LAND of soft showers and far-extending vales,
And woodlands fanned by summer’s gentlest gales,
And streams, that glisten as they steal, half hid
The tangled brake and waving sedge amid;
Land!–where rich plenty with abounding flow,
Bids ‘neath her smile the golden meadow glow,
And from the juicy herbage–Nature’s wealth!
Draws the pure stream of sustenance and health;
Land–where, beneath Wealth’s hospitable dome,
Refinement dwells, and Science finds a home,–
In whose sweet sylvan shades the classic Muse
Her richer buds upon thy green lap strews;
With thy soft breath her tuneful whisper blends,
And to the Poet’s home her brightness lends,–
Smiles at his hearth, dispels the gath’ring tear,
And–dating all from Heaven–makes one here.
Nor fears the power of her spell will cease,
Breathed from the altar of domestic peace;1
Land! where my pilgrim foot in peace hath strayed,
And traced out many a fresh and grassy glade,
Smiling in sunlight, whilst, like former dreams,
Dimly afar the mighty City gleams;
Where o’er its lines the dancing sunbeams play,
Gilding each roof with morning’s brilliant ray–
I hail thee!–not mine own–but still dear clime!
Fair spread thy vales! and bright thy waters shine!
Thy flowers,–thy glens, and health-restoring breeze
Fraught with the song of birds, the hum of bees,
The low of kine, and voices clear and sweet,
That link us to the world in our retreat,–
These, and the grateful spell–that magic zone–
Of social pleasures o’er thy beauties thrown–
Endear thy shades, and give thy forest bowers
The tranquil charm of gay and guiltless hours.
Peaceful the day rolls here! and Friendship’s tongue–
That sweetest music!–breathes thy glades among,
Charming life’s harsher discords into peace;
Bidding anxiety’s sad warning cease,–
Twining with wreaths of hope a falling shrine,
Crowning with flowers the pale cold brow of Time.
I love thy calm! The storm-beat pinnace, driven
Before the stern breath of the threat’ning heaven,
Lies in some little bay, whose waters sleep,
Cradled by rocks from the surrounding deep:
And thus thy gentle shades seem formed to be
A quiet haven from a troubled sea.
Here Nature walks in brightness, and each star
Is as an altar, lit by her afar,
To His great name who bound the radiant sphere.
Each on its path foreknown, their song we hear
Hymning along the pure and cloudless sky
The awful story of their mystery;
For the mind tracks them, as their course they take,
E’en as with tongues of men their voices spake.
Then,–Day!–with her bright chaplet’s rosy braid,
In all her living hues of light arrayed,
Comes fresh o’er the green heath, and shakes the dew
From her light sandall’d foot, whose blushing hue
Seems as she trod on roses.–And, at eve,
With ling’ring steps, as weary pilgrims leave
The shrine they love, calm sinks the sun’s last ray,
And dovelike silence soothes the wearied day;
And Time’s swift sand in noiseless current flows,
There is nought here to break the still repose.–
Nought of the stir–the strife–the mental war–
Of that vast Babylon, scarce seen afar;
Where on the blue horizon’s distant verge,
Its cloudy breath floats like a rolling surge;
And in dim majesty its sacred dome,
As it would rise to seek a purer home,
Soaring sublime above the denser sky–
A type of Time and Immortality!–
Beams through the yellow mist, and brings again
The dreams of splendour–affluence–pleasure–gain.
And better vision:–for within thy walls,
London! the silent, secret blessing falls
Promised to those who, bowing not the knee
To Baal, ‘mid the land’s idolatry,
The scoff of science, and the smile of pride,–
The flash of wit, and talent misapplied,–
Blush not to own, to serve with humble zeal
(Impressed with self-denial’s graven seal)
The God who formed them! nor reject the hand
That beckons onward t’wards the promised land;
And, pierced for us,–sets the world’s captive free–
His hardest service this–“believe on me.”
Aye, there be many ‘mid thy darkest cells,
City, where ev’ry vice and sorrow dwells!
Who bind the harvest in no pleasant field,
Reaping with tears the increase it may yield!
