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LESSON XCI.-HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD, Oh, to be in England Now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England---now! And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge Leans to the field, and scatters on the clover Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edgeThat's the wise thrush ; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture ! And though the fields look rough with hoary dew, All will be gay when noontide wakes anew The buttercups, the little children's dower, - Far brighter than this gaudy melon flower!
R. Browning. LESSON XCII.—THE LOST EXPEDITION. Lift-lift, ye mists, from off the silent coast,
Folded in endless winter's chill embraces ;
Unshroud for us awhile our brave ones lost!
Let us behold their faces !
In vain—the North has hid them from our sight :
The snow their winding-sheet—their only dirges
The groan of icebergs in the polar night,
Racked by the savage surges.
No funeral torches, with a smoky glare,
Shone a farewell upon their shrouded faces; No monumental pillar, tall and fair,
: Towers o'er their resting places. But northern streamers flare the long night through
Over the cliffs stupendous, fraught with peril
Of icebergs, tinted with a ghostly hue
Of amethyst and beryl.
No human tears upon their graves are shed-
Tears of domestic love or pity holy;
But snow.flakes from the gloomy sky o'erhead,
· Down shuddering, settle slowly.
Yet history shrines them with her mighty dead,
The hero seamen of this isle of Britain ; And, when the brighter scroll of heaven is read, There will their names be written.
LESSON XCIII.-THE RAINBOW.
A fragment of a rainbow bright
Through the moist air I see,
All dark and damp on yonder height,
All bright and clear to me.
An hour ago the storm was here,
The gleam was far behind ;
So will our joys and griefs appear,
When earth has ceased to blind.
Grief will be joy, if on its edge
Fall soft that holiest ray;
Joy will be grief, if no faint pledge
Be there of heavenly day.--Keble.
LESSON XCIV.—ON THE MORNING OF CHBTST S NATIVITY.
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal king,
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherewith He wont at Heaven's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heavenly muse, shall not thy sacred vein,
Afford a present to the Infant God!
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome Him to this His new abode,
Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons
See how from far, upon the eastern road,
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
0 run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at His blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out His secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.
It was the winter wild, .
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapped in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe to him
Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize.
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair
She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But He, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace :
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's sound,
Was heard the world around :
The idle spear and shield were high up hung ;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the arméd throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by,
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began :
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The stars, with deep amaze
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn’d them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow
Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new-enlightend world no more should need :
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could bear,
The shepherds on the lawn
Or ere the point of dawn
Sate simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.