Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his George Heath site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.
[Presentiment — Foreshadowings — A Dread — Foreknowledge
of Sorrow — A Damp on the Spirits — As the Thermometer
will sink, tho' the approaching storm be days distant.]
[Secret composition — Rhymes — A Wild and Ardent Love of
Nature and Song — But feeling at first ashamed to own it.]
Faded as fades the twilight into dark
Or as the brook into the rivers rush.
When the first bright truthful dream is rudely broken, the
flowery paradise of fancy vanishes and the real world
looks so hollow and desolate — the mountains when seen
from a distance and bathed in golden sunshine, look
beautiful indeed, but when the cloud hangs upon their
brow, and when seen nearer, look inaccessible, sterile and
Faded as fades the twilight into dark, as fades the sunbeam
in the land. — There fell a shadow on her as a blank falls
on the earth, when, noiselessly a cloud obscures the sun.
O realm of joy and love! O land of light,
O home of peace eternal, infinite,
How longs the soul so press with untried wing,
The changeless glory of the noontide skies;
To drink the nectar of thy taintless air;
To lave its prisoned feet, so weary now.
Amid the calm, belustered land of
Thy ever smiling ocean crystalline;
To wander o'er thy golden sanded shore;
To bask amid thy living growths and blooms,
To revel 'mid the light and love of God.
O far off island in the monster sea;
O longed for, hoped for, shadowed, unrevealed,
We gaze with longing, tearful eyes, into
The great dark silence of futurity
Wondering what pilot-star shall guide us there.
The spirit reaches out with yearning hands
To catch the floating weeds that speck the shore.
Wrestlings, upsoarings huge, unspeakable,
Feeling aye upward, blindly upward still
As gropes the tendril towards the larches top;
As turns the blind his blank white eyes towards
The gorgeous beamings of the setting sun,
And reaches out and laves his withered hands
Amid the soft warm volume of his rays,
And feels within a pallid reflex of his light,*
And tho' he cannot see it, knows 'tis there.
Home of the beautiful, the good, the true,
How faints the immortal 'mid the realm of day,
Worn out with watching, yearning, heat and toil,
O'er shadowed with the constant cloud of sin;
How languishes, and grieves, and toils, and pants
To reach its native purity and rest.
O clime of tuneless tides, unshadowed skies,
Unfading blooms, untroubled hearts and brows,
How dear thou art: we clasp our hands and kneel.
Our tear-damp eyes strain upwards towards the stars
Which gaze unpitying down with sylph-like calm,
How dear thou art! We love thee more even than
The home-sick exile loves his motherland:
We stand, like him, upon the shore and pierce
Far o'er the dusky glamour of the waves
Towards where we dream thou art, beloved home!
*Correction by the Author (a lunar rainbow as it was).
* * * *
Oh! all we know of beautiful and good!
Oh! all of fair that in our purer hours,
We dream might be — if other things might be —
If earth were pure, and sinless all could be —
Oh, all the holy whisperings of light,
Of glory and of purity that float
Into our souls in hours of calmer thought,
Are found, beloved, in thee — beloved, in thee!
Oh, all the lofty soul imagining,
The ideal world we revel in sometimes,
But dreamed of here, in thee are realized.
Oh! all the spirit tides that surge and dash
With panting, articulate murmur, 'gainst
This shore of flesh, shall find an entrance there.
Sometimes we wander in the world of sense
And grow enamoured of its fading toys
And clasp the finite to the infinite.
And wonder why the weary void remains.
Sometimes its toils and care around us press
And clasp us close and cumber us about
And surge us from the living path afar.
Anon its trouble-times rescinds our faith
And then thou seem'st to be so far away.
We cannot realize thee — cannot feel
That thou art ever. Clouds so dense, so close
Around thee cling: thou grow'st to be a dim
Strange shadowing of fair legend lore,
And, oh! our souls could weep, as one
Weeps o'er the funeral of his loftiest hope.
And then some vision rises on our souls,
Some sense on which the seal of God is stamped
Distinct, complete and unmistakable.
