Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

But they, the solitary pair,

Like pitying angels poured
Tears for the sinner; and with groans

His evil lifo deplored.
Man knew not of that secret grief,

Which in their bosoms lay;
And for the sinsul brother's sin,

Yet harder doom had they.
But God, who trieth hearts; who knows

The springs of human will ;
Wno is a juster judge than man,

Of mortal good and ill ;
He saw those poor despised ones,

And willed them still to mourn:
He saw the wandering prodigal,

Yet bade him not return.
In his good time that weak one's woe,
Would do its work of

grace ; And the poor prodigal, himself,

Would seek the father's face;Meantime man's judgment censured them,

As abject, mean, and base. The erring brother was away,

And none could tell his fate;
And the young sister at the loom

Sate drooping, desolate.
She mourned not for her parents dead,

Nor for the breezy shore :
And now the weary, jangling loom

Distracted her no more.
Like one that worketh in a dream,

So worked she day by day,
Intent upon the loving grief,

Which on her spirit lay ;
And as she worked, and as she grieved

Her young life wore away.
And they who saw her come and go,

Oft said, with pitying tongue,
Alas, that labour is the doom

Of aught so weak and young !" Alone the kinsman pitied not;

He chid her, that no more The frame was strong, the hand was swift,

As it had been before.
- All for the child was dark on earth,

When holy angels bright
Unbarred the golden gates of heaven

For her one winter's night.
Within a chamber poor and low,

Upon a pallet bed, She lay, and hold my hand, sweet friend,"

With feeble voice she said. • Oh hold my hand, sweet Marien,"

The dying child spake low; “ And let me hear thy blessed voice,

To cheer me as I go!

"Tis darksome all — Oh, drearly dark'

When will this gloom pass by ? Is there no comfort for the poor,

And for the young who die!" Down by her side knelt Marien,

And kissed her fading cheek, Then of the loving Saviour,

In low tones 'gan to speak. She told of Lazarus, how he lay,

A beggar mean and poor, And died, in misery and want,

Beside the rich man's door.
Yet how the blessèd angels came,

To bear his soul on high,
Within the glorlous courts of heaven,

On Abraham's breast to lie.
She told how children, when they die,

Yet higher glory win,
And see the Father face to face,

Unsoiled by tainting sin.
« Blessed be God!" the child began,

“I doubt not, neither fear, All round about the bed, behold,

The angel-bands appear! “I go! - yet still, dear Marien,

One last boon let me win! Seek out the poor lost prodigal,

And bring him back from sin! “I go! I go!" and angels bright,

The spirit bare away:
On earth 'twas darksome, dreary night,

In heaven 'twas endless day!
- And now, upon that selfsame night,

Within a carved bed,
Lay the rich kinsman wrapped in lawn,

With pillows ’neath his head.
Scheming deep schemes of gold, he lay

All in that lordly room ;
Blessing himself that he had stores

For many years to come.
Just then an awful form spake low,

A form that none might see:
“ Thou sool, this very night, thy soul

Shall be required of thee !"
And when into that chamber fair

Stole in the morning-ray,
A lifeless corpse, upon his bed,

The miser kinsman lay.
Beside his door stood solemn mutes;

And chambers high and dim,
Where hung was pall, and mourning lights

Made show of grief for him. Full fifty muffled mourners stood,

Around the scutcheoned bed, That held the corse, as if, indeed, A righteous man were dead.

Within a tomb, which he had built,

Of costly marble-stone, They buried him, and plates of brass

His name and wealth made known.

A coffin of the meanest wood,

The little child received; And o'er her humble, nameless grave,

No hooded mourner grieved. Only kind Marien wept such tears,

As the dear Saviour shed, When in the house of Bethany

He mourned for Lazarus dead.


