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Behold the radiant isles
Strange was it, that a brother, thus my pride,
Grew to my friendship so estranged and cold;
Strange was it, that kind spirits erst allied
By kindred fellowship, so proved of old,
Were sundered and to separate interests sold!
I know not how it was ; but pride was strong
In either breast, and did the other wrong.
There was another cause — we fiercely strove
In an ambitious race;- but worse than all,
We met, two rival combatants in love:
My brother was the victor, and my fall,
Maddening my jealous pride, turned love to gall.
There was no lingering kindness more. We parted, That is shall droop and fade;
Each on his separate way, the severed-hearted.
For years we met not; met not till we stood,
Silent and moody, by our father's bed,
Each with his hatred seemingly subdued
Whilst in the presence hat reverent head :
Surely our steadfast rancour might have fled Where sin hath mastery ;
When that good father joined our hands and smiled,
And died believing we were reconciled!
And so we might have been ; but there were those
Who found advantage in our longer hate;
Who stepped between our hearts and kept us foes,
And taught that hatred was inviolate : -
Fools to be duped by such! But ah, too late
I look in woe upon life's blighted track!
We were the victims of the arts we scorned ;
We were like clay within the potter's hand : AN OLD MAN'S NARRATIVE.
And so again we parted. He adorned
The courtly world: his wit and manners bland My life hath had its curse; and I will tell
The hearts of men and women could command. To you its dark and troubled history.
I too ran folly's round, till tired of pleasure,
I sought repose in tranquil, raral leisure.
Ere long he left his native land, and went
Into the East with pomp and power girt round. All putting on their leaves, and withering all together. And so years past: the morn of life was spent,
And manhood's noon advanced with splendour I had a brother. As a spring of joy
crowned ; Was he unto the gladness of my youth ;
They said ʼmid kingly luxury without bound, And in our guileless confidence, each boy,
He dwelt in joy; and that his blessings ever Vowed a sweet vow of everlasting truth,
Flowed like that land's unmeasured, bounteous river All sympathetic love, all generous ruth;
And the world worshipped him, for he was great Alas! that years the noble heart should tame,
Great in the council, greater in the field. And the boy's virtue put the man to shame!
And I too had my blessings, for I sate I was the elder; and as years passed on
Amid my little ones: the fount unsealed Men paid invidious homage to the heir;
Of my heart's wronged affections seemed to yield And pride, which was the sin of angels, won
A tenfold current: and my babes, like light Our human hearts; their guilt I will not spare :
Unto the captive's gaze, rejoiced my sight. If I was proud, the boy began to wear
I dwelt within my home an altered man; A lip of scorn, and paid me back my pride,
Again all tenderness and love was sweet, With anony wit that wounded and defied. "T was as if fresh existence had began,
Since pleasant welcomes were sent forth to greet Still he was dear to me, and I would gaze
My coming, and the sound of little feet With yearning heart upon him as he went
Was on my floor, and bright and loving eyes
Beamed on me without feigning a disguise.
As the chill snows of winter melt
away As if it breathed forth music; and his voice
Before the genial spring, so from my heart Oh how its tones could soften and rejoice!
Passed hatred and revenge ; and I could pray
For pardon, pardoning all; my soul was blessed "I will arise," I cried, like him of yore,
With answered love, and hopes whereon to rest The conscience-stricken prodigal, and lay My joy in years to come; I asked no more,
Myself, as in the dust, his face before, The cup of that rich blessedness ran o'er.
And, 'I have sinned, my brother! I will say Alas! even then the brightness of my life
• Forgive, forgive! The clouds shall pass away,
And I will banquet on his love; and rest
My weary soul on his sustaining breast!"
I gathered up my strength ; I asked of none
Council or aid ; I crossed the desert sea;
The purpose of my soul, to all unknown,
Was yet supporting energy to me.
When voices from the dead were in mine ear, Who walks exulting on, yet telleth not
The all-sufficing gladness of his lot. And saw the lovely and the loving near,
Then woke and knew my home so dim and drear! Through the great cities of the East I passed What marvel if I prayed that I might die,
Into the kingdom where he reigned supreme; In my soul's great, unchastened misery!
I came unto a gorgeous palace, vast I had known sorrow, and remorse, and shame,
As the creation of a poet's dream: But never knew I misery till that time;
My strength gave way, how little did I seem'
I turned aside and dared not meet his face.
