Poems by Emma Battye (1884)

Poems by Emma Battye is a collection of poetry written by Emma Battye that was published posthumously.

The following Poems were written by the Authoress during the few hours of leisure snatched from a busy life, and are now published by her friends as a loving memento of one whose chaste mind, genial disposition, and unselfish aims endeared her to all who knew her. She died in July last, in the bloom of womanhood, deeply lamented by her family and a wide circle of friends, but leaving behind her the sweet fragrance of a pure and noble life.

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On Poetry

I hear it in the rushing breeze,
That wildly sweeps along,
In every blast and gust I find
The spirit of a song.
I hear it in the zephyr’s breath,
That softly stirs the leaves,
And in the gentle drowsy hum
Of honey-gathering bees.
I hear it in the fountain’s play
And in the ocean’s roar,
And read it in each grain of sand
That sparkles on the shore.
I find it in each gushing spring,
And every flowing brook,
In every daisy-spangled dell,
And every moss-grown nook.
I read it in the starry sky,
The deep blue vault of night;
In every orb that shines above,
Making the darkness light.
I hear it in the songster’s notes,
In warbles sweet and clear,
And in the merry laughing shouts
Of little children dear.
I see it in each drop of dew
That gems the lily’s cup,
And in the soft refreshing rain
Which thirsty flowers drink up.
I read it in the golden light
Of morning’s shining beam,
And see it in the crimson glow
Of sunset’s rosy gleam.
I hear it in the ringing chimes
Of holy Sabbath bells,
As on the balmy summer air
Their sweet-toned music swells.
I hear it in the falling leaves,
The autumn winds whirl round;
And see it in each snowy flake
That flutters to the ground.
I find it in each bud that blooms,
Within the forest shade:
See it in every stately tree
And each small grassy blade.
Yes, everywhere I hear this song,
In earth, or air, or sky;
All nature joins to chant the strain,
Poetry cannot die.

April — An Acrostic

A blessing upon the maiden sweet,
The flowers spring up to kiss thy feet.
Pardon my boldness when I say
Sol shall kiss all thy tears away.
Rude lips cry fickle, inconstant, strange,
Type of all women, restless for change.
I would not heed them, April dear;
Thy smiles lend lustre to each tear.
Loveliest month in the trio of spring,
We join with the birds thy praises to sing.

Spring — An Acrostic

Every year as it circles round, brings its spring time fresh and sweet,
Merry birds their carols twitter, gay, this green-robed maid to greet;
Meadows now are daisy-spangled, brooklets ripple bright and clear,
All in nature seems to whisper, summer’s coming, spring is here.
Beautiful are budding branches, withered leaves are blown away,
Angry clouds and gloomy shadows cannot in the sunshine stay;
Trusting in a brighter future, let us put our dead past by,
To the scatter’d leaves consigning, all that would becloud our sky;
Youthful hearts beat high with pleasure, old ones thrill with sweet delight,
Each and all rejoice to welcome, happy spring-time fair and bright.

Away to the Woods

Maidens fair and youths so gay
Hasten to the woods to-day,
Let us with a joyous laugh,
Wake the echoes in our path.
Where the fairy harebells blow,
Where the purple violets grow;
Merrily we’ll dance and sing,
Till the ferny hollows ring.
Resting on the purple heath,
We will twine a fragrant wreath,
With the green moss at our feet,
And the wild rose fresh and sweet.
Where the fairy harebells blow,
Where the purple violets grow;
Merrily we’ll dance and sing,
Till the ferny hollows ring.
We will beat the nuts so brown,
From the topmost branches down,
And for berries such a store
All the bushes we’ll explore.
Where the fairy harebells blow,
Where the purple violets grow;
Merrily we’ll dance and sing,
Till the ferny hollows ring.
We will pluck the tall foxglove,
And the daisies that we love
Gather honeysuckles too;
And forget-me-nots so blue.
Where the fairy harebells blow,
Where the purple violets grow;
Merrily we’ll dance and sing,
Till the ferny hollows ring.
We will take our light repast,
Where the spreading boughs have cast
Pooling shadows, by the spring
Where the merry songsters sing.
Where the fairy harebells blow,
Where the purple violets grow;
Merrily we’ll dance and sing,
Till the ferny hollows ring.

On the Moors

Think you on the moorland there is nought to see,
I will show you plenty, only come with me.
Don’t despise the scenery, though so wild and grim,
For some scrap of wisdom from it we may win.
Up the narrow footpath, climb the broken stile,
Standing on the top step, let us gaze awhile,
Stretching out before us, far as eye can see,
How the rolling moorland breathes of liberty.
Down the lane so rugged, wading through the brook,
Where the trout are darting swift from nook to nook,
And the mosses clinging to the jutting stones,
Where the rippling waters break with tender moans.
Climb now up the hillside, far from haunts of men,
Leave each habitation ‘neath us in the glen.
Scramble through the bracken growing tall and high,
List to songsters trilling carols in the sky.
Now through spongy marshes, where the rushes grow,
And the fairy harebells in the breezes blow.
Note the purple heather, fresh, and sweet, and wild.
Healthy, strong, and blooming, like a rustic child.
Some plants only flourish, watch’d with ten-d’rest care,
Others need the freedom of the mountain air.
Thus some minds are nurtured in the richest soil,
Others gain their knowledge through severest toil.
See this straggling pathway! here the sheep have been,
For clinging to the bushes bits of wool are seen.
Hark! to those distant shots, on the air they boom,
Of some eager sportsman struggling through the broom.
And how wild and lonesome sounds the moor-game cry,
As with startled pinions hastily they fly.
Watch the sunlight sparkle on the water bright,
As it rushes foaming down the dizzy height.
Now, far, far beneath us, soft its ripples lave,
Young ferns shyly drooping, kiss each mimic wave.
Back now to the city, back to fev’rish life,
Back to all the hurry, back to all the strife.
Back where men are climbing, seeking wealth and fame,
Riches, power, and honour, treach’rous heights to gain.
As through life we travel, let us strive to be,
Like the scenes around us, fresh, and pure, and free.

The Ocean, the River, the Brook

How can we describe thee, ocean so mighty,
How can we tell of thy changing form?
Sometimes thy blue waves dancing so lightly,
Sometimes raging aloud in a storm.
Now in the sunlight glistening and gleaming,
Bearing the shell-like boat on thy wave;
Oh there’s a power to set us a dreaming,
As on the pebbles thy waters lave.
Surely they speak in ripples of wisdom,
As they come stealing over the sand,
Teaching us we must be lowly and gentle,
Not alone haughty, mighty and grand.
Yet thou art treacherous, foaming old ocean,
Full of deceit thy silvery waves;
Sparkle and dance with musical motion,
Still they are flowing o’er thousands of graves.
See the stately river gliding
With majestic calm along;
Silently without commotion,
Yet it is both deep and strong.
Flowing on to mix its waters
With the billows of the main;
Surely we, too, like the river,
Have our destined end and aim.
Let us thus our lifework follow
With as little noise and show,
Steadily our course pursuing,
Doing good where’er we go.
Dancing and sparkling, leaping and darting,
Merrily bounding along,
In mimic billows, ‘neath the lone willows
Cheerily singing its song,
While the ferns on its margin tremble with spray,
The laughing brook ripples away, away.
It glitters, and gleams, it bubbles and brawls,
It roars down the green hill side,
And dashes white foam where’er it may roam,
With the glee of a happy child,
Such curious twistings, such queer little moans,
Such babble and fuss, o’er pebbles and stones.
Though we, like the brooklet,
Are humble and small,
We each have our duties,
A portion for all.
We may not be mighty,
We may not be strong,
But all may help brighten
Life’s pathway with song.

