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Musings in Maoriland

Poems And Addresses

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Poems And Addresses.

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On the 21st of February, 1879, a colliery explosion took place at the Kaitangata Mines, by which thirty lives were sacrificed.

The touch of God is on the chord which runs
  Through all humanity, from heart to heart;
The Hand Divine, that holds the stars and suns,
 Strikes on love's string, and inner voices start,
 Proclaiming we are each of each a part.

The Priest of Nature may expound this truth:
  Afflictions are but solemn lessons read
To mortals; Science still is in her youth—

page 304

The living gain their knowledge through the dead;
All human suff'ring points the road ahead.

It may be so; anon we'll learn that text,
  But now the widows' and the orphans' eyes
Are following from this life to the next
  Loved spirits torn away from dearest ties,
  And God to us is speaking through their cries.

He calls on us to succour those in need;
  We're bound together in a common bond.
Faith's purest action is a noble deed;
  Hope's truest anchor is a helping hand;
  Love is the key that opes the doors beyond.

A few short days ago, and those who rest
  Held this poor lease of earth which now we hold;
The pulse of life beat strongly in each breast—
  Ah! 'tis the same old story often told,
  We know not when the spark may leave the mould.

Oh! brothers, there are weary hearts to-day,
  And cheerless homes, where sorrow sits in gloom;
And lonely weeping ones, who can but pray,
  "Thy will be done," whilst bowing to their doom,
  And longing for the meeting 'yond the tomb.

page 305

Not ours to change the mystic second-birth,
  Not ours to bring the loved ones back again,
But ours to do our duty upon earth,
  By succouring the mourners who remain;
  To them we're linked in sympathetic chain.

To-day Humanity's resistless breath
  Sweeps through the credal barriers, and brings
Us all together to the Church of Death—
  The common fold of toilers and of kings;
  And Charity broods o'er with outstretched wings.

To-day the pure Christ-Spirit from above
  With warm vibration thrills through every soul;
To-day we owe a sacred debt to Love;
  To-day our Father claims a special toll
  At gates which lead to Hope's eternal goal.

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The minstrel's voice is songless now,
Death's stamp is on that honour'd brow;
No dirge for him, no sigh nor tear:
We'll shout above the poet's bier—

He swept his harp-strings clear and strong
Till trees became alive with song,
And every trembling leaflet stirred
To music at his magic word—

He touched a chord, and on the scene
Appeared the fair Evangeline
In Norman cap and girtle blue,
Acadie's virgin pure and true—

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He peopled Strasburg's lofty spire
With spirits from the realms of fire,
Then put a soul in every bell
To triumph o'er the powers of hell—

Across the harp his fingers ran,
And Plymouth's martial Puritan
Stepp'd into life, and madly strove
With Alden in the game of love—

He struck out, as he passed along,
From sledge and anvil sparks of song,
Until the forge 'neath chestnut-tree
Was filled with manly minstrelsy—

He gathered from the Northland plains
Old echoes wild of Indian strains;
He beautified the songs of yore,
Then gave them to the woods once more—

page 308

He gave new music to each rill,
He clothed the prairie and the hill
With rich romance; each forest pine
Shook with new melody divine—

A grand old bard, with spotless page
An honour to his land and age,
Full ripe for Heav'n, has passed away;
And Nature sings above his clay—

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David Livingstone.

Down many a giant stream, whose place of birth
  Lies hidden in the distance from our ken,
And from the nooks and corners of the earth,
  Where darkness shrouds the souls of savage men,

A dirge steals softly on the breath of night,
  Which tells us of a noble spirit fled
To find the mystic source of truth and light,
  And read the book that mortals have not read.

Where shall we meet with courage true and grand
  As that which stayed the brave old wanderer's heart?
Home, pleasure, friendship, love, and native land
  He left, to trace the world's mysterious chart.

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Adown the valleys where Zambesi runs—
  Along the Nile, and by Nyassa's lake,
To Earth's degraded and benighted sons
  He brought the peaceful words which Jesus spake.

The tameless Berber reins his steed to gaze
  With wondering pity on that tranquil face;
The grateful Ethiopian chants the praise
  Of him who brought "glad tidings" to his race.

