THE DEATH OF SAUL:
EISTEDDFOD PRIZE POEMS
J. C. MANNING
J. C. MANNING, 9, CASTLE STREET.
AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.
PRICE SIX SHILLINGS.
DEATH OF SAUL
THE EISTEDDFOD COMMITTEE
"DEATH OF SAUL."
Being restricted by the Wrexham Eisteddfod Committee to 200 lines, I was obliged to lop away from the bulk of the following poem just sufficient for their requirements. I have always declaimed, from a physical point of view, against the pernicious influence of light-lacing, and this being so, it was not likely I could go at once and mentally encase my delicate muse, for a permanency, in a straight waistcoat, at the behest of any committee in the world. What would she have thought of me? If, therefore, the committee, or any member of it, should by chance observe that the "Death of Saul," as I now produce it, is of a more comprehensive character than the "Death of Saul" for which they were good enough to award me the first prize, they will see the poem without the temporary stays in which I was necessitated to encase it in order to make it acceptable to them and their restrictive tastes. To squeeze a poem of nearly 400 lines into the dimensions of one of 200, is, in my opinion, an achievement worthy of a prize in itself; and as half of the original had a gold medal awarded to it, the whole of it, I should think, ought to be worth two. I trust Eisteddfod committees, when they contemplate putting the curb upon us poor poets, will think of the Wrexham National Eisteddfod, and how half the "Death of Saul" took a first prize.
TO THE PUBLIC.
Let the bright sun of Approbation shine In warmth upon the humble rhymester's line, And, like the lark that flutters tow'rds the light, He spreads his pinions for a loftier flight. The chilling frowns of critics may retard, But cannot kill, the ardour of the Bard, For, gaining wisdom by experience taught, As grass grows strong from wounds by mowers wrought, Success will come the Poet's fears to assuage, Crowning his hopes with Poesy's perfect page.
The verses which make up this volume have been written at intervals, and under the most varied and chequered circumstances, extending over a period of five-and-twenty years. If, therefore, they bear upon their surface variety of sentiment and incongruity of feeling, that fact will explain it. I am fully aware that some of the pieces are unequal in merit from a purely artistic point of view, but I have felt that my audience will be varied in its composition, and hence the introduction of variety. The tone, however, of the whole work, I believe to be healthy; and where honest maxims, combined with homely metaphor, are found to take the place of high constructive art, they will, I know, be excused by votaries of the latter, for the sake of those whose hearts and instincts are much more sensitive to homely appeals than to the charms of mere artistic effect. The pieces have all been written, together with many other effusions, at such leisure moments as have been accorded to one who, during the whole time of their composition, has had to apply himself, almost without cessation, to the performance of newspaper press duties; and those who know anything about such things need not be told that a taste for versification is, to a press-man, as a rule, what poverty is to most people—a very inconvenient and by no means a profitable companion. In my own case, however, the inconvenience has been a pleasure, and I have no reason to find fault as to profit. From the fitful excitement of journalistic duties I have turned to "making poetry," as Spenser defines the art, as a jaded spirit looks for rest, and have always felt refreshed after it. My only hope in connection with the poetry I have thus made is, that those who may incline to read what I have written will take as much pleasure in reading as I have taken in writing it, and that the result to myself will be a justification for having published the work, to be found only in that public appreciation which I hope to obtain,
SWANSEA.——J. C. MANNING.
To the Public Preface Dedication The Wrexham Eisteddfod and the "Death of Saul" Historical Note DEATH OF SAUL Episode the First Episode the Second Episode the Third Episode the Fourth Palm Sunday in Wales Elegy on the late Crawshay Bailey, Esq. Nash Vaughan Edwardes Vaughan; a Monody Monody on the Death of Mrs. Nicholl Carne Elegiac Stanzas on the Death of Mrs. Grenfell In Dreams Mewn Cof Anwyl: on the Death of John Johnes, Esq., of Dolaucothy Elegiac In Memoriam To Clara E.H.R. A.R. Venus and Astery To a Royal Mourner Beautiful Wales Gwalia Deg The Welsh Language: to Caradawc, of Abergavenny Englyn i'r Iath Gymraeg A Foolish Bird I'd Choose to be a Nightingale: to Mary (Llandovery) True Philanthropy: to J. D. Llewellyn, Esq., Penllergare Disraeli Down in the Dark: the Ferndale Explosion DAISY MAY:—Part the First Part the Second Part the Third Lines, accompanying a Purse Forsaken Christmas is Coming Heart Links The Oak to the Ivy Epigram on a Welshwoman's Hat Shadows in the Fire The Belfry Old Beautiful Barbara Song of the Silken Shroud A University for Wales Griefs Untold I Will Dawn and Death Castles in the Air The Withered Rose Wrecks of Life Eleanor New Year's Bells The Vase and the Weed A Riddle To a Fly Burned by a Gaslight To a Friend Retribution The Three Graces The Last Rose of Summer The Starling and the Goose The Heroes of Alma A Kind Word, a Smile, or a Kiss Dear Mother, I'm Thinking of Thee The Heron and the Weather-Vane The Three Mirrors The Two Clocks Sacrifical: on the Execution of Two Greek Sailors at Swansea Wales to "Punch" Welcome! Change False as Fair Heads and Hearts Fall of Sebastopol To Lord Derby Unrequited The Household Spirit Had I a Heart A Bridal Simile Song I would my Love Death in Life Song of the Strike Nature's Heroes: the Rhondda Valley Disaster Elegy on the Death of a Little Child Magdalene Love Walks with Humanity Yet The Two Trees Stanzas Verses, written after Reading a Biography of His Grace the Duke of Beaufort A Simile The Two Sparrows Floating Away A Floral Fable Ring Down the Curtain The Telegraph Post Breaking on the Shore Hurrah! for the Rifle Corps Be Careful when you Find a Friend Brotherly Love England and France Against the Stream Wrecked in Sight of Home Sonnet Sebastopol is Won Hold Your Tongue My Mother's Portrait Never More Lines on the Death of the Rev. Canon Jenkins, Vicar of Aberdare Filial Ingratitude The Vine and the Sunflower POETIC PROVERBS: I.—Danger in Surety II.—A Wise Son III.—Hope Deferred IV.—Virtue's Crown V.—Sorrow in Mirth Christmas Anticipations Golden Tresses Hope for the Best Gone Before Henry Bath: Died October 14th, 1864 Song of the Worker The Brooklet's Ambition St. Valentine's Eve Lost Lilybell Gone Life Dreams Aeolus and Aurora; or, the Music of the Gods Sonnet Sleeping in the Snow With the Rain Ode, on the Death of a Friend Lines: to a Young Lady who had jilted her Lover Vicarious Martyrs: to a Hen-pecked Schoolmaster Stanzas: on seeing Lady Noel Byron To Louisa The Orator and the Cask The Maid of the War Impromptu: on being asked by a Lady to write a Verse in her Album Mary: a Monody On the Marriage of Miss Nicholl Carne Impromptu: on the Death of Mr. Thomas Kneath, a well-known Teacher of Navigation, at Swansea EXTRACTS FROM UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT: Humility Oppressed Upward Strivings Truthfulness Love's Influence Value of Adversity Misguiding Appearances Virgin Purity Man's Destiny Love's Incongruities Retribution Love's Mutability A Mother's Advice Sunrise in the Country Faith in Love Unrequited Affection The Poet's Troubles Echoes from the City Love's Wiles Hazard in Love A Mother's Love "The Shadow of the Cross" Curates and Colliers: on reading in a Comic Paper absurd comparisons between the wages of Curates and Colliers Wanted—a Wife: a Voice from the Ladies Sympathy A Fragment Law versus Theology: on an Eminent County Court Judge The Broken Model Impromptu: on an Inveterate Spouter A Character Couplet Pause: on the hesitation of the Czar to Force a Passage of the Danube, June, 1877 The Test of the Stick Note: concerning Iuan Wyllt, an Eisteddfod at Neath, and a First Prize Poem
MOST HONOURABLE THE MARQUESS OF BUTE:
WITH A GRATEFUL SENSE OF HIS LORDSHIP'S GENEROUS AND
OTHERWISE DISINTERESTED DESIRE,
IN ACCEPTING THE DEDICATION OF THE WORK,
TO ALONE FURTHER THE VIEWS AND ENCOURAGE THE LITERARY
ASPIRATIONS OF THE WRITER,
BY HIS LORDSHIP'S PERMISSION,
WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF RESPECTFUL ADMIRATION OF HIS
TALENT AND WORTH,
BY HIS LORDSHIP'S OBLIGED AND OBEDIENT SERVANT,
DEATH OF SAUL.
WREXHAM NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, 1876.
"The Vicar of Wrexham delivered his award on the 28 poems in English or Welsh, on 'The Death of Saul' ('Marwolaeth Saul'). The prize 5 pounds 5s. was given by Dr. Williams, Chairman of the Committee, and a gold medal was given by the Committee. The Vicar said the best composition was an English poem, signed 'David.' It was written in a style well adapted to the subject, in language dignified and sonorous, with not a little of the rhythmic cadence of Paradise Lost. It was real poetry; suggestive, and at times deeply impressive—the poetry of thought and culture, not of mere figure and fancy, and it was well calculated to do honour to its author, and to the National Eisteddfod of Wales. 'David' was among his fellow-competitors as Saul was amongst his brethren, higher than any of them from his shoulders upwards, and to him he awarded the prize which his poem well deserved."
The design followed out in the succeeding poem has been to touch upon the leading historical incidents of Saul's career that lead up to and explain his tragic death on Mount Gilboa. With him, nearly 3,000 years ago, commenced the Monarchical government of the Israelites, who had previously been governed by a Theocracy. The Prophet Samuel, who anointed Saul, was the last of the High Priests or Judges under this Theocracy, which existed for 800 years, and died out with the acceptance of Saul, by the Israelites, as "King of all the tribes of Israel." The incidents touched upon range from the proclamation of Saul as King, by Samuel (1095 B.C.), to the fall of the hapless Monarch at the battle of Gilboa, 40 years afterwards.
