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George Heath


The Moorland Poet

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—Memorials of George Heath, The Moorland Poet—






          The twilight shadows, deep’ning into gloom,
          Close thickly round me in my cheerless room;
                    My heart is weeping, weeping sad and sore,
                              Now thou art gone!

          The book you read lies closed beneath my hands,
          The chair you occupied beside me stands;
                    Mementos of the sunny days no more—
                              A summer flown.

          Anon, the vanished hours before me rise,
          And looking at me with those tender eyes,
                    Thou, smiling sweetly, sit’st beside me here,
                              My darling one!

          ’Tis but a moment, then ’tis gone again,
          But deepening in my heart its aching pain,
                    And leaving on my cheek a weary tear,
                              Within, a groan.

          The leaden days drag on so drearily,
          I sit and count the moments wearily,
                    I have no pastime and no purpose now,
                              And pleasure none.

          The sun comes shining o’er the rimy tiles,
          All Nature wakens into tears and smiles,
                    The moon pours down its lustre on my brow
                              Like times agone.

          But from them faded sadly is the light,
          The grand of earth and sky, the fair, the bright,
                    Have lost their charm to me for evermore,
                              Now thou art gone!

          I strive to lose myself in fiction’s maze,
          Or fix on learning’s page my mind and gaze,
                    And pant and struggle, as in days of yore
                              I battled on.

          Down from the cypress bough my lyre I take,
          And sweep its murm’rous strings, and strive to wake
                    My soul to noble things, and break the chains
                              That bind me down.

          But soon my eyes grow tear-bedewed and dim,
          And visions of the past before me swim,
                    My lyre gives forth but grieved and jarring strains—
                              Its music flown.

          And no one comes to smile a fond relief,
          And no one mourns my weakness, soothes my grief,
                    Or speaks a kindly word of sympathy,
                              I am alone!

          And no one points me upward towards the blaze,
          And no one smiles upon my feeble lays,
                    And no one thinks of me nor cares for me,
                              Now thou art gone!

          I might, perhaps, have hoped and wrestled on,
          And strained and grappled till the wreath I’d won,
                    Till fortune, frowning erst, had stooped to smile,
                              All, all for thee!

          Nay, this I would have done, (“The will’s the way,”
          And stern determination wins the day),
                    Had but thyself, the guerdon of my toil,
                              Remained to me.

          But what to me are now the smiles of fame?
          Poor shipwreck’d thing, without a hope or aim;
                    What matters, if I linger, rise, or fall,
                              Now thou art gone?

          What have I here to strive and battle for,
          What interest in the game, the race, the war?
                    I loved thee—oh, my heart! thou wert my all!
                              But thou art gone!

          In gloaming time I wander down the lane,
          And pause beside the rustic gate again,
                    And scan the pathway over which you came
                              In days agone!

          Your dwelling of those days stands ’neath the hill,
          The brooklet ripples on and shimmers still,
                    The yew tree nods its dark plumes just the same,
                              But thou art gone!

          I shrink away, my eyes with tears are wet,
          And from my heart swells up a mad regret,
                    A silent gush of hopeless lamentation,
                              For thou art gone!

          Oh! when will cease this constant, quenchless burning,
          This rankling grief, this restless spirit-yearning,
                    This weary sense of helpless desolation,
                              Now thou art gone?

          I lift my aching eyes from day to day
          Towards where thou dwellest now, so far away!
                    The pale horizon bounds my view, ’tis vain!
                              My absent one!

          I turn into myself, and strive to force
          My soul to drink at pleasure’s gaudy source;
                    But in my heart still throbs the old deep pain,
                              For thou art gone!

          I often wonder, dost thou ever think
          Of that seared, silent heart thou left’st to drink
                    The bitter cup of life, to fight and weep
                              Alone, behind?

          Or if those mystic eyes with icy gleams
          Shine coldly, if thou think’st of me, as in dreams
                    That come to torture this poor brain in sleep,
                              Or if more kind?

          You could not see the pain that wrung my heart
          When we had met, the last, last time, to part!
                    You told me I should see your face again
                              No more, no more!

          ’Twas cruel, cruel! for if ’tis denied
          Our souls the bliss to meet on this dark side,
                    Sure we may meet on yonder shore, where pain
                              And grief are o’er.

          Oh! grant to me this one fond hope at least,
          To meet and love thee when from earth released;
                    Where dear ones never part, no tear drops flow,
                              And griefs are none.

          But, blessings on thee through the coming years,
          Whate’er remains to me of hopes or fears;
          Oh, foolish heart! oh, vain and idle tears!
                    Heaven help me! I am broken-hearted so,
                              Now thou art gone!






