By Charles Sangster



     Darkness has disappeared, and all the stars,
Save one, have ceased to twinkle in the heavens.
Like some lone sentinel, whose comrades all
Have sunk into luxurious repose,
This solitary orb remains behind


To greet the Morn, a silent, truthful witness, [Page 102]
Ordained by the Creator to attest
To the first dawning of another day,
Of every day throughout the lengthened year.
The silver Dawn flies up the dusky slope,


Like a white dove emerging from a cloud;
Morning imprints its first impassioned kiss
Upon the Orient’s lips, her rose-hued cheeks
Blushing with love, and all her being moved
With heart-beats mighty as the throes of Jove.


     With what a Queen-like dignity the Morn
Emerges, smiling, from her perfumed bath,
Like a young Goddess from a Marriage-feast,
Or Angel, pregnant with some might Truth,
Whose promulgation will illume the world.


How like a universal glory, crowned
With radiance from the primal fount of light,
She comes, a native, heaven-born dignity
Stamped with a hand divine upon her brow.
The lingering shades of sable-featured night,


Like phantoms startled at their parting dance,
Careering round the brightening horizon,
Slowly retire, abashed.  Upward they glance,
Feebly at first, those beams of Day-drawn light,
But gathering strength from Morning’s glad approach,


Like Beauty ripening in the smile of Love.

     Oh! blessed Morn! sweet hour of many prayers,
Of the deep worship of a million souls!
The fair Child lisping at its mother’s knee [Page 103]
Its infant thankfulness; the Maiden’s vows


Of meek devotion to a Godly life;
Religion from the breast of Womanhood
Welling in silver accents to her lips,
Like the rich purlings of a bubbling spring;
The voice of sober Manhood, calling down


The love of heaven on a fallen world;
The rapt Enthusiast with panting heart,
And lips that move not for his solemn thoughts,
Worshipping in the temple of his love,
And stretching out his soul’s arms unto God!


Oh! blessed Morn! we love thee for thy Prayers!

     Behold the God-like Sun! all life and light
Awaking with him in the gorgeous East.
How victor-like his chariot mounts the skies!
How many million hearts he fills with joy.


How wakens Nature at his solemn tread.
How the groves throb with music of the birds.
How musical the pine trees on the hill.
How glad the bright-eyed flowerets of the vale.
How lightly bound the zephyrs o’er the seas,


In their cool grottoes underneath the wave.
How like a mighty God, in whose great heart
Burns the strong incense of Eternal Love.
How like a fearless conqueror, whose steps
All nature strews with flowers, and glory gleams,


And passion hymns, and protestations deep [Page 104]
Of due submission to his regal will.
Oh! what a march of triumph, Sun! is thine!
How full of hidden mystery to us
Thy everlasting round of burning toil,


Thy rising and thy setting; and the light
Wherewith thou startlest the rejoicing stars!
What triumph and what passion, Sun! are thine.

     Who filled the measure of thy beams, Oh! Sun?
Who took thee from the flaming womb of night,


To be a wonder to all coming time?
Who opened up the fountains of thy light?
Who fashioned thee with splendor and with strength,
And sent thee forth on thy victorious way?
What star first paled to thy superior light?


What human eye first drooped beneath thy gaze?
What human voice first broke upon thine ear?
What spot of Earth first felt thy warming rays?
Who held thee o’er the Vale of Ajalon,
And made thee crown the victor’s brow with smiles?


For every beat of thy strong pulse, Oh! Sun!
A human prayer ascends from earth to God.

     If through the ocean wave he rolls his disc,
The gloomy deep awakens from its dream,
Puts all its golden decorations on,


And robes itself in costliest attire;
Like an old veteran with honored scars,
Obtained in many a hard-contested fight,
Placing his golden honors on his breast, [Page 105]
Ere going forth with pride to meet his king.


The hardy mariner, whose home is on
The perilous wave, o’erjoyed at his return,
Reflects on those for whom his prayerful thoughts,
Rude and unshaped, were hourly offered up,
During the midnight watch, to Him who holds


The reins of every billow in His hand,
And guides the watery mountains at His will.
Or if upon the lofty promontory
Falls his resplendent lustre, the rough crags
Sparkle like coronets inlaid with gems


Of priceless value and of beauty rare.
The glowing trees their gold-green tints assume,
As from their boughs extended drops the dew
In showers refreshing on the moistened grass;
While the young peasant, by some winding path,


Follows his flocks to rich, green pasture lands
Upon the plain beneath.  The sportive lambs
Frisk round the glad old ewe, delighted with
The kindly Morn that crowns their liberty,
And bids the shepherd open wide the fold,


That they may sport upon the dewy fields;
In balmy valleys; or on healthy hills,
Where the delicious breeze, in cooling draughts,
Fresh from the lake below, in silence floats
Upon the morning air, reviving all


O’er which its animating breath is borne.

