Heaven Poems - Poems For Heaven
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The Course Of Time. Book V. - Poem by Robert Pollok
Praise God, ye servants of the Lord! praise God,
Ye angels strong! praise God, ye sons of men!
Praise him who made, and who redeemed your souls;
Who gave you hope, reflection, reason, will;
Minds that can pierce eternity remote,
And live at once on future, present, past;
Can speculate on systems yet to make,
And back recoil on ancient days of Time.
Of Time, soon past; soon lost among the shades
Of buried years. Not so the actions done
In Time, the deeds of reasonable men;
As if engraven with pen of iron grain,
And laid in flinty rock, they stand unchanged,
Written on the various pages of the past:
If good, in rosy characters of love;
If bad, in letters of vindictive fire.
God may forgive, but cannot blot them out.
Systems begin, and end; eternity
Rolls on his endless years; and men absolved
By mercy from the consequence, forget
The evil deed; and God imputes it not:
But neither systems ending, nor begun;
Eternity that rolls his endless years;
Nor men absolved, and sanctified, and washed
By mercy from the consequence; nor yet
Forgetfulness; nor God imputing not,
Can wash the guilty deed once done, from out
The faithful annals of the past; who reads,
And many read, there find it, as it was,
And is, and shall for ever be—a dark,
Unnatural and loathly moral spot.
The span of Time was short indeed; and now
Three-fourths were past, the last begun, and on
Careering to its close, which soon we sing:
But first our promise we redeem, to tell
The joys of Time—her joys of native growth;
And briefly must, what longer tale deserves.
Wake, dear remembrances! wake, childhood-days!
Loves, friendships, wake! and wake thou morn, and even!
Sun! with thy orient locks; night, moon, and stars!
And thou, celestial bow! and all ye woods,
And hills, and vales; first trode in dawning life!
And hours of holy musing, wake! wake, earth!
And smiling to remembrance, come; and bring,
For thou canst bring, meet argument for song
Of heavenly harp; meet hearing for the ear
Of heavenly auditor, exalted high.
God gave much peace on earth, much holy joy:
Oped fountains of perennial spring, whence flowed
Abundant happiness to all who wished
To drink: not perfect bliss; that dwells with us,
Beneath the eyelids of the Eternal One,
And sits at his right hand alone: but such,
As well deserved the name—abundant joy.
Pleasures, on which the memory of saints
Of highest glory, still delights to dwell.
It was, we own, subject of much debate,
And worthy men stood on opposing sides,
Whether the cup of mortal life had more
Of sour or sweet. Vain question this, when asked
In general terms, and worthy to be left
Unsolved. If most was sour—the drinker, not
The cup, we blame. Each in himself the means
Possessed to turn the bitter sweet, the sweet
To bitter: hence from out the self-same fount,
One nectar drank, another draughts of gall.
Hence from the self-same quarter of the sky,
One saw ten thousand angels look, and smile;
Another saw as many demons frown.
One discord heard, where harmony inclined
Another's ear. The sweet was in the taste;
The beauty in the eye; and in the ear
The melody; and in the man—for God
Necessity of sinning laid on none—
To form the taste, to purify the eye,
And tune the ear, that all he tasted, saw,
Or heard, might be harmonious, sweet, and fair.
Who would, might groan: who would, might sing for joy.
Nature lamented little; undevoured
By spurious appetites, she found enough,
Where least was found: with gleanings satisfied,
Or crumbs, that from the hand of luxury fell;
Yet seldom these she ate: but ate the bread
Of her own industry, made sweet by toil:
And walked in robes that her own hand had spun:
And slept on down, her early rising bought.
Frugal, and diligent in business, chaste
And abstinent, she stored for helpless age.
And keeping in reserve her spring-day health,
And dawning relishes of life, she drank
Her evening cup with excellent appetite;
And saw her eldest sun decline, as fair
As rose her earliest morn, and pleased as well.
Whether in crowds, or solitudes—in streets
Or shady groves, dwelt happiness, it seems
In vain to ask; her nature makes it vain:
Tho' poets much, and hermits talked and sung
Of brooks, and crystal founts, and weeping dews,
And myrtle bowers, and solitary vales;
And with the nymph made assignations there;
And wooed her with the love-sick oaten reed.
And sages too, although less positive,
Advised their sons to court her in the shade.
Delirious babble all! Was happiness,
Was self-approving, God approving joy,
In drops of dew, however pure? in gales,
However sweet? in wells, however clear?
Or groves, however thick with verdant shade?
True, these were of themselves exceeding fair:
How fair at morn and even! worthy the walk
Of loftiest mind; and gave, when all within
Was right, a feast of overflowing bliss.
But were the occasion, not the cause of joy:
They waked the native fountains of the soul,
Which slept before; and stirred the holy tides
Of feeling up; giving the heart to drink
From its own treasures, draughts of perfect sweet.
The Christian faith, which better knew the heart
Of man—him thither sent for peace; and thus
Declared: Who finds it, let him find it there:
Who finds it not, for ever let him seek
In vain: 'tis God's most holy, changeless will.
True happiness had no localities;
No tones provincial; no peculiar garb.
Where duty went, she went; with justice went;
And went with meekness, charity, and love.
Where'er a tear was dried; a wounded heart
Bound up; a bruised spirit with the dew
Of sympathy anointed; or a pang
Of honest suffering soothed; or injury
Repeated oft, as oft by love forgiven;
Where'er an evil passion was subdued,
Or Virtue's feeble embers fanned; where'er
A sin was heartily abjured, and left;
Where'er a pious act was done, or breathed
A pious prayer, or wished a pious wish—
There was a high and holy place, a spot
Of sacred light, a most religious fane,
Where Happiness, descending, sat and smiled.
But these apart. In sacred memory lives
The morn of life; first morn of endless days.
