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George Heath


The Moorland Poet

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The following two poems appear in Francis Redfern’s Memoir :




          Prop me up with my pillows, sweet sister, and then
          Just open the casement, and, close the room door,
          And let me look out on the landscape again,
          And breathe the pure air of the summer once more.

          Then twine your arm round me to comfort and stay,
          And wipe the big tears from these deep mournful eyes,
          And listen awhile; I have something to say
          Ere I pass from this world to my home in the skies.

          ’T was summer, sweet sister, bright summer, as now,
          And earth wore a mantle of radiant sheen;
          A wreath of pure roses encircled the brow
          Of the queen of my bosom—you know who I mean.

          At twilight we met, ’neath the sycamore’s shade,
          And there ‘twas she whispered those words, ‘Ever thine;’
          Her beautiful head on my bosom was laid,
          And her lily-white hand was clasped fondly in mine.

          O God! how intensely and madly I loved!
          How wildly I worshipped that beautiful one.
          You know how inconstant and faithless she proved,
          How basely she left me when summer was gone.

          You’ll see her perchance when affliction hath chased
          The bloom from her cheek and the light from her eye;
          When sorrow’s dark signet hath silently traced
          Deep lines on her forehead, once noble and high.

          Then tell her, sweet sister, that all was forgiven,
          And all was forgot, but the bliss of the past,
          And tell her I wished her to meet me in heaven,
          Where all who have loved are united at last.






          A quiet youth in the valleys grew,
          And thought o’er his being a mantle threw,
          And dawned on his spirit a meaning new,
          And he dreamed of a mission great and true;
          But God, in His infinite wisdom, drew
          A severing finger his projects through.
          His life is a fragment—a broken clue—
          His harp had a musical string or two,
          The tension was great, and they sprang and flew,
          And a few brief strains—a scattered few—
          Are all that remain to mortal view
          Of the marvellous song the young man knew.
          O, ye who have feeling! a tear from you!
          Rest, saddest of singers, in peace—adieu!




The following poem appears in Heart Strains but was not included in the Memorial editions of the poet’s work:





          Hydra-fang’d monster, that stalk’st through the land,
          Spreading destruction on every hand;
          Demon! that com’st with the blackness of night,
          Secretly breathing thy death-dealing blight;
          Laughing to scorn the endeavour to shun,
          Blighting the substance which labour had won;
          Wrecking the hopes, and the earnings of years,
          Wrung from the world amid sweatings and tears;
          Spoiling the rich in the strength of thy might,
          Stealing the poor lonely widow’s last mite.
          Rumour and Terror fly shrieking before,
          Black desolation broods muttering o’er,
          Cunning and Wrong in thy presence we find,
          Ruin and Death, follow moaning behind.
          Are there no bounds to the range of thy flight?
          Art thou, O Demon! invincible, quite?

          Ye who have risen, the wise and the sage,
          Fraught with the learning and power of the age;
          Boldly come forward with brain and with hand,
          Striven to drive the dark fiend from the land.
          Is he the Victor, however assailed?
          Has every project ingloriously failed?
          Must ye confess them, those schemes of your brain,
          All insufficient and utterly vain?
          Baffled and sullen ones, do not despair!
          Try as a last resource, penitence, prayer!

          Not only ye who are noble and great,
          Ye who have charge of the helm of our state,
          Not in our Churches and Chapels alone,
          Not by the few who incessantly moan;
          England arise! every soul to a man,
          Clothe ye in sackcloth and pray while ye can,
          Break down your Idols, whatever they be,
          Humble the proud heart and bend the stiff knee;
          Lay your assumption and pride on the shelf,
          Pray for your country, your neighbour, yourself;
          Wrestle as Jacob did down in the vale,
          Wrestle believing, and you shall prevail.



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