1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Concluding Verses. To a Child seven years old.

A Widow's Tale, and Other Poems. By Bernard Barton.

Bernard Barton


Eight Spenserians: "Well spake our blessed Lord, while yet on earth, | Suffer the little ones to come to me, | And chide them not." The prolific Bernard Barton continued to write poems in Spenserian stanzas throughout his life, doubtless including some unrecorded ones in the annuals and other periodicals, as well as occasional verse sent to friends. Much of his verse is said to remain in manuscript.

Literary Magnet: "This interesting little volume contains some of the sweetest poetry Mr. Barton has ever written" NS 3 (1827) 248.

Edward Fitzgerald: "Between 1822 and 1828 he published five volumes of verse. Each of these contained many pretty poems; but many that were very hasty, and written more as task-work, when the mind was already wearied with the desk-labours of the day; not waiting for the occasion to suggest, nor the impulse to improve. Of this he was warned by his friends, and of the danger of making himself too cheap with publishers and the public. But the advice of others had little weight in the hour of success with one so inexperienced and so hopeful as himself. And there was in Bernard Barton a certain boyish impetuosity in pursuit of anything he had at heart that age itself scarcely could subdue. Thus it was with his correspondence; and thus it was with his poetry. He wrote always with great facility, almost unretarded by that worst labour of correction, for he was not fastidious himself about exactness of thought or of harmony of numbers, and he could scarce comprehend why the public should be less easily satisfied" memoir in Memoir and Poems (Philadelphia, 1850) 19-20.

E. V. Lucas: There "is a stanza [4] on children such as only a true poet could have written" Bernard Barton and his Friends (1893) 180.



My opening numbers told of strength's decline;
My last have painted life a vale of tears:—
Let me not mournfully my task resign,
Like one whose dark existence nought endears;
Without are fightings, and within are fears!
Be such awhile forgot; I turn to thee,
And to the promise of thy early years,
As to the unfolding floweret flies the bee,
Or as I gaze in Spring on some young blooming tree.

The gnarled oak, with ivy overgrown,
Scath'd, blighted, blasted, when it meets the view
May well call forth thought's moralizing tone,
Awakening meditations — sad, yet true:—
But objects may be found of brighter hue,
To which it is delightful still to turn;
Heaven's cloudiest arch, at times, has spots of blue,
Flowers bud and blossom round the funeral urn,
And gleams of sunshine break o'er Winter's landscape stern.

Such hast thou been unto my spirit's eye,—
A ray of sunshine on life's wintry scene,
"A spot of azure in a cloudy sky;"
A wreath of ivy, with its glossy green,
Dark, wither'd leaves and mossy boughs between:
A star in night's dim arch with brightness glowing,
A blooming lowly flower of modest mien
In unsunn'd depth of glade untrodden growing,
A solitary spring, in some bleak desert flowing.

These things derive their magic loveliness
From contrast, and in darkness brighter shine,
And such, amid the ceaseless throng and press
Of ills which make the heart of manhood pine,
The charm of guileless innocence like thine;
Care-fretted hearts confess its soothing spell,
The toil-worn spirits own its power benign,
Feeling and thought ope memory's hidden cell,
And near life's fountain-head we briefly seem to dwell.

There is a holy, blest companionship
In the sweet intercourse thus held with those
Whose tear and smile are guileless; from whose lip
The simple dictate of the heart yet flows;—
Though even in the yet unfolded rose
The worm may lurk, and sin blight blooming youth,
The light born with us long so brightly glows,
That childhood's first deceits seem almost truth,
To life's cold after lie, selfish, and void of ruth.

Oh! happy hours, when smile succeeds to tear,
And tear to smile, each taintless, brief, and bright;
When joy treads fast on sorrow, hope on fear;
Yet all too fresh to sate the appetite:
When peaceful slumbers seal the eyes at night,
And happy dreams on tranquil rest attend;—
Who but must mourn that age and sin should blight
Young hearts on which celestial dews descend,
Or pain's deep rankling thorns with pleasure's blossoms blend?

Well spake our blessed Lord, while yet on earth,
Suffer the little ones to come to me,
And chide them not: — to those who know their worth
Of such His heavenly kingdom seems to be;
Nor can we hope its glories e'er to see,
Or taste its blessedness, 'till reconcil'd
To God, and through His holy grace set free
From every sin whose thraldom has defil'd,
The spirit enter there e'en as a little child.

Then when we meet with such, whose very glee
Is ting'd with thoughtfulness beyond their years,
Each thought and feeling now inspir'd by Thee
The natural homage of the heart appears:
Object of fondest wishes, hopes, and fears,
Might prayer of mine, dear child, a blessing claim,
Bright be thy smiles, and pangless be thy tears
As now they are, and ne'er may guilt or shame
Corrode thy guileless heart, or taint thy spotless name.

[pp. 151-55]