Hard by there was a grove of cypress trees;
away, Without a memory left of night or day.
A place, as if for mourning spirits made;
Thither I sped, my burdened heart to ease, I dwelt within my childhood's home, and yet
And weep unseen within the secret shade. I wist not of each dear familiar place;
A mighty woe that cypress grove displayed ! My soul was in a gloomy darkness set,
Oh let me weep! you will not say that tears
Wrung by that sorrow can be stanched by years.
There was a tomb; a tomb as of a king;
A gorgeous palace of the unconscious dead I rose a sorrowing man, and yet renewed:
My heart died in me, like the failing wing Resigned, although abashed to the dust;
Of the struck bird, as on that wall I read I felt that God was righteous, true, and good,
My brother's name! Feeling and memory fled; And though severe in awful judgment, just;
The flood-gates of my misery gave way,
And senseless on the marble floor I lay.
I lay for hours; and when my sense returned
The day was o'er; no moon was in the sky, My home was still a solitude; none sought
But the thick-strewn, eternal planets burned
In their celestial beauty steadfastly; -
From its deep anguish ; some strong, generous mind, Looking upon my sorrow ; — thus 1 deemed,
Round which my lorn affections might be twined : And sate within the tomb till morning beamed.
- For this I crossed the sea : in those far wilds, The dead, alas ! I sorrowed for the dead,
Through perils numberless, for this I went! Until well-nigh my madness had returned ; What followed next I tell not: as a child's Till memory of them grew a thing of dread,
Again my soul was feeble; too much spent And therefore towards a living friend I yearned. To suffer as of old, or to lament.
My brother! then my soul unto thee turned ; I came back to the scenes where life began, Then pined I for thy spirit's buoyant play,
By griefs, not years, a bowed and aged man. Like the chained captive for the light of day!
I murmur not; but with subraissive will The kindness of his youth came back to me;
Resign to woe the evering of my day; I saw his form in visions of the night;
On the great morrow love will have its fill; I seemed to hear his footsteps light and free
God will forgive our poor repentant clay,
Nor thrust us from his paradise away!
I could sit with him and crack many a joke,
“ Arise, my maiden, Mabel,"
The mother said, “arise, For the golden sun of Midsummer
Is shining in the skies. “ Arise, my little maiden,
For thou must speed away, To wait upon thy grandmother
This livelong summer day. " And thou must carry with thee
This wheaten cake so fine; This new-made pat of butter;
This little flask of wine!
" And tell the dear old body,
This day I cannot come, For the good man went out yester-morn,
And he is not come home.
“ And more than this, poor Amy
l'pon my knee doth lie; I fear me, with this fever-pain
That little child will die!
My rare old friend, he read the plays,
“And thou can'st help thy grandmother;
The table thou can'st spread; Can'st feed the little dog and bird,
And thou can'st make her bed.
“And thou can'st fetch the water,
From the lady-well hard by ; And thou can'st gather from the wood
The fagots brown and dry. "Can'st go down to the lonesome glen,
To milk the mother-ewe; This is the work, my Mabel,
That thou wilt have to do.
“ But listen now, my Mabel,
This is Midsummer-day, When all the fairy people
From elf-land come away.
My good old friend," he tirled at the pin," He opened the door and entered in; We all were glad to see his face As he took at the fire his 'customed place, And the little children, loud in glee, They welcomed him as they welcomed me. He knew our griefs, our joys he shared ; There cannot be friend with him compared ; We had tried him long, had found him true! Why changed I the old friend for the new? My new friend cometh in lordly state; lle peals a startling ring at the gate ; There 's hurry and pomp, there's pride and din, And my new friend bravely entereth in. I bring out the noblest wines for cheer, I make him a feast that costeth dear; int he knows not what in my heart lies deep;He may laugh with me, but never shall weep,
“ And when thou art in lonesome gleu,
Keep by the running burn, And do not pluck the strawberry flower
Nor break the lady-sern.
" But think not of the fairy folk,
Lest mischief should befall; Think only of poor Amy, And how thou lov'st us all.
• Yet keep good heart, my Mabel,
If thou the fairies see,
If they should speak to thee. “And when into the fir-wood
Thou go'st for fagots brown, Do not, like idle children,
Go wandering up and down.
My child, with earnest speed;
Within the wood, take heed. “For they are spiteful brownies
Who in the wood abide,
Lest evil should betide.