Death of Saul
As through the waves the freighted argosy Securely plunges, when the lode star's light Her path makes clear, and as, when angry clouds Obscure the guide that leads her on her way, She strikes the hidden rock and all is lost, So he of whom I sing—favoured of God, By disobedience dimmed the light divine That shone with bright effulgence like the sun, And sank in sorrow, where he might have soared Up to the loftiest peak of earthly joy In sweet foretaste of heavenly joys to come. Called from his flocks and herds in humble strait And made to rule a nation; high in Heaven The great Jehovah lighting up the way; On earth an upright Judge and Prophet wise Sent by the Lord to bend his steps aright; Sons dutiful and true; no speck to mar The noble grandeur of a proud career; Yet, from the rays that flickered o'er his path, Sent for his good, he wove the lightning shaft That seared his heart, e'en as the stalwart oak, Soaring in pride of pow'r, falls 'neath the flash, And lies a prostrate wreck. Like one of old, Who, wrestling with the orb whose far-off light Gave beauty to his waxen wings, upsoared Where angels dared not go, came to his doom, And fell a molten mass; so, tempting Heaven, Saul died the death of disobedient Pride And self-willed Folly—curses of mankind! Sins against God which wrought the Fall, and sent, As tempests moan along the listening night, A wail of mournful sadness drifting down The annals of the world: unearthly strains! Cries of eternal souls that know no rest.
Episode the First.
THE ISRAELITES DEMAND A KING, AND SAUL IS GIVEN TO RULE OVER THEM.
"God save the King!" the Israelites exclaimed, (a) When, by the aged Prophet summoned forth To Mizpeh, all the tribes by lot declared That Saul should be their ruler. Since they left The land of Egypt and its galling stripes, Till then, the only living God had been Their King and Governor; and Samuel old, The last of Israel's Judges, when he brought The man they chose to be their future King, And said: "Behold the ruler of your choice!" Told them of loving mercies they for years Had from the great Jehovah's hand received, And mourned in sorrowing tones that God their Judge Should be by them rejected: and they cried "A King! give us a King—for thou art old (b) "And in those ways thou all thy life hast walked "Walk not thy sons: lucre their idol is— "And Judgment is perverted by the bribes "They take to stifle justice: give us, then, "A King to judge us. Other nations boast "Of such a chief—a King, give us a King!" So Saul became the crowned of Israel— The first great King of their united tribes.
Episode the Second.
SAUL DISAPPOINTS THE EXPECTATIONS OF JEHOVAH, AND IS VISITED WITH THE ALMIGHTY'S DISPLEASURE.
Brave is the heart that beats with yearning throb Tow'rds highest hopes, when, wandering in the vale, Some snowy Alp gleams forth with flashing crown Of golden glory in the morning light. Brave is the heart that lovingly expands And longs the far-off splendour to embrace. Thus yearned the heart of Saul, when from his flocks The Prophet led him forth, and, pointing up Tow'rds Israel's crown, exclaimed: "See what the Lord Hath done for thee!" But Saul upon the throne Grew sorely dazed. Though brave the heart, the brain Swam in an ecstasy of wildering light— A helmless boat upon a troubled sea. Men nursed in gloom can rarely brook the sun; And many a life to sombre paths inured The sunshine of Prosperity hath quenched, As dewdrops glistening on the lowly sward Like priceless jewels ere the morning breaks, Melt into space when light and heat abound, As though they ne'er had been. Relentless fate! This ruthless law the world's wide ways hath fringed With wreckage of a host of peerless lives; And Saul is numbered 'mongst the broken drift. Saul, though the Lord's anointed, saw not God: But—curse of life! ingratitude prevailed. His faith waxed weak as days of trial came: And when, deserted by his teeming hosts At Gilgal, he the Prophet's priestly right In faithless haste assumed, the Prophet cried "The Lord hath said no son of thine shall reign O'er Israel!" (c) Yet, heedless of the voice Of warning which a patient God vouchsafed, With disobedience lurking in his heart, He strove to shield the King of Amalek— He whom the Lord commanded him to kill— Seizing his flocks and herds for selfish gain Beneath the garb of sacrificial faith— Sin so distasteful to the Lord that Saul Sat in the dark displeasure of his God. (d) And out from this displeasure, like the dawn From dusky night, the youthful David sprang— The Lord's anointed, yea, the Lord's beloved: Sweet Bard of Bethlehem! whose harp divine, Tuned to the throbbings of a guileless heart, Soothed the dark spirit of the sinful King, And woke his life to light and hope again, (e) But ah! the sling and stone his envy roused, And envy hate begat. 'Tis ever so: The honest fealty of a noble soul To all that's brave, and true, and good in life, Will meet malicious hindrance. So the King This brave young bard and warrior of the Lord In ruthless persecution sought to kill. Twice, with a true nobility of heart Which to the noble heart alone belongs, The slayer of Goliath stayed his hand When Saul lay at his mercy. "Take thy life; "Thou art the Lord's anointed, sinful, though, "And faithless to the truth as shifting sand!" Thus David spake, and went his weary way, An exile from the land he loved so well. So Saul had steeled his heart and set his face Against the living God, and thus he lay Beneath the great Jehovah's awful ban.
Episode the Third
SAUL, DESERTED BY THE ALMIGHTY, CONSULTS THE WITCH OF ENDOR, AND HIS FALL IS FORETOLD BY THE SPIRIT OF THE DEAD PROPHET.
As o'er the earth a darkling cloud appears, And grows in blackness till the scathing shaft Comes forth with swelling thunder, so the cloud, Black unto bursting with the wrath divine, Hung o'er the head of Israel's erring King. The light of heavenly faith from him was gone, And life was full of dreary, dark despair. Outstretched along the plains of Shunem lay The army of the heathen Philistines—(f) A countless horde, at whose relentless head Achish, the King of Gath, with stern acclaim Breathed war against the Israelitish host. Heedless of help from God, the wretched Saul Had called his tribes together, and they swarmed Along the plains of Gilboa, whence they saw The mighty army of their heathen foe Lie like a drowsy panther in its lair With limbs all wakeful for the hungry leap. "Enquire me of the Lord!" the King had said, Communing with the doubtings of his heart. But answer came not. Dreams were dumb and dark— Unfathomed mysteries. No Urim spake; And Prophets wore the silence of the grave. So Saul, the King, disheartened and disguised, Went forth at night.(g) The rival armies lay Sleeping beneath the darksome dome of Heaven, And all was still, save when the ghostly wind Swept o'er the plains with melancholy moan. That night the shadowy shape of one long dead Stood face-to-face with Saul, in lonely cave, The Witch of Endor's haunt. Ah, me—the fall! To degradation deep that man hath slid Who 'gainst the Lord in stiff-necked folly strives Choosing the path of cabalistic wiles— The dark and turbid garniture of toads, And philters rank of necromantic knaves— Who spurns the hand which, by the light of Heaven, Points clear and straight along the spacious road Which angel feet have trod. Ah, me—the fall! And sad the fate of him who shuns the truth: Who, like the lonely Saul, eschews the light, And leagues with darkness—listening for the voice Of angels in abodes where devils dwell. So the dead Prophet and the erring King, By Heaven's own will, not by the witch's craft, Confront each other in the dark retreat. The dreamy shadow speaks: "Wherefore," it saith, "Dost thou disquiet me!" (h) And from the earth Came the sepulchral tones, which, floating up, Joined the weird meanings of the hollow wind, And swept in ghostly cadences away Like exiled souls in pain. And Saul replied; "I'm sore distressed: Alas! the living God "Averts His face and answers me no more; "What"—and the pleading voice, in trembling tones That might have won a stony heart to tears, Asks of the shadowy shape—"What shall I do!" And hollow voices seem to echo back The anguish-freighted words—"What shall I do!" 'Twas hell's own mockery! The blistering heat— Like burning blast, hot and invisible— That scorched the heart of Saul, was but the breath Of Satan, gloating o'er the moral death Of him who, chosen of Jehovah, lay A victim to those foul Satanic wiles Which the sworn enemy of God had planned In inmost hate. "I cannot scale the height "Of Him 'gainst whom eternal enmity "I've sworn," it seemed to say: "but—soothing thought! "Deep in the hearts of mortals He hath named "To do His bidding, will I thrust my darts, "And through their wounds, as His ambassadors, "The spirit bruise of Him who sent them—thus!" And then again, as though his breaking heart Were cleft with red-hot blade, the voice of Saul Is heard in mortal anguish breathing out The soul-subduing tones—"What shall I do?" Dead silence intervenes; and then again The spirit of the Prophet slowly speaks: "To-morrow thou and thine," it faintly said, "Shalt be with me; and Israel's mighty host "Shall be the captives of the heathen foe!" The fateful answer smites the listener low, And utter darkness falls upon his life.
Episode the Fourth.
BATTLE OF GILBOA AND THE DEATH OF SAUL.
