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Good Words 1860
The Railway Station


Not well nor wisely some have said "among us
Once moved a spirit fair, that now hath fled,"
And deemed, that at the hurrying sounds which throng us,
Its shining wings for sudden flight were spread;

Not all the turmoil of the Age of Iron
Can scare that Spirit hence; like some sweet bird
That loud harsh voices in its cage environ,
It sing3 above them all, and will be heard!

Not for the noise of axes or of hammers,
Will that sweet bird forsake her chosen nest;
Her warblings pierce through all those deafening clamours
But surer to their echoes in the breast.

And not the Past alone, with all its guerdon
Of twilight sounds and shadows, bids them rise;
But soft, above the noontide heat and burden
Of the stern present, float those melodies:

For not with Baron bold, with Minstrel tender,
Not with the ringing sound of shield and lance,
Not with the Field of Gold in all its splendour,
Died out the generous flame of old Romance:

Still, on a nobler strife than tilt or tourney,
Bides forth the errant-Knight, with brow elate;
Still patient pilgrims take, in hope, their journey;
Still meek and cloistered spirits stand and wait:

Still hath the living, moving, world around us,
Its legends, fair with honour, bright with truth:
Still, as in tales that in our childhood bound us,
Love holds the fond traditions of its youth!

We need not linger o'er the fading traces
Of lost Divinities; or seek to hold
Their serious converse 'mid Earth's green, waste places,
Or by her lonely fountains, as of old:

For, far remote from Nature's fair creations,
Within the busy mart, the crowded street,
With sudden, sweet, unlooked-for revelations
Of a bright Presence we may chance to meet;

E'en now, beside a restless tide's commotion,
I stand and hear, in broken music swell,
Above the ebb and flow of Life's great ocean,
An under-song of greeting and farewell.

For here are Meetings: moments that inherit
The hopes and wishes, that through months and years
Have held such anxious converse with the spirit,
That now its joy can only speak in tears;

And here are Partings: hands that soon must sever,
Yet clasp the firmer; heart, that unto heart,
Was ne'er so closely bound before, nor ever
So near the other as when now they part;

And here Time holds his steady pace unbroken,
For all that crowds within his narrow scope;
For all the language, uttered and unspoken,
That will return when Memory comforts Hope !

One short and hurried moment, and for ever
Flies, like a dream, its sweetness and its pain;
And, for the hearts that love, the hands that sever
Who knows what meetings are in store again?

They who are left, unto their homes returning,
With musing step, trace o'er each by-gone scene;
And they upon their journey—doth no yearning,
No backward glance, revert to what hath been?

Yes ! for awhile, perchance, a tear-drop starting,
Dims the bright scenes that greet the eye and mind;
But here—as ever in Life's cup of Parting—
Theirs is the bitterness who stay behind!

So in Life's sternest, last Farewell, may waken
A yearning thought, a backward glance be thrown
By them who leave: but oh ! how blest the Taken—
To those who stay behind when THEY are gone!

D. G.


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