     The rosy peasant girl, with joyous heart,
And health’s warm sunshine crimsoning her cheek, [Page 106]
Diligently performs her morning task,
Tending the flocks that answer to her call,


And crowd around her anxious to receive
The dainty morsel from her willing hands.
Some little yeanling nearer than the rest
Approaches, and with cunning look receives
The chosen mite, its mistress’ daily gift.


The husbandman, whose sunburned countenance
Proves that his daily labor’s well performed,
Repairs with manly bearing to the fields,
And enters on his task with cheerfulness.
The noble steed that drags the blessed plough,


Refreshed, and full of vigor and new life,
Shews no reluctance to begin again
The toil of yesterday; the night has eased
His stiffened joints, and given him new strength,
To aid the Farmer in his arduous work.


Thus they, like two industrious friends, pursue
Their early labor, ev’n before the sun
Has waked the purple hills.  The woods long since
Have echoed back the minstrelsy of birds;
The challenge of some proud young chanticleer;


His stately rival’s answer, loudly tongued;
The watchful mastiff’s bark; or tremblingly
Shook from their leaves the dew, as the strong youth
Discharged his rifle at some passing deer.

     Hark to the footsteps of the Iron Horse!


The valley vibrates to his sounding hoofs, [Page 107]
The sombre forests thunder back his tread,
And startled Echo, from the stubborn rock
And grassy hill-sides, rushes forth to greet
The mighty traveler on his early round.


Shrieks the wild whistle in yon forest glen!
Its shrill reverberations leaping through
The answering uplands, and the playful woods,
Pleased, flinging back the scream.—With sudden start,
The puzzled cattle, grazing on the slope,


Or drinking at the spring, erect their ears
In mute astonishment; and at the doors
Of the log cottages, that here and there
Indent the landscape, the coy maiden stands,
With the pleased matron and swart husbandman,


Attracted by the sound.  Anon he comes,
The massive giant, his o’erheated sides
Reeking with sweat, and from his nostrils wide
His heavy breathings issuing, in a cloud
Of boiling vapor.  Swiftly he glides past,


Shuffling with half-majestic carelessness,
With haughty ease, and time-defying pace,
Until his race is run.  Behold him now,
Pawing the ground, impetuous in his haste
To end his swift career.  The glowing sun


Glints on his polished sides, and strikes the earth,
In vain attempts to pierce his iron mail,
Or gild his solid mane.  Before him flies
The haggard creature Want, and stores of Wealth
Come tackled to his heels.  Through every town [Page 108]


And village where he speeds his noisy way,
Gladness appears; the primal wilderness
Awakes to active life; the yeomen smile;
And woodmen-heroes who have battle with
The stubborn forests cheer him on his way.


For to the toiling husbandman he brings
A mine of wealth; his path is strewn with gold;
His whole career is onward, like the march
Of a great conqueror; and by his strength
He rushes boldly through the serried ranks


Of the deep forest; ignorance disappears;
Barrenness flies, screaming, to the ridgy steep,
And Civilization triumphs in his wake.

     Stand on the quiet margin of the lake,
And listen to the homely melody


Of the rough Fisherman, as he impels
His deeply-laden craft toward the shore.
Many a sleepless, toilsome night he spends,
Watching his crafty nets, or wielding well
The bearded spear, as his long-practiced eye


Sees by the flaming torch-light, far beneath
The bosom of the water his sure prey,
Which soon leaps, struggling in its agony,
Into the leaky bark.  Exposed to storms,
The pestilential vapors of the night,


Dripping with spray, and bending ’neath fatigue,
The uncomplaining fisherman endures
With patience all the ills of his hard life, [Page 109]
Too happy if each morning’s sunlight smiles
Upon his homeward way, to cheer him on


To the embrace of his expectant wife,
And the sweet kisses of his infant flock.

     And now, ’tis past the meditative hour,
When first the sun above the highest hills
Uprears his crest, whence the warm golden floods


Of heavenly light their diff’rent stations take,
To spread the joyful tidings round the world.
The holy silence of the earlier morn
Is broken by the sounds of active life
That everywhere attract the attentive ear.


Morn’s rosy hues, such as are seen upon
The cheek of Beauty, or the happy face
Of Childhood, dimpled with unnumbered smiles
Seraphic, now no longer please the eye,
But the broad light of Day extends o’er all,


And Morning’s softest loveliness is lost,
As the day gradually travels on
To the oppressive hour of scorching Noon. [Page 110]