T HE shepherd lingers on the lone hill side,
  In act to count his faithful flock again,
 Ere to a stranger's eye and arm untried
  He yield the rod of his old pastoral reign:
  He turns; and round him memories throng amain.
 Thoughts that had seem'd for ever left behind
  O'ertake him, e'en as by some greenwood lane
 The summer flies the passing traveller find;
Keen, but not half so sharp as now thrill o'er his mind.

 He sees the things that might have been arise,
  The heavenly vision how the saints adore,
 Erst slighted by his cold, unworthy eyes,
  Then upward drawn in wrath, and seen no more.
  Now it returns,—too late,—his time is o'er;
 The morns and eves are gone when Heaven bade pray,
  And earth bade slumber, and he lov'd earth's lore
 Better than Heaven's. What angel now might say
How dear he fain would buy one precious week or day?

 He sees from things that are the veil half-drawn,
  The souls, his charge, awaiting their dire doom
 On earth, or where earth's light no more may dawn.
  What if, that hour, in more than dreams they come,
  Marred by his baseness, by his sloth bade roam?
 O, spare him, heavenly chastener! spare his soul
  That bitterest pang;—nay, urge it close and home,
 So the dark Past the Future may control,
 And blood and tears be found to blot the accusing scroll.

 Seeks he the weary heart's appointed rest?
  Each soothing verse to him is stern rebuke.
 Lo! a wide shore that feels the breezy West,—
  He sees where kneeling saints with upward look
  Assuage the farewell pang Love scarce can brook,
 With upward look, and tears subdued to prayer.
  And He who never yet true love forsook
 By His own loved Apostle sealing there
His presence through the veil, wafts high each cloud of care.

 Well may the faithful flock hang o'er that page
  In joy; but pastors of no pastoral mood,
 Or slumb'rers o'er God's wasted heritage!—
  Oft as they read “Behold me pure of blood,
  None have I left unwarn'd, no breath of good
  Stifled or tainted,”—hard and cold the heart
 Which can endure unbroken! dull and rude
  The spirit, which to heal such sudden smart,
Flees to the blind world's praise, or custom's soothing art!
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