Robert Aris Willmott.

English sacred poetry of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries online

. (page 10 of 17)
Online LibraryRobert Aris WillmottEnglish sacred poetry of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries → online text (page 10 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

With silent duty meekly bend before Him,
And deep within your inmost hearts adore Him.

Anna L. Barhauld.



Such was his fall ; and Edward, from that time,
Felt in full force the censure and the crime —
Despised, ashamed ; Ms noble views before,
And his proud thoughts, degraded him the more
Should he repent — would that conceal his shame 1
Could peace be his 1 It perish'd with his fame :
Himself he scorn' d, nor could his crime forgive ;
He fear'd to die, yet felt asham'd to live :
Grieved, but not contrite was his heart ; oppress' d,
Not broken ; not converted, but distress'd ;
He wanted will to bend the stubborn knee,
He wanted light the cause of ill to see,
To learn how frail is man, how humble then should be ;
For faith he had not, or a'Mth too weak
To gain the help that humbled sinners seek.
Else had he pray'd — to an offended God
His tears had flowu. a penitential flood ;
Though far astray, he would have heard the call
Of mercy — " Come ! return, thou prodigal."
Then, though confused, distress'd, ashamed, afraid,
Stdl had the trembling penitent obey'd ;
Though faith had fainted, when assail'd by fear,
Hope to the soul had whisper'd, — " Persevere ! "
Till in his Father's house an humbled guest.
He would liavo found forgiveness, comfort, rest.



But all this joy was to our Youth denied,

By his fierce passions and his daring pride;

And shame and doubt inipell'd him in a course,

Once so abhorr'd, with unresisted force.

Proud minds and guilty, whom their crimes oppress,

Fly to new crimes for comfort and redress ;

Such were the notions of a mind to ill

Now prone, but ardent, and determined still :

Of joy now eager, as before of fame,

And screen'd by folly when assail'd by shame,

Deeply he sank; obey'd each passion's call.

And used Ms reason to defend them all.

Shall I proceed, and step by step relate

The odious progress of a sinner's fate?

No— let me rather hasten to the time

(Sure to arrive !) when misery waits on crime.

Struck by new terrors, from his friends he fled,

And wept his woes upon a restless bed ;

Returning late, at early hour to rise.

With slirunken features, and with bloodshot eyes :

If Sleep one moment closed the dismal view.

Fancy her terrors built upon the true;

And night and day had their alternate woes,

That bafQed pleasure, and that mock'd repose;

Till to despair and anguish was consign'd

The wreck and ruin of a noble mind.

Harmless at length the unhappy man was found,

The spirit settled, but the reason drown'd ;

And all the dreadful tempest died away,

To the dull stillness of the misty day.

George Crahhe.



An orphan girl succeeds : ere slie Avas born
Her father died, her mother on that morn ;
The pious mistress of the school sustains
Her parents' part, nor their afi'ection feigns,
But pitying feels : with due respect and joy,
I trace the matron at her loved employ :
What time the striplings, wearied e'en uith play,
Part at the closing of the summer's day,


And each by different patlis returns tlio well-known way-
Then I behold her at her cottage door,
Frugal of light ; her Bible laid before,
When on her doul^le duty she proceeds,
Of time as frugal, — knitting as she reads ;
Her idle neighbours, who approach to tell
Some trifling tale, her serious looks compel
To hear reluctant — while the lads who pass,
In pure respect, walk silent on the grass.
Then sinks the day, but not to rest she goes,
Till solemn prayers the daily duties close.



Some acts Avill stamp their moral on the soul,

And while the bad they threaten and control,

AVill to the pious and the humble say.

Yours is the right, the safe, the certain way,

'Tis wisdom to be good, 'tis virtue to obey.

So Eachel thinks, the pure, the good, the meek.

Whose outward acts the inward purpose speak ;

As men will children at their sports behold.

And smile to see them, though unmoved and cold,

Smile at the recollected games, and then

Depart and mix in the affairs of men :

So Eachel looks upon the world, and sees

It cannot longer pain her, longer please.

But just detain the passing thought, or cause

A gentle smile of pity, or applause ;

And then the recollected soul repairs

Her slumbering hope, and heeds her own affairs.