          O light of the Eternal! round my brow,
          For ever circling, moves the fluid air;
          And through the measureless expanse of calm
          Glows the empurpled ether, like a sea
          Of crystal amethyst; and far beyond,
          In such a hush of peace, the infinite
          Unwavering orbs their solemn measure tread;
          And come ten million voices from the earth,
          The air, the ocean—rustling steps of airs
          That walk the woods in moody glooms and calms;
          The guttural roll of watercoils ; the boom
          Of forest-rumbling winds; the thunderous bass
          Of the deep-bellowing tempest-wheels; the low
          Grand undertone of Peace on harp of Eve.
          And on my rapt and trembling vision break
          In quick succeeding glimpses, power on power
          Of all the might and marvel Thou hast made:—
          The silken tread of morning on the hills;
          Soft meltings of the sheen into the dark;
          Wide openings of the light in rosy wings;
          Still breakings of the clouds in argent braids
          O’er slanting cataracts of moony waves;
          The tremulous swell of foliage; the sheen
          Of wonder-dreaming waters ’neath the sun;
          The mystical magnificence of night,
          The light-thronged, rare magnificence of day.
          O visions of the mystic! round thee throb
          Thy boundless works—a wildering galaxy!
          None fixed, but circling all the tireless dance
          With measured action, pace, and balanced power;
          Conjunct, centrifugal, centripetal,
          Immense, harmonious, widening out from thee,
          Each in its orbit, none diverging thence.
          My gaze sweeps marvelling up the mighty chain,
          And grows my soul into a god in thought!
          Thou Spirit of the marvellous! I see
          In zones, immeasurable, all Thy works
          Concentring, circling, summering to Thee!
          Thou the attraction, Thou the moving thought;
          O light of the Eternal! all the stir
          And grandeur of the wonder Thou hast made,
          Lie on my being like a seraph touch,
          And grow through all the grooves of all my life,
          And fill me with an infinite, intense,
          Untiring gush of wonder, music, prayer.
          Maker! had’st Thou but given the little day
          In which this mortal blossoms, blooms, and dies;
          Were this terrestrial span the minute sum
          Of our existence—nothing more beyond—
          O, I could bless Thee for so faint a glimpse
          Of all Thy grandeur-power; that I might dip
          E’en that frail bubble’s depth into the sea
          Of Thy great magnitude; that I might drink
          So poor a draught of all the harmony,
          The wisdom, the beneficence, the light,
          The excellence of Thy creative mind
          And effluent existence—yea, in sooth,
          Were life a dream, a waking from a sleep
          To sink into an endless sleep again;
          And how much more when in this mortal glows
          A spark of Thine own essence, which must sweep
          The myriad circles of a vast, immense,
          Untold, unthought Eternity, to which
          E’en Godhead hath affixed no boundary-line!
          For ever deepening nearer Thy heart;
          For ever learning more and seeking more
          Of Thy exhaustless mind and majesty;
          For ever growing more into Thyself.
          O Thou unvarying sun, with Thy last beams
          Flash grieved remembrance in upon my soul—
          O watchful stars, with your all-piercing eyes
          Deep in my conscience wake conviction’s throes—
          O stern-browed clouds and mountains, frown on me,
          Until within me rise a black remorse
          To goad and menace, if for one brief day—
          But one brief day—I fail, forget to seek
          A deeper knowledge of His wondrous works,
          A wider comprehension of himself;
          O soul and harp, awake! O voice, awake!
          Tune all your strings to the great harmony!
          Tumultuous throbbings, break from every hour
          And latitude of life—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               Ye mighty Nations; all ye realm of tongues;
          O men of every clime, of every state,
          Or great, or small, or mighty, or renowned,—
          Old age and children, youths and maidens, join.
          Ye are the grand connecting link betwixt
          The mortal and immortal—bare your brows
          Beneath the arc of God’s great firmament;
          Swell every note of your wide varied minds:—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O, potent Elements, engendered from
          The burning heats and calm, awake, arise!
          Assemble from the far four-winds of heaven
          As unto strife; come forth, in all your pomp
          And pageantry of sound; astound the earth;
          Convulse the ocean; roar amid the woods;
          Gloom all your blackness; blaze your lightnings forth;
          Shake your hoarse thunderings loose along the clouds,
          And rise and wrestle mid the astonished air—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O fair imperial Day, that walk’st in light;
          O Dawn, with maiden-lip, dew kissed and warm;
          O golden-folded Eve, that sinkest in mist;
          O Night, with the immense, mysterious brow—
          Each, as ye tread the pathways of the earth,
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O splendid portal of the marvel-light;
          O radiant frontlet on the brow of Eve;
          O white, immobile, unimpassioned stars,
          I never gaze upon you but my soul
          Grows still within me, speechless, dumb with awe,
          And rises on my mind of minds the vast—
          The sole idea of Eternity!
          Still hang your burdens on Creation’s harp—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               Thou Ocean, roar, and clasp thy ponderous hands,
          And kiss thy rage defiant in the teeth