The morrow came: the bloody fray began. The sun shone fierce and hot upon the scene. Lashed into fury like a raging sea The wrestling multitude for vantage strove With deadly chivalry. On Gilboa's mount The King looked forth and watched the sanguine strife, Clothed in the golden panoply of war. Upon his brow the stately monarch wore The crown of all the tribes of Israel, A-fire with jewels flashing in the sun In bitter mockery of his trampled heart. Noble in mien, yet, with a sorrowing soul, Anxious his gaze—for in the sweltering surge Three sons of Saul were battling with the rest; His first-born, Jonathan; Abinadab; And Melchi-shua—idols of his life! Around him like a hurricane of hail The pinioned shafts with aim unerring sped, Bearing dark death upon their feathery wings. The clashing sword its dismal carnage made As foe met foe; and flashing sparks out-flew As blade crossed blade with murderous intent. The outcry rose—"They fly! they fly!" The King Looked down upon the fray with trembling heart. The bloody stream along the valley ran, And chariots swept like eagles on the wind On deathly mission borne. The conflict fierce Waxed fiercer—fiercer still; the rain of gore Wetted the soddened plain, and arrows flew Thicker and faster through the darkening air. The barbed spear, flung forth with stalwart arm, Sped like a whirlwind on its flight of death. Along the ranks the warrior's clarion call Inspired to valorous life the struggling hosts, And shouts of victory from contending hordes Blended with sorrowing moans of dying men. "Thy sons, O King!" a breathless herald cried, Fresh from the carnage, bowing low his head, Where Saul, heart-weary, watched the dreadful strife On Gilboa's height. "Thy sons, O mighty King!" The herald cried, and sank upon the ground By haste exhausted. Saul, with fitful start, Upraised the prostrate messenger. "My sons! "What of them? Speak!" he gasped, with startled look, "Dead!" moaned the herald, and an echo came, As though deep down in some sepulchral vault The word was spoken. From the heart of Saul That mournful echo came—so sad and low! "Dead! dead! Ah, woe is me!" he sadly sighed. "My sons—my best beloved! Woe! Woe—alas!" And as he spake, e'en while his head, gold-crowned, Bent low in pain beneath the crushing blow, An arrow from the foe his armour smote, And pierced his breast, already rent with grief. Then stepped with hurried tread a servant forth, And plucked the arrow from its cruel feast, Rending his robe to stanch the purple stream. "Heed not the wound!" exclaimed the King. "Too late! "Where Heaven smites, men's blows are light indeed." Then bending o'er his breast his kingly head He wept aloud: "Rejected of the Lord; "My sons among the slain; my valorous host "In bondage of the heathen—let me die!" So sobbed the King, as down the bloody plain The chariots of the foe came thundering on; And horsemen cleft the air in hot array— A mighty stream of chivalry and life! The Israelites had fled, and at their heels The roaring tumult followed like a storm That rolls from world to world. And through the blast Of warfare came a weak and wailing voice Moaning in utter anguish—"Let me die!" 'Twas Saul the Anointed—Israel's fallen King: Crushed 'neath the hand of an offended God! "Lo!" cried the King, and raised his tearful eyes, "The Philistines are near, pierce thou my breast!" And, turning round, his kingly breast he bared, Bidding his armour-bearer thrust his sword Hilt-deep into his heart. "Better to die "By friendly hand," he cried, "than owe my death "To yonder hated victors. Quick! Thy sword! "Thrust deep and quickly!" But the faltering hand That held the sword fell nerveless. "Mighty King! "I dare not!" spake the trembling armourer. "Then by my own I die," exclaimed the King. And as he spake he poised the glittering blade Point upward from the earth, and moaning fell Upon the thirsty steel. The ruddy gush Came spurting through the armour that he wore, And steamed in misty vapour to the sky In voiceless testimony to the truth Of words once spoken by the living God! Aghast the faithful armour-bearer stood. "O, mighty King! I die with thee!" he said, And, falling on his sword, the blood of both Commingled, as from ghastly wounds it ran In trickling streamlets down Mount Gilboa's side. (i) As ebbs and flows the sea with troubled throb 'Twixt shore and shore, or as the thistle-down Halts in the eddies of the summer wind In trembling doubt, so do the flickering souls Of dying men float fearingly between The earth and unseen worlds that lie beyond. So hung the life of Saul, whose bitter cup, Still at his lips, contained its bitterest dregs. Prostrate he lay, by bloody sword transfixed; A corpse his pillow; arms extended out, And body bent in agony of pain, The flame of life still fluttering at his heart A waning lamp. He heard the tumult swell. Bondage was worse than death. "They come! They come!" He moaned. "Stand ye upon my breast," he said, To one, a stranger, lingering near the spot, "And force the gurgling stream back on my heart, "To quench the life within me. Quick! They come!" The stranger did the cruel bidding. (j) Hark! "The King!" the foemen cry, and fiercely rusht Upon the Royal captive, who, till then, Had lain by them unseen. But while the shout Swept like a storm along the swelling ranks The soul of Saul went drifting through the dark, Like some fair ship with sails and cordage rent, Out from the stormy trials of his life, To tempt the terrors of an unknown sea. And then the cry of lamentation rose In Israel, and the Hebrew maidens hung Their speechless harps upon the willow branch, And mourned the loved and lost unceasingly.
(a) Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay, but we will have a King over us, that we also may be like all the nations. And Samuel said to all the people, "See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen." And all the people shouted and said, "God save the King!"—I SAMUEL, viii. and ix. 19, 20, 24.
(b) And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.—I SAMUEL, viii., 1, 2.
(c) And Saul said, "Bring hither a burnt offering," and he offered the burnt offering. And Samuel came, and Saul went out to meet him. And Samuel said, "What hast thou done? Thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God which he commanded thee, and thy kingdom shall not continue."—I SAMUEL, xiii., 10, 14.
(d) And Samuel said, "The Lord sent thee, and said go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites. Wherefore didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil?" And Saul said unto Samuel, "The people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God at Gilgal." And Samuel said, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee."—I SAMUEL, xv,, 18, 23.
(e) And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand. So Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.—I SAMUEL, xvi., 23.
(f) And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.—I SAMUEL, xxviii., 4.
(g) Then said Saul unto his servants, "Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her and enquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor." And Saul disguised himself, and came to the woman by night. And he said, "I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring him up whom I shall name of thee."—I SAMUEL, xxviii., 7, 8.
(h) And Samuel said to Saul, "Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?" And Saul answered, "I am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more. Therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do." And Samuel said, "Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor executedst not his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day. To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me; and the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines." Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth.—I SAMUEL, xxviii., 15, 20.
(i) And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armour-bearer, "Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through." But his armour-bearer would not, therefore Saul took a sword and fell upon it. And when his armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.—I SAMUEL, xxxi., 3, 5.
(j) And David said unto the young man, "How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?" And the young man that told him said: "As I happened by chance upon Mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear: and lo! the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. And he said unto me, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me; for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole within me. So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live, after that he was fallen."—II SAMUEL, i., 5, 10.
PALM SUNDAY IN WALES.
WREXHAM NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, 1876.
Fifteen competed for the prize of 5 pounds, and a silver medal for the best English poem, never before published, upon any distinctively Welsh subject. Mr. Osborne Morgan, M.P., Mr. Trevor Parkins, and the Rev. Ll. Thomas adjudicated. The latter gave the award.
Out by the hedgerows, along by the steep; Through the meadows; away and away, Where the daisies, like stars, through the green grass peep, And the snowdrops and violets, waking from sleep, Look forth at the dawning day.
Down by the brooklet—by murmuring rills, By rivers that glide along; Where the lark in the heavens melodiously trills, And the air the wild blossom with perfume fills, The shimmering leaves among.
Through the still valley; along by the pool, Where the daffodil's bosom of gold So shyly expands to the breezes cool As they murmur, like children coming from school, In whisperings over the wold.
In the dark coppice, where fairies dwell, Where the wren and the red-breast build; Along the green lanes, through dingle and dell, O'er bracken and brake, and moss-covered fell, Where the primroses pathways gild.
Hither and thither the tiny feet Of children gaily sped, In the cool grey dawn of the morning sweet, Plucking wild flowers—an offering meet To garnish the graves of the dead.
Out from the beaten pathway, quaint and white, The village church—a crumbling pile—is seen; It stands in solitude midst mounds of green Like ancient dame in moss-grown cloak bedight.
The mantling ivy clings around its form— The patient growth of many and many a year. As though a gentle hand had placed it there To shield the tottering morsel from the storm.
A sombre cypress rears its mournful head Above the porch, through which, in days gone by, Young men and maidens sped so hopefully, That now lie slumbering with the silent dead:
The silent dead, that round the olden pile Crumble to dust as though they ne'er had been. Whose graven annals, writ o'er billows green, Though voiceless, tell sad stories all the while.
And as they speak in speechless eloquence, The waving shadows of the cypress fall In spectral patches on the quaint old wall, Nodding in wise and ghostly reticence
In silent sanction at the stories told By each decrepit, wizen-featured stone, That seems to muse, like ancient village crone Belost in thought o'er memories strange and old.
Outside the stunted boundary, a row Of poplars tall—beside whose haughty mien And silky rustlings of whose robes of green The lowly church still humbler seems to grow.
A-near the lych-gate in the crumbling wall, A spreading oak, grotesque and ancient, stands, Like aged monk extending prayerful hands In silent benediction over all,
'Twas early morn: the red sun glinted o'er The hazy sky-line of the far-off hill: Below, the valley slept so calm and still— A misty sea engirt by golden shore.
Out in the dim and dreamy distance rose A spectral range of alp-like scenery— Mountain on mountain, far as eye could see, Their foreheads white and hoar with wintry snows.
And as I leaned the low-built wall upon That shut the little churchyard from the road, Children and maidens into Death's abode, With wild flow'rs laden, wandered one by one.
And in their midst, stooping and white with age, Rich in their wealth of quaint old village lore, Came ancient dames, with faces furrowed o'er, That told of griefs in life's long pilgrimage.
The sun is rising now: the poplar tips Are touched with liquid light: the gravestones old, And hoary church, are flushed with fringe of gold, As though embraced by angel's hallowed lips.
And with the morning sunshine children roam To place wild flowers where the loved ones slept; O'er father, mother, sister—long since swept Away by death—with blossoms sweet they come.
Silent reminders of abiding love! What tender language from each petal springs! Affection's tribute! Heart's best offerings! Wanderers, surely, from the realms above!
For heart-to-heart, and life-to-life, had been The loves of those who were and those who are; Till death had severed them—O, cruel bar! Leaving a dark and unknown stream between.
And on that stream, in loving fancy tossed, Each faithful heart its floral tribute threw, As though the hope from out the tribute grew To bridge the gulf the one beloved had crossed.
Near yonder grave there stands a widowed life: Husband and son beneath the grave-stone rest: Some laurels tell, by tender lip caressed, The changeless love of mother and of wife.
And o'er the bright green leaflets as they lie She scatters snowdrops with their waxen leaves, And all the while her troubled bosom heaves In tenderness, with many a sorrowing sigh.
Out from the light, to where the cypress shade In mournful darkness falls, a figure crept; And as she knelt, the morning breezes swept A cloud of hair about her drooping head.
Her feet were small and slender, bare and white— White as the daisy-fringe on which she trod; Like shimmering snowdrops in the greening sod, Or glow-worms glistening in the Summer night.
And as deep down in gloomy chasms seen By those up-looking, stars in daylight shine, So shone the beauty of her face divine In the dark shadows of the cypress green.
Her girlish hands a primrose wreath enwove, With fingers deft, and eyes with tears bedimmed: No lovelier face the painter's art e'er limned, No poet's thought e'er told of sweeter love
Than that young mother's, as, with tender grace, She kissed the chaplet ere she laid it down Upon a tiny hillock, earthy-brown— Of first and only child the resting place.
And then the few stray blossoms that were left She kissed and strewed upon the little mound— Looked lingering back towards the sacred ground, As from the shade she bore her heart bereft.
As gentle ripples, from the side we lave Of placid lake, will reach the other side, So, o'er Death's river—silent, dark, and wide— Blossoms may bear the kiss that mother gave.
