Where the Blue Begins by Various - HTML preview
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Again I looked at the snow-fall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow, When that mound was heaped so high.
I remembered the gradual patience That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding The scar of our deep-plunged woe.
And again to the child I whispered, "The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father Alone can make it fall!"
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made these heroes dare To die, to leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day; The score stood two to four with but an inning left to play; So, when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same, A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest, With that hope which springs eternal within the human breast, For they thought: "If only Casey could get a whack at that," They'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat. But Flynn preceded Casey, and likewise so did Blake, And the former was a puddin', and the latter was a fake; So on that stricken multitude a deathlike silence sat. For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat,
But Flynn let drive a "single," to the wonderment of all, And the much-despised Blakey "tore the cover off the ball"; And when the dust had lifted and they saw what had occurred, There was Blakey safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin' third.
Then, from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell, It rumbled in the mountain-tops, it rattled in the dell; It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat; For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place, There was pride in Casey's bearing, and a smile on Casey's face. And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat, No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt, Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt; Then while the New York pitcher ground the ball into his hip, Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there. Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, Like the beating of great storm waves on a stern and distant shore. "Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand. And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised a hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone; He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on; He signaled to Sir Timothy, once more the spheroid flew; But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."
"Fraud," cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!" But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed. They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate; He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate; And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow. Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light; And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout: But there is no joy in Mudville--mighty Casey has struck out._Phineas Thayer._ Casey's Revenge _(Being a reply to "Casey at the Bat.")_
There were saddened hearts in Mudville for a week or even more; There were muttered oaths and curses--every fan in town was sore. "Just think," said one, "how soft it looked with Casey at the bat! And then to think he'd go and spring a bush league trick like that."
All his past fame was forgotten; he was now a hopeless "shine." They called him "Strike-out Casey" from the mayor down the line. And as he came to bat each day his bosom heaved a sigh, While a look of hopeless fury shone in mighty Casey's eye.
The lane is long, someone has said, that never turns again, And Fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men. And Casey smiled--his rugged face no longer wore a frown; The pitcher who had started all the trouble came to town.
All Mudville has assembled; ten thousand fans had come To see the twirler who had put big Casey on the bum; And when he stepped into the box the multitude went wild. He doffed his cap in proud disdain--but Casey only smiled.
"Play ball!" the umpire's voice rang out, and then the game began; But in that throng of thousands there was not a single fan Who thought that Mudville had a chance; and with the setting sun Their hopes sank low--the rival team was leading "four to one."
The last half of the ninth came round, with no change in the score; But when the first man up hit safe the crowd began to roar. The din increased, the echo of ten thousand shouts was heard When the pitcher hit the second and gave "four balls" to the third.
Three men on base--nobody out--three runs to tie the game! A triple meant the highest niche in Mudville's hall of fame. But here the rally ended and the gloom was deep as night When the fourth one "fouled to catcher," and the fifth "flew out to right." A dismal groan in chorus came--a scowl was on each face-- When Casey walked up, bat in hand, and slowly took his place; His bloodshot eyes in fury gleamed; his teeth were clinched in hate; He gave his cap a vicious hook and pounded on the plate.
But fame is fleeting as the wind, and glory fades away;
There were no wild and woolly cheers, no glad acclaim this day. They hissed and groaned and hooted as they clamored, "Strike him out!" But Casey gave no outward sign that he had heard the shout.
The pitcher smiled and cut one loose; across the plate it spread; Another hiss, another groan--"Strike one!" the umpire said. Zip! Like a shot, the second curve broke just below his knee-- "Strike two!" the umpire roared aloud; but Casey made no plea.
No roasting for the umpire now--his was an easy lot. But here the pitcher twirled again--was that a rifle shot? A whack; a crack; and out through space the leather pellet flew-- A blot against the distant sky, a speck against the blue.
Above the fence in center field, in rapid whirling flight The sphere sailed on; the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight. Ten thousand hats were thrown in air, ten thousand threw a fit; But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit!
Oh, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun, And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun; And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall, But Mudville hearts are happy now--for Casey hit the ball!_James Wilson._ Rock Me to Sleep
Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight, Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore, Take me again to your heart as of yore; Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care, Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair; Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;-- Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years! I am so weary of toil and of tears,--
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,-- Take them, and give me my childhood again! I have grown weary of dust and decay,-- Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away; Weary of sowing for others to reap;-- Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue, Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you! Many a summer the grass has grown green, Blossomed and faded, our faces between; Yet with strong yearning and passionate pain Long I to-night for your presence again. Come from the silence so long and so deep;-- Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Over my heart, in the days that are flown, No love like mother-love ever has shone; No other worship abides and endures-- Faithful, unselfish and patient, like yours; None like a mother can charm away pain From the sick soul and the world-weary brain. Slumber's soft calms o'er my heavy lids creep;-- Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold, Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
Let it drop over my forehead to-night,
Shading my faint eyes away from the light; For with its sunny-edged shadows once more Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore; Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;-- Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Mother, dear mother, the years have been long Since I last listened your lullaby song; Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem Womanhood's years have been only a dream. Clasped to your breast in a loving embrace, With your light lashes just sweeping my face, Never hereafter to wake or to weep;--
Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
An Answer to "Rock Me to Sleep" My child, ah, my child; thou art weary to-night, Thy spirit is sad, and dim is the light;
Thou wouldst call me back from the echoless shore To the trials of life, to thy heart as of yore; Thou longest again for my fond loving care, For my kiss on thy cheek, for my hand on thy hair; But angels around thee their loving watch keep, And angels, my darling, will rock thee to sleep.
"Backward?" Nay, onward, ye swift rolling years! Gird on thy armor, keep back thy tears; Count not thy trials nor efforts in vain,
They'll bring thee the light of thy childhood again. Thou shouldst not weary, my child, by the way, But watch for the light of that brighter day; Not tired of "Sowing for others to reap,"
For angels, my darling, will rock thee to sleep.
Tired, my child, of the "base, the untrue!" I have tasted the cup they have given to you; I've felt the deep sorrow in the living green Of a low mossy grave by the silvery stream. But the dear mother I then sought for in vain Is an angel presence and with me again; And in the still night, from the silence deep, Come the bright angels to rock me to sleep.
Nearer thee now than in days that are flown, Purer the love-light encircling thy home;
Far more enduring the watch for tonight
Than ever earth worship away from the light; Soon the dark shadows will linger no more. Nor come to thy call from the opening door; But know thou, my child, that the angels watch keep, And soon, very soon, they'll rock thee to sleep.
They'll sing thee to sleep with a soothing song;
And, waking, thou'lt be with a heavenly throng;
And thy life, with its toil and its tears and pain,
Thou wilt then see has not been in vain.
Thou wilt meet those in bliss whom on earth thou didst love, And whom thou hast taught of the "Mansions above." "Never hereafter to suffer or weep,"
The angels, my darling, will rock thee to sleep.
'Twas the last fight at Fredericksburg,-- Perhaps the day you reck,
Our boys, the Twenty-second Maine, Kept Early's men in check.
Just where Wade Hampton boomed away The fight went neck and neck.
All day the weaker wing we held, And held it with a will.
Five several stubborn times we charged The battery on the hill,
And five times beaten back, re-formed, And kept our column still.
At last from out the center fight Spurred up a general's aide,
"That battery must silenced be!" He cried, as past he sped.
Our colonel simply touched his cap, And then, with measured tread,
To lead the crouching line once more, The grand old fellow came.
No wounded man but raised his head And strove to gasp his name,
And those who could not speak nor stir, "God blessed him" just the same.
For he was all the world to us,
That hero gray and grim;
Right well we knew that fearful slope We'd climb with none but him,
Though while his white head led the way We'd charge hell's portals in.
This time we were not half way up When, midst the storm of shell,
Our leader, with his sword upraised, Beneath our bayonets fell,
And as we bore him back, the foe Set up a joyous yell.
Our hearts went with him. Back we swept, And when the bugle said,
"Up, charge again!" no man was there But hung his dogged head.
"We've no one left to lead us now," The sullen soldiers said.
Just then before the laggard line The colonel's horse we spied-
Bay Billy, with his trappings on, His nostrils swelling wide,
As though still on his gallant back The master sat astride.
Right royally he took the place That was of old his wont,
And with a neigh that seemed to say, Above the battle's brunt,
"How can the Twenty-second charge If I am not in front?"
Like statues rooted there we stood, And gazed a little space;
Above that floating mane we missed The dear familiar face,
But we saw Bay Billy's eye of fire, And it gave us heart of grace.
No bugle-call could rouse us all As that brave sight had done.
Down all the battered line we felt A lightning impulse run.
Up, up the hill we followed Bill,-- And we captured every gun!
And when upon the conquered height Died out the battle's hum,
Vainly 'mid living and the dead We sought our leader dumb.
It seemed as if a spectre steed To win that day had come.
And then the dusk and dew of night Fell softly o'er the plain,
As though o'er man's dread work of death The angels wept again,
And drew night's curtain gently round A thousand beds of pain.
All night the surgeons' torches went The ghastly rows between,--
All night with solemn step I paced The torn and bloody green.
But who that fought in the big war Such dread sights have not seen?
At last the morning broke. The lark Sang in the merry skies,
As if to e'en the sleepers there
It said "Awake, arise!"
Though naught but that last trump of all Could ope their heavy eyes.
And then once more, with banners gay, Stretched out the long brigade.
Trimly upon the furrowed field
The troops stood on parade,
And bravely 'mid the ranks were closed The gaps the fight had made.
Not half the Twenty-second's men Were in their place that morn;
And Corporal Dick, who yester-noon Stood six brave fellows on,
Now touched my elbow in the ranks, For all between were gone.
When, as with misty eyes,
To call the old familiar roll
The solemn sergeant tries,-- One feels that thumping of the heart
As no prompt voice replies.
And as in faltering tone and slow The last few names were said,
Across the field some missing horse Toiled up with weary tread.
It caught the sergeant's eye, and quick Bay Billy's name he read.
Yes! there the old bay hero stood, All safe from battle's harms,
And ere an order could be heard, Or the bugle's quick alarms,
Down all the front, from end to end, The troops presented arms!
Not all the shoulder-straps on earth Could still our mighty cheer;
And ever from that famous day, When rang the roll-call clear,
Bay Billy's name was read, and then The whole line answered, "Here!" _Frank H. Gassaway._
Day by day the Organ-builder in his lonely chamber wrought; Day by day the soft air trembled to the music of his thought; Till at last the work was ended; and no organ voice so grand Ever yet had soared responsive to the master's magic hand.
Ay, so rarely was it builded that whenever groom and bride, Who, in God's sight were well-pleasing, in the church stood side by side, Without touch or breath the organ of itself began to play,
And the very airs of heaven through the soft gloom seemed to stray.
He was young, the Organ-builder, and o'er all the land his fame Ran with fleet and eager footsteps, like a swiftly rushing flame. All the maidens heard the story; all the maidens blushed and smiled, By his youth and wondrous beauty and his great renown beguiled.
So he sought and won the fairest, and the wedding-day was set Happy day--the brightest jewel in the glad year's coronet! But when they the portal entered, he forgot his lovely bride-- Forgot his love, forgot his God, and his heart swelled high with pride.
"Ah!" thought he, "how great a master am I! When the organ plays, How the vast cathedral-arches will re-echo with my praise!" Up the aisle the gay procession moved. The altar shone afar, With every candle gleaming through soft shadows like a star.
But he listened, listened, listened, with no thought of love or prayer, For the swelling notes of triumph from his organ standing there. All was silent. Nothing heard he save the priest's low monotone, And the bride's robe trailing softly o'er the floor of fretted stone.
Then his lips grew white with anger. Surely God was pleased with him, Who had built the wondrous organ for His temple vast and dim! Whose the fault then? Hers--the maiden standing meekly at his side! Flamed his jealous rage, maintaining she was false to him--his bride.
Vain were all her protestations, vain her innocence and truth; On that very night he left her to her anguish and her ruth. Far he wandered to a country wherein no man knew his name: For ten weary years he dwelt there, nursing still his wrath and shame.
Then his haughty heart grew softer, and he thought by night and day Of the bride he had deserted, till he hardly dared to pray; Thought of her, a spotless maiden, fair and beautiful and good; Thought of his relentless anger, that had cursed her womanhood;
Till his yearning grief and penitence at last were all complete, And he longed, with bitter longing, just to fall down at her feet. Ah! how throbbed his heart when, after many a weary day and night, Rose his native towers before him, with the sunset glow alight!
