“The fierceness of man shall turn to Thy praise.”
HAIL, thoughtful wanderer, to these halls of Art,
Here, let her bright conceptions glad thine heart;
Dwell with delight upon the marble grace
That emulates the human form and face,
Or lines and tints that wondrously combine
To bid the spirit from the canvas shine:
Glance from the type of Beauty, ting'd with Love,
To verdant plains, or many-tinted grove;
Mark where thro' devious boughs the sunbeams play,
Or from the upland hail the dawning day;
Trace amid western clouds the crimson streak,
Through moonlit vapours view the snowy peak;
See on the distant hills the purple gleam,
And lave thy spirits in the shadowy stream;
O'er trembling ocean lengthen out thy gaze,
While Nature's limners share their sov'reign's praise;
Then pause before “Rorke's Drift,” and earnest look
On one grand page of Art's severer book;
Gaze, till upon the magic-lustred eye
Illusion grows to dim reality,
Till, circling wreaths of lurid smoke ascend,
The flame leaps forth, the crackling rafters bend,
The savage eye intensifies its glare,
The wounded shrink and shudder in despair,
From parted lips escapes the firm command,
And fancy moves the ministering hand,
While yells of wrath, revenge, and deadly pain
Echo among the chambers of the brain;
Then turn with horror from the ghastly view,
Too keenly realised, too sternly true,
And ask (for thon art human) why mankind
Point the bright engines by their skill refined
To flash destruction on their fellow-man,
And shorten, each for each, life's little span?
Or why the Maker suffers mortal brand
Thus to deface the creatures of His hand?
Ask we the kings and princes of the earth—
“In their dissensions slaughter has its birth!”
Ask we the crippled conquerors of the plain—
“They turn aside, and own the glory vain.”
The fatherless and widows? Their reply
Is mournful echo of the question—“Why?”
Ask it of those who from celestial sphere
Beheld the conflict dimly shadow'd here,
Who heard the sounds illusion here supplies,
The rifle-crack and rattling assegais;
Who, nearer to the Throne, their Leader's will
More clearly read, more zealously fulfil.
Shrank they in loathing from the fiendish scene,
Back to eternity of bliss serene,
Deeming the planet whence such discords rise
Unworthy to be scanned by angel eyes?
On God-forsaken orbit doom'd for aye
To roll in self-made hell and agony!
No! Charity and sympathetic care,
Divine on earth, shine more divinely “there,
And Pity's sighs Seraphic souls may swell,
E'n while they recognise that “It is well,”
Perceive that Death is swallowed up in Life,
Yet feel for those who suffer in the strife.
Let, then, the Muse on rev'rent pinion fly,
And bring to Fancy's ear the soft reply;
“Think not, vain mortals, that to earth 'twere given
With war and broils to shake the peace of Heaven!
To us your dire details of blood and brand
Are as to you the emmets on the sand;
To our pure sense your orb is but a bed
Of base material, for our seedlings spread;
Beneath the mould we watch the struggling root;
Above the mould, we guide the tender shoot;
From out the mould, the plants of grace we bring,
Earth's tribute to the gardens of her King,
And richest blossoms she is wont to yield
From the fierce hot-bed of battle-field!
“We reck not of the horrors you desery:
Death is but death, though thousands meet to die,
One pang to each, a struggling soul to free
From all the bondage of mortality.
And we belong to Life!” We sought and found
Life's treasures in that consecrated ground.
“We saw a purer light arise and shine
From the red ruins of that sinking shrine,
When self-forgetting heroes rush'd to save
Despairing comrades from an ashen grave;
We mark'd the Courage blent with Fortitude,
The prompt Obedience, and the plaint subdued.
The Patriot-spirit link'd in Duty's chain,
The stern Resolve, victorious over pain.
The faithful, friendly grasp—the words of cheer
Pour'd panting forth to soothe a brother's ear.
The hand that stiffen'd o'er the small bequest,
While pity bent to catch a last request.
The sacred thought of “Home,” the silent pray'r,
That swept, magnetic, round the circle there!
“We hail'd the flow'rs of Love, and Hope, and Trust,
Springing from out those heaps of gory dust;
Aye, and a tribute of wild Virtue drew
From the dark bosom of the fierce Zulu.
We, from the Drift convuls'd by mortal strife,
Gather'd the Gold, the Glory, and the Life,
And from the furrows by war's tempest riven
Have bound a sheaf to grace the courts of Heaven.”
E. M. BARTON. 1
These lines obtained the Prize for Poetry at the Exhibition of Women's Industries at Sydney, 25th October, 1888.
Mrs. BARTON'S Latin lines won the prize at above Exhibition, but no record of them can be found.