul, yet passionate no more:

Let me, too, joining those pure strains, adore!

I bless thee, O my God!

Now aid, sustain me still. To thee I come—

Make thou my dwelling where thy children are,

And for the hope of that immortal home,

And for thy Son, the bright and morning star,

The sufferer and the victor-king of death,

I bless thee with my glad song’s dying breath!

I bless thee, O my God!


“Many an eye

May wail the dimming of our shining star.”—Shakspeare.

A glorious voice hath ceased!

Mournfully, reverently—the funeral chant

Breathe reverently! There is a dreamy sound,

A hollow murmur of the dying year,

In the deep woods. Let it be wild and sad!

A more Æolian, melancholy tone

Than ever wail’d o’er bright things perishing!

For that is passing from the darken’d land,

Which the green summer will not bring us back—

Though all her songs return. The funeral chant

Breathe reverently! They bear the mighty forth,

The kingly ruler in the realms of mind;

They bear him through the household paths, the groves,

Where every tree had music of its own

To his quick ear of knowledge taught by love—

And he is silent! Past the living stream

They bear him now; the stream whose kindly voice,

On alien shores, his true heart burn’d to hear—

And he is silent! O’er the heathery hills,

Which his own soul had mantled with a light

Richer than autumn’s purple, now they move—

And he is silent!—he, whose flexile lips

Were but unseal’d, and lo! a thousand forms,

From every pastoral glen and fern-clad height,

In glowing life upsprang,—vassal and chief,

Rider and steed, with shout and bugle-peal,

Fast-rushing through the brightly troubled air,

Like the Wild Huntsman’s band. And still they live,

To those fair scenes imperishably bound,

And, from the mountain-mist still flashing by,

Startle the wanderer who hath listen’d there

To the seer’s voice: phantoms of colour’d thought,

Surviving him who raised. O eloquence!

O power, whose breathings thus could wake the dead!

Who shall wake thee? lord of the buried past!

And art thou there—to those dim nations join’d,

Thy subject-host so long? The wand is dropp’d,

The bright lamp broken, which the gifted hand

Touch’d, and the genii came! Sing reverently

The funeral chant! The mighty is borne home,

And who shall be his mourners? Youth and age,

For each hath felt his magic—love and grief,

For he hath communed with the heart of each:

Yes—the free spirit of humanity

May join the august procession, for to him

Its mysteries have been tributary things,

And all its accents known. From field or wave,

Never was conqueror on his battle-bier,

By the veil’d banner and the muffled drum,

And the proud drooping of the crested head,

More nobly follow’d home. The last abode,

The voiceless dwelling of the bard is reach’d:

A still, majestic spot, girt solemnly

With all th’ imploring beauty of decay;

A stately couch midst ruins! meet for him

With his bright fame to rest in, as a king

Of other days, laid lonely with his sword

Beneath his head. Sing reverently the chant

Over the honour’d grave! The grave!—oh, say

Rather the shrine!—an altar for the love,

The light, soft pilgrim steps, the votive wreaths

Of years unborn—a place where leaf and flower,

By that which dies not of the sovereign dead,

Shall be made holy things, where every weed

Shall have its portion of th’ inspiring gift

From buried glory breathed. And now what strain

Making victorious melody ascend

High above sorrow’s dirge, befits the tomb

Where he that sway’d the nations thus is laid—

The crown’d of men?

A lowly, lowly song.

Lowly and solemn be

Thy children’s cry to thee,

Father divine!

A hymn of suppliant breath,

Owning that life and death

Alike are thine!

A spirit on its way,

Sceptred the earth to sway,

From thee was sent:

Now call’st thou back thine own—

Hence is that radiance flown—

To earth but lent.

Watching in breathless awe,

The bright head bow’d we saw,

Beneath thy hand!

Fill’d by one hope, one fear,

Now o’er a brother’s bier

Weeping we stand.

How hath he pass’d!—the lord

Of each deep bosom-chord,

To meet thy sight,

Unmantled and alone,

On thy bless’d mercy thrown,

O Infinite!

So, from his harvest-home,

Must the tired peasant come;

So, in one trust,

Leader and king must yield

The naked soul reveal’d

To thee, All Just!

The sword of many a fight—

What then shall be its might?

The lofty lay

That rush’d on eagle wing—

What shall its memory bring?

What hope, what stay?

O Father! in that hour,

When earth all succouring power

Shall disavow;

When spear, and shield, and crown

In faintness are cast down—

Sustain us, Thou!

By Him who bow’d to take

The death-cup for our sake,

The thorn, the rod;

From whom the last dismay

Was not to pass away—

Aid us, O God!

Tremblers beside the grave,

We call on thee to save,

Father divine!

Hear, hear our suppliant breath!

Keep us, in life and death,

Thine, only thine!



In the deep wilderness unseen she pray’d,

The daughter of Jerusalem; alone

With all the still, small whispers of the night,

And with the searching glances of the stars,

And with her God, alone: she lifted up

Her sweet, sad voice, and, trembling o’er her head,

The dark leaves thrill’d with prayer—the tearful prayer

Of woman’s quenchless, yet repentant love.

Father of Spirits, hear!

Look on the inmost heart to thee reveal’d,

Look on the fountain of the burning tear,

Before thy sight in solitude unseal’d!

Hear, Father! hear, and aid!

If I have loved too well, if I have shed,

In my vain fondness, o’er a mortal head,

Gifts on thy shrine, my God! more fitly laid;

If I have sought to live

But in one light, and made a human eye

The lonely star of mine idolatry,

Thou that art Love! oh, pity and forgive!

