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Title: Green Fields and Running Brooks, and Other Poems
Author: Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Green Fields and Running Brooks, and Other Poems" ***

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  Artemus of Michigan, The
  As My Uncle Used to Say
  At Utter Loaf

  Being His Mother
  Blossoms on the Trees, The
  By Any Other Name
  By Her White Bed

  Chant of the Cross-Bearing Child, The
  Country Pathway, A
  Cup of Tea, A
  Curse of the Wandering Foot, The
  Cyclone, The

  Dan Paine
  Dawn, Noon and Dewfall
  Discouraging Model, A
  Ditty of No Tone, A
  Don Piatt of Mac-o-chee
  Dot Leedle Boy
  Dream of Autumn, A


  Farmer Whipple--Bachelor
  Full Harvest, A

  Glimpse of Pan, A
  Go, Winter

  Her Beautiful Eyes
  Hereafter, The
  His Mother's Way
  His Vigil
  Home at Night
  Home-Going, The
  Hoodoo, The
  Hoosier Folk-Child, The
  How John Quit the Farm

  Iron Horse, The
  Iry and Billy and Jo

  Jack the Giant-Killer
  Jap Miller
  John Alden and Percilly
  John Brown
  John McKeen
  June at Woodruff
  Just to Be Good

  Last Night--And This
  Let Us Forget
  Little Fat Doctor, The
  Lounger, A

  Monument for the Soldiers, A
  Mr. What's-His-Name
  My Friend

  North and South

  Old Retired Sea Captain, The
  Old Winters on the Farm
  Old Year and the New, The
  On the Banks o' Deer Crick
  Out of Nazareth

  Passing of A Heart, The
  Plaint Human, The

  Quarrel, The
  Quiet Lodger, The

  Reach Your Hand to Me
  Right Here at Home
  Rival, The
  Rivals, The; or the Showman's Ruse
  Robert Burns Wilson
  Rose, The

  September Dark
  Shoemaker, The
  Singer, The
  Sister Jones's Confession
  Some Scattering Remarks of Bub's
  Song of Long Ago, A
  Southern Singer, A

  Their Sweet Sorrow
  Them Flowers
  To an Importunate Ghost
  To Hear Her Sing
  Tom Van Arden
  To the Serenader
  Tugg Martin
  Twins, The

  Wandering Jew, The
  Watches of the Night, The
  Water Color, A
  We to Sigh Instead of Sing
  What Chris'mas Fetched the Wigginses
  When Age Comes On
  While the Musician Played
  Wife-Blesséd, The
  Wraith of Summertime, A



  Ho! green fields and running brooks!
  Knotted strings and fishing-hooks
  Of the truant, stealing down
  Weedy backways of the town.

  Where the sunshine overlooks,
  By green fields and running brooks,
  All intruding guests of chance
  With a golden tolerance,

  Cooing doves, or pensive pair
  Of picnickers, straying there--
  By green fields and running brooks,
  Sylvan shades and mossy nooks!

  And--O Dreamer of the Days,
  Murmurer of roundelays
  All unsung of words or books,
  Sing green fields and running brooks!


  I come upon it suddenly, alone--
    A little pathway winding in the weeds
  That fringe the roadside; and with dreams my own,
    I wander as it leads.

  Full wistfully along the slender way,
    Through summer tan of freckled shade and shine,
  I take the path that leads me as it may--
    Its every choice is mine.

  A chipmunk, or a sudden-whirring quail,
    Is startled by my step as on I fare--
  A garter-snake across the dusty trail
    Glances and--is not there.

  Above the arching jimson-weeds flare twos
    And twos of sallow-yellow butterflies,
  Like blooms of lorn primroses blowing loose
    When autumn winds arise.

  The trail dips--dwindles--broadens then, and lifts
    Itself astride a cross-road dubiously,
  And, from the fennel marge beyond it, drifts
    Still onward, beckoning me.

  And though it needs must lure me mile on mile
    Out of the public highway, still I go,
  My thoughts, far in advance in Indian-file,
    Allure me even so.

  Why, I am as a long-lost boy that went
    At dusk to bring the cattle to the bars,
  And was not found again, though Heaven lent
    His mother ail the stars

  With which to seek him through that awful night.
    O years of nights as vain!--Stars never rise
  But well might miss their glitter in the light
    Of tears in mother-eyes!

  So--on, with quickened breaths, I follow still--
    My _avant-courier_ must be obeyed!
  Thus am I led, and thus the path, at will,
    Invites me to invade

  A meadow's precincts, where my daring guide
    Clambers the steps of an old-fashioned stile,
  And stumbles down again, the other side,
    To gambol there awhile

  In pranks of hide-and-seek, as on ahead
    I see it running, while the clover-stalks
  Shake rosy fists at me, as though they said--
    "You dog our country-walks

  And mutilate us with your walking-stick!--
    We will not suffer tamely what you do
  And warn you at your peril,--for we'll sic
    Our bumble-bees on you!"

  But I smile back, in airy nonchalance,--
    The more determined on my wayward quest,
  As some bright memory a moment dawns
    A morning in my breast--

  Sending a thrill that hurries me along
    In faulty similes of childish skips,
  Enthused with lithe contortions of a song
    Performing on my lips.

  In wild meanderings o'er pasture wealth--
    Erratic wanderings through dead'ning-lands,
  Where sly old brambles, plucking me by stealth,
    Put berries in my hands:

  Or, the path climbs a boulder--wades a slough--
    Or, rollicking through buttercups and flags,
  Goes gaily dancing o'er a deep bayou
    On old tree-trunks and snags:

  Or, at the creek, leads o'er a limpid pool
    Upon a bridge the stream itself has made,
  With some Spring-freshet for the mighty tool
    That its foundation laid.

  I pause a moment here to bend and muse,
    With dreamy eyes, on my reflection, where
  A boat-backed bug drifts on a helpless cruise,
    Or wildly oars the air,

  As, dimly seen, the pirate of the brook--
    The pike, whose jaunty hulk denotes his speed--
  Swings pivoting about, with wary look
    Of low and cunning greed.

  Till, filled with other thought, I turn again
    To where the pathway enters in a realm
  Of lordly woodland, under sovereign reign
    Of towering oak and elm.

  A puritanic quiet here reviles
    The almost whispered warble from the hedge,
  And takes a locust's rasping voice and files
    The silence to an edge.

  In such a solitude my somber way
    Strays like a misanthrope within a gloom
  Of his own shadows--till the perfect day
    Bursts into sudden bloom,

  And crowns a long, declining stretch of space,
    Where King Corn's armies lie with flags unfurled,
  And where the valley's dint in Nature's face
    Dimples a smiling world.

  And lo! through mists that may not be dispelled,
    I see an old farm homestead, as in dreams,
  Where, like a gem in costly setting held,
    The old log cabin gleams.

      *      *      *      *      *

  O darling Pathway! lead me bravely on
    Adown your valley way, and run before
  Among the roses crowding up the lawn
    And thronging at the door,--

  And carry up the echo there that shall
    Arouse the drowsy dog, that he may bay
  The household out to greet the prodigal
    That wanders home to-day.


  On the banks o' Deer Crick!  There's the place fer me!--
  Worter slidin' past ye jes as clair as it kin be:--
  See yer shadder in it, and the shadder o' the sky,
  And the shadder o' the buzzard as he goes a-lazein' by;
  Shadder o' the pizen-vines, and shadder o' the trees--
  And I purt'-nigh said the shadder o' the sunshine and the breeze!
  Well--I never seen the ocean ner I never seen the sea:
  On the banks o' Deer Crick's grand enough fer me!

  On the banks o' Deer Crick--mild er two from town--
  'Long up where the mill-race comes a-loafin' down,--
  Like to git up in there--'mongst the sycamores--
  And watch the worter at the dam, a-frothin' as she pours:
  Crawl out on some old log, with my hook and line,
  Where the fish is jes so thick you kin see 'em shine
  As they flicker round yer bait, _coaxin_' you to jerk,
  Tel yer tired ketchin' of 'em, mighty nigh, as _work_!

  On the banks o' Deer Crick!--Allus my delight
  Jes to be around there--take it day er night!--
  Watch the snipes and killdees foolin' half the day--
  Er these-'ere little worter-bugs skootin' ever'way!--
  Snakefeeders glancin' round, er dartin' out o' sight;
  And dew-fall, and bullfrogs, and lightnin'-bugs at night--
  Stars up through the tree-tops--er in the crick below,--
  And smell o' mussrat through the dark clean from the old b'y-o!

  Er take a tromp, some Sund'y, say, 'way up to "Johnson's Hole,"
  And find where he's had a fire, and hid his fishin' pole;
  Have yer "dog-leg," with ye and yer pipe and "cut-and-dry"--
  Pocketful o' corn-bred, and slug er two o' rye,--
  Soak yer hide in sunshine and waller in the shade--
  Like the Good Book tells us--"where there're none to make afraid!"
  Well!--I never seen the ocean ner I never seen the sea--
  On the banks o' Deer Crick's grand enough fer me!


  _Piped to the Spirit of John Keats._


  Would that my lips might pour out in thy praise
    A fitting melody--an air sublime,--
  A song sun-washed and draped in dreamy haze--
    The floss and velvet of luxurious rhyme:
  A lay wrought of warm languors, and o'er-brimmed
    With balminess, and fragrance of wild flowers
      Such as the droning bee ne'er wearies of--
        Such thoughts as might be hymned
    To thee from this midsummer land of ours
      Through shower and sunshine blent for very love.


  Deep silences in woody aisles wherethrough
    Cool paths go loitering, and where the trill
  Of best-remembered birds hath something new
    In cadence for the hearing--lingering still
  Through all the open day that lies beyond;
    Reaches of pasture-lands, vine-wreathen oaks,
      Majestic still in pathos of decay,--
        The road--the wayside pond
    Wherein the dragonfly an instant soaks
      His filmy wing-tips ere he flits away.


