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WHEN marshalled on the nightly plain,
The glittering host bestud the sky; One star alone, of all the train,
Can fix the sinner's wandering eye. Hark! hark! to God the chorus breaks,
From every host, from every gem; But one alone the Saviour speaks,
It is the Star of Bethlehem.
Once on the raging seas I rode,
The storm was loud the night was dark; The ocean yawned - and rudely blowed
The wind that tossed my foundering bark.
Deep horror then my vitals froze,
Death-struck, I ceased the tide to stem; When suddenly a star arose,
It was the Star of Bethlehem.
It was my guide, my light, my all,
It bade my dark forebodings cease;
And through the storm and dangers' thrall,
It led me to the port of peace.
Now safely moored my perils o'er,
I'll sing, first in night's diadem, For ever and for evermore,
The Star - the Star of Bethlehem !
WITH dove-like wings Peace o'er yon village broods •
Che dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil's din
Hath ceased; all, all around is quietness.
Less fearful on this day, the limping hare
Btops, and looks back, and stops, and looks on man,
Her deadliest foe. The toil-worn horse, set free,
Unbeedful of the pasture, roams at large;
And, as his stiff unwieldy bulk he rolls,
His iron-armed hoofs gleam in the morning ray.
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day:
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
The morning air pure from the city's smoke;
While wandering slowly up the river side,
He meditates on Him whose power he marks
In each green tree that proudly spreads the bough,
As in the tiny dew-bent flowers that bloom
Around the roots; and while he thus surveys
With elevated joy each rural charm,
He hopes (yet fears presumption in the hope)
To reach those realms where Sabbath never ends.
But now his steps a welcome sound recalls:
Solemn the knell from yonder ancient pile,
Fills all the air, inspiring joyful awe:
Slowly the throng moves o'er the tomb-paved ground;
The aged man, the bowed down, the blind ,
Led by the thoughtless boy, and he who breathes
With pain, and eyes the new-made grave, well-pleased;
These, mingled with the young, the gay, approach
The house of God — these, spite of all their ills,
A glow of gladness feel; with silent praise
They enter in; a placid stillness reigns,
Untiš the man of God, worthy the name,
Opens the book, and reverentially
The stated portion reads.
It is not only in the sacred fane
That homage should be paid to the Most High;
There is a temple, one not made with hands,
The vaulted firmament. Far in the woods,
Almost beyond the sound of city chime,
At intervals heard through the breezeless air:
When not the limberest leaf is seen to move,
Save when the linnet lights upon the spray;
Where not a floweret bends its little stalk,
Save when the bee alights upon the bloom —
There, rapt in gratitude, in joy, and love,
The man of God will pass the Sabbath-noon ;
Silence his praise : his disembodied thoughts,
Loosed from the load of words, will high ascend
Beyond the empyreal.
GEORGE CRABBE (1754–1834), took in general a gloomy view of life, but was remarkable for the truth and fidelity of his descriptions both of men and nature.
THE ENGLISH PARISH WORKHOUSE.
Theirs is yon house that holds the parish poor,
Whose walls of mud scarce bear the broken door;
There, where the putrid vapours flagging, play,
And the dull wheel hums doleful through the day ;
There children dwell who know no parents' care;
Parents, who know no children's love, dwell there;
Heart-broken matrons on their joyless bed,
Forsaken wives and mothers never wed,
Dejected widows with unheeded tears,
And crippled age with more than childhood-fears;
The lame, the blind, and, far the happiest they!
The moping idiot and the madman gay.
Here too the sick their final doom receive,
Here brought amid the scenes of grief, to grieve,
Where the loud groans from some sad chamber flow
Mixed with the clamours of the crowd below;
Here sorrowing, they each kindred sorrow scan,
And the cold charities of man to man:
Whose laws indeed for ruined age provide,
And strong compulsion plucks the scrap from pride;
But still that scrap is bought with many a sigh,
And pride imbitters what it can't deny.
Such is that room which one rude beam divides,
And naked rafters form the sloping sides ;
Where the vile bands that bind the thatch are seen,
And lath and mud are all that lie between;
Save one dull pane, that, coarsely patched, gives way
To the rude tempest, yet excludes the day:
Here on a matted flock, with dust o'erspread,
The drooping wretch reclines his languid head;
For him no hand the cordial cup applies,
Or wipes the tear that stagnates in his eyes ;
No friends with soft discourse his pain beguile,
Or promise hope till sickness wears a smile.
But soon a loud and hasty summons calls,
Shakes the thin roof, and echoes round the walls;
Anon, a figure enters, quaintly neat,
All pride and business, bustle and conceit,
With looks unaltered by these scenes of woe,
With speed that, entering, speaks his haste to go;
He bids the gazing throng around him fly,
And carries fate and physic in his eye;
A potent quack, long versed in human ills,
Who first insults the victim whom he kills;
Whose murderous hand a drowsy bench protect,
And whose most tender mercy is neglect.
Paid by the parish for attendance here,
He wears contempt upon his sapient sneer;
In haste he seeks the bed where misery lies,
Impatience marked in his averted eyes;
And, some habitual queries hurried o'er,
Without reply, he rushes on the door ;
His drooping patient, long inured to pain,
And long unheeded, knows remonstrance vain;
He ceases now the feeble help to crave
Of man; and silent sinks into the grave.