The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Poetical Works of Mrs. Leprohon (Mrs. R.E. Mullins), by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Poetical Works of Mrs. Leprohon (Mrs. R.E. Mullins) Author: Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon Posting Date: March 17, 2014 [EBook #6844] Release Date: November, 2004 First Posted: January 31, 2003 Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK POETICAL WORKS OF MRS. LEPROHON *** Produced by Stan Goodman, Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. This file was produced from images generously made available by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions.
When, in after ages, the literature of Canada comes to be written, it is to be hoped that among the mighty sons and daughters of genius now unknown, or as yet unborn, some room will be kept for the brave and loving pioneers who “gave the people of their best,” and sang the songs of duty and patriotism and hope, ere life in our young land had ceased to be a struggle. With the growth of wealth and the spread of prosperity, will come leisure for more than material interests; and thus, in course of time, the author who has something to say will find an audience, prepared by culture and not too busy to listen to it. And, as supply is generally commensurate with demand, there will then be a literary class of corresponding merit. At least, something like this has been the rule in the progress of nations. But if those who come after, thus favored by circumstances, surpass their predecessors in literary skill or power, not less deserving are the latter who, with little prospect of reward, bore the burden and the heat of the day. This early stage in a nation’s literature has, indeed, an interest and a value of its own, which only meet with due appreciation from a judicious and grateful posterity. If it has not the rich, warm splendor of the later morning, it has the welcome promise of the dawn, and a tender beauty of its own.
In this band of pioneers Mrs. Leprohon must be conceded a distinguished place. None of them has employed rare gifts of head and heart to better purpose; none of them had a wider range of sympathy; none of them did more willing service, with the purest motives, in all good causes. And, it may be added, none of them was more happy in attaining, during life, the admiration and friendship of a large though select circle of every creed and race among her compatriots. It is in order to place in the hands of those who thus loved and honored her a memorial of what she was at her best, intellectually and morally, that this little volume has been prepared. It contains the emotional record of a blameless and beautiful life, the outcome of a mind that thought no evil of any one, but overflowed with loving kindness to all. Before pointing out, however, what we consider the salient qualities in Mrs. Leprohon’s poetry, it may be well to give our readers a brief sketch of her too short career.
Rosanna Eleanor Mullins was born in the city of Montreal in the year 1832. It is almost unnecessary to state that she was educated at the Convent of the Congregation of Notre Dame, so numerous are her affectionate tributes to the memories of dear friends associated with that institution. Long before her education was completed, she had given evidence of no common literary ability. She was, indeed, only fourteen years old when she made her earliest essays in verse and prose. Before she had bid adieu to the years and scenes of girlhood, she had already won a reputation as a writer of considerable promise, and as long as Mr. John Lovell conducted the Literary Garland, Miss Mullins was one of his leading contributors. She continued to write for that excellent magazine until lack of financial success compelled its enterprising proprietor to suspend its publication. It was some time before another such opportunity was given to the Canadian votaries of the muses of reaching the cultivated public. In the meanwhile, however, the subject of our sketch—who had, in 1851, become the wife of Dr. J. L. Leprohon, a member of one of the most distinguished Canadian families—was far from being idle. Some of her productions she sent to the Boston Pilot, the faithful representative in the United States of the land and the creed to which Mrs. Leprohon was proud to belong. She was also a frequent and welcome contributor to several of the Montreal journals. It is a pleasing evidence of her gentle thoughtfulness for a class which many persons in her position regard with indifference that she wrote, year after year, the “News-boy’s Address” for the True Witness, the Daily News and other newspapers. One of her most pathetic poems, “The Death of the Pauper Child” may also be mentioned as a striking instance of that sweet charity which comprehended in its sisterly range the poor, the desolate and the suffering. The Journal of Education, edited by the Hon. P. J. O. Chauveau, himself an honor to Canadian Literature; the Canadian Illustrated News, edited by Mr. John Lesperance, distinguished both as a poet and a novelist; the Saturday Reader, the Hearthstone, and other periodicals, both in Canada and elsewhere, were always glad to number Mrs. Leprohon’s productions among their most attractive features. She had always a ready pen, the result of a full heart and far-reaching sympathies, and, therefore, was frequently asked to write on subjects of current interest. Among her “occasional” poems; several of which are in this volume, may be mentioned the touching stanzas on the “Monument to the Irish Emigrants,” those on the “Old Towers” at the “Priest’s Farm,” those on the renewal of her vows by the Lady Abbess of the Congregation of Notre Dame, the poem on the “Recollet Church,” and the address “To the Soldiers of Pius The Ninth.” One of her most important efforts of this kind was her translation of the Cantata composed by M. Sempé on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada in 1860.
We have attempted such a classification of the poems as we thought would best show the range of Mrs. Leprohon’s powers. Under every one of the headings which we have adopted the reader will find something to profit and delight. The lover of nature will find himself carried in fancy to the fairest or grandest of Canadian scenes; he who loves to indulge in reveries of the past can with her stand with Jacques Cartier on Mount Royal three centuries ago and survey the mighty expanse of forest, destined one day to be the home of a thriving people; those whose pleasure it is to read of heroic deeds will hear her sing of ennobling courage and fortitude that blenched not at death. But by many, we think, Mrs. Leprohon will be most cherished as she tells in sweet and simple rhyme of the tenderness of a mother’s love, of a wife’s devotion, a husband’s loyal trust, of the pious offices of the domestic altar, of the parting by the death-bed that is not without hope, of the loved and lost that yet are “not lost but only gone before.” To illustrate these varied characteristics by quotation would demand far more, than our allotted space. We can, therefore, only refer the reader to the book itself, confident that in its pages he will find all that we have indicated and much more.
Just a word as to Mrs. Leprohon’s prose writings. Though in this sketch we have dwelt upon her work as a poet, it is as a writer of fiction that she has won her most marked popular successes, that she has reached the hearts of the two great communities of which this province is composed. For no less than four of her most elaborate tales have been translated into French; these are, Ida Beresford, the Manor House of Villerati, Antoinette de Mirecourt, and Armand Durand. Besides these, she has written Florence FitzHarding, Eva Huntingdon, Clarence FitzClarence and Eveleen O’Donnell. In the Manor House of Villerai she has described with a skilful pen the manners and customs of the forefathers of the French Canadian people, such as they were at the period of the great contest which changed the destinies of Canada. In Armand Durand we have a courageous struggle with adverse fortune, which is at last crowned with success. The sad consequences of secret marriage, unblessed by parental consent, are unfolded in Antoinette de Mirecourt, one of the finest of Mrs. Leprohon’s novels, and of which the French translation has lately been honored by a new edition. Of her merits as a novelist one of the ablest of French Canadian critics writes thus: “Gifted with a deep knowledge of the human heart, she finds in domestic life the subject of attractive pictures, full of delicacy and good taste, which she dramatizes with remarkable power. Her charm lies, not in any complication of intrigue or in problems hard to solve, but in a skilful working out of details, in incidents which fix the reader’s attention, in the conception of her characters, in the painting of personal traits, in purity of thought, in sweetness of sentiment, in beauty of style, in the harmony of the parts, and in the most scrupulous regard for morality.” This is high praise, and it comes from high authority. We will simply add that, with a few necessary changes, it may also be applied to Mrs. Leprohon’s poems.
From this imperfect sketch of Mrs. Leprohon’s literary life it will be seen that she was no sluggard. But we would leave a wrong impression if we gave it to be understood that all her time was passed in the writing of either poems or tales. Far from it. They constituted but one phase in a life nobly, yet unostentatiously, consecrated to the duties of home, of society, of charity and of religion. Mrs. Leprohon was much more than either a poet or a novelist—she was, also, in the highest sense, a woman, a lady. Had she never written a verse of poetry or a page of prose, she would still have been lovingly remembered for what she was as wife, as mother, as friend. It is, in a great part, because they are associated with her in these more endearing aspects, that they are the true mental and moral offspring of her very self, that those who knew her will find in them so much to prize. Alas! these and loving memories, that can scarce be separated from them, are now all that is left of her. On the 20th of September, 1879, after a tedious illness, endured with Christian resignation, she passed away. She did not live to receive the reward that was her due on earth, but that which is above is hers, and her works live after her, and a memory that will not perish.
In conclusion, we will just allow ourselves to point out that, in connection with her comparatively early death, there is a touching interest attached to some of her poems, such, especially, as “The Parting Soul to her Guardian Angel” and “The Voices of the Death Chamber.” In the former she says:
“Thy soft-breathed hopes with magic might
Have chased from my soul the shades of night.
Console the dear ones I part from now,
Who hang o’er my couch with pallid brow;
Tell them, we’ll meet in yon shining sky,
And, Angel Guardian, I now can die.”
And in the latter, which has all the vividness of an actual death-scene, as the husband and children from whom she must part are kneeling by the bed-side, the sufferer says:
“Oh! if earthly love could conquer
The mighty power of death,
His love would stay the current
Of my failing strength and breath;
And that voice whose loving fondness
Has been my earthly stay
Could half tempt me from the voices
That are calling me away.”
But at last they come nearer and sound louder, till they “drown all sounds of mortal birth,” and “in their wild triumphal sweetness,” lure her away from earth to Heaven.
The noontide sun streamed brightly down
Moriah’s mountain crest,
The golden blaze of his vivid rays
Tinged sacred Jordan’s breast;
While towering palms and flowerets sweet,
Drooped low ’neath Syria’s burning heat.
In the sunny glare of the sultry air
Toiled up the mountain side
The Patriarch sage in stately age,
And a youth in health’s gay pride,
Bearing in eyes and in features fair
The stamp of his mother’s beauty rare.
She had not known when one rosy dawn,
Ere they started on their way,
She had smoothed with care his clustering hair,
And knelt with him to pray,
That his father’s hand and will alike
Were nerved at his young heart to strike.
The Heavenly Power that with such dower
Of love fills a mother’s heart,
Ardent and pure, that can all endure,
Of her life itself a part,
Knew too well that love beyond all price
To ask of her such a sacrifice.
Though the noble boy with laughing joy
Had borne up the mountain road
The altar wood, which in mournful mood
His sire had helped to load,
Type of Him who dragged up Calvary,
The cross on which he was doomed to die.
The hot breath of noon began, full soon,
On his youthful frame to tell;
On the ivory brow, flushed, wearied now,
It laid its burning spell;
And listless—languid—he journeyed on,
The smiles from his lips and bright eyes gone.
Once did he say, on their toilsome way,
“Father, no victim is near,”
But with heavy sigh and tear-dimmed eye,
In accents sad though clear,
Abraham answered: “The Lord, our guide,
A fitting sacrifice will provide.”
The altar made and the fuel laid,
Lo! the victim stretched thereon
Is Abraham’s son, his only one,
Who at morning’s blushing dawn
Had started with smiles that care defied
To travel on at his father’s side.
With grief-struck brow the Patriarch now
Bares the sharp and glittering knife;
On that mournful pyre, oh hapless sire!
Must he take his darling’s life?
Will fails not, though his eyes are dim,
God gave his boy—he belongs to him.
With anguish riven, he casts towards Heaven
One look, imploring, wild,
That doth mutely pray for strength to slay
His own, his only child;
When forth on the air swells a glad command,
And an angel stays his trembling hand.
The offering done, the sire and son
Come down Moriah’s steep,
Joy gleaming now on Abraham’s brow,
In his heart thanksgiving deep;
While with love from His lofty and glorious Throne
Heaven’s King hath smiled on sire and son.
’Twas not a palace proud and fair
He chose for His first home;
No dazz’ling pile of grandeur rare,
With pillar’d hall and dome;
Oh no! a stable, rude and poor,
Received Him at His birth;
And thus was born, unknown, obscure,
The Lord of Heaven and Earth.
No band of anxious menials there,
To tend the new-born child,
Joseph alone and Mary fair
Upon the infant smiled;
No broidered linens fine had they
Those little limbs to fold,
No baby garments rich and gay,
No tissues wrought with gold.
Come to your Saviour’s lowly bed,
Ye vain and proud of heart!
And learn with bowed and humbled head
The lesson ’twill impart;
’Twill teach you not to prize too high
The riches vain of earth—
But to lay up in God’s bright sky
Treasures of truer worth.
And you, poor stricken sons of grief,
Sad outcasts of this life,
Come, too, and seek a sure relief
For your heart’s bitter strife;
Enter that village stable door,
And view that lowly cot—
Will it not teach you to endure,
And even bless your lot?
Virgin of Bethlehem! spouse of the Holy One!
Star of the pilgrim on life’s stormy sea!
Humbler thy lot was than this world’s most lowly one,
List to the prayers that we offer to thee!
Not for the joys that this false earth bestoweth,
Empty and fleeting as April sunshine,
But for the grace that from holiness floweth,
Grace, purest Mother, that always was thine.
Charity ardent, and zeal that abounded,
Thine was the will of thy Father above,
Thus thy life’s fervor so strangely confounded
Cold hearts that mocked at religion’s pure love.
Meekness in suffering, patience excelling,
Bowed thee, unmurm’ring, beneath sorrow’s rod;
Spirit of purity ever indwelling
Made thee the Temple and Mother of God.
These are the gifts that thy children implore,
With hearts warmly beating, and low bended knee;
Oh! ask of thy Son, whom we humbly adore,
To grant us the prayers that we whisper to thee.
Softly the sunbeams gleamed athwart the Temple proud and high—
Built up by Israel’s wisest to the Lord of earth and sky—
Lighting its gorgeous fretted roof, and every sacred fold
Of mystic veil—from gaze profane that hid the ark of old.
Ne’er could man’s gaze have rested on a scene more rich and
Agate and porphyry—precious gems—cedar and ivory white,
Marbles of perfect sheen and hue, sculptures and tintings rare,
With sandal wood and frankincense perfuming all the air.
But see, how steals up yonder aisle, with rows of columns high,
A female form, with timid step and downcast modest eye;—
A girl she seems by the fresh bloom that decks her lovely face—
With locks of gold and vestal brow, and form of childish grace.
Yet, no! those soft, slight arms enfold a helpless new-born child,
Late entered on this world of woe—still pure and undefiled;
While two white doves she humbly lays before the altar there
Tell that, despite her girlish years, she knows a matron’s care.
No fairer sight could heart have asked than that which met the view,
E’en had He been the child of sin—and she a sinner, too;
But how must heavenly hosts have looked in breathless rapture on,
Knowing Him, as the Temple’s Lord—the Word—th’Eternal Son!
While she was that Maid Mother rare—fairest of Adam’s
Whom Heaven’s Archangel, bending low, had hailed as full of grace,—
The Mother of that infant God close clasped unto her breast—
the Mary humble, meek and pure, above all women blessed.
With what a flood of wondrous thoughts
Each Christian breast must swell
When, wandering back through ages past,
With simple faith they dwell
On quiet Nazareth’s sacred sod,
Where the Child Saviour’s footsteps trod.
Awe-struck we picture to ourselves
That brow serene and fair,
That gentle face, the long rich curls
Of wavy golden hair,
And those deep wondrous, star-like eyes,
Holy and calm as midnight skies.
We see Him in the work-shop shed
With Joseph, wise and good,
Obedient to His guardian’s word,
Docile and meek of mood;
The Mighty Lord of Heaven and Earth
Toiling like one of lowly birth.
Or else, with His young Mother fair—
That sinless, spotless one,
Who watched with fond and reverent care,
Her high and glorious Son,
Knowing a matron’s joy and pride,
And yet a Virgin pure beside.
All marvelled at the strange, shy grace
Of Mary’s gentle Son;
Young mothers envied her the Boy
Who love from all hearts won;
And, gazing on that face so mild,
Prayed low to Heaven for such a child.
Though with the boys of Nazareth
He never joined in mirth,
Yet young and old felt strangely drawn
Towards His modest worth;
E’en though that quiet, wondrous Child,
Had never laughed nor even smiled.*
For even then prophetic rose
Before His spirit’s gaze
The cruel Cross, the griefs reserved
For manhood’s coming days,
And, worse than all, the countless host
That, spite His pangs, might yet be lost.
Silent and calm, He held His way
From morn till evening still;
His thoughts intent on working out
His Mighty Father’s will;
While Heaven bent in ecstasy,
O’er the Boy-God of Galilee.
* An old tradition avers that our Saviour was never seen to laugh during His mortal life.
Close beside the crystal waters of Jacob’s far-famed well,
Whose dewy coolness gratefully upon the parched air fell,
Reflecting back the bright hot heavens within its waveless breast,
Jesus, foot-sore and weary, had sat Him down to rest.
Alone was He—His followers had gone to Sichar near,
Whose roofs and spires rose sharply against the heavens clear,
For food which Nature craveth, whate’er each hope or care,
And which, though Lord of Nature, He disdained not to share.
While thus He calmly waited, came a woman to the well,
With water vase poised gracefully, and step that lightly fell,
One of Samaria’s daughters, most fair, alas! but frail,
Her dark locks bound with flowers instead of modest, shelt’ring veil.
No thought of scornful anger within His bosom burned,
Nor, with abhorrent gesture, His face from her He turned;
But as His gaze of purity dwelt on her, searching, meek,
Her bright eyes fell, and blushes hot burned on her brow and cheek.
He told her with a gentleness, by God-like pity nursed,
Of wond’rous living fountains at which to slake her thirst;
That those whose lips, thrice blessed, should a draught from them obtain,
Despite earth’s toils and troubles, would ne’er know thirst again.
He spoke, too, of the frailties which her womanhood had marred,
That priceless crown which, she, alas! had sadly failed to guard,
No word of bold denial did that woman dare to plan—
She felt that He who spoke with her was more than mortal man.
And when the twelve disciples returned, their errand done,
They wondered at His converse with that lost and erring one,
But still they asked no question, while she, with thoughtful mien,
Returned to tell her friends at home of all that she had seen.
Not only for that daughter of Samaria’s hot clime—
Child of an ancient people, of a by-gone faith and time—
Was meant the exhortation that from His lips then fell,
But for His Christian children, for us, to-day, as well.
For us, still pure and sparkling, those living waters flow
Of which He told Samaria’s child long centuries ago:
Forgetting thoughts of earthly pride, and hopes of worldly gain,
Seek we but once of them to drink—we’ll never thirst again.
’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee,
Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea,
’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn,
The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on.
And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay,
A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way—
Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow,
Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!”
Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star,
And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar,
Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed,
Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed.
Not unto Him prayed vainly those sore afflicted ten,
No! He yearned too fondly over the erring sons of men,
Even sharing in their sorrows, though He joined not in their feasts,—
So He kindly told the Lepers: “Show yourselves unto the priests.”
When, miracle of mercy! as they turned them to obey,
And towards the Holy Temple quickly took their hopeful way,
Lo! the hideous scales fell off them, health’s fountains were unsealed,
Their skin grew soft as infant’s—their leprosy was healed.
O man! so oft an ingrate, to thy thankless nature true,
Thyself see in those Lepers, who did as thou dost do;
Nine went their way rejoicing, healed in body—glad in soul—
Nor once thought of returning thanks to Him who made them whole.
One only, a Samaritan, a stranger to God’s word,
Felt his joyous, panting bosom, with gratitude deep stirred,
And without delay he hastened, in the dust, at Jesus’ feet,
To cast himself in worship, in thanksgiving, warm and meet.
Slowly questioned him the Saviour, with majesty divine:—
“Ten were cleansed from their leprosy—where are the other nine?
Is there none but this one stranger—unlearned in Gods ways,
His name and mighty power, to give word of thanks or praise?”
The sunbeams’ quivering glories softly touched that God-like
The olives blooming round Him sweet shade and fragrance shed,
While o’er His sacred features a tender sadness stole:
“Rise, go thy way,” He murmured, “thy faith hath made thee whole!”
He sat by the dusty way-side,
With weary, hopeless mien,
On his furrowed brow the traces
Of care and want were seen;
With outstretched hand and with bowed-down head
He asked the passers-by for bread.
The palm-tree’s feathery foliage
Around him thickly grew,
And the smiling sky above him
Wore Syria’s sun-bright hue;
But dark alike to that helpless one
Was murky midnight or noon-tide sun.
But voices breaking the silence
Are heard, fast drawing nigh,
And falls on his ear the clamor
Of vast crowds moving by:
“What is it?” he asks, with panting breath;
They answer: “Jesus of Nazareth.”
What a spell lay in that title,
Linked with such mem’ries high
Of miracles of mercy,
Wrought ’neath Judaea’s sky!
Loud calls he, with pleading voice and brow,
“Oh! Jesus, on me have mercy now!”
How often had he listened
To wond’rous tales of love—
Of the Galilean’s mercy,
Of power from above,
To none other given of mortal birth
To heal the afflicted sons of earth.
With faith that never wavered
Still louder rose his cry,
Despite the stern rebuking
Of many standing nigh,
Who bade him stifle his grief or joy,
Nor “the Master rudely thus annoy.”
But, soon that voice imploring
Struck on the Saviour’s ear,
He stopped, and to His followers
He said “Go bring him here!”
And, turning towards him that God like brow,
He asked the suppliant, “What wouldest thou?”
Though with awe and hope all trembling,
Yet courage gaineth he,
And imploringly he murmurs:
“Oh Lord! I fain would see!”
The Saviour says in accents low:
“Thy faith hath saved thee—be it so!”
Then on those darkened eye-balls
A wondrous radiance beamed,
And they drank in the glorious beauty
That through all nature gleamed;
But the fairest sight they rested on
Was the Saviour, David’s royal Son.
O rapture past all telling!
The bliss that vision brought!
Could a whole life’s praises thank Him
For the wonder He had wrought?
Yet is Jesus the same to-day as then,
Bringing light and joy to the souls of men.
The place is fair and tranquil, Judaea’s cloudless sky
Smiles down on distant mountain, on glade and valley nigh,
And odorous winds bring fragrance from palm-tops darkly green,
And olive trees whose branches wave softly o’er the scene.
Whence comes the awe-struck feeling that fills the gazer’s
The breath, quick-drawn and panting, the awe, the solemn rest?
What strange and holy magic seems earth and air to fill,
That worldly thoughts and feelings are now all hushed and still?
Ah! here, one solemn evening, in ages long gone by,
A mourner knelt and sorrowed beneath the starlit sky,
And He whose drops of anguish bedewed the sacred sod
Was Lord of earth and heaven, our Saviour and our God!
Hark to the mournful whispers from olive leaf and bough!
They fanned His aching temples, His damp and grief-struck brow;
Hark! how the soft winds murmur with low and grieving tone!
They heard His words of anguish, they heard each sigh and moan.
Alone in deepest agony, while tired apostles slept;
No one to share His vigil—weep with Him as He wept;
Before Him, clearly rising, the Cross, the dying pain,
And sins of hosts unnumbered whose souls He dies to gain.
O Garden of Gethsemane! the God-like lesson, then
Left as a precious token to suff’ring, sorrowing men,
Has breaking hearts oft strengthened, that else, so sharply tried,
Had sunk beneath sin’s burden and in despair had died.
O Garden of Gethsemane! “when pressed and sore afraid,”
May I in spirit enter beneath thine olive shade,
And, great though be my anguish, still, like that God-like One,
Submissive say: “Oh Father! Thy will, not mine, be done!”
O aptly named, Illustrious One!
Thou art that flower fair
That filled this vast and changeful world
With mystic perfume rare—
Shedding on all the balmy breath
Of countless virtues high,
Rising like fragrant odours rich,
To God’s far, beauteous sky.
Mystical Rose! O aptly named!
For, as ’mid brightest flowers
The lovely Rose unquestioned reigns
The Queen of Nature’s bowers,
So ’mid the daughters fair of Eve
Art thou the peerless One!
The chosen handmaid of the Lord!
The Mother of His Son!
Yes, He endowed thee with all gifts
Which could thy beauty grace;
And ne’er did sin, e’en for one hour,
Thy spotless soul deface,
For from the first thou had’st the power
God’s fav’ring love to win;
It was His will that thou should’st be
Conceived devoid of sin.
Oh, Mother dear, obtain for us
That we from evil flee;
Throughout this, fleeting life’s career
Mayst thou our model be!
Seek we to imitate the gifts
That thy pure soul adorn—
Sweet flower of beauty and of grace!
Fair Rose without a thorn!
In the hour of grief and sorrow,
When my heart is full of care,
Seeking sadly hope to borrow
From heaven’s promises and prayer;
When around me roll the waters
Of affliction’s stormy sea,
Mary, gentle Queen of Mercy,
In that hour, oh! pray for me!
When life’s pulses high are bounding
With the tide of earthly joy,
And when in mine ears are sounding
Strains of mirth without alloy;
When the whirl of giddy pleasure
Leaves no thought or feeling free,
And I slight my heavenly treasure,
Watchful Mother, pray for me!
When the soft voice of Temptation
Lures my listening soul to sin,
And, with baleful fascination,
Strives my vain, weak heart to win;
With the combat faint and weary,
If I call not then on thee—
In that time of peril dreary,
Tender Mother, pray for me!
If, in some unguarded hour
Of dark passion or of pride,
Evil thoughts, with serpent power
To my inmost bosom glide—
Ah! while I from bonds unholy,
Vainly seek myself to free—
Mary, pure and meek and lowly,
Pray, oh! Mary, pray for me!
When with Heaven high communing
In the solemn hour of prayer—
To its strains my soul attuning,
I forget all worldly care;
When earth’s voices for a season
My vex’d spirit have left free—
Still, dear Mother, near me hover!
Still, sweet Mary, pray for me!
And in that supremest hour,
When life’s end is drawing nigh—
When earth’s scenes and pomps and power
Fade before my tear-dimmed eye—
When I on the shore am lying
Of eternity’s wide sea—
Then, O Refuge of the dying,
Tender Mother, pray for me!
O Madonna, pure and holy,
From sin’s dark stain ever free,
Refuge of the sinner lowly,
I come—I come to thee!
Now with wreaths of sinful pleasure
Yet my tresses twined among;
From the dance’s giddy measure,
From the idle jest and song.
See! I tear away the flowers
From my perfumed golden hair,
Closely tended in past hours
With such jealous, sinful care;
Never more for me they blossom,
Not for me those jewels vain:
On my arms or brow or bosom,
They shall never shine again.
