John Churton Collins.

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

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To Instinct, Reason, God.



That last, best effort of thy skill,
To form the life, and rule the will,

Propitious power ! impart ;
Teach me to cool my passion's fires,
Make me the judge of my desires,

The master of my heart.



216 A TREASURY



Sun of the soul ! thy beams unveil !
Let others spread the daring sail,

On Fortune's faithless sea ;
While, undeluded, happier I
From the vain tumult timely fly,

And sit in peace with thee.

M. AKENSIDE.



CXCI

THE ENTHUSIAST

ONCE, I remember well the day,
Twas ere the blooming sweets of May

Had lost their freshest hues,
When every flower on every hill,
In every vale, had drunk its fill

Of sun-shine and of dews.



'Twas that sweet season's loveliest prime
When Spring gives up the reins of time

To Summer's glowing hand,
And doubting mortals hardly know
By whose command the breezes blow

Which fan the smiling land.



OF MINOR BRITISH POE TRY 217

'Twas then beside a green-wood shade
Which cloth'd a lawn's aspiring head

I urg'd my devious way,
With loitering steps, regardless where,
So soft, so genial was the air,

So wond'rous bright the day.



And now my eyes with transport rove
O'er all the blue expanse above,

Unbroken by a cloud !
And now beneath delighted pass,
Where, winding through the deep-green grass,

A full-brimm'd river flow'd.



I stop, I gaze ; in accents rude
To thee, serenest Solitude,

Bursts forth th' unbidden lay ;
Begone, vile world ; the learn'd, the wise,
The great, the busy, I despise,

And pity e'en the gay.



These, these are joys alone, I cry,
'Tis here, divine Philosophy,

Thou deign'st to fix thy throne !
Here contemplation points the road
Thro' Nature's charms to Nature's God !

These, these, are joys alone !



2i8 A TREASURY



Adieu, ye vain, low-thoughted cares,
Ye human hopes, and human fears,

Ye pleasures, and ye pains !
While thus I spake, o'er all my soul
A philosophic calmness stole,

A Stoic stillness reigns.



The tyrant passions all subside,
Fear, anger, pity, shame, and pride,

No more my bosom move.
Yet still I felt, or seem'd to feel
A kind of visionary zeal

Of universal love.



When lo ! a voice ! a voice I hear !
'Twas Reason whisper'd in my ear

These monitory strains :

What mean'st thou, man ? would'st thou unbind
The ties which constitute thy kind,

The pleasures and the pains ?



The same Almighty Power unseen,
Who spreads the gay or solemn scene

To Contemplation's eye :
Fix'd every movement of the soul,
Taught every wish its destined goal,

And quicken'd every joy.



OF MINOR BRITISH POE TRY 219

He bids the tyrant passions rage,
He bids them war eternal wage,

And combat each his foe :
Till from dissensions concords rise,
And beauties from deformities,

And happiness from woe.



Art thou not man ? and dar'st thou find
A bliss which leans not to mankind ?

Presumptuous thought, and vain !
Each bliss unshar'd is unenjoy'd,
Each power is weak, unless employ'd

Some social good to gain.



Shall light, and shade, and warmth, and air,
With those exalted joys compare

Which active virtue feels.
When on she drags, as lawful prize,
Contempt, and Indolence, and Vice,

At her triumphant wheels.



As rest to labour still succeeds,

To man, while Virtue's glorious deeds

Employ his toilsome day,
This fair variety of things
Are merely life's refreshing springs

To soothe him on his way.




220 A TREASURY



Enthusiast, go, unstring thy lyre ;
In vain thou sing'st if none admire,

How sweet soe'er the strain ;
And is not thy o'erflowing mind,
Unless thou mixest with thy kind,

Benevolent in vain ?

Enthusiast, go, try every sense ;
If not thy bliss, thy excellence

Thou yet hast learn'd to scan ;
At least thy wants, thy weakness know,
And see them all uniting show,

That man was made for man.

W. WHITEHEAD.
CXCII

NIGHT-FALL

OH, soothing hour, when glowing day
Low on the western wave declines,

And village murmurs die away,

And bright the vesper planet shines !