When Livingstone is named, what fool shall dare
  To boast of war's red tyrants, robed in blood,
Who sacrifice their serfs for vultures' fare,
  Who call it glory, to give ravens food?

When battle trumpets sound, and banners stream,
  The mad blood flies to the enthusiast's brain,
And where the war drums roll, and sabres gleam,
  His fiery spirit seeks the purple plain.

The yeoman, fenced within his narrow home,
  Bursts the old links and seeks for freer skies;
Nor fears to cross the ever-shifting foam,
  Hope tells his heart he goes to win a prize

page 311

But this great man left all wealth's gifts behind—
  Ease could not bind him to his native shore;
His bosom glowed to benefit his kind,
  To bear off knowledge and return with more.

He marched through trackless wilds and deserts drear,
  Although Death's footsteps dogged his every pace;
The cause he lived for shielded him 'gainst fear,
  His soul could meet the Spectre face to face.

Array the Monarch's dust in pomp and pride,
  Whilst flatterers his doubtful virtues sing:
A grander death this great old victor died
  Than England's boldest Duke or bravest King.

No cultivated sigh, nor polished tear
  Bedecks the couch whereon the hero sleeps;
A purer tribute falls upon his bier,
  For lo! above his corse the savage weeps.

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Sir George Grey.

Within a forest stood a grand old tree,
  Whose head above the other plants rose high;
He was the forest's first-born. Sun and sky
Had known him, and had smiled on him ere he
  Had kinsfolk near, or leafy brethren nigh;
The wild birds brought to him their minstrelsy;
  The singers knew that when the scene was rude,
He grew and gave a shelter to their race.
  By him the wandering melodists were wooed
To trill and warble in that lonely place;
  A sanctuary in the solitude
He gave to them. In him the birds could trace
  The forest's king, and so from hills and plains
  They flew to him, and sang their sweetest strains.

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In Memoriam.
Wilson Gray.

Another heart has ceased its beating,
   Another noble soul has fled,
God has called it to His meeting,
  Bear him proudly to his bed.

Bear him proudly on your shoulders:
  'Tis a sacred corse ye bear,
'Tis untarnished clay that moulders,
  Honoured dust is coffined there.

Few there are like him who left us:
  Pure, unselfish, truthful, kind!
Why has death so soon bereft us
  Of that clear unsullied mind?

page 314

Far beyond yon curtains, shrouding
  Distant Ocean's restless brim—
Where the quaint grim shadows crowding
  Float o'er wat'ry valleys dim—

Sits the Emerald Queen of Islands
  Chanting lonely sorrow's wail!
From her ancient vales and highlands
  Comes his story on the gale.

Comes his story,—Ah! we knew it,
  When his hand had work to do,
He was ready there to do it,
  Firm and fearless, tried and true.

From his Island Mother olden,
  Sailed away the upright man;
Fair young Austral', warm and golden,
  Called him to her people's van.

From the ranks the leader vanished,
  Fighting still the people's fight;
Still his name, unstained, unbanished,
  Lives a talisman of might.

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Spirits of the old Convention—
  Ye who still retain your clay—
Doff your hats whene'er ye mention
  Such a name as Wilson Gray.

Island of the rugged forehead,
  There is gloom upon thy breast.
Justice! Death from thee has borrow'd
  One who wore thy speckless crest.

Nay, Death has not left thee lonely;
  Thou hast brighter circuits still,
Here, thou art a pilgrim only,
  For thy home is on the hill.

Ah 'tis little that we know here—
  From its cage escaped the dove,
From the Judgment Seat below here,
  To the Judgment Seat above.

Bear him on there's no receding;
  Death is but a mystic span
Through eternal arches leading
  To the higher spheres of Man.

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Where Earth's brightest gems shall cluster
  Fired with everlasting youth,
Basking in celestial lustre
  O'er the firmament of truth.

Onward still Hope's beacon flashes
  In the palaces afar;
And the spark that fled these ashes
  There shall shine a golden star!

Bear him proudly on your shoulders—
  Good men's deeds are never dead!
'Tis a sacred corse that moulders—
  Bear him proudly to his bed.

