James Thomson.

Northumbria, The captive chief, and other poems online

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



A LITTLE CLOUD.



A little i loud rose in the west,

No other cloud was there ;
Like a tiny bark on a waveless sea,

It sailed through the viewless air.

Tho' the face of that littlo cloud was black,

It was lined with silver blight ;
Darkness had covered the silent earth,

But that littlo cloud had light.

That little cloud with its face so dark,

And its lining of silver hue ;
May fall on the earth in a storm of hail,

Or descend in soft rain like dew.

Like that little cloud our lives appear,

A speck on the ocean of time ;
Darkened with sine of a varied hue,

Or bright with good deeds sublime.

A little deed when kindly done,

Like a ray of sunshino bright ;
Dispells the clouds of dark despair

That obscure our mental sight.

A little word, like a little spark,

May shine like a star of night,
Or light a flame that we cannot quench,

Nor banish from our sight.

A little love, like a tiny seed,

May grow and expand like a flower,

To adorn the humble cottage home,
Or deck a fair lady's bower.

A little pride, like a noxious weed,

Poisons the richest ground ;
Eating the sap that nourish tho flowers,

That die where pride is found.

A little bud contained the fruit

That tempted Eve to sin ;
Like her if we love that deadly fruit,

It will poison our soul within.

Let our lives bo like that littlo cloud,

That rose in the western sky ;
Tho' darkness may cloud our face at times,

Behind us bright sunshine l ; e.

Jamks TnoMsON.



N O R T II UMBRIA



THK C APTIYK CHI EF



AND OTHER POEMS



BY



JAMES THOMSON



Cljirti (Coition— (Cnlnrjyco



ALNWICK: H. H. BLAIR

i i



?K



teei



DEDICATED

B1 PK KM I ssl ON
TO

LADY FA I I! 1'A X.



HAVING SERVED Mil: I UDTSHIP G FATHER AND QBANDFATHEB

IN THE CAPACITY OF A SERVANT

i Hi \i i HOB FEELS THAT Hi: is PLACING



C1)iss Little Holume



UNDER THE PBO N OK i>NK \vh<» TAKKS AN

INTEREST IN ITS SUCCESS.



911






PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.



In the preface to the first edition of my little volume,

I said that "] ma by a working man had ceased to

be a novelty." If this was the case ten years ago, it
may be safely affirmed thai the number of versifiers
like myself have increased during that time twenty-
fold. The motives that lead many to try their hand at
e making are no doubt as varied as the individuals
themselves.

Win n I lir-t tried m\ own hand al versifying, I
had no thought of ever making a book; that was an
after-thought, prompted by a desire to gather together
all my stra\ pieces : in doing this 1 found thai several
of them had been lost. I was not requested and pressed
by friends and advisers to "print; hut when I did
nothing gave me greater pleasure and satisfaction than



Vlll PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.

the kindly criticisms passed upon my little volume.
I trust that the same kind indulgence will be extended
to this, my third and enlarged edition, which I now
place in the hands of my friends and the public.

JAMES THOMSON.

Shawdon, June I, 1881.



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.



"Poems by a working man" have ceased to be a
Dovelty. A professor of the divine art of poesy, at a
public meeting some years ago, gave the world a rough
estimate of the number of imitators of the heaven-born
ait in Greal Britain. The number was so astounding
that 1 felt a sort of guilty criminality for ever having
scribbled verses. Under this feeling I am constrained
to make all due apology to those thai have the spirit,
and '• are senl to prophesy." To the public 1 offer
no apology ; for do nol they in greal numbers huy
plated goods, and vile prints thai would shock the
taste of "cultivated minds"? To the small portion
of the public which includes my personal friends and
acquaintances, I give my besl thanks for their confi-
dence and generosity in so liherally subscribing towards

my little 1 k before they saw its size or contents. If

they find any pleasure in its perusal, 1 shall feel a



X PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

satisfaction that is perhaps only felt by those that
make a book.

" Some rhyme a neighbour's name to lash,
Some rhyme, vain thought, for needful cash,
Some rhyme to raise the country clash."

