Carles Edwin Benham.

Essex ballads : and other poems online

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To find her plump and fat,
" On Sunday my wife and I shall sup,"

Said I to myself, " on that."
But we didn"t after all, for the duck got away
Inside my neighbour's cat.

63 G3ssc* gallab*

[Reprinted from the Family Circle.']

With the roar of a giant it bounded along,
The monster of iron and steam,

Filling the air with its thundering song,
Till the rocks re-echoed its scream,

And a drowsy dust-cloud rose and sank
As startled in a dream.

With a sound which only the insect ear

Could catch as it floated by;
A careless young butterfly hovered near

The great enbankment high,
Quietly singing of honey and flowers,
And of the summer sky.

aub otljcv |to«m«, 69

But all on a sudden the lazy wings,

Are gript by the whirling air,
And the poor little creature no longer sings,

And is swept to — he knows not where ;
And snap go his poor little tympanum-strings
In the whistle's hideous flare.

With a sad little song he resumes his flight,

As the monster hurries away.
He sings no more of the flowers and light,

Of honey and joys of day ;
But he murmurs a ditty of dragons grim,
And smoky horrors grey.

Little he knows of the power of steam,

Of the action of crank and wheel.
Never of boilers did he dream,

Or the wonderful uses of steel ;
For never to science did Nature yet
His compound eyes unseal.

7o (&*&cx ^allrtbs

Butterflies we in the fields of Time,

Little or nothing we know
Of the mighty engines whose power sublime,

Although it may work our woe,
Serves uses vast in a world unseen
By mortals here below.

iijtb otiyev ijitoem*.

Life is a voyage ever,
Oarsmen and sailors we,

Youth is a flowing river.
Manhood an open sea.

Happy the days when guided
On by the flowing stream,

Sure of our course we glided,
As in a ;;olden dream.

Sails were unneedcd o'er us,
Nor the firm hand to steer,

Safely die current bore us,
Peacefully free from fear.


72 QJese^ £5iilUibs

Now on the < cean heaving
Toil we with sail and oars.

Nov must we labour, leaving
Rest with the river shores.

Tempests and waves beat o'er us,
Rocks are around us now.

All the wide sea before us,

Where shall we bend the prow ?

Oh, for the days when we glided
On with the flowing stream.

Lost is the Power that guided,
Fled is the golden dream !

unb ctljev -poema* 73


On the World I look as a sort of Book,
Of which the pages are the ages.

On the first of all, alas, did fall

A blot from the pen of the first of men.

And many a page in an after age

Is black with smears and stained with tears.

And some contain a mournful strain,
A song of care and dark despair.

Bat here and there a page is fair,
And glorious shines with golden lines.

Are there pages still in the book to fill ?
Alas, not any can tell how many.

74 (&&sex *t?rtUab*

We know no more, as the leaves turn o'er,
Than this— that one is not yet done.

The years go by, and the pages dry,
But the ink is wet on one page yet.

We may have passed all but the last.

That turned who knows ? The Book may close.

But the page that's wet is waiting yet
A word or line of yours and mine.

Our part is slight, yet we may write
Some little deed worth while to read.

'Tis good to think that when the ink
Has long been dry as time goes by,

Some still might look back through the Book
To find the bit which we had writ,

And reading thus might speak of us
And bid men note how well we wrote.

attb otljci* "ffloems. 75

But those that read pay little heed
To writing fair penned out with care.

The flourished roll and figured scroll
Of days gone by attract the eye,

And blots I ween are clearly seen —

The whole world sees such things as these :

But all in vain by writing plain
We seek the praise of future days.

Yet I would choose all fame to lose,
All praises rung, all paeans sung,

If I could write some trifle slight
Which just a few would say was true.

They ever live whose life can give
New life to some in years to come.



76 (&&&CX £3rtllrtba


I HEARD, as a child, of a drag-on dread,
That dogged man's steps through life,

And at last would spring on its prey, they said,
To tear him in hopeless strife.

Timid, I peered the thickets between,

Till beneath the wayside boughs
I saw it ! — A creature of fearful mien,

With " Death " writ o'er his brows.