Most joyful morn! nor yet for nought the joy:
A being of eternal date commenced;
A young immortal then was born; and who
Shall tell what strange variety of bliss
Burst on the infant soul, when first it looked
Abroad on God's creation fair, and saw
The glorious earth, and glorious heaven, and face
Of man sublime? and saw all new, and felt
All new? when thought awoke; thought never more
To sleep? when first it saw, heard, reasoned, willed;
And triumphed in the warmth of conscious life?
Nor happy only; but the cause of joy,
Which those who never tasted always mourned.
What tongue? no tongue shall tell what bliss o'erflowed
The mother's tender heart, while round her hung
The offspring of her love, and lisped her name;
As living jewels dropt unstained from heaven,
That made her fairer far, and sweeter seem,
Than every ornament of costliest hue.
And who hath not been ravished, as she passed
With all her playful band of little ones,
Like Luna, with her daughters of the sky,
Walking in matron majesty and grace?
All who had hearts, here pleasure found: and oft
Have I, when tired with heavy task, for tasks,
Where heavy in the world below, relaxed
My weary thoughts among their guiltless sports;
And led them by their little hands afield;
And watched them run and crop the tempting flower,—
Which oft, unask'd, they brought me, and bestow'd
With smiling face, that waited for a look
Of praise—and answered curious questions, put
In much simplicity, but ill to solve;
And heard their observations strange and new,
And settled whiles their little quarrels, soon
Ending in peace, and soon forgot in love.
And still I looked upon their loveliness;
And sought through nature for similitudes
Of perfect beauty, innocence, and bliss.
And fairest imagery around me thronged:—
Dew-drops at day-spring on a seraph's locks;
Roses that bathe about the well of life;
Young Loves, young Hopes, dancing on Morning's cheek;
Gems leaping in the coronet of love:
So beautiful, so full of life, they seemed
As made entire of beams of angels eyes.
Gay, guileless, sportive, lovely, little things!
Playing around the den of sorrow, clad
In smiles; believing in their fairy hopes;
And thinking man and woman true: all joy:
Happy all day, and happy all the night.
Hail, holy love! thou word that sums all bliss!
Gives and receives all bliss; fullest when most
Thou givest. Spring-head of all felicity!
Deepest when most is drawn. Emblem of God!
Overflowing most when greatest numbers drink:
Essence that binds the uncreated Three:
Chain that unites creation to its Lord:
Centre to which all being gravitates:
Eternal, evergrowing, happy love!
Enduring all, hoping, forgiving all;
Instead of law, fulfilling every law.
Entirely blest, because thou seek'st no more;
Hopes not, nor fears; but on the present lives,
And holds perfection smiling in thy arms.
Mysterious, infinite, exhaustless love!
On earth mysterious, and mysterious still
In heaven: sweet chord, that harmonizes all
The harps of Paradise: the spring, the well,
That fills the bowl, and banquet of the sky.
But why should I to thee of love divine?
Who happy, and not eloquent of love?
Who holy, and as thou art, pure, and not
A temple where her glory ever dwells,
Where burns her fires, and beams her perfect eye?
Kindred to this, part of this holy flame,
Was youthful love—the sweetest boon of Earth.
Hail love! first love, thou word that sums all bliss!
The sparkling cream of all Time's blessedness:
The silken down of happiness complete:
Discerner of the ripest grapes of joy—
She gathered, and selected with her hand.
All finest relishes, all fairest sights;
All rarest odours, all divinest sounds;
All thoughts, all feelings dearest to the soul;
And brought the holy mixture home, and filled
The heart with all superlatives of bliss.
But who would that expound which words transcends,
Must talk in vain—Behold a meeting scene
Of early love, and thence infer its worth.
It was an eve of Autumn's holiest mood;
The corn fields, bathed in Cynthia's silver light,
Stood ready for the reaper's gathering hand;
And all the winds slept soundly; nature seemed,
In silent contemplation, to adore
Its Maker: now and then the aged leaf
Fell from its fellows, rustling to the ground;
And, as it fell, bade man think on his end.
On vale and lake, on wood and mountain high,
With pensive wing outspread, sat heavenly thought,
Conversing with itself: Vesper looked forth,
From out her western hermitage, and smiled;
And up the east unclouded rode the Moon
With all her stars, gazing on earth intense,
As if she saw some wonder walking there.
Such was the night—so lovely, still, serene;
When, by a hermit thorn that on the hill
Had seen a hundred flowery ages pass,
A damsel kneeled to offer up her prayer;
Her prayer nightly offered, nightly heard.
This ancient thorn had been the meeting place
Of love, before his country's voice had called
The ardent youth to fields of honour far
Beyond the wave. And hither now repaired,
Nightly, the maid; by God's all-seeing eye
Seen only, while she sought this boon alone:—
Her lover's safety, and his quick return.
In holy, humble attitude she kneeled;
And to her bosom, fair as moon-beam, pressed
One hand, the other lifted up to heaven;
Her eye upturned, bright as the star of morn,
As violet meek, excessive ardour streamed,
Wafting away her earnest heart to God.
Her voice scarce uttered; soft as Zephyr sighs
On morning lily's cheek; tho' soft and low—
Yet heard in heaven, heard at the mercy-seat.
A tear-drop wandered on her lovely face;
It was a tear of faith, and holy fear,
Pure as the drops that hang at dawning-time,
On yonder willows by the stream of life.
On her the moon looked stedfastly, the stars,
That circle nightly round the eternal throne,
Glanced down, well pleased; and everlasting love
Gave gracious audience to her prayer sincere.
O had her lover seen her thus alone,
Thus holy, wrestling thus, and all for him!
Nor did he not: for oft-times Providence,
With unexpected joy the fervent prayer
Of faith surprised:—returned from long delay,
With glory crowned of righteous actions won,
The sacred thorn to memory dear, first sought
The youth, and found it at the happy hour,
Just when the damsel kneeled herself to pray.