The last-named motive is perhaps the most potent
with rhymers like myself — and why not 1 The most
illiterate may have a yearning after that immortality
that is only granted to " the gods ; " for have we
not eyes 1 have we not ears 1 and have we not a heart
that can feel and love, although it cannot express its
emotions in language measured by the rules of art 1
Are such to hold their tongues, " even from good
words " 1

An old bookmaker has said, " What your hand
findeth to do, do it with diligence." Acting upon this
precept, I launch my little volume upon the ocean, to
sink or swim.

JAMES THOMSON.

Shawdon, July 28, 1 87 1.



i- n NT i:\Ts.



NOETHl HBBIA .

1 hi: OAK i\ i: CHIEF
\i rUMN i.k.w i -
A I Ti M\ BEBBIE8

i hi: fisherman's h a

LINES TO A CHILD ON HEB KIK.-T BIETHD

LINES TO A CAGES l AUK

Tin: 0HBIS1 HAS I

THE LAST NIGHT 0' mi: 1 BAB .

LINES TO Mlt. AND MBS. OLD7P .

WOBK, BBOTHEBS, WORK ! .

n m: thi: BABP

BPI8TLB TO JOHN lin B

: w nn i im;iia.m
IN MEMOBIAM ....
A OHBISTHAS BONG (FOB LITTLE CHILDREN
I . 1 1 r 8PBINQ

[VAL)
THE i P08T

M\ WEB I i.i I itk BTOOL

job's raven ....



w



3

21

3>

33
35
33


42

44

48

5i

53
55
5S
61

63
66

68

7-
7"
79



Xll



CONTENTS.



LINES READ AT THE BURNS ANNIVERSARY, ALNWICK
IN MEMORIAM OF THE LATE LORD RAVENSWORTH

ALONE

MY LITTLE PRIMROSE FLOWER

LINES WRITTEN ON A VISIT TO SPEYSIDE .

BLIND HECTOR AND HIS DOG

LINES INSCRIBED TO WILLIAM GREEN, ESQ., RUTHRIE .
AUTUMN

in memory of the late mrs ibbotson .
time, like a river, rolls along ! .

the blind man's dream '

heart memories

the exile's return

haste to the bridal

bell the cat: a christmas tale for little children
"the kail brose o' auld scotland"
lines written on the field of culloden

love and friendship

earl Percy's wedding-day

my own fireside

lines written on the top of benrinnes

lament, written on reading of the death of the late

earl of fife

the try'sting-tree

to my robin redbreast

to the snowdrop

"THERE'S A PRETTY WEE HOUSIE PKOVIDIN' FOR ME "

A CHRISTMAS GREETING TO (.MY FRIEND) ANTHONY OLIVER

GARDENER

THE TOOM MEAL-KIST

WRITTEN ON THE DEATH OF THE YEAR 1 85 5



CON! I.n l 3.



Xlll



LINKS LN80BIBED r> 9AUNDBBS U'GBBOOB

OT in i ii: B08EB1 D

A 0HBIS1 mas BONG

\ 3BOOND BPIBTLE TO BAUNDEBS M'GBEGOB
rn MV at I.I) PIKE BTAFF, ....

iiii: i i M'KNAKV OF silt WALTBB BOOT!

I ; DOES is DEAD

EPISTLE I'K'iM K. n. .
ANSWBB CO E. D. .



1 66
170
172

'71
'77
1 So

183
185

1S9



NOETHUMBEIA



A POEM.



Northumberland, I scarce can tell
Why all thy scenes I love so well ;
For in thy limits every hill,
Each lonely cairn and rushing rill,
Each sheltered strip of stunted wood,
Thy quiet nooks of solitude,
Thy liquid fountains gushing clear,
All on my memory linger dear.
Nor less do I delight to trace,
On hill and dale, each noted place
Connected with a former age,
That glows upon thy storied page."

— Robert White.



NOETHUM I'.IMA

A POEM.



Northumbr] \. be thou my theme ;
Thy bills, thy vrales, and every stream
That winds through rocky glens their way.
Where busy mankind seldom .-tray.
There sweet Nature Loves to dwell
And bloom unseen in many a dell,
'Mid rocks, and boulders piled on hi
In ( tothic grandeur to the sky ;
There russet moss ami lichens rare
Their colours blend in tints as fair
As the bright rainbow in the -K ;, ,
That spans the Cheviot tops on high.
The wild thyme hangs in festoons there,
Its perfume scents the mountain air,
Wafted "ii ih'- balmy ;
It brings from far the toiling be<



NORTHDMBRIA.