It may be sunrise with her waking harp,
Her swell of song and dance of rosy dews;
It may be sunset with her flowery flood
Of radiance down pouring from the hills;
It may be midnight 'neath the awful stars,
And then we feel thee, O, so near, so near,
That we could almost grasp thee in our hands.
Autumn. The world was sad around: the change had come.
And Nature's face grew dim, and mute and sad —
Her gaudy weeds dropped fading round her form;
Her rainbow tresses, glossy once and fresh,
Brushed back to wanton with the love-sick wind,
Hung round her features limp and lustrous.
Her face altered, yet we scarce knew where;
Or looked the same, and yet a change had come
As when a fatal blight falls soft upon
A darling mother, who has seen old Time
Notch sixty marks upon the calendar
Of years, surrounded by the lives she got.
A change falls on her frame — a saddening blank —
They know 'tis so; yet scarcely comprehend.
The sweet lips smile so sweet; the lustrous eyes
Shine forth as light. The voice, though weak, and low
Is still as full of kindliness and love.
And yet something is different, — something changed —
A stooping of the form, patter of the steps,
A fading of the crimson from the cheek;
A weary sigh, perhaps they know not what,
And yet they feel she fadeth day by day,
And know her doom is fixed. The leaves hang sere
Upon the silent tree.
* * * *
The tearful sun wading through a hideous mass of inky cloud.
* * * *
Arrived as 'twere unto a stand-still point in life —
Even as a weary and belated traveller in a strange
Land arrives at a place where two ways cross —
His feet are blistered; his heart is sad, and he longs
To reach some friendly shelter, and would fain
Start on that way which will soonest bring him
To it; but the thence untravelled ways stretch
Far o'er the desolate moor and out into the dreary
Night, and he, sorrowing, hesitates, knowing not
Which to choose.
* * * *
Akin to nature building nests in imitation to birds.
* * * *
And when the first green leaves came budding out
Upon the gooseberry arid the currant trees,
We raised him, and he gazed a long wrapt look
Through the green windows o'er the daffodil beds,
Then smiled, and said, "Please, mother, go and bring
The one small twig with tiny leaves at top?"
I got him one, and then, and then a withy twig
With little yellow goslings dotted o'er,
He looked them round as if examining
Their web and thread — the marvel of their make,
Then, kissing them, look'd up, and softly said,
"Thank God! thank God, I've seen the leaves again.
I stand alone amid the human world —
No hands fall softly on my fevered brow;
No tender voice gives shape to pitying words,
That loving, lingering eyes are frequent with,
'Tis sad to have no friend, no love, and none
To feel a passing interest in one's dreams.
The western bard says, "none was ever yet
So utterly alone and desolate
But that some kindred heart responded to
The secret beatings of his own." But, ah!
I stand alone upon the senseless hills,
Outside the centre of all human ties;
I stand upon the hills where nothing grows
But shrivelled penury and stunted care,
And where the chill wind of adversity
Beats over on my white and stony brow.
I stand and gaze upon the jostling throng —
The surging sea of faces in the vale —
The scathing, struggling mass of life and strife;
An ocean rocked and tossed by passion winds
Whose waves for evermore upsurge and sink,
Upon where crests, like ocean weeds and flowers,
Strange faces changing and commingling aye
Rise for one moment on the paly light
And gleam out spectral — fade and disappear,
While others rise — faces of morning hues —
Spring dawning faces, — beautiful and bright.
Touched into sunshine by the heart's delight;
Limned into laughter by the tickling shams
And many-coloured shells that float around —
Sweet girlish faces soft and apple bloomed —
Chaste youth and maiden gleams — crisp dusky locks,
And long brown glittering tresses stuffed and twined —
Pure faces white and innocent, wrought into smiles,
By the congenial contact with their kind,
Bring out things that raptures, gazes upon and smiles.
