John Hanmer (1809-1881)

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The Steam-boat

White wings, that over the hyacinthine sea
With joy or hope or sorrow long have sped;
Since first he voyaged whom the Colchian wed;
Bearing lone ships over many a salt degree;
A voice came thence where ye were wont to be;
A strange and serpent utterance; high over head
Trailed its dark breath; and with Ixion's tread
A keel passed by, mocking the stormy lee.

Into the rack, far lessening, on it went,
As once that antique lover of the cloud:
While ye to veering winds were bowed and bent;
And ocean roared with his great voice aloud;
Lashing his waves gainst isle and continent,
Vexed with the wake that wheel-borne ship had ploughed.


When I remember how, nor separate chance
Nor restless traffic peopling many a shore
Nor old tradition with innumerous lore,
But poets wrought our best inheritance;
Sweet words and noble; in their gai science
That England heard, and then for evermore
Loved as her own, and did with deeds adore;
I bless thee with a kindred heart, Provence;

For to thy tales, like waves that come and go,
Sat Chaucer listening with exulting ear;
And casting his own phrase in giant mould:
That still had charms for sorrow's gentlest tear,
Telling the story of Griselda's woe,
"Under the roots of Vesulus the cold."


Soft comes the breath of spring, it shakes the pear
White blooming; like a garden seems the mead
Thick with young grass, on which the cattle feed
Tossing their heads at their dull wintry fare.
The bees seek honey through the moving air
That rocks the wild-duck on her nest of reed,
By the sunlit water: Man doth say "God speed,"
For joy the year's increase so soon to share,
Low, to himself he says it; where, alas,
Are the old rites? a dullard race are we;
Clear shows of inner feeling fade and pass;
There are no pomps to greet Eiarine.
Our hearts reflect as a smoke-darkened glass,
When like a prison of crystal they should be.

Evening in Germany

How each sharp hammer of the minster clock
Cuts off a point of time, until the bell,
Up-carolling to the clouds with silvery swell,
The sullen presage like a bird doth mock;
But the day fleets, and the shadow of the rock
Falls opposite to where at morn it fell;
The bees come home, each to her angular cell;
Up to his hostel flies the roosting cock.

Now creep the beggars, some with misery pined,
To dungeon-pits; some where the woodland yields
Small shelter, thinned for comfortable fires:
Some to lone huts such as the shepherd builds
Under a bank to shield him from the wind,
In an old tree set round with thorns and briars.


There sat a maiden neath a regal tower
Girt with a forest of great oaks and pines,
It seemed a lodge of some high conqueror
In the old days, and round it creeping vines
Grew wildly, that no more men drank of now;
And in the topmost arch there was a bell
That with the wind did vibrate; vague and low
Sped over the hills its modulated swell;
Palely she sat, and at her side were things
Of strange device to measure earth and stars,
And a small quiet genius with his wings
Upfolded and his eyes still fixed on hers,
Men uttered not her queenly name, but she
Had graved it in the dust, Melancoly.

A Winter Scene

"Chacun pourtant conservera
son culte" (de Beranger)

It is the winter, sharp and suddenly
His angel frost hath breathed upon the land:
Tartuffe now at the chancel door doth stand
Dispensing loaves from others' charity,
And round about him come a hungry band
With piteous voice and asking eyes, but he
A little backward sheltered from the wind,
A book turns over, for the Church must be
Maintained, and therein all who are behind
With Easter dues are writ; it is poverty
Moves them, but duty stern his reverence;
The loaves were given the Church, with pious mind,
And justly they by wanting must be fined,
Although it grieves him, till they pay their pence.

A View in Holland

The tide comes up the black and gusty river,
Slowly against it makes a boat its way,
In the rough gale the bending sedges shiver,
The dripping piles fling back the shattered spray;
There is a church, but none who come to pray--
For it is a week-day and made fast the door,
But onward by a willow-sheltered bay
Hangs forth a sign more tempting to the boer;

Wild sing the breezes from the northern sea
Flustering the topsails on the coast's low line,
Windly sings Hans within the lattice, he
Is flustered too, but it is with brantewein:
See on the sands a wandering group appear,
Mynherr Verkoop the pedlar and his gear.


The black waves come in lashing the old walls,
The shipless harbour from the shipless sea;
The dreary wind sinks down at intervals--
Winter is here, and yet it spring should be,
Chasing the snows with sweet regality,
And the wild hills enamelling with flowers,
That now the myrtle sore and pallidly
Turning its branches from the salt spray-showers
Reigns over alone on yon deserted towers
An aloe grows, but its tall bloom is dead,
Deep in his chink the bright green lizard cowers,
Sunshiny elf, and fears the stranger's tread
Rolling the loose stones down the steep, but he
Loves thee, quaint creature, and thy watchful head.


To the short days, and the great vault of shade
The whitener of the hills, we come--alas,
There is no colour in the faded grass,
Save the thick frost on its hoar stems arrayed.
Cold is it: as a melancholy maid,
The latest of the seasons now doth pass,
With a dead garland, in her icy glass
Setting its spikes about her crispéd braid.
The streams shall breathe, along the orchards laid,
In the soft spring-time; and the frozen mass
Melt from the snow-drift; flowerets where it was
Shoot up--the cuckoo shall delight the glade;
But to new glooms through some obscure crevasse
She will have past--that melancholy maid.


Arise up, England, from the smoky cloud
That covers thee, the din of whirling wheels:
Not the pale spinner, prematurely bowed
By his hot toil, alone the influence feels
Of all this deep necessity for gain:
Gain still; but deem not only by the strain
Of engines on the sea and on the shore,
Glory, that was thy birthright, to retain.
O thou that knewest not a conqueror,
Unchecked desires have multiplied in thee,
Till with their bat-wings they shut out the sun:
So in the dusk thou goest moodily,
With a bent head, as one who gropes for ore,
Heedless of living streams that round him run.

To the Fountain at Frascati

Not by Aldobrandini's watery show,
Still plashing at his portal never dumb
Minished of my devotion, shalt thou come,
Leaving thy natural fount on Algido,
Wild wingèd daughter of the Sabine snow;
Now creeping under quiet Tusculum;
Now gushing from those caverns old and numb;--
Dull were his heart who gazed upon thee so.
Emblem thou art of Time, memorial stream,
Which in ten thousand fancies, being here,
We waste, or use, or fashion, as we deem;
But if its backward voice comes ever near,
As thine upon the hill, how doth it seem
Solemn and stern, sepulchral and severe!

(Text of last three sonnets from Sharp.)