John Churton Collins.

A treasury of minor British poetry selected and arranged with notes .. online

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1 feel it in each little flower

Around me where I stand,
In all the moonshine scattered fair,

Above, below me, everywhere,
In every dew-bead glistening sheen,
In every leaf and blade of green,
And in this silence grand and deep
Wherein Thy blessed creatures sleep.

Men say, that in this midnight hour,
The disembodied have power
To wander as it liketh them,
By wizard oak and fairy stream,

Through still and solemn places,
And by old walls and tombs, to dream,

With pale, cold, mournful faces.
I fear them not ; for they must be
Spirits of kindest sympathy,
Who choose such haunts, and joy to feel
The beauties of this calm night steal
Like music o'er them, while they woo'd

The luxury of Solitude.

W. MOTHERWELL.



28o A TREASURY



CCXLVII
KIRKSTALL ABBEY REVISITED

LONG years have passed since last I strayed,
In boyhood, through thy roofless aisle,

And watched the mists of eve o'ershade
Day's latest, loveliest smile ;

And saw the bright, broad, moving moon

Sail up the sapphire skies of June !

The air around was breathing balm ;

The aspen scarcely seemed to sway ;
And, as a sleeping infant calm,

The river flowed away,
Devious as error, deep as love,

And blue and bright as heaven above !

How bright is every scene beheld

In youth and hope's unclouded hours \

How darkly, youth and hope dispelled,
The loveliest prospect lowers :

Thou wert a splendid vision then \

When wilt thou seem so bright again !

Yet still thy turrets drink the light
Of summer evening's softest ray,

And ivy garlands, green and bright,
Still mantle thy decay ;



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 281



And calm and beauteous as of old,
Thy wandering river glides in gold.

But life's gay morn of ecstasy,

That made thee seem so passing fair,
The aspirations wild and high,

The soul to nobly dare,
Oh, where are they, stern ruin, say ?
Thou dost but echo where are they !

Adieu ! Be still to other hearts
What thou wert long ago to mine ;

And when the blissful dream departs,
Do thou a beacon shine,

To guide the mourner, through his tears,
To the blest scenes of happier years.

A. A. WATTS.



CCXLVIII

THE soul of music slumbers in the shell,
Till waked and kindled by the master's spell ;
And feeling hearts touch them but rightly pour
A thousand melodies unheard before.

s. ROGERS.



282 A TREASURY



CCXLIX

RETIREMENT

RETIRE, and timely, from the world, if ever

Thou hopest tranquil days ;
Its gaudy jewels from thy bosom sever,

Despise its pomp and praise.
The purest star that looks into the stream

Its slightest ripple shakes,
And Peace, where'er its fiercer splendours gleam,

Her brooding nest forsakes.
The quiet planets roll with even motion

In the still skies alone ;
O'er ocean they dance joyously, but ocean

They find no rest upon.

W. S. LANDOR.



CCL

NIGHT AND DEATH

MYSTERIOUS Night ! when our first Parent knew
Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely Frame,
This glorious canopy of Light and Blue ?



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 283



Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting Flame,
Hesperus with the Host of Heaven came,
And lo ! Creation widen'd on Man's view.

Who could have thought such Darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, O Sun ! or who could find,
Whilst flow'r, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind !

Why do we then shun Death with anxious strife ?
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life ?

J. BLANCO WHITE.



CCLI

THERE IS A LIGHT

THERE is a light unseen of eye,
A light unborn of sun or star,

Pervading earth, and sea, and sky,
Beside us still, yet still afar :

A power, a charm, whose web is wrought
Round all we see, or feel, or know,

Round all the world of sense and thought,
Our love and hate, our joy and woe.



284 A TREASURY



It goes, it comes ; like wandering wind,
Unsought it comes, unbidden goes :

Now flashing sun-like o'er the mind,

Now quench'd in dark and cold repose.

It sweeps o'er the great frame of things,

As o'er a lyre of varied tone,
Searching the sweets of all its strings,

Which answer to that touch alone.