Chasten’d and school’d at last,

No more, no more my struggling spirit burns,

But, fix’d on thee, from that wild worship turns—

What have I said?—the deep dream is not past!

Yet hear!—if still I love,

Oh! still too fondly—if, for ever seen,

An earthly image comes my heart between

And thy calm glory, Father! throned above;

If still a voice is near,

(E’en while I strive these wanderings to control,)

An earthly voice disquieting my soul

With its deep music, too intensely dear;

O Father! draw to thee

My lost affections back!—the dreaming eyes

Clear from their mist—sustain the heart that dies,

Give the worn soul once more its pinions free!

I must love on, O God!

This bosom must love on!—but let thy breath

Touch and make pure the flame that knows not death,

Bearing it up to heaven—love’s own abode!

Ages and ages past, the wilderness,

With its dark cedars, and the thrilling night,

With her clear stars, and the mysterious winds,

That waft all sound, were conscious of those prayers.

How many such hath woman’s bursting heart

Since then, in silence and in darkness breathed,

Like the dim night-flower’s odour, up to God!



“From their spheres

The stars of human glory are cast down.

Perish the roses and the flowers of kings,

Princes and emperors, and the crown and palms

Of all the mighty, wither’d and consumed!

Nor is power given to lowliest innocence

Long to protect her own.” Wordsworth.

Scene—Prison of the Luxembourg in Paris, during the Reign of Terror.

D’Aubigné, an aged Royalist—Blanche, his daughter, a young girl.

Blanche. What was your doom, my father? In thine arms

I lay unconsciously through that dread hour.

Tell me the sentence! Could our judges look,

Without relenting, on thy silvery hair?

Was there not mercy, father? Will they not

Restore us to our home?

D’Aubigné. Yes, my poor child!

They send us home.

Blanche. Oh! shall we gaze again

On the bright Loire? Will the old hamlet spire,

And the gray turret of our own chateau,

Look forth to greet us through the dusky elms?

Will the kind voices of our villagers,

The loving laughter in their children’s eyes,

Welcome us back at last? But how is this?

Father! thy glance is clouded—on thy brow

There sits no joy!

D’Aubigné. Upon my brow, dear girl!

There sits, I trust, such deep and solemn peace

As may befit the Christian who receives,

And recognises in submissive awe,

The summons of his God.

Blanche. Thou dost not mean——

No, no! it cannot be! Didst thou not say

They sent us home?

D’Aubigné. Where is the spirit’s home?

Oh! most of all, in these dark, evil days,

Where should it be—but in that world serene,

Beyond the sword’s reach and the tempest’s power,

—Where, but in heaven?

Blanche. My father!

D’Aubigné. We must die.

We must look up to God, and calmly die.

Come to my heart, and weep there! For awhile

Give nature’s passion way; then brightly rise

In the still courage of a woman’s heart.

Do I not know thee? Do I ask too much

From mine own noble Blanche?

Blanche, (falling on his bosom.) Oh! clasp me fast!

Thy trembling child! Hide, hide me in thine arms—


D’Aubigné. Alas! my flower, thou’rt young to go—

Young, and so fair! Yet were it worse, methinks,

To leave thee where the gentle and the brave,

The loyal-hearted and the chivalrous,

And they that loved their God, have all been swept,

Like the sere leaves, away. For them no hearth

Through the wide land was left inviolate,

No altar holy; therefore did they fall,

Rejoicing to depart. The soil is steep’d

In noble blood; the temples are gone down;

The voice of prayer is hush’d, or fearfully

Mutter’d, like sounds of guilt. Why, who would live

Who hath not panted, as a dove, to flee,

To quit for ever the dishonour’d soil,

The burden’d air! Our God upon the cross—

Our king upon the scaffold[425]—let us think

Of these—and fold endurance to our hearts,

And bravely die!

Blanche. A dark and fearful way!

An evil doom for thy dear, honour’d head!

O thou, the kind, the gracious! whom all eyes

Bless’d as they look’d upon! Speak yet again—

Say, will they part us?

D’Aubigné. No, my Blanche; in death,

We shall not be divided.

Blanche. Thanks to God!

He, by thy glance, will aid me—I shall see

His light before me to the last. And when—

Oh, pardon these weak shrinkings of thy child!—

When shall the hour befall?

D’Aubigné. Oh! swiftly now,

And suddenly, with brief, dread interval,

Comes down the mortal stroke. But of that hour

As yet I know not. Each low throbbing pulse

Of the quick pendulum may usher in


Blanche, (kneeling before him.) My father! lay thy hand

On thy poor Blanche’s head, and once again

Bless her with thy deep voice of tenderness—

Thus breathing saintly courage through her soul,

Ere we are call’d.

D’Aubigné. If I may speak through tears!—

Well may I bless thee, fondly, fervently,

Child of my heart!—thou who dost look on me

With thy lost mother’s angel eyes of love!

Thou, that hast been a brightness in my path,

A guest of heaven unto my lonely soul,

A stainless lily in my widow’d house,

There springing up, with soft light round thee shed,

For immortality! Meek child of God!

I bless thee—He will bless thee! In his love

He calls thee now from this rude stormy world

To thy Redeemer’s breast! And thou wilt die,

As thou hast lived—my duteous, holy Blanche!

In trusting and serene submissiveness,

Humble, yet full of heaven.

Blanche, (rising.) Now is there strength

Infused through all my spirit. I can rise

And say, “Thy will be done!”

D’Aubigné, (pointing upwards.) See’st thou, my child!

