George MacDonald.

The poetical works of George MacDonald in two volumes — Volume 2 online

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Unto thee my thirst doth call
For the thing thou know'st it needs!

Come home, water sweet and cool,
Gift of God thou always art!
Spring up, Well more beautiful,
Rise in mine straight from his heart.


Wash the window; rub it dry;
Make the ray-door clean and bright:
He who lords it in the sky
Loves on cottage floors to light!

Looking over sea and beck,
Mountain-forest, orchard-bloom,
He can spy the smallest speck
Anywhere about the room!

See how bright his torch is blazing
In the heart of mother's store!
Strange! I never saw him gazing
So into that press before!

Ah, I see! - the wooden pane
In the window, dull and dead,
Father called its loss a gain,
And a glass one put instead!

What a difference it makes!
How it melts the filmy gloom!
What a little more it takes
Much to brighten up a room!

There I spy a dusty streak!
There a corner not quite clean!
There a cobweb! There the sneak
Of a spider, watching keen!

Lord of suns, and eyes that see,
Shine into me, see and show;
Leave no darksome spot in me
Where thou dost not shining go.

Fill my spirit full of eyes,
Doors of light in every part;
Open windows to the skies
That no moth corrupt my heart.


Said the Wind to the Moon, "I will blow you out!
You stare
In the air
As if crying _Beware_,
Always looking what I am about:
I hate to be watched; I will blow you out!"

The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon.
So, deep
On a heap
Of clouds, to sleep
Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon,
Muttering low, "I've done for that Moon!"

He turned in his bed: she was there again!
On high
In the sky
With her one ghost-eye
The Moon shone white and alive and plain:
Said the Wind, "I will blow you out again!"

The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew slim.
"With my sledge
And my wedge
I have knocked off her edge!
I will blow," said the Wind, "right fierce and grim,
And the creature will soon be slimmer than slim!"

He blew and he blew, and she thinned to a thread.
"One puff
More's enough
To blow her to snuff!
One good puff more where the last was bred,
And glimmer, glimmer, glum will go that thread!"

He blew a great blast, and the thread was gone.
In the air
Was a moonbeam bare;
Larger and nearer the shy stars shone:
Sure and certain the Moon was gone!

The Wind he took to his revels once more;
On down
And in town,
A merry-mad clown,
He leaped and holloed with whistle and roar -
When there was that glimmering thread once more!

He flew in a rage - he danced and blew;
But in vain
Was the pain
Of his bursting brain,
For still the Moon-scrap the broader grew
The more that he swelled his big cheeks and blew.

Slowly she grew - till she filled the night,
And shone
On her throne
In the sky alone
A matchless, wonderful, silvery light,
Radiant and lovely, the queen of the night.

Said the Wind, "What a marvel of power am I!
With my breath,
In good faith,
I blew her to death! -
First blew her away right out of the sky,
Then blew her in: what a strength am I!"

But the Moon she knew nought of the silly affair;
For, high
In the sky
With her one white eye,
Motionless miles above the air,
She never had heard the great Wind blare.


A harebell hung her wilful head:
"I am tired, so tired! I wish I was dead."

She hung her head in the mossy dell:
"If all were over, then all were well!"

The Wind he heard, and was pitiful,
And waved her about to make her cool.

"Wind, you are rough!" said the dainty Bell;
"Leave me alone - I am not well."

The Wind, at the word of the drooping dame,
Sighed to himself and ceased in shame.

"I am hot, so hot!" she moaned and said;
"I am withering up; I wish I was dead!"

Then the Sun he pitied her woeful case,
And drew a thick veil over his face.

"Cloud go away, and don't be rude,"
She said; "I do not see why you should!"

The Cloud withdrew. Then the Harebell cried,
"I am faint, so faint! - and no water beside!"

The Dew came down its millionfold path:
She murmured, "I did not want a bath!"

The Dew went up; the Wind softly crept;
The Night came down, and the Harebell slept.

A boy ran past in the morning gray,
Plucked the Harebell, and threw her away.

