A. H. Haynes Bell (?-1917)
Loud from its wicker cage the thrush yet sings;
The blackbird pipes, though now it may no more
Flit through the orchard as it did before;
In spite of bars, the lark its carollings
Still pours, and stretches still its useless wings
As when it could at will to heaven soar.
In sooth, though it should be a dungeon floor,
The place is nought. If God has touched the strings,
The music of his soul in melodies
E'en there the wretched captive will outpour;
Will even there to dull insensate things
Attune his harp, as Orpheus oft of yore,
So poets tell, in his sad wanderings
Played to the rocks and hills and brooks and trees.
Deck thee with jewels from the Indian mine,
And fetch thy robes from silken Samarcand;
Such never shall thy beauteous eyes outshine,
Nor these outshame the lily of thy hand.
Take to thee gold; it shall not that outvie
Poured by thy locks in such a flowing stream;
Lay to thy bosom pearls; and could these sigh,
Then would they sigh that they might fairer seem.
But oh! ten thousand others can do this,
And charm for charm display as well as thou;
Can smile as sweet, and as divinely kiss,
And show as fair a hand, as smooth a brow;
Ten thousand others can do this, but none
Can move this heart to love, as thou hast done.
In Freedom's cause it were a joy to die!
The stake, the dungeon, and the gory block,
These are the deep foundations of that rock
Whence rise the sacred walls of Liberty.
Each groan, each tear, each whitened hair, each sigh,
Each rusted chain, each bolt, each bar, each lock,
What are they but the powers at last which mock
The baffled rage of dying Tyranny?
Thus, when all's done which mortal man can do,
The last word spoken tyrants dread to hear,
The last bow struck, it were indeed a shame
If we, at Freedom's call, should fail to bear
With dignity that lot she grants but few--
To die, and dying bless her sacred name.
As when a son by his dead father kneels,
And cries, "Forgive me! Father, I repent!"
Those pallid lips make no acknowledgment,
Nor any smile across those features steals;
Yea, though he grasps his hand, the dead nor feels,
Nor moves, nor knows the form above him bent,
But now past all approval or dissent,
Turns a deaf ear to all that son's appeals:
So, too, with us, when tearfully we stand
Beside dead memories of the days which were;
Could we but grasp again that loving hand!
Could we but speak again to him or her!
In vain; as well expect at our command
The silent dead to smile again or stir.
Be nothing altered of all God hath done;
For who can work divinely fair as He?
Who knows what is, and more, what is to be,
And what to use, and what to let alone;
Nor doth He need to move again that stone
Once laid; nor doth He lack the power, as we,
To add to all its matchless symmetry,
From Ophir, gold, and beams from Lebanon:
So to build up the white dome of the soul,
A stately palace, an eternal home,
For God Himself at length made pure and fit,
Where with great power the Lord Himself will come,
And with assembled angels crown the whole
With songs and shoutings of "Grace! grace to it!"
I see thee go about thy household ways,
And nothing count too irksome or too mean,
Which being done had earned another's praise,
Or being left, some other's grief had been,
Or being spoken, had laid balm between
The breath of slander and the wounded part,
Or being thought, had caused the judgment lean
Less to the brain and more unto the heart.
And so from room to room I see thee move,
And all the house to fill with quietness,
That all who see thee must perforce thee love,
That all who hear thee must perforce thee bless.
Like some bright angel, doomed to penance here
For some slight fault, so dost thou, love, appear.
O be thou 'ware, since thus on thee I look,
Thou lead me not in any wise astray.
Seek thou Heaven's grace; and, lady, see thou brook
No sin upon thy soul by night or day.
I toil on after; up the shining way
I would ascend; be thou my spirit's guide.
There is no joy like theirs who thus assay,
Nor shall be crown that brighter shines beside.
I charge thee, then, by all of good and fair,
That thou pursue unmoved thy upward road--
To fairer scenes, to realms of purer air,
To nobler heights, to heaven, and to God.
I follow on, now near, and now afar;
But yet I follow on, O my life's star!
Love Health, but let it be the love of youth;
Love Peace, but let it be before the fray;
Love Mercy, but before you go astray,
And you yourself have need of pitying ruth;
Love Wisdom's ways, but love them most, in sooth,
Ere Folly turns your locks to sober gray;
Love Purity, since love her well you may;
But most of all, love early golden Truth.
She is of such divinity that where
She leads all other graces still attend,
As do the roses the sweet month of June;
But she away, those graces have an end,
And perish as the flowers of summer, soon
As autumn with his breath makes all things bare.
Be nothing altered of all God hath done!
I would not now have back these weary years
To spend them other than I have, thou tears
Alone could win them. What God hath begun
I pray to Him to finish. When we shun
Those ills our sin-sick heart for ever fears,
And choose the good, or that which good appears,
Were God as we, how soon our course were run!
Who knows life's chart entire, knows best to steer
Our erring craft across its fitful sea.
Little our progress while the skies are clear;
But when God's storm breaks forth tumultuously,
Each fearful gust brings us to land more near,
And to that haven where our souls would be.