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[Born August 6, 1775.]

Come ye whose spirits are unfettered, ye
Who dare to burst the trammels of the past,
Ye, who obey the Man-God's golden rule,
By granting others what ye claim yourselves
Come ye whose fathers fought for Conscience sake,
On England's plains and Scotia's rugged hills,
Come all who worship at the sacred Shrine
Of Liberty! Come freemen, one and all,
Of every race and clime and creed upon
This oval Planet's surface! Come with me,
And let's unlock the casket which contains
That jewel rare—a great man's memory.

page 318

A hundred years to-day, in that fair Isle—
Which as an em'rald ornament is set
Above Atlantic's palpitating heart,
The Power Supreme, who guides Creation's works,
And moulds His creatures' destinies at will,
Looked down with pity on an enslav'd race,
And bid a Giant live, to rend their chains.
Then Freedom soared above Killarney's lakes,
And breathed on wild Magillicuddy's Reeks,
And in the peaceful home of Derrynane,
That nestles in the arms of Kerry's hills,
The Liberator of his land was born.

A hundred years to-day!—look back with me
Across the gulf, and note how times have changed!
The crouching bondsman on the other side
Bends low with, forced submissiveness, nor dares
To look up to his Maker, save by stealth!
'Tis crime in him to call his soul his own,
But lo! between the banks of Now and Then,
A chieftain stands, with head erect and proud,
Clad in the armour of a righteous cause,
And fighting with those weapons of the just—
The "Voice and Pen," and as his glowing words
Rush up to Heaven, slumbering Justice wakes.

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A hundred years to-day! the time seems short,
And yet within that century' the Earth
Has changed her face, for Pioneers of Right
Have hewn away the rotten trunks of Wrong
That grew upon her breast, and sapped the springs
Of nutriment from out her bosom's core,
'Till all her weaker plants could scarcely live;
And in the vanguard of that noble host
O'Connell stood,—the people's crownless King,
Pointing in triumph to the tracks he'd cleared
To Paradise, where souls might freely soar
The way which pleased them best, to meet their God.

Oh! Brothers, we are privileged to hold
The first position in the ranks of Light,
The nations we are building in the South
Can rear their golden heads on high, and boast
That all their children,—sprung from every race—
Have equal rights to chant Jehovah's praise
As suits their choice, and Brothers, we are proud
Of our unsullied charter, and we're proud
Of all the noble and unselfish men
Who fought in bye-gone years for human rights;
And this is why we twine our wreaths of song,
And weave our garlands 'round O'Connell's name.

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Robert Burns.

Proud glory's wreath may crown the warrior's urn,
  And victory's trophies rise above his dust,
Fame's torch awhile may o'er his ashes burn,
But time will quench it and his sword shall rust.

A grateful nation o'er the statesman s tomb
  May trumpet forth his labors in her cause;
But other lights her councils may illume,
  And time's progressive wheel roll o'er his laws.

But who, or what, can shroud the poet's fame?
  Whilst Nature's mighty form towers over art,
No power on earth can blot his sacred name
  When once 'tis written on his country's heart.

page 321

I love thee, England, for thy manly race;
  My native land I love thee for thy wrongs;
Clime of the barren brow and rugged face—
  Scotland!—I love thee for thy deathless songs.

Well may'st thou point with triumph and with pride
  Unto thy patriot heroes of the past;
Well may'st thou tell the nations how they died,
  That liberty might breathe thy northern blast.

But there's a son of thine, whose genius sheds
  More lustre round thee than thy bravest king;
Thy torrents rushing from their mountain beds
  Till Nature's voice is mute, his praise shall sing.

For thee he struck a chord, whose magic strain
  Rings through thy children's hearts o'er all the earth,
And links them in a fond magnetic chain
  Whose loadstone is the island of their birth.

To Nature's throne he offered heartfelt praise—
  He scourged hypocrisy with satire's rod;
In stirring tones he called on man to raise
  His head erect, a reflex of his God.

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He robbed the angels of their sweetest notes;
  And when descending through the speckless dome
He caught the echoes of the lavrock's throats,
  And brought them to thy peasant's humble home.