The Harebell shivered, and sighed, "Oh! oh!
I am faint indeed! Come, dear Wind, blow."

The Wind blew gently, and did not speak.
She thanked him kindly, but grew more weak.

"Sun, dear Sun, I am cold!" she said.
He shone; but lower she drooped her head.

"O Rain, I am withering! all the blue
Is fading out of me! - come, please do!"

The Rain came down as fast as he could,
But for all his good will he could do her no good.

She shuddered and shrivelled, and moaning said,
"Thank you all kindly!" and then she was dead.

Let us hope, let us hope when she comes next year
She'll be simple and sweet! But I fear, I fear!


I was very cold
In the summer weather;
The sun shone all his gold,
But I was very cold -
Alas, we were grown old,
Love and I together!
Oh, but I was cold
In the summer weather!

Sudden I grew warmer
Though the brooks were frozen:
"Truly, scorn did harm her!"
I said, and I grew warmer;
"Better men the charmer
Knows at least a dozen!"
I said, and I grew warmer
Though the brooks were frozen.

Spring sits on her nest,
Daisies and white clover;
And my heart at rest
Lies in the spring's young nest:
My love she loves me best,
And the frost is over!
Spring sits on her nest,
Daisies and white clover!


The stars cleave the sky.
Yet for us they rest,
And their race-course high
Is a shining nest!

The hours hurry on.
But where is thy flight,
Soft pavilion
Of motionless night?

Earth gives up her trees
To the holy air;
They live in the breeze;
They are saints at prayer!

Summer night, come from God,
On your beauty, I see,
A still wave has flowed
Of eternity!


No bird can sing in tune but that the Lord
Sits throned in equity above the heaven,
And holds the righteous balance always even;
No heart can true response to love afford
Wherein from one to eight not every chord
Is yet attuned by the spirits seven:
For tuneful no bird sings but that the Lord
Is throned in equity above high heaven.

Oh heart, by wrong unfilial scathed and scored,
And from thy humble throne with mazedness driven,
Take courage: when thy wrongs thou hast forgiven,
Thy rights in love thy God will see restored:
No bird could sing in tune but that the Lord
Sits throned in equity above the heaven.


Out of the gulf into the glory,
Father, my soul cries out to be lifted.
Dark is the woof of my dismal story,
Thorough thy sun-warp stormily drifted! -
Out of the gulf into the glory,
Lift me, and save my story.

I have done many things merely shameful;
I am a man ashamed, my father!
My life is ashamed and broken and blameful -
The broken and blameful, oh, cleanse and gather!
Heartily shame me, Lord, of the shameful!
To my judge I flee with my blameful.

Saviour, at peace in thy perfect purity,
Think what it is, not to be pure!
Strong in thy love's essential security,
Think upon those who are never secure.
Full fill my soul with the light of thy purity:
Fold me in love's security.

O Father, O Brother, my heart is sore aching!
Help it to ache as much as is needful;
Is it you cleansing me, mending, remaking,
Dear potter-hands, so tender and heedful?
Sick of my past, of my own self aching -
Hurt on, dear hands, with your making.

Proud of the form thou hadst given thy vessel,
Proud of myself, I forgot my donor;
Down in the dust I began to nestle,
Poured thee no wine, and drank deep of dishonour!
Lord, thou hast broken, thou mendest thy vessel!
In the dust of thy glory I nestle.

ON AN ENGRAVING OF SCHEFFER'S _Christus Consolator_.


What human form is this? what form divine?
And who are these that gaze upon his face
Mild, beautiful, and full of heavenly grace,
With whose reflected light the gazers shine?
Saviour, who does not know it to be thine?
Who does not long to fill a gazer's place?
And yet there is no time, there is no space
To keep away thy servants from thy shrine!
Here if we kneel, and watch with faithful eyes,
Thou art not too far for faithful eyes to see,
Thou art not too far to turn and look on me,
To speak to me, and to receive my sighs.
Therefore for ever I forget the skies,
And find an everlasting Sun in thee.