Wrapt in devotion, pleading with her God,
She saw him not, heard not his foot approach.
All holy images seemed too impure
To emblem her he saw. A seraph kneeled,
Beseeching for his ward, before the throne,
Seemed fittest, pleased him best. Sweet was the thought;
But sweeter still the kind remembrance came,
That she was flesh, and blood, formed for himself,
The plighted partner of his future life.
And as they met, embraced, and sat embowered
In woody chambers of the starry night,—
Spirits of love about them ministered,
And God approving, blessed the holy joy.
Nor unremembered is the hour when friends
Met; friends but few on earth, and therefore dear;
Sought oft, and almost sought as oft in vain:
Yet always sought; so native to the heart,
So much desired, and coveted by all.
Nor wonder thou—thou wonder'st not, nor need'st:
Much beautiful, and excellent, and fair
Was seen beneath the sun; but nought was seen
More beautiful, or excellent, or fair
Than face of faithful friend; fairest when seen
In darkest day. And many sounds were sweet,
Most ravishing, and pleasant to the ear;
But sweeter none than voice of faithful friend;
Sweet always, sweetest heard in loudest storm.
Some I remember, and will ne'er forget;
My early friends, friends of my evil day;
Friends in my mirth, friends in my misery too;
Friends given my God in mercy and in love;
My counsellors, my comforters, and guides;
My joy in grief, my second bliss in joy;
Companions of my young desires; in doubt
My oracles, my wings in high pursuit.
O, I remember, and will ne'er forget,
Our meeting spots, our chosen sacred hours;
Our burning words, that uttered all the soul;
Our faces beaming with unearthly love;—
Sorrow with sorrow sighing, hope with hope
Exulting, heart embracing heart entire.
As birds of social feather helping each
His fellow's flight, we soared into the skies,
And cast the clouds beneath our feet, and earth,
With all her tardy leaden-footed cares,
And talked the speech, and ate the food of heaven.
These I remember, these selectest men;
And would their names record—but what avails
My mention of their name: before the throne
They stand illustrious 'mong the loudest harps,
And will receive thee glad, my friend and theirs.
For all are friends in heaven; all faithful friends;
And many friendships in the days of Time
Begun, are lasting here, and growing still:
So grows ours evermore, both theirs and mine.
Nor is the hour of lonely walk forgot,
In the wide desert, where the view was large.
Pleasant were many scenes, but most to me
The solitude of vast extent, untouched
By hand of art, where nature sowed, herself,
And reaped her crops;—whose garments were the clouds;
Whose minstrels, brooks; whose lamps, the moon and stars;
Whose organ-quire, the voice of many waters;
Whose banquets, morning dews; whose heroes, storms;
Whose warriors, mighty winds; whose lovers, flowers;
Whose orators, the thunderbolts of God;
Whose palaces, the everlasting hills;
Whose ceiling, heaven's unfathomable blue;
And from whose rocky turrets battled high,
Prospect immense spread out on all sides round;
Lost now between the welkin and the main,
Now walled with hills that slept above the storm.
Most fit was such a place for musing men;
Happiest sometimes when musing without aim.
It was indeed a wondrous sort of bliss
The lonely bard enjoyed, when forth he walked
Unpurposed; stood, and knew not why; sat down,
And knew not where; arose, and knew not when;
Had eyes, and saw not; ears, and nothing heard;
And sought—sought neither heaven nor earth—sought nought,
Nor meant to think; but ran, meantime, thro' vast
Of visionary things, fairer than aught
That was; and saw the distant tops of thoughts,
Which men of common stature never saw,
Greater than aught that largest words could hold,
Or give idea of, to those who read.
He entered in to Nature's holy place,
Her inner chamber, and beheld her face
Unveiled; and heard unutterable things,
And incommunicable visions saw:—
Things then unutterable, and visions then
Of incommunicable glory bright;
But by the lips of after ages formed
To words, or by their pencil pictured forth:
Who entering farther in beheld again,
And heard unspeakable and marvellous things,
Which other ages in their turn revealed;
And left to others, greater wonders still.
The earth abounded much in silent wastes;
Nor yet is heaven without its solitudes,
Else incomplete in bliss, whither who will
May oft retire, and meditate alone,
Of God, redemption, holiness, and love:
Nor needs to fear a setting sun, or haste
Him home from rainy tempest unforseen;
Or, sighing, leave his thoughts for want of time.
But whatsoever was both good and fair,
And highest relish of enjoyment gave,
In intellectual exercise was found:
When gazing through the future, present, past,
Inspired, thought linked to thought, harmonious flowed
In poetry—the loftiest mood of mind.
Or when philosophy the reason led
Deep thro' the outward circumstance of things;
And saw the master wheels of Nature move;
And travelled far along the endless line
Of certain, and of probable; and made,
At every step, some new discovery,
That gave the soul sweet sense of larger room.
High these pursuits—and sooner to be named
Deserved; at present only named; again
To be resumed, and praised in longer verse.
Abundant and diversified above
All number, were the sources of delight;
As infinite as were the lips that drank;
And to the pure, all innocent and pure;
The simplest still to wisest men the best.
One made acquaintanceship with plants and flowers,
And happy grew in telling all their names.
One classed the quadrupedes; a third the fowls;
Another found in minerals his joy.
And I have seen a man, a worthy man,
In happy mood conversing with a fly;
And as he through his glass, made by himself,
Beheld its wondrous eye, and plumage fine,
From leaping scarce he kept for perfect joy.