With a quiver I turned away my sight,
Ashe couched in the shadows dim,

Determined that nevermore, come what might,
Would I look at the Dragon grim.

iiub otljev ijikunue. 77

But the years went by, and there came a thought,
" From the Dragon you cannot fly ;

Some day the battle will have to be fought,
'I hen face him before you die."

So I looked a^ain with a firmer gaze ;

Boldly I looked and long.
What mattered his glare in the early days

When life was young and strong?

I looked at the Dragon with coo] disdain,

No longer a timid child,
And, could it be true ? As I looked again

1 thought the Dragon smiled.

My soul was filled with a deep surprise,
For the sight was wondrous strangle

As there before my very eyes
1 saw the Dragon change !

Change ! From a monster of fearful mien

With "Death " upon his brow,
To a creature of beauty and dazzling sheen,

That stood before me now.


8 isacx fgalUibe

No dragon ! An Angel of light and love,
The perfume of flowers his breath,

And " Life Eternal" his brows above,
Instead of the legend " Death."

anh tftljev ^iTocms. 79


" My riddle rede," the Sphinx who cries,
With cold gray eyes that all must heed,
O'er-views the crowd of passers-by,
And bids each answer her or die.

Once in a life, but scarcely more,
In searching sore, in eager strife,
Man peers the curtain's corner through,
And gains one glimpse of what is true.

Then, only then, the Sphinx's smile
A little while is seen of men.
But such a smile ! It throws disdain
On all the other years of pain

8o OBssch i3ixllrtb$

Once, as it seemed, that smiling face,
With all its grace, upon me beamed.
It came to me upon a day
As a strange vision passed away.

I saw the souls that left the earth
For higher birth, for greater goals.
I marked them each in wonder stand
Upon the far enchanted strand.

A wandering crowd ot spiiits streamed,
And, so it seemed, they cried aloud —
" Where is the God we knew so well,
And where is Heaven, and where is Hell ? "

Then saw I one' whose creed below
I seemed to know — " God there is none."
And still of God he saw no trace —
Stood bind before his Father's face

I watched one next, whose creed had been —
" When God is seen my doubts perplexed
Shall fade away " ; and in that land
The angels took him bv the hand.

mtb otljev ^loems. 81

They led him on through fields of light,
Till on his sight a splendour shone,
Exceeding far the light of day.
"Behold the Lord," I heard them say.

"Father, forgive," was all he said,
The past is dead, and now I live,
I knew Thee not, hut now I see."
And God forgave him instantly.

I marked a third ; when earth he trod
He saw no God, no God he heard ;
Yet held, in spite of clouds above,
Through life that God is Light and Love.

I saw him meet his God, and all
He did was fall before His feet.
And he alone without surprise
Saw God with clear untutored eyes.

And he alone, of all that throng,
Could join the song around the Throne.
He only, in the realms above
Untaught found Perfect Light and Love.

82 (&&$cx *3aUabe

Then shone, ah yes, just for a while,
The Sphinx's smile of happiness.
And such a smile ! It touched with light
The everlasting Hills of Night.

mtfcr Mljcv glooms. 83



Who builds a house is free to choose
The kinds of stone that he will use ;
So here what subjects you may find
Depends entirely on my mind.

Some writers make their readers feel
Provided with a good square meal,
While others — such a task is mine —
Supply the walnuts and the wine.
A sip of truth — the merest smack,
A pinch of salt, a nut to crack.

84 (&&&cx ^JrtUafcs

Some writers take you by the hand,

And lead you far through Fancy's land,

Through cultured gardens where the soil

Is redolent of care and toil.

My path less formal you will find ;

My labour is of humbler kind.

A few wild flowers- by some called weeds -

I pluck from Nature's tangled meads.

'Tis pleasant at times in the journey of life

To turn for an hour from the highway,

For the flowers that are fairest, and sweetest, and rarest,

Can only be found in the by-way.

We wonder that the swallows roam

Unguided to their distant home,

But is it not a stranger thing

That thought can fly on swifter wing,

And in an instant view a scene

Where neither birds nor men have been ?

uufr otljet* ^itoentsr. 85


The ruined castle, crumbling to decay,
We count a relic of the distant past ;

Yet every stone that lies upon the way
Is just as old, and just as long will last.