Through the gates into the city on he pressed with eager tread; There he met a long procession--mourners following the dead. "Now why weep ye so, good people? And whom bury ye today? Why do yonder sorrowing maidens scatter flowers along the way?
"Has some saint gone up to heaven?" "Yes," they answered, weeping sore; "For the Organ-builder's saintly wife our eyes shall see no more; And because her days were given to the service of God's poor, From His church we mean to bury her. See! yonder is the door."
No one knew him; no one wondered when he cried out, white with pain; No one questioned when, with pallid lips, he poured his tears like rain. "'Tis someone she has comforted, who mourns with us," they said, As he made his way unchallenged, and bore the coffin's head;
Bore it through the open portal, bore it up the echoing aisle, Let it down before the altar, where the lights burned clear the while. When, oh, hark; the wondrous organ of itself began to play Strains of rare, unearthly sweetness never heard until that day!
All the vaulted arches rang with music sweet and clear; All the air was filled with glory, as of angels hovering near; And ere yet the strain was ended, he who bore the coffin's head, With the smile of one forgiven, gently sank beside it--dead.
They who raised the body knew him, and they laid him by his bride; Down the aisle and o'er the threshold they were carried, side by side; While the organ played a dirge that no man ever heard before, And then softly sank to silence--silence kept forevermore._Julia C. R. Dorr._ Our Folks
"Hi! Harry Holly! Halt; and tell A fellow just a thing or two;
You've had a furlough, been to see How all the folks in Jersey do.
It's months ago since I was there-- I, and a bullet from Fair Oaks.
When you were home, old comrade, say, Did you see any of our folks?
"You did? Shake hands--Oh, ain't I glad! For if I do look grim and rough,
I've got some feelin'-
A soldier's heart is mighty tough;
But, Harry, when the bullets fly,
And hot saltpetre flames and smokes,
While whole battalions lie afield, One's apt to think about his folks.
"And so you saw them--when? and where? The old man--is he hearty yet?
And mother--does she fade at all?
Or does she seem to pine and fret
For me? And Sis?--has she grown tall? And did you see her friend--you know--
That Annie Moss-
(How this pipe chokes!) Where did you see her?--Tell: me, Hal,
A lot of news about our folks,
"You saw them in the church--you say, It's likely, for they're always there.
Not Sunday? No? A funeral? Who? Who, Harry? how you shake and stare!
All well, you say, and all were out. What ails you, Hal? Is this a hoax?
Why don't you tell me like a man: What is the matter with our folks?"
"I said all well, old comrade, true; I say all well, for He knows best
Who takes the young ones in his arms, Before the sun goes to the west.
The axe-man Death deals right and left, And flowers fall as well as oaks;
Fair Annie blooms no more! And that's the matter with your folks.
"See, this long curl was kept for you; And this white blossom from her breast;
And here--your sister Bessie wrote A letter telling all the rest.
Bear up, old friend."
Only the old camp-raven croaks,
And soldiers whisper, "Boys, be still;
There's some bad news from Granger's folks."
He turns his back--the only foe
That ever saw it--on this grief,
And, as men will, keeps down the tears Kind nature sends to woe's relief.
Then answers he: "Ah, Hal, I'll try;
But in my throat there's something chokes,
Because, you see, I've thought so long To count her in among our folks.
"I s'pose she must be happy now,
But still I will keep thinking, too,
I could have kept all trouble off,
By being tender, kind and true.
But maybe not.
She's safe up there,
And when the Hand deals other strokes,
She'll stand by Heaven's gate, I know, And wait to welcome in our folks."
'Twas a balmy summer evening, and a goodly crowd was there, Which well-nigh filled Joe's bar-room on the corner of the square; And as songs and witty stories came through the open door, A vagabond crept slowly in and posed upon the floor.
"Where did it come from?" someone said. "The wind has blown it in." "What does it want?" another cried. "Some whisky, rum or gin?" "Here, Toby, seek him, if your stomach's equal to the work-I wouldn't touch him with a fork, he's as filthy as a Turk."
This badinage the poor wretch took with stoical, good grace; In fact, he smiled as though he thought he'd struck the proper place. "Come, boys, I know there's kindly hearts among so good a crowd-- To be in such good company would make a deacon proud."Give me a drink--that's what I want--I'm out of funds, you know;
When I had cash to treat the gang, this hand was never slow. What? You laugh as though you thought this pocket never held a sou; I once was fixed as well, my boys, as any one of you.
"There, thanks; that's braced me nicely; God bless you one and all; Next time I pass this good saloon, I'll make another call.
_Give you a song?_ No, I can't do that, my singing days are past; My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out, and my lungs are going fast.
"Say! give me another whisky, and I'll tell you what I'll do-- I'll tell you a funny story, and a fact, I promise, too.
That I was ever a decent man, not one of you would think; But I was, some four or five years back. Say, give me another drink.
"Fill her up, Joe, I want to put some life into my frame-- Such little drinks, to a bum like me, are miserably tame; Five fingers--there, that's the scheme--and corking whisky, too. Well, here's luck, boys; and landlord, my best regards to you.
"You've treated me pretty kindly, and I'd like to tell you how I came to be the dirty sot you see before you now.
As I told you, once I was a man, with muscle, frame and health, And but for a blunder, ought to have made considerable wealth.
"I was a painter--not one that daubed on bricks and wood, But an artist, and, for my age, was rated pretty good. I worked hard at my canvas, and was bidding fair to rise, For gradually I saw the star of fame before my eyes.
"I made a picture, perhaps you've seen, 'tis called the 'Chase of Fame.' It brought me fifteen hundred pounds, and added to my name. And then I met a woman--now comes the funny part--
With eyes that petrified my brain and sunk into my heart.
"Why don't you laugh? 'Tis funny that the vagabond you see Could ever love a woman, and expect her love for me; But 'twas so, and for a month or two her smiles were freely given, And when her loving lips touched mine it carried me to heaven.
"Did you ever see a woman for whom your soul you'd give,
With a form like the Milo Venus, too beautiful to live;
With eyes that would beat the Koh-i-noor, and a wealth of chestnut hair? If so, 'twas she, for there never was another half so fair.
"I was working on a portrait, one afternoon in May,
Of a fair-haired boy, a friend of mine, who lived across the way; And Madeline admired it, and, much to my surprise, Said that she'd like to know the man that had such dreamy eyes.
My friend had stolen my darling, and I was left alone; And ere a year of misery had passed above my head, The jewel I had treasured so had tarnished, and was dead.
"That's why I took to drink, boys. Why, I never saw you smile,-- I thought you'd be amused, and laughing all the while. Why, what's the mattter, friend? There's a teardrop in your eye, Come, laugh, like me; 'tis only babes and women that should cry.
"Say, boys, if you give me just another whisky, I'll be glad, And I'll draw right here a picture of the face that drove me mad. Give me that piece of chalk with which you mark the baseball score-- You shall see the lovely Madeline upon the bar-room floor."
Another drink, and, with chalk in hand, the vagabond began To sketch a face that well might buy the soul of any man. Then as he placed another lock upon the shapely head, With a fearful shriek, he leaped, and fell across the picture dead._H. Antoine D'Arcy._ The Calf Path
One day through the primeval wood, A calf walked home, as good calves should; But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled, And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs a moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way, And then the wise bell-wether sheep Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep, And drew the flock behind him, too, As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o'er hill and glade, Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out, And turned and dodged and bent about, And uttered words of righteous wrath Because 'twas such a crooked path: But still they followed--do not laugh-- The first migrations of that calf, And through this winding woodway stalked Because he wabbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent and turned and turned again; This crooked path became a road. Where many a poor horse, with his load, Toiled on beneath the burning sun, And traveled some three miles in one. And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet, The road became a village street; And this, before men were aware, A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this Of a renowned metropolis.
And men two centuries and a half Trod in the footsteps of that calf!
Each day a hundred thousand rout Followed the zigzag calf about; And o'er his crooked journey went The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led By a calf near three centuries dead. They followed still his crooked way And lost one hundred years a day; For thus such reverence is lent To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach; For men are prone to go it blind,
Along the calf-paths of the mind, And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done. They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back, And still their devious course pursue, To keep the path that others do.
But how the wise wood-gods must laugh, Who saw the first primeval calf;
Ah, many things this tale might teach-- But I am not ordained to preach.
Paul Revere was a rider bold-- Well has his valorous deed been told; Sheridan's ride was a glorious one-- Often it has been dwelt upon;
But why should men do all the deeds On which the love of a patriot feeds? Hearken to me, while I reveal
The dashing ride of Jennie M'Neal.
On a spot as pretty as might be found
In the dangerous length of the Neutral Ground, In a cottage, cozy, and all their own,
She and her mother lived alone.
Safe were the two, with their frugal store, From all of the many who passed their door; For Jennie's mother was strange to fears, And Jennie was large for fifteen years; With vim her eyes were glistening,
Her hair was the hue of a blackbird's wing; And while the friends who knew her well The sweetness of her heart could tell,
A gun that hung on the kitchen wall
Looked solemnly quick to heed her call; And they who were evil-minded knew
Her nerve was strong and her aim was true. So all kind words and acts did deal
To generous, black-eyed Jennie M'Neal.
One night, when the sun had crept to bed, And rain-clouds lingered overhead,
And sent their surly drops for proof To drum a tune on the cottage roof, Close after a knock at the outer door There entered a dozen dragoons or more. Their red coats, stained by the muddy road, That they were British soldiers showed; The captain his hostess bent to greet, Saying, "Madam, please give us a bit to eat; We will pay you well, and, if may be, This bright-eyed girl for pouring our tea; Then we must dash ten miles ahead, To catch a rebel colonel abed.
He is visiting home, as doth appear; We will make his pleasure cost him dear." And they fell on the hasty supper with zeal, Close-watched the while by Jennie M'Neal.
For the gray-haired colonel they hovered near Had been her true friend, kind and dear; And oft, in her younger days, had he Right proudly perched her upon his knee, And told her stories many a one
Concerning the French war lately done. And oft together the two friends were, And many the arts he had taught to her; She had hunted by his fatherly side, He had shown her how to fence and ride; And once had said, "The time may be, Your skill and courage may stand by me." So sorrow for him she could but feel, Brave, grateful-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
With never a thought or a moment more, Bare-headed she slipped from the cottage door, Ran out where the horses were left to feed, Unhitched and mounted the captain's steed, And down the hilly and rock-strewn way She urged the fiery horse of gray.
Around her slender and cloakless form Pattered and moaned the ceaseless storm; Secure and tight a gloveless hand
Grasped the reins with stern command; And full and black her long hair streamed, Whenever the ragged lightning gleamed. And on she rushed for the colonel's weal, Brave, lioness-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
Hark! from the hills, a moment mute, Came a clatter of hoofs in hot pursuit; And a cry from the foremost trooper said, "Halt! or your blood be on your head"; She heeded it not, and not in vain She lashed the horse with the bridle-rein.
So into the night the gray horse strode; His shoes hewed fire from the rocky road; And the high-born courage that never dies Flashed from his rider's coal-black eyes. The pebbles flew from the fearful race: The raindrops grasped at her glowing face. "On, on, brave beast!" with loud appeal, Cried eager, resolute Jennie M'Neal.
"Halt!" once more came the voice of dread; "Halt! or your blood be on your head!" Then, no one answering to the calls,
Sped after her a volley of balls.
They passed her in her rapid flight,
They screamed to her left, they screamed to her right; But, rushing still o'er the slippery track,
She sent no token of answer back,
Except a silvery laughter-peal,
Brave, merry-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
So on she rushed, at her own good will, Through wood and valley, o'er plain and hill; The gray horse did his duty well,
Till all at once he stumbled and fell, Himself escaping the nets of harm,
But flinging the girl with a broken arm. Still undismayed by the numbing pain, She clung to the horse's bridle-rein And gently bidding him to stand,
Petted him with her able hand;
Then sprung again to the saddle bow, And shouted, "One more trial now!" As if ashamed of the heedless fall,
He gathered his strength once more for all, And, galloping down a hillside steep, Gained on the troopers at every leap; No more the high-bred steed did reel, But ran his best for Jennie M'Neal.