From midnight darkness it can wake

A glory, bright as summer sea ;
And can of utter silence make

A vast and solemn harmony.

To the white dawn and moonlight heaven,
The flower's soft breath, the breeze's moan,

The rain-cloud's hues, its spell hath given
A life, a meaning not their own.

W. S. WALKER.



CCLII
THE GIFT

O happy glow, O sun-bathed tree,
O golden-lighted river,

A love-gift has been given to me,
And which of you is giver ?



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 285



I came upon you something sad,
Musing a mournful measure,

Now all my heart in me is glad
With a quick sense of pleasure.

I came upon you with a heart
Half sick of life's vexed story,

And now it grows of you a part,
Steep'd in your golden glory.

A smile into my heart has crept
And laughs through all my being ;

New joy into my life has leapt,
A joy of only seeing !

O happy glow, O sun-bathed tree,

O golden-lighted river,
A love gift has been given to me,

And which of you is giver ?

AUGUSTA WEBSTER.



CCLIII

MAIDEN MAY

MAIDEN May sat in her bower ;
Her own face was like a flower

Of the prime,

Half in sunshine, half in shower,
In the year's most tender time.



286 A TREASURY



Her own thoughts in silent song
Musically flowed along,

Wise, unwise,

Wistful, wondering, weak or strong,
As brook shallows sink or rise.

Other thoughts another day,
Maiden May, will surge and sway

Round your heart ;
Wake, and plead, and turn at bay,
Wisdom part, and folly part.

Time not far remote will borrow
Other joys, another sorrow,

All for you ;
Not to-day, and yet to-morrow

Reasoning false and reasoning true.

Wherefore greatest ? Wherefore least ?
Hearts that starve and hearts that feast ?

You and I ?
Stammering oracles have ceased,

And the whole earth stands at "why?"

Underneath all things that be
Lies an unsolved mystery ;

Over all

Spreads a veil impenetrably,
Spreads a dense unlifted pall.



OF MINOR BRITISH FOE TR Y 287



Mystery of mysteries :

This creation hears and sees

High and low
Vanity of vanities :

This we test and this we know.

Maiden May, the days of flowering
Nurse you now in sweet embowering,

Sunny days ;

Bright with rainbows all the showering,
Bright with blossoms all the ways.

Close the inlet of your bower,
Close it close with thorn and flower,

Maiden May ;

Lengthen out the shortening hour,
Morrows are not as to-day.

Stay to-day which wanes too soon,
Stay the sun and stay the moon,

Stay your youth ;
Bask you in the actual noon,
Rest you in the present truth.

Let to-day suffice to-day :
For itself to-morrow may

Fetch its loss,
Aim and stumble, say its say,

Watch and pray and bear its cross.

CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.



288 A TREASURY



CCLIV
BY AND BY

WAITING, waiting. 'Tis so far
To the day that is to come :

One by one the days that are
All to tell their countless sum ;

Each to dawn and each to die

What so far as by and by ?

Waiting, waiting. 'Tis not ours,
This to-day that flies so fast :

Let them go, the shadowy hours
Floating, floated, into Past.

Our day wears to-morrow's sky,

What so near as by and by ?

AUGUSTA WEBSTER.



CCLV

MIMNERMUS IN CHURCH

You promise heavens free from strife,
Pure truth, and perfect change of will ;

But sweet, sweet is this human life,
So sweet, I fain would breathe it still :

Your chilly stars I can forego,

This warm, kind world is all I know.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 289

You say there is no substance here,

One great reality above :
Back from that void I shrink in fear,

And child-like hide myself in love.
Show me what angels feel ; till then,
I cling, a mere weak man, to men.

You bid me lift my mean desires
From faltering lips and fitful veins

To sexless souls, ideal quires,

Unwearied voices, wordless strains ;

My mind with fonder welcome owns

One dear dead friend's remembered tones.

