James Clerk Maxwell
On St. David's Day
Poem by James Clerk Maxwell
To Mrs. E.C. Morrieson
’Twas not chance but deep design,
Tho’ of whom I can't divine
Made the courtly Valentine
(Corpulent saint and bishop)
Such a time with Bob to stay:-—
Let me now in bardish way
On your own St. David’s day
Toss you a simple dish up.
’Tis a tale we learnt at school,—
Oft we broke domestic rule,
Standing till our brows were cool
In the forbidden lobby.
There we talked and there we laughed,
Till the townsfolk thought us daft,
What of that? a thorough draft
Was and is still my hobby.
To my tale: In ancient days,
Ere men left the good old ways,
Lived a lady whose just praise
Passes all fancied glory.
Rich was she in field and store,
Richer in the sons she bore,
How could she be honoured more?
Listen and hear the story.
On a high and festive day
When the chariots bright and gay
To the temple far away
Passed in majestic order,—
When the hour was nigh at hand,
She who should have led the band
Found no oxen at command,
Searching through all her border
Then her two sons brave and strong
Gut their limbs with band and thong,
And before the wondering throng
Drew their exulting mother.
Swift and steady, on they came;
At the temple loud acclaim
Greeted that illustrious dame,
Blest above every other.
Then, while triumph filled her breast,
Loud she prayed above the rest,
Give my sons whatever best
Man may receive from heavers.
To the shrine the brothers stept,
Low they bowed, they sunk, they slept,
Stillness o’er their brave limbs crept:—
Rest was the guerdon given.
Such the simple story told,
By a sage renowned of old,
To a king whose fabled gold
Could not procure him learning.
Heathen was the sage indeed,
Yet his tale we gladly read,
Thro’ his dark and doubtful creed
Glimpses of Truth discerning.
Now no more the altar's blaze
Glares athwart our worldly haze,
Warning men how evil ways
Lead to just tribulation.
Now no more the temple stands,
Pointing out to godless lands
That which is not made with hands,
Even the whole Creation.
Ask no more, then, "what is best,
How shall those you love be blest,"
Ask at once, eternal Rest,
Peace and assurance giving.
Rest of Life and not of death,
Rest in Love and Hope and Faith,
Till the God who gives their breath
Calls them to rest from living.
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