Roll on Old Earth unto thy final goal,
  As o'er each century thine axle turns,
New wreaths of song shall blazon music's scroll,
  As tributes to the memory of Burns.

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James Macandrew. 1

Why should our songs be sad? He needed rest;
  He was afield among the pioneers
Who watched at daybreak on the mountain's crest
 The golden dawning of a nation's years.

He was the foremost 'mong the sturdy band
  Who breasted dangers in the early days
To found new homes; his was the head that plann'd
 The super-structure upon which we gaze.

Behold the noble city towering high
  Above the silver mirror framed in green!
How chang'd the prospect now since first his eye
  Glanced hopefully around the silent scene.

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The virgin forests, wrapt in deep repose,
  Lay on the bosoms of the ancient hills,
Adown whose sides the sun-enfranchised snows
  Roll'd into liquid song in founts and rills.

The fertile plains and valleys were asleep,
  No plough-share yet had stirr'd the quiet sod;
Earth hugg'd her secret treasures hidden deep;
  The noon-day rays had kiss'd no kindling clod.

When came the pilgrims to the promised land,
  With hearts prepared to dare and hands to do,
They needed but a ruler to command,
  And found in him a leader staunch and true.

Here was a land with Nature's gifts endow'd,
  A new Canaan needing sturdy men;
The trunk that now lies still, rose strong and proud,
  And stood an oak among the saplings then.

He set the pulse of Progress beating high,
  And laid the firm foundations of a State;
His were the thoughts that ever onward fly
  With lighting speed, to make a people great.

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He beckon'd Commerce with her steam and sails,
  And to our lovely bay fleet followed fleet;
He summoned Industry to bring her bales
  And lay them down at young. Edina's feet.

He waved his wand, and at the touch of toil
  Were opened the prolific pores of earth;
Flocks roam'd the hills, and, turning up the soil,
  The ploughman told his joy in songs of mirth.

He saw the primal seed-time in the land,
  He watch'd the first green corn that dress'd the plain;
He saw the sickle in the reaper's hand
  That gather'd in the first ripe sheaves of grain.

Why should our songs be sad? Tears are for those
  Who live in vain and die with lands untill'd,
And not for him who sows and reaps, and goes
  To peaceful sleep with all his tasks fulfilled.

He needed rest, he work'd an honest day,
  The harvest fruits are garner'd once again;
'Tis meet that he should now receive his pay:
  The Master knows His best and truest men.

1 Father of the New Zealand House of Representatives.

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Mrs. George Darrell.

At once, good-night." Oh! how the old time gleams
  Bright through the vista of the vanished years;
  Again I wander among fading dreams—
Proud Cawdor's wife dismisses Scotland's peers.

"Mine eyes grow dim, farewell!" Sweet Queen, good-bye!
  A nobler seat is thine than Harry's throne;
Our greatest Wolsey is with thee on high,
Poor Brooke is there, and thou art not alone.

"Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again."
  Ay, Juliet, God knows when we shall meet
God knows! God knows! 'tis still the sad refrain
  To which the human heart-throbs ever beat.

page 327

"'Tis but one cast away, and so—Come death."
  Not cast away, fair Rosalind, but blest
With richer garlands than Orlando's wreath,
  Among' the groves of everlasting' rest.

"So speaking as I think, alas! I die—"
  Again we hear the plaudits—cheer on cheer;
"Bravo, Emilia!". is the shout and cry,
  Whilst gentle eyes are filled with many a tear.

"Sweets, to the sweet"—ay, strew the flow'rets o'er
  Her royal mantle;—it has changed to green.
Hamlet, thy mother is, alas! no more;
  'Tis not Ophelia sleeps, but Denmark's Queen.

"Sir, grieve not you." Nay, Portia, I but pay
  The debt which I, and tens of thousands, owe
To Art and thee; above thy sacred clay
  I weave a garland for the long ago.

The brave old long ago, that free old time,
  When manly hearts were often cheered by thee,
When Austral revelled in her golden prime,
  And nursed Thalia and Melpomene,

page 328

Old forms arise—Brooke, Lambert, Rogers, Heir,
  And others who have answered to the Call;
They're at the Treasury—thou'rt with them there;
  Turn down the footlights—let the curtain fall.