I love to hear the gale of even,

Breathing along the dew-leaf'd copse,

And feel the fresh'ning dew of heaven
Fall silently in limpid drops.

For like a friend's consoling sighs,
That breeze of night to me appears ;

And as soft dew from pity's eyes,
Descend those pure celestial tears.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 221

Alas ! for those, who long have borne,
Like me, a heart by sorrow riven,

Who, but the plaintive winds will mourn ?
What tears will fall but those of heaven ?

CHARLOTTE SMITH.



CXCIII

TIME AND GRIEF

TIME ! who know'st a lenient hand to lay
Softest on sorrow's wound, and slowly thence
(Lulling to sad repose the weary sense)

The faint pang stealest unperceived away ;

On thee I rest my only hope at last,

And think, when thou hast dried the bitter tear
That flows in vain o'er all my soul held dear,

1 may look back on every sorrow past,

And meet life's peaceful evening with a smile :
As some lone bird, at day's departing hour,
Sings in the sunbeam, of the transient shower,

Forgetful, though its wings are wet the while :

Yet ah ! how much must the poor heart endure,
Which hopes from thee, and thee alone, a cure !

W. LISLE BOWLES.



222 A TREASURY



CXCIV
REMEMBRANCE

THE season comes when first we met,

But you return no more ;
Why cannot I the days forget,

Which time can ne'er restore ?
O days too sweet, too bright to last,
Are you indeed for ever past ?

The fleeting shadows of delight,

In memory I trace ;
In fancy stop their rapid flight

And all the past replace :
But ah ! I wake to endless woes,
And tears the fading visions close !

MRS. ANNE HUNTER.



CXCV

A POET'S EPITAPH

O STRANGER ! if thy wayward lot
Through Folly's heedless maze has led,
Here nurse the true, the tender thought,
And fling the wild flow'r on his head.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 223



For he, by this cold hillock clad,
Where tall grass twines the pointed stone,
Each gentlest balm of feeling had,
To soothe all sorrow but his own.

For he, by tuneful Fancy rear'd,
(Though ever dumb he sleeps below),
The stillest sigh of anguish heard,
And gave a tear to ev'ry woe.

Then, stranger, be his foibles lost ;
At such small foibles virtue smil'd :
Few was their number, large their cost,
For he was Nature's orphan child.

When taught by life its pangs to know,
Ah ! as thou roam'st the checker'd gloom,
Bid the sweet night-bird's numbers flow,
And the last sunbeam light his tomb.

T. DERMODY.



CXCVI
THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST

I'VE heard them lilting, at the ewe milking,
Lasses a' lilting, before dawn of day ;

But now they are moaning, on ilka green loaning ;
The flowers of the forest are a' wede awae.



224 A TREASURY



At bughts in the morning, nae blithe lads are scorning ;

Lasses are lonely, and dowie and wae ;
Nae dagging, nae gabbing, but sighing and sabbing ;

Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her awae.



In har'st at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering ;

Bandsters are runkled, and lyart or gray ;
At fair, or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching ;

The flowers of the forest are a' wede awae.



At e'en, in the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming,
'Bout stacks, wi' the lasses at bogle to play ;

But ilk maid sits drearie, lamenting her dearie
The flowers of the forest are a' wede awae.



Dule and wae for the order, sent our lads to the border !

The English, for ance, by guile wan the day ;
The flowers of the forest, that foucht aye the foremost,

The prime o' our land, are cauld in the clay.



We hear nae mair lilting, at the ewe milking,
Women and bairns are heartless and wae :

Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning
The flowers of the forest are a' wede awae.

JANE ELLIOT.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 225

CXCVII
A RETROSPECT

TWENTY lost years have stolen their hours away,
Since in this inn, e'en in this room I lay.
How chang'd ! what then was rapture, fire, and air,
Seems now sad silence all and blank despair.

Is it that youth paints every view too bright,
And, life advancing, fancy fades her light !
Ah ! no, nor yet is day so far declin'd,
Nor can time's creeping coldness reach the mind.

