The Preference

I love to ream a calm, secluded dell,
Where all the softest charms of nature dwell.
When from the hills around, wood-crown'd and high.
Fair Spring-time's tuneful rills go glancing by.
And fleets of clouds, as white as ocean's foam.
Serenely sail the sky's expanded dome ;
While in the oak the joyous mavis sings.
And every wood and grove with music rings.

I love to stand upon a high hill's crest,
And watch the sun sink in the glowing west,
Casting his beams, in floods of gorgeous light,
O'er forest, valley, rock, and river bright;
While fields of golden com, on every plain,
Proclaim full-handed Harvest near again ;
For, while the eye roves o'er a scene so fair.
The gladden'd heart throws off its load of care.

I love to pace a forest wild and lone.
When evening's sombre shades are o'er it thrown,
And through the tall trees' tops, with moanings drear.
The ruthless wind pursues its wild career.
Bearing from many a bending bough and spray
Its robes of soft autumnal hues away ;
While hosts of dying leaves around me cast.
Are types of those whose earthly hopes are past.

I love to ride upon the foaming ocean,
When the huge billows toss in wild commotion,
While overhead the thunder peals aloud,
And the bright lightning darts from cloud to cloud,—
When through the cordage strong the wild wind raves.
As the ship reels amid the seething waves.
And every mind is rapt in holy awe
Of Him who gives the raging storm its law.

But most of all I love a mournful lay.
Whose sad and plaintive notes the feelings sway,
As from a gentle maiden's tongue they fall,
In streams of sound that hold the ear in thrall,
Till Pity's pure, celestial tear is found
Gemming the moisten'd eyes of all around ;
And young hearts learn to sympathise with those
O'er whom a stormy sea of sorrow flows.

For such enthralling lays my sister sung,
When greedy Death's dark shades around her hung;—
When she in vain essay'd the tears to hide
That fill'd her eyes with their unwelcome tide,
As with a sad and grief-o'erladen heart
She saw all girlhood's golden dreams depart,
And her pale, wasting cheek's bright hectic glow
Proclaim'd the advent near of my first woe.

by John Bradford

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