Yon faint light in the west? The signal star

Of our due vesper-service, gleaming in

Through the close dungeon-grating! Mournfully

It seems to quiver; yet shall this night pass,

This night alone, without the lifted voice

Of adoration in our narrow cell,

As if unworthy fear or wavering faith

Silenced the strain? No! let it waft to heaven

The prayer, the hope, of poor mortality,

In its dark hour once more! And we will sleep,

Yes—calmly sleep, when our last rite is closed.

[They sing together.

[424] The last days of two prisoners in the Luxembourg, Sillery and La Source, so affectingly described by Helen Maria Williams, in her Letters from France, gave rise to this little scene. These two victims had composed a simple hymn, which they sang together in a low and restrained voice every night.


We see no more in thy pure skies,

How soft, O God! the sunset dies;

How every colour’d hill and wood

Seems melting in the golden flood:

Yet, by the precious memories won

From bright hours now for ever gone,

Father! o’er all thy works, we know,

Thou still art shedding beauty’s glow;

Still touching every cloud and tree

With glory, eloquent of thee;

Still feeding all thy flowers with light,

Though man hath barr’d it from our sight.

We know thou reign’st, the Unchanging One, the All-just!

And bless thee still with free and boundless trust!

We read no more, O God! thy ways

On earth, in these wild, evil days.

The red sword in the oppressor’s hand

Is ruler of the weeping land;

Fallen are the faithful and the pure,

No shrine is spared, no hearth secure.

Yet, by the deep voice from the past,

Which tells us these things cannot last—

And by the hope which finds no ark

Save in thy breast, when storms grow dark—

We trust thee! As the sailor knows

That in its place of bright repose

His pole-star burns, though mist and cloud

May veil it with a midnight shroud,

We know thou reign’st, All-holy One, All-just!

And bless thee still with love’s own boundless trust.

We feel no more that aid is nigh,

When our faint hearts within us die.

We suffer—and we know our doom

Must be one suffering till the tomb.

Yet, by the anguish of thy Son

When his last hour came darkly on;

By his dread cry, the air which rent

In terror of abandonment;

And by his parting word, which rose

Through faith victorious o’er all woes—

We know that thou may’st wound, may’st break

The spirit, but wilt ne’er forsake!

Sad suppliants whom our brethren spurn,

In our deep need to thee we turn!

To whom but thee? All-merciful, All-just!

In life, in death, we yield thee boundless trust!


“Thanks be to God for the mountains!”

Howitt’s “Book of the Seasons.”

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

Thou hast made thy children mighty,

By the touch of the mountain-sod.

Thou hast fix’d our ark of refuge

Where the spoiler’s foot ne’er trod;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

We are watchers of a beacon

Whose light must never die;

We are guardians of an altar

Midst the silence of the sky:

The rocks yield founts of courage,

Struck forth as by thy rod;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

For the dark, resounding caverns,

Where thy still, small voice is heard;

For the strong pines of the forests,

That by thy breath are stirr’d;

For the storms, on whose free pinions

Thy spirit walks abroad;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

The royal eagle darteth

On his quarry from the heights,

And the stag that knows no master,

Seeks there his wild delights;

But we, for thy communion,

Have sought the mountain-sod;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

The banner of the chieftain

Far, far below us waves;

The war-horse of the spearman

Cannot reach our lofty caves:

Thy dark clouds wrap the threshold

Of freedom’s last abode;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!

For the shadow of thy presence,

Round our camp of rock outspread;

For the stern defiles of battle,

Bearing record of our dead;

For the snows and for the torrents,

For the free heart’s burial-sod;

For the strength of the hills we bless thee,

Our God, our fathers’ God!


“The land shall never rue,

So England to herself do prove but true.”—Shakspeare.

Through evening’s bright repose

A voice of prayer arose,

When the sea-fight was done:

The sons of England knelt,

With hearts that now could melt,

For on the wave her battle had been won.

Round their tall ship, the main

Heaved with a dark red stain,

Caught not from sunset’s cloud;

While with the tide swept past

Pennon and shiver’d mast,

Which to the Ocean-Queen that day had bow’d.

But free and fair on high,

A native of the sky,

Her streamer met the breeze;

It flow’d o’er fearless men,

Though, hush’d and child-like then,

Before their God they gather’d on the seas.

Oh! did not thoughts of home

O’er each bold spirit come,

As from the land sweet gales?

In every word of prayer

Had not some hearth a share,

Some bower, inviolate midst England’s vales?

Yes! bright, green spots that lay

In beauty far away,

Hearing no billow’s roar,

Safer from touch of spoil,

For that day’s fiery toil,

Rose on high hearts, that now with love gush’d o’er.

A solemn scene and dread!

The victors and the dead,

The breathless burning sky!

And, passing with the race

Of waves that keep no trace,

The wild, brief signs of human victory!

A stern, yet holy scene!

Billows, where strife hath been,

Sinking to awful sleep;

And words, that breathe the sense

Of God’s omnipotence,

Making a minster of that silent deep.

Borne through such hours afar,

Thy flag hath been a star,

Where eagle’s wings ne’er flew:

England! the unprofaned,

Thou of the earth unstain’d,

Oh! to the banner and the shrine be true!



“But by my wrongs and by my wrath,

To-morrow Areouski’s breath

That fires yon heaven with storms of death,

Shall light me to the foe!”

Indian Song in “Gertrude of Wyoming.”

Scene.—The shore of a Lake surrounded by deep woods. A solitary cabin on its banks, overshadowed by maple and sycamore trees. Herrmann, the missionary, seated alone before the cabin. The hour is evening twilight.

