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By the gathering round the winter hearth
When twilight called unto household mirth,
By the fairy tale or the legend old
In that ring of happy faces told,
By the quiet hour when hearts unite
In the parting prayer and kind“ Good Night!"
By the smiling eye and the loving tone,
Over thy life has the spell been thrown.
And bless that gift !—it hath gentle might,
A guardian power and a guiding light.
It hath led the freeman forth to stand
In the mountain battles of his land;
It hath brought the wanderer o'er the seas
To die on the hills of his own fresh breeze;
And back to the gates of his father's hall
It hath led the weeping prodigal.
Yes ! when thy heart, in its pride would stray
From the pure first loves of its youth away-
When the sullying breath of the world would come
O'er the flowers it brought from its childhood's home.
Think thou again of the woody glade,
And the sound by the rustling ivy made,
Think of the tree at thy father's door,
And the kindly spell shall have power once more !
Farewell ! but whenever you welcome the hour,
That awakens the night-song of mirth in your bower,
Then think of the friend who once welcomed it too,
And forgot his own griefs to be happy with you.
His griefs may return, not a hope may remain
Of the few that have brightened his pathway of pain,
But he ne'er will forget the short vision that threw
Its enchantment around him, while lingering with you.
And still on that evening, when pleasure fills up
To the highest top sparkle each heart and each cup,
Where'er my path lies, be it gloomy or bright,
My soul, happy friends, shall be with you that night;-
Shall join in your revels, your sports and your wiles,
And return to me beaming all o'er with your smiles
Too blest if it tells me that 'mid the gay cheer,
Some kind voice had murmured, “I wish he were here!"
Let Fate do her worst, there are relics of joy,
Bright dreams of the past, which she cannot destroy;
Which come in the night-time of sorrow and care,
And bring back the features that joy used to wear.
Long, long be my heart with such memories fill'd!
Like the vase in which roses have once been distill’d-
You may break, you may shatter the vase if you will,
But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.
Hark! the awe-whispered prayer, 'God spare my mind !
Dust unto dust, the mortal to the clod; But the high place, the altar that has shrined
Thine image-spare, O God!
Thought, the grand link from human life to Thee,
The humble reed that by the Shadowy River Responds in music to the melody
Of spheres that hymn for ever.
The order of the mystic world within,
The airy girth of all things near and far; Sense, though of sorrow-memory, though of sin
Gleams thro' the dungeon bar, Vouchsafe me to the last !—Tho' none maj mark
The solemn pang, nor soothe the parting breath, Still let me seek for God amid the dark,
And face, unblinded, Death!
Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.
Filled is Life's goblet to the brim :
And tho' mine eyes with tears are dim,
I see its sparkling bubbles swim,
And chaunt a melancholy hymn
With solemn voice and slow.
No purple flowers,—no garlands green,
Conceal the goblet's shade or sheen,
Nor maddening draughts of Hippocrene,
Like gleams of sunshine, flash between
Thick leaves of mistletoe. This goblet, wrought with curious art, Is filled with waters, that upstart, When the deep fountains of the heart, By strong convulsions rent apart,
Are running all to waste.
And as it mantling passes round,
With fennel is it wreathed and crowned,
Whose seed and foliage sun-imbrowned
Are in its waters steeped and drowned,
And give a bitter taste.
Above the lowly plant it towers,
The fennel, with its yellow flowers,
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers,
Lost vision to restore.
It gave new strength, and fearless mood :
And gladiators, fierce and rude,
Mingled it in their daily food;
And he who battled and subdued,
A wreath of fennel wore.
Then in Life's goblet freely press,
The leaves that give it bitterness,
Nor prize the coloured waters less,
For in thy darkness and distress
New strength and life they give!
And he who has not learned to know
How false its sparkling bubbles show,
How bitter are the drops of woe,
With which its brim may overflow,
He has not learned to live.
The prayer of Ajax was for light;
Through all that dark and desperate fight,
The blackness of that noonday night,
He asked but the return of sight,
To see his foeman's face.
Let our unceasing, earnest prayer
Be, too, for light,-for strength to bear
Our portion of the weight of care,
That crushes into dumb despair
One half the human race.
O suffering, sad humanity!
O ye afflicted ones, who lie
Steeped to the lips in misery,
Longing, and yet afraid to die,
Patient, tho' sorely tried !
I pledge you in this cup of grief,
Where floats the fennel's bitter leaf!
The Battle of our Life is brief,
The alarm,—the struggle,—the relief,
Then sleep we side by side.