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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By The Poetry of Real Life (1844). I. The Upright Man

Henry Ellison (1811–1880)

THE UPRIGHT MAN, he goes his way,

He holds his God-marked brow erect,

His where-abouts are like the day,

Suspecting none, none him suspect.

He wears his arm upon his sleeve,

Though spiteful daws may peck at will,

And, though his fellow-men aggrieve,

His heart of good they cannot kill.

He loves and pities them, in spite

Of all the ill they cause him too,

Their loss, he knows, is infinite,

Better to suffer wrong than do!

He scorns to hide his thoughts, for ’tis

His glory to be free at heart,

And if his tongue were tied, he’d miss

His freedom, or its better part.

He scorns to do, too, i’ the dark

What he should do in all men’s sight;

This is of Freedom, the true ark,

The real Palladium of Right.

He sees not in the ballot-box

The hope and freedom of a State,

But in Truth, Peace, and Justice, rocks,

Pillars, on which to lean its weight.

He does as he would be done by,

And covets not another’s good,

But with it gladdens heart and eye,

And would increase it if he could.

He does increase it truly too,

And swells the general sum of bliss,

As through the moon, though hid from view

By other worlds, the sun lights this!

He yields obedience e’en where

The law is not as it should be,

For violence doth Peace impair,

Who brings, at last, all to agree.

Yet must he speak against the wrong,

Aye, though he suffer, he must speak,

For Truth is stronger than the strong,

And mightiest often in the weak.

And thoughts, high thoughts, like angels are,

And work unseen their work of grace,

Conveying their ministries afar,

When nearer home they leave no trace!

And oft when fall’n on evil days

Freedom awhile seems lost to Man,

One witness may again upraise,

And many end what one began.

He labours not for some poor end,

In darkling mole-ways of his own,

But with Mankind doth onward wend,

And his Good doth to its postpone.

Or, rather, they have one same Good,

And that which makes Mankind more wise

And happy, doth the one include,

And all his blessings multiplies.

He would take shame to think, that he,

The labours of Man’s hand and thought,

So largely shared, without a plea,

Contributing thereunto nought.

Past ages both and present make

The goodly sum of each Man’s bliss,

And he who adds most, more doth take,

And little truly can call his!

A nation builds him palaces,

With Art and Nature’s wonders filled,

And bridges, as he goes, his ways

Prepare, just where he would have willed!

And vessels wait, to bear him o’er

The sea, as made for him alone,

He steps on board, and thinks no more

About it, till his voyage is done!

Sages, for him, great Nature’s laws

Explore, and bring her to the light

He may know all that is or was,

A Being all-but infinite.

For him the greatest poets sing,

As if they sang for him alone,

And music from the heavens bring

For every fireside some tone!

Ungrateful were he then indeed,

If deeply he took not to heart

The want of Man, and bade God-speed

To all, and took in all a part.

So goes the upright man his way

One with mankind, not of a sect,

His goings open as the day

His actions, like the light, direct!