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St. Peter stood guard at the golden gate
With a solemn mien and air sedate.
When up to the top of the golden stair
A man and a woman ascending there.
Applied for admission, they came and stood
Before St. Peter, so great and good.
In hopes the City of Peace to win —
And asked St. Peter to let them in.

The woman was tall, and lank and thin,
With a scraggy beardlet upon her chin.
The man was short and thick and stout,
His stomach was built so it rounded out.
His face was pleasant and all the while
He wore a kindly and genial smile.
The choirs in the distance the echoes woke,
And the man kept still while the woman spoke:

“O, thou who guardest the gate,” said she,
“We two come hither beseeching thee
To let us enter the heavenly land
And play our harps with the angel band.
Of me, St. Peter, there is no doubt,
There is nothing from heaven to bar me out.
I’ve been to meeting three times a week,
And almost always I’d rise to speak.

“I’ve told the sinners about the day
When they’d repent of their evil way.
I’ve told my neighbors — I’ve told them all —
‘Bout Adam and Eve and the primal fall.
I’ve shown them what they’d have to do
If they’d pass in with the chosen few.
I’ve marked their path of duty clear —
Laid out the plan for their whole career.

“I’ve talked and talked to ’em loud and long,
For my lungs are good and my voice is strong.
So, good St. Peter, you will clearly see
The gate of heaven is open for me.
But my old man, I regret to say,
Hasn’t walked in exactly the narrow way;
He smokes and he swears, and grave faults he’s got,
And I don’t know whether he’ll pass or not.

“He never would pray with an earnest vim,
Or go to revival, or join in a hymn.
So I had to leave him in sorrow there
While I, with the chosen, united in prayer.
He ate what the pantry chanced to afford,
While I, in my purity, sang to the lord.
And if cucumbers were all he got,
It’s a chance if he merited them or not.

“But oh, St. Peter, I love him so,
To the pleasures of heaven please let him go.
I’ve done enough — a saint I’ve been,
Won’t that atone? Can’t you let him in —
By my grim gospel, I know ’tis so
That the unrepentant must fry below;
But isn’t there some way you can see
That he may enter whose dear to me?

“It’s a narrow gospel by which I pray,
But the chosen expect to find some way
Of coaxing, or fooling, or bribing you,
So that their relations can amble through.
And say, St. Peter, it seems to me
This gate isn’t kept as it ought to be.
You ought to stand right by the opening there,
And never sit down in that easy chair.

“And say, St. Peter, my sight is dimmed,
But I don’t like the way your whiskers are trimmed;
They’re cut too wide, and outward toss,
They’d look better narrow, cut straight across.
Well, we must be going our crown to win.
So open, St. Peter, and we’ll pass in!”

St. Peter sat quiet, and stroked his staff,
But in spite of his office he had to laugh,
Then said, with a fiery gleam in his eye,
“Who’s tending this gateway? you or I? —
Then he arose in his stature tall,
And pressed a button upon the wall.
And said to an imp, who answered the bell,
“Escort this lady around to hell.”

The man stood still as a piece of stone —
Stood sadly, gloomily there alone.
A life-long settled idea he had
That his wife was good and he was bad.
He thought, if the woman went down below,
That he would certainly have to go —
That if she went to the regions dim,
There wasn’t a ghost of a show for him.

Slowly he turned, by habit bent,
To follow wherever the woman went.
St. Peter, standing in duty there,
Observed that the top of his head was bare.
He called the gentleman back, and said,
“Friend, how long have you been wed? —
“Thirty years” (with a weary sigh),
And then he thoughtfully added, “Why?”

St. Peter was silent. With head bent down,
He raised his hand and scratched his crown.
Then seeming a different thought to take,
Slowly, half to himself, he spake:
“Thirty years with that woman there —
No wonder the man hasn’t any hair!
Swearing is wicked, smoke’s not good,
He smoked and swore — I should think he would,
Thirty years with that tongue so sharp!
Ho! Angel Gabriel! Give him a harp.
A jeweled harp with a golden string!
Good sir, pass in where the angels sing!

