Imágenes de páginas
PDF

290

ALMS-GIVING.

Suppose that each from nature got

Bare quittance of his labor's worth,

That yearly-teeming flocks were not,

Nor manifold-producing earth;

No wilding growths of fruit and flower,

Cultured to beautiful and good,

No creatures for the arm of power

To take and tame from waste and wood!

That all men to their mortal rest
Passed shadow-like, and left behind
No free result, no clear bequest,
Won by their work of hand or mind!
That every separate life begun,
A present to the past unbound,
A lonely, independent one,
Sprung from the cold mechanic ground!

What would the record of the past,
The vision of the future be?
Nature unchanged from first to last,
And base the best humanity:
For in these gifts lies all the space
Between our England's noblest men,
And the most vile Australian race
Outprowling from their bushy den.

Then freely, as from age to age

Descending generations bear

The accumulated heritage

Of friendly and parental care,—

Freely as Nature tends her wealth

Of air and fire, of sea and land,

Of childhood's happiness and health,—

So freely open you your hand!

Between you and your best intent
Necessity her brazen bar
Will often interpose, as sent
Your pure benevolence to mar:
Still every gentle word has sway
To teach the pauper's desperate mood,
That misery shall not take away
Franchise of human brotherhood.

And if this lesson comes too late,
Woe to the rich and poor and all!
The maddened outcast of the gate
Plunders and murders in the hall:
Justice can crush and hold in awe,
While Hope in social order reigns;
But if the myriads break the law,
They break it as a slave his chains!

THE PATIENCE OF THE POOR. — R. M. Milrm.,

When leisurely the man of ease
His morning's daily course begins,
And round him in bright circle sees
The comforts Independence wins,
He seems unto himself to hold
An uncontested natural right
In life a volume to unfold
Of simple, ever-new delight.

And if, before the evening close,
The hours their rainbow wings let fall,
And sorrow shakes his bland repose,
And too continuous pleasures pal],

292

THE PATIENCE OF THE POOR.

He murmurs, as if Nature broke
Some promise plighted at his birth,
In bending him beneath the yoke
Borne by the common sons of earth.

They starve beside his plenteous board,
They halt behind his easy wheels,
But sympathy in vain affords
The sense of ills he never feels.
He knows he is the same as they,
A feeble, piteous, mortal thing,
And still expects that every day
Increase and change of bliss should bring.

Therefore, when he is called to know
The deep realities of pain,
He shrinks as from a viewless blow,
He writhes as in a magic chain:
Untaught that trial, toil, and care
Are the great charter of his kind,
It seems disgrace for him to share
Weakness of flesh and human mind.

Not so the People's honest child,
The field-flower of the open sky,
Ready to live while winds are wild,
Nor, when they soften, loth to die:
To him there never came the thought
That this, his life, was meant to be
A pleasure-house, where peace, unbought,
Should minister to pride or glee.

You oft may hear him murmur loud
Against the uneven lots of Fate,
You oft may see him inly bowed
Beneath affliction's weight on weight;TM
But rarely turns he on his grief
A face of petulant surprise,
Or scorns whate'er benign relief
The hand of God or man supplies.

Behold him on his rustic bed,
The unluxurious couch of need,
Striving to raise his aching head
And sinking powerless as a reed:
So sick in both, he hardly knows
Which is his heart's or body's sore;
For, the more keen his anguish grows,
His wife and children pine the more.

No search for him of dainty food, But coarsest sustenance of life,— No rest by artful quiet wooed, But household cries and wants and strife;

Affection can at best employ Her utmost of unhandy care, — Her prayers and tears are weak to buy The costly drug, the purer air.

Pity herself, at such a sight,
Might lose her gentleness of mien,
And clothe her form in angry might,
And as a wild despair be seen,
Did she not hail the lesson taught
By this unconscious suffering boor
To the high sons of lore and thought,—
The sacred Patience of the Poor.

This great endurance of each ill,
As a plain fact, whose right or wrong
They question not, confiding still
That it shall last not overlong;

294 DELIGHT IN GOD ONLY.

Willing, from first to last, to take
The mysteries of our life, as given, —
Leaving the time-worn soul to slake
Its thirst in an undoubted heaven.

DELIGHT IN GOD ONLY. — Francis Quarles.

I Love (and have some cause to love) the Earth:
She is my Maker's creature; therefore good:
She is my mother, for she gave me birth:
She is my tender nurse; she gives me food:

But what's a creature, Lord, compared with Thee?

Or what's my mother or my nurse to me?

I love the Air: her dainty sweets refresh
My drooping soul, and to new sweets invite me;
Her shrill-mouthed choir sustain me with their flesh,
And with their polyphonian notes delight me:
But what's the air or all the sweets that she
Can bless my soul withal, compared to Thee?

I love the Sea: she is my fellow-creature,
My careful purveyor; she provides me store:
She walls me round; she makes my diet greater;
She wafts my treasure from a foreign shore:But, Lord of oceans, when compared with Thee,
What is the ocean or her wealth to me?

To heaven's high city I direct my journey,
Whose spangled suburbs entertain mine eye;
Mine eye, by contemplation's great attorney,
Transcends the crystal pavement of the sky:

But what is heaven, great God, compared to Thee?

Without Thy presence, heaven's no heaven to me.

« AnteriorContinuar »