Or, if in fervent faith she deemed it so, The thought to joyless lives a pleasure brings, And who shall tell, where doting fondness clings, The loss which hearts bereaved can only know?
And who shall doubt that to such love is given, Borne upward, clothed in perfume to the sky, The pow'r to reach, in death's great mystery, Lost hearts, and add a bliss to those of Heaven?
Other sad pilgrims came. A mother here A duteous daughter mourns, whose days had been A ceaseless blessing—an oasis green On life's enfevered plain: a brooklet clear,
That ran the meadows of glad lives along, Till, like a stream that meanders to the sea, In the dark Ocean of Eternity Lost was their source of laughter, light, and song.
And yonder, clothed in darksome silence, grieves A loving daughter near a mother's tomb— Down by the stunted wall in willow-gloom And shadows thrown by sombre cypress leaves:
And as, in life, the waving kerchief speaks The words of friends departing which the heart Is all too full to utter e're we part For ever, so the sorrowing daughter seeks
In thought one recollection more to wave To one long dead; and asks in speechless woe Primrose and snowdrop on the mound below To bear love's messages beyond the grave!
And in the golden sunshine children come With prattling tongue and winsome, rosy face— Like blossoms flowering in a lonely place— And lay their tributes o'er each narrow home
Where lies the helpless beacon of their lives In darkness quencht—gone ere their infant thought Could realise the loss which Death had wrought— The stab the stern Destroying Angel gives.
And o'er each silent grave Love's tributes fall— The primrose, cowslip, gentle daffodil— The snow-drop, and the tender daisy—till God's acre sleeps beneath a flowery pall.
And now the sun in all its glory came And lit the world up with a light divine, Casting fresh beauty o'er each sacred shrine: Breathing on all things an inspiring flame.
As if the God of Light had bade it be, In sweet reward for pious rite performed; As if, with human love and fondness charmed, The Lord had smiled with love's benignity.
For not to this old churchyard where I stand Is audience of the dead, through flow'rs, confined A nation's heart—a nation's love—combined, Make it the sweet observance of the land.
In humble cot—in proud patrician halls, The Floral Festival fills every breast; And o'er the grass, where'er the loved ones rest, The lowly flow'r with choice exotic falls.
And as they fall upon the sacred spot, Sacred to every heart that strews them there, They seem to sing in voices low and clear: "Though gone for evermore—forgotten not!
"Though never more—still evermore—above "Eternal will their deathless spirits reign. "No more until above to meet again: "Till then send up sweet messages of love."
So sang the blossoms with their odorous breath— Or so in fancy sang they unto me; "No more—yet evermore, eternally! "Though lost, alas! remembered still in death!"
ON THE LATE CRAWSHAY BAILEY, ESQ.,
"THE IRON KING."
ABERGAVENNY EISTEDDFOD, 1874.
The programme opened with a competition for the best English Elegy on the late Crawshay Bailey, Esq., for which a prize of 10 pounds was given, and a bardic chair, value 5 pounds, by Mr. William Lewis. There were twelve competitors, and each composition was confined to a limit of 200 lines.
Sadly the sea, by Mynwy's rugged shore, Moans for the dead in many a mournful strain. A voice from hearts bereft cries "Come again;" But wavelets whisper softly, "Never more!"
The restless winds take up the solemn cry, As though—an age of sorrow in each breath— The words, "O, come again," could call back Death From the far-off, unseen Eternity.
"Our dwellings darkened when his life went out: "We stand in cold eclipse, for gone the light "Which made our cottage-homes so warm and bright; "And shadows deepen o'er the world without.
"Come back—come back!" Upon the mournful wind These words fall weirdly as they float along, Melting the soul to tears: for lo! the song Rises from hearts that seek but ne'er will find:
Save one more billow on the sea of graves; One joyaunt voice the fewer in life's throng; One hand the less to help the world along; One Hero more 'mongst earth's departed Braves.
For who that in life's battle-field could fight As he has fought, whose painless victories Transcended war's heroic chivalries, Could in his country's heart claim nobler height?
None may the niche of glory haplier grace, None may the crown of greatness proudlier wear, Than he upon whose tomb the silent tear Falls slowly down from many a drooping face.
Faces whose hard and rugged outlines show Life's daily struggle—O, how bravely fought! Faces to which the only gladness brought Came from the Friend who yonder lieth low.
Let us in mournful retrospect commune O'er what that still cold heart and brain have won: A hymn of life in lispings first begun, Ending in harmony's most perfect tune.
As comes the sun from out the darkling-night, And strikes, as did the patriarch of old, Life's barren rocks, which flush with green and gold, And pour out waters glad with living light,
So, crowned with blessings, in the far-off days, Like Midas, Mynwy's monarch touched the earth, Wrought golden plenty where once reigned a dearth, And raised an empire he alone could raise.
No service his, of slavery, to bind With tyrant fancy vassals to his will: All hearts beat quick with sympathetic thrill For one who loved the humblest of their kind.
His kingdom rang with fealty from the free— Such blessed faith as faith itself ensures. His reign alone that sway which e'er secures A subject's true and trustful sympathy.
So love men's love begat in bounteous flow; It blossomed round his path as flowers bloom, Filling his life with such a rare perfume Of heart's devotion kings can seldom know.
His master-mind, with almost boundless reach, Planned work so vast that mankind, wondering still, Could scarcely compass his gigantic will Which grasped great things as ocean clasps the beach.
His home of homes was where the Cyclops forged Their bolts, as though for Jove to hold his own: His fondest study where, through ages grown, The silent ores old Cambria's mountains gorged.
Mammoth machines that, with incessant whirl, Rolled onward ever on their ponderous way: Gigantic marvels, deafening in their play, And swift, industrious, never-ending swirl.
All these he loved, as men alone can love The things that win their love: to him they shone Instinct with living beauty all their own, Touched with a light divine as from above.
For them, and with them, toiled he day by day In true companionship: they were his Friends, Bound by the tie whose influence never ends, By faithful bonds which never pass away.
And as the sunflower looks towards the light All through the livelong day, so did his heart Ne'er from this bond of love play recreant part, But every moment beat that heart aright;
A heart so large and true—true to the core; So spacious that the great might enter in; Yet none too poor its sympathy to win, And every throb a pleasure at their door.
And so, through all the toilful hours of thought, He reared a world-wide pinnacle of fame, Whose summit reached, his heart was still the same, Undazed by splendours which his hand had wrought.
Long stood he on the topmost peak of praise From tongues of men, as mountains tipped with snow Stand with their lofty foreheads all a-glow, Lit up with beauty by the sun's bright rays.
His life was climaxed by a kinglier dower Than even kings themselves can hope to reach; No grander, prouder lesson can we teach, Than win great things by self-inherent power.
Brighter examples manhood cannot show, Than with true hand, brave heart, and sleepless mind, To build up name and fortune 'midst their kind, From grains and drops—as worlds and oceans grow.
So, in the rare meridian of his time, In pride of conscious strength, he stood alone, A king of kings upon his Iron Throne, Wrought out from humble step to height sublime,
As shadows lengthen in the setting sun, So spread the stature of his later life, Which, like Colossus, o'er earth's busy strife, Towered grandly till that life's last sand was run.
And so he passed away, as meteors die; Leaving a trail of splendour here on earth To mark the road he took in virtuous worth, In sterling truth, and rare integrity.
These are the living landmarks he has left: Bright jewels in his earthly sojourn set, Whose brilliance seen, those looking ne'er forgot: A glorious heritage for friends bereft.
Such gems as those who mourn may still adore, Whose glistening rays men's footsteps lead aright Through life's dark way, like glow-worms in the night, Or angel-glintings from the eternal shore.
As round decaying flowers perfume clings In silent tribute to the blossoms dead, So memory, brooding o'er his spirit fled, Nought but the sweetest recollection brings.
NASH VAUGHAN EDWARDES VAUGHAN.
DIED SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1868. (a)
Let bard on battle-field, in sounding verse, Proclaim to distant time the warrior-deed That makes a hero, whose triumphal hearse Rolls graveward o'er a thousand hearts that bleed In widowed agony. Let golden lyre Of regal Court engaged in worldly strife Clothe princely foibles with poetic fire, And crown with fame a king's ignoble life. Let chroniclers of Camp and Court proclaim A Warrior's greatness, and a Monarch's fame. Be mine with verse the tomb of one to grace Whose nobler deeds deserve a nobler place.
The lofty fane that cleaves the glowing sky, And heavenward points with golden finger-tip— Structure whence flows the sacred harmony Of prayer and praise from Christian heart and lip: The ranging corridors where—blest the task— 'Tis ours to soothe the fever and the pain Of wounded natures, who, despairing, ask For healing touch that makes them whole again. These are the monuments that proudly stand On corner stones—fruit of his princely hand: Homes for the poor, wound-stricken to the sod; And altars for the worship of his God.
The blazing meteor glares along the sky; The thunder shakes the mountain with its roar; But meteors for a moment live—then die: The thunder peals—and then is heard no more. The most refreshing rains in silence fall; The most entrancing tones are sweet and low; The greatest, mightiest truths, are simplest all; Life's dearest light comes forth in voiceless flow; E'en so his heart and hand were ever found Flinging in mute beneficence around The germs of Truth and Charity combined, To heal the heart and purify the mind.
(a) The life of Mr. Vaughan was one daily round of charitable deeds, in furtherance of religion and social amelioration. His munificent donation to the Swansea Hospital, offered conditionally, led to the enlarged foundation of that noble institution, which stands a silent tribute to his memory. This Elegy was written at the request of the late Mr. John Williams, proprietor of the Cambrian, Swansea, who, in the letter requesting me to write the verses, said: "Such noble qualities as Mr. Vaughan possessed deserve everything good which human tongue can say of them."
ON THE DEATH OF MRS. NICHOLL CARNE. (a)
Down the long vista of historic years I look, and through the dusky haze descry Funereal pomp, and Royal pageantry, Gracing the tombs of queens, and kings, and peers.
I see on marble monuments deep hewn The name and fame of mighty and of great, Who lie in granite effigy and state, Waiting the summons to the last Tribune.
But 'mongst the hero-host that shrouded sleep 'Neath purple banner and engraven stone, Death hath not numbered one among his own More regal-souled than she for whom we weep.
Though a right Royal lineage she could claim, Proudly descendant from a Cambrian King; She was content to let her virtues bring Something more noble than a Royal name.