And from my path, I with my friend have turned,
A man of excellent mind, and excellent heart,
And climbed the neighbouring hill, with arduous step,
Fetching from distant cairn, or from the earth
Digging with labour sore, the ponderous stone,
Which, having carried to the highest top,
We downward rolled; and as it strove at first
With obstacles that seemed to match its force,
With feeble crooked motion to and fro
Wavering, he looked with interest most intense,
And prayed almost; and as it gathered strength,
And straightened the current of its furious flow—
Exulting in the swiftness of its course,
And rising now with rainbow-bound immense,
Leaped down careering o'er the subject plain,
He clapped his hands in sign of boundless bliss;
And laughed and talked, well paid for all his toil:
And when at night the story was rehearsed,
Uncommon glory kindled in his eye.
And there were too—harp! lift thy voice on high,
And run in rapid numbers o'er the face
Of Nature's scenery—and there were day
And night; and rising suns, and setting suns;
And clouds, that seemed like chariots of saints,
By fiery coursers drawn—as brightly hued,
As if the glorious, bushy, golden locks
Of thousand cherubim, had been shorn off,
And on the temples hung of morn and even.
And there were moons, and stars, and darkness streaked
With light; and voice of tempest heard secure.
And there were seasons coming evermore,
And going still, all fair, and always new,
With bloom, and fruit, and fields of hoary grain.
And there were hills of flock, and groves of song;
And flowery streams, and garden walks embowered,
Where side by side the rose and lily bloomed.
And sacred founts, wild harps, and moonlight glens;
And forests vast, fair lawns, and lonely oaks;
And little willows sipping at the brook:
Old wizard haunts, and dancing seats of mirth;
Gay festive bowers, and palaces in dust;
Dark owlet nooks, and caves, and battled rocks;
And winding vallies, roofed with pendant shade;
And tall, and perilous cliffs, that overlooked
The breadth of ocean, sleeping on his waves.
Sounds, sights, smells, tastes; the heaven and earth, profuse
In endless sweets, above all praise of song:
For not to use alone did Providence
Abound, but large example gave to man
Of grace, and ornament, and splendour rich;
Suited abundantly to every taste,
In bird, beast, fish, winged and creeping thing;
In herb and flower; and in the restless change,
Which on the many-coloured seasons made
The annual circuit of the fruitful earth.
Nor do I aught of earthly sort remember,—
If partial feeling to my native place
Lead not my lyre astray,—of fairer view,
And comelier walk, than the blue mountain-paths,
And snowy cliffs of Albion renowned;
Albion, an isle long blest with gracious laws,
And gracious kings, and favoured much of Heaven;
Though yielding oft penurious gratitude.
Nor do I of that isle remember aught
Of prospect more sublime and beautiful,
Than Scotia's northern battlement of hills,
Which first I from my father's house beheld,
At dawn of life: beloved in memory still;
And standard still of rural imagery:
What most resembles them, the fairest seems,
And stirs the eldest sentiments of bliss;
And pictured on the tablet of my heart,
Their distant shapes eternally remain,
And in my dreams their cloudy tops arise.
Much of my native scenery appears,
And presses forward to be in my song;
But must not now: for much behind awaits
Of higher note. Four trees I pass not by,
Which o'er our house their evening shadow threw:—
Three ash, and one of elm: tall trees they were,
And old; and had been old a century
Before my day: none living could say ought
About their youth; but they were goodly trees:
And oft I wondered, as I sat and thought
Beneath their summer shade, or in the night
Of winter, heard the spirits of the wind
Growling among their boughs,—how they had grown
So high, in such a rough tempestuous place:
And when a hapless branch, torn by the blast,
Fell down, I mourned, as if a friend had fallen.
These I distinctly hold in memory still,
And all the desert scenery around.
Nor strange, that recollection there should dwell,
Where first I heard of God's redeeming love;
First felt and reasoned, loved and was beloved,
And first awoke the harp to holy song.
To hoar and green there was enough of joy.
Hopes, friendships, charities, and warm pursuit,
Gave comfortable flow to youthful blood.
And there were old remembrances of days,
When on the glittering dews of orient life,
Shone sunshine hopes—unfailed, unperjured then:
And there were childish sports, and school-boy feats,
And school-boy spots, and earnest vows of love,
Uttered, when passion's boisterous tide ran high;
Sincerely uttered, though but seldom kept:
And there were angel looks; and sacred hours
Of rapture; hours that in a moment passed,
And yet were wished to last for evermore:
And venturous exploits; and hardy deeds;
And bargains shrewd, achieved in manhood's prime;
And thousand recollections, gay and sweet,
Which, as the old and venerable man
Approached the grave, around him, smiling, flocked;
And breathed new ardour through his ebbing veins;
And touched his lips with endless eloquence;
And cheered, and much refreshed his withered heart.
Indeed, each thing remembered, all but guilt,
Was pleasant, and a constant source of joy.
Nor lived the old on memory alone.
He in his children lived a second life;
With them again took root; sprang with their hopes;
Entered into their schemes; partook their fears;
Laughed in their mirth; and in their gain grew rich.
And sometimes on the eldest cheek was seen
A smile as hearty as on face of youth,
That saw in prospect sunny hopes invite,
Hope's pleasures—sung to harp of sweetest note;
Harp, heard with rapture on Britannia's hills;
With rapture heard by me, in morn of life.
Nor small the joy of rest to mortal men;
Rest after labour; sleep approaching soft,
And wrapping all the weary faculties
In sweet repose. Then Fancy, unrestrained
By sense or judgment, strange confusion made,
Of future, present, past; combining things
Unseemly, things unsociable in Nature,
In most absurd communion, laughable,
Tho' sometimes vexing sore the slumbering soul.
Sporting at will, she thro' her airy halls—
With moon-beams paved, and canopied with stars,
And tapestried with marvellous imagery,
And shapes of glory, infinitely fair,
Moving and mixing in most wondrous dance—
Fantastically walked; but pleased so well,
That ill she liked the judgment's voice severe,
Which called her home when noisy morn awoke.