To see the sheeny sea unconscious of
The mass of hideous life that writhes below —
Calm solemn faces — faces ribbed with care —
Wild — agonized, imploring, torture-twitched —
Weird, hideous, cunning, stony-staring ones,
Convulsed and passion-warped and writhen —
Long, wrinkled, shrivelled, mad and vacant eyed,
Sad, patient, suffering faces white as is
The snow upon the unflinching northern hills,
Whose placid summits kiss the icy clouds —
Brooding, despairing faces, mute and blanched
With swoon-like motion bellowing evermore —
Rise, fall, commingle, vanish, swell and sink.
I stand a statuary sentinel upon
The dimless hills that skirt the plain of life,
My vision like a waif of air floats o'er
The dismal scene. I watch the constant whirl,
The eddying circle of the pied whirlpool
Deep in whose centre, ghastly horror-ribbed —
Enthroned amid the Sodom of his spoils,
Sits ghoul-eyed Death, in undisputed power
While round him float on black and putrid wing,
His goblin ministers, who do his will,
Impurpled crime, besotted ignorance,
And rabid lust and passion frenzy-fired.
* * * *
Night's pallid sentinels — the sleepless stars.
* * * *
He watched the shooting stars slip from his hold,
And glide with sheeny trails athwart the abyss,
And suddenly fade out and disappear;
And there his simple heart would, wondering, deem
Them worn out worlds, whose sands of time had ran,
Whom God had summon'd to the judgment seat.
* * * *
It was a bitter, cold, and sterile Spring,
One of those spiteful Winter-ridden times
When surly March lays down the sceptre
With a scowl, and, clinging to the dropping skirts
Of maiden April, spits his withering spite,
O'er half her length. The wind, day after day,
Howled fitfully among the pregnant trees
That waited patiently the cuckoo's chant
To hum their mass of heaving hidden life.
An almost constant rush of broken clouds
Swept o'er the wild and eerie looking sky.
Alternate storms of rain and hail poured down;
Anon the sun flushed forth with glistening rays,
And all the blue would be a moment clear,
Save here and there huge bouldered heaps of clouds,
With smoke — like billows gorged and globular,
And wool-white, flossy, upper sides, sometimes
Lay black in the pale blue long sinuous seams,
Of bushy branching mare-tail straggled far —
Besides the window he would sit and watch
The blustering hail flush white upon the world,
And then the great big bellied cloud slide off
And form a black wall on the southern rim.
And then the sunshine and the radiant bow
Limned 'gainst the sullen black with apex lost
Amid the blue that stretch'd above or gaze
Along the windy, rock-bound passages
Of the auriferous clouds, which seemed to be
Long vistas opening into unknown lands.
Then he would sigh, "The parable of life,"
And still he lingered, and the time wore on
And came the south wind with the filtering showers,
The sultry air, and distant thunder-clap,
And all things seemed to surge with prisoned life.
The birds sang, and the fickle swallows came
To skim upon the surface of the pool;
To build a nest upon the drooping shed,
To sit amid the sycamores and sing.
* * * *
Sorrow, like an eclipse hung upon his brow.
* * * *
The past seems far away, and all things changed,
Stand amid the present calm, and gaze far
Back and all the calm receding but fadeless past
Seems like a feverish-troubled dream.
* * * *
As slips the moon into the bosom of a still white cloud.
* * * *
The earth holds up its sad pale face to the soothing kiss of night.
He watched them twittering past the window, glide,
And said, "Thank God, I've seen ye once again,"
And thereupon he sang a little song —
"Thrice welcome, fragile messengers of Spring,
Gay visitant of Summer's holiday —
The most assiduous votary of mirth —
Glad herald nymph in Flora's fragrant train —
Wrapt worshipper at Phoebus' pageant shrine, —
Thrice welcome to our homely sea-girt isle,
And to thy tenant-right upon the beam,
And to our fields and bowers, our homes and loves.
I saw thee with thy tribe awhile ago,
Twittering a gay farewell, serenely glide
Into the gold of morning's misty realm.
I watched ye till ye faded from my sight.
And then I bowed my head and wept, for ah!
I never hoped to see ye birds again,
Unless, indeed, to watch ye from above,
Where never wing of yours may hope to soar.