Dost thou wonder at my daring
Thus to seek thy sacred shrine,
When the sinner’s lot despairing,
Wretched—hopeless—should be mine?
To the instincts high of woman
Most unfaithful and untrue;
Yet Madonna, hope inspires me,
For thou wast a woman too.
Evil promptings, dark-despairing,
Whisper: “Leave this sacred spot;
Back to sinful joys, repairing,
In them live and struggle not!”
But a bright hope tells that heaven
May by me e’en yet be won,
That I yet may be forgiven,
Mary, by thy spotless Son!
Yes! I look on thy mild features,
Full of dove-like, tender love—
Once the humblest of God’s creatures,
Now with Him enthroned above!
Every trait angelic breathing
Sweetest promises of peace;
And the smile thy soft lips wreathing
Tell me that my griefs shall cease.
Soft the evening shadows gather
But no longer shall I wait,
I will rise and seek the Father,
For it is not yet too late;
And when earthly cares oppress me,
When life’s paths my bruised feet pain;
Hither shall I come to rest me,
And new strength and courage gain!
Soft and holy Vesper Hour—
Precursor of the night—
How I love thy soothing power,
The hush, the fading light;
Raising those vain thoughts of ours
To higher, holier things—
Mingling gleams from Eden’s bowers
With earth’s imaginings!
How thrilling in some grand old fane
To hear the Vesper prayer
Rise, with the organ’s solemn strain,
On incense-laden air;
While the last dying smiles of day
Athwart the stained glass pour—
Flooding with red and golden ray
The shrine and chancel floor.
Who, at such moment, has not felt
Those yearnings, vague, yet sweet,
For Heaven’s joys at last to melt,
Into fruition meet;
And wished, as with rapt soul he viewed
That glorious Home above,
That earth’s vain thoughts would ne’er intrude
On visions of God’s love?
To this calm hour belongs a sway
The bright day cannot wield—
Sweet as the evening star’s first ray,
Transforming wood and field;
Soft’ing gay flowers else too bright
And silvering hill and dell;
And clothing earth in that mild light
The sad heart loves so well.
(Written during sickness).
Oh! say must I leave this world of light
With its sparkling streams and sunshine bright,
Its budding flowers, its glorious sky?
Vain ’tis to ask me—I cannot die!
But, sister, list! in the realms above,
That happy home of eternal love,
Are flowers more fair, and skies more clear
Than those thou dost cling to so fondly here.
Ah! yes, but to reach that home of light
I must pass through the fearful vale of night;
And my soul with alarm doth shuddering cry—
O angel, I tell thee, I dare not die!
Ah! mortal beloved, in that path untried
Will I be, as ever, still at thy side,
Through gloom to guide till, death’s shadows passed,
Thou nearest, unharmed, God’s throne at last.
Alas! too many close ties of love
Around my wavering heart are wove!
Fond, tender voices, press me to stay—
Think’st thou from them I would pass away?
Daily my mother, with anguish wild,
Bends o’er the couch of her dying child,
And one, nearer still, with silent tears,
Betrays his anguish, his gloomy fears—
Yes, even now, while to thee I speak,
Are hot drops falling upon my cheek;
Think you I’d break from so close a tie?
No, my guardian angel, I cannot die!
Poor child of earth! how closely clings
Thy heart to earth and to earthly things!
Wilt thou still revolt if I whisper low
That thy Father in Heaven wills it so—
Wills that with Him thou should’st henceforth dwell,
To pray for those whom thou lovest so well,
Till a time shall come when you’ll meet again,
To forget for ever life’s grief and pain?
Spirit, thy words have a potent power
O’er my sinking heart in this awful hour,
And thy soft-breathed hopes, with magic might.
Have chased from my soul the shades of night.
Console the dear ones I part from now,
Who hang o’er my couch with pallid brow,
Tell them we’ll meet in yon shining sky—
And, Saviour tender, now let me die!
Glitt’ring balls and thoughtless revels
Fill up now each misspent night—
’Tis the reign of pride and folly,
The Carnival is at its height.
Every thought for siren pleasure,
And its sinful, feverish mirth;
Who can find one moment’s leisure
For aught else save things of earth?
But, see, sudden stillness falling
O’er those revels, late so loud,
And a hush comes quickly over
All the maddened giddy crowd,
For a voice from out our churches
Has proclaimed in words that burn:
“Only dust art thou, proud mortal,
And to dust shall thou return!”
And, behold, Religion scatters
Dust and ashes on each brow;
Thus replacing gem and flower
With that lowly symbol now:
On the forehead fair of beauty,
And on manhood’s front of pride,
Rich and poor and spirit weary—
All receive it, side by side.
And the hearts that throbbed so wildly
For vain pleasure’s dreams alone,
For its gilded gauds and follies,
Now at length have calmer grown.
Oh! that voice with heavenly power
Through each restless breast hath thrilled,
And our churches, late so lonely,
Now with contrite hearts are filled.
Fair and lovely are our altars
With their starry tapers bright,
With dim clouds of fragrant incense,
Fair young choristers in white,
And the dying gleam of day-light,
With its blushing crimson glow,
Streaming through the lofty casement
On the kneeling crowd below.
Tis an hour of golden promise
For the hearts that secret burn
With contrite and anxious wishes
To the Father to return;
For a Saviour, full of mercy,
On His altar-throne is there,
Waiting but that they should ask Him,
For response to whispered prayer.
In days long gone by it was the custom of the Indian warriors of the forest to assemble at the Great Cataract and offer a human sacrifice to the Spirit of the Falls. The offering consisted of a white canoe, full of ripe fruits and blooming flowers, which was paddled over the terrible cliff by the fairest girl of the tribe. It was counted an honor not only by the tribe to whose lot it fell to make the costly sacrifice, but even by the doomed maiden herself. The only daughter of a widowed Chief of the Seneca Indians was chosen as a sacrificial offering to the Spirit of Niagara. Tolonga, the Great Elk, was bravest among the warriors, and devotedly attached to his child, but, when the lot fell on her, he crushed down in the pride of Indian endurance the feelings of grief that filled his bosom. The eventful night arrived. The moon arose and shone brightly down oh the turmoil of Niagara, when the White Canoe and its precious freight glided from the bank and swept out into the dread rapid. The young girl calmly steered towards the centre of the stream, when suddenly another canoe shot forth upon the water and, under the strong impulse of the Seneca Chief, flew like an arrow to destruction. It overtook the first; the eyes of father and child met in a parting gaze of love, and then they plunged together over the Cataract into Eternity.
A Legend of Niagara Falls
MINAHITA, Indian Maiden.
OREIKA, Her Friend.
TOLONGA, Minahita’s Father.
DOLBREKA, Indian Chief.
In summer’s rare beauty the earth is arrayed,
Gay flowers are blooming on hill-side and glade,
Embalming the air with sweet subtle perfume,
Enriching the earth with their beautiful bloom;
The moss, like green velvet, yields soft ’neath the tread,
The forest trees wave in luxuriance o’er head,
Whilst fresh dawning beauties of sky, wood and plain,
Proclaim that fair summer is with us again.
Let the choice, then, be made of the thrice-favored one
Whom Niagara’s Spirit will soon call his own!
At morn, when the sun wakes refulgent on high
In billows of gold, hooding earth, sea and sky,
How glorious the music that welcomes his rays,
One loud choral song of rejoicing and praise:
The clear notes of birds and the soft rustling breeze
The murmur of waters, the sighing of trees,
And the thousand sweet voices, so tender and gay,
That haunt our old woods through the bright summer day.
Let the choice, then, be made of the thrice-favored one
Whom Niagara’s Spirit will soon call his own!
Ah! yes, the time and hour have come
To choose a fitting bride
For that Spirit who from his wat’ry home,
Speaks forth in might and pride;
Whilst the zephyrs toy with his sapphire waves,
He would bear her down to his crystal caves.
Seek the woods for buds to deck her brow;
And offerings must she bring,
Ripe blooming fruits and fragrant bough,
As gifts for the River King—
Gifts of earth’s loveliest things, while she,
’Mid our maidens fair, must the fairest be!
The Sachems all have spoken, and the lot has fallen on one
As fair as any wild rose that blossoms ’neath the sun,
Her eyes, like starlit waters, are liquid, soft and clear;
Her voice like sweetest song-bird’s in the springtime of the year;
No merry fawn that lightly springs from forest tree to tree
Hath form so light and graceful, or footstep half as free;
Like plumage of the raven is her heavy silken hair,
Which she binds with scarlet blossoms—with strings of wampum rare;
And the crimson hue that flushes her soft though dusky cheek
Is like the sunbeam’s parting blush upon the mountain peak.
O, never since Niagara first thundered down in pride
Had the Spirit of its waters so beautiful a bride!
Chorus of Indian Women.
Ah, Minahita! sister fair,
What lot with thine can now compare?
’Mid all the daughters of our race
Peerless in beauty and in grace.
More blest than if in wifehood’s pride
Thou stood’st at some young warrior’s side,
Or with fair children round thy knee
Didst crown thy young maternity!
My heart is throbbing with solemn joy,
May no earthly thoughts that bliss alloy,
By Sachems chosen and tribesmen all—
I gladly lead, and obey the call!
Ah, spoken well, my daughter, and worthy of thy sires,
Who’ve ever held an honored place around our council fires!
My foot treads earth more proudly, my heart beats quick and high,
To know that, like a Sachem’s child, my daughter goes to die!
Though Mamtou denied me a son to glad mine age,
To follow in the warpath when our foes fierce combat wage.
I offer him, with grateful heart, thanksgiving deep and warm
That he has placed a warrior’s heart within thy fragile form.
Just sixteen spring-tides hast thou seen
Beneath the forest shade,
And ever sweet and mild of mien,
Like sunbeam hast thou played
Around my widowed home and heart—
Yet thou and I must quickly part.
As firmly as the towering oak,
Deep rooted in the earth,
Can brave the storm and thunder stroke,
So, even from thy birth,
Deep love for thee hath held my heart,
And yet, ungrieving, must we part.
And closely as the ivy clings
Around some forest tree,
Till from its glossy em’rald rings,
No bough or limb is free,
So art thou twined around my heart,
And yet, rejoicing, must we part!
Alas, my sister, do not chide
That thoughts of grief, instead of pride,
Within my heart lie deep;
Fain would I speak with mien elate
Of thy predestined glorious fate,
And yet I can but weep.
When come the short’ning Autumn days,
While gathering in the golden maize,
I’ll miss thy tender voice,
And when our merry maidens say:
“Oreika, join us in our play,”
How can I then rejoice?
And, oh! I will not grieve alone,
For when another moon has flown,
And Osseo will return,
Hopeful, to seek thee for his bride,
How deeply will his heart be tried
When he thy fate shall learn!
Enough, my sister, wouldst make me sad,
When my smile should be bright and my heart be glad?
You know ’tis an honor to sire and race,
And to shrink from my lot would bring dire disgrace.
For no earthly love must I weakly pine,
I yield to a suitor of rank divine.
To my girlhood’s love must I say farewell—
To the dreams that were sweeter than words can tell!
The chill embrace of the waters cold,
Clasping my form in their viewless hold,
Laving my brow in their terrible play,
Tangling my locks with their glittering spray,
Freezing my warm blood, stifling my breath,
With awful kisses that bring but death,—
To such endearments I now must go
Where my Spirit bridegroom dwells below.
’Tis fearful, alas! and must it be?
What would’st thou?
Flee, oh quickly flee!
Through secret paths seek Osseo’s side,
Who will gladly welcome and shield his bride;
To far-off lands thou with him canst fly,
In mutual love to live and die!
Thou forgettest, my sister! An Indian maid
Not of death, but dishonor, should be afraid.
Thou did’st couple love with dear Osseo’s name,
But love would be short-lived if joined with shame!
My father bowed ’neath dark disgrace,
My name a bye-word to all my race,
I would find no joy in my rescued life,
Dogged by remorse and inward strife,
Till, hiding myself from all friendly ken,
I should die, despised by both Gods and men.
No, sister, better an early grave
In yon lone dell where the pine-trees wave;
Better a fiery death at the stake,
While foes fierce sport of the captive make,
With cruelest tortures that man can frame,—
Thrice better, than life with dishonored name!
TOLONGA, MINAHITA, DOLBREKA.
Daughter of a dauntless race,
Now draws nigh the solemn hour,
Which, O maid of childlike grace,
Well might make the bravest cower!
Thundering down the awful steep,
Hear Niagara’s waters leap,
Tossing, surging, flecked with foam,
Child, my child, they call thee home!
I am ready! See, I wear
Wampum belt and garments gay;
Mark my smoothly braided hair,
Decked with shells and wild flower spray,
My wrists their silver circlets bear,
Polished with maiden’s patient care;
Unshrinking from the stormy foam,
I’m ready for my wild, chill home!
Girl, thou art a worthy bride
For Niagara’s fierce King!
Men will think of thee with pride,
Maidens will thy courage sing,
Sachems tell of thee with praise,
Warriors on thee proudly gaze,
While pure and fair as ocean foam,
Thou passest to the Spirit’s home.
Chorus of Indian Braves.
We have launched the light canoe
Upon Niagara’s waters blue,
’Tis white and bright as an ocean shell,
Swifter than the sea gull’s wing,
Worthy the hand that will guide it well,
Amid the foam wreaths the wild waves fling.
Chorus of Indian Women.
And it is freighted with fragrant flowers,
The brightest culled ’mid our forest bowers,
Fruits ripened beneath the sun’s warm rays—
And silky tassels of golden maize,
And with them the maid who is doomed to bring
These gifts to the pitiless Cataract King.
Chorus of Male and Female Voices.
Fair are the flowers, but she’s fairer far,
Lovelier she than the Evening Star,
Pure as the moonbeams that tremulous shine,
Flooding the earth with their sheen divine.
Oh weary heart! I have wandered lone
Close to Niagara’s awful throne;
I’ve gazed till his roar and fearful might
Have dulled mine ear and blinded my sight;
I’ve heard the hoarse and terrible song
Of the mountain waves as they rolled along,
And plunged down the watery precipice steep,
Like white-robed furies that whirl and leap.
I thought of my child’s fair form and face
Grasped in their stormy, cruel embrace,
The tender arms that have clasped me oft
In dying agony flung aloft,
The delicate limbs a helpless prey
To their maddened rage, or demon play;
And I turned aside in anguish wild.
Oh, wretched Father! My child, my child!
But I must be calm and act a part,
Nor show the fierce grief that rends my heart;
A Seneca chief must learn to hide
His pangs ’neath a mask of stoic pride.
Hear me, Thou great and glorious One!
Protector of my race!
Whom in the far-off Spirit Land
I shall soon see face to face;
I ask Thee, humbly bending
Before Thy Mighty Throne,
To cleanse me from all stain of sin
And make me soon thine own:
My people guard and bless,
All wrongs and ills redress,
Their enemies subdue,
And for the youth, the life, I freely yield,
Give them peace, plenty, victory in the field,
And honest hearts and true.
My daughter, let me press thee
Close to my yearning heart,
Ah! once more softly bless thee
Ere we for ever part!
I adjure thee not to falter
In the trial now so nigh,
But, as victim on the altar,
A Sachem’s daughter die.
Father, courage will be given
In that awful hour supreme,
When all earth’s ties are riven,
And I float down death’s dark stream.
Yes, courage not to falter
In the trial now so nigh,
But, as victim on the altar,
A Sachem’s daughter die.
One lingering, last, farewell embrace I take!
Yes, one for thine and one for Osseo’s sake.
How solace him beneath his trial sore?
Tell him I loved him well, but honor more.
The moon is gilding the Cataract’s brow,
And tinging his foam-robe as white as snow,—
Like silver it gleams
’Neath the bright moon beams,
Whilst soft and slow
The waters flow;
For his lovely bride he is waiting now!
The hour is come! despair—despair!
Girl, such idle words forbear!
In the Spirit Land we shall meet again,
Where unknown are parting and grief and pain.
Ah! the cruel rite is over
And the fearful Spirit Lover
Clasps the dear pearl of our race;
Like the blushing summer flower,
Or the clouds of sunset hour,
She has passed, and left no trace!
Thou wast not there? Then listen, child,
Unto a tale of sorrow wild,
That has o’erwhelmed with gloom and grief
Heart of warrior brave and chief:
Rose from the banks the sound of song,
Lights were gleaming the trees among,
All were awaiting the hour of fate
When the white canoe and precious freight
From shore swept out and swiftly sped
Into the boiling rapid dread—
Ah me! in that last moment drear
How looked she?
Tranquil, without fear,
But steered her course with quiet mien,
And the stately grace of a maiden Queen.
Then rose beneath the moon’s full rays
Glad voices, blent in love and praise,
Till, sudden as arrow from the bow,
Flashed ’mid the rapid’s dark, swift flow
Another bark—it held—oh grief!
Tolonga, our brave, Beloved chief.
What! her father, didst thou say?
Our chief—our Sachem?
’Neath his strong arm the bark swift flew;
It soon o’ertook the White Canoe,
And then, amid our outcries wild
The eyes of father and of child
Met in one long, last, loving look,
That ne’er each other’s glance forsook
Till they glided o’er Niagara’s steep,
And plunged into the darkness deep.
Ah! never since first with thundering roar
Niagara shook the trembling shore,
Hath earth bestowed him such offering bright,
As he’s clasped to his mighty breast to-night.
I have passed the day ’mid the forest gay,
In its gorgeous autumn dyes,
Its tints as bright and as fair to the sight
As the hues of our sunset skies;
And the sun’s glad rays veiled by golden haze,
Streamed down ’neath its arches grand,
And with magic power made scene and hour
Like a dream of Faerie Land.
The emerald sheen of the maple green
Is turned to deep, rich red;
And the boughs entwine with the crimson vine
That is climbing overhead;
While, like golden sheaves, the saffron leaves
Of the sycamore strew the ground,
’Neath birches old, clad in shimmering gold,
Or the ash with red berries crowned.
Stately and tall, o’er its sisters all,
Stands the poplar, proud and lone,
Every silvery leaf in restless grief
Laments for the summer flown;
While each oak and elm of the sylvan realm,
In brilliant garb arrayed,
With each other vie, ’neath the autumn sky,
In beauty of form and shade
When wearied the gaze with the vivid blaze
Of rich tints before it spread—
Gay orange and gold, with shades untold
Of glowing carmine and red—
It can turn ’mid the scene to the sombre green
Of the fir, the hemlock, the pine,
Ever-keeping their hue, and their freshness, too,
’Mid the season’s swift decline.
Though the bird’s sweet song, that the summer long
Hath flowed so sweet and clear
Through the cool, dim shades of our forest glades,
No longer charms the ear,
A witching spell, that will please as well
As his glad notes, may be found
In the solemn hush, or the leaves’ soft rush,
As they thickly strew the ground.
For, though they tell of summer’s farewell,
Of their own decay and doom,
Of the wild storm-cloud and the snow’s cold shroud,
And the days of winter’s gloom,
The heart must yield to the power they wield,—
Alike tender, soothing, gay—
The beauties that gleam and that reign supreme
In our woods, this autumn day.
Come to the casement, we’ll watch the snow
Softly descending on earth below,
Fairer and whiter than spotless down
Or the pearls that gleam in a monarch’s crown,
Clothing the earth in its robe’s bright flow;
Is it not lovely—the pure white snow?
See, as it falls o’er the landscape wide,
How kindly it seeks all blots to hide,
Shrouding each black, unsightly nook,
The miry banks of the little brook,
Robing bare branches in ermine white,
Making all lovely, spotless and bright.
In the farm-yard see with what magic skill
Its marvels of beauty it works at will:
The well-house now is a fairy hall,
And the rough, rude fence is a marble wall;
While gates and hillocks where barn fowl ranged
To ramparts and bastions now are changed.
How softly it falls—nor breath, nor sound,
Though four feet high it should pile the ground,
Though it change the face of wood and field,
With skill that no mortal could ever wield;
Yet, as it falls, not a murmur low—
The noiseless, silent, white-winged snow!
See, in the rays of the morning bright,
How it blushes beneath the sun’s red light;
How its diamond crystals gleam and shine,
Clearer than those of Golconda’s mine;
Though the wintry winds may with anger blow,
Surely all love the beautiful snow.
The rose-tints have faded from out of the West,
From the Mountain’s high peak, from the river’s broad breast.
And, silently shadowing valley and rill,
The twilight steals noiselessly over the hill.
Behold, in the blue depths of ether afar,
Now softly emerging each glittering star;
While, later, the moon, placid, solemn and bright,
Floods earth with her tremulous, silvery light.
Hush! list to the Whip-poor-will’s soft plaintive notes,
As up from the valley the lonely sound floats,
Inhale the sweet breath of yon shadowy wood
And the wild flowers blooming in hushed solitude.
Start not at the whispering, ’tis but the breeze,
Low rustling, ’mid maple and lonely pine trees,
Or willows and alders that fringe the dark tide
Where canoes of the red men oft silently glide.
See, rising from out of that copse, dark and damp,
The fire-flies, each bearing a flickering lamp!
Like meteors, gleaming and streaming, they pass
O’er hillside and meadow, and dew-laden grass,
Contrasting with ripple on river and stream,
Alternately playing in shadow and beam,
Till fullness of beauty fills hearing and sight
Throughout the still hours of a calm summer’s night.
* In process of demolition when this poem was written. The Recollect Friars purchased the ground on which the church in question was built in 1692, and on it they constructed a temporary chapel. The actual edifice, however, was not erected till about the year 1706. The order is now extinct. After the conquest their property was confiscated by the Government, and subsequently exchanged for St. Helen’s Island, then belonging to Baron Grant. For a time the Recollect Church served as a place of worship for both Protestants and Catholics, and for many years was exclusively devoted to the use of the Irish Catholics.
Quickly are crumbling the old gray walls,
Soon the last stone will be gone,
The olden church of the Recollects,
We shall look no more upon;
And though, perchance, some stately pile
May rise its place to fill,
With carven piers and lofty towers,
Old Church, we shall miss thee still!
Though not like Europe’s ancient fanes,
Moss-grown and ivied o’er
Bearing long centuries’ darkened stains
On belfry and turrets hoar—
A hundred years and more hast thou
Thy shadow o’er us cast;
And we claim thee in our country’s youth
As a land-mark of the past.
Thou’st seen the glittering Fleur-de-lys
Fling out its folds on high
From old Dalhousie’s* fortress hill,
Against the morning sky;
And, later, the gleam of an English flag
From its cannon-crowned brow,—
That flag which, despite the changing years,
Floateth proudly o’er us now.
Thou’st seen the dark-browed Indians, too,
Thronging each narrow street,
In their garb so strangely picturesque,
Their gaily moccassined feet;
And beside them gentle helpmates stood,
Dark-hued, with soft black eyes,
In blanket robes, with necklets bright—
Large beads of brilliant dyes.
Thou’st seen our city far outgrow
The bounds of its ancient walls,
In beauty growing and in wealth,
And free from early thralls,
Till round Mount Royal’s queenly heights,
That stretch toward the sky,
In pomp and splendor, beauteous homes
Of luxury closely lie.
Within this time-worn portal prayed
The sons of differing creeds,
And unto God, in various ways,
Made known their various needs.
Better dwell thus in brotherly love,
All seeking one common weal,
Than stir the stormy waters of strife
Through hasty and misjudged zeal.
And for many years the exiles lone,
Who landed upon our shore
From Erin’s green and sunny isle,
Did here their God adore;
And laid their aching sad hearts bare
To His kind, pitying gaze,
And prayed to Him in this new strange land
For better and brighter days.
And humble Recollect Friars here
Their matins recited o’er,
And glided with noiseless, sandalled feet
O’er the chapel’s sacred floor;
Again, at the close of day they met,
Amid clouds of incense dim
And the softened, rays of tapers’ blaze,
To sing their evening hymn.
They and their order have passed away
From among their fellow-men.
Little recked they for earth’s joys or gains,
On heaven bent their ken.
The lowly church that has borne their name
So faithfully to the last,
Linked with our city’s young days, like them,
Will henceforth be of the past.
* Levelled a few years after the Conquest. It occupied that part
of East Montreal now known as Dalhousie Square.
We welcome thy coming, bright, sunny Spring,
To this snow-clad land of ours,
For sunshine and music surround thy steps,
Thy pathway is strewn with flowers;
And vainly stern Winter, with brow of gloom,
Attempted for awhile
To check thy coming—he had to bow
To the might of thy sunny smile.
A touch of thy wand, and our streams and lakes
Are freed from his tyrant sway,
And their clear blue depths in ripples of gold
Reflect back the sun’s bright ray;
Whilst e’en the rude rocks that their waters fret
Put on mosses green and bright,
And silent, deep homage render up now,
Sweet Spring, to thy magic might.
And what words could tell half the wond’rous change
Thou mak’st in our forest bowers,
Replacing the snow with soft velvet sward,
Cold crystals with glowing flowers;
Clothing the leafless, unsightly trees
In rich garb of satin sheen,
And robing the meadows and woodlands wide
In thine own soft tender green.
And the insect life that thy warm breath wakes
Now people earth and air;
And the carolling birds have come back to dwell
In the charms of thy presence fair.
Need we wonder all hearts with joyous beat
Watch the changes thou dost bring,
And, with smiles of gladness, welcome thee
To our land, bright, sunny Spring?
Nay tell me not that, with shivering fear,
You shrink from the thought of wintering here;
That the cold intense of our winter-time
Is severe as that of Siberian clime,
And, if wishes could waft you across the sea,
You, to-night, in your English home would be.
Remember, no hedges there now are bright
With verdure, or blossoms of hawthorn white;
In damp, sodden fields or bare garden beds
No daisies or cowslips show their heads;
Whilst chill winds and skies of gloomy hue
Tell in England, as elsewhere, ’tis winter too.
Away with dull thoughts! Raise your brooding eyes
To yonder unclouded azure skies;
Look round on the earth, robed in bridal white,
All glittering and flashing with diamonds bright,
While o’er head, her lover and lord, the sun,
Shines brightly as e’er in summer he’s done.
