Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd

Natural Religion Universal

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Introduction To Book The First Of The Intended Poem:

What Muse, my soul, awakes thy trembling lyre,
And fills my ardent breast with conscious fire,
Prompts thee, thro' fields unknown, untried to soar,
And all the myst'ries of the mind explore?
O may it prove that all thy daring plan
Is form'd from Love to God and Love to Man;
Form'd from the flame, for others' joys that glows,
And sheds the tear benign for others' woes;
Indignant rouses from the tyrant's rod,
And bends in homage to its Maker, God!
Then shall thy breast new ardor dauntless find,
To sing the noblest feelings of thy kind.


Still weeps the Muse, our state forlorn to view,
Her voice is hush'd, and tears her cheeks bedew;
She sees each breast humane with sorrow wrung,
Silent her lyre neglected and unstrung;
With down-cast looks she sable-rob'd appears,
Her grief--too great for words--but speaks in tears,
She sees mankind with sin and woe distrest,
With clouds of deepest gloom and shades opprest;
Sees how mankind by mutual discord bleed,
And ev'ry band of kindred's burst indeed;
Still, 'mid the darkness shines a glimm'ring ray,
Which speaks a foretaste of a brighter day;
Hope, pleasing Hope, still holds her gentle reign,
And shows the bands of union still remain;
Those common feelings--aims and views we see,
Which ne'er can cease--till man shall cease to be;
The bands of love from heav'nly mercy sprung,
Remaining still, tho' broken--snapp'd--unstrung,
Which seem to promise or to whisper peace,
And bid us hope the direful strife shall cease;
Those gentle rays of truth which dimly shine,
Thro' thickest shades--tho' faint--yet still divine,
Which 'mid the darkest night their beams display,
And give some hope--at least--of brighter day;
These, which from Heav'n in ev'ry bosom spring,
With all their blessings and their sweets, I sing.


Who form'd the earth, who nature's wond'rous plan,
Or in his image made the creature Man?
Who stretch'd the heav'ns of yon etherial blue,
Or fill'd the sky with orbs we dimly view?
Who Nature's wond'rous works and wheels controls,
Or plants his image in his creatures' souls?
Ask India's savage in the desert drear,
His bosom beats with love, and throbs with fear;
His grateful heart will give the just reply,
Or if too full--will point you to the sky--
When cheering sun-shine warms the placid day,
The breezes rise and cooling zephyrs play,
When 'mid the deep'ning woods the roses bloom,
Each breeze wafts gladness, and each gale perfume;
His grateful heart shall burst in joyful lays,
And speak exulting his Creator's praise;
When gath'ring storms obscure the azure sky,
And rush the sudden whirlwinds from on high,
When thunders roar and vivid lightnings glare,
He shudd'ring cries aloud--that God is there;
Calls on His name, who reigns above the skies,
Returns His love, or from His anger flies.


