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POEMS OF RELIGION.
And these — for beauty was the rule — The polished pavements, hard and cool, Redoubled, like a crystal pool.
And there the odorous feast was spread;
In skyey garments, silky thin,
Far flew the music's circling sound;
Did any great door ope or close,
Then once again the groups were drawn Through corridors, or down the lawn, Which bloomed in beauty like a dawn. Where countless fountains leapt alway, Weiling their silver heights in spray, The choral people held their way.
There, midst the brightest, brightly shone
No further might the scene unfold ;
“O master of these broad estates,
. . . . HE was of that stubborn crew
With honest pride I scorn each selfish end ; My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise. To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays, The lowly train in life's sequestered scene ; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways; What Aiken in a cottage would have been ; Ah! though his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween. II. November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh ; The shortening winter-day is near a close ; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh, The blackening trainso' craws to their repose; The toilworn cotter frae his labor goes, This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes, – Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend. III. At length his lonely cot appears in view, Beneath the shelter of an aged tree; Th’ expectant wee things, toddlin', stacher through To meet their dad, wi' flichterin' noisean'glee. His wee bit ingle, blinking bonmily, His clean hearthstane, his thriftie wifie's smile, The lisping infant prattling on his knee, Does a his weary carking cares beguile, And makes him quite forget his labor and his toil.
IV. Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in, At service out amang the fariners roun’; Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentierin A cannie errand to a neibor town ; Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown, In youthful bloom, love sparkling in her e'e, Comes hame, perhaps, to shew a bra' new gown, Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee, To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.
V. Wi' Joy unfeigned brothers and sisters meet, An each for other's weelfare kindly spiers: The social hours, swift-winged, unnoticed fleet; Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears; The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years; Anticipation forward points the view. The mother, wi' her needle an' her shears, Garsauld claes look amaist as weel's the new ; The father mixes a wi' admonition due.
VI. Their master's an' their mistress's command, The younkers a' are warnéd to obey; And mind their labors wi' an eydent hand, And ne'er, though outo'sight, tojauk or play;
“An' O, be sure to fear the Lord alway ! An' mind your duty, duly, morn an' night ! Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray, Implore his counsel and assisting might; They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright !”
But, hark a rap comes gently to the door. Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same, Tells how a neibor lad cam o'er the moor, To do some errands and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious flame Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek; Wi' heart-struck anxious care inquires his name, While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak ; Weel pleased the mother hears it's nae wild, worthless rake. VIII. Wi’ kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben ; A strappin' youth ; he taks the mother's ele; Blithe Jenny sees the visit 's no ill ta'en ; The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye. The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy, But blate and lathefu', scarce can weel behave; The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy What makes the youth sae bashful an' sae grave; Weel pleased to think her bairn's respected like the lave.
The soupe their only hawkie does afford, That 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood ; The dame brings forth, in complimental mood, Tograce the lad, her weel-hained kebbuck fell, An' aft he's prest, an' aft he ca's it guid; The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell, How 't was a townlond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell. XII.
The cheerful supper done, wi' serious face, They, round the ingle, form a circle wide; The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace, , The big ha'-Bible, ance his father's pride; His bonnet reverently is laid aside, His lyart haffets wearing thin an' bare: Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide, He wales a portion with judicious care; And “Letus worship God . " he says with solemn air. xi II.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise; They tune their hearts, by far the noblestaim : Perhaps “Dundee's" wild-warbling measures rise, Orplaintive “Martyrs,” worthy of the name; Or noble “Elgin” beets the heavenward flame, The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays : Compared with these, Italian trills are tame; The tickled ears no heartfelt raptures raise ; Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page, – How Abram was the friend of God on high ; Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage With Amalek's ungracious progeny, Or how the royal bard did groaning lie Seneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire ; Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry; Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire; Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme, – How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in heaven the second name,
How his first followers and servants sped;
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounced by
Then, kneeling down, to heaven's eternal King, The saint, the father, and the husband prays :
Hope “springsexulting on triumphant wing,” That thus they all shall meet in future days; There ever bask in uncreated rays, No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear, Together hymning their Creator's praise, In such society, yet still more dear; While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere. xvii. Compared with this, how poor Religion's pride, In all the pomp of method and of art, When men display to congregations wide, Devotion's every grace, except the heart The Power, incensed, the pageant will desert, The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole; But, haply, in some cottage far apart, May hear, well pleased, the language of the - soul; And in his Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.