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George Heath


The Moorland Poet

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—Memorials of George Heath, The Moorland Poet—





          Where is the beautiful face
               Flushed with the wide, dark eyes?
          Where is the yearning face?
               Only the gloom-wind sighs;
          And out of the door in the yard
               The sycamores moan and stir,
          And the clouds mope onward, but none regard
               The wail in my heart for her.

          Oh! where is the beautiful face
               Framed in its mass of hair?
          Where is the haunting face?
               Hark! on the tremulous air
          Comes the boom of a funeral bell
               Heavy as my despair—
          ’Tis well, I am answered, well, right well!
               Would I were sleeping there!

          Where art thou, mine elect?
               Oh! but to hear thy voice,
          To see thee once more, mine elect!
               Afar in thy paradise,
          In the peace of the realms of calm,
               Dost dream of our troubled shore?
          Oh, love! my spirit hath lack of balm
               In thy absence, evermore.

          I follow the shafts from the crest
               Of the hill, when the east grows warm;
          And now I am turned to the west,
               Where the day sinketh down into storm;
          And alike when the night is pearled
               I pour my complaint, oh, love!
          My heart goeth out over all the world,
               To return like the weary dove.

          Oh! when will it all be done?
               And when will the mourning cease?
          Slow are thy wheels, O Sun!
               Fickle thy wing, O Peace!
          Ah, woe! that our dreams will fly
               Like feathers, when winds are rude,
          That we shroud up our dead from the world’s cold eye,
               And rot in our solitude!






          When the soul is o’ershadowed with gloom,
               With sorrow, and sadness, and care;
          When the future seems dark as the tomb,
               And the present a gulf of despair;

          When life seems a desolate blight,
               A burden we loathe every day;
          When hope swiftly wingeth its flight,
               And pleasure doth vanish away;

          When the soul broods in sorrow alone,
               And chides its unchangeable fate;
          When the heart seems congealing to stone,
               ’Neath misfortune’s unbearable weight—

          Perchance a sweet, innocent child
               Has pressed on your pale cheek a kiss,
          And said, “How I love you!” and smiled
               With a look of ineffable bliss.

          Or perchance an affectionate wife
               Has bid you hope on to the end;
          Or your hand has been grasped mid the strife
               In the warm-hearted clasp of a friend.

          When beautiful, eloquent eyes
               Look tenderly down on your own;
          When hearts with your own sympathise,
               And show you, you are not alone;

          What a beam of ineffable light,
               What a soul-thrilling, heart-cheering ray
          Disperses the gloom of the night,
               And turns all your darkness to day.

          How it gives you new courage and hope,
               And lightens your burden of care;
          Gives you strength with affliction to cope,
               And bids you no longer despair.