Slowly tliey bore, with solemn step, the dead ;
When grief grew loud, and bitter tears were shed
My part began ; a crowd drew near the place,
Awe in each eye, alarm in every face ;
Friends with the husband came their griefs to blend ;
For good-man Frankford was to all a friend.
The last-born boy they held above the bier,
He knew not grief, but cries express' d his fear ;
Each different sex and age reveal'd its pain.
In now a lou.der, now a lower strain ;
While the meek father, listening to their tones,
Swell'd the full cadence of the grief by groans.
The elder sister strove her pangs to hide.
And soothing words to younger minds applied ;
" Be still, be patient ;" oft she strove to say :
But fail'd as oft, and weeping tiu'n'd away.
Curious and sad, upon the fresh-dug hill,
The village lads stood melancholy still ;
And idle children, wandering to and fro,
As nature guided, took the tone of woe.
Arrived at home, how then they gazed around,
In every place, — where she, no more, Avas found —
The seat at table she was wont to fill ;
The fire-side chair, still set, but vacant still ;
The garden-walks, a laboiir all her own ;
The latticed bower, with trailing shrubs o'ergrown;


The Sanday-pew she fiU'd with all her race, —
Each place of hers was now a sacred place,
That, while it call'd up sorrows in the eyes,
Pierced the full heart, and forced them still to rise.
Oh sacred sorrow ! by whom souls are tried,
Sent not to punish mortals, but to guide ;
If thou art mine (and who shall proudly dare
To tell his Maker, he has had his share ?)
Still let me feel for w^hat my pangs are sent,
And be my guide, and not my punishment !



Lo ! noAV with red rent cloak and bonnet black,
And torn green gown loose hanguig at her back.
One who an infant in her arms sustains,
And seems in patience striving with her pains ;
Pinch'd are her looks, as one who pines for bread,
AVhose cares are growing, and wdiose hopes are fled.
Pale her parch'd lips, her heavy eyes sunk low,
And tears unnoticed from their channels flow ;
Serene her manner, till some sudden pain
Frets the meek soul, and then she's calm again ; —
Her broken pitcher to the jDOol she takes.
And every step with cautious terror makes,
With water burthen'd, then she picks her way,
Slowly and cautious in the clinging clay ;
Till, in mid-green, she trusts a place unsound,
And deeply plunges in th' adhesive ground ;

209 E E


Thence, but with pain, her slender foot she takes,

While hope the mind, as strength the frame forsakes

For when so full the cup of sorrow grows,

Add but a drop, it instantly o'erflows.

And now her path, but not her peace she gains,

Safe from her task, but shivering from her pains ;

Her home she reaches, open leaves the door,

Aud placing first her infant on the floor,

She bares her bosom to the wind, and sits.

And sobbing struggles with the rising fits ;

In vaui, they come, she feels the inflating grief

That shuts the swelling bosom from relief:

That sjDeaks in feeble cries a soul distrest.

Or the sad laugh that cannot be represt.

The neighbour-matron leaves her wheel, and flies

With all the aid her poverty supplies ;

Unfeed, the call of Nature she obeys,

Not led by profit, not allured by praise ;

And Avaiting long, till these contentions cease.

She speaks of comfort, and departs in peace.

Friend of distress ! the mourner feels thy aid,

She cannot pay thee, but thou wilt be paid.




Death lias his infant train ; his bony arm
Strikes from tlie baby-cheek the rosy charm;
The brightest eye his glazing film makes dim,
And his cold touch sets fast the lithest limb ;
He seized the sickening boy to Gerard lent,
When three days' life, in feeble cries, were spent ;
In pain brought forth, those painful hom^s to stay.
To breathe in pain, and sigh its soul away !

"But why thus lent, if thus recall'd again.
To cause and feel, to live and die in pain*?"
Or rather say. Why grievous these appear,
If all it pays for Heaven's eternal year ;
If these sad sobs and piteous sighs secure
Delights that live, when worlds no more endure?

The sister-spirit long may lodge below.
And pains from nature, pains from reason, know
Throiigh all the common ills of life may run.
By hope perverted, and by love undone ;
A wife's distress, a mother's pangs, may dread.
And widow-tears, in bitter anguish, shed ;
May at old age arrive through numerous harms
With children's children in those feeble arms ;
ISTor till by years of want and grief opprest
Shall the sad spirit flee and be at rest !


Yet happier therefore shall we deem the boy
Secured from anxious care and dangerous joy 1
Not so ! for then would Love Divine in vain
Send all the burthens weary men sustain ;
All that now curb the passions when they rage,
The checks of youth, and the regrets of age ;
All that now bid us hope, believe, endure,
Our sorrow's comfort, and our vice's cure ;
All that for Heaven's high joys the spirits train,
And charity, the crown of all, were vain !