They were a furlong behind, or more,
When the girl burst through the colonel's door, Her poor arm helpless hanging with pain, And she all drabbled and drenched with rain, But her cheeks as red as fire-brands are, And her eyes as bright as a blazing star, And shouted, "Quick! be quick, I say!
They come! they come! Away! away!"
Then, sunk on the rude white floor of deal, Poor, brave, exhausted Jennie M'Neal.
The startled colonel sprung, and pressed The wife and children to his breast, And turned away from his fireside bright, And glided into the stormy night;
Then soon and safely made his way To where the patriot army lay.
But first he bent in the dim firelight, And kissed the forehead broad and white, And blessed the girl who had ridden so well To keep him out of a prison-cell.
The girl roused up at the martial din, Just as the troopers came rushing in, And laughed, e'en in the midst of a moan, Saying, "Good sirs, your bird has flown. 'Tis I who have scared him from his nest; So deal with me now as you think best." But the grand young captain bowed, and said, "Never you hold a moment's dread.
Of womankind I must crown you queen; So brave a girl I have never seen.
Wear this gold ring as your valor's due; And when peace comes I will come for you." But Jennie's face an arch smile wore, As she said, "There's a lad in Putnam's corps, Who told me the same, long time ago; You two would never agree, I know.
I promised my love to be as true as steel," Said good, sure-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
They say that man is mighty, he governs land and sea; He wields a mighty scepter o'er lesser powers that be;
By a mightier power and stronger, man from his throne is hurled, And the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of woman! angels guard its strength and grace, In the palace, cottage, hovel, oh, no matter where the place! Would that never storms assailed it, rainbows ever gently curled; For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Infancy's the tender fountain, power may with beauty flow; Mother's first to guide the streamlets, from them souls unresting grow; Grow on for the good or evil, sunshine streamed or darkness hurled; For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Woman, how divine your mission here upon our natal sod! Keep, oh, keep the young heart open always to the breath of God! All true trophies of the ages are from mother-love impearled, For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of woman! fathers, sons and daughters cry, And the sacred song is mingled with the worship in the sky-- Mingles where no tempest darkens, rainbows evermore are curled; For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. _William Ross Wallace._What I Live For
I live for those who love me,
Whose hearts are kind and true,
For the heaven that smiles above me, And awaits my spirit, too;
For the human ties that bind me,
For the task by God assigned me,
For the bright hopes left behind me, And the good that I can do.
I live to learn their story
Who've suffered for my sake,
To emulate their glory,
And to follow in their wake;
Bards, patriots, martyrs, sages,
The noble of all ages,
Whose deeds crowd history's pages, And Time's great volume make.
With all that is divine,
To feel there is a union
'Twixt Nature's heart and mine; To profit by affliction,
Reap truths from fields of fiction, Grow wiser from conviction,
And fulfill each grand design.
I live to hail that season,
By gifted minds foretold,
When men shall rule by reason, And not alone by gold;
When man to man united,
And every wrong thing righted,
The whole world shall be lighted As Eden was of old.
I live for those who love me,
For those who know me true,
For the heaven that smiles above me, And awaits my spirit, too;
For the cause that lacks assistance, For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance, And the good that I can do.
If all the ships I have at sea
Should come a-sailing home to me,
Weighed down with gems, and silk and gold, Ah! well, the harbor would not hold
So many ships as there would be,
If all my ships came home from sea.
If half my ships came home from sea, And brought their precious freight to me, Ah! well, I should have wealth as great As any king that sits in state,
So rich the treasure there would be In half my ships now out at sea.
If but one ship I have at sea
Should come a-sailing home to me,
Ah! well, the storm clouds then might frown, For, if the others all went down,
Still rich and glad and proud I'd be
If that one ship came home to me.
If that one ship went down at sea
And all the others came to me
Weighed down with gems and wealth untold, With honor, riches, glory, gold,
The poorest soul on earth I'd be
If that one ship came not to me.
O skies, be calm; O winds, blow free! Blow all my ships safe home to me, But if thou sendest some awrack, To nevermore come sailing back, Send any, all that skim the sea, But send my love ship home to me._Ella Wheeler Wilcox._ The Man With the Hoe _(Written after seeing Millet's famous painting.)_ God made man in His own image; in the image of God made he him.--GENESIS.
Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair, A thing that grieves not and that never hopes, Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow? Whose breath blew out the light within this brain? Is this the Thing, the Lord God made and gave To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power; To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns And pillared the blue firmament with light?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this--
More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed-More filled with signs and portents for the soul-- More fraught with menace to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim! Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song, The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose? Through this dread shape the suffering ages look; Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed, Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the judges of the world,
A protest that is also prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched? How will you ever straighten up this shape; Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light, Rebuild it in the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies, perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, How will the Future reckon with this man? How answer his brute question in that hour When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world? How will it be with kingdom and with kings-- With those who shaped him to the thing he is-- When this dumb Terror shall reply to God, After the silence of the centuries?_Edwin Markham._ Poorhouse Nan
Did you say you wished to see me, sir? Step in; 'tis a cheerless place, But you're heartily welcome all the same; to be poor is no disgrace. Have I been here long? Oh, yes, sir! 'tis thirty winters gone Since poor Jim took to crooked ways and left me all alone! Jim was my son, and a likelier lad you'd never wish to see, Till evil counsels won his heart and led him away from me.
'Tis the old, sad, pitiful story, sir, of the devil's winding stair, And men go down--and down--and down--to blackness and despair; Tossing about like wrecks at sea, with helm and anchor lost, On and on, through the surging waves, nor caring to count the cost; I doubt sometimes if the Savior sees, He seems so far away, How the souls He loved and died for, are drifting--drifting astray!
Indeed,'tis little wonder, sir, if woman shrinks and cries When the life-blood on Rum's altar spilled is calling to the skies; Small wonder if her own heart feels each sacrificial blow, For isn't each life a part of hers? each pain her hurt and woe? Read all the records of crime and shame--'tis bitterly, sadly true; Where manliness and honor die, there some woman's heart dies, too.
I often think, when I hear folks talk so prettily and so fine Of "alcohol as needful food"; of the "moderate use of wine"; How "the world couldn't do without it, there was clearly no other way But for a man to drink, or let it alone, as his own strong will might say"; That "to use it, but not abuse it, was the proper thing to do," How I wish they'd let old Poorhouse Nan preach her little sermon, too!
I would give them scenes in a woman's life that would make their pulses stir,
For I was a drunkard's child and wife--aye, a drunkard's mother, sir! I would tell of childish terrors, of childish tears and pain.
Of cruel blows from a father's hand when rum had crazed his brain; He always said he could drink his fill, or let it alone as well; Perhaps he might, he was killed one night in a brawl--in a grog-shop hell!
I would tell of years of loveless toil the drunkard's child had passed, With just one gleam of sunshine, too beautiful to last.
When I married Tom I thought for sure I had nothing more to fear, That life would come all right at last; the world seemed full of cheer. But he took to moderate drinking--he allowed 'twas a harmless thing, So the arrow sped, and my bird of Hope came down with a broken wing.
Tom was only a moderate drinker; ah, sir, do you bear in mind How the plodding tortoise in the race left the leaping hare behind? 'Twas because he held right on and on, steady and true, if slow, And that's the way, I'm thinking, that the moderate drinkers go! Step over step--day after day--with sleepless, tireless pace, While the toper sometimes looks behind and tarries in the race!
Ah, heavily in the well-worn path poor Tom walked day by day, For my heart-strings clung about his feet and tangled up the way; The days were dark, and friends were gone, and life dragged on full slow, And children came, like reapers, and to a harvest of want and woe! Two of them died, and I was glad when they lay before me dead; I had grown so weary of their cries--their pitiful cries for bread.
There came a time when my heart was stone; I could neither hope nor pray; Poor Tom lay out in the Potter's Field, and my boy had gone astray; My boy who'd been my idol, while, like hound athirst for blood, Between my breaking heart and him the liquor seller stood,
And lured him on with pleasant words, his pleasures and his wine; Ah, God have pity on other hearts as bruised and hurt as mine.
There were whispers of evil-doing, of dishonor, and of shame, That I cannot bear to think of now, and would not dare to name! There was hiding away from the light of day, there was creeping about at
A hurried word of parting--then a criminal's stealthy flight!
His lips were white with remorse and fright when he gave me a good-by kiss; And I've never seen my poor lost boy from that black day to this.
With the sorrow that comes of a sinning child, with grief for a lost one's sake,
When she knows the feet she trained to walk have gone so far astray,
And the lips grown bold with curses that she taught to sing and pray;
A child may fear--a wife may weep, but of all sad things, none other
Seems half so sorrowful to me as being a drunkard's mother. They tell me that down in the vilest dens of the city's crime and murk, There are men with the hearts of angels, doing the angels' work;
That they win back the lost and the straying, that they help the weak to stand,
By the wonderful power of loving words--and the help of God's right hand!
And often and often, the dear Lord knows, I've knelt and prayed to Him,
That somewhere, somehow, 'twould happen that they'd find and save my Jim!
You'll say 'tis a poor old woman's whim; but when I prayed last night, Right over yon eastern window there shone a wonderful light! (Leastways it looked that way to me) and out of the light there fell The softest voice I had ever heard: it rung like a silver bell; And these were the words, "The prodigal turns, so tired by want and sin, He seeks his father's open door--he weeps--and enters in."
Why, sir, you're crying as hard as I; what--is it really done?
Have the loving voice and the Helping Hand brought back my wandering son? Did you kiss me and call me "Mother"--and hold me to your breast, Or is it one of the taunting dreams that come to mock my rest? No--no! thank God, 'tis a dream come true! I can die, for He's saved
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud! Like a swift fleeting meteor, a fast flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, He passes from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willows shall fade, Be scattered around, and together be laid; And the young and the old, and the low and the high Shall moulder to dust, and together shall die.
The child whom a mother attended and loved, The mother that infant's affection who proved, The husband that mother and infant who blessed, Each--all are away to their dwelling of rest.
The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye Shone beauty and pleasure--her triumphs are by; And the memory of those who loved her and praised Are alike from the minds of the living erased. The hand of the king who the scepter hath borne, The brow of the priest who the mitre hath worn, The eye of the sage and the heart of the brave Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap, The herdsman who climbed with his goats to the steep, The beggar who wandered in search of his bread Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven, The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven, The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
So the multitude goes--like the flower and the weed That wither away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes--even those we behold, To repeat every tale that has often been told.
For we are the same things that our fathers have been, We see the same sights that our fathers have seen; We drink the same stream, and we feel the same sun, And we run the same course that our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think, From the death we are shrinking from, they too would shrink, To the life we are clinging to, they too would cling, But it speeds from the earth like a bird on the wing.
They loved--but their story we cannot enfold,
They scorned--but the heart of the haughty is cold, They grieved--but no wail from their slumbers may come, They joy'd--but the voice of their gladness--is dumb.
They died, ay, they died! and we things that are now, Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow, Who make in their dwellings a transient abode Meet the changes they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea, hope and despondence, and pleasure and pain, Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
And the smile, and the tear, and the song and the dirge Still follow each other like surge upon surge.
'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath From the blossoms of health to the paleness of death; From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud-- Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud! _William Knox._How He Saved St. Michael's
'Twas long ago--ere ever the signal gun
That blazed before Fort Sumter had wakened the North as one; Long ere the wondrous pillar of battle-cloud and fire
Had marked where the unchained millions marched on to their heart's desire. On roofs and glittering turrets, that night, as the sun went down, The mellow glow of the twilight shone like a jeweled crown,
And, bathed in the living glory, as the people lifted their eyes,
They saw the pride of the city, the spire of St. Michael's rise
High over the lesser steeples, tipped with a golden ball
That hung like a radiant planet caught in its earthward fall;
First glimpse of home to the sailor who made the harbor round, And last slow-fading vision dear to the outward bound.
The gently gathering shadows shut out the waning light;
The children prayed at their bedsides as they were wont each night; The noise of buyer and seller from the busy mart was gone,
And in dreams of a peaceful morrow the city slumbered on.