A Picture — Douglas Head

Come, cross the ferry, and mount yonder hill,
Where the fresh breezes frolic at will,
Worth all the climbing is the fair scene,
Bathed in the beauty of summer’s soft sheen.
Truly old Neptune is playful to-day,
Sea-nymphs have smooth’d all his furrows away,
Sunbeams have soothed him, zephyrs have blown
His billowy mane into flecks of white foam.
Bright golden sunshine, wide-rolling sea,
Tiny barks floating, joyous and free,
Peacefully placid, dreamy the sound
Of oars idly breaking, ripples around.
Fleecy clouds gliding across the blue dome,
Birds with white pinions skimming the foam,
While ‘neath the tall cliffs soft waters lave,
Far as eye reaches, sky kisses wave.
Purple the heather, yellow the broom,
Nature has woven the tints in her loom,
And where the grasses grow softest we rest
While the sun journeys away to the west.

The Dear Old Ocean

Oh, I love to hear it ripple,
And I love to hear it roar,
And to watch the crested billows
As they break upon the shore.
And I love the lights and shadows
As they fall with gentle grace,
And with ever-changing beauty
Cast their spell o’er ocean’s face.
And I love the laughing wavelets
When they toss in playful glee,
And as far as eye can travel,
Like a mirror lies the sea
When the lovely crystal foam-beads
Kiss the pebbles on the strand,
Oh, it must be like the music
In the far-off sunny land.
As I listen I can fancy
That I hear beneath the waves
All the mermaids and the sea-kings
Chanting in their coral caves.
And the gurgles and the murmurs
Of the waters at my feet
May be echoes that have travelled
From those caverns in the deep.
But I think the fairest picture,
And the one I love the best,
Is to watch the day-god gliding
To his chambers in the west,
When the clouds all gold and purple
Bathe the sea in amber light,
When the amethyst and opal
Fringe the curtains of the night.
And though it may be less lovely
When its billows rage and swell,
It is grand with such a splendour
We are powerless to tell,
For the angry boiling surges
Tell of everlasting powers,
And the ripples in the sunset
Speak of greater love than ours.

Through the Snow to School

If you’ve watched the children
Through the snow to school,
You will find the bigger boys
Always make a rule
Of tramping where the drifts are high,
Without regard to keeping dry.
Full of health, and full of fun,
Snowballs are their glory,
Slinging books across their back,
They pelt each other hoary;
And if some spot looks smooth and deep,
Tis there they plant their sturdy feet.
Little boys are trudging
Bravely through the snow:
Little legs, all blue with cold,
Stoutly onward go.
And elder sisters gently guide
The tiny toddlers by their side.
And yet some tears are falling,
For oh! the frost is keen,
And little frozen fingers
Will burn and sting, I ween.
And scarcely can they bear to hold
The dinner in the ‘kerchief rolled.
Then came a chubby fellow,
With laughter-beaming eye,
Biding like a native prince;
For, hoisted high and dry
Astride on mother’s back, you know,
‘Tis rarest fun to travel so.
But one very stormy morning
I heard an infant say—
“Oh ! Jim, sure they ought to give
Us little ‘uns holiday.”
“Never mind,” was the sage reply,
“It can’t be help’d, so do not cry.”
All honour to the children!
They have their hardships, too,
And well deserve the holidays
Which now to them are due.
We wish them all good Christmas-cheer,
And, after that — a glad New Year.

Night: And so Tired

Tired and weary now,
The day’s work all done,
But rest-time is coming,
With setting of sun.
Rest for the busy hands,
Rest for each aching pain,
Rest for the watchful eye,
Rest for the languid frame.
Rest for the active pen,
Guided so fleetly;
Rest for the throbbing brain,
Thinking so deeply.
Rest for the hoary head,
All silvered and grey;
Rest for the little ones,
Worn-out with their play.
What, though so tired,
Rest soon will follow,
Rest that shall strengthen
Labour to-morrow.
Now it is stealing
O’er each tiny flow’r,
Folding its petals
As night-shadows lower.
And sweet rest is falling,
In silvery beams,
By moonlight reflected,
In soft flowing streams.
Now gliding so gently,
‘Neath fern, reed, and bough,
‘Twas babble at noonday,
Tis lullaby now.
Yea, rest, it is written,
In opal and grey,
On the western horizon,
Now fading away.
And when life’s sunset,
With glory is fired,
Hush’d will the cry be,
Night — and so tired.

Grandfather’s Home

Most of us remember grandfather’s home,
With its freedom for girls and boys;
Its gentle rule and its lenient laws,
Its pleasures and manifold joys.
I see it now, the old house on the hill,
The cherry tree nailed to the wall;
I can hear the sparrows twittering still
In the topmost branches of all.
Sly little sparrows — I know full well
How dearly you loved the old tree;
And I learnt how you lov’d the blushing fruit
When you left the half-ripe for me.
I remember the queer old garden, too,
Where the mint and the sweet-brier grew;
Where the ivy crept through the chinks in the wall,
And the wind through the woodbine blew.
I remember well the old pump near the trough
Where the cows all stopped to drink;
And, with mem’ry acting as phonograph,
I can hear the old handle clink.
I have not forgotten the old horse, Tom;
He needed no saddle nor rein;
For he bore me along with sober pride,
And firmly I held to his mane.
I used to sit with the cats on the hearth,
By the side of grandmamma’s chair,
And watch the weird shadows gathering round
In the firelight’s flickering glare;
And listen to concerts held by the wind,
With the chimney for organ loft;
I have heard it thunder the wildest chants
After melodies low and soft.
But better than all the pleasures I know—
Making grandfather’s home so fair—
Was the loving smile on a face enfram’d
With its rippling, soft brown hair.
Nor fruit, nor flowers, nor frolicsome hours
Ever had the same charm for me
As the kindly tones of Aunt Emma’s voice
Whenever she welcomed me.
It seems but a day since I knelt to drink
From the brook where the pebbles gleam,
Knowing full well she would quietly come
And bathe my head in the stream.
And the brook still flows over the moss-grown stones,
And the cherries they still turn red,
Though many long years have passed away
Since they told me that she was dead.
But wherever on earth my feet may stray,
Or wherever in life I roam,
The sweetest memories ever will cling
Around dear old grandfather’s home.

Only a Baby

Only a baby! say you, and
Those words with meaning rife;
Only a drop of baby-hood
In this vast sea of life.
Yet that drop hath made a circle
Among the myriads more,
Ever widening till it touches
The everlasting shore.
Yea, another little ripple
Has come with that wee form,
And it must enhance life’s beauty,
Or rougher make the storm.
Only a baby! but it means
That two more little feet
Must tread the winding paths of earth,
And brave the dust and heat.
Only a baby! yet we know
Those little fragile hands
Have got a mission to perform,
In working God’s commands.
Only a baby! but it means
Another weary dove,
To shelter in the mighty ark
Of Jesu’s boundless love.
Only a baby! but she brings
Life’s psalm another tone,
And she hath the all-world Father
For her very, very own.
Only a baby! hark! the words
Through heav’ns high arches roll,
“Angels prepare a mansion fair,
And guard yon precious soul.”

A Birthday Wish

I am wishing, this April morning,
Many happy returns for you;
May pleasure, and peace, and plenty
Ever encompass you.
May all that can make life precious
Be yours in richest store;
May health, and love, and friendship
Keep guard around your door.
And may the kindness lavished
By you with willing hand,
Return again to bless you
While passing through the land.

