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ODE ON THE CENTENARY OF BURNS.

229

Ode on the Centenary of Burns.

We hail this morn
A century's noblest birth;

A Poet peasant-born,
Who more of Fame's immortal dower

Unto his country brings
Than all her kings!

As lamps high set
Upon some earthly eminence;
And to the gazer brighter thence
Than the sphere lights they flout-

Dwindle in distance and die out,

While no star waneth yet;
So through the past's far-reaching night

Only the star-souls keep their light.

A gentle boy,
With moods of sadness and of mirth,

Quick tears and sudden joy,
Grew up beside the peasant's hearth.

His father's toil he shares;
But half his mother's cares

From his dark, searching eyes,
Too swift to sympathize,

Hid in her heart she bears.

At early morn
His father calls him to the field;
Through the stiff soil that clogs his feet, -

Chill rain, and harvest heat,
He plods all day; returns at eve outworn,

To the rude fare a peasant's lot doth yield —
To what else was he born ?

The God-made king
Of every living thing;

(For his great heart in love could hold them all); The dumb eyes meeting his by hearth and stall

Gifted to understand!

Knew it and sought his hand;
And the most timorous cretaure had not filed

Could she his heart have read,
Which fain all feeble things had blessed and sheltered.

To Nature's feast,
Who knew her noblest guest

And entertained him best,
Kingly he came. Her chambers of the east
She draped with crimson and with gold,
And poured her pure joy wines

For him the poet-souled;

For him her anthem rolled
From the storm-wind among the winter pines,

Down to the slenderest note
Of a love-warble from the linnet's throat.

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But when begins
The array for battle, and the trumpet blows,
A king must leave the feast and lead the fight;

And with its mortal foes,
Grim gathering hosts of sorrows and of sins,

Each human soul must close;

And Fame her trumpet blew
Before him, wrapped him in her purple state,
And made him mark for all the shafts of Fate

That henceforth round him flew.

Though he may yield,
Hard-pressed, and wounded fall

Forsaken on the field;
His regal vestments soiled;
His crown of half its jewels spoiled;

He is a king for all.

ODE ON THE CENTENARY OF BURNS.

231

Had he but stood aloof!
Had he arrayed himself in armor proof

Against temptation's darts !
So yearn the good-so those the world calls wise,
With vain, presumptuous hearts,

Triumphant moralize.

Of martyr-woe
A sacred shadow on his memory rests—

Tears have not ceased to flow-
Indignant grief yet stirs impetuous breasts,

To think-above that noble soul brought low, That wise and soaring spirit fooled, enslaved

Thus, thus he had been saved !

It might not be!
That heart of harmony

Had been too rudely rent;
Its silver chords, which any hand could wound,

By no hand could be tuned,
Save by the Maker of the instrument,

Its every string who knew,
And from profaning touch his heavenly gift withdrew.

Regretful love
His country fain would prove,
By grateful honors lavished on his grave;

Would fain redeem her blame
That he so little at her hands can claim,

Who unrewarded gave
To her his life-bought gift of song and fame.

The land he trod
Hath now become a place of pilgrimage;

Where dearer are the daisies of the sod
That could his song engage.

The hoary hawthorn, wreathed
Above the bank on which his limbs he flung

While some sweet plaint he breathed;

The streams he wandered near;
The maidens whom he loved; the

songs

he

sungAll, all are dear!

The arch blue eyes-
Arch but for love's disguise-
Of Scotland's daughters, soften at his strain;
Her hardy sons, sent forth across the main
To drive the plowshare through earth's virgin soils,

Lighten with it their toils :
And sister-lands have learned to love the tongue

In which such songs are sung.

For doth not song

To the whole world belong?
Is it not given wherever tears can fall,
Wherever hearts can melt, or blushes glow,
Or mirth and sadness mingle as they flow,
A heritage to all ?

Isa Craig Knox.

Over the River.

Over the river they beckon to me

Loved ones who 've passed to the further side; The gleam of their snowy robes I see,

But their voices are lost in the dashing tide. There 's one with ringlets of sunny gold,

And eyes the reflection of heaven's own blue; He crossed in the twilight gray and cold,

And the pale mist hid him from mortal view; We saw not the angels who met him there,

The gates of the city we could not seeOver the river, over the river,

My brother stands waiting to welcome me!

OVER THE RIVER.

233

Over the river the boatman pale

Carried another, the household pet;
Her brown curls waved in the gentle gale-

Darling Minnie ! I see her yet.
She crossed on her bosom her dimpled hands,

And fearlessly entered the phantom bark,
We felt it glide from the silver sands,

And all our sunshine grew strangely dark; We know she is safe on the further side,

Where all the ransomed and angels beOver the river, the mystic river,

My childhood's idol is waiting for me.

For none return from those quiet shores,

Who cross with the boatman cold and pale;
We hear the dip of the golden oars,

And catch a gleam of the snowy sail;
And lo! they have passed from our yearning heart,

They cross the stream and are gone for aye,
We may not sunder the vail apart

That hides from our vision the gates of day;
We only know that their barks no more

May sail with us o'er life's stormy sea-
Yet, somewhere, I know, on the unseen shore,

They watch, and beckon, and wait for me.
And I sit and think, when the sunset's gold

Is flushing river and hill and shore,
I shall one day stand by the water cold

And list for the sound of the boatman's oar;
I shall watch for a gleam of the flapping sail,

I shall hear the boat as it gains the strand;
I shall pass from sight with the boatman pale,

To the better shore of the spirit land.
I shall know the loved who have gone before,

And joyfully sweet will the meeting be,
When over the river, the peaceful river,
The Angel of Death shall carry me.

NANCY PRIEST WAKEFIELD.

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