But another light than sunrise aroused the sleeping street, For a cry was heard at midnight, and the rush of trampling feet; Men stared in each other's faces, thro' mingled fire and smoke, While the frantic bells went clashing clamorous, stroke on stroke. By the glare of her blazing roof-tree the houseless mother fled, With the babe she pressed to her bosom shrieking in nameless dread; While the fire-king's wild battalions scaled wall and cap-stone high, And painted their glaring banners against an inky sky.
From the death that raged behind them, and the crush of ruin loud, To the great square of the city, were driven the surging crowd, Where yet firm in all the tumult, unscathed by the fiery flood, With its heavenward pointing finger the church of St. Michael's stood.
But e'en as they gazed upon it there rose a sudden wail, A cry of horror blended with the roaring of the gale,
On whose scorching wings updriven, a single flaming brand, Aloft on the towering steeple clung like a bloody hand,
"Will it fade?" the whisper trembled from a thousand whitening lips; Far out on the lurid harbor they watched it from the ships. A baleful gleam, that brighter and ever brighter shone,
Like a flickering, trembling will-o'-the-wisp to a steady beacon grown. "Uncounted gold shall be given to the man whose brave right hand, For the love of the periled city, plucks down yon burning brand!" So cried the Mayor of Charleston, that all the people heard, But they looked each one at his fellow, and no man spoke a word, Who is it leans from the belfry, with face upturned to the sky-- Clings to a column and measures the dizzy spire with his eye? Will he dare it, the hero undaunted, that terrible, sickening height, Or will the hot blood of his courage freeze in his veins at the sight? But see! he has stepped on the railing, he climbs with his feet and his
And firm on a narrow projection, with the belfry beneath him, he stands! Now once, and once only, they cheer him--a single tempestuous breath, And there falls on the multitude gazing a hush like the stillness of death.
Slow, steadily mounting, unheeding aught save the goal of the fire, Still higher and higher, an atom, he moves on the face of the spire: He stops! Will he fall? Lo! for answer, a gleam like a meteor's track, And, hurled on the stones of the pavement, the red brand lies shattered and
Once more the shouts of the people have rent the quivering air; At the church door mayor and council wait with their feet on the stair, And the eager throng behind them press for a touch of his hand-The unknown savior whose daring could compass a deed so grand.
But why does a sudden tremor seize on them as they gaze? And what meaneth that stifled murmur of wonder and amaze? He stood in the gate of the temple he had periled his life to save, And the face of the unknown hero was the sable face of a slave! With folded arms he was speaking in tones that were clear, not loud, And his eyes, ablaze in their sockets, burnt into the eyes of the crowd. "Ye may keep your gold, I scorn it! but answer me, ye who can, If the deed I have done before you be not the deed of a _man?_"
He stepped but a short space backward, and from all the women and men There were only sobs for answer, and the mayor called for a pen, And the great seal of the city, that he might read who ran,
And the slave who saved St. Michael's went out from its door a man.
A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,
There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears; But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away, And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say. The dying soldier faltered, as he took that comrade's hand, And he said, "I never more shall see my own, my native land; Take a message, and a token, to some distant friends of mine, For I was born at Bingen--at Bingen on the Rhine!
"Tell my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around To hear my mournful story in the pleasant vineyard ground, That we fought the battle bravely, and when the day was done, Full many a corpse lay ghastly pale, beneath the setting sun. And 'midst the dead and dying, were some grown old in wars, The death-wound on their gallant breasts the last of many scars: But some were young--and suddenly beheld life's morn decline; And one had come from Bingen--fair Bingen on the Rhine!
"Tell my mother that her other sons shall comfort her old age, And I was aye a truant bird, that thought his home a cage: For my father was a soldier, and even as a child
My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of struggles fierce and wild; And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty hoard, I let them take whate'er they would, but kept my father's sword, And with boyish love I hung it where the bright light used to shine, On the cottage-wall at Bingen--calm Bingen on the Rhine!
"Tell my sister not to weep for me, and sob with drooping head, When the troops are marching home again with glad and gallant tread; But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and steadfast eye, For her brother was a soldier too, and not afraid to die.
And if a comrade seek her love, I ask her in my name
To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame;
And to hang the old sword in its place (my father's sword and mine), For the honor of old Bingen--dear Bingen on the Rhine!
"There's another--not a sister; in the happy days gone by,
You'd have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye; Too innocent for coquetry--too fond for idle scorning-
Oh, friend! I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning; Tell her the last night of my life (for ere the moon be risen
My body will be out of pain--my soul be out of prison),
I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow sunlight shine On the vine-clad hills of Bingen--fair Bingen on the Rhine!
"I saw the blue Rhine sweep along--I heard, or seemed to hear. The German songs we used to sing, in chorus sweet and clear; And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill, The echoing chorus sounded, through the evening calm and still; And her glad blue eyes were on me as we passed with friendly talk Down many a path beloved of yore, and well-remembered walk, And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine:
But we'll meet no more at Bingen--loved Bingen on the Rhine!"
His voice grew faint and hoarser,--his grasp was childish weak,-His eyes put on a dying look,--he sighed and ceased to speak; His comrade bent to lift him, but the spark of life had fled,-- The soldier of the Legion, in a foreign land--was dead! And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corpses strown; Yea, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine As it shone on distant Bingen--fair Bingen on the Rhine!_Caroline Norton._ College Oil Cans
On a board of bright mosaic wrought in many a quaint design, Gleam a brace of silver goblets wreathed with flowers and filled with wine. Round the board a group is seated; here and there are threads of white Which their dark locks lately welcomed; but they're only boys tonight. Some whose words have thrilled the senate, some who win the critic'spraise-- All are "chums" to-night, with voices redolent of college days.
"Boys," said one, "do you remember that old joke--about the wine-- How we used to fill our oil cans and repair to 'No. 9'?
But at last the old professor--never long was he outdone-- Opened up our shining oil cans and demolished all our fun!" In the laugh that rings so gayly through the richly curtained room, Join they all, save one; Why is it? Does he see the waxen bloom Tremble in its vase of silver? Does he see the ruddy wine Shiver in its crystal goblet, or do those grave eyes divine Something sadder yet? He pauses till their mirth has died away, Then in measured tones speaks gravely:
"Boys, a story, if I may, I will tell you, though it may not merit
"Just a year ago to-night, boys, I was in my room alone, At the San Francisco L---- House, when I heard a plaintive moan Sounding from the room adjoining. Hoping to give some relief To the suffering one, I entered; but it thrilled my heart with grief Just to see that wreck of manhood--bloated face, disheveled hair-Wildly tossing, ever moaning, while his thin hands beat the air. Broken prayers, vile oaths and curses filled the air as I drew near; Then in faint and piteous accents, these words I could plainly hear: 'Give me one more chance--one only--let me see my little Belle-- Then I'll follow where they lead me, be it to the depths of hell!' When he saw me he grew calmer, started strangely--looked me o'er-- Oh, the glory of expression! I had seen those eyes before! Yes, I knew him; it was Horace, he who won the college prize; Naught remained of his proud beauty but the splendor of his eyes. He whom we were all so proud of, lay there in the fading light. If my years should number fourscore, I shall ne'er forget that sight. And he knew me--called me 'Albert,' ere a single word I'd said-- We were comrades in the old days; I sat down beside the bed.
"Horace seemed to grow more quiet, but he would not go to sleep; He kept talking of our boyhood while my hand he still would keep In his own so white and wasted, and with burning eyes would gaze On my face, still talking feebly of the dear old college days. 'Ah,' he said, 'life held such promise; but, alas! I am to-day But a poor degraded outcast--hopes, ambition swept away, And it dates back to those oil cans that we filled in greatest glee. Little did I think in those days what the harvest now would be!'"For a moment he was silent, then a cry whose anguish yet
Wrings my heart, burst from his white lips, though his teeth were tightly set,
And with sudden strength he started--sprang from my detaining arm,
Shrieking wildly, 'Curse the demons; do they think to do me harm?
Back! I say, ye forked-tongued serpents reeking with the filth of hell!
Don't ye see I have her with me--my poor sainted little Belle?'
"When I'd soothed him into quiet, with a trembling arm he drew My head down, 'Oh, Al,' he whispered, 'such remorse you never knew.' And again I tried to soothe him, but my eyes o'erbrimmed with tears; His were dry and clear, as brilliant as they were in college years. All the flush had left his features, he lay white as marble now; Tenderly I smoothed his pillow, wiped the moisture from his brow. Though I begged him to be quiet, he would talk of those old days, Brokenly at times, but always of 'the boys' with loving praise.
"Once I asked him of Lorena--the sweet girl whom he had wed-- You remember Rena Barstow. When I asked if she were dead, 'No,' he said, his poor voice faltering, 'she is far beyond the Rhine, But I wish, to God, it were so, and I still might call her mine. She's divorced--she's mine no longer,' here his voice grew weak and hoarse 'But although I am a drunkard, _I have one they can't divorce_. I've a little girl in heaven, playing round the Savior's knee,
Always patient and so faithful that at last she died for me.
"'I had drank so much, so often, that my brain was going wild; Every one had lost hope in me but my faithful little child. She would say, "Now stop, dear papa, for I know you can stop _now_." I would promise, kiss my darling, and the next day break my vow. So it went until one Christmas, dark and stormy, cold and drear; Out I started, just as usual, for the cursed rum shop near, And my darling followed after, in the storm of rain and sleet, With no covering wrapped about her, naught but slippers on her feet; No one knew it, no one missed her, till there came with solemn tread, Stern-faced men unto our dwelling, bringing back our darling--_dead!_ They had found her cold and lifeless, like, they said, an angel fair, Leaning 'gainst the grog shop window--oh, she thought that _I was there!_ Then he raised his arms toward heaven, called aloud unto the dead, For his mind again was wandering: 'Belle, my precious Belle!' he said, 'Papa's treasure--papa's darling! oh, my baby--did--you--come All the way--alone--my darling--just to lead--poor--papa--home?' And he surely had an answer, for a silence o'er him fell.
And I sat alone and lonely--death had come with little Belle."
Silence in that princely parlor--head of every guest is bowed. They still see the red wine sparkle, but 'tis through a misty cloud. Said the host at last, arising, "I have scorned the pledge to sign, Laughed at temperance all my life long. Never more shall drop of wine Touch my lips. The fruit _was_ bitter, boys; 'twas I proposed it first-- That foul joke from which poor Horace ever bore a life accurst! Let us pledge ourselves to-night, boys, never more by word, or deed, In our own fair homes, or elsewhere, help to plant the poison seed."Silence once again, but only for a moment's space, and then, In one voice they all responded with a low and firm "Amen." _Will Victor McGuire._ God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop
The summer and autumn had been so wet, That in winter the corn was growing yet. 'Twas a piteous sight to see all round The grain lie rotting on the ground.
Every day the starving poor
Crowded round Bishop Hatto's door, For he had a plentiful last year's store, And all the neighborhood could tell His granaries were furnish'd well.
At last Bishop Hatto appointed a day
To quiet the poor without delay;
He bade them to his great barn repair, And they should have food for the winter there.
Rejoiced the tidings good to hear, The poor folk flock'd from far and near; The great barn was full as it could hold Of women and children, and young and old.
Then, when he saw it could hold no more, Bishop Hatto he made fast the door, And while for mercy on Christ they call, He set fire to the barn and burnt them all.
"I' faith, 'tis an excellent bonfire!" quoth he, "And the country is greatly obliged to me For ridding it, in these times forlorn, Of rats that only consume the corn."
So then to his palace returned he,
And he sat down to supper merrily,
And he slept that night like an innocent man; But Bishop Hatto never slept again.
In the morning, as he enter'd the hall Where his picture hung against the wall, A sweat like death all over him came, For the rats had eaten it out of the frame.
As he look'd, there came a man from his farm, He had a countenance white with alarm: "My lord, I open'd your granaries this morn, And the rats had eaten all your corn."
Another came running presently, And he was pale as pale could be. "Fly, my lord bishop, fly!" quoth he, "Ten thousand rats are coming this way, The Lord forgive you for yesterday!"
"I'll go to my tower on the Rhine," replied he; "'Tis the safest place in Germany;
The walls are high, and the shores are steep And the stream is strong, and the water deep."
Bishop Hatto fearfully hasten'd away, And he cross'd the Rhine without delay, And reach'd his tower and barr'd with care All the windows, doors, and loopholes there.