“Gabriel, give him a seat alone —
One with a cushion — up near the throne.
Call up some angels to play their best,
Let him enjoy the music and rest!
See that on finest ambrosia he feeds,
He’s had about all the hell he needs.
It isn’t just hardly the thing to do,
To roast him on earth and the future too.”

They gave him a harp with golden strings,
A glittering robe and a pair of wings,
And he said, as he entered the Realm of Day,
“Well, this beats cucumbers, any way.”
And so, the scripture had come to pass,
That “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

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Calm was the day, and through the trembling air
Sweet breathing Zephyrus did softly play,
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay
Hot Titan’s beams, which then did glister fair;
When I whose sullen care,
Through discontent of my long fruitless stay
In prince’s court, and expectation vain
Of idle hopes, which still do fly away
Like empty shadows, did afflict my brain,
Walked forth to ease my pain
Along the shore of silver streaming Thames,
Whose rutty bank, the which his river hems,
Was painted all with variable flowers,
And all the meads adorned with dainty gems,
Fit to deck maidens’ bowers,
And crown their paramours,
Against the bridal day, which is not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

There, in a meadow, by the river’s side,
A flock of nymphs I chanced to espy,
All lovely daughters of the flood thereby,
With goodly greenish locks, all loose untied,
As each had been a bride;
And each one had a little wicker basket,
Made of fine twigs, entrailed curiously,
In which they gathered flowers to fill their flasket,
And with fine fingers cropt full featously
The tender stalks on high.
Of every sort, which in that meadow grew,
They gathered some; the violet pallid blue,
The little daisy, that at evening closes,
The virgin lily, and the primrose true,
With store of vermeil roses,
To deck their bridegrooms’ posies
Against the bridal day, which was not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

With that, I saw two swans of goodly hue
Come softly swimming down along the Lee;
Two fairer birds I yet did never see.
The snow which doth the top of Pindus strew,
Did never whiter shew,
Nor Jove himself, when he a swan would be
For love of Leda, whiter did appear:
Yet Leda was they say as white as he,
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near.
So purely white they were,
That even the gentle stream, the which them bare,
Seemed foul to them, and bade his billows spare
To wet their silken feathers, lest they might
Soil their fair plumes with water not so fair,
And mar their beauties bright,
That shone as heaven’s light,
Against their bridal day, which was not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

Eftsoons the nymphs, which now had flowers their fill,
Ran all in haste, to see that silver brood,
As they came floating on the crystal flood.
Whom when they saw, they stood amazed still,
Their wondering eyes to fill.
Them seemed they never saw a sight so fair,
Of fowls so lovely, that they sure did deem
Them heavenly born, or to be that same pair
Which through the sky draw Venus’ silver team;
For sure they did not seem
To be begot of any earthly seed,
But rather angels, or of angels’ breed:
Yet were they bred of Somers-heat they say,
In sweetest season, when each flower and weed
The earth did fresh array,
So fresh they seemed as day,
Even as their bridal day, which was not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

 

Then forth they all out of their baskets drew

Great store of flowers, the honour of the field,

That to the sense did fragrant odours yield,

All which upon those goodly birds they threw,

And all the waves did strew,

That like old Peneus’ waters they did seem,

When down along by pleasant Tempe’s shore,

Scattered with flowers, through Thessaly they stream,

That they appear through lilies’ plenteous store,

Like a bride’s chamber floor.

