17 MAY 1879, Page 13



["How gloomy is the poetry of the present day how fall

of sighs, and groans, and passionate bewailings it is !"—Mr. Payn'a "Midway Inn," in the Nineteenth Century.]

THE Minstrel had a harp that rang Attuned to bold, triumphant words ; The wild-flower blossomed where he sang, Or watch-fire glinted bright on swords.

Of beauteous dames and puissant lords He carolled many a lightsome lay ; But now, howe'er he strike the chords, Each ditty ends in " Well-a-day,"— The burthen still is " Well-a-day !"

He sings of War,—impetuous foes Like thunder-clouds resounding meet, But ever at the conflict's close His harp seems wailing for defeat.

Of Love he sings a prelude sweet As zephyrs pipe to buds of May ; But Autumn winds regretful beat

Their cadence soon of " Well-a-day I"—

Love ends, like war, in " Well-a-day !"

Far echoed Pride's imperious tone, High soared Devotion's voice divine ; Now dirges falter round the throne, And Prayer sinks sobbing at the shrine. Rathe Nature's bloom, Art's deft design, In melancholy strains decay ; Life's early light has ceased to shine, And darkness falls, with " Well-a-day !"- Night comes to mate with " Well-a-day !"

And while thus chants that Minstrel strange, Of strength or wisdom, grace or gold, Interpreting each mournful change, A scythe beside him I behold ; The mists that wrapped his form unfold A sand-glass dim, a forelock grey; Ah ! now I know that Harper old.

'Tis Time who's singing, " Well-a-day !"-

Time's old, and singeth, " Well-a-day !" J. S. D.