Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Lines Written On The Birth Of The Year 1853

Hail! infant year, fresh from the womb of Time,
Cradled in clouds, what shapes and shades sublime
Attend thy birth, and hover round thy head,
Bright glowing hopes, dark signs of doubt and dread,
So from her sea-girt ark flies Freedom's dove,
Herald of Life, of Liberty, and Love.
She beats with flagging wing the murky air,
Above an ocean chaos of despair-
She may not fold her wing, nor rest her foot,
No voice may hail her-all is deathly mute;
Broad Europe's shores are beaconless and dark;
Fly to thy sheltering home-thine island ark.
When waters are assuaged, and earth again
Bares her cleans'd bosom, then shall not in vain
Her soaring wings sweep through refulgent skies
Where late the sun of Knowledge might not rise,
And Superstition's pall, for ages hung
Betwixt his God and man, and impious flung
O'er mind and conscience, fettered, dark, defiled,
Shall fall; the Word, the Truth of God, exiled
From hearths and homes, shall circulate unconfined,
Bright as the sun, and free as mountain wind.
Ye sable millions, thralls of wrong and woe,
Who wear the chain, and crouch beneath the blow,
Your tears and blood, your stripes and toils, your shame
Have found an ear in heaven-on earth a name.
'The weeping blood in woman's heart' hath gushed
In words of power, to million eyes hath rushed
The burning tear; alike from princely hall
And humble homestead sounds the thrilling call
Of Freedom for the slave. Thirst we for gold,
Its pleasures, and its powers? Earth shall unfold,
Nay, hath unfolded treasures such as seem
The wild revealings of an Eastern dream,
And struggling, toiling thousands, densely pent
In cities, towns, and hamlets, labour-spent,
Find in another sphere a golden soil,
Nor need to 'beg a brother's leave to toil.'
'He is the freeman whom the Truth makes free;
All else are slaves;' and riches, all that be
Drawn from the earth, from enterprize, or Art,
Are powerless to suffice man's craving heart,
Till sated with earth's joys, or pall'd with vice,
He, 'Heaven-directed,' seeks the pearl of price;
He finds, and binds the jewel on his heart-
The gift, the grace of God, the better part.
Hear my best wish for you, each lov'd compeer,
This gift be yours, to crown the new-born year.
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