THE WORLD'S BEST POETRY
I Home: Friendship II Love III Sorrow and Consolation IV The Higher Life V Nature VI Fancy: Sentiment VII Descriptive: Narrative VIII National Spirit IX Tragedy: Humor X Poetical Quotations
THE WORLD'S BEST POETRY
IN TEN VOLUMES, ILLUSTRATED
Editor-in-Chief BLISS CARMAN
Associate Editors John Vance Cheney Charles G.D. Roberts Charles F. Richardson Francis H. Stoddard
Managing Editor John R. Howard
The World's Best Poetry Vol. VIII NATIONAL SPIRIT
THE STUDY OF POETRY.
BY FRANCIS HOVEY STODDARD.
Clever men of action, according to Bacon, despise studies, ignorant men too much admire them, wise men make use of them. "Yet," he says, "they teach not their own use, but that there is a wisdom without them and above them won by observation." These are the words of a man who had been taught by years of studiousness the emptiness of mere study. It does not teach its own usefulness, and gives its most important lesson if through it we learn that beyond lies a region from which may come a truer wisdom won by observation. This, when all is said, is the one great defect of any system of study, in that it teaches not its own use. No amount of study of the principles of barter will make a man a great merchant. One can study painting and learn all the characteristics and methods and schools of the art and yet not be able to paint a picture. No amount of study of poetry will make a man a poet. So the crafty men of action "contemn studies," and the wise men who use them look beyond them for their value. "English literature," said a noted professor not long ago, "cannot be taught"; and certain it is that even with the most advanced analytical text-book one cannot get a final satisfaction from "doing a sum" in English literature as one would work a problem in arithmetic. When applied to the higher arts, study, deep and true as one can make it, leaves one the surer that there is a wisdom beyond, which cometh not by study alone.
Least of all can the deepest things in poetry be learned by mere study. Poetry deals with feeling, which study excludes. Study, indeed, seems to belong exclusively to the prose habit; it seems to be of the intellect and not of the emotions; to be of the mind and not of the spirit. We cannot write a text-book in poetry, nor can we ever in a text-book written in prose put all the secret of poetry. Beyond the text-book always lies the higher wisdom born of that which Bacon called observation, which most of us now call insight, that immediate apprehension of the highest relations which comes as a revelation in our inspired moments.
In spite of all this the study of poetry has an important function, and it is the purpose of this article to show how to use it most effectively. Poetry is one of the most difficult of all arts to study, so difficult that it has had few text-books and no complete exposition. The inquirer searching for help will find only a few hand-books, the most useful of which are these: Gummere: "Beginnings of Poetry" and "Hand-book of Poetry"; Schipper: "Metrik"; Lanier: "Science of English Verse"; Guest: "English Rhythms"; Stedman: "The Nature and Elements of Poetry." Excellent as these are, he may lament when he has read them that he has found the history of poetic forms, and the technique of poetic method, where he hoped to find the secret of poetry. He will be likely to get as much help from writings on poetry that are not text-books, such as Matthew Arnold's Essays: "On Translating Homer," "Last Words on Translating Homer," "Celtic Poetry," "Introduction to the Poetry of Wordsworth," and the "Introduction to Humphry Ward's English Poets"; Emerson's Essays: "The Poet" and "Poetry and Imagination"; Wordsworth's Introduction to the "Lyrical Ballads"; Poe's striking little essays on the art of poetry; Aristotle's "Rhetoric"; Macaulay's "Essay on Milton"; Lowell's "Essay on Dryden"; and many a passage of illuminative comment from Milton, from Pope, from Dryden, from Coleridge and from many another. For one who has not known and read much poetry the best introduction to its study may well be the pleasurable reading of some, or of all, of these works, though remembering that such reading is not study, but only the reviewing of records of work done by others, useful mainly as a preparation for the real study which is to follow.
From all these works the student will not be likely to get a definition of poetry which will satisfy him. One may say indeed with truth that poetry is such expression as parallels the real and the ideal by means of some rhythmic form. But this is not a complete definition. Poetry is not to be bounded with a measuring line or sounded with a plummet. The student must feel after its limits as these authors have done, and find for himself its satisfactions. One can feel more of its power than the mind can define; for definitions are prose-forms of mind action, while poetry in its higher manifestations is pure emotion, outpassing prose limits. Yet one can know poetry if he cannot completely define it. The one essential element which distinguishes it from prose is rhythm. In its primal expressions this is mainly a rhythm of stresses and sounds—of accents and measures, of alliterations and rhymes. Poetry began when man, swaying his body, first sang or moaned to give expression to his joy or sorrow. Its earliest forms are the songs which accompany the simplest emotions. When rowers were in a boat the swinging oars became rhythmic, and the oarsman's chant naturally followed. When the savage overcame his enemy, he danced his war dance, and sang his war song around his campfire at night, tone and words and gestures all fitting into harmony with the movement of his body. So came the chants and songs of work and of triumph. For the dead warrior the moan of lamentation fitted itself to the slower moving to and fro of the mourner, and hence came the elegy. In its first expression this was but inarticulate, half action, half music, dumbly voicing the emotion through the senses; its rhythms were all for the ear and it had little meaning beyond the crude representation of some simple human desire and grief.
It became poetry when it put a thrill of exultation in work, of delight in victory, or of grief at loss by death, into some rhythmic form tangible to the senses. There grew up thereafter a body of rhythmic forms—lines, stanzas, accents, rhythms, verbal harmonies. These forms are the outward dress of poetry, and may rightly be the first subject of the student's study. We properly give the name of poetry to verses such as Southey's "Lodore," Poe's "Bells," or Lanier's "Song of the Chattahoochee," which do little more than sing to our ears the harmonies of sound, the ultimate rhythms of nature. Yet it is not merely the brook or the bell or the river, that we hear in the poem, but the echoing of that large harmony of nature of which the sound of the brook or the bell is only the single strain. Through the particular it suggests the universal, as does all poetry, leading through nature up to something greater, far beyond. This rhythm is best studied in poems that were written to be sung or chanted. If one could read Greek, or Anglo-Saxon, or Old High German, or the English of Chaucer's day, he could quickly train his ear to be independent of the hand-books on versification, by reading aloud, or listening as one read aloud, the "Odyssey" or the "Beowulf," or the "Nibelungen Lied" or the "Canterbury Tales." These would be better for this purpose than any modern verses, for the reason that they were intended to be sung or chanted, and so all the rhythms are real to the senses. Since the barrier of language bars out for most of us this older verse, we can read the early ballads, the lyrics of the Elizabethan time, when as yet verses spoke mainly to the ear, or some modern poems of the simpler type, such as "Evangeline" or "Hiawatha."
Such poetry, which is mainly to delight and charm the ear, is really a primal form of verse and we may properly call it the poetry of the Senses. In studying it Lanier's "Science of English Verse" is a delightful companion, and many minor hand-books besides those named above, such as are found in most schools, and some of the shorter accounts of versification such as are found in works on rhetoric, will give assistance.
Yet the pathway to the mastery of the problems of metre is for each student to tread alone. The best plan is to read aloud a considerable quantity. Then the technical language of the books will lose its terrors and the simplicity of construction of good poetry will become apparent. If the student will read so much of this poetry that his senses become responsive to its music, he will no longer need a hand-book. For this purpose let him read such poems as can be sung, chanted, or spoken to the ear; such as Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome," Scott's "Marmion," Browning's "Pied Piper" and "How They Brought the Good News," Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade." Let him read mainly for the senses rather than for the mind, getting the reward in the quickening of life through the throbbing rhythms; then the metrical system of poetry will become as real to him as the rhythmic movements of the planets are to an astronomer. There is no other way to get a feeling for the pulsations of poetry than through this intimate acquaintance. Without this, months of reading of amphibrachs and trochees and dactyls will not avail. It should be read aloud as much as possible to make the swing of its verses perfectly clear. When it sings to us as we read, it has begun to teach the message of its rhythms.
Thus far the text-books have been pleasant companions, even when unable to give as much aid to the student as he could wish; but the fact will come to him at length that there is something more in poetry than the hand-books permit him to consider. These books deal with the forms, and most of them with the forms only. They analyze the methods, work out the metre, show how the parts are woven together, explain how the chords produce the harmonies. But just in proportion as the student becomes learned in these rhythms, and can distinguish minute or subtle variations of metrical structure, does he realize that this study teaches not its own use and that there is something beyond which must be won by his own observation. He finds in his search for rhythmical perfection that there are poems which make little appeal to his senses, whose lines do not sing themselves through his day-dreams, which yet affect his imagination even more powerfully than the musical strains thrilled his senses. He finds that there is much more in poetry than its rhymes and jingles, that there is a rhythm greater than that of the senses. In its more complex forms poetry is rhythm of thought, leading the mind to find relations which prose may describe, but which poetry alone can recreate. There is such a thing as a prose thought and such a thing as a poetic thought. The one gives with exactness the fact as it exists, clearly, honestly, directly, and for all completed and tangible things is the natural medium of expression. The other parallels the actual with a suggestion of an ideal rhythmically consonant with the motive underlying the fact. Justice, for example, deals in prose fashion with a crime and awards the punishment which the law allows; poetic justice suggests such recompense as would come of itself in a community perfectly organized. The prose of life is honest living, a worthy endeavor to do the best one can in the world as it is; the poetry of life is the feeling for, and the striving after, the bringing of this life into harmony with a nobler living. So we rightly give the name of poetry to such verse as Goldsmith's "Deserted Village," Johnson's "London," Gray's "Elegy," Wordsworth's "Excursion," Milton's "Paradise Lost," Chaucer's "Knight's Tale," Browning's "King and the Book," Tennyson's "In Memoriam," which do not much stir our senses. They parallel the real with the ideal, suggesting the eternal rhythms of infinite mind as the poetry of the senses suggests the eternal rhythms of omnipotent nature.