  And I would pluck from out the dank, rich mould,
    Thick-shaded from the sun of noon, the long
  Lithe stalks of barley, topped with ruddy gold,
    And braid them in the meshes of my song;
  And with them I would tangle wheat and rye,
    And wisps of greenest grass the katydid
      Ere crept beneath the blades of, sulkily,
        As harvest-hands went by;
    And weave of all, as wildest fancy bid,
      A crown of mingled song and bloom for thee.


  Low hidden in among the forest trees
    An artist's tilted easel, ankle-deep
  In tousled ferns and mosses, and in these
    A fluffy water-spaniel, half asleep
      Beside a sketch-book and a fallen hat--
      A little wicker flask tossed into that.

  A sense of utter carelessness and grace
    Of pure abandon in the slumb'rous scene,--
  As if the June, all hoydenish of face,
    Had romped herself to sleep there on the green,
      And brink and sagging bridge and sliding stream
      Were just romantic parcels of her dream.


  So lone I stood, the very trees seemed drawn
    In conference with themselves.--Intense--intense
  Seemed everything;--the summer splendor on
    The sight,--magnificence!

  A babe's life might not lighter fail and die
    Than failed the sunlight--Though the hour was noon,
  The palm of midnight might not lighter lie
    Upon the brow of June.

  With eyes upraised, I saw the underwings
    Of swallows--gone the instant afterward--
  While from the elms there came strange twitterings,
    Stilled scarce ere they were heard.

  The river seemed to shiver; and, far down
    Its darkened length, I saw the sycamores
  Lean inward closer, under the vast frown
    That weighed above the shores.

  Then was a roar, born of some awful burst!--
    And one lay, shrieking, chattering, in my path--
  Flung--he or I--out of some space accurst
    As of Jehovah's wrath:

  Nor barely had he wreaked his latest prayer,
    Ere back the noon flashed o'er the ruin done,
  And, o'er uprooted forests touseled there,
    The birds sang in the sun.


  O the Lands of Where-Away!
  Tell us--tell us--where are they?
  Through the darkness and the dawn
  We have journeyed on and on--
  From the cradle to the cross--
  From possession unto loss,--
  Seeking still, from day to day,
  For the lands of Where-Away.

  When our baby-feet were first
  Planted where the daisies burst,
  And the greenest grasses grew
  In the fields we wandered through,
  On, with childish discontent,
  Ever on and on we went,
  Hoping still to pass, some day,
  O'er the verge of Where-Away.

  Roses laid their velvet lips
  On our own, with fragrant sips;
  But their kisses held us not,
  All their sweetness we forgot;--
  Though the brambles in our track
  Plucked at us to hold us back--
  "Just ahead," we used to say,
  "Lie the Lands of Where-Away."

  Children at the pasture-bars,
  Through the dusk, like glimmering stars,
  Waved their hands that we should bide
  With them over eventide:
  Down the dark their voices failed
  Falteringly, as they hailed,
  And died into yesterday--
  Night ahead and--Where-Away?

  Twining arms about us thrown--
  Warm caresses, all our own,
  Can but stay us for a spell--
  Love hath little new to tell
  To the soul in need supreme,
  Aching ever with the dream
  Of the endless bliss it may
  Find in Lands of Where-Away!


  We must get home--for we have been away
  So long it seems forever and a day!
  And O so very homesick we have grown,
  The laughter of the world is like a moan
  In our tired hearing, and its songs as vain,--
  We must get home--we must get home again!

  We must get home: It hurts so, staying here,
  Where fond hearts must be wept out tear by tear,
  And where to wear wet lashes means, at best,
  When most our lack, the least our hope of rest
  When most our need of joy, the more our pain--
  We must get home--we must get home again!

  We must get home: All is so quiet there:
  The touch of loving hands on brow and hair--
  Dim rooms, wherein the sunshine is made mild---
  The lost love of the mother and the child
  Restored in restful lullabies of rain.--
  We must get home--we must get home again!

  We must get home, where, as we nod and drowse,
  Time humors us and tiptoes through the house,
  And loves us best when sleeping baby-wise,
  With dreams--not tear-drops--brimming our clenched eyes,--
  Pure dreams that know nor taint nor earthly stain--
  We must get home--we must get home again!

  We must get home; and, unremembering there
  All gain of all ambitions otherwhere,
  Rest--from the feverish victory, and the crown
  Of conquest whose waste glory weighs us down.--
  Fame's fairest gifts we toss back with disdain--
  We must get home--we must get home again!


  Nobody on the old farm here but Mother, me and John,
  Except, of course, the extry he'p when harvest-time come on--
  And then, I want to say to you, we _needed_ he'p about,
  As you'd admit, ef you'd a-seen the way the crops turned out!

  A better quarter-section, ner a richer soil warn't found
  Than this-here old-home place o' ourn fer fifty miles around!--
  The house was small--but plenty-big we found it from the day
  That John--our only livin' son--packed up and went way.

  You see, we tuck sich pride in John--his mother more 'n me--
  That's natchurul; but _both_ of us was proud as proud could be;
  Fer the boy, from a little chap, was most oncommon bright,
  And seemed in work as well as play to take the same delight.

  He allus went a-whistlin' round the place, as glad at heart
  As robins up at five o'clock to git an airly start;
  And many a time 'fore daylight Mother's waked me up to say--
  "Jest listen, David!--listen!--Johnny's beat the birds to-day!"

  High-sperited from boyhood, with a most inquirin' turn,--
  He wanted to learn ever'thing on earth they was to learn:
  He'd ast more plaguey questions in a mortal-minute here
  Than his grandpap in Paradise could answer in a year!

  And read! w'y, his own mother learnt him how to read and spell;
  And "The Childern of the Abbey"--w'y, he knowed that book as well
  At fifteen as his parents!--and "The Pilgrim's Progress," too--
  Jest knuckled down, the shaver did, and read 'em through and through!

  At eighteen, Mother 'lowed the boy must have a better chance--
  That we ort to educate him, under any circumstance;
  And John he j'ined his mother, and they ding-donged and kep' on,
  Tel I sent him off to school in town, half glad that he was gone.

  But--I missed him--w'y of course I did!--The Fall and Winter through
  I never built the kitchen-fire, er split a stick in two,
  Er fed the stock, er butchered, er swung up a gambrel-pin,
  But what I thought o' John, and wished that he was home agin.

  He'd come, sometimes--on Sund'ys most--and stay the Sund'y out;
  And on Thanksgivin'-Day he 'peared to like to be about:
  But a change was workin' on him--he was stiller than before,
  And did n't joke, ner laugh, ner sing and whistle any more.

  And his talk was all so proper; and I noticed, with a sigh,
  He was tryin' to raise side-whiskers, and had on a striped tie,
  And a standin'-collar, ironed up as stiff and slick as bone;
  And a breast-pin, and a watch and chain and plug-hat of his own.

  But when Spring-weather opened out, and John was to come home
  And he'p me through the season, I was glad to see him come;
  But my happiness, that evening, with the settin' sun went down,
  When he bragged of "a position" that was offered him in town.

  "But," says I, "you'll not accept it?"  "W'y, of course
         I will," says he.--
  "This drudgin' on a farm," he says, "is not the life fer me;
  I've set my stakes up higher," he continued, light and gay,
  "And town's the place fer me, and I'm a-goin' right away!"

  And go he did!--his mother clingin' to him at the gate,
  A-pleadin' and a-cryin'; but it hadn't any weight.
  I was tranquiller, and told her 'twarn't no use to worry so,
  And onclasped her arms from round his neck round mine--and let him go!

  I felt a little bitter feelin' foolin' round about
  The aidges of my conscience; but I didn't let it out;--
  I simply retch out, trimbly-like, and tuck the boy's hand,
  And though I did n't say a word, I knowed he'd understand.

  And--well!--sence then the old home here was mighty lonesome, shore!
  With me a-workin' in the field, and Mother at the door,
  Her face ferever to'rds the town, and fadin' more and more---
  Her only son nine miles away, a-clerkin' in a store!

  The weeks and months dragged by us; and sometimes the boy would write
  A letter to his mother, savin' that his work was light,
  And not to feel oneasy about his health a bit--
  Though his business was confinin', he was gittin' used to it.

  And sometimes he would write and ast how _I_ was gittin' on,
  And ef I had to pay out much fer he'p sence he was gone;
  And how the hogs was doin', and the balance of the stock,
  And talk on fer a page er two jest like he used to talk.

  And he wrote, along 'fore harvest, that he guessed he would git home,
  Fer business would, of course be dull in town.--But _didn't_ come:--
  We got a postal later, sayin' when they had no trade
  They filled the time "invoicin' goods," and that was why he staid.

  And then he quit a-writin' altogether: Not a word--
  Exceptin' what the neighbors brung who'd been to town and heard
  What store John was clerkin' in, and went round to inquire
  If they could buy their goods there less and sell their produce higher.

  And so the Summer faded out, and Autumn wore away,
  And a keener Winter never fetched around Thanksgivin'-Day!
  The night before that day of thanks I'll never quite fergit,
  The wind a-howlin' round the house--it makes me creepy yit!

  And there set me and Mother--me a-twistin' at the prongs
  Of a green scrub-ellum forestick with a vicious pair of tongs,
  And Mother sayin', "_David!  David!_" in a' undertone,
  As though she thought that I was thinkin' bad-words unbeknown.

  "I've dressed the turkey, David, fer to-morrow," Mother said,
  A-tryin' to wedge some pleasant subject in my stubborn head,--
  "And the mince-meat I'm a-mixin' is perfection mighty nigh;
  And the pound-cake is delicious-rich--" "Who'll eat 'em?" I-says-I.

