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George Heath


The Moorland Poet

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—Memorials of George Heath, The Moorland Poet—





            List to the bells! O list!
                 Out on the upland there;
            Peals through the mirk and mist,
                 Swing down the midnight air
            Awfully, solemnly!
            List what they say to thee.

            “Kneel by the dying year—
                 Wipe his lips, hold his hands—
            Wearily lying here,
                 Out on the waves and sands;
            Muse on the scath and crime
            Wrought in his vanished time.

            “Think of the destitute,
                 Hungering, shivering;
            Plead for the dissolute,
                 Cursing and quivering;
            Pray for the trouble-tossed.;
            Pray for the anguish-crossed;

            “Feel for the desolate;
                 Pity the castaway;
            Pray for the desperate,
                 Sullied, and tossed astray,
            Tempted, tried, passion-strung—
            Mourn o’er the sin and wrong!

            “Soothe to peace murder-mad
                 Restless insanity;
            Close up the wounds of sad,
                 Bleeding humanity;
            Give to all charity;
            Human are all of ye.

            “Widely o’er land and sea
                 Scatter ye knowledge-light;
            Girt with Philanthropy
                 Wrestle with mental night;
            Lift up the Truth divine,
            Lift—and the dark shall shine!

            “Sigh o’er the premature
                 Fading of faces, gone;
            Weep for the good and pure
                 From your embraces gone;
            Tender ties broken, aye;
            Bitter words spoken, aye.

            “Weep o’er the moments fled,
                 Bearing a record on,
            O’er opportunities dead,
                 And no more duty done;
            Plead for your frailties all:
            Let the dread curtain fall!

            “Rouse from your somnolence!
                 Cometh another year;
            Shake off your indolence!
                 Arm ye in hope and fear;
            Look to the fore and fight,
            Bury your dead from sight!”






          Sad are the shivering dank dead leaves,
               To one who a lost love from his heart unweaves,
          Who dreams he has gathered his life’s last sheaves,
               And must find a grave under wintry eaves,

          Dead! dead ’mongst the winter’s dearth,
               Gone where the shadows of all things go,
          Stretch me full length in the folding earth,
               Wind me up in the drifting snow;

          None of the people will heed it or say,
               “He was a singer who fainted there,
          One who could leaven with fire, or sway
               Men’s hearts to trembling unaware.”

          No one will think of the dream-days lost,
               Of the ardours fierce that were damped too soon;
          Of the bud that was nipped by the morning’s frost,
               And shrivelled to dust in the sun ere noon.

          No one will raise me a marble, wrought
               With meaning symbol, and apt device,
          To link my name with a noble thought,
               A generous deed, or a new-found voice.

          My life will go on to the limitless tides,
               Leaving no trace of its current-flow,
          Like a stream that starts when the tempest rides,
               And is lost again in the evening’s glow.

          The glories will gather and change as of yore,
               And the human currents pass panting by,
          The ages will gather their wrinkles more,
               And others will sing for a day and die.

          But thou, who art dearer than words can say,
               My more than all other of earth could be;
          Such a joy! that the Giver I thank alway
               With a glowing heart, that He gave me thee.

          I shall want thee to dream me my dream all through,
               To think me the gifted, the Poet still,
          To crown me, whatever the world may do,
               Though my songs die out upon air and hill.

          And, Edith, come thou in the blooming time,
               Thy world will not miss thee for just one hour;
          I’d like it best when the Bells low chime,
               And the earth is full of the sunset’s power;

          And bend by the silently settling heap,
               While the Nature we loved, is a May all round,
          While God broods low on the blue arched sweep,
               And the music-full air is a-thrill with sound.

          And look in thy heart circled up in the past,
               And if I am perfectly graven there,
          Unshaded by aught, save the anguish cast
               By the parting clasp, and the death despair.

          Encirqued with the light of the pale regret,
               Of a “might have been” of a day-dream lent,
          With a constant hope of a meeting yet,
               Oh! I shall not want for a Monument.






            Come back to my bosom, Mary,
                 Come back to your home at last;
            Forget all the doubt and anguish,
                 And the troubled and wasted past.

            My heart has been longing, longing,
                 For many a weary day;
            Come back to my arms, my Mary,
                 And dwell in my sight alway.

            How like a terrible vision
                 The past with its pain has been;
            How many the groans unnoted,
                 And the tears that have flowed unseen.

            I wrestled for wealth and honour,
                 To fill up the desolate void:
            I won them; but, oh! my spirit
                 Refused to be satisfied.

            Ah! those that around me fluttered,
                 And envied my fortune so,
            Should have weighed it ’gainst the sorrow
                 That ever lay gnawing below.

            The years have lain heavily on me,
                 And shadowed and seamed my brow;
            And the hot tears follow the wrinkles
                 That traverse my wan cheek now.

            I’m weaker and feebler, Mary,
                 I’m lonely and growing old;
            And my home is so cheerless, Mary,
                 And the world is so strange and cold.

            And Mary, I’ve loved you always,
                 Through all those terrible years;
            But Heaven alone is witness,
                 And the pillow that drank my tears.

            The clamorous cry for affection
                 Grew in me and would not be stilled,
            With the sense that the one great purpose
                 Of being was unfulfilled.

            I own it with sorrow, Mary,
                 I doubted you many a day,
            Till he who wrought trouble between us
                 Sin-stricken and dying lay;

            And then I discovered my error,
                 And wearily crept from his side,
            Heart-broken: but let us forgive him—
                He suffered before he died.

            I was angry and hasty, Mary,
                 And ’twas pride that in judgment sat;
            But forgive me, my own dear Mary,
                 I’ve suffered—I’ve suffered for that.

            I know that I ought to have spoken
                 In days that are long since past:
            I was proud; but forgive me, Mary,
                 And return to your home at last.

            They tell me, that though the silver
                 Is tangled amongst your hair,
            And your face is sadder and paler,
                 The old look of peace is still there;

            That you cheerfully do your duty,
                 Contented to be just such.
            Ah, Mary! you still have that blessing
                 That I lacked in the past so much.

            And yet, how you must have suffered,
                 For I know that you loved me true;
            I weep when I think of it, Mary,
                 And the wrong that I did to you.

            But say you forgive me, Mary,
                 And come to your home again;
            And I’ll strive to repay you, darling,
                 For the sorrow I caused you then.






            The jokes and the joys of the season,
                 Its compliments, laughter, and glee,
            Its meetings, its kissings and greetings,
                 With the love of a friend to thee.

            May loved ones flock round thee in plenty,
                 May “Your little Accounts” be scant:
            Be thine all the cheer of the season,
                 With none of its cold and its want.

            Be thy sources of pleasure many,
                 Thy causes for sorrow but few,
            May the Old Year drop merrily over
                 I’ the dawn of a happier new.




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