Her's was no sceptered life in queenly state: Yet queen she was, in all that makes a Queen; No deeds heroic marked her life serene: Yet heroine she in all that makes us great.
Through all the phases of a blameless life She lingered round the threshold of the poor: Where brighter scenes less noble minds allure, Her's was the joy to move 'midst martyr-strife.
To watch where hearts, by poverty o'ercome, Lay weak and wailing; and to point above, With words of hope, of comfort, and of love, Till brighter, happier, grew each cottage home.
And wine and oil fell plenteous from her hand, To cheer the wounded on life's weary way: While, for the human wrecks that round her lay, Her beacon-light beamed o'er the darkling strand.
Her's was a life of Love; then, of deep griefs, We'll rear a monument unto her name, More leal and lasting than the chiselled fame Of mighty monarchs or heroic chiefs.
And see! the virtues of the parent stem Break forth in blossom o'er the branching tree: Long may such fair, such bright fruition be, Of those bereaved their proudest diadem.
With sheltering arms—with hearts for ever green, By love united, may they still unite; So shall they gladden still the sainted sight Of one who is not, but who once has been.
(a) Mrs. Carne, relict of the late Rev. R. Nicholl Carne, of Dimlands Castle, and mother of R. C. N. Carne, Esq., Nash Manor, and of J. W. N. Carne, Esq., Dimlands and St. Donat's Castles, died November 28th, 1866, at Dimlands, in the 94th year of her age. Deceased could claim a Royal Welsh lineage, being the 34th in unbroken descent from Ynyr, King of Gwent and Dyfed. Her long life was distinguished by unostentatious acts of charity and good works.
ON THE DEATH OF MRS. PASCOE ST. LEGER GRENFELL, MAESTEG HOUSE, SWANSEA. DIED JANUARY 8TH, 1868.
This world heroic souls can little spare That battle bravely with life's every ill: When days are dark that saintly smiles can wear, And all around with heavenly glory fill.
This world can little spare the Christian heart That holds with tearful faith the hand of God With never-yielding grasp; and takes full part In works divine on earth's degenerate sod.
This world can little spare the gentle voice That woos the sinful from the dreamy road Of human frailties, making hearts rejoice, Relieving souls of many a bitter load.
This world can little spare the bounteous hand That Plenty plants where Want oft grew before; Raising the latchet as with angel-wand, To cheer the darksome cottage of the poor.
Virtues like these the world can little spare That fleck life's road like snowdrops in the Spring, Making it beautiful; and, virtue rare! Silent and heedless of the bliss they bring.
But if the world should weep, how must they mourn For whom her goodness bloomed a thousand-fold More sweet in tender love? E'en as the dawn Crowns all it looks on with a fringe of gold.
So did affection gird in rosy might The home which by her presence was adorned, Where came an aching void: for lo! their light Was quencht by death and in the tomb in-urned.
Not quencht. Ah, no! For Heaven's eternal gates Flew open, and in robes which angels wear Her sainted spirit entered; and it waits For those that were beloved to join it there.
When they carried away my darling To a kingdom beyond the sky, I knew what the angels intended, So I stifled the tear and the sigh, But I prayed she might send me a message Of love from the realms of the blest, As to me a whole life of repining Was the cost of her Heaven of rest.
Yes: I prayed she might send me a message; One word from her mansion of bliss; One ray from her features angelic: From her sweet lips the saintliest kiss; And I question the wind, as it wanders As though from the regions above, But it whispers in sadness, and brings me From the absent no message of love.
At night I grow weary with watching The stars, as I sadly surmise Which of all those bright jewels resplendent Borrow light from my lost one's eyes: Then I sleep—and a vision approaches; And again all my own she would seem: But on waking my Love has departed, And my heart aches to find it a dream.
Oh, I prayed she might send me a message; But nought the sweet missive will bring: The breath of the morning, the sunlight, The carol of birds on the wing, Come to gladden my heart with their gladness; But joyless and tuneless each seems; And the only sad joy that is left me Is to live with my dearest in dreams.
"MEWN COF ANWYL." (a)
The above words, wrought in imperishable flowers, were placed on the coffin of the late Mr. John Johnes, of Dolaucothy, at the time of his interment at Cayo, by his youngest daughter, to whom the following elegiac stanzas are respectfully inscribed.
"Mewn cof anwyl." So sings the lorn and lonely nightingale, Sighing in sombre thicket all day long, Weaving its throbbing heartstrings into song For absent mate, with sorrowing unavail. And every warble seems to say—"Alone!" While every pause brings musical reply: Sad Philomel! Each sweet responsive sigh Is but the dreamy echo of its own.
"Mewn cof anwyl." So sings the West wind through the darkling eve, In spirit-wanderings up and down the wold, Each mournful sorrow at its heart untold, Sighing in secret—as the angels grieve, "Bring back my love!" sobs the bereaved wind; And sleeping flow'rets waken at the sound, Shedding their dewy tears upon the ground: "She seeks," they whisper, "who shall never find!"
"Mewn cof anwyl." So sings all night the never-resting sea; And stars look down with tender, loving eyes; The air is filled with saddening memories Of what was once—but ne'er again may be. "Here lie the lost!" the ocean seems to moan; "I yearn to clasp them to my throbbing heart "In fond embrace: The lost—myself a part! So near—so near—and yet I mourn alone!"
"Mewn cof anwyl." As roses, crusht and dead, in silence leave Their precious heritage of perfume rare, So the good name our dear departed bear Reflects in cheering light on those who grieve; And memory, brooding o'er the love thus left, In tender fancy crowns the dream with tears, Till, as the hue that on bright rain appears, Peace comes to comfort lonely hearts bereft.
(a) In loving memory.
'Tis not with rude, irreverent feet, I tread where sacred sorrows lie; But gently raise, in accents meet, My voice in earnest sympathy: In sympathy with one bereaved, Who mourns a loss which all deplore: Whose grief by Hope is unrelieved— For tears bring back the Past no more.
'Tis not in words the wound to heal Which tenderest ties, when broken, make; 'Tis not in language to conceal The griefs which snapped affection's wake But sorrows, stinging though they be, In sympathy some sweetness find, Which may assuage, though slenderly, The grief that clouds a manly mind.
The blameless life of her whose grave I strew With flow'rs of thought deep gathered from the heart Of heavenliest things was formed the greater part: No sentiment but love her bosom knew.
Her influence, like the sunlight from on high, That flames with splendour every opening flower, Stole o'er us silently: yet O, the power! Charming our household world resplendently.
And little hearts tow'rds that sweet influence yearned; And little voices loved to lisp her name; For when, to them, the world was dark, she came, Love-bright, and so their lives in beauty burned.
In beauty burned with pure and happy glow; Their joys were her's. In thought I see her now, Love prompted, sitting with a dreamy brow, Planning the pleasures she might never know.
Her's was the hand that wreathed so daintily With flow'rs each fissure Circumstance had formed, And, by its touch, like snows by sunsets warmed, Each rigid thought was softened rosily.
Her's was the heart, by noblest impulse moved, That beat with earnest fondness all divine; That filled life's cup of joy with rarest wine, For those who proudly felt they were beloved.
But soft! God's edict 'twas, that, from above, Laden with anguish, came with cruel blow. 'Twas Heaven's gain: the grief those only know Who lost her just as they had learnt to love.
Ah, me: the cost to be to Heaven akin: The harvest ripens round the Eternal gate: The pure in soul and saintliest-hearted wait: The Reaper comes and plucks the nearest in.
Ah, me: the cost life's fairest flower to be: Petal and spray all elegance and grace: Each blossom beauteous as an angel's face; And yet, alas! the first to drop and die.
Ah, me: the cost life's tenderest chords to wake, With sweet enchantment breaking up the air; To know each tone will call forth many a tear: Each tender touch a heart or spirit-ache.
Ah, me: the cost for human hearts to claim Where God before His perfect seal had set, Like mortals straying into Heaven unlet, We perish gazing on celestial flame.
'Twas a short decade that thou and I Walked hand-in-hand through the world together; When the cruel clouds obscured our sky, And bitter and bleak was life's daily weather. But a brave little heart was thine—and so, Though it might have been lighter had fortune willed it, It battled, in boundless faith I know, And just as the sunshine 'gan to grow The hand of Death reached forth—and chilled it.
The blow was unkind; but Heaven knows best: I felt that my loss was to thee a blessing; For I knew, when I laid thee down to rest, I was giving an angel to angels' caressing: Thy love to my heart was ever dear, With thy gentle voice and thy brave endeavour; Though briefly we wandered together here, Two souls were cemented with smile and tear, That, one on earth, will be one for ever.
E. H. R.
DIED NOVEMBER 30TH, 1867.
She came in beauty like the sun, And flusht with hope each heart and eye, As roses redden into life When Summer passes by.
And like the sun she calmly set, With love's own golden glory crown'd, In light whose rays for evermore In mem'ry will abound.
DIED APRIL 21ST, 1865.
In silent grief the blow we'll bear: Though gone, with us she'll still abide. Her name a shape of love will wear, In viewless influence by our side.
VENUS AND ASTERY
A LEGEND OF THE GODS. (a)
Ah! hapless nymph! Doomed for a time to bear The badge which none but fickle lives should wear. How oft the envious tongue creates the dart That cleaves the saintly soul and breaks the heart: How oft the hasty ear full credence gives To words in which no grain of truth survives: Were Juno just, her heart would now delight Turning thy dappled wings to waxen white, Where jealous Venus and her envious train By falsehood fixed an undeserved stain.
(a) Astery, one of the most beautiful of Venus's nymphs, and, as Spenser says,
"Excelling all the crew In courteous usage and unstained hue,"
Is said to have been instructed "on a day" by her mistress to go forth with her companions gathering flowers with which to adorn her forehead. She did so, and being more industrious than the rest, gathered more flowers than any of them. On being praised by Venus, her companions, being envious of her, told the goddess that Astery had been assisted by Cupid, Venus's son, in culling the blossoms. For this supposed offence she was immediately turned by Venus into a butterfly, and her wings, which before were white, were stained with the colours of all the flowers she had gathered, "for memory of her pretended crime, though crime none were."—Spenser's "Muiopotmos", 1576.
TO A ROYAL MOURNER.
'Twere wise, O Queen, to let thy features shine Upon thy faithful people once again; As Summer comes to light the paths of men, So would thy presence round our hearts entwine.
