David Herschell Edwards.

One hundred modern Scottish poets : with biographical and critical notices (Volume 8) online

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Having seen a good deal of the world, ami being
widely informed on matters of general interest, he is
an instructive and entertaining companion. He is
also an enthusiastic Scotchman, with a great relish
for ballad literature, and a remarkable power of
tracing genealogies, and is full of traditions concern-
ing our ancient Scottish families. Mr Hampton has
written a number of pieces in illustration of various
well-known proverbs, and also Oriental sketches, in
wbich he is successful in depicting Eastern scenery
and manners in idiomatic Scotch. He has written
many musical, deep-thinking lines. His verse is
singularly melodious, and most of his productions
possess a natural beauty and a depth of pathos that
lift them into the region of genuine poetry.

A TOCHERLESS DAME SITS LANG AT HA ME.

It's a fact, an' I'm sure it's nae rare ane ;

It's a fact, ye may ca' it a shame,
That a lass, tho' she's aften a fair ane,

Gif she's tocherless sits lang at hame.

What's this that ye say, oh my crony,

About ony blythesome young dame ?
That, tho' she i.~ u'nid and rale bonnie,

Want o' tocher will keep her at hatne.

Is it true ? Weel, I'll vouch for a puckle

Wha hae to guid looks a bit claim,
That the want o' bawbees, sma' or muckle,

Is the faut that just keeps them at hame.

Oh, laith are oor young chiels to marry,

And gie ony dearie their name ;
But the tocher's the cause hoo they tarry,
: lie lassies sit laneso'me at hame.

What's the reason for tin'- want o' blessin',
That the siller sud lichtlie love's flame ?



D. M. HAMPTON. 361

My freend, they're just gey fond o' dressin',
So the birkies say — " Bide ye at hame."

Were they half, half so thrifty's their mithers,

Then oor love wadna be quite so tame ;
But to keep them wi' bravery like ithers,

They maun e'en bring a tocher frae hame.

But there's doos 'mang the corbies, my crony,
There's ane — ye'll be speirin' her name —

That has he'rt, heid, and hand, and she's bonnie —
Isna that a guid tocher frae hame ?

So gin summer were here wi' its roses,

Mess John will be at his auld game ;
Far better than tocher reposes

In the lass that I'll tak' to my hame.

BEAUTY IS WORTHLESS WHEN HONOUR IS LOST.

We lo'e bonnie bairnies, we lo'e bonnie men,
We lo'e bonnie lasses, and mair that I ken :
The blythe summer mornin', the calm autumn nicht,
When the sun has gane doon, an' we hail the twilicht.
Oh. sweet is the draucht when we're saired wi' the drooth,
Frae the bonnie bit burn near the hame o' oor youth ;
But folk that are bonnie aft ken to their cost
That beauty is worthless when honour is lost.

Lat the lass that yer coortin' be bonnie, I trow,
Wi' her cheek like the rose, an' her een hae love's lowe ;
Be broo white's the lily, hae neck like the swan,
And her manner the grandest that e'er tempted man.
Is she true till her troth? will she think on you aye,
In guid tale an' ill, an' ne'er ganging agley ?
Should she hae but heauty, and truth nae her boast,
Then beauty is worthless when honour is lost.

Mak' this aye your guide, as yon travel thro' life,
'Mang its Btoor an' its cluds, in the calm or the strife,
To look nae at ootward appearance for a'—
Aft pleasant's the shell an' the keruel but sina'.
Gang deeper, if wise, and the truth may be plain
That the second or third thneht's the best thing agaein',
An'jtho' summer be ootside, inside may be frost,
For beauty is worthless when honour is lost.

ZENDAVESTA.

Awa' ayont the Orient to Persia let us gang,

Whaur ane they ca'd Zor aster taucht the folic the richt an' wran/,',



302 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

To proves o' sweetest smellin' mirt that aye are bloomin' fair,

An' lanmmer nirrangea gie oot a Bcent intil tlie air,

Unto a bonnie Ian', I wat, wi' its ain sunny lift

That gars as wonner what's ahiu', and peer thro' ilka rift

To hames o' glory hod awa' frae een o' Binful men,

Till glorifeed they wot the ferles that uon they daurna ken.