To a Friend on his Birthday

Many happy returns, Mr. _____
Many happy returns of the day;
Life’s journey is shorter this morning;
Another year faded away.
You stand by the moss-covered milestone
Right out on the dusty highway,
The finger-post pointing you onwards:
Many happy returns of the day.
Sometimes the path leads through green pastures
With hedge-rows so bright and so gay;
Sometimes on the bleak barren moorland
‘Mid shadows all gloomy and gray.
But whether beside the still waters,
Or where the deep surges may roll,
May you ever find beauty and blessing,
And happy returns through it all.

Happy Returns of the Day

You have reached another milestone,
One more stage on life’s highway,
And Time’s finger-post is pointing
To the dim untrodden way;
May returning birthdays find you
Ever happy as to-day.
I would wish you constant sunshine
But such wishing would be vain,
For the fairest path will lead you
Sometimes through a dreary plain,
Where the dust, and heat, and brambles
Oft will cause you ache and pain.
But heart sunshine I can wish you,
Frendships loving, tender, true,
Firm affection, patient, helpful,
Though your sky be grey or blue,
And with friends who thus shall serve you
I would fain be numbered too.
So I trust that all of pleasure,
Will be yours, the year can give,
And may you with those you cherish
Long be spared to love and live,
Ever trusting to each other,
Quick to pardon and forgive.

To a Friend on her Birthday

If I were a sunbeam, this morning,
I’d steal through the curtains of lace,
And shimmering over your carpet,
These are the words I would trace:—
“Many happy returns, Mrs. ____,
This second bright morning in May ;
May the sunshine of life surround you;
Many happy returns of the day.”
Or had I the fluttering pinions
Possessed by the feathery throng,
I’d perch on the sill of your window,
And there I would carol mv song.
I’d wish the sad notes in life’s anthem
Might fade in the distance away,
While the sweet strains lingered to whisper
“Many happy returns of the day.”
And could some fair goddess transform me
Into a beautiful stream,
I’d belt with bright silver your garden,
And murmur and ripple my theme.
And still might you hear the sweet chorus,
Dripping through foam-beads of spray,
“May the river of life in its flowing
Bring happy returns of the day.”
Yet, surely my pen hath a sweeter,
A grander, and nobler spell,
For it hath been dipped in the waters
Of love, from the heart’s deep well.
And swiftly in letters of sunshine,
Heart sunshine, allow me to say,
It hastens to wish Mrs. ____,
“Many happy returns of the day.”

To a Friend on her Birthday

Many happy returns of the day, love,
And joyous ones may they be,
For a goodly share of grief and care
You have borne right cheerfully.
But the year has fled, and with it I hope
All the clouds so dark and drear,
And as they’ve rolled by, the bright blue sky
Shall gladden your heart, my dear.
I would wish your path to be free from thorns,
But you know, love, that can’t be;
They are always sent with the roses here,
For some good we cannot see.
But I hope the year may be crown’d with joy,
Rich blessings may Heaven send;
May blessings of health, of peace, and love
Be shower’d on you, my friend.

On the Marriage of a Friend

We wish you joy and happiness,
On this your wedding-day;
And hope its promised blessings
Will never fade away.
You are leaving home and loving hearts,
A joyous, happy bride:
May the new love prove as faithful
As that which you have tried.
May the warm glow of affection
Wax neither faint nor cold;
But shine with undimmed lustre,
When you are growing old.
And may the rosy goddess keep
Her guard around your home;
May nought of slow and ling’ring pain
Within its portals come.
May peace, that sweet harmonious maid,
Ne’er rob you of her smiles;
But with her gentle dovelike power,
Save from contention’s wiles.
When sorrow’s raindrops falling, dim
The bloom of life’s bright flowers,
May every storm as quickly pass
As April’s fleeting showers.
And, oh! may all your gloomy days
Be like this changing weather;
No cloud but which the sun peeps through—
Tears and bright smiles together.
Not many paths are bright as yours,
Or strewn with flowers so rare:
Fortune with lavish hand has thrown
Her treasures everywhere.
Accept them with a grateful heart,
These blessings sent from heaven;
And freely give to others’ need,
As unto you is given.
And now, may all these joys be yours,—
We would not wish them less,
Health, wealth, peace and prosperity,
Long life, and happiness.

Wishes to a Friend on her Wedding Day

How many good wishes, I wonder,
Can I crowd in a little space,
This day above others to honour,
And this wedding of yours to grace?
I’ll wish you good health and good fortune,
A home crowned with plenty and peace,
A heart full of pure satisfaction,
And blessings that daily increase.
I’ll wish you kind friends and true-hearted—
Friends ready to help in your need—
‘Mid life’s trials a courage undaunted,
And may all your bright projects succeed.
I’ll wish that the bloom of love’s flowers
May never know blight or decay;
May their beauty illumine the hours
When sorrow her sceptre shall sway.
And now, should there be any good thing, love,
That I may have failed to see
And entreat for you, may Heaven above
Supply all in its purity.

In Memory of Moore Sykes

The sun went down in a sea of gold,
Its waves were dazzling bright;
A soul was washed on the silver sands
That border the realms of light.
The curtain of night was gently drawn,
And over the earth it fell,
Shrouding our hearts with its sombre fold,
For him we loved so well.
The week was ended; his work was done,
And unto him was given
After his pain and suffering here,
A Sabbath up in heaven.
The sun came back, with his shining face,
To gladden the world once more,
But he left our friend, with angels bright,
On the everlasting shore.
Husband and father, brother and friend,
He guarded each trust with care;
Our tears will start when we miss his face,
And gaze on his vacant chair.
Never again will his well-known voice,
With its earnest tones be heard.
Teaching his class the lessons of life,
Or reading God’s Holy Word.
Why he was taken out of our midst
Is something left undefined;
But He knows who is too wise to err,
And too good to be unkind.
We shall need no monument of stone,
And no marble statues grand,
To keep his memory fresh and green
And bright on every hand.
For his words will live in all our hearts,
And they shall not live in vain,
For, if we follow the path he trod,
We shall meet him once again.
He has anchored on the golden strand,
In the haven of the free,
Where the sun shall rise in cloudless skies,
And there shall be “no more sea.”

To the Memory of Moore Sykes

Twelve months ago, twelve months this very day,
A sad deep grief upon our spirits Jay,
Because the friend so loved and prized on earth.
Was quickly called to cross the stream of death.
We thought it strange that his most useful life
Should be cut off, amid the glorious strife
Of winning mortals to the truth and light,
That made his own brief manhood pure and bright.
But he was called some nobler work to do,
While other hands must now his toil pursue;
Let us not strive or seek to understand,
Enough to know it was the Lord’s command.
Our sense of loss will often o’er us steal,
But most of all his home this loss must feel;
He was its comfort, hope, support, and stay,
Sad, sad indeed, when such are called away.
In our own Sunday School we miss his face,
And while we reverence those who fill his place,
We shall retain, so long as life shall last,
The sad, sweet memories of the bygone past.
We mourn his absence in full many a sphere,
Oft in our sorrow have we wished him here;
In many a project for the public good,
We miss the friend who did whate’er he could.
He was so willing, both with hand and tongue,
To help the right, to try and check the wrong;
His life expressing what he strove to teach,
Gave him the wisdom other hearts to reach.
If we had more such earnest souls as he,
A nobler place this world of ours would be;
More free from guile, if in our toil and strife
We strove to lead his pure, unselfish life.
We must grow old, the years pass away,
But good once wrought can never more decay;
And Moore’s example ever bright shall shine,
May we as truly make our lives sublime.

