The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: religious poetry

“Sonnet” by Alexander Robertson

Sonnet
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

The French general was right who said “The man who planned this war has the soul of a devil”

I dreamed that Dante to a bard unborn
The horrors of the Inferno did display,
The agonies of spirits deemed forlorn
Beyond the power of Godhead to allay:
They were but twain whose self-inflicted fate
Was pain eternal as the hate they bore
Towards the Eternal Power whom our estate,
By Him assumed, revealed as love much more—
One had the Christ betrayed; the other wrought
Iniquity beyond him—millions slain
Whom the Christ died for, cherishing the thought
Of his own glory. So that dreadful twain
He saw,—the changeless anguish of their lot:
And one was Judas, called Iscariot.

The subject of the poem is the present German Emperor.

A Succession of Autumnal Poems by Jones Very

Very is a poet dear to my heart. In life, his character seemed unlike any of his contemporaries, being stereotyped for his curious eccentricity and zealous and turgid religious views; yet, far after death, the nature of his devout and blessed soul continues to speak sincerely, humbly and eloquently in his sonnets and other poetical writings. I hope you are, also, able to find the underlying beauty within this solitary gentleman in the three poems below.

THE ACORN.
THE seed has started,—who can stay it? see,
The leaves are sprouting high above the ground;
Already o’er the flowers, its head; the tree
That rose beside it and that on it frowned,
Behold! is but a small bush by its side.
Still on! it cannot stop; its branches spread;
It looks o’er all the earth in giant pride.
The nations find upon its limbs their bread,
Its boughs their millions shelter from the heat,
Beneath its shade see kindreds, tongues, and all
That the wide world contains, they all retreat
Beneath the shelter of that acorn small
That late thou flung away; ’twas the best gift
That heaven e’er gave;—its head the low shall lift.

LINES
TO A WITHERED LEAF SEEN ON A POET’S TABLE.
POET’S hand has placed thee there,
Autumn’s brown and withered scroll!
Though to outward eye not fair,
Thou hast beauty for the soul,

Though no human pen has traced
On that leaf its learned lore,
Love divine the page has graced,—
What can words discover more?

Not alone dim Autumn’s blast
Echoes from yon tablet sear,—
Distant music of the Past
Steals upon the poet’s ear.

Voices sweet of summer hours,
Spring’s soft whispers murmur by;
Feathered songs from leafy bowers
Draw his listening soul on high.

THE DEAD.
I SEE them,—crowd on crowd they walk the earth
Dry leafless trees to autumn wind laid bare;
And in their nakedness find cause for mirth,
And all unclad would winter’s rudeness dare;
No sap doth through their clattering branches flow,
Whence springing leaves and blossoms bright appear;
Their hearts the living God have ceased to know
Who gives the spring time to th’ expectant year;
They mimic life, as if from him to steal
His glow of health to paint the livid cheek;
They borrow words for thoughts they cannot feel,
That with a seeming heart their tongue may speak;
And in their show of life more dead they live
Than those that to the earth with many tears they give.

(The poems in this post are borrowed from this transcription of Essays and Poems by Jones Very.)

John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Angel of Patience”

Being in need of healing poetry once more—a trend I seem to be taking on lately—I turned to no one other than Whittier for solace. I know I have been sharing but all of his poetry as of late; however,  is it no wonder he is considered one of our greatest American poets?

“The Angel of Patience”
A Free Paraphrase of the German

TO weary hearts, to mourning homes,
God’s meekest Angel gently comes:
No power has he to banish pain,
Or give us back our lost again;
And yet in tenderest love our dear
And heavenly Father sends him here.

There ’s quiet in that Angel’s glance,
There ’s rest in his still countenance!
He mocks no grief with idle cheer,
Nor wounds with words the mourner’s ear;
But ills and woes he may not cure
He kindly trains us to endure.

Angel of Patience! sent to calm
Our feverish brows with cooling palm;
To lay the storms of hope and fear,
And reconcile life’s smile and tear;
The throbs of wounded pride to still,
And make our own our Father’s will!

O thou who mournest on thy way,
With longings for the close of day;
He walks with thee, that Angel kind,
And gently whispers, “Be resigned:
Bear up, bear on, the end shall tell
The dear Lord ordereth all things well!”