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J EISTEDDFOD PKIZE POEMS. (By J. C. MANNING.) A volume entitled "The Death of Saul and other Eisteddfod Prize Poems," has been some time await. ing notice. The productions here collected have, as we learn from the preface, been composed in the brief periods of leisure available to a busy journalist. It would therefore be remarkable if there were not here and there signs of hasty execution but these are neither numerous nor striking. Where defects appear, they are chiefly rhythmical, and do but slightly mar the easy flow of the composition. Having read The Death of Saul," which, as well as being the longest, is probably the most finished poem in the book, we have but glanced over some of the minor pieees. Out examination has, however, sufficed to show us that the author possesses the poetic muse, that in grasp, conception, and imagination he is qualified for the kind of literary work here undertaken, and that he has a copious vocabulary at command. The tone of the book is healthy, a great variety of subjects are introduced, and the writer's thoughts are thrown into many forms of versification. The heroic and the didactic, the impassioned and the descriptive styles appear in turn, and in all the author seems fairly at home. The work (which ? attractively got up) is dedicated to the Marquis of Bute, and, as the title indicates, many of the pieces were written for prizes at Eisteddfodau, at which Mr. Manning has been a frequent and successful competitor. We give below two extracts, fairly representative of the author's general treatment of widely-different subjects AROUND him, like a hurricane of hail, The pinioned shafts with aim unerring sped, Bearing dark death upon their feathery wings. The clashing sword its dismal carnage made As foe met foe and flashing sparks out-flew As blade crossed blarle with murderous intent. The outcry rose-" They fly they fly The King Looked down upon the fray with trembling heart. The bloody stream along the valley ran; And chariots swept like eagles on the wind On deathly mission borue. The conflict fierce Waxed fiercer-fiercer still; the rain of gore Wetted the soddened plain, and arrows flew Thicker and faster through the darkening air. The barbed spear, flung forth with stalwart arm, Sped like a*whirlwind on its flight of death. Along the ranks the warrior's clarion call Inspired to valorous life the struggling hosts, And shouts of victory from contending hordes Blended with sorrowing moans of dying men. Thy sons, 0 King a breathless herald cried, Fresh from the carnage, bowing low his head, Where Saul, heart-weary, watched the dreadful strife On Gilboa's height. Thy sons, 0 mighty King The herald cried, and sank upon the ground By haste exhausted. Saul, with fitful start, Upraised the prostrate messenger. My sons What of them ? Speak he gasped, with startled look, Dead!" moaned the herald, and an echo came, As though deep down in some sepulchral vault The word was spoken. From the heart of Saul That mournful echo came-so sad and low Dead dead Ah. woe is me he sadly sighed. My sons-my best beloved Woe Woe—alas!" And as he spake, e'en while his head, gold-crowned, Bent low in pain beneath the crushing blow, An arrow from the foe his armour smote. And pierced his breast, already rent with grief. Then stepped with hurried tread a servant forth, And plucked the arrow from its cruel feast, Rending his robe to stanch the purple stream. Heed not the wound!" exclaimed the King "Too late Where Heaven smites, men's blows are light indeed," Then bending o'er his breast his "ingly head, He wept aloud Rejected of the Lord My bons among the slain my valorous host In bondage.of the heathen—let me die So sobbed the King, as down the bloody plain The chariots of the foe came thundering on; And horsemen cleft the air in hot array- A mighty stream of chivalry and life! The Israelites had fled, and at their heels The roaring tumult followed like a storm That rolls from world to world. And through the blast Of warfare came a weak and wailing voice Moaning in utter anguish-" Let me die!" 'Twas Saul the Anointed—Israel's fallen King Crushed 'neath the hand of an offended God Lo cried the King, and raised his tearful eyes, The Philistines are near, pierce thou my breast And, turning round, his kingly breast he bared, Bidding his armour-bearer thrust his sword Hilt-deep into his heart. Better to die By friendly hand," he cried, than owe my death To yonder hated victors. Quick Thy sword Thrust deep and quickly!" But the faltering hand That he!d the sword fell nerveless. Mighty King I dare not!" spake the trembling armourer. Then by my own I die," exclaimed the King. And as he spa^e he poised the glittering blade Point upward from the earth, and moaning fell Upon the thirsty steel. The ruddy gush Came spurting through the armour that he wore, And steamed in misty vapour to the sky In voiceless testimony to the truth Of words once spoken by the living God Aghast the faithful armour-bearer stood. O, mighty King! I die with thee!" he said, And, falling on his sword, the blood of both Commingled, as from ghastly wounds it ran In trickling streamlets down Mount Gilboa's side. DAWN AND DEATH. THE sobbing winds of wiiiter Lingered sadly round the door, Then ran in mystic moanings Through the dark across the moor; The window panes were streaming With the tears which heaven wept, And a mother sat a-dreaming O'er an infant as it slept; Its little hands were folded And its little eyes of blue Were clothed in alabaster With the azure peeping through Its face, so still and star-like, Was as white as maiden snow And it breathed in faintest ripples, As the wavelets come and go. The morn in golden beauty Through the lattice gaily peept, Bnt mumed was the window Of the room where darling slept: The mother's heart was breaking Into tears like summer cloud, For a starry face was circled With a little lily shroud; And a soul from sunny features Like a beam of light had fled: Before her, like a snowdrop, Her miracle lay dead Ah 'Twas cruel thus to chasten, Though her loss was darling's gain And her heait would rifle Heaven Could she clasp her babe again.





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