The Memory of Princess Alice

Softly the snow fell
White o’er the earth;
Down with the flakes came
The Angel of Death.
Sadly the hearts ache
Where he is found,
Waving his dark wings
Over the ground.
Ruthless he enters
Cottage and hall;
Black shadows close him
Round like a pall.
Hark! how his pinions
Sweep through the air ;
Where will he fold them?
Echo cries, where?
Nearer and nearer
Draws the dread guest;
Under the roof tree
Of princes to rest.
Throwing his gauntlet—
No one can save—
The grim challenge meaning
Death and the grave.
Unfurling his banner
O’er England’s throne;
One of her daughters he
Claims for his own.
She who sang sweetly
To Albert in pain,
Now is the first one
To meet him again.
Was there a sick one?
Her tender care
Ever was needed
Vigils to share.
We mourn with Victoria,
Our noble Queen,
Grieving in sorrow
While joy-bells peal.
But Alice of England
Calmly doth sleep,
Safe in the harbour;
Why should we weep?
Let not the lone ones
Repine at the shock,
For she has entered
The cleft in the rock.
Silver cords loosed,
Empty life’s well,
Golden bowl broken—
Princess, farewell!

Past Memories

Past memories, what a fragrant wreath
Of bygone joys entwine
Around those words, and sweetly breathe
Their tales of old lang syne.
We love the garland not the less
Because its flowers so fair
Are faded now and crushed, for still
Much sweetness lingers there.
Like strains of distant music borne,
O’er waves of crystal sea,
Those tender loving memories float
In melody to me.
We know full well some shatter’d chords,
Though lightly touch still quiver,
Yet do we love the sad refrain,
Nor would forget it ever.
Past memories, what a wondrous spell
They weave about our way;
And by their vivid power recall
Scenes of a distant day.
And though some twisted tangled threads
Are woven hard and fast,
We would not like to loose the words
That bind us to the past.
Past memories, what numerous links
Have helped to stretch the chain,
And though some have been joined with tears,
We prize them all the same.
While some remind us of our joys,
Others bring back our pain,
But if one link were missing there,
‘Twould weaken mem’ry’s chain.
A sunset radiance lingers round
The days and scenes of old,
And scatters o’er life’s sober sky,
Bright streaks of shining gold.
No other paintings e’er can have
Such wondrous charm for me,
As those which decorate the walls
Of memory’s gallery.
We find an ever present joy
Recalling pleasures past;
Oh! may we keep our memories green
So long as life shall last.

On the Opening of the Victoria Temperance Hall

Greet we now the opening
Of our Temperance Hall,
And a hearty welcome,
We accord to all.
We dedicate our building,
Unto water pure,
Many we are hoping,
Thus from drink to lure.
Music hath her temples
And her halls of song,
Every fane for pleasure
Hath its eager throng.
Wine hath many altars,
Of our land the bane,
Palaces of Bacchus;
Legion is their name.
“Lions” of destruction,
“Dogs” of evil name,
“Fountains” of uncleanness,
“Vaults” of vice and shame,
“Whistles” to entice you,
“Crowns” to tempt you in;
“Vultures” that would “fleece” you,
“Paragons” of sin.
These and many others
Are the haunts of those
Who in drink seek pleasure,
Or to drown their woes.
And to-day we ask you,
Shun each glitt’ring snare ;
Ne’er forget the watch-word
Bidding you “beware.”
Do not let the wine-god,
Lead your feet astray;
Ours is far the purest,
And the safest way.
For our cause is noble.
And our hearts are true,
We would save your health, friends,
And your pockets too.
We want all to help us,
In our Temperance cause,
Come and join us, brothers,
Keep our simple laws.
Come and add your portion,
To our temples’ fame,
‘Tis worthy admiration,
“Victoria” is its name.

The Lighthouse

When the mighty waves are foaming
And rising mountains high;
When no silver stars are shining
Up in the stormy sky ;
When the gallant ship is tossing
Upon a rocky coast;
Little children, can you tell me,
What is wished for most?
When the precious souls are fearing
To meet a watery grave;
When no life-boat to their rescue
Can breast the roaring wave;
When the darkness dense enfolds them
And no glimpse of day is near:
‘Tis the lighthouse with its beacon
That alone their hearts can cheer.
When they see its welcome signal
Fading hope revives once more;
And again, they picture meeting
Absent friends upon the shore;
Now the rocks so sharp and cruel
Fill them not with anxious dread;
For the lighthouse built upon them
Hears its watch fire overhead.
Thus, amid the many dangers
Of our life’s tempestuous sea,
We have need of light to guide us
From the rocks we cannot see;
Rocks of pride and selfish passions,
Quicksands these that oft decoy,
And, unless we guard against them,
They will wreck us of all joy.
It may be we cannot wholly
From our hearts the rocks remove,
But we all may guard against them
By the light of Jesu’s love.
He will be our guide and captain,
He will be our life-boat too,
He will be our lighthouse, pointing
All the dangers to our view.
Not a feeble gleam and flickering,
But a steady burning flame;
Yesterday, to-day, for ever,
He is always just the same.
When rough waves are boiling round us,
When false lights our faith would mock,
We are safe, if we are guided,
By the Lighthouse on the Rock.

Life

Life, they say, is like a river.
Flowing onward to the sea;
If so, brothers, we shall daily
Storms and tempests surely see.
For rivers do not always glide
Straight and smoothly to the ocean,
Crooked is their changing course,
Full of ever varying motion.
Wending now through flow’ry meadows
With the sunshine dazzling bright,
Darkly now, where droops the willow,
Through the gloom of deepest night;
So our life is full of shadows,
Swiftly passing to and fro—
Now the sun of joy is beaming,
Now is sinking deep and low.
Some say life is like a voyage
Unto a far distant land;
Many dangers then shall meet us
Ere we reach the golden strand;
Cold, dark waves of grief and sorrow
Mightily shall round us foam,
Till Hope’s gentle breezes whisper
“We are nearly, nearly home.”
Some say life is like a drama,
And this lower world the stage,
And we all are actors on it—
Rich and poor of every age.
Then let each and all endeavour
To perform with earnest zeal.
Ne’er before the world appearing
Better than behind the screen.
Some say life is like a desert,
Bleak and barren, blank and drear,
With no flowers in the pathway,
And no cooling springs to cheer;
But we won’t believe them, brothers,
Won’t believe a word they say,
For sweet showers of blessings ever
Shed their fragrance o’er our way.
If to some it is a desert,
‘Tis the mournful, doleful few,
Who, when darksome clouds are o’er them,
Never find a patch of blue;
But we don’t belong their number,
And I hope we never may;
They are wretched who can always
See a lion in the way.
Others say the fleeting moments
May be likened to a dream,
And our life, so quickly vanished,
To a vision’s fitful gleam.
If a dream, it is a stern one,
Bringing each their meed of pain;
Oh! that all may find, on waking,
That they have not lived in vain.
Then, again, our life’s a volume,
And each passing day a page;
Let each chapter, as ‘tis finished,
Teach a lesson wise and sage;
Fairy tales for little children,
Sterner pages for the old;
Shirk them — you’ll find when closing
They were fraught with sterling gold.
Do not murmur if life’s blessings
Are not showered upon you;
It were weak to sit and grumble—
Go and gather up the dew.
Brothers, life is what we make it,
And you’ll find the wiser plan,
As you journey, is to gather
All the sunshine that you can.

Our Days

Some days come all filled with shadow,
Sable shadows, dark and drear,
Shrouding hearts and homes with sadness,
Days we fear.
Other days are filled with longing,
Cravings after something more
Than the present hours are adding
To our store.
Then the brightness of the morrow
Chases all the gloom away,
And we say that life is pleasant,
Sweet to-day.
But the next day we are grieving,
Disappointed, full of pain,
We have missed a precious something,
Hopes were vain.
Yet it may be just a handclasp
Banishes the moments sad,
Or a trusted friend’s caresses
Make us glad.
Then we have our days of dullness,
Listlessly we come and go,
Little duties are a burden,
Yet we know
That we often make our trouble,
Sadly fretting hours away,
Chaffing ‘neath the petty worries
Of each day.
Shade and sunshine is our portion,
Things we fear may come to pass,
But we need not—future gazing,
Smoke the glass.
Oh! if we would be more restful,
Every hour would bring us light,
Teaching us the wisdom making
All days bright.

Courage

They are not earth’s greatest heroes,
Who can count their thousands slain,
Or tell of conquests they have won,
On the blood red battle plain;
For the man who stands undaunted,
Mid the shock of cannon ball,
May prove very weak and helpless,
And before temptations fall.
But the man who rules his spirit,
Bravely checking passions sway,
Shows far more of real courage
Than the hero of a day;
Who, with thousands rallied round him,
Well skilled in warfare’s strife,
Conquers cities with their powers
Or buys honour with his life.
Some there are whose deeds of glory
Win tor them earth’s laurel crown,
Some who leave their names emblazoned
On the scroll of fame’s renown;
But life’s grandest battles are not
Always fought with sword and spear,
Oft they’re won by kindly action,
More is done by love than fear.
What is courage? Promptly doing
That we know to be the right;
Nobly daring worldly censure,
For the sake of truth and light;
Never shrinking from the duties,
Lying all around our path;
Though we know that some are mocking,
And we hear the scorners laugh.
Honour then the noble spirits
Who so patiently endure,
Standing by the post of duty,
Whatsoever may allure;
Striving to be bright and cheerful,
Quite content, though toiling hard;
Seeking only the approval
Of their conscience for reward.
To be upright, just, and honest,
We have need of courage, too,
To enable us to render
Unto every man his due.
Honesty is not just keeping
Our hands off a neighbour’s till
Quite as much a thief is that man
Who neglects to pay his bill.
Of all cowards they are meanest,
Who in folly’s mazes stay,
Know the right but dare not do it,
Dreading what the world might say.
And of heroes they are bravest,
Who have courage to appear
What they are, without pretension
Or the shadow of a fear.
Pride will often strongly tempt us,
To profess or act a part;
Selfish motives soonest stifle,
What is purest in our heart.
Let us shun all paltry dealings,
Seeking often greedy gain ;
For the sake of petty triumphs,
Never cause another pain.
We can make our lifes heroic
Striving patiently to bear,
All the little jests and worries,
Forming part of each day’s care.
Daily we must fight life’s battle,
Often it will cost us dear;
But with earnest strong endeavours,
We may prove true heroes here.

Waters of Forgetfulness

I stood by the side of a flowing stream,
The wavelets broke at my feet,
And the ripples wash’d o’er the smooth white sand,
With melody low and sweet.
With gladness I bent o’er the limpid wave,
And gazed with a mute delight;
I had sought that stream by the moon’s pale beam
And the sun’s bright golden light.
I had wandered far, over hill and dale,
Many rivers and rills had passed;
I was weary, and tired, and footsore now,
But stood on its banks at last,
I had come for a draught — a single draught,
‘Twas all I would ask or crave;
For oh! there was power in the crystal drops
And healing within its wave.
There was power to drown the aching thoughts,
Born of the great unrest,
That springs from the bitterness of the past,
In the weary human breast.
There was power to banish the vain regrets,
Uprising within the heart;
When the arrows of life’s sad “might have been,”
Would probe with their piercing dart.
Then fill me a draught from this Lethean stream,
Fill high to the goblet’s brim;
Oblivion will steal away all my care
When my lips shall touch its rim
“Stay, mortal, and pause ere thou drain that draught,
I hasten to caution thee.”
The voice was strange, I turned with awe,
For who could be calling me?
I looked, and a beautiful fairy I saw,
Alone in a pink-shell boat;
Her hair, like an unfurled banner, streamed
In the sunlight, all afloat.
And swiftly she guided her dainty bark
To the shining pebbly strand,
Through the silver spray, with an oar of pearl
And a coral magic wand.
Quoth she, “Ere thou drink, consider, I pray,
And do not in haste partake,
For the sleep of oblivion once begun
Never more can memory wake.”
“‘Tis that never-more I am longing to find,
And fain would I gain that rest;
Oh! fain would I plunge all troublous things
‘Neath the foaming billow’s crest.”
“But think of the years it has taken to hoard
The treasures thy heart holds dear;
Say, art thou ready at once to resign
All these without sigh or tear?
Art thou ready to snap the glorious arch
Memory has made to span
From thy early days to the present years
Of thy history, O man?
“For are not jewels which sparkle most
In that golden arch of Time
The lustrous days, whose memories bright,
Gladden this dull life of thine?
If the rosy cloud has faded away
From thy rainbow-tinted sky,
There is beauty still in the silver gray,
Deep fringed with its purple dye.”
“Ah! fairyland may be canopied o’er
With purple and silver gray,
But earth’s mortals, alas! too often find
Grim shadows chase light away.”
“But think of thy friends so loved and so dear,
How many are gone from thee now;
Forget not the handclasp, tender and true,
The smile on each well known brow.
“Bring back the musical voices of old,
The eyes with their sunny beams;
The thoughts exchanged in the gladsome hours
Long passed to the laud of dreams.
Thou cans’t weave no plans with a barren past,
Nor expect bright hopes to grow;
Neither blossom, nor bud, nor flower can spring
Where oblivion’s waters flow.
“Come now, the goblet is full to the brim,
Drink, if thou wilt, and be free —
Free from thy wearisome burden of care,
From all precious memories free.”
I took it, but drank not the crystal drops,
The cost was too great, I ween;
I could not resign what I prize so much,
So poured it back in the stream.
The fairy, well pleased, stepped into her boat,
And quickly sped from the shore;
It all comes back to me now when I hear
The sound of the dipping oar.
And when I am tempted to drink and forget,
These words still ring in my ear—
“Think of the years it has taken to hoard
The treasures thy heart holds dear.”

Burdens

Yes, our life is full of burdens,
All must have a share,
But for each load laid upon us
There is strength to bear;
Do not think yours is the heaviest,
Fraught with most of woe,
Others’ cups are quite as bitter
Could we only know.
Did the world speak harshly of you,
Wicked words and strong,
Rashly blaming what was never
Meant as slightest wrong?
Has the iron rod of anguish
Entered in your heart!
Have they caused the burning teardrops
From your eyes to start?
And have those whom once you trusted,
Turned against you, too,
Saying everything they can
To try and injure you?
Do not heed their evil speaking,
Or their haughty frown,
Trust in God and look above you,
You will shine them down.
Or is poverty your burden,
Lack you earthly store?
Friend and brother, gold and silver
Have a rotten core.
If your life be pure and earnest,
And your conscience clear,
You are one of nature’s nobles,
Crave not worldly gear.
Is your burden one of trial,
Born of hope deferred?
Do not let its weight o’erwhelm you;
Have you never heard,
When the nightime seems the darkest
Day will break ere long?
Wait and labour, and be patient,
Suffer and be strong.
Or, perhaps, your burden is not
Trouble of your own;
Is it caused by grief and sorrow
On your loved ones thrown?
Then, with words of comfort cheer them,
Point them up on high,
To the bow of promise shining
Through the cloudy sky.
Is your burden one of sickness,
Weariness and pain,
Think you neither health nor pleasure
Shall be yours again?
If this is your cross, my brother,
Bear it cheerfully;
You are working, whilst you’re lying
Still and patiently.
Or, may be yours is a burden
Others cannot share,
And we know such loads of trouble
Are the worst to bear;
If your earthly friends can’t help you,
There is One above;
When the world could give no shelter,
Arkward flew the dove.
Never magnify your trials,
Do not count them o’er,
In the future there are surely
Brighter days in store;
Let us bear our burdens bravely,
With a willing hand,
Help each other as we journey
To the better land.