  "The cramberries is drippin-sweet," says Mother, runnin' on,
  P'tendin' not to hear me;--"and somehow I thought of John
  All the time they was a-jellin'--fer you know they allus was
  His favour--he likes 'em so!"  Says I, "Well, s'pose he does?"

  "Oh, nothin' much!" says Mother, with a quiet sort o' smile--
  "This gentleman behind my cheer may tell you after while!"
  And as I turned and looked around, some one riz up and leant
  And put his arms round Mother's neck, and laughed in low content.

  "It's _me_," he says--"your fool-boy John, come back to shake your hand;
  Set down with you, and talk with you, and make you understand
  How dearer yit than all the world is this old home that we
  Will spend Thanksgivin' in fer life--jest Mother, you and me!"

        *      *      *      *      *      *

  Nobody on the old farm here but Mother, me and John,
  Except of course the extry he'p, when harvest-time comes on;
  And then, I want to say to you, we _need_ sich he'p about,
  As you'd admit, ef you could see the way the crops turns out!


  Of the North I wove a dream,
  All bespangled with the gleam
    Of the glancing wings of swallows
  Dipping ripples in a stream,
  That, like a tide of wine,
  Wound through lands of shade and shine
  Where purple grapes hung bursting on the vine.

  And where orchard-boughs were bent
  Till their tawny fruitage blent
    With the golden wake that marked the
  Way the happy reapers went;
  Where the dawn died into noon
  As the May-mists into June,
  And the dusk fell like a sweet face in a swoon.

  Of the South I dreamed: And there
  Came a vision clear and fair
    As the marvelous enchantments
  Of the mirage of the air;
  And I saw the bayou-trees,
  With their lavish draperies,
  Hang heavy o'er the moon-washed cypress-knees.

  Peering from lush fens of rice,
  I beheld the Negro's eyes,
    Lit with that old superstition
  Death itself can not disguise;
  And I saw the palm tree nod
  Like an oriental god,
  And the cotton froth and bubble from the pod,

  And I dreamed that North and South,
  With a sigh of dew and drouth,
    Blew each unto the other
  The salute of lip and mouth;
  And I wakened, awed and thrilled--
  Every doubting murmur stilled
  In the silence of the dream I found fulfilled.


  No song is mine of Arab steed--
  My courser is of nobler blood,
  And cleaner limb and fleeter speed,
    And greater strength and hardihood
  Than ever cantered wild and free
  Across the plains of Araby.

  Go search the level desert-land
  From Sana on to Samarcand--
  Wherever Persian prince has been
  Or Dervish, Sheik or Bedouin,
  And I defy you there to point
    Me out a steed the half so fine--
  From tip of ear to pastern-joint--
    As this old iron horse of mine.

  You do not know what beauty is--
    You do not know what gentleness
    His answer is to my caress!--
  Why, look upon this gait of his,--
  A touch upon his iron rein--
    He moves with such a stately grace
  The sunlight on his burnished mane
    Is barely shaken in its place;
    And at touch he changes pace,
  And, gliding backward, stops again.

  And talk of mettle--Ah! my friend,
    Such passion smoulders in his breast
  That when awakened it will send
    A thrill of rapture wilder than
    Ere palpitated heart of man
    When flaming at its mightiest.
  And there's a fierceness in his ire--
    A maddened majesty that leaps
  Along his veins in blood of fire,
    Until the path his vision sweeps
  Spins out behind him like a thread
    Unraveled from the reel of time,
    As, wheeling on his course sublime,
  The earth revolves beneath his tread.

  Then stretch away, my gallant steed!
    Thy mission is a noble one:
    You bear the father to the son,
  And sweet relief to bitter need;
  You bear the stranger to his friends;
    You bear the pilgrim to the shrine,
  And back again the prayer he sends
    That God will prosper me and mine,--
  The star that on thy forehead gleams
  Has blossomed in our brightest dreams.
  Then speed thee on thy glorious race!
  The mother waits thy ringing pace;
  The father leans an anxious ear
  The thunder of thy hoofs to hear;
  The lover listens, far away,
  To catch thy keen exultant neigh;
  And, where thy breathings roll and rise,
  The husband strains his eager eyes,
  And laugh of wife and baby-glee
  Ring out to greet and welcome thee.
  Then stretch away! and when at last
    The master's hand shall gently check
  Thy mighty speed, and hold thee fast,
    The world will pat thee on the neck.


  Tomps 'ud allus haf to say
    Somepin' 'bout "his mother's way."--
  _He_ lived hard-like--never jined
  Any church of any kind.--
  "It was Mother's way," says he,
  "To be good enough fer _me_
  And her too,--and certinly
    Lord has heerd _her_ pray!"
  Propped up on his dyin' bed,--
  "Shore as Heaven's overhead,
  I'm a-goin' there," he said---
    "It was Mother's way."


  Jap Miller down at Martinsville's the blamedest feller yit!
  When _he_ starts in a-talkin' other folks is apt to quit!--
  'Pears like that mouth o' his'n wuz n't made fer nuthin' else
  But jes' to argify 'em down and gether in their pelts:
  He'll talk you down on tariff; er he'll talk you down on tax,
  And prove the pore man pays 'em all--and them's about the fac's!--
  Religen, law, er politics, prize-fightin', er base-ball--
  Jes' tetch Jap up a little and he'll post you 'bout 'em all.

  And the comicalist feller ever tilted back a cheer
  And tuck a chaw tobacker kind o' like he did n't keer.--
  There's where the feller's strength lays,--he's so
          common-like and plain,--
  They haint no dude about old Jap, you bet you--nary grain!
  They 'lected him to Council and it never turned his head,
  And did n't make no differunce what anybody said,--
  He didn't dress no finer, ner rag out in fancy clothes;
  But his voice in Council-meetin's is a turrer to his foes.

  He's fer the pore man ever' time!  And in the last campaign
  He stumped old Morgan County, through the sunshine and the rain,
  And helt the banner up'ards from a-trailin' in the dust,
  And cut loose on monopolies and cuss'd and cuss'd and cuss'd!
  He'd tell some funny story ever' now and then, you know,
  Tel, blame it! it wuz better 'n a jack-o'-lantern show!
  And I'd go furder, yit, to-day, to hear old Jap norate
  Than any high-toned orator 'at ever stumped the State!

  W'y, that-air blame Jap Miller, with his keen sircastic fun,
  Has got more friends than ary candidate 'at ever run!
  Do n't matter what _his_ views is, when he states the same to you,
  They allus coincide with your'n, the same as two and two:
  You _can't_ take issue with him--er, at least, they haint no sense
  In startin' in to down him, so you better not commence.--
  The best way's jes' to listen, like your humble servant does,
  And jes' concede Jap Miller is the best man ever wuz!


  Written In Madison Caweln's "Lyrics and Idyls."

  Herein are blown from out the South
  Songs blithe as those of Pan's pursed mouth--
  As sweet in voice as, in perfume,
  The night-breath of magnolia-bloom.

  Such sumptuous languor lures the sense--
  Such luxury of indolence--
  The eyes blur as a nymph's might blur,
  With water-lilies watching her.

  You waken, thrilling at the trill
  Of some wild bird that seems to spill
  The silence full of winey drips
  Of song that Fancy sips and sips.

  Betimes, in brambled lanes wherethrough
  The chipmunk stripes himself from view,
  You pause to lop a creamy spray
  Of elder-blossoms by the way.

  Or where the morning dew is yet
  Gray on the topmost rail, you set
  A sudden palm and, vaulting, meet
  Your vaulting shadow in the wheat.

  On lordly swards, of suave incline,
  Entessellate with shade and shine,
  You shall misdoubt your lowly birth,
  Clad on as one of princely worth:

  The falcon on your wrist shall ride--
  Your milk-white Arab side by side
  With one of raven-black.--You fain
  Would kiss the hand that holds the rein.

  Nay, nay, Romancer!  Poet!  Seer!
  Sing us back home--from there to here;
  Grant your high grace and wit, but we
  Most honor your simplicity.--

  Herein are blown from out the South
  Songs blithe as those of Pan's pursed mouth--
  As sweet in voice as, in perfume,
  The night-breath of magnolia-bloom.


  Mellow hazes, lowly trailing
  Over wood and meadow, veiling
  Somber skies, with wildfowl sailing
    Sailor-like to foreign lands;
  And the north-wind overleaping
  Summer's brink, and floodlike sweeping
  Wrecks of roses where the weeping
    Willows wring their helpless hands.

  Flared, like Titan torches flinging
    Flakes of flame and embers, springing
  From the vale the trees stand swinging
    In the moaning atmosphere;
  While in dead'ning-lands the lowing
  Of the cattle, sadder growing,
  Fills the sense to overflowing
    With the sorrow of the year.

  Sorrowfully, yet the sweeter
  Sings the brook in rippled meter
  Under boughs that lithely teeter
    Lorn birds, answering from the shores
  Through the viny, shady-shiny
  Interspaces, shot with tiny
  Flying motes that fleck the winy
    Wave-engraven sycamores.

  Fields of ragged stubble, wrangled
  With rank weeds, and shocks of tangled
  Corn, with crests like rent plumes dangled
    Over Harvest's battle-piain;
  And the sudden whir and whistle
  Of the quail that, like a missile,
  Whizzes over thorn and thistle,
    And, a missile, drops again.

  Muffled voices, hid in thickets
  Where the redbird stops to stick its
  Ruddy beak betwixt the pickets
    Of the truant's rustic trap;
  And the sound of laughter ringing
  Where, within the wild-vine swinging,
  Climb Bacchante's schoolmates, flinging
    Purple clusters in her lap.

  Rich as wine, the sunset flashes
  Round the tilted world, and dashes
  Up the sloping west and splashes
    Red foam over sky and sea--
  Till my dream of Autumn, paling
  In the splendor all-prevailing,
  Like a sallow leaf goes sailing
    Down the silence solemnly.


  Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    Our warm fellowship is one
  Far too old to comprehend
    Where its bond was first begun:
      Mirage-like before my gaze
      Gleams a land of other days,
      Where two truant boys, astray,
      Dream their lazy lives away.

  There's a vision, in the guise
    Of Midsummer, where the Past
  Like a weary beggar lies
    In the shadow Time has cast;
      And as blends the bloom of trees
      With the drowsy hum of bees,
      Fragrant thoughts and murmurs blend,
      Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

  Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    All the pleasures we have known
  Thrill me now as I extend
    This old hand and grasp your own--
      Feeling, in the rude caress,
      All affection's tenderness;
      Feeling, though the touch be rough,
      Our old souls are soft enough.

  So we'll make a mellow hour:
    Fill your pipe, and taste the wine--
  Warp your face, if it be sour,
    I can spare a smile from mine;
      If it sharpen up your wit,
      Let me feel the edge of it--
      I have eager ears to lend,
      Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

  Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    Are we "lucky dogs," indeed?
  Are we all that we pretend
    In the jolly life we lead?--
      Bachelors, we must confess,
      Boast of "single blessedness"
      To the world, but not alone--
      Man's best sorrow is his own!

  And the saddest truth is this,--
    Life to us has never proved
  What we tasted in the kiss
    Of the women we have loved:
      Vainly we congratulate
      Our escape from such a fate
      As their lying lips could send,
      Tom Van Arden, my old friend!

  Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    Hearts, like fruit upon the stem,
  Ripen sweetest, I contend,
    As the frost falls over them:
      Your regard for me to-day
      Makes November taste of May,
      And through every vein of rhyme
      Pours the blood of summertime.

  When our souls are cramped with youth
    Happiness seems far away
  In the future, while, in truth,
    We look back on it to-day
      Through our tears, nor dare to boast,--
      "Better to have loved and lost!"
      Broken hearts are hard to mend,
      Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

  Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    I grow prosy, and you tire;
  Fill the glasses while I bend
    To prod up the failing fire . . .
      You are restless:--I presume
      There's a dampness in the room.--
      Much of warmth our nature begs,
      With rheumatics in our legs! . . .

  Humph! the legs we used to fling
    Limber-jointed in the dance,
  When we heard the fiddle ring
    Up the curtain of Romance,
      And in crowded public halls
      Played with hearts like jugglers'-balls.--
      _Feats of mountebanks, depend_!--
      Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

  Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    Pardon, then, this theme of mine:
  While the fire-light leaps to lend
    Higher color to the wine,--
      I propose a health to those
      Who have _homes_, and home's repose,
      Wife- and child-love without end!
      . . . Tom Van Arden, my old friend.


  Just to be good--
      This is enough--enough!
  O we who find sin's billows wild and rough,
  Do we not feel how more than any gold
  Would be the blameless life we led of old
  While yet our lips knew but a mother's kiss?
      Ah! though we miss
      All else but this,
        To be good is enough!

  It is enough--
      Enough--just to be good!
  To lift our hearts where they are understood;
  To let the thirst for worldly power and place
  Go unappeased; to smile back in God's face
  With the glad lips our mothers used to kiss.
      Ah! though we miss
      All else but this,
        To be good is enough!


  When chirping crickets fainter cry,
  And pale stars blossom in the sky,
  And twilight's gloom has dimmed the bloom
  And blurred the butterfly:

  When locust-blossoms fleck the walk,
  And up the tiger-lily stalk
  The glow-worm crawls and clings and falls
  And glimmers down the garden-walls:

  When buzzing things, with double wings
  Of crisp and raspish flutterings,
  Go whizzing by so very nigh
  One thinks of fangs and stings:--

  O then, within, is stilled the din
  Of crib she rocks the baby in,
  And heart and gate and latch's weight
  Are lifted--and the lips of Kate.


  The Hoosier Folk-Child--all unsung--
  Unlettered all of mind and tongue;
  Unmastered, unmolested--made
  Most wholly frank and unafraid:
  Untaught of any school--unvexed
  Of law or creed--all unperplexed--
  Unsermoned, aye, and undefiled,
  An all imperfect-perfect child--
  A type which (Heaven forgive us!) you
  And I do tardy honor to,
  And so, profane the sanctities
  Of our most sacred memories.
  Who, growing thus from boy to man,
  That dares not be American?
  Go, Pride, with prudent underbuzz--
  Go _whistle_! as the Folk-Child does.

  The Hoosier Folk-Child's world is not
  Much wider than the stable-lot
  Between the house and highway fence
  That bounds the home his father rents.
  His playmates mostly are the ducks
  And chickens, and the boy that "shucks
  Corn by the shock," and talks of town,
  And whether eggs are "up" or "down,"
  And prophesies in boastful tone
  Of "owning horses of his own,"
  And "being his own man," and "when
  He gets to be, what he'll do then."--
  Takes out his jack-knife dreamily
  And makes the Folk-Child two or three
  Crude corn-stalk figures,--a wee span
  Of horses and a little man.

  The Hoosier Folk-Child's eyes are wise
  And wide and round as Brownies' eyes:
  The smile they wear is ever blent
  With all-expectant wonderment,--
  On homeliest things they bend a look
  As rapt as o'er a picture-book,
  And seem to ask, whate'er befall,
  The happy reason of it all:--
  Why grass is all so glad a green,
  And leaves--and what their lispings mean;--
  Why buds grow on the boughs, and why
  They burst in blossom by and by--
  As though the orchard in the breeze
  Had shook and popped its _popcorn-trees_,
  To lure and whet, as well they might,
  Some seven-league giant's appetite!

  The Hoosier Folk-Child's chubby face
  Has scant refinement, caste or grace,--
  From crown to chin, and cheek to cheek,
  It bears the grimy water-streak
  Of rinsings such as some long rain
  Might drool across the window-pane
  Wherethrough he peers, with troubled frown,
  As some lorn team drives by for town.
  His brow is elfed with wispish hair,
  With tangles in it here and there,
  As though the warlocks snarled it so
  At midmirk when the moon sagged low,
  And boughs did toss and skreek and shake,
  And children moaned themselves awake,
  With fingers clutched, and starting sight
  Blind as the blackness of the night!

  The Hoosier Folk-Child!--Rich is he
  In all the wealth of poverty!
  He owns nor title nor estate,
  Nor speech but half articulate,--
  He owns nor princely robe nor crown;--
  Yet, draped in patched and faded brown,
  He owns the bird-songs of the hills--
  The laughter of the April rills;
  And his are all the diamonds set.
  In Morning's dewy coronet,--
  And his the Dusk's first minted stars
  That twinkle through the pasture-bars,
  And litter all the skies at night
  With glittering scraps of silver light;--
  The rainbow's bar, from rim to rim,
  In beaten gold, belongs to him.


  _Bad Boy's Version_.

  Tell you a story--an' it's a fac':--
  Wunst wuz a little boy, name wuz Jack,
  An' he had sword an' buckle an' strap
  Maked of gold, an' a "'visibul cap;"
  An' he killed Gi'nts 'at et whole cows--
  Th' horns an' all--an' pigs an' sows!
  But Jack, his golding sword wuz, oh!
  So awful sharp 'at he could go
  An' cut th' ole Gi'nts clean in two
  Fore 'ey knowed what he wuz goin' to do!
  An' _one_ ole Gi'nt, he had four
  Heads, and name wuz "Bumblebore"--
  An' he wuz feered o' Jack--'cause he,
  _Jack_, he killed six--five--ten--three,
  An' all o' th' uther ole Gi'nts but him:
  An' thay wuz a place Jack haf to swim
  'Fore he could git t' ole "Bumblebore"--
  Nen thay was "griffuns" at the door:
  But Jack, he thist plunged in an' swum
  Clean acrost; an' when he come
  To th' uther side, he thist put on
  His "'visibul cap," an' nen, dog-gone!
  You could n't see him at all!--An' so
  He slewed the "griffuns"--_boff_, you know!
  Nen wuz a horn hunged over his head
  High on th' wall, an' words 'at read,--
  "Whoever kin this trumput blow
  Shall cause the Gi'nt's overth'ow!"
  An' Jack, he thist reached up an' blowed
  The stuffin' out of it! an' th'owed
  Th' castul-gates wide open, an'
  Nen tuck his gold sword in his han',
  An' thist marched in t' ole "Bumblebore,"
  An', 'fore he knowed, he put 'bout four
  Heads on him--an' chopped 'em off, too!--
  Wisht 'at _I'd_ been Jack!--don't you?


  O it was but a dream I had
    While the musician played!--
  And here the sky, and here the glad
    Old ocean kissed the glade--
  And here the laughing ripples ran,
    And here the roses grew
  That threw a kiss to every man
    That voyaged with the crew.

  Our silken sails in lazy folds
    Drooped in the breathless breeze:
  As o'er a field of marigolds
    Our eyes swam o'er the seas;
  While here the eddies lisped and purled
    Around the island's rim,
  And up from out the underworld
    We saw the mermen swim.

  And it was dawn and middle-day
    And midnight--for the moon
  On silver rounds across the bay
    Had climbed the skies of June--
  And there the glowing, glorious king
    Of day ruled o'er his realm,
  With stars of midnight glittering
    About his diadem.

  The seagull reeled on languid wing
    In circles round the mast,
  We heard the songs the sirens sing
    As we went sailing past;
  And up and down the golden sands
    A thousand fairy throngs
  Flung at us from their flashing hands
    The echoes of their songs.

  O it was but a dream I had
    While the musician played--
  For here the sky, and here the glad
    Old ocean kissed the glade;
  And here the laughing ripples ran,
    And here the roses grew
  That threw a kiss to every man
    That voyaged with the crew.


  A day of torpor in the sullen heat
    Of Summer's passion: In the sluggish stream
  The panting cattle lave their lazy feet,
    With drowsy eyes, and dream.