Yet on the tablets of the age record–
”I and my house will humbly serve the Lord!”
Amid thy darkness bid Truth brightly shine,
Strong to redeem the evil of the time.
Vast City! from my dwelling’s quiet shade
I see thee in thy cloudy pomp arrayed,
And scarce can deem thy rush of crowds so near,
Whilst nought but Nature’s voice is stirring here!
And bees, and birds, and forest glades are nigh,
To soothe the ear and tempt the gladden’d eye.
Here the fawn looks from out the blossom’d brakes,–
From dewy lawns the lark’s clear hymn awakes;
The dimpling stream marks where the bright fish glide,
And the fair lily clusters o’er its tide;
The kine in scatter’d groups, with patient gaze,
Shine, golden-chestnut, in the sun’s glad rays;
And the gale breathes as flesh, the sky as bright,
As if no fane of Mammon met the sight!
No city on the dimm’d horizon lay
A cloud, which but a breeze might waft away:
So faint the trace of yon stupendous mart,
Where gold can buy–all!–genius–fame, and art
And yet, fair scenes! these charms so well thine own,
Live to the many slandered or unknown;
Capricious Fancy, with fantastic choice,
For distant beauties, gives her casting voice;
To the remotest shores our isle supplies
Turns the faint gaze of her long dazzled eyes;
Shuns the rich plenty of a daily feast,
What most attainable, still valued least!
When from the thronged metropolis we rove
To seek the healthful gale, and bow’ry grove;
By the far Lakes, or Caledonia’s shore,
She bids our steps her mazy path explore;
In Katrine’s mirror watch the mountains sleep,
And wander on Helvellyn’s mighty steep;
Or where the belting Severn rolls sublime
Her copious stream, full as the tide of time,
By rock and headland wander idly by;–
Or trace thy bowers–my own romantic Wye!
Oh pardon!–no false renegade to thee,
With well pleased eye these milder shades I see;–
Their’s is the grace of Nature, deck’d by art,
But thou art ever nearest to my heart!
And I the well-remember’d past should wrong,
Neglecting thee, e’en in a transient song!
Oh! who could silent pass a scene less fair,
If life had dawned, and hope had blossom’d there!
If youth’s bright flowers in gay variety
Thy soil had nursed–no matter where to die,
If happiness–that gift of early years!
Had marked each scene which contrast more endears;
If long-loved voices seem to haunt the place,
And forms there hover, which no hand may trace;
If the dread seal of the all-silent grave,
Still uneffaced by Time’s slow-rolling wave,
Had marked the lines of some one treasur’d spot
On memory’s tablet;–who that page would blot!
No;–far from my fond hand to snatch one gem
From thy soft beauty’s regal diadem:
Queen of the rock! nymph of the silent shade!
Muse of the glen where my young feet have strayed;
Though now, a pilgrim, from those paths I fly,
‘Mid all the goodly scenes that greet mine eye,
Their rich variety of vale and hill–
Thy smile is brightest–purest–loveliest still!
Away–thy banks I may not linger near;
Sweet stream! whose murmurs yet are on my ear;–
The scene around me, rich in autumn’s glow,
Untrack’d by path, unbroken by the plough,
Where all unseen the pensive foot may roam,
Is best befitting a recluse’s home.
It is a place of trees; their sweeping boughs
Clash in the autumn’s gusts, their crowned brows
Rise upon ev’ry steep, and throng the glade
With a rich mass of varied light and shade.
I love the wildness of the far spread scene:
Now lost, now caught the golden checquer’d beam,
Dancing the mossy trunks and boughs amid,
And now in depths of thicker verdure hid;
Whilst the far rolling of the laden wain,
Rich in its autumn store of golden grain,
Or the faint sound of the revolving wheel
Through the low-sighing branches seems to steal
Broken and fitful, o’er the extatic song
Of the free lark, his summer clouds among.
I love thee, Land! and where such beauties shine,
Ask not, in niggard phrase, if thou art mine?
That here the eye is pleased–the foot is free–
And the pulse healthful, is enough for me!