Bondmen

We need not search the chain-bound ranks
Of the auction-mart alone
To find the captive creatures who
Beneath slavery’s thraldom groan.
‘Tis not alone the swarthy race
Who bow under her vile yoke;
But men beneath the spreading boughs
Of old England’s stately oak.
Some are slaves to creature-passions.
And make everything give place
To their fancies and their pleasures
In the running of life’s race;
Slaves of selfish mind and feeling,
With no sympathies to spare;
Nought beyond their own surroundings
Ever costing them a care.
Some are held in powerful bondage,
By the iron links of pride;
Captive bound in custom’s fetters,
Floating over down her tide.
Daring not, however wishful,
Fashion’s slightest word to break;
Oft depraving noblest natures,
Merely for appearance sake.
Some are slaves to fame and glory,
Panting after mighty deeds;
But they forget the kingly forest
Grew from tiny little seeds.
Others to the money monarch
All their better life have sold,
And to them no sight so precious
As the glitter of the gold.
Some are slaves to gloomy fancies,
And forebodings dark and chill;
Martyrs they who suffer daily
From anticipated ill.
Many abject souls will meanly
Curry favours all their life;
Some prefer to fawn and flourish
Than to toil in ardous strife.
Those whom prejudice leads captive,
May be counted by the score;
While public opinion’s bondmen
Swell the ranks with thousands more
Others carry independence
To the opposite extreme;
Neither mild reproof nor censure
Takes effect on them, I ween.
Such indifference often leads them
E’en to scorn deserved blame,
Though exulting in their freedom
They are wearing slavery’s chain.
Thus, I doubt not, all you readers
Cringe beneath some servile band;
But, let each one strive to banish
Moral slavery from our land.

A Thankful Heart

Of all the boons that we possess
Amid our toil and strife,
There’s nothing like a thankful heart
For making glad our life.
‘Tis worth a mine of golden ore,
Of jewels rich and rare;
No flashing gem or shining pearl
With this can we compare.
‘Tis like the bubbling mountain spring
So fresh and pure and strong—
Or like the bird on soaring wing,
That cheers us with its song.
It freshens like the shower that falls
On hot and thirsty lands,
And gladdens, like the cold deep well,
‘Mid parch’d and burning sands.
Nothing e’er comes amiss to those
Who own a thankful heart—
It helps to soothe the deepest woes,
To heal the keenest smart;
No matter where their lot is cast,
In sunshine or in shade,
Whether the flowers brightly bloom
Or fairest blossoms fade;
They still find cause for thankfulness,
Though disappointments sting;
For Hope will never leave the heart
That loves to hear her sing.
They groan beneath a load of care
Who every grievance nurse;
For things were never yet so bad
But that they might be worse.
Then cultivate a thankful heart
Through bright or cloudy weather;
For, like all other beauteous things,
‘Twill form a joy for ever.

On Seeing Holman Hunt’s Picture “The Shadow of Death.”

The sunlight streamed through the open door
Of a room in Eastern lands;
The workman arose from His weary toil,
And stretched His tired hands.
T’was the sunset light, and the toiler’s task
With the day’s decline was done;
And He left His bench with a thankful heart,
For the hour of rest had come.
T’was a humble room, but the golden light
A radiant lustre shed
On all around, and the glittering beams
Made a halo above His head.
What a loving face! but the eyes are full
Of a light unknown to earth;
No wonder, for He is “The Man of griefs,”—
The prophet of Nazareth.
Shall we stand a moment and look around?
We never before have seen
So clearly within the humble home
Of the lowly Nazarene.
See, Mary is kneeling upon the floor,
And close to a casket rare,
For the gifts which the Wise Men brought her son
She carefully treasures there.
And oft will she gaze with a loving pride
On every sparkling gem,
For they bring to her mind that stable-room
And the star of Bethlehem.
She carelessly lifts her eyes to the wall,
And starts as though sore afraid,
For plainly she sees the form of a cross,
Which the hanging tools have made.
The ivory box, with its precious store,
And the robe so richly wrought,
Are forgotten now, for her heart is full
With the anguish of her thought.
Not alone the cross that awakes her fear,
But the form upon it laid—
‘Tis the form of Jesus as He stands,
And the sun has cast the shade.
But why should the crucifix on the wall
Cause Mary to hold her breath ?
Why, because in her heart she knows full well
‘Tis the “shadow of His death.”
Spell bound she kneels, and her eyes are fixed
Full on that picture of gloom,
Regardless of all the glorious rays
That brighten her little room.
Not so the Christ, for He stands in the light—
His eyes on His Father’s throne;
He is peaceful and calm and all serene,
Yet to Him all things are known.
And thus at the last may all those be found
Who walk in the light on earth;
Life’s closing sunset they shall not dread,
Nor fear the shadow of Death.

Lines for a Sunday School Report

And now you have heard our report, friends,
‘Tis far from perfection, we know;
There is much to mourn, regret, condemn,
And much to improve as we go.
We grieve that the old year’s waning light
Should have left us within the shade;
We mourn that hopes, with its dawn so bright,
Have already begun to fade.
Some few have wander’d away from the fold,
They are seeking for rest elsewhere;
They will learn at last ‘tis only found
With the flock in the Saviour’s care.
Some have been call’d from our ranks to swell
The hymns of the heavenly throng;
We are left chanting the humble strains
Of the Bethlehem Shepherds’ song.
We’re often discouraged journeying on,
Sometimes we’re weary and sad;
Yet we have much to be thankful for,
We have much that should make us glad.
We cannot tell all the good we have done
In the weeks and the months now flown;
Though hidden deep, it shall bring forth fruit,
Like the seed that has long been sown.
True soldiers will fight, no matter how thick
The blows that are scatter’d around;
The denser the foe, more glory for those
Who conquer when dangers abound.
We must not tire when the road is rough,
Nor faint when a hill is to climb;
We must shirk no duty, when duty calls
For our help in the cause Divine.
We will start afresh with strength renewed,
We will banish each doubt and fear;
And doing our best we’re sure to find
Success, and a Happy New Year.

Hymn

We are coming to the Saviour,
Bringing all our grief and sin;
He has said “Whoever cometh
I will surely take you in”;
Come, then, while ‘tis called to-day,
All ye weary, come away.
Are you old, and weak, and feeble ?
Come and He will give you strength;
Are you tired of life’s rough journey?
He has promised peace at length.
Come ye aged, bent, and grey,
Come to Jesus, come away.
Are you poor, and sick, and lonely?
Come to Jesus, do not sigh,
Comfort He can give and blessing
When hope’s laded from your sky;
Trust Him, He will be your stay;
Come to Jesus, come away.
Have you wandered from the fold,
From the tender Shepherd’s care?
Are you bruised and bramble-torn
Seeking pleasures other-where?
Home-ward turn without delay,
Jesus calls you, come away.
Are you young, and bright, and happy?
He’d not have you grave or sad;
Jesus loves the sunny-hearted,
Jesus came to make us glad;
Sad or joyous, grave or gay,
All are welcome, come away.
Little children, you are wanted
Though your fingers are so small,
In the vineyard of the Saviour
There is daily work for all;
Hark! His loving accents say:
“Little children, come away.”
Come with all your faults and failings,
Come, however full of sin;
Come ye weary, heavy-laden,
Jesus waits to take you in;
Grieve Him not by long delay,
Come this moment, come away.

