—Memorials of George Heath, The Moorland Poet—
(SONGS OF THE SHADOWS.)
TO A THUNDERCLOUD.
LOVE AND ANXIETY.
Oh, black-browed thunder-cloud, that broodest upon
The world that lies beyond yon distant peak—
Embodiment of vengeance, rapine, strife,
Whose murky vestments skirt the solemn pines
That crown the foreheads of the boundary hills;
A faint streak of whose scowling front I see,
Crowned with a glory indescribable!—
A tumulous mass of bullion, height on height;
A convex sea, with billows turbulent;
A glacier mid a sunset tropical;
A black and threatening providence beneath;
Above—the glory of a paradise!
Oh, awful thunder-cloud, whose voice I hear
In half-breathed murmurs from the echoing crags;
Whose lightning fury shocks the very heart
Of the iron world, and sends a flashing fear,
Like to the passage of a death-sprite, o’er
The blanching earth, and through the shuddering air;—
Oh, fearful thunder-cloud, be pitiful!
There is a valley where thou broodest now,
A quiet valley, garnitured with beech,
And meadow flowers, and twining eglantine:—
Be merciful, oh, dear, good thunder-cloud,
And spare that valley, for my love is there.
If thou hast now upraised thy murderous dart,
Oh! pause a moment; pause, and glance below;
There stands a cottage which thou well may’st know,
Forsooth, it is the fairest in the lot:
Around it creep the ivy and the vine,
And o’er the porch a bush of roses leans.
Peep in that cottage and behold my love.
My love is beautiful,—so beautiful!—
In her chaste loveliness and innocence;
Beyond all maids in feature and in form,
With the strange halo of her tenderness
Encircling her and glorifying her;
With the great flood of tresses fluttering,
And trembling round the lily love of face.
Does not such beauty half unnerve thy arm?
My love is graceful as a willow bough
Charmed by Æolian winds and moonlit dews,
And comely as the face of youthful hope.
And then my love is pure, so very pure!
I have not seen a day of virgin spring,
I have not seen a mountain stream, that through
Unnumbered labyrinths distilleth aye,
Nor winter snowflake half as pure as she.
Oh, spare my love, she never wronged a thing;
She could not find at heart to crush a midge.
Oh, spare that cottage for the sake of her!
Oh, spare that valley for the sake of it!
Or if thou canst not curb thy demon will,
Then wreck thy rage upon the hills around;
Tear up the rocks and cleave the giant oaks,
But do not miss, oh, do not miss thy mark,
Lest one stray shot should, glancing off, escape,
Blaze through the vale, and terrify my love!
Oh, spare my love, most mighty thunder-cloud,
Lest all my joy to sorrow should be turned,
My light to darkness—blackness such as thine.
And Thou, great God! all things are known to Thee:
Infinite, wonderful, beyond compare!
Embodiment of all things good and pure!
Whose power is manifest in all we see,
In every sound we hear, the breath we breathe;
Oh! guide Thy vassal thunder-cloud away—
Away beyond the valley; for my love,
My beautiful is there, my better life,
The choicest of Thy choice create, O God.
I love her, Father, with all human love,
With that blessed instinct which we have from Thee.
’Tis not idolatry, not passion love;
Not that high spirit-worship thou hast sown
And fostered in our nature’s heart, in proof
That there’s a subtil link that joins the weak
Humanity to Godhead, and asserts
The spirit’s growing immortality;
Not that pure glow of praise and wonder which
I owe to Thee.
Thou hast created her
A simple part, to join another part
To make one whole, one soul to worship Thee.
And she is Thine: I see in her e’en more
Than all Thy glorious works, thy handiwork.
She is a step to lift me up to Thee,
A spirit-hand to lead me to Thy love;
For, in her presence all things mean and base,
The envyings, hatings, strifes, and dreams of earth,
All sensual promptings, selfish ends and aims,
Depart, and leave me Christ-like, humble, meek.
She seems a link between my soul and Thee;
For in her presence I am nearer Thee.
And when away, the halo of her charms,
Her love, her tenderness, enwalls me round;
A charmèd circle where no evil comes!
Protect her, Father; give her unto me;
And as one soul we’ll yield ourselves to Thee.
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1870 Edition or 1880 Edition)