Oh let us never leave that happy throng!
From that low attitude of love not cease!
In all the world there is no other peace,
In all the world no other shield from wrong.
But chiefly, Saviour, for thy feet we long -
For no vain quiet, for no pride's increase -
But that, being weak, and Thou divinely strong,
Us from our hateful selves thou mayst release.
We wander from thy fold's free holy air,
Forget thy looks, and take our fill of sin!
But if thou keep us evermore within,
We never surely can forget thee there -
Breathing thy breath, thy white robe given to wear,
And loving thee for all thou diedst to win!


To speak of him in language of our own,
Is not for us too daringly to try;
But, Saviour, we can read thy history
Upon the faces round thy humble throne;
And as the flower among the grass makes known
What summer suns have warmed it from the sky,
As every human smile and human sigh
Is witness that we do not live alone,
So in that company - in those sweet tears,
The first-born of a rugged melted heart,
In those gaunt chains for ever torn apart,
And in the words that weeping mother hears,
We read the story of two thousand years,
And know thee somewhat, Saviour, as thou art.

_TO_ - -

I cannot write old verses here,
Dead things a thousand years away,
When all the life of the young year
Is in the summer day.

The roses make the world so sweet,
The bees, the birds have such a tune,
There's such a light and such a heat
And such a joy this June,

One must expand one's heart with praise,
And make the memory secure
Of sunshine and the woodland days
And summer twilights pure.

Oh listen rather! Nature's song
Comes from the waters, beating tides,
Green-margined rivers, and the throng
Of streams on mountain-sides.

So fair those water-spirits are,
Such happy strength their music fills,
Our joy shall be to wander far
And find them on the hills.


A fresh young voice that sings to me
So often many a simple thing,
Should surely not unanswered be
By all that I can sing.

Dear voice, be happy every way
A thousand changing tones among,
From little child's unfinished lay
To angel's perfect song.

In dewy woods - fair, soft, and green
Like morning woods are childhood's bower -
Be like the voice of brook unseen
Among the stones and flowers;

A joyful voice though born so low,
And making all its neighbours glad;
Sweet, hidden, constant in its flow
Even when the winds are sad.

So, strengthen in a peaceful home,
And daily deeper meanings bear;
And when life's wildernesses come
Be brave and faithful there.

Try all the glorious magic range,
Worship, forgive, console, rejoice,
Until the last and sweetest change -
So live and grow, dear voice.





Annie she's dowie, and Willie he's wae:
What can be the matter wi' siccan a twae,
For Annie she's fair as the first o' the day,
And Willie he's honest and stalwart and gay?

Oh, the tane has a daddy is poor and is proud,
And the tither a minnie that cleiks at the goud '.
They lo'ed are anither, and said their say,
But the daddy and minnie hae partit the twae!


O lassie ayont the hill,
Come ower the tap o' the hill,
Come ower the tap wi' the breeze o' the hill,
Bidena ayont the hill!
I'm needin ye sair the nicht,
For I'm tired and sick o' mysel.
A body's sel 's the sairest weicht:
O lassie, come ower the hill!

Gien a body could be a thoucht o' grace,
And no a sel ava!
I'm sick o' my heid and my ban's and my face,
O' my thouchts and mysel and a';

I'm sick o' the warl' and a';
The win' gangs by wi' a hiss;
Throu my starin een the sunbeams fa'
But my weary hert they miss!
O lassie ayont the hill,
Come ower the tap o' the hill,
Come ower the tap wi' the breeze o' the hill,
Bidena ayont the hill! &c.

For gien I but saw yer bonnie heid,
And the sunlicht o' yer hair,
The ghaist o' mysel wud fa' doun deid,
I wud be mysel nae mair.
I wud be mysel nae mair,
Filled o' the sole remeid,
Slain by the arrows o' licht frae yer hair,
Killed by yer body and heid!
O lassie ayont the hill, &c.