Now from the miser kinsman's house

Came many a jovial sound;
And lavish heirs had spent his gold,

Ere twelve months had gone round.
That while within the busy town

Dwelt Marien ; and each day,
In some good deed of Christian love

And mercy, passed away.
For many an abject dweller there,

Grief-bowed and labour-spent,
Groaned forth, amid his little ones,

To heaven his sad lament;
And unto such, to raise, to cheer,

The sent of God, she went.
But she who, even as they, was poor,

Failed not of daily bread;
A stranger, many took her in,

And warmed, and clothed, and fed.
And when a sickness sore befel,

And nigh to death she lay, Kind hearts there were who came to her,

And watched her night and day. And afterwards, when evil men

Doomed her in bonds to lie,
Many a true, noble friend arose,

Willing for her to die.
Oh, blessed Christian hearts, who thus

Unto this little one
Did deeds of love ; for as to Christ

These righteous works were done!
And they who blessed her, for themselves

A tenfold blessing won!
Thus dwelt sweet Marien in the town

For many a passing year;
Yet of the poor, lost prodigal,

No tidings could she hear.
She found him not; but yet she found

Others who, even as he,
Had gone astray and pined forlorn
In hopeless misery.

To these repentant, outcast ones,

She spake kind words of grace,
And led them back, with yearning hearts,

To seek the Father's face ;
To find forgiveness in His heart,

And love in His embrace.
Oh blessed, blessed Marien!

- But let us now recall Whate'er had happed of change and woe

Unto the prodigal.
He saw his little sister pine;

He saw her silent woe;
He saw her strength decline, yet still

Her weary labour grow.
As this he saw, yet more and more

He hated that hard man,
With whom their cheerless misery,

Their daily tasks began.
And even to true Marien,

He bare an altered mind; Alas, that injuries should make

Else loving hearts unkind !
But so it is! and when the twain

To cheer his spirit strove,
His wrath arose, and he repelled

Their patient deeds of love.
Then evil men assailed his youth ;

And he who was so frail
In suffering, 'gainst the tempter's might

Was feeble to prevail.
He was their easy prey; their tool;

And bravely clothed and fed,
In desperate scenes, 'mid desperate men,

A lawless life he led.
Yet often to his soul came back

Sweet memory of the time,
When he, a happy, thoughtless child,

Had knowledge of no crime.
And like a heavier, wearier woe,

Than labour night and day,
The consciousness of evil deeds

Upon his spirit lay.
He thought of slighted Marien,

And of the sister meek;
Of the thin hands that plied the loom,

And of the fading cheek;
Yet how he had deserted them,

The faithful and the weak!

He heard his loving parent's voice

Reproach him in his sleep; And conscience, that stern bosom-guest,

Ceaseless upbraidings keep.
Yet, for the hated kinsman's sake,

Neither would he regard ;
And, because man was hard to him,
Made his own nature hard.

Thus doing outrage to his soul,

By chance he went one day
Through the brown trodden churchyard, where

The little sister lay.
A sexton there at work he found;

And why he turned the mould
So carefully, he asked, since there

No name the tenant told.
Replied he, “ in this wide church-yard

I know each separate mound;
Yet unto me that little grave

Alone seems holy ground.”
And then he told of Marien,

And how she there had wept
Over the child, that 'neath the mould,

In dreamless quiet slept.
“ A little, friendless pauper child,

She lieth here," said he; “ Yet not a grave in all the ground

Like this affecteth me!". Saying this, he wiped a tear aside,

And turned from the place; And, in the skirts of his rich robe,

The brother hid his face.
- He left the town; and in a ship,

Bound for a far-off strand,
He took his voyage; but distress

Pursued her from the land.

At first disease was 'mong her men;

And suffering long and sore,
In midst of joyless, suffering mates,

Forlorn and sad he bore.
Next mutiny brake forth; and then

That miserable ship,
As if there were no port for her,
Without a wind the sails to stir,

Lay moveless on the deep.
As Jonah, fleeing from the Lord,

The soul-struck penitent
Lay self-condemned, believing all

On his account were sent.
Anon a tempest rose, and drove

The ship before the gale,
For three long days; and bore away

Her rudder, mast, and sail.
On the fourth night dark land appeared,

And the strained vessel bore
Right on the rocky reef, and lay

A wreck upon the shore.
At day-break only he remained

To note the vessel's fate; --
The Crusoe of a desert isle,

A bject and desolate. - The world went on as it was wont;

And in the city street,
And in the busy market-place,

Did thronging thousands meet.