  Long since the winds have died, and in the sky
    There lives no cloud to hint of Nature's grief;
  The sun glares ever like an evil eye,
    And withers flower and leaf.

  Upon the gleaming harvest-field remote
    The thresher lies deserted, like some old
  Dismantled galleon that hangs afloat
    Upon a sea of gold.

  The yearning cry of some bewildered bird
    Above an empty nest, and truant boys
  Along the river's shady margin heard--
    A harmony of noise--

  A melody of wrangling voices blent
    With liquid laughter, and with rippling calls
  Of piping lips and trilling echoes sent
    To mimic waterfalls.

  And through the hazy veil the atmosphere
    Has draped about the gleaming face of Day,
  The sifted glances of the sun appear
    In splinterings of spray.

  The dusty highway, like a cloud of dawn,
    Trails o'er the hillside, and the passer-by,
  A tired ghost in misty shroud, toils on
    His journey to the sky.

  And down across the valley's drooping sweep,
    Withdrawn to farthest limit of the glade,
  The forest stands in silence, drinking deep
    Its purple wine of shade.

  The gossamer floats up on phantom wing;
    The sailor-vision voyages the skies
  And carries into chaos everything
    That freights the weary eyes:

  Till, throbbing on and on, the pulse of heat
    Increases--reaches--passes fever's height,
  And Day sinks into slumber, cool and sweet,
    Within the arms of Night.


  To hear her sing--to hear her sing--
  It is to hear the birds of Spring
  In dewy groves on blooming sprays
  Pour out their blithest roundelays.

  It is to hear the robin trill
  At morning, or the whip-poor-will
  At dusk, when stars are blossoming--
  To hear her sing--to hear her sing!

  To hear her sing--it is to hear
  The laugh of childhood ringing clear
  In woody path or grassy lane
  Our feet may never fare again.

  Faint, far away as Memory dwells,
  It is to hear the village bells
  At twilight, as the truant hears
  Them, hastening home, with smiles and tears.

  Such joy it is to hear her sing,
  We fall in love with everything--
  The simple things of every day
  Grow lovelier than words can say.

  The idle brooks that purl across
  The gleaming pebbles and the moss,
  We love no less than classic streams--
  The Rhines and Arnos of our dreams.

  To hear her sing--with folded eyes,
  It is, beneath Venetian skies,
  To hear the gondoliers' refrain,
  Or troubadours of sunny Spain.--

  To hear the bulbul's voice that shook
  The throat that trilled for Lalla Rookh:
  What wonder we in homage bring
  Our hearts to her--to hear her sing!


  Being his mother--when he goes away
    I would not hold him overlong, and so
    Sometimes my yielding sight of him grows O
  So quick of tears, I joy he did not stay
  To catch the faintest rumor of them!  Nay,
    Leave always his eyes clear and glad, although
    Mine own, dear Lord, do fill to overflow;
  Let his remembered features, as I pray,
  Smile ever on me!  Ah! what stress of love
    Thou givest me to guard with Thee thiswise:
    Its fullest speech ever to be denied
  Mine own--being his mother!  All thereof
    Thou knowest only, looking from the skies
    As when not Christ alone was crucified.


  Out at Woodruff Place--afar
  From the city's glare and jar,
  With the leafy trees, instead
  Of the awnings, overhead;
  With the shadows cool and sweet,
  For the fever of the street;
  With the silence, like a prayer,
  Breathing round us everywhere.

  Gracious anchorage, at last,
  From the billows of the vast
  Tide of life that comes and goes,
  Whence and where nobody knows--
  Moving, like a skeptic's thought,
  Out of nowhere into naught.
  Touch and tame us with thy grace,
  Placid calm of Woodruff Place!

  Weave a wreath of beechen leaves
  For the brow that throbs and grieves
  O'er the ledger, bloody-lined,
  'Neath the sun-struck window-blind!
  Send the breath of woodland bloom
  Through the sick man's prison room,
  Till his old farm-home shall swim
  Sweet in mind to hearten him!

  Out at Woodruff Place the Muse
  Dips her sandal in the dews,
  Sacredly as night and dawn
  Baptize lilied grove and lawn:
  Woody path, or paven way--
  She doth haunt them night and day,--
  Sun or moonlight through the trees,
  To her eyes, are melodies.

  Swinging lanterns, twinkling clear
  Through night-scenes, are songs to her--
  Tinted lilts and choiring hues,
  Blent with children's glad halloos;
  Then belated lays that fade
  Into midnight's serenade--
  Vine-like words and zithern-strings
  Twined through ali her slumberings.

  Blesséd be each hearthstone set
  Neighboring the violet!
  Blessed every rooftree prayed
  Over by the beech's shadel
  Blessed doorway, opening where
  We may look on Nature--there
  Hand to hand and face to face--
  Storied realm, or Woodruff Place.


  It's a mystery to see me--a man o' fifty-four,
  Who's lived a cross old bachelor fer thirty year' and more--
  A-lookin' glad and smilin'!  And they's none o' you can say
  That you can guess the reason why I feel so good to-day!

  I must tell you all about it!  But I'll have to deviate
  A little in beginning so's to set the matter straight
  As to how it comes to happen that I never took a wife--
  Kind o' "crawfish" from the Present to the Springtime of my life!

  I was brought up in the country: Of a family of five--
  Three brothers and a sister--I'm the only one alive,--
  Fer they all died little babies; and 'twas one o' Mother's ways,
  You know, to want a daughter; so she took a girl to raise.

  The sweetest little thing she was, with rosy cheeks, and fat--
  We was little chunks o' shavers then about as high as that!
  But someway we sort o' _suited_-like! and Mother she'd declare
  She never laid her eyes on a more lovin' pair

  Than _we_ was!  So we growed up side by side fer thirteen year',
  And every hour of it she growed to me more dear!--
  W'y, even Father's dyin', as he did, I do believe
  Warn't more affectin' to me than it was to see her grieve!

  I was then a lad o' twenty; and I felt a flash o' pride
  In thinkin' all depended on _me_ now to pervide
  Fer Mother and fer Mary; and I went about the place
  With sleeves rolled up--and workin', with a mighty smilin' face.--

  Fer _sompin' else_ was workin'! but not a word I said
  Of a certain sort o' notion that was runnin' through my head,--
  "Someday I'd mayby marry, and _a brother's_ love was one
  Thing--a _lover's_ was another!" was the way the notion run!

  I remember onc't in harvest, when the "cradle-in'" was done--
  When the harvest of my summers mounted up to twenty-one--
  I was ridin' home with Mary at the closin' o' the day--
  A-chawin' straws and thinkin', in a lover's lazy way!

  And Mary's cheeks was burnin' like the sunset down the lane:
  I noticed she was thinkin', too, and ast her to explain
  Well--when she turned and _kissed_ me, _with her arm around me--law_!
  I'd a bigger load o' heaven than I had a load o' straw!

  I don't p'tend to learnin', but I'll tell you what's a fac',
  They's a mighty truthful sayin' somers in a almanack--
  Er _somers_--'bout "puore happiness"--perhaps some folks'll laugh
  At the idy--"only lastin' jest two seconds and a half."--

  But its jest as true as preachin'!--fer that was a sister's kiss,
  And a sister's lovin' confidence a-tellin' to me this:--
  "_She_ was happy, _bein' promised to the son o' farmer Brown_."--
  And my feelin's struck a pardnership with sunset and went down!

  I don't know how I acted--I don't know _what_ I said,
  Fer my heart seemed jest a-turnin' to an ice-cold lump o' lead;
  And the hosses kind o' glimmered before me in the road,
  And the lines fell from my fingers--and that was all I knowed--

  Fer--well, I don't know how long--They's a dim rememberence
  Of a sound o' snortin' bosses, and a stake-and-ridered fence
  A-whizzin' past, and wheat-sheaves a-dancin' in the air,
  And Mary screamin' "Murder!" and a-runnin' up to where

  _I_ was layin' by the roadside, and the wagon upside down
  A-leanin' on the gate-post, with the wheels a whirlin' round!
  And I tried to raise and meet her, but I couldn't, with a vague
  Sort o' notion comin' to me that I had a broken leg.

  Well, the women nussed me through it; but many a time I'd sigh
  As I'd keep a-gittin' better instid o' goin' to die,
  And wonder what was left _me_ worth livin' fer below,
  When the girl I loved was married to another, don't you know!

  And my thoughts was as rebellious as the folks was good and kind
  When Brown and Mary married--Railly must a-been my _mind_
  Was kindo' out o' kilter!--fer I hated Brown, you see,
  Worse'n _pizen_--and the feller whittled crutches out fer _me_--

  And done a thousand little ac's o' kindness and respec'--
  And me a-wishin' all the time that I could break his neck!
  My relief was like a mourner's when the funeral is done
  When they moved to Illinois in the Fall o' Forty-one.

  Then I went to work in airnest--I had nothin' much in view
  But to drownd out rickollections--and it kep' me busy, too!
  But I slowly thrived and prospered, tel Mother used to say
  She expected yit to see me a wealthy man some day.

  Then I'd think how little _money_ was, compared to happiness--
  And who'd be left to use it when I died I couldn't guess!
  But I've still kep' speculatin' and a-gainin' year by year,
  Tel I'm payin' half the taxes in the county, mighty near!

  Well!--A year ago er better, a letter comes to hand
  Astin' how I 'd like to dicker fer some Illinois land--
  "The feller that had owned it," it went ahead to state,
  "Had jest deceased, insolvent, leavin' chance to speculate,"--

  And then it closed by sayin' that I'd "better come and see."--
  I'd never been West, anyhow--a most too wild fer me,
  I'd allus had a notion; but a lawyer here in town
  Said I'd find myself mistakend when I come to look around.

  So I bids good-bye to Mother, and I jumps aboard the train,
  A-thinkin' what I'd bring her when I come back home again--
  And ef she'd had an idy what the present was to be,
  I think it's more 'n likely she'd a-went along with me!