Yet art thou wrong’d–the pen, that seal of fame
Whose magic impress gilds or blights a name,
Hath striken thee;2 –a base and coward dart!
I fain would pluck the arrow from thy heart;
Erase th’ accusing blot with just applause,
Nor spare a lance to skirmish in thy cause!
Oh! say not health avoids this balmy gale,
Or flies the pathway down that dewy vale!
Skim o’er the plain! thread the wide mazy heath,
Bright with her smile, and fragrant with her breath!
Doubt the dry slander of the technic sage,
And, closing his, read Nature’s gentler page!
Come with me where, o’er blythe and fertile meads,
My step unfired the mould’ring abbey3 leads;
Shorn of its beams, still o’er its woods it tow’rs,
A wreck, which yet recals its prouder hours.
Gaze on the sculptur’d arch, the massive aisle,
The niche where saint or martyr seemed to smile;
(Dwellers in heaven, and only called below
Our faith to strengthen, or to soothe our woe
The plunder’d altar in its fall behold,
Once heaped with far-sought relics, gems, and gold;
Where a king knelt,4 the penance vow to pay,
And the mailed warrior came his spoils to lay;
Where the doomed Saxon, zealous for his race,
Deemed he endowed their last proud dwelling-place;
With wealth–and lands–enriched the holy shrine
Where he should sleep–the latest of his line!
Come to that vacant shrine–though–such the doom
Of greatness–here we trace not e’en his tomb!
All that this pile so changed can now record,
Is that, bowed down before the Norman’s sword,
Here the pale mother, with vain fondness, gave
Her murder’d Harold that sad boon–a grave!
Or, turning from the deeds of other days,
Towards yon deep groves direct the pensive gaze.
Come with me where, from many a foreign clime,
The varied marbles rise, the gildings shine;
To the free sky and laughing summer’s beam,
The paintings glow, the costly frescoes gleam;
And, by the idle winds of heaven laid bare,
Pomp’s gaudy pageant smiles in mock’ry there.
WANSTEAD !–thou spell to stay mirth’s flowing tide,
Warning!–to daunt the regal brow of pride,
Ruin!–which sunk in premature decay,
From ev’ry levell’d column seems to say:
“Thus human wisdom plans for endless time,
“Thus vice and folly mar the proud design;”
‘Tis good to wander through thy palace bowers,
And tread the site of thy once stately towers!
From thy thick shades what mournful thoughts arise!
Through thy far groves the sounding axe replies;
Down sinks the pile! and ruin spreads o’er all
The silence of its dark funereal pall.
Dower of woe! a rich but fatal boon,
The “gilding fretted from the toy too soon;”
Is this thy wreck, a beacon, raised to tell
How vain the wealth–the pomp–we love so well?
How nothing all the splendour and the taste,
Once redolent upon this mournful waste!
Turn to your humbler roofs! and bless your lot,
Ye, who can claim the bliss-ennobled cot!
If, ‘neath the russet thatch and lowly dome,
Peace–and her sister virtue, make their home;
Lament not thou thy board of frugal fare,
But with full heart ask heaven’s blessing there!
Thy prayer as free will come, as pure will rise,
As if through column’d roofs it sought the skies.
It is not marble–sculpture–painting–gold–
Can deck the page of life by time unrolled!
And grandeur moulders–levelled with the mean,
To warn us of the reed on which we lean.
Alas! her breast who owned this wide domain
Sighed for the calm of cottage homes in vain!
She dwelt within this master-piece of art
With blighted visions–and a breaking heart.
Turned on its pomps a faint accusing eye,
And asked–and vainly asked–in peace to die.
Come, from this scene so desolately fair,
Where through “the Grove”5 soft plays the summer air;
And wooingly the sun with ev’ry breeze
Kisses the glad leaves of the whisp’ring trees;
Gilding their trunks, and on each dewy spray
Hanging a gem that sparkles in his ray.