My sel micht wauk up at the saft fitfa'
O' my bonnie departin dame;
But gien she lo'ed me ever sae sma'
I micht bide it - the weary same!
Noo, sick o' my body and name
Whan it lifts its upsettin heid,
I turn frae the cla'es that cover my frame
As gien they war roun the deid.
O lassie ayont the hill, &c.

But gien ye lo'ed me as I lo'e you
I wud ring my ain deid knell;
The spectre wud melt, shot through and through
Wi' the shine o' your sunny sel!
By the shine o' yer sunny sel,
By the licht aneth yer broo
I wud dee to mysel, ring my ain deid-bell,
And live again in you!

O lassie ayont the hill,
Come ower the tap o' the hill,
Come ower the tap wi' the breeze o' the hill,
For I want ye sair the nicht!
I'm needin ye sair the nicht,
For I'm tired and sick o' mysel.
A body's sel 's the sairest weicht:
O lassie, come ower the hill!


Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the yorlin sings,
Wi' a clip o' the sunshine atween his wings;
Whaur the birks are a' straikit wi' fair munelicht,
And the brume hings its lamps by day and by nicht;
Whaur the burnie comes trottin ower shingle and stane
Liltin bonny havers til 'tsel its lane;
And the sliddery troot wi' ae soop o' its tail
Is ahint the green weed's dark swingin veil!
Oh, the bonny, bonny dell, whaur I sang as I saw
The yorlin, the brume, and the burnie, and a'!

Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the primroses won,
Luikin oot o' their leaves like wee sons o' the sun;
Whaur the wild roses hing like flickers o' flame,
And fa' at the touch wi' a dainty shame;
Whaur the bee swings ower the white-clovery sod,
And the butterfly flits like a stray thoucht o' God;
Whaur, like arrow shot frae life's unseen bow,
The dragon-fly burns the sunlicht throu!
Oh, the bonny, bonny dell, whaur I sang to see
The rose and the primrose, the draigon and bee!

Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the mune luiks doon
As gien she war hearin a soughless tune,
Whan the flooers and the birdies are a' asleep,
And the verra burnie gangs creepy-creep;
Whaur the corn-craik craiks i' the lang-heidit rye,
And the nicht is the safter for his rouch cry;
Whaur the win' wud fain lie doon on the slope,
And the gloamin waukens the high-reachin hope!
Oh, the bonny, bonny dell, whaur, silent, I felt
The mune and the darkness baith into me melt!

Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the sun luiks in
Sayin, "Here awa, there awa, hand awa, Sin!"
Sayin darkness and sorrow a' work for the licht,
And the will o' God was the hert o' the nicht;
Whaur the laverock hings hie, on his ain sang borne,
Wi' bird-shout and tirralee hailin the morn;
Whaur my hert ran ower wi' the lusome bliss
That, come winter, come weather, nocht gaed amiss!
Oh, the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the sun luikit in
Sayin, "Here awa, there awa, hand awa, Sin!"

Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur aft I wud lie,
Wi' Jeanie aside me sae sweet and sae shy;
Whaur the starry gowans wi' rose-dippit tips
War as white as her cheek and as reid as her lips;
Whaur she spread her gowd hert till she saw that I saw,
Syne fauldit it up and gied me it a';
Whaur o' sunlicht and munelicht she was the queen,
For baith war but middlin withoot my Jean!
Oh, the bonny, bonny dell, whaur aft I wud lie,
Wi' Jeanie aside me sae sweet and sae shy!

Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the kirkyard lies
A' day and a' nicht luikin up to the skies;
Whaur the sheep wauken up i' the simmer nicht,
Tak a bite and lie doon, and await the licht;
Whaur the psalms roll ower the grassy heaps;
Whaur the win' comes and moans, and the rain comes and weeps;
Whaur my Jeanie's no lyin in a' the lair,
For she's up and awa up the angels' stair!
Oh, the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the kirkyard lies,
Whaur the stars luik doon, and the nicht-wind sighs!


I like ye weel upo Sundays, Nannie,
I' yer goon and yer ribbons and a';
But I like ye better on Mondays, Nannie,
Whan ye're no sae buskit and braw.