And oft she sprang beyond the bounds of Time,
On her swift pinion lifting up the souls
Of righteous men, on high, to God, and heaven,
Where they beheld unutterable things;
And heard the glorious music of the blest,
Circling the throne of the Eternal Three;
And with the spirits unincarnate took
Celestial pastime, on the hills of God;
Forgetful of the gloomy pass between.
Some dreams were useless—moved by turbid course
Of animal disorder; not so all:
Deep moral lessons some impressed, that nought
Could afterwards deface. And oft in dreams,
The master passion of the soul displayed
His huge deformity, concealed by day—
Warning the sleeper to beware, awake.
And oft in dreams, the reprobate and vile,
Unpardonable sinner—as he seemed
Toppling upon the perilous edge of Hell—
In dreadful apparition, saw before
His vision pass, the shadows of the damned;
And saw the glare of hollow, cursed eyes,
Spring from the skirts of the infernal night;
And saw the souls of wicked men, new dead,
By devils hearsed into the fiery gulf;
And heard the burning of the endless flames;
And heard the weltering of the waves of wrath.
And sometimes, too, before his fancy, passed
The Worm that never dies, writhing its folds
In hideous sort, and with eternal Death
Held horrid colloquy; giving the wretch
Unwelcome earnest of the wo to come.
But these we leave, as unbefitting song,
That promised happy narrative of joy.
But what of all the joys of earth was most
Of native growth, most proper to the soil—
Not elsewhere known, in worlds that never fell—
Was joy that sprung from disappointed wo.
The joy in grief; the pleasure after pain;
Fears turned to hopes; meetings expected not;
Deliverances from dangerous attitudes;
Better for worse; and best sometimes for worst;
And all the seeming ill, ending in good—
A sort of happiness composed, which none
Has had experience of, but mortal man.
Yet not to be despised. Look back, and one
Behold, who would not give her tear for all
The smiles that dance about the cheek of Mirth.
Among the tombs she walks at noon of night,
In miserable garb of widowhood.
Observe her yonder, sickly, pale, and sad,
Bending her wasted body o'er the grave
Of him who was the husband of her youth.
The moon-beams trembling thro' these ancient yews,
That stand like ranks of mourners round the bed
Of death, fall dismally upon her face;
Her little, hollow, withered face, almost
Invisible—so worn away with wo:
The tread of hasty foot, passing so late,
Disturbs her not; nor yet the roar of mirth,
From neighbouring revelry ascending loud.
She hears, sees nought; fears nought; one thought alone
Fills all her heart and soul; half hoping, half
Remembering, sad, unutterable thought!
Uttered by silence, and by tears alone.
Sweet tears! the awful language, eloquent
Of infinite affection; far too big
For words. She sheds not many now: that grass,
Which springs so rankly o'er the dead, has drunk
Already many showers of grief: a drop
Or two are all that now remain behind,
And from her eye, that darts strange fiery beams,
At dreary intervals, drip down her cheek,
Falling most mournfully from bone to bone.
But yet she wants not tears: that babe, that hangs
Upon her breast, that babe that never saw
Its father—he was dead before its birth—
Helps her to weep, weeping before its time;
Taught sorrow by the mother's melting voice,
Repeating oft the father's sacred name.
Be not surprised at this expense of wo!
The man she mourns was all she called her own:
The music of her ear, light of her eye;
Desire of all her heart; her hope, her fear:
The element in which her passions lived—
Dead now, or dying all. Nor long shall she
Visit that place of skulls: night after night,
She wears herself away: the moon-beam now,
That falls upon her unsubstantial frame,
Scarce finds obstruction; and upon her bones,
Barren as leafless boughs in winter-time,
Her infant fastens his little hands, as oft,
Forgetful, she leaves him a while unheld.
But look, she passes not away in gloom:
A light from far illumes her face; a light
That comes beyond the moon, beyond the sun—
The light of truth divine; the glorious hope
Of resurrection at the promised morn,
And meetings then which ne'er shall part again.
Indulge another note of kindred tone.
Where grief was mixed with melancholy joy.
Our sighs were numerous, and profuse our tears;
For she, we lost, was lovely, and we loved
Her much: fresh in our memory, as fresh
As yesterday, is yet the day she died.
It was an April day; and blithely all
The youth of nature leaped beneath the sun,
And promised glorious manhood; and our hearts
Were glad, and round them danced the lightsome blood,
In healthy merriment—when tidings came,
A child was born; and tidings came again,
That she who gave it birth was sick to death.
So swift trod sorrow on the heels of joy!
We gathered round her bed, and bent our knees
In fervent supplication to the Throne
Of Mercy: and perfumed our prayers with sighs
Sincere, and penitential tears, and looks
Of self-abasement; but we sought to stay
An angel on the earth; a spirit ripe
For heaven; and Mercy, in her love, refused:
Most merciful, as oft, when seeming least!
Most gracious when she seemed the most to frown!
The room I well remember; and the bed
On which she lay; and all the faces too,
That crowded dark and mournfully around.
Her father there, and mother bending stood,
And down their aged cheeks fell many drops
Of bitterness; her husband, too, was there,
And brothers; and they wept—her sisters, too,
Did weep and sorrow comfortless; and I,
Too, wept, tho' not to weeping given: and all
Within the house was dolorous and sad.
This I remember well; but better still,
I do remember, and will ne'er forget,
The dying eye—that eye alone was bright,
And brighter grew, as nearer death approached:
As I have seen the gentle little flower
Look fairest in the silver beam, which fell
Reflected from the thunder cloud that soon
Came down, and o'er the desert scattered far
And wide its loveliness. She made a sign
To bring her babe—'twas brought, and by her placed.
She looked upon its face, that neither smiled
Nor wept, nor knew who gazed upon't, and laid
Her hand upon its little breast, and sought
For it, with look that seemed to penetrate
The heavens—unutterable blessings—such
As God to dying parents only granted,
For infants left behind them in the world.