This poetry of the Intellect is the second great division of the poetic realm. Beyond it lies still another; for there are spiritual harmonies which the mind alone cannot compass, and which the senses alone cannot interpret. The hand-books know little of spiritual harmonies, and do not go beyond their academic classifications of lyric and epic, and their catalogues of pentameters, hexameters, or alexandrines. But the student can for himself push his observation beyond, and come to the poetry of the higher imagination, where he can be forgetful of the mere form and disdainful of the merely logical relations, where his spirit can as it were see face to face the truth beyond the seeming. This is the poetry of the spirit, and ought to come as a revelation to the searcher. He may first find it in some pure lyric such as Shelley's "Skylark," or in some mystical fantasy such as Moore's "Lallah Rookh" or Coleridge's "Christabel," or in some story of human abnegation such as Tennyson's "Enoch Arden," or some wail of a soul in pain, as in Shelley's "Adonais," or in some outburst of exultant grief such as Whitman's "Captain, My Captain," or in some revelation of the unseen potencies close about us, as in Browning's "Saul," or in some vision of the mystery of this our earthly struggle such as "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," or in some answer of the spirit to a never stilled question such as Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality." When he thus finds it he has come to poetry in its highest use. In his "Alexander's Feast" Dryden hints at two great functions of poetry in the lines:
"He raised a mortal to the skies, She drew an angel down."
The office of poetry is to parallel the actual with the ideal, to cast upon an earthly landscape something of a heavenly glow, to interpret earthly things in terms of the spirit. The poetry of the Senses lifts a mortal to the skies, thinking the thought of one higher than itself as the poet muses, singing the songs of an angelic choir in harmony with the rhythm of the verse. The poetry of the Spirit brings the message of the angels down to men and makes the harmonies they speak the music of this earthly life.
The highest type of poetry lends itself perfectly to earnest and profound study. In class work it is usually better to study poets as well as poems, and to study thoroughly a few works of a great master. Poetry is essentially a synthetic art; it unites the wandering desires of our hearts and spirits to make one single and enduring impression. Poetry speaks also the mood, the aspiration, and the deepest intent of its author; so that the great poet is the one who brings us most directly to understand its art. For most student classes it is best to take a single poet for interpretation, and to study in succession a small number—say six to ten—of his works, making one, or at least two or three, the subject of the conferences for each week. The choice of author will be dependent on many considerations and cannot here be positively advised, but one will not go astray in choosing Wordsworth, Tennyson, Browning, Longfellow, or Whittier, or three of them, for a season's work. Intelligent direction is of great assistance in making the study definite and progressive. Choose first of all the poems which seem to have influenced men, for to move men is the final test of poetry. If there is no class, and no leader, let the student make his choice by a preliminary examination. Let him read rapidly, and for the single impression, the poems of Wordsworth whose titles seem most familiar to him as he scans them over; such as "Tintern Abbey," "Yarrow Unvisited," "Solitary Reaper," "Lucy," "We are Seven," "The Intimations of Immortality," "She was a Phantom of Delight," and a few of the lyrical ballads; then let him read Tennyson's "Locksley Hall," "Maud," "The Idylls of the King," and a few of the shorter poems; let him read Browning's "Saul," "Abt Vogler," "The Grammarian's Funeral," "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "Pippa Passes," one or two dramas, and a few of the brief poems in the volume "Men and Women." Then let him make his own list for study, taking those poems which have most stirred him, those which he remembers vividly after his reading, those which have become a part of himself. If the student makes his choice frankly and sincerely, he has, in making it, begun his study. Then let him frame for himself or get from his leader, if he has one, a list of the questions which each poem is to answer for him. If the work be really poetry, its study ought to give a help toward the solution of the first great problems: "What is poetry?" and "What is its revelation to the life of our senses, our hearts, and our souls?" We have a right to ask of each poem three questions: "How does it charm our senses?"; "How does it make the meaning of things clearer for us?"; "How does it bring to us a renewal of life?" The first question is better fitted for private study than for class investigation, the senses being delicate organs and shy in company. Let the minute matters of form and structure be gone over at home. Let the student work out the metre, the typical line, and the variations by which the poet gets his effects, the metaphors, the alliterations, the consonant and vowel harmonies. It will aid if this work be made as definite and as exact as an investigation in a scientific laboratory. But all this should be the student's home work. In the class the large divisions of the poem should be sympathetically shown, so that each student will comprehend the poem as a whole as the poet must have conceived it. Then as some one reads aloud the lines the music of the rhythms will come by assimilation rather than by analysis. Poetry parallels the real with the ideal to make a harmony before undreamed of. So in the lines sound re-echoes sound, and a subtle music but half perceived sings itself out of the moving notes.
What burden this music bears is the second question. Poetry differs from prose in that it lifts the thought so that its highest relations and suggestions are made known. We have a right therefore to parallel the prose sight with the poetic visions and to find in what the one transcends the other. If we are studying the "Idylls of the King," for instance, we may fitly ask what was the story as the poet took it, and into what has he transformed it for us. This study of the thought of the poem is an excellent subject for class work. The questions should be made definite and so grouped that sections of the class can choose one or another phase of the problem; the conferences should be so directed that a few clearly worked-out and thoroughly unified poetic thoughts will be left in the mind of each student.
In all things practice may fitly supplement precept. In a reading circle of which one of the editors of this series was a member the poems of Tennyson were studied by a method closely resembling that advocated in this article. As a suggestion the topics and questions for one of the poems are here given. One of the members acted as leader. A brief essay reciting the history of the poem was read. The entire poem was read aloud by one of the members of the class. Then the topics given below were discussed as presented in turn by groups of students who had given especial attention to one of the topics. In the discussions the entire class joined, and at the close a very brief summing up by the leader gathered up the threads of thought.
Topic: "Locksley Hall" and "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After."
Required Readings: "Locksley Hall"; "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After"; "Lady Clara Vere de Vere"; "Sir Galahad."
Suggested Readings: In connection with the earlier poem, "Ulysses" and "The Two Voices"; in connection with the later poem, "Maud," "Memoir of Tennyson," by Lord Hallam Tennyson.
Suggestions for Study: (A) The physical basis of the poem.
Study the metre. Why called Trochaic Octameter? In what way does this metre resemble and in what way differ from Lowell's "Present Crisis," Swinburne's "Triumph of Time," Browning's "There 's a woman like a dewdrop" (from "The Blot i' the Scutcheon"), and Mrs. Browning's "Rhyme of the Duchess May"? Why is this metre peculiarly adapted to the sentiment of "Locksley Hall"? How does the metre differ in effect from that of Mrs. Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Bryant's "The Death of the Flowers" and Tennyson's "May Queen"? Is the effect of the rhythm optimistic as opposed to the pessimism of the "Triumph of Time," and why? Why are the lines of this poem so easily carried in the memory? What is there in the use of the words which gives such sweetness to the verses as one reads them aloud. Has the poem for you a music of its own which haunts you like a remembered vision? Find out, if you can, something of the secret of this music.
(B) The intellectual interest of the poem.
(1) Consider the meaning of difficult passages, such as "Fairy tales of science." Explain the meaning of stanzas containing the following quotations: "Smote the chord of self"; "Cursed be social wants"; "That a sorrow's crown of sorrow"; "But the jingling of the guinea"; "Slowly comes a hungry people"; "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."
(2) How long an interval elapsed between the writing of the above two poems? Does any change in style or trend of thought indicate the lapse of time? The earlier poem was and is immensely popular. Why? Why is the later one less popular?
(3) What is the story in the poem, and in what manner is it told? How is the story continued in "Sixty Years After"? Was Locksley Hall an inland or a seashore residence, and why? Describe the surroundings from suggestions in the poems. Sum up what the hero tells of himself and his love-story. What suggestions are there regarding the characters of Amy and Edith? Is the emotional side of the hero as finely balanced as the intellectual side? What light is thrown on the character of his love by his outbursts against Amy? Would it be fair to judge of Amy and her husband by what he says of them in his first anguish? Does he ever admit that he judged them harshly? If so, do you agree with him altogether? Was it well for Amy to marry as she did? When obedience to parental wishes and love are in conflict, which should be followed? Did the hero's evil prophecies come true? Whose love do you think was the greatest, Amy's, or his, or the Squire's?
(4) How does Tennyson all through the poem make it a parable of human life?
(C) The emotional influence of the poem. How has this poem influenced you? For many persons, Tennyson, out of a simple love-story, has made a prophecy of ideal love. Has he for you? For many persons Tennyson made poetry out of this simple story when he paralleled the tale of earthly passion with a vision of completer life, so vivid that the pain and tragedy of this present life come to be for us but the preparation for the better life to come, as the poet sings to us that "Through the ages one increasing purpose runs And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns."
Has he to you in like manner through his poem given a truer conception of the nature and use of poetry?
Systematic study such as that suggested above will help in answering the questions, "What charm has this poem for us?" and "How does it put a deeper meaning into the events it records?" But it is difficult to frame formal questions the answers to which will show how a poem quickens life. The influence of a poem is so much a matter of temperament and of emotion, both of the author and of the reader, that one has to feel its power rather than to work it out logically. Poetry passes beyond prose in that it quickens life by moving us to feel its nobler emotions. It will teach its own lesson to the appreciative reader, and the student who gets fully into sympathy with a great poem will have his whole life made brighter. Class work, done sympathetically and sincerely, will aid in finding the truest interpretations. Yet studies teach not their own use. The higher blessings come to us unbidden if we as little children hope for them. We shall find the highest uses of poetry in remembering always that it may at its best come to us as an
"Angel of light Singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night."
[Signature: Francis Hovey Stoddard]
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY: "THE STUDY OF POETRY." By Francis Hovey Stoddard
POEMS OF NATIONAL SPIRIT: PATRIOTISM FREEDOM WAR PEACE
INDEX: AUTHORS AND TITLES
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER Photogravure from a life-photograph by Notman, Boston.
QUEEN ELIZABETH KNIGHTING FRANCIS DRAKE "When our Drake has the luck to make their pride duck. And stoop to the lads of the Island!"
From engraving after the drawing by Sir John Gilbert, R.A.
WILLIAM WATSON After a life-photograph by Elliott and Fry, London.
SAMUEL FRANCIS SMITH After a life-photograph by Notman, Boston.
THOMAS CAMPBELL From an engraving after the portrait by James Lonsdale.
WILLIAM COWPER From an engraving.
THE AUTHOR'S FIRST SINGING OF THE MARSEILLAISE "To arms! to arms! ye brave! The avenging sword unsheathe."