Full Confidence

Since thy Father’s arm sustains thee,
Peaceful be, peaceful be;
When a chast’ning hand restrains thee,
It is He, it is He;
Know His love in full completeness
Fills the measure of thy weakness ;
If He wound thy spirit sore,
Trust Him more, trust Him more.
Fear’st thou sometimes that thy
Father Hath forgot, hath forgot;
When the clouds around thee gather
Doubt Him not, doubt Him not.
Ever hath He comfort spoken,
Never hath His word been broken,
Better hath He been for years
Than thy fears, than thy fears.
Without murmur, uncomplaining,
Follow on, follow on;
Saying “Whatsoe’er God doeth
Is well done, is well done.”
Bear to-day thy cross of sorrow,
Wear thy crown of life to-morrow;
Still while calmly trusting sing:
“‘Tis His will, ‘tis His will.”
To His own the Saviour giveth
Daily strength, daily strength;
To each troubled soul that liveth
Peace at length, peace at length.
Therefore whatsoe’er betideth,
Know His love for thee provideth,
Do not question “why” or “how,”
Only bow, only bow.

Losses (An Incomplete Poem)

They sat around the blazing fire
One chilly winter’s night,
The roaring wind blew loud and strong,
The earth was robed in white,
And ghostly branches bended low
Beneath the myriad flakes of snow.
They had been friends in early youth,
In childhood’s happy days,
Before their feet were called to tread
Life’s weary, tangled maze,
And oft had they when free from school
Launched paper boats in many a pool.
But verdant Springs had come and gone,
And sunny Summers fled,
And golden tinted Autumns changed
To Winters dull and dead;
Since each had bid the rest good-bye
And parted future paths to try.

A Fragment

God doth not leave His own;
The sorrows of their life
He doth permit,
Yea, chooseth it.
To speed His children on their heavenward way,
He guides the winds;
Faith, Hope, and Love all say
“God doth not leave His own.”


Christmas, 1874

Welcome, Christmas! we have waited
For thy coming long,
Now to greet thee we will carol
Our most joyous song.
Since we met, and since we parted,
Just twelve months ago,
“We have known both joy and sadness,
Mirth and deepest woe.
Sometimes we have been light-hearted,
Full of careless glee;
Sometimes life has been a burden,
Full of misery.
Sometimes we have grown so weary
Of its many cares,
We have fancied smiles would never
Chase away our tears.
Yet though we’ve had much of sadness
In the year that’s past,
Thou shalt have as warm a welcome
As we gave thee last.
For the mercies have been legion,
Scattered o’er our way;
We have had no day all darkness—
Always some bright ray.
Never have our griefs beset us
Like an armed band;
One by one they’ve gently met us,
Passing through the laud.
Much of bitter, much of sweetness,
With the rose the thorn;
After every night of darkness
Brighter beams the morn.
Welcome, then, old Father Christmas!
Welcome frost and snow;
Thou art bringing joy and sadness,
Tears and smiles, we know.
But we’ll not try to gaze before us
With foreboding eye,
Time enough when sorrow meets us
Then to mourn and sigh,
If, when last we gave thee greeting,
We could but have known
All that since has come upon us,
Every joy had flown.
But we now can smile with gladness,
Every storm-cloud burst;
After all, ‘twas not so cheerless
As we feared at first.
Friends have met and friends have parted,
Dear ones said good-bye,
Since we last gave thee a welcome,
Joy in every eye.
Thou perchance, wilt bring them to us—
Absent ones so dear;
Haste thee, then, old Father Christmas,
Haste thee, haste thee here.

Welcome Christmas, 1876

Welcome dear old Father Christmas,
Welcome the frost and snow,
Welcome bright holly berries,
Welcome the log-fire’s glow.
Welcome to the carol singers,
Welcome the goodly cheer;
Welcome everything that whispers
Sweet Christmas time is here.
As we look back upon the year,
So quickly dying now,
Past memories fling a shade of grief
And sadness o’er our brow.
We enter’d on its untried length,
With such bright hopes and joys,
They’re dash’d to earth and broken now
Like childhood’s bauble toys.
Changes have come we thought not of
And altered all our way,
Pleasures we fancied all our own
Faded and would, not stay.
To some the year will have been one
Of hopings all in vain,
A long and weary waiting for
The good that never came.
Where are all the joyous circles
In our midst last Christmas Day?
Broken, parted, widely scattered,
Out upon life’s highway.
We perhaps, no more shall greet them,
Together as of yore;
May all joy and peace go with them,
Till safe on Eden’s shore.
And now, and more, we’re safely through
Another round of life,
We’re stronger now, and purer, too,
And better for the strife.
Then a truce to grief and sadness,
Let Christmas time be gay,
Let us strive with mirth and gladness
To drive grim care away.
Oh, hark to the joy-bells ringing,
Each with its iron tongue,
They’re spreading the gladsome tidings,
List to the welcome song.
They bid us in pealing music,
Cherish no thought of ill,
Remember the old-time blessing,
“Peace, and on earth good will.”
Forget not amid your feasting,
The lonely ones who roam,
No hearts so sad as theirs who spend
Christmas without a home.
And now give the old king welcome,
Welcome his ice-bound brow;
He is here with his merry greetings,
Come, give him welcome now.

Christmas, 1877

Old Father Christmas comes once more,
As he has often come before;
We’ll give him hearty welcome here
With blazing logs and goodly cheer.
He always brings a merry face,
Carefully hiding every trace
Of future storms, and we forget
Loads we have borne since last we met.
For time will soften sorrow’s sway,
And griefs, like shadows, fade away,
When gloom and darkness all have fled,
And sunlight sparkles overhead.
No desert yet without its spring,
No harp so broken but some string
Can make an echo in our heart
And soothe our sorrow’s keenest smart.
No garden plot or flowery mead
But we may find some choking weed,
And after deepest shades of night
We better learn to prize the light.
Maybe our cares are sometimes sent
To teach us all to be content;
Our trials often make us wise,
And so prove blessings in disguise.
Some dear friends have passed away
Who spent with us last Christmas Day,
And ere another winter’s snow
Some present now may have to go.
Then while permitted here to live,
Our friends we’ll love, our foes forgive,
And welcome Christmas to our board
With thankful heart and sweet accord.

Christmas Coming, 1878

Cold the earth, and bare the branches;
Short the days, and dark and drear;
Keenly blow the winds of heaven,
Father Christmas now is near,
In his regal robes of crystal,
Bid the Monarch welcome here!
Lo! he comes with crown and sceptre,
Wreathed with holly, dark and bright.
See the saucy berries gleaming
All among his locks so white,
Like a band of rubies striving
To encircle waves of light.
Lo! he comes, ice-pendants drooping
From his beard of glistening snow,
Watch the magic frostwork sparkle
Where his icy breath doth blow.
Though so very cold and chilly,
He is welcome here, I know.
For beneath that hoar-frost mantle,
And aneath that vest of snow
His true royal heart is beating
With a deep and ruddy glow—
His hearty, warm, and kindly nature
Must ever melt the sternest foe.
Oh! leave not one wrong unpardoned,
For the Old King deems it crime.
Listen to his loving message,
Now ‘tis coming Christmas time.
For peace, goodwill, and every blessing
Ring out in every chime.
When he to our homes brings plenty,
Entering with velvet tread,
Let us think of those who cannot
Even buy sufficient bread.
Such will aye await his coming
Fearfully, with anxious dread.
As the bells ring out their welcome,
Charity should do her part,
Lightening the heavy burden
On a poorer brother’s heart.
Then their music will re-echo,
Softly soothing every heart.
Come, now, pile the Yule-log higher,
And heap on the boards good cheer,
For the dear old Christmas season
Rapidly is drawing near.
As he comes we hear him saying—
“Lo! I come but once a year.”