Forsooth the present we must give
To that which cannot pass away ;

All beauteous things for which we live
By laws of time and space decay.

But oh, the very reason why

I clasp them, is because they die.

W. CORY.



CCLVI

CARPE DIEM

YOUTH, that pursuest with such eager pace

Thy even way,
Thou pantest on to win a mournful race :

Then stay ! oh, stay !
u



290 A TREASURY



Pause and luxuriate in thy sunny plain ;

Loiter, enjoy :
Once past, thou never wilt come back again,

A second Boy.

The hills of Manhood wear a noble face,

When seen from far ;
The mist of light from which they take their grace

Hides what they are.

The dark and weary path those cliffs between

Thou canst not know,
And how it leads to regions never green,

Dead fields of snow.

Pause, while thou mayst, nor deem that fate thy gain,

Which, all too fast,
Will drive thee forth from this delicious plain,

A Man at last.

LORD HOUGHTON.



CCLVII

THE CHAUNT OF THE BRAZEN HEAD

I THINK, whatever mortals crave,
With impotent endeavour,

A wreath, a rank, a throne, a grave,
The world goes round for ever :



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 291



I think that life is not too long ;

And therefore I determine,
That many people read a song

Who will not read a sermon.

I think you've looked through many hearts,

And mused on many actions,
And studied Man's component parts,

And Nature's compound fractions :
I think you've picked up truth by bits

From foreigner and neighbour ;
I think the world has lost its wits,

And you have lost your labour.

I think the studies of the wise,

The Hero's noisy quarrel,
The majesty of Woman's eyes,

The poet's cherished laurel,
And all that makes us lean or fat,

And all that charms and troubles,
This bubble is more bright than that,

But still they all are bubbles.

I think the thing you call Renown,

The unsubstantial vapour,
For which the soldier burns a town,

The sonneteer a taper,
Is like the mist which, as he flies,

The horseman leaves behind him ;
He cannot mark its wreaths arise,

Or if he does they blind him.



292 A TREASURY



I think one nod of Mistress Chance

Makes creditors of debtors,
And shifts the funeral for the dance,

The sceptre for the fetters :
I think that Fortune's favoured guest

May live to gnaw the platters,
And he that wears the purple vest

May wear the rags and tatters.

I think the Tories love to buy

"Your Lordship "s and "your Grace "s,
By loathing common honesty,

And lauding commonplaces :
I think that some are very wise,

And some are very funny,
And some grow rich by telling lies,

And some by telling money.

I think the Whigs are wicked knaves

(And very like the Tories)
Who doubt that Britain rules the waves,

And ask the price of glories :
I think 'that many fret and fume

At what their friends are planning,
And Mr. Hume hates Mr. Brougham

As much as Mr. Canning.

I think that friars and their hoods,
Their doctrines and their maggots,



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 293

Have lighted up too many feuds,

And far too many faggots.
I think, while zealots fast and frown,

And fight for two or seven,
That there are fifty roads to Town,

And rather more to Heaven.

I think that Love is like a play,

Where tears and smiles are blended,
Or like a faithless April day,

Whose shine with shower is ended :
Like Colnbrook pavement, rather rough,

Like trade, exposed to losses,
And like a Highland plaid, all stuff,

And very full of crosses.

I think the world, though dark it be,

Has aye one rapturous pleasure
Concealed in life's monotony,

For those who seek the treasure :
One planet in a starless night,

One blossom on a briar,
One friend not quite a hypocrite,

One woman not a liar !

I think poor beggars court St. Giles,

Rich beggars court St. Stephen ;
And Death looks down with nods and smiles,

And makes the odds all even.



294 A TREASURY



I think some die upon the field,

And some upon the billow,
And some are laid beneath a shield,

And some beneath a willow.

I think that very few have sighed

When Fate at last has found them,
Though bitter foes were by their side,

And barren moss around them :
I think that some have died of drought,

And some have died of drinking ;
I think that nought is worth a thought,

And I'm a fool for thinking !

w. M. PRAED.