From a photogravure after the painting by J.A.A. Pils.
A CAVALRY CHARGE "My darling! ah, the glass is out! The bullets ring, the riders shout— No time for wine or sighing! There! bring my love the shattered glass— Charge! On the foe! No joys surpass Such dying!"
From photogravure by Goupil, after a painting by Edouard Detaille.
NATHAN HALE "'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn, He dies upon the tree, And he mourns that he can lose But one life for liberty."
From photograph of the Statue by Frederick Macmonnies, in New York City Hall Park.
EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN After a photograph from life.
THOMAS BUCHANAN READ After a photograph from life.
POEMS OF NATIONAL SPIRIT.
* * * * *
* * * * *
WHAT CONSTITUTES A STATE?
What constitutes a state? Not high-raised battlement or labored mound, Thick wall or moated gate; Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned; Not bays and broad-armed ports, Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride; Not starred and spangled courts, Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride. No:—men, high-minded men, With powers as far above dull brutes endued In forest, brake, or den, As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude,— Men who their duties know, But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain, Prevent the long-aimed blow, And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain; These constitute a State; And sovereign law, that State's collected will, O'er thrones and globes elate Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill. Smit by her sacred frown, The fiend, Dissension, like a vapor sinks; And e'en the all-dazzling crown Hides his faint rays, and at her bidding shrinks. Such was this heaven-loved isle, Than Lesbos fairer and the Cretan shore! No more shall freedom smile? Shall Britons languish, and be men no more? Since all must life resign, Those sweet rewards which decorate the brave 'Tis folly to decline, And steal inglorious to the silent grave.
SIR WILLIAM JONES.
* * * * *
BREATHES THERE THE MAN?
FROM "THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL," CANTO VI.
Breathes there the man with soul so dead Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land! Whose heart has ne'er within him burned, As home his footsteps he hath turned From wandering on a foreign strand? If such there breathe, go, mark him well; For him no minstrel raptures swell; High though his titles, proud his name, Boundless his wealth as wish can claim, Despite those titles, power, and pelf, The wretch, concentred all in self, Living, shall forfeit fair renown, And, doubly dying, shall go down To the vile dust from whence he sprung, Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
There is a land, of every land the pride, Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside, Where brighter suns dispense serener light, And milder moons imparadise the night; A land of beauty, virtue, valor, truth, Time-tutored age, and love-exalted youth: The wandering mariner, whose eye explores The wealthiest isles, the most enchanting shores, Views not a realm so bountiful and fair, Nor breathes the spirit of a purer air. In every clime, the magnet of his soul, Touched by remembrance, trembles to that pole; For in this land of Heaven's peculiar race, The heritage of nature's noblest grace, There is a spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest, Where man, creation's tyrant, casts aside His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride, While in his softened looks benignly blend The sire, the son, the husband, brother, friend. Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife, Strew with fresh flowers the narrow way of life: In the clear heaven of her delightful eye An angel-guard of love and graces lie; Around her knees domestic duties meet, And fireside pleasures gambol at her feet. "Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?" Art thou a man?—a patriot?—look around; O, thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam, That land thy country, and that spot thy home!
Man, through all ages of revolving time, Unchanging man, in every varying clime, Deems his own land of every land the pride, Beloved by Heaven o'er the world beside; His home the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
* * * * *
FATHER AND MOTHER TONGUE.
Our Father Land! and wouldst thou know Why we should call it Father Land? It is that Adam here below Was made of earth by Nature's hand; And he our father, made of earth, Hath peopled earth on every hand; And we, in memory of his birth, Do call our country Father Land.
At first, in Eden's bowers, they say, No sound of speech had Adam caught, But whistled like a bird all day,— And maybe 'twas for want of thought: But Nature, with resistless laws, Made Adam soon surpass the birds; She gave him lovely Eve because If he'd a wife they must have words.
And so the native land, I hold, By male descent is proudly mine; The language, as the tale hath told, Was given in the female line. And thus we see on either hand We name our blessings whence they've sprung; We call our country Father Land, We call our language Mother Tongue.
* * * * *
EAST, WEST, HOME'S BEST.
FROM "THE TRAVELLER."
As some lone miser visiting his store, Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er; Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still: Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Pleased with each good that heaven to man supplies: Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, To see the sum of human bliss so small; And oft I wish, amidst the scene to find Some spot to real happiness consigned, Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest, May gather bliss to see my fellows blest. But where to find that happiest spot below, Who can direct, when all pretend to know? The shuddering tenant of the frigid zone Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own, Extols the treasures of his stormy seas, And his long nights of revelry and ease; The naked negro, planting at the line, Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine, Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave, And thanks his gods for all the good they gave. Such is the patriot's boast where'er we roam, His first, best country, ever is at home. And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare, And estimate the blessings which they share, Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find An equal portion dealt to all mankind, As different good, by art or nature given, To different nations, makes their blessings even.
* * * * *
"O World-God, give me Wealth!" the Egyptian cried. His prayer was granted. High as heaven behold Palace and Pyramid; the brimming tide Of lavish Nile washed all his land with gold. Armies of slaves toiled ant-wise at his feet, World-circling traffic roared through mart and street, His priests were gods, his spice-balmed kings enshrined Set death at naught in rock-ribbed charnels deep. Seek Pharaoh's race to-day, and ye shall find Rust and the moth, silence and dusty sleep.
"O World-God, give me Beauty!" cried the Greek. His prayer was granted. All the earth became Plastic and vocal to his sense; each peak, Each grove, each stream, quick with Promethean flame, Peopled the world with imaged grace and light. The lyre was his, and his the breathing might Of the immortal marble, his the play Of diamond-pointed thought and golden tongue. Go seek the sunshine race. Ye find to-day A broken column and a lute unstrung.
"O World-God, give me Power!" the Roman cried. His prayer was granted. The vast world was chained A captive to the chariot of his pride, The blood of myriad provinces was drained To feed that fierce, insatiable red heart— Invulnerably bulwarked every part With serried legions and with close-meshed Code. Within, the burrowing worm had gnawed its home: A roofless ruin stands where once abode The imperial race of everlasting Rome.
"O God-head, give me Truth!" the Hebrew cried. His prayer was granted. He became the slave Of the Idea, a pilgrim far and wide, Cursed, hated, spurned, and scourged with none to save. The Pharaohs knew him, and when Greece beheld, His wisdom wore the hoary crown of Eld. Beauty he hath forsworn, and wealth and power. Seek him to-day, and find in every land. No fire consumes him, neither floods devour; Immortal through the lamp within his hand.
* * * * *
FROM "THE TIMEPIECE": "THE TASK," BK. II.
England, with all thy faults, I love thee still,— My country! and, while yet a nook is left Where English minds and manners may be found, Shall be constrained to love thee. Though thy clime Be fickle, and thy year most part deformed With dripping rains, or withered by a frost, I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies, And fields without a flower, for warmer France With all her vines; nor for Ausonia's groves Of golden fruitage and her myrtle bowers. To shake thy senate, and from height sublime Of patriot eloquence to flash down fire Upon thy foes, was never meant my task: But I can feel thy fortunes, and partake Thy joys and sorrows with as true a heart As any thunderer there. And I can feel Thy follies too; and with a just disdain Frown at effeminates whose very looks Reflect dishonor on the land I love. How, in the name of soldiership and sense, Should England prosper, when such things, as smooth And tender as a girl, all essenced o'er With odors, and as profligate as sweet, Who sell their laurel for a myrtle wreath, And love when they should fight,—when such as these Presume to lay their hand upon the ark Of her magnificent and awful cause? Time was when it was praise and boast enough In every clime, and travel where we might, That we were born her children. Praise enough To fill the ambition of a private man, That Chatham's language was his mother tongue, And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own.
* * * * *
FROM "ALFRED," ACT II. SC. 5.
When Britain first, at Heaven's command, Arose from out the azure main, This was the charter of the land, And guardian angels sung the strain: Rule, Britannia, rule the waves! For Britons never will be slaves.
The nations not so blest as thee Must in their turns to tyrants fall; Whilst thou shalt flourish, great and free, The dread and envy of them all. Rule, Britannia! etc.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise, More dreadful from each foreign stroke; As the loud blasts that tear the skies Serve but to root thy native oak. Rule, Britannia! etc.
Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame; All their attempts to bend thee down Will but arouse thy generous flame, And work their woe—but thy renown. Rule, Britannia! etc.
To thee belongs the rural reign; Thy cities shall with commerce shine; All thine shall be the subject main, And every shore it circles thine. Rule, Britannia! etc.
The Muses, still with Freedom found, Shall to thy happy coast repair; Blest Isle! with matchless beauty crowned, And manly hearts to guard the fair. Rule, Britannia, rule the leaves! For Britons never will be slaves.
* * * * *
THE BOWMAN'S SONG.
FROM "THE WHITE COMPANY."
What of the bow? The bow was made in England: Of true wood, of yew wood, The wood of English bows; So men who are free Love the old yew-tree And the land where the yew-tree grows.
What of the cord? The cord was made in England: A rough cord, a tough cord, A cord that bowmen love; So we'll drain our jacks To the English flax And the land where the hemp was wove.
What of the shaft? The shaft was cut in England: A long shaft, a strong shaft, Barbed and trim and true; So we'll drink all together To the gray goose feather, And the land where the gray goose flew.
What of the men? The men were bred in England: The bowman—the yeoman— The lads of dale and fell. Here's to you—and to you! To the hearts that are true And the land where the true hearts dwell.
SIR A. CONAN DOYLE.
* * * * *
THE ROAST BEEF OF OLD ENGLAND.
When mighty roast beef was the Englishman's food, It ennobled our hearts, and enriched our blood; Our soldiers were brave, and our courtiers were good. O, the Roast Beef of old England, And O, the old English Roast Beef!
But since we have learned from effeminate France To eat their ragouts, as well as to dance, We are fed up with nothing but vain complaisance. O, the Roast Beef, etc.
* * * * *
Our fathers of old were robust, stout, and strong, And kept open house with good cheer all day long, Which made their plump tenants rejoice in this song. O, the Roast Beef, etc.
When good Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne, Ere coffee and tea, and such slip-slops, were known, The world was in terror, if e'en she did frown. O, the Roast Beef, etc.
