boy

The Forest Boy

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The trees have now hid at the edge of the hurst
The spot where the ruins decay
Of the cottage, where Will of the Woodland was nursed,
And lived so beloved, till the moment accursed
When he went from the woodland away.
Among all the lads of the plough or the fold;
Best esteem’d by the sober and good,
Was Will of the Woodlands; and often the old
Would tell of his frolics, for active and bold
Was William the boy of the wood.
Yet gentle was he, as the breath of the May,
And when sick and declining was laid
The woodman his father, young William away
Would go to the forest to labour all day,
And perform his hard task in his stead.
And when his poor father the forester died,
And his mother was sad, and alone,
He toil’d from the dawn, and at evening he hied
In storm or in snow, or whate’er might betide,
To supply all her wants from the town.

One neighbour they had on the heath to the west,
And no other the cottage was near,
But she would send Phoebe, the child she loved best,
To stay with the widow, thus sad and distress’d,
Her hours of dejection to cheer.
As the buds of wild roses, the cheeks of the maid
Were just tinted with youth’s lovely hue,
Her form, like the aspen, wild graces display’d,
And the eyes, over which her luxuriant locks stray’d,
As the skies of the summer were blue.
Still labouring to live, yet reflecting the while,
Young William consider’d his lot;
‘Twas hard, yet ’twas honest; and one tender smile
From Phoebe at night overpaid ev’ry toil,
And then all his fatigues were forgot.
By the brook where it glides through the copse of Arbeal,
When to eat his cold fare he reclined,
Then soft from her home his sweet Phoebe would steal,
And bring him wood-strawberries to finish his meal,
And would sit by his side while he dined.
And though when employed in the deep forest glade,
His days have seem’d slowly to move,
Yet Phoebe going home, through the wood-walk has stray’d
To bid him good night!–and whatever she said
Was more sweet than the voice of the dove.
Fair Hope, that the lover so fondly believes,
Then repeated each soul-soothing speech,
And touch’d with illusion, that often deceives
The future with light; as the sun through the leaves
Illumines the boughs of the beech.
But once more the tempests of chill winter blow,
To depress and disfigure the earth;
And now ere the dawn, the young woodman must go
To his work in the forest, half buried in snow,
And at night bring home wood for the hearth.

The bridge on the heath by the flood was wash’d down,
And fast fell the sleet and the rain,
The stream to a wild rapid river was grown,
And long might the widow sit sighing alone
Ere sweet Phoebe could see her again.
At the town was a market–and now for supplies,
Such as needed her humble abode,
Young William went forth; and his mother with sighs
Watch’d long at the window, with tears in her eyes,
Till he turn’d through the fields to the road.
Then darkness came on; and she heard with affright
The wind every moment more high;
She look’d from the door; not a star lent its light,
But the tempest redoubled the gloom of the night,
And the rain pour’d in sheets from the sky.
The clock in her cottage now mournfully told
The hours that went heavily on;
‘Twas midnight: her spirits sank hopeless and cold,
And it seem’d as each blast of wind fearfully told
That long, long would her William be gone.
Then heart-sick and cold to her sad bed she crept,
Yet first made up the fire in the room
To guide his dark steps; but she listen’d and wept,
Or if for a moment forgetful she slept,
Soon she started!–and thought he was come.
‘Twas morn; and the wind with a hoarse sullen moan
Now seem’d dying away in the wood,
When the poor wretched mother still drooping, alone,
Beheld on the threshold a figure unknown,
In gorgeous apparel who stood.
‘Your son is a soldier,’ abruptly cried he,
‘And a place in our corps has obtain’d,
Nay, be not cast down; you perhaps may soon see
Your William a captain, he now sends by me
The purse he already has gain’d.’

So William entrapp’d ‘twixt persuasion and force,
Is embark’d for the isles of the West,
But he seem’d to begin with ill omens his course,
And felt recollection, regret, and remorse
Continually weigh on his breast.
With useless repentance he eagerly eyed
The high coast as it faded from view,
And saw the green hills, on whose northernmost side
Was his own silvan home: and he falter’d, and cried,
‘Adieu! ah! for ever adieu!
‘Who now, my poor mother, thy life shall sustain,
Since thy son has thus left thee forlorn?
Ah! canst thou forgive me? And not in the pain
Of this cruel desertion, of William complain,
And lament that he ever was born?
‘Sweet Phoebe!–if ever thy lover was dear,
Now forsake not the cottage of woe,
But comfort my mother; and quiet her fear,
And help her to dry up the vain fruitless tear,
That too long for my absence will flow.
‘Yet what if my Phoebe another should wed,
And lament her lost William no more?’
The thought was too cruel; and anguish now sped
The dart of disease–With the brave numerous dead
He has fall’n on the plague-tainted shore.
In the lone village church-yard, the chancel-wall near,
High grass now waves over the spot,
Where the mother of William, unable to bear
His loss, who to her widow’d heart was so dear,
Has both him and her sorrows forgot.
By the brook where it winds through the wood of Arbeal,
Or amid the deep forest, to moan,
The poor wandering Phoebe will silently steal;
The pain of her bosom no reason can heal,
And she loves to indulge it alone.

Her senses are injured; her eyes dim with tears;
She sits by the river and weaves
Reed garlands, against her dear William appears,
Then breathlessly listens, and fancies she hears
His step in the half wither’d leaves.
Ah! such are the miseries to which ye give birth,
Ye statesmen! ne’er dreading a scar;
Who from pictured saloon, or the bright sculptured hearth
Disperse desolation and death through the earth,
When ye let loose the demons of war.

