« PreviousContinue »
With our pastures about us, we could not be sad;
Our comfort was near if we ever were crossed,
But the comfort, the blessings, and wealth that we had.
We slighted them all, and our birthright was lost.
Oh, ill-judging sire of an innocent son,
Who must now be a wanderer! but peace to that strain !
Think of evening's repose when our labour was done,
The Sabbath's return, and its leisure's soft chain.
And in sickness, if night had been sparing of sleep,
How cheerful, at sunrise, the hill where I stood,
Looking down on the kine, and our treasure of sheep
That besprinkled the field-'twas like youth in my blood!
Now I cleave to the house, and am dull as a snail;
And oftentimes hear the church bell with a sigh,
That follows the thought-We've no land in the vale,
Save six feet of earth where our forefathers lie!
THE AFFLICTION OF MARGARET.
WHERE art thou, my beloved son?
Where art thou, worse to me than dead?
Oh, find me, prosperous or undone!
Or, if the grave be now thy bed,
Why am I ignorant of the same,
That I may rest, and neither blame
Nor sorrow may attend thy name?
Seven years, alas! to have received
No tidings of an only child;
To have despaired, and have believed,
And be for evermore beguiled;
Sometimes with thoughts of very bliss!
I catch at them and then I miss ;
Was ever darkness like to this?
He was among the prime in worth,
An object beauteous to behold;
Well born, well bred; I sent him forth
Ingenuous, innocent, and bold:
If things ensued that wanted grace,
As hath been said, they were not base;
And never blush was on my face.
Ah ! little doth the young one dream,
When full of play and childish cares,
What power hath e'en his wildest scream,
Heard by his mother unawares !
He knows it not, he cannot guess :
Years to a mother bring distress,
But do not make her love the less.
Neglect me! no, I suffered long
From that ill thought; and, being blind,
Said, “Pride shall help me in my wrong:
Kind mother have I been, as kind
As ever breathed :" and that is true;
I've wet my path with tears like dew,
Weeping for him when no one knew.
My son, if thou be humbled, poor,
Hopeless of honour and of gain,
Oh, do not dread thy mother's door!
Think not of me with grief and pain:
I now can see with better eyes,
And worldly grandeur I despise,
And fortune with her gifts and lies.
Alas! the fowls of heaven have wings,
And blasts of heaven will aid their fight ;
They mount, how short a voyage brings
The wanderers back to their delight!
Chains tie us down by land and sea;
And wishes, vain as mine, may be
All that is left to comfort thee.
Perhaps some dungeon hears thee groan,
Maimed, mangled by inhuman men;
Or thou upon a desert thrown
Inheritest the lion's den ;
Or hast been summoned to the deep,
Thou, thou, and all thy mates, to keep
An incommunicable sleep.
I look for ghosts; but none will force
Their way to me :-'tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
Betwixt the living and the dead ;
For, surely, then I should have sight
Of him I wait for day and night,
With love and longings infinite.
My apprehensions come in crowds;
I dread the rustling of the grass ;
The very shadows of the clouds
Have power to shake me as they pass :
I question things and do not find
One that will answer to my mind;
And all the world appears unkind.
Beyond participation lie
My troubles, and beyond relief:
If any chance to heave a sigh,
They pity me and not my grief.
Then come to me, my son, or send
Some tidings that my woes may end;
I have no other earthly friend.
THE SAILOR'S MOTHER. One morning (raw it was and wet, A foggy day in winter time) A woman on the road I met, Not old, though something past her prime : Majestic in her person, tall and straight; And like a Roman matron's was her mien and gait. The ancient spirit is not dead; Old times, thought I, are breathing there; Proud was I that my country bred Such strength, a dignity so fair : She begged an alms, like one in poor estate; I looked at her again, nor did my pride abate. When from those lofty thoughts I woke, “What treasure,” said I,“ do you bear, Beneath the covert of your cloak, Protected from the cold damp air ?” She answered, soon as she the question heard, "A simple burden, sir, a little singing-bird. “I had a son, the waves might roar, He feared them not, a sailor gay! But he will cross the deep no more: In Denmark he was cast away: And I have travelled weary miles to see If aught which he had owned might still remain for me. “The bird and cage they both were his : 'Twas my son's bird ; and neat and trim He kept it: many voyages This singing-bird had gone with him ; When last he sailed, he left the bird behind : From bodings, as might be, that hung upon his mind.
“He to a fellow-lodger's care
Had left it, to be watched and fed,
And pipe its song in safety; there
I found it when my son was dead;
And now, God help me for my little wit!
I bear it with me, sir! he took so much delight in it.'
THE CHILDLESS FATHER.
Up, Timothy, up with your staff and away!
Not a soul in the village this morning will stay;
The hare has just started from Hamilton's grounds,
And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds.
Of coats and of jackets gray, scarlet, and green,
On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen ;
With their comely blue aprons, and caps white as snow,
The girls on the hills made a holiday show.
Fresh sprigs of green box-wood, not six months before
Filled the funeral basin at Timothy's door :
A coffin through Timothy's threshold had passed;
One child did it bear, and that child was his last.
Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray,
The horse and the horn, and the ‘hark ! hark away!'
Old Timothy took up his staff, and he shut
With a leisurely motion the door of his hut.
Perhaps to himself at that moment he said,
“ The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead."
But of this in my ears not a word did he speak,
And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek.