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Is one of the most amiable and pathetic of our modern writers. He resembles Cowper in the union of pure piety with great poetic talent; but his views of life are not shaded by the melancholy which darkened the mind of the poet of Olney.
Though Montgomery cannot be ranked in the first class of poets, he holds a high place among those of a secondary order, and merits the praise of never having written a line that did not tend directly to the honour of God and the good of man.
From THE WORLD BEFORE THE FLOOD.
Who was the fugitive? In infancy,
A youthful mother's only hope was he,
Whose spouse and kindred, on a festal day,
Precipitate destruction swept sway;
Earth trembled, opend, and entombed them all;
She saw them sinking, heard their voices call
Beneath the gulf,--and, agonised, aghast,
On the wild verge of eddying ruin cast,
Felt in one pang, at that convulsive close,
A widow's anguish, and a mother's throes:
A babe sprang forth, an inauspicious birth,
When all had perished that she loved on earth.
Forlorn and helpless, on the upriven ground,
The parent, with her offspring, Enoch found:
And thence, with tender care and timely aid,
Home to the patriarch’s glen his charge conveyed.
Restored to life, one pledge of former joy,
One source of bliss to come, remained,--her boy!
Sweet in her eye the cherished infant rose,
At once the seal and solace of her woes;
When the pale widow clasped him to her breast,
Warm gushed the tears, and would not be repressed;
In lonely anguish, when the truant child
Leaped o'er the threshhold, all the mother smiled.
In him, while fond imagination viewed
Husband and parents, brethren, friends renewed,
Each vanished look, each well-remembered grace,
That pleased in them, she sought in Javan's face;
For quick his eye, and changeable its ray,
As the sun glancing throug a vernal day;
And like the lake, by storm or moonlight seen,
With darkening furrows or cerulean mien,
His countenance, the mirror of his breast,
The calm or trouble of his soul expressed.
As years enlarged his form, in moody hours, His mind betrayed its weakness with its powers; Alike his fairest hopes and strangest fears Were nursed in silence, or divulged with tears; The fulness of his heart repressed his tongue, Though none might rival Javan when he sung. He loved, in lonely indolence reclined, To watch the clouds, and listen to the wind. But from the north, when snow and tempest came, His nobler spirit mounted into flame; With stern delight he roamed the howling woods, Or hung in ecstasy o'er headlong floods. Meanwhile, excursive fancy longed to view The world, which yet by fame alone he knew; The joys of freedom were his daily theme, Glory the secret of his midnight dream; That dream he told not: though his heart would ache, His home was precious for his mother's sake, With her the lowly paths of peace he ran, His guardian angel, till he verged to man; But when her weary eye could watch no more, When to the grave her timeless corse he bore, Not Enoch's counsel could his steps restrain; He fled, and sojourned in the land of Cain. There when he heard the voice of Jubal's lyre, Instinctive genius caught the ethereal fire; And soon with sweetly modulating skill, He learned to wind the passions at his will, To rule the chords with such mysterious art, They seemed the life-strings of the hearer's heart! Then glory's opening field he proudly trod, Forsook the worship and the ways of God, Round the vain world pursued the phantom Fame, And cast away his birthright for a name.
Yet no delight the minstrel’s bosom knew, None save the tones that from his harp he drew, And the warın visions of a wayward mind, Whose transient splendour left a gloom behind, Frail as the clouds of sunset, and as fair, Pageants of light, resolving into air. The world, whose charms his young affections stole, He found too mean for an immortal soul;
Wound with his life, through all his feelings wrought,
Death and eternity possessed his thought;
Remorse impelled him, unremitting care
Harassed his path, and stung him to despair.
Still was the secret of his griefs unknown:
Amidst the universe he sighed alone;
The fame he followed, and the fame he found,
Healed not his heart's immedicable wound;
Admired, applauded, crowned, where'er he roved,
The bard was homeless, friendless, unbeloved.
All else that breathed below the circling sky,
Were linked to earth by some endearing tie;
He only, like the ocean-weed uptorn,
And loose along the world of waters borne,
Was cast, companionless from wave to wave,
On life's rough sea,—and there was none to save.
The moon is watching in the sky; the stars
Are swiftly wheeling on their golden cars; •
Ocean outstretched with infinite expanse,
Serenely slumbers in a glorious trance;
The tide o'er which no troubling spirits breathe,
Reflects a cloudless firmament beneath;
Where, poised as in the centre of a sphere,
A ship above and ship below appear;
A double image, pictured on the deep,
The vessel o'er its shadow seems to sleep;
Yet, like the host of Heaven, that never rest,
With evanescent motion to the west,
The pageant glides through loneliness and night,
And leaves behind a rippling wake of light.