For whan we're sittin sae douce, Nannie,
Wi' the lave o' the worshippin fowk,
That aneth the haly hoose, Nannie,
Ye micht hear a moudiwarp howk,

It _will_ come into my heid, Nannie,
O' yer braws ye are thinkin a wee;
No alane o' the Bible-seed, Nannie,
Nor the minister nor me!

Syne hame athort the green, Nannie,
Ye gang wi' a toss o' yer chin;
And there walks a shadow atween 's, Nannie,
A dark ane though it be thin!

But noo, whan I see ye gang, Nannie,
Eident at what's to be dune,
Liltin a haiveless sang, Nannie,
I wud kiss yer verra shune!

Wi' yer silken net on yer hair, Nannie,
I' yer bonnie blue petticoat,
Wi' yer kin'ly arms a' bare, Nannie,
On yer ilka motion I doat.

For, oh, but ye're canty and free, Nannie,
Airy o' hert and o' fit!
A star-beam glents frae yer ee, Nannie -
O' yersel ye're no thinkin a bit!

Fillin the cogue frae the coo, Nannie,
Skimmin the yallow ream,
Pourin awa the het broo, Nannie,
Lichtin the lampie's leme,

Turnin or steppin alang, Nannie,
Liftin and layin doon,
Settin richt what's aye gaein wrang, Nannie,
Yer motion's baith dance and tune!

I' the hoose ye're a licht and a law, Nannie,
A servan like him 'at's abune:
Oh, a woman's bonniest o' a', Nannie,
Doin what _maun_ be dune!

Cled i' yer Sunday claes, Nannie,
Fair kythe ye to mony an ee;
But cled i' yer ilka-day's, Nannie,
Ye draw the hert frae me!



"Bonny lassie, rosy lassie,
Ken ye what is care?
Had ye ever a thought, lassie,
Made yer hertie sair?"

Johnnie said it, Johnnie seekin
Sicht o' Mally's face,
Keekin i' the hedge o' holly
For a thinner place.

"Na," said Mally, pawky smilin,
"Nought o' care ken I;
Gien I meet the gruesome carline,
I s' hand weel ootby!"

"Lang be licht o' hert, Mally,
As o' fut and ban'!
Lang be ready wi' sic answer
To ony speirin man!"

"Ay, the men 'll aye be speirin!
Troth, it's naething new!
There's yersel wi' queston, queston -
And there's mair like you!"

"Deed ye wadna mock me, Mally,
Wi' yer lauchin ee,
Gien ye saw the thing aye muvin
I' the hert o' me!"

"Troth, I'm no sae pryin, laddie,
Yon's no my concern!
Jist as sune I wud gang speirin
What's intil yon cairn!"

"Still and on, there's ae thing, Mally,
Yont yer help, my doo -
That's to haud my hert frae lo'in
At the hert o' you!"


Johnnie turned and left her,
Listit for the war;
In a year cam limpin
Hame wi' mony a scar.

Wha was that was sittin
On the brae, sae still?
Worn and wan and altert,
Could it be hersel?

Cled in black, her eelids
Reid wi' greitin sair -
Was she wife and widow
In a towmond bare?

Mally's hert played wallop,
Kenned him or he spak:
"Are ye no deid, Johnnie?
Is't yersel come back?"

"Are ye wife or widow?
Tell me in a breath;
Lanely life is fearsome,
Waur nor ony death!"

"Wha cud be a widow
Wife was never nane?
Noo, gien ye will hae me,
Noo I will be ane!"

Crutch awa he flang it,
Clean forgot his hairms,
Cudna stan' withoot it,
Fell in Mally's airms.


Whan Andrew frae Strathbogie gaed
The lift was lowerin dreary,
The sun he wadna raise his heid,
The win' blew laich and eerie.
In's pooch he had a plack or twa -
I vow he hadna mony,
Yet Andrew like a linty sang,
For Lizzie was sae bonny!
O Lizzie, Lizzie, bonny lassie!
Bonny, saucy hizzy!
What richt had ye to luik at me
And drive me daft and dizzy?