I wondered often as the days went on
How far you were, if any friendly tale
Had chanced to chase your flight, if you had gained
The wished for port, all safe and well, and if
Your wings were very tired with winging o'er
So many hundred leagues of mottled waves.
All through the winter days I wondered oft
What spot of earth your restless wings had found —
If some gay tract amid unheard of lands —
If some rich island home 'mid virgin tear —
If some salubrious haunt 'mid unknown climes,
Where foot of man has never stamped its mould,
And never voice of mortal echoed 'mongst
The flowers festoon'd and forest-braided hills,
And not one sound disturbs its charmed sleep,
Save now and then the echoing roll of some
Enormous crumbling rocks o'ercome at last.
* * * *
What though the world should never hear my song,
Sings not the nightingale a tender song
Amid the forest shades, and 'neath the night,
Unto a slumbering world? And why? Because
God gave to it a song — and thus it sings,
Not unto man, but God, who blessed it so.
* * * *
The night comes forth with sadness, leading on
The dusky gloom, swaithed hours thro' whose darkened realm
The hearsed clouds, with sad funeral pall,
And muffled step and slow, pass on and on,
Crape-plumed and draped, like mourners to a grave;
Like sobbing women bending o'er their dead;
Like languid ghosts with hands clasped 'cross the eyes;
And e'en the day seems like a still white slab
Upon a tear-damp grave, on which one reads
The mournful legend of departed joy.
* * * *
O Fate! I only asked thee for a friend,
A tender, loving, sympathising friend:
I never hoped to win a dearer tie.
O Fame! I only asked thee for a wreath,
A simple wreath, to please my friend withal.
O Life! I only asked thee for a moderate lease,
A simple, quiet lot, ungilded by
The gloss of wealth and power, but blessed with health.
O Earth! they have not deigned to heed my prayer;
Thou wilt be kinder to me, mother earth.
And give me all I ask of thee, I know,
A quiet resting-place.
* * * *
I've seen the sun that through a Summer's day
Rode gloriously across a cloudless sky,
Sink 'mid the western mists with solemn face,
Kept off his beams, and all his power at night.
* * * *
The noontide glory, twilight's mystic calm,
The morning's flush, and sunset's ardent glow,
Are marvellous; are all Thy works, O God.
[Describe some of the Works — Grand Scenes.]
When he would pause in listening attitude,
And to his eye would spring the ready tear,
And he would softly sigh; while round his soul
Association wove its mystic spell.
* * * *
[Songs of the Day — The Night — The Seasons — Songs of the
Heavenly Bodies — A Perpetual Voluntary of Praise to God.]
My life is full of change, and hence of pain;
A beauteous object rises on my sight,
And joins the current of its life with mine —
A tender object that my soul could love.
It blooms before me chaste and glorious;
The tendrils of my heart entwine it round:
I glow to love it so, till I could kneel
And pray in piteous strains — Abide with me;
Be true, and pure, and tender, as we dream
That life and love should be; O share with me
The sadness and the dream of life; and then
So I can bear the shadow and the storm,
And live and wrestle as a man should do:
Oh, do not leave me as the rest have done!
But ah! just then it fades and leaves a pang,
A wailing bitterness within my soul,
A tomb amid the graveyard of the past;
While others come to fill the vacant place,
But only come to fade when dearest loved;
And thus my life is one long scene of change,
Until association, sighing, haunts
Sad memory's blotted page, and every scene
Reflects a shadow on the stream of life.
* * * *
No sound was heard
But the simultaneous sobbings of the wind;
And, far away amid the night somewhere,
The guttural mutterings of a cataract,
Like the dull murmur of approaching storms,
A distant clamour of awakening winds,
Or hollow murmurs of subsiding waves.
