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The Sabbath Bells.

THE cheerful sabbath bells, wherever heard,
Strike pleasant on the sense, most like the voice
Of one, who from the far-off bills proclaims
Tidings of good to Zion: chiefly when
Their piercing tones fall sudden on the ear
Of the contemplant, solitary man,

Whom thoughts abstruse or high have chanced to lure
Forth from the walks of men, revolving oft,

And oft again, hard matter, which eludes

And baffles his pursuit-thought-sick and tired

Of controversy, where no end appears,

No clue to his research, the lonely man
Half wishes for society again.

Him thus engaged, the sabbath bells salute
Sudden! his heart awakes, his ears drink in
The cheering music; bis relenting soul
Yearns after all the joys of social life,
And softens with the love of human kind.

CHARLES LAMB.

THOMAS HOOD.

The Song of the Shirt!

WITH fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread-
Stitch-stitch-stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the "Song of the Shirt.”

"Work-work-work!

While the cock is crowing aloof:
And work-work—work,

Till the stars shine through the roof,
It's Oh! to be a slave

Along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save, If this is Christian work!

"Work-work-work,

Till the brain begins to swim;
Work—work—work,

Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,

Band, and gusset, and seam;

Till over the buttons I fall asleep, And sew them on in a dream!

187

"O! men, with sisters dear!

O! men, with mothers and wives!
It is not linen you 're wearing out,
But human creatures' lives!
Stitch-stitch-stitch,

In poverty, hunger, and dirt, Sewing at once, with a double thread, A shroud as well as a shirt.

"But why do I talk of Death?

That phantom of grisly bone; I hardly fear his terrible shape, It seems so like my own—

It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep,

Oh! God! that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!

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"Work-work-work!

My labour never flags ;

And what are its wages? A bed of straw,

A crust of bread, and rags.

That shattered roof, and this naked floor-—

A table-a broken chair

A wall so blank, my shadow I thank

For sometimes falling there.

"Work-work-work! From weary chime to chime, Work-work-work,

As prisoners work for crime!

66

THOMAS HOOD.

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band,

Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed,

As well as the weary hand.

"Work-work-work,

In the dull December light,

And work-work-work,

When the weather is warm and bright-
While underneath the eaves

The brooding swallows cling,

As if to show me their sunny backs,
And twit me with the spring.

"Oh! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweet—
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet,
For only one short hour

To feel as I used to feel,
Before I knew the woes of want,
And the walk that costs a meal!

'Oh,

for one short hour!

A respite, however brief!

No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,
But only time for grief!

A little weeping would ease my heart,
But in their briny head

My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread."

189

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids beavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread-

Stitch-stitch-stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,
Would that its tone could reach the rich!
She sang this "Song of the Shirt."

THOMAS HOOD.

Lines written in a Highland Glen.

To whom belongs this valley fair,
That sleeps beneath the filmy air,
Even like a living Thing?
Silent- as infant at the breast.
Save a still sound that speaks of rest,
That streamlet's murmuring!

The heavens appear to love this vale;
Here clouds with scarce-seen motion sail,
Or, mid the silence lie!

By that blue arch, this beauteous earth
Mid evening's hour of dewy mirth,
Seems bound unto the sky.

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