He laid him down and closed his eyes,
But soon a scream made him arise;
He started, and saw two eyes of flame
On his pillow, from whence the screaming came.
He listen'd and look'd,--it was only the cat, But the bishop he grew more fearful for that, For she sat screaming, mad with fear At the army of rats that were drawing near.
For they have swum over the river so deep, And they have climb'd the shores so steep, And up the tower their way is bent, To do the work for which they were sent.
They are not to be told by the dozen or score; By thousands they come, and by myriads and more; Such numbers had never been heard of before, Such a judgment had never been witness'd of yore. |
Down on his knees the bishop fell, And faster and faster his beads did he tell, As louder and louder, drawing near, The gnawing of their teeth he could hear.
And in at the windows and in at the door, And through the walls helter-skelter they pour; And down from the ceiling and up through the floor,
From the right and the left, from behind and before, From within and without, from above and below,-- And all at once to the bishop they go.
They have whetted their teeth against the stones, And now they pick the bishop's bones;
They gnaw'd the flesh from every limb,
For they were sent to do judgment on him!
The Sabbath day was ending in a village by the sea,
The uttered benediction touched the people tenderly,
And they rose to face the sunset in the glowing, lighted west, And then hastened to their dwellings for God's blessed boon of rest.
Bat they looked across the waters, and a storm was raging there; A fierce spirit moved above them--the wild spirit of the air-- And it lashed and shook and tore them till they thundered, groaned andboomed,
And, alas! for any vessel in their yawning gulfs entombed. Very anxious were the people on that rocky coast of Wales, Lest the dawn of coming morrow should be telling awful tales, When the sea had spent its passion and should cast upon the shore Bits of wreck and swollen victims as it had done heretofore.
With the rough winds blowing round her, a brave woman strained her eyes, As she saw along the billows a large vessel fall and rise.
Oh, it did not need a prophet to tell what the end must be,
For no ship could ride in safety near that shore on such a sea!
Then the pitying people hurried from their homes and thronged the beach. Oh, for power to cross the waters and the perishing to reach! Helpless hands were wrung in terror, tender hearts grew cold with dread, And the ship, urged by the tempest, to the fatal rock-shore sped.
"She's parted in the middle! Oh, the half of her goes down!" "God have mercy! Is his heaven far to seek for those who drown?" Lo! when next the white, shocked faces looked with terror on the sea, Only one last clinging figure on a spar was seen to be.
Nearer to the trembling watchers came the wreck tossed by the wave, And the man still clung and floated, though no power on earth could save. "Could we send him a short message? Here's a trumpet. Shout away!" 'Twas the preacher's hand that took it, and he wondered what to say.
Any memory of his sermon? Firstly? Secondly? Ah, no!
There was but one thing to utter in that awful hour of woe. So he shouted through the trumpet, "Look to Jesus!
Can you hear?" And "Aye, aye, sir," rang the answer o'er the waters loud
Then they listened,--"He is singing, 'Jesus, lover of my soul.'" And the winds brought back the echo, "While the nearer waters roll." Strange, indeed, it was to hear him,--"Till the storm of life is past," Singing bravely o'er the waters, "Oh, receive my soul at last!"
He could have no other refuge,--"Hangs my helpless soul on thee." "Leave, ah! leave me not"--the singer dropped at last into the sea. And the watchers, looking homeward, through their eyes by tears made dim, Said, "He passed to be with Jesus in the singing of that hymn."_Marianne Faringham._ A Fence or an Ambulance 'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant; But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, "Put a fence around the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day, For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became brimful of pity
For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff; And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence, But an ambulance down in the valley.
"For the cliff is all right, if you're careful," they said, "And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much, As the shock down below when they're stopping."
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred, Quick forth would these rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff, With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked: "It's a marvel to me That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause, When they'd much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he, "Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally,
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense With the ambulance down in the valley."
"Oh, he's a fanatic," the others rejoined,
"Dispense with the ambulance? Never.
He'd dispense with all charities, too, if he could; No! No! We'll support them forever.
Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall? And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence, While the ambulance works in the valley?"
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer; They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old, For the voice of true wisdom is calling,
"To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best
To prevent other people from falling."
Better close up the source of temptation and crime, Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliff Than an ambulance down in the valley."
A district school, not far away,
'Mid Berkshire hills, one winter's day, Was humming with its wonted noise Of three-score mingled girls and boys; Some few upon their tasks intent,
But more on furtive mischief bent. The while the master's downward look Was fastened on a copy-book;
When suddenly, behind his back,
Rose sharp and clear a rousing smack! As 'twere a battery of bliss
Let off in one tremendous kiss!
"What's that?" the startled master cries; "That, thir," a little imp replies,
"Wath William Willith, if you pleathe, I thaw him kith Thuthanna Peathe!" With frown to make a statue thrill, The master thundered, "Hither, Will!" Like wretch o'ertaken in his track
With stolen chattels on his back,
Will hung his head in fear and shame, And to the awful presence came,--
A great, green, bashful simpleton,
The butt of all good-natured fun,
With smile suppressed, and birch upraised The threatener faltered, "I'm amazed That you, my biggest pupil, should Be guilty of an act so rude--
Before the whole set school to boot-- What evil genius put you to 't?"
"'Twas she, herself, sir," sobbed the lad; "I did not mean to be so bad;
But when Susanna shook her curls, And whispered I was 'fraid of girls, And dursn't kiss a baby's doll,
I couldn't stand it, sir, at all,
But up and kissed her on the spot! I know--boo-hoo--I ought to not,
But, somehow, from her looks--boo-hoo-- I thought she kind o' wished me to!"
Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing Ever made by the Hand above--
A woman's heart and a woman's life,
And a woman's wonderful love?
Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing As a child might ask for a toy;
Demanding what others have died to win,
With the reckless dash of a boy?
You have written my lesson of duty out, Man-like you have questioned me--
Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul, Until I shall question thee.
You require your mutton shall always be hot, Your socks and your shirts shall be whole.
I require your heart to be true as God's stars, And pure as heaven your soul.
You require a cook for your mutton and beef; I require a far better thing--
A seamstress you're wanting for stockings and shirts-I look for a man and a king.
A king for a beautiful realm called home, And a man that the Maker, God,
Shall look upon as He did the first, And say, "It is very good."
I am fair and young, but the rose will fade From my soft, young cheek one day--
Will you love then, 'mid the falling leaves, As you did 'mid the bloom of May?
Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep I may launch my all on its tide?
A loving woman finds heaven or hell On the day she is made a bride.
I require all things that are grand and true, All things that a man should be;
If you give this all, I would stake my life To be all you demand of me.
If you cannot do this, a laundress and cook You can hire with little to pay;
But a woman's heart and a woman's life Are not to be won that way.
I want free life and I want fresh air;
And I sigh for the canter after the cattle,
The crack of the whips like shots in battle, The mellay of horns, and hoofs, and heads That wars, and wrangles, and scatters, and spreads; The green beneath and the blue above,
And dash and danger, and life and love;
Lasca used to ride
On a mouse-gray mustang, close to my side, With blue _serape_ and bright-belled spur; I laughed with joy as I looked at her!
Little knew she of books or creeds;
An _Ave Maria_ sufficed her needs;
Little she cared, save to be by my side,
To ride with me, and ever to ride,
From San Saba's shore to Lavaca's tide.
She was as bold as the billows that beat,
She was as wild as the breezes that blow;
From her little head to her little feet
She was swayed, in her suppleness, to and fro By each gust of passion; a sapling pine,
That grows on the edge of a Kansas bluff
And wars with the wind when the weather is rough, Is like this Lasca, this love of mine.
She would hunger that I might eat,
Would take the bitter and leave me the sweet; But once, when I made her jealous for fun, At something I'd whispered, or looked, or done, One Sunday, in San Antonio,
To a glorious girl on the Alamo,
She drew from her girdle a dear little dagger, And--sting of a wasp!--it made me stagger! An inch to the left or an inch to the right, And I shouldn't be maundering here to-night; But she sobbed, and, sobbing, so swiftly bound Her torn _rebosa_ about the wound
That I quite forgave her. Scratches don't count
Her eye was brown,--a deep, deep brown; Her hair was darker than her eye; And something in her smile and frown, Curled crimson lip, and instep high, Showed that there ran in each blue vein, Mixed with the milder Aztec strain, The vigorous vintage of old Spain. She was alive in every limb
With feeling, to the finger tips;
And when the sun is like a fire,
And sky one shining, soft sapphire,
The air was heavy, the night was hot,
I sat by her side, and forgot--forgot;
Forgot the herd that were taking their rest; Forgot that the air was close opprest;
That the Texas norther comes sudden and soon, In the dead of night or the blaze of noon;
That once let the herd at its breath take fright, That nothing on earth can stop the flight;
And woe to the rider, and woe to the steed, Who falls in front of their mad stampede!
Was that thunder? No, by the Lord!
I sprang to my saddle without a word,
One foot on mine, and she clung behind.
Away on a hot chase down the wind!
But never was fox-hunt half so hard,
And never was steed so little spared,
For we rode for our lives. You shall hear how we fared
In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.
The mustang flew, and we urged him on; There was one chance left, and you have but one; Halt, jump to the ground, and shoot your horse; Crouch under his carcass, and take your chance; And if the steers, in their frantic course, Don't batter you both to pieces at once, You may thank your star; if not, good-by To the quickening kiss and the long-drawn sigh, And the open air and the open sky,
The cattle gained on us, and just as I felt For my old six-shooter, behind in my belt, Down came the mustang, and down came we, Clinging together, and--what was the rest? A body that spread itself on my breast, Two arms that shielded my dizzy head, Two lips that hard on my lips were pressed; Then came thunder in my ears,
As over us surged the sea of steers,
Blows that beat blood into my eyes,
And when I could rise,
Lasca was dead!
I gouged out a grave a few feet deep,
And there in Earth's arms I laid her to sleep! And there she is lying, and no one knows, And the summer shines and the winter snows; For many a day the flowers have spread
A pall of petals over her head;
And the little gray hawk hangs aloft in the air, And the sly coyote trots here and there,
And the black snake glides, and glitters, and slides Into the rift in a cotton-wood tree;
And the buzzard sails on,
And comes and is gone,
Stately and still like a ship at sea;
And I wonder why I do not care
For the things that are like the things that were. Does half my heart lie buried there
Over the Hill to the Poor-House Over the hill to the poor-house I'm trudgin' my weary way-- I, a woman of seventy, and only a trifle gray--
I, who am smart an' chipper, for all the years I've told, As many another woman that's only half as old.
Over the hill to the poor-house--I can't quite make it clear! Over the hill to the poor-house-it seems so horrid queer! Many a step I've taken a-toiling to and fro,
But this is a sort of journey I never thought to go.
What is the use of heapin' on me a pauper's shame? Am I lazy or crazy? Am I blind or lame?
True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful stout; But charity ain't no favor, if one can live without.
I am willin' and anxious an' ready any day
To work for a decent livin', an' pay my honest way; For I can earn my victuals, an' more too, I'll be bound, If anybody only is willin' to have me round.
Once I was young an' han'some--I was upon my soul-- Once my cheeks was roses, my eyes as black as coal; And I can't remember, in them days, of hearin' people say, For any kind of a reason, that I was in their way.
'Tain't no use of boastin', or talkin' over-free, But many a house an' home was open then to me; Many a han'some offer I had from likely men, And nobody ever hinted that I was a burden then.
And when to John I was married, sure he was good and smart, But he and all the neighbors would own I done my part; For life was all before me, an' I was young an' strong, And I worked the best that I could in tryin' to get along.
And so we worked together: and life was hard, but gay, With now and then a baby for to cheer us on our way; Till we had half a dozen, an' all growed clean an' neat, An' went to school like others, an' had enough to eat.
So we worked for the childr'n, and raised 'em every one, Worked for 'em summer and winter just as we ought to've done; Only, perhaps, we humored 'em, which some good folks condemn-- But every couple's childr'n's a heap the best to them.
Strange how much we think of our blessed little ones! I'd have died for my daughters, I'd have died for my sons; And God he made that rule of love; but when we're old and gray, I've noticed it sometimes, somehow, fails to work the other way. Strange, another thing: when our boys an' girls was grown, And when, exceptin' Charley, they'd left us there alone; When John he nearer an' nearer come, an' dearer seemed to be, The Lord of Hosts he come one day, an' took him away from me.
