John Hartley

(1839-1917 / England)

To My Harp - Poem by John Hartley

Wake up my harp! thy strings begin to rust!
Has the soul fled that once within thee dwelt?
Idle so long, shake off that coat of dust!
Are there no souls to cheer, no hearts to melt?
Are there no victims under tyrants' yoke,
Whose wrongs thy stirring music should proclaim?
Or have the fetters of mankind been broke?
Or are there none deserving songs of fame?

Awake! awake! thy slumber has been long!
And let thy chords once more arouse the heart;
And teach us in thy most impassioned song,
How in our sphere we best may play our part.
Tell the down-trodden, who with daily toil,
Wear out their lives, another's greed to fill;
That they have rights and interests in the soil,
And they can win them if they have the will.

Tell the high-born that chance of birth ne'er gave
To them a right to carve another's fate;
Nor yet to make the humbler born a slave,
Whose heart with goodness may be doubly great.
Tell the hard-handed poor, yet honest man,
That though through roughest ways of life he plod,
Nature hath placed upon his birth no ban,--
All men are equal in the sight of God.

And yet a softer, pitying strain let pour,
To soothe the anguish of the troubled soul,
And fill the heart bereaved, with hope once more,
And from the brow the heavy grief-cloud roll.
Cheer on the brave who struggle in the fight,--
And warn oppression of the gathering storm,
And drag the deeds of false ones to the light,--
And herald in the day of true reform.

Nor leave the gentler, loving themes, unsung,
Compassionate the maiden's tender woes,
Revive the faint who are with fears unstrung,
And solace them who writhe in suffering's throes.
Awake! awake! there's need enough of thee,
Nor let again such sloth enchain thy tongue,
And may thy constant effort henceforth be,
To plant the right, and to uproot the wrong.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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