From flower to flower on tireless wing,
They sip its sweets, and joyous sing.
The harebell, tinted like the sky,
Waves o'er yon beetling cliff on high,
There the starling takes her rest,
And the martin builds her nest.
And when the evening shadows close,
The cuckoo there takes short repose ;
Keady at dawn to trim her wing,
And hail anew the joyous spring ;
Swift skimming through the ferny dell,
She wakes up Echo in his cell.
Her ringing wild notes, rich and clear,
The wandering shepherd stops to hear :
It tells him that the time is near —
To every shepherd's heart so dear —
When he shall see his lambkins play
Around their dams, on hill and brae.
Stretched on the grass beside them there,
He'll soon forget his toils and care,
And note with joy around him rise,
And spread their beauty to the skies,
Day by day he sees unrolled,
The tender ferns, bronzed like gold.
Thus Nature springs at God's command.
And clothes anew a barren land.
Stirred by the breath of genial spring,
These barren hills rejoice and sing ;



NORTHUMBR] \.

The tender grass beneath our feet

I- gemmed with many a wild flower sweet.

Thus Nature's ever-bounteous hand

i Ipens wide at Eis command :

Thai mountain ash stood Leafless thi

With blossoms now il the air ;

Ami that tall foxglove on the rock

Ai Nature's call to life awoke,

And like a pennon waves on high

Its flower-clad banner to the sky.

By mountain Btreams, that ceaseless flow,

The graceful ladj ferns grow,

There weeping birch and alders green

Spread o'er their heads a leafy screen ;

lien,' in many a sylvan spot,

There M as tin' sweet forget-me-nol :

Like some dear memory fed by 1-
It takes its hue from heaven above,
And blooms unseen to mortal eve,
But blooms, alas ! to fade and die
Thus cruel ilrat it at last destroys
< >ur brightest hopes, our loves and joys ;
,\d vernal sun, nor spring, nor rain,
Will stir them into lit'.' again.
How sweet amidst these hills to stray
And Bpend the lengthened summer 'lav.
Far from the tumult and the strife,
The ceaseless din of city 1



NORTHUMBRIA.

JSo discord here, no jarring sound
To break the peaceful calm around.
The murmuring stream, the rushing rill
That leaps in cascades down the hill,
In fitful music breaks the calm,
That rise and falls like some sAveet psalm
That soothes to rest the wear}' heart,
That makes the tear unconscious start.
Amidst such scenes we feel a peace
That to these lonely hills we trace.
Upon that wide expanding waste
A death-like silence seems to rest ;
The cloud that crowns yon towering hill
Is resting there so calm and still ;
Though distant far, it seems so near
That we expect a voice to hear —
The same as when the Almighty spoke
To men from Sinai's toAvering rock,
And rolling thunders rent the sky,
And Israel felt. that God Avas nigh.



AVhile through these nigged hills I climb,
My thoughts dwell on a bygone time,
AVhen the polecat, Avolf, and fox
Lived undisturbed amidst these rocks,
In ancient times here lived a race,
AVhose footsteps in these wilds we trace.



NORTH! MBR1 \.



Beneath yon cairn piled on high,

The bones of some great chieftain lie,
Who spent his rude and barbarous I
Amidst wild scenes of savage strife.
That pathway leading through the glen
"Was trodden by a rare of men,
Who Ballied forth at dawn of day
To seek their food like beasts of prey :
These savage men in ambush lay
Where Coquet winds his devious way,
There they watched the milk-white steei
I lescend to drink the water clear.
Unconscious that his foes are oigh,
II- drinks, and rears Ins head on high ;
Then quick he sniffs the tainted air
That tells his deadly foes are there :
Then thick as hailstones from the sky
Their Bpears and arrows round him fly :
Soon vanquished in the unequal strife,
The noble beast yields up his life,
Falls like a bra], of driven Bnow
That winter wind- together Mow.
Q lick from his limbs the skin they tear.
And home the flesh in triumph bear
To their dark den and dwelling-place,
Whose rude foundation here we trai



• On Greenahaw Bill, between Linnopand Hartside, tfaefoun-



NOIITHUMBIUA.