* * * *
By Time's resistless toil, huge piles that through
Unnumbered ages laughed his power to scorn;
Or crush of giant tree, that years and years
Had stood up spectral, naked and decayed;
Or wildly, frightful growl, or shriek of some
Fierce beast, or monster bird apocryphal;
And if ye sported o'er unfurrowed lakes
Unexhausted by the song of plashing oars,
Or rippling laugh of tourists on the shore;
Dull, stagnant lakes, besotted in their rest,
Half matted o'er with water, weeds, and flowers, —
Bestudded here and there with wooded isles,
Whose charming foliage braids their sombrous shores, —
Great strumpet sketches, swelling in the glamours
Of Sol's uxorious spell, whose amorous gaze
Flaps fulsomely and changelessly upon
Each pulseless breast, from day to day, or if
He wandered to the far-off orient,
Where flash the glittering spire and mineret,
And dome and mosque, and temple huge mooresque,
And floats the gay gondola dreamily;
O'er charmed lakes that drank the lustrous sky,
And azure bays that whisper of the sea,
No timorous rivulets, 'twixt banks of bloom,
And where the luminous firs thy dreams, 'mid
Great forest stretches of umbrageous palm,
And 'cross the gay festoons of creeping vines,
That span the still ravines and forest breaks,
And golden-plumaged birds with singings glide,
And 'mid the bosky vales a world of flowers,
A tropic growth of flowers luxuriates,
And virgin lilies bend o'er crystal streams,
And nod and kiss the ripples as they glide
Beneath the soft aroma-breathing breeze,
And airy groups in robes fantastical,
In all the gay romance of love and youth,
Make resonant with laughter-trills the heights,
Where glows an incandescent radiance still.
* * * *
My life seems thus to me — a hay-day morn,
With sunshine fair and calm but dim with mists,
And cauled with clouds that bulged their black-ribbed shapes
Along the glory of Aurora's bower.
A dawning dimmed, and damped with shades at first,
But mid-day up the east a rift rose up,
And from the ether calm, and blue beyond,
The sun steals forth with wonder-making power,
And poured an evanescent glory out,
And wakes to life the music of the earth —
A rapturous song of happiness and love.
Anon a storm ferments adown the west,
And silently the great black clouds steal up
And gather round the foreheads of the hills.
The wind upsprings fitfully at first,
And chafes the elements to hideous war.
The lightning glares; the thunder roars and rolls;
The rain pours down, and darkness all the day:
Even so my life was calm, but dim at dawn.
Anon a glory burst upon my life,
And o'er my tranced and listening soul there stole
The wondrous echo of a raptured song.
Anon affliction's cloud closed o'er my soul,
And Sorrow's tempest bursts around my head,
And all of joy seemed hustled out of life;
But ever, 'mid the pulses of the storm,
The echo of that song comes back to me,
And fills my life with charity and love,
And gives me fortitude to live and hope —
The one sweet drop of nectar in my cup.
* * * *
A long black shoal of clouds lay in the still
Blue ocean, like rock bow'd shore of some
Chaotic island waste, huge blocks on blocks,
Vast oblong heaps of parti-coloured shade,
And isolated lumps of gleaming quartz
Unshaped, auburn, like tufts of yellow broom,
In strange confusion tumbled everywhere.
* * * *
Rich honey falls, like dew, had drizzled on
The sheeny leaves of the old oaks and elms,
And glistened there, exhaling nectar's scents:
Each tree a posey fragrant, and a busy mart
Where myriad bees awoke a constant hum.
* * * *
To sow the country with a plenteous stock
Of noble deeds; to simplify great thoughts;
Digest great truths, and soften down harsh shapes
For lesser minds to grasp; to say sweet things,
And throw them broadcast to the winds; to heal
Sad wounds that ache, and purify the font
Of inner thought; to think for those who toil
And suffer silently, and have not time
To think the life they feel; to be the voice
That utters all the panting heart of still
Blind, patient, labour-life, throbs audibly
To dream; to raise the standard of example
Worthy of life; to soothe, with kindred hand,
With tender, pitying hand, the weak, the wronged,
The erring, suffering ones, and to the bad
Be evermore a conscience of reproach.
* * * *
The floods far up the valley blustered white
Amid the dark moon-mingled scowl of night;
The hills around them rose black-bowed and stark;
The clouds above them swayed in densest mist;
The torrents hissed and surged, and sobbed the wind,
Like the vast heavings of a deathless mind
Gone mad with agony — strong, furious, shrill;
Anon, exhausted, calm and stony still.