'Tis that I miss th' inspirer of that youth ;
Her, whose soft smile was love, whose soul was truth ;
Death snatch'd my joys, by cutting off her share,
But left her griefs to multiply my care.

Pensive and cold this room in each chang'd part,
I view, and shock'd from ev'ry object start ;
There hung the watch that, beating hours from day,
Told its sweet owner's lessening life away.

There her dear diamond taught the sash my name,
'Tis gone ! frail image of love, life, and fame ;
That glass she dress'd at, keeps her form no more,
Not one dear footstep tunes th' unconscious floor.
Q



226 A TREASURY



Oh life ! deceitful lure of lost desires !
How short thy period, yet how fierce thy fires !
Scarce can a passion start, we change so fast,
Ere new lights strike us, and the old are past.

Schemes following schemes, so long life's taste explore,
That ere we learn to live, we live no more.
Who then can think, yet sigh to part with breath,
Or shun the healing hand of friendly death ?

A. HILL.



CXCVIII

EVENING

EVENING ! as slow thy placid shades descend,
Veiling with gentlest hush the landscape still,
The lonely battlement, the farthest hill

And wood, I think of those who have no friend ;

Who now, perhaps, by melancholy led,

From the broad blaze of day, where pleasure flaunts,
Retiring, wander to the ring-dove's haunts

Unseen ; and watch the tints that o'er thy bed

Hang lovely ; oft to musing Fancy's eye

Presenting fairy vales, where the tired mind
Might rest beyond the murmurs of mankind,

Nor hear the hourly moans of misery !



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 227

Alas for man ! that Hope's fair views the while
Should smile like you, and perish as they smile !

W. LISLE BOWLES.



CXCIX

EPITAPH

TAKE, holy earth, all that my soul holds dear ;

Take that best gift which heaven so lately gave ;
To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care

Her faded form \ she bow'd to taste the wave,

And died. Does Youth, does Beauty, read the line ?

Does sympathetic fear their breast alarm ?
Speak, dead Maria ! breathe a strain divine,

Ev'n from the grave thou shalt have power to charm.

Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee ;

Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move ;
And if so fair, from vanity as free,

So firm in friendship, and as fond in love ;

Tell them, tho' 'tis an awful thing to die,

(Twas ev'n to thee) yet the dread path once trod,

Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high,

And bids the pure in heart behold their God.

w. MASON.



228 A TREASURY



CC

"SECURE OF FAME AND JUSTICE IN THE
GRAVE"

AH ! no when once the mortal yields to Fate,

The blast of Fame's sweet trumpet sounds too late,

Too late to stay the spirit on its flight,

Or soothe the new inhabitant of light ;

Who hears regardless, while fond man, distress'd,

Hangs on the absent, and laments the blest.

Farewell, then, Fame, ill sought thro' fields and blood,
Farewell unfaithful promiser of good :
Thou music, warbling to the deafen'd ear !
Thou incense wasted on the funeral bier !
Through life pursued in vain, by death obtain'd,
When ask'd, deny'd us, and when giv'n, disdain'd.

T. TICKELL.



CCI

TO-MORROW

IN the down-hill of life, when I find I'm declining,

May my fate no less fortunate be,
Than a snug elbow-chair will afford for reclining,

And a cot that o'erlooks the wide sea ;



OF MINOR BRITISH POETR Y 229

With an ambling pad-pony to pace o'er the lawn,

While I carol away idle sorrow,
And blithe as the lark that each day hails the dawn,

Look forward with hope for To-morrow.



With a porch at my door, both for shelter and shade too,

As the sunshine or rain may prevail,
And a small spot of ground for the use of the spade too,

With a barn for the use of the flail :
A cow for my dairy, a dog for my game,

And a purse when a friend wants to borrow ;
I'll envy no Nabob his riches or fame,

Or what honours may wait him To-morrow.



From the bleak northern blast may my cot be completely

Secured by a neighbouring hill ;
And at night may repose steal upon me more sweetly

By the sound of a murmuring rill.
And while peace and plenty I find at my board,

With a heart free from sickness and sorrow,
With my friends may I share what To-day may afford,

And let them spread the table To-morrow.