Herrmann. Was that the light from some lone, swift canoe

Shooting across the waters?—No, a flash

From the night’s first, quick fire-fly, lost again

In the deep bay of cedars. Not a bark

Is on the wave; no rustle of a breeze

Comes through the forest. In this new, strange world,

Oh! how mysterious, how eternal, seems

The mighty melancholy of the woods!

The desert’s own great spirit, infinite!

Little they know, in mine own fatherland,

Along the castled Rhine, or e’en amidst

The wild Harz mountains, or the sylvan glades

Deep in the Odenwald—they little know

Of what is solitude! In hours like this,

There, from a thousand nooks, the cottage-hearths

Pour forth red light through vine-hung lattices,

To guide the peasant, singing cheerily,

On the home-path; while round his lowly porch,

With eager eyes awaiting his return,

The cluster’d faces of his children shine

To the clear harvest moon. Be still, fond thoughts!

Melting my spirit’s grasp from heavenly hope

By your vain, earthward yearnings. O my God!

Draw me still nearer, closer unto thee,

Till all the hollow of these deep desires

May with thyself be fill’d! Be it enough

At once to gladden and to solemnise

My lonely life, if for thine altar here

In this dread temple of the wilderness,

By prayer, and toil, and watching, I may win

The offering of one heart, one human heart,

Bleeding, repenting, loving!

Hark! a step,

An Indian tread! I know the stealthy sound—

’Tis on some quest of evil, through the grass

Gliding so serpent-like.

(He comes forward, and meets an Indian warrior armed.)

Enonio, is it thou? I see thy form

Tower stately through the dusk, yet scarce mine eye

Discerns thy face.

Enonio. My father speaks my name.

Herrmann. Are not the hunters from the chase return’d?

The night-fires lit? Why is my son abroad?

Enonio. The warrior’s arrow knows of nobler prey

Than elk or deer. Now let my father leave

The lone path free.

Herrmann. The forest way is long

From the red chieftain’s home. Rest thee awhile

Beneath my sycamore, and we will speak

Of these things further.

Enonio. Tell me not of rest!

My heart is sleepless, and the dark night swift.

I must begone.

Herrmann, (solemnly.) No, warrior! thou must stay!

The Mighty One hath given me power to search

Thy soul with piercing words—and thou must stay,

And hear me, and give answer! If thy heart

Be grown thus restless, is it not because

Within its dark folds thou hast mantled up

Some burning thought of ill?

Enonio, (with sudden impetuosity.) How should I rest?—

Last night the spirit of my brother came,

An angry shadow in the moonlight streak,

And said, “Avenge me!” In the clouds this morn

I saw the frowning colour of his blood—

And that, too, had a voice. I lay at noon

Alone beside the sounding waterfall,

And through its thunder-music spake a tone—

A low tone piercing all the roll of waves—

And said “Avenge me!” Therefore have I raised

The tomahawk, and strung the bow again,

That I may send the shadow from my couch,

And take the strange sound from the cataract,

And sleep once more.

Herrmann. A better path, my son!

Unto the still and dewy land of sleep,

My hand in peace can guide thee—e’en the way

Thy dying brother trod. Say, didst thou love

That lost one well?

Enonio. Know’st thou not we grew up

Even as twin roes amidst the wilderness?

Unto the chase we journey’d in one path;

We stemm’d the lake in one canoe; we lay

Beneath one oak to rest. When fever hung

Upon my burning lips, my brother’s hand

Was still beneath my head; my brother’s robe

Cover’d my bosom from the chill night-air—

Our lives were girdled by one belt of love

Until he turn’d him from his father’s gods.

And then my soul fell from him—then the grass

Grew in the way between our parted homes;

And wheresoe’er I wander’d, then it seem’d

That all the woods were silent. I went forth—

I journey’d, with my lonely heart, afar,

And so return’d—and where was he? The earth

Own’d him no more.

Herrmann. But thou thyself, since then,

Hast turn’d thee from the idols of thy tribe,

And, like thy brother, bow’d the suppliant knee

To the one God.

Enonio. Yes! I have learn’d to pray

With my white father’s words, yet all the more

My heart, that shut against my brother’s love,

Hath been within me as an arrowy fire,

Burning my sleep away. In the night-hush,

Midst the strange whispers and dim shadowy things

Of the great forests, I have call’d aloud,

“Brother! forgive, forgive!” He answer’d not—

His deep voice, rising from the land of souls,

Cries but “Avenge me!”—and I go forth now

To slay his murderer, that when next his eyes

Gleam on me mournfully from that pale shore,

I may look up, and meet their glance, and say,

“I have avenged thee!”

Herrmann. Oh! that human love

Should be the root of this dread bitterness,

Till heaven through all the fever’d being pours

Transmuting balsam! Stay, Enonio! stay!

Thy brother calls thee not! The spirit-world

Where the departed go, sends back to earth

No visitants for evil. ’Tis the might

Of the strong passion, the remorseful grief

At work in thine own breast, which lends the voice

Unto the forest and the cataract,

The angry colour to the clouds of morn,

The shadow to the moonlight. Stay, my son!

Thy brother is at peace. Beside his couch,

When of the murderer’s poison’d shaft he died,

I knelt and pray’d; he named his Saviour’s name,

Meekly, beseechingly; he spoke of thee

In pity and in love.

Enonio, (hurriedly.) Did he not say

My arrow should avenge him?

Herrmann. His last words

Were all forgiveness.

Enonio. What! and shall the man

Who pierced him with the shaft of treachery,

Walk fearless forth in joy?