In those days, if fleets did presume on the main, They seldom or never returned back again; As witness the vaunting Armada of Spain. O, the Roast Beef, etc.
O, then we had stomachs to eat and to fight, And when wrongs were cooking, to set ourselves right; But now we're—hum?—I could, but—good night; O, the Roast Beef of old England, And O, the old English Roast Beef!
The last four stanzas added by RICHARD LOVERIDGE.
* * * * *
THE SNUG LITTLE ISLAND.
Daddy Neptune, one day, to Freedom did say, If ever I lived upon dry land, The spot I should hit on would be little Britain! Says Freedom, "Why, that's my own island!" O, it's a snug little island! A right little, tight little island! Search the globe round, none can be found So happy as this little island.
Julius Caesar, the Roman, who yielded to no man, Came by water,—he couldn't come by land; And Dane, Pict, and Saxon, their homes turned their backs on, And all for the sake of our island. O, what a snug little island! They'd all have a touch at the island! Some were shot dead, some of them fled, And some stayed to live on the island.
Then a very great war-man, called Billy the Norman, Cried, "Drat it, I never liked my land. It would be much more handy to leave this Normandy, And live on your beautiful island." Says he, "'Tis a snug little island; Sha'n't us go visit the island?" Hop, skip, and jump, there he was plump, And he kicked up a dust in the island.
But party deceit helped the Normans to beat; Of traitors they managed to buy land; By Dane, Saxon, or Pict, Britons ne'er had been licked, Had they stuck to the king of their island. Poor Harold, the king of our island! He lost both his life and his island! That's all very true: what more could he do? Like a Briton he died for his island!
The Spanish armada set out to invade—a, 'Twill sure, if they ever come nigh land. They couldn't do less than tuck up Queen Bess, And take their full swing on the island. O the poor queen of the island! The Dons came to plunder the island; But snug in her hive the queen was alive, And "buzz" was the word of the island.
These proud puffed-up cakes thought to make ducks and drakes Of our wealth; but they hardly could spy land, When our Drake had the luck to make their pride duck And stoop to the lads of the island! O, for the ships of the island! The good wooden walls of the island; Devil or Don, let them come on; And see how they'd come off the island!
Since Freedom and Neptune have hitherto kept time, In each saying, "This shall be my land"; Should the "Army of England," or all it could bring, land, We'd show 'em some play for the island. We'd fight for our right to the island; We'd give them enough of the island; Invaders should just—bite once at the dust, But not a bit more of the island.
* * * * *
THE JACOBITE ON TOWER HILL.
He tripped up the steps with a bow and a smile, Offering snuff to the chaplain the while, A rose at his button-hole that afternoon— 'Twas the tenth of the month, and the month it was June.
Then shrugging his shoulders, he looked at the man With the mask and the axe, and a murmuring ran Through the crowd, who below, were all pushing to see The gaoler kneel down, and receiving his fee.
He looked at the mob, as they roared, with a stare, And took snuff again with a cynical air. "I'm happy to give but a moment's delight To the flower of my country agog for a sight."
Then he looked at the block, and with scented cravat Dusted room for his neck, gayly doffing his hat, Kissed his hand to a lady, bent low to the crowd, Then smiling, turned round to the headsman and bowed.
"God save King James!" he cried bravely and shrill, And the cry reached the houses at foot of the hill, "My friend with the axe, a votre service," he said; And ran his white thumb 'long the edge of the blade.
When the multitude hissed he stood firm as a rock; Then kneeling, laid down his gay head on the block; He kissed a white rose,—in a moment 'twas red With the life of the bravest of any that bled.
GEORGE WALTER THORNBURY.
* * * * *
GOD SAVE THE KING.
God save our gracious king! Long live our noble king! God save the king! Send him victorious, Happy and glorious, Long to reign over us— God save the king!
O Lord our God, arise! Scatter his enemies, And make them fall; Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks; On him our hopes we fix, God save us all!
Thy choicest gifts in store On him be pleased to pour; Long may he reign. May he defend our laws, And ever give us cause, To sing with heart and voice— God save the king!
* * * * *
VETERAN AND RECRUIT.
He filled the crystal goblet With golden-beaded wine: "Come, comrades, now, I bid ye— 'To the true love of mine!'
"Her forehead's pure and holy, Her hair is tangled gold, Her heart to me so tender, To others' love is cold.
"So drain your glasses empty And fill me another yet; Two glasses at least for the dearest And sweetest girl, Lisette."
Up rose a grizzled sergeant— "My true love I give thee, Three true loves blent in one love, A soldier's trinity.
"Here's to the flag we follow, Here's to the land we serve, And here's to holy honor That doth the two preserve."
Then rose they up around him, And raised their eyes above, And drank in solemn silence Unto the sergeant's love.
EDWARD WENTWORTH HAZEWELL.
* * * * *
THE PRIVATE OF THE BUFFS;[A] OR, THE BRITISH SOLDIER IN CHINA.
["Some Seiks, and a private of the Buffs, having remained behind with the grog carts, fell into the hands of the Chinese. On the next day they were brought before the authorities and ordered to perform Kotou. The Seiks obeyed, but Moyse, the English soldier, declared he would not prostrate himself before any Chinaman alive, and was immediately knocked upon the head, and his body thrown upon a dunghill."—China Correspondent of the London Times.]
Last night, among his fellow roughs, He jested, quaffed, and swore; A drunken private of the Buffs, Who never looked before. To-day, beneath the foeman's frown, He stands in Elgin's place, Ambassador from Britain's crown, And type of all her race.
Poor, reckless, rude, low-born, untaught, Bewildered, and alone, A heart, with English instinct fraught, He yet can call his own. Ay, tear his body limb from limb, Bring cord or axe or flame, He only knows that not through him Shall England come to shame.
Far Kentish hop-fields round him seemed, Like dreams, to come and go; Bright leagues of cherry-blossom gleamed, One sheet of living snow; The smoke above his father's door In gray soft eddyings hung; Must he then watch it rise no more, Doomed by himself so young?
Yes, honor calls!—with strength like steel He put the vision by; Let dusky Indians whine and kneel, An English lad must die. And thus, with eyes that would not shrink, With knee to man unbent, Unfaltering on its dreadful brink, To his red grave he went.
Vain mightiest fleets of iron framed, Vain those all-shattering guns, Unless proud England keep untamed The strong heart of her sons; So let his name through Europe ring,— A man of mean estate, Who died, as firm as Sparta's king, Because his soul was great.
[Footnote A: The "Buffs" are the East Kent Regiment.]
SIR FRANCIS HASTINGS DOYLE.
THE TURK IN ARMENIA.
FROM "THE PURPLE EAST."
What profits it, O England, to prevail In camp and mart and council, and bestrew With argosies thy oceans, and renew With tribute levied on each golden gale Thy treasuries, if thou canst hear the wail Of women martyred by the turbaned crew, Whose tenderest mercy was the sword that slew, And lift no hand to wield the purging flail? We deemed of old thou held'st a charge from Him Who watches girdled by his seraphim, To smite the wronger with thy destined rod. Wait'st thou his sign? Enough, the unanswered cry Of virgin souls for vengeance, and on high The gathering blackness of the frown of God!
* * * * *
Set in this stormy Northern sea, Queen of these restless fields of tide, England! what shall men say of thee, Before whose feet the worlds divide?
The earth, a brittle globe of glass, Lies in the hollow of thy hand, And through its heart of crystal pass, Like shadows through a twilight land,
The spears of crimson-suited war, The long white-crested waves of fight, And all the deadly fires which are The torches of the lords of Night.
The yellow leopards, strained and lean, The treacherous Russian knows so well, With gaping blackened jaws are seen To leap through hail of screaming shell.
The strong sea-lion of England's wars Hath left his sapphire cave of sea, To battle with the storm that mars The star of England's chivalry.
The brazen-throated clarion blows Across the Pathan's reedy fen, And the high steeps of Indian snows Shake to the tread of armed men.
And many an Afghan chief, who lies Beneath his cool pomegranate-trees, Clutches his sword in fierce surmise When on the mountain-side he sees
The fleet-foot Marri scout, who comes To tell how he hath heard afar The measured roll of English drums Beat at the gates of Kandahar.
For southern wind and east wind meet Where, girt and crowned by sword and fire, England with bare and bloody feet Climbs the steep road of wide empire.
O lonely Himalayan height, Gray pillar of the Indian sky, Where saw'st thou last in clanging fight Our winged dogs of Victory?
The almond groves of Samarcand, Bokhara, where red lilies blow, And Oxus, by whose yellow sand The grave white-turbaned merchants go;
And on from thence to Ispahan, The gilded garden of the sun, Whence the long dusty caravan Brings cedar and vermilion;
And that dread city of Cabool Set at the mountain's scarped feet, Whose marble tanks are ever full With water for the noonday heat,
Where through the narrow straight Bazaar A little maid Circasian Is led, a present from the Czar Unto some old and bearded khan,—
Here have our wild war-eagles flown, And flapped wide wings in fiery flight; But the sad dove, that sits alone In England—she hath no delight.
In vain the laughing girl will lean To greet her love with love-lit eyes: Down in some treacherous black ravine, Clutching his flag, the dead boy lies.
And many a moon and sun will see The lingering wistful children wait To climb upon their father's knee; And in each house made desolate
Pale women who have lost their lord Will kiss the relics of the slain— Some tarnished epaulette—some sword— Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain.
For not in quiet English fields Are these, our brothers, lain to rest, Where we might deck their broken shields With all the flowers the dead love best.
For some are by the Delhi walls, And many in the Afghan land, And many where the Ganges falls Through seven mouths of shifting sand.
And some in Russian waters lie, And others in the seas which are The portals to the East, or by The wind-swept heights of Trafalgar.
O wandering graves! O restless sleep! O silence of the sunless day! O still ravine! O stormy deep! Give up your prey! Give up your prey!
And those whose wounds are never healed, Whose weary race is never won, O Cromwell's England! must thou yield For every inch of ground a son?
Go! crown with thorns thy gold-crowned head, Change thy glad song to song of pain; Wind and wild wave have got thy dead, And will not yield them back again.
Wave and wild wind and foreign shore Possess the flower of English land— Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more, Hands that shall never clasp thy hand.