In a graceful sleigh, drawn by spirited steed,
You glide o’er the snow with lightning speed,
Whilst from harness, decked with silvery bells,
sweet showers the sound on the clear air swells;
And the keen bracing breeze, with vigor rife,
Sends quick through your veins warm streams of life.
Or, on with your snow-shoes, so strong and light,
Thick blanket-coat, sash of scarlet bright,
And, away o’er the deep and untrodden snow,
Through wood, o’er mountain, untrammelled to go
Through lone, narrow paths, where in years long fled,
The Indian passed with light active tread.
What! dare to rail at our snow-storms, why
Not view them with poet’s or artist’s eye?
Watch each pearly flake as it falls from above,
Like snowy plumes from some spotless dove,
Clothing all objects in ermine rare,
More sure than the bright robes which monarchs wear.
Have you not witnessed our glorious nights,
So brilliant with gleaming Northern lights,
Quick flashing and darting across the sky
While far in the starry heavens on high
The shining moon pours streams of light
O’er the silent earth, robed in dazzling white.
There are times, too, our woods show wond’rous sights
Such as are read of in “Arabian Nights,”
When branch and bough are all laden with gems
Bright as those that deck Eastern diadems;
And the sun sheds a blaze of dazzling light
On ruby and opal and diamond bright.
Only tarry till Spring on Canadian shore,
And you’ll rail at our Tenters, then, no more;
New health and fresh life through your veins shall glow,
Spite of piercing winds—spite of ice and snow,
And I’d venture to promise, in truth, my friend,
’Twill not be the last that with us you’ll spend.
Well have Canadians chosen thee
As the emblem of their land,
Thou noble, spreading maple tree,
Lord of the forest grand;
Through all the changes Time has made,
Thy woods so deep and hoar
Have given their homesteads pleasant shade,
And beauty to their shore.
Say, what can match in splendor rare
Thy foliage, brightly green,
Thy leaves that wave in summer’s air,
Glossy as satin sheen,
When Spring returns the first art thou,
On mountain or in vale,
With springing life and budding bough,
To tell the joyous tale.
In Autumn’s hours of cheerless gloom,
How glowing is the dye
Of the crimson robe thou dost assume,
Though it only be to die;
Like the red men who, long years ago,
Reposed beneath thy shade,
And wore a smiling lip and brow
On the pyre their foes had made.
And e’en in Winter fair art thou,
With many a brilliant gem,
That might adorn fair lady’s brow,
Or deck a diadem;
And better than thy beauty rare,
Or shade thou givest free,
The life-stream of thy branches fair
Thou gen’rous, brave old tree!
Warmly we pray no deed of harm
May fright thy peaceful shade,
May’st thou ne’er see in war’s alarm
Contending foes arrayed,
But, smiling down on peasants brave,
On honest tranquil toil,
Thy branches ever brightly wave,
Above a happy soil.
How hushed and still are earth and air,
How languid ’neath the sun’s fierce ray—
Drooping and faint—the flowrets fair,
On this hot, sultry, summer day!
Vainly I watch the streamlet blue
That near my cottage home doth pass,
No ripple stirs its azure hue,
Still—waveless, as a sheet of glass
And if I woo from yonder trees
A breath of coolness for my brow,
They’ve none to give—not e’en a breeze
Rustles amid their foliage now;
Yes, hush! there stirred a leaf, but no,
Tis only some poor, panting bird,
With silenced note, head drooping low,
That ’mid the shady green boughs stirred.
Oh dear! how sultry! vain to seek
To while the time with pleasant book,
Soon drowsy head and crimsoned cheek
Oblivious o’er its pages droop—
And motion is beyond my power,
While breathing this hot, scorching air,
It wearies me to raise the flowers,
That lie so close beside my chair.
See stealing, wearied from their play,
The flushed and languid children come,
Saying that on so hot a day
They’d much prefer to stay at home.
Themselves upon the ground they throw,
Cheeks pillowed on each rounded arm—
And fall asleep soon, murmuring low,
And wondering “why it is so warm?”
If yonder patient sheep and kine,
Close shrinking from the sun’s hot flame,
Had man’s gift—“power of speech divine,”
They surely would repeat the same—
Each blade of grass, each fainting flower,
Would whisper to the shrubs and trees,
How much they longed for evening’s hour,
With cooling breath and grateful breeze.
Earnest and sad the solemn tale
That the sighing winds give back,
Scatt’ring the leaves with mournful wail
O’er the forest’s faded track;
Gay summer birds have left us now
For a warmer, brighter clime,
Where no leaden sky or leafless bough
Tell of change and winter-time.
Reapers have gathered golden store
Of maize and ripened grain,
And they’ll seek the lonely fields no more
Till the springtide comes again.
But around the homestead’s blazing hearth
Will they find sweet rest from toil,
And many an hour of harmless mirth
While the snow-storm piles the soil.
Then, why should we grieve for summer skies—
For its shady trees—its flowers,
Or the thousand light and pleasant ties
That endeared the sunny hours?
A few short months of snow and storm,
Of winter’s chilling reign,
And summer, with smiles and glances warm,
Will gladden our earth again.
On proud Mount Royal’s Eastern side,
In view of St. Lawrence’s silver tide,
Are two stone towers of masonry rude,
With massive doors of time-darken’d wood:
Traces of loop-holes are in the walls,
While softly across them the sun-light falls;
Around broad meadows, quiet and green,
With grazing cattle—a pastoral scene.
Those towers tell of a time long past,
When the red man roamed o’er regions vast,
And the settlers—men of bold heart and brow—
Had to use the sword as well as the plough;
When women (no lovelier now than then)
Had to do the deeds of undaunted men,
And when higher aims engrossed the heart
Than study of fashions or toilet’s art.
A hardy race from beyond the sea
Were those ancient founders of Ville Marie!
The treacherous Sioux and Iroquois bold
Gathered round them as wolves that beset a fold,
Yet they sought their rest free from coward fears;
Though war-whoops often reached their ears,
Or battle’s red light their slumbers dispel,—
They knew God could guard and protect them well.
Look we back nigh two hundred years ago:
Softly St. Lawrence bright waters flow,
Shines the glad sun on each purple hill,
Rougemont, St. Hilary, Boucherville,
Kissing the fairy-like isle of St Paul’s,
Where, hushed and holy, the twilight falls,
Or St. Helen’s, amid the green wave’s spray,
All lovely and calm as it is today.
No villas with porticos handsome, wide,
Then dotted our queenly mountain’s side;
No busy and populous city nigh
Raised steeples and domes to the clear blue sky;
Uncleared, unsettled our forests hoar
Unbridged out river, unwharfed each shore;
While over the waves of emerald hue
Glided, lightly, the Indian’s bark canoe.
It was in those towers—the Southern one—
Sister Margaret Bourgeoys, that sainted nun,
Sat patiently teaching, day after day,
How to find to Jesus the blessed way,
’Mid the daughters swarth of the forest dell,
Who first from her lips of a God heard tell,
And learned the virtues that woman should grace,
Whatever might be her rank or race.
Here, too, in the chapel-tower buried deep,
An Indian brave and his grand-child sleep.*
True model of womanly virtues—she—
Acquired at Margaret Bourgeoys’ knee;
He, won to Christ from his own dark creed,
From the trammels fierce of his childhood freed,
Lowly humbled his savage Huron pride,
And amid the pale-faces lived and died.
With each added year grows our city fair,
The steepled church, and spacious square,
Villas and mansions of stately pride
Embellish it now on every side;
Buildings—old land marks—vanish each day,
For stately successors to make way;
But from change like that may time leave free
The ancient towers of Ville Marie!
* Subjoined are their epitaphs, still to be seen in the tower we speak of:
Les restes mortels
Baptisé par le Révérend
Il fut par sa piété et par sa probité, l’exemple des chrétiens et l’admiration des infideles; il mourut âgé d’environ 100 ans, le 21 avril 1690.
Les restes mortels
Marie Thérèse Gannensagouas
Congrégation de Notre Dame.
Après avoir exercée pendant treize ans l’office de maitresse d’école à la montagne, elle mourut en reputation de grande vertu, âgée de 28 ans, le 25 novembre 1695.
He stood on the wood-crowned summit
Of our mountain’s regal height,
And gazed on the scene before him,
By October’s golden light,
And his dark eyes, earnest, thoughtful,
Lit up with a softer ray
As they dwelt on the scene of beauty
That, outspread, before him lay.
Like a sea of liquid silver,
St. Lawrence, ’neath the sun,
Reflected the forest foliage
And the Indian wigwams dun,
Embracing the fairy islands
That its swift tide loving laves,
Reposing in tranquil beauty
Amid its sapphire waves.
To the eastward, frowning mountains
Rose in solemn grandeur still,
The glittering sunlight glinting
On steep and rugged hill;
Whilst in the far horizon,
Past leafy dell and haunt,
Like a line of misty purple,
Rose the dim hills of Vermont.
Then Cartier’s rapt gaze wandered
Where, starred with wild flowers sweet,
In its gorgeous autumn beauty,
Lay the forest at his feet.
With red and golden glory
All the foliage seemed ablaze
Yet with brightness strangely softened
By October’s amber haze.
Around him stretched the mountain
Ever lovely—ever young—
Graceful, softly undulating,
By tall forest trees o’erhung;
’Twas then his thought found utterance,
The words “Mont Royal” came,
And thus our Royal Mountain
Received its fitting name.
“Child of the Woods, bred in leafy dell,
See the palace home in which I dwell,
With its lofty walls and casements wide,
And objects of beauty on every side;
Now, tell me, dost thou not think it bliss
To dwell in a home as bright as this?”
“Has my pale-faced sister never seen
My home in the pleasant forest green,
With the sunshine weaving its threads of gold
Through the boughs of elm and of maples old,
And soft green moss and wild flowers sweet,
What carpet more fitting for maidens’ feet?”
“Well, see these diamonds of price untold,
These costly trinkets of burnished gold,
With rich soft robes—my daily wear—
These graceful flower-wreaths for my hair;
And now, at least, thou must frankly tell
Thou would’st like such garb and jewels well.”
“The White Lily surely speaks in jest,
For has she not seen me gaily dressed?
Bright beads and rich wampum belts are mine,
Which by far these paltry stones outshine,
Whilst heron plumes, fresh flowers and leaves,
Are fairer than scentless buds like these.”
“But, Forest Maiden, to this my home
What sights—what sounds of beauty come;
Pictures of loveliness—paintings rare—
All the charms that art can bestow are there,
With ravishing music of harp and song,
Sweet notes that to gifted souls belong.”
“The wild birds sing in our shady trees,
Mingling their notes with the vesper breeze;
The flow of waters, the wind’s low moan,
Have a music sweet that is all their own;
Whilst surely no tints or colors rare
Can with those of the sky and the wood compare.”
“But what of the winter’s cheerless gloom
When nature sleeps in a snowy tomb,
The storm clouds brooding over head,
Thy song-birds gone—thy wild-flowers dead?
With silence and gloom where’er you roam,
What then, what then, of your forest home?”
“We sing gay songs round our winter fires,
Or list the tales of our gray-haired sires;
When the hunting path has claimed our braves,
We pray to the God of winds and waves;
Or, on snow-shoes swift, we love to go
Over the fields of untrodden snow.”
“Then, I cannot tempt thee here to dwell,
Oh! wayward child of the forest dell,
To leave thy wandering, restless life,
With countless dangers and hardships rife
For a home of splendor such as this,
Where thy days would be a dream of bliss?”
“No, sister, it cannot my heart engage,
I would worry to death of this gilded cage
And the high close walls of each darkened room,
Heavy with stifling, close perfume;
Back to the free, fresh woods let me hie,
Amid them to live,—amid them to die.”
In the far green depths of the forest glade,
Where the hunter’s footsteps but rarely strayed,
Was a darksome dell, possessed, ’twas said,
By an evil spirit, dark and dread,
Whose weird voice spoke in the whisperings low
Of that haunted wood, and the torrent’s flow.
There an Indian girl sat silent, lone,
From her lips came no plaint or stifled moan,
But the seal of anguish, hopeless and wild,
Was stamped on the brow of the forest child,
And her breast was laden with anxious fears,
And her dark eyes heavy with unshed tears.
Ah! a few months since, when the soft spring gales
With fragrance were filling the forest dales;
When sunshine had chased stern winter’s gloom,
And woods had awoke in their new-born bloom,
No step had been lighter on upland or hill
Than her’s who sat there so weary and still.
Now, the silken ears of the tasseled maize
Had ripened beneath the sun’s fierce blaze,
And the summer’s sunshine, warm and bright,
Had been followed by autumn’s amber light,
While the trees robed in glowing gold and red,
Their fast falling leaves thickly round her shed.
A Sachem’s daughter, beloved and revered,
To the honest hearts of her tribe endeared
By her goodness rare and her lovely face,
Her innocent mirth and her artless grace;
Wooed oft by young Indian braves as their bride,
Sought by stern-browed chiefs for their wigwam’s pride.
Heart-free, unwon, she had turned from each prayer,
And thought but of smoothing her raven hair;
Of embroidering moccasins, dainty, neat,
With quills and gay beads for her tiny feet;
Or skilfully guiding her bark canoe
O’er St. Lawrence’s waves of sparkling blue.
Alas for the hour, when in woodlands wild
The white man met with the Sachem’s child,
And she wondering gazed on his golden hair,
His deep blue eyes, and his forehead fair,
And his rich soft voice fell low on her ear,
And became to her heart, alas! too dear.
Well trained was he in each courtly art
That can please and win a woman’s heart;
And many a girl of lineage high
Had looked on his wooing with fav’ring eye:
Inconstant to all, in hall or in bower,
What chance of escape had this forest flower?
Soon, ah! very soon, he tired of her smile,
Her dusky charms and each sweet, shy wile;
And yet it was long ere, poor trusting dove,
Her faith was shaken in the white man’s love;
And now one last tryst she had asked of him
In this haunted glade in the forest dim.
He had lightly vowed, as such men will do,
To the place and hour that he would be true;
She had waited since the dawn broke chill,
Till the sun was setting behind the hill;
But for him, amid scenes of fashion gay,
All thought of his promise had passed away.
“I will wait for him here,” she softly said,
“Yes, wait till he comes,” and her weary head
Drooped low on her breast, and when the night,
On noiseless pinions had taken its flight,
She looked at the sunrise, with eyes grown dim,
And murmured: “I’ll wait here for death or him.”
It was death that came, and with kindly touch
He stilled the heart that had borne so much;
To the Manitou praying, she passed away
With the sunset clouds of another day,—
No anger quickened her failing breath,
Patient, unmurmuring, even in death.
For days they sought her, the sons of her race,
In deep far-off woods, in each secret place,
Till at length to the haunted glade they crept,
And found her there as in death she slept.
They whispered low of the spirit of ill,
And buried her quickly beside the hill.
That year her false lover back with him bore
A radiant bride to his native shore.
And, with smiling triumph and joy elate,
Ne’er gave one thought to his dark love’s fate;
But an All-seeing Judge, in wrath arrayed,
Shall avenge the wrongs of that Indian maid.
“Oh, Earth, where is the mantle of pleasant emerald dye
That robed thee in sweet summer-time, and gladdened heart and eye,
Adorned with blooming roses, graceful ferns and blossoms sweet,
And bright green moss like velvet that lay soft beneath our feet?”
“What! am I not as lovely in my garb of spotless white?
Was young bride in her beauty ever clothed in robe as bright?
Or, if you seek for tinting warm, at morn and evening hour,
You’ll find me bathed in blushes bright as those of summer flower.”
“But, Earth, I miss the verdure of thy woods and forests old,
The waving of their foliage, casting shadows o’er the wold,
The golden sunbeams peering ’mid the green leaves here and there,
And I sigh to see the branches so cheerless and so bare.”
“But oft they’re clothed in ermine to the sight and touch
Than the costly robing monarchs for regal garments wear,
Whilst at times the glitt’ring branches with jewels are ablaze,
The Frost King’s pearls and diamonds flashing back the light’s clear rays.”
“Well, I grieve to see thy rivers, thy lakes and mountain
That in summer rippled gaily beneath the suns’ glad beams,
As light barks glided swiftly o’er their azure waves at will,
Held now in icy barriers that guard them cold and still.”
“But, see their glassy bosom, what scene could be more bright?
How gaily o’er the surface darts the skater, strong and light;
And happy, cheerful voices ring out from shore to shore,
And forms are clearly mirrored on that dazzling crystal floor.”
“Ah, Earth, I cannot listen to thy soft, persuasive voice,
Though the pleasures thou can’st offer may make other hearts rejoice,
For with love and fond regret I recall each cloudless day,
Spent with friends in sunny rambles—when the whole world seemed at play.”
“Why, the time for pleasant converse is the winter’s stormy
Its long and quiet evenings, with fire and tapers bright,
The soothing strains of music, laughter, jest and happy song,—
Yes! the dearest of all pleasures to the winter-time belong.”
“I yield! Oh, Earth, thou hast thy charms, I grant it freely
In winter’s sterner hours, as when the spring-buds deck thy brow,
So, a truce to idle grieving o’er summer beauties fled,
Our northern winters we’ll accept with grateful hearts instead.”
’Neath the radiance faint of the starlit sky
The gleaming snow-drifts lay wide and high;
O’er hill and dell stretched a mantle white,
The branches glittered with crystal bright;
But the winter wind’s keen icy breath
Was merciless, numbing and chill as death.
It clamored around a handsome pile—
Abode of modern wealth and style
Where smiling guests had gathered to greet
Its master’s birth-day with welcome meet;
And clink of glasses and loud gay tone,
With song and jest, drowned the wind’s wild moan.
Yet, farther on, another abode
Its pillared portico proudly showed.
From its windows high flowed streams of light,
Mingling with outside shadows of night;
And the strains of music rapid, gay—
Told well how within sped the hours away.
Steal but one glance at that magic scene,
And long you will spell-bound gaze, I ween,
On mirrors and flowers, and paintings old,
And side-boards heaped with vessels of gold;
Proud, stately men and women most fair,
Glitt’ring in toilets, marvellous, rare.
Sharp grief may torture many a heart,
But its pangs are hid with wond’rous art;
Breasts may harbor hate, envy or guile,
But all is concealed ’neath the studied smile;
And carelessly gay is each well-trained face,
As the dancers flash past with magic grace.
Not far away, down yon narrow lane,
Where poverty herds with guilt and pain,
Are homes where the wind finds entrance free,
Searching each cranny with savage glee,
And freezing the blood of those within,
Through their wretched garments, scant and thin.
List to the music that meets the ear!
No sweet strains of Strauss will greet you here,
But the moan of sickness, the feeble wail
Of suff’ring childhood—of mothers pale,
The groan of despair, or, alas, still worse!
The blasphemous jest, or fierce, deep curse.
See! on yon board is their banquet spread,
Coarse broken remnants of mouldy bread;
No cheerful flame in the fire-place bare
To temper the cold of the biting air,
Or the chill of the snow on the rotting floor,
Drifting beneath the ill-closed door.
O, woman, one gem from those that deck
Thy taper fingers, white brow or neck;
Young girl, a rose from thy glossy hair,
One inch of that lace so costly and rare,
Would give food and heat, and cheerful light
To that wretched home, for at least one night.
Revellers met round the festive board,
A hot house fruit from your dainty hoard,
The price of one draught of that wine, so old
That it seems as precious as liquid gold,
Would bring joy to more than one aching breast,
And smiles to lips unused to such guest.
Children of fashion, children of wealth,
Who hear harsh truths, as it were, by stealth,
An hour will come to all who live
Of their stewardship here strict account to give
Before the Great Judge, wise, stern and pure,
Who will justice mete to both rich and poor.
Well for you then if kind word and deed,
Or generous alms to those in need,
Have marked the course of your life’s brief dream,
They’ll plead for you in that hour supreme,
Outweigh past errors, and justice move
To the side of mercy and pitying love.
’Twas near the close of the dying year,
And December’s winds blew cold and drear,
Driving the snow and sharp blinding sleet
In gusty whirls through square and street,
Shrieking more wildly and fiercely still
In the dreary grave-yard that crowns the hill.
No mourners there to sorrow or pray,
But soon a traveller passed that way:
He paused and leant against the low stone wall,
While sighs breathed forth from the pine-trees tall
That darkly look down on the silent crowd
Of graves, all wrapped in a snowy shroud.
Solemn and weird was the spectral scene—
The tombstones white, with low mounds between,
The awful stillness, eerie and dread,
Brooding above that home of the dead,
While Christmas fires lit up each hearth
And shed their glow upon scenes of mirth.
Silent the weary wayfarer stood—
The spot well suited his pensive mood,
And severed friendships, bright day-dreams flown,
Thronged on his thoughts in that moment lone.
“Yes, happiness-hope,” he murmured low,
“All buried alike beneath the snow.”
“O, for the right to lay down the load
I’ve borne so long on life’s dreary road,
Heavily weighing on heart and brain,
And as galling to both as a convict’s chain;—
No more its strain shall I tamely bear
But join the peaceful sleepers there.”
His head on the old wall drooped more low,
Whilst faster came down the sleet and snow,
Sharply chilling the blood in his veins,
Racking his frame with rheumatic pains;
“No matter,” he thought, “I’ll soon lie low,
Calm—quiet enough—beneath the snow.”
Ah! hapless one, thus thine arms to yield
When nearly won, perchance, is the field.
After long struggling to lose at last
The price of many a victory past,
Of many an hour of keen, sharp strife,
Mournfully spent in the war of Life.
But, hark! on high sound the Christmas bells,
Of hope to that mourner their chiming tells,
Of the sinless hours of childhood pure,
Of a God who came all griefs to cure;
And, leaving, he prayed: “O my Father and Friend,
Grant me strength to be faithful to the end!”
Lonely and silent and calm it lies
’Neath rosy dawn or midnight skies;
So densely peopled, yet so still,
The murmuring voice of mountain rill,
The plaint the wind ’mid branches wakes,
Alone the solemn silence breaks.
Whatever changes the seasons bring,—
The birds, the buds of joyous spring,
The glories that come with the falling year
The snows and storms of winter drear,—
Are all unmarked in this lone spot,
Its shrouded inmates feel them not.
Thoughts full of import, earnest and deep,
Must the feeling heart in their spirit steep,
Here, where Death’s footprints meet the sight:
The long chill rows of tombstones white,
The graves so thickly, widely spread,
Within this city of the Dead.
Say, who could tell what aching sighs,
What tears from heavy, grief-dimmed eyes,
Have here been shed in silent woe,
Mourning the cold, still form below;
Or o’er past harshness, coldness, hate,
Grieving, alas! too late—too late!
Oh, man, vain dreamer of this life,
Seeking ’mid restless toil and strife
For wealth, for happiness, for fame,
Thirsting to make thyself a name,
See, unto what thy course doth tend,
Of all thy toils—there is the end.
Woman, of grace or beauty proud,
Seeking alone gay fashion’s crowd,—
Thine aim, admiring looks to win,
E’en at the price of folly or sin,
That beauty now to thee so dear,
Would’st thou know its fate? Look around thee, here.
But not alone such lessons stern
May we within the grave-yard learn:
’Tis here the servant wise and good,
Who loyal to his trust hath stood,
Will joyously at length lay down
The heavy cross to receive the crown.
And hope, sweet messenger of God,
Poised lightly ’bove the charnel sod,
With upturned brow and radiant eyes,
Pointing unto the distant skies,
Whispers: “Oh, weary child of care,
Look up! thy heavenly home is there!”
It will be in the recollection of many of our readers that during the famine years of 1847 and 1848 there was an unusual emigration from Ireland to Canada and the United States. Numbers of those who thus left their native land expired from ship fever, caused by utter exhaustion, before they reached the American continent; others only arrived there to die of that fatal disease. The Canadian Government made extensive efforts to save the lives of the poor emigrants. A large proportion were spared, but at Montreal, where the Government erected temporary hospitals, on an immense scale, upwards of 6000 of these poor people died. Their remains were interred close to the hospitals, at a place that is now mainly covered with railway buildings, and in close proximity to the point whence the Victoria Bridge projects into the St. Lawrence. All traces of the sad events of that disastrous period would have been obliterated but for the warm and reverential impulses of Mr. James Hodges, the engineer and representative of Messrs. Peto, Brassey & Betts in Canada. Through his instrumentality, and by his encouragement, the workmen at the bridge came to the determination of erecting a monument on the spot where the poor Irish emigrants were interred. An enormous granite boulder, of a rough conical shape, weighing 30 tons, was dug up in the vicinity, and was placed on a base of cut stone masonry, twelve feet square by six feet high. The stone bears the following inscription: “To preserve from desecration the remains of 6000 emigrants who died from ship fever in 1847 and 1848 this monument is erected by workmen in the employment of Messrs. Peto, Brassey, & Betts, engaged in the construction of the Victoria Bridge, 1859.” Several addresses were delivered on the occasion, and in the course of that made by the Bishop of Montreal he alluded in feeling terms to the many good deeds for which the Dame of his friend, Mr. James Hodges, will be gratefully remembered in Canada. Thanks to the latter, the plot of ground on which the monument is raised is set apart for ever, so that the remains of those interred there will henceforth be sacred from any irreverent treatment.
A kindly thought, a generous deed,
Ye gallant sons of toil!
No nobler trophy could ye raise
On your adopted soil
Than this monument to your kindred dead,
Who sleep beneath in their cold, dark bed.
Like you they left their fatherland,
And crossed th’ Atlantic’s foam
To seek for themselves a new career,
And win another home;
But, alas for hearts that had beat so high!
They reached the goal, but only to die.
Let no rich worldling dare to say:
“For them why should we grieve?
But paupers—came they to our shores,
Want, sickness, death to leave?”
Each active arm, jail of power and health,
And each honest heart was a mine of wealth.
’Twas a mournful end to day-dreams high,
A sad and fearful doom—
To exchange their fever-stricken ships
For the loathsome typhus tomb;
And, ere they had smiled at Canada’s sky,
On this stranger land breathe their dying sigh.
The strong man in the prime of life,
Struck down in one short hour,
The loving wife, the rose-cheeked girl,
Fairer than opening flower,
The ardent youth, with fond hopes elate,—
O’ertaken all by one common fate.
