A Birthday Blessing - Poem by Josias Homely
To Marie, On The First Anniversary Of Her Birth
Thou careless dweller in a world of care—
Young liclpless wanderer in a clime of- storms,
Playful inheritor of grief!— a year
O'er thy unconscious head, with silent flight,
Has melted into past Eternity.
Thy ifathcr, on thy natal clay, should write
To thee in words of fond unminghdjoy,
And such alone his heart would dictate now ;
But memory blends the future with the clouds,
And blighted hopes, she gathers from the past.
Thus sadness mingles with the words of love.
''Many a bright return of this bright day'
Is but affection's blind and thoughtless wish.
Ours is a clime in which bright days are few.
And those Avhicli seem the brightest to the sense.
Diffuse no sunshine o'er the soul. Thus, Avhilc
I gaze upon thy bright untroubled eye—
(A lamp of gladness or a fount of tears
As joy or sorrow plays around the heart,)
A mingled pang of joy and agony
Has shot into my soul—
A silent prayer.
Born from that thrill of mingling hope and dread,.
In heaven's chancery is written down—
That silent blessing is my birth day gift.
The hand that writes to thee may soon be dust ;
The heart that beats for thee may soon be still,
And motionless the lips which bless thee now :
The trembling anxious parent, who would fill
Thy cup with happiness, and strive to make
Thy life one long and joyous jubilee,
Will be at rest, and like a wayward child,
In Death's cold arm, be-rocked himself to sleep.
Then all the fond aspirings of his heart
To strew thy path with flowers, and to crowd
With blessings only all thy transient day,
Will, like his dust, be scattered to the breeze.
Save haply then beside the mercy seat
His spirit's fond petition may remain,
And like the vapour of the incense, give
The perfume of well-pleasing sacrifice ;
Thus in effect, that may outlive the breath
Which breathed it—nature's holiest wish, a prayer
Born from the tremblings of a parent's heart,
A father's prayer for tliee—may perish never.
Yet tliink not it can give unsought-for aid ;
I can but here record what thou should'st ask
In meek sincerity, and strive to gain
When dawning reason shall unfold thy mind,
And life's grand struggle for thyself begin.
But what the purport of thy father's prayer ?
It does not ask for wealth—that fortxme's gifts
May tempt thee into pride and deep disdain
Of those whose lot on earth it is to mourn ;
It does not ask for fame—one silent hour
In which thy heart shall tell thee all is right
In real worth, surpasses all the names
Inherited or won, of all the great.
It leaves thee in His hands whose will is right,
And who can never err—His will be done—
And only asks for thee a power to bend
In humble thankfulness to His decree.
There is a gem of high surpassing wortli,
To which the jewels in the caves of earth
Are but as dust, most vile and worthless dross,
It is the deep confiding hope that shines
(Lock'd in the chambers of the trusting heart)
Through all life's varying scenes resigned to God.
Could I but choose for thee, that should be thine,
For wealth is poverty, and that is wealth.
These lines may meet thine eye when I'm at rest :
When earth's false pleasures, and oppressing cares,
Have stung thy heart—and made the sunlight dark.
And planted round thy couch of midnight rest
Pale hopes that vanish, sorrows that remain.
Shrink not to bear the common lot of all,
'Tis wisely ordered though yet tmexplained.
And when the circling year brings quickly round
Thy natal day, look up to heaven with hope.
Repeat thy father's prayer for thee, and say,
Whate'er^thy will O God—thy will be done.
Thus may each natal day bring stronger trust.
Mild resignation annually renewed.
And meek conformity to his wise will.
Then shall thy gayest hours be gem'd with joys,
Bright fugitives from Eden, who come here
To 'lure back pilgrims to a home of bliss.
Then shall each sorrow bring its own sweet balm,
And hours of grief bring days of lasting peace.
Thy life shall be one banquet of content—
Thy death the calm repose which gently falls
On the hush'd spirit, like the dewy eve
Upon the moon-lit lake, when zephyrs sleep,
And summer days expire, in blessing us.
Secure this talisman—this pearl of worth—
And though in penury, thou still art rich—
In degradation, still art nobly great ;
Greater and wealthier than the gaudy slaves
In ffilded bondao;e, link'd to fortune's wheels :
With childish eagerness who grasp the toys
Which feed on earth, the vanity of worms.
But leave the heart to pine in lonely gloom.
In vacant disappointment and disgust.
Thou need'st not look on earthly good with scorn,
But with a calm unruffled mind regard.
And take thy share, and be therewith content ;
Convinced that what is given, is kindly given.
And what denied, more kindly still withheld ;
'Tis best for earth and better still for heaven.
Then strive to bend each proud aspiring thought
Down to the level where sure bliss begins.
Meek satisfaction at the good bestowed ;
A heart resigned and humbled into peace.
But years must pass away ere thou canst read
The lightest meaning of my lightest word.
And thou art tired too of dull delay,
So we will turn to childish sport again
And say no more about it
Poet's Notes about The Poem
will have been seen perhaps by some of my readers in a form
rather different from that in whicli they here appear. This renders
a few words of explanation desirable. First —Many of the pieces
here published found their way into Albums, Scrap Books, (S'C and
even into print, not from my own manuscripts, but from incorrect
copies. It is therefore in their present form only that I am responsible
for them. Secondly—Many of the longer pieces, particularly
those in blank verse, were orujinnlly written at greater length than
the printed copies, which appeared in the newspapers, considerable
curtailment being necessary to render them fit for publication in
such a situation. These curtailments were of less consequence,
when they alluded to local events, fresh in the memory of my readers;
but would now render the meaning obscure in some cases, and
inother cases give to the different paragraphs the appearance of ill
connected fragments. No reasons for injudicious curtailment now
existing, I have used my original manuscripts, or the printed copies,
whichever appeared to me most desirable. Lastly.—The additions
and amendments introduced into this collection, liave, it must be
confessed, been numerous and extensive No one it is thought who
ha<l been amused by the first rougli sketch of a poem, thus altered,
would be displeased to sec it amended, and made as much more worthy
of his favor, as the present opportunity enabled mc to make it.
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