Patrick Branwell Bronte

(1817-1848 / England)

The Happy Cottagers - Poem by Patrick Branwell Bronte

One sunny morn of May,
When dressed in flowery green
The dewy landscape, charmed
With Nature's fairest scene,
In thoughtful mood
I slowly strayed
O'er hill and dale,
Through bush and glade.

Throughout the cloudless sky
Of light unsullied blue,
The larks their matins raised,
Whilst on my dizzy view,
Like dusky motes,
They winged their way
Till vanished in
The blaze of day.

The linnets sweetly sang
On every fragrant thorn,
Whilst from the tangled wood
The blackbirds hailed the morn;
And through the dew
Ran here and there,
But half afraid,
The startled hare.

The balmy breeze just kissed
The countless dewy gems
Which decked the yielding blade
Or gilt the sturdy stems,
And gently o'er
The charmed sight
A deluge shed
Of trembling light.

A sympathetic glow
Ran through my melting soul,
And calm and sweet delight
O'er all my senses stole;
And through my heart
A grateful flood
Of joy rolled on
To Nature's God.

Time flew unheeded by,
Till wearied and oppressed,
Upon a flowery bank
I laid me down to rest;
Beneath my feet
A purling stream
Ran glittering in
The noontide beam.

I turned me round to view
The lovely rural scene;
And, just at hand, I spied
A cottage on the green;
The street was clean,
The walls were white,
The thatch was neat,
The window bright.

Bold chanticleer, arrayed
In velvet plumage gay,
With many an amorous dame,
Fierce strutted o'er the way;
And motley ducks
Were waddling seen,
And drake with neck
Of glossy green.

The latch I gently raised,
And oped the humble door;
An oaken stool was placed
On the neat sanded floor;
An aged man
Said with a smile,
'You're welcome, sir:
Come rest a while.'

His coarse attire was clean,
His manner rude yet kind:
His air, his words, and looks
Showed a contented mind;
Though mean and poor,
Thrice happy he,
As by our tale
You soon shall see.

But don't expect to hear
Of deeds of martial fame,
Or that our peasant mean
Was born of rank or name,
And soon will strut,
As in romance,
A knight and all
In armour glance.

I sing of real life;
All else is empty show,
To those who read a source
Of much unreal woe:
Pollution, too,
Through novel-veins,
Oft fills the mind
With guilty stains.

Our peasant long was bred
Affliction's meagre child,
Yet gratefully resigned,
Loud hymning praises, smiled,
And like a tower
He stood unmoved,
Supported by
The God he loved.

His loving wife long since
Was numbered with the dead
His son, a martial youth,
Had for his country bled;
And now remained
One daughter fair,
And only she,
To soothe his care.

The aged man with tears
Spoke of the lovely maid;
How earnestly she strove
To lend her father aid,
And as he ran
Her praises o'er,
She gently oped
The cottage-door.

With vegetable store
The table soon she spread,
And pressed me to partake;
Whilst blushes rosy-red
Suffused her face,
The old man smiled,
Well pleased to see
His darling child.

With venerable air
He then looked up to God,
A blessing craved on all,
And on our daily food;
Then kindly begged
I would excuse
Their humble fair,
And not refuse.

The tablecloth, though coarse,
Was of a snowy white,
The vessels, spoons, and knives
Were clean and dazzling bright;
So down we sat
Devoid of care,
Nor envied kings
Their dainty fare.

When nature was refreshed,
And we familiar grown;
The good old man exclaimed,
'Around Jehovah's throne,
Come, let us all
Our voices raise,
And sing our great
Redeemer's praise!'

Their artless notes were sweet,
Grace ran through every line;
Their breasts with rapture swelled,
Their looks were all divine:
Delight o'er all
My senses stole,
And heaven's pure joy
O'erwhelmed my soul.

When we had praised our God,
And knelt around His throne,
The aged man began
In deep and zealous tone,
With hands upraised
And heavenward eye,
And prayed loud
And fervently:

He prayed that for His sake,
Whose guiltless blood was shed
For guilty ruined man,
We might that day be fed
With that pure bread
Which cheers the soul,
And living stream,
Where pleasures roll.

He prayed long for all,
And for his daughter dear,
That she, preserved from ill,
Might lead for many a year
A spotless life
When he's no more;
Then follow him
To Canaan's shore.

His faltering voice then fell,
His tears were dropping fast,
And muttering praise to God
For all His mercies past,
He closed his prayer
Midst heavenly joys,
And tasted bliss
Which never cloys.

In sweet discourse we spent
The fast declining day:
We spoke of Jesus' love,
And of that narrow way
Which leads, through care
And toil below,
To streams where joys
Eternal flow.

The wondrous plan of Grace,
Adoring, we surveyed,
The birth of heavenly skill,
In Love Eternal laid,
Too deep for clear
Angelic ken,
And far beyond
Dim-sighted men.

To tell you all that passed
Would far exceed my power;
Suffice it, then, to say,
Joy winged the passing hour,
Till, ere we knew,
The setting day
Had clad the world
In silver grey.

I kindly took my leave,
And blessed the happy lot
Of those I left behind
Lodged in their humble cot;
And pitied some
In palace walls,
Where pride torments,
And pleasure palls.

The silver moon now shed
A flood of trembling light
On tower, and tree, and stream;
The twinkling stars shone bright,
Nor misty stain
Nor cloud was seen
O'er all the deep
Celestial green.

Mild was the lovely night,
Nor stirred a whispering breeze.
Smooth was the glassy lake,
And still the leafy trees;
No sound in air
Was heard afloat,
Save Philomel's
Sweet warbling note.

My thoughts were on the wing,
And back my fancy fled
To where contentment dwelt
In the neat humble shed;
To shining courts
From thence it ran,
Where restless pride
Oppresses man.

In fame some search for bliss,
Some seek content in gain,
In search of happiness
Some give the slackened rein
To passions fierce,
And down the stream
Through giddy life,
Of pleasures dream.

These all mistake the way,
As many more have done:
The narrow path of bliss
Through God's Eternal Son
Directly tends;
And only he
Who treads this path
Can happy be.

Who anchors all above
Has still a happy lot,
Though doomed for life to dwell
E'en in a humble cot,
And when he lays
This covering down
He'll wear a bright
Immortal crown.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010



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