CCLVIII
HOPE AND WISDOM

YOUTH is the virgin nurse of tender Hope,
And lifts her up and shows a far-off scene :

When Care with heavy tread would interlope,
They call the boys to shout her from the green

Ere long another comes, before whose eyes

Nurseling and nurse alike stand mute and quail

Wisdom : to her Hope not one word replies,
And Youth lets drop the dear romantic tale.

W. S. LANDOR.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 295



CCLIX
HOPE

GATE that never wholly closes,

Opening yet so oft in vain !
Garden full of thorny roses !

Roses fall, and thorns remain.

Wayward lamp, with flickering lustre

Shining far or shining near,
Seldom words of truth revealing,

Ever showing words of cheer.

Promise-breaker, yet unfailing !

Faithless flatterer ! comrade true !
Only friend, when traitor proven,

Whom we always trust anew.

Courtier strange, whom triumph frighteth,
Flying far from pleasure's eye,

Who by sorrow's side alighteth
When all else are passing by.

Syren-singer ! ever chanting

Ditties new to burdens old ;
Precious stone the sages sought for,

Turning everything to gold !



296 A TREASURY



True philosopher ! imparting
Comfort rich to spirits pained ;

Chider of proud triumph's madness,
Pointing to the unattained !

Timid warrior ! Doubt, arising,

Scares thee with the slightest breath ;

Matchless chief ! who, fear despising,
Tramples on the darts of death !

O'er the grave, past Time's pursuing,
Far thy flashing glory streams,

Too unswerving, too resplendent,
For a child of idle dreams.

Still, life's fitful vigil keeping,

Feed the flame and trim the light :

Hope's the lamp I'll take for sleeping
When I wish the world good-night.

E. c. JONES.



CCLX

EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY HOPE

REFLECTED on the lake I love
To see the stars of evening glow,

So tranquil in the heavens above,
So restless in the wave below.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 297

Thus heavenly hope is all serene,
But earthly hope, how bright soe'er,

Still fluctuates o'er this changing scene
As false and fleeting as 'tis fair.

BISHOP HEBER.
CCLXI

DREAM PEDLARY

IF there were dreams to sell,

What would you buy ?
Some cost a passing bell,

Some a light sigh ;
That shakes from Life's fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,

Which would you buy ?

A cottage lone and still,

With bowers nigh,
Shadowy, my woes to still

Until I die.

Such pearl from Life's fresh crown
Fain would I shake me down ;
Were dreams to have at will,
This would best heal my ill,

This would I buy.

T. L. BEDDOES.



298 A TREASURY



CCLXII
POPULAR THEOLOGY

" THERE is no God," the wicked saith,

"And truly it's a blessing,
For what He might have done with us

It's better only guessing,"

"There is no God," a youngster thinks,
" Or really, if there may be,

He surely didn't mean a man
Always to be a baby."

" There is no God, or, if there is,"
The tradesman thinks, " 'twere funny

If He should take it ill in me
To make a little money ! "

"Whether there be," the rich man says,

" It matters very little ;
For I and mine, thank somebody,

Are not in want of victual."

Some others, also, to themselves,
Who scarce so much as doubt it,

Think there is none, when they are well,
And do not think about it.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 299

But country folks who live beneath

The shadow of the steeple ;
The parson and the parson's wife,

And mostly married people ;

Youths green and happy in first love,

So thankful for illusion ;
And men caught out in what the world

Calls guilt, in first confusion ;

And almost every one when age,

Disease, or sorrows strike him,
Inclines to think there is a God,

Or something very like Him.

A. H. CLOUGH.



CCLXIII

PRAYER TO DIANA

SINCE thou and the stars, my dear goddess, decree,
That, old maid as I am, an old maid I must be,
Oh ! hear the petition I offer to thee,

For to bear it must be my endeavour ;
From the grief of my friendships, all dropping around,
Till not one whom I loved in my youth can be found,
From the legacy-hunters that near us abound,

Diana, thy servant deliver !