It is not meet our Queen of Queens should stay Lifelong and tearful in the sombre glade, Whither, to hide the wound which Heaven made, She shrank, as shrinks the stricken deer away.
We do not ask thy heart to let us in With all the freeness of an early day: Nor hope to bear thy greatest grief away, As though, with thee, that grief had never been.
But, as the silent chancel leaves the sun To shine through mellowing windows on the floor, So would we enter thy great heart once more, Subdued, in reverence of the sainted one.
We wept with thee when throbbed the passing-bell, And felt thy great affliction from afar: We mourned that such a grief thy life should mar, And loved thee more for loving him so well.
One pearly thought surrounds that sombre time; One golden hope enframes the past regret: We thank our Father thou art with us yet, The more majestic for thy grief sublime.
There is a little history attached to the following lines. Twenty years ago, my friend, Mr. Arthur J. Morris, at that time an accountant at the Llwydcoed Ironworks, Aberdare, and subsequently manager at the Plymouth Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil, but now deceased, asked me to write a song in praise of Wales. I did so, and wrote and sent him the words of "Beautiful Wales," a Welsh translation of which was made and forwarded to me by Mr. Daniel Morgan (Daniel ap Gwilym), of Aberaman, Aberdare. A short time afterwards I received a request from Mr. R. Andrews, of Manchester (whom I never saw and do not know) for permission to set the words to music, which permission I gave, and the song (English version) was published by Robert Cocks and Co., London. It has long since been out of print. I found, on receiving some copies of the music, that the tune was merely an adaptation of a well-known dance tune, and some years ago I wrote to Mr. Brinley Richards on the subject, who regretted that the words had not been wedded to more suitable music. The matter, however, was lost sight of by myself, and I was under the impression that the song had been forgotten. To my surprise it suddenly cropped up as a great favourite of the Sunday schools, and I have myself heard it sung at school anniversaries to various tunes. It would seem, therefore, that after playing the vagrant for goodness knows how long, it became a reformed character, was taken in hand by school children, and by them adopted as a pet and made a favourite of.
I know a land whose sunny shore The sea's wild waves embrace, Whose heart is full of mystic lore That flashes from its face; A land where cloud-kissed mountains are, And green and flowery vales, Where Poesy lingers like a star: That land is sunny Wales.
Wales, the wild—the beautiful, The beautiful—the free; My heart and hand are thine, O land Of magic minstrelsy.
And in this mystic land of mine What dainty maids there be, Whose faces shine with love divine, Like sunlight on the sea. The boasted fair of other climes That live in songs and tales Will never be more fair to me Than those of sunny Wales.
Wales, the wild—the beautiful, The beautiful—the free; My heart and hand are thine, O land Of magic minstrelsy.
Mi wn am wlad, a'i garw draeth Gofleidir gan y don, Sy'n orlawn o gyfrinawl ddysg 'R hwn draetha'i gwyneb llon: Gwlad yw lle mae mynyddoedd ban, A glynoedd gwyrdd eu lliw; Lle'r erys awenyddiaeth glaer: Hoff Walia heulawg yw.
Gwalia wyllt, wyt decaf wlad; Wyt decaf wlad—wlad rydd! Dy eiddo i gyd wyf fi, O dud Y swynawl gerdd ddiludd.
Ac yn y wlad gyfrinawl hon, Ceir merched uchel fri, Sydd a'u gwynebau'n t'w'nu fel Goleuni haul uwch lli. Prydferthwch ffrostiawl gwledydd pell, Sy'n byw yn ngerddi'r byd, Nis byddant byth brydferthach im Na rhai fy heulawg dud.
Gwalia wyllt, wyt decaf wlad; Wyt decaf wlad—wlad rydd! Dy eiddo i gyd wyf fi, O dud Y swynawl gerdd ddiludd.
THE WELSH LANGUAGE.
My bardic friend "Caradawc," of Abergavenny, sent me the following Englyn, with a request that I would write an English translation:
ENGLYN I'R IAITH GYMRAEG.
Iaith anwyl y Brythoniaid;—Iaith gywrain— Iaith gara fy Enaid; Iaith gry, iaith bery heb baid, Gorenwog Iaith Gwroniaid.
IOAN DAFYDD A'I CANT.
To which was written and forwarded the following reply;
ON THE WELSH LANGUAGE.
A language to love—when our tongues in love speak it; A language to hate—when 'tis spoken by fools; A language to live—when the pure in life seek it, A language to die—when the lying tongue rules; A blessing—when blessings lead men to enjoy it; A curse—when for cursing 'tis used as a rod; The language of Satan—when devils employ it; When angels indite it—the language of God.
A FOOLISH BIRD.
An ostrich o'er the desert wide, With upturned beak and jaunty stride, In stately, self-sufficient pride, One day was gently roaming. When—dreadful sound to ostrich ears, To ostrich mind the worst of fears— Our desert champion thinks he hears The dreaded hunter coming. Ill-fated bird! He might have fled: Those legs of his would soon have sped That flossy tail—that lofty head— Far, far away from danger. But—fatal error of his race— In sandy bank he hid his face, And thought by this to evade the chase Of the ostrich-bagging ranger. So he who, like the ostrich vain, Is ign'rant, and would so remain, Of what folks do, it's very plain In folly's road he's walking. For if in sand you hide your head Just to escape that which you dread, And, seeing not, say danger's fled: 'Tis worse than childish talking.
"I'D CHOOSE TO BE A NIGHTINGALE."
Answer to a Poem which appeared in a daily paper, with the above title, signed "Mary" (Llandovery.)
Gentle Mary! Do you know What it is you crave? Listen! As the flowers grow O'er the dismal grave, So, when sweetest sings the bird Thou would'st like to be, When in twilight's hour is heard The magic melody, Harshly comes the cruel thorn Against the songster's breast, And melting music thus is born Of pain and sad unrest (a) So if like Philomel thou'dst sing, And happiness impart, Thy breast must bear the cruel sting That haunts the songster's heart.
(a) There is a poetic legend, which says that when the Nightingale sings the sweetest, it presses its breast against a thorn.
Written on hearing that J. D. Llewelyn, Esq., of Penllergare, had refused a public Testimonial, the offer of which was evoked by his unbounded charity and unostentatious acts of philanthropy, which recognition it was desired to inaugurate in the shape of a statue of himself, placed in front of the Swansea hospital—an institution which owes so much to his munificent liberality.
MARCH 6th, 1876.
Friend of the poor, for whom thy ceaseless thought Is as the sun, that warms the earthy clod Into a flush of blossom beauty-fraught, Waking in hearts by poverty distraught Glimpses in life of Heaven and of God.
And as the sun sends forth his golden beams In silence, all unweeting of their worth, So from thy life in silent beauty streams That Heaven-born charity which never seems To know itself—and blushes at its birth.
No sculptor's art thy goodness need proclaim: The knowledge lives in hearts that feel its power— A love more lasting than a marbled fame: Brooding in silence o'er thy cherished name, As light is worshipped by the voiceless flower.
O'er the Present proudly striding Like Colossus o'er the wave, And a beacon-light high holding, While the tempests loudly rave: Laying bare in truthful teaching Treach'rous breakers round the bay, That the good old barque of England May in safety sail away: Though the tongue of fiercest Faction In its Folly may deride, Still he stands in lofty learning Like a giant o'er the tide, While the murmuring wavelets passing Far beneath his kingly hand, Looking upward, blindly babble Where they cannot understand.
When his country's proudest sceptre He was called upon to sway, Ruled he with a noble purpose That will never pass away: So, the Future, of his striving With its trumpet-tongue shall tell: How he battled for the Bible; How he loved old England well: How his nature, though not faultless (Human nature may not be), Bore the never-dying impress Of life's truest chivalry, How they wrote upon the marble, Where he lay beneath the sod: "Faithfully he served his country," "Truthfully he served his God."
DOWN IN THE DARK.
A RECOLLECTION OF THE FERNDALE COLLIERY EXPLOSION. NOVEMBER, 1867.
Down in the dark—in the blinding dark; Away from the sunshine bright above: Away from the gaze of those they love, They are lying stony and stark.
Down in the dark—deep down in the dark, With the terror of death in each sightless eye, Which tells how hard 'tis to burn and die Down—down in the poisonous dark.
Up in the light—in the broad noon-light— Poor hearts are breaking: hot tears are shed, As, tenderly shrouding each cinder-like head, It is hid from the aching sight.
Up in the light—in the soft gas-light Of the draperied room, in luxurious guise; In our comfort forgetting who plods and plies Far down in eternal night.
Up in the light—further up in the light; In the pure clear light of a Queenly crown, A widowed monarch is looking down Tow'rds the dark, with compassion bedight.
Up in the light—further up in the light— From the dazzling light of a Maker's throne— The angel of Pity came down to zone Human hearts through that dreadful night.
A STORY OF CHRISTMASTIDE LONG AGO.
PART THE FIRST.
"Don't bolt the door, John," said the Dame, Who sat esconced in oaken chair, The good man paused, and back he came, Silent, and with a troubled air.
"To night 'tis just a year ago Since Daisy left," the mother sighed. "Don't blame the child, I loved her so; But better had our darling died."
The father spake not. Glistening bright A tear stole down the mother's cheek. "A year to-night! A year to-night! I sometimes think my heart will break."
'Tis Christmas-eve, and in that cot The good old couple grieve and yearn For one, though absent, ne'er forgot: "Don't bolt the door, she may return."
"She may return." The midnight chime With mystic music fills the air, And bears the news, "'Tis Christmas time," In sobbing wavelets everywhere.
PART THE SECOND
Our village pride was Daisy May; A fairy being, all too good For earthly thought—as bright as day— Just blooming into womanhood.
The low, sweet music of her voice, Was like the sound of rippling rills; It bade the listening heart rejoice, And won as with enchanting spells.
Her eyes, like violets dipt in dew, The soul enthralled with tender glance, That gave to things a brighter hue, And fringed our lives with new romance.
And from her forehead, white as pearl, There hung a cloud of golden hair, Whose lustre threw around the girl A halo such as angels wear.
"Ah, me!" sighed many a village swain, "Her love what bliss 'twould be to win He whom the beauteous prize shall gain Will open Heaven and enter in."
And as she passed with girlish grace She met the glance of every eye, Till blushes fluttered o'er her face Like roses when the sun goes by.
But while in virgin life she walkt; While sunlight round her footsteps played, Abroad unbridled Passion stalked: She loved, and, trusting, was betrayed.
