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Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour,
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:
Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Its acrial hue,
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view;
Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass.
All that ever was
Joyous, clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass:
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught:
Our sweetest songs are those that tell the saddest thought.
Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.
TO HIS SON, SIX YEARS OLD, DURING SICKNESS.
SLEEP breathes at last from out thee,
My little patient boy;
And balmy rest about thee
Smooths off the day's annoy.
I sit me down, and think
Of all thy winning ways;
Yet almost wish, with sudden shrink,
That I had less to praise,
Thy sidelong pillowed meekness,
Thy thanks to all that aid,
Thy heart, in pain and weakness,
Öf fancied faults afraid;
The little trembling hand
That wipes thy quiet tears,
These, these are things that may demand
Dread memories for years.
Sorrows I've had, severe ones,
I will not think of now;
And calmly, midst my dear ones,
Have wasted with dry brow;
But when thy fingers press
And pat my stooping head,
I cannot bear the gentleness,-
The tears are in their bed.
Ah, first-born of thy mother,
When life and hope were new,
Kind playmate of thy brother,
Thy sister, father, too;
My light, where'er I go,
My bird, when prison-bound,
My hand in hand companion,—no,
My prayers shall hold thee round.
"He has departed"—
"His voice-his face-is gone;"
To feel impatient-hearted,
Yet feel we must bear on;
Ah, I could not endure
To whisper of such woe,
Unless I felt this sleep ensure
That it will not be so,
Yes, still he 's fixed and sleeping!
This silence too the while-
Its very hush and creeping
Seem whispering us a smile :-
Something divine and dim
Seems going by one's ear,
Like parting wings of Cherubim,
"We've finished here."
WILSON's poetry possesses a quiet beauty, gentle and soothing in its influence. He resembles Wordsworth, more perhaps in some respects, than any other writer. He reminds us too of Grahame, to whose memory he has offered so beautiful a tribute. Yet he cannot with propriety be called an imitator, for his poems are abundant in the truth and freshness of nature, and display much originality. They are delightful in their moral influence, full of sweet, domnestic, affectionate thoughts, aloof from all misanthropy, and tinged with the mild, benevolent spirit of religion. They are such as we should expect from the author of The Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life.
TO THE MEMORY OF THE REV. JAMES GRAHAME, THE POET OF SCOTLAND.
WITH tearless eyes and undisturbed heart,
O Bard! of sinless life and holiest song,
I muse upon thy death-bed and thy grave;
Though round that grave the trodden grass still lies
Besmeared with clay; for many feet were there,
Fast-rooted to the spot, when slowly sank
Thy coffin, Grahame! into the quiet cell.
Yet, well I loved thee, even as one might love
An elder brother, imaged in the soul
With solemn features, half-creating awe,
But smiling still with gentleness and peace.
Tears have I shed when thy most mournful voice
Did tremblingly breathe forth that touching air,
By Scottish shepherd haply framed of old,
Amid the silence of his pastoral hills,
Weeping the flowers on Flodden-field that died.
Wept, too, have 1, when thou didst simply read
From thine own lays, so simply beautiful,
Some short pathetic tale of human grief,
Or orison or hymn of deeper love,
That might have won the sceptic's sullen heart
To gradual adoration, and belief
Of Him who died for us upon the cross.
Yea! oft when thou wert well, and in the calm
Of thy most Christian spirit blessing all
Who look'd upon thee, with those gentlest smiles,
That never lay on hunian face but thine;
Even when thy serious eyes were lighted up
With kindling mirth, and from thy lips distill'd
Words soft as dew, and cheerful as the dawn,
Then, too, I could have wept, for on thy face,
Eye, voice, and smile, nor less thy bending frame,
By other cause impair'd than length of years,
Lay something that still turn'd the thoughtful heart
To melancholy dreams, dreams of decay,
Of death and burial, and the silent tomb.
And of the tomb thou art an inmate now!
Methinks I see thy name upon the stone
Placed at thy head, and yet my cheeks are dry.
Tears could I give thee, when thou wert alive,
The mournful tears of deep foreboding love,
That might not be restrain'd; but now they seem
Most idle all! thy worldly course is o'er,
And leaves such sweet remembrance in my soul
As some delightful music heard in youth,
Sad, but not painful, even inore spirit-like
Than when it murmur'd through the shades of earth.
Short time wert thou allow'd to guide thy flock Through the green pastures, where in quiet glides The Siloah of the soul! Scarce was thy voice Familiar to their hearts, who felt that heaven Did therein speak, when suddenly it fell Mute and forever! Empty now and still The holy house which thou didst meekly grace, When with uplifted hand, and eye devout, Thy soul was breathed to Jesus, or explained The words that lead unto eternal life. From infancy thy heart was vow'd to God: And aye the hope that one day thou might'st keep A little fold from all the storms of sin Safe-shelter'd, and by reason of thy prayers Warm'd by the sunshine of approving Heaven, Upheld thy spirit, destined for a while To walk far other paths, and with the crowd Of worldly men to mingle. Yet even then, Thy life was ever such as well became One whose pure soul was fixed upon the cross!
And when with simple fervent eloquence,
Thou plead'st the poor man's cause, the listener oft
Thought how becoming would thy visage smile
Across the house of God, how beauteously
That man would teach the saving words of Heaven!
How well he taught them, many a one will feel
Unto their dying day; and when they lie
On the grave's brink, unfearing and composed,
Their speechless souls will bless the holy man
Whose voice exhorted, and whose footsteps led
Unto the paths of life; nor sweeter hope,
Next to the gracious look of Christ, have they,
Than to behold his face, who saved their souls.
But clos'd on earth thy blessed ministry!
And while thy native Scotland mourns her son,
Untimely reft from her maternal breast,
Weeps the fair sister-land, with whom ere while
The stranger sojourn'd, stranger but in birth,
For well she loved thee, as thou wert her own.
On a most clear and noiseless Sabbath-night I heard that thou wert gone, from the soft voice Of one who knew thee not, but deeply loved Thy spirit meekly shining in thy song. Atsuch an hour the death of one like thee Gave no rude shock, nor by a sudden grief Destroy'd the visions from the starry sky, Then settling in my soul. The moonlight slep With a diviner sadness on the air; The tender dimness of the night appear'd Darkening to deeper sorrow, and the voice Of the far torrent from the silent hills Flow'd, as I listen'd, like a funeral strain Breath'd by some mourning solitary thing. Yet Nature in her pensiveness still wore A blissful smile, as if she sympathized With those who grieved that her own Bard was dead. And yet was happy that his spirit dwelt At last within her holiest sanctuary, Mid long expecting angels.
And if e'er
Faith, fearless faith, in the eternal bliss
Of a departed brother, may be held
By beings blind as we, that faith should dry
All eyes that weep for Grahame; or, through their tears,
Show where he sits, august and beautiful,
On the right hand of Jesus, mid the saints