Long since forgotten—here they rest,
Sons of a distant land,—
The epochs of their short career
Mere footprints on life’s sand;
But this stone will tell through many a year,
They died on our shores, and they slumber here.
How busily those little fingers soft
That within mine own are clasped so oft
Have been, throughout this bright summer day,
With pebbles and shells and leaves at play.
They have sought birds’ nests, plucked many a flower,
Have decked with mosses the garden bower,
Built tiny boats, without helm to steer,
Yet floated them safe o’er the lakelet clear.
Ah! a time will come, and that ere long,
When those soft hands will grow firm and strong;
When they’ll fling all boyish toys aside
In the dawning strength of manhood’s pride;
Disdaining the prizes, the treasures gay,
That they seize with such eager haste to-day;
And parting with youth’s joys, hopes and fears,
Seek to grasp the aims of manhood’s years.
Be it, then, thy care, my gentle boy,
That new-born strength to well employ;
Thine hand to raise in defence of right,
To protect the weak ’gainst unjust might;
Or in steadfast toil to spend its power,
That toil—our birthright, our earthly dower—
A God-given law from which none are free,
Whether of lofty or low degree.
And that childish voice, so sweet and clear,
That like music falls on my charmed ear,
Waking the echoes with laugh and song,
’Mid wood and field through the hours long;
Mocking the warbling bird in yon tree,
Or lisping thy prayers beside my knee,
When thy voice shall thrill with a deeper tone,
Say, how wilt thou use it, my child, my own?
To defend the cause of each sacred truth
Thou hast learned to prize in thy early youth,
In kindly word to the sad, the poor,
To those whose cross is hard to endure;
Wilt thou raise it in telling thy Maker’s praise,
In winning souls to His love and ways?
But never in proud or unholy strife,
Or in words with wrong to a brother rife.
And thy guileless heart whose truth, my boy,
Is to me a source of the purest joy,
In whose sinless depths I can plainly see,
That as yet from all thought of ill ’tis free;
When manhood’s down shall have clothed thy cheek,
When pleasure shall tempt and passion speak,
When beset by snares that have others beguiled,
Ah! what wilt thou do with thy heart, my child?
Guard it as treasure of price untold,
In value beyond earth’s gems and gold,
Guard it from breath, from shadow, of sin—
No tempter must foothold gain therein.
Let love of thy God and love of thy kind,
Like tendrils around it closely wind;
Blending those feelings of purest worth
With love for Canada, land of thy birth.
If my prayer be answered, with tranquil breast
I shall go content to my final rest,
When death’s icy finger has touched the brow
That bends above thee so fondly now:
Till then, I will daily ask of Heaven
That, in manhood, it may to thee be given
To devote thy voice, thy heart and thy hand,
To God, thy kind, and thy native land.
The dusky warriors stood in groups around the funeral pyre,
The scowl upon their knotted brows betrayed their vengeful ire.
It needed not the cords, the stake, the rites so stern and rude,
To tell it was to be a scene of cruelty and blood.
Yet ’mid those guilt-stained men could any vile enough be found
To harm the victim who there stood, in helpless thraldom bound?
A girl of slight and fragile form, of gentle child-like grace,
Though woman’s earnest thoughtfulness beamed in that sweet young face.
Oh! lovely was that winsome child of a dark and rugged line,
And e’en mid Europe’s daughters fair, surpassing might she shine:
For ne’er had coral lips been wreathed by brighter, sunnier smile,
Or dark eyes beamed with lustrous light, more full of winsome wile.
With glowing cheek and curving lip, she stood, in silent pride,
A queen in simple majesty, though captive bound and tied,
Nor could that sight of death, though fit to turn a strong heart weak,
Chase back the deep scorn from her brow, the color from her cheek.
And, yet, it was not wonderful, that haughty, high-born grace,
She stood amid her direst foes, a Princess of her race;
Knowing they’d met to wreak on her their hatred ’gainst her name,
To doom her to a fearful death, to pangs of fire and flame.
But, mindful of the teachings stern of childhood’s early years,
She had firmly vowed no plaints of hers, or womanish weak tears
Would glad her foes but, as became her rank and lineage high,
That she would, like a Huron maid, nobly and bravely die.
One moment,—then her proud glance fled, her form she humbly
A softened light stole o’er her brow, she prayed to heaven aloud:
“Hear me, Thou Great and Glorious One, Protector of my race,
Whom, in the far-off Spirit land, I’ll soon see face to face!
”Pour down Thy blessings on my tribe, may they triumphant rise
Above the guileful Iroquois—Thine and our enemies;
And give me strength to bear each pang with courage high and free,
That, dying thus, I may be fit to reign, oh God! with Thee.“
Her prayer was ended, and again, like crowned and sceptred Queen,
She wore anew her lofty smile, her high and royal mien,
E’en though the Chief the signal gave, and quick two warriors dire,
Sprang forth to lead the dauntless girl to the lit funeral pyre.
Back, with an eye of flashing scorn, recoiled she from their grasp,
”Nay, touch me not, I’d rather meet the coil of poisoned asp!
My aged sire, and all my tribe will learn with honest pride
That, as befits a Huron’s child, their chieftain’s daughter died!“
She dashed aside her tresses dark with bright and fearless smile,
And like a fawn she bounded on the fearful funeral pile;
And even while those blood-stained men fulfilled their cruel part
They praised that maiden’s courage rare, her high and dauntless heart.
Darkly falls the autumn twilight, rustles by the crisp leaf sere,
Sadly wail the lonely night-winds, sweeping sea-ward, chill and drear,
Sullen dash the restless waters ’gainst a bleak and rock-bound shore,
While the sea-birds’ weird voices mingle with their surging roar.
Vainly seeks the eye a flow’ret ’mid the desolation
Or a spray of pleasant verdure which the gloomy scene might cheer;
Nought but frowning crags and boulders, and long sea-weeds, ghastly, dank,
With the mosses and pale lichens, to the wet rocks clinging rank.
See, the fog clouds thickly rolling o’er the landscape far and
Till the tall cliffs look like phantoms, seeking ’mid their shrouds to hide;
On they come, the misty masses of the wreathing vapour white,
Filling hill and mead and valley, blotting earth and heaven from sight.
Silent, mournful, am I standing, gazing from the window pane,
Dimmed and blurred with heavy plashes of the fast descending rain,
While thoughts chiming with the hour my weary brain are passing through,
Till the shadows of the evening on my brow are mirrored too.
Rise, although uncalled, within me, memories of the distant past,
Of the dreams, the hopes, the fancies, that round life sweet sunshine cast;
Whilst the moan of winds and waters, with a strange, mysterious art,
Seem to awaken drear forebodings in the listening gazer’s heart.
Ah! it needs yon pleasant tapers with enlivening, home-like ray,
And the sound of voices sharing, each in turn, in converse gay,
And the flash of fire-light, making happy faces still more glad,
To dispel the mournful thoughts that make the evening hour so sad.
Turning from this lonely musing, wilful nursing of dark care,
I will join the joyous circle of the dear ones gathered there,
Who with smiles will greet my advent, and in that delightful room
Shake aside the dreary shadows of this scene of autumn gloom.
It is now two hundred years and more
Since first set foot on Canadian shore
That saint-like heroine, fair and pure,
Prepared all things for Christ to endure;
Resigning rank and kindred ties,
And her sunny home ’neath France’s skies.
A lonely sight for her to see
Was the wilderness town of Ville Marie!
The proud St. Lawrence, with silver foam,
Touched softly the base of our island home,
But frowning forest and tangled wood
Made the land a dreary solitude.
Nor mansion, chapel, nor glinting spire
Reflected the sunset’s fading fire;
The wigwam sent up its faint blue smoke,
The owlet’s shrill cry the stillness broke,
While the small rude huts of the settlers stood
Within frail palisades of wood.
Undaunted by fear of the savage foe,
Wild midnight blaze or th’assassin’s blow;
Careless of suffering, famine, want,
That haunted the settlers like spectres gaunt,
Sister Bourgeois had but one hope, one aim—
To humbly work in her Master’s name.
Kindly she gathered around her knee
The dusky daughters, unfettered, free,
Of forest tribes, and, with woman’s art,
Ennobling, softening each youthful heart,
Fashioned them into true womanhood,
Slow unto evil but prompt to good.
And their pale-face sisters had full share
In this gentle teacher’s tender care;
And grew up, holding as holy and dear
The sacred duties of woman’s sphere;
Adding the firmness and courage high—
Chief need of our sex in days gone by.
Sister Bourgeois’ daughters have nobly all
Responded unto her gracious call;
Through sunshine and joy, through storm and pain—
In one unfailing, unbroken chain
Of teachers devoted—nought left undone
To fulfil the task by their foundress begun.
The following verses were suggested by a touching ceremony which
lately took place in the chapel of the Congregation Convent,
Notre Dame, Montreal, the beloved Institution in which the happy
days of my girlhood were passed. The ceremony in question was the
renewal of her vows by the Venerable Mother Superior, just fifty
years from the date of her first profession, which was made at
the early age of fifteen. In the world, in the few rare instances
in which both bride and bridegroom live to witness the fiftieth
anniversary of their union, the ”golden wedding,“ as it is
usually called, is generally celebrated with great pomp and
rejoicing; tis but just, then, that in religion, the faithful
spouses of the Saviour should welcome with equal satisfaction the
anniversary of the epoch which witnessed the mystical union
contracted with their Heavenly Bridegroom.
Montreal, Sept. 28, 1859.
On a golden autumn morning,
Just fifty years ago,
When harvests ripe lay smiling
In the sunshine’s yellow glow,
A pious group was standing
Round the lighted altar’s flame
In the humble convent chapel
Of the Nuns of Notre Dame.
A girl of fifteen summers,
With gentle, serious air,
In novice garb of purple,
Was humbly kneeling there;
Uttering the vows so binding
Whose magic power sufficed
To make that child-like maiden
The well-loved Bride of Christ.
No troubled, anxious shadow
O’er-clouded that young brow,
As with look and voice unfaltering
She breathed her solemn vow:
No regretful glances cast she
On the pomps that she had spurned,
Nor the dream of love and pleasure
From which she had coldly turned.
* * * * *
Fifty years of joy and sorrow
Since that day have o’er her flown—
Years of words and deeds of mercy,
Living but for God alone—
And again a group is standing,
By this holy scene enticed,
To renew the golden bridal
Of this faithful spouse of Christ.
True, her brow has lost the smoothness
And her cheek the fresh young glow
That adorned them on that autumn
Morning—fifty years ago;
But, oh! think not that her Bridegroom
Loves her anything the less;
He sees but the inward beauty
And the spirit’s loveliness.
Cloister honors long have fallen
Ceaseless, constant, to her lot,
But, like cloister honors falling,
Unto one who sought them not;
Daughter meek of the great Foundress
Of thy honored house and name,
Worthy art thou to be Abbess
Of the nuns of Notre Dame!
Grief reigns now within the convent walls,
And sadly float through its silent halls
The notes of a requiem—solemn, clear,
Falling like wail on each listening ear,
And with tearful eyes and features pale,
With low bowed head and close drawn veil,
To the convent church, round a bier to kneel,
The daughters of Marguerite Bourgeoys steal.
Scant is the mourning pomp displayed,
Nor plumes nor hangings of gloomy shade,
But rev’rend prelates and priests are there,
With crowds of mourners joining in prayer;
Each sister’s heart is filled with grief,
To which faith alone can bring relief,
Deploring the loss of that sainted nun,
Friend, mother and abbess, all in one.
Yet why should sorrow fill thus each breast?
That well loved one has entered her rest,
To live in eternal, cloudless light,
To live in our memories, blessed and bright;
Her chair may be vacant—her place unfilled—
But her mission high was all fulfilled.
And the thought of how well she did her part
Will ever dwell in each sister’s heart.
Sixty-one years passed in convent home,
Amassing wealth for a world to come,
Sixty-one years of constant prayer,
Of cloister duties fulfilled with care,
Of gentle aid to each sister dear,
Kind tender counsel—sympathy’s tear,
Of high commune with her Maker, known
Perchance to herself and to God alone.
Sixty-one years, oh! think of it well,
Since first she entered the convent cell!
On her cheek youth’s soft and roseate dyes,
Its radiant light in her cloudless eyes,
Turning from earth’s alluring wiles,
From worldly promptings, from pleasure’s smiles,
From love’s soft pleading look and tone,
To give herself unto God alone.
Since then she has witnessed many a change,
In the world around her, startling, strange;
Her much loved Order growing in strength
Throughout America’s breadth and length;
Our young city stretching far and wide,
Till it reaches Mount Royal’s verdant side,
Where, fair as an Eden, through leafy screen,
Villa Maria is dimly seen.
Timeworn foreheads and brows of snow
Has the one we mourn seen in dust laid low;
Fair girlish novice and nun professed,
Quietly gathered to earth’s dark breast;
But with thoughts on heaven, she, through all,
Patiently waited her Father’s call,
It came, and now she lays gladly down
Her long borne cross to take up her crown.
Montreal, January, 1869.
Few poets yet in praise of thee
Have tuned a passing lay,
Yet art thou rich in beauties stern,
Thou dark browed Saguenay!
And those grand charms that surely form
For earth her rarest crown
On thee, with strangely lavish hand,
Have all been showered down.
Thine own wild flood, so deep, so dark;
That holds the gaze enthralled
As if by some weird spell, at once
Entranced yet not appalled;
Seeking in vain to pierce those depths,
Where wave and rock have met,
Those depths which, by the hand of man,
Have ne’er been fathomed yet.
And then thy shores—thy rock bound shores,
Where giant cliffs arise,
Raising their untrod, unknown heights
Defiant to the skies,
And casting from their steep, stern brows
Shadows of deepest gloom
Athwart thy wave, till it doth seem
A passage to a tomb.
Such art thou in thy solitude,
As lonely and as sternly rude
As in time past away,
When the red man in his fragile bark
Sped o’er thy glassy wave,
And found amid thy forests wild
His cradle, home and grave.
All, all is changed—reigns in his stead
Another race and name,
But, in thy lonely grandeur still,
Proud River, thou’rt the same!
My simple story is of those times ere the magic power of steam
First whirled the traveller o’er the plains with the swiftness of a dream,
Reducing to a few days’ time the journey of many a week,
That fell of old to the miner’s lot ere he ”sighted“ tall Pikes Peak.
’Neath liquid sunshine filling the air, ’mid masses of wild
A prairie waggon followed the track that led o’er the plains away;
And most of those ’neath its canvas roof were of lawless type and rude—
Miners, broad-chested and strongly built, a reckless, gold-seeking brood.
Yet two of the number surely seemed most strangely out of place,
A girl with fragile, graceful form, shy look, and beauteous face,
One who had wrought out the old, old tale, left her home and friends for aye,
Braved family frowns and strangers’ smiles, love’s promptings to obey.
And the lover husband at her side no miner rough was he,
If we may believe the shapely hands as a woman’s fair to see;
But his tall, lithe form, so strongly knit, firm mouth and look of pride,
Told of iron will, resolved to win a home for his darling bride.
Tender he was, but the plains were vast, toilsome and tedious the
Developing soon the fever germs that within her latent lay,
And daily the velvet azure eyes with a brighter lustre burned,
And the hectic flush of the waxen cheek to a deeper carmine turned.
Oh! dread was the time ’neath that canvas close when she bravely
fought for breath,
Fire in her veins, while panting came each laboring painful breath!
At length one eve she clasped his neck, with a wild and wailing cry:
”O, darling, lay me on God’s green earth, ’neath his sun bright clouds to die!“
Mutely the bridegroom caught her up after that touching appeal;
Why refuse her prayer when on her brow was already set death’s seal?
To proffered help and rough words of hope, to protests whispered low,
He murmured, ”Leave us, go on your way! Comrades it must be so.“
Then, in the eyes of those reckless men bright tears were glistening
For in their rugged, though willing, way most kindly had they been;
No selfish fears of sickness dire had they shown by look or word,
For whate’er of good dwelt within each heart that helpless girl had stirred.
They raised a tent, and from their stores they brought the very best,
Whisp’ring of speedy help to come as each clammy hand they pressed.
”Nay, friends,“ he said with a short, sharp laugh, more painful than sob to hear,
”No help send back, for myself and wife must perforce both settle here.“
Then he sat him down, and placed her head on his aching, throbbing
While the sweeping rush of the prairie winds seemed to bring relief and rest,
And her dim eye watched, without a shade of regret or passing pain,
The receding waggon, soon a speck on the wide and boundless plain.
”O Will! on your true and tender heart, happy and calm I die,
For I know our lives, though severed here, will be joined again on high:
One kiss, my husband, loving and loved, one clasp of thy strong kind hand,
One farewell look in thy mournful eyes ere I pass to the Spirit Land!
“But, God! what is this?” she wildly asks with hurried,
Her fingers have touched a weapon of death in her husband’s hand close clasped:
“O, surely, you would not—dare not—go uncalled to your Maker’s sight?”
“Wife, when passes your spirit away, mine, too, shall take its flight.”
It boots not to tell of the loving prayers that welled from that true
She sued with an angels holy power, a woman’s winning art,
Till that desp’rate man, with quick low sob, his weapon tossed away,
And promised, till came his Maker’s call, on this cheerless earth to stay.
Then sunshine lit up her wan white face and brightened her failing
Enkindling upon her marble cheek the glow of the sunset skies;
Closer she nestled unto his breast with a smile of childlike bliss;
“Already a foretaste of yon bright Heaven is given me, Will, in this!”
A little while and the lashes drooped, unstirred by life’s faint
Whilst the sweet smile on the perfect lips was sealed, for aye, by Death.
With the second sunset he laid her in her lonely prairie grave,
Then joined a passing miner’s band that a friendly welcome gave.
But as time sped on, all, wond’ring, marked his silent, lonely
And the brooding nature, recking naught for blame, nor mirth, nor praise.
At rudest tasks of the miner’s toil with fevered zeal he wrought,
But to its tempting golden spoils he gave nor word nor thought.
Soon want and toil and autumn rains brought fever in their train,
And Red Rock Camp resounded with delirious moans of pain;
And the healthy shrank from the fevered ones, with hard, unpitying eye,
And, heeding but their selfish fears left the sick, unnursed, to die.
Then unto the stranger in their midst, new hope and vigor came,
Enkindled swift in that nature grand by charity’s ardent flame;
He nursed the sick and buried the dead, by the dying watched, until
The grateful miners blessed the chance that had brought them “Parson Will.”
’Twas thus they named him. Health returned to the stricken camp
One victim more the fever claimed—’twas he; nor grief nor pain
Could be discerned in those patient eyes, but they shone with a radiant light
As he whispered: “Joy and gladness come close after the cold dark night;
A few short hours, and from life’s dull chain will my weary heart be free,
Then, Angel Wife, my promise kept, I go to God and thee!”
With buoyant heart he left his home for that bright wond’rous
Where gold ore gleams in countless mines, and gold dust strews the sand;
And youth’s dear ties were riven all, for as wild, as vain, a dream
As the meteor false that leads astray the traveller with its gleam.
Vainly his father frowned dissent, his mother, tearful, prayed,
Vainly his sisters, with fond words, his purpose would have stayed;
He heard them all with heedless ear, with dauntless heart and bold—
Whisp’ring to soothe each yearning fear “I go to win you gold.”
Restless he paced the deck until he saw the sails unfurled
Of the ship which was to bear him to that new and distant world;
And when his comrades stood with him and watched the lessening land,
His clear laugh rose the loudest ’mid that gay gold-seekers’ band.
In changing moods of grief and mirth the ocean way was passed,
And all were weary, when the cry of “Land” was heard at last.
Like birds escaped from thraldom long, the happy, smiling crowd
Thronged to the deck with eager looks, rejoicing long and loud.
Yet one was missing ’mid that band who foremost should have
Whose hopeful heart had cheered them oft when winds blew fierce and keen;
And when dead calms or drizzling rains made the ocean way seem long
Had wiled the time with lively tale, with jest, or stirring song.
But a sudden change had come o’er him, his ringing voice was
The smooth young cheek grew pallid, or, at times, was deeply flushed;
And now he lay in his lonely cot, a prey to sickness drear,
His frame all filled with racking pain—his heart with doubt and fear.
“Oh, raise me up,” he faintly breathed, “that I one
glance may win
Of that long looked for promised land I ne’er may enter in;
Till I recall the tender words of friends, well loved of old—
The friends I left without a pang, in idle search for gold.”
The Exile’s prayer was soon obeyed, and round his fevered brow
The cool land breeze is playing, but death’s damps are on it now!
His spirit passed from earth away as Sol’s last dying beams
Lit up the golden Eldorado of all his boyish dreams.
Upon his sculptured judgment throne the Roman Ruler sate;
His glittering minions stood around in all their gorgeous state;
But proud as were the noble names that flashed upon each shield—
Names known in lofty council halls as well as tented field—
None dared approach to break the spell of deep and silent gloom
That hover’d o’er his haughty brow, like shadow of the tomb.
While still he mused the air was rent with loud and deaf’ning
And angry frown and darker smile proclaimed the victim nigh.
No traitor to his native land, no outlaw fierce was there,
’Twas but a young and gentle girl, as opening rose bud fair,
Who stood alone among those men, so dark and full of guile,
And yet her cheek lost not its bloom, her lips their gentle smile.
At length he spoke, that ruthless chief, in tones both stern and
“Girl! listen! mark me well, or else thy blood be on thy head!
Thou art accused of worshipping Jesus the Nazarene—
Of scorning Rome’s high, mighty Gods,—speak, say if this has been?
I fain would spare thee, for thy name among our own ranks high;
Thine age, thy sex, my pity move, I would not see thee die!
”If thou hast dared at foreign shrine to rashly bend the knee,
Recant thine errors, and thy guilt cancelled at once shall be.“
Undaunted spoke she, ”In His steps unworthy have I trod,
And spurned the idols vain of Rome for Him, the Christian’s God.
I fear not death, however dread the ghastly shape he wear,
He whom I serve will give me strength thy torments all to bear.“
Darker than e’en the darkest cloud became her judge’s
And stern the threats he thundered forth. ”What dost thou dare avow?
Retract thy words, or, by the Gods! I swear that thou shall die!“
Unmoved she met his angry frown—his fierce and flashing eye:
”Nay, I have spoken—hasten now, fulfil thy direful task,
The martyr’s bright and glorious crown is the sole boon I ask.“
Fierce was the struggle raging then within her judge’s breast,
For she, that girl, in tones of love, he once had low addressed;
And lowly as his haughty heart at earthly shrine might bow
He’d loved the being, young and bright, who stood before him now.
With iron might he’d nerved himself to say the words of fate,
To doom to death the girl he sought—but sought in vain—to hate.
Yet now, e’en in the final hour, ’spite of his creed of
His ruthless heart and fierce belief, love triumphed for a time.
”Irene! girl!“ he wildly prayed, ”brave not Rome’s fearful power!
Mad as thou art, she’ll pardon thee, e’en in the eleventh hour;
Cast but one grain of incense on yon bright and sacred fire,
And outraged as thy rulers are, ’twill calm their lawful ire!“
”Bend but thy knee before the shrine where we’ve so often
Joined in the same pure orisons—the same emotion felt;
Forsake a creed whose very God with scorn was crucified—,
Irene, hear me, and thou It be again my life and pride!“
He pressed the censer in her hand, of which one single throw
Would have restored her all the state, the bliss, that earth might know;
But she, inspired by heavenly grace, the censer dashed aside:
”I’ve said I but believe in Him who on Mount Calvary died!“
He spoke no word, her cruel judge had hurled his glittering dart;
Barbed with relentless rage, it found his victim’s dauntless heart.
She but had time to breathe a prayer that he might be forgiven,
And in that breath her spotless soul had passed from earth to heaven.
Among the haughtiest of her sex, in noble, quiet pride,
Cornelia stood, with mien that seemed their folly vain to chide:
No jewels sparkled on her brow, so high, so purely fair,
No gems were mingled ’mid her waves of dark and glossy hair;
And yet was she, amidst them all, despite their dazzling mien,
A woman in her gentle grace—in majesty a queen.
While some now showed their flashing gems with vain, exulting air,
And others boasted of their toys, their trinkets rich and rare,
And challenged her to treasures bring that shone with equal light,
Proudly she glanced her dark eye o’er the store of jewels bright.
”Rich as these are,“ she answered then, ”and dazzling as they shine,
They cannot for one hour compete in beauty rare with mine!
“You all seem doubtful, and a smile of scorn your features
Look on my gems, and say if yours are but one half as fair?”
The Roman matron proudly placed her children in their sight
Whose brows already bore the seal of intellectual might;
She pressed them to her, whilst each trait with radiance seemed to shine,
And murmur’d, “Tell me, dare you say, your jewels outshine mine?”
“Open the coffin and shroud until
I look on the dead again
Ere we place her in Grenada’s vaults,
Where sleep the Monarchs of Spain;
For unto King Charles must I swear
That I myself have seen
The regal brow of the royal corpse,
Our loved, lamented Queen.”
The speaker was Borgia, Gaudia’s Duke,
A noble and gallant knight,
Whose step was welcome in courtly halls,
As his sword was keen in fight.
To him had his Monarch given the task
Of conveying to the tomb.
The Princess ravished from his arms
In the pride of youthful bloom.
While they slowly raised the coffin lid,
Borgia stood silent by,
Recalling the beauty of the dead
With low, half-uttered sigh—
Longing to look on that statue fair
That wanted but life’s warm breath,
That matchless form which he hoped to find
Beautiful e’en in death.
’Tis done, and with silent, rev’rent step
To the coffin draws he near,
And sadly looks in its depths, where lies
Spain’s Queen, his sovereign dear.
But what does he see? What horrors drear
Are those that meet his eye,
For he springs aside and shades his brow
With a sharp, though stifled, cry?
Ah’ youth and beauty, in spirit gaze
On what that coffin holds—
On the fearful object that now lies
In the shroud’s white ample folds:
Nay, turn not away with loathing look,
Lest that hideous sight you see,
In a few short years from now, alas!
It is what we all shall be.