And when I at last must throw off this frail cov'ring,
Which I've worn for three score years and ten,

On the brink of the grave I'll not seek to keep hov'ring
Nor my thread wish to spin o'er again ;



230 A TREASURY



But my face in the glass I'll serenely survey,

And with smiles count each wrinkle and furrow ;

As this old worn-out stuff, which is threadbare To-day,
May become everlasting To-morrow.

j. COLLINS.



ecu
DEATH IN LIFE

As those we love decay, we die in part,
Tie after tie is sever'd from the heart ;
Till loosen'd life, at last but breathing clay,
Without one pang is glad to fall away.

Unhappy he, who latest feels the blow,
Whose eyes have wept o'er every friend laid low,
Dragg'd ling'ring on from partial death to death,
Till, dying, all he can resign is breath.

j. THOMSON.



CCIII

ON Parent knees, a naked new-born child,
Weeping thou sat'st while all around thee smil'd ;
So live, that sinking on thy last long sleep,
Thou then mayst smile, while all around thee weep.

SIR w. JONES.



OF All NOR BRITISH POE TRY 231



CCIV
ON THE DEATH OF MR. ROBERT LEVET

CONDEMN'D to Hope's delusive mine,
As on we toil from day to day,

By sudden blasts, or slow decline,
Our social comforts drop away.

Well try'd through many a varying year,
See Levet to the grave descend,

Officious, innocent, sincere,

Of ev'ry friendless name the friend.

Yet still he fills affection's eye,

Obscurely wise, and coarsely kind ;

Nor, letter'd Arrogance, deny
Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.

When fainting nature call'd for aid,
And hov'ring death prepar'd the blow,

His vigorous remedy displayed

The power of art without the show.

In misery's darkest cavern known,
His useful care was ever nigh,

Where hopeless anguish pour'd his groan,
And lonely want retir'd to die.



232 A TREASURY



No summons mock'd by chill delay,
No petty gain disdain'd by pride ;

The modest wants of ev'ry day
The toil of ev'ry day supply'd.

His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
Nor made a pause, nor left a void ;

And sure th' Eternal Master found
The single talent well employ'd.

The busy day the peaceful night,

Unfelt, uncounted, glided by ;
His frame was firm his powers were bright,

Though now his eightieth year was nigh.

Then with no fiery throbbing pain,

No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once the vital chain,

And freed his soul the nearest way.

DR. JOHNSON.



ccv



LINES WRITTEN AT THE HOT-WELLS,
BRISTOL

WHOE'ER, like me, with trembling anguish brings
His dearest earthly treasure to these springs ;
Whoe'er, like me, to soothe distress and pain,
Shall court these salutary springs in vain ;



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 233

Condemned, like me, to hear the faint reply,
To mark the fading cheek, the sinking eye,
From the chill brow to wipe the damps of death,
And watch in dumb despair the shortening breath ;

If chance should bring him to this humble line,
Let the sad mourner know his pangs were mine.
Ordained to love the partner of my breast,
Whose virtue warmed me, and whose beauty blessed ;

Framed every tie that binds the heart to prove,
Her duty friendship, and her friendship love ;
But yet remembering that the parting sigh
Appoints the just to slumber, not to die,

The starting tear I checked I kissed the rod,
And not to earth resigned her but to God.

LORD PALMERSTON.



CCVI

To him is reared no marble tomb,
Within the dim cathedral fane ;

But some faint flowers of summer bloom,
And silent falls the wintry rain.

No village monumental stone

Records a verse, a date, a name

What boots it ? when thy task is done,
Christian, how vain the sound of fame !

W. LISLE BOWLES.



234 A TREASURY



CCVII

LIFE ! we've been long together,

Through pleasant and through cloudy weather ;

Tis hard to part when friends are dear,

Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear ;

Then steal away, give little warning,

Choose thine own time,
Say not "Good-night," but in some brighter clime

Bid me " Good-morning."

MRS. BARBAULD.



