E. A. Woodward
From Sonnets and Acrostics (1916).
Life in Poetry
The measured lines their imageries reveal,
And seek with purer thoughts the mind to fill,
Subdue the passions, and enthrone the will,
And in the heart some worthier impulse seal.
To bless the world, its needless cares disperse,
The poet strives for highest realms of thought;
His mind aflame, with deep compassion fraught,
Will write his heart's convictions in his verse.
His verse oft stirs emotion's deepest springs,
From anguished souls the crushing pain decoys,
In cheerless lives hope's sweetest anthem sings,
And seals in hearts this life's sublimest joys.
The bard unfolds in song thought's living power,
Like opening bud reveals the fragrant flower.
The Ocean Tomb
The great Titanic's hosts have gone to greet
The dead, uncoffined in broad ocean's deep;
Around their hallowed tombs no mourners weep,
Nor sorrow's requiem o'er their graves repeat.
The powers of fate man's feeble plans defeat,
And rolling billows o'er the helpless sweep,
And on their dark expanse their harvest reap.
The rich and poor, their like destructions meet.
Time soothes the sorrow and the wound will heal,
The waves will sing to them their rhythmic song;
May God's own hands their bodies guard and keep,
And o'er those hallowed waters place his seal.
To friends, their memories only, now belong,
In ocean depths they rest and sweetly sleep.
The sleepless night in awful anguish spent,
Great crimson drops the holy features steep;
Those left to watch, in peaceful quiet sleep,
The howling mob by treacherous priesthood sent
With swords and staves, by faithless Judas led,
With vain salute, Hail, Master! And that sign,
A traitor's kiss--the frightened followers fled
And murderous demons seize their Lord, divine.
The priestly court--false witnesses are sought,
The Roman court--not guilty--yet condemned,
The cruel cross--a world's redemption bought,
The quaking earth with awful darkness hemmed;
The Roman guard--the grave securely sealed,
The opened tomb--the risen Lord revealed.
Beneath the spreading limbs of forest bowers,
Like hermit sage, he seeks sequestered nook;
A thoughtful youth there hidden with his book,
Will gather knowledge through the silent hours.
These garnered stores his hungry mind devours,
As famished herds drink from the cooling brook.
Or bees, which naught could tempt to overlook
The nectared sweetness of the fragrant flowers.
The sturdy miner delves the earth for gold,
For wealth the seaman sails to distant shore,
The farmer toils by ripened grain fields toled,
And slaving hosts bow at wealth's golden throne;
The student gleans from fields by others sown,
And reaps from books their more enduring store.
The drear and lonesome season now has gone
And winter's sadness will be turned to mirth;
The opening buds and smiling flowers each dawn,
Will greet with joy this gladder season's birth.
The earth awakened from the winter's dearth,
The robin chirps with glee o'er grassy lawn;
And wilder spots have felt the sunbeam's worth,
Which charm to gayer pranks the sportive fawn.
All nature smiles in springtime fashion dressed,
The fertile fields resound with plowman's song;
The noisy sparrow builds 'neath eaves her nest,
The woodland trembles with the warbling throng.
New life is born, new hope inspires the breast,
For spring has come and all the world is blest.
Slaves to Fashion
The French "creator" rules the realm of style,
With consummate skill lures aping crowds along;
With gaudy frills their pliant minds beguile,
And binds in fashion's chains the hapless throng.
With bated breath they wait the stern command
Of fashion's priest; whose great creative mind
Must mold the fashions of this glorious land--
The vulgar Frenchman clothes the world's refined.
The rich and poor, the humble and the great,
Must wear the garb these foreign lords devise;
They dare not scorn the Frenchman's fashion plate
But wear the garment, though the style despise.
The world still yields to style's deforming sway,
And nature's sweetest charms they fling away.
The gilded signs whose silent voices speak,
Reveal those hands which genius has endowed,
To check the footsteps of the hurrying crowd,
And guide, unerring, to the marts they seek.
Dark, devious paths oft mark the crowded way,
And dangerous pitfalls there the steps betide;
The sign-writer's work becomes a trusted guide,
Where by-baths branch to lead the feet astray.
Sublime the work through power of genius born,
Though menial sphere may mark its lowly place;
Its beauty will earth's highest realms adorn,
And lowest depths its guiding gleams embrace.
The genius writes the sign to charm the eyes,
Still, that he works for gain no one denies.
The star that marked the birthplace of our King
Shone bright above that Bethlehem manger bed,
And by its gleams wise shepherds' feet were led
To pay him homage, and their treasures bring.
Now, to this star the world's great nations cling,
Revere the power that raised him from the dead,
With wreathes of love still crown that sacred head,
And waft to heaven the song which angels sing.
This song of "Peace on earth, good will t'ward men,"
Has charmed the vistas of earth's noblest thought;
Still guides the hand that wields immortal pen,
And crowns him king, who man's redemption bought--
Whose tireless feet o'er hill and valley's glen,
From heaven to earth a priceless message brought.
Those cruel hordes with boastful pomp and pride,
To please a tyrant's greed and lust for power,
Would drench in blood a land that will not cower,
And bathe fair Belgium in war's crimson tide.
The rights of peaceful powers have been denied,
Nor woman's prayers nor childhood's tears this hour
Could stay the hand that would their homes devour,
And o'er their bleeding forms in triumph ride.
Faith's prayers ascend, hope's voice to God appeals,
That love might win against a tyrant's might,
And heal the wounds this dreadful strife reveals,
And honor Belgium's stand for peace and right.
Time will record in blood an empire's shame,
While Belgium's triumph is an honored name.
Bald Heads; Outside and In
Judge not a man by his smooth, shining pate,
When from his dome time has the covering shorn,
And left that space like desert plains, forlorn,
While oft beneath are brains which compensate.
Think not that hair great sense must indicate,
That sheltering locks do all wise heads adorn,
For in his skull man's power to think was born,
And wisdom's charms oft hairless crowns ornate.
Skulls void of hair without, and lacking brains,
When sportive nature works some foolish prank,
For which misfortune naught could recompense;
Still without hair, or with, this truth remains,
That human heads that reach life's highest rank,
Are those adorned with brains and common sense.
Cruelty of Creeds
Creeds melted in the fires of modern thought,
Which truth has kindled into quenchless flame,
Has in its light revealed the crime and shame,
Of doctrines superstition's votaries taught.
Untold the anguish wicked creeds have brought,
To those who dared a different faith proclaim,
Where at the stake they earned a martyr's name,
And crowned a faith with honors, dearly bought.
Time scarce can heal the wounds of cruel creeds,
Their crimson stains outlive the flight of years;
Though martyred saints shall reap immortal meads,
And Christian truth and love dispel earth's fears,
No power of man can hide those barbarous deeds,
Nor wipe from history's page the martyr's tears.