The tempest fiends, with fearful shriek and bark,
Lashed into madness, wrestled 'mid the dark,
Low cringing, crouched the black wind within trees
And bushes stooped, as men sunk on their knees
In awful prayer — stern, ghoul-like eyes afraid
Gleamed pitifully amid the shifting shade.
Storm demons, vapour-draped and icy-faced,
Hurl'd headlong torrents o'er the shuddering waste;
Anon the slopes precipitately tore
Horse wreaths of cataracts, whose thundering roar
Clashed with the trumpet blarings overhead,
Dimmed to the shuddering soul in shadow dread.
Beyond the hills the huge volcanic blaze
Of belching furnaces, a ghastly haze
Of lurid sallowness, now dark, now bright,
Hung on the clouds amid the western night,
An awful scoffing of sardonic spleen;
A fearful laughing of a devilish dream.
* * * *
Noon-day, and dark and drear: the tempest lowers;
Loud round the heights the wild Boreas roars;
Anon the murk breaks up; the sun bursts forth,
While foaming storm-steeds rear far up the north,
And great white bulks athwart the azure sweeps,
And on the circling hills the snow lies deep.
Then the grey steed dust thickens on the air,
And long grim shadows gather, gape and stare,
And o'er the landscape bursts the torrent fray,
And gloom and desolation rule the day.
Vast night hath vanished, and the quiet stars
Have passed into obscurity of light,
And o'er the wintry landscape big paunched clouds
Glout sullenly; the light is scarcely light;
A damp all-clasping gloom is everywhere.
My temples ache and throb, and sickness burns
Silently within me.
All my hopes and dreams
Have pressed into the shadows for a time,
And with the day — the melancholy day —
My darkened spirit holds a gloom-brow'd vigil.
How very small our little objects seem!
How very trivial our pursuits and plans!
When viewed in retrospect.
And hunger still the mouthing vapours rolled
About the dark, dumb mountains, and the trees
Grew awe smit, standing spectre still: at times
A shuddering brake about the upper leaves,
And all the body of waters waiting long
In awful calm, and durst not utter voice.
Anon! South-east the clouds upsprung above
The gaunt horizon, and an arc of pale,
White, misty light spread upwards, widened out,
And all the earth-pearl sown from east and south,
And shadow-darkened from the west and north,
Lay wondrous still and eerie underneath;
And, lo! an angel with a mist-wreathing brow
Rose, faintly-shadowed, 'mongst the snowy steam,
And grew, and grew in grand proportions, while
The upper light upon his inner robe
Of radiance dimly, subdued, down-poured.
* * * *
Existence is a child's race for the cup,
The golden cup, that 'neath the rainbow lies.
The more his.
* * * *
The darkness was rift with a noise like a cataract's fate,
And earthward swept, blinding a radiance as awful, as bright;
The island bent fear-struck, the forest, the fen, and the night.
The reef and the ocean were all
A-quiver, a-glamour, a-glimmer with light.
* * * *
She sang sweet songs in her young girlhood's days,
Around the lanes and around our lowly cot;
And she could sing — O how my lass could sing!
Youth passed among the fields o' Summer night,
And bent their heads to listen to her song.
* * * *
A dense disordered march of vapour-rack
Shot through with mists of lights, dividing wide,
Stirred o'er the mountains 'neath the southern sun.
The trees, like lank, impassioned hands outstretched,
With mute imploring gestures, rose distinct
The deadly gloom; as when some new waked soul
Lifts up strong, agonising hands for light.
* * * *
Emblems of a rushing noise.
he drowsy sibilence
Of wind-swept oaks whose robe of withered leaves
Have struck through all the blasts of winter fierce.
* * * *
I've one withered leaf hangs on an oak
Through all the change of Autumn, and the blasts
And sterile loneliness of Winter; while
The frail companions of her Summer's day
Have dropped away and mouldered into dust.
