The Dream of Freedom by Owen Hargraves Suffolk (Henry Manly)

‘Twas night, and the moonbeams palely fell
On the gloomy walls of a cheerless cell,
Where a captive sought a brief repose
From the bitter pangs of his waking woes,
O’er the dark blue waves of the mighty deep
His spirit roamed in the dream of sleep,
To each well lov’d spot of the peaceful shore,
Where joyous he rov’d in the days or yore.
But still as he roam’d, by Fancy’s pow’r,
To the halcyon scenes of his childhood’s hour,
His heart was crush’d with a weight of pain,
For he seem’d enthrall’d by the captive chain,
And vainly sought ‘mid his native isle
For the glorious light of Freedom’s smile!

The vision chang’d— from the cloudy waves
Of a mountain top that kiss’d the sky.
Be gaz’d beneath on a world of slaves
Array’d in the mantle of Liberty.
He saw a King with a jewelled crown,
Whose brightness rivalled the beams of day,
While thousands knelt at his gorgeous throne,
And own’d the might of his sceptre’s sway;
His will was law to the countless crowd,
Who quail’d ‘neath the monarch’s piercing eye,
That fiercely flash ‘d like the thunder-cloud,
When the lightning reddens the lurid sky.
In the battle-field his arm was might,
And his kingly heart was firm and brave,
But he knew not the charm of Freedom’s light—
He was but Ambition’s willing slave.

Then he turn’d from the monarch’s throne to gaze
On a peaceful cot in a lowly dell,
Which, lit by the sun’s departing rays,
Seem’d a scene of bliss where no woes could dwell,
And sweet was the sound of the ev’ning breeze
As it softly sigh’d through the leafy trees,
And danc’d on the rill which flow’d along
Through the flowery dale with a murm’ring song.
At the cottage door, with locks of white,
An old man gaz’d on the Western sky
And watch’d the sun’s declining light,
As it slowly sunk from his joyless eye.

In that retreat of Heav’n-like calm,
Remote from men and worldly show,
He vainly sought a Lethean charm
From a gloomy past of guilt and woe.
Alas! his spirit even there
Where all around was bright and fair,
Was firmly bound to each crime-stained hour
By vivid Mem’ry’s painful pow’r,
And Conscience o’er the sea of Time
A lurid shade of darkness cast,
And conjur’d up the deeds of crime
That chain’d him to a guilty past.

In the captive’s dream of fancy wild.
He look’d no more on the man of care,
His gaze was fix’d on a beauteous child,
Who knelt at his mother’s feet in pray’r.
Its little hands were clasp’d—its eyes
Uplifted were to Paradise—
Its simple words of faith and love
Were registered in Heav’n above
Recorded there with Angels’ tears
Who wept o’er the hopes the mother built,
For they look’d through the vista of countless years
And saw it fetter’d to future guilt.

And next he saw a beauteous pair,
A gallant youth and maiden fair,
Reclining in a vine-wreathed bower
At evening’s gentle balmy hour.
They vow’d their love should ever be
Immutable as Heav’n’s decree;
And each fond hope of future bliss
Was seal’d with an impassioned kiss.
Their voices seem’d a magic lay
Out-rivalling Eve’s melting gale;
Then beauty was more fair than day.
But oh! their hearts were weak and frail.
Their thrilling words and glances told
Of latent passions deep and wild,
Impute desires uncontroll’d,
That ev’ry virtuous thought beguil’d.

The flowers that scented the evening gale,
The stars that shone from their home above
Wept tears of grief o’er the guilty pair.
For they were the slaves of unholy love.
Then he turned from the things of earth to gaze
On the regions of immortality,
Where seraphs chanted their hymns of praise,
And every tongue was tuned with joy;
There countless myriads cloth’d in white
Were freed from the shackles of sin’s dark hour
To dwell in those blissful realms of light,
Unfetter’d for ever from Satan’s power,
And Freedom’s waters ‘neath many a beam
Of brightness curled on a balmy shore,
And all who quaff’d on the limpid stream
Were loos’d from bondage for evermore.

‘Twas now the harsh-ton’d prison-bell,
Loud echoed through the captive’s cell;
And rous’d him from his misery’s rest,
To all the woes that pierc’d his breast.
He rose—the vision of the night
Again was present to his sight—
He knelt—with fervency he pray’d
Through faith in Christ his gins forgiven,
The narrow boundary of the grave,
Should be the vestibule of Heaven.
Where disenthrall’d from all below,
To dwell beyond the starry sky,
Free from the pains of earthly woe,
In never-ending liberty!

From: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/60428769

Date: 1852

By: Owen Hargraves Suffolk (Henry Manly) (c1829-after 1866)

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