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"Let her glean freely e'en among the sheaves,
Nor use ill language; and if one lets fall
A handful every now and then, and leaves
For her to take, I shall not blame at all."
And Ruth gleaned on from then till evening-fall;
Of barley-grain an ephah gleaned, and went
To good Naomi, with her gain content.
The old dame asked her where she gleaned that day?
They called him Boaz,” was sweet Ruth's reply.
" Blessed of the Lord !" Naomi then did say,
"Be Boaz, who remembers them that died,
Nor kindness to the living bas denied.
The man is near of kin, and may redeem
Our Mahlon's land, if good to him it seem.”
“And be did also bid me not to quit
reapers through the harvest-time,” said Ruth. My daughter," quoth Naomi, it is fit You should not leave this good man's fields in truth, And be not found elsewhere.” And so, in sooth, She did, while there was any thing to glean, And to Naomi still returned at e'en. Then good Naomi said to gentle Ruth,-"My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee? And is not Boaz of our kin in truth? Behold, to night his barley winnows he : Now hearken, dearest daughter mine, to me; Wash, and anoint thee, and thy raiment don, And to the lucky threshing-floor be gone! But do not to the man thyself make known, Until he shall have done with drink and meat : Mark where he lies, and when he lieth down, Lift up the clothes that are upon his feet, And lay thee down; and he will say, I weet, What thou shalt do." Quoth Ruth,“ all thou dost bid Me do, that will I do;" and went, and did. With food and wine right merry Boaz went, And laid him down, expecting slumber sweet : And Ruth, to do Naomi's hest intent, There softly came, and raised from off his feet The coverlet, of modesty complete, Knowing no wrong in that, nor fearing frown For what she did, and softly laid her down. And at the midnight Boaz woke in fear, And turned himself; but how could such thing be? Behold, a soft warm woman nestled there! "And who art thou ?” he said: “ I'm come to thee.
And at his feet until the morn she lay ;
Ere one the other knew, the youthful dame
Rose up; and Boaz said,—" Now go thy way;
But let none know a woman hither came,
Lest evil tongues bring on the just foul shame;
Now hold thy veil.” And he did in it pour
Of barley-corn six measures running o'er.
And she, before the people were astir,
Arrived at home. “My daughter, who art thou ?".
Soon as she came, Naomi questioned her.
She told her all. “ Sweet daughter, rest thee now,
And see how it will fall; the man, I trow,
Will have no rest, but his best effort spend
To bring this thing this very day to end."
Boaz sat by the gateway of the town,
And saw the other kinsman pass, and cried,--
“ Ho! come and sit here ;" and the man sat down.
He called ten elders of the town beside,
And they too sat. The matter thus was tried :
To Mahlon's nearer kinsman Boaz said, -
“ Naomi, who in Moab left her dead,
And is again from Moab come, doth sell
The land that was Elimelech's: wilt thou
Redeem it ? if thou wilt redeem it — well;
For none beside thee has the right, I trow:
And I come after thee. Then tell me, now,
Before these Elders, wilt or wilt thou not
Maintain thy kin-right, and redeem the lot ?"
The kinsman said, “ I will.". “ But know, in truth,
That on the day of purchase,” Boaz said,
“ Thou must, too, buy it at the hand of Ruth,
The Moabitess, widow of the dead,
Whose land it was, to raise up in his stead
His name thereon." “ In that case I decline
To buy it, lest I injure me and mine,"
The kinsman said; “ but I resign my right
Therein to thee !" and he plucked off his shoe,
And gave it Boaz. (So they used to plight
Themselves in Israel to a contract true,
That they would this or that observe and do.)
Elders and people Boaz then addressed:
You all as witnesses I now attest,
That I have from Naomi bought to-day
What was Elimelech's; and therewithal
Ruth for my wife, in order that I may
The name of the departed one recall,
And in his heirship his own heir install;
To keep his name alive amid his race,
And in the gate of his allotted place.”
And all exclaimed, "Your witnesses are we;
And may the woman, whom thou now hast ta'en
Unto thy bosom, by the Lord's grace be
Like Rachel and like Leah, which hlest twain
And may thy house like that of Pharez be,
Whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed
The Lord shall of this woman give to thee !"
So Ruth was wife to Boaz; and, indeed,
She bore a son, whose grandson took the lead
In Israel, crowned King, and mighty Name -
The Stem from which the Branch, the Saviour, came.
The women at his birth Naomi blessed,
And said, “ Blessed be the Lord, whose love appears
Now shewn to thee - who gives thee peace and rest.
a son to wipe away thy tears,
The hope, and prop, and comfort of thy years,-
of Ruth, who loveth thee — whose love
Better to thee than seven sons doth prove."
Naomi to her bosom took the child,
And she became his nurse ; and in' him found
Her solace for past bitterness, and smiled
On her new hope. The women gathered round
And named him Obed; and they made resound
The place with transport and acclaiming joy--
“ Naomi has a son, a lovely boy!"
Thrice blessed wert thou, gentle Ruth!