What profit now that we have bound The whole round world with nets of gold, If hidden in our heart is found The care that groweth never old?
What profit that our galleys ride, Pine-forest like, on every main? Ruin and wreck are at our side, Grim warders of the House of pain.
Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet? Where is our English chivalry? Wild grasses are their burial-sheet, And sobbing waves their threnody.
O loved ones lying far away, What word of love can dead lips send? O wasted dust! O senseless clay! Is this the end? is this the end?
Peace, peace! we wrong the noble dead To vex their solemn slumber so; Though, childless, and with thorn-crowned head, Up the steep road must England go,
Yet when this fiery web is spun, Her watchmen shall descry from far The young Republic like a sun Rise from these crimson seas of war.
* * * * *
AMERICA TO GREAT BRITAIN.
All hail; thou noble land, Our Fathers' native soil! O, stretch thy mighty hand, Gigantic grown by toil, O'er the vast Atlantic wave to our shore! For thou with magic might Canst reach to where the light Of Phoebus travels bright The world o'er!
The genius of our clime From his pine-embattled steep Shall hail the guest sublime; While the Tritons of the deep With their conchs the kindred league shall proclaim. Then let the world combine,— O'er the main our naval line Like the Milky Way shall shine Bright in flame!
Though ages long have passed Since our Fathers left their home, Their pilot in the blast, O'er untravelled seas to roam, Yet lives the blood of England in our veins! And shall we not proclaim That blood of honest fame Which no tyranny can tame By its chains?
While the language free and bold Which the Bard of Avon sung, In which our Milton told How the vault of heaven rung When Satan, blasted, fell with his host; While this, with reverence meet, Ten thousand echoes greet, From rock to rock repeat Round our coast;
While the manners, while the arts, That mould a nation's soul, Still cling around our hearts,— Between let Ocean roll, Our joint communion breaking with the sun: Yet still from either beach The voice of blood shall reach, More audible than speech, "We are One."
* * * * *
HANDS ALL ROUND.
First drink a health, this solemn night, A health to England, every guest: That man's the best cosmopolite Who loves his native country best. May Freedom's oak for ever live With stronger life from day to day: That man's the best Conservative Who lops the moulded branch away. Hands all round! God the tyrant's hope confound! To this great cause of Freedom drink, my friends, And the great name of England, round and round.
A health to Europe's honest men! Heaven guard them from her tyrants' jails! From wronged Poerio's noisome den, From iron limbs and tortured nails! We curse the crimes of southern kings, The Russian whips and Austrian rods: We likewise have our evil things,— Too much we make our ledgers, gods. Yet hands all round! God the tyrant's cause confound! To Europe's better health we drink, my friends, And the great name of England, round and round!
What health to France, if France be she, Whom martial progress only charms? Yet tell her—better to be free Than vanquish all the world in arms. Her frantic city's flashing heats But fire, to blast the hopes of men. Why change the titles of your streets? You fools, you'll want them all again. Hands all round! God the tyrant's cause confound! To France, the wiser France, we drink, my friends, And the great name of England, round and round.
Gigantic daughter of the West, We drink to thee across the flood! We know thee and we love thee best; For art thou not of British blood? Should war's mad blast again be blown, Permit not thou the tyrant powers To fight thy mother here alone, But let thy broadsides roar with ours. Hands all round! God the tyrant's cause confound! To our great kinsman of the West, my friends, And the great name of England, round and round.
Oh rise, our strong Atlantic sons, When war against our freedom springs! Oh, speak to Europe through your guns! They can be understood by kings. You must not mix our Queen with those That wish to keep their people fools: Our freedom's foemen are her foes; She comprehends the race she rules. Hands all round! God the tyrant's cause confound! To our great kinsman in the West, my friends, And the great cause of Freedom, round and round.
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
* * * * *
God of our fathers, known of old,— Lord of our far-flung battle line,— Beneath whose awful hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine,— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget,—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies, The captains and the kings depart: Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,— An humble and a contrite heart. Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget,—lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire. Lo! all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of the nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget,—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not thee in awe, Such boasting as the Gentiles use Or lesser breeds without the law,— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget,—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard, All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding calls not thee to guard, For frantic boasts and foolish word, Thy mercy on thy people, Lord! Amen.
* * * * *
ENGLAND AND HER COLONIES.
She stands, a thousand-wintered tree, By countless morns impearled; Her broad roots coil beneath the sea, Her branches sweep the world; Her seeds, by careless winds conveyed, Clothe the remotest strand With forests from her scatterings made, New nations fostered in her shade, And linking land with land.
O ye by wandering tempest sown 'Neath every alien star, Forget not whence the breath was blown That wafted you afar! For ye are still her ancient seed On younger soil let fall— Children of Britain's island-breed, To whom the Mother in her need Perchance may one day call.
* * * * *
FROM "THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL," CANTO VI.
O Caledonia! stern and wild, Meet nurse for a poetic child! Land of brown heath and shaggy wood, Land of the mountain and the flood, Land of my sires! what mortal hand Can e'er untie the filial band That knits me to thy rugged strand? Still, as I view each well-known scene, Think what is now, and what hath been, Seems, as to me, of all bereft, Sole friends thy woods and streams were left; And thus I love them better still, Even in extremity of ill. By Yarrow's stream still let me stray, Though none should guide my feeble way; Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break, Although it chilled my withered cheek; Still lay my head by Teviot stone, Though there, forgotten and alone, The bard may draw his parting groan.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
A PINDARIC ODE.
"Ruin seize thee, ruthless King! Confusion on thy banners wait; Tho' fanned by Conquest's crimson wing, They mock the air with idle state, Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail, Nor e'en thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail To save thy secret soul from nightly fears, From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears!" Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride Of the first Edward scattered wild dismay, As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side He wound with toilsome march his long array. Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance: "To arms!" cried Mortimer, and couched his quiv'ring lance.
On a rock, whose haughty brow Frowns o'er cold Conway's foaming flood, Robed in the sable garb of woe, With haggard eyes the poet stood: (Loose his beard, and hoary hair Streamed, like a meteor, to the troubled air) And with a master's hand, and prophet's fire, Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre. "Hark how each giant oak, and desert cave, Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath! O'er thee, O King! their hundred arms they wave, Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe; Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day, To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.
"Cold is Cadwallo's tongue, That hushed the stormy main: Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed: Mountains, ye mourn in vain Modred, whose magic song Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topt head. On dreary Arvon's shore they lie, Smeared with gore, and ghastly pale; Far, far aloof th' affrighted ravens sail; The famished eagle screams, and passes by. Dear lost companions of my tuneful art, Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes, Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart, Ye died amidst your dying country's cries— No more I weep. They do not sleep. On yonder cliffs, a grisly band, I see them sit, they linger yet, Avengers of their native land: With me in dreadful harmony they join, And weave with bloody hands the tissues of thy line.
"Weave the warp, and weave the woof, The winding sheet of Edward's race. Give ample room, and verge enough The characters of hell to trace. Mark the year, and mark the night, When Severn shall re-echo with affright The shrieks of death, thro' Berkeley's roof that ring, Shrieks of an agonizing king! She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs, That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled mate, From thee be born, who o'er thy country hangs The scourge of Heaven. What Terrors round him wait! Amazement in his van, with Flight combined, And Sorrow's faded form, and solitude behind.
"Mighty victor, mighty lord! Low on his funeral couch he lies! No pitying heart, no eye, afford A tear to grace his obsequies. Is the sable warrior fled? Thy son is gone. He rests among the dead. The swarm, that in thy noon-tide beam were born, Gone to salute the rising morn. Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows. While proudly riding o'er the azure realm In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes; Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm; Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway, That, hushed in grim repose, expects his evening prey.
"Fill high the sparkling bowl, The rich repast prepare, Reft of a crown, he yet may share the feast; Close by the regal chair Fell Thirst and Famine scowl A baleful smile upon their baffled guest. Heard ye the din of battle bray, Lance to lance, and horse to horse? Long years of havoc, urged their destined course, And through the kindred squadrons mow their way. Ye towers of Julius, London's lasting shame, With many a foul and midnight murder fed, Revere his consort's faith, his father's fame, And spare the meek usurper's holy head. Above, below, the rose of snow, Twined with her blushing foe, we spread: The bristled Boar in infant-gore Wallows beneath the thorny shade. Now, brothers, bending o'er the accursed loom, Stamp we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom.
"Edward, lo! to sudden fate (Weave we the woof. The thread is spun.) Half of thy heart we consecrate. (The web is wove. The work is done.) Stay, oh stay! nor thus forlorn Leave me unblessed, unpitied, here to mourn: In yon bright track, that fires the western skies, They melt, they vanish from my eyes. But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height Descending slow their glittering skirts unroll? Visions of glory, spare my aching sight! Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul! No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail. All hail, ye genuine kings, Britannia's issue, hail!
"Girt with many a baron bold Sublime their starry fronts they rear; And gorgeous dames, and statesmen old In bearded majesty, appear. In the midst a form divine! Her eye proclaims her of the Briton line: Her lion-port, her awe-commanding face, Attempered sweet to virgin-grace. What strings symphonious tremble in the air, What strains of vocal transport round her play! Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, hear; They breathe a soul to animate thy clay. Bright Rapture calls, and soaring as she sings, Waves in the eye of heaven her many-colored wings.
"The verse adorn again, Fierce War, and faithful Love, And Truth severe by fairy fiction drest. In buskined measure move Pale Grief and pleasing Pain, With Horror, tyrant of the throbbing breast. A voice, as of the cherub-choir, Gales from blooming Eden bear; And distant warblings lessen on my ear, That lost in long futurity expire. Fond impious man, think'st thou yon sanguine cloud, Raised by thy breath, has quenched the orb of day? To-morrow he repairs the golden flood, And warms the nations with redoubled ray. Enough for me; with joy I see The different doom our fates assign. Be thine Despair, and sceptred Care, To triumph, and to die, are mine." He spoke and headlong from the mountain's height Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night.
* * * * *
MY HEART'S IN THE HIGHLANDS.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer; Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe. My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go. Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North, The birthplace of valor, the country of worth; Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, The hills of the Highlands forever I love.
Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow; Farewell to the straths and green valleys below; Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods; Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods. My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer; Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe. My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
* * * * *
HEATHER ALE: A GALLOWAY LEGEND.
From the bonny bells of heather They brewed a drink long-syne, Was sweeter far than honey, Was stronger far than wine. They brewed it and they drank it, And lay in a blessed swound For days and days together In the dwellings underground.
There rose a king in Scotland, A fell man to his foes, He smote the Picts in battle, He hunted them like roes. Over miles of the red mountain He hunted as they fled, And strewed the dwarfish bodies Of the dying and the dead.
Summer came in the country, Red was the heather bell; But the manner of the brewing Was none alive to tell. In graves that were like children's On many a mountain head, The Brewsters of the Heather Lay numbered with the dead.
The king in the red moorland Rode on a summer's day; And the bees hummed, and the curlews Cried beside the way. The king rode, and was angry; Black was his brow and pale, To rule in a land of heather And lack the Heather Ale.
It fortuned that his vassals, Riding free on the heath, Came on a stone that was fallen And vermin hid beneath. Rudely plucked from their hiding, Never a word they spoke: A son and his aged father— Last of the dwarfish folk.
The king sat high on his charger, He looked on the little men; And the dwarfish and swarthy couple Looked at the king again. Down by the shore he had them; And there on the giddy brink— "I will give you life, ye vermin, For the secret of the drink."
There stood the son and father And they looked high and low; The heather was red around them, The sea rumbled below. And up and spoke the father, Shrill was his voice to hear; "I have a word in private, A word for the royal ear.
"Life is dear to the aged, And honor a little thing; I would gladly sell the secret," Quoth the Pict to the King. His voice was small as a sparrow's, And shrill and wonderful clear: "I would gladly sell my secret, Only my son I fear.
"For life is a little matter, And death is nought to the young; And I dare not sell my honor Under the eye of my son. Take him, O king, and bind him, And cast him far in the deep; And it's I will tell the secret. That I have sworn to keep."
They took the son and bound him, Neck and heels in a thong, And a lad took him and swung him, And flung him far and strong, And the sea swallowed his body, Like that of a child of ten;— And there on the cliff stood the father, Last of the dwarfish men.
"True as the word I told you: Only my son I feared; For I doubt the sapling courage That goes without the beard. But now in vain is the torture, Fire shall never avail: Here dies in my bosom The secret of Heather Ale."
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
* * * * *
THE EXECUTION OF MONTROSE.
[James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, was executed in Edinburgh, May 21, 1650, for an attempt to overthrow the Commonwealth and restore Charles II.]
Come hither, Evan Cameron! Come, stand behind my knee— I hear the river roaring down Toward the wintry sea. There's shouting on the mountain-side, There's war within the blast— Old faces look upon me, Old forms go trooping past. I hear the pibroch wailing Amidst the din of fight, And my dim spirit wakes again Upon the verge of night.
'Twas I that led the Highland host Through wild Lochaber's snows, What time the plaided clans came down To battle with Montrose. I've told thee how the Southrons fell Beneath the broad claymore, And how we smote the Campbell clan By Inverlochy's shore. I've told thee how we swept Dundee, And tamed the Lindsays' pride; But never have I told thee yet How the great Marquis died.
A traitor sold him to his foes;— O deed of deathless shame! I charge thee, boy, if e'er thou meet With one of Assynt's name— Be it upon the mountain's side, Or yet within the glen, Stand he in martial gear alone, Or backed by armed men— Face him as thou wouldst face the man Who wronged thy sire's renown; Remember of what blood thou art, And strike the caitiff down!
They brought him to the Watergate, Hard bound with hempen span. As though they held a lion there, And not a 'fenceless man. They set him high upon a cart— The hangman rode below— They drew his hands behind his back, And bared his noble brow. Then, as a hound is slipped from leash, They cheered the common throng, And blew the note with yell and shout, And bade him pass along.
It would have made a brave man's heart Grow sad and sick that day. To watch the keen, malignant eyes Bent down on that array. There stood the Whig west-country lords In balcony and bow; There sat their gaunt and withered dames, And their daughters all a-row. And every open window Was full as full might be With black-robed Covenanting carles, That goodly sport to see!
But when he came, though pale and wan, He looked so great and high, So noble was his manly front, So calm his steadfast eye;— The rabble rout forbore to shout, And each man held his breath, For well they knew the hero's soul Was face to face with death. And then a mournful shudder Through all the people crept, And some that came to scoff at him Now turned aside and wept.
But onward—always onward, In silence and in gloom, The dreary pageant labored, Till it reached the house of doom. Then first a woman's voice was heard In jeer and laughter loud, And an angry cry and a hiss arose From the heart of the tossing crowd: Then, as the Graeme looked upward, He saw the ugly smile Of him who sold his king for gold— The master-fiend Argyle!
The Marquis gazed a moment, And nothing did he say, But the cheek of Argyle grew ghastly pale, And he turned his eyes away. The painted harlot by his side, She shook through every limb, For a roar like thunder swept the street, And hands were clenched at him; And a Saxon soldier cried aloud, "Back, coward, from thy place! For seven long years thou hast not dared To look him in the face."
Had I been there with sword in hand, And fifty Camerons by, That day through high Dunedin's streets Had pealed the slogan-cry. Not all their troops of trampling horse, Nor might of mailed men— Not all the rebels in the south Had borne us backward then! Once more his foot on Highland heath Had trod as free as air, Or I, and all who bore my name, Been laid around him there!
It might not be. They placed him next Within the solemn hall, Where once the Scottish kings were throned Amidst their nobles all. But there was dust of vulgar feet On that polluted floor, And perjured traitors filled the place Where good men sate before. With savage glee came Warriston To read the murderous doom; And then uprose the great Montrose In the middle of the room:
"Now, by my faith as belted knight And by the name I bear, And by the bright St. Andrew's cross That waves above us there— Yea, by a greater, mightier oath— And O that such should be!— By that dark stream of royal blood That lies 'twixt you and me— I have not sought in battle-field A wreath of such renown, Nor dared I hope on my dying day To win the martyr's crown!
"There is a chamber far away Where sleep the good and brave, But a better place ye have named for me Than by my father's grave. For truth and right, 'gainst treason's might, This hand has always striven, And ye raise it up for a witness still In the eye of earth and heaven. Then nail my head on yonder tower— Give every town a limb— And God who made shall gather them: I go from you to Him!"
The morning dawned full darkly, The rain came flashing down, And the jagged streak of the levin bolt Lit up the gloomy town. The thunder crashed across the heaven, The fatal hour was come; Yet aye broke in, with muffled beat, The 'larum of the drum. There was madness on the earth below And anger in the sky, And young and old, and rich and poor, Came forth to see him die.
Ah God! that ghastly gibbet! How dismal 'tis to see The great tall spectral skeleton, The ladder and the tree! Hark! hark! it is the clash of arms,— The bells begin to toll,— "He is coming! he is coming! God's mercy on his soul!" One last long peal of thunder,— The clouds are cleared away. And the glorious sun once more looks down Amidst the dazzling day.
"He is coming! he is coming!" Like a bridegroom from his room Came the hero from his prison To the scaffold and the doom. There was glory on his forehead, There was lustre in his eye, And he never walked to battle More proudly than to die. There was color in his visage, Though the cheeks of all were wan; And they marvelled as they saw him pass, That great and goodly man!
He mounted up the scaffold, And he turned him to the crowd; But they dared not trust the people, So he might not speak aloud. But he looked upon the heavens, And they were clear and blue, And in the liquid ether The eye of God shone through: Yet a black and murky battlement Lay resting on the hill, As though the thunder slept within,— All else was calm and still.
The grim Geneva ministers With anxious scowl drew near, As you have seen the ravens flock Around the dying deer. He would not deign them word nor sign, But alone he bent the knee; And veiled his face for Christ's dear grace Beneath the gallows-tree. Then, radiant and serene, he rose, And cast his cloak away; For he had ta'en his latest look Of earth and sun and day.
A beam of light fell o'er him, Like a glory round the shriven, And he climbed the lofty ladder As it were the path to heaven. Then came a flash from out the cloud, And a stunning thunder-roll; And no man dared to look aloft,— Fear was on every soul. There was another heavy sound, A hush, and then a groan; And darkness swept across the sky,— The work of death was done!
WILLIAM EDMONDSTOUNE AYTOUN.
* * * * *
March, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale! Why the de'il dinna ye march forward in order? March, march, Eskdale and Liddesdale! All the Blue Bonnets are over the Border! Many a banner spread Flutters above your head, Many a crest that is famous in story!— Mount and make ready, then, Sons of the mountain glen, Fight for the queen and our old Scottish glory.
Come from the hills where your hirsels are grazing; Come from the glen of the buck and the roe; Come to the crag where the beacon is blazing; Come with the buckler, the lance, and the bow. Trumpets are sounding; War-steeds are bounding; Stand to your arms, and march in good order, England shall many a day Tell of the bloody fray, When the Blue Bonnets came over the Border.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
THE EXILE'S SONG.
Oh! why left I my hame? Why did I cross the deep? Oh! why left I the land Where my forefathers sleep? I sigh for Scotia's shore, And I gaze across the sea, But I canna get a blink O' my ain countrie.
The palm-tree waveth high, And fair the myrtle springs; And, to the Indian maid, The bulbul sweetly sings. But I dinna see the broom Wi' its tassels on the lee, Nor hear the lintie's sang O' my ain countrie.
Oh! here no Sabbath bell Awakes the Sabbath morn, Nor song of reapers heard Among the yellow corn: For the tyrant's voice is here, And the wail of slaverie; But the sun of freedom shines In my ain countrie.
There's a hope for every woe, And a balm for every pain, But the first joys o' our heart Come never back again. There's a track upon the deep, And a path across the sea: But the weary ne'er return To their ain countrie.
* * * * *
The savage loves his native shore, Though rude the soil and chill the air; Then well may Erin's sons adore Their isle which nature formed so fair, What flood reflects a shore so sweet As Shannon great or pastoral Bann? Or who a friend or foe can meet So generous as an Irishman?
His hand is rash, his heart is warm, But honesty is still his guide; None more repents a deed of harm, And none forgives with nobler pride; He may be duped, but won't be dared— More fit to practise than to plan; He dearly earns his poor reward, And spends it like an Irishman.
