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THE LAMENT OF THE COVENANT, ETC.


THE LAMENT OF THE COVENANT, 1876.[1]

Wir hatten gebauet ein stattliches Haus."
Burschlied.

We built of old a stately house,
Its pillars were a people's vows, —
The sun is set!

Our house was glorious in its day:
We were not worthy there to stay, —
Its sun is set.

God's sun on moor and hill arose;
Screamed in its face the kites and crows,
And round our towers the eagles came,
With beak of blood and wing of flame, —
Whene'er it set.

Our holy house they stained with blood,
They tore apart its carven wood:
The kings we died for trode us down,
The land we loved forgot its own, —
The sun is set.

The house we built in days of old,
With bars of iron, with bands of gold,
That house has vanished, bars and bands;
O for a house not made with hands, —
In Scotland yet!

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .


We turn from all that's past and done,
We look to an eternal Sun, —
That shall not set.

Not in the Stewart or the Guelph,
Our Covenant stands in God himself.
Behold, a house comes down from heaven,
Behold, a house by God is given, —
To Scotland yet!

The house we loved of old was clay;
Fashioned by man, it passed away.
Man's walls of clay must fall aside,
God's true house evermore abide, —
Scotland yet!

We loved our Covenant-house, because
It mirrored God's eternal laws;
That ancient form among us stood,
A passing image of the good.
We hold the old, we hold the new,
We cling to the eternal true, —
Scotland yet!

From hill and moor the shadows fly,
A better morning floods the sky;
Above our house, with broken bands,
Stretches a house not made with hands, —
In Scotland yet!

And though that house no more is here,
Its very dust to us is dear;
Their bones who built its walls of old
Have long since crumbled into mould, —
Their sun is set.

But may our hands forget their skill,
When we forget
Graves that are green on every hill, —
Of Scotland yet!

One of the Hill-Folk.
Craigh-au-Righ, May 16.
Spectator.




A BALLAD OF PAST MERIDIAN.
I.

One night returning from my twilight walk
I met the grey mist Death, whose eyeless brow
Was bent on me, and from his hand of chalk
He reached me flowers as from a withered bough:
O Death, what bitter nosegays givest thou!

II.

Death said, "I gather," and pursued his way.
Another stood by me, a shape in stone,
Sword-hacked and iron-stained, with breasts of clay,
And metal veins that sometimes fiery shone:
O Life, how naked and how hard when known!

III.

Life said, "As thou hast carved me," such am I.
Then memory, like the nightjar on the pine,
And sightless hope, a woodlark in night sky,
Joined notes of Death and Life till night's decline
Of Death, of Life, those inwound notes are mine.

George Meredith
Fortnightly Review.




THE DEATH OF THE VIOLET.

O gentle sunbeam! in that quiet time
When I lay still in the expectant earth
1 felt thy touch, and bit by bit my life
Unfolded in the glow of thy soft smile;
And when the spring was clothed in fresh green
I trembled, and sprang out to meet thy kiss.
O cruel sunbeam! I can bear no more
The glory of thy light; for I fade fast,
And thou dost scorch me with thy fiercer heat.
The roses kiss thee now, and gaudier flowers
Bask in thy lavished gold. Farewell, farewell!
Only my sighs remain, and their perfume
Shall tell of my past sweetness; while my tears,
Glistening at night when thou art gone, shall help
Some fairer flowers to bloom and gladden thee.

E. N. G.
Tinsley's Magazine.
  1. The Cameronian or "Reformed Presbyterian" Kirk — the most ancient and intensely national of all the fragments of Scotch Presbytery — after remaining separate on the ground of the Covenant for two hundred years, unites this year with the Free Kirk. The union is fixed for Thursday, the 25th of May.