I love to ream a calm, secluded dell,
Where all the softest charms of nature dwell.
When from the hills around, wood-crown'd and high.
Fair Spring-time's tuneful rills go glancing by.
And fleets of clouds, as white as ocean's foam.
Serenely sail the sky's expanded dome ;
While in the oak the joyous mavis sings.
And every wood and grove with music rings.
I love to stand upon a high hill's crest,
And watch the sun sink in the glowing west,
Casting his beams, in floods of gorgeous light,
O'er forest, valley, rock, and river bright;
While fields of golden com, on every plain,
Proclaim full-handed Harvest near again ;
For, while the eye roves o'er a scene so fair.
The gladden'd heart throws off its load of care.
I love to pace a forest wild and lone.
When evening's sombre shades are o'er it thrown,
And through the tall trees' tops, with moanings drear.
The ruthless wind pursues its wild career.
Bearing from many a bending bough and spray
Its robes of soft autumnal hues away ;
While hosts of dying leaves around me cast.
Are types of those whose earthly hopes are past.
I love to ride upon the foaming ocean,
When the huge billows toss in wild commotion,
While overhead the thunder peals aloud,
And the bright lightning darts from cloud to cloud,—
When through the cordage strong the wild wind raves.
As the ship reels amid the seething waves.
And every mind is rapt in holy awe
Of Him who gives the raging storm its law.
But most of all I love a mournful lay.
Whose sad and plaintive notes the feelings sway,
As from a gentle maiden's tongue they fall,
In streams of sound that hold the ear in thrall,
Till Pity's pure, celestial tear is found
Gemming the moisten'd eyes of all around ;
And young hearts learn to sympathise with those
O'er whom a stormy sea of sorrow flows.
For such enthralling lays my sister sung,
When greedy Death's dark shades around her hung;—
When she in vain essay'd the tears to hide
That fill'd her eyes with their unwelcome tide,
As with a sad and grief-o'erladen heart
She saw all girlhood's golden dreams depart,
And her pale, wasting cheek's bright hectic glow
Proclaim'd the advent near of my first woe.
The Contrast, A Winter Night's Dream
On a rough winter's night, when the stormy winds blew,
'Till the tiles from the top of my lone dwelling flew.
And against my frail lattice came pouring amain,
The big, hurrying drops of the storm-driven rain,
I sat all alone, by a log fire bright,
Heading page after page, with increasing delight—
For my soul was enthrall'd by the stern poet's spell—
Of Dante's appalling depiction of hell ;
But, aweary at last of the terrible theme,
I fell fast asleep, and I had a strange dream.
I dreamt that there came to my old easy chair
A being of beauty surpassingly rare,
Whose radiant form enraptur'd my sight
As she stood in the midst of a halo of light;
For the beams of her eyes were as bright and as mild,
As the beams of pure joy in the eyes of a child ;
And her tresses descended, in raven-hu'd rings,
O'er the folds of her robes and the plumes of her wings ;
While on a gemm'd fillet, her temples around,
In letters of gold, on a bright azure ground.
This beautiful legend of charity ran :—
'Each man should be kind to his own fellow man.'
And she said in a voice, whose sweet silvery sound
Twere a joy to have followed, the wide world around—
' Come, leave for awhile your old easy arm chair.
And follow me on through the regions of air ;
And scenes yo.u shall see near the place where you dwell,
As absorbing as are the sad tales poets tell.
Then, drawing me near to her radiant form,
She bore me away through the wild, raging storm—
O'er cottage and homestead, forest and plain,
And across a broad stream near an ivy-clad fane.
Where it foam'd up and chaf d with a passionate motion,
At the bridge that impeded its course to the ocean ;
And o'er the cold graves of the churchyard lone,
And the meadows and valleys with water o'erflown.
Then, rapidly gliding along, we went
O'er a rich man's domain, of a wide extent,
Where the tall pines bent down to the pitiless gale,
As it hurried along with a dismal wail,
And made in the oaks as deafening a roar.
As the raging waves make on a rock-bounded shore ;
And whilst lost in amaze that so pelting a storm.
