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George Heath


The Moorland Poet

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—Memorials of George Heath, The Moorland Poet—







            Tender snowdrops, wee and white,
                 Go to her whose beauty lies
            On my being, like the light
                 Of the stars on brows of skies.

            When the moon hath not a streak,
                 And the night all gloom would be,
            But for those still gems that break
                 Through the mirk on land and sea.

            Go to her I love, and say
                 “Fearful love is ever true;
            Say I cherish her to-day
                 With a thought as pure as you.”

            And, as ye are hands of hope,
                 Stretching out to broken things
            Toiling up the winter slope,
                 And the year’s first blossoming;

            So is she the Iris-light
                 Stretching to me through the years;
            First for her, my soul in might
                 Woke and gave me love and tears.

            And as ye, frail things, are soon
                 Riven of your modest bloom;
            Morn of spring, and summer’s noon
                 Lustre o’er your living tomb.

            So, if she should spurn my love,
                 Scorch my hope with cruel breath,
            On and on the years will move,
                 Blooming o’er the living death.






            I‘d scorn to swell the toady rout,
                 Or bow before the gilded elf;
            I laugh at Fate, and sing and shout,
                 “The man’s the man he makes himself.”
            I strike my breast—its ring is sound;
                 I feel my wrists—they’re shackle-free;
            I look above, before, around,
                 And scoff the prate of Destiny.
            I think my life—my nucleus lay,
                 And toil around it patiently;
            The circle widens day by day;
                 The man’s the man he wills to be!

            No golden key, no magic door,
                 No royal road for any man;
            All naked born, the rich, the poor,
                 The autocrat, the plebeian.
            I have no patience for the sect
                 Who dream of crowns, and covet thrones,
            Yet sit and murmur, and expect
                 The world to lay them stepping-stones.
            I love the man who bears his thews,
                 And lifts his form erect and free,
            Trusts his own strength, his path pursues,
                 And makes him what he wills to be.

            Am I not strong and hardy-faced?
                 Hath he not given a harp to me,
            A soul to love and feel; and placed
                 Within me my eternity?
            Have I not feet to climb the stair?
                 A mind to think, a brain to plan?
            Have I not hands to do and dare?
                 Shall I not stand distinct a man?
            O yes! I’ll live; not drift, not dream;
                 Fate, circumstance, my steeds shall be:
            I’ll mould each moment to my schemes,
                 Becoming that I fancy me.

            I’ll grasp the skirts of light, and link
                 A mortal to a heavenly goal;
            Anoint my lips with truth, and drink
                 The universe into my soul;
            I’ll sow a stream of radiance there,
                 A moon-track on the wrestling seas;
            My songs shall bow the hearts of men,
                 As tempest winds bow forest trees;
            I’ll lift my voice and send it far
                 Along thy shores, Eternity!
            I’ll bare my forehead—shine a star—
                 The man’s the man he wills to be.






          When the herds were picking the dead ash leaves
                              Under the trees,
          When winds were bringing a trouble of death
                              On many seas,
                                                            She died, alas!

          She in whose life I had lived and moved
                              So long, so long!
          Who had made all my days like the ravishing change
                              Of a passionate song;
                                                            She died, alas!

          She, who was ever a delicate bud,
                              Wee, weak, and frail;
          For whom I so anxiously watched and met
                              Chill, damp, and gale;
                                                            She died, alas!

          She, who was blythe as a bird one day,
                              The next without strength;
          Whom I dreamed, could she tide o’er a few more years,
                              Might grow strong at length;
                                                            She died, alas!

          She died, and the light of my life and hope
                              Went out, went out!
          And my heart sobs now, as the shuddering leaves
                              Drift dead about;
                                                            She died, alas!






          I will be useful and happy yet,
               Though my path hath been shaded long;
          Though, frail and dependent, misfortune hath damped
               The dawn of my life and song.
          I will be patient, and strong, and brave,
               And true to my purpose set;
          My being shall gloriously rise over self—
               I will be earnest yet!

          The rare woman-form that is all too dear,
               And the love that may never be mine,
          And the fair home-ties I have dreamed of so,
               My soul shall be brave to resign.
          The calmness will come in God’s good time,
               And the yearnings will cease to fret:
          I’ll sow all my tenderness wide in the world—
               I will be conqueror yet!

          And those who have scorned me shall blush to scorn,
               The haughty shall cease to sneer;
          And those who have deemed me ambitious and proud
               Shall learn to esteem and revere.
          The wounded shall seek me for sympathy,
               The erring, the hard-beset:
          I’ll live in all hearts ’mongst their treasured things—
               I will be cherished yet!

          I’ll gather life’s sunbeams into my heart,
               And focus them round me free;
          And many a sad heart and weary eye
               Shall brighten to light on me.
          Kind words shall cheer, loving deeds rejoice,
               And pity shall soften regret:
          The friendless shall want for a friend no more—
               I will be useful yet!

          I’ll forge me links to enmesh my world
               In a boundless charity;
          I’ll clothe all objects in robes of song
               And a wide-souled piety.
          My life shall be empty and barren no more,
               Its ills shall be bravely met;
          The interests of all whom I love shall be mine—
               I will be noble yet!

          I’ll sow a flower when I may, and dull
               When I can the galling flints;
          And future fathers, when counselling youth,
               Shall reverently point at my prints.
          And women shall ease them with weeping and say,
               As they point at the greening sod,
          “The man that lies there was as true a man
               As ever went up to God.”




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