The Irish Cabin
Should poverty, modest and clean,
E'er please, when presented to view,
Should cabin on brown heath, or green,
Disclose aught engaging to you,
Should Erin's wild harp soothe the ear
When touched by such fingers as mine,
Then kindly attentive draw near,
And candidly ponder each line.
One day, when December's keen breath
Arrested the sweet running rill,
And Nature seemed frozen in death,
I thoughtfully strolled o'er the hill:
The mustering clouds wore a frown,
The mountains were covered with snow,
And Winter his mantle of brown
Had spread o'er the landscape below.
Thick rattling the footsteps were heard
Of peasants far down in the vale;
From lakes, bogs, and marshes debarred,
The wild-fowl, aloft on the gale,
Loud gabbling and screaming were borne,
Whilst thundering guns hailed the day,
And hares sought the thicket forlorn,
Or, wounded, ran over the way.
No music was heard in the grove,
The blackbird and linnet and thrush,
And goldfinch and sweet cooing dove,
Sat pensively mute in the bush:
The leaves that once wove a green shade
Lay withered in heaps on the ground:
Chill Winter through grove, wood, and glade
Spread sad desolation around.
But now the keen north wind 'gan whistle,
And gusty, swept over the sky;
Each hair, frozen, stood like a bristle,
And night thickened fast on the eye.
In swift-wheeling eddies the snow
Fell, mingling and drifting amain,
And soon all distinction laid low,
As whitening it covered the plain.
A light its pale ray faintly shot
(The snow-flakes its splendour had shorn),
It came from a neighbouring cot,
Some called it the Cabin of Mourne:
A neat Irish Cabin, snow-proof,
Well thatched, had a good earthen floor,
One chimney in midst of the roof,
One window, and one latched door.
Escaped from the pitiless storm,
I entered the humble retreat;
Compact was the building, and warm,
Its furniture simple and neat.
And now, gentle reader, approve
The ardour that glowed in each breast,
As kindly our cottagers strove
To cherish and welcome their guest.
The dame nimbly rose from her wheel,
And brushed off the powdery snow:
Her daughter, forsaking the reel,
Ran briskly the cinders to blow:
The children, who sat on the hearth,
Leaped up without murmur or frown,
An oaken stool quickly brought forth,
And smilingly bade me sit down.
Whilst grateful sensations of joy
O'er all my fond bosom were poured,
Resumed was each former employ,
And gay thrifty order restored:
The blaze flickered up to the crook,
The reel clicked again by the door,
The dame turned her wheel in the nook,
And frisked the sweet babes round the floor.
Released from the toils of the barn,
His thrifty, blithe wife hailed the sire,
And hanging his flail by her yarn,
He drew up his stool to the fire;
Then smoothing his brow with his hand,
As if he would sweep away sorrow,
He says, “Let us keep God's command,
And never take thought for the morrow.”
Brisk turning him round with a smile,
And freedom unblended by art,
And affable manners and style,
Though simple, that reached to my heart,
He said (whilst with ardour he glowed),
“Kind sir, we are poor, yet we're blest:
We're all in the steep, narrow road
That leads to the city of rest.
“'Tis true, I must toil all the day,
And oft suffer cold through the night,
Though silvered all over with grey,
And dimly declining my sight:
And sometimes our raiment and food
Are scanty-ah! scanty indeed:
But all work together for good,
So in my blest Bible I read.
“I also have seen in that Book
(Perhaps you can tell me the place?)
How God on poor sinners does look
In pity, and gives them His grace-
Yea, gives them His grace in vast store,
Sufficient to help them quite through,
Though troubles should whelm them all o'er;
And sure this sweet promise is true!
“Yes, true as the snow blows without,
And winds whistle keen through the air,
His grace can remove every doubt,
And chase the black gloom of despair:
It often supports my weak mind,
And wipes the salt tear from my eye,
It tells me that Jesus is kind,
And died for such sinners as I.
“I once rolled in wealth, without grace,
But happiness ne'er was my lot,
Till Christ freely pitied my case,
And now I am blest in a cot:
Well knowing things earthly are vain,
Their troubles ne'er puzzle my head;
Convinced that to die will be gain,
I look on the grave as my bed.
“I look on the grave as my bed,
Where I'll sleep the swift hours away,
Till waked from their slumbers, the dead
Shall rise, never more to decay:
Then I, with my children and wife,
Shall get a bright palace above,
And endlessly clothed with life,
Shall dwell in the Eden of love.
“Then know, gentle stranger, though poor,
We're cheerful, contented, and blest;
Though princes should pass by our door
King Jesus is ever our guest;
We feel, and we taste, and we see
The pleasures which flow from our Lord,
And fearless, and wealthy, and free,
We live on the joys of His word.”
He ceased: and a big tear of joy
Rolled glittering down to the ground;
Whilst all, having dropped their employ,
Were buried in silence profound;
A sweet, solemn pause long ensued-
Each bosom o'erflowed with delight;
Then heavenly converse renewed,
Beguiled the dull season of night.
We talked of the rough narrow way
That leads to the kingdom of rest;
On Pisgah we stood to survey
The King in His holiness dressed-
Even Jesus, the crucified King,
Whose blood in rich crimson does flow,
Clean washing the crimson of sin,
And rinsing it whiter that snow.
But later and later it's wearing,
And supper they cheerfully bring,
The mealy potato and herring,
And water just fresh from the spring.
They press, and they smile: we sit down;
First praying the Father of Love
Our table with blessings to crown,
And feed us with bread from above.
The wealthy and bloated may sneer,
And sicken o'er luxury's dishes,
And loathe the poor cottager's cheer,
And melt in the heat of their wishes:
But luxury's sons are unblest,
A prey to each giddy desire,
And hence, where they never know rest,
They sink in unquenchable fire.
Not so, the poor cottager's lot,
Who travels the Zion-ward road,
He's blest in his neat little cot,
He's rich in the favour of God;
By faith he surmounts every wave
That rolls on this sea of distress:
Triumphant, he dives in the grave,
To rise on the ocean of bliss.
Now supper is o'er and we raise
Our prayers to the Father of light
And joyfully hymning His praise,
We lovingly bid a good-night.-
The ground's white, the sky's cloudless blue,
The breeze flutters keen through the air,
The stars twinkle bright on my view,
As I to my mansion repair.
All peace, my dear cottage, be thine!
Nor think that I'll treat you with scorn;
Whoever reads verses of mine
Shall hear of the Cabin of Mourne;
And had I but musical strains,
Though humble and mean in your station
You should smile whilst the world remains,
The pride of the fair Irish Nation.
In friendship, fair Erin, you glow;
Offended, you quickly forgive;
Your courage is known to each foe,
Yet foes on your bounty might live.
Some faults you, however, must own;
Dissensions, impetuous zeal,
And wild prodigality, grown
Too big for your income and weal.
Ah! Erin, if you would be great,
And happy, and wealthy, and wise,
And trample your sorrows, elate,
Contend for our cottager's prize;
So error and vice shall decay,
And concord add bliss to renown,
And you shall gleam brighter than day,
The gem of the fair British Crown.
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