Say, will you call the breathless infant blest.
Because no cares the silent grave molest ?
So would you deem the nursling from the wing
Untimely thrust and never train' d to sing :
But far more blest the bird whose grateful voice
Sings its own joy and makes the woods rejoice,
Though, while untaught, ere yet he charm' d the ear,
Hard were his trials and his pains severe !




The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serioiis face,
They, round tlie ingle, form a circle wide ;

The Sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,
The big hn Bible, ance his father's pride ;

His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,


His lyart liafFets wearing thin an' bare ;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion ghde,

He wales a portion with judicious care ;
And "Let us worship God!" he says, with solemn air.

They chant their artless notes in simple guise :

They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim :
Perhaps Dundee s wild warbling measures rise,

Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name ;
Or noble Elgin beets the heav'nward flame;

The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays :
Compared wi' these, Italian trills are tame ;

The ticlded ears no heart-felt raptures raise ;
IS'ae unison hae they wi' our Creator's praise.

The priest-like father reads the sacred page,

How Abram was the friend of God on high ;
Or, Moses bade eternal warfare wage

With Amalek's ungracious progeny :
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie

Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire ;
Or, Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry ;

Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire ;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.

Perhaps the Christian Volume is the theme.

How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed ;
How He, who bore in Heaven the second name.

Had not on earth whereon to lay His head :
How His first followers and servants sped.

The precepts sage they wrote to many a land :
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,

8aw in the sun a mighty angel stand ;
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounc'd by Heaven's



Then kneeling down, to Heaven's Eternal King !

The saint, the father, and the husband prays :
Hope "springs exulting on triumphant wing,"

That thus they all shall meet in future days :
There ever bask in uncreated rays,

1^0 more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear.
Together hymning their Creator's praise,

In such society, yet still more dear ;
While circling time moves round in an eternal sphere.

Compared with this, hoAv poor Keligion's pride,

In all the pomp of method, and of art.
Which men display to congregations wide,

Devotion's eVry grace, except the heart !
The Pow'r, incens'd, the pageant will desert,

The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole ;
But, haply, in some cottage far apart.

May hear, well pleas'd, the language of the soid ;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enrol.

Then homeward all take off their sev'ral way ;

The youngling Cottagers retire to rest :
The parent-pair their secret homage pay.

And proffer up to Heaven the warm request
That He, Avho stills the raven's clam'rous nest.

And decks the lily fair in flow'ry pride.
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best.

For them and for their little ones provide ;
But, chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.

Robert Burns.



The wintry west extends liis blast,

And hail and rain does Maw ;
Or, the stormy north sends driving forth

The blinding sleet and snaw :
While tumbling brown, the burn conies down,

And roars from bank to brae ;
And bird and beast in covert rest,

And pass the heartless day.

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"

The joyless winter-day,
Let others fear, to me more dear

Than all the pride of May :
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul.

My griefs it seems to join ;
The leafless trees my fancy please,

Their fate resembles mine.

Thou Pow'r Supreme, whose mighty scheme,

These woes of mine fulfil.
Here, firm, I rest, they must be best.

Because they are Thy Will.
Then all I want, (0, do Thou grant

This one request of mine !)
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny.

Assist me to resign !




When homeward bands their several ways disperse,

I love to linger in the narrow field

Of rest, to wander round from tomb to tomb,

And think of some who silent sleep below.

Sad sighs the wind, that from these ancient elms

Shakes showers of leaves upon the withered grass :

The sere and yellow wreaths, with eddying sweep,

Fill up the furrows 'tween the hillock'd graves ;

217 F F


But list that moan ! 'tis the poor blind man's dog,

His guide for many a day, now come to mourn

The master and the friend — conjunction rare :

A man, indeed, he was of gentle soul,

Though bred to brave the deep ; the lightnings' flash

Had dimmed, not closed, his mild, but sightless eyes.

He was a welcome guest through all his range

(It was not wide); no dog would bay at him;

Children would run to meet him on his way.

And lead him to a sunny seat, and climb

His knee, and wonder at his oft-told tales :

Then would he teach the elfins how to plait

The rushy cap and crown, or sedgy ship ;

And I have seen him lay his tremulous hand

Upon their heads, while silent moved his lips.

Peace to thy spirit ! that now looks on me,

Perhaps with greater pity than I felt

To see thee wandering darkling on thy way.

But let me quit this melancholy spot.

And roam where nature gives a parting smile ;

As yet the blue-bells linger on the sod

That copes the sheepfold ring ; and in the woods

A second blow of many flowers appears,

Flowers faintly tinged, and breathing no perfume.