300 A TREASURY



From the scorn of the young, or the flouts of the gay,

From all the trite ridicule tattled away

By the pert ones who know nothing better to say,

(Or a spirit to laugh at them give her) ;
From repining at fancied neglected desert,
Or vain of a civil speech, bridling alert,
From finical niceness, or slatternly dirt,

Diana, thy servant deliver !

From over-solicitous guarding of pelf,

From humour unchecked, that most pestilent elf,

From every unsocial attention to self,

Or ridiculous whim whatsoever :
From the vapourish freaks or methodical airs,
Apt to sprout in a brain that's exempted from cares,
From impertinent meddling in others' affairs,

Diana, thy servant deliver !

From the erring attachments of desolate souls,
From the love of spadille and of matadore boles,
Or of lapdogs, and parrots, and monkeys, and owls,

Be they ne'er so uncommon and clever ;
But chief from the love of all loveliness flown
Which makes the dim eye condescend to look down,
On some ape of a fop, or some owl of a clown,

Diana, thy servant deliver !

From spleen at beholding the young more caressed,
From pettish asperity, tartly expressed,
From scandal, detraction, and every such pest,
From all thy true servant deliver ;



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 301

Nor let satisfaction depart from her lot,
Let her sing, if at ease, and be patient if not,
Be pleased when regarded, content when forgot,
Till fate her slight thread shall dissever !

ANON.



CCLXIV

PRUDENCE

BEHAVE yoursel' before folk,

Behave yoursel' before folk,
And dinna be sae rude to me,

As kiss me sae before folk.
It wouldna' give me meikle pain,
Gin we were seen and heard by nane,
To tak' a kiss, or grant you ane :

But gudesake ! no before folk.

Behave yoursel' before folk,

Behave yoursel' before folk
Whate'er you do when out o' view,

Be cautious aye before folk !

Consider, lad, how folks will crack,
And what a great affair they'll mak'
O' naethin-g but a simple smack,



302 A TREASURY



That's gi'en or ta'en before folk.
Behave yourseP before folk,
Behave yourseP before folk
Nor gi'e the tongue o' old and young
Occasion to come o'er folk.



I'm sure wi' you I've been as free
As ony modest lass should be ;
But yet it doesna' do to see

Sic freedom used before folk.

Behave yoursel' before folk,

Behave yoursel' before folk
I'll ne'er submit again to it ;

So mind you that before folk !



Ye tell me that my face is fair :
It may be sae I dinna care
But ne'er again gar't blush so sair

As ye hae done before folk.

Behave yoursel' before folk,

Behave yoursel' before folk
Nor heat my cheeks wi' your mad freaks,

But aye be douce before folk !



Ye tell me that my lips are sweet j
Sic tales, I doubt, are a' deceit
At ony rate, it's hardly meet



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 303



To prie their sweets before folk.
Behave yoursel' before folk,
Behave yoursel' before folk
Gin that's the case, there's time and place,
But surely no before folk !

But gin you really do insist
That I should suffer to be kissed,
Gae get a license frae the priest,

And mak' me yours before folk !

Behave yoursel' before folk,

Behave yoursel' before folk
And when we're ane, baith flesh and bane,

Ye may tak' ten before folk !

A. RODGER.



CCLXV

A HUMAN SKULL

A HUMAN skull ! I bought it passing cheap,
Indeed 'twas dearer to its first employer !

I thought mortality did well to keep

Some mute memento of the old destroyer.

It is a ghostly monitor, and most

Experienced our wasting sand in summing ;
It is a grave domestic finger-post

That warning points the way to kingdom coming.



304 A TREASURY



Time was, some may have prized its blooming skin ;

Here lips were woo'd, perhaps, in transport tender ;
Some may have chuck'd what was a dimpled chin,

And never had my doubt about its gender !

Did she live yesterday or ages back ?