Still I was bound to struggle, an' never to cringe or fall-- Still I worked for Charley, for Charley was now my all; And Charley was pretty good to me, with scarce a word or frown, Till at last he went a-courtin', and brought a wife from town.
She was somewhat dressy, an' hadn't a pleasant smile-- She was quite conceity, and carried a heap o' style; But if ever I tried to be friends, I did with her, I know; But she was hard and proud, an' I couldn't make it go.
She had an edication, an' that was good for her;
But when she twitted me on mine, 'twas carryin' things too fur; An' I told her once, 'fore company (an' it almost made her sick), That I never swallowed a grammar, or eat a 'rithmetic.
So 'twas only a few days before the thing was done-- They was a family of themselves, and I another one; And a very little cottage one family will do,
But I never have seen a house that was big enough for two.
An' I never could speak to suit her, never could please her eye, An' it made me independent, an' then I didn't try;
But I was terribly staggered, an' felt it like a blow,
When Charley turn'd agin me, an' told me I could go.
I went to live with Susan, but Susan's house was small, And she was always a-hintin' how snug it was for us all; And what with her husband's sisters, and what with childr'n three, 'Twas easy to discover that there wasn't room for me.
An' then I went to Thomas, the oldest son I've got, For Thomas's buildings'd cover the half of an acre lot; But all the childr'n was on me--I couldn't stand their sauce-- And Thomas said I needn't think I was comin' there to boss.
An' then I wrote Rebecca, my girl who lives out West, And to Isaac, not far from her--some twenty miles, at best; And one of 'em said 'twas too warm there for any one so old, And t'other had an opinion the climate was too cold.
So they have shirked and slighted me, an' shifted me about-- So they have well-nigh soured me, an' wore my old heart out; But still I've borne up pretty well, an' wasn't much put down, Till Charley went to the poor-master, an' put me on the town. Over the hill to the poor-house--my childr'n dear, good-by! Many a night I've watched you when only God was nigh; And God'll judge between us; but I will always pray That you shall never suffer the half I do to-day._Will Carleton._ The American Flag
When Freedom from her mountain height Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
And set the stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
And striped its pure celestial white
With streakings of the morning light;
Then from his mansion in the sun
She called her eagle bearer down,
And gave into his mighty hand
The symbol of her chosen land.
Majestic monarch of the cloud,
Who rear'st aloft thy regal form,
To hear the tempest trumpings loud
And see the lightning lances driven, When strive the warriors of the storm,
And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven,
Child of the sun! to thee 'tis given To guard the banner of the free,
To hover in the sulphur smoke,
To ward away the battle stroke,
And bid its blendings shine afar,
Like rainbows on the cloud of War, The harbingers of victory!
Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly, The sign of hope and triumph high, When speaks the signal trumpet tone, And the long line comes gleaming on. Ere yet the lifeblood, warm and wet, Has dimmed the glistening bayonet, Each soldier eye shall brightly turn To where thy sky-born glories burn, And, as his springing steps advance, Catch war and vengeance from the glance. And when the cannon-mouthings loud Heave in wild wreaths the battle shroud, And gory sabres rise and fall
Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall,
Then shall thy meteor glances glow, And cowering foes shall shrink beneath
Each gallant arm that strikes below That lovely messenger of death.
Flag of the seas! on ocean wave Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave; When death, careering on the gale, Sweeps darkly 'round the bellied sail, And frighted waves rush wildly back Before the broadside's reeling rack, Each dying wanderer of the sea Shall look at once to heaven and thee, And smile to see thy splendors fly In triumph o'er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart's hope and home! By angel hands to valor given;
Thy stars have lit the welkin dome, And all thy hues were born in heaven.
Forever float that standard sheet!
Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
With Freedom's soil beneath our feet, And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us?
I know a place where the sun is like gold, And the cherry blooms burst like snow;
And down underneath is the loveliest nook, Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
One leaf is for faith, and one is for hope, And one is for love, you know;
And God put another one in for luck-- If you search, you will find where they grow.
But you must have faith and you must have hope, You must love and be strong, and so
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
NOTE: A remarkable custom, brought from the Old Country, formerly prevailed in the rural districts of New England. On the death of a member of the family, the bees were at once informed of the event, and their hives dressed in mourning. This ceremonial was supposed to be necessary to prevent the swarms from leaving their hives and seeking a new home.
Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still.
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.
There is the house, with the gate red-barred, And the poplars tall;
And the barn's brown length, and the cattle-yard, And the white horns tossing above the wall.
There are the beehives ranged in the sun; And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o'errun, Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.
A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows, And the same brook sings of a year ago.
There's the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze; And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.
I mind me how with a lover's care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burs, and smoothed my hair, And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.
Since we parted, a month had passed,-- To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.
I can see it all now,--the slantwise rain Of light through the leaves,
The sundown's blaze on her window-pane, The bloom of her roses under the eaves.
Just the same as a month before,--
The house and the trees,
The barn's brown gable, the vine by the door,-- Nothing changed but the hives of bees.
Before them, under the garden wall, Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small, Draping each hive with a shred of black.
Trembling, I listened; the summer sun Had the chill of snow;
For I knew she was telling the bees of one Gone on the journey we all must go!
Then I said to myself, "My Mary weeps For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind grandsire sleeps The fret and pain of his age away."
But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill, With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still Sung to the bees stealing out and in.
And the song she was singing ever since In my ear sounds on:--
"Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence! Mistress Mary is dead and gone!"
Not understood, we move along asunder, Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years. We marvel and we wonder, Why life is life, and then we fall asleep, Not understood.
Not understood, we gather false impressions, And hug them closer as the years go by,
Till virtues often seem to us transgressions; And thus men rise and fall and live and die, Not understood.
Not understood, poor souls with stunted visions Often measure giants by their narrow gauge;
The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision Are oft impelled 'gainst those who mould the age, Not understood.
Not understood, the secret springs of action Which lie beneath the surface and the show
Are disregarded; with self-satisfaction We judge our neighbors, and they often go Not understood.
Not understood, how trifles often change us-- The thoughtless sentence or the fancied slight--
Destroy long years of friendship and estrange us, And on our souls there falls a freezing blight-- Not understood.
Not understood, how many hearts are aching For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking, How many noble spirits pass away
O God! that men would see a little clearer, Or judge less hardly when they cannot see!
O God! that men would draw a little nearer To one another! They'd be nearer Thee, And understood.
The woman was old, and ragged, and gray, And bent with the chill of a winter's day; The streets were white with a recent snow, And the woman's feet with age were slow.
At the crowded crossing she waited long, Jostled aside by the careless throng Of human beings who passed her by, Unheeding the glance of her anxious eye.
Down the street with laughter and shout, Glad in the freedom of "school let out," Come happy boys, like a flock of sheep, Hailing the snow piled white and deep; Past the woman, so old and gray, Hastened the children on their way.
None offered a helping hand to her,
So weak and timid, afraid to stir,
Lest the carriage wheels or the horses' feet Should trample her down in the slippery street.
At last came out of the merry troop The gayest boy of all the group; He paused beside her, and whispered low, "I'll help you across, if you wish to go."
Her aged hand on his strong young arm She placed, and so without hurt or harm, He guided the trembling feet along, Proud that his own were young and strong; Then back again to his friends he went, His young heart happy and well content.
"She's somebody's mother, boys, you know, For all she's aged, and poor, and slow; And some one, some time, may lend a hand To help my mother--you understand?-- If ever she's poor, and old, and gray, And her own dear boy is far away."
"Somebody's mother" bowed low her head, In her home that 'night, and the prayer she said Was: "God, be kind to that noble boy,
Who is somebody's son, and pride and joy."
Faint was the voice, and worn and weak, But the Father hears when His children speak; Angels caught the faltering word,
And "Somebody's Mother's" prayer was heard.
Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere; Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone,
Who fed me from her gentle breast And hushed me in her arms to rest, And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?My mother.
When sleep forsook my open eye, Who was it sung sweet lullaby And rocked me that I should not cry?My mother.
Who sat and watched my infant head When sleeping in my cradle bed, And tears of sweet affection shed?My mother.
When pain and sickness made me cry, Who gazed upon my heavy eye, And wept, for fear that I should die?
Who ran to help me when I fell And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the part to make it well?
Who taught my infant lips to pray, To love God's holy word and day, And walk in wisdom's pleasant way?My mother.
And can I ever cease to be Affectionate and kind to thee Who wast so very kind to me,--My mother.
Oh, no, the thought I cannot bear; And if God please my life to spare I hope I shall reward thy care,My mother.
When thou art feeble, old and gray, My healthy arms shall be thy stay, And I will soothe thy pains away,My mother.
And when I see thee hang thy head, 'Twill be my turn to watch thy bed, And tears of sweet affection shed,--My mother. The Walrus and the Carpenter
The sun was shining on the sea, Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily, Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said, "To come and spoil the fun!"
The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead-- There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Were walking close at hand:
They wept like anything to see Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away," They said, "it would be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said, "That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him, But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye, And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know, They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them, And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last, And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves, And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried, "Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath, And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter. They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said, "Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear, We can begin to feed."
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said,
"Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come! And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but "Cut us another slice.
I wish you were not quite so deaf-- I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said, "To play them such a trick.
After we've brought them out so far, And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but "The butter's spread too thick!"
With sobs and tears he sorted out Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?" But answer came there none-
And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one.
The weary teacher sat alone
While twilight gathered on:
And not a sound was heard around,-- The boys and girls were gone.
The weary teacher sat alone;
Unnerved and pale was he;
Bowed 'neath a yoke of care, he spoke In sad soliloquy:
"Another round, another round Of labor thrown away,
Another chain of toil and pain Dragged through a tedious day.
"Of no avail is constant zeal,
Love's sacrifice is lost.
The hopes of morn, so golden, turn, Each evening, into dross.
"I squander on a barren field My strength, my life, my all:
The seeds I sow will never grow,-- They perish where they fall."
He sighed, and low upon his hands His aching brow he pressed;
And o'er his frame ere long there came A soothing sense of rest.
And then he lifted up his face,
But started back aghast,--
The room, by strange and sudden change, Assumed proportions vast.
It seemed a Senate-hall, and one Addressed a listening throng;
Each burning word all bosoms stirred, Applause rose loud and long.
The 'wildered teacher thought he knew The speaker's voice and look,
"And for his name," said he, "the same Is in my record book."
The stately Senate-hall dissolved, A church rose in its place,
Wherein there stood a man of God, Dispensing words of grace.
And though he spoke in solemn tone, And though his hair was gray,
The teacher's thought was strangely wrought-- "I whipped that boy to-day."
The church, a phantom, vanished soon; What saw the teacher then?
In classic gloom of alcoved room
An author plied his pen.
Filled with a new surprise; "Shall I behold his name enrolled
Among the great and wise?"
The vision of a cottage home The teacher now descried;
A mother's face illumed the place Her influence sanctified.
"A miracle! a miracle!
This matron, well I know,
Was but a wild and careless child, Not half an hour ago.
"And when she to her children speaks Of duty's golden rule,
Her lips repeat in accents sweet, My words to her at school."
The scene was changed again, and lo! The schoolhouse rude and old;
Upon the wall did darkness fall, The evening air was cold.
"A dream!" the sleeper, waking, said, Then paced along the floor,
And, whistling slow and soft and low, He locked the schoolhouse door.
And, walking home, his heart was full Of peace and trust and praise;
And singing slow and soft and low, Said, "After many days."
Girt round with rugged mountains, the fair Lake Constance lies; In her blue heart reflected shine back the starry skies; And watching each white cloudlet float silently and slow, You think a piece of heaven lies on our earth below!
Midnight is there: and silence, enthroned in heaven, looks down Upon her own calm mirror, upon a sleeping town:
For Bregenz, that quaint city upon the Tyrol shore,
Has stood above Lake Constance a thousand years and more.
Her battlement and towers, from off their rocky steep, Have cast their trembling shadow for ages on the deep; Mountain, and lake, and valley, a sacred legend know, Of how the town was saved, one night three hundred years ago.
Far from her home and kindred, a Tyrol maid had fled, To serve in the Swiss valleys, and toil for daily bread; And every year that fleeted so silently and fast, Seemed to bear farther from her the memory of the past.