  Cars is awful tejus ridin', fer all they go so fast!
  But finally they called out my stopping-place at last:
  And that night, at the tavern, I dreamp' I was a train
  O' cars, and _skeered_ at sumpin', runnin' down a country lane!

  Well, in the mornin' airly--after huntin' up the man--
  The lawyer who was wantin' to swap the piece o' land--
  We started fer the country;' and I ast the history
  Of the farm--its former owner--and so-forth, etcetery!

  And--well--it was _interestin'_--I su'prised him, I suppose,
  By the loud and frequent manner in which I blowed my nose!--
  But his su'prise was greater, and it made him wonder more,
  When I kissed and hugged the widder when she met us at the door!--

  _It was Mary_: They's a feelin' a-hidin' down in here--
  Of course I can't explain it, ner ever make it clear.--
  It was with us in that meeting I don't want you to fergit!
  And it makes me kind o' nervous when I think about it yit!

  I _bought_ that farm, and _deeded_ it, afore I left the town,
  With "title clear to mansions in the skies," to Mary Brown!
  And fu'thermore, I took her and _the childern_--fer you see,
  They'd never seed their Grandma--and I fetched 'em home with me.

  So _now_ you've got an idy why a man o' fifty-four,
  Who's lived a cross old bachelor fer thirty year' and more,
  Is a-lookin' glad and smilin'!--And I've jest come into town
  To git a pair o' license fer to _marry_ Mary Brown.



  Dawn, noon and dewfall!  Bluebird and robin
  Up and at it airly, and the orchard-blossoms bobbin'!
  Peekin' from the winder, half-awake, and wishin'
  I could go to sleep agin as well as go a-fishin'!


  On the apern o' the dam, legs a-danglin' over,
  Drowsy-like with sound o' worter and the smell o' clover:
  Fish all out a visitin'--'cept some dratted minnor!
  Yes, and mill shet down at last and hands is gone to dinner.


  Trompin' home acrost the fields:  Lightnin'-bugs a-blinkin'
  In the wheat like sparks o' things feller keeps a-thinkin':--
  Mother waitin' supper, and the childern there to cherr me!
  And fiddle on the kitchen-wall a-jist a-eechin' fer me!


  I hail thee, Nessmuk, for the lofty tone
      Yet simple grace that marks thy poetry!
      True forester thou art, and still to be,
  Even in happier fields than thou hast known.
  Thus, in glad visions, glimpses am I shown
      Of groves delectable--"preserves" for thee--
      Ranged but by friends of thine--I name thee three:--

  First, Chaucer, with his bald old pate new-grown
    With changeless laurel; next, in Lincoln-green,
      Gold-belted, bowed and bugled, Robin Hood;
    And next, Ike Walton, patient and serene:
  These three, O Nessmuk, gathered hunter-wise,
  Are camped on hither slopes of Paradise
      To hail thee first and greet thee, as they should.


  I've thought a power on men and things,
    As my uncle ust to say,--
  And ef folks don't work as they pray, i jings!
    W'y, they ain't no use to pray!
  Ef you want somepin', and jes dead-set
  A-pleadin' fer it with both eyes wet,
  And _tears_ won't bring it, w'y, you try _sweat_,
    As my uncle ust to say.

  They's some don't know their A, B, Cs,
    As my uncle ust to say,
  And yit don't waste no candle-grease,
    Ner whistle their lives away!
  But ef they can't write no book, ner rhyme
  No ringin' song fer to last all time,
  They can blaze the way fer the march sublime,
    As my uncle ust to say.

  Whoever's Foreman of all things here,
    As my uncle ust to say,
  He knows each job 'at we 're best fit fer,
    And our round-up, night and day:
  And a-sizin' _His_ work, east and west,
  And north and south, and worst and best
  I ain't got nothin' to suggest,
    As my uncle ust to say.


  While with Ambition's hectic flame
   He wastes the midnight oil,
  And dreams, high-throned on heights of fame,
    To rest him from his toil,--

  Death's Angel, like a vast eclipse,
    Above him spreads her wings,
  And fans the embers of his lips
    To ashes as he sings.


  Seems like a feller'd ort 'o jes' to-day
  Git down and roll and waller, don't you know,
    In that-air stubble, and flop up and crow,
  Seein' sich craps!  I'll undertake to say
  There're no wheat's ever turned out thataway
    Afore this season!--Folks is keerless tho',
    And too fergitful--'caze we'd ort 'o show
  More thankfulness!--Jes' looky hyonder, hey?--
    And watch that little reaper wadin' thue
  That last old yaller hunk o' harvest-ground--
    Jes' natchur'ly a-slicin' it in-two
  Like honey-comb, and gaumin' it around
    The field--like it had nothin' else to do
    On'y jes' waste it all on me and you!


  You think it is a sorry thing
  That I am blind.  Your pitying
  Is welcome to me; yet indeed,
  I think I have but little need
  Of it.  Though you may marvel much
  That _we_, who see by sense of touch
  And taste and hearing, see things _you_
  May never look upon; and true
  Is it that even in the scent
  Of blossoms _we_ find something meant
  No eyes have in their faces read,
  Or wept to see interpreted.

  And you might think it strange if now
  I told you you were smiling.  How
  Do I know that?  I hold your hand--
  _Its_ language I can understand--
  Give both to me, and I will show
  You many other things I know.
  Listen:  We never met before
  Till now?--Well, you are something lower
  Than five-feet-eight in height; and you
  Are slender; and your eyes are blue--

  Your mother's eyes--your mother's hair--
  Your mother's likeness everywhere
  Save in your walk--and that is quite
  Your father's; nervous.--Am I right?
  I thought so.  And you used to sing,
  But have neglected everything
  Of vocalism--though you may
  Still thrum on the guitar, and play
  A little on the violin,--
  I know that by the callous in
  The finger-tips of your left hand--
  And, by-the-bye, though nature planned
  You as most men, you are, I see,
  "_Left_-handed," too,--the mystery
  Is clear, though,--your right arm has been
  Broken, to "break" the left one in.
  And so, you see, though blind of sight,
  I still have ways of seeing quite
  Too well for you to sympathize
  Excessively, with your good eyes.--
  Though _once_, perhaps, to be sincere,
  Within the whole asylum here,
  From cupola to basement hall,
  I was the blindest of them all!

  Let us move further down the walk--
  The man here waiting hears my talk,
  And is disturbed; besides, he may
  Not be quite friendly anyway.
  In fact--(this will be far enough;
  Sit down)--the man just spoken of
  Was once a friend of mine.  He came
  For treatment here from Burlingame--
  A rich though brilliant student there,
  Who read his eyes out of repair,
  And groped his way up here, where we
  Became acquainted, and where he
  Met one of our girl-teachers, and,
  If you 'll believe me, asked her hand
  In marriage, though the girl was blind
  As I am--and the girl _declined_.
  Odd, wasn't it?  Look, you can see
  Him waiting there.  Fine, isn't he?
  And handsome, eloquently wide
  And high of brow, and dignified
  With every outward grace, his sight
  Restored to him, clear and bright
  As day-dawn; waiting, waiting still
  For the blind girl that never will
  Be wife of his.  How do I know?
  You will recall a while ago
  I told you he and I were friends.
  In all that friendship comprehends,
  I was his friend, I swear! why now,
  Remembering his love, and how
  His confidence was all my own,
  I hear, in fancy, the low tone
  Of his deep voice, so full of pride
  And passion, yet so pacified
  With his affliction, that it seems
  An utterance sent out of dreams
  Of saddest melody, withal
  So sorrowfully musical
  It was, and is, must ever be--
  But I'm digressing, pardon me.
  _I_ knew not anything of love
  In those days, but of that above
  All worldly passion,--for my art--
  Music,--and that, with all my heart
  And soul, blent in a love too great
  For words of mine to estimate.
  And though among my pupils she
  Whose love my friend sought came to me
  I only knew her fingers' touch
  Because they loitered overmuch
  In simple scales, and needs must be
  Untangled almost constantly.
  But she was bright in other ways,
  And quick of thought, with ready plays
  Of wit, and with a voice as sweet
  To listen to as one might meet
  In any oratorio--
  And once I gravely told her so,--
  And, at my words, her limpid tone
  Of laughter faltered to a moan,
  And fell from that into a sigh
  That quavered all so wearily,
  That I, without the tear that crept
  Between the keys, had known she wept;
  And yet the hand I reached for then
  She caught away, and laughed again.
  And when that evening I strolled
  With my old friend, I, smiling, told
  Him I believed the girl and he
  Were matched and mated perfectly:
  He was so noble; she, so fair
  Of speech, and womanly of air;
  He, strong, ambitious; she, as mild
  And artless even as a child;
  And with a nature, I was sure,
  As worshipful as it was pure
  And sweet, and brimmed with tender things
  Beyond his rarest fancyings.
  He stopped me solemnly.  He knew,
  He said, how good, and just, and true
  Was all I said of her; but as
  For his own virtues, let them pass,
  Since they were nothing to the one
  That he had set his heart upon;
  For but that morning she had turned
  Forever from him.  Then I learned
  That for a month he had delayed
  His going from us, with no aid
  Of hope to hold him,--meeting still
  Her ever firm denial, till
  Not even in his new-found sight
  He found one comfort or delight.
  And as his voice broke there, I felt
  The brother-heart within me melt
  In warm compassion for his own
  That throbbed so utterly alone.
  And then a sudden fancy hit
  Along my brain; and coupling it
  With a belief that I, indeed,
  Might help my friend in his great need,
  I warmly said that I would go
  Myself, if he decided so,
  And see her for him--that I knew
  My pleadings would be listened to
  Most seriously, and that she
  Should love him, listening to me.
  Go; bless me!  And that was the last--
  The last time his warm hand shut fast
  Within my own--so empty since,
  That the remembered finger-prints
  I 've kissed a thousand times, and wet
  Them with the tears of all regret!