CCVIII
THE DIVINE IMAGE

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,

And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear ;

And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is man, his child and care.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 235



For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity, a human face ;
And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,

That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine :

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In Heathen, Turk, or Jew ;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,

There God is dwelling too.

W. BLAKE.



BOOK IV



CCIX

LOVE'S DIET

TELL me, fair maid, tell me truly,

How should infant Love be fed ;
If with dew-drops, shed so newly

On the bright green clover blade ;
Or, with roses plucked in July,
And with honey liquored ?
O, no ! O, no !
Let roses blow,

And dew-stars to green blade cling :
Other fare,
More light and rare,
Befits that gentlest Nursling.

Feed him with the sigh that rushes

'Twixt sweet lips, whose muteness speaks
With the eloquence that flushes

All a heart's wealth o'er soft cheeks ;
Feed him with a world of blushes,

And the glance that shuns, yet seeks :
For 'tis with food,
So light and good,



240 A TREASURY



That the spirit child is fed ;

And with the tear

Of joyous fear,
That the small Elf s liquored.

W. MOTHERWELL.



CCX

TO HELENE ON A GIFT-RING CARELESSLY
LOST

I SENT a ring a little band

Of emerald and ruby stone,
And bade it, sparkling on thy hand,
Tell thee sweet tales of one
Whose constant memory
Was full of loveliness and thee. .

A shell was graven on its gold,

'Twas Cupid fix'd without his wings
To Helena once it would have told
More than was ever told by rings,
But now all's past and gone,
Her love is buried with that stone.

Thou shalt not see the tears that start

From eyes by thoughts like these beguil'd ;
Thou shalt not know the beating heart,
Ever a victim and a child :
Yet, Helene, love believe
The heart that never could deceive.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 241



I'll hear thy voice of melody

In the sweet whispers of the air ;
I'll see the brightness of thine eye
In the blue evening's dewy star ;
In crystal streams thy purity,
And look on Heaven to look on thee.

G. BARLEY.



CCXI

THE TRYSTING HOUR

THE gowan glitters on the sward,

The lavrock's in the sky,
And Collie on my plaid keeps ward,

And time is passing by.
Oh, no ! sad an' slow,

And lengthen'd on the ground,
The shadow of our trystin' bush

It wears sae slowly round !

My sheep-bell tinkles frae the west,

My lambs are bleating near,
But still the sound I lo'e the best,
Alack ! I canna' hear.

Oh, no ! sad an' slow,
The shadow lingers still,
And like a lanely ghaist I stand
And croon upon the hill.
R



242 A TREASURY



I hear below the water roar,

The mill wi' clackin' din,
And Lucky scoldin' frae her door,

To ca' the bairnies in.
Oh, no ! sad an' slow,

These are na' sounds for me,
The shadow of our trystin' bush

It creeps sae drearily !



Oh, now I see her on the way,

She's past the witch's knowe,
She's climbin' up the brownies' brae,

My heart is in a lowe !
Oh, no ! 'tis no' so,

'Tis glam'rie I hae seen,
The shadow of that hawthorn bush

Will move na' more till e'en.



My book o' grace I'll try to read,

Though conn'd wi' little skill ;
When Collie barks I'll raise my head,

And find her on the hill ;
Oh, no ! sad an' slow,

The time will ne'er be gane,
The shadow of the trystin' bush

Is fix'd like ony stane.

JOANNA BAILLIE.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 243

CCXII
SONG

THEY who may tell love's wistful tale,

Of half its cares are lighten'd ;
Their bark is tacking to the gale,

The sever'd cloud is brighten'd.

Love, like the silent stream, is found

Beneath the willows lurking,
The deeper, that it hath no sound

To tell its ceaseless working.

Submit, my heart ; thy lot is cast,

I feel its inward token ;
I feel this mis'ry will not last,

Yet last till thou art broken.

JOANNA BAILLIE.
CCXIII

A PICTURE

MY Love o'er the water bends dreaming ;

It glideth and glideth away :
She sees there her own beauty, gleaming

Through shadow and ripple and spray.



