« PreviousContinue »
To Mary in Heaven.
courted his acquaintance. He was taken to Edinburgh, fêted, petted—and spoiled. Lords and ladies who had invited him to their houses soon neglected him, or, when they met him, passed over to the other side of the street. What wonder, then, that in the bitterness of disappointed hope, he should speak too freely about freedom, and be voted as one who was to be kept down! When he failed in that farm for which, by their toadyism, they unfitted him, they made him an exciseman, and told him if he would only lick-spittle their order, he might hope to rise to the rank of a supervisor. He couldn't do it ; the natural dignity of his genius prevented him. Burns did not “boo and boo” himself into favour, as he might have done ; his true genius soared above even this nationality, and he was given to understand that his hopes of preferment were blasted—nay, his continuance in office was made dependent on his silence. He did not survive this degradation long; he never held up his head again. He died in the summer of 1796; and then—the lion dead, uprose the chorus of repentant asses! All Scotland claimed him for her own.]
Thou lingering star with lessening ray
That lov'st to greet the early morn!
My Mary from my soul was torn!
Where is thy place of blissful rest ?
Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast ?
That sacred hour can I forget ?
Can I forget the hallowed grove,
To live one day of parting love ?
Those records dear of transports past !
Ah ! little thought we, 'twas our last!
O'er-hung with wild woods, thickening green;
Twined amorous round the raptured scene.
The birds sang love on every spray ;
Proclaimed the speed of winged day.
And fondly broods with miser care ;
As streams their channels deeper wear.
Where is thy blissful place of rest ?
Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast ?
46.—TO THE NIGHTINGALE.
[See page 167.] My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
In some melodious plot
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
And purple-stainèd mouth;
And with thee fade away into the forest dim :
What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret,
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
And leaden-eyed despairs ;
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards :
But here there is no light,
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
I have been half in love with easeful death,
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
In such an ecstasy !
To thy high requiem become a sod.
No hungry generations tread thee down;
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
The same that oft-times hath
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
In the next valley-glades:
Fled is that music :-do I wake or sleep ?
JAMES HOGG. [James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, was born on the anniversary of the natal day of Robert Burns, a coincidence he was proud of referring to, January 25, 1782; fortunately for the young poet, some of his fugitive pieces, written at the age of eighteen, were submitted to Sir Walter Scott, who encouraged him to proceed. A volume of ballads, “The Forest Minstrel,” was subsequently published; but it was not until he produced his “Queen's Wake" that his fame was established. He became a contributor to “Blackwood's Magazine," and John Wilson, by introducing him frequently into the “Noctes," put the key-stone upon his popularity. Hogg wrote some magnificent songs. His taste, however, led him more to romance and legendary story: to fairy lore and the realms of fancy. These subjects he treated with the feeling of a poet and the imagination of a painter. His “Kilmeny” is a fairy tale worthy of Spenser. If he had not the strength of Burns, he was more playful and inventive, and as a master of rhythm he was unequalled. He died at Altrive Lake, on the Yarrow, November, 1835.]
STRANGER of Heaven! I bid thee hail!
Shred from the pall of glory riven,
Broad pennon of the King of Heaven !
From angel's ensign-staff unfurled ?
Waved o'er a sordid, sinful world ?
That erst o'er plains of Bethlehem shone,
Bright herald of the eternal throne !
Thy streaming locks so lovely pale-
to man, or judgment dire,
Why sought these polar paths again,
To fling thy vesture o'er the Wain ?
And vanishest from human view,
Through wilds of yon empyreal blue !
To coast through fields of air with thee,
Like foam-bells on a tranquil sea!
The icicles from off the pole;
Where other moons and planets roll!
Smile on a rapt enthusiast's dream;
And airy as thine ambient beam!
The Ministry of May.
And long, long may thy silver ray
Our northern arch at eve adorn;
Light the grey portals of the morn.
48.—THE MINISTRY OF MAY.
T. K. HERVEY. [Thomas Kibble Hervey was a native of Manchester, born 1804. For many years he was the editor of the Atheneum. He was a frequent contributor to the annuals, and published “ Australia, and other Poems,” 1824; “The Poetical Sketch Book,” 1829, “Illustrations of Modern Sculpture,” 1832, “The English Helicon," 1841, &c. Died 1859.]
The earth is one great temple, made
For worship everywhere;
That ring the heart to prayer.
At noon or twilight dim-
The river hath a hymn.
To reach the townsman's ear,
Hath Sabbath all the year;
the votaries of May !
The lark is far on high;
Be sooner in the sky!
Itself be gladness, given,
Beneath the vault of heaven.
When hopes make sport of fears,
Fall off at once in tears,
And yield that heart of thine
At every living shrine !