Poems and Essays

by Joseph Howe


TO M. J. K.


High of Heart! though some may sneer,
Tread thy path and have no fear—
Bow thy thoughts to Life’s dull duties,
Feast thine eye on Nature’s beauties,
Brood not o’er thine hours of sadness
Till the soul is stung to madness—
Heavy clouds which hover o’er us
Tell of sunshine yet before us—
Without the Artist’s depth of shade
No noble picture e’er was made—
Corn grows but on the furrowed soil
And Virtue springs from care and toil—
Then clear thy brow oh Maiden fair
And tune thy Harp to lighter air.

I, like you, have mourned the Dead,
Scalding tears have o’er them shed;
Noble stems have fallen round me
Rending ties which strongly bound me
To Life’s dear departed hours—
Delicate and fragile flowers,
On my breast, have drooped and paled,
Till their fragrance had exhaled,
And gently to the skies ascended
With Heaven’s incense meekly blended.

Bowed, and crushed, and hardly knowing,
While my cup was overflowing,
If my Soul its depths could drain
And wake to Life and Joy again. [Page 122]
I have stood the Dead beside
And my tears of sorrow dried,—
Gazed upon my broken tree,
O’er my flow’ret bent the knee,
Till high Resolve has come like balm
The bruised Spirit’s pulse to calm,
And voices whispered from on high,
“Thy Native Country cannot die.”

These still survive, nor e’er can perish
The feeling which her offspring cherish
For every wild and rocky strand,
Which girds and guards our Native Land.
For every hill-top, forest-crowned,
For every stream which winds around
The Cottage Homes that deck the vale,
For every white adventurous sail
That cheers the blue surrounding sea,
And wafts the children of the free.

Be thine the task, whate’er betide,
To dash the gushing tear aside,
To raise the rich ennobling Song
Such hallowed feelings to prolong—
To turn, from musing on the Dead,
To paint the charms around thee spread—
To let thy gentle Spirit beam
On forest tree, and sparkling stream;
Till as the Sunbeam woke of old,
Soft music in the Statue cold,
Thy Genius with its touch of fire
Shall patriotic thought inspire, [Page 123]
And every scene new charms impart,
And melt in Song the coldest heart.

June, 1845. [Page 124]