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She teaches the girls,
The boys she holds tight,
Her hands never idle
By day or by night;
Makes by managing skill
Her store greater still ;
With treasures fills presses with lavender spread,
And twines round the swift-whirring spindle the thread,
And stores in chests polished and spotlessly bright
The shimmering wool, and the linen snow-white.
And joins what is good with what's comely and fair,
And resteth ne'er.-
And from his home's high roof, with gaze
Of rapture the father around surveys
The good things wherewith he is richly blest,
And tells them over with eager zest.
He sees the huge sheds their shadows throwing,
And the barns that are filled to overflowing,
And the storerooms bending beneath the strain,
And the billowy sweep of the ripening grain,
And says in his heart, with a throb of pride,
“Firm as earth's self, whatever betide,
Stands my house, in its lordly state,
Proof against every assault of fate."
But who with the Powers of Destiny may
A compact weave, that will last for aye?
And very swift is Disaster's stride.
Good! Now the casting may begin,
Clean and sharp is the fracture there ;
Yet, or ever we run the metal in,
Send from the heart a fervent prayer !
Now strike out the tap!
God shield from mishap!
Smoking the fiery tide shoots down
The handle's arch, all ilusky brown !
The power of fire is a power of good,
When tamed by man, and its force subdued,
And whate'er 'neath his shaping fingers grows
To this celestial power he owes.
Yet dread must this power celestial be,
If she tears herself from all trammels free,
And, tameless daughter of Nature, breaks
Away by the path for herself she makes.
Woe, when she, set loose, o'erbearing
All resistance that she meets,
Hurls her firebrands wildly faring
Through the people-crowded streets !
For whate'er men's hands create
The forces elemental hate.
From the clouds of heaven
Streams the blessed rain ;
From the clouds of heaven,
For blessing or bane,
Shoots the forked levin.
Hark! What sounds from the watch-tower swell!
'Tis the tocsin's knell !
And see, the sky
Is red as blood !
Not there the flood
Of daylight broke !
Along the street
What tumult and roaring !
Volumes of smoke
Shoot up! and fleet,
From pillars of flickering fire upsoaring,
The wind-fanned flames through all the length
Of street rush onwards, gathering strength.
Hot as the breath from a furnace flashing
Is the stifling air, beams crackle and blaze,
Pillars are toppling, windows are crashing,
Children whimper and whine, mothers wander a-craze.
Beasts in their stalls
Are lowing beneath the crumbling walls;
All is running and rescuing, dread and dismay,
And night is as light as the broad noon-day.
From hand to hand, the line along,
The buckets fly, and, arching high,
Shoot sheets of water in torrents strong.
Anon the blast comes howling by,
It seizes the flames with triumphant roar,
Falls with a crash on the dried-fruit-store,
Through the long range of the granaries spreads,
Grips the dry beams of the stalls and sheds,
And, as if with a fury fierce and frantic
'Twould tear along in headlong flight
The frame of earth, if so it might,
It grows and grows, up, up to a height
Man to the might of the gods must bow ;
Amazed, benumbed, he sees what made
His joy, his pride, in ruin laid.
All round, the ground
Is burnt and bare,
For the raging tempests a rugged lair.
Ghastly and drear
Are the yawning gaps that have windows been,
And the clouds of the welkin peer
Down on the wreck within.
One look upon the grave
Of all was his so late
The father casts behind him, then with brave
Stout heart he grasps his staff, and fronts his fate.
Though the ruthless flames have despoiled him so,
One comfort is left him to sweeten despair,
He counts his beloved ones' heads, and lo!
Not one dear head is awanting there.
Now 'tis lodged within the ground,
The mould is finely filled! Ah, will
The bell come forth complete and sound,
To recompense our toil and skill ?
Has the cast gone right ?
Has the mould held tight?
Ah, while we still are hopeful, thus
Mischance perhaps has stricken us !
To holy earth's dark womb do we
Intrust the work our hands have made ;
The sower intrusts the seed, that he
Hopes forth will shoot in leaf and blade,
So heaven ordain, that this may be.
Sadly a seed more precious still
We hide within earth's darkling womb,
And hope that from the grave it will
Into a brighter being bloom.
From the steeple
Booms the bell,
Dull and slow,
The funeral knell.
Sad escort are these tones that mourn
To one on life's last journey borne.
Ah, it is the wife beloved !
Ah, it is the faithful mother,
Whom the Shades' dark prince doth wrest
From a doting husband's breast,
From the group of children, whom
She bore him in her early bloom,
Whom she beheld with mother's pride
Grow up and flourish by her side !
Ah, rent is that sweet bond of home,
And never can again be knit !
For in the Shadow-land she dwells,
Whose love maternal ordered it.
No more her gentle sway is known,
No more her wakeful care and pains ;
Within those widowed chambers lone
A stranger, hard and loveless, reigns.
Till the bell cools down, we now
From our anxious toil
Free as happy bird on bough,
Each may do as likes him best.
At set of sun,
His duty done,
The 'prentice hears the vesper toll,
But rest there is none for the master's soul.
The wanderer, far in the forest wild,
Quickens his pace, as he hears it knell,
To the cottage home, that he loves so well.
The sheep draw homeward bleating,
And the cattle, trooping in,
Broad of forehead, sleek of skin,
Lowing loud, as evening falls,
Fill their old accustomed stalls.
The creaking wain
Staggers in with its load of grain;
See on the sheaves
The chaplet lie,
Bright with flowers
Of every dye!
And off to the dance the young reapers fly.
Market and street grow hushed and still;
Round lamp's and hearth-fire's social flame
Industrious hands, their labours plying,
Work on in friendly league, and so, Each in his craft with other vying,
Their powers to higher achievement grow. To guard fair freedom's sacred treasure,
Master and man their force unite, Each in his station finds his pleasure,
And pays the scorner slight for slight. Toil is the burgher's crown of merit,
His guerdon some true blessing won ; Kings from the state which they inherit
Take honour, we from the things we've done.
Oh, blessed peace,
Oh, Concord sweet,
Hover, oh hover,
With kindly sway,
Over this town of ours,
Oh, may it never dawn, the day,
When grim War's ruthless crew
Shall riot this calm valley through !
When the heavens, which evening's mellow red
Colours with hues so fair,
Are all aflame with the ghastly glare