That Moab didst exchange for Bethlehem,
And Moab's idols for the God of truth,
Darkness for light; and wert inwrought a gem
In the Great King's imperial diadem,
Mother of princes, mother of the King,
Come and to come, with healing on his wing.
And thou, wherein the heaven-born Promise lay,
To this low earth descended from above,
Thrice blessed art thou, Bethlem Ephrata !
There the soft brooding of the mystic Dove
Warmed the fair bosom of the Infant Love;
There Angels came to hymn the Holy Child
Sweet smiling on the Virgin-mother mild.
There grew the promised Branch from Jesse's stem,
The Woman's Seed to bruise the Serpent's head;
And there shone out the Star of Bethlehem,
By which, as by a royal herald, led,
The Sages to the King with homage sped,--
Thrice blessed spot! in which Angelic Voices
Sang Him, in whom the universe rejoices !
SHEEP-SHEARING AT CARMEL.
Soft falls the dew on Carmel,--soft the rain
That fills with fatness all the lowland plain;
Glad life in all the laughing fields is seen,
And Rocks and herds enjoy the rural green.
A thousand goats for Nabal keep the hills,
They soften, sweeten not the gulf of sin,
Nor any life can dwell that gloom within ;
And riches for the churl in vain increase;
They bring no true joy, cannot purchase peace ;
They not a blessing but a curse fulfil;
The more they grow, they more provoke his ill.
Exceeding wealth in vain to Nabal came--
A fool by nature as a fool by name.
When David Aed from Saul's infuriate wrath,
And with wild beasts he took a common path,
Shunning the haunts of man in his distress,
To find his safety in the wilderness;
His young men and himself, an outcast band,
Driven forth as aliens from their father-land,
By hunger pressed, were oft compelled to roam
From the remorseless wild — their only home,
For life their necessary food to gain,
To win from pity, or from fear obtain.
From their look-out of overhanging rocks
They see the slopes of Carmel white with flocks;
The merry shearers by the pleasant cool
Of running water clip the pomp of wool;
Fresh from the stream the sheep, disburdened, bound,
And with recovered freedom frisk around.
The rich mau's heart is glad ; the shearing done,
His board is spread, the festival begun.
Can mortal man, with mirth and feasting glad,
Without compassion see another sad ?
Fulfilled with good, and yet unapt to grant
Pity to sorrow, and relief to want?
Go to! go to ! to sight the fruit is good,
That brightening glows in Nabal's neighbourhood ;
Those apples, like false friends that mock our trust,
Though fair without, within are full of dust.
Go! pluck and eat! a-hungered, hope to find
Pulp in that seeming fruit -- and Nabal kind.
While pride of wealth his secret thought employs,
And he is busied with his festive joys,
Mirul in his eye, the wine-cup in his hand,
To Nabal come ten men of David's band,
And in their master's words express his plea :
“ Peace to thy house, and all thou hast, and thee:
Thy sheep are shorn, and let thy shepherds tell
If any harm from David them befell;
Or, if they found aught missing from their charge,
While all thy flocks in Carmel strayed at large.
Wherefore, we ask it in a happy day,
Let us find favour in thine eyes, I pray;
His followers he bade, with eager tone,
Gird on their swords — and girded on his own.
Four hundred men the princely Warrior led,
When he went forth to look on Nabal dead.
Meanwhile the feastful churl, self-satisfied,
Thought less of death than any thing beside.
This churlish Nabal had a charming wife,
Graceful in person, lovely in her life;
And beautiful in conduct as in face,
She knew and did the duties of her place.
She ne'er was idle; flax and wool she sought,
And with her own hands willingly she wrought :
She rose at day-dawn with a cheerful mind,
Call'd up her handmaids, and their tasks assign'd ;
Herself the spindle and the distaff plied,
And did much divers needlework beside.
Her heart was ever open to the poor ;
She drove no needy person from her door.
Her household loved to hear her gentle voice,
And in her presence ever did rejoice.
The law of kindness breathed in every word,
And wisdom in her speech : she feared the Lord.
Above the price of rubies! but who got
The treasure for a treasure knew it not.
Nor now, nor ever shall her praises fail-
The goodly woman's name was Abigail.
One of the young men went and told the dame How lately messengers from David came; And Nabal railed on them, and said, “ Our charge, Safe as in fold, in Carmel strayed at large; And wbile our flocks the slopes depastured round, In David's men a sure defence we found; They never came on us to spoil or slay, But were a wall to us by night and day; Nor all the time we missed a single fleece, While they watched round us and we slept in peace. Against our master and his household wo Is now determined — this for certain know; And, if thou canst, some way of safety seek – For to the son of Belial who can speak ?”
Then Abigail (it was no time to tarry) Bade them the asses ready make to carry A wrath-averting gift: of wheat-flour fine Two hundred loaves ; two skins of generous wine; Five bushels of parched corn; five roasted sheep; Two hundred cakes of figs; and eke a heap Of raisins, many a cluster : with their load, The asses soon were trotting on the road.
Her train went on before, and she did follow; And it so chanced that when she turned the hollow Which the hill screened, lo! David and his men Were rushing down into the quiet glen.