Let us learn as Francis Borgia learned,
By that lifeless form of clay,
To despise the changing things of earth,
All doomed to swift decay—
Deep into his heart the lesson sank,
Effacing earthly taint,
And Spain’s Court lost a gallant knight,
While the Church gained a Saint!
’Tis midnight, and solemn darkness broods
In a lonely, sacred fane—
The church of Our Lady of Montserrat,
So famous throughout all Spain;
For countless were the pilgrim hosts
Who knelt at that sacred shrine
With aching hearts, that came to seek
Relief and grace divine.
Pure as the light of the evening star
Shines the lamp’s pale, solemn ray,
That burns through midnight’s hush and gloom,
As well as the glare of day,
Like the Christian soul, enwrapped in God,
Resigning each vain delight,
Each earthly lure, to burn and shine
With pure love in His sight.
Softly the gentle radiance falls
On a mail-clad warrior there,
Who humbly bows his stately head
In silent, earnest prayer;
It flashes back from his corslet bright,
From each shining steel clad hand,
And the brow which tells that he was born
To pomp and high command.
Say, who is he, that vigil keeps,
Like the warrior knights of old,
Through the long lone hours of the silent night,
Ere they donned their spurs of gold?
A soldier brave and proud is he,
And bears a noble name,
Since Pampeluna’s glorious day
Won Loyola his fame.
What doth he at this lowly shrine?
What mean those prayers and sighs,
The tearful mist that dims the light
Of his flashing, eagle eyes?
They tell of life’s vain pomps and pride
Esteemed as worthless dross,
For the dauntless soldier has become
The soldier of the Cross.
That sword, that once like lightning swept
Through ranks of foes hard pressed,
Now hangs beside Our Lady’s shrine,
Henceforth in peace to rest,—
And soon the penitent’s rough, dark robe,
His girdle and cowl of gloom,
Will replace the soldier’s armor bright,
And his lofty, waving plume.
Well done, well done, thou warrior brave!
A noble choice is thine!
What are the laurels of earth beside
The joys of bliss divine?
And thou hast won, though seeking not,
The saint’s undying fame—
Christ’s Holy Church will evermore
Revere and bless thy name!
A glorious pageant filled the church of the proud old city of Rheims,
One such as poet artists choose to form their loftiest themes:
There France beheld her proudest sons grouped in a glittering ring,
To place the crown upon the brow of their now triumphant king.
The full, rich tones of music swelled out on the perfumed air,
And chosen warriors, gaily decked, emblazoned banners bear:
Jewels blazed forth, and silver bright shone armor, shield and lance,
Of princes, peers, and nobles proud, the chivalry of France.
The object of these honors high, on lowly bended knee,
Before the altar homage paid to the God of Victory;
Whilst Renaud Chartres prayed that Heaven might blessings shower down
On that young head on which he now was chosen to place a crown.
Fair was the scene, but fairer far than pomp of church or state,
Than starry gems or banners proud, or trappings of the great,
Was the maiden frail whose prophet glance from heaven seemed to shine,
Who, in her mystic beauty, looked half mortal, half divine.
Her slight form cased in armor stern, the Maid of Orleans stood,
Her place a prouder one than that of prince of royal blood:
With homage deep to Heaven above, and prayers to Notre Dame,
She waived above the monarch’s head proud Victory’s Oriflamme.
Then, as the clouds of incense rose, encircling in its fold
That shining form, the kneeling king, the canopy of gold,
It seemed unto the gazers there a scene of magic birth,
Such as is rarely granted to the children of this earth.
Sudden a mystic sadness steals o’er Joan’s features
Robbing her brow, her earnest eyes, of their unearthly light:
A voice from Him, by whose right arm her victories had been won,
Had whispered, ’bove the clank of steel, “Thy mission now is done.”
Perchance the future, then, was shown to her pure spirit’s
The future with its sufferings, the shame, the scaffold’s blaze;
The deaf’ning shouts, the surging crowd, the incense, mounting high,
Foreshadowed to her shrinking soul the death she was to die.
The youthful monarch now was crowned, and lowly at his feet
Did France’s saviour bend her form, rendering homage meet.
No guerdon for past deeds of worth sought that young noble heart,
She, who might all rewards have claimed, asked only to depart.
Oh! France! of all the stoned names that deck thy history’s
Thy sainted kings, thy warriors proud, thy statesmen stern and sage,
None, none received the glorious light, the strange Promethean spark
That Heaven vouchsafed thy spotless maid, immortal Joan of Arc!
“Father!” a youthful hero said, bending his lofty brow
“On the world wide I must go forth—then bless me, bless me, now!
And, ere I shall return oh say, what goal must I have won—
What is the aim, the prize, that most thou wishest for thy son?”
Proudly the father gazed upon his bearing brave and high,
The dauntless spirit flashing forth from his dark brilliant eye:
“My son, thou art the eldest hope of a proud honored name,
Then, let thy guiding star through life—thy chief pursuit—be fame!”
“’Tis well! thou’st chosen, father, well—it is a
And the youth’s glance told the wish chimed well with that brave ardent heart.
“Now, brother, thou’lt have none to share thy sports till I return,—
Say, what shall be the glitt’ring prize that I afar must earn?”
“The world,” said the laughing boy, “on heroes poor
If thou art wise as well as brave, return with store of gold.”
“Perchance thou’rt right!” and now he turned to his sister young and fair,
Braiding with skill a glossy tress of his own raven hair.
“’Tis now thy turn, sweet sister mine, breathe thy
heart’s wish to me,
If I’ve the power, ’twill be fulfilled, ere I return to thee.”
The maiden blushed and whispring low, “I prize not wealth or pride,
But, brother, to thy future home bring back a gentle bride.”
The merry smile her words had raised fled, as with falt’ring
He asked of her, the best beloved, “Mother, what is thy choice?”
“My son! my son!” she softly said, “hear my wish ere we part—
Return as now thou goest forth, with true and guileless heart!”
* * * * *
The years sped on with rapid flight, and to his home once more
The soldier came: he walked not with the buoyant step of yore;
The eagle eye was sunken, dim, the curls of glossy hair
Fell careless round an aching brow, once free from shade of care.
His soiled and shattered crest he laid low at his father’s
And sadly said, “’Tis all I have—is it an off’ring meet?
In battle’s front I madly fought, till dead on dead were heaped,
Want, weariness and pain I’ve borne, and yet no fame I’ve reaped.
“Brother, thou told’st me to return with treasures like a
This hacked and dinted sword and shield is all the wealth I bring.
Sister, I wooed a lady bright with eyes like thine, and hair,—
I woke from wild and dazzling dreams to find her false as fair!
“Now, mother, unto thee I turn! say, say, wilt though repine
If I tell thee that those cherished hopes have all proved vain but thine?
Though folly may have swayed awhile this heart since last we met—
Still, mother, at thy feet, I swear, ’tis true and stainless yet!
“No aim has ever ruled it that thou might’st not calmly
Nor hope nor thought, dear mother, that I’d shrink to bare to thee!”
“Bless thee, mine own one, for those words! thrice dearer art thou now
Than if thine hands were filled with gems, and laurels twined thy brow!
“And dearer is thy still fond smile, tho’ dimmed its
Than that of fairest bride to glad our home with witching glee!”
With all a mother’s yearning love, she strained him to her heart,
And in that fond embrace he felt her’s was “the better part.”
The day was o’er, and in their tent the weaned victors met,
In wine and social gaiety the carnage to forget.
The merry laugh and sparkling jest, the pleasant tale were there—
Each heart was free and gladsome then, each brow devoid of care.
Yet one was absent from the board who ever was the first
In every joyous, festive scene, in every mirthful burst;
He also was the first to dare each perilous command,
To rush on danger—yet was he the youngest of the band.
Upon the battle-field he lay a damp and fearful grave;
His right hand grasped the cherished flag—the flag he died to save;
While the cold stars shone calmly down on heaps of fallen dead,
And their pale light a halo cast round that fair sleeper’s head.
Say, was there none o’er that young chief to shed one single
To sorrow o’er the end of his untimely stopt career?
Yes, but alas! the boundless sea its foam and crested wave,
Lay then between those beings dear and his cold, cheerless grave.
With all a mother’s doting love a mother yearned for him,
And watching for his quick return, a sister’s eye grew dim,
And, dearer still, a gentle girl, his fair affianced bride,—
And yet, with all these loving ones, unfriended, had he died.
No woman’s low, sweet voice was near one soothing word to say
Or gentle hand from his cold brow to wipe the damps away;
But yet why should we grieve for him, that hero gallant, brave?
His was a soldier’s glorious death, a soldier’s glorious grave!
“Wo worth the chase. Wo worth the day,
That cost thy life, my gallant grey!”—Scott
The Hunter stooped o’er his dying steed
With sad dejected mien,
And softly stroked its glossy neck,
Lustrous as silken sheen;
With iron will and nerve of steel,
And pale lips tight compressed,
He kept the tears from eyes that long
Were strange to such a guest.
Thou’rt dying now, my faithful one,
Alas! ’tis easy known—
Thy neck would arch beneath my touch,
Thou’dst brighten at my tone;
But turn not thus thy restless eyes
Upon my saddened brow,
Nor look with such imploring gaze—
I cannot help thee now.
No more we’ll bound o’er dew gemmed sward
At break of summer morn,
Or follow on, through forests green,
The hunter’s merry horn;
No more we’ll brave the rapid stream,
Nor battle with the tide,
Nor cross the slipp’ry mountain path,
As we were wont to ride.
Oh! we have travelled many miles,
And dangers have we braved;
And more than once thy matchless speed
Thy master’s life hath saved;
And many nights the forest sward
Has been the couch we’ve pressed,
Where, pillowed on thy glossy neck,
Most sweet has been my rest.
How often, too, I we shared with thee
The hunter’s scanty fare.
To see thee suffer want or pain,
Mute friend I could not bear;
And now, thou best in agony,
As if thy heart would burst,
And I, what can I do for thee,
Save slake thy burning thirst?
That parting sob, that failing glance—
The pains of death are past!
Thy glazing eyes still turned on me
With love unto the last!
Well may my tears o’er thy cold form,
My steed, flow fast and free,
For, oh! I have had many friends,
Yet none so true as thee!
“Thou hast been to the forest, thou sorrowing maiden,
Where Summer reigns Queen in her fairest array,
Where the green earth with sunshine and fragrance is laden,
And birds make sweet music throughout the long day.
Each step thou hast taken has been over flowers,
Of forms full of beauty—of perfumes most rare,
Why comest thou home, then, with footsteps so weary,
No smiles on thy lip, and no buds in thy hair?”
“Ah! my walk through the wild-wood has been full of sadness,
My thoughts were with him who there oft used to rove,
That stranger with bright eyes and smiles full of gladness
Who first taught my young heart the power of love.
He had promised to come to me ere the bright summer
With roses and sunshine had decked hill and lea.
I, simple and trusting, believed in that promise,
But summer has come, and, alas! where is he?”
“Yes, simple and trusting—ah! child, the old story!
Say, when will thy sex learn that man can forget?
Thy lover was highborn, and thou art but lowly,
Ere this he’s forgotten that ever you met;
But, methought, as I watch’d thee to-day slowly treading
With step full of sadness yon green shady dell,
Thou didst pause by the brink of its bright crystal treasure,
Say, what didst thou see in our Wood Fairy’s Well?”
“No sparkles of promise for me gemmed its surface,
I saw that the rose from my cheek had nigh fled,
That the eyes whose light he never weaned of praising,
Are dimmed by the tears that I for him have shed;
And I felt as I gazed that it would be far better,
E’en though I might grieve to my heart’s inmost core,
That he should forget than, returning to seek me,
Should find me thus changed, and then love me no more.”
“What! love thee no more!—say, to love thee forever!
See, true to my vows, I am here by thy side,
Quick to bear thee away to a fair home of splendor,
To reign there its mistress, my own gentle bride!”
Oh! moment of bliss to that girl heart, grief laden,
The lover so mourned for, no ingrate had grown,
Despite absence and change he stood there by the maiden,
With faith still unshaken and true as her own.
In a fair and sunny forest glade
O’erarched with chesnuts old,
Through which the radiant sunbeams made
A network of bright gold,
A girl smiled softly to herself,
And dreamed the hours away;
Lulled by the sound of the murmuring brook
With the summer winds at play.
Jewels gleamed not in the tresses fair
That fell in shining showers,
Naught decked that brow of beauty rare
But a wreath of forest flowers;
And the violet wore no deeper blue
Than her own soft downcast eye,
Whilst her bright cheek with the rose’s hue
In loveliness well might vie.
But she was too fair to bloom unknown
By forest or valley side,
And long ere two sunny years had flown,
The girl was a wealthy bride—
Removed to so high and proud a sphere
That she well at times might deem
The humble home of her childhood dear
A fleeting, changeful dream.
No more her foot sought the grassy glade
At the break of summer day;
No more neath the chesnut spreading shade
In reverie sweet she lay;
But in abodes of wealth and pride,
With serious, stately mien,
That envy’s rancorous tongue defied,
She now alone was seen.
But was she happier? Who might know?
Wealth, fortune, on her smiled;
Yet there were some who whispered low
That she, fates favored child,
Oft pressed her brow with a weary hand,
In gay and festive hours,
And fain would change her jewell’d band
For a wreath of forest flowers.
“O maiden, peerless, come dwell with me,
And bright shall I render thy destiny:
Thou shalt leave thy cot by the green hillside,
To dwell in a palace home of pride,
Where crowding menials, with lowly mien,
Shall attend each wish of their lovely queen.”
“Ah! stranger my cot by the green hillside
Hath more charms for me than thy halls of pride;
If the roof be lowly, the moss rose there
Rich fragrance sheds on the summer air;
And the birds and insects, with joyous song,
Are more welcome far than a menial throng.”
“Child, tell me not so! too fair art thou,
With thy starry eyes and thy queenlike brow,
To dwell in this spot, sequestered and lone,
Thy marvelous beauty to all unknown;
And that form, which might grace a throne, arrayed
In the lowly garb of a peasant maid.”
“Nay, a few short days since didst thou not say
That I in my rustic kirtle gray
In thine eyes looked lovelier fairer far
Than robed in rich state as court ladies are;
And the wreath of violets in my hair
Pleased thee more than diamond or ruby rare.”
“Beloved! if thus coldly thou turn’st aside
From the tempting lures of wealth and pride,
Sure thy woman’s heart must some pity own
For one who breathes for thy self alone,
And who would brave suffering, grief and toil
To win from thy rose lips one shy, sweet smile.”
“Ah! enough of this—thy love may be true,
But I have tried friends who love me too;
And in proud homes governed by fashion’s voice,
Thou would’st learn to blush for thy lowly choice.
Go, seek thee a noble, a high born bride,
And leave me my cot by the green hillside!”
Throughout the country for many a mile
There is not a nobler, statelier pile
Than ivy crowned Rathmore Hall;
And the giant oaks that shadow the wold,
Though hollowed by time, are not as old
As its Norman turrets tall.
Let us follow that stream of sunset red,
Crimsoning the portal overhead,
Stealing through curtaining lace,
Where sits in a spacious and lofty room
Full of gems of art—exotics in bloom—
The Lady of the place.
If Rathmore Hall is with praises named,
Not less is its queen-like mistress famed
For wondrous beauty and grace;
And as she reclines there, calmly now,
The sunset flush on her ivory brow,
We marvel at form and face.
Wondrously perfect, peerlessly fair,
Are the mouth and the eyes and luxuriant hair,
As lily she’s graceful and fall;
Not florid full is that lady fair
But pale and high-bred, with just the air
That is suited to Rathmore Hall.
Health, youth, and loveliness on her smile,
Her abode that noble and ancient pile,
She, surely, must happy be—
(With each wish fulfilled that wealth can fulfil,
For as if by magic is wrought her will)
A moment wait—we shall see!
At length she moves and heavily sighs,
While wearily rest her violet eyes
On her jewels richly wrought;
Shuddering, she turns away her gaze
From flashing diamond and ruby’s blaze,
As she whispers, “Too dearly bought!”
Then, slowly rising, the casement nears,
And looking abroad through a mist of tears
Sighs: “Yes, I have earned it all:
Crushed a manly heart that too truly loved,
False to my. vows and to honor proved,
To be Lady of Rathmore Hall.
“What are now its broad rich acres to me,
Stretching out as far as my gaze can see?
With loathing I turn from the scene;
My womanhood wasting in wild regret
O’er a past that I would, but cannot, forget;
O’er a life that might have been!
“Oh! for the humble, dear home of my youth,
Its loving warm hearts, its unsullied truth,
Its freedom from fashion’s thrall.
And the blameless hopes—the bliss that was mine
Ere awoke in my heart a wish to shine
As Lady of Rathmore Hall!”
She stops, for, lo! in the chamber still,
Loud barking of hounds and harsh accents fill
The quiet and dreamy air;
Swearing at menials—with lowering brow,
Earl Rathmore, entering her presence now,
Turns on her an angry stare.
A shudder runs through her—what does it tell?
A look in her eyes that not there should dwell—
She hates him—his wedded wife!
Surely angels grieve in their bliss above
To see, where there should be perfect love,
With an oath he mutters “Still moping, eh!
From hour to hour and day to-day;
Not for this from thy lowly state—
Enticed by the beauty I’m weary of now,
And smiles that have fled from thy sullen brow—
I made thee a Rathmore’s mate.”
With no word from her lips she to him replies,
But the shadow deepens within her eyes,
And she smiles in cold disdain;
Yet her snowy eyelids haughty droop,
And the calm, that disdains to his will to stoop,
Mask an aching heart and brain.
With a muttered curse, in still harsher tone,
He passes out, and thus leaves her alone
In her rich and gilded gloom
Ah, no wretched wife through the whole broad land
Is as weary of life as that lady grand
As she sits in that splendid room.
If a daughter’s soft arms should ever twine,
Lady Rathmore, round that white neck of thine,
Teach her not to barter all
The guileless love of her innocent youth,
Her premised vows and maidenly truth,
For another Rathmore Hall.
’Tis no wild and wond’rous legend, but a simple pious
Of a gentle shepherd maiden, dwelling in Italian vale,
Near where Arno’s glittering waters like the sunbeams flash and play
As they mirror back the vineyards through which they take their way.
She was in the rosy dawning of girlhood fair and bright,
And, like morning’s smiles and blushes, was she lovely to the sight;
Soft cheeks like sea-shells tinted and radiant hazel eyes;
But on changing earthly lover were not lavished smiles or sighs.
Still, that gentle heart was swelling with a love unbounded, true,
Such as worldly breast, earth harden’d, passion-wearied, never knew;
And each day she sought the chapel of Our Lady in the dell,
There to seek an hour’s communing with the Friend she loved so well.
Often, too, she brought a garland of wild flowers, fragrant, fair,
Which she culled whilst onward leading her flock with patient care;
The diamond dew-drops clinging to every petal sweet,—
For the mystic Rose of Heaven was it not a tribute meet?
The white statue of the Virgin boasted neither crown nor gem;
On its head she placed her chaplet instead of diadem,
Murm’ring, “O, my gentle Mother, would that it were in my power
To give Thee pearl or diamond instead of simple flower!”
But for earth she was too winsome, that fair child of faith and love,
One of those whom God culls early for His gardens bright above;
And the hand of sickness touched her till she faded day by day,
And to Our Lady’s chapel she came no more to pray.
One evening, in the valley, after journeying many a mile,
Two pious men in holy garb lay down to rest a while,
And in sleep to both a vision of most wond’rous beauty came,
Such as only visit souls which burn with heav’nly love’s pure flame.
Amid clouds of golden brightness they saw to earth float down
A band of fair young virgins, wearing each a glittering crown;
And surpassing them in beauty, as the day outshines the night,
Was high Heaven’s regal Mistress—Our Lady, fair and bright.
Then the pious brothers knew at once that she was on her way
To see a dying maiden, and her love through life repay;
And when, from slumber waking, they told their vision true,
They said: “Let us go visit this child of Mary, too!”
High instinct lent by Heaven guided on their feet aright,
And in silence grave they journeyed till a cottage came in sight;
’Neath its humble porch they entered, with bow’d and reverent head,
And found themselves in presence of the peaceful, holy dead.
Oh! most fair the sight! No maiden with bridal wreath on brow
Ever looked one half so lovely as the one they gazed on now;
As a lily, fair and spotless, bright and pure each feature shone,
Bearing impress of that Heaven to which Mary’s child had gone.
Bright glittering lights are gleaming in yonder mansion proud,
And within its walls are gathered a gemmed and jewelled crowd;
Robes of airy gauze and satin, diamonds and rubies bright,
Rich festoons of glowing flowers—truly ’tis a wondrous sight.
Time and care and gold were lavished that it might be, every way,
The success of all the season—brilliant fashionable gay.
’Tis the birth night of the heiress of this splendor wealth and state,
The sole child, the only darling, of a household of the great.
Now the strains of the fast galop on the perfumed air arise,
Rosy cheeks are turning carmine, brighter grow the brightest eyes,
As the whirling crowds of dancers pass again and yet again—
Girls coquettish, silly women, vapid and unmeaning men.
’Tis a scene to fill the thoughtful with a silent, vague
And from its unholy magic we are fain to steal away;
Out here in the quiet moonlight we may pause awhile and rest,
Whilst the solemn stars of heaven bring back peace unto our breast.
Soft! who is the fair young being—she who nightly joins us now,
In a robe of airy lightness, and with jewels on her brow,
Fair as the most fair ideal dreaming poet e’er inspired,
Or as lover, charmed by beauty, ever worshipped and admired.
Strange! what means that look so weary, that long-drawn and painful
And that gaze, intense and yearning, fixed upon the starlit sky?
Is she not the child of fortune, fortune’s pet and darling bright,
Yes, the beauteous, courted heiress—heroine of the gala night?
From the crowds of ardent lovers, who would beset her way,
Sickened by their whispered flatt’ries, she has coldly turned away;
And, as now the thrilling music falls upon her wearied ear,
She cannot resist a shudder, caused by mingled hate and fear.
“This is pleasure, then,” she murmurs; this is what
the world calls bliss,
Oh! for objects less unworthy, for a holier life than this!
I am weary of its folly. O, Great Father, grant my boon:
“From its sinful, silken meshes, I pray Thee, free me soon!”
Did He answer? Now another year has passed with rapid flight,—
O’er the crowded, silent city broods the spirit of the night;
In the sick wards of the convent, fever-stricken, gasping, lies,
One with death’s damps on his brow, and its film o’er his eyes.
There beside him kneels a Sister, in coarse dusky robe and
And with gentle care she moistens those poor lips so dry and pale;
Now she whispers hope and courage, now she tells of Heaven bright—
Thus it is the gentle heiress celebrates her next birth-night.
Not a trace of weary languor rests upon that ivory brow,
No vague sigh of restless yearning e’er escapes her bosom now;
Yet more fair and happy looks she, in that simple garb I ween,
Than when, robed in lace and jewels, she was called a ballroom’s queen.
’Mid silken cushions, richly wrought, a young Greek girl
And fairer form the harem’s walls had ne’er before enshrined;
’Mid all the young and lovely ones who round her clustered there,
With glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes, she shone supremely fair.
’Tis true that orbs as dark as hers in melting softness shone,
And lips whose coral hue might vie in brightness with her own;
And forms as light as ever might in Moslem’s heaven be found,
So full of beauty’s witching grace, were lightly hovering round.
Yet, oh, how paled their brilliant charms before that beauteous one
Who, ’mid their gay mirth, silent sat, from all apart—alone,
Outshining all, not by the spells of lovely face or form,
But by the soul that shone through all, her peerless, priceless charm.
But, say, what were the visions sweet that filled that gentle heart?
Surely to Azof, her liege lord, was given the greatest part,—
To him who prized her smiles beyond the power his sceptre gave,
And, mighty sultan though he was, to her was as a slave.
No, not of crowned heads thought she then, of hall or gilded dome,
But of fair Greece, that classic land, her loved, her early home.
She yearns to see again its skies, proud temples, woodland flowers,
Less bright, but dearer far, than those that bloom in harem bowers.
She glanced upon the jewels rich that gemmed her shining hair,
And wreathed her sculptured, snowy arms, her neck and brow so fair.
Their lustre softened not the pangs that filled that lonely hour,
More happy was she when her braids were decked with simple flower.
But, Azof, did not thought of him some passing joy impart;
Did not the memory of his love bring gladness to her heart?
Alas, that long and heavy sigh, the glitt’ring tear that fell
From ’neath her dark and drooping lids, told more than words could tell.
Awhile she weeps, and then a change steals o’er her mournful
Her gloomy thoughts are chased away, and all things brighter seem,
A timid and yet blissful smile lights up her beauteous brow,
Her soft cheek crimsons, but, oh’ not of Azof thinks she now.
Perchance of some gallant Greek she knew in life’s young hour,
Some childish love as guileless as her love for bird or flower,
But which, looked back on through the mist of absence or of time,
Seemed sad and sweet as are the words—of some old childish rhyme.
Could he, her royal lover, now but look into her heart,
And read its depths, how sharp the pang that knowledge would impart,
But no, secure in certain bliss, he deems her all his own,
And prides himself that girlish heart loves him and him alone.
The sadness which might have awaked suspicion or mistrust,
Was of the spells she swayed him by, the dearest and the first,—
He deemed it but the token of a timid gentle heart,
That ever kept from needless show or noisy mirth apart.
He knew not that the voice which now sang but some mournful lay
Breathed once the soul of joyousness, was gayest of the gay,
That the soft laugh whose magic power his very heart strings stirred,
Though now so rare, in girlhood’s home had oftentimes been heard!
Th’ averted head, the timid look the half unwilling ear,
With which she met his vows of love, he deemed but girlish fear,
Nor ever dreamed that she whom all considered as thrice blessed,
Whose life was like a summer day loved, honored and caressed;
Who held, a captive to her charms, a most accomplished knight
And monarch brave that ever yet had bowed to woman’s might
Was but a poor and joyless slave, compelled to wear a smile
And act a part for which she loathed her wretched self the while.
