—Memorials of George Heath, The Moorland Poet—
THE PEASANT POET'S DESPAIR.
Be still, O my desolate heart,
Crush back the wild sobs that would rise,
Reseal the hot fountain of tears,
That gushes in streams to my eyes!
Forget that thou ever hast dreamed
Of wrapping with glory thy name,
Of climbing the mountain sublime,
Where stands the bright temple of Fame;
Of winning a deathless renown,
Of standing among the vast throng,
Whose brows are with amaranths wreathed,
The glorified children of song!
What art thou, that thou should’st aspire
To mix with the noble and pure?
To rise from the scum and the mire,
Where wallow the nameless obscure.
What art thou?—a portionless clown,
A fungus exhumed from the soil,
A graft of that plebeian throng,
Whose portion is sorrow and toil.
Be still, O my heart, and forget
The shrine of thy passionate love;
Forget that sweet being whose thoughts
Are pure as the spirits above!
Forget that calm, beautiful face,
Lit up with such glorious eyes,
Forget that thou ever hast hoped
To win, and to wear such a prize.
A scion of honour and wealth,
Beyond thee in virtue and worth,
As far from thy reach as the stars,
That smile on the slumbering earth!
Such lofty ambitions and hopes
Are but for the favoured of Fate,
The wealthy, the learnèd, the wise,
The beautiful, noble, and great.
Forget, O forget, if thou canst,
Those wild aspirations and schemes,
That radiant being whose charms
Exalted thy loftiest dreams.
Go back to thy menial toil,
Crush out thy ambition and pride,
Float down with the passionless host
And sink in obscurity’s tide!
Already insidious disease
Has tainted and baffled thy breath;
Be resolute, silent, and calm,
Awaiting the coming of death!
TO MY MOTHER.
O how calm, how bright the dawning
Of my blissful childhood seems!
Where the first faint rays of memory
Penetrate the land of dreams.
Dim and shadowy scenes and faces,
Pass like spectres o’er my mind,
Seize their misty robes and vanish,
Leaving scarce a trace behind;
But, e’en as the venturous wanderer
In the pyramidal tomb,
Sees the light that marks the entrance
While around him all is gloom;
So, amid the glooms and shadows
Of my dawning life, I trace
One serene and sunny presence;
One unchanging form and face.
And through all those hours of weakness,
Through my boyhood’s hopes and fears,
Through the tempests, sorrows, trials,
And the cares of later years;
Firm, alike, mid storm and sunshine,
Through Affliction’s feverish night,
Runs that presence o’er my pathway,
An unbroken stream of light.
O! my fond and tender Mother,
’Tis thine image, purest, best!
Utmost on my range of vision,
First on memory’s scroll impressed;
Constant sharer of my burden!
Guardian of my transient day!
Like an angel ever pointing
To the Life, the Truth, the Way!
Ah! I have not yet forgotten
All thy counsels and thy tears,
All thy warnings kindly spoken,
All the bliss of vanished years.
And till round me falls the death-mist,
Till the sun of life has set,
Never shall I cease to love thee,
Never, never once forget.
From the calm, burnished west,
O’er the radiant world
Growing silent and dim;
O’er the dew-sprinkled flowers,
O’er the grass-mantled hills,
And the valleys and meads,
Comes a murmurous breath;
Mid the trees breathing lowly,
Through the mist-burdened air
Come the forms of lost friends,
In the by-gone how dear!
Forms, so graceful and straight,
Forms, so shattered and bent;
Faces laughing and bright,
Faces tender and sad,
As I saw them the last!
Now they grasp my thin hand—
Wave a smiling, or sighing—
Far away, far away
Is the maiden I love,
Lying wrapt in repose,
On a pillow of down
Rests the beautiful head;
Loving angels watch o’er!
Now she smiles in her sleep,
And in dreams coyly whispers—
O World, dim and sleeping!
O waifs from the by-gone!
O loved one reposing!
Ye fade from my vision;
A drowsiness steeps me,
Dull Somnus enwraps me;
I rest and ’tis peaceful—
My conscience is easy,
And my hope is beyond
In the skies! fleeting shadows—
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1870 Edition or 1880 Edition)