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Poem by Charlotte Bront¸
LOUGH, vessel, plough the British main, Seek the free ocean's wider plain; Leave English scenes and English skies, Unbind, dissever English ties; Bear me to climes remote and strange, Where altered life, fast-following change, Hot action, never-ceasing toil, Shall stir, turn, dig, the spirit's soil; Fresh roots shall plant, fresh seed shall sow, Till a new garden there shall grow, Cleared of the weeds that fill it now, Mere human love, mere selfish yearning, Which, cherished, would arrest me yet. I grasp the plough, there's no returning, Let me, then, struggle to forget. But England's shores are yet in view, And England's skies of tender blue Are arched above her guardian sea. I cannot yet Remembrance flee; I must again, then, firmly face That task of anguish, to retrace. Wedded to homeI home forsake, Fearful of changeI changes make; Too fond of easeI plunge in toil; Lover of calmI seek turmoil: Nature and hostile Destiny Stir in my heart a conflict wild; And long and fierce the war will be Ere duty both has reconciled. What other tie yet holds me fast To the divorced, abandoned past? Smouldering, on my heart's altar lies The fire of some great sacrifice, Not yet half quenched. The sacred steel But lately struck my carnal will, My life-long hope, first joy and last, What I loved well, and clung to fast; What I wished wildly to retain, What I renounced with soul-felt pain; Whatwhen I saw it, axe-struck, perish Left me no joy on earth to cherish; A man bereftyet sternly now I do confirm that Jephtha vow: Shall I retract, or fear, or flee? Did Christ, when rose the fatal tree Before him, on Mount Calvary? 'Twas a long fight, hard fought, but won, And what I did was justly done. Yet, Helen! from thy love I turned, When my heart most for thy heart burned; I dared thy tears, I dared thy scorn Easier the death-pang had been borne. Helen ! thou mightst not go with me, I could notdared not stay for thee! I heard, afar, in bonds complain The savage from beyond the main; And that wild sound rose o'er the cry Wrung out by passion's agony; And even when, with the bitterest tear I ever shed, mine eyes were dim, Still, with the spirit's vision clear, I saw Hell's empire, vast and grim, Spread on each Indian river's shore, Each realm of Asia covering o'er. There the weak, trampled by the strong, Live but to sufferhopeless die; There pagan-priests, whose creed is Wrong, Extortion, Lust, and Cruelty, Crush our lost raceand brimming fill The bitter cup of human ill; And Iwho have the healing creed, The faith benign of Mary's Son; Shall I behold my brother's need And selfishly to aid him shun? Iwho upon my mother's knees, In childhood, read Christ's written word, Received his legacy of peace, His holy rule of action heard; Iin whose heart the sacred sense Of Jesus' love was early felt; Of his pure full benevolence, His pitying tenderness for guilt; His shepherd-care for wandering sheep, For all weak, sorrowing, trembling things, His mercy vast, his passion deep Of anguish for man's sufferings; Ischooled from childhood in such lore Dared I draw back or hesitate, When called to heal the sickness sore Of those far off and desolate? Dark, in the realm and shades of Death, Nations and tribes and empires lie, But even to them the light of Faith Is breaking on their sombre sky: And be it mine to bid them raise Their drooped heads to the kindling scene, And know and hail the sunrise blaze Which heralds Christ the Nazarene. I know how Hell the veil will spread Over their brows and filmy eyes, And earthward crush the lifted head That would look up and seek the skies; I know what war the fiend will wage Against that soldier of the cross, Who comes to dare his demon-rage, And work his kingdom shame and loss. Yes, hard and terrible the toil Of him who steps on foreign soil, Resolved to plant the gospel vine, Where tyrants rule and slaves repine; Eager to lift Religion's light Where thickest shades of mental night Screen the false god and fiendish rite; Reckless that missionary blood, Shed in wild wilderness and wood, Has left, upon the unblest air, The man's deep moanthe martyr's prayer. I know my lotI only ask Power to fulfil the glorious task; Willing the spirit, may the flesh Strength for the day receive afresh. May burning sun or deadly wind Prevail not o'er an earnest mind; May torments strange or direst death Nor trample truth, nor baffle faith. Though such blood-drops should fall from me As fell in old Gethsemane, Welcome the anguish, so it gave More strength to workmore skill to save. And, oh ! if brief must be my time, If hostile hand or fatal clime Cut short my coursestill o'er my grave, Lord, may thy harvest whitening wave. So I the culture may begin, Let others thrust the sickle in; If but the seed will faster grow, May my blood water what I sow! What! have I ever trembling stood, And feared to give to God that blood? What! has the coward love of life Made me shrink from the righteous strife? Have human passions, human fears Severed me from those Pioneers, Whose task is to march first, and trace Paths for the progress of our race? It has been so; but grant me, Lord, Now to stand steadfast by thy word! Protected by salvation's helm, Shielded by faithwith truth begirt, To smile when trials seek to whelm And stand 'mid testing fires unhurt! Hurling hell's strongest bulwarks down, Even when the last pang thrills my breast, When Death bestows the Martyr's crown, And calls me into Jesus' rest. Then for my ultimate reward Then for the world-rejoicing word The voice from FatherSpiritSon: 'Servant of God, well hast thou done!'
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