Where the morning meal is spread,
And there the wretched inmates fed
On sodden flesh torn from the bone
AVith their rude knives of flinty stone ;
There, hidden from the light of day,
These savage men devoured their prey.
The naked children crawling round ;
Mix with the dogs upon the ground,
With greedy eyes the fire they watch,
And from its embers quickly snatch
The broiling flesh from off the bone,
Then fly with it to be alone,
Like some greedy beast of prey
That hates to feed in open day.
Thus lived our Pictish sires of old
In misery, nakedness, and cold ;
In holes and dens, like beast of prey,
They spent their lives from day to day ;
In mental darkness black as night,
Their souls without one ray of light ;



dations of British towns can be distinctly traced ; and a road
or trackway, the work of the same people, leads from the prin-
cipal town down to the Breamish, and on to the hills beyond,
towards the head of the Coquet. There can be little doubt but
that along this track the savage people carried home the wild
animals killed in the forests around the base of the Cheviots ;
and there can be as little doubt that amongst them were the
predecessors of the now celebrated wild cattle of Chillingham.



NORTHUMBRJ \.

The Btarry heavens above their head,
They Looked upon with fear and dread.
When n ' I the midnight sky,

In terror to their gods they cry,
To shield them from the demon's ire
That feeds in heaven the quenchless fire,
Whose flickering flame is seen to play
In the far north at close of clay ;
Be who, when his anger burns,
The light of day to darkness turns;
Comes thundering forth in cloudy car,
Its rolling wheels are heard afar;
The trembling earth beneath them shakes,
And birds and beasts in terror quake.
Like flaming arrows through the sky,
Bis dreadful lightnings quickly tly ;
They strike and rend the solid rock,
And tare to shreds the mighty oak,
And lay its spreading branches low,
( Jlothed with the sacml mistletoe.
Struck by a fiery bolt from heaven,
Their sacred oak is rem and riven ;
At the dread sighl they prostrate fall,
And to their gods in terror call.
They call in vain, no god draws near,
With helping hand, nor voice to cheer.
At length a human voice they hear,
A man in sable garb draws near ;



10 NORTHUMBRIAN

With hands uplifted to the sky,
He fervent prayed to God on high
That he, a sinful man and weak,
Might wisely to the people speak
Words of wisdom, power, and might,
Blessed by the Spirit's heavenly light.
Thus prayed Paulinus, while he stood
Surrounded by the heathen crowd.
Then aloud he cried : " Draw near,
All ye that sit in darkness hear :
To me, people, words are given
To tell you from the God of heaven,
Who, sent His Son from heaven above,
To tell men of His matchless love.
The gods you worship are no gods at all,
They cannot see you prostrate fall ;
They have no ears, nor eyes to see
You worship 'neath that spreading tree ;
But God, with His all-seeing eye,
Sees you kneel, and hears you cry.
To Him, sinful people, pray
That He may wash your sins away,
And ere your wretched lives are done
Reveal to you His Messed Son.
All you that now before Him stand,
Are made and fashioned by His hand ;
He made the sun so dazzling bright,
A in! you rejoice to see His light.



NOBTHUMBRIA. I I

1 . • moon and Btara He Likewise made,
That Bparkle nightly o'bt your head.
Look to yonder distant sh
Where foaming billows toss and roar:
( rod made the Bea, at Hi- command
I • •.' i\ i break harmless on the sand.
I [e made the beasts, and birds of
The spreading trees, and flowi I lir ;

He -in, Is the snow and summer rain,
And clothes these hills in green again.
Though we His presence cannot
Yet He is near to yon and me.
To mo, people, the mission's given
To tell you of the < rod of heaven,
Whose blessed Son came from above
To tell men (if their Father's Love ;
1 1- came the Saviour of men to be,
And Lived and died for you and me ;
He wandered Ear o'er hill and glen,
To preach and speak to sinful men ;
The words Ik- .-aid I now tell you,
1 f you believe you'll find them true."
While on a rock Paulinus stood,*
1 [e Lifted high the holy ro "1



Paulinus, the first missionary to the pagan Northumbri
whose aarne is associated with many of th< streams ami hol\



T 2 NORTHUMBRIA.

