Charles Tennyson Turner (1808-1879)

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The Buoy-Bell

How like the leper, with his own sad cry
Enforcing his own solitude, it tolls!
That lonely bell set in the rushing shoals,
To warn us from the place of jeopardy!
O friend of man! sore-vex'd by ocean's power,
The changing tides wash o'er thee day by day;
Thy trembling mouth is fill'd with bitter spray,
Yet still thou ringest on from hour to hour;
High is thy mission, though thy lot is wild--
To be in danger's realm a guardian sound;
In seamen's dreams a pleasant part to bear,
And earn their blessing as the year goes round,
And strike the keynote of each grateful prayer,
Breath'd in their distant homes by wife or child!


How oft I've watch'd thee from the garden croft,
In silence, when the busy day was done,
Shining with wondrous brilliancy aloft,
And flickering like a casement 'gainst the sun!
I've seen thee soar from out some snowy cloud,
Which held the frozen breath of land and sea,
Yet broke and sever'd as the wind grew loud
But earth-bound winds could not dismember thee,
Nor shake thy frame of jewels; I have guess'd
At thy strange shape and function, haply felt
The charm of that old myth about thy belt
And sword; but, most, my spirit was possess'd
By His great Presence, Who is never far
From his light-bearers, whether man or star.

Old Ruralities: A Regret

With joy all relics of the past I hail;
The heath-bell, lingering in our cultured moor,
Or the dull sound of the slip-shouldered flail,
Still busy on the poor man's threshing floor:
I love this unshorn hedgerow, which survives
Its stunted neighbors, in this farming age:
The thatch and houseleek, where old Alice lives
With her old herbal, trusting every page;
I love the spinning wheel, which hums far down
In yon lone valley, though from day to day,
The boom of Science shakes it from the town.
Ah! Sweet old world! thou speedest fast away!
My boyhood's world! but all last looks are dear;
More touching is the deathbed than the bier!

Letty's Globe: Or Some Irregularities in a First Lesson in Geography

When Letty had scarce passed her third glad year,
And her young artless words began to flow,
One day we gave the child a colored sphere
Of the wide Earth, that she might mark and know,
By tint and outline, all its sea and land.
She patted all the world; old Empires peeped
Between her baby fingers; her soft hand
Was welcome at all frontiers. How she leaped,
And laughed and prattled in her world-wide bliss!
But when we turned her sweet unlearned eye
On our own Isle, she raised a joyous cry,--
"O yes! I see it, Letty's home is there!"
And while she hid all England with a kiss,
Bright over Europe fell her golden hair.

Great Britain through the Ice: Or, Premature Patriotism

Methought I lived in the icy times forlorn;
And, with a fond forecasting love and pride,
I hung o'er frozen England:--"When," I cried,
When will the island of our hopes be born?
When will our fields be seen, our church bells heard?
And Avon, Doon, and Tweed break out in song?
This blank unstoried ice be warmed and stirred,
And Thames, and Clyde, and Humber roll along
To a free sea-board? airs of paradise
Install our summer and our flowery springs,
And lift the larks, and our land the nightingales?
And this wild alien unfamiliar Wales
Melt home among her harps? and vernal skies
Thaw out old Dover for the houseless kings?"

The Seaside: In and out of Season

In summertime it was a paradise
Of mountain, frith, and bay, and shining sand;
Our outward rowers sang towards the land,
Followed by waving hands and happy cries:
By the full flood the groups no longer roam;
And when, at ebb, the glistening beach grows wide,
No barefoot children race into the foam,
But passive jellies wait the turn of tide.
Like some forsaken lover, lingering there,
The boatman stands; the maidens trip no more
With loosened locks; far from the billows' roar
The Mauds and Maries knot their tresses fair,
Where not a foam-flake from th' enamored shore
Comes down the sea-wind on the golden hair.

Mary Queen of Scots

When the young hand of Darnley locked in hers
Had knit her to her northern doom--amid
The spousal pomp of flags and trumpeters,
Her fate looked forth and was no longer hid;
A jealous brain beneath a southern crown
Wrought spells upon her; from afar she felt
The waxen image of her fortunes melt
Beneath the Tudor's eye, while the grim frown
Of her own lords o'ermastered her sweet smiles,
And nipped her growing gladness, till she mourned,
And sank, at last, beneath their cruel wiles;
But, ever since, all generous hearts have burned
To clear her fame, yes, very babes have yearned
Over this saddest story of the isles.

The Steam Threshing-Machine

With the Straw Carrier

Flush with the pond the lurid furnace burned
At eve, while smoke and vapor filled the yard;
The gloomy winter sky was dimly starred,
The fly-wheel with a mellow murmur turned;
While, ever rising on its mystic stair
In the dim light, from secret chambers borne,
The straw of harvest, severed from the corn,
Climbed, and fell over, in the murky air.
I thought of mind and matter, will and law,
And then of him, who set his stately seal
Of Roman words on all the forms he saw
Of old-world husbandry; I could but feel
With what a rich precision he would draw
The endless ladder, and the booming wheel!


Did any seer of ancient time forbode
This mighty engine, which we daily see
Accepting our full harvests, like a god,
With clouds about his shoulders--it might be
Some poet-husbandman, some lord of verse,
Old Hesiod, or the wizard Mantuan,
Who catalogued in rich hexameters
The rake, the roller, and the mystic van;
Or else some priest of Ceres, it might seem,
Who witnessed, as he trod the silent fane,
The notes and auguries of coming change,
Of other ministrants in shrine and grange--
The sweating statue, and her sacred wain
Low-booming with the prophecy of steam!

van, fan or other winnowing device.

wain, wagon, chariot--drawn by serpents.