Two of those nymphs meanwhile, two garlands bound,

Of freshest flowers which in that mead they found,

The which presenting all in trim array,

Their snowy foreheads therewithal they crowned,

Whilst one did sing this lay,

Prepared against that day,

Against their bridal day, which was not long:

Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

‘Ye gentle birds, the world’s fair ornament,
And heaven’s glory, whom this happy hour
Doth lead unto your lovers’ blissful bower,
Joy may you have and gentle heart’s content
Of your love’s complement:
And let fair Venus, that is queen of love,
With her heart-quelling son upon you smile,
Whose smile, they say, hath virtue to remove
All love’s dislike, and friendship’s faulty guile
For ever to assoil.
Let endless peace your steadfast hearts accord,
And blessed plenty wait upon your board,
And let your bed with pleasures chaste abound,
That fruitful issue may to you afford,
Which may your foes confound,
And make your joys redound
Upon your bridal day, which is not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.’

So ended she; and all the rest around
To her redoubled that her undersong,
Which said their bridal day should not be long.
And gentle echo from the neighbour ground
Their accents did resound.
So forth those joyous birds did pass along,
Adown the Lee, that to them murmured low,
As he would speak, but that he lacked a tongue,
Yet did by signs his glad affection show,
Making his stream run slow.
And all the fowl which in his flood did dwell
Gan flock about these twain, that did excel
The rest so far as Cynthia doth shend
The lesser stars. So they, enranged well,
Did on those two attend,
And their best service lend,
Against their wedding day, which was not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

At length they all to merry London came,
To merry London, my most kindly nurse,
That to me gave this life’s first native source;
Though from another place I take my name,
An house of ancient fame.
There when they came, whereas those bricky towers,
The which on Thames’ broad aged back do ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers
There whilom wont the Templar Knights to bide,
Till they decayed through pride:
Next whereunto there stands a stately place,
Where oft I gained gifts and goodly grace
Of that great lord, which therein wont to dwell,
Whose want too well now feels my friendless case.
But ah, here fits not well
Old woes but joys to tell
Against the bridal day, which is not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

Yet therein now doth lodge a noble peer,
Great England’s glory, and the world’s wide wonder,
Whose dreadful name late through all Spain did thunder,
And Hercules’ two pillars standing near
Did make to quake and fear:
Fair branch of honour, flower of chivalry,
That fillest England with thy triumph’s fame,
Joy have thou of thy noble victory,
And endless happiness of thine own name
That promiseth the same:
That through thy prowess and victorious arms,
Thy country may be freed from foreign harms;
And great Elisa’s glorious name may ring
Through all the world, filled with thy wide alarms,
Which some brave Muse may sing
To ages following,
Upon the bridal day, which is not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

From those high towers this noble lord issuing,
Like radiant Hesper when his golden hair
In th’Ocean billows he hath bathed fair,
Descended to the river’s open viewing,
With a great train ensuing.
Above the rest were goodly to be seen
Two gentle knights of lovely face and feature
Beseeming well the bower of any queen,
With gifts of wit and ornaments of nature,
Fit for so goodly stature;
That like the twins of Jove they seemed in sight,
Which deck the baldric of the heavens bright.
They two forth pacing to the river’s side,
Received those two fair birds, their love’s delight;
Which, at th’ appointed tide,
Each one did make his bride
Against their bridal day, which is not long:
…..Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

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As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow’st
In one of thine, from that which thou departest;
And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow’st
Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest.
Herein lives wisdom, beauty, and increase;
Without this, folly, age, and cold decay.
If all were minded so, the times should cease,
And threescore year would make the world away.
Let those whom Nature hath not made for store,
Harsh, featureless, and rude, barrenly perish.
Look, whom she best endow’d she gave the more,
Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish.
She carv’d thee for her seal, and meant thereby
Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.

 

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For shame! Deny that thou bear’st love to any,
Who for thyself art so improvident.
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art belov’d of many,
But that thou none lov’st is most evident;
For thou art so possess’d with murd’rous hate
That ‘gainst thyself thou stick’st not to conspire,
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate
Which to repair should be thy chief desire.
O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind!
Shall hate be fairer lodg’d than gentle love?
Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove.
Make thee another self for love of me,
That beauty still may live in thine or thee.

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The moon’s on the lake, and the mist’s on the brae,
And the Clan has a name that is nameless by day:
Then gather, gather, gather, Grigalach!
Gather, gather, gather, Grigalach!

