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Mary Botham Howitt.

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And to the grave pursues him sorrow.
With hard compulsion and with need,

He, like the rest, must strive untiring ;
And his young children's cry for bread

Maims his free spirit's glad aspiring.

Ah ! such a one to ma was known,

With heavenward aim his course ascended ;
Yet, deep in dust and darkness prone.

Care, sordid care, his life attended.
An exile, and with bleeding breast,

He groaned in his severest trial ;
Want goaded him to long unrest,

And scourged to bitterest self-denial.

Thus, heartrsick, wrote he line on line,

With hollow cheek and eye of sadness ;
Whilst hyacinth and leafy vine

Were fluttering in the morning's gladness.
The throstle sung, and nightingale,

The soaring lark hymned joy unending.
Whilst thought's day-laborer, worn and pale,

Over his weary book was bending.



204 REQUIESCAT.



Yet, though his heart sent forth a cry,
Still strove he for the great ideal ;
" For this," said he, " is poesy.

And human life this fierce ordeal."
And, when his courage left him quite,

One thought kept hope his heart olive in ;
" I have preserved my honor bright.

And for my dear ones I am striving."

At length his spirit was subdued j

The power to combat and endeavor
Was gone, and his heroic mood

Came on y fitfully, like fever.
The Muses' kiss, sometimes, at night

Would set his pulses wildly beating ;
And his high soul soared towards the light,

When night from morning was retreating.

He long has lain the turf beneath.

The wild winds through the grass are sighing ;
No stone is there, no mourning wreath.

To mark the spot where he is lying.
Their faces swoln with weeping, forth

His wife and children went, — God save them !
Young paupers, heirs to naught on earth,

Save the pure name their father gave them.

To toil all honor and renown !

Honor to handicraft and tillage ;
To every sweat-drop falling down

In crowded mills and lonely village !
All honor to the plodding swain

That holds the plough ! Be it too awarded
To him who works with soul and brain.

And starves ! Pass him not unregarded.



THE JOINER'S APPRENTICES. 265



THE JOINER'S APPRENTICES.



First.

'T IS a shuddering work, 't is a worlv of dread ;
Between the boards shall be laid the dead.

Second.

How now ! What makes thy tears run fast !
Child of the stranger, a weak heart thou hast.

First.

Nay, do not so quickly grow angry, I pray ;
I ne'er made a coffin, in truth, till to-day.

Second.

Be it first time, or last time, nov/ pledge me in wine ;
Then to work ; and never let faint heart be thine.

First cut up the boards as the length may decide,
Then plane the curling-up shavings aside.

Board unto board next mortise them tight.
Then polish the narrow bed black and bright.

Next, the varnish-perfumed coffin within,

Lay the down-fallen shavings so white and thin ;

X3



268 THE JOINER'S APPRENTICES.

For, on shavings must slumber the perishing clay :
With all undertakers 't is ever the way-
Then carry the cofiin to th' house of grief;
Corpse within, lid screwed down, and the work is brief.

First.

I cut the boards ; and, with accurate ell.
Above and below I have measured it well.

I plane the rough boards so smooth ; but yet
My arm is weak, and my eye is wet.

I mortise the boards above and below ;
Yet my heart is full, and my heart is woe.

'Tis a shuddering work, and a work of dread ;
For between the boards must be laid the dead.



THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEVLAAR. 267



THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEVLAAR



FROM HEINRICH HEINE.



The mother stood at the window,
The son he lay in bed :
" Here's a procession, Wilhelrn ;
Wilt not look out ?" she said.

" I am so ill, my mother,

In the world I have no part ;
I think upon dead Gretchen,

And a death-pang rends my heart.'

" Rise up, we will to Kevlaar ;
Will book and rosary take :
God's Mother there will cure thee,
Thy sick heart whole will make."

The Church's banner fluttered.
The Church's hymns arose

And unto fair Coin city
The long procession goes.



268 THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEVLAAR.



The mother joined the pilgrims ;

Her sick son leadeth she ;
And both sing, in the chorus,



u.

The Holy Mother, in Kevlaar,

To-day is well arrayed ;
To-day hath much to busy her,

For many sick ask her aid.

And many sick people bring her

Such offerings as are meet ;
Many waxen limbs they bringher,

Many waxen hands and feet.

And who a wax liand bringcth,

His hand is healed that dav ;
And who a wax foot bringeth,

With sound feet goes away.

Many went there on crutches,

Who now on the rope can spring ;

Many play now on the viol,

Whose hands could not touch a string.

The mother she took a waxen liglit.
And shaped therefrom a heart,
" Take that to the Mother of Christ," she said ;
" And she will heal thy smart."



THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEVLAAR. 269



He sighed and took the waxen heart,
And went to the church in woe ;

The tears from his eyes fell streaming,
The words from his heart came low.

" Thou that art highly blessed,

Thou Mother of Christ !" said he ;

" Thou who art Queen of Heaven !
I bring my griefs to thee..

" 1 dwell in Coin with my mother,
In Coin upon the Rhine,
Where so many hundred chapels
And so many churches shine ;

" And near unto us dwelt Gretchen,
But dead is Gretchen now.
Marie, I bring a waxen heart :
My heart's despair heal thou !

" Heal thou my sore heart-sickness,
So will I sing to thee,
Early and late, with fervent love,

@clobt fi-pilbu, g?Jane!"



III.



The sick son and the mother
In one chamber slept that night,

And the holy Mother of Jesus
Glid in with footsteps light.



270 THE PILGRIMAGE TO KEVLAAR.

She bowed her over the sick man's bed,
And one fair hand did lay

Upon his throbbing bosom ;

Then smiled, and passed away.

It seemed a dream to the mother ;

And she had yet seen more,
But that her sleep was broken,

For the dogs howled at the door.

Upon his bed extended

Her son lay, and was dead ;

And o'er his thin pale visage streamed
The morning's lovely red.

Her hands the mother folded,

Yet not a tear wept she ;
But sang, in low devotion,

©elobt ft'pR bu, mavk !"



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Online LibraryMary Botham HowittBallads and other poems .. → online text (page 11 of 11)