06 November 2013

Happiness - An 1842 Poem

By Bishop Heber.
One morning in the month of May,
I wandered o'er the hill;
Though nature all around was gay
My hear was heavy still.
Can God I thought, the just, the great,
These meaner creatures bless,
And yet deny to man's estate
The boon of happiness?
Tell me ye woods, ye smiling plains,
Ye blessed birds around,
In which of nature's wide domains
Can bliss for man be found?
The birds wild carroled over head,
The breeze around me blew,
And nature's awful chorus said —
No bliss for man she knew.
I questioned love, whose early ray,
So rosy bright appears,
And heard the timid genius say,
His light was dimmed by tears.
I questioned friendship : Friendship sighed,
And thus her answer gave —
The few whom fortune never tried
Were withered in the grave!
I asked if vice could bliss bestow?
Vice boasted loud and well,
But fading from her withered brow,
The borrowed roses fell.
I sought of feeling, if her skill
Could soothe the wounded breast;
And found her mourning, faint and still
For other's woes distressed!
I questioned virtue; virtue sighed,
No boon could she dispense —
Nor virtue was her name, she cried,
But humble penitence.
I questioned death — the grisly shade
Relaxed his brow severe —
And "I am happiness," he said,
"If virtue guides thee here."
February 22, 1842. Mecklenburg Jeffersonian 1(50): 4.