I've seen it hang a shrivelled thing amid
The fructuous opulence of young maid Spring,
Until another generation burst around
And hid it 'mid the tincture of her charms,
Until the first brown tinge had spoiled the green,
Then slip away in silence, as if 'twas
The first fruits of another Winter dearth.
So I am now a withered thing, alone;
A waif of other days — all things are changed;
I long to slip away unseen, unheard,
To those I loved, that long have left me lone.
* * * *
They tell me that the more the vine is pruned,
The deeper, richer is her wealth of fruit;
They tell me that the more her roots are pressed
And prisoned low, the stronger and the higher
The palm lifts up her head unto the heavens.
I know that more the creeping camomile
Is trodden on, the more luxuriantly
It grows; the richer fragrance flings around.
So be it with my life; the more the scythe
Of death lops off the dear ones from my stem,
The greater growth of tenderness, the fruit
Of truer, wider sympathies for all.
The loved, the sorrow-thirsty round me cluster.
The more affliction grindeth on the roots
Of my existence, still the more my soul
Wings upward towards the atmosphere of heaven,
Where vision hath a grander, wider zone,
And where the air is purer; and the more
Misfortune stampeth on the bud
Of my out-going hopes, the greater be
The calm luxuriance of my flowing thoughts;
The richer fragrance of my words and deeds.
* * * *
[Thoughts for a Prayer.]
And thou, O Virtue, with the brow benign,
O Virtue, purest spirit of the earth,
And rarest, whether in the garret high
Above the grossness of the city's sin,
Or in the valley 'mongst the villages,
Or on the mountain's brow, where pastoral toil
Makes beautiful the landscape, where dwellest thou?
O come and dwell with me, and calm and curb
Impulses, headstrong waywardness, and bring
My passions underneath thy sway benign!
O come and be my prompter — be my friend,
And travel with me under every sky,
And lead me up the path of innocence
Unto the home where holy honour sits
Enthroned, and communes with calm-browed peace.
* * * *
And I was conversant
With all the moods of nature, and to me
They seemed the shadowings of things beyond.
I thought that, may be, in this visible,
The shape, the pattern, the unravelling
Of the invisible was charactered,
If but the puny mind of puny man
Could rise above itself and comprehend
The mighty hieroglyphs. I loved the stir,
The throb, and heaving of the Spring; and then
The wide magnificence of Summer, with
The glow of suns; the wave of woods and chant
Of animation; then the mournful roll
Of mist-surpliced, and wind-wielded Autumn, borne
Athwart the hecatom of leaves full low,
And silent-like funeral; and then
The dearth and dissonance of Winter: Death
Awaiting resurrection life.
* * * *
I looked Death firmly in the face, and ceased
To start and tremble at the thought of him.
I reasoned with my coward faculties,
And quivered at the name, and conjured up
Before in array the figure Death,
In every possible shape, and drew a line
Round all his terrors and his properties,
And analysed, and pondered deep, and viewed
Them o'er in every aspect, till my mind,
Accustomed to their seeming, ceased to fear.
I chose the fearfullest of shapes, and reasoned thus:
"The worst, if it should come, is only so.
I'll steel my soul to meet the most severe.
A thousand things may hap to soothe the blow,
Or may be change the current for a time.
There are full many chances in the lap
Of Providence: 'tis probable that I
Shall draw a blank; and yet 'tis possible
That I may draw a prize; I cannot tell:
I know not, but at least Death will but be
A visitor once; why should I die and die
A hundred deaths a week? I thought, I'll work,
And do the little I may do while I can.
* * * *
The clouds lay all along the mountains, where
The night marched like the tide from sea to sea,
And mists in ragged fringes hung upon
The edge of darkness.
* * * *
Sometimes when we have sped the downward course
With headlong foot, a sadder pause falls on
The fever of our spirits; e'en as one
Who wanders in the darkness; comes at length
Unto a chasm's edge and knows it not,
But feels a sudden dread within his soul,
The presence of a danger which compels
The shuddering sense to check the giddy foot
Before the last, the fatal step is taken.
Last modified 4 September 2002