But fruits, not blossoms, form the woodland wreath

That circles Autumn's brow : The ruddy haws

Now clothe the half-leaved thorn ; the bramble bends

Beneath its jetty load ; the hazel hangs

With auburn bunches, dipping in the stream

That sweeps along, and threatens to o'erflow

The leaf-strewn banks : Oft, statue-like, I gaze.

In vacancy of thought upon that stream.

And chase, with dreaming eye, the eddying foam,

Or rowan's cluster'd branch, or harvest-sheaf.

Borne rapidly adown the dizzying flood.

Jiimes Grahame.



The setting orb of night lier level ray
Shed o'er the land, and on the dewy sward,
The lengthened shadows of the triple cross
Were laid far-stretched, — when in the East arose,
Last of the stars, day's harbinger : No sound
Was heard, save of the watching soldier's foot :
Within the rock-barred sepulchre, the gloom
Of deepest midnight brooded o'er the dead,
The Holy One ; but lo ! a radiance faint
Began to dawn around His sacred brow :
The linen vesture seemed a snowy wreath,
Drifted by storms into a mountain eave :
Eright, and more bright, the circling halo beamed
Upon that face, clothed in a smile benign,
Though yet inanimate. N"ot long the reign
Of death ; the eyes, that wept for human griefs.
Unclose and look around with conscious joy :
Yes ; with returning life, the first emotion
That glowed in Jesus' breast of love, was joy
At man's redemption, now complete ; at death
Disarmed; the grave transformed into the couch
Of faith ; the resurrection and the life.
Majestical He rose ; trembled the earth ;
The ponderous gate of stone was rolled away ;
The keepers fell; the angel, awe-struek, shrunk
Into invisibility, while forth
The Saviour of the World walked, and stood
Before the sepulchre, and viewed the clouds
Empiirpled glorious by the rising sun.




Comb, Disappointment, come !

Not in tlay terrors clad ;
Come in thy meekest, saddest guise ;
Thy chastening rod but terrifies
Tlie restless and the bad.
But I recline,
Beneath thy shrine,
And round my brow resign' d, thy peaceful cypress twine.

Though Fancy flies away

Beneath thy hollow tread.
Yet Meditation in her cell,
Hears, with faint eye, the ling'ring knell
That tells her hopes are dead ;
And though the tear
By chance appear,
Yet she can smile, and say, My all was not laid here.

Come, Disappointment, come !

Though from Hope's summit hmd'd ;
Still, rigid Nurse, thou art forgiven,
For thou severe wert sent from heaven

To wean me from the world ;

To turn my eye

From vanity.
And point to scenes of bliss that never, never die.

What is this passing scene 1

A peevish April day !
A little sun, a little rain.
And then night sweeps along the plain.
And all things fade away.
Man (soon discust)
Yields up his trust,
And all his hopes and fears lie with him in the dust.



Oil, what is beauty's power'?

It flourishes and dies ;
AVill the cokl earth its silence break,
To tell how soft, how smooth a cheek
Beneath her surface lies ?
Mute, mute is all
O'er beauty's fall ;
Her praise resounds no more when mantled in her pall.

The most belov'd on earth,

N'ot long survives to-day ;
So music past is obsolete,
And yet 'twas sweet, 'twas passing sweet.
But now 'tis gone away.
Thus does the shade
In memory fade,
When in forsaken tomb the form belov'd is laid.

Then since this world is vain

And volatile and fleet,
"WTiy should I lay up earthly joys,
Where rust corrupts and moth destroys.
And cares and sorrows eat?
Why fly from ill.
With anxious skill,
W^hen soon this hand will freeze, this throbbing heart be still?

Come, Disappointment, come !
Thou art not stern to me ;
Sad Monitress ! I own thy sway,
A votary sad in early day,
I bend my knee to thee.
From sun to sun
My race is run,
I only bow, and say, My God, Thy will be done.

Kirke White.



Sweet-scented flower ! who art wont to bloom
On January's front severe,
And o'er the wintry desert drear

To Avaft thy waste perfume !
Come, thou shalt form my nosegay now,
And I Avill bind thee round my brow ;

And as I twine the mournfid wreath,
I'll weave a melancholy song.
And sweet the strain shall be and long,

The melody of death.

Come, funeral flower ! who lov'st to dwell
With the pale corse in lonely tomb,
And throw across the desert gloom

A sweet decaying smell.
Come press my lips, and lie with me
Beneath the lowly Alder tree.

And we will sleep a pleasant sleep,
And not a care shall dare intrude
To break the marble solitude.