What colour were the eyes when bright and waking ?
And were your ringlets fair, or brown, or black,

Poor little head ! that long has done with aching ?

It may have held (to shoot some random shots)
Thy brains, Eliza Fry, or Baron Byron's ;

The wits of Nelly Gwynn, or Dr. Watts,

Two quoted bards ! two philanthropic syrens !

But this I surely knew before I closed

The bargain on the morning that I bought it ;

It was not half so bad as some supposed,

Nor quite as good as many may have thought it.

Who love, can need no special type of death ;

Death steals his icy hand where Love reposes.
Alas for love, alas for fleeting breath,

Immortelles bloom with Beauty's bridal roses.

O, true love mine, what lines of care are these ?

The heart still lingers with its golden hours,
But fading tints are on the chestnut trees,

And where is all that lavish wealth of flowers ?



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY



305



The end is near. Life lacks what once it gave,
Yet death has promises that call for praises ;

A very worthless rogue may dig the grave,

But hands unseen will dress the turf with daisies.

F. L. LAMPSON.



CCLXVI

THINK NOT OF THE FUTURE

THINK not of the future, the prospect is uncertain ;

Laugh away the present, while laughing hours remain :
Those who gaze too boldly through Time's mystic
curtain

Soon will wish to close it, and dream of joy again.
I, like thee, was happy, and, on hope relying,

Thought the present pleasure might revive again ;
But receive my counsel ! time is always flying,

Then laugh away the present, while laughing hours
remain.

I have felt unkindness, keen as that which hurts thee ;

I have met with friendship fickle as the wind ;
Take what friendship offers ere its warmth deserts thee ;

Well I know the kindest may not long be kind,
x



306 A TREASURY



Would you waste the pleasure of the summer season,
Thinking that the winter must return again ?

If our summer's fleeting, surely that's a reason

For laughing off the present, while laughing hours
remain.

T. HAYNES BAYLY.



CCLXVII

A LIFE IN THE COUNTRY

" OH ! a life in the country how joyous,

How ineffably charming it is ;
With no ill-mannered crowds to annoy us

Nor odious neighbours to quiz ! "
So murmured the beautiful Harriet

To the fondly affectionate Brown,
As they rolled in the flame-coloured chariot

From the nasty detestable town :
Singing, " Oh, a life in the country how joyous,

How ineffably charming it is ! "

" I shall take a portfolio quite full

Of the sweetest conceivable glees ;
And at times manufacture delightful

Little Odes to the doves on the trees.
There'll be dear little stockingless wretches

In those hats that are so picturesque,
Who will make the deliciousest sketches,

Which I'll place in my Theodore's desk.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 307

" Then how pleasant to study the habits

Of the creatures we meet as we roam :
And perhaps keep a couple of rabbits,

Or some fish and a bullfinch at home !
The larks, when the summer has brought 'em,

Will sing overtures quite like Mozart's,
And the black-berries, dear, in the autumn

Will make the most exquisite tarts.



" The bells of the sheep will be ringing

All day amid sweet-scented showers,
As we sit by some rivulet singing

About May and her beautiful bowers.
We'll take intellectual rambles

In those balm-laden evenings of June,
And say it reminds one of Campbell's

(Or somebody's) lines to the moon."



But these charms began shortly to pall on

The taste of the gay Mrs. Brown ;
She hadn't a body to call on,

Nor a soul that could make up a gown.
She was yearning to see her relations,

And besides had a troublesome cough ;
And in fact she was losing all patience,

And exclaimed, " We must really be off,
Though a life in the country so joyous,

So ineffably charming it is.



308 A TREASURY



" But this morning I noticed a beetle

Crawl along on the dining-room floor,
If we stay till the summer, the heat '11

Infallibly bring out some more.
Now few have a greater objection

To beetles than Harriet Brown :
And, my dear, I think, on reflection

I should like to go back to the town."


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Online LibraryJohn Churton CollinsA treasury of minor British poetry selected and arranged with notes .. → online text (page 11 of 19)