Page images

Beauty and joy are hers by right;

And, knowing this, I wonder less That she's so scorned, when falsely dight

In misery and ugliness. What's that which Heaven to man endears,

And that which eyes no sooner see Than the heart says, with floods of tears,

“Ah, that's the thing which I would be!” Not childhood, full of frown and fret;

Not youth, impatient to disown Those visions high, which to forget

Were worse than never to have known; Not worldlings, in whose fair outside,

Nor courtesy nor justice fails, Thanks to cross-pulling vices tied,

Like Samson's foxes, by the tails; Not poets; real things are dreams,

When dreams are as realities, And boasters of celestial gleams

Go stumbling aye for want of eyes; Not patriots nor people's men,

In whom two worse-matched evils meet Than ever sought Adullam's den,

Base conscience and a high conceit; Not new-made saints, their feelings iced,

Their joy in man and nature gone,
Who sing “O easy yoke of Christ!”

But find 'tis hard to get it on;
Not great men, even when they're good;

The good man whom the time makes great, By some disgrace of chance or blood,

God fails not to humiliate;
Not these: but souls, found here and there,

Oases in our waste of sin,
Where everything is well and fair,

And Heaven remits its discipline;
Whose sweet subdual of the world

The worldling scarce can recognize, And ridicule, against it hurled,

Drops with a broken sting, and dies;

Who nobly, if they cannot know

Whether a 'scutcheon's dubious field Carries a falcon or a crow,

Fancy a falcon on the shield; Yet, ever careful not to hurt

God's honor, who creates success,
Their praise of even the best desert

Is but to have presumed no less;
Who, should their own life plaudits bring,

Are simply vexed at heart that such
An easy, yea, delightful thing

Should move the minds of men so much. They live by law, not like the fool,

But like the bard, who freely sings In strictest bonds of rhyme and rule,

And finds in them, not bonds, but wings. Postponing still their private ease

To courtly custom, appetite, Subjected to observances,

To banquet goes with full delight; Nay, continence and gratitude

So cleanse their lives from earth's alloy,
They taste, in Nature's common food,

Nothing but spiritual joy.
They shine like Moses in the face,

And teach our hearts, without the rod,
That God's grace is the only grace,
And all grace is the grace of God.

Coventry Patmore (1823-1896)


STERN Daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love,
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad Hearts! without reproach or blot,
Who do thy work, and know it not:
O, if through confidence misplaced
They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them cast.

Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed;
Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.

I, loving freedom, and untried;
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust:
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I


Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance-desires;
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face:

Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and

To humbler functions, awful Power!
I call thee: I myself commend
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
O, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live!

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)


Who lives in suit of armor pent,

And hides himself behind a wall,
For him is not the great event,

The garland, nor the Capitol.
And is God's guerdon less than they?
Nay, moral man, I tell thee Nay:
Nor shall the flaming forts be won
By sneaking negatives alone,

By Lenten fast or Ramazan,
But by the challenge proudly thrown-

Virtue is that beseems a Man!

God, in his Palace resident

Of Bliss, beheld our sinful ball,
And charged His own Son innocent

Us to redeem from Adam's fall.
_“Yet must it be that men Thee slay.”
—“Yea, though it must, must I obey,”
Said Christ, -and came, His royal Son,
To die, and dying to atone

For harlot and for publican.
Read on that rood He died upon-

Virtue is that beseems a Man!

And by that rood where He was bent

I saw the world's great captains all
Go riding to the tournament-

Cyrus the Great and Hannibal,
Cæsar of Rome and Attila,
Lord Charlemagne and his array,
Lord Alisaundre of Macedon-
With flaming lance and habergeon

They passed, and to the rataplan
Of drums gave salutation-

Virtue is that beseems a Man!

Had tall Achilles lounged in tent

For aye, and Xanthus neighed in stall, The towers of Troy had ne'er been shent,

Nor stayed the dance in Priam's hall. Bend o’er thy book till thou be gray, Read, mark, perpend, digest, surveyInstruct thee deep as SolomonOne only chapter thou shalt con,

One lesson learn, one sentence scan, One title and one colophon

Virtue is that beseems a Man! High Virtue's hest is eloquent

With spur and not with martingall: Sufficeth not thou’rt continent:

BE COURTEOUS, BRAVE, AND LIBERAL. God fashioned thee of chosen clay For service, nor did ever say “Deny thee this,” “Abstain from yon," Save to inure thee, thew and bone,

To be confirmed of the clan That made immortal Marathon

Virtue is that beseems a Man!


Young Knight, the lists are set to-day:
Hereafter shall be long to pray
In sepulture with hands of stone.
Ride, then! outride the bugle blown!

« PreviousContinue »