Whan Andrew to Strathbogie cam
The sun was shinin rarely;
He rade a horse that pranced and sprang -
I vow he sat him fairly!
And he had gowd to spen' and spare,
And a hert as true as ony;
But his luik was doon, his sigh was sair,
For Lizzie was sae bonny!
O Lizzie, Lizzie, bonny hizzy!
Aih, the sunlicht weary!
Ye're straucht and rare - ye're fause though fair! -
Hech, auld John Armstrong's deary!


Ane by ane they gang awa;
The getherer gethers grit and sma':
Ane by ane maks ane and a'!

Aye whan ane sets doon the cup
Ane ahint maun tak it up:
A' thegither they will sup!

Golden-heidit, ripe, and strang,
Shorn will be the hairst or lang:
Syne begins a better sang!


As I was walkin on the strand,
I spied ane auld man sit
On ane auld black rock; and aye the waves
Cam washin up its fit.
His lips they gaed as gien they wad lilt,
But o' liltin, wae's me, was nane!
He spak but an owercome, dreary and dreigh,
A burden wha's sang was gane:
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns;
They playt thegither i' the gloamin's hush:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa wi' a glint and a gush."

"What can the auld man mean," quod I,
"Sittin o' the auld black rock?
The tide creeps up wi' a moan and a cry,
And a hiss 'maist like a mock!
The words he mutters maun be the en'
O' some weary auld-warl' sang -
A deid thing floatin aboot in his brain,
'At the tide 'ill no lat gang!"
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns;
They playt thegither i' the gloamin's hush:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa wi' a glint and a gush."

"Hoo pairtit it them, auld man?" I said;
"Was't the sea cam up ower strang?
Oh, gien thegither the twa o' them gaed
Their pairtin wasna lang!
Or was are ta'en, and the ither left -
Ane to sing, are to greit?
It's sair, I ken, to be sae bereft -
But there's the tide at yer feet!"
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns,
And they playt thegither i' the gloamin's hush:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa wi' a glint and a gush."

"Was't the sea o' space wi' its storm o' time
That wadna lat things bide?
But Death's a diver frae heavenly clime
Seekin ye neth its tide,
And ye'll gaze again in ither's ee,
Far abune space and time!"
Never ae word he answered me,
But changed a wee his rime:
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns,
And they playt thegither upo' the shore;
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa for evermore."

"May be, auld man, 'twas the tide o' change
That crap atween the twa?
Hech! that's a droonin fearsome strange,
Waur, waur nor are and a'!"
He said nae mair. I luikit, and saw
His lips they couldna gang:
Death, the diver, had ta'en him awa,
To gie him a new auld sang.
Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns,
And they playt thegither upo' the shore:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And souft them awa throu a mirksome door!


There cam a man to oor toon-en',
And a waesome carl was he,
Snipie-nebbit, and crookit-mou'd,
And gleyt o' a blinterin ee.
Muckle he spied, and muckle he spak,
But the owercome o' his sang,
Whatever it said, was aye the same: -
There's nane o' ye a' but's wrang!
Ye're a' wrang, and a' wrang,
And a'thegither a' wrang:
There's no a man aboot the toon
But's a'thegither a' wrang.

That's no the gait to fire the breid,
Nor yet to brew the yill;
That's no the gait to haud the pleuch,
Nor yet to ca the mill;
That's no the gait to milk the coo,
Nor yet to spean the calf,
Nor yet to tramp the girnel-meal -
Ye kenna yer wark by half!
Ye're a' wrang, &c.

The minister wasna fit to pray
And lat alane to preach;
He nowther had the gift o' grace
Nor yet the gift o' speech!
He mind't him o' Balaaem's ass,
Wi' a differ we micht ken:
The Lord he opened the ass's mou,
The minister opened's ain!

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Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldThe poetical works of George MacDonald in two volumes — Volume 2 → online text (page 17 of 20)