  I know not how to rightly tell
  How fared my quest, and what befell
  Me, coming in the presence of
  That blind girl, and her blinder love.
  I know but little else than that
  Above the chair in which she sat
  I leant--reached for, and found her hand,
  And held it for a moment, and
  Took up the other--held them both--
  As might a friend, I will take oath:
  Spoke leisurely, as might a man
  Praying for no thing other than
  He thinks Heaven's justice;--She was blind,
  I said, and yet a noble mind
  Most truly loved her; one whose fond
  Clear-sighted vision looked beyond
  The bounds of her infirmity,
  And saw the woman, perfectly
  Modeled, and wrought out pure and true
  And lovable.  She quailed, and drew
  Her hands away, but closer still
  I caught them.  "Rack me as you will!"
  She cried out sharply--"Call me 'blind'--
  Love ever is--I am resigned!
  Blind is your friend; as blind as he
  Am I--but blindest of the three--
  Yea, blind as death--you will not see
  My love for you is killing me!"

  There is a memory that may
  Not ever wholly fade away
  From out my heart, so bright and fair
  The light of it still glimmers there.
  Why, it did seem as though my sight
  Flamed back upon me, dazzling white
  And godlike.  Not one other word
  Of hers I listened for or heard,
  But I _saw_ songs sung in her eyes
  Till they did swoon up drowning-wise,
  As my mad lips did strike her own
  And we flashed one and one alone!
  Ah! was it treachery for me
  To kneel there, drinking eagerly
  That torrent-flow of words that swept
  Out laughingly the tears she wept?--
  Sweet words!  O sweeter far, maybe,
  Than light of day to those that see,--
  God knows, who did the rapture send
  To me, and hold it from my friend.

  And we were married half a year
  Ago,--and he is--waiting here,
  Heedless of that--or anything,
  But just that he is lingering
  To say good-bye to her, and bow--
  As you may see him doing now,--
  For there's her footstep in the hall;
  God bless her!--help him!--save us all!


  Right here at home, boys, in old Hoosierdom,
  Where strangers allus joke us when they come,
  And brag o' _their_ old States and interprize--
  Yit _settle_ here; and 'fore they realize,
  They're "hoosier" as the rest of us, and live
  Right here at home, boys, with their past fergive!

  Right here at home, boys, is the place, I guess,
  Fer me and you and plain old happiness:
  We hear the World's lots grander--likely so,--
  We'll take the World's word fer it and not go.--
  We know _its_ ways aint _our_ ways--so we'll stay
  Right here at home, boys, where we know the way.

  Right here at home, boys, where a well-to-do
  Man's plenty rich enough--and knows it, too,
  And's got a' extry dollar, any time,
  To boost a feller up 'at _wants_ to climb
  And 's got the git-up in him to go in
  And _git there_, like he purt'-nigh allus kin!

  Right here at home, boys, is the place fer us!--
  Where folks' heart's bigger 'n their money-pu's';
  And where a _common_ feller's jes as good
  As ary other in the neighborhood:
  The World at large don't worry you and me
  Right here at home, boys, where we ort to be!

  Right here at home, boys--jes right where we air!--
  Birds don't sing any sweeter anywhere:
  Grass don't grow any greener'n she grows
  Acrost the pastur' where the old path goes,--
  All things in ear-shot's purty, er in sight,
  Right here at home, boys, ef we _size_ 'em right.

  Right here at home, boys, where the old home-place
  Is sacerd to us as our mother's face,
  Jes as we rickollect her, last she smiled
  And kissed us--dyin' so and rickonciled,
  Seein' us all at home here--none astray--
  Right here at home, boys, where she sleeps to-day.


  He seemed so strange to me, every way--
    In manner, and form, and size,
  From the boy I knew but yesterday,--
    I could hardly believe my eyes!

  To hear his name called over there,
    My memory thrilled with glee
  And leaped to picture him young and fair
    In youth, as he used to be.

  But looking, only as glad eyes can,
    For the boy I knew of yore,
  I smiled on a portly little man
    I had never seen before!--

  Grave as a judge in courtliness--
    Professor-like and bland--
  A little fat doctor and nothing less,
    With his hat in his kimboed hand.

  But how we talked old times, and "chaffed"
    Each other with "Minnie" and "Jim"---
  And how the little fat doctor laughed,
    And how I laughed with him!

  "And it's pleasant," I thought, "though I yearn to see
    The face of the youth that was,
  To know no boy could smile on me
    As the little fat doctor does!"


  Thou Poet, who, like any lark,
    Dost whet thy beak and trill
  From misty morn till murky dark,
    Nor ever pipe thy fill:
  Hast thou not, in thy cheery note,
    One poor chirp to confer--
  One verseful twitter to devote
    Unto the Shoe-ma-ker?

  At early dawn he doth peg in
    His noble work and brave;
  And eke from cark and wordly sin
    He seeketh soles to save;
  And all day long, with quip and song,
    Thus stitcheth he the way
  Our feet may know the right from wrong,
    Nor ever go a stray.

  Soak kip in mind the Shoe-ma-ker,
    Nor slight his lasting fame:
  Alway he waxeth tenderer
    In warmth of our acclaim;--
  Aye, more than any artisan
    We glory in his art
  Who ne'er, to help the under man,
    Neglects the upper part.

  But toe the mark for him, and heel
    Respond to thee in kine--
  Or kid--or calf, shouldst thou reveal
    A taste so superfine:
  Thus let him jest--join in his laugh--
    Draw on his stock, and be
  A shoer'd there's no rival half
    Sole liberal as he.

  Then, Poet, hail the Shoe-ma-ker
    For all his goodly deeds,--
  Yea, bless him free for booting thee--
    The first of all thy needs!
  And when at last his eyes grow dim,
    And nerveless drops his clamp,
  In golden shoon pray think of him
    Upon his latest tramp.


  The old sea captain has sailed the seas
    So long, that the waves at mirth,
  Or the waves gone wild, and the crests of these,
    Were as near playmates from birth:
  He has loved both the storm and the calm, because
    They seemed as his brothers twain,--
  The flapping sail was his soul's applause,
    And his rapture, the roaring main.

  But now--like a battered hulk seems he,
    Cast high on a foreign strand,
  Though he feels "in port," as it need must be,
    And the stay of a daughter's hand--
  Yet ever the round of the listless hours,--
    His pipe, in the languid air--
  The grass, the trees, and the garden flowers,
    And the strange earth everywhere!

  And so betimes he is restless here
    In this little inland town,
  With never a wing in the atmosphere
    But the wind-mill's, up and down;
  His daughter's home in this peaceful vale,
    And his grandchild 'twixt his knees--
  But never the hail of a passing sail,
    Nor the surge of the angry seas!

  He quits his pipe, and he snaps its neck--
  Would speak, though he coughs instead,
  Then paces the porch like a quarter-deck
  With a reeling mast o'erhead!
  Ho! the old sea captain's cheeks glow warm,
  And his eyes gleam grim and weird,
  As he mutters about, like a thunder-storm,
  In the cloud of his beetling beard.


  What intuition named thee?--Through what thrill
  Of the awed soul came the command divine
  Into the mother-heart, foretelling thine
  Should palpitate with his whose raptures will
  Sing on while daisies bloom and lavrocks trill
  Their undulating ways up through the fine
  Fair mists of heavenly reaches?  Thy pure line
  Falls as the dew of anthems, quiring still
  The sweeter since the Scottish singer raised
  His voice therein, and, quit of every stress
  Of earthly ache and longing and despair,
  Knew certainly each simple thing he praised
  Was no less worthy, for its lowliness,
  Than any joy of all the glory There.


  Tinkle on, O sweet guitar,
    Let the dancing fingers
  Loiter where the low notes are
    Blended with the singer's:
  Let the midnight pour the moon's
    Mellow wine of glory
  Down upon him through the tune's
    Old romantic story!

  I am listening, my love,
    Through the cautious lattice,
  Wondering why the stars above
    All are blinking at us;
  Wondering if his eyes from there
    Catch the moonbeam's shimmer
  As it lights the robe I wear
    With a ghostly glimmer.

  Lilt thy song, and lute away
    In the wildest fashion:--
  Pour thy rippling roundelay
    O'er the heights of passion!--
  Flash it down the fretted strings
    Till thy mad lips, missing
  All but smothered whisperings,
    Press this rose I'm kissing.



  In youth he wrought, with eyes ablur,
    Lorn-faced and long of hair--
  In youth--in youth he painted her
    A sister of the air--
  Could clasp her not, but felt the stir
    Of pinions everywhere.


  She lured his gaze, in braver days,
    And tranced him sirenwise;
  And he did paint her, through a haze
    Of sullen paradise,
  With scars of kisses on her face
    And embers in her eyes.


  And now--nor dream nor wild conceit--
    Though faltering, as before--
  Through tears he paints her, as is meet,
    Tracing the dear face o'er
  With lilied patience meek and sweet
    As Mother Mary wore.


  I thought the deacon liked me, yit
  I warn't adzackly shore of it--
  Fer, mind ye, time and time agin,
  When jiners 'ud be comin' in,
  I'd seed him shakin' hands as free
  With all the sistern as with me!
  But jurin' last Revival, where
  He called on _me_ to lead in prayer,
  An' kneeled there with me, side by side,
  A-whisper'n' "he felt sanctified
  Jes' tetchin of my gyarment's hem,"--
  That settled things as fur as them-
  Thare other wimmin was concerned!--
  And--well!--I know I must a-turned
  A dozen colors!--_Flurried_?--_la_!--
  No mortal sinner never saw
  A gladder widder than the one
  A-kneelin' there and wonderun'
  Who'd pray'--So glad, upon my word,
  I railly could n't thank the Lord!