Our signal for fight, that from monarchs we drew,
Must be heard but by night in our vengeful haloo!
Then haloo, Grigalach! haloo, Grigalach!
Haloo, haloo, haloo, Grigalach!

Glen Orchy’s proud mountains, Coalchuirn and her towers,
Glenstrae and Glenlyon no longer are ours;
We’re landless, landless, landless, Grigalach!
Landless, landless, landless, Grigalach!

But doom’d and devoted by vassal and lord,
MacGregor has still both his heart and his sword!
Then courage, courage, courage, Grigalach!
Courage, courage, courage, Grigalach!

If they rob us of name, and pursue us with beagles,
Give their roofs to the flame, and their flesh to the eagles!
Then vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Grigalach!
Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Grigalach!

While there’s leaves in the forest, and foam on the river,
MacGregor, despite them, shall flourish for ever!
Come then, Grigalach, come then, Grigalach!
Come then, come then, come then, Grigalach!

Through the depths of Loch Katrine the steed shall career,
Oe’r the peak of Ben-Lomond the galley shall steer,
And the rocks of Craig-Royston like icicles melt,
Ere our wrongs be forgot, or our vengeance unfelt!
Then gather, gather, gather, Grigalach!
Gather, gather, gather, Grigalach!

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Sung on Youtube (4:42) – (4:42) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vvdz4yfaag

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background: https://www.highlandtitles.com/2015/06/clans-of-scotland-macgregor/

 

 

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Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
That thou consum’st thyself in single life?
Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee like a makeless wife;
The world will be thy widow, and still weep
That thou no form of thee hast left behind
When every private widow well may keep,
By children’s eyes, her husband’s shape in mind.
Look, what an unthrift in the world doth spend
Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,
And kept unus’d, the user so destroys it.
No love toward others in that bosom sits
That on himself such murd’rous shame commits.

 

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…..(from “Love’s Labor Lost”)

When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
“Tu-whit, tu-who!”
…..A merry note,
…..While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
“Tu-whit, tu-who!”
…..A merry note,
…..While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

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Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights joy.
Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing;
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: ‘Thou single wilt prove none.”

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My life is a bowl which is mine to brim
With loveliness old and new.
So I fill its clay from stem to rim
With you, dear heart,
………………..With you.

My life is a pool which can only hold
One star and a glimpse of blue.
But the blue and the little lamp of gold
Are you, dear heart,
………………..Are you.

My life is a homing bird that flies
Through the starry dusk and dew
Home to the heaven of your true eyes,
Home, dear heart,
………………..To you.

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All the hills and vales along
Earth is bursting into song,
And the singers are the chaps
Who are going to die perhaps.
O sing, marching men,
Till the valleys ring again.
Give your gladness to earth’s keeping,
So be glad, when you are sleeping.
Cast away regret and rue,
Think what you are marching to.
Little live, great pass.
Jesus Christ and Barabbas
Were found the same day.
This died, that went his way.
So sing with joyful breath,
For why, you are going to death.
Teeming earth will surely store
All the gladness that you pour.

Earth that never doubts nor fears,
Earth that knows of death, not tears,
Earth that bore with joyful ease
Hemlock for Socrates,
Earth that blossomed and was glad
‘Neath the cross that Christ had,
Shall rejoice and blossom too
When the bullet reaches you.
Wherefore, men marching
On the road to death, sing!
Pour your gladness on earth’s head,
So be merry, so be dead.

From the hills and valleys earth
Shouts back the sound of mirth,
Tramp of feet and lilt of song
Ringing all the road along.
All the music of their going,
Ringing swinging glad song-throwing,
Earth will echo still, when foot
Lies numb and voice mute.
On, marching men, on
To the gates of death with song.
Sow your gladness for earth’s reaping,
So you may be glad, though sleeping.
Strew your gladness on earth’s bed,
So be merry, so be dead.

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