New Year’s Eve, 1879

The hands on the dial pointed to the ghostly midnight hour,
And loudly the chimes were pealing, up in the old grey tower;
But faintly, and still more faintly, were the echoes borne along,
Till at last, their quivering cadence, came like the breath of song.
The silver moon, in her virgin pride, shed beams of chilly light,
As winding among the shadows, rode a horseman through the night;
His head, on his breast, was drooping, and his locks were white as snow,
And the footsteps of his jaded steed were heavy, listless, slow.
Though faded, worn, and weary, still lingered many a trace
Of vanished splendours round him, and a somewhat kingly grace;
But, oh! they looked so lonely, so weird, and bowed with care,
That I longed to hear the story of such a curious pair.
So folding my wraps about me, I ran to the little gate,
Where the stars through the hollies shimmer, their coming to await;
And methinks the aged horseman read my bold, though mute request,
For when he saw me watching there, he stopped his steed to rest.
And bending from his saddle, placed his hand upon my head,
“Thou’rt wondering why my horse and I should roam so late,” he said,
“I’ve travelled far from halls of light, where gay crowds dance and sing,
For but an exiled monarch now, is he they once called king.
“Twelve months ago they welcomed me with music and with song,
To-night they turn me from their doors, a discontented throng,
And upon my head they heap the blame for all the last year’s care,
Forgetting that of pleasures, too, I brought a goodly share.
“A faithless race, how pleased they are, yon gay young king to own,
And never prouder monarch stepped upon their tickle throne;
For as I rode through the gateway, he was there to see me go,
He laughed and jeered, and mocked me for being old and slow.”
Poor old soul, as he told me this, the great tears fell like rain,
And my heart ached to hear the sobs that shook his wasted frame;
Then sadly bidding me, “Good-night,” he slowly rode away;
And so the old year faded ere the dawn of Hew Year’s Day.

Remember All the Way

Once again the year is ended,
Once again the new begun,
Once again our steps are tending,
Towards the westering sun.
We have left the old year buried,
Underneath the crystal snow,
And his farewell chimes were ringing,
As we laid him low.
What though stern we may have thought him,
At his grave reproaches cease,
All the way he kept us safely,
Let him rest in peace.
True, he often look’d forbidding,
With his hour-glass in his hand;
Yet he filtered grains of brightness,
Through the shifting sand.
We have all had our December,
And we all have had our May;
Do not let the darkness triumph,
Think of all the way.
Once the road was very rugged,
And it hurt your weary feet;
But the stony pathway led you
To a meadow sweet.
And when resting ‘mid the flow’rs,
Where the trickling water moans,
You did not regret the journey,
Over rocks and stones.
Once the heaving billows swept you
Far away from peaceful ground;
Even then, among the surges,
You an anchor found.
Once, it may be, you wore standing,
Where life’s wildering cross-roads meet;
And with doubting spirit wondered
Where to turn your feet.
And, maybe, long time you halted,
Till the finger-post you spied,
Pointing out the way before you,
Then you had a guide,
Once the darkness gathered quickly,
And you had no heart to sing;
Then came Hope, and veil’d the shadows,
With her silver wing.
Yes, we all had our December,
And we also had our May;
Do not let the darkness triumph,
Think of all the way.

Good-bye to the Old Year, 1881

The old year must lay down his sceptre to-night,
For ever and aye.
He will finish his work with the fading light,
And die with the day.
We have fought ‘neath his colours in darkness and light,
‘Mid pleasure and pain;
Not always in weakness, not always in might,
‘Twas loss and then gain.
His standard still floats from the flagstaff of Time,
But long ere the dawn
His youthful successor will deem it no crime
To hoist up his own.
Oh, well we remember the ivy we twin’d
Just twelve months ago,
To wreath him a crown with dark holly combin’d
And berries aglow.
Again and again he has troubled our days
With prickly leaves,
But we will not forget the bright sunny rays
His memory leaves.
There are golden threads in the tangled skein
He has made us wind;
There are silver links in the weary chain
He has helped to bind.
And there are portions sweet on the blotted scroll
He will seal to-night,
And ‘twixt many a page of the wondrous roll
There are pictures bright.
Friendship’s fair rosary larger has grown,
More fragrant, more dear.
For blessings enjoyed in the months that have flown
We thank the old year.
But, lo! the last sands are fast ebbing away,
Now feeble and few;
To poor eighty-one we must speedily say
Adieu! Adieu!

My Christmas Cards, 1882

They have come from the hills and valleys
Of our own dear English land;
They have come from the Emerald island,
They have come from India’s strand.
They have come from the friends around us,
And come from the children dear;
They have come from those who are absent,
And have been many a year.
There are roses of every description,
Each varied colour you ask,
With petals white, creamy, or tinted,
Shell-pink or glowing damask.
There are bunches of purple heather
That whisper of summer time;
There are blue bells fraught with rich blessing,
Like notes in a Christmas chime.
There are strawberries bright and golden,
Half hidden the leaves among,
While the feathery ferns and sweetpeas
Are laden with peaceful song.
Through a trellis of shining holly
The ruby-like berries gleam;
Forget-me-nots nestle in corners,
Primroses glancing between.
Right away from the heart of London,
Where flowers languish and die,
Came a sprig of trembling field grass,
‘Neath a gorgeous butterfly.
And wrapped in a loving mystery
Came a vase with roses crowned;
While an overflowing basket trailed
Its floral wealth around.
The little ones sent me May blossom,
Fragrant with promise of spring,
And others chose crystal-bell’d lillies
There message of joy to bring.
Then tenderly breathing sweet comfort,
For the ills that may befall.
Came clusters of velvety pansies,
Dear heartsease, precious to all
Each petal and chalice are brimming
With tender and true regard;
And love and good wishes are written
On every Christmas Card.

A Happy New Year, 1884

A happy new year to all,
A happy new year we sing;
For the old year’s race is closing apace,
Say! — what will the new one bring?
He comes with his caskets twelve,
Within all mysteries lie;
Nothing, indeed, but their names can be read—
March, April, or July.
No wonder we stand and gaze
With grave though curious mind,
Since the hopes of a life or the keenest strife
It may be our lot to find.
But though griefs are deep and strong,
It is never the New Year’s code
To let them all rush, and suddenly crush,
With the weight of a monthly load.
For be sure each casket holds
Days filled with golden light,
And the sunny hours bring sweetest flowers,
With seasons fair and bright.
There are friendships pure and true,
With their loving, helpful hands;
There are peaceful times when our heartbells chime
And easy are Life’s commands.
Yet we know all will not share
In that which each month shall bring;
Some, it is true, will see the year through,
And some will have taken wing.
Let us be hopeful and brave,
For Time will make all things clear;
And passing along, we’ll sing the old song—
“I Wish You a Happy New Year.”

Poems by Emma Battye (1884)

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This page was last modified on 4 October 2018 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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