Upon the hearths of poor men's homes

Good neighbours met at night; And kindness and companionship

Made woe and labour light. The loneliest hut among the hills

To human hearts was known; And even in kingly palaces

Men might not dwell alone. The world went on as it was wont;

And no man knew the while
Of that poor lonely prodigal,

Upon his lonely isle.
He clomb the cliffs to look afar

Over the distant sea;
If, please God, for his rescuing

A coming sail might be.
He lit his beacon fires at night;

He hoisted signals high ;-
But the world went on as it was wont,

And not a ship sailed by.
He was not missed among his kind, -

Man had forgot his name;
But unto Him who cares for all,
Who sees the little sparrow fall,

His lonely misery came.
God saw him; saw his broken heart,

His cheerless solitude,
Saw how his human pride was gone,

His human will subdued.
Saw him and loved him. Broken heart,

Look up! the Father's voice Calleth thee from thy depths of woe,

And biddeth thee rejoice! – Now Marien from the trading town

Had voyaged; sent of Heaven
She knew not whither; and the ship,

Which with long storm had striven, At length upon a glorious isle

Amid the seas was driven; Where dwelt a gentle race at rest

Amid their flowery wilds,
Unknown to all the world, with hearts

As simple as a child's.
With them abode sweet Marien;

But now it chanced one day,
As in a slender carved boat

Upon the shore she lay, A strong wind came, and filled the sail,

And bare her thence away. She had no fear, true Marien;

That God was good, she knew, And even then had sent her forth

Some work of love to do. The prodigal upon his rock

Was kneeling, and his prayer For confidence in heaven, arose

l'pon the evening air,

Just as the little boat approached

The island bleak and bare. The boat ran up a creek, as if,

"Twere steered by angels good; And ere the evening prayer was done

Beside the youth she stood.
T'he chiefest joy it hath not words

Ils deep excess to say;
And as if he had seen a sprite,

His spirit died away.
Then with clasped hands, and broken speech,

And tears that ceaseless flowed; He pourèd forth from his full heart

A fervent praise of God.


“But let us hence," said Marien;

And with the earliest morn,
Within the slender carved boat,

They left the isle forlorn.
A light breeze from the desert shore

Over the waters blew,
And the little boat sailed on before,

Till the isle was out of view.
As friends long parted, met once more,

They sat; and of times gone, And of the blessèd dead conversed,

As the slender boat sailed on.
And as they sailed, sweet Marien

Over the Gospel bent,
And read of joy that is in heaven

O'er sinners that repent;
And of the weary prodigal

Returning bowed with shame, And the good father hastening forth

To meet him as he came; And how he bade the fairest robe

Be brought; the golden ring; Shoes for the feet; and music sweet,

As if to hail a king. “For this, my son,” said he,“ was dead,

And is alive; is found, Who was long lost; 'tis meet, therefore,

That stintless joy abound !" “Oh, child of woe," said Marien,

* Look up, for thou art he ; And round about the Father's throne

Many rejoice for thee !" “Oh Lord, I bless thee," said the youth,

“ That of thy mercy great, Thou hast vouchsafed to rescue me

From my forlorn estate !
And henceforth, to thy work of love

Myself I dedicate!

“The meanest of thy creatures, low

I bend before thy throne, And offer my poor self to make

Thy loving-kindness known! “ Oh father, give me words of power,

The stony hearts to move ; Give me prevailing eloquence,

To publish forth thy love! “ Thy love which wearieth not; which like

Thy sun, on all doth shine!
Oh Father, let me worship Thee
Through life, by gladly serving Thee!
I love not life; I ask not wealth ;
My heart and soul, my youth and health,

My life, oh Lord, are thine!"
So spake the youth ; but now the boat

The glorious island neared,
Which, like a cloudland realm of bliss,

Above the sea appeared.
Skyward rose sunny peaks, pale-hued,

As if of opal glow;
And crested palms, broad-leaved and tall,

In valleys grew below.
A lovely land of flowers, as fair

As Paradise, ere sin
And sorrow, that corrupting pair,

With death had entered in.
A lovely land !—" And even now,"

Cried Marien, “see they come,
Children of love, my brother, now

To bid thee welcome home!
“For these, God kept thee in the wild,

From sinful men apart;
For these, his people, through distress

Made pure thy trusting heart ! “ Thy work is here! Go forth, 'mid these

Meek children of the sun,
Oh servant of the Lord, and tell

What He for thee hath done!"
Down to the shore the thousands came,

A joyous, peaceful host,
To welcome Marien back, whom they

Had sorrowed for as lost.
“ And welcome to thee, little child !"