And in the city, 'mongst the gay, Far, far from friends who mourned her fate, She flung Love's precious pearls away, And woke, but woke, alas, too late.
She woke to find herself alone, Save baby sleeping at her breast: In that vast city all unknown, Unloved, unpitied, and unblest.
Unloved by one who swore to love; Unpitied by the cruel crowd; Unblest by all save Him above, To whom she prayed in grief aloud.
In fitful dreams she saw, and oft, That humble cottage by the burn; And heard a voice, so sweet and soft: "Don't bolt the door, she may return."
"She may return." Delicious dream. "Then mother loves me still," she sighed. Ah! little knew she of the stream Of tears that mother shed and dried.
Of weary watches in the night; Of aching heart throughout the day; Of darkened hours that once were bright, Made glad by her now far away.
And when, in unforgiving mood, The father urged his tenets stern, How oft that mother tearful stood: "Don't bolt the door, she may return."
PART THE THIRD.
'Tis Christmas Eve: the midnight chime With mystic music fills the air, And bears the news, "'Tis Christmas time," In sobbing wavelets everywhere.
Without, the weird wind whistles by; Clothed is the ground with drifting snow; Within, the yule logs, piled on high, Their cheery warmth and comfort throw.
And in that cottage by the moor, Where father, mother, mourning dwell. The fire is bright, where hearts are sore The chime to them a mournful knell.
"What's that?" the mother faintly said: "Methought I heard a weary sigh." The father sadly shook his head: "Tis but the wind that wanders by."
Again the Dame, with drowsy start— "It is no dream—I heard a groan." Oh, the misgivings of her heart! "'Tis but the music's murmuring moan."
They little thought, while thus they sighed, That at their threshold, fainting, lay The child for whom they would have died, For whom they prayed both night and day.
'Twas bitter chill! The snowy fall Came drifting slowly through the air, And gently clothed with ghostly pall The wasted form that slumbered there.
And all the live-long night she slept, While breaking hearts within grew sore; While father, mother, mourned and wept, She lay in silence at the door.
Till, in the morning, all aglow, The sun, in looking o'er the hill, Like sculptured marble in the snow, Saw Daisy, stony, stark, and still.
Then tenderly, in coffined state, The hapless girl they grave-ward bore, And, as they mourned her cruel fate, Her tomb with flowers scattered o'er.
Leaving the broken-hearted child To sleep in peace beneath the sod, And he who first her heart beguiled To cope with conscience and his God.
ACCOMPANYING A PURSE GIVEN TO A FRIEND ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
The Purse I send to you, my friend, Is empty, but if wishes warm Could fill it, 'twould be brimming o'er With handfuls of the golden charm. The only wealth I have to give Are words which may be worth a thought. Be sure, as you would prosperous live, While earning sixpence spend a groat: Your purse will then grow slowly full, A friend in need you'll always find, And comforts, which can only flow From plenty and a peaceful mind.
'Twas a white water-lily I saw that day, With its leaves looking up to the sky, And baring its breast to the sportive play Of the wavelets dancing by. And O for the music the streamlet made, As it floated in ripples along; Round the beautiful blossom it eddied and played With a voice full of silvery song.
So all through the Summer the lily laughed, And with glances of loving and light Drank in fresher beauty with each dainty draught Of the water so playful and bright. "And is it for ever," the floweret sighed, "That thy vows of affection will last?" "For ever and ever!" the streamlet replied, And, embracing her, hurried past.
The Summer days vanished—the Winter came: Ah! where could the lily be? The sun still warmed with its golden flame; But the streamlet had gone to the sea. And the blossom that once, with its bosom of white, Like a star from the heavens shone, Lay frozen and dead. Ah, sorrowful plight! It had died in the dark alone.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING.
Christmas is coming with merry laugh, With a merry laugh and a joyful shout, And the tidings are flung with an iron tongue From a thousand steeples pealing out; Hang up the holly—the mistletoe hang; Bedeck every nook round the old fireside; Make bright every hearth—let the joy-bells clang With a warm-hearted welcome to Christmas-tide.
Christmas is coming! But some will see By the old fireside a vacant place; And a vision will flit through the festive glee Of an absent—a never-returning face; And a voice that was music itself last year Will be mournfully missed in the even-song; And children will speak, with a gathering tear, Of the virtues which now to the dead belong.
Christmas is coming! Look back o'er the past: Is there nought to forgive? Is there nought to forget? Have we seized all the chances of life that were placed In our path: or in this have we nought to regret? Have we fought on life's battle-ground manfully—true, While success, like a butterfly, flew from our reach? Have we pressed in pursuit of the prize as it flew? Has the Past, in its dying, no lesson to teach?
Christmas is coming! But who shall say That at Christmas-time they again may meet? For graves lie thick in the crowded way; And we elbow Death in the open street Let Folly embitter the festival hour With a tongue that would injure—a heart that would hate! True wisdom is blest with a nobler dower: In another year it may be too late.
Christmas is coming! The wealthy will sit In purple, fine linen, and sumptuous state; 'Twere well in their plenty they should not forget The poor that stand meek at the outer gate. For who can foreshadow the changes of life? See! yesterday's King is an outcast to-day; Success comes in time to the strong in the strife; And Fortune's a game at which paupers can play.
Christmas is coming? The trader will quail Over ledgers unsquared—and accounts overdue: And his pen fain would tell all the sorrowful tale Which his heart, full of fear, has not courage to do! Had he all that is owing, how happy his heart; How buoyant his footstep—how joyous his face; But his debtors from gold as their life's blood will part; And their hoard lies untouched o'er a brother's disgrace.
But Christmas is coming with merry laugh, Amid pain, amid pleasure, with joyful shout, And the tidings are flung with an iron tongue From a thousand steeples pealing out. Hang up the holly—the mistletoe hang; Bedeck every nook round the old fireside: Let us bury our care: let the joy-bells clang With a warm-hearted welcome to Christmas-tide.
The mist that rises from the river, Evermore—evermore, Tells how hearts are born to sever As of yore—as of yore. But the silvery mist returneth Sparkling dew and blessed rain; So the loving heart, though distant, Comes again—comes again.
The stars that shine in brightness o'er us In the sky—in the sky, Speak of loved ones gone before us Born to die—born to die, Who, in days of earthly sadness, O'er us watch with tender love, As the starlight falls around us From above—from above.
The rose that gives, before it leaves us, Fragrance rare—fragrance rare, Links of love in absence weaves us Sweet to wear—sweet to wear; So true hearts in love united Bound by pure affection's chain, Though in life or death divided, Meet again—meet again.
THE OAK TO THE IVY.
'Twas in my Spring of palmy gladness First I met thee, Ivy wife; Then my brow, untouched by sadness, Bloomed with regal-foliaged life; Proud my arms hung forth in blessing O'er thy trustful spirit dear, And my heart, 'neath thy caressing, Wore a Spring-dress all the year! Time wings on: my strength is fleeing, And my leafy beauties too; Still thou clings't around my being, Changeless—ever true.
Churlish Autumn hath uncrowned me, Still I feel thy fond embrace; Winter sad throws gloom around me: Sweet! thou smil'st up in my face; Spring arrives with flowery treasures, Summer skips by, sun-caressed; Yet thou, envying not their pleasures, Bloom'st upon my rugged breast. Time wings on: my strength is fleeing, And my leafy beauties too; Still thou cling'st around my being, Changeless—ever true.
Though my limbs grow old and weary, Trembling in the wintry air; And my life be dark and dreary— Still I feel that thou art near; Stripped of all my blossoms golden, 'Reft of stalwart forest pride— Sere and sallow, leafless, olden; Yet remain'st thou by my side. Time wings on: my strength is fleeing, And my leafy beauties too; Life-long cling'st thou round my being, Changeless—ever true.
ON A WELSHWOMAN'S HAT.
"O changeful woman! Constant man!" Has been the theme for buried ages. But here's the truth: say "No" who can— Ye bards, philosophers, and sages: Men buy their Hats all kinds of shapes; Our own Welshwomen change their's never; 'Tis with their Hats as with their loves— Where fancy rests the heart approves, And, loving once, they love for ever!
SHADOWS IN THE FIRE.
She sat and she gazed in the fire: In the fire with a dreamy look: And she seemed as though she could never tire Of reading the fiery book.
She saw, midst the embers bright, A figure both manly and fair, Blue eyes that shone with a loving light: And showers of nut-brown hair.
She saw her own image stand By that form on a sunny day: One kiss of the lip: one grasp of the hand: And her heart was borne away.
She saw, through the flickering flame, A bier in a darkened room: And a coffin that bore her idol's name Was hurried away to the tomb.
She saw, from a distant strand, A missive sent over the main: The letter was writ by a stranger's hand: And she sighed for her lover in vain.
So she sat and she gazed in the fire: In the fire, with a dreamy look: And she seemed as though she could never tire Of reading the fiery book.
THE BELFRY OLD.
On a New Year's Eve, by a belfry old, With a sea of solemn graves around, While the grim grey tower of the village church Kept silent ward o'er each grassy mound, With a cloak of ivy about it grown, Fringed round, like fur, with a snowy fray; On a New Year's Eve I watched alone The life of the last year ebbing away.
Anon there came from the belfry out A strange wild sound as of pleasure and pain; For the birth of the new a jubilant shout: For the death of the old a sad refrain. And the voice went throbbingly through the air, Went sobbing and sighing, with laughter blent; All the echoes awakening everywhere; A guest that was welcomed wherever, it went.
I thought, as the sound of each babbling bell Came gushing away from the belfry old, That stories such as the dying tell Were up in that belfry being told: As the words men mutter in life's last fear Seem to shrink from Eternity back to Time, So it seemed to me that each echo clear Came back from the grave with a lesson sublime.
"Yet another year!" it seemed to say; Gone one more year in the battle of life; With its yearnings in gloom for the coming day, Its pantings for peace 'mid the daily strife; Clay lips that kissed but a year ago With the fervent warmth of life and love; Dear eyes that gladdened bright homes below In one short year with the stars above.
Gone one more year, with its masses that prayed For the daily bread that so seldom came; With its lives whom sinning could never degrade, Till the canker of want brought guilt and shame. Gone one more year, with its noble souls Who raised up the weary in hours of need; With its crowds that started for wished-for goals, And drooped by the way, broken-hearted indeed.