(The cross-bar was taken from the tree
Whereon Christ died in agony) ;
The upright shaft of polished oak
He planted firmly on the rock.
The people saw with wondering eyes
The first cross in Northumbria rise,
And flocked in crowds from far and near
The story of the cross to hear.
As Christ's forerunner did of old,
The sainted man the story told —
How Christ, the blessed Lamb of God,
In human form the earth He trode.
" Look to that cross ! " Paulmus cried ;
" Thereon your Saviour bled and died ;
Now on a throne He sits in heaven,
And unto Him all power is given."
It was thus Paulinus did unfold,
And to crowds the story told ;
O'er many a wild and rugged way
He wandered far, to preach and pray.
Through danger, misery, and strife
lie held aloft the lamp of life —

wells in the North, was obliged, A.D. 633, to leave the country.
After the death of Edwin, slain in the battle of Hatfield, near
Doncaster, he took with him into Kent the widow and children
of the fallen king. There he ended his long and useful life as
Bishop of Rochester.



NORTHUMBR] \.

The lamp divine, the heavenly light,
That chase away the shades of night
Quenched quickly like a beacon fire,
I [e saw the heavenly lighl expire.
With Edwin slain on Hatfield moor,
Nbrthumbria saw Its darkest hour.
From the Trent to winding Forth
The heathen triumphed o'er the North ;
Blood and rapine raged around,
The Cross of Christ cast to the ground,
The power- of evil ruled once more,
" The Man of God" fled from the si
In distant Kent he ne'er ceased to pray
For loved Northumbria far away,
Thai ( rod would quell the heathen's
And give Christ hack His herita

It was in his country's darkesl hour
Thai Oswald came, in might and power;
( Iswald — no more glorious name
In dark Northumbrian history -learn.*



* AJterthe death of Edwin the people relapsed into idolatry again,
until Oswald, another of Ethelfrith'a .-ens, slew the murderous
Cadwalla, at Hevenfield, near Hexham. Amongst his Brat
was to send to [ona for a bishop to re-tor,, the I Ihristian reli
in the land. There he had himself, when in exil . received a



14 NORTHUMBRIA.

Like the shining star so bright,
That ushers in the morning light,
His heart aglow with holy fire,
To mighty deeds he did aspire.
On Hevenfield that glorious day,
Pierced by his spear, Cadwalla lay.
For this glorious victory given,
He knelt before the God of heaven,
And vowed, if he was granted life,
To put an end to war and strife —
Raise up the fallen cross again,
That trampled in the dust had lain.
To aid his holy work the while,
There came from lone Iona's isle
Aidan, that Christ-like man—
The holy work again began.
Like the beloved John of old,
In loving words he did unfold
The mystery of redeeming love,
Vouchsafed to man from heaven above.

knowledge of the Christian faith. The authorities of that place
sent him an austere man, Corinan by name, who failed in his
mission. On his return to Iona, Aidan remarked: "Brother,
by thy own showing thou hast gone the wrong way to work ;
thou hast given the children strong meat instead of milk."
Aidan appeared the right man for the great work, and he will-
ingly lfft his quiet life in Iona for the troubled career of a
Northumbrian bishop.



N0RTH1 Mi:i:i A.



The people wondered, and adored,
And benl the knee, before the Lord.
The image of the mighty Thor
Th( y burned upon the Bandy shore,

Woden'a temples to the ground,
And Btrewed the sacred fire around.
No more to him they benl the knee,
In terror, 'neath the Bacred tree ;
To I rod beneath the azure skies
They offered prayer, as sacrifice.
The sainted Aidan, worn with toil,
Turned his thoughts to Fame [ale;
Ee longed to build a temple there,
And end his life in fast and praj
No temple yet was situ to rise
Beneath Northumbrian wide-spread ski
No holy altar to the Lord,
Where Bis name might be adored.
Like the Israelites of old,
A willing people gave theii gold ;
The poorest did an offering brin .
And laid it down before the king.
( Iswald took their offering mi
And laid it at Aidan's feet,
Therewith to build unto the Lord
A house, where lie mighl be adored.
Then quickly at the king's command
Messengers went through the kind,



1 6 NORTHUMBRIA.