But, like some fair exotic brought unto a foreign strand,
She lost her bloom and pined to see once more her native land,
And only when from earthly scenes death summoned her to part
A blissful smile played round her lips, and peace was in her heart.
All hail to thee, noble and generous Land!
With thy prairies boundless and wide,
Thy mountains that tower like sentinels grand,
Thy lakes and thy rivers of pride!
Thy forests that hide in their dim haunted shades
New flowers of loveliness rare—
Thy fairy like dells and thy bright golden glades,
Thy warm skies as Italy’s fair.
Here Plenty has lovingly smiled on the soil,
And ’neath her sweet, merciful reign
The brave and long suff’ring children of toil
Need labor no longer in vain.
I ask of thee shelter from lawless harm,
Food—raiment—and promise thee now,
In return, the toil of a stalwart arm,
And the sweat of an honest brow.
But think not, I pray, that this heart is bereft
Of fond recollections of home;
That I e’er can forget the dear land I have left
In the new one to which I have come.
Oh no! far away in my own sunny isle
Is a spot my affection worth,
And though dear are the scenes that around me now smile,
More dear is the place of my birth!
There hedges of hawthorn scent the sweet air,
And, thick as the stars of the night,
The daisy and primrose, with flow’rets as fair,
Gem that soil of soft verdurous light.
And there points the spire of my own village church,
That long has braved time’s iron power,
With its bright glitt’ring cross and ivy wreathed porch—
Sure refuge in sorrow’s dark hour!
Whilst memory lasts think not e’er from this breast
Can pass the fond thoughts of my home:
No! I ne’er can forget the land I have left
In the new one to which I have come!
Mine eye is weary of the plains
Of verdure vast and wide
That stretch around me—lovely, calm,
From morn till even-tide;
And I recall with aching heart
My childhood’s village home;
Its cottage roofs and garden plots,
Its brooks of silver foam.
True glowing verdure smiles around,
And this rich virgin soil
Gives stores of wealth in quick return
For hours of careless toil;
But oh! the reaper’s joyous song
Ne’er mounts to Heaven’s dome,
For unknown is the mirth and joy
Of the merry “Harvest Home.”
The solemn trackless woods are fair,
And bright their summer dress;
But their still hush—their whisprings vague,
My heart seem to oppress;
And ’neath their shadow could I sit,
And think the livelong day
On my country’s fields and hedges green,
Gemmed with sweet hawthorn spray.
The graceful vines and strange bright flow’rs,
I meet in every spot,
I’d give up for a daisy meek,
A blue forget-me-not;
And from the brilliant birds I turn,
Warbling the trees among;
I know them not—and breathe a sigh
For lark or linnet’s song.
But useless now those vain regrets!
My course must finish here;
In dreams alone I now can see
Again my home so dear,
Or those fond loving friends who clung
Weeping unto my breast;
And bade “God speed me” when I left,
To seek the far, far West.
Oh! gladly do we welcome thee,
Fair pleasant month of May;
Month which we’ve eager longed to see,
Through many a wintry day:
And now with countless budding flowers,
With sunshine bright and clear—
To gild the quickly fleeting hours—
At length, sweet month, thou’rt here!
But, yet, we do not welcome thee
Because thy genial breath
Hath power our sleeping land to free
From winter’s clasp of death;
Nor yet because fair flowers are springing
Beneath thy genial ray;
And thousand happy birds are singing
All welcome to thee, May!
No, higher, nobler cause have we
These bright days to rejoice—
’Twas God ordained that thou should’st be
The loved month of our choice:
It is because thou hast been given
To honor her alone,
The ever gentle Queen of Heaven—
The mother of God’s son.
The blossoms that we joyous cull
By bank or silver stream;
The fragrant hawthorn boughs we pull,
Most sacred too, we deem:
For not amid our tresses we
Their op’ning buds will twine,
But garlands fair we’ll weave with care
For Mary’s lowly shrine.
And when the twilight shades descend
On earth, so hushed and still,
And the lone night bird’s soft notes blend
With breeze from glade and hill,
We seek her shrine with loving heart,
And, humbly kneeling there,
We linger long, loth to depart
From that sweet place of prayer!
Oh! who can tell with what gifts rare
Our Mother will repay
Their love who honor thus with care
Her own sweet month of May!
A grace for every flower they’ve brought
Or ’Ave, they have said;
And ev’ry pious, holy thought
Shall be by her repaid!
Of many gifts bestowed on earth
To cheer a lonely hour,
Oh is there one of equal worth
With music’s magic power?
’Twill charm each angry thought to rest,
’Twill gloomy care dispel,
And ever we its power can test,—
All nature breathes its spell.
There’s music in the sighing tone
Of the soft, southern breeze
That whispers thro’ the flowers lone,
And bends the stately trees,
And—in the mighty ocean’s chime,
The crested breakers roar,
The wild waves, ceaseless surge sublime,
Breaking upon the shore.
There’s music in the bulbul’s note,
Warbling its vesper lay
In some fair spot, from man remote,
Where wind and flowers play;
But, oh! beyond the sweetest strain
Of bird, or wave, or grove
Is that soother of our hours of pain—
The voice of those we love.
When sorrow weigheth down the heart
The night birds sweetest lay—
The harp’s most wild and thrilling art—
Care cannot chase away;
But let affection’s voice be heard,
New springs of life ’twill ope,—
One word—one little loving word—
Will bring relief and hope.
Around the castle turrets fiercely moaned the autumn blast,
And within the old lords daughter seemed dying, dying fast;
While o’er her couch in frenzied grief the stricken father bent,
And in deep sobs and stifled moans his anguish wild found vent.
“Oh cheer thee up, my daughter dear, my Maude, he softly said,
As tremblingly he strove to raise that young and drooping head;
’I’ll deck thee out in jewels rare in robes of silken sheen,
Till thou shalt be as rich and gay as any crowned queen.”
“Ah, never, never!” sighed the girl, and her pale cheek paler
While marble brow and chill white hands were bathed in icy dew;
“Look in my face—there thou wilt read such hopes are folly all,
No garment shall I wear again, save shroud and funeral pall.”
“My Maude thou’rt wilful! Far away in lands beyond the
Are sunny climes, where winter ne’er doth wither flower or tree;
And there thou’lt journey with me, till I see thee smile once more,
And thy fair cheek wear the rose’s hue as in the days of yore.”
“Ah, no roses shall I gather beneath a summer sky,
Not for me such dreams, dear father, my end is drawing nigh;
One voyage is before me, ’tis no use to grieve or moan,
But that dark, fearful journey must I travel all alone.”
“My precious child! last of my race! why wilt thou grieve me
Why add by such sad words unto thy grey haired father’s woe?
Live—live, my pearl! my stricken dove! earth’s joys shall all be thine;
Whate’er thy wish or will through life, it also shall be mine.”
Fast coursed the diamond tear drops down that fair, though faded,
And she whispered, but so softly, one scarce could hear her speak:
“Ah! father, half those loving cares when summer bright was here
Would have kept thy daughter with thee for many a happy year.
“But, ah! thy heart was marble then, and to thy direst foe,
More stern, relentless anger thou couldst not, father, show.
What was my crime? The one I loved, not rich but nobly born,
Was loyal, true, on whom no man e’er looked with glance of scorn.
“He wooed me fairly, father dear, but thou did’st often
Thou’dst rather see me in my grave than bride to Hengist’s heir.
Reckless, despairing, he embarked upon the stormy main,
To seek an end to grief and care, nor sought he long in vain.
“Calm and untroubled sleeps he now beneath the salt sea brine,
And I rejoice to think how soon that sweet sleep shall be mine!”
No answer made the father but a low and grief-struck moan;
And silence reigned again throughout that chamber sad and lone.
Sudden the girl starts wildly, with bright and kindling eye,
Her cheek assumes a crimson tint like hue of sunset sky,
“Father! that voice, that rapid step, ah, me! they are well-known,
Hengist who comes from ocean’s deeps to claim me for his own!”
Say, does she rave? No. See yon form, with proud and gallant brow,
Bending above her, whisp’ring low, fond word and tender vow:
“Maude, my own love! no spectral form, no phantom’s at thy side,
But thy girlhood’s lover, now returned to claim thee as his bride.”
The story runs that love and youth o’er death the victory won,
And again did Maude, a happy wife, play ’neath the summer sun,
While the old lord, grateful to the Power that Hengist’s life had spared,
Henceforth in all his children’s bliss, hopes, sorrows, fully shared.
* Won by the “Allies” during the Crimean war though with great losses in killed and wounded.
Rejoice! the fearful day is o’er
For the victors and the slain;
Our cannon proclaim from shore to shore,
The Allies have won again!
Let our joy bells ring out music clear,
The gayest they’ve ever pealed;
Let bonfires flames the dark night cheer,
We are masters of the field
But list! dost hear that mournful wail
’Bove the joyous revelry?
Rising from hillside and lowly vale,—
Say, what can its meaning be?
From Erin’s sunny emerald shore
It trembles upon the gale,
And rises with the torrent’s roar
From the birth place of the Gael.
Fair Albion, too, in every spot
Of thy land of promise wide
Is heard that dirge for the mournful lot
Of thy soldier sons—thy pride.
Them shall no bugle at dawn of day
Arouse from their quiet sleep,
Them shall no charger with shrill neigh
Bear off to the hillside steep.
’Mid the dead and dying stretched unknown
On Crimea’s blood stained earth,
Lie the household gods of many a home,
The lights of many a hearth:
While, vainly woman’s weeping voice
Calls on each well loved one—
The tender wife on her girlhoods choice,
The fond mother on her son.
And not only from the peasant’s cot
Comes that mournful, dirge like cry,
’Tis heard—unto all a common lot—
Where dwell the great and high;
And tears fall fast for the last lost child
Of many a noble race,
Who has perished in that struggle wild,
And left none to fill his place.
Yet if above our laurels bright
Falls many a bitter tear,
Still, still, may we find a gleam of light,
Our stricken hearts to cheer;
They have fallen in the country’s cause
That their youth and manhood nursed,
They have fallen true to honor’s laws,
In a sacred strife and just.
Say, art thou angry? words unkind
Have fallen upon thine ear,
Thy spirit hath been wounded too
By mocking jest or sneer,
But mind it not—relax at once
Thine o’ercast and troubled brow—
What will be taunt or jest to thee
In a few short years from now?
Or, perhaps thou mayst be pining
Beneath some bitter grief,
From whose pangs in vain thou seekest
Or respite or relief;
Fret not ’neath Heav’n’s chastening rod
But submissive to it bow;
Thy griefs will all be hushed to rest
In a few short years from now.
Art toiling for some worldly aim,
Or for some golden prize,
Devoting to that glitt’ring goal
Thy thoughts, thy smiles, thy sighs?
Ah! rest thee from the idle chase,
With no bliss can it endow;
Of fame or gold, what will be thine
In a few short years from now?
It may be pleasure’s roseate dreams
Possess thy wayward heart,
Its gilded gauds for better things
Leaving alas! no part;
Ah! cast away the gems and flowers
That bind thy thoughtless brow,
Where will their gleam or brightness be
In a few short years from now?
The good thou may’st on earth have done,
Love to a brother shown—
Pardon to foe—alms unto need—
Kind word or gentle tone;
The treasures thus laid up in Heav’n
By the good on earth done now,
These will alone remain to thee,
In a few short years from now.
Warriors true, ’tis no false glory
For which now you peril life,—
For no worthless aim unholy,
Do ye plunge into the strife;
No unstable, fleeting vision
Bright before your gaze hath shone,
No day dream of wild ambition,
Now your footsteps urges on:
But a cause both great and glorious,
Worthy of a Christian’s might,
One which yet shall be victorious,—
’Tis the cause of God and right:
Men! by aim more pure and holy
Say, could soldiers be enticed?
Strike for truth and conscience solely,
Strike for Pius and for Christ.
Even like the brave Crusaders—
Heroes true and tried of old,
You would check the rash invaders
Of all that we sacred hold.
And though hosts your steps beleaguer,
Full of might and martial pride;
For the conflict be you eager—
God Himself will be your guide!
Soldiers of the Cross, remember
In the cause you fight for now,
’Tis not earthly wreaths you gather
To adorn the dauntless brow;
But the laurels bright—unfading,
Never from you to be riven—
Which will yet your brows be shading
In the shining courts of Heaven.
Come tell me some olden story
Of Knight or Paladin,
Whose sword on the field of glory
Bright laurel wreaths did win:
Tell me of the heart of fire
His courage rare did prove;
Speak on—oh! I will not tire—
But never talk of love.
Or, if thou wilt, I shall hearken
Some magic legend rare—
How the Wizard’s power did darken
The sunny summer air:
Thou’lt tell of Banshee’s midnight wail,
Or corpse-light’s ghastly gleam—
It matters not how wild the tale
So love be not thy theme.
Or, perhaps thou may’st have travelled
On distant, foreign strand,
Strange secrets have unravelled
In many a far-off land;
Describe each castle hoary,
Each fair or frowning shore—
But should love blend in thy story
I’ll list thy voice no more.
Thou askest with emotion,
Why am I thus so cold,
Urging all thy past devotion,
Well known—well tried of old;
Hush! bend a little nearer
That sad, o’erclouded brow—
Could love vows make thee dearer
To me than thou art now!
Another pang for Southern hearts,
That of late so oft have bled,
Another name to add to the roll
Of their mighty, patriot dead;
A vacant place ’mid that phalanx proud.
Of which each glorious name
Is dear to a mighty nation’s heart,
And dear to undying fame.
The God-given gift of genius his,
The patriot’s holy fire,
For he we mourn was a worthy son
Of a great and glorious sire:
Ah! whate’er the changes time may bring,
Shall never pass away
From the people’s mind, in North or South,
The deathless name of Clay.
Yet an exile in a foreign land,
His spirit passed from earth,
Far from the old dear scenes of home,
The loved land of his birth,—
The land he had well and truly served,
With heart, with sword, with pen,
Since first he had joined the march of life,
By the side of his fellow men.
No Southern breezes, soft and sweet,
Played around his dying bed,
No Southern flowers in glowing bloom,
Rich fragrance round him shed;
The wintry light of a Northern sky,
Earth robed in snowy vest,
Were the scenes that met his yearning gaze
As he passed into his rest
But near him gathered devoted hearts,
Wife, children, at his side,
Wept bitter tears while hushed they looked,
With fond, revering pride,
On him who had ever been to them,
Throughout his life’s career,
A model of all that honor high,
Or virtue holds most dear.
And other mourners leaves he too,
Who had learned to love him well.
Though short the time since he had come,
Within our midst to dwell:
Friends who will keep his name fore’er
’Mid those they we set apart,
To cherish deeply, and revere,
Within their inmost heart.
Montreal, Jan. 27, 1864
O when will it end, this appalling strife,
With its reckless waste of human life,
Its riving of highest, holiest ties,
Its tears of anguish and harrowing sighs,
Its ruined homes from which hope has fled,
Its broken hearts and its countless dead?
In fair Virginia the new-made graves
Lie crowded thick as old ocean’s caves;
Whether sword or sickness dealt the blow,
What matters it?—They lie cold and low;
And Maryland’s heights are crimsoned o’er,
And its green vales stained, with human gore.
The stalwart man in the prime of life,
Sole stay of frail children and helpless wife;
The bright-eyed, ardent, and beardless boy,
Of some mother’s fond breast the pride and joy,
And the soldier-love, the idol rare
Of maiden and matron, gentle and fair.
The men of the North so dauntless and free,
The flower of the Southland chivalry,
The best and the bravest on either side,
Their citizen soldier, the nation’s pride,
Carelessly cast in each narrow, dank bed,
And fruitlessly numbered among the dead.
Are you nearer the end than when Sumter’s gun
Answered the summons of Charleston,
And the nation plunged in this deadly strife,
That has wrecked its happiness, wealth and life,—
Say what is your answer to foe or friend?
“’Tis a strife of which none can guess the end.”
Oh! keep your young strength for some stranger foe,
Let not brother’s rash hand lay brother low;
Remember one soil your childhood nursed,
In the past together your bonds you burst;
Together for freedom you learned to strike,
And brave Washington honored you both alike.
You have proved to the nations your mutual might;
You have proved you can suffer, struggle and fight;
By hundreds and thousands lie heaped your slain,
Your life-blood crimsons hill, stream and plain;
Prove of nobler struggle you are able yet,
And your mutual wrongs forgive and forget.
Oh, Father of mercies! stay now each hand,
Put back in its sheath the blood stained brand,
Whisper sage counsel to rulers proud,
Calm the wrath of the people, fierce and loud,
So that their hates and their strife may cease,
And their land know once more the boon of peace.
The moon from solemn azure sky
Looked down on earth below,
And coldly her wan light fell alike
On scenes of joy and woe:
A stately palace reared its dome,
Within reigned warmth and light
And festive mirth—the moon’s faint rays
Soft kissed its marble white.
A little farther was the home
Of toil, alas! and want,
That spectre grim that countless hearths
Seems ceaselessly to haunt;
And yet, as if in mocking mirth,
She smiled on that drear spot,
Silvering brightly the ruined eaves
And roof of that poor cot.
And then, with curious gaze, she looked
Within a curtained loom,
Where sat a girl of gentle mien
In young life’s early bloom;
Her glitt’ring light made still more bright
The veil and bridal flower,
Which were to wreathe the girl’s fair brow
In the morrow’s solemn hour.
With changeless smile she gleamed within
A casement, gloomy, lone,
Where lay a cold and rigid form,
A death bed stretched upon.
The fixed gaze of the half closed eyes,
The forehead chill and white,
The shroud and pall, more ghastly looked,
Wrapped thus in still, silv’ry light.
Long, sadly, gazed I, then a thought,
Sharp, bitter, filled my heart
’Gainst that cold orb, which in our joys
And sorrows took no part;
Which shone as bright o’er couch of death,
In prison’s darkened gloom,
As o’er the festal scenes of earth,
Or stately palace room.
An inward voice reproved the thought,
And whispered, soft and low,
“Unto that glorious orb ’twas given
Its Maker’s power to show.
Throughout long ages has it shone
With pure, undying flame,
His will obeying Dreamer, go,
And do thou, too, the same!”
The clouds that promise a glorious morrow
Are fading slowly, one by one;
The earth no more bright rays may borrow
From her loved Lord, the golden sun;
Gray evening shadows are softly creeping,
With noiseless steps, o’er vale and hill;
The birds and flowers are calmly sleeping;
And all around is fair and still.
Once loved I dearly, at this sweet hour,
With loitering steps to careless stray,
To idly gather an opening flower,
And often pause upon my way,—
Gazing around me with joyous feeling,
From sunny earth to azure sky,
Or bending over the streamlet, stealing
’Mid banks of flowers and verdure by.
You wond’ring ask me why sit I lonely
Within my quiet, curtain’d room,
So idly seeking and clinging only
Unto its chastened, thoughtful gloom.
You tell me that never fragrance rarer
Did breathe from clustering leaf and bough;
That never the bright spring was fairer
Or more enchanting than she is now.
Ah, useless chiding! The loved ones tender,
Who shared my rambles long ago,
Whose cherished accents could only render
Words of affection soft and low,
Are parted from me, perchance for ever,
By miles of distance, of land or main,—
Death some has taken, and them, oh never
Upon this earth shall I meet again.
’Tis thus this hour of gentle even
Brings back in thought the friends long gone,—
Loved ones with whom this earth was Heaven
But who have vanished, one by one.—
’Tis thus I cherish with wilful sadness
The quiet of my lonely room,—
Careless, unmindful of all earth’s gladness,
Or of her lovely evening bloom.
“The heart knoweth its own bitterness”
The heart hath its moments of hopeless gloom,
As rayless as is the dark night of the tomb;
When the past has no spell, the future no ray,
To chase the sad cloud from the spirit away;
When earth, though in all her rich beauty arrayed,
Hath a gloom o’er her flowers—o’er her skies a dark shade,
And we turn from all pleasure with loathing away,
Too downcast, too spirit sick, even to pray!
Oh! where may the heart seek, in moments like this,
A whisper of hope, or a faint gleam of bliss?
When friendship seems naught but a cold, cheerless flame,
And love a still falser and emptier name;
When honors and wealth are a wearisome chain,
Each link interwoven with grief and with pain,
And each solace or joy that the spirit might crave
Is barren of comfort and dark as the grave.
Lift—lift up thy sinking heart, pilgrim of life!
A sure spell there is for thy spirit’s sad strife;
’Tis not to be found in the well-springs of earth,—
Oh! no, ’tis of higher and holier birth.
“Oh! Autumn winds, what means this plaintive wailing
Around the quiet homestead where we dwell?
Whence come ye, say, and what the story mournful
That your weird voices ever seek to tell—
Whispering or clamoring, beneath the casements,
Rising in shriek or dying off in moan,
But ever breathing, menace, fear, or anguish
In every thrilling and unearthly tone?”
“We come from far off and from storm-tossed oceans,
Where vessels bravely battle with fierce gale,—
Mere playthings of our stormy, restless power,
We rend them quickly, shuddering mast and sail;
And with their, stalwart, gallant crews we hurl them
Amid the hungry waves that for them wait,
Nor leave one floating spar nor fragile taffrail
To tell unto the world their dreary fate.”
“But He who holds you, wrathful winds of Autumn,
Within the hollow of His mighty hand,
Can stay your onward course of reckless fury,
Your demon wrath, or eerie sport command,
Changing your rudest blast to zephyr gentle
As rocks the rose in summer evenings still,
Calming the ocean and yourselves enchaining
By simple fiat of Almighty Will.”
“We’ve been, too in the close and crowded city
Where want is often forced to herd with sin;
And our cold breath has pierced through without pity,
Bare, ruined hovel and worn garments thin;
Through narrow chink and broken window pouring
Draughts rife with fever and with deadly chill,
Choosing our victims ’mid old age and childhood,
Or tender, fragile infancy at will.”
“Oh, Autumn blasts, He, whose kind care doth temper
The searching wind unto the small shorn lamb,
To those poor shiv’ring victims, too, can render
Thy keenest, sharpest blasts, both mild and calm
Rave on—rave on, around our happy homestead
Upon this dark and wild November night,
Ye do but work out your God-given mission,
Mere humble creatures of our Father’s might.”
“But, listen, we come, too, from graveyards lonely,
From mocking revels held ’mid tombstones tall,
Tearing the withered leaves from off the branches,
The clinging ivy from the time-stained wall,—
Uprooting, blighting every tiny leaflet
That hid the grave’s bleak nakedness from sight,
Driving the leaves in hideous, death like dances,
Around the lowly mounds, the grave-stones white.”
“And, what of that, ye cruel winds of Autumn?
Spring will return again with hope and mirth,
Clothing with tender green the budding branches,
Decking with snowdrops, violets, the earth;
And, oh! sweet hope, sublime and most consoling,
The sacred dust within those graves shall rise
In God’s good time, to reign on thrones of glory
With Him, beyond the cloudless, golden skies.”
“Beloved! thou’rt gazing with thoughtful look
On those flowers of brilliant hue,
Blushing in spring tide freshness and bloom,
Glittering with diamond dew:
What dost thou read in each chalice fair,
And what does each blossom say?
Do they not tell thee, my peerless one,
Thou’rt lovelier far than they?”
“Not so—not so, but they whisper low
That quickly will fade their bloom;
Soon will they withered lie on the sod,
Ravished of all perfume;
They tell that youth and beauty below
Are doomed, alas! to decay,
And I, like them, in life’s flower and prime
May pass from this earth away.”
“Too sad thy thoughts! Look up at yon stars,
That gleam in the sapphire skies;
Not clearer their radiance, best beloved,
Than the light of thine own dark eyes!
With no thoughts of death or sad decay,
Can they thy young spirit fill;
Through ages they’ve shone with changeless light,
And yet they are shining still!”
“Ah! they bring before my spirit’s gaze
Dreams of that home so blessed,
Where those who have served the Master well
At length from their labors rest;
And do not chide if, despite all ties,
Of close-clinging earthly love,
There are times when I turn a wistful glance
To that distant home above.”
Friends! do you see in yon sunset sky,
That cloud of crimson bright?
Soon will its gorgeous colors die
In coming dim twilight;
E’en now it fadeth ray by ray—
Like it I too shall pass away!
Look on yon fragile summer flower
Yielding its sweet perfume;
Soon shall it have lived out its hour,
Its beauty and its bloom:
Trampled, ’twill perish in the shade—
Alas! as quickly shall I fade.
Mark you yon planet gleaming clear
With steadfast, gentle light,
See, heavy dark clouds hovering near,
Have veiled its radiance bright—
As you vainly search that gloomy spot,
You’ll look for me and find me not!
Turn now to yonder sparkling stream,
Where silver ripples play;
Dancing within the moon’s pale beam—
Ah! short will be their stay,
They break and die upon the shore—
Like them I soon shall be no more!
Yes! emblems meet of my career,
Are ripple, cloud, and flower;
Fated like me to linger here,
But for a brief, bright hour—
And then, alas! to yield my place;
And leave, perchance, on earth no trace!
No trace, my friends, save in your hearts,
That pure and sacred shrine—
Where, ’spite life’s thousand cares and arts,
A place shall yet be mine;
And love as deep as that of yore—
Though on this earth we meet no more!
By the side of a silvery streamlet,
That flowed through meadows green,
Lay a youth on the verge of manhood
And a boy of fair sixteen;
And the elder spake of the future,
That bright before them lay,
With its hopes full of golden promise
For some sure, distant day.
And he vowed, as his dark eye kindled,
He would climb the heights of fame,
And conquer with mind or weapon
A proud, undying name.
On the darling theme long dwelling
Bright fabrics did he build,
Which the hope in his ardent bosom
With splendor helped to gild.
At length he paused, then questioned:
“Brother, thou dost not speak;
In the vague bright page of the future
To read dost thou never seek?”
Then the other smiled and answered,
“Of that am I thinking now,
And the crown which I too am striving
To win my ambitious brow.”
“What!—a crown? Thou hast spirit, brother;
Say, of laurels will it be?
Thy choice, the life of a soldier,
Though by wind and sun undarkened
Is thy blooming, boyish face,
To thy choice thou’lt do all honor,
For ’tis worthy of thy race!
