Page images

The first-fruits of the Past at Beauty's shrine are offerd up,
From which a vintage meet for Godsshecrasheth in her cup:
And from the living Present doth she press the rare new wine,
To glad the hearts of all her lovers with a draught divine.
Earth's crowning miracle ! she comes! with blessing lips, that part
Like mid-May's rose flusht open with the fragrance of her heart:
And life turns to her colour-kindles with her light-like flowers
That garner up the golden fire, and suck the mellow showers.
Come let us worship Beauty with the knightly faith of old,
O Chivalry of Labour toiling for the Age of Gold !
Come let us worship Beauty where the budding Spring doth flower,
And lush green leaves and grasses flush out sweeter every honr;
Or Summer's tide of splendour floods the lap o' the World once more,
With riches like a sea that surges jewels on its shore.
Come feel her ripening influence when morning feat its our eyes -
Thro' open gates of glory-with a glimpse of Paral'ise:
Or queenly night sits crowned, smiling down the purple gloom,
And Stars, like Heaven's truitage, melt i' the glory of their bloom.
Come let us worsbip Beauty with the knightly faith of old,
O Chivalry of Labour toiling for the Age of Gold !

Come from the den of darkness and the city's soil of sin,
Pat on your radiant Manhood, and the Angel's blessing win!
Where wealthier sunlight comes from Heaven, like welcome-smiles of God,
And Earth's blind yearnings leap to life in flowers, from out the sud:
Corne worship Beauty in the forest-temple dim and hush,
Where stands Magnificence dreaming! and God burneth in the bush:
Or where the old hills worship with their silence for a psalm,
Or Ocean's weary heart doth keep the sabbath of its calın.
Coine let us worship Beauty with the knightly faith of old,
O Chivalry of Labour toiling for the Age of Gold !
Come let us worship Beauty: she hath subtle power to start
Heroic word and deed out-flashing from the humblest heart!
Great feelings will gusha unawares, and freshly as the first
Rich Rainbow that up startled leaven in tearful splendour burst.
O blessed are her lineaments, and wondrous are her ways
To re-picture God's worn likeness in the suffering human face !
Our bliss shall richly overbrim like sunset in the west,
And we shall dream iminortal dreams, and banquet with the Blest.
Then let us worship Beauty with the knightly faith of old,

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,


Like a stern old friend, War grimly comes
To the temple of peaceful Life;
With the well known nod of his beckoning

He furries us into the strife.
And we meet once more, in the fields of

With our chivalrons Enemy,
Who knows, by the grip of our hands in hate,

What the strength of our love may be.
0! the Lilies of France and old England's

Red Rose
Are twined in a Coronal now;
And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and

On Liberty's beautiful brow.


We have dasht together like waves and

rocks! We have fought till our shirts grew

red! We have met in the shuddering battle

Where none but the freed soul fled!
Now side by side, in the fields of fate,

And shoulder to shoulder, are we;
And we know, by the grip of our hands in

What the strength of our love may be.
0! the Lilies of France and old England's

Red Rose
Are twined in a Coronal now;
And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and

On liberty's beautiful brow.

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.

Though overly proud, she was bonnie an' young,

And, in spite o' her jeers an' her scornin',
I lo'ed her as weel, or mair than mysel;

An' I follow'd her enin' an' mornin'.
She trysted me unce, an' she trysted me twice,

But-the limmer!-- she never came near me;
And, when I complained o't, she leuch, while she speerd

Was 1 fear'd that the bogles would steer me?
I gaed to the market to meet wi' my joe,

An' to buy her back-burdens o' fairin,
My lang-hoarded shillin's an saxpences took ;

For I vow'd that I wou'dna be sparin'.
She pouch'd a' my sweeties, my apples, an' rings,

Till awa' was ilk lang-treasured shillin',
Then says I, “ We'll go hume;" “Losh, Geordie, gae wa',"

Says she, "for your supper is spillin'!"
Wi' pnir Geordie's fairings, sae fine, in her pouch,

She gaed an' drew up wi anither-
The chicld threw his arms about her sweet neck,

An' awa, hame they cleekit thegither.
Wi' a heart sad an' sair I follow'd the twa-

At her auld father's door saw them partin-
Syne lifted the sneck, an' crap after my joe,

Wi' a waefu'-like look, I am certain !
I whisper'd her name, an' I clinkit me down

In the dark, on the settle, aside her,
An'clew at my head--I was sairly tongue-tied;

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 ;
But she gapit, an' gauntit, sae aft an' sae lang,

An' she said she o' courtin' was weary !
I raise to gae hame; but the deil, for my sins,

O'er the floor tart me stoiter an' stammer,
Till the pans made a noise, as the tinker had been

A-smashin' them a' wi' his hammer,
At the clatter, up startit the waukrife auld wife,-