They sang forth sweet and clear; “ And welcome to the stranger poor,

Who cometh with thee here!"
And then they brought him silken cloth,

Since he was meanly drest;
And juicy, mellow fruits to eat,
And perfumed waters for his feet,

And mats whereon to rest. And ever as they served him,

They sang forth sweet and low, “ Would this repose might solace thee, These apples cure thy woe!"

In agony

And though the twain knew not their speech,

Yet well they understood
The looks of love that welcomed them,

Their actions kind and good.
With them for many a year

abode The youth, and learned their tongue; And with the sound of Christian praise

The hills and valleys rung.
Oh beautiful beyond all lands

That lay beneath the moon,
Was that fair isle of Christian love

Of Christian virtues boon.
A joyful people there they dwelt,

Unsuffering from their birth;
Of simplest life; benignly wise;

As angels on the earth.
And with them dwelt the holy youth,

Their chief, their priest, their friend,
Beloved and loving, for their sakes

Willing himself to spend.
Like to some ancient church of Christ,

From worldly taint kept free,
Lay this delicious isle of love

Amid its summer sea.
But now the work he had to do

Was done; and ere his day
Approached its noon, his strength, his life,

Was wearing fast away.
They saw his cheek grow thin and pale;

His loving eye grow dim;
And with surpassing tenderness

They sorrowed over him.
Old men, and youths, and women meek,

And children wild and young,
Followed his steps with watchful care,

And weeping round him hung. In flowery thickets of the hills

Sad mourners knelt in prayer, That God this servant so revered,

This friend beloved would spare. And round about his feet they sat,

Observant, meek, and still,
To gather up his latest words,

To do his slightest will.
Now all this while good Marien

Had wandered far and wide,
Through divers realms, for many a year,

The hand of Heaven her guide. And now unto the glorious isle

She came; but on the shore She saw no wandering company,

As she had seen before.
'Twas Sabbath ere, and o'er the isle

A solemn stillness lay;
A stil.ness, how unlike the calm

Of many a Sabbath day!

A hush, as of suspended breath,

Ere some great grief began; For the mournful people silently

Stood round the dying man. Through the still vales went Marien,

And came at length to where, 'Mid flowering trees, knelt many a one


prayer. Onward she went, not many steps,

With heart of mournful ruth, When, like a dying angel laid,

She saw the holy youth. With closed eyes and pallid lips

He lay, as one whose life Meeteth with death, yet waiteth still

The last conflicting strife. Beside him knelt she on the turf,

And spoke in accents low Words of strong love, which like new life

Seemed through the frame to go. He raised himself, and blessing God,

That He of him had care,
And now in his dark trial-hour,

Had sent his angel there;
With low-toned voice, more musical

Than softest lute could make,
Looking upon his weeping friends

With fervent love, he spake. “Oh friends, beloved friends! weep not,

Nor be oppressed with woe; 'Tis of His will, who doeth right,

That I am called to go! “ Fain would I tarry, but the cry

Hath sounded in mine ear, • Haste to depart, the Lord hath need

Of thee no longer here! “ Even like the Master whom I serve,

I pray ye not to grieve; But as ye have believed in me,

Also in Him believe! “I go, but leave you not forlorn,

As sheep without a guide ; For Christ the unfailing Comforter

Shall still with you abide!
“ Oh weep not, friends; a better home

Awaits me, and I go,
But to that home which is prepared

For ye who love me so!
Farewell, farewell! Unto my God,

And unto yours, I go!"
The Sabbath sun went down amid

A golden, cloudless sky;
And the freed spirit, cleansed from sin,

Arose to God on high.
Beneath the trees where he had died.

They buried him, and there
Enwove the flowery boughs to form
A quiet house of prayer.

« AnteriorContinuar »