John Bowring

(1792-1872 / England)

Winter: Friday Evening - Poem by John Bowring

True! Spring renews the faded year;
And renovated fruits and flowers
In re-awaken'd charms appear:-
They deck the plain-they crown the bowers-
Their blush was past-their odour fled-
They only slept-they were not dead.

They were not dead-for tho' the breath
Of winter o'er their beauties swept,
They were not visited by death;
They only bow'd their heads and slept.
For let them die-their charms again
Shall decorate nor bower nor plain.

True! visions haunt the general breast
Of man-of worlds beyond the skies;
But that may be a dream at best,
Like other dreams and vanities;
For man is but a breath, betray'd
By every sense, by every shade.

Around him, o'er him, he creates
A thousand fancies to delude,
Which time, truth-trier, dissipates;
Bright though they be, and fair and good,
They are but dreams at last-that leave
Our disappointed hopes to grieve.

True! power and pride and insolent thought,
Our trust in heaven severely try;
The wicked rule the world-and nought
Is left to virtue but-to die;
And sure, if God be strong and just,
It shall not perish in the dust.

Vain hope! In virtue's path who treads,
Treads surely,-all we feel and see
Is a triumphant march that leads
Truth, knowledge to its victory;
'Tis sorrow's sternest discipline
That makes our mortal man divine.

There is no pain but is the seed
Of pleasure;-wretchedness and woe
Are steps to virtue. Oft the weed
Shelters the tender flowers that grow
Beneath its shield. Each day-each hour-
Give power to truth-to virtue power.

Such are the thoughts and such the fears
Of pilgrims, in that gloomy way
Where heaven no glorious pillar rears
Of fire by night-of clouds by day;
Such as the sons of Israel led,
When wandering thro' the desert dread.

Yet happier-O how happier!-he,
Who from the waste of grief and care
Retreats to immortality,
And builds his tabernacle there,-
And smiles, as from a splendid star,
On dews and mists beneath him far!

Yes! happier who from earthly woe
Turns his fix'd vision to the skies,
And knows and feels that Jesus rose,
And is assured that he shall rise;
With faith as steadfast and sublime
As ever vanquish'd doubt or time.

All else is vain-the days to come
Are shrouded in obscurity:
But Jesus burst his mortal tomb-
And I shall not death's prisoner be.
There's bliss enough in this to cheer
All the dim woes that vex us here.

Yes! Jesus rose-and while the wreck
Of nature leaves that thought to bless,
The sigh of bursting grief I'll check,
And still the tumult of distress:-
For Jesus rose-and I shall rise,
Tho' this poor crumbling body dies.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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