“Am I wrong? Well, ’tis more likely,
With thy love of ancient lore,
Thou would’st choose the scholar’s garland,
Not laurels wet with gore;
I’ll not chide—’tis surely noble,
By mere simple might of pen,
To rule with master power
The minds of thy fellow-men.”
But still shook his head the younger:
“What! unguessed thy secret yet?
Ha! I know now what thou seekest
To deck thy curls of jet:
Bright buds!” and he, laughing, scattered
Blossoms on brow and cheek,
“Pleasure’s wreath of smiting flowers
Is the crown that thou dost seek.”
“Not so—of all, that were vainest!
’Tis a crown immortal—rare—
Here on earth I must strive to win it,
But, brother, I’ll wear it there!”
And he raised to the blue sky o’er him
Eyes filled with tender thought,—
Who shall doubt that to him was given
The glorious crown he sought?
’Twas a wild and stormy sunset, changing tints of lurid red
Flooded mountain top and valley and the low clouds overhead;
And the rays streamed through the windows of a building stately, high,
Whose wealthy, high-born master had lain him down to die.
Many friends were thronging round him, breathing aching, heavy
Men with pale and awe-struck faces, women, too, with weeping eyes,
Watching breathless, silent, grieving him whose sands were nearly run,
When, with sudden start, he muttered: “God! how much I’ve left undone!”
Then out spoke an aged listener, with broad brow and locks of snow,
“Patriot, faithful to thy country and her welfare, say not so,
For the long years thou hast served her thou hast only honor won.”
But, from side to side still tossing, still he muttered: “Much undone!”
Then the wife, with moan of anguish, like complaint of stricken dove,
Murmured: “Husband, truer, fonder, never blessed a woman’s love,
And a just and tender father both to daughter and to son”—
But more feebly moaned he ever: “Oh! there’s much, there’s much undone!”
Quickly, then, a proud, stern soldier questioned: “Say, will not
Long descend in future story, linked with honor and with fame,
For thine arm was prompt in battle and thy laurels nobly won;
Patriot, citizen and soldier, what, then, is there left undone?”
Then the dying man upraised him; at his accents loud and clear
Into silence men lapsed quickly—women checked each sob and tear;
And he said: “To fame, home, country, all my heart, my thoughts I’ve given,
But, Oh dreamers, can you tell me what I’ve done for God—for Heaven?
“It was not for Him I battled with the sword or with the pen,
Not for His praise that I thirsted, but that of my fellow-men;
And amid the light now flooding this my life’s last setting sun,
I can see, misguided worldling! that there’s much I’ve left undone.”
Thicker, darker, fell the shadows, fainter grew his flutt’ring
Then a strange and solemn stillness, ’twas the awful hush of death:
Hope we that a tender Saviour, unto gentle pity won,
Judged that dying man with mercy, whatsoe’er he left undone!
The earth was flooded in the amber haze
That renders so lovely our autumn days,
The dying leaves softly fluttered down,
Bright crimson and orange and golden brown,
And the hush of autumn, solemn and still,
Brooded o’er valley, plain and hill.
Yet still from that scene with rare beauty rife
And the touching sweetness of fading life,
From glowing foliage and sun bright ray,
My gaze soon mournfully turned away
To rest, instead, on a new made grave,
Enshrouding a heart true, loyal and brave.
At rest for aye! Cold and pulseless now
That high throbbing breast and calm, earnest brow;
Laid down forever the quick, gifted pen
That toiled but for God and his fellow men;
Silent that voice, free from hatred or ruth,
Yet e’er boldly raised in the cause of truth.
For the prize of our faith grateful he proved,
Breaking from ties and from scenes once loved,
From rank and fortune, and the lures of pride,
That tempt the gifted on every side,
To devote his genius—his pen of fire—
To aims more holy and themes far higher.
He was true to the land he had made his home,
And true to the grand old faith of Rome,
At whose feet he laid powers rarer than gold,
As knights laid their lances and shields of old,—
That Church on whose loving maternal breast
He peacefully sank to eternal rest.
Oh! no tears for him who passed away
Ere frame or spirit knew touch of decay,
Ere time had deadened one feeling warm,
Or his genius robbed of one single charm.
As he was when death struck, his image shall dwell
In the countless hearts that loved him so well.
Faded and pale their beauty, vanished their early bloom,
Their folded leaves emit alone a sweet though faint perfume,
But, oh! than brightest bud or flower to me are they more dear,
They come from that rose-haunted land, the bright Vale of Cashmere.
Cashmere! a spell is in that name! what dreams its sound awakes
Of roses sweet as Eden’s flowers, of minarets and lakes,
Of scenes as vaguely, strangely bright as those of fairy land,
Springing to life and loveliness ’neath some enchanter’s wand!
Cashmere! poetic in its name, its clear and brilliant skies
That seem to clothe earth, flower and wave in their own lovely dyes;
Poetic in its legend lore, and spell more dear than all,
Enshrined in poet’s inmost heart, the home of “Nourmahal.”*
Yes, there oft fell her fairy feet, there shone the glances bright,
That won for her the glorious name of harem’s queen and light;
There, as she wandered ’mid its bowers, her royal love beside,
She taught him to forget all else save her, his beauteous, bride.
Cashmere! what would this heart not give to see thy favored earth,
So rich in nature’s peerless gifts, in beauty’s dazzling worth,
Rich in a name that in mine ear from childhood’s hour hath rung,
The land of which impassioned Moore with such sweet power hath sung.
Yet, were I there, oh! well I know the time would surely come
When my yearning heart would turn again to my far Canadian home,
Longing to look once more upon its wintry wastes of snow,
And the friends whose hearts throb like mine own, with friendship’s changeless glow.
* The heroine of Moore’s beautiful poem The Light of the Harem.
Other harvests there are than those that lie
Glowing and ripe ’neath an autumn sky,
Awaiting the sickle keen,
Harvests more precious than golden grain,
Waving o’er hillside, valley or plain,
Than fruits ’mid their leafy screen.
Not alone for the preacher, man of God,
Do those harvests vast enrich the sod,
For all may the sickle wield;
The first in proud ambition’s race,
The last in talent, power or place,
Will all find work in that field.
Man toiling, lab’ring with fevered strain,
High office or golden prize to gain,
Rest both weary heart and head,
And think, when thou’lt shudder in death’s cold clasp,
How earthly things will elude thy grasp,
At that harvest work instead!
Lady, with queenly form and brow,
Gems decking thy neck and arms of snow,
Who need only smile to win;
’Mid thy guests, perchance the gay, the grave,
Is one whom a warning word might save
From folly, sorrow or sin.
Let that word be said, thine eyes so bright
Will glow with holier, softer light
For the good that thou hast done;
And a time will come when thou wilt reap
From that simple act more pleasure deep
Than from flatt’ring conquests won.
Young girl in thy bright youth’s blushing dawn,
Graceful and joyous as sportive fawn,
There is work for thee to do,
And higher aims than to flirt and smile,
And practise each gay, coquettish wile,
Admiring glances to woo.
Ah! the world is full of grief and care,
Sad, breaking hearts are every where,
And thou can’st give relief;
Alms to the needy—soft word of hope
That a brighter view may chance to ope
To mourners bowed by grief.
That gauzy tissue yon bud or flower
That tempt thee at the present hour,
To be worn, then cast aside,
Bethink thee, their price might comfort bring,
Fuel or food to the famishing
And help to the sorely tried.
Such harvest fruits are most precious and rare,
Worthy all toil and patient care,
Think of the promised reward!
Not earthly gains that will pass away
Like morning mist or bright sunset ray,
But Christ Himself, our Lord!
Hush! speak in accents soft and low,
And treat with careful stealth
Thro’ that rich curtained room which tells
Of luxury and wealth;
Men of high science and of skill
Stand there with saddened brow,
Exchanging some low whispered words—
What can their art do now?
Follow their gaze to yonder couch
Where moans in fitful pain
The mistress of this splendid home,
With aching heart and brain.
The fever burning in her veins
Tinges with carmine bright
That sunken cheek—alas! she needs
No borrowed bloom to-night.
The masses of her raven hair
Fall down on either side
In tangled richness—it has been
Through life her care and pride;
And those small perfect hands on which
Her gaze complacent fell,
Now, clenched within her pillow’s lace,
Of anguish only tell.
Sad was her restless, fev’rish sleep,
More sad her waking still,
As with wild start she looks around
Her chamber darkened—still;
Its silence and the mournful looks
Of those who stand apart,
Some awful fear seem to suggest
To that poor worldly heart.
“Doctor, I’m better, am I not?”
She gasps with failing breath—
Alas! the answer sternly tells
That she is “ill to death.”
“What! dying!” and her eyes gleam forth
A flashing, fearful ray,
“I, young, rich, lovely, from this earth
To pass so soon away?
“No, no, it must not, cannot be,
Surely your skill can save—
Can stand between me and the gloom,
The horrors, of the grave!”
Breathless she listens, but no word
Breaks that dull pause of grief,—
Her pitying listeners turn away,
They cannot give relief
Tossing aloft, in fierce despair,
Her arms, with frenzied cry,
She gasps forth, “Save me—help, O help!
I must not, will not die.”
But One can grant that wild appeal,
Can stay her failing breath—
Of Him she never thought in life
Nor thinks she now in death.
Without one prayer, one contrite tear,
For past faults to atone—
For wasted talents, misspent life,
She’s gone before God’s throne!
Prying that wilful, wayward heart
That leaned on gods of clay,
For calmer, holier death than hers
With solemn heart we pray.
Fair as a wreath of fresh spring flowers, a band of maidens lay
On the velvet sward—enjoying the golden summer day;
And many a ringing silv’ry laugh on the calm air clearly fell,
With fancies sweet, which their rosy lips, half unwilling, seemed to tell.
They spoke, as maidens often speak, of that ideal one
By whom the wealth of their warm young hearts will at length be wooed and won—
Fond girlish dreams! and half in jest and half in serious strain,
Each told of the gifts that could alone the prize of her love obtain.
The first who spoke was a bright-eyed girl, with a form of airy
Mirth beaming in every dimple sweet of her joyous smiling face:
“I ask not much in the favor’d one who this dainty hand would gain;—
No ordeal long would I ask of him—no hours of mental pain.
“Let him but come in the pomp of rank, endowed with wealth and
To woo to a lofty palace home his youthful, worshipped bride,
Heaping my path with presents rare, with radiant jewels and gold,—
Love’s flame ’neath poverty’s breath, ’tis said, soon waxes faint and cold.”
Outspoke another, with proud dark eye, and a stately, regal mien:
“Thou saidst thou wast easily pleased, May, and so thou art, I ween,
Thou askest paltry rank and wealth—aim higher would be mine!
Rare mental gold—the priceless fire of genius divine.”
“And I,” said a third, with soft sweet voice, “would
exact still less than ye,
No need for glitter of lofty state, no gold or jewels for me;
Nor ask I that genius’ lofty power in his ardent soul should dwell,
Enough, if he love but me alone, and love me only well!”
Another said that her choice would fall on manly beauty and grace,
That he she would love must matchless stand, the noblest of his race,
Excelling in sports of flood and field, and as lion brave in war,
Yet, with hand and voice, in lady’s bower, attuned to light guitar.
And now, with one accord, they turned to a dove-like maiden mild,
With a seraph’s purity of look, and soft graces of a child;
“Speak out, speak out now, sweet shy Clare, we anxious wait for thee,
Coy, gentle one! fear not to say what thy heart’s young choice will be.”
A moment paused she, and then a flush, like sunset, dyed her brow,
And softly she murmured “Sisters, dear, I have made my choice ere now,
And the rarest gifts that you could name, be they earthly or divine.
In strange perfection—God like grace—will be found all, all in mine.”
She ceased, and a thoughtful silence stole o’er those youthful
brows of mirth,
They knew she spoke of the Bridegroom King—the Lord of Heaven and earth;
And e’er fleet time of another year had sounded the passing knell,
The maiden Clare and her Bridegroom fair were wedded in convent cell.
Oh, Villa Maria, thrice favored spot,
Unclouded sunshine is still thy lot
Since first, ’neath thy mortal old,
The spouses of Christ—working out God’s will,
Meekly entered, their mission high to fill
’Mid the “little ones” of His fold.
But grief’s dark hour, that to all must come,
At length is on thee, and as a tomb,
Hushed, joyless, art thou to-day,
For the lofty mind that thy councils led,
To womanly sweetness so closely wed,
Has been called by death away.
“One ’mid a thousand!” no words could tell
The peerless worth that, like holy spell,
Won all souls to saintly love;
And that knowledge rare of the human heart
That, with heavenly patience and gentle art,
The coldest breast could move.
Oh! girlish natures, good blended with ill,
That she trained with such watchful, wondrous skill
To be noble women and true—
The bliss of those households whose hope you are,
Where your worth shines steady as vesper star,
Unto her is surely due.
And those chosen souls, called to holier state,
That on the Heavenly Bridegroom wait,
Their cell an Eden below,
Whom she guided safely through wile and snare,
Making virtue appear so divinely fair,
How much unto her they owe!
And many now sleeping ’neath churchyard sod,
But whose souls are reigning on high with God
Through her teachings true and blessed—
With what strains of rapture, ravishing, sweet,
Their teacher and guide did they once more meet,
As she entered on her rest.
When to Villa Maria will come again
Spring, with opening buds and gentle rain,
Though her place be vacant there,
The spirit of her teachings will ever dwell
In the earthly home she loved so well,
Treasured with sacred care.
The winds of winter, with sob and sigh,
And dirge-like voices go wailing by,
Waking echoes in every breast.
As they sweep o’er the snow-clad reaches wide,
And the cold pale shroud where, on every side,
The eyes are forced to rest.
And the stars shed their radiance pure, yet faint,
Like aureole round the brow of a saint,
As on earth they calm look down;
And raising our tearful and heavy gaze
On high, to their solemn, silvery rays,
We whisper—“Thus shines her crown.”
Mother beloved, O sainted nun,
Disciple true of the Crucified One,
Thy teachings we keep for aye,
Till, our life’s brief course wrought out, we meet
At our Father’s glorious judgment-seat,
In realms of cloudless day!
December 23rd, 1875.
How oft I’ve longed to gaze on thee,
Thou proud and mighty deep!
Thy vast horizon, boundless, free,
Thy coast so rude and steep;
And now entranced I breathless stand,
Where earth and ocean meet,
Whilst billows wash the golden sand,
And break around my feet.
Lovely thou art when dawn’s red light
Sheds o’er thee its soft hue,
Showing fair ships, a gallant sight,
Upon thy waters blue;
And when the moonbeams softly pour
Their light on wave or glen,
And diamond spray leaps on the shore,
How lovely art thou then!
Still, as I look, faint shadows steal
O’er thy calm heaving breast,
And there are times, I sadly feel,
Thou art not thus at rest;
And I bethink me of past tales,
Of ships that left the shore,
And meeting with thy fearful gales,
Have ne’er been heard of more.
They say thy depths hold treasures rare,
Groves coral—sands of gold—
Pearls fitted for a monarch’s wear
And gems of worth untold;
But these could not to life restore
The idol of one home,
Nor make brave hearts beat high once more
That sleep beneath thy foam.
But I must chase such thoughts away,
They mar this happy hour,
Remembering thou dost but obey
Thy Great Creator’s, power;
And in my own fair inland home,
Mysterious, moaning main,
In dreams I’ll see thy snow-white foam
And frowning rocks again.
What does time whisper, youth gay and light,
While thinning thy locks, silken and bright,
While paling thy soft cheek’s roseate dye,
Dimming the light of thy flashing eye,
Stealing thy bloom and freshness away—
Is he not hinting at death—decay?
Man, in the wane of thy stately prime,
Hear’st thou the silent warnings of Time?
Look at thy brow ploughed by anxious care,
The silver hue of thy once dark hair;—
What boot thine honors, thy treasures bright,
When Time tells of coming gloom and night?
Sad age, dost thou note thy strength nigh, spent,
How slow thy footstep—thy form how bent?
Yet on looking back how short doth seem
The checkered coarse of thy life’s brief dream.
Time, daily weakening each link and tie,
Doth whisper how soon thou art to die.
O! what a weary world were ours
With that thought to cloud our brightest hours,
Did we not know that beyond the skies
A land of beauty and promise ties,
Where peaceful and blessed we will love—adore—
When Time itself shall be no more!
Hush, mourning mother, wan and pale!
No sobs—no grieving now:
No burning tears must thou let fall
Upon that cold still brow;
No look of anguish cast above,
Nor smite thine aching breast,
But clasp thy hands and thank thy God—
Thy darling is at rest.
Close down those dark-fringed, snowy lids
Over the violet eyes,
Whose liquid light was once as clear
As that of summer skies.
Is it not bliss to know what e’er
Thy future griefs and fears,
They will be never dimmed like thine
By sorrow’s scalding tears?
Enfold the tiny fingers fair,
From which life’s warmth has fled,
For ever freed from wearing toil—
The toil for daily bread:
Compose the softly moulded limbs,
The little waxen feet,
Spared wayside journeys long and rough,
Spared many a weary beat.
Draw close around the lifeless form
The shreds of raiment torn,
Her only birthright—just such rags
As thou for years hast worn;
Her earthly dower the bitter crust
She might from pity crave,
Moistened by tears—then, final gift,
A pauper’s lowly grave.
Now, raise thy spirit’s gaze above!
See’st thou yon angel fair,
With flowing robes and starry crown
Gemming her golden hair?
Changed, glorified in every trait,
Still with that beauty mild;
Oh! mourning mother, thou dost know
Thine own, thy late-lost child.
An heir to heaven’s entrancing bliss,
Veiled in its golden glow,
Still thinks she of the lonely heart
Left on this earth below.
Courage!—not long thy weary steps
O’er barren wastes shall roam,
Thy daring prays the Father now
To quickly call thee home!
She stands in front of her mirror
With bright and joyous air,
Smoothes out with a skilful hand
Her waves of golden hair;
But the tell tale roses on her cheek,
So changing yet so bright,
And downcast, earnest eye betray
New thoughts are hers to-night.
Then say what is the fairy spell,
Around her beauty thrown,
Lending a new and softer charm
To every look and tone?
It is the hidden consciousness—
The blissful, joyous thought
That she, at length hath wholly won
The heart she long had sought.
To-morrow is her bridal day,
That day of hopes and fears,
Of partings from beloved friends,
Of sunshine and of tears:
To-morrow will she says the words,
Those words whose import deep
Will fix her future lot in life—
Well might she pause and weep!
Yet, only once, a passing cloud
Rests on her girlish brow,
Her dark eye gleameth restlessly—
She’s thinking of her vow.
But quick as light and fleecy clouds
Flit o’er a summer sky,
The shadow passeth from her brow,
The trouble from her eye.
In silvery tones she murmurs forth
“My heart is light and glad,
Youth, beauty, hope, are all mine own,
Then, why should I be sad?
To graver hearts leave graver thoughts
And all foreboding fears,
For me, life’s sunshine and its flowers,—
I am too young for tears!”
Silence now reigns in the corridors wide,
The stately rooms of that mansion of pride;
The music is hushed, the revellers gone,
The glitt’ring ball-room deserted and lone,—
Silence and gloom, like a clinging pall,
O’ershadow the house—’tis after the ball.
Yet a light still gleams in a distant room,
Where sits a girl in her “first season’s bloom;”
Look at her closely, is she not fair,
With exquisite features, rich silken hair
And the beautiful, child-like, trusting eyes
Of one in the world’s ways still unwise.
The wreath late carefully placed on her brow
She has flung on a distant foot-stool now;
The flowers, exhaling their fragrance sweet,
Lie crushed and withering at her feet;
Gloves and tablets she has suffered to fall—
She seems so weary after the ball!
Ah, more than weary! How still and white,
With rose-tipped fingers entwined so tight:
A grieved, pained look on that forehead fair,
One which it never before did wear,
And soft eyes gleam through a mist of tears,
Telling of secret misgivings and fears.
Say, what is it all? Why, some April care,
Or some childish trifle, baseless as air;
For the griefs that call forth girlhood’s tears
Would but win a smile in maturer years,
When the heart has learned, ’mid pain and strife,
Far sterner lessons from the book of life.
Ah! far better for thee, poor child, I ween,
Had thy night been spent in some calmer scene,
Communing with volume or friend at will,
Or in innocent slumber, calm and still;
Thou would’st not feel so heart-weary of all
As thou to night thou feelest, “after the ball!”
The lights yet gleamed on the holy shrine, the incense hung around,
But the rites were o’er, the silent church re-echoed to no sound;
Yet kneeling there on the altar steps, absorbed in ardent prayer,
Is a girl, as seraph meek and pure—as seraph heav’nly fair.
The blue eyes, veiled by the lashes long that rest on that bright
Are humbly bent, while the snow-white hands are clasped in fervor meek,
While in the classic lip and brow, each feature of that face,
And graceful high-bred air, is seen she comes of noble race.
But, say, what means that dusky robe, that dark and flowing veil,
The silver cross—oh! need we ask? they tell at once their tale:
They say that, following in the path that fair as she have trod,
She hath renounced a fleeting world, to give herself to God.
Her sinless heart to no gay son of this earth hath she given,
Her’s is a higher, holier lot, to be the Bride of Heaven;
And the calm peace of the cloister’s walls, abode of humble worth,
Is the fit home for that spotless dove, too fair, too pure for earth.
Amid the flowers of a garden glade
A lovely rose tree smiled,
And the sunbeams shone, the zephyrs played,
’Round the gardens favorite child;
And the diamond dew-drops glistening fell
On each rose’s silken vest,
Whilst light winged bee and butterfly gay
On the soft leaves loved to rest.
But one morn while a sunbeam bright
Lit up its delicate bloom,
And a zephyr lightly hovered ’round,
On wings of sweet perfume,
A strong hand came, and ruthlessly
Tore up the parent tree,
And bore it off, with each fair young rose,
From butterfly, zephyr and bee.
What mattered it that an antique vase
Of Sèvres costly and old,
Was destined, henceforth, in royal State,
Its fair young form to hold?
What mattered it that the richest silks
Of the far famed Indian loom,
With priceless marbles paintings rare,
Adorned its prison room?
It even pined for the garden free,
For its pleasant friends of yore,
And brooded over the bitter thought,
It would never see them more:
And its young head daily lowlier drooped
Upon its sorrowing breast,
While it chafed against the kindly hand
That tended and caressed.
But Autumn came with angry storms,
With clouded and wintry skies—
Rudely it touched the lovely flowers,
And withered their brilliant dyes;
The sunbeam false hid its glowing glance,
Or with chilling coldness shone;
The zephyr fled to Southern climes,
And the flowers died alone
Then the rose tree looked on the gloomy earth,
On each withered tree and flower,
And it warmly blessed the loving care
Of its new, protecting power:—
No more it mourned past Summer joys,
But brightly blossomed on,
With beauty brighter than when once,
The garden’s queen, it shone.
Yes, leave my side to flirt with Maude,
To gaze into her eyes,
To whisper in her ear sweet words,
And low impassioned sighs;
And though she give you glance for glance,
And smile and scheme and plot,
You cannot raise a jealous thought,
I know you love her not.
Now turn to laughing Lulu,
That Witty, gay coquette,
With her teeth of shining pearl,
Her eyes and hair of jet:
With a mirthful smile imprison
Her hand within your own,
And softly press it—what care I?
You love but me alone.
To Ida’s chair you wander,
You’re bending o’er her now,
Until your own dark curls have brushed
Against her queenly brow;
In vain she strives to bind you
With fascinating spell;
For if sharply now I suffer,
You suffer too as well.
This fit of gay coquetry
Is meant, ah! well I know
To avenge my quiet flirting
At our ball a night ago,
With that winning, handsome stranger,—
Remember, Harry dear,
’Twas yourself who introduced him,
Yourself who brought him here.
Let us cease this cruel warfare,
Come back to me again!
Ah, what do we reap from flirting
But heartaches, mutual pain?
You’ll forgive my past shortcomings—
Be tender as of yore
And we both will make a promise
To henceforth flirt no more.
To all my fond rhapsodies, Charley,
You have wearily listened, I fear;
As yet not an answer you’ve given
Save a shrug, or an ill-concealed sneer;
Pray, why, when I talk of my marriage,
Do you watch me with sorrowing eye?
’Tis you, hapless bachelor, Charley,
That are to be pitied—not I!
You mockingly ask me to tell you,
Since to bondage I soon must be sold,
Have I wisely chosen my fetters,
Which, at least, should be forged of pure gold.
Hem! the sole wealth my love possesses
Are her tresses of bright golden hair,
Pearly teeth, lips of rosiest coral,
Eyes I know not with what to compare.
Don’t talk about all I surrender—
My club, champagne dinners, cigars,
My hand at écarté, my harmless
Flirtations with Opera “stars.”
Think of the pleasant home, Charley—
Home! I utter the word with just pride—
Its music, soft lights, countless comforts,
Over which she will smiling preside.
And picture in fancy the welcome
That will greet my arrival each night!
How she’ll help me to take off my wrappings
With her dear little fingers so white;
The sweet silvery voice that will utter
The airiest nothings with grace,
The smiles that will dimple all over
That loving and lovely young face.
If sickness should ever o’ertake me,
O! just think how cherished I’ll be—
What loving cares, gentle caresses,
Shall be showered on fortunate me;
While you in some lone, gloomy attic,
To dull death posting off at quick pace,
Will encounter no tokens of pity
Save the smirk on some pert waiter’s face.
And who, perhaps, twelve hours after,
Bringing up your weak tea and dry toast,
Will look in, find you “gone,” and drawl forth,
“Number ten has just given up the ghost.”
Then, Charley, to good counsel listen,
Brave not an old bachelor’s fate,
But, doing as I’ve done, go marry
A loving and loveable mate.
Why turn from me thus with such petulant pride,
When I ask thee, sweet Edith, to be my bride;
When I offer the gift of heart fond and true,
And with loyalty seek thy young love to woo?
With patience I’ve waited from week unto week,
And at length I must openly, candidly speak.