To tell the people all to pray
Upon the great Ascension Day ;
For on that day, on Fame Isle,
They meant to found a holy pile.

That morning rose, bright and fair,
A balmy fragrance filled the air ;
The dew o'er all the landscape lay,
And sparkled in the sunny ray.
On Cheviot-top a fleecy cloud
Lay glittering, like a silver shroud ;
Peace seemed brooding o'er the deep,
The troubled waves were hushed in sleep
The noisy sea-birds ceased to scream,
And on its bosom seemed to dream.
From the green earth there did arise
A fragrant incense to the skies ;
From every vale and upland glen
Went, seaward, troops of savage men •
All their thoughts are turned the while,
To meet their king on Fame Isle.
King Oswald at the dawn of day
Left Bamborough castle grey ;
He bade his boatmen, with a smile,
Kow him hence to Fame Isle.
The people saw their king draw near,
And hailed him with a lusty cheer;
As soon as he had touched the land,
Aidan took him by the hand,



N0RTH1 IfBRIA. 17

And led liini through the motley crowd ;
T while a psalm h<' chanted loud,
Until he reached the chosen ground,
With all the chiefs assembled round.
The holy stone, prepared with care,
Suspended hung already there.
The king a silver trowel took,
Then raised to heaven a silent look :
< >n bended knees, with arms bare,
He laid thf corner-stone with care;
Then with his spear he struck the ground,
And spoke to those assembled round :
'• Ymu, my loving people, witness he
This day between the Lord and me,
That I to God this island give,

Efis saints may ever live,
And ever in His presence stand,
And pray for this beloved land.''
"0 God of heaven," Aidan said,
"This holy work vouchsafe to aid ;
.May here until time's latest day,
Thy servants never cease to pray.
We take in trust this gift for heaven,

hi , l I king, so freely given ;
And at this shrine, by night and day,
For thee, o king, we'll ever pray."

God on the hdy work did smile.
And quickly rose the sacred pile —






1 8 NORTHUMBRIA.

So quickly, that the people said

That unseen hands had given aid

To carve and shape so quaint and fair

That arch suspended in the air ;

The massive columns, cut in stone,

Must be the work of gods alone.

Above the arch-encircled door

A richly-carved figure bore

A polished cross of marble stone,

That brightly like a mirror shone.

To see this house so fair and meet,

Pilgrims came with weary feet ;

The rudest felt an holy awe

When this glorious shrine they saw ;

"With feet unshod they entered there,

And knelt to God in heartfelt prayer,

And sought within this holy place

The pardon of their sins, and grace.

There the holy Aidan vigils kept —

Prayed to God while others slept,

That lie would vengeance quickly bring

Upon the slayers of his king.

Within these walls St. Cuthbert prayed,*

And here his holy bones were laid,



* The name of St. Cuthbert is so identified with the early
history of the Christian Church of Northumberland that every



N0RTH1 MM.! \. ]<)

Exempt, it ia Baid, from that decay
That turn- the mortal frame to clay.

Alas ! thy glories now are gone,
Time's fingers waste thy carved stone ;
I nstead of solemn chanl and prayer,
The rude winds sing a requiem there.
Long may thy mouldering ruins stand,
Safe from the spoiler's ruthless hand.

schoolboy ought to know how much they owe to the great and

g 1 men who first taught the heathen people of Northumbria

the Gospel of Christ. Although much that is legendary is
interwoven with the history of St. Cuthbert, enough remains
t.> testify that he was no ordinary man. The Venerable Bede
tells us that from his very childhood he was inflamed with the
desire t" devote his life to the glory of God. He heard with the
orrow that he had been unanimously elected to be a
bishop. He would have rather Bpent the last days < »f his life
in solitude and prayer. There is no more interesting episode


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Online LibraryJames ThomsonNorthumbria, The captive chief, and other poems → online text (page 1 of 7)