Alo' the ceetron or the pa'm lyin' doon to tak' a rest

At e'en, back-thinkin' as folk dae whan min' is at its best ;

Just at the very time o' nicht whan birds to hourock flee,

An' weary man, gaun hameart wyes, frae trauchle rests a wee.

Oot frae a wee bit dell aside's comes up a songhin' sang,

Wi' singing slow and saftly, sadly, something's surely wrang ;

It weel we lo'e, an' thocht flees aff awa' to bairnhood'a hame,

To the country lo'ed sae dearly 'towre the stormy nor'land faem.

This gruesome, weird-like music wies oor hairt doon wi' a load,

Like cor'uach when they lay the chief in acre yclept o' God,

'Mang Bens strung owre wi' heath an' broom, an' ere grief crossed

oor broo,
As wee, wee toddlin' weans we ran, thrice happy as we're noo.
Harken than to this sangsterin', weesht for a whilie here,
Markna ye noo its queerness, sae mystical, yet sae clear,
Wha leads aff the choristers wha sing i' the twilicht mirk,
Near grave o' halie man wha ance was pillar o' their kirk —
An awnshint man, a priest bely ve, his heid like driven snaw ;
He croons frae book o' Guebre folk, wha lo'e the licht 'bune a' ;
Its name we ca' Zendavesta — their haly wird its aye ;
Weesht till we hear the wirdin'. What has awnshint priest to

say?

" Glorious Fire, Thee ever will we bless and praise,
Source of light and living to the end of days ;
Counsellor and Father, still to be our friend,
Guebres will adore Thee ever to the end.
Hail, Thou Great Effulgence, hail ! Thou Orb of Day !
Guardian and Protector, to Thee we only pray
That Thy light may quicken and illume us all,
Rest Thee for the darkness, early rai~e night's pall.
Shone Thou on our Prophet when at early dawn,
Sore with heavy scourging, got at Ispahan,
Trod he o'er the desert, hurrying from his foes,
Sent to oheer his footsteps, Thou at morning rose.
Always will we praise Thee, Source of every good,
Thy stirring power doth give day by day our food ;
Earth without Thy shining would he dark and wild,
Keep us aye and guard us, each Thy loving child."

Zoroaster than, wireetin', taucht his folk a time to lo'e,
An' aft afore the Heevenly Licht to mak' a lawlie boo,
To laud Him at his getting np, and when rlaylicht is dune,
He sinks aneath the crimson heichts that seek the lift ahune.
An' sae the folk, aye readin' frae this Beuk o' sacred sang,
An' ha'ein' hantle faith that aye they dae nae muckle wrang,



D. M. HAMPTON. 363

Are sure this Zendavesta, wrote by guidly, haly man,

Heich up abune the Bible, an' far. far afore Koran.

Sae see we noo hoo aften, as in the langsyne time,

They "say their wirds " unto the Licht that brightens every

clime ;
Aye het and trothed, and siccar still, and michtna Christians

lear'
Frae Guebre folk a lesson 'boot their foremost devyours here ?
By Faith aye lear' when sand rins oot oor speerit flees awa'
To Faither's hand wha gied it, an' the Son's prepared Ha' ;
Lear' aye to pray at rnornin' dawn, again at clnd o' nicht,
Unto the God o' Glory hie, unto the Laird o' licht.



KISS! SWEET STOLEN KISS!



How sweet the kiss of parent mild,
As bending o'er her sleeping child

She breathes a silent prayer
That God will shield her infant boy,
And trouble ne'er that life annoy,

His sky be ever fair.

A sister modest, dear and good,
May try to calm an angry mood

By chaste salute and kind,
Yet wrath will often spurn the deed,
No charming influence we heed,

For passion still is blind.

Yes, Coz, thy soothing wrapt embrace
Oft cheered me through the weary race

O'er life's rough thorny track ;
In many a silent thoughtful hour
Is given me back the happy power

To call those kisses back.

But still a want is felt in all
Those blisses that T oft recall,

Witli joy to think them mine,
A longing for some absent part
To cheer and warm the inmost heart,

And ne'er through life decline.

In after days, with love's first bliss,
I found the sweetest dearest kiss

A treasure aye to prize :
When parting with a virgin Eve
I snatched without e'er asking leave

The nectar none despise.



3$4 MODEBN SCOTTISH fOETS.

Firftt stolen kiss ! how oft since then
Have 1 enjoyed those lips again,

All barriers downward thrown ;
But never did an after treat
E'er prove to me one half bo sweet

Aa firstling not my own.



-S&S-



WILLIAM OFFICER

MAS born at " a wee farm toon" near Cairnlob,
in the parish of Lonmay, Aberdeenshire, in
1856. From his seventh until his thirteenth year he
attended the parish school at Crimond, after which
he had to work on the farm ; and for several years
in the spring, summer, and autumn he assisted his
grandfather in ploughing, sowing, reaping, and in-
gathering. During the winter months he attended
school. Before his seventeenth year he left home,
and for some time was engaged as a farm servant.
It was then, and while following the plough and
turning over the '■ wee modest, crimson-tippet
flower." that his thoughts first essayed to form them-
selves into verse.

Becoming tired of agricultural labour, he engaged
as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker in the sea-
port town of Peterhead, where he is presently em-
ployed by his first master. As an active member of
one of the Mutual Improvement Societies in Peter-
head, our poet has, on one occasion at least, been
successful in obtaining the first prize in a poetical
competition among the members — the subject being
"Robert Burns." Although he has written largely,
only a few of his productions have as yet come before
the public. Those that have been published have
graced the poet's corner of the East Aberdeenshire



WILLIAM OFFICER.



Observer — one of the Peterhead weekly newspapers.
His muse displays taste and careful execution, and is
marked by considerable thought and feeling.



AUTUMN,



A stillness, like the stillness of the grave,

Broods o'er the cold, bleak earth, the mist-veiled sea-
A stillness such as throws upon the soul

The awful burden of eternity.

Slave to a train of mystic thought, I sit

Amid the shadows of an autumn wood,
As silent as the sombre trees that stand

The guardians of this dusky solitude.

A sere leaf rustles 'mong its native boughs,
Then trembling falls upon the grass beneath ;

The sound dispels the charm that held me bound,
And tills my soul with the dark thought of death.

Remorseless death ! the spacious earth contains
No hallowed spot that thou dost enter not ;

Lo ! here, where withered leaves lie numberless,
What dismal desolation thou hast wrought.

Thou breathest forth thy chill and blighting breath,
The leaves, the flowers are stricken, and decay ;

Whate'er is brightest and most beautiful,
And frailest, thou first choosest for thy prey.

The strong abides, but thou shalt conquer yet,
As thou hast conquered all things heretofore ;

In this world thou alone eternal art —
Thou shalt endure and conquer evermore.

Thou art the mortal enemy of man —

With thee he wages a perpetual strife ;
Thou swallowest swiftly up the genial spring,

The golden summer of his transient life ;

And then his pallid autumn comes, thine hour
Of victory, when he must droop and fade —

When he must lay his hopes and fears aside,
And take his place among th' oblivious dead.



366 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

PARTING.
Tone — " Annie Laurie."

Oh, list, the drum is beating,

My darling, I must go —
Must quit thy fond embraces

To grapple with the foe —
The rude, remorseless foe

Beyond the wide, wide sea ;
But where'er I wander, darling,

My heart is aye with thee.

While I pace lonely, watching,

My roof, the midnight skies,
The brightest stars that gem them

Shall seem thy loving eyes —
Shall seem to me thine eyes ;

Oh, how bright their beams shall be !
For where'er 1 am, my darling,

My heart is aye with thee.

When sleep upon mine eyelids

Like soothing balm shall fall,
I'll live in blissful visions,

And thou shalt fill them all ;
And I throughout them all

Thy face and form shall see,
For awake, asleep, my darling,

My heart is aye with thee.