Gone one more year, with its wearisome woes; Its pleasures hoped for—never seen: Its swallow-winged friends: its fair-faced foes: Its sorrow which happiness might have been: Its cant and its cunning: its craft and crime: Its loves and its hates: its hopes and fears: Its lives that, reaching tow'rds heights sublime, Fell short of the mark in a sea of tears.
Gone one more year, to tell all the rest How wise the old world had gotten of late: How fools still flourish, by wealth caressed: How the noble of mind meet a pauper's fate; How the infidel heart, accursed, defies All hopes of Heaven—all fears of hell: How the saintly preach from the book of lies, And scoff at the truths which Saviours tell.
How the pious who poison the poor man's food In shoddy and shop grow golden and grand: How the rent-roll harbours the stolen rood— The emblazoned escutcheon the bloody hand: How women and men to the altar hie, And swear to the promise they rarely keep; How Vice, a shameless and living lie, Gets honours which Virtue never can reap.
Gone one more year: there is no return. Press onward, still onward, for weal or woe. Beat heart: throb brain: hot eyelids burn: Man's troubles and trials who cares to know? Birth, marriage, and death: death, marriage, and birth, Are the treadmill steps of this wheel of strife; Cloak, draught, and a crust—then a hole in the earth: And the struggle for these is the story of life.
So sang the bells in the belfry old, Or so it seemed to me they sang; And the year died out as the moments rolled, Still o'er its bier the joy-bells rang: 'Twas mourning an instant, merriment then, And the ghastly shroud where the old year lay— How like is the humour of bells and men— Became swaddling-clothes for the New Year's Day.
Beautiful Barbara—Barbara bright, As bright and as fresh as the dainty dawn, What is it disturbeth her bosom white, As the breeze into billows kisseth the corn?
Beautiful Barbara—silent and shy, Shy as the dove, as the dove as fond, What a dreaminess lives in her hazel eye, As she looketh away through the valley beyond.
Through the valley beyond, where the daisies blush, Where the woodbines bloom and the rivulets run; Through the valley beyond, where, in evening's hush, Beautiful Barbara's heart was won.
And the maiden Barbara, fair and forlorn, The grass-green meadow looketh along; The morrow was fixed for her wedding morn, And she vieweth in vision the bridal throng.
She looketh, and weepeth, and looketh in vain: Her heart was trustful; his heart was untrue; And beautiful Barbara mingleth amain Her tears with the daisies and the dew.
And the harvest moon sat silent and pale, Silent and pale o'er the far-off hill: And the sun in the morning flushing the vale Saw beautiful Barbara stark and still.
Stark and still, with a forehead of white, Round which the dew-drop coronal shone; And the sunbeams came with their laughing light, But beautiful Barbara sleepeth on.
'Twas a trying path for her dainty feet, For such dainty feet as her's to tread. So her trampled heart 'gainst its bars had beat, Till it bravely broke and heavenward fled.
SONG OF THE SILKEN SHROUD.
Out in Babylon yonder, By the gas-lights' dull red glare, In a stifling room—a living tomb, With never a breath of air, A slender girl is sitting; At her feet a silken cloud, Which music makes, while her young heart aches, As she stitches the rustling shroud. And this is the song the glistening silk Sings, out in the work-room yonder:
"Quick! quick! quick! "My lady is waiting to roam. "If you wish to die, the needle ply; "You can die when you reach your home."
And while the gas-lights flicker and play The life of the sempstress ebbs away In the West End work-room yonder.
Out in Babylon yonder, In the blaze of the ball-room gay, My lady sits; while round her flits A skeleton slender and grey. And the ghastly spectre standeth By the side of my lady fair So mournfully bland, and with bony hand It plays with her costume rare. And this is the song the ghostly guest Sings, out in the ball-room yonder:
"Look! look! look! "Sit ye scornful and proud. "Your boddice a hearse; every stitch a curse; "Your skirt a silken shroud."
For while the gas-lights flickered in play The life of the sempstress ebbed away In the West End work-room yonder.
A UNIVERSITY FOR WALES.
WRITTEN IN 1867, AND INSCRIBED TO THOSE WHO WERE THEN ENGAGED IN THE NOBLE AND PATRIOTIC WORK OF PROVIDING ONE.
In the cause of Education Let us raise the standard high, And in tones of exultation "Upward—onward!" be the cry. Let us rear this Fane of Learning— Beauteous Temple of the Mind; Where true hearts, for knowledge yearning, May the priceless jewel find.
In the cause of Education Let the glorious altar stand, As a bulwark of the nation, As a blessing in the land. Let an unsectarian fabric Grow in grandeur from the sod, As a crown upon our manhood, As a monument to God.
In the cause of Education Let the wealth which Wisdom owns Be out-scattered open-handed To uprear this Throne of Thrones: And, like bread upon the waters, Hearts that give from store of gold Will, in never-dying blessings, Richly reap a thousand-fold.
In the cause of Education, In the search for simple Truth, In the proud Confederation Which ennobles striving youth, Let each heart's best pulses quicken, Patriotic souls up-leap, Till, mind-freighted, sails the fabric Like an ark upon the deep.
In silence blooms the Summer rose, With damask cheek and odorous breath, And ne'er a ruddy leaf that blows Whispers of canker or of death: But sweetly smiles the lovely flower All through the sunshine warm and gay, And tells not of the canker-dower That eats its inmost heart away.
In gladness rolls the river bright Down through the meadow grassy-green, With ripples full of laughing light That wake with joy the sunny scene. From morn till morn, with cheery tread, The stream walks on with ne'er a sigh, Nor tells of pebbles hard and dead That deep below the surface lie.
It is Christmas Eve, and the dance is o'er: "Good night—good night all round!" And the red light streams through the open door, Like a sprite on the snowy ground. And faces peer down the glowing dell From the cottage warm and bright, To see the last of the village belle Who stands in the pale moonlight. And waving her hand with a last farewell, Is lost from their yearning sight. But not alone is that maiden fair Of the pearl-white face and the golden hair.
"Thou knowest I love thee, Blanche," he said, Who walked by the maiden's side, And her cheeks flushed up with a sweeter red When he asked her to be his bride. Though humble, their love was pure as light— As pure as the snow they trod; And the peal from the belfry woke the night Like a voice from the Throne of God: Or plaudits of angels glad with delight At their Maker's approving nod. Through a manly bosom it sent a thrill, For it came with the bells did the girl's "I will."
DAWN AND DEATH.
The sobbing winds of winter Lingered sadly round the door, Then ran in mystic meanings Through the dark across the moor; The window panes were streaming With the tears which heaven wept, And a mother sat a-dreaming O'er an infant as it slept: Its little hands were folded; And its little eyes of blue Were clothed in alabaster With the azure peeping through: Its face, so still and star-like, Was as white as maiden snow: And it breathed in faintest ripples, As the wavelets come and go.
The morn in golden beauty Through the lattice gaily peept, But muffled was the window Of the room where darling slept: The mother's heart was breaking Into tears like Summer cloud, For a starry face was circled With a little lily shroud; And a soul from sunny features Like a beam of light had fled: Before her, like a snowdrop, Her miracle lay dead! Ah! 'Twas cruel thus to chasten, Though her loss was darling's gain: And her heart would rifle Heaven Could she clasp her babe again.
CASTLES IN THE AIR.
Autumn's sun was brightly blazing Like a suit of golden mail; Flocks along the mead were grazing; Lambkins frollicked through the vale. Brooklets gossipped o'er their beauty; Leaves came down in whisp'ring showers; And the vine-trees, lush and fruity, Climbed and clung in am'rous bowers:
Beauty—gladness— Floated round me everywhere; Still in sadness Built I castles in the air— In the soft and dreamy air.
Far above me, like a spirit, Rose an alp in proud array, And my heart so yearned to near it As I in the valley lay. Ah, thought I, yon summit seemeth Like a throne, so pure and bright; Lo! how grandly-great it gleameth, Crown'd with everlasting light!
Then I started From the valley calm and fair, Hopeful-hearted, Tow'rds the castle in the air— High up in the dreamy air.
Many a tortuous path and winding Rid my soul embattle through; Many a thorn of bitter finding Choked my way with perils new: Upward still, footsore and bleeding, On with lonesome heart I pressed; And I heard the chimes receding In the vale so calm and blest.
Still I wandered Up the pathway rough and drear, Till I pondered By the castle in the air— Like a spirit in the air.
I had reached the lofty glory; I had gained the alpine peak; Lowly lay the world before me— Yet my heart was like to break! Where I stood 'twas cold and dreary—- Crown'd with white and glistening snow: "Ah," I sighed, with heart a-weary— "Distance lent the golden glow!"
Thus Fame ever Woos men from earth's valleys fair, Oft to shiver Near life's castles in the air— In the far-off wintry air.
THE WITHERED ROSE.
I had a silver chalice once Of exquisite design, In shape 'twas like the human heart This little vase of mine. I plucked a rose and placed the flow'r Within the shiny cup, And drank the incense hour by hour The rosebud offered up. And as it opened leaf by leaf Its beauties spreading wide, I saw no blossom such as mine In all the world beside.
The sunlight came, but came in vain, And day succeeded day, But leaf by leaf my rosebud drooped, Until it passed away. And thus in life we look for love From other loves apart— A gift from Heavenly hand above— And plant it near the heart; But Death comes forth with chilly touch; The blossom droops and dies; And breaking hearts are filled alone With fragrant memories.
WRECKS OF LIFE.
I sat upon the shingly Beach One sunny Summer-day, A-listening to the mystic speech Of a million waves at play. And as I watched the flowing flood I saw a little child, Who near a mimic fabric stood Of shells his hands had piled. And as he turned to go away, He said, with look of sorrow: "Build up I cannot more to-day— "I'll come again to-morrow!"
The morrow came—he thither hied— Looked for his castle gay; But while he'd slept the cruel tide Had washt it all away. And thus in life we gaily build Shell castles in the air; Our hopes the fairy fabrics gild With colours bright and rare: But the dark flood of human strife Rolls onward while we sleep, And o'er the wrecks, where waves ran rife, We waken but to weep.
DIED ON HER WEDDING DAY.
Scarce nineteen Summers had breathed their bloom, Had breathed their bloom on her dainty cheek, When they bore her away to the voiceless tomb With hearts so full they were like to break. And down in the churchyard old and green, In the churchyard green where the yew-tree waves, A dark little mound of earth is seen— One billow more to the sea of graves.