See where the scorching sun with piercing ray
Shines o'er the burning sands with torrid day,
In wildest beauty Afric Nature rise,
And worship Him who form'd her cloudless skies;
Shake wildly all her locks of jetty hue,
Lave her parch'd limbs with drops of early dew;
Point to the Nile and Egypt's fertile lands,
Or rear her head 'mid rocks and burning sands;
The simple robe around her shoulders roll'd,
Mock ev'ry rule of art sublimely bold,
See her assert her rights and noblest claim,
And prove mankind in ev'ry state the same;
Spurn then the vile oppressor's cruel rod,
And cry for vengeance to her guardian--God,
Rise thro' the burning field and barren shore,
And claim her rights with weapons dipp'd in gore,
Shake in the struggle all the azure sky,
And lead her sons to conquer, or to die.
Thro' pathless plains where ocean rivers flow,
Lave fields untill'd, unknown, with current slow,
Reflect the Heav'ns within their bosom fair,
And cool the breezes of the sultry air;
Or down the craggy rocks stupendous sweep,
Foam thro' the air and seek the bottom deep;
Where serpents scaly rule the desert land,
And hiss tremendous thro' the fiery sand;
Taint all the sultry air with baneful breath,
And ev'ry step is big with woe and death;
There, Man, (if human footstep dare to tread,
Where deaths encompass and where Nature's dead)
Shall spurn, with sturdy arm, th' oppressor's claim,
And leap exulting at his Maker's name--
Turn now, Humanity, thine heav'nly eye,
To see yon wretched man in anguish lie;
His fetter'd hands are worn with grief and care,
And thro' his dungeon howls the chilling air;
Torn from his friends, his country, and his all,
Here doom'd, a wretched captive, soon to fall;
Without a crime, of ev'ry good bereft,
No earthly hope--no earthly solace left,
His sullen groans re-echo thro' the air,
And melancholy brooding feeds despair:
Say is his mind subdued?--or will he kneel
To kiss the rod, and own the conquror's steel?
No; still his spirit rises in his heart,
Still would his feeble arm direct the dart;
Say cans't thou see, amid the darkness drear,
One sign of weakness or one glist'ning tear?
No; still revenge hangs quiv'ring on his tongue,
His heaving breast with direst tortures wrung;
He calls on Heav'n to thunder from on high,
And bid the lightnings flashing rend the sky;
From God's own thunderbolts with anger red,
To bring down vengeance on the tyrant's head;
And as in thought he sees the monster die,
His pains, his fetters, and his tortures fly;
Some comfort darts amidst the darksome gloom,
A refuge shows; that refuge is--the tomb;
There shall he lay his weary limbs to rest,
Where robbers come not, which no fiends infest;
Hope upward turns with joy his pallid eye,
And whispers. . . . thou shalt live beyond the sky--
There cease despair, be banish'd ev'ry woe,
And human breasts with nobler joys shall glow;
There meet thy much-lov'd wife--thy children dear,
Where angels' hands shall wipe the falling tear;
Yes; rest secure, on yonder peaceful shore,
And live for ever blest--to part no more.
In savage lands 'mid wastes and deserts drear,
Oft sad affliction calls the tender tear;
For well, too well, alas! we weeping know,
That man is but another name for woe;
Whilst sighs of anguish burden ev'ry breath,
And speak some friend's, some near relation's death;
Say, does no twinkling ray disperse the gloom,
No hope of life, and ray beyond the tomb?
No cheering thought to bind the broken heart,
And whisper "you shall meet no more to part;"
Yes; tho' uncertain, dark, and mix'd with fear,
The rays of hope may shine on ev'ry tear;
Half stop the sigh and ease the aching breast,
The grave shall give, at least, repose and rest.
See, with her savage plaints and bosom bare,
Yon anguish'd mother fill, with shrieks, the air;
Whilst o'er her infant's tomb, with chaplets hung,
She speaks her agony with falt'ring tongue;
Drops all the garlands wafting sweet perfume,
And falls, half senseless, on the lowly tomb,--
Is there no comfort to remove despair,
No hope....no angel near to sooth her care;
Raise, from the ground, suffus'd with tears, her eyes,
And give some hope of realms beyond the skies?
Yes; life's last beam shall then, with cheering ray,
Afford a glimpse, tho' small, of brighter day;
Tho' faint, obscure, by clouds and shades o'erspread,
Still by her aching heart the hope be fed;
"Yes;" she exclaims, with pleasure in her eye,
"Soon will it be, like thine, my lot to die;
"Then in some happier isle, some safer shore,
"Where tempests beat not--where no billows roar;
"No ruffians make our sons and husbands slaves,
"And drag them far, and far across the waves;
"There may we meet, no more by fears distrest,
"And thou shalt press again thy mother's breast--
"And if--which Heav'n forbid!--this hope untrue,
"This is indeed my last, my long adieu;
"Death shall remove my pain; with thee to lie!
"Thy loss forget!--O joyful thought--to die!
"I'll bless the day when here I cease to be,
"And, in the grave shall lie, my child with thee.

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Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd