Our Gem Wreath

Heard ye the sounds of joyous glee
And the notes of merry minstrelsy,

Heard ye the sounds of joyous glee
And the notes of merry minstrelsy,
And the purling of low, sweet words which start
From the silent depths of a loving heart;

And the gushing laugh, and the rippling song,
As the summer days sped swift along?
Saw ye the gleam of sunny hair,
And the glancing of forms yet young and fair,

And the dancing light of happy eyes,
And smiles like the rosy morning skies?
Saw ye and heard?  and would ye not know
What made such mirth and music flow?

There were maidens five, as blithe and free
As the curbless waves of the open sea;
They met;-ye may liken their early greeting
To the dewdrops on a rose-leaf meeting;

Then many a day flew uncounted by,
With Love like an angel hovering nigh,
While the ruby light of his sparkling wing
Flung a tint of joy on everything.

“In books, or works, or healthful play,”
As the merriest lips would often say,
Or in strange attempts to weave a spell
Which might bid the muses among them dwell,

Or in a stream of mingled song,
Some of their hours have passed along;
Bearing the sound of each pleasant lay,
And the echo of many a laugh, away.

When the burning day is on the wane,
They wander through some darkening lane,
In quieter converse lingering awhile
‘Neath the arching roof of its shadowy aisle.

Where the latest sunbeams kiss the brow
Of Malvern’s Beacon, see them now;
Springing o’er moss-bed, and rock, and stone,
As though the green earth were all their own

And singing forth to the fair, wide scene,
In a loyal chorus, “God save the Queen!”

Again, from out the busy street,
They pass with gladly reverent feet
Within the old cathedral’s shade;
And feel the sacred silence laid

Upon the lips, upon the heart,
By time and place thus “set apart,”
Then the anthem fills the glorious fane,
Till its solemn tones float back again,

Round arch and column the sound inwreathing,
Till they seem with holy music breathing,
Music and love; while the choral praise
Images better and holier days.

Yet once again;–with low-bent head,
They are kneeling where the Feast is spread;
Not one is absent, all are there
Its silent blessedness to share.

Well may a bond of love be felt,
When thus together they have knelt.

Would ye know the maidens five, oh say?
The meek, the merry, the grave, the gay:

Each jewel of all the sunlit cluster
Shines with its own unborrowed lustre.
Then listen and gaze, while each shall pass,
As a half-seen vision in magic glass.

A QUIET summer evening, when the daybeams’ heat and glare
Have passed away, and coolness comes upon the cloudless air,
And the soft gray twilight wakes the stars to glisten o’er the hill,
And the only vesper-chime is rung by one low-murmuring rill:

Like such an evening is the soul of  that one dark-eyed maid,
Amid earth’s restless turmoil like a calm and pleasant shade;
So soothing and so gently sweet her words of deep love fall
Upon the wearied spirit, like the ringdove’s forest call.

Well hath she learnt to sympathize with every hope and fear,
Well hath she learnt the sorrowing heart to brighten and to cheer;
Long years of weary weakness have not passed away in vain,
If the holy art of sympathy they taught her to attain.

Her fairy footstep falleth as a noiseless flake of snow,
So violet-like and still that we her presence hardly know;
But like a gleaming vessel-path, far glittering through the night,
She leaves a memory behind of soft and silvery light.

Within the crystal cavern of retirement ye find
That gem of inward radiance, her “meek and quiet” mind;
Not like the flashing topaz, or the ruby’s gorgeous glow,
She is a precious AMETHYST, whose value well we know.

Now turn we to that merry maiden,
With azure eye, and smooth, bright hair;
A lily blossom, fragrance-laden,
Is not more fair.

A dewdrop to the thirsty flower,
A sun-ray gilding every cloud,
A rainbow when the thunder-shower
Is rushing loud;

A spirit full of pleasant brightness,
That speaks from lip, and cheek, and brow,
To whose glad spell of cheering lightness
E’en grief must bow.

Her hand hath learnt with wondrous power
Scenes of rare loveliness to trace,
And picture forms with airy dower
Of beauteous grace.

The breath of flattery hath not tainted
Her simple thought with pride’s dark stain;
Because her leaves are richly painted,
Is the rose vain?

Then as an orient EMERALD shining,
Long may her loveliness be set
Among the sister-gems, entwinging
Our coronet.

SAY, who shall form the vision-centre now?
She of the large, soft eye, and pensive smile,
She of the earnest gaze and thoughtful brow:
Who would not love to read her looks awhile,

Or list that often-silent voice, whose flow
Like distant waterfall is heard, so sweet and low?

Not many summers o’er her youth have cast
Their varying sun and shade, and we might deem
No breath of sadness o’er her soul had passed,
But for that orb subdued, like some lone stream,

Where the sad willows rest in shadowy love,
While its blue depth reflects the sunlit heaven above.

All calmness, yet deep sorrow she hath known,
Dimming the star of hope which shone so clear,
The song of life hath changed its joyous tone,
The pearl of life both melted to a tear;

But star and song shall rise in brighter day,
And hers that priceless Pearl which none may take away.

Her sorrow, all unspoken, doth but twine
Our earnest love more changelessly around her;
While we look onward, upward, for the time
When Joy’s fair garland shall again have crowned her,

Who as the PEARL of all our wreath is gleaming,
In mild and moonlit radiance softly mid us beaming.

LIKE a flash of meteor light,
Strangely gladdening and bright,
Is the youngest of the band,
Making every heart expand.

Like a petrel on the wave,
What to her though tempests rave?
She will skim each foamy crest,
Making all around her blest.

Like a song-bird of the spring,
She is over on the wing;
Carolling in blithest glee,
Like the wild breeze, fresh and free.

Like a beautiful gazelle
Bounding over hill and dell;
Like the scented hawthorn-flowers,
Ever scattering blossom-showers.

Can a star of light be found,
Shedding aught but light around?
Joy and gladness must be nigh,
Where her starry pinions fly.

Clear and open as the day,
All may trust her glancing ray,
All must love its rainbow light;
Is she not a DIAMOND bright?

AND the last maiden–who is she?
She sees not herself as others see,
From an outward point of view;
She only knows the scenes within,
The weary conflict, and the sin,
The strivings a better life to win,
And the gleams of gladness too.

But little she knows of the secret cells,
Where in lonely twilight the spirit dwells

In an ever-mysterious home,
Where music, and beauty, and sweet perfume,
Grim storms, and the blackness of the tomb,
In morning brightness, and midnight gloom,
In an untracked labyrinth roam,

How many a chamber within is sealed!
How wondrous the little that is revealed
In a scarce-caught whispering tone!

Strange thoughts come forth to her outer gaze,
Wild fancies flash with spectral rays,
And feelings glow with uncertain blaze;
But their fountain is all unknown.

Ah! she would long to glean a ray
From each lovely gem of this summer lay,
For her own are faint and few,
The tremnious OPAL’S changeful light
May emblem her, now dark, now bright,
Yet blending in love with each sister sprite
In a union fond and true.

Such are the five, as now they seem
In the golden haze of Memory’s dream.
But the future!  who may lift the veil
And read its yet unwritten tale?

The rose, or the thorn, the sun, the cloud,
The gleeful heart, or the spirit bowed,
The song of joy, or the wail of woe,
Which shall be theirs, we may not know.

Then sorrow and joy alike we leave
In the Hand which doeth all things well,
And calmly from that Hand receive
All that each coming year may tell.

Our jewel-garland lives by Him;
We would not ask of life or death,
Who first shall break its shining rim;
It shall be as the Master saith;

He only shall untwine the bond,
So fair and faithful, fresh and fond.
But oh!  that each who glistens now
In this verse-woven coronet,

Upon the Saviour’s thorn-wreathed brow
May as a living gem be set.
Then never shall their light grow dim,
Redeemed and sanctified by Him,

Their life and love in blended rays
Shall shine in everlasting praise.

Frances Ridley Havergal


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