          Ida, the sunny, the happy, the bright!
               Ida, the youthful, the happy, the free!
          Blythe as the sun birds that sport in the light,
               Follow the dance, joyous summer, of thee!
          Waif from the land of the gushing romance;
               Sprite from the realm of the ardent blue skies,
          Where the wild streams o’er the white boulders dance,
               Where the rude mountains to heaven arise.
          Land of the picturesque lakelet and rill,
               Where the huge cliffs and ice-crystals gleam,
          Where the weird glaciers stand snow-wreathed and still—
               Beautiful realm of the poet’s first dream!
          Child of a people whose banner still waves,
               Liberty’s ensign by heroes unfurled—
          Heroes too noble of soul to be slaves—
               Heroes whose deeds are the theme of the world!
          Maiden, the beautiful, noble, and wise,
               Beats the pure heart with a passionate glow;
          Deep are thy eyes as thy own native skies;
               Pure is thy brow as thy own native snow.
          Stately of bearing and lofty of brain;
               Joy gushing out with each pulse-beat and breath;
          Health dancing on through each vessel and vein—
               Radiant life on the dim plains of death!
          Fair as the earth when the sun was first given;
               Grand as the night when the stars first arose;
          Richest of earth and the purest of heaven;
               Softest that darkles and brightest that glows.
          Being as pure as the virgin-eyed Truth,
               Maiden whose days like a summer breeze flows,
          Dost thou e’er think, mid the rapture of youth,
               “Ah! there are some that are weeping and low;
          Some on whom beauty smiled never at all;
               Some to whom health is, alas! but a name;
          Some to whom life is bitter as gall,
               Fickle in hopes, and uncertain in aim;
          Some who must mourn o’er youth’s premature blight;
               Some who must languish in sorrow and pain,
          Yearning for daylight and panting for night,
               Seeking for rest and relief, but in vain;
          Some on whose lips never joy wrought a smile,
               Strangers to star-eyed laughter and mirth;
          Some who are fainting from anguish and toil,
               Gazing eye heavenward, weary of earth!”
          Fairest of earthborn, how calm is thy day,
               Glowing and cloudless thy sun-glory shines,
          Flowers spring about thee and brighten thy way,
               Hope evergreen round thy virgin heart twines.
          Friends press around thee with greetings and smiles;
               Hands clasp thy arm and full eyes on thee shine;
          Love at thy feet pours the wealth of his spoils;
               Souls that are noble thine image enshrine.
          Hearts, faithful hearts, beating over the foam,
               Panting and love-lit await thy return;
          Ever toward thee, abroad or at home,
               Dreaming eyes languish and fond bosoms yearn.
          Maid, for whom genius sparkles with song,
               Music bursts out with its loftiest thrill,
          Dost thou ere think, mid the mirth of the throng,
               “Ah! there are some that are friendless and still;
          Some who have bosoms as earnest and free;
               Some who have feelings as keen as thine own,
          Yearning for friendship and fond sympathy,
               Asking for bread and receiving a stone.
          Some who of confidence know not the bliss,
               Know not how trusting the spirit expands,
          Know not, alas! what a bosom friend is;
               Feel not the thrill of the clasping of hands.
          Some on whose toiling no voice’s sweet tone
               Suddenly falls, or the beam of an eye;
          Some whom the proud, cruel world will not own,
               Passing in silence insultingly by!”
          Maiden! the dreaming when hushed is the sound,
               Vanished the pomp and the gay pageantry,
          When on thy finger thou circlest round
               Love’s shining token, he gave unto thee;
          When in the trust of the moon-lustred night
               Wakes in thy bosom the rapture and glow,
          Wells from those soul-eyes a chastened love-light,
               Looking on days of bright summers ago!
          Days when he knelt for thy love and was silent;
               Sunsets beglowed with hand-clasp and vow;
          Times when a heart beat against thy pure breast,
               Lips dropped Affection’s chaste seal on thy brow!
          When those long missives come over the wave,
               Tender, impassioned, persuasive to thee—
          Oft hast thou pictured him, noble and brave,
               Dream’st of the hopes in the future that be—
          Dost thou e’er think, mid the dream of thy joy,
               “Ah! there are some who are loveless and lone;
          Some who ne’er basked in the light of an eye,
               Ne’er heard those fond words, ‘I love thee, my own;’
          Some who would give all the world for the bliss—
               Give all its wealth for the love of a heart;
          Feel for one moment the thrill of a kiss,
               Know the emotions Love’s breathings impart!
          Some with hearts weeping and eyes slumberless
               Yearning in vain its endearments to prove;
          Some who could die did they only possess
               One little heart in the wide world to love.”
          Ah! as I sit here mid longings and tears,
               Brooding o’er dreams that are faded and gone,
          Rise up before me the mouldering years
               When thou wast with us, ethereal one!
          Angel-like moving about ’mongst us here,
               Kindly and pure as the empress of night,
          When e’en my dreary and desolate sphere
               Caught from thy presence a glimmer of light.
          Ah, thou wert dear to us! dear as our hearts;
               Dear as our honour—our lives in those days.
          Ah! but as transient as joyous thy stay,
               Fleeting like all things of earth that are bright,
          Uprose the white sails and bore thee away
               Far from the reach of our mist-burdened sight.
          Grieved hearts and wan eyes wept sadly behind,
               Prayer-freighted breezes soon wafted thee o’er,
          Love-sighs to meet thee came borne on the wind,
               Kindred forms welcomed thee back to their shore.
          Time hurried on in its frigid unrest,
               Passed without leaving a trace on thy brow;
          Months sped away—joyous months! thou wert blessed,
               Happy and blithe as the Peri went thou—
          Months that to me brought sorrow and blight,
               Breathed but affliction’s soul-writhing breath—
          Years! so they seemed, when I groped mid the night,
               Passed through the vale of the shadows of death—
          Ages! when up from my heart, thy own eyes
               Looking so tender, so hopeful, so glad,
          Pointing me up to the rest of the skies,
               Was the one lone consolation I had.
          Once more the white sails uprose and you came;
               Once more I saw you, unchanged by the lapse;
          Gay as of yore, all your beauty the same,
               Ripened and deepened a little perhaps.
          Once more your fingers swept over the keys,
               Gushed forth a quivering volume of sound,
          Sailed my charmed soul on its billowy seas—
               Sailed, and was lost in the listening profound.
          And as I gazed on thy rapt dreamy face,
               Wildly drank in each voluptuous strain,
          I could have thought that the past dreamy space
               Was but a feverish wraith of the brain—
          Dreamed that that season of pain and alloy
               Was but a phantom and never had been;
          Fancied I sat, as on Sabbaths gone by,
               Listening entranced with no shadow between.
          Ah! but the song and music was hushed,
               Vanished the singer in sunlight away;
          Over my being the black torrent rushed,
               All the more dark for the brief glimpse of day.
          Ah! there are some without compass or chart,
               Tossing and toiling—the sport of the wave;
          Some who meet friends but to sorrow and part,
               Some who could welcome the rest of the grave.
          Some to whom Hope is the wrecker’s false gleam—
               Joy but the city-world’s far-distant hum—
          Love but a beautiful, sorrowful dream—
               Life but a desert: alas! there are some.




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