She served kind, gentle masters, nor asked for rest or change; Her friends seemed no more new ones, their speech seemed no more strange; And when she led her cattle to pasture every day,
She ceased to look and wonder on which side Bregenz lay.
She spoke no more of Bregenz, with longing and with tears; Her Tyrol home seemed faded in a deep mist of years; She heeded not the rumors of Austrian war and strife; Each day she rose, contented, to the calm toils of life.
Yet when her master's children would clustering round her stand, She sang them ancient ballads of her own native land; And when at morn and evening she knelt before God's throne, The accents of her childhood rose to her lips alone.
And so she dwelt: the valley more peaceful year by year; When suddenly strange portents of some great deed seemed near. The golden corn was bending upon its fragile stock,
While farmers, heedless of their fields, paced up and down in talk.
The men seemed stern and altered, with looks cast on the ground; With anxious faces, one by one, the women gathered round; All talk of flax, or spinning, or work, was put away;
The very children seemed afraid to go alone to play.
One day, out in the meadow with strangers from the town, Some secret plan discussing, the men walked up and down, Yet now and then seemed watching a strange uncertain, gleam, That looked like lances 'mid the trees that stood below the stream.
At eve they all assembled, then care and doubt were fled; With jovial laugh they feasted; the board was nobly spread. The elder of the village rose up, his glass in hand, And cried, "We drink the downfall of an accursed land!
"The night is growing darker,--ere one more day is flown, Bregenz, our foeman's stronghold, Bregenz shall be our own!" The women shrank in terror, (yet Pride, too, had her part,) But one poor Tyrol maiden felt death within her heart.
Before her stood fair Bregenz, once more her towers arose; What were the friends beside her? Only her country's foes! The faces of her kinsfolk, the days of childhood flown, The echoes of her mountains, reclaimed her as their own!
Nothing she heard around her, (though shouts rang forth again,) Gone were the green Swiss valleys, the pasture, and the plain; Before her eyes one vision, and in her heart one cry, That said, "Go forth, save Bregenz, and then, if need be, die!"
With trembling haste and breathless, with noiseless step, she sped; Horses and weary cattle were standing in the shed;
She loosed the strong white charger, that fed from out her hand, She mounted, and she turned his head towards her native land.
Out--out into the darkness--faster, and still more fast; The smooth grass flies behind her, the chestnut wood is past; She looks up; clouds are heavy: Why is her steed so slow?-- Scarcely the wind beside them can pass them as they go.
"Faster!" she cries. "Oh, faster!" Eleven the church-bells chime; "O God," she cries, "help Bregenz, and bring me there in time!" But louder than bells' ringing, or lowing of the kine, Grows nearer in the midnight the rushing of the Rhine.
Shall not the roaring waters their headlong gallop check? The steed draws back in terror, she leans upon his neck To watch the flowing darkness,--the bank is high and steep; One pause--he staggers forward, and plunges in the deep.
She strives to pierce the blackness, and looser throws the rein; Her steed must breast the waters that dash above his mane. How gallantly, how nobly, he struggles through the foam, And see--in the far distance shine out the lights of home!
Up the steep bank he bears her, and now they rush again Toward the heights of Bregenz, that tower above the plain. They reach the gate of Bregenz, just as the midnight rings, And out come serf and soldier to meet the news she brings.
Bregenz is saved! Ere daylight her battlements are manned; Defiance greets the army that marches on the land. And if to deeds heroic should endless fame be paid, Bregenz does well to honor the noble Tyrol maid.
Three hundred years are vanished, and yet upon the hill An old stone gateway rises, to do her honor still. And there, when Bregenz women sit spinning in the shade, They see in quaint old carving the charger and the maid.
And when, to guard old Bregenz, by gateway, street, and tower, The warder paces all night long, and calls each passing hour: "Nine," "ten," "eleven," he cries aloud, and then (O crown of fame!) When midnight pauses in the skies he calls the maiden's name!_Adelaide A. Procter._ Better Than Gold
Better than grandeur, better than gold, Than rank and title a thousand fold, Is a healthy body, a mind at ease, And simple pleasures that always please; A heart that can feel for a neighbor's woe And share his joys with a genial glow,-- With sympathies large enough to enfold All men as brothers,--is better than gold.
Better than gold is a conscience clear, Though toiling for bread in an humble sphere: Doubly blest with content and health, Untried by the lusts or cares of wealth. Lowly living and lofty thought
Adorn and ennoble a poor man's cot;
For mind and morals, in Nature's plan, Are the genuine test of a gentleman.
Better than gold is the sweet repose
Of the sons of toil when their labors close; Better than gold is the poor man's sleep, And the balm that drops on his slumbers deep. Bring sleeping draughts to the downy bed, Where luxury pillows his aching head; His simple opiate labor deems
A shorter road to the land of dreams.
Better than gold is a thinking mind That in the realm of books can find A treasure surpassing Australian ore, And live with the great and good of yore. The sage's lore and the poet's lay, The glories of empires pass'd away, The world's great drama will thus unfold And yield a pleasure better than gold.
Better than gold is a peaceful home,
Where all the fireside charities come;-- The shrine of love and the heaven of life, Hallowed by mother, or sister, or wife. However humble the home may be,
Or tried with sorrow by Heaven's decree, The blessings that never were bought or sold, And center there, are better than gold.
And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;
When loud the bumblebee makes haste, Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
When gentians roll their fringes tight To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs Without a sound of warning;
When on the ground red apples lie In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls Are leaves of woodbine twining;
When all the lovely wayside things Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair, Late aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low, and on the brooks, In idle, golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts, By twos and threes together,
And count like misers hour by hour, October's bright blue weather.
O suns and skies and flowers of June, Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.
Said Brier-Rose's mother to the naughty Brier-Rose: "What _will_ become of you, my child, the Lord Almighty knows. You will not scrub the kettles, and you will not touch the broom; You never sit a minute still at spinning-wheel or loom."
Thus grumbled in the morning, and grumbled late at eve, The good-wife as she bustled with pot and tray and sieve; But Brier-Rose, she laughed and she cocked her dainty head: "Why, I shall marry, mother dear," full merrily she said.
"_You_ marry; saucy Brier-Rose! The man, he is not found To marry such a worthless wench, these seven leagues around." But Brier-Rose, she laughed and she trilled a merry lay: "Perhaps he'll come, my mother dear, from eight leagues away."
The good-wife with a "humph" and a sigh forsook the battle, And flung her pots and pails about with much vindictive rattle; "O Lord, what sin did I commit in youthful days, and wild, That thou hast punished me in age with such a wayward child?"
Up stole the girl on tiptoe, so that none her step could hear, And laughing pressed an airy kiss behind the good-wife's ear. And she, as e'er relenting, sighed: "Oh, Heaven only knows Whatever will become of you, my naughty Brier-Rose!"
The sun was high and summer sounds were teeming in the air; The clank of scythes, the cricket's whir, and swelling woodnotes rare, From fields and copse and meadow; and through the open door Sweet, fragrant whiffs of new-mown hay the idle breezes bore.
Then Brier-Rose grew pensive, like a bird of thoughtful mien, Whose little life has problems among the branches green. She heard the river brawling where the tide was swift and strong, She heard the summer singing its strange, alluring song.
And out she skipped the meadows o'er and gazed into the sky; Her heart o'erbrimmed with gladness, she scarce herself knew why, And to a merry tune she hummed, "Oh, Heaven only knows Whatever will become of the naughty Brier-Rose!"
Whene'er a thrifty matron this idle maid espied,
She shook her head in warning, and scarce her wrath could hide; For girls were made for housewives, for spinning-wheel and loom, And not to drink the sunshine and wild flower's sweet perfume.
And oft the maidens cried, when the Brier-Rose went by, "You cannot knit a stocking, and you cannot make a pie." But Brier-Rose, as was her wont, she cocked her curly head: "But I can sing a pretty song," full merrily she said.
And oft the young lads shouted, when they saw the maid at play: "Ho, good-for-nothing Brier-Rose, how do you do to-day?" Then she shook her tiny fist; to her cheeks the color flew: "However much you coax me, I'll _never_ dance with you."* * * * *
Thus flew the years light winged over Brier-Rose's head, Till she was twenty summers old and yet remained unwed. And all the parish wondered: "The Lord Almighty knows Whatever will become of that naughty Brier-Rose!"
And while they wondered came the spring a-dancing o'er the hills; Her breath was warmer than of yore, and all the mountain rills, With their tinkling and their rippling and their rushing, filled the air, And the misty sounds of water forth-welling everywhere.
And in the valley's depth, like a lusty beast of prey, The river leaped and roared aloud and tossed its mane of spray; Then hushed again its voice to a softly plashing croon, As dark it rolled beneath the sun and white beneath the moon.
It was a merry sight to see the lumber as it whirled Adown the tawny eddies that hissed and seethed and swirled, Now shooting through the rapids and, with a reeling swing, Into the foam-crests diving like an animated thing.
But in the narrows of the rocks, where o'er a steep incline
The waters plunged, and wreathed in foam the dark boughs of the pine, The lads kept watch with shout and song, and sent each straggling beam A-spinning down the rapids, lest it should lock the stream.
And yet--methinks I hear it now--wild voices in the night, A rush of feet, a dog's harsh bark, a torch's flaring light, And wandering gusts of dampness, and round us far and nigh, A throbbing boom of water like a pulse-beat in the sky.
The dawn just pierced the pallid east with spears of gold and red. As we, with boat-hooks in our hands, toward the narrows sped. And terror smote us; for we heard the mighty tree-tops sway, And thunder, as of chariots, and hissing showers of spray.
"Now, lads," the sheriff shouted, "you are strong, like Norway's rock: A hundred crowns I give to him who breaks the lumber lock! For if another hour go by, the angry waters' spoil
Our homes will be, and fields, and our weary years of toil."
We looked each at the other; each hoped his neighbor would Brave death and danger for his home, as valiant Norsemen should. But at our feet the brawling tide expanded like a lake, And whirling beams came shooting on, and made the firm rock quake.
"Two hundred crowns!" the sheriff cried, and breathless stood the crowd. "Two hundred crowns, my bonny lads!" in anxious tones and loud. But not a man came forward, and no one spoke or stirred, And nothing save the thunder of the cataract was heard.
But as with trembling hands and with fainting hearts we stood, We spied a little curly head emerging from the wood. We heard a little snatch of a merry little song,
And saw the dainty Brier-Rose come dancing through the throng.
An angry murmur rose from the people round about. "Fling her into the river," we heard the matrons shout; "Chase her away, the silly thing; for God himself scarce knows Why ever he created that worthless Brier-Rose."
Sweet Brier-Rose, she heard their cries; a little pensive smile Across her fair face flitted that might a stone beguile; And then she gave her pretty head a roguish little cock: "Hand me a boat-hook, lads," she said; "I think I'll break the lock."
Derisive shouts of laughter broke from throats of young and old: "Ho! good-for-nothing Brier-Rose, your tongue was ever bold." And, mockingly, a boat-hook into her hands was flung, When, lo! into the river's midst with daring leaps she sprung!
We saw her dimly through a mist of dense and blinding spray; From beam to beam she skipped, like a water-sprite at play. And now and then faint gleams we caught of color through the mist: A crimson waist, a golden head, a little dainty wrist.
In terror pressed the people to the margin of the hill,
A hundred breaths were bated, a hundred hearts stood still. For, hark! from out the rapids came a strange and creaking sound, And then a crash of thunder which shook the very ground.
The waters hurled the lumber mass down o'er the rocky steep. We heard a muffled rumbling and a rolling in the deep; We saw a tiny form which the torrent swiftly bore
And flung into the wild abyss, where it was seen no more.
Ah, little naughty Brier-Rose, thou couldst not weave nor spin; Yet thou couldst do a nobler deed than all thy mocking kin; For thou hadst courage e'en to die, and by thy death to save A thousand farms and lives from the fury of the wave.
And yet the adage lives, in the valley of thy birth,
When wayward children spend their days in heedless play and mirth, Oft mothers say, half smiling, half sighing, "Heaven knows Whatever will become of the naughty Brier-Rose!"
Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
Appareled in magnificent attire
With retinue of many a knight and squire,
On St. John's eve, at vespers, proudly sat
And heard the priests chant the Magnificat.