244 A TREASURY



Oh, tell her, thou murmuring river,
As past her your light wavelets roll,

How steadfast that image for ever

Shines pure in pure depths of my soul.

j. THOMSON.



ccxiv
MEET WE NO ANGELS, PANSIE?

CAME, on a Sabbath noon, my sweet,

In white, to find her lover ;
The grass grew proud beneath her feet,

The green elm-leaves above her :
Meet we no angels, Pansie ?

She said, " We meet no angels now " ;

And soft lights stream'd upon her ;
And with white hand she touch'd a bough ;

She did it that great honour ;

What ! meet no angels, Pansie ?

O sweet brown hat, brown hair, brown eyes,

Down-dropp'd brown eyes, so tender !
Then what said I ? gallant replies
Seem flattery, and offend her ;
But, meet no angels, Pansie ?

T. ASHE.



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 245

CCXV
JEANIE MORRISON

I'VE wandered east, I've wandered west,

Through mony a weary way ;
But never, never can forget

The luve o' life's young day !
The fire that's blawn on Beltane e'en,

May weel be black gin Yule ;
But blacker fa' awaits the heart

Where first fond luve grows cule.

O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison,

The thochts o' bygane years
Still fling their shadows ower my path,

And blind my een wi' tears :
They blind my een wi' saut, saut tears,

And sair and sick I pine,
As memory idly summons up

The blithe blinks o' langsyne.

My head rins round and round about,

My heart flows like a sea,
As ane by ane the thochts rush back

O' scule-time and o' thee.
Oh, mornin' life ! oh, mornin' luve !

Oh lichtsome days and lang,
When hinnied hopes around our hearts

Like simmer blossoms sprang !



246 A TREASURY



Oh mind ye, hive, how aft we left

The deavin' dinsome toun,
To wander by the green burnside,

And hear its waters croon ?
The simmer leaves hung ower our heads,

The flowers burst round our feet,
And in the gloamin' o' the wood,

The throssil whusslit sweet ;

The throssil whusslit in the wood,

The burn sang to the trees,
And we with Nature's heart in tune,

Concerted harmonies ;
And on the knowe abune the burn,

For hours thegither sat
In the silentness o' joy, till baith

Wi' very gladness grat.

Aye, aye, dear Jeanie Morrison,

Tears trinkled doun your cheek,
Like dew-beads on a rose, yet nane

Had ony power to speak !
That was a time, a blessed time,

When hearts were fresh and young,
When freely gushed all feelings forth,

Unsyllabled unsung !

I marvel, Jeanie Morrison,
Gin I hae been to thee



OF MINOR BRITISH POETRY 247

As closely twined wi' earliest thochts,

As ye hae been to me ?
Oh ! tell me gin their music fills

Thine ear as it does mine ;
Oh ! say gin e'er your heart grows grit

Wi' dreamings o' langsyne ?



I've wandered east, I've wandered west,

I've borne a weary lot ;
But in my wanderings, far or near,

Ye never were forgot.
The fount that first burst frae this heart,

Still travels on its way ;
And channels deeper as it rins,

The luve o' life's young day.



O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison,

Since we were sindered young,
I've never seen your face, nor heard

The music o' your tongue ;
But I could hug all wretchedness,

And happy could I dee,
Did I but ken your heart still dreamed

O' bygane days and me !

W. MOTHERWELL.



248 A TREASURY



CCXVI

LOVE

LOVE has turned his face away,

Weep, sad eyes !
Love is now of yesterday.

Time that flies,

Bringing glad and grievous things,
Bears no more Love's shining wings.

Love was not all glad, you say ;

Tears and sighs
In the midst of kisses lay.

Were it wise,

If we could, to bid him come,
Making with us once more home ?

Little doubts that sting and prey,

Hurt replies,
Words for which a life should pay,

None denies

These of Love were very part,
Thorns that hurt the rose's heart.

Yet should we beseech Love stay,

Sorrow dies ;
And if Love will but delay,

Joy may rise.


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Online LibraryJohn Churton CollinsA treasury of minor British poetry selected and arranged with notes .. → online text (page 9 of 19)