“God keep my child,” we heard her say, and heard
No more: the Angel of the Covenant
Was come, and faithful to his promise stood
Prepared to walk with her thro' death's dark vale.
And now her eyes grew bright, and brighter still,
Too bright for ours to look upon, suffused
With many tears, and closed without a cloud.
They set as sets the morning star, which goes
Not down behind the darkened west, nor hides
Obscured among the tempests of the sky,
But melts away into the light of heaven.
Loves, friendships, hopes, and dear remembrances—
The kind embracings of the heart—and hours
Of happy thought—and smiles coming to tears—
And glories of the heaven and starry cope
Above, and glories of the earth beneath—
These were the rays that wandered through the gloom
Of mortal life—wells of the wilderness;
Redeeming features in the face of Time;
Sweet drops, that made the mixed cup of Earth
A palatable draught—too bitter else.
About the joys and pleasures of the world,
This question was not seldom in debate—
Whether the righteous man, or sinner, had
The greatest share, and relished them the most?
Truth gives the answer thus, gives it distinct,
Nor needs to reason long: The righteous man.
For what was he denied of earthly growth,
Worthy the name of good? Truth answers—Nought.
Had he not appetites, and sense, and will?
Might he not eat, if Providence allowed,
The finest of the wheat? Might he not drink
The choicest wine? True, he was temperate;
But then was temperance a foe to peace?
Might he not rise, and clothe himself in gold?
Ascend, and stand in palaces of kings?
True, he was honest still, and charitable:
Were then these virtues foes to human peace?
Might he not do exploits, and gain a name?
Most true, he trod not down a fellow's right,
Nor walked up to a throne on skulls of men;
Were justice, then, and mercy, foes to peace?
Had he not friendships, loves, and smiles, and hopes?
Sat not around his table sons and daughters?
Was not his ear with music pleased? his eye
With light? his nostrils with perfumes? his lips
With pleasant relishes? grew not his herds?
Fell not the rains upon his meadows? reaped
He not his harvests? and did not his heart
Revel at will thro' all the charities
And sympathies of nature unconfined?
And were not these all sweetened, and sanctified
By dews of holiness shed from above?
Might he not walk thro' Fancy's airy halls?
Might he not History's ample page survey?
Might he not, finally, explore the depths
Of mental, moral, natural, divine?
But why enumerate thus? One word enough.
There was no joy in all created things,
No drop of sweet, that turned not in the end
To sour, of which the righteous man did not
Partake—partake, invited by the voice
Of God, his Father's voice—who gave him all
His heart's desire. And o'er the sinner still,
The Christian had this one advantage more,
That when his earthly pleasures failed, and fail
They always did to every soul of man,
He sent his hopes on high, looked up, and reached
His sickle forth, and reaped the fields of heaven,
And plucked the clusters from the vines of God.
Nor was the general aspect of the world
Always a moral waste: a time there came,
Tho' few believed it e'er should come, a time
Typed by the Sabbath day recurring once
In seven; and by the year of rest indulged
Septennial to the lands on Jordan's banks:
A time foretold by Judah's bards in words
Of fire: a time, seventh part of time, and set
Before the eighth and last—the Sabbath day
Of all the earth—when all had rest and peace.
Before its coming many to and fro
Ran; ran from various cause; by many sent
From various cause; upright, and crooked both.
Some sent, and ran for love of souls sincere;
And more at instance of a holy name.
With godly zeal much vanity was mixed;
And circumstance of gaudy civil pomp;
And speeches buying praise for praise; and lists,
And endless scrolls, surcharged with modest names
That sought the public eye; and stories, told
In quackish phrase, that hurt their credit, even
When true—combined with wise and prudent means.
Much wheat, much chaff, much gold, and much alloy:
But God wrought with the whole—wrought most with what
To man seemed weakest means—and brought result
Of good from good and evil both; and breathed
Into the withered nations breath and life;
The breath and life of liberty and truth,
By means of knowledge breathed into the soul.
Then was the evil day of tyranny!
Of kingly and of priestly tyranny,
That bruised the nations long. As yet, no state
Beneath the heavens had tasted freedom's wine;
Tho' loud of freedom was the talk of all.
Some groaned more deeply, being heavier tasked;
Some wrought with straw, and some without; but all
Were slaves, or meant to be; for rulers still
Had been of equal mind—excepting few—
Cruel, rapacious, tyrannous, and vile;
And had with equal shoulder propped the Beast.
As yet, the Church, the holy spouse of God,
In members few, had wandered in her weeds
Of mourning, persecuted, scorned, reproached,
And buffeted, and killed—in members few,
Tho' seeming many whiles; then fewest oft,
When seeming most. She still had hung her harp
Upon the willow-tree, and sighed, and wept
From age to age. Satan began the war;
And all his angels, and all wicked men,
Against her fought by wile, or fierce attack,
Six thousand years; but fought in vain. She stood,
Troubled on every side, but not distressed:
Weeping, but yet despairing not: cast down,
But not destroyed: for she upon the palms
Of God was graven, and precious in his sight,
As apple of his eye; and like the bush
On Midia's mountain seen, burned unconsumed:
But to the wilderness retiring, dwelt,
Debased in sackcloth, and forlorn in tears.
As yet, had sung the scarlet-coloured whore,
Who on the breast of civil power reposed
Her harlot head—the Church a harlot then,
When first she wedded civil power—and drunk
The blood of martyred saints; whose priests were lords;
Whose coffers held the gold of every land;
Who held a cup of all pollutions full;
Who with a double horn the people pushed;
And raised her forehead, full of blasphemy,
Above the holy God, usurping oft
Jehovah's incommunicable names.
The nations had been dark; the Jews had pined,
Scattered without a name, beneath the curse;
War had abounded; Satan raged unchained;
And earth had still been black with moral gloom.