 

– Charlotte Smith

 

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13th September – On This Day In History

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Born:

1916 Roald Dahl (author – Charlie And The Chocolate Factory)

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Died:

1996 Tupac Shakur (rapper & actor)

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On This Day:

1979 Venda is granted independence by South Africa (but not recognised outside of South Africa)

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Have a good Thursday, 13th September

Boy And The Angel

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Morning, evening, noon and night,
“Praise God!; sang Theocrite.

Then to his poor trade he turned,
Whereby the daily meal was earned.

Hard he laboured, long and well;
O’er his work the boy’s curls fell.

But ever, at each period,
He stopped and sang, “Praise God!”

Then back again his curls he threw,
And cheerful turned to work anew.

Said Blaise, the listening monk, “Well done;
“I doubt not thou art heard, my son:

“As well as if thy voice to-day
“Were praising God, the Pope’s great way.

“This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome
“Praises God from Peter’s dome.”

Said Theocrite, “Would God that I
“Might praise him, that great way, and die!”

Night passed, day shone,
And Theocrite was gone.

With God a day endures alway,
A thousand years are but a day.

God said in heaven, “Nor day nor night
“Now brings the voice of my delight.”

Then Gabriel, like a rainbow’s birth,
Spread his wings and sank to earth;

Entered, in flesh, the empty cell,
Lived there, and played the craftsman well;

And morning, evening, noon and night,
Praised God in place of Theocrite.

And from a boy, to youth he grew:
The man put off the stripling’s hue:

The man matured and fell away
Into the season of decay:

And ever o’er the trade he bent,
And ever lived on earth content.

(He did God’s will; to him, all one
If on the earth or in the sun.)

God said, “A praise is in mine ear;
“There is no doubt in it, no fear:

“So sing old worlds, and so
“New worlds that from my footstool go.

“Clearer loves sound other ways:
“I miss my little human praise.”

Then forth sprang Gabriel’s wings, off fell
The flesh disguise, remained the cell.

‘Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome,
And paused above Saint Peter’s dome.

In the tiring-room close by
The great outer gallery,

With his holy vestments dight,
Stood the new Pope, Theocrite:

And all his past career
Came back upon him clear,

Since when, a boy, he plied his trade,
Till on his life the sickness weighed;

And in his cell, when death drew near,
An angel in a dream brought cheer:

And rising from the sickness drear
He grew a priest, and now stood here.

To the East with praise he turned,
And on his sight the angel burned.

“I bore thee from thy craftsman’s cell
“And set thee here; I did not well.

“Vainly I left my angel-sphere,
“Vain was thy dream of many a year.

“Thy voice’s praise seemed weak; it dropped—
“Creation’s chorus stopped!

“Go back and praise again
“The early way, while I remain.

“With that weak voice of our disdain,
“Take up creation’s pausing strain.

“Back to the cell and poor employ:
“Resume the craftsman and the boy!”

Theocrite grew old at home;
A new Pope dwelt in Peter’s dome.

One vanished as the other died:
They sought God side by side.

 

– Robert Browning

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A Ninth Birthday

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Three times thrice hath winter’s rough white wing
Crossed and curdled wells and streams with ice
Since his birth whose praises love would sing
Three times thrice.

Earth nor sea bears flower nor pearl of price
Fit to crown the forehead of my king,
Honey meet to please him, balm, nor spice.

Love can think of nought but love to bring
Fit to serve or do him sacrifice
Ere his eyes have looked upon the spring
Three times thrice.

II.

Three times thrice the world has fallen on slumber,
Shone and waned and withered in a trice,
Frost has fettered Thames and Tyne and Humber
Three times thrice,

Fogs have swoln too thick for steel to slice,
Cloud and mud have soiled with grime and umber
Earth and heaven, defaced as souls with vice,

Winds have risen to wreck, snows fallen to cumber,
Ships and chariots, trapped like rats or mice,
Since my king first smiled, whose years now number
Three times thrice.

III.

Three times thrice, in wine of song full-flowing,
Pledge, my heart, the child whose eyes suffice,
Once beheld, to set thy joy-bells going
Three times thrice.

Not the lands of palm and date and rice
Glow more bright when summer leaves them glowing,
Laugh more light when suns and winds entice.

Noon and eve and midnight and cock-crowing,
Child whose love makes life as paradise,
Love should sound your praise with clarions blowing
Three times thrice.

 

– Algernon Charles Swinburne

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Little Boy Lost

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‘Father, father, where are you going?
Oh do not walk so fast!
Speak, father, speak to you little boy,
Or else I shall be lost.’

The night was dark, no father was there,
The child was wet with dew;
The mire was deep, and the child did weep,
And away the vapour flew.

 

– William Blake

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The Chimney-Sweeper: When My Mother Died I Was Very Young

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When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘Weep! weep! weep! weep!’
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved; so I said,
‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight! —
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and let them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

 

– William Blake

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The Sailor Boy

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He rose at dawn and, fired with hope,
Shot o’er the seething harbour-bar,
And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,
And whistled to the morning star.

And while he whistled long and loud
He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
“O boy, tho’ thou are young and proud,
I see the place where thou wilt lie.

“The sands and yeasty surges mix
In caves about the dreary bay,
And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.”

“Fool,” he answer’d , “death is sure
To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure
To sit with empty hands at home.

“My mother clings about my neck,
My sisters crying, ‘Stay for shame;’
My father raves of death and wreck,-
They are all to blame, they are all to blame.

“God help me! save I take my part
Of danger on the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
Far worse than any death to me.”

 

– Alfred Lord Tennyson

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