And as he listened, o'er and o'er again
Repeated, like a burden or refrain,
He caught the words, _"Deposuit potentes
De sede, et exaltavit humiles"_;
And slowly lifting up his kingly head,
He to a learned clerk beside him said,
"What mean those words?" The clerk made answer meet, "He has put down the mighty from their seat,
And has exalted them of low degree."
Thereat King Robert muttered scornfully,
"'Tis well that such seditious words are sung
Only by priests, and in the Latin tongue;
For unto priests, and people be it known,
There is no power can push me from my throne," And leaning back he yawned and fell asleep,
Lulled by the chant monotonous and deep.
When he awoke, it was already night;
The church was empty, and there was no light, Save where the lamps, that glimmered few and faint, Lighted a little space before some saint.
He started from his seat and gazed around, But saw no living thing and heard no sound. He groped towards the door, but it was locked; He cried aloud, and listened, and then knocked, And uttered awful threatenings and complaints, And imprecations upon men and saints.
The sounds re-echoed from the roof and walls As if dead priests were laughing in their stalls.
At length the sexton, hearing from without The tumult of the knocking and the shout, And thinking thieves were in the house of prayer, Came with his lantern, asking "Who is there?" Half choked with rage, King Robert fiercely said, "Open; 'tis I, the king! Art thou afraid?"
The frightened sexton, muttering with a curse, "This is some drunken vagabond, or worse!" Turned the great key and flung the portal wide; A man rushed by him at a single stride,
Haggard, half-naked, without hat or cloak, Who neither turned, nor looked at him, nor spoke, But leaped into the blackness of the night, And vanished like a spectre from his sight.
Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
Despoiled of his magnificent attire,
Bare-headed, breathless, and besprent with mire, With sense of wrong and outrage desperate, Strode on and thundered at the palace gate; Rushed through the court-yard, thrusting in his rage To right and left each seneschal and page,
And hurried up the broad and sounding stair, His white face ghastly in the torches' glare. From hall to hall he passed with breathless speed; Voices and cries he heard, but did not heed, Until at last he reached the banquet-room, Blazing with light, and breathing with perfume.
There on the dais sat another king,
Wearing his robes, his crown, his signet ring-- King Robert's self in features, form, and height, But all transfigured with angelic light! It was an angel; and his presence there With a divine effulgence filled the air,
An exaltation, piercing the disguise,
Though none the hidden angel recognize.
A moment speechless, motionless, amazed, The throneless monarch on the angel gazed, Who met his look of anger and surprise
With the divine compassion of his eyes!
Then said, "Who art thou, and why com'st thou here?" To which King Robert answered with a sneer, "I am the king, and come to claim my own
From an impostor, who usurps my throne!" And suddenly, at these audacious words,
Up sprang the angry guests, and drew their swords; The angel answered with unruffled brow,
"Nay, not the king, but the king's jester; thou Henceforth shalt wear the bells and scalloped cape And for thy counselor shalt lead an ape;
Thou shalt obey my servants when they call, And wait upon my henchmen in the hall!"
Deaf to King Robert's threats and cries and prayers, They thrust him from the hall and down the stairs; A group of tittering pages ran before,
And as they opened wide the folding door, His heart failed, for he heard, with strange alarms, The boisterous laughter of the men-at-arms, And all the vaulted chamber roar and ring With the mock plaudits of "Long live the king!"
Next morning, waking with the day's first beam, He said within himself, "It was a dream!" But the straw rustled as he turned his head, There were the cap and bells beside his bed; Around him rose the bare, discolored walls, Close by, the steeds were champing in their stalls, And in the corner, a revolting shape,
Shivering and chattering, sat the wretched ape. It was no dream; the world he loved so much Had turned to dust and ashes at his touch!
Days came and went; and now returned again To Sicily the old Saturnian reign;
Under the angel's governance benign
The happy island danced with corn and wine, And deep within the mountain's burning breast Enceladus, the giant, was at rest.
Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate, Sullen and silent and disconsolate.
Dressed in the motley garb that jesters wear, With look bewildered, and a vacant stare, Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn, By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn, His only friend the ape, his only food
What others left--he still was unsubdued. And when the angel met him on his way, And half in earnest, half in jest, would say, Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel, "Art thou the king?" the passion of his woe Burst from him in resistless overflow.
And lifting high his forehead, he would fling The haughty answer back, "I am, I am the king!"
Almost three years were ended, when there came Ambassadors of great repute and name From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane By letter summoned them forthwith to come On Holy Thursday to his City of Rome.
The angel with great joy received his guests, And gave them presents of embroidered vests, And velvet mantles with rich ermine lined, And rings and jewels of the rarest kind.
Then he departed with them o'er the sea
Into the lovely land of Italy,
Whose loveliness was more resplendent made By the mere passing of that cavalcade
With plumes, and cloaks, and housings, and the stir Of jeweled bridle and of golden spur.
And lo! among the menials, in mock state, Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait, His cloak of foxtails flapping in the wind, The solemn ape demurely perched behind, King Robert rode, making huge merriment In all the country towns through which they went.
The Pope received them with great pomp, and blare Of bannered trumpets, on St. Peter's Square, Giving his benediction and embrace,
Fervent, and full of apostolic grace.
While with congratulations and with prayers He entertained the angel unawares,
Robert, the jester, bursting through the crowd, Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud: "I am the king! Look and behold in me
Robert, your brother, King of Sicily!
This man, who wears my semblance to your eyes, Is an impostor in a king's disguise.
Do you not know me? Does no voice within Answer my cry, and say we are akin?"
The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien, Gazed at the angel's countenance serene; The Emperor, laughing, said, "It is strange sport To keep a mad man for thy fool at court!" And the poor, baffled jester, in disgrace
Was hustled back among the populace.
In solemn state the holy week went by, And Easter Sunday gleamed upon the sky; The presence of the angel, with its light, Before the sun rose, made the city bright, And with new fervor filled the hearts of men, Who felt that Christ indeed had risen again. Even the jester, on his bed of straw,
With haggard eyes the unwonted splendor saw; He felt within a power unfelt before,
And kneeling humbly on his chamber floor, He heard the rustling garments of the Lord Sweep through the silent air, ascending heavenward.
And now the visit ending, and once more Valmond returning to the Danube's shore, Homeward the angel journeyed, and again The land was made resplendent with his train, Flashing along the towns of Italy
Unto Salerno, and from thence by sea.
And when once more within Palermo's wall, And, seated on the throne in his great hall, He heard the Angelus from convent towers, As if the better world conversed with ours, He beckoned to King Robert to draw nigher, And with a gesture bade the rest retire.
And when they were alone, the angel said, "Art thou the king?" Then, bowing down his head, King Robert crossed both hands upon his breast, And meekly answered him, "Thou knowest best! My sins as scarlet are; let me go hence,
And in some cloister's school of penitence, Across those stones that pave the way to heaven Walk barefoot till my guilty soul be shriven!"
The angel smiled, and from his radiant face A holy light illumined all the place,
And through the open window, loud and clear, They heard the monks chant in the chapel near, Above the stir and tumult of the street, "He has put down the mighty from their seat, And has exalted them of low degree!"
And through the chant a second melody Rose like the throbbing of a single string: "I am an angel, and thou art the king!"
King Robert, who was standing near the throne, Lifted his eyes, and lo! he was alone!
But all appareled as in days of old,
With ermined mantle and with cloth of gold; And when his courtiers came they found him there, Kneeling upon the floor, absorbed in silent prayer.
The Huskers It was late in mild October, and the long autumnal rain Had left the summer harvest-fields all green with grass again; The first sharp frosts had fallen, leaving all the woodlands gay With the hues of summer's rainbow, or the meadow-flowers of May.
Through a thin, dry mist, that morning, the sun rose broad and red, At first a rayless disk of fire, he brightened as he sped; Yet, even his noontide glory fell chastened and subdued, On the cornfields and the orchards, and softly pictured wood.
And all that quiet afternoon, slow sloping to the night, He wove with golden shuttle the haze with yellow light; Slanting through the painted beeches, he glorified the hill; And beneath it, pond and meadow lay brighter, greener still.
And shouting boys in woodland haunts caught glimpses of that sky, Flecked by the many-tinted leaves, and laughed, they knew not why; And schoolgirls, gay with aster-flowers, beside the meadow brooks, Mingled the glow of autumn with the sunshine of sweet looks.
From spire and ball looked westerly the patient weathercock, But even the birches on the hill stood motionless as rocks. No sound was in the woodlands, save the squirrel's dropping shell, And the yellow leaves among the boughs, low rustling as they fell.
The summer grains were harvested; the stubble-fields lay dry, Where June winds rolled, in light and shade, the pale green waves of rye; But still, on gentle hill-slopes, in valleys fringed with wood, Ungathered, bleaching in the sun, the heavy corn crop stood.
Bent low, by autumn's wind and rain, through husks that, dry and sere, Unfolded by their ripened charge, shone out the yellow ear; Beneath, the turnip lay concealed, in many a verdant fold, And glistened in the slanting light the pumpkin's sphere of gold.
There wrought the busy harvesters; and many a creaking wain Bore slowly to the long barn-floor its load of husk and grain; Till broad and red, as when he rose, the sun sank down, at last, And like a merry guest's farewell, the day in brightness passed.
And lo! as through the western pines on meadow, stream, and pond, Flamed the red radiance of a sky, set all afire beyond,
Slowly o'er the eastern sea-bluffs a milder glory shone,
And the sunset and the moonrise were mingled into one!
As thus into the quiet night the twilight lapsed away,
And deeper in the brightening moon the tranquil shadows lay; From many a brown old farm-house, and hamlet without name, Their milking and their home-tasks done, the merry huskers came. Swung o'er the heaped-up harvest, from pitchforks in the mow, Shone dimly down the lanterns on the pleasant scene below; The growing pile of husks behind, the golden ears before, And laughing eyes and busy hands and brown cheeks glimmering o'er.
Half hidden in a quiet nook, serene of look and heart,
Talking their old times over, the old men sat apart;
While, up and down the unhusked pile, or nestling in its shade, At hide-and-seek, with laugh and shout, the happy children played.
Urged by the good host's daughter, a maiden young and fair, Lifting to light her sweet blue eyes and pride of soft brown hair, The master of the village school, sleek of hair and smooth of tongue, To the quaint tune of some old psalm, a husking-ballad sung._John G. Whittier._ Darius Green and His Flying Machine
If ever there lived a Yankee lad,
Wise or otherwise, good or bad,
Who, seeing the birds fly, didn't jump With flapping arms from stake or stump,
Take a soaring leap from post or rail, And wonder why
He couldn't fly,
And flap and flutter and wish and try-- If ever you knew a country dunce Who didn't try that as often as once, All I can say is, that's a sign
He never would do for a hero of mine.
An aspiring genius was D. Green:
The son of a farmer,--age fourteen;
His body was long and lank and lean,-- Just right for flying, as will be seen;
He had two eyes, each bright as a bean, And a freckled nose that grew between, A little awry,--for I must mention
That he had riveted his attention
Upon his wonderful invention,
Twisting his tongue as he twisted the strings, Working his face as he worked the wings, And with every turn of gimlet and screw Turning and screwing his mouth round, too,
Till his nose seemed bent
To catch the scent,
Around some corner, of new-baked pies, And his wrinkled cheeks and his squinting eyes Grew puckered into a queer grimace,
That made him look very droll in the face,
And also very wise.
And wise he must have been, to do more Than ever a genius did before,
Excepting Daedalus of yore
And his son Icarus, who wore
Upon their backs
Those wings of wax
He had read of in the old almanacs. Darius was clearly of the opinion
That the air is also man's dominion, And that, with paddle or fin or pinion,
We soon or late
The azure as now we sail the sea. The thing looks simple enough to me;
And if you doubt it,
Hear how Darius reasoned about it.
"Birds can fly,
An' why can't I?
Must we give in,"
Says he with a grin,
"'T the bluebird an' phoebe
Are smarter'n we be?
Jest fold our hands an' see the swaller, An' blackbird an' catbird beat us holler? Does the leetle, chatterin', sassy wren, No bigger'n my thumb, know more than men?
Jest show me that!
Er prove 't the bat
Has got more brains than's in my hat, An' I'll back down, an' not till then!"
He argued further: "Ner I can't see What's ta' use o' wings to a bumblebee, Fer to git a livin' with, more'n to me;--