By day-time, as the sunlight

Glows on this cheek of mine,
I'll joy to think the same light

Shall also glow on thine —
Shall kiss that cheek of thine,

As it wanders far and free,
For by night, by day, my darling,

My heart is aye with thee.

Should e'er I come again, lore,

From fields of death and gore,
I'll picture thee as waiting

For me upon the shore —
Upon our own loved shore,

Beside our trysting tree,
For, receding or approaching,

My heart is aye with thee.

Should steel of daring foeman
Pierce fatally this breast,



WILLIAM OFFICER. 367

As I lie helpless, sinking

To my last earthly rest —
To calm and dreamless rest,

My heart shall be with thee ;
Oh, let thine dwell sometimes, darling,

In my lone grave with me.



UP! YOUNG HEARTS,

Up, young hearts ! be light, be gay,
And enjoy life's dawning day ;
Time is fleeting fast away,
Up, enjoy now while ye may.

Let those love-enkindling eyes
Glow like glorious summer skies
That lie bathed in sunbeams bright,
With no cloud to dim their light.

Up enjoy, there is no need
Sorrow for yourselves to breed ;
It will come, be not afraid,
Soon enough without your aid.

Let your merry laughter sound,
Waking echoes all around ;
Let it ring forth clear and deep,
Till it gladden those that weep.



TO A RUIN.

Dim ruin, whose once stately halls
Have dwindled down to mouldering walls,
Whose moss-encrusted battlements
Are marred by dark and rugged rents,
Whose bleak, sky-penetrating towers
Are but rude wrecks that time devours :
Thou shrine of thrilling mysteries
What weird and wondrous questions rise
Within the soul at sight of thee ;
What passionate desires to see
The strange events which, had'st thou been
Endued with life, thou would'st have seen.
Who chose thy noble site? What mind
Thy structure strong, yet fair, designed ?
What hands did rtar thee up from earth ?
What eyes watched o'er thy gradual birth ?
What knighte from thee of yore went forth,
Burning with valour, fierce, untamed,
Their hearts with mighty hopes inflamed —



368



MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

With hopes of wreathing deathless fame

Aroand b feeble, mortal name,

On the death-haunted battle-field,

Where brave men perish ere they yield :

What knights went forth from thee, to come

'Mid ringing Bhouts of triumph home,

Their honour and their country saved,

Crowned with the glory that they craved ?

What knights from thee went forth of yore,

Destined to come again no more ?

What ladies lingered near thy doors,

And tripped along thy corridors?

How many were of gentle mood,

With looks assuring and subdued,

With manners gentle and refined,

With hearts deep-trusting, tender, kind?

How many more were stern and high,

With statelier mein, with colder eye,

Adorned with queen-like majesty,

Haughty, yet beautiful to see

What occupations, what delights

Beguiled them of their day.s and nights,

What loves within their bosoms glowed,

What feelings sacred unto God,

What secrets there had an abode,

What blighting sorrows did they feel,

What wounds that nought had power to heal,

What'torturing doubts, what dismal fears?

Were their fair eyes oft dimmed with tears,

And did these flow like falling rain

O'er father, lord, or lover slain ?

How often did these stones resound

With mirth, while foaming cups went round-

With wild and spirit-stirring strains,

With choruses and with refrains,

As guests and entertainers at

The wine-crowned festive table sat.

Forgetting, for a period, there

All thoughts of sorrow and of care ■

What captives in thy dungeons lay,

Shrouded in night without a day,

Did any of them mop and fret,

And curse their hard and hapless fate,

Did any, with unwar-like soul,

Yield where they could no more control,

Did any of them boldly rise,

Like some proud eagle in the sides,

Above a dungeon's miseries,

And, with a zeal that languished not,

Circle the universe in thought 1

These questions may within the mind

Arise, a thousand more may find,



MRS J. C. SIMPSON. 369

There, side by side with them, a home,
But ^hat .avail they ? Thou art dumb ;
The race that ruled thee once is gone,
And thou, deserted and alone,
Art left a relic of the past —
A relic that is wasting fast.
Men wake to life, some years pass by,
Old age comes, they fade and die ;
What portions of their works are stronger
Than they themselves are, linger longer ;
These too at length must pass away —
The dust alone knows no decay.