But why dost thou watch me in doubting surprise,
Why thus dost thou raise thy dark, deep, melting eyes?
Can’st thou wonder I love thee, when for the last year
We have whispered and flirted—told each hope and fear;
When I’ve lavished on thee presents costly and gay,
And kissed thy fair hands at least six times each day?
What! Do I hear right? So those long sunny hours
Spent wand’ring in woods or whispering in bowers,
Our love-making ardent in prose and in rhyme,
Was just only a method of passing the time!
A harmless flirtation—the fashion just now,
To be closed, by a smile, or a jest, or a bow!
Ah, believe me, fair Edith, with me ’twas not so,
And I would I had known this but six months ago;
I would not have wasted on false, luring smiles,
On graces coquettish and cold, studied wiles,
True love that would give thee a life for thy life,
And guarded and prized thee, a fond, worshipped wife.
Oh I thou’rt pleased now to whisper my manners are good,
And my smiles such as maiden’s heart rarely withstood,
My age just the thing—nor too young nor too old—
My character faultless, naught lacking but gold,
And to-day might I claim e’en thy beauty so rare
If good Uncle John would but make me his heir.
Many thanks, my best Edith! I now understand
For what thou art willing, to barter thy hand:
A palace-like mansion with front of brown stone,
In some splendid quarter to fashion well known,
Sèvres china, conservatory, furniture rare,
Unlimited pin-money, phaeton and pair.
It is well, gentle lady! The price is not high
With a figure like thine, such a hand, such an eye,
Most brilliant accomplishments, statuesque face,
Manners, carriage distingué and queenlike in grace,—
Nothing wanting whatever, save only a heart,
But, instead, double portions of cunning and art.
Ah! well for me, lady, I have learned in good time
To save myself misery—you, sordid crime.
I will garner the love that so lately was thine
For one who can give me a love true as mine;
But learn ere we part, Edith, peerless and fair,
Uncle John has just died and has left me his heir!
I leave for thee, beloved one,
The home and friends of youth,
Trusting my hopes, my happiness,
Unto thy love and truth;
I leave for thee my girlhood’s joys,
Its sunny, careless mirth,
To bear henceforth my share amid
The many cares of earth.
And yet, no wild regret I give
To all that now I leave,
The golden dreams, the flow’ry wreaths
That I no more may weave;
The future that before me lies
A dark and unknown sea—
Whate’er may be its storms or shoals,
I brave them all with thee!
I will not tell thee now of love
Whose life, ere this, thou’st guessed,
And which, like sacred secret, long
Was treasured in my breast;
Enough that if thy lot be calm,
Or storms should o’er it sweep,
Thou’lt learn that it is woman’s love,
Unchanging, pure and deep.
In this life’s sunshine gild thy lot,
Bestowing wealth and pride,
Its light enjoying, I shall stand,
Rejoicing, at thy side;
But, oh! if thou should’st prove the griefs
That blight thy fellow-men,
’Twilt be my highest, dearest right,
To be, love, with thee then.
And thou, wilt thou not promise me
Thy heart will never change,
That tones and looks, so loving now,
Will ne’er grow stern and strange?
That thou’lt be kind, whatever faults
Or failings may be mine,
And bear with them in patient love,
As I will bear with thine?
Fair tiny rosebud! what a tide
Of hidden joy, o’erpow’ring, deep,
Of grateful love, of woman’s pride,
Thrills through my heart till I must weep
With bliss to look on thee, my son,
My first born child—my darling one!
What joy for me to sit and gaze
Upon thy gentle, baby face,
And, dreaming of far distant days,
With mother’s weakness strive to trace
Tokens of future greatness high,
On thy smooth brow and lustrous eye.
What do I wish thee, darling, say?
Is it that lordly mental power
That o’er thy kind will give thee sway,
Unchanging, full, a glorious dower
For those whose minds may grasp its worth,
True rulers and true kings of earth?
Or would I ask for thee that fire
Of wond’rous genius, great divine,
The spell that charms the poet’s lyre,
Till like a halo it will shine
Around a name praised, honored, sung,
In distant climes by many a tongue?
Ah, no! my child, with such vain themes
I will not mar thy quiet rest
Nor wish ambition’s restless dreams
Infused into thy tranquil breast;
Too soon will manhood’s weight of care
O’ercloud that waxen brow so fair.
For thee, my Babe, I only pray
Thou’lt live to bless thy parents’ love,
To be their hope, their earthly stay,
And gaining grace from heaven above,
Tread in the path the good have trod,
True to thy country and thy God!
The snow-flakes were softly falling
Adown on the landscape white,
When the violet eyes of my first born
Opened unto the light;
And I thought as I pressed him to me,
With loving, rapturous thrill,
He was pure and fair as the snow-flakes
That lay on the landscape still.
I smiled when they spoke of the weary
Length of the winter’s night,
Of the days so short and so dreary,
Of the sun’s cold cheerless light—
I listened, but in their murmurs
Nor by word nor thought took part,
For the smiles of my gentle darling
Brought light to my home and heart.
Oh! quickly the joyous springtime
Came back to our ice-bound earth,
Filling meadows and woods with sunshine,
And hearts with gladsome mirth,
But, ah! on earth’s dawning beauty
There rested a gloomy shade,
For our tiny household blossom
Began to droop and fade.
And I, shuddering, felt that the frailest
Of the flowers in the old woods dim
Had a surer hold on existence
Than I dared to hope for him.
In the flush of the summer’s beauty
On a sunny, golden day,
When flowers gemmed dell and upland,
My darling passed away.
Now I chafed at the brilliant sunshine
That flooded my lonely room,
Now I wearied of bounteous Nature,
So full of life and bloom;
I regretted the wintry hours
With the snow-flakes falling fast,
And the little form of my nursling
With his arms around me cast.
They laid his tiny garment
In an attic chamber high,
His coral, his empty cradle,
That they might not meet my eye;
And his name was never uttered,
What e’er each heart might feel,
For they wished the wound in my bosom
Might have tune to close and heal.
It has done so thanks to that Power
That has been my earthly stay,
And should you talk of my darling,
I could listen now all day,
For I know that each passing minute
Brings me nearer life’s last shore,
And nearer that glorious Kingdom
Where we both shall meet once more!
The world had chafed his spirit proud
By its wearing, crushing strife,
The censure of the thoughtless crowd
Had touched a blameless life;
Like the dove of old, from the water’s foam,
He wearily turned to the ark of home.
Hopes he had cherished with joyous heart,
Had toiled for many a day,
With body and spirit, and patient art,
Like mists had melted away;
And o’er day-dreams vanished, o’er fond hopes flown,
He sat him down to mourn alone.
No, not alone, for soft fingers rest
On his hot and aching brow,
Back the damp hair is tenderly pressed
While a sweet voice whispers low:
“Thy joys have I shared, O my husband true,
And shall I not share thy sorrows too?”
Vain task to resist the loving gaze
That so fondly meets his own,
Revealing a heart that cares for praise
From him and him alone;
And though censure and grief upon him pall,
Unto to her, at least, he is all in all.
What though false friends should turn aside,
Or chill with icy look;
What though he meet the pitying pride,
The proud heart ill can brook;
There are depths of love in one gentle heart,
Whose faith with death alone will part.
Aye! well may thy brow relax its gloom,
For a talisman hast thou
’Gainst hopes that are blighted in their bloom,
’Gainst scornful look or brow—
Her heart is a high and a holy throne
Where monarch supreme thou reignest alone.
Kindly return her tender gaze,
Press closely that little hand,
Whisper fond words and soothing praise—
They are ever at thy command;
It is all the harvest she asks to reap
In return for love as the ocean deep.
Dear mother, dry those flowing tears,
They grieve me much to see;
And calm, oh! calm thine anxious fears—
What dost thou dread for me?
’Tis true that tempests wild oft ride
Above the stormy main,
But, then, in Him I will confide
Who doth their bounds ordain.
I go to win renown and fame
Upon the glorious sea;
But still my heart will be the same—
I’ll ever turn to thee!
See, yonder wait our gallant crew,
So, weep not, mother dear;
My father was a sailor too—
What hast thou then to fear?
Is it not better I should seek
To win the name he bore,
Than waste my youth in pastimes weak
Upon the tiresome shore?
Then, look not thus so sad and wan,
For yet your son you’ll see
Return with wealth and honors won
Upon the glorious sea.
Whilst others give thee wond’rous toys,
Or jewels rich and rare,
I bring but flowers—more meet are they
For one so young and fair.
’Tis not because that snowy brow
Might with the lily vie,
Or violet match the starry glance
Of that dark, lustrous eye;
Nor yet because a brighter blush
E’en rose leaf never wore,
But ’tis that in their leaves lies hid
A rare and mystic lore.
And with its aid I now shall form
A wreath of flow’rets wild—
Graceful, and full of meaning sweet,
To deck thy brow, fair child!
The primrose, first, the emblem fit
Of budding, early youth;
The daisy in whose leaves we read
Pure innocence and truth.
The rosebud, sign of youthful charms,
We well may give to thee,
And with it join the sweet frail leaves
Of the shrinking sensitive tree.
And, tribute to thy modesty,
The violet emblem meet,—
Itself concealing, yet on all
Shedding its perfume sweet.
And for thy kind and gentle heart
We bring the jessamine,
To twine with ivy, ever green—
True friendship’s sacred sign.
Thy wreath is formed—of blossoms bright
I’ve twined each link, and, yet,
Another flower I still must add,
The fragrant mignonnette,
Which says “However great the charms
That to thy lot may fall
Thy qualities of heart and mind
By far surpass them all.”
Aye, be it thus, and ever may
This lovely wreath, as now—
Emblem of every precious gift—
Be fit to deck thy brow.
But, last and dearest, ’mid the buds
Of that bright varied lot
Must ever be, my gentle child,
The sweet forget-me-not!
I sit by the fire musing,
With sad and downcast eye,
And my laden breast gives utt’rance
To many a weary sigh;
Hushed is each worldly feeling,
Dimmed is each day-dream bright—
O heavy heart, can’st tell me
Why I’m so sad to-night?
’Tis not that I mourn the freshness
Of youth fore’er gone by—
Its life with pulse high springing,
Its cloudless, radiant eye—
Finding bliss in every sunbeam,
Delight in every part,
Well springs of purest pleasure
In its high ardent heart.
Nor yet is it for those dear ones
Who’ve passed from earth away
That I grieve—in spirit kneeling
Above their beds of clay;
O, no! while my glance upraising
To yon calm shining sky,
My pale lips, quivering, murmur,
“They are happier than I!”
But, alas! my spirit mourns
As, weary, it looks back—
Finding naught of good or holy
On life’s past barren track—
I mourn for the countless errors
That on mem’ry’s page crowd on,
And sorrow for lost chances
Of good I might have done.
But, courage! I must arouse me,
The day is not yet o’er,
And I still may make atonement
Ere leaving life’s last shore:
One act of meek oblation,
A tear of penance bright,
Will be counted as rare treasures
In heaven’s loving sight.
O say, dear sister, are you coming
Forth to the fields with me?
The very air is gaily ringing
With hum of bird and bee,
And crowds of swallows now are chirping
Up in our ancient thorn,
And earth and air are both rejoicing,
On this gay summer morn.
Shall we hie unto the streamlet’s side
To seek our little boat,
And, plying our oars with right good will,
Over its bright waves float?
Or shall we loll on the grassy bank
For hours dreamy, still,
To draw from its depths some silv’ry prize,
Reward of angler’s skill?
I do not talk of the tempting game
The forest covers hide,
So dear to the sportsman—plovers shy,
Pheasants with eye of pride,
For I know your timid nature shrinks
From flash of fire-arm bright,
And the birds themselves hear not the din
With more intense affright.
But we may tread the cool wood’s paths,
And wander there for hours,
Discovering hidden fairy dells,
Be-gemmed with lovely flowers;
And while you weave them in varied wreaths;
In oaks of giant size
I’ll seek for nests of cunning shape—
I, too, must win some prize.
Then, sister, listen! squander not
These hours of precious time
With stupid book or useless work—
It is indeed a crime;
But haste with me to the wood-lands green,
Where forest warblers sing
And bees are humming—like them, too,
We must be on the wing.
Buried in childhood’s cloudless dreams, a fair-haired nursling
A soft smile hovered round the lips as if still oped to pray;
And then a vision came to him, of beauty, strange and mild,
Such as may only fill the dreams of a pure sinless child.
Stood by his couch an angel fair, with radiant, glitt’ring
Of hues as bright as the living gems the fount to Heaven flings;
With loving smile he bent above the fair child cradled there,
While sounds of sweet seraphic power stole o’er the fragrant air.
“Child, list to me,” he softly said, “on mission high
Sent by that Glorious One to whom Heav’n bows in loving fear;
I seek thee now, whilst thou art still on the threshold of earth’s strife,
To speak of what thou knowest not yet, this new and wond’rous life.
“Dost cling to it? dost find this earth a fair and lovely one?
Dost love its bright-dyed birds and flowers, its radiant golden sun?
I come to bid thee leave it all—to turn from its bright bloom,
And, having closed thine eyes in death, descend into the tomb.
“Thou shudderest, child! with restless gaze from me thou
’Mid summer flowers and singing birds wouldst thou remain to play;
Thou still wouldst bask in the dear light of thy fond father’s smile,
And on thy mother’s doating heart would linger yet awhile.
“’Tis well, sweet child, I blame thee not, but in spheres far
Are blossoms lovelier far than those which tempt thee here to stay;
And if the love of parents fond with joy thy heart doth fill,
In those bright distant realms is One who loves thee better still!
“That One for thee in suffering lived—for thy sake, too, he
Oh! like the ocean is His love, as deep, my child, as wide.
Leave, then, this earth ere hideous sin thy spotless brow shall dim—
One struggling breath, one parting pang, and then thou’lt be with Him!”
A smile lit up the sleeper’s face, but soon it softly fled,
The rose leaf cheeks and lips grew wan—could it be the child was dead?
Yes, dead—and spared the ills of life, and in bright bliss above
The pure soul nestles in the light of God’s unbounded Love.
“Child of my love, why wearest thou
That pensive look and thoughtful brow?
Can’st gaze abroad on this world so fair
And yet thy glance be fraught with care?
Roses still bloom in glowing dyes,
Sunshine still fills our summer skies,
Earth is still lovely, nature glad—
Why dost thou look so lone and sad?”
“Ah! mother it once sufficed thy child
To cherish a bird or flow’ret wild;
To see the moonbeams the waters kiss,
Was enough to fill her heart with bliss;
Or o’er the bright woodland stream to bow,
But these things may not suffice her now.”
“Perhaps ’tis music thou seekest, child?
Then list the notes of the song birds wild,
The gentle voice of the mountain breeze,
Whispering among the dark pine trees,
The surge sublime of the sounding main,
Or thy own loved lute’s soft silvery strain.”
“Mother, there’s music sweeter I know
Than bird’s soft note or than ocean’s flow,
Vague to me yet as sounds of a dream,
Yet dearer, brighter than sunshine’s gleam;
Such is the music I fain would hear,
All other sounds but tire mine ear!”
“Ah! thou seekest then a loving heart,
That in all thy griefs will bear a part,
That shelter will give in doubt and fear,
Come to me, loved one, thou’lt find it here!”
“Sweet mother, I almost fear to speak,
And remorseful blushes dye my cheek,
For though thou’st watched me from childhood’s hour,
As thou would’st have done a precious flower,
Though I love thee still as I did of yore,
Yet this weak heart seeketh something more:
A bliss as yet to my life unknown,
A heart whose throbs will be all mine own,
The tender tones of a cherished voice,
Of him who shall be my heart’s first choice;
And who at my feet alone shall bow,
This, this is the dream that haunts me now.”
“Alas, poor child, has it come to this?
Then bid farewell to thy childhood’s bliss,
To thy girlhood’s bright unfettered hours,
Thy sunny revels ’mid birds and flowers;
Of the golden zone yield up each strand
To cling to a hope, unstable as sand,
And forget the joys thy youth hath wove
In the stormy doubts of human love,
The feverish hopes and wearing pain
That form the links of Love’s bright chain!” Alas! the mother spoke in vain!
The girl’s dream was soon fulfilled,
Her hopes by no dark cloud were chilled;
A lover ardent, noble too,
With flashing eyes of jetty hue,
With voice like music, sweet and soft,
Such as her dreams had pictured oft,
Now at her feet, a suppliant bowed,
And love eternal, changeless vowed.
Listening, then, with glowing cheek,
And rapture which no words might speak,
She thought, with bright and joyous smile,
They erred who thus could love revile,
Or say it had many a dark alloy,—
Had it not proved a dream of joy?
But, alas for her! she learned too soon
That love is fleeting as rose of June,
That her eyes might shine with olden light,
And yet be found no longer bright;
That she might devoted, faithful prove,
Yet her lover grow weary of her love.
Many an hour of silent tears,
Of heart-sick doubts, of humbling fears,
Of angry regrets, were hers, before
Her heart would say, “He loves no more.”
Weary of life and its thorny ways,
She sought the friend of her early days:
“Mother, I bring thee a breaking heart,
In sorrows deep it hath borne a part;
Speak to me tenderly as of yore,
Let thy kiss rest on my brow once more;
To the joys of my girlhood back I flee,
To live alone for them and for thee!”
Young mother! proudly throbs thine heart, and well may it rejoice,
Well may’st thou raise to Heaven above in grateful prayer thy voice:
A gift hath been bestowed on thee, a gift of priceless worth,
Far dearer to thy woman’s heart than all the wealth of earth.
What store of deep and holy joy is opened to thy thought—
Glad, sunny dreams of future days, with bliss and rapture fraught;
Of hopes as varied, yet as bright, as beams of April sun,
And plans and wishes centred all within thy darling one!
While others seek in changing scenes earth’s happiness to gain,
In fashion’s halls to win a joy as dazzling as ’tis vain—
A bliss more holy far is thine, far sweeter and more deep,
To watch beside thine infant’s couch and bend above his sleep.
What joy for thee to ling’ring gaze within those cloudless
Turning upon thee with a glance of such sweet, strange surprise,
Or press a mother’s loving kiss upon that fair, white brow,
Of all earth’s weight of sin and care and pain unconscious now.
Then, as thy loved one’s sleeping breath so softly fans thy
And gazing on that tiny form, so lovely, yet so weak,
A dream comes o’er thee of the time when nobly at thy side
Thy cherished son shall proudly stand, in manhood’s lofty pride.
Yet a sad change steals slowly o’er thy tender, loving eye,
Thou twin’st him closer to thy heart, with fond and anxious sigh,
Feeling, however bright his course he too must suff’ring know,
Like all earth’s children taste alike life’s cup of care and woe.
But, oh! it lies within thy power to give to him a spell
To guard him in the darkest hour from sorrow safe and well;
Thou’lt find it in the narrow path the great and good have trod—
And thou thyself wilt teach it him—the knowledge of his God!
Thou art home at last, my darling one,
Flushed and tired with thy play,
From morning dawn until setting sun
Hast thou been at sport away;
And thy steps are weary—hot thy brow,
Yet thine eyes with joy are bright,—
Ah! I read the riddle, show me now
The treasures thou graspest tight.
A pretty pebble, a tiny shell,
A feather by wild bird cast,
Gay flowers gathered in forest dell,
Already withering fast,
Four speckled eggs in a soft brown nest,
Thy last and thy greatest prize,
Such the things that fill with joy thy breast,
With laughing light thine eyes.
Ah! my child, what right have I to smile
And whisper, too dearly bought,
By wand’ring many a weary mile—
Dust, heat, and toilsome thought?
For we, the children of riper years,
Task aching heart and brain,
Waste yearning hopes and anxious fears
On baubles just as vain.
For empty title, ribbon or star,
For worshipped and much-sought gold,
How men will struggle at home—afar—
And suffer toils untold;
Plodding their narrow and earth-bound way
Amid restless care and strife,
Wasting not merely a fleeting day,
But the precious years of life.
And thou, fair child, with to-morrow’s dawn
Wilt rise up calm and glad,
To cull wild flowers ’mid wood and lawn,
Untroubled by memory sad;
But, alas! the worldly-wise of earth,
When life’s last bonds are riven,
Will find that for things of meanest worth
They’ve lost both Life and Heaven.
Gentle Lily with this Album my warmest wishes take,
I know its pages oft thou’lt ope and prize it for my sake,
For, though a trifling offering, it bears the magic spell
Of coming from the hand of one who loves thee passing well.
O could thy young life’s course be traced by will or wish of
A smiling, joyous future—a bright lot would be thine,
No cloud should mar the gladness of thy fair youth’s op’ning morn,
The roses of thy girlhood should be free from blight or thorn.
Howe’er, ’tis better ordered by a Blessed Power above
Who sends us cross and trial, as a token of His Love;
For we’d cling, ah! far too closely to earthly joys and ties,
Unwilling e’er to leave them for our home beyond the skies.
As the pages of this volume, unwritten, stainless, fair,
Life opens out before thee, let it be thine aim and care
To keep the record spotless, and ever free from all
That thou might’st wish hereafter remorseful to recall.
Not seeking to o’ershadow thy smiling azure eyes,
Nor see that girlish bosom heave with sad thoughts and sighs,
I would whisper low, while wishing thee, all earthly, cloudless bliss,
Be life a preparation for a better life than this!
They grew together side by side,
They filled one house with glee
Their graves are severed far and wide—
By mountain stream and tree.
They were as fair and bright a band as ever filled with pride
Parental hearts whose task it was children beloved to guide;
And every care that love upon its idols bright may shower
Was lavished with impartial hand upon each fair young flower.
Theirs was the father’s merry hour sharing their childish
The mother’s soft breathed benison and tender, nightly kiss;
While strangers who by chance might see their joyous graceful play,
To breathe some word of fondness kind would pause upon their way.
But years rolled on, and in their course Time many changes brought,
And sorrow in that household gay his silent power wrought!
The sons had grown to gallant men of lofty heart and brow,
The fairy like and joyous girls were thoughtful women now.
The hour of changes had arrived, and slowly, one by one,
The playmates left the parent’s roof, their own career to run;
The eldest born, the mother’s choice, whose soft and holy smile
In childhood’s days had told of heart as angel’s free from guile.
Formed in resolve, and scorning all earth’s pleasures and its
Had offered up his life to God, a teacher of His name:
His spirit sighed not long on earth, he found a quiet grave
’Mid forests wild whose shades he’d sought the Red man’s soul to save.
Far diff’rent was the stirring choice of his youthful brother
His was the glitt’ring sword and flag, the drum, the war steed’s neigh;
And the proud spirit that had marked his childhood’s earliest hour
Distinguished still the warrior brave in manhood’s lofty power.
Alas for him, and visions vain of fame that lured him on,
An early grave in a distant land was the only goal he won!
His gaze bedimmed that yearned for home rested on alien skies,
And alien watchers wiped death’s damps, and closed his dying eyes.
A third with buoyant heart, had sought far India’s burning
Thinking to win wealth’s treasures by a few years’ eager toil,
But ere those years had sped their course, from earth’s cares he was free,—
He sleeps beneath the shadow of the date and mango tree.
But the sisters who had brightened once the home now desolate—
Lived they to mourn each brother’s loss? was theirs a happier fate?
In childhood’s sports and youth’s high dreams they’d borne a happy part,
But severed they were doomed ere long in death to sleep apart.
The tall and dark-eyed girl whose laugh, so full of silvery glee,
Had ever told of spirit light, from care and shadow free,
Had early left her happy home, the bright and envied bride
Of a husband whose ancestral name betokened wealth and pride.
Alas for her who in youth’s hour had basked in love’s
That husband stern deserted her in cold neglect to pine;
The merry smile soon fled her lip, the sparkling light her eye,
In vain she sought a southern clime, she only went to die.
And now of all the lovely band who’d joined in mirth of old,
There is, alas! but one sweet flower whose tale remains untold:
She was the joy, the pride of all, that gentle girl, and fair,—
With deep and dreamy azure eyes and shining golden hair.
E’en her bold brothers, in their youth, were gentle when she
From reckless sports, from daring games their eager hands they stayed;
And when amid their thoughtless mirth harsh feelings might awake,
They ever yielded to her prayers, and rested for her sake.
Oh! hers was far the brightest lot in life’s eventful race!
She passed from earth ere care had left upon her brow one trace—
She passed from earth with loving ones grouped round her dying bed,
And on a mother’s tender breast rested her throbbing head.
’Twas thus that each beloved one of that bright joyous band,
Save her, had found a lonely grave in a far distant land;
Yet murmurs ’gainst high heaven’s decrees as impious were as vain—
For in far happier regions will that household meet again!
The night lamp is faintly gleaming
Within my chamber still,
And the heavy shades of midnight
Each gloomy angle fill,
And my worn and weary watchers
Scarce dare to move or weep,
For they think that I am buried
In deep and quiet sleep.
But, hush! what are those voices
Heard on the midnight air,
Of strange celestial sweetness,
Breathing of love and prayer?
Nearer they grow and clearer,
I hear now what they say—
To the Kingdom of God’s glory,
They’re calling me away!
See my gentle mother softly
To me approaches now,
What is the change she readeth
Upon my pale damp brow?
She clasps her hands in anguish
Whose depth no words might say?
Has she, too, heard the voices
That are calling me away?
The father fond of my children,
First sole love of my youth,
The loving, the gentle hearted,
And full of manly truth,
Is kneeling now beside me,
Beseeching me to stay—
Oh! ’tis agony to tell him
They’re calling me away.
If earthly love could conquer
The mighty power of Death,
His love would stay the current
Of failing strength and breath!
That voice whose tender fondness
So long has been my stay
Should tempt me from the voices
That are calling me away.
Ah! they bring my children to me,
That loved and lovely band,
And with wistful awe-struck faces,
Around my couch they stand,
And I strain each gentle darling
To me with wailing cry,
As I for the first time murmur:
“My God! ’tis hard to die!”
But, O hark! Those strains of Heaven,
Sound louder in mine ear,
Whisp’ring: “Thy God, Thy Father,
Will guard those children dear.”
Louder they grow, now drowning
All sounds of mortal birth,
And in wild triumphant sweetness
Bear me aloft from earth!