So peaceful, and so deep.

And hark ! the wind-god, as he flies.
Moans hollow in the forest-trees.
And, sailing on the gusty breeze.

Mysterious music dies.
Sweet flower ! that requiem wild is mine.
It warns me to the lonely shrine,

The cold turf altar of the dead ;
My grave shall be in yon lone spot,
"Where, as I lie, by all forgot,
A dying fragi'ance thou wilt o'er my ashes shed.

Kirke White.


Hail, Sabbath ! day of mercy, peace, and rest !

Thou o'er loud cities throw'st a noiseless spell ;
The hammer there, the Avheel, the saw, molest

Pale thought no more. O'er Trade's contentious hell

Meek Quiet spreads her wings invisible.
Eut when thou com'st, less silent are the fields,

Through whose sweet j^aths the toil-freed townsman steals;
To him the very air a banquet yields.

Envious he watches the poised hawk that Avheels

His flight on chainless winds. Each cloud reveals



A paradise of beauty to his eye.

His little boys are with him, seeking flowers,

Or chasing the too venturous gUded fly,
So by the daisy's side he spends the hours,
Eenewing friendship Avith the budding bowers ;

And — whde might, beauty, good without alloy,
Are niirror'd in his children's happy eyes,

In His great temple offering thaidcful joy
To Him the infinitely Great and Wise,
With soul attuned to Nature's harmonies,

Serene and cheerful as a sporting cliild.

Ehenezer Elliot.


I AM weak, yet strong —
I murmur not that I no longer see —
Poor, old, and helpless, I the more belong.

Father supreme ! to Thee.

Thy glorious face
Is leaning towards me, — and its holy light .
Shines in upon my lonely dwelling-place.

And there is no more night.

On my bended knee
I recognise Thy purpose clearly shown —
My vision Thou hast dimmed that I may see

Thyself, Thyself alone.

I have nought to fear ;
Mv darkness is the shadow of Thy wing —
Eeneath it I am almost sacred — here

Can come no evil thing.



Hear what they were : The -progeny of Sin
Alike, and oft combined ; but dLti'ering much
In mode of giving pain. As felt the gross
Material part, when in the furnace cast,
So felt the soul, the victim of Remorse.
It was a fire which on the verge of God's
Commandments burned, and on the vitals fed
Of all who passed. Who passed, there met Remorse ;
A violent fever seized his soul ; the heavens
Above, the earth beneath, seemed glowing brass
Heated seven times ; he heard dread voices speak.
And mutter horrid prophecies of pain,

225 o G


Severer and severer yet to come ;

And as he Avrithed aud quivered, scorclied witliin,

The Fury round his torrid temples flapped

Her fiery wings, and breatlied upon liis lips

And parched tongue the withering blasts of hell.

It was the sufTering begun thou saw'st,

In symbol of the Worm that never dies.

The other, Disappointment, rather seemed
Negation of delight. It was a thing
Sluggish and torpid, tending towards death.
Its breath was cold, and made the sportive blood
Stagnant, and dull, and heavy, round the wheels
Of life. The roots of that whereon it blew.
Decayed, aud with the genial soil no more
Held sympathy ; the leaves, the branches drooped,
And mouldered slowly down to formless dust ;
ISTot tossed and driven by violence of winds.
But withering where they sprang, and rotting there.
Long disappointed, disappointed still.
The hopeless man, hopeless in his main wish.
As if returning back to nothing, felt ;
In strange vacuity of being hung ;
And rolled, and rolled his eye on emptiness,
That seemed to grow more empty every hour.

One of this mood I do remember Avell :
We name liim not — what noAv are earthly names 1
In liumble dwelling born, retired, remote ;
In rural quietude, 'mong hills, and streams,
Aud melancholy deserts, where the Sun
Saw, as he passed, a shepherd only, here
And there, watching his little flock, or heard
The ploughman talking to his steers. His hopes,
His morning hopes, awoke before him, smiling,
Among the dews and holy mountain airs ;
And lancy coloured them Avith every hue


Of lieavenly loveliness. Eat soon his dreams

Of childhood fled away — those rainbow dreams

So innocent and Mr, that Avithered Age,

Even at the grave, cleared up his dusty eye,

A.nd passing all between, looked fondly hack

To see them once again ere he departed :

These fl.ed away, and anxious thought, that wished

To go, yet whither knew not w^ell to go,

Possessed his soul, and held it still awhile.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryRobert Aris WillmottEnglish sacred poetry of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries → online text (page 10 of 17)