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How still the morning of the hallowed day!
Mute is the voice of rural labour, hushed
The ploughboy's whistle, and the milkmaid's song.
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Of tedded grass, mingled with faded flowers
That yester-morn bloomed waving in the breeze;
Sounds the most faint attract the ear;-the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating, midway up the hill,
Calmness sits throned on yon unmoving cloud.
To him who wanders o'er the upland leas,
The blackbird's note comes mellower from the dale,
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles his heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-worn glen;
While from yon lowly roof, whose curling smoke
O'ermounts the mist, is heard at intervals
The voice of psalms, the simple song of praise.
With dove-like wings, peace o'er yon village broods;
The dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil's din
Hath ceased; all, all around is quietness.
Less fearful on this day, the limping hare
Stops, and looks back, and stops, and looks on man,
Her deadliest foe. The toil-worn horse, set free,
Unheedful of the pasture, roams at large;
And, as his stiff unwieldy bulk he rolls,
His iron-armed hoofs gleam in the morning ray.
But, chiefly man the day of rest enjoys;
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day;
On other days the man of toil is doomed
To eat his joyless bread, lonely; the ground
Both seat and board; screened from the winter's cold,
And summer's heat, by neighhouring hedge or tree;
But on this day embosomed in his home,
He shares the frugal meal with those he loves;
With those he loves he shares the heartfelt joy
Of giving thanks to God,-not thanks of form,
A word and a grimace, but reverently,
With covered face, and upward earnest eye.
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day ;
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
The morning air, pure from the city's smoke;
While wandering slowly up the river side,
He meditates on Him, whose power he marks
In each green tree that proudly spreads the bough,
As in the tiny dew-bent flowers, that bloom
Around its root: and while he thus surveys,
With elevated joy, each rural charm,
He hopes, yet fears presumption in the hope
That Heaven may be one Sabbath without end.
GRAHAME. [From "The Sabbath."]
MAN'S TREATMENT OF THE VICIOUS COMPARED WITH NATURE's.
And this place my forefathers made for man!
This is the process of our love and wisdom
To each poor brother who offends against us-
Most innocent, perhaps—and what if guilty?
Is this the only cure? Merciful God!'
Each pore and natural outlet shrivelled up
By ignorance and parching poverty,
His energies roll back upon his heart,
And stagnate and corrupt, till, changed to poison,
They break out on him, like a loathsome plague-spot.
Then we call in our pampered mountebanks;
And this is their best cure! Uncomforted
And friendless solitude, groaning, and tears,
And savage faces, at the clanking hour,
Seen through the steam and vapours of his dungeon
By the lamp's dismal twilight! So he lies,
Circled with evil, till his very soul
Unmoulds its essence, hopelessly deformed
By sights of evermore deformity!
With other ministrations thou, O Nature!
Healest thy wandering and distempered child:
Thou pourest on him thy soft influences,
Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets;
Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters!
Till he relent, and can no more endure
To be a jarring and a dissonant thing
Amid this general dance and minstrelsy,
But, bursting into tears, wins back his way,
His angry spirit healed and harmonised
By the benignant touch of love and beauty.
After a Tempest.
The day had been a day of wind and storm;—
The wind was laid, the storm was overpast,—
And stooping from the zenith, bright and warm
Shone the great sun on the wide earth at last.
I stood upon the upland slope, and cast
My eye upon a broad and beauteous scene,
Where the vast plain lay girt by mountains vast,
And hills o'er hills lifted their heads of green,
With pleasant vales scooped out, and villages between.
The rain-drops glistened on the trees around,
Whose shadows on the tall grass were not stirred, Save when a shower of diamonds, to the ground, Was shaken by the flight of startled bird,
For birds were warbling round, and bees were heard
About the flowers; the cheerful rivulet sung
And gossiped as he hastened ocean-ward;
To the gray oak the squirrel, chiding, clung,
And chirping, from the ground the grasshopper upsprung.
And from beneath the leaves that kept them dry
Flew many a glittering insect here and there,
And darted up and down the butterfly,
That seemed a living blossom of the air.
The flocks came scattering from the thicket, where The violent rain had pent them; in the way
Strolled groups of damsels frolicksome and fair. The farmer swung the scythe or turned the hay, And, twixt the heavy swaths his children were at play.
It was a scene of peace—and, like a spell,
Did that serene and golden sunlight fall
Upon the motionless wood that clothed the fell,
And precipice upspringing like a wall,
And glassy river and white waterfall,
And happy living things that trod the bright
And beauteous scene; while far beyond them all, On many a lovely valley out of sight,
Was poured from the blue heavens the same soft golden light.
I looked, and thought the quiet of the scene
An emblem of the peace that yet shall be,
When o'er earth's continents and isles between,
The noise of war shall cease from sea to sea,
And married nations dwell in harmony;
When millions, crouching in the dust to one,
No more shall beg their lives on bended knee,
Nor the black stake be dressed, nor in the sun
The o'er-laboured captive toil, and wish his life were done.