But now the cry of men oppressed, went up
Before the Lord, and to remembrance came
The tears of all his saints—their tears, and groans.
Wise men had read the number of the name;
The prophet-years had rolled; the time, and times,
And half a time, were now fulfilled complete;
The seven fierce vials of the wrath of God,
Poured by seven angels strong, were shed abroad
Upon the earth, and emptied to the dregs;
The prophecy for confirmation stood;
And all was ready for the sword of God.
The righteous saw, and fled without delay,
Into the chambers of Omnipotence:
The wicked mocked, and sought for erring cause,
To satisfy the dismal state of things—
The public credit gone; the fear in time
Of peace; the starving want in time of wealth;
he insurrection muttering in the streets;
And pallid consternation spreading wide;
And leagues, tho' holy termed, first ratified
In hell, on purpose made to under-prop
Iniquity, and crush the sacred truth.
Meantime a mighty angel stood in heaven,
And cried aloud—Associate now yourselves,
Ye princes! potentates! and men of war!
And mitred heads! associate now yourselves;
And be dispersed: embattle, and be broken:
Gird on your armour, and be dashed to dust:
Gird on your armour, and be dashed to dust!
Take counsel, and it shall be brought to nought:
Speak, and it shall not stand.—And suddenly
The armies of the saints imbannered stood
On Zion hill; and with them angels stood,
In squadron bright, and chariots of fire;
And with them stood the Lord, clad like a man
Of war, and to the sound of thunder, led
The battle on. Earth shook; the kingdoms shook:
The Beast, the lying Seer, dominions fell;
Thrones, tyrants fell, confounded in the dust,
Scattered and driven before the breath of God,
As chaff of summer threshing-floor before
The wind. Three days the battle wasting slew.
The sword was full, the arrow drunk with blood:
And to the supper of Almighty God,
Spread in Hamonah's vale, the fowls of heaven,
And every beast invited came—and fed
On captain's flesh, and drank the blood of kings.
And lo! another angel stood in heaven,
Crying aloud with mighty voice: Fallen, fallen,
Is Babylon the Great—to rise no more!
Rejoice, ye prophets! over her rejoice,
Apostles! holy men, all saints, rejoice!
And glory give to God, and to the Lamb.
And all the armies of disburthened earth,
As voice of many waters, and as voice
Of thunderings, and voice of multitudes,
Answered, Amen. And every hill and rock,
And sea, and every beast, answered, Amen.
Europa answered, and the farthest bounds
Of woody Chili, Asia's fertile coasts,
And Afric's burning wastes, answered, Amen.
And Heaven, rejoicing, answered back, Amen.
Not so the wicked: they afar were heard
Lamenting; kings who drank her cup of whoredoms,
Captains, and admirals, and mighty men,
Who lived deliciously, and merchants rich
With merchandise of gold, and wine, and oil;
And those who traded in the souls of men—
Known by their gaudy robes of priestly pomp;
All these afar off stood, crying, Alas!
Alas! and wept, and gnashed their teeth, and groaned;
And with the owl, that on her ruins sat,
Made dolorous concert in the ear of Night.
And over her again the heavens rejoiced,
And earth returned again the loud response.
Thrice happy days! thrice blest the man who saw
Their dawn! the Church and State, that long had held
Unholy intercourse, were now divorced;
Princes were righteous men; judges upright:
And first in general now—for in the worst
Of times there were some honest seers—the priest
Sought other than the fleece among his flocks,
Best paid when God was honoured most. And like
A cedar, nourished well, Jerusalem grew,
And towered on high, and spread, and flourished fair;
And underneath her boughs the nations lodged;
All nations lodged, and sung the song of peace.
From the four winds, the Jews, eased of the curse,
Returned, and dwelt with God in Jacob's land,
And drank of Sharon and of Carmel's vine.
Satan was bound; tho' bound, not banished quite;
But lurked about the timorous skirts of things,
Ill lodged, and thinking whiles to leave the earth;
And with the wicked, for some wicked were,
Held midnight meetings, as the saints were wont;
Fearful of day, who once was as the sun,
And worshipped more. The bad, but few, became
A taunt, and hissing now, as heretofore
The good; and blushing hasted out of sight.
Disease was none: the voice of war, forgot:
The sword, a share: a pruning-hook, the spear.
Men grew and multiplied upon the earth,
And filled the city, and the waste: and Death
Stood waiting for the lapse of tardy age,
That mocked him long. Men grew and multiplied;
But lacked not bread: for God his promise brought
To mind, and blessed the land with plenteous rain;
And made it blest, for dews, and precious things
Of heaven, and blessings of the deep beneath;
And blessings of the sun, and moon; and fruits
Of day and night; and blessings of the vale;
And precious things of the eternal hills;
And all the fulness of perpetual spring.
The prison-house, where chained felons pined,
Threw open his ponderous doors; let in the light
Of heaven; and grew into a Church, where God
Was worshipped: none were ignorant; selfish none:
Love took the place of law; where'er you met
A man, you met a friend, sincere and true.
Kind looks foretold as kind a heart within;
Words as they sounded, meant; and promises
Were made to be performed. Thrice happy days!
Philosophy was sanctified, and saw
Perfection, which she thought a fable long.
Revenge his dagger dropped, and kissed the hand
Of Mercy: Anger cleared his cloudy brow,
And sat with Peace: Envy grew red, and smiled
On Worth: Pride stooped, and kissed Humility:
Lust washed his miry hands, and, wedded, leaned
On chaste Desire: and Falsehood laid aside
His many-folded cloak, and bowed to Truth:
And Treachery up from his mining came,
And walked above the ground with righteous Faith:
And Covetousness unclenched his sinewy hand,
And oped his door to Charity, the fair:
Hatred was lost in Love: and Vanity,
With a good conscience pleased, her feathers cropped:
Sloth in the morning rose with Industry:
To Wisdom, Folly turned: and Fashion turned
Deception off, in act as good as word.