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George Eliot.

Another leader lost! Thus speaks the wire—
  The wire that whispers softly 'neath the wave.
Another teacher gone; the golden lyre,
Whose every string was fraught with sacred fire,
  Lies silent now beside a new-made grave.

Another leader lost! the message sped
  From England's chalky cliffs to every shore
Where mind is fetterless, and men have read
The bright and tuneful thoughts of her who led
  The league of light, of letters, and of lore.

Another leader lost! the magic hand
  That shaped the offspring of the quick'ning brain
Is pulseless now, and all the perfect band
Of her sublime creations mourning stand
  Around the tomb—she's gone, but they remain.

page 330

Another leader lost! the wealth of mind,
  And affluence of genius that illumined
Our later times have left their source behind;
The strongest, yet the sweetest, of her kind
  Is but a name—the rest has been entombed.

Another leader lost! Trust not the cry;
  The whisp'ring wire can tell us no such tale;
It speaks but of the casket,—let it lie,
That which it held within can never die,
  For Truth is clothèd in eternal mail.

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Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Come, ye winds, and chant sad dirges,
  Where the restless billows roam,
And the sand-banks kiss the verges
  Of the ever-shifting foam.

Sweep along the Ocean slowly,
  For a Bard is resting near,
And his harp is lying lowly
  In the shadow of his bier.

Sobbing through the tea-tree bushes,
  Low and tender, loud and wild,
Melancholy music gushes—
  Pensive Nature, mourns her child.

page 332

He her secrets could unravel,
  He had read her mystic page;
Oft with her his soul would travel,
  Bursting from its earthly cage.

He rode on the tempest's pinions,
  When the sheets of molten gold
Flashed across her broad dominions,
  And the drums of heaven rolled.

He smiled with her in her gladness,
  He wept with her in her gloom—
Until Sorrow, linked with Madness,
  Tore the curtain off the tomb.

Censure not the frenzied action;
  He but plunged where all must halt
Goaded on by fierce distraction—
  His the secret, his the fault.

Rest him where the ocean plashes
  To the moaning of the wind;
Death but robbed us of his ashes—
  He has left his thoughts behind.

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An Exile's Reverie. 1

Where Taieri sweeps by Manitoto's plain
  A Scottish exile sang this fond refrain,
Each lonely winding glen and snowcapped mount
Awoke the slumbering Spring of Memory's fount,
  Before his gaze old places came and went,
And thus the language of his heart found vent.

From these wild mountains, crowned with crystal hoar,
  My thoughts are wafted o'er the moaning sea;
Unchecked, untrammelled by the Ocean's roar,
  They wing their flight, dear Caledon, to thee;
The wheel of Time has rolled o'er many a year,
  And often have I heard Death's mournful knell,

page 334

Since on thy shore I shed the parting tear
  And bade thy noble cliffs a long farewell.
Yet in my dreams I see each youthful scene,
  Old forms and faces meet my eye; again
I mingle with my schoolmates on the green,
  Or gather berries in the briery lane.
The heather smells as sweet as when I strayed
  To worship Nature o'er the purple hilt.
And still, unchanged, the waving brackens shade
  The murmuring burn that turns the village mill,
The old kirk seems the same, as when of yore,
  I offered up my Sabbath morning's prayer
To Him whom all creation should adore.
  Ah! where now are the friends that worshipped there?
My dream is past. It stands not morning's test,
  Stern truth, with mocking finger points around,
And whispers, "All the loved ones are at rest—
  They sleep beneath each daisy covered mound."
This vain deceitful slumber often cheats,
  By making us appear what we have been,
The furure's left, the past at daylight fleets;
  The wide, dark gulf of Time rolls on between.
Ah, Time, what shall I call thee? how address
  The conqueror of kings, the sinner's dread—
Death's courier—swift, sure, and merciless;
  Man's mocking guide unto his narrow bed.
Nations and Empires have come and gone;
  Imperial Rome has fallen to the dust.
Regardless of events, thou movest on;