Hark! through the calm and silence of the scene,
Slow, solemn, sweet, with many a pause between,
Celestial music swells along the air!
-No! 'tis the evening hymn of praise and prayer,
From yonder deck, where, on the stern retired,
Three humble voyagers', with looks inspired,
And hearts enkindled with a holier flame
Than ever lit to empire or to fame,
Devoutly stand; their choral accents rise
On wings of harmony beyond the skies;
I voyagers, Christian Missionaries to Greenland.
And, midst the songs that seraph-minstrels sing,
Day without night, to their immortal King,
These simple strains,—which erst Bohemian hills
Echoed to pathless woods and desert rills,
Now heard from Shetland's azure bound,—are known
In Heaven, and He, who sits upon the throne
In human form, with mediatorial power,
Remembers Calvary, and hails the hour,
When, by th' Almighty Father's high decree,
The utmost north to Him shall bow the knee,
And won by love, an untamed rebel race
Kiss the victorious sceptre of His grace.
Then to His eye, whose instant glance pervades
Heaven's heights, Earth's circle, Hell's profoundest shades.
Is there a group more lovely than those three
Night-watching pilgrims on the lonely sea?
Or to His ear, that gathers, in one sound,
The voices of adoring worlds around,
Comes there a breath of more delightful praise
Than the faint notes his poor disciples raise,
Ere on the treacherous main they sink to rest,
Secure, as leaning on their Master's breast?
They sleep; but memory wakes; and dreams array
Night in a lively masquerade of day;
The land they seek, the land they leave behind,
Meet on mid-ocean in the plastic mind;
One brings forsaken home and friends so nigh,
That tears in slumber swell the unconscious eye:
The other opens, with prophetic view,
Perils which e’en their fathers never knew
(Though schooled by suffering, long inured to toil,
Outcasts and exiles from their natal soil);
Strange scenes, strange men; untold, untried distress;
Pain, hardships, famine, cold, and nakedness,
Diseases; death in every hideous form,
On shore, at sea, by fire, by flood, by storm ;
Wild beasts, and wilder men:-unmoved with fear,
Health, comfort, safety, life, they count not dear,
May they but hope a Saviour's love to show,
And warn one spirit from eternal woe:
Nor will they faint, nor can they strive in vain,
Since thus to live is Christ, to die is gain.
'Tis morn: the bathing moon her lustre shrouds; • Wide o’er the east impends an arch of clouds,
That spans the ocean; while the infant dawn
Peeps through the portal o'er the liquid lawn,
That ruffled by an April gale appears,
Between the gloom and splendour of the spheres,
Dark-purple as the moorland-heath, when rain
Hangs in low vapours o'er the autumnal plain;
Till the full sun, resurgent from the flood,
Looks on the waves and turns them into blood;
But quickly kindling, as his beams aspire,
The lambent billows play in forms of fire.
-Where is the vessel? Shining through the light,
Like the white sea-fowl's horizontal flight,
Yonder she wings, and skims, and cleaves her way
Through refluent foam and iridescent spray.
THE PELICAN ISLAND.
Light as a flake of foam upon the wind,
Keel-upward from the deep emerged a shell,
Shaped like the moon ere half her horn is filled ;
Fraught with young life, it righted as it rose,
And moved at will along the yielding water.
The native pilot of this little bark
Put out a tier of oars on either side,
Spread to the wafting breeze a two-fold sail
And mounted up and glided down the billow
In happy freedom, pleased to feel the air,
And wander in the luxury of light,
Worth all the dead creation, in that hour,
To me appeared this lonely Nautilus,
My fellow-being, like myself alive.
Entranced in contemplation vague yet sweet,
I watched its vagrant course and rippling wake,
Till I forgot the sun amidst the heavens.
It closed, sunk, dwindled to a point, then nothing;
While the last bubble crowned the dimpling eddy,
Through which mine eyes still giddily pursued it,
A joyous creature vaulted through the air,-
The aspiring fish that fain would be a bird,
On long, light wings, that flung a diamond-shower,
Of dew-drops round its evanescent form,
Sprang into light, and instantly descended.
Ere I could greet the stranger as a friend,
Or mourn his quick departure on the surge,
A shoal of dolphins tumbling in wild glee,
Glowed with such orient tints, they might have been