There the magnolia’s snowy blossoms gleam,
Amid their glossy leaves’ umbrageous screen;
There the pale orange scents the languid gales,
And starry jasmine its sweet breath exhales;
There the rich tribes of far Columbia’s plain,
In clustering bloom awake to life again;
Glow the acacia’s trembling shade beneath,
Or through the crimson sumach’s palm-like leaf;
On the bright turf a gem-like radiance throw,
And glisten on the tranquil wave below.
Trace thou that bowery vista’s green alcove!
Through the long avenue in silence rove–
Look through the woven boughs’ fine tracery,
On the clear, blue, and joy-inspiring sky!
Oh, lovely face of Nature!–who can view
Thy smile rejoicing, nor be happy too?
What heart can thy enduring wonder scan,
And see unrolled thy wide and glorious plan;
Bask in thy glow, drink in thy living hues,
Yet the deep homage of the heart refuse,
To Him, who in such loveliness arrayed
Those charms of thine, which guilt alone could fade;
And, e’er thy sin-bought doom of change began,
Saw thou wert good, and gave the boon to man!
By the green margin of that fairy lake,
List!–for the lark’s wild music is awake,
And the low murmur of the ring-dove’s note
Steals musically, from her shade remote;
The willow-spray upon the calm wave sleeps,
The gilded trout from its still mirror leaps;
Bright wings are glancing the free boughs among,
And bills of happy birds make one glad song!
It is the home of Taste; her wand has laid
A gentler beauty o’er the sylvan shade;
Bade the fair trees in richer masses grow,
With brighter hues the painted flowers glow;
No gilding strikes, no marbles court the eye,
But, rich alone in Nature’s symmetry,
To this retreat the fabled Nymphs repair,
And deem they find their long-lost Tempe there;
Hang o’er the brink of the transparent waves,
Sleep where the pendant rose its garland laves;
Or idly on the velvet margin stray,
And watch the gentle waters glide away.
Not here the pomp of Grandeur’s cumbrous state,
Here gentle Peace and polished Taste await.
His mind who planned this smiling solitude
With that pure feeling that directs the good;
On Nature’s brow the votive chaplet placed,
And loved the spot by her soft beauty graced;
Turned from the stately dome–the busy crowd–
And to a simpler shrine in homage bowed;
With true ambition earned a purer fame,
Whilst the poor bless their benefactor’s name!
And here the gentle smile of Courtesy
Still holds the spell-bound step and gladden’d eye.
Taste, which with never sated eye explores
The changeful loveliness of distant shores;
Yet, like the bee, how far soe’er it roam,
Treasures their varied spoils to deck its home;
Taste and refinement give the rosy hours
A winged speed in these delightful bowers!
Here gentle converse in soft witchery blends;
Here rank with graceful suavity descends;
Nor, with the jealousy of meanness, deems
Its splendour lessened by the smile it beams!
With true nobility of mind, unknown
To pride, not firmly seated on its throne,
With its warm smile the less distinguished cheers,
Exacting, claiming naught, the more endears;
And with real dignity’s resistless sway,
Deserves the homage that we gladly pay.
Here in the social circle gaily meet
The polished ease that makes the hours so fleet;
Wit’s harmless play, and music’s tuneful spell,
That whisper’d magic the heart knows so well!
And the sweet pencil’s ever-pleasing trace,
Which makes eternal, beauty’s transient grace,
Here bids the flower in fresher bloom and hue,
On the fair page its flush of life renew;
Whilst many an alpine height and distant plain,
Touched by the hand of genius, smiles again.
Here too, on walls bright with the ev’ning rays,
Thy magic wand of classic fancy plays
Angelica!6 whose pencil’s graceful line
Gives life and tint to sculpture’s chaste design;
Here thine Arcadian groups and attic scenes
Seem the Elysium of a poet’s dreams,
The fair embodied forms which fancy shews,
When the pleased mind luxuriates in repose,
When bright romance the ‘witching harp has strung
And o’er the bard her robe of glamour flung.
But now–’tis not from fiction’s flow’ry urn
The cup I fill! To truth’s pure stream I turn;
For WANSTEAD ! thy embowering shades amid,
‘Wake dearer feelings, deeper thoughts lie hid!