Her claes she put on in a hurry;
Says she, “There's a loun 'yont the hallan wi Meg,

An the tangs in his harns I will bury!"
The flytin' auld rudas cam' but wi' a bang;

An' my bosom was in a sad swither;
An' maist I would greed to forgotten my Meg,
If I had got quit o' her mither.
The wife an' the tangs were ahint me, I trow;

An'the window was hie,-but I jumpit;
An' up to the neck in a deep midden hole,

Like a trout in a bucket, I plumpit!
Baith mither an' dochter glower'd out on the fun,
An' the young gilpie Maggie was laughin';
The auld ane skreigli'd out wi' a terrible yowl,
"Hey, lad! ye ure row'd in a rauchan."
My face it was red, an' my heart it was sair,

While my fause love my sorrow was mockin';
And an uncanny something arise up in my throat,

Till I thought that I surely was choakin'.
I ran to the burn, an' to drown me I vow'd,

For my heart wi'my fause love was breakin';
But the banks were sae high, and the water sae deep,

That the sight o't wi' fear set me quak in'!
Says I, Why despair ? Sae comfort I took:-

A sweetheart! I'll soon get anither :
Sae hamewith I toddled, an endit it a'-

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 had a face fu'o'smiles,

And mirth round her ripe lip was aye dancing slee;
And light was the footfa', and winsome the wiles,

O'the flower o'the parochin-our ain Bessie Lee !
Wi' the bairns she would rin, and the school laddies paik,
And o'er the broomy braes like a fairy would fiee,
Till auld hearts grew young again wi' love for her sake :-

There was life in the blithe blink o' Bonnie Bessie Lee!
She grat wi' the waefu', and laughed wi' the glad,

And light as the wind 'mang the dancers was she :
And a tongue that could jeer, too, the little limmer had,
Whilk keepit aye ber ain side for Bonnie Bessie Lee !

And she whiles had a sweetheart, and sometimes had twa

A limmer o'a lassie!-but, atween you and me,
Her warm wee bit heartie she ne'er threw awa',

Though mony a une had sought it frae Bonny Bessie Lee !
But ten years had gane since I gazed on her last, -

For ten years har parted my auld hame and me;
And I said to mysel' as her mither's door I pass'd,

"Will I ever get anither kiss frac Bonnie Bessie Lee ?
But Time changes a' thing--the ill-natured loon!

Were it ever sae rightly he'll no let it be ;
But I rubbit at my een, and I thought I would swoon,

How the carle had come roun' about our ain Bessie Lec!
The wee laughing lassie was a gudewife growing auld-

Twa weans at her apron and une on her knee;
She was douce, too, and wisc-like-and wisdomn's sae cauld :-

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 living wells-the cool, the fresh, the pure-
A thousand ages rolled away, and still those founts endure,
As full and sparkling as they flowed, ere slave, or tyrant, trod
The emerald garden, set apart for Irishmen by God!
And while their stainless chastity and lasting life have birth,
Amid the oozy cells and caves of gross, material earth;
The scripture of creation holds no fairer type than they-
That an immortal spirit can be linked with human clay!

How sweet, of old, the bubbling gush-no loss to antlered race,
Than to the hunter, and the hound, that smote them in the chase!
In forest depths the water-fount beguiled the Druid's love,
From that celestial fount of tire, which warmed from worlds above:
Inspired apostles took it for a centre to the ring,
When sprinkling round baptismal life-salvation-from the spring;
And in the sylvan solitude, or lonely mountain cave,
Beside it passed the hermit's life, as stainless us its wave.

The cottage hearth-the convent wall-the battlemented tower,
Grew up around the crystal springs, as well as flag and flower;
The brooklime and the water-cress were evidence of health,
Abiding in those basins, free to Poverty and Wealth:
The city sent pale sufferers there the faded brow to dip,
And woo the water to depose some bloom upon the lip;
The wounded warrior dragged him towards the unforgotten tide,
And deemed the draught a heavenlier gift than triumph to his side.
The stag. the hunter, and the hound, the Druid and the saint,
And anchorite are gone--and even the lineaments grown faint,
Of those old ruins, into which, for monuments, had sunk
The glorious homes, that held, like shrines, the monarch and the monk;
So far into the heights of God the mind of man bus ranged,
It learned a lore to change the earth-it s very self it changed
To some more bright intelligence; yet still the springs endure,
The same fresh fountains, but become more precious to the poor!
For knowledge has abused its powers, an empire to erect
For tyrants, on the rights the poor bad given them to protect;
Till now the simple elements of netnre are their all,
That from the cabin is not filched, ard lavished in the hall
And while night, noon, or morning meal no other plenty bringe,
No beverage than the water-draugit from old, spontaneons springs ;
They, sure, may deem them holy wells, that yield from day to day,

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."

« PreviousContinue »