The tiny flower, born but to live a day,

That seems the freshest, newest thing on earth,

Is made of atom elements which lay

In the old Chaos, ere the race had birth.

■" Beneath the sun there's really nothing new."

This saying certainly is very true ;

And yet this paradox is even truer :

"Than oldest things there's often nothing newer

- >'



The stars, although they seem so very small,
Are each a solar svstem after all.

86 <&&&£& ^aUubs.

The world is so large that its infinite store
Seems greater in number than sand on the shore ;
But the world is so small that when all's said and done
Its endless varieties all appear one.

With all that we read, and with all that we write,
And with all that our teachers can show,

There isn't an emmet that sports in the light
But could tell us some things we don't know.

According to the children's rhyme,

The world is made of drops and grains,

But grown-up children learn in time

Each grain, each drop, a world contains.

If space is limitless, then great and small
Are without meaning as compared with all ;
So he who sets no limits to his theme,
Nothing too small nor yet too great will deem,.
Impartially his stream of fancy runs
From mites to empires, atomies to suns.

anb otljei* %\oe%tt& t 87


Often the gem but differs from the flint
In being rarer. Often gems of thought

But differ from the things we see in print
In being rarely written, seldom sought.

Who can exhaust from out the barren flint

The sparks that round the steel untiring play ?

There is no theme but still has something in't.
Till you have struck for ever and a day.

The wealth of all the Empires' thrones,

That glitter in the light of day,
The gold, the pearls, the precious stones

That millionaires have stowed away,
Are only samples. Thousands more

Are underneath Eanh's mantle green.
The greatest treasures of its store

Are those the world has never seen.

88 (&&&cx gallabs

There is a land where he who flings

Most wealth abroad, most riches saves,
A land where those who work are kings,

And all the kings are also slaves.
It is the land of black and white,

Whose store increases when unrolled,
And those who serve by every right

The ruling sceptre also hold.


" Just look at that goose," said a duck on the sluice,
" Why the length of her neck is absurd,"

" Justilook at that duck— what a neck ! " said the goose,
" She must be a queer sort of bird."

In the silent night when the white moth drinks

The honey from flower by flower.
How quaint are the thoughts the night moth thinks

In the still dark midnight hour.

ititfc tftltev tyoems. 89

The chill damp pall of the dewy air,

To her it is health and breath,
And all that we reckon as bright and fair

To her is darkness and death.

If from the mountains of the moon
We looked upon the rolling earth,
We should not find the New Year's birth

Was touched with winter more than June.

Our eyes would see this mighty globe
Caparisoned by dual powers —
Half garlanded with summer flowers,

Half shrouded in a snowy robe.

Summer and winter, spring and fall,
These variegate the whole world o'er,
And creeping shift from shore to shore,

But none of them prevails at all.

Some say the age of miracles is past,
Or but the fable of untutored men ;

I hold that long as heaven and earth may last
All things are miracles beyond our ken.

go (&98CX $alWtfc*

When Adam delved the untrodden green,
And probed the wealth of Nature's store,

How often must his words have been—
" I never noticed that before."

How oft her distaff laid aside,
As fancies flashed across her brow,

Fell from the lips of Adam's bride—
" I never thought of that till now."

tft tjt tK


I gathered fruit from every tree.
And gave it to the company.
Said one, " I, too, will follow suit
And go with you to gather fruit."
But soon he found the toil and heat
As bitter as the fruit was sweet.
He sat him down beneath a tree,
" Divided toil is light," said he.
" The gathering shall be your pursuit,
While I will eat the gathered fruit."

anh jcitljexr cpoems. 91


There are things out of sight which the mind still craves

To reach, and feel, and know,
As the moon's clear glance cannot pierce the waves,

Or see what lies below,
Yet shells and shingle in deep-down caves

She tosses to and fro,
As her soul's invisible hands she laves

At tidal ebb and flow.

A Few Chapters for Young Colchester.



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lllusf i?afed 6uide . .


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Online LibraryCarles Edwin BenhamEssex ballads : and other poems → online text (page 3 of 3)