It may be from my chosen theme I stray,
On friendship’s shrine a votive wreath to lay;
A wreath unworthy of a shrine so dear,
And placed, perhaps, with failing courage here.
For what have the soul’s treasured thoughts to do
With the calm page that meets the stranger’s view?
But could I pass that spot unnoted by,
Dear to my heart, and welcome to mine eye;
And when with honoured names the lay I twine,
Refuse to gem the braid–loved friend–with thine!
My friend of many years! when yet a child,
To me life’s far perspective only smiled;
When (all my paradise of being, met
In that maternal love which sooths me yet;
That cherished parent’s dear and tender care,
Which then, as now, my ev’ry hope would share)
No tongue of change, and altered feelings, told,
No lip smiled proudly, and no eye glanced cold;
When with glad hand I loosed the silken sail,
And launched my bark on pleasure’s sportive gale;
Fearing no coming gloom on wave or sky,
No blasts unkind my fairy pinnance nigh.
‘Twas thine to point the doom of all below,
The sentence–e’en when writ on flowers–of “woe; “–
That fatal word, howe’er we hide the smart,
So deeply graven on the human heart;
That cull each bud! joy’s sparkling goblet fill
In vain! for there we read the legend still.
‘Twas thine who, as the child in stature grew,
Held truth’s clear mirror to my dazzled view;
Warned me of fancy’s too prevailing sway,
Whispered how evanescent youth’s bright day!
And told me that the scene I deemed so fair,
Had many a thorn of trial lurking there.
Instructress! from whose lips improvement came,
And study lost the rigour of its name,
Friend! still by time and circumstance untried,
Forgive the homage of a filial pride!
Forgive, if from the brief excursive lay
I pause, love’s light and willing debt to pay.
My minstrel harp in vain would ask my care,
If memory’s were a chord forbidden there;
And little worth, that heartless verse, I deem,
Unconsecrate by friendship’s steady beam.
No! vain the varied wreath of tuneful song
If the heart’s language speak not with the tongue!
Without true feeling, bright the page may be,
But ’tis a cold and fickle brilliancy,
The dazzling light of the sun’s glancing rays,
When on the glacier’s arrowy point it plays;
Oh! fairer far that sun’s refulgent lines,
Where on the cotter’s roof its brightness shines,
Gilding the village green, the ivied tower,
Tipping with light each blade and dewy flower;
Smiling in sweet repose, his glad adieu,
All nature radiant with his glowing hue.
Thus cheering, bright’ning o’er earth’s darker soil,
Affection’s sunbeam gilds our daily toil;
That arduous post we all are called to fill,
In the set battle betwixt good and ill!
Vain there the subtlest panoply of proof,
Take thou nor spear, nor buckler, save the truth.
What are thy vaunted saws–Philosophy!
Summed up and brought before the Christian’s eye?
What all the comeliness of human schemes
For living, dying tranquilly?–what!–dreams!
Impostors! swallowed by the Aaron’s rod
Of that one simple axiom–“trust in God.”
In His pure worship even sorrow heals,
And the heart lightens with the pang it feels;
Unlike the trifles that our minds employ,
Ending in sorrow, though begun in joy,
Religion pours a balm with ev’ry tear,
And reaps her golden harvest even here!
Give me one hour in holy converse spent,
For a whole age of indolent content!
Give me the friend who guides my steps aright,
Nor fears to bring my errors to my sight:
With tenderness the heart’s fond guile unrobes,
But to the core with steady courage probes,
Points, as my path, not that I wish to see,
But the unbending right , as thou to me,
My long-loved friend! whose roof, a second home,
More welcome smiles than wealth’s most costly dome.
Full long the pilgrim’s sandall’d foot would tread,
Thy wood-paths, WANSTEAD , by affection led;
But hark! yon deep and silent woods among,
Wakes the low music of the poet’s song;
The breath of his sweet lyre, on breezes borne,
Floats, where of old the hunter’s stirring horn7
Called to the echoes, that through dell and glade
Spake in their jocund tongues, from every shade.
Whilst knight and damsel, in their vests of green,
Throng’d, gay and graceful, round their huntress-queen;
And the proud stag caught from afar the strain,
Tossed his broad brow, and sought his woods again.