-^ps-



MES JANE CEOSS SIMPSON.

TllVRS SIMPSON {nee Jane Cross Bell) is the

il \\J daughter of the late James Bell, advocate.
She is a native of Glasgow. Her first effusions, writ-
ten in early youth, were published in the Greenock
Advertiser, while her father for a short time re-
sided in the town as assessor to the Magistrates. To
the pages of the Edinburgh Literary Journal, edited
by her brother, Henry Glassford Bell, she afterwards
contributed numerous poetical compositions, as well
as various articles in prose to the Scottish < 'hristian
Herald, under the literary nom-de-plume of " Q-ertrude."
Under this designation she reproduced her poetical
compositions in " April Hours," a small volume thai
appeared in 1838. She had previously published, in
1836, a volume of tales and sketches, entitled ■' The
Piety of Daily Life." In 1848 she published
"Woman's History; 1 ' in 1859 appeared "Linda,
and other Poems," which was followed by " Picture
Poems." The former has gone through two editions
— the socon 1 issue being published *»y Edmonstou &
Company in 1884.



370 KODBEH BOOTTI8H POETS.

Mrs Simpson is the author of the ever popular and
beautiful hymn, " (Jo when the Morning Shineth," —

a hymn that has been set to several airs, and lias had
tlif honour of being reheureed in full chorus at the
( (rystal Palace. " It has," says Mr A. J. Symington,
"gained an acceptance rarely equalled — -a hymn
w oich, it it were the only product of the gifted poet's
pen, would, in its influence for good, represent a life-
work of Christian usefulness." Like other well-
known hymns it has suffered from the hands of modern
"tinkers" and patchers, who "adapt," without
knowing anything or caring anything for " melodious
measures."

Mrs Simpson is still an occasional contributor to
Good Words, the Christian Leader, and other well-known
magazines. She married her cousin, Mr J. B.
Simpson, Glasgow, and resided there for many years.
Her home was afterwards at Portobello, and she
presently lives in Aberdeen.

Her productions possess much strong, practical
wisdom, as well as deep, loving truth. They are
evidently the sincere and earnest utterances of a noble
and tender musical spirit, full of loving freshness and
intensity of feeling. Her leading poem, " Linda,''
has been characterised as " full of ethereality and
beauty," and by our selections from her miscel-
laneous poems, it will be seen that she can paint, in
a few \< rsis, complete and touching life pictures, full
of human experience. While exposing the dark
ways of the world, she soitens the hard and thorny
heart with the sweetness of her Muse, and hears in
everything a language that tells of love.

"WHO ARE THOSE WITH THEE."

I have a little child on earth, his years are only four.

So wise in mind and speech he shows the years might well be

more :
K'.r oft as on my face he turns those dark fringed eyes of blue,
1 feel as if my every thought he read with prescience true.



MRS J. 0. SIMPSON. 371

"When I am gay, he meets my smiles with shower of merry

prattle ;
He laughs, he shouts, he rides amain, a soldier bound for battle ;
He tights me with his small clenched hands, he shoots me with

his gun,
He stabs me with his mimic sword — bold, reckless imp of fun !

If sadness find me while my boy sits at his quiet play,
With wistful look he starts, and flings the painted page away ;
Around my neck, in hushed surprise, his tiny arms he throws,
And presses fondly to my own those lips of dewy rose.

How strangely sweet the earnest gaze he casts upon my face,
As softly weeping I enfold him close in my embrace ;
In presence of that sympathy, so artless, pure, and mild,
I bless my heritage in him — a loving, living child !

I have another child in Heaven, her years were only three,
When as she lay one summer eve soft cradled on my knee,
With tender longing while I searched the pallid features o'er,
She smiled a faint farewell, and passed straight through the
golden door.