          Of the imperious whirlwinds; shake thyself;
          Spit thy grey froth against the tempest’s front;
          Hold thou thy sides, and chuckle ’neath the black,
          Stern, cyclopean glooms; roll thy huge tongue
          About thy wooded isles and shoals and shores;
          Or ruffle glimmering scales beneath the calm,
          Returning, fond, the sunset’s kiss of peace—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O solid land, in each successive clime,
          ’Neath every sky, ream o’er the sumptuous cup
          Of all thy opulence; surge out thy wide
          Supreme magnificence in every zone;
          Wreath thy broad brow with all of rare and fair;
          Deck thee luxuriantly; upswell on high
          Thy myriad song—thy God is bountiful—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O mighty reservoirs slung on air,
          Ye clouds that drape and film the earth about;
          That float blithe dreams amid the morning gold,
          And brood and lie among the mountains, where
          The night rolls like the tide from sea to sea;
          Ye mists that hang in ragged fringes round
          The edge of darkness—ye white fogs
          That swathed the sleeping valleys through the night,
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O all ye soothing dews and showers of rain;
          Ye storms of sleet and snow; ye winds and hail;
          O frost and ice; O, varying cold and heat:—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O all ye waters that replenish earth;
          Ye swollen rivers roaring to the main;
          Ye little lakes; ye streamlets with your pipes
          That run about the woodlands and the wilds;
          Ye effluent springs that spark the mountain side—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O solemn, solemn mountains; O ye hills,
          Ye calm-browed hills; ye dusky plains and vales;
          O grey-cragged summits; O ye chasms wide;
          Ye awful wastes of ever shifting sands—
          Excite with wonder while ye deepen awe—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               Shake out your banners, nod your plumes, ye trees
          That bask the mountains, fringe the glooms and dens;
          Wave, O ye reeds and grass, and picture forth
          The wide-wing waftings of the under winds;
          Bend low, O stately corn; ye thickets thrill;
          O radiant flowers, upstretch your honey-cups—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O all ye myriad-life that gather up
          The fulgent glory of the sun-warmed airs;
          Ye rare-winged birds that vocalize the world,
          And skim across the summer wave and wold;
          Ye cattle grazing on a thousand hills;
          Ye beasts that lurk in many dens and caves;
          Ye scaly things that deep in waters glide—
          Swell out your being’s grand exuberance—
          (For earnest life is ever truest praise)—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               Slide on, O seasons, in your changeful dance,
          Charm the wide earth with mingling lights and shades,
          And crown the reeling goblet of the year:
          Ye sabbaths raise your full magnificat—
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               O thou our orb, amidst thy glittering race,
          Made eloquent with beauty by His hand,
          How fair thou art; yea, very fair and good!
          O, teem thy myriad pulses forth in praise;
          Pour out thy soul unto the listening hours;
          O take it up, thou ether, take it up;
          Catch the rapt strain thou awful, awful void;
          Ye sister orbits waft the glory on,
          And on, and on, until the universe
          Is full of harmony, as full of Him—
                                                            Praise thou the Lord!
               O all things that have motion, voice, or breath,
          Whether ye circle round the Holiest
          On wings celestial, or roll amid
          Th’ unmeasured ecstasies of marvellous space
          In light and shadowing; whether with form
          Erect ye walk the world i’th’ image of God,
          Or creep, or run, or soar, or swim, or glide:
          Oh! all created things
                                                            Praise ye the Lord!
               Stupendous Being! Majesty eterne!
          Triessenced Deity—essential One!
          Creator Uncreate! who veil’st Thy face
          In vapoury void; who in the vast occult
          Pavilions of the skies dost hide Thyself;
          Thou Unapproached, Unsearched, Unreached, Unknown,
          Whose hidden name no earthly syllables
          Could shape for human utterance—to us
          Dim-shadowed in the mystic “
          O Thou, before Whose face the mad, blind storms
          Divide tumultuously the placid air;
          At Whose approach the black, confederate clouds
          Asunder start with loud convulsive shout,
          And drop their half-forged lightnings sudden down;
          Before Whose breath the stars slip from their poles,
          The earth hath under-shudderings, the hills
          Do shake and melt, the valleys heave and smoke,
          The cedars and the oaks abase themselves
          And bow; the forest-realms and ocean-gatherings
          Affrighted, roar, afflict, and lash themselves:
          O Thou, Whose might is faintly figured forth
          In all the varying pageantry from year to year
          Of this the narrow limit of our dim
          And feeble ken; thou sacred, sacred Power!
          Even as the rain, from earth and ocean drawn
          In mists and fogs, thither returns again
          In copious showers, so may all essences,
          All springs of life, all impulses, all interests,
          All powers, and motions, erst derived from Thee,
          To Thee return, in tenfold sympathies
          Of praise ecstatic, endless, infinite!
                                                            Amen! Amen!




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