There now the hind, in fern-clad hollows hid,
Couches the pendant weeds and flowers amid,
Or tripping light, her velvets gemmed with dew,
With a shy wildness glances on the view,
Turns her fair neck with momentary gaze,
Then plunges in the covert’s verdant maze;
There now the pheasant’s shrilly note is heard,
There in blest freedom lives each happy bird;
The partridge brings in peace her covey there,
And fears no danger but the fox’s lair;
No thundering gun the startled echoes know,
And e’en the timid lev’ret dreads no foe.
Come! when the moon in silvery lustre sleeps,
And climb with me the forest’s mossy steeps;
There, o’er the dewy turf, all bathed in light,
The playful hare scuds from the stranger’s sight,
Or calmly pastures on the glist’ning blade,
Whilst the lone owl hoots frown his ivied shade.
‘Neath yon wide oak the deep’ning shadows dwell,
And darkly glance upon the “brocket well,”
That from the twisted roots its stream distils,
Nursed in the bosom of the shelt’ring hills;
Whilst on that brow the beeches’ lofty height,
Waves in the clearness of the azure night;
And in wild murmurs sigh the fresh’ning gales,
Through the deep arches of their leafy aisles.
Come to the poet’s study! no proud dome
Rich in the polish’d lore of Greece and Rome,
And painting’s wonders, sculpture’s magic grace,
Which bids the rock a god’s bright features trace.
No, here, beneath the “branching elms star-proof,”
Rises in peace the low and simple roof;
Birds sing above, and flowers blossom nigh,
And the blue glimpses of the cloudless sky
Through woven boughs and russet thatch look forth,
Like thoughts of heav’n amid the cares of earth!
And here pure thoughts and holiest visions come,
And find within this grot their tranquil home;
Here not the fever of excited minds
Its baleful food in headlong passion finds,
To poison turns the flower’d chalice, given
To the bard’s hand by an all-bounteous heaven,
Changing that magic, that might heal the soul,
To Comus’ mocking rod and Circe’s bowl.
Oh! better far! here o’er the poet’s lyre,
Hovers a ray of purer, brighter, fire;
And lips that glow with genius’ heaven-sprung flame,
Breathe back the sacred incense whence it came!
But ye! who with my lay have wandered on,
That lay is spent, the pilgrim’s shrine is won.
Not now, not now, beside Castalia’s streams,
I ask a fabled muse to aid my dreams,
Or spread on poesy’s too frolic gale
The varied woof of fancy’s tissued sail,
Or bid the star-led bark of fairy land,
Glide in wild music, from the lonely strand.
In Nature’s praise I frame the simple lay,
Through her delightful paths in freedom stray;
Weaving my garland, in whose braid I twine
Names, that might blush to gem a wreath of mine,
Did not true fame shun the pretender’s boast,
Exacting least where it might claim the most.
Let such forgive, that on their native plain
A stranger’s lute takes up the votive strain!
Not mine to wake the poet’s golden lyre,
Its thrilling chords, and soul-ennobling fire;
Or its sweet sorrow, like the ev’ning’s breath,
Or dew, upon the light and glossy leaf;
Not mine the power to weave the tuneful spell,
And draw a spirit from the sounding shell;
No! to my trembling fingers give instead
The oaten stop and simple shepherd’s reed!
I have no muse but Truth;–I ask no art
To write her lessons on the gentle heart;
Simple and plain in her own strength she stands,
Nor needs the weak support of human hands.
A granite column, firm and unadorned,
As if the pomp of ornament she scorned;
Truth borrows not the glare of gems or gold,
Her name, a charm that needs but to be told!
And with her,–inmates of the humble cell,
Where, linked in love, the Christian graces dwell;–
That best and loveliest, whose welcome feet
The mountain tops in rays of gladness greet,
As o’er the earth her noiseless step is stayed,
Healing each bitter wound that sin has made,
Comes;–like the rainbow o’er the stormy cloud!