Should not affect me, or ray guide's fragile form,
I found myself placed in a brilliant room.
On a rich carpet wove in an apt Turkish loom,
Where on ottoman, couch, and on deftly-carv'd chair,
Were seated the wealthy, the gay, and the fair.
Whose bright forms shone back from the mirrors tall.
That, glittering, hung on the tapestried wall.
While their ears were regal'd with a beautiful lay
That told of true love in a land far away.
When away the last notes of the sweet song had died,
In a sorrowful voice thus began my fair guide—
'I have wafted you here to show you the way
In which owners of wealth oft unthinkingly play
Their own pleasant parts in the drama of life,
While want and affiction around them are rife.
These gentlemen brave, and these ladies fair.
Have just left a board on which viands most rare
Were spread in a manner most lavishly vain ;
For the vineyards of France, and the valleys of Spain,
The sea and the homestead, the forest and field,
Their produce to grace it were all made to yield ;
And now here, where all is most brilliant and bright,
Away they will pass the remains of the night.
With music and song, and sweet social glee.
While their hearts from all sorrow and care are free ;
And they have not a thought of the want and the woe
That exist in the homes of the village below.
But their joys will be dy'd with a guilt-tinted stain
While such want and such woe shall unheeded remain.'
Then she drew me again near her radiant form.
And bore me away through the pitiless storm ;
And, as quick as a prayer mounts up to God's throne,
Or His mercy to penitent sinners is shown,
I was wafted away to a cold, cheerless room,
Where all was misery, soyrow, and gloom,
Where a wretched man lay on a bed of pain,
And a wile to console him was trying in vain ;
While a grate without fire, and a rushlight pale.
Of the bitterest want were proclaiming a tale.
'The sick man who lies there ' said my beautiful guide,
'With none of a sick man's needs supplied,
Spent the prime of his life in tilling the soil
Of rich men, who paid ill for his wearisome toil,
While they dwelt in such homes as I show'd you to-night—
Where all was most beautiful, joyous, and bright ;
And now sickness and pain have his arms unnerv'd,
He is left as you see by those whom he serv'd.
Then over his pallet she hovering flew,
While his life's latest breath in deep anguish he drew ;
And his agoniz'd wife, in alarm and dismay,
Bent, sorrowing, over his soulless clay.'
'He is dead?' she exclaim'd, with a soul-searching scream
That ended at once both my sleep and my dream.
But I shall not have dreamt, or have told it, in vain.
If it move but one heart to alleviate pain.
John Of Arc
In Fancy's realm I saw a teeming vale
In which there lay a homestead old and rude,
Whose fields with flocks and herds were thickly strew'd—
Telling of rural peace a pleasant tale.
It was an eve in hright and busy May—
So beautiful and calm that not a sound,
Except the wild bird's mellow vesper lay,
Broke through the stillness deep that reign'd around.
The joyous lark had ceas'd to soar on high,
The flowers begun to close their petals briglit.
Toil-weary bees to wing their hivebound flight,
And now and then a timid hare ran by.
Down by a gloomy wood of beeches large
A streamlet bright ran with a noiseless flow
Towards the sea ; while on its verdant marge
A pensive Maiden stray'd with footsteps slow.
Her form was tall, symmetrical, and slight ;
Her lofty brow deep thought's impression bore ;
Her cheeks the bloom of waning girlhood wore ;
Her eyes were dark and beautifully bright ;
Her crimson-snooded locks so deep in dye
No raven's wing could be more darkly fair ;
Her garments plain, but pleasing to the eye.
And such as peasants girls were wont to wear.
Immers'd in thought she wandered on until
A lofty beech she gain'd ; beneath whose boughs,
With golden radiance haloing their brows,
She saw fair messengers of Heaven's will.
Who bade her go and lead her country's hosts,
Against its proud and unrelenting foes;—
To quell their haughty and insulting boasts,
And free fair France from fell invasion's woes.
* * * * * *
Clad in the shining armour of a knight.
Mounted upon a richly-bridled steed.
Matchless in strength, docility, and speed,
And bearing in her hand a banner white.
The Maid, attended by a cavalcade
Of soldiers, knights, esquires, and pages gay,
Her entry into leagured Orleans made.