The hand that held a whip was lifted up
To bliss; slave was a word in ancient books
Met only; every man was free; and all
Feared God, and served him day and night in love.
How fair the daughter of Jerusalem then!
How gloriously from Zion Hill she looked!
Clothed with the sun; and in her train the moon;
And on her head a coronet of stars;
And girdling round her waist, with heavenly grace,
The bow of Mercy bright; and in her hand,
Immanuel's cross—her sceptre, and her hope.
Desire of every land! The nations came,
And worshipped at her feet; all nations came,
Flocking like doves. Columba's painted tribes,
That from Magellan to the Frozen Bay,
Beneath the Arctic dwelt, and drank the tides
Of Amazona, prince of earthly streams;
Or slept at noon beneath the giant shade
Of Andes' mount; or roving northward, heard
Nigara sing, from Erie's billow down
To Frontenac, and hunted thence the fur
To Labrador. And Afric's dusky swarms,
That from Morocco to Angola dwelt,
And drank the Niger from his native wells,
Or roused the lion in Numidia's groves;
The tribes that sat among the fabled cliffs
Of Atlas, looking to Atlanta's wave,
With joy and melody arose and came;
Zara awoke, and came; and Egypt came,
Casting her idol gods into the Nile.
Black Ethiopia, that shadowless,
Beneath the Torrid burned, arose and came:
Dauma and Medra, and the pirate tribes
Of Algeri, with incense came, and pure
Offerings, annoying now the seas no more.
The silken tribes of Asia flocking came,
Innumerous; Ishmael's wandering race, that rode
On camels o'er the spicy tract that lay
From Persia, to the Red Sea coast: the king
Of broad Chatay, with numbers infinite,
Of many lettered casts; and all the tribes
That dwelt from Tigris to the Ganges' wave;
And worshipped fire, or Brahma, fabled god!
Cashmeres, Circassians, Banyans, tender race!
That swept the insect from their path, and lived
On herbs and fruits; and those who peaceful dwelt
Along the shady avenue that stretched
From Agra to Lahore: and all the hosts
That owned the Crescent late, deluded long.
The Tartar hordes that roamed from Oby's bank,
Ungoverned southward to the wondrous Wall.
The tribes of Europe came; the Greek redeemed
From Turkish thrall; the Spaniard came, and Gaul;
And Britain with her ships; and on his sledge,
The Laplander, that nightly watched the bear
Circling the Pole; and those who saw the flames
Of Hecla burn the drifted snow: the Russ,
Long whiskered, and equestrian Pole; and those
Who drank the Rhine, or lost the evening sun
Behind the Alpine towers; and she that sat
By Arno, classic stream; Venice and Rome,
Head quarters long of sin! first guileless now,
And meaning as she seemed, stretched forth her hands.
And all the isles of ocean, rose and came,
Whether they heard the roll of banished tides,
Antipodes to Albion's wave; or watched
The moon ascending chalky Teneriffe,
And with Atlanta holding nightly love.
The Sun, the Moon, the Constellations came:
Thrice twelve and ten that watched the Antarctic sleep;
Twice six that near the Ecliptic dwelt; thrice twelve
And one, that with the Streamers danced, and saw
The Hyperborean ice, guarding the Pole.
The East, the West, the South, and snowy North,
Rejoicing met, and worshipped reverently
Before the Lord, in Zion's holy hill;
And all the places round about were blest.
The animals, as once in Eden, lived
In peace: the wolf dwelt with the lamb; the bear
And leopard with the ox; with looks of love,
The tiger, and the scaly crocodile,
Together met, at Gambia's palmy wave:
Perched on the eagle's wing, the bird of song,
Singing arose, and visited the sun;
And with the falcon sat the gentle lark.
The little child leaped from his mother's arms,
And stroked the crested snake, and rolled unhurt
Among his speckled waves—and wished him home:
And sauntering school-boys, slow returning, played
At eve about the lion's den, and wove,
Into his shaggy mane, fantastic flowers:
To meet the husbandman, early abroad,
Hasted the deer, and waved its woody head:
And round his dewy steps, the hare, unscared,
Sported; and toyed familiar with his dog:
The flocks and herds, o'er hill and valley spread,
Exulting, cropped the ever-budding herb:
The desert blossomed, and the barren sung:
Justice and Mercy, Holiness and Love,
Among the people walked: Messiah reigned:
And Earth kept Jubilee a thousand years.
Comments about The Course Of Time. Book V. by Robert Pollok
Poems About Heaven
- 451. The Course Of Time. Book V. , Robert Pollok
- 452. Festus - Xl , Philip James Bailey
- 453. Festus - Vi , Philip James Bailey
- 454. Festus - Xiv , Philip James Bailey
- 455. Yesterday, To-Day, And For Ever: Book Xi.. , Edward Henry Bickersteth
- 456. The Second Booke Of Epigrammes. , Thomas Bancroft
- 457. Hell , FREEMAN DAVID
- 458. Heaven In A Blind Girl's Eye , farhana akter norin
- 459. What Is Heaven , Daya Nandan
New Heaven Poems
- Seven Rings, Peter Black
- Heaven, Mark R Slaughter
- A Pang Called Love, Padma Prasad Devkota
- Hell And Heaven, MOHAMMAD SKATI
- Heaven, Didith Marcelo
- God's Best 86 Love Poems On The Web, Tom Zart
- 199 Steps To Heaven, Shadow Girl
- Heaven Is My Dream Home, Abidemi Aniyeloye
- 199 Steps To Heaven, Shadow Girl
- 'Tom Zart's Poems Of Christian Faith & L.., Tom Zart
- carpe diem