Page images
PDF

When a sound arose like the first dread sweep

Of the distant tempest's wing;
Then burst the clamour out,
Still maddening more and more,
Till the air grew troubled with the shout,

As it is at the thunder's roar.

And the war was roused by that fearful cry,

And the hosts rushed wildly on,
Like clouds that sweep o'er the gloomy sky

When summer days are gone.
Swift as the lightning's flame

The furious horseman passed,
And the rattling showers of arrows came

Like hailstones on the blast.

The Island Phalanx firmly trod

On paths all red with gore;
For the blood of their bravest stained the sod

They proudly spurned before.
But close and closer still

They plied them blow for blow,
Till the deadly stroke of the Saxon bill

Cut loose the Norman bow.

And the stubborn foemen turned to flee,

With the Saxons on their rear,
Like hounds when they lightly cross the lea

To spring on the fallow-deer.
Each war-axe gleaming bright
Made havoc in its sway;
But in the mingled chase and flight

They lost their firm array.

From a mounted band of the Norman’s best

A vengeful cry arose;
Their lances long were in the rest,

And they dashed upon their foes-
On, on, in wild career :
Alas for England, then,

When the furious thrust of the horsemen's spear

Bore back the Kentish men!
They bore them back, that desperate band,

Despite of helm or shield;
And the corslet bright and the gory brand

Lay strewed on the battle-field.
Fierce flashed the Norman's steel,

Though soiled by many a stain ;
And the iron tread of his courser's heel

Crushed down the prostrate slain.

But still for life the Saxons ply,

In hope, or in despair,
And their frantic leader's rallying cry

Rings in the noontide air.
He toils ; but toils in vain !

The fatal arrow flies,
The iron point has pierced his brain-

The Island Monarch dies.

The fight is o'er, and wide are spread

The sounds of the dismal tale ;
And many a heart has quailed with dread,

And many a cheek is pale.
The victor's fears are past,

The golden spoil is won,
And England's tears are flowing fast
In grief for England's son

M'DOUGALL.

DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN.

My sweet one, my sweet one,

The tears were in my eyes
When first I clasped thee to my heart,

And heard thy feeble cries ;
For I thought of all that I had borne,

As I bent me down to kiss
Thy cherry lips and sunny brow,
My first-born bud of bliss !

I turned to many a withered hope,

To years of grief and pain,
And the cruel wrongs of a bitter world

Flashed o'er my boding brain;
I thought of friends grown worse than cold

Of persecuting foes,
And I asked of Heaven if ills like these

Must mar thy youth's repose !

I gazed upon thy quiet face,

Half blinded by my tears,
Till gleams of bliss, unfelt before,

Came brightening on my fears;
Sweet rays of hope, that fairer shune

'Mid the clouds of gloom that bound them, As stars dart down their loveliest light

When midnight skies are round them.

My sweet one, my sweet one,

Thy life's brief hour is o'er,
And a father's anxious fears for thee

Can fever me no inore !
And for the hopes, the sun-bright hopes,

That blossomed at thy birth,
They too have fled, to prove how frail

Are cherished things of earth!

'Tis true that thou wert young, my child;

But though brief thy span below,
To me it was a little age

Of agony and woe;
For, from thy first faint dawn of life,

Thy cheek began to fade,
And my lips had scarce thy welcome breathed,

Ere my hopes were wrapped in shade.

Oh, the child in its hours of health and bloom,

That is dear as thou wert then,
Grows far more prized, more fondly loved,

In sickness and in pain;

And thus 'twas thine to prove, dear habe,

When every hope was lost,
Ten times more precious to my soul,

For all that thou hadst cost!

Cradled in thy fair mother's arms,

We watched thee, day by day,
Pale like the second bow of heaven,

As gently waste away;
And, sick with dark foreboding fears

We dared not breathe aloud,
Sat hand in hand, in speechless grief,

To wait death's coming cloud !

It came at length : o'er thy bright blue eye

The film was gathering fast,
And an awful shade passed o'er thy brow-

The deepest and the last:
In thicker gushes strove thy breath-

We raised thy drooping head:
A moment more-the final pang-

And thou wert of the dead !

Thy gentle mother turned away,

To hide her face from me, And murmured low of Heaven's behests,

And bliss attained by thee:
She would have chid me that I mourned

A doom so bless'd as thine,
Had not her own deep grief burst forth

In tears as wild as mine!

We laid thee down in thy quiet rest,

And from thine infant brow
Culled one soft lock of radiant hair-

Our only solace now;
Then placed around thy beauteous corse,

Flowers, not more fair and sweetTwin rose-buds in thy little hands,

And jasmine at thy feet.

Though other offspring still be ours,

As fair perchance as thou,
With all the beauty of thy cheek,

The sunshine of thy brow,
They never can replace the bud

Our early fondness nursed: They may be lovely and beloved,

But not, like thee, the FIRST !

The FIRST !-how many a memory bright

That one sweet word can bring,
Of hopes that blossomed, drooped, and died,

In life's delightful spring;
Of fervid feelings passed away

Those early seeds of bliss
That germinate in hearts unseared

By such a world as this !

My sweet one, my sweet one,

My fairest and my First!
When I think of what thou mightst have been,

My heart is like to burst;
But gleams of gladness through my gloom

Their soothing radiance dart,
And my sighs are hushed, my tears are dried,

When I turn to what thou art!

Pure as the snow-flake ere it falls

And takes the stain of earth,
With not a taint of mortal life

Except thy mortal birth,
God bade thee early taste the spring

For which so many thirst;
And bliss, eternal bliss is thine,
My fairest and my First !

ALARIC A. WATTS.

« PreviousContinue »