Ah ! then an awful shadow fell on ocean, land, and sky,
I had no wish the livelong day save by her side to lie ;
I could not bear to see the sun sink to the crimson west,
The very hour my bud of hope had faded to her rest.

I gathered all the things she loved, the toys had pleased her best,
The pictured book, the string of beads, the doll in blue gauze

dressed ;
I sat in sickly .
And spoke my grief



sat in sickly dream beside the clothes she used to wear,
nd spoke my grief to little shoes, and to a curl of hair !



And now the living child seemed less, the dead tilled heart and

eye,
Though he was ever by my side, and she beyond the sky ;
What cared I for the present good, the blessings known and near,
" Give me the face I never see — the voice I cannot hear ! "

At length there came an hour my soul woke to a high desire,
That my great woe might be sublimed to sacrilicial tire,
All fretful, feverish murmurings to scatter and consume,
And cause a nohle, sweet content to blossom in their room.

Up from the depths of sorrow rose the strong and pleading cry,
Down from the heights of mercy came the secret full reply ;
And as the sun upon my head through parting shadows smiled,
I blessed my heritage in her — my early sainted child.



378 \1I>KKN SCOTTISH POETS.

Y.s, children are eternal wealth, memorial (lowers of God,
We do not lose them though they Bleep beneath the daisied sod
Li\ ing or dead, they air our own ; ami wlieu our course is o'er,
They leave ufl last ami meet us first beside the golden door.

HOUSEHOLD LOVE.

A little love goes very far

To smooth the daily care ;
It gives a brightness to the earth,

A fragrance to the air.
A smile upon a loving face,

A word of kindness said,
The pressure of a gentle hand —

By these good work is sped.

But when a little love grows great,

And the once tiny stream
Into a glorious river spreads,

All life becomes a dream.
From neck and arms the burden falls,

We're glad, and swift, and strong ;
We grasp our duty's hardest stroke,

And clench it with a song.

Then think, O friends ! whom changeful years

Have changeless bound to me ;
How in the daily round of toil

My feet should winged be !
I cannot wish my work were less,

Your love could scarce be more ;
Swift labour sings within our home,

And strong Love " eeps the door.



I KNO]W NOT.

I know not if thy spirit weaveth ever

Tiie golden fantasies of mine for thee ;
I only know my love is a great river,
And thou the sea.

I know not if the time to thee is dreary,

When ne'er to meet we pass the wintry days ;
I only know my muse is never weary,
The theme thy praise.

I know not if thy poet heart's emotion

Responsive beats to mine through many a chord
I only feel in my untold devotion
A rich reward.



MRS J. C. SIMPSON. 373

I know not if the grass were waving o'er me,

Would Nature's voice for thee keep sadder tune ;
I only know wert thou gone home before me,
I'd follow soon.

But while thou walk'st the earth with brave heart ever,

I'll singing go, though all unrecked by thee
My great affection floweth like a river,
And thou the sea.

GENTLENESS.

Oh ! the winning charm of gentleness, so beautiful to me,
'Tis this has bound my soul so long, so tenderly, to thee ;
The gentle heart, like jewel bright, beneath the ocean blue,
In every look and tone of thine, still shining sweetly through.

What though the crowd with wonder bow, before great genius'

fire,
And wit, with lightning flash, commands to reverence and

admire ;
'Tis gentleness alone that gains the tribute of our love,
And falls upon the ear like dew on flowers, from heaven above.

Ah ! many a day has passed since then, yet I remember well,
Once from my lips an angry thought, in hasty accents fell ;
A word of wrath I utter'd, in a light and wayward mood —
Of wrath to thee, my earliest friend, the noble and the good.

No answering words were given for mine, but, calm and bright

as now,
Thy speaking eyes a moment dwelt upon my ruffled brow,
And then a sweet, forgiving smile came o'er thy pensive face,
And thy hand was softly tender'd me, with melancholy grace.

An instant mute and motionless, before thee did I stand,


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Online LibraryDavid Herschell EdwardsOne hundred modern Scottish poets : with biographical and critical notices (Volume 8) → online text (page 25 of 28)