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The first-fruits of the Past at Beauty's shrine are offerd up,
Come from the den of darkness and the city's soil of sin,
O Chivalry of Labour toiling for the Age of Gold. In the edition of the Poems before us, the author has introduced some short pieces recently written. Amongst these the best is that in honor of our alliance with France. There is a rough, manly, and withal poetical, spirit in the lines quite in keeping with the subject. He calls the poem,
THE LILIES OF FRANCE AND OLD
ENGLAND'S RED ROSE.
With our chivalrons Enemy,
What the strength of our love may be.
We have dasht together like waves and
rocks! We have fought till our shirts grew
red! We have met in the shuddering battle
And shoulder to shoulder, are we;
Then gather ye, gather to battle, ye Till the last fetter'd nation that calls us Braves,
is free, In the might of your old renown!
Let us fall upon Tyranny's horde ! And follow ye, follow ye, over the waves, Brave Italy, Poland, and Hungary, see, Where Liberty's sun went down!
With their praying hands seek for By the bivouac-fire, in the battle-shower,
Sword! Remember your destiny grand,
Till the Storm-God is roused in each sufferTo set in the thrones of their olden ing land, power
Let us march thro' the welcoming world; The peoples of many a land !
And till Freedom and Faith shall go handFor the Lilies of France and old England's in-hand, Red Rose
Let us keep the war-standard unfurla ! Are twined in a Coronal nok;
For the Lilies of France and old England's And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and Red Rose glows
Are twined in a Coronal now; On Liberty's beautiful brow.
And at War s bloody brldal it glitters and
On Liberty's beautiful brow. We have observed that Massey has given us no poems of a humorous character—and this quality of humor the peculiar circumstances of his life were calculated to depress—as very few human beings possess the enviable temperament of Oliver Goldsmith, or Mark Tapley. Whilst Massey has no joys save those of the present, or those which shine in the future, the early memories of Nicoll were full of odd and droll events and characters. He has given us most humorous poetic sketches of Scottish life and Scottish feeling, and as we read The Bailie, or The Provost, we have the little great men of the country town before us. We have, however, selected as best specimens of his humor, The Wooing, and Bonnie Bessie Lee.
And, in spite o' her jeers an' her scornin',
An' I follow'd her enin' an' mornin'.
But-the limmer!-- she never came near me;
Was 1 fear'd that the bogles would steer me?
An' to buy her back-burdens o' fairin,
For I vow'd that I wou'dna be sparin'.
Till awa' was ilk lang-treasured shillin',
Says she, "for your supper is spillin'!"
She gaed an' drew up wi anither-
An' awa, hame they cleekit thegither.
At her auld father's door saw them partin-
Wi' a waefu'-like look, I am certain !
In the dark, on the settle, aside her,
For I hadna the smeddum to chide ber.
I now an' then mumbled a short word or twa
A sutt word or twa to my dearie ;
An' she said she o' courtin' was weary !
O'er the floor tart me stoiter an' stammer,
A-smashin' them a' wi' his hammer,
Her claes she put on in a hurry;
An the tangs in his harns I will bury!"
An' my bosom was in a sad swither;
An'the window was hie,-but I jumpit;
Like a trout in a bucket, I plumpit!
While my fause love my sorrow was mockin';
Till I thought that I surely was choakin'.
For my heart wi'my fause love was breakin';
That the sight o't wi' fear set me quak in'!
A sweetheart! I'll soon get anither :
For I told my mischance to my mither! That time tries all, and changes all, every body knows; and possibly, in no case do we percieve those changes so clearly as upon returning after a few years absence, to find the blooming maiden transformed into the grave wife and mother ; and, doubtless, many a man has been able to apply to his own particular case that line of Nicoll's which declares of the maid and the wife
“I'd rather hae' the ither ane than this Bessie Lee."
BONNIE BESSIE LEE.
And mirth round her ripe lip was aye dancing slee;
O'the flower o'the parochin-our ain Bessie Lee !
There was life in the blithe blink o' Bonnie Bessie Lee!
And light as the wind 'mang the dancers was she :
And she whiles had a sweetheart, and sometimes had twa
A limmer o'a lassie!-but, atween you and me,
Though mony a une had sought it frae Bonny Bessie Lee !
For ten years har parted my auld hame and me;
"Will I ever get anither kiss frac Bonnie Bessie Lee ?”
Were it ever sae rightly he'll no let it be ;
How the carle had come roun' about our ain Bessie Lec!
Twa weans at her apron and une on her knee;
I would rather ha'e the ither ane than this Bessie Lee ! But, it may be asked, has Ireland no Poet of Labor ? Reader, yes; in the days of our "wrath and cabbaye” patriotism, when the future rulers of Ireland were assumed to be, perhaps, walking the streets, out at elbows, and with empty pockets, some very admirable specimens of poetry by artizans were inserted in The Nation, and other organs of the Young Ireland faction. But, strangely enough, these Poets of Labor, although sprung from the artizan class, and living by the work of their hands, sang in most cases, of Saxon wrongs heaped on Ireland, and took the condition of the country rather than the condition of their fellows as the theme of their songs. Davis—better known under the nom de plume of “The Belfast Man," was a very remarkable poet of this order; and Frazer, writing under the signature of “ De Jean," was a more prolific, if not a better Poet of Labor. The best specimen of
De Jean’s” ability is entitled The Holy Wells; and it is worthy of note also for the peculiar “twist” in the author's mind, enabling him to give to such a theme a semi-political semi-demogogical character :
THE HOLY WELLS.
The holy wells—the living wells-the cool, the fresh, the pure-
How sweet, of old, the bubbling gush-no loss to antlered race,
The cottage hearth-the convent wall-the battlemented tower,
One blessing which no tyrant hand can taint, or take away. We will not speculate upon this want of class feeling amongst Irish Poets of Labor, to which we have referred. It may be that our want of factory employment has, by preventing the aggregation of our artizans, checked this sentiment; but, be the cause what it may, the absence of this spirit is plainly evident, and forms a very remarkable point in the consideration of their poems.
We have now written as fully as we intended, and indeed as fully as is necessary, upon the subject of this paper. To write a complete history of the Poets of Labor was beyond our intention, and would exceed our space. We should begin with the Saxon times, when Cedmon, the Ploughman, sang in the Monastery of Streoneshalh, the lays of his own composition, to beguile the hours of the Lady Hilda, who ruled the community of the house. We might introduce Ben Jonson ; possibly Shakspere ; John Taylor, the Water Poet; Ebenezer Elliott ; Thom; Cooper, the Chartist; Hugh Miller, and many others; but this would be to write a version of the Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties, and a portion of this task has been admirably performed by Southey, in his introduction to the verses of John Jones, the poetical, self-educated serving man.*
We have selected, as our subjects, Nicoll and Massey, because they are the chief poets of their class-excepting Elliott. We
* For a full account of the Ettrick Shepherd and his poems, see IRISH QUARTERLY REVIEW, Vol. III. No. 10, p. 396. Art. “ The Harp of the North."