« PreviousContinue »
On the tree of life eternal,
Man, let all thy hope be staid, Which alone, for ever vernal,
Bears a leaf that will not fade.
INSCRIPTION FOR AN HOUR GLASS.
MARK the golden grains that pass
Brightly through the channell’d glass,
Measuring, by their ceaseless fall,
Heaven's most precious gift to all!
Busy, till its sand be done,
See the shining current run;
But, th' allotted numbers shed,
Another hour of life hath fled !
Its task perform’d, its travail past,
Like mortal man, it rests at last!
Yet let some hand invert its frame,
And all its powers return the same;
Whilst any golden grains remain,
"Twill work its little hour again.
But who shall turn the glass for man,
When all his golden grains have ran?
Who shall collect his
Dispers’d by time's unsparing hand ?
Never can one grain be found,
Howe'er we anxious search around!
Then, daughters, since the truth is plain,
That time once gone ne'er comes again,
Improv'd, bid ev'ry moment pass,
See how the sand rolls down your glass.
The rain was pattering o'er the low thatch'd shed
That gave us shelter. There was a shepherd boy
Stretching his lazy limbs on the rough straw
In vacant happiness. A tatter'd sack
Cover'd his sturdy loins, while his rude legs
Were deck'd with uncouth patches of all hues,
Iris and jet, through which his sun-burnt skin
Peep'd forth in dainty contrast. He was a glory
For painter's eye; and his quaint draperies
Would harmonize with some fair sylvan scene,
Where arching groves, and flower-embroider'd
Verdant with thymy grass, tempted the sheep
To scramble up their height, while he; reclin'd
Upon the pillowing moss, lay listlessly
Through the long summer's day. Not such as he
In plains of Thessaly, as poets feign,
Went piping forth at the first gleam of morn,
And in their bowering thickets dreamt of joy,
And innocence and love. Let the true lay
Speak thus of the poor hind —his indolent gaze
Reck'd not of natural beauties; his delights
Were gross and sensual: not the glorious sun,
Rising above his hills, and lighting up
His woods and pastures with a joyous beam,
To him was grandeur; not the reposing sound
Of tinkling flocks cropping the tender shoots
To him was music; not the blossomy breeze
That slumbers in the honey-dropping bean-flower
To him was fragrance : he went plodding on
His long-accustom'd path: and when his course
Of daily duties were o’erpass’d, he ate,
And laugh’d, and slept, with a most drowsy mind.
Dweller in cities ! scorn'st thou the shepherd boy,
Who never look'd within to find the eye
For Nature's glories? Oh, his slumbering spirit
Struggled to pierce the fogs and deepening mists
Of rustic ignorance; but he was bound
With a harsh galling chain; and so he went
Grovelling along his dim instinctive way.
Yet thou hadst other hopes and other thoughts,
But the world spoil'd thee: then the mutable clouds,
And doming skies, and glory-shedding sun,
And tranquil stars that hung above thy head
Like angels gazing on thy crowded path,
To thee were worthless; and thy soul forsook
The love of beauteous fields, and the blest lore
That man may read in Nature's book of truth.
Despise not, then, the lazy shepherd boy;
For his account and thine shall be made up.
And evil cherish'd and occasion lost
May cast their load upon thee, while his spirit
May bud and bloom in a more sunny sphere.
TO A BOY ROBBING A BIRD'S NEST.
STAY, wanton Boy, thy savage arm,
Nor drag unfeeling from its nest
The chirping young, and egg yet warm,
Late by its feather'd mother press'd.
How must that feather’d mother grieve,
Returning from the clover field, To view the blood wet every leaf,
Her young with tyrant füry killd.
Think that e'en now thy mother's
O'er hill and dale doth studious run,
If haply she from far may spy
The coming of her darling son.
Then, if accustom'd to behold
Thy brow with smiles and beauty crown'd,
She sees thee carried pale and cold
Stabb'd through with many a ruffian wound.
Anguish her heart would inly wear,
Fear freeze, or boiling passion storm,
Or frantic madness wildly tear,-,
Think, Boy, of this, and stay thine arm.
(To my sister, with a spray of white flowers.) Not that thou needest plume, or gem, or flower
To make thee comely in a brother's eye
For these be gauds whose charms with usage die, Poor rainbow fashions of a passing hourSweet sister, did I choose my offering now;
But that thou may’st not go abroad undeck’d,
While one is near to comfort and protect, And grace with simple gift thy modest brow. Methinks the hand that wrought these snowy
bells, Did for thyself express their bloom contrive,
For thou art pure as they, nor do the cells Of thy warm heart one bitter fancy hive. Remember him who gave, when thou dost wear These types of thy dear self in thy brown glossy hair.
SEE you this picture? such the once bright look
Of that worn aged woman bending low O’er the large pages of that holiest book,
With dull fix'd eye, and pale lips moving slow. What earnest find you in that ruined shrine
Of weary, wasted poor humanity, Of the full loveliness, so like divine,
Of form and face she wore in days gone by. Is this the figure, wrought in purest mould,
Whose natural graces own’d such power to move! Is this the brow, the glance, whose mirror told
Nought dwelt within but joy, and truth, and love? And more than all, is this the mind that drew
Thought, fancy, feeling, from the meanest thing; And its own mystery of enchantment threw
O’er other hearts, till echoed every string ? This is strange contrast—but how such things are
Bewilder not thy watchful, wondering heart; For I will shew thee contrast deeper far,
And more enduring--yet thou wilt not start. Amid the spirits of departed worth
Who now in sainted glory, lifted high, Look down upon the busy fields of earth,
From their effulgent chambers in the sky, Methinks already, thron'd in light, I see
That feeble matron's soul to heaven upborneA floating seraph, blessed, pure, and free,
As golden cloudlet on a summer's morn!