Whilst thou art in the wood, Of dwarfish, wilful brownies,
But of the Father good.
To fetch the water thence,
Lest this should give offence.
She loves that water bright;
On many a summer night. “ But she's a gracious lady,
And her thou need'st not fear; Only disturb thou not the stream,
Nor spill the water clear!"
Will no word disobey,
With the wheaten cake so fine; With the new-made pat of butter,
And the little flask of wine. And long before the sun was hot,
And morning mists had cleared, Beside the good old grandmother
The willing child appeared. And all her mother's message
She told with right good-will, How that the father was away,
And the little child was ill.
And then the table spread ;
And then she made the bed.
• Ten paces down the deli, And bring in water for the day;
Thou know'st the lady-well!"
The first time that good Mabel went,
Nothing at all saw she,
That sate upon a tree.
There sate a lady bright
All clothed in green and white.
And then she stooped to fill
But no drop did she spill. “ Thou art a handy maiden,"
The fairy lady said ; “ Thou hast not spilled a drop, nor yet
The fair spring troubled ! “ And for this thing which thou hast done
Yet may'st not understand, I give to thee a better gift
Than houses or than land.
As thou hast done this day;
And shalt be loved alway!"
And nought could Mabel see,
Upon the leafy tree. -“ And now go,” said the grandmother,
" And fetch in fagots dry; All in the neighbouring fir-wood,
Beneath the trees they lie."
Into the fir-wood near,
And the grass grew thin and sere.
Nor yet a live branch pull,
She picked her apron full.
Came sliding to her mind,
With home-thoughts sweet and kind.
Within the fir-wood still, They watched her how she picked the wood,
And strove to do no ill. “And oh, but she is small and neat,"
Said one, “ 'twere shame to spite A creature so demure and meek,
A creature harmless quite !" “Look only," said another,
“ At her little gown of blue ; At the kerchief pinned about her head, And at her little shoe!"
Thus happened it to Mabel
On that Midsummer-day, And these three fairy-blessings
She took with her away. - 'Tis good to make all duty sweet,
To be alert and kind; 'Tis good, like little Mabel,
To have a willing mind!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
"Oh, but she is a comely child,"
Said a third, “and we will lay A good-luck-penny in her path,
A boon for her this day, — Seeing she broke no living wood;
No live thing did affray."
Of the finest silver ore,
Lay Mabel's feet before.
The fairy penny good;
Went wondering from the wood.
“ Let flax be ever so dear, Will buy her clothes of the very best,
For many and many a year!" -"And go, now," said the grandmother,
"Since falling is the dew,
And milk the mother-ewe !"
Through copses thick and wild;
Went on the willing child.
She kept beside the burn,
Nor broke the lady-fern.
Within the lonesome glen,
Were strong and well again.
AWAKE, arise, good Christians,
Let nothing you dismay;
Was born upon this day!
That now is in the sky,
Came down from God on high. Came down on clouds of glory,
Arrayed in shining light, Unto the shepherd-people,
Who watched their flocks by night And through the midnight silence
The heavenly host began, “Glory to God the highest ;
On earth good-will to man!
For, on this happy morn,
In Bethlehem town is born !"
From the ground whereon they lay, As ye should rise, good Christians,
To hail this blessed day! Up rose the simple shepherds,
All with a joyful mind; “And let us go, with specd," said they,
“This holy child to find !" Not in a kingly palace
The son of God they found, But in a lowly manger
Where oxen fed around. The glorious king of heaven;
The Lord of all the earth, In mercy condescended
To be of humble birth. There worshipped him the wise men,
As prophets had foretold; And laid their gifts before him,
Frankincense, myrrh, and gold.
With holy wonder stirred,
And soon as she had thought this thought,
She heard a coming sound, As if a thousand fairy-folk
Were gathering all around.
And then she heard a little voice,
Shrill as the midge's wing, That spake aloud, “ a human child
Is here - yet mark this thing!
“ The lady-fern is all unbroke,
The strawberry-flower unta'en ! What shall be done for her, who still
From mischief can refrain ?"
“Give her a fairy-cake!" said one,
“Grant her a wish!" said three; The latest wish that she hath wished,"
Said all, “ whate'er it be !" - Kind Mabel heard the words they spake,
And from the lonesome glen, Unto the good old grandmother
Went gladly back again.