Herrmann. Was he not once

Thy brother’s friend? Oh! trust me, not in joy

He walks the frowning forest. Did keen love,

Too late repentant of its heart estranged,

Wake in thy haunted bosom, with its train

Of sounds and shadows—and shall he escape?

Enonio, dream it not! Our God, the All-just,

Unto himself reserves this royalty—

The secret chastening of the guilty heart,

The fiery touch, the scourge that purifies,

Leave it with him! Yet make it not thy hope:

For that strong heart of thine—oh! listen yet—

Must, in its depths, o’ercome the very wish

For death or torture to the guilty one,

Ere it can sleep again.

Enonio. My father speaks

Of change, for man too mighty.

Herrmann. I but speak

Of that which hath been, and again must be,

If thou wouldst join thy brother, in the life

Of the bright country where, I well believe,

His soul rejoices. He had known such change:

He died in peace. He, whom his tribe once named

The Avenging Eagle, took to his meek heart,

In its last pangs, the spirit of those words

Which, from the Saviour’s cross, went up to heaven—

Forgive them, for they know not what they do!

Father, forgive!”—And o’er the eternal bounds

Of that celestial kingdom, undefiled,

Where evil may not enter, he, I deem,

Hath to his Master pass’d. He waits thee there—

For love, we trust, springs heavenward from the grave,

Immortal in its holiness. He calls

His brother to the land of golden light

And ever-living fountains—couldst thou hear

His voice o’er those bright waters, it would say,

“My brother! oh! be pure, be merciful!

That we may meet again.”

Enonio, (hesitating.) Can I return

Unto my tribe, and unavenged?

Herrmann. To Him,

To Him return, from whom thine erring steps

Have wander’d far and long! Return, my son,

To thy Redeemer! Died he not in love—

The sinless, the divine, the Son of God—

Breathing forgiveness midst all agonies?

And we, dare we be ruthless? By his aid

Shalt thou be guided to thy brother’s place

Midst the pure spirits. Oh! retrace the way

Back to thy Saviour! he rejects no heart

E’en with the dark stains on it, if true tears

Be o’er them shower’d. Ay! weep, thou Indian chief!

For, by the kindling moonlight, I behold

Thy proud lips working—weep, relieve thy soul!

Tears will not shame thy manhood, in the hour

Of its great conflict.

Enonio, (giving up his weapons to Herrmann.)

Father! take the bow,

Keep the sharp arrows till the hunters call

Forth to the chase once more. And let me dwell

A little while, my father! by thy side,

That I may hear the blessed words again—

Like water-brooks amidst the summer hills—

From thy true lips flow forth; for in my heart

The music and the memory of their sound

Too long have died away.

Herrmann. Oh, welcome back,

Friend, rescued one! Yes, thou shalt be my guest,

And we will pray beneath my sycamore

Together, morn and eve; and I will spread

Thy couch beside my fire, and sleep at last—

After the visiting of holy thoughts—

With dewy wings shall sink upon thine eyes!

Enter my home, and welcome, welcome back

To peace, to God, thou lost and found again!

(They go into the cabin together.—Herrmann, lingering for a moment on the threshold, looks up to the starry skies.)

Father! that from amidst yon glorious worlds

Now look’st on us, thy children! make this hour

Blessed for ever! May it see the birth

Of thine own image in the unfathom’d deep

Of an immortal soul,—a thing to name

With reverential thought, a solemn world!

To thee more precious than those thousand stars

Burning on high in thy majestic heaven!


Father of heaven and earth!

I bless thee for the night,

The soft, still night!

The holy pause of care and mirth,

Of sound and light!

Now, far in glade and dell,

Flower-cup, and bud, and bell,

Have shut around the sleeping woodlark’s nest;

The bee’s long murmuring toils are done,

And I, the o’erwearied one,

O’erwearied and o’erwrought,

Bless thee, O God! O Father of the oppress’d!

With my last waking thought,

In the still night!

Yes! e’er I sink to rest,

By the fire’s dying light,

Thou Lord of earth and heaven!

I bless thee, who hast given,

Unto life’s fainting travellers, the night—

The soft, still, holy night.



“One spirit—His

Who wore the platted thorn with bleeding brows.

Rules universal nature. Not a flower

But shows some touch, in freckle, freak, or stain,

Of his unrivall’d pencil. He inspires

Their balmy odours, and imparts their hues.

And bathes their eyes with nectar.

Happy who walks with him!”   Cowper.

Come to the woods, my boy!

Come to the streams and bowery dingles forth,

My happy child! The spirit of bright hours

Woos us in every wind; fresh wild-leaf scents,

From thickets, where the lonely stock-dove broods,

Enter our lattice; fitful songs of joy

Float in with each soft current of the air;—

And we will hear their summons; we will give

One day to flowers, and sunshine, and glad thoughts,

And thou shalt revel midst free nature’s wealth,

And for thy mother twine wild wreaths; while she,

From thy delight, wins to her own fond heart

The vernal ecstasy of childhood back.

Come to the woods, my boy!

What! wouldst thou lead already to the path

Along the copsewood brook? Come, then! in truth

Meet playmate for a child, a blessed child,

Is a glad, singing stream, heard or unheard,

Singing its melody of happiness

Amidst the reeds, and bounding in free grace

To that sweet chime. With what a sparkling life

It fills the shadowy dingle!—now the wing

Of some low-skimming swallow shakes bright spray

Forth to the sunshine from its dimpled wave;

Now, from some pool of crystal darkness deep,

The trout springs upward, with a showery gleam

And plashing sound of waters. What swift rings

Of mazy insects o’er the shallow tide

Seem, as they glance, to scatter sparks of light

From burnish’d films! And mark yon silvery line

Of gossamer, so tremulously hung

Across the narrow current, from the tuft

Of hazels to the hoary poplar’s bough!