If strange or poor, for you he'll pay, And guide to where you safe may be; If you're his guest, while e'er you stay, His cottage holds a jubilee. His inmost soul he will unlock, And if he may your secrets scan, Your confidence he scorns to mock, For faithful is an Irishman.
By honor bound in woe or weal, Whate'er she bids he dares to do; Try him with bribes—they won't prevail; Prove him in fire—you'll find him true. He seeks not safety, let his post Be where it ought in danger's van; And if the field of fame be lost, It won't be by an Irishman.
Erin! loved land! from age to age, Be thou more great, more famed, and free, May peace be thine, or shouldst thou wage Defensive war, cheap victory. May plenty bloom in every field Which gentle breezes softly fan, And cheerful smiles serenely gild The home of every Irishman.
* * * * *
A health to you, Piper, And your pipes silver-tongued, clear and sweet in their crooning!
Full of the music they gathered at morn On your high heather hills from the lark on the wing, From the blackbird at eve on the blossoming thorn, From the little green linnet whose plaining they sing, And the joy and the hope in the heart of the Spring, O, Turlough MacSweeney!
Play us our Eire's most sorrowful songs, As she sits by her reeds near the wash of the wave, That the coldest may thrill at the count of her wrongs, That the sword may flash forth from the scabbard to save, And the wide land awake at the wrath of the brave, O, Turlough MacSweeney!
Play as the bards played in days long ago, When O'Donnell, arrayed for the foray or feast, With your kinsmen from Bannat and Fannat and Doe, With piping and harping, and blessing of priest, Rode out in the blaze of the sun from the East, O, Turlough MacSweeney!
Play as they played in that rapturous hour When the clans heard in gladness his young fiery call Who burst from the gloom of the Sassenach tower, And sped to the welcome in dear Donegal, Then on to his hailing as chieftain of all— O, Turlough MacSweeney!
Play as they played, when, a trumpet of war, His voice for the rally, pealed up to the blue, And the kerns from the hills and the glens and the scaur Marched after the banner of conquering Hugh— Led into the fray by a piper like you, O, Turlough MacSweeney!
And surely no note of such music shall fail, Wherever the speech of our Eire is heard, To foster the hope of the passionate Gael, To fan the old hatred, relentless when stirred, To strengthen our souls for the strife to be dared, O, Turlough MacSweeney!
May your pipes, silver-tongued, clear and sweet in their crooning, Keep the magic they captured at dawning and even From the blackbird at home, and the lark on its journey, From the thrush on its spray, and the little green linnet. A health to you, Piper!
ANNA MACMANUS (Ethna Carbery).
* * * * *
A SPINNING SONG.
My love to fight the Saxon goes, And bravely shines his sword of steel; A heron's feather decks his brows, And a spur on either heel; His steed is blacker than the sloe, And fleeter than the falling star; Amid the surging ranks he'll go And shout for joy of war. Twinkle, twinkle, pretty spindle; let the white wool drift and dwindle. Oh! we weave a damask doublet for my love's coat of steel. Hark! the timid, turning treadle crooning soft, old-fashioned ditties To the low, slow murmur of the brown round wheel.
My love is pledged to Ireland's fight; My love would die for Ireland's weal, To win her back her ancient right, And make her foemen reel. Oh! close I'll clasp him to my breast When homeward from the war he comes; The fires shall light the mountain's crest, The valley peal with drums. Twinkle, twinkle, pretty spindle; let the white wool drift and dwindle. Oh! we weave a damask doublet for my love's coat of steel. Hark! the timid, turning treadle crooning soft old-fashioned ditties To the low, slow murmur of the brown round wheel.
JOHN FRANCIS O'DONNELL.
* * * * *
THE WEARING OF THE GREEN.[A]
[Footnote A: Variation of an old street song of about 1798. Sung in Dion Boucicault's play "The Shan Van Voght."]
O Paddy dear, an' did you hear the news that's goin' round? The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground; St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep; his colors can't be seen: For there's a cruel law agin' the wearin' of the green. I met with Napper Tandy, and he tuk me by the hand, And he said, "How's poor ould Ireland, and how does she stand?" She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen: They are hangin' men and women there for wearin' of the green.
An' if the color we must wear is England's cruel red, Sure Ireland's sons will ne'er forget the blood that they have shed. Then pull the shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod, And never fear, 'twill take root there, though under foot 'tis trod. When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow, And when the leaves in summer-time their color dare not show, Then I will change the color, too, I wear in my caubeen; But till that day, please God, I'll stick to wearin' of the green.
But if at last our color should be torn from Ireland's heart, Her sons with shame and sorrow from the dear old isle will part: I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea, Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day. O Erin, must we leave you, driven by a tyrant's hand? Must we ask a mother's blessin' from a strange and distant land? Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen, And where, please God, we'll live and die still wearin' of the green.
* * * * *
MY NATIVE LAND.
It chanced to me upon a time to sail Across the Southern ocean to and fro; And, landing at fair isles, by stream and vale Of sensuous blessing did we ofttimes go. And months of dreamy joys, like joys in sleep, Or like a clear, calm stream o'er mossy stone, Unnoted passed our hearts with voiceless sweep, And left us yearning still for lands unknown.
And when we found one,—for 'tis soon to find In thousand-isled Cathay another isle,— For one short noon its treasures filled the mind, And then again we yearned, and ceased to smile. And so it was from isle to isle we passed, Like wanton bees or boys on flowers or lips; And when that all was tasted, then at last We thirsted still for draughts instead of sips.
I learned from this there is no Southern land Can fill with love the hearts of Northern men. Sick minds need change; but, when in health they stand 'Neath foreign skies, their love flies home agen. And thus with me it was: the yearning turned From laden airs of cinnamon away, And stretched far westward, while the full heart burned With love for Ireland, looking on Cathay!
My first dear love, all dearer for thy grief! My land, that has no peer in all the sea For verdure, vale, or river, flower or leaf,— If first to no man else, thou'rt first to me. New loves may come with duties, but the first Is deepest yet,—the mother's breath and smiles; Like that kind face and breast where I was nursed Is my poor land, the Niobe of isles.
JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY.
* * * * *
BLESS THE DEAR OLD VERDANT LAND.
Bless the dear old verdant land! Brother, wert thou born of it? As thy shadow life doth stand Twining round its rosy band. Did an Irish mother's hand Guide thee in the morn of it? Did a father's first command Teach thee love or scorn of it?
Thou who tread'st its fertile breast, Dost thou feel a glow for it? Thou of all its charms possest. Living on its first and best, Art thou but a thankless guest Or a traitor foe for it, If thou lovest, where's the test? Wilt thou strike a blow for it?
Has the past no goading sting That can make thee rouse for it? Does thy land's reviving spring, Full of buds and blossoming, Fail to make thy cold heart cling, Breathing lover's vows for it? With the circling ocean's ring Thou wert made a spouse for it.
Hast thou kept as thou shouldst keep Thy affections warm for it, Letting no cold feeling creep Like an ice-breath o'er the deep, Freezing to a stony sleep Hopes the heart would form for it, Glories that like rainbows peep Through the darkening storm for it?
Son of this down-trodden land, Aid us in the fight for it. We seek to make it great and grand, Its shipless bays, its naked strand, By canvas-swelling breezes fanned: Oh, what a glorious sight for it, The past expiring like a brand In morning's rosy light for it!
Think, this dear old land is thine, And thou a traitor slave of it: Think how the Switzer leads his kine, When pale the evening star doth shine; His song has home in every line, Freedom in every stave of it; Think how the German loves his Rhine And worships every wave of it!
Our own dear land is bright as theirs, But oh! our hearts are cold for it; Awake! we are not slaves, but heirs. Our fatherland requires our cares, Our speech with men, with God our prayers; Spurn blood-stained Judas gold for it: Let us do all that honor dares— Be earnest, faithful, bold for it!
DENIS FLORENCE MAC CARTHY.
* * * * *
They are dying! they are dying! where the golden corn is growing; They are dying! they are dying! where the crowded herds are lowing: They are gasping for existence where the streams of life are flowing, And they perish of the plague where the breeze of health is blowing!
God of justice! God of power! Do we dream? Can it be, In this land, at this hour, With the blossom on the tree, In the gladsome month of May, When the young lambs play, When Nature looks around On her waking children now, The seed within the ground, The bud upon the bough? Is it right, is it fair, That we perish of despair In this land, on this soil, Where our destiny is set, Which we cultured with our toil, And watered with our sweat? We have ploughed, we have sown But the crop was not our own; We have reaped, but harpy hands Swept the harvest from our lands; We were perishing for food, When lo! in pitying mood, Our kindly rulers gave The fat fluid of the slave, While our corn filled the manger Of the war-horse of the stranger!
God of mercy! must this last? Is this land preordained, For the present and the past And the future, to be chained,— To be ravaged, to be drained, To be robbed, to be spoiled, To be hushed, to be whipt, Its soaring pinions clipt, And its every effort foiled?
Do our numbers multiply But to perish and to die? Is this all our destiny below,— That our bodies, as they rot, May fertilize the spot Where the harvests of the stranger grow? If this be, indeed, our fate, Far, far better now, though late, That we seek some other land and try some other zone; The coldest, bleakest shore Will surely yield us more Than the storehouse of the stranger that we dare not call our own.
Kindly brothers of the West, Who from Liberty's full breast Have fed us, who are orphans beneath a step-dame's frown, Behold our happy state, And weep your wretched fate That you share not in the splendors of our empire and our crown!
Kindly brothers of the East,— Thou great tiaraed priest, Thou sanctified Rienzi of Rome and of the earth,— Or thou who bear'st control Over golden Istambol, Who felt for our misfortunes and helped us in our dearth,—
Turn here your wondering eyes, Call your wisest of the wise, Your muftis and your ministers, your men of deepest lore; Let the sagest of your sages Ope our island's mystic pages, And explain unto your highness the wonders of our shore.
A fruitful, teeming soil, Where the patient peasants toil Beneath the summer's sun and the watery winter sky; Where they tend the golden grain Till it bends upon the plain, Then reap it for the stranger, and turn aside to die;
Where they watch their flocks increase, And store the snowy fleece Till they send it to their masters to be woven o'er the waves; Where, having sent their meat For the foreigner to eat, Their mission is fulfilled, and they creep into their graves.
