Rev. Benjamin Bailey, from Poetical Sketches of the Interior of the Island of Ceylon


Rev. B. Bailey, Poetical Sketches of the Interior of the Island of Ceylon. Columbo: printed at the Herald Press, 1841.



      A FEW dark years have slowly passed away
      In suffering,—in agony begun,—
      Since a sad pilgrim, at the close of day,
      Lit by the last beams of the setting sun,
      Landed a stranger here—but not alone—
      But Thou, alas! didst melt from my fond sight,
      And went'st to Heaven: and whither thou art gone,
      Thy birth-place seemed by a celestial right;
For thither saints and angels wing their happy flight.


      And I was left to struggle with my grief,—
      Heart-broken, prostrate, lonely, desolate:
      I hung upon the world,—as a sear leaf
      Mid buds and blossoms in their vernal state;
      The joy of others seemed to mock my fate;
      Sorrow had blighted, in my wintry breast,
      All happiness; nor aught could renovate
      My withered heart, but that my mind was blest
With faith in HIM with whom the weary are at rest.


      My heart grew calmer. Hope, not of the earth,
      Revived within the mansion of my soul,—
      The hope to share with Thee a brighter birth;
      While Faith,—whose viewless wings from pole to pole
      Are smoothly spread, though deafening thunders roll,—
      Shone inward, as a solitary star,
      And soothed the sorrow it could not control:
      All other things but clouds and darkness are;
Its steady light alone can soothe the bosom's care.


      Alone, unnerved, and weak, and wandering,—
      With sorrow journeying, instead of thee,—
      Once more I found me on the restless wing;
      I felt at large, but not at liberty:
      To other scenes my thoughts did backward flee;
      And brighter visions my dark mind did streak
      With light of other days. Together we
      In distant climes were wandering—I did wake—
I saw the empty seat—I thought my heart would break.


      Yes, on this earth we've witnessed many a scene,
      Which for a while charmed even thy bosom's pain;
      By mountain-sides, in valleys soft and green,
      And by the banks of loveliest streams—in vain—
      Death took thee from me—but I will restrain
      My grief,—and with thy memory enwreathe
      These wild flowers culled from mountain and from plain:
      Oh! were they sweet as spirits round thee breathe,
That I with thee might hold communion from beneath.



      This, the first product of my stronger mind,
      When I emerged from my deep solitude,
      I dedicate to Thee! Thou wert not blind
      To Nature, which with rapture thou hast viewed;
      Or throned among thy own loved mountains rude,
      Or where she looked more beautiful and mild,
      And virgin tints of tenderness imbued
      Her features with the softness of a child;
As when the Infant Saviour on His Mother smiled.



      In fairer scenes thy sainted spirit resteth;
      More pure thy pleasures, brighter thine abode;
      A more ethereal light thy soul investeth
      Than of the earth, by human footsteps trod:
      Now thou art in the presence of thy GOD;
      A Spirit thou, if any be, most blest;
      Meek sufferer wert thou here; the Avenger's rod
      Toucheth not thee; but, at His high behest,
Thou art a saint in light, a soul in blessed rest.





In Eastern climes these wilder beauties glow,—
"The utmost Indian Isle TAPROBANE."
He who would feast his spirit blamelessly,
The world of sense and wordly joys forego,
And feel the sabbath of the soul, may know,
Amid the might of mountain scenery,
And all the glories which the eye may see,
How to be blest, or soothe his bosom's woe.
Here Nature's hand so curiously hath wrought
Her web of wonder, beautiful and bright,
That even the spirits of another world
Were with the sense of admiration caught,
Which now my grosser spirit doth delight,
And from me hath my darker feelings hurled.