See, in the air’s transparence, how it waves,

Quivering and glistening with each faintest gale,

Yet breaking not—a bridge for fairy shapes,

How delicate, how wondrous!

Yes, my boy!

Well may we make the stream’s bright, winding vein

Our woodland guide, for He who made the stream

Made it a clue to haunts of loveliness,

For ever deepening. Oh, forget him not,

Dear child! That airy gladness which thou feel’st

Wafting thee after bird and butterfly,

As ’twere a breeze within thee, is not less

His gift, his blessing on thy spring-time hours,

Than this rich, outward sunshine, mantling all

The leaves, and grass, and mossy-tinted stones

With summer glory. Stay thy bounding step,

My merry wanderer!—let us rest a while

By this clear pool, where, in the shadow flung

From alder boughs and osiers o’er its breast,

The soft red of the flowering willow-herb

So vividly is pictured. Seems it not

E’en melting to a more transparent glow

In that pure glass? Oh! beautiful are streams!

And, through all ages, human hearts have loved

Their music, still accordant with each mood

Of sadness or of joy. And love hath grown

Into vain worship, which hath left its trace

On sculptured urn and altar, gleaming still

Beneath dim olive-boughs, by many a fount

Of Italy and Greece. But we will take

Our lesson e’en from erring hearts, which bless’d

The river-deities or fountain-nymphs,

For the cool breeze, and for the freshening shade,

And the sweet water’s tune. The One supreme,

The all-sustaining, ever-present God,

Who dower’d the soul with immortality,

Gave also these delights, to cheer on earth

Its fleeting passage; therefore let us greet

Each wandering flower-scent as a boon from Him,

Each bird-note, quivering midst light summer leaves,

And every rich celestial tint unnamed,

Wherewith transpierced, the clouds of morn and eve,

Kindle and melt away!

And now, in love,

In grateful thoughts rejoicing, let us bend

Our footsteps onward to the dell of flowers

Around the ruin’d mansion. Thou, my boy!

Not yet, I deem, hast visited that lorn

But lovely spot, whose loveliness for thee

Will wear no shadow of subduing thought—

No colouring from the past. This way our path

Winds through the hazels. Mark how brightly shoots

The dragon-fly along the sunbeam’s line,

Crossing the leafy gloom. How full of life,

The life of song, and breezes, and free wings,

Is all the murmuring shade! and thine, oh thine!

Of all the brightest and the happiest here,

My blessed child! my gift of God! that makest

My heart o’erflow with summer!

Hast thou twined

Thy wreath so soon! yet will we loiter not,

Though here the blue-bell wave, and gorgeously

Round the brown, twisted roots of yon scathed oak

The heath-flower spread its purple. We must leave

The copse, and through yon broken avenue,

Shadow’d by drooping walnut-foliage, reach

The ruin’s glade.

And lo! before us, fair

Yet desolate, amidst the golden day,

It stands, that house of silence! wedded now

To verdant Nature by the o’ermantling growth

Of leaf and tendril, which fond woman’s hands

Once loved to train. How the rich wallflower-scent

From every niche and mossy cornice floats,

Embalming its decay! The bee alone

Is murmuring from its casement, whence no more

Shall the sweet eyes of laughing children shine,

Watching some homeward footstep. See! unbound

From the old fretted stone-work, what thick wreaths

Of jasmine, borne by waste exuberance down,

Trail through the grass their gleaming stars, and load

The air with mournful fragrance—for it speaks

Of life gone hence; and the faint, southern breath

Of myrtle-leaves, from yon forsaken porch,

Startles the soul with sweetness! Yet rich knots

Of garden flowers, far wandering, and self-sown

Through all the sunny hollow, spread around

A flush of youth and joy, free nature’s joy,

Undimm’d by human change. How kindly here,

With the low thyme and daisies, they have blent!

And, under arches of wild eglantine,

Drooping from this tall elm, how strangely seems

The frail gum-cistus o’er the turf to snow

Its pearly flower-leaves down! Go, happy boy!

Rove thou at will amidst these roving sweets;

Whilst I, beside this fallen dial-stone,

Under the tall moss-rose tree, long unpruned,

Rest where thick clustering pansies weave around

Their many-tinged mosaic, midst dark grass

Bedded like jewels.

He hath bounded on,

Wild with delight!—the crimson on his cheek

Purer and richer e’en than that which lies

In this deep-hearted rose-cup! Bright moss-rose!

Though now so lorn, yet surely, gracious tree!

Once thou wert cherish’d! and, by human love,

Through many a summer duly visited

For thy bloom-offerings, which o’er festal board,

And youthful brow, and e’en the shaded couch

Of long-secluded sickness, may have shed

A joy, now lost.

Yet shall there still be joy,

Where God hath pour’d forth beauty, and the voice

Of human love shall still be heard in praise

Over his glorious gifts! O Father! Lord!

The All-beneficent! I bless thy name,

That thou hast mantled the green earth with flow’rs,

Linking our hearts to nature! By the love

Of their wild blossoms, our young footsteps first

Into her deep recesses are beguiled—

Her minster-cells—dark glen and forest bower,

Where, thrilling with its earliest sense of thee,

Amidst the low, religious whisperings

And shivery leaf-sounds of the solitude,

The spirit wakes to worship, and is made

Thy living temple. By the breath of flowers,

Thou callest us, from city throngs and cares,

Back to the woods, the birds, the mountain-streams,

That sing of thee! back to free childhood’s heart,

Fresh with the dews of tenderness! Thou bidd’st

The lilies of the field with placid smile

Reprove man’s feverish strivings, and infuse

Through his worn soul a more unworldly life,

With their soft, holy breath. Thou hast not left

His purer nature, with its fine desires,

Uncared for in this universe of thine!

The glowing rose attests it, the beloved

Of poet-hearts, touch’d by their fervent dreams

With spiritual light, and made a source

Of heaven-ascending thoughts. E’en to faint age

Thou lend’st the vernal bliss: the old man’s eye

Falls on the kindling blossoms, and his soul

Remembers youth and love, and hopefully

Turns unto thee, who call’st earth’s buried germs

From dust to splendour; as the mortal seed

Shall, at thy summons, from the grave spring up

To put on glory, to be girt with power,

And fill’d with immortality. Receive

Thanks, blessings, love, for these, thy lavish boons,

And, most of all, their heavenward influences,

O Thou that gavest us flowers!

Return, my boy!—

With all thy chaplets and bright bands, return!

See, with how deep a crimson eve hath touch’d

And glorified the ruin!—glow-worm light

Will twinkle on the dewdrops, ere we reach

Our home again. Come! with thy last sweet prayer

At thy bless’d mother’s knee, to-night shall thanks

Unto our Father in his heaven arise,

For all the gladness, all the beauty shed

O’er one rich day of flowers.



Joy! the lost one is restored!

Sunshine comes to hearth and board.

From the far-off countries old

Of the diamond and red gold;

From the dusky archer-bands,

Roamers of the fiery sands;

From the desert winds, whose breath

Smites with sudden, silent death;

He hath reach’d his home again,

Where we sing

In thy praise a fervent strain,

God our King!

Mightiest! unto thee he turn’d

When the noon-day fiercest burn’d:

When the fountain-springs were far,

And the sounds of Arab war

Swell’d upon the sultry blast,

And the sandy columns past,

Unto thee he cried; and thou,

Merciful! didst hear his vow!

Therefore unto thee again

Joy shall sing

Many a sweet and thankful strain,

God our King!

Thou wert with him on the main,

And the snowy mountain-chain,

And the rivers, dark and wide,

Which through Indian forests glide:

Thou didst guard him from the wrath

Of the lion in his path,

And the arrows on the breeze,

And the dropping poison-trees.

Therefore from our household train

Oft shall spring

Unto thee a blessing strain,

God our King!

Thou to his lone, watching wife

Hast brought back the light of life!

Thou hast spared his loving child

Home to greet him from the wild.

Though the suns of Eastern skies

On his cheek have set their dyes,

Though long toils and sleepless cares

On his brow have blanch’d the hairs,

Yet the night of fear is flown—

He is living, and our own!

Brethren! spread his festal board,

Hang his mantle and his sword,

With the armour, on the wall—

While this long, long silent hall

Joyfully doth hear again

Voice and string

Swell to thee the exulting strain,

God our King!


“Clasp me a little longer on the brink

Of life, while I can feel thy dear caress;

And when this heart hath ceased to beat, oh! think,

And let it mitigate thy woe’s excess,

That thou hast been to me all tenderness,

And friend to more than human friendship just—

Oh! by that retrospect of happiness,

And by the hope of an immortal trust,

God shall assuage thy pangs when I am laid in dust!”—Campbell.

The Scene is an English Cottage. The lattice opens upon a Landscape at sunset.

Eugene, Teresa.

Teresa. The fever’s hue hath left thy cheek, beloved!

Thine eyes, that make the dayspring in my heart,

Are clear and still once more! Wilt thou look forth?

Now, while the sunset with low streaming light—

The light thou lovest—hath made the elm-wood stems

All burning bronze, the river molten gold!

Wilt thou be raised upon thy couch, to meet

The rich air fill’d with wandering scents and sounds?

Or shall I lay thy dear, dear head once more

On this true bosom, lulling thee to rest

With our own evening hymn?

Eugene. Not now, dear love!

My soul is wakeful—lingering to look forth,

Not on the sun, but thee! Doth the light sleep

On the stream tenderly? and are the stems

Of our own elm-trees, by its alchemy,

So richly changed? and is the sweetbrier-scent

Floating around? But I have said farewell,

Farewell to earth, Teresa!—not to thee;

Nor yet to our deep love—nor yet awhile

Unto the spirit of mine art, which flows

Back on my soul in mastery. One last work!

And I will shrine my wealth of glowing thoughts,

Clinging affections, and undying hopes,

All, all in that memorial!

Teresa. Oh, what dream

Is this, mine own Eugene? Waste thou not thus

Thy scarce-returning strength; keep thy rich thoughts

For happier days—they will not melt away

Like passing music from the lute. Dear friend!

Dearest of friends! thou canst win back at will

The glorious visions.

Eugene. Yes! the unseen land

Of glorious visions hath sent forth a voice

To call me hence. Oh, be thou not deceived!

Bind to thy heart no earthly hope, Teresa!

I must, must leave thee! Yet be strong, my love!

As thou hast still been gentle.

Teresa. O Eugene!

What will this dim world be to me, Eugene!

When wanting thy bright soul, the life of all—

My only sunshine? How can I bear on?

How can we part?—we that have loved so well,

With clasping spirits link’d so long by grief,

By tears, by prayer?

Eugene. E’en therefore we can part,

With an immortal trust, that such high love

Is not of things to perish.