'Tis for this they are dying where the golden corn is growing, 'Tis for this they are dying where the crowded herds are lowing, 'Tis for this they are dying where the streams of life are flowing, And they perish of the plague where the breeze of health is blowing!
DENIS FLORENCE MACCARTHY.
* * * * *
A SEASIDE PORTRAIT.
A great, still Shape, alone, She sits (her harp has fallen) on the sand, And sees her children, one by one, depart:— Her cloak (that hides what sins beside her own!) Wrapped fold on fold about her. Lo, She comforts her fierce heart, As wailing some, and some gay-singing go, With the far vision of that Greater Land Deep in the Atlantic skies, Saint Brandan's Paradise! Another Woman there, Mighty and wondrous fair, Stands on her shore-rock:—one uplifted hand Holds a quick-piercing light That keeps long sea-ways bright; She beckons with the other, saying "Come, O landless, shelterless, Sharp-faced with hunger, worn with long distress:— Come hither, finding home! Lo, my new fields of harvest, open, free, By winds of blessing blown, Whose golden corn-blades shake from sea to sea— Fields without walls that all the people own!"
JOHN JAMES PIATT
* * * * *
EXILE OF ERIN.
There came to the beach a poor exile of Erin, The dew on his thin robe was heavy and chill; For his country he sighed, when at twilight repairing To wander alone by the wind-beaten hill. But the day-star attracted his eye's sad devotion, For it rose o'er his own native isle of the ocean, Where once, in the fire of his youthful emotion, He sang the bold anthem of Erin go bragh.
Sad is my fate! said the heart-broken stranger; The wild deer and wolf to a covert can flee, But I have no refuge from famine and danger, A home and a country remain not to me. Never again in the green sunny bowers Where my forefathers lived shall I spend the sweet hours, Or cover my harp with the wild-woven flowers, And strike to the numbers of Erin go bragh!
Erin, my country! though sad and forsaken, In dreams I revisit thy sea-beaten shore; But, alas! in a far foreign land I awaken, And sigh for the friends who can meet me no more! O cruel fate! wilt thou never replace me In a mansion of peace, where no perils can chase me? Never again shall my brothers embrace me? They died to defend me, or live to deplore!
Where is my cabin door, fast by the wildwood? Sisters and sire, did ye weep for its fall? Where is the mother that looked on my childhood? And where is the bosom-friend, dearer than all? O my sad heart! long abandoned by pleasure, Why did it dote on a fast-fading treasure? Tears, like the rain-drop, may fall without measure, But rapture and beauty they cannot recall.
Yet, all its sad recollections suppressing, One dying wish my lone bosom can draw,— Erin, an exile bequeaths thee his blessing! Land of my forefathers, Erin go bragh! Buried and cold, when my heart stills her motion, Green be thy fields, sweetest isle of the ocean! And thy harp-striking bards sing aloud with devotion,— Erin mavourneen, Erin go bragh![A]
[Footnote A: Ireland my darling, Ireland forever!]
* * * * *
Shall mine eyes behold thy glory, O my country? Shall mine eyes behold thy glory? Or shall the darkness close around them, ere the sun-blaze breaks at last upon thy story? When the nations ope for thee their queenly circle, as a sweet new sister hail thee,
Shall these lips be sealed in callous death and silence, that have known but to bewail thee? Shall the ear be deaf that only loved thy praises, when all men their tribute bring thee? Shall the mouth be clay that sang thee in thy squalor, when all poets' mouths shall sing thee?
Ah, the harpings and the salvos and the shoutings of thy exiled sons returning! I should hear, though dead and mouldered, and the grave-damps should not chill my bosom's burning.
Ah, the tramp of feet victorious! I should hear them 'mid the shamrocks and the mosses, And my heart should toss within the shroud and quiver as a captive dreamer tosses.
I should turn and rend the cere-clothes round me, giant sinews I should borrow— Crying, "O my brothers, I have also loved her in her loneliness and sorrow.
"Let me join with you the jubilant procession; let me chant with you her story; Then contented I shall go back to the shamrocks, now mine eyes have seen her glory!"
FRANCES ISABEL PARNELL.
* * * * *
CANADA NOT LAST.
Lo Venice, gay with color, lights and song, Calls from St. Mark's with ancient voice and strange: I am the Witch of Cities! glide along My silver streets that never wear by change Of years: forget the years, and pain, and wrong, And ever sorrow reigning men among. Know I can soothe thee, please and marry thee To my illusions. Old and siren strong, I smile immortal, while the mortals flee Who whiten on to death in wooing me.
Say, what more fair by Arno's bridged gleam Than Florence, viewed from San Miniato's slope At eventide, when west along the stream The last of day reflects a silver hope!— Lo, all else softened in the twilight beam:— The city's mass blent in one hazy cream, The brown Dome 'midst it, and the Lily tower, And stern Old Tower more near, and hills that seem Afar, like clouds to fade, and hills of power On this side greenly dark with cypress, vine and bower.
End of desire to stray I feel would come Though Italy were all fair skies to me, Though France's fields went mad with flowery foam And Blanc put on a special majesty, Not all could match the growing thought of home Nor tempt to exile. Look I not on Rome— This ancient, modern, mediaeval queen— Yet still sigh westward over hill and dome, Imperial ruin and villa's princely scene Lovely with pictured saints and marble gods serene.
Rome, Florence, Venice—noble, fair and quaint, They reign in robes of magic round me here; But fading, blotted, dim, a picture faint, With spell more silent, only pleads a tear. Plead not! Thou hast my heart, O picture dim! I see the fields, I see the autumn hand Of God upon the maples! Answer Him With weird, translucent glories, ye that stand Like spirits in scarlet and in amethyst! I see the sun break over you: the mist On hills that lift from iron bases grand Their heads superb!—the dream, it is my native land.
WILLIAM DOUW SCHUYLER-LIGHTHALL.
* * * * *
O child of Nations, giant-limbed, Who stand'st among the nations now, Unheeded, unadored, unhymned, With unanointed brow:
How long the ignoble sloth, how long The trust in greatness not thine own? Surely the lion's brood is strong To front the world alone!
How long the indolence, ere thou dare Achieve thy destiny, seize thy fame; Ere our proud eyes behold thee bear A nation's franchise, nation's name?
The Saxon force, the Celtic fire, These are thy manhood's heritage! Why rest with babes and slaves? Seek higher The place of race and age.
I see to every wind unfurled The flag that bears the Maple-Wreath; Thy swift keels furrow round the world Its blood-red folds beneath;
Thy swift keels cleave the furthest seas; Thy white sails swell with alien gales; To stream on each remotest breeze The black smoke of thy pipes exhales.
O Falterer, let thy past convince Thy future: all the growth, the gain, The fame since Cartier knew thee, since Thy shores beheld Champlain!
Montcalm and Wolfe! Wolfe and Montcalm! Quebec, thy storied citadel Attest in burning song and psalm How here thy heroes fell!
O Thou that bor'st the battle's brunt At Queenstown, and at Lundy's Lane: On whose scant ranks but iron front The battle broke in vain!
Whose was the danger, whose the day, From whose triumphant throats the cheers, At Chrysler's Farm, at Chateauguay, Storming like clarion-bursts our ears?
On soft Pacific slopes,—beside Strange floods that northward rave and fall, Where chafes Acadia's chainless tide,— Thy sons await thy call.
They wait; but some in exile, some With strangers housed, in stranger lands; And some Canadian lips are dumb Beneath Egyptian sands.
O mystic Nile! Thy secret yields Before us; thy most ancient dreams Are mixed with far Canadian fields And murmur of Canadian streams.
But thou, my Country, dream not thou! Wake, and behold how night is done,— How on thy breast, and o'er thy brow, Bursts the uprising sun!
CHARLES G.D. ROBERTS.
* * * * *
WHAT IS THE GERMAN'S FATHERLAND?
What is the German's fatherland? Is it Prussia, or the Swabian's land? Is it where the grape glows on the Rhine? Where sea-gulls skim the Baltic's brine? Oh no! more grand Must be the German's fatherland!
What is the German's fatherland? Bavaria, or the Styrian's land? Is it where the Master's cattle graze? Is it the Mark where forges blaze? Oh no! more grand Must be the German's fatherland!
What is the German's fatherland? Westphalia? Pomerania's strand? Where the sand drifts along the shore? Or where the Danube's surges roar? Oh no! more grand Must be the German's fatherland!
What is the German's fatherland? Now name for me that mighty land! Is it Switzerland? or Tyrols, tell;— The land and people pleased me well! Oh no! more grand Must be the German's fatherland!
What is the German's fatherland? Now name for me that mighty land! Ah! Austria surely it must be, So rich in fame and victory. Oh no! more grand Must be the German's fatherland!
What is the German's fatherland? Tell me the name of that great land! Is it the land which princely hate Tore from the Emperor and the State? Oh no! more grand Must be the German's fatherland!
What is the German's fatherland? Now name at last that mighty land! "Where'er resounds the German tongue, Where'er its hymns to God are sung!" That is the land, Brave German, that thy fatherland!
That is the German's fatherland! Where binds like oak the clasped hand, Where truth shines clearly from the eyes, And in the heart affection lies. Be this the land, Brave German, this thy fatherland!
That is the German's fatherland! Where scorn shall foreign trifles brand, Where all are foes whose deeds offend, Where every noble soul's a friend: Be this the land, All Germany shall be the land!
All Germany that land shall be: Watch o'er it, God, and grant that we, With German hearts, in deed and thought, May love it truly as we ought. Be this the land, All Germany shall be the land!
From the German of ERNST MORITZ ARNDT.
* * * * *
God, who gave iron, purposed ne'er That man should be a slave: Therefore the sabre, sword, and spear In his right hand He gave. Therefore He gave him fiery mood, Fierce speech, and free-born breath, That he might fearlessly the feud Maintain through life and death.
Therefore will we what God did say, With honest truth maintain, And ne'er a fellow-creature slay, A tyrant's pay to gain! But he shall fall by stroke of brand Who fights for sin and shame, And not inherit German land With men of German name.