Or pardon to the wretch in fetters bowed;
Or the sweet dash of waters on the ear,
Gladd’ning the desert-pilgrim’s path of fear.–
Whilst earth rejoices, smiles the bright’ning sky
Beneath thy step–benignant Charity!
Can’st thou want advocates?–Did not the voice
Which bade fall’n nature in her bonds rejoice,
And, graven on her page of trial, see
“Health to the stricken!–set the pris’ner free!”
Did not that voice, which sin’s fast bondage brake,
And bade, from death’s deep rest, the slumb’rer wake,
Without this chiefest all our gifts declare
As tinkling metal, or as tinsel’s glare?
Is there a duty, nearer than the rest,
Whose links are twined so close about the breast?
In the fair structure of creation’s plan,
Uniting all, and binding man to man?
‘Tis this!–By this to us our God has given
A portion of the privilege of heaven,
The joy of blessing!–He, who wipes the tear
From every mourner’s brow who sorrows here,
Intrusts the sceptre to his creature’s hand,
“Go and do likewise!” His benign command,
In fellowship with man, his task partakes
Wherever Charity’s pure zeal awakes;
How poor soe’er the votive cup, its brim
O’erflows with wine, if poured from love to Him;
And He is with us in the humblest deed
That serves mankind, His smile our golden meed!
If strong, this fairest virtue’s earnest claim,
Ah–let not here her cause be urged in vain!
Shall we the less her soft’ning influence feel,
Because the weak are objects of our zeal?
Because the poor–the sick–the suffering, plead
Through her, to us, in this their hour of need?
Ye!–in whose softer bosoms ought to move
The tranquil whispers of a purer love;
Ye!–to whose gentler fost’ring hand ’tis given
To shield the plant whose native clime is heaven;
Its tender shoots to bind with sweet control,
And for its future Eden fit the soul;
Upon whose bosom its soft form reclines,
Sheltered from gathering clouds, and rending winds.
Ye!–who hang o’er these blossoms of your love,
And trust to see them perfected above,
Say–can ye gaze upon your happy home,
A mother’s hopes, and quiet pleasures own;
From infancy’s soft lips that dear name hear,
Its half-formed accents blessed to your ear!
And sweet its cares implied, nor turn to those
Who bear–in poverty–a mother’s woes?
Daughter of wealth!–whose breast hath never known
Want’s bitter pang, misfortune’s stifled groan;
If,–in the fountain of thy woman’s heart
Pity and sympathising love have part,–
When such a claim we proffer–pass not by
Or turn away with cold averted eye!
Go–open Nature’s book, and she will tell
How potent is Compassion’s silent spell;
Making worth nobler,–loveliness more fair,
And talent brighter for the tear they spare.
Or in a richer volume, humbly read
The blessing promised to one kindly deed;
Not unrequited, for the master’s sake
We give the cup, his pilgrim’s thirst to slake.
And when Benevolence, with accents bland,
Endears the largess of the ready hand,
The off’ring on no barren shrine is laid,
The vow to no ungracious master paid;
But the Redeemer’s mild approving smile
Beams on the sacrifice and lights the pile.
And infancy is sacred, for it drew
A blessing down–in the assembled view
Of those first gleaners in the promised land,
His true disciples’ firm united band
The Saviour stood–with brow serene and mild,
And held amid the crowd, “a little child.”
And as upon his tranquil breast it lay
With dimpled lip and eye of placid ray,
Confiding, fearless, in his tender care,
Thus spake,–“Behold! the Christian’s model there!
Be as this babe in gentleness and love,
For such shall form my heritage above;
And whosoe’er with pitying eye shall see
But one–the least of these–receiveth me!
And from the Father’s hand, with blessing stored,
May claim the faithful servant’s rich reward.”
Go then–when charity and mercy plead
Be the heart strong to prompt the bounteous deed!
Fear not to trust its inmost whispers there,
But all its energy and fervour share;
Happy!–one bosom flower to cull at last
O’er which the blight of sin hath never passed!
Happy–that from this fount of pain and woe
A stainless stream may still in brightness flow;
Happy!–in memory’s wreath one bud to set
On which the bloom of Eden lingers yet!
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