Let me leave

One record still of its ethereal flame

Brightening through death’s cold shadow. Once again,

Stand with thy meek hands folded on thy breast,

And eyes half veil’d, in thine own soul absorb’d,

As in thy watchings ere I sink to sleep;

And I will give the bending, flower-like grace

Of that soft form, and the still sweetness throned

On that pale brow, and in that quivering smile

Of voiceless love, a life that shall outlast

Their delicate earthly being. There! thy head

Bow’d down with beauty, and with tenderness,

And lowly thought—even thus—my own Teresa!

Oh! the quick-glancing radiance and bright bloom,

That once around thee hung, have melted now

Into more solemn light—but holier far,

And dearer, and yet lovelier in mine eyes,

Than all that summer-flush! For by my couch,

In patient and serene devotedness,

Thou hast made those rich hues and sunny smiles

Thine offering unto me. Oh! I may give

Those pensive lips, that clear Madonna brow,

And the sweet earnestness of that dark eye,

Unto the canvass; I may catch the flow

Of all those drooping locks, and glorify,

With a soft halo, what is imaged thus—

But how much rests unbreathed, my faithful one!

What thou hast been to me! This bitter world!

This cold, unanswering world, that hath no voice

To greet the gentle spirit, that drives back

All birds of Eden, which would sojourn here

A little while—how have I turn’d away

From its keen, soulless air, and in thy heart

Found ever the sweet fountain of response

To quench my thirst for home!

The dear work grows

Beneath my hand,—the last!

Teresa, (falling on his neck in tears.)

Eugene! Eugene!

Break not my heart with thine excess of love!—

Oh! must I lose thee—thou that hast been still

The tenderest—best!

Eugene. Weep, weep not thus, beloved!

Let my true heart o’er thine retain its power

Of soothing to the last! Mine own Teresa!

Take strength from strong affection! Let our souls,

Ere this brief parting, mingle in one strain

Of deep, full thanksgiving, for God’s rich boon—

Our perfect love! Oh, blessed have we been

In that high gift! thousands o’er earth may pass,

With hearts unfreshen’d by the heavenly dew,

Which hath kept ours from withering. Kneel, true wife!

And lay thy hands in mine.

(She kneels beside the couch—he prays.)

Oh, thus receive

Thy children’s thanks, Creator! for the love

Which thou hast granted, through all earthly woes,

To spread heaven’s peace around them—which hath bound

Their spirits to each other and to thee,

With links whereon unkindness ne’er hath breathed,

Nor wandering thought. We thank thee, gracious God!

For all its treasured memories, tender cares,

Fond words, bright, bright sustaining looks, unchanged

Through tears and joy! O Father! most of all,

We thank, we bless thee, for the priceless trust,

Through thy redeeming Son vouchsafed to those

That love in thee, of union, in thy sight

And in thy heavens, immortal! Hear our prayer!

Take home our fond affections, purified

To spirit-radiance from all earthly stain;

Exalted, solemnised, made fit to dwell,

Father! where all things that are lovely meet,

And all things that are pure—for evermore

With thee and thine!


Blessings, O Father! shower—

Father of Mercies! round his precious head!

On his lone walks and on his thoughtful hour,

And the pure visions of his midnight bed,

Blessings be shed!

Father! I pray thee not

For earthly treasure to that most beloved—

Fame, fortune, power: oh! be his spirit proved

By these, or by their absence, at thy will!

But let thy peace be wedded to his lot,

Guarding his inner life from touch of ill,

With its dove-pinion still!

Let such a sense of thee,

Thy watching presence, thy sustaining love,

His bosom-guest inalienably be,

That wheresoe’er he move,

A heavenly light serene

Upon his heart and mien

May sit undimm’d! a gladness rest his own,

Unspeakable, and to the world unknown!

Such as from childhood’s morning land of dreams,

Remember’d faintly, gleams—

Faintly remember’d, and too swiftly flown!

So let him walk with thee,

Made by thy Spirit free;

And when thou call’st him from his mortal place,

To his last hour be still that sweetness given,

That joyful trust! and brightly let him part,

With lamp clear burning, and unlingering heart,

Mature to meet in heaven

His Saviour’s face!


Saviour, that of woman born,

Mother-sorrow didst not scorn—

Thou, with whose last anguish strove

One dear thought of earthly love—

Hear and aid!

Low he lies, my precious child,

With his spirit wandering wild

From its gladsome tasks and play,

And its bright thoughts far away—

Saviour, aid!

Pain sits heavy on his brow,

E’en though slumber seal it now;

Round his lip is quivering strife,

In his hand unquiet life—

Aid! oh, aid!

Saviour! loose the burning chain

From his fever’d heart and brain,

Give, oh! give his young soul back

Into its own cloudless track!

Hear and aid!

Thou that saidst, “Awake! arise!”

E’en when death had quench’d the eyes—

In this hour of grief’s deep sighing,

When o’erwearied hope is dying,

Hear and aid!

Yet, oh! make him thine, all thine,

Saviour! whether Death’s or mine!

Yet, oh! pour on human love,

Strength, trust, patience, from above!

Hear and aid!



Night sinks on the wave,

Hollow gusts are sighing,

Sea-birds to their cave

Through the gloom are flying.

Oh! should storms come sweeping,

Thou, in heaven unsleeping,

O’er thy children vigil keeping,

Hear, hear, and save!

Stars look o’er the sea,

Few, and sad, and shrouded;

Faith our light must be,

When all else is clouded.

Thou, whose voice came thrilling,

Wind and billow stilling,

Speak once more! our prayer fulfilling—

Power dwells with thee!

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