Filling its foes with terror and dismay.
Tired with a morn of toil, asleep she lay ;
Her colour went and came in gushes fleet ;
And starting with a bound upon her feet,
She cried aloud in accents of dismay: —
'Twas midnight dark ; and as she rode along
Its gloomy streets, amid the plaudits loud
Of an o'erjoyed, enthusiastic crowd.
The lurid sky was lit with lightnings strong,
And the murk air with peals of thunder rent ;
But on amidst the elemental strife,
To its cathedral old, their way they bent,
Whose aisles were soon with glad Te Deums rife.
* * * * * *
Tired with a morn of toil, asleep she lay;
Her colour went and came in gushes fleet;
And starting with a bound upon her feet,
She cried aloud in accents of dismay: —
'My arms ! My arms ! My horse ! The blood of France
I Is ebbing fast from many a noble heart ;
Quick ! Quick ! My arms ! 'Twill be a dire mischance
If in the strife I fail to bear my part.'
Quickly in glittering armour she was dight ;
Quickly her banner and her steed were brought ;
And mounting with the speed of swift-wing'd thought,
She shook her bridle-rein and sought the fight.
Led by the sounds of conflict in the air,
Full soon she saw bright-gleaming weapons sway,
And waving o'er her head her standard fair.
Fearlessly plung'd into the bloody fray.
For three hour's space the conflict rag'd amain ;
And ever in the thickest of the fight
The Maiden waved aloft her banner white,
While round her lay the wounded and the slain.
But still, despite the culverins' loud roar—
The barbed arrows' flight, the sabre's sway,
And groans of brave men weltering in their gore.
She urged the troops to keep their onward way.
Anon they gain'd and storm'd a fortress strong;
Within those walls there raged such deadly strife,
Few of its garrison escaped with life—
So desperately did they the fight prolong.
At last the dreadful conflict reached its close,
And not a living foe remained in view ;
When the glad victors' shouts of triumph rose,
And sated Havoc from the scene withdrew.
* * * * * *
In Rouen's market-place there is a stake,
EncircPd by a pile of pitch-smeared wood ;
Hound which there stands a throng of soldiers rude-
Hoping at last their vengeance dire to slake ;
And, through the grave and anxious crowd around,
The Maid is brought along, o'erwhelmed with woe,
And to the stake with heavy chains is bound—
The fearful death of fire to undergo.
Her long, luxurious raven locks, whose flow
Was wont erewhile to be so neatly checkt,
Are floating all in wildness and neglect
Adown her graceful neck of stainless snow.
Her ear, that drank the tunes of streamlets clear,
And loved the joyous wild bird's gushing song,
Is now assail'd by insult, scoff, and jeer,
From ruthless foes that thickly round her throng.
Her eye, that fed in happy, bygone days.
On changeful nature's most alluring charms.
Upon a mass of mail-clad men-at-arms
Is casting now its sad, uneasy gaze.
A sign to light the pyre is made at last ;
Eelentless hands the ready lights apply.
And soon the smoke ascends in volumes vast.
Veiling the victim frail from every eye.
In silence deep some moments pass away ;
A gust of wind to fury fans the pyre ;
And then her form is seen through sheets of fire—
Writhing about, to agony a prey.
Stern Horror's thrill shakes many a daring heart,
And many an eye sweet Pity's teardrop dims,
While cries of anguish from her lips depart,
As the hright flames curl rouud her quivering Hmhs.
But now more fiercely wild the huge fire grows—
The stake that held her up is burnt away—
And down she sinks. The flames have gained their prey,
And o'er her blistering form their hot lips close.
While this scene pass'd, God's priest assumed his place.
And o'er her held the Crucifix on high ;
So, gazing on Christ's sweet but woe-worn face,
She learnt resignedly her death to die.
* * * * * *
Enthusiasts, in an earthly cause,
These scenes go ponder well ;
Then weigh, against the world's applause,
The peace of some fair dell.
Of youth's illusions think no more,—
Ko longer pant for fame,
For virtue's wreath, unstained by gore,
Can joys unending claim.