page 335

  Thy blade is still unstained by mould or rust.
Age after age humanity hath paid
  Mortality's inevitable tithe;
And still the ghastly tyrant wields his spade:
  Still millions fall before thy ceaseless scythe.
Oh who, unmoved, can look upon thy page,
  And trace thee from Creation to the Flood—
From thence unto the present? At each stage,
  Thy sandals have been wet with tears and blood.
Forward to chaos! thou canst not turn back;
  Procrastination lingers in thy train,
Fire, plague, and famine desolate thy track,
  And countless souls cry after thee in vain.
Yet all's not dark upon thy changeful face:
  When thou wert in thy prime, a Saviour came
To wash out, with His life drops, man's disgrace:
  Thy brightest scroll records His sacred name.
And when Europa's shores refused to yield
  Employment to the hardy sons of toil,
And poverty appeared, thy hand unveiled
  New climes where plenty rested on the soil.
The Golden South, washed by Pacific's spray,
  Calls thousands from the Old World's crowded marts
To fertile plains, where fame and fortune stay
  Awaiting willing hands and gallant hearts.
Yet fond remembrance clasps the Exile's heart,
  It haunts him still upon this distant strand;
Within his breast, pure warm emotions start
  When thoughts are kindled there of Fatherland.

page 336

Here, in Young Scotia, we have glens and hills,
  As wild and grand as those we left at home;
Our pastures are as green, as clear our rills,
  Our coasts are guarded by as fierce a foam.
O'er cliffs and crags, ravines and lowly dells,
  Borne on the clouds, wild, weird romance looks down;
And Poesy, Heaven's purest offspring, dwells
  Heedless of Cynic's sneer or Stoic's frown.
What lack we then, in this new land of ours?
  Why come old memories on the midnight blast,
To woo us back to childhood's happy hours,
  And let us taste delight that cannot last?
Why does the eagle, ere he speeds away,
  Wheel round his eyrie with an anxious care?
Why lingers he, for yonder is his prey?
  Ah! by a mother he was sheltered there.
Why do the bright Spring morning's sparkling showers
  Ascend on Sol's warm rays again from earth;
Why do they leave the lovely buds and flowers?
  Because they cling to Heaven, their place of birth.
And thus it is with man. Where'er he strays
  On distant plains, he turns his longing eyes
To that dear spot, veiled by the ocean's haze,
  Where fancy whispers him the old land lies.
The ideal mirror shows to Albion's son
  His home surrounded by the leafy dells;
From wood and copse he sees the streamlets run,
  Endeared to him by recollection's spells.
The Emigrant from Erin's spray-girt isle

page 337

  Oft hears her wild Harp singing on the breeze;
Its mournful cadence steals a tearful smile
  And wafts it to the old home o'er the seas.
Then Scotia, land of legendary lore,
  Can thy fond children cease to honor thee?
Nursed on the bosom of thy rugged shore,
  Ingratitude shall never come from me;
Our new land is a reflex of thy face,
  Its features in the same rough mould were cast.
Yet, unlike thee, Tradition finds no place,
  A cloud of Barbarism shades the past;
No Wallace here to kindle Freedom's fire—
  No Bruce to light the patriotic flame—
No Burns, to strike the grand melodious Lyre—
  No Scott, to trumpet forth his country's fame—
No Bard of Hope, no Ettrick Shepherd, here;
  No Ferguson, no plaintive Tannahill—
Hush! Scotia's spirit drops a burning tear;
  The precious pearl thaws Death's dark frozen chill.
Hark to her voice: "Poor mortal, Time can not
  Efface the memory of the great and good;
They live within the breast of each true Scot,
  Though far he roams across the giant flood.
The gems that sparkle o'er the azure span
  That Heaven's Architect has built on high,
Recede at dawn from the rude gaze of man,
  Yet still, unquenched, they sparkle in the sky.
And thus it is that bards and heroes stay
  A time below here, to illume mankind,

page 338

Then take their flight to shine in Heaven's day.
  Those leave their thoughts, and these their deeds behind.
Then say not, mortal, that my glorious band
  Have no existence on this golden shore.
O'er all the world, where'er my children stand,
  My heroes' fame shall live for evermore.

1 Prize Poem of the Caledonian Society of Otago, 1869.