  All hope of rest withdrawn me?--
    What dread command hath put
  This awful curse upon me--
    The curse of the wandering foot!
  Forward and backward and thither,
    And hither and yon again--
  Wandering ever!  And whither?
    Answer them, God!  Amen.

  The blue skies are far o'er me---
    The bleak fields near below:
  Where the mother that bore me?--
    Where her grave in the snow?--
  Glad in her trough of a coffin--
    The sad eyes frozen shut
  That wept so often, often,
    The curse of the wandering foot!

  Here in your marts I care not
    Whatsoever ye think.
  Good folk many who dare not
    Give me to eat and drink:
  Give me to sup of your pity--
    Feast me on prayers!--O ye,
  Met I your Christ in the city
    He would fare forth with me--

  Forward and onward and thither,
    And hither again and yon,
  With milk for our drink together
    And honey to feed upon--
  Nor hope of rest withdrawn us,
    Since the one Father put
  The blesséd curse upon us--
    The curse of the wandering foot.


  A monument for the Soldiers!
    And what will ye build it of?
  Can ye build it of marble, or brass, or bronze,
    Outlasting the Soldiers' love?
  Can ye glorify it with legends
    As grand as their blood hath writ
  From the inmost shrine of this land of thine
    To the outermost verge of it?

  And the answer came:  We would build it
    Out of our hopes made sure,
  And out of our purest prayers and tears,
    And out of our faith secure:
  We would build it out of the great white truths
    Their death hath sanctified,
  And the sculptured forms of the men in arms,
    And their faces ere they died.

  And what heroic figures
    Can the sculptor carve in stone?
  Can the marble breast be made to bleed,
    And the marble lips to moan?
  Can the marble brow be fevered?
    And the marble eyes be graved
  To look their last, as the flag floats past,
    On the country they have saved?

  And the answer came: The figures
    Shall all be fair and brave,
  And, as befitting, as pure and white
    As the stars above their grave!
  The marble lips, and breast and brow
    Whereon the laurel lies,
  Bequeath us right to guard the flight
    Of the old flag in the skies!

  A monument for the Soldiers!
    Built of a people's love,
  And blazoned and decked and panoplied
    With the hearts ye build it oft
  And see that ye build it stately,
    In pillar and niche and gate,
  And high in pose as the souls of those
    It would commemorate!


  I so loved once, when Death came by I hid
  Away my face,
  And all my sweetheart's tresses she undid
  To make my hiding-place.

  The dread shade passed me thus unheeding; and
  I turned me then
  To calm my love--kiss down her shielding hand
  And comfort her again.

  And lo! she answered not: And she did sit
  All fixedly,
  With her fair face and the sweet smile of it,
  In love with Death, not me.


  Iry an' Billy an' Jo!--
      Iry an' Billy's _the boys_,
  An' _Jo's_ their _dog_, you know,--
  Their pictures took all in a row.
      Bet they kin kick up a noise--
      Iry and Billy, the boys,
  And that-air little dog Jo!

  _Iry's_ the one 'at stands
      Up there a-lookin' so mild
  An' meek--with his hat in his hands,
      Like such a 'bediant child--
  (_Sakes-alive_!)--An' _Billy_ he sets
  In the cheer an' holds onto Jo an' _sweats_
  Hisse'f, a-lookin' so good!  Ho-ho!
      Iry an' Billy an' Jo!

  Yit the way them boys, you know,
      Usen to jes turn in
  An' fight over that dog Jo
      Wuz a burnin'-shame-an'-a-sin !--
  Iry _he'd_ argy 'at, by gee-whizz!
  That-air little Jo-dog wuz _his_!--
  An' Billy _he'd_ claim it wuzn't so--
  'Cause the dog wuz _his'n_!--An' at it they'd go,
  Nip-an'-tugg, tooth-an'-toenail, you know--
      Iry an' Billy an' Jo!

  But their Pa--(He wuz the marshal then)
    He 'tended-like 'at he _jerked 'em up_;
  An' got a jury o' Brickyard men
    An' helt a _trial_ about the pup:
  An' _he_ says _he_ jes like to a-died
  When the rest o' us town-boys _testified_--
      Regardin', you know,
      Iry an' Billy an' Jo.--

  'Cause we all knowed, when _the Gypsies_ they
    Camped down here by the crick last Fall,
  They brung Jo with 'em, an' give him away
    To Iry an' Billy fer nothin' at all!--
  So the jury fetched in the _verdick_ so
      Jo he ain't _neether_ o' theirn fer _shore_--
      He's _both_ their dog, an' jes no more!
      An' so
      They've quit quarrelin' long ago,
      Iry an' Billy an' Jo.


  In its color, shade and shine,
  'T was a summer warm as wine,
  With an effervescent flavoring of flowered bough and vine,
  And a fragrance and a taste
  Of ripe roses gone to waste,
  And a dreamy sense of sun- and moon- and star-light interlaced.

  'Twas a summer such as broods
  O'er enchanted solitudes,
  Where the hand of Fancy leads us through voluptuary moods,
  And with lavish love out-pours
  All the wealth of out-of-doors,
  And woos our feet o'er velvet paths and honeysuckle floors.

  'Twas a summertime long dead,--
  And its roses, white and red,
  And its reeds and water-lilies down along the river-bed,--
  O they all are ghostly things--
  For the ripple never sings,
  And the rocking lily never even rustles as it rings!


  O her beautiful eyes! they are as blue as the dew
  On the violet's bloom when the morning is new,
  And the light of their love is the gleam of the sun
  O'er the meadows of Spring where the quick shadows run:
  As the morn shirts the mists and the clouds from the skies--
  So I stand in the dawn of her beautiful eyes.

  And her beautiful eyes are as midday to me,
  When the lily-bell bends with the weight of the bee,
  And the throat of the thrush is a-pulse in the heat,
  And the senses are drugged with the subtle and sweet
  And delirious breaths of the air's lullabies--
  So I swoon in the noon of her beautiful eyes.

  O her beautiful eyes! they have smitten mine own
  As a glory glanced down from the glare of The Throne;
  And I reel, and I falter and fall, as afar
  Fell the shepherds that looked on the mystical Star,
  And yet dazed in the tidings that bade them arise--
  So I grope through the night of her beautiful eyes.


  Ot's a leedle Christmas story
    Dot I told der leedle folks--
  Und I vant you stop dot laughin'
    Und grackin' funny jokes'--
  So-help me Peter-Moses!
    Ot's no time for monkeyshine',
  Ober I vas told you somedings
    Of dot leedle boy of mine!

  Ot vas von cold Vinter vedder,
    Ven der snow vas all about--
  Dot you have to chop der hatchet
    Eef you got der saur kraut!
  Und der cheekens on der hind-leg
    Vas standin' in der shine
  Der sun shmile out dot morning
    On dot leedle boy of mine.

  He vas yoost a leedle baby
    Not bigger as a doll
  Dot time I got acquaintet--
    Ach! you ought to heard 'im squall!--
  I grackys! dot's der moosic
    Ot make me feel so fine
  Ven first I vas been marriet--
    Oh, dot leedle boy of mine!

  He look' yoost like his fader!--
    So, ven der vimmen said
  "Vot a purty leedle baby!"
    Katrina shake der head.
  I dink she must a-notice
    Dot der baby vas a-gryin',
  Und she cover up der blankets
    Of dot leedle boy of mine.

  Vel, ven he vas got bigger,
    Dot he grawl und bump his nose,
  Und make der table over,
    Und molasses on his glothes--
  Dot make 'im all der sveeter,--
    So I say to my Katrine
  "Better you vas quit a-shpankin'
    Dot leedle boy of mine!"

  I vish you could a-seen id--
    Ven he glimb up on der chair
  Und shmash der lookin' glasses
    Ven he try to comb his hair
  Mit a hammer!--Und Katrina
    Say "Dot's an ugly sign!"
  But I laugh und vink my fingers
    At dot leedle boy of mine.

  But vonce, dot Vinter morning,
    He shlip out in der snow
  Mitout no stockin's on 'im.--
    He say he "vant to go
  Und fly some mit der birdies!"
    Und ve give 'im medi-cine
  Ven he catch der "parrygoric"--
    Dot leedle boy of mine!

  Und so I set und nurse 'im,
    Vile der Christmas vas come roun',
  Und I told 'im 'bout "Kriss Kringle,"
    How he come der chimbly down:
  Und I ask 'im eef he love 'im
    Eef he bring 'im someding fine?
  "_Nicht besser as mein fader_,"
    Say dot leedle boy of mine.--

  Und he put his arms aroun' me
    Und hug so close und tight,
  I hear der gclock a-tickin'
    All der balance of der night! . . .
  Someding make me feel so funny
    Ven I say to my Katrine
  "Let us go und fill der stockin's
   Of dot leedle boy of mine."

  Veil.--Ve buyed a leedle horses
    Dot you pull 'im mit a shtring,
  Und a leedle fancy jay-bird--
    Eef you vant to hear 'im sing
  You took 'im by der top-knot
    Und yoost blow in behine--
  Und dot make much _spectakel_--
    For dot leedle boy of mine!

  Und gandles, nuts and raizens--
    Unt I buy a leedle drum
  Dot I vant to hear 'im rattle
    Ven der Gristmas morning come!
  Und a leedle shmall tin rooster
    Dot vould crow so loud und fine
  Ven he sqveeze 'im in der morning,
    Dot leedle boy of mine!

  Und--vile ve vas a-fixin'--
    Dot leedle boy vake out!
  I fought he been a-dreamin'
    "Kriss Kringle" vas about,--
  For he say--"_Dot's him!--I see 'im_
    _Mit der shtars dot make der shine_!"
  Und he yoost keep on a-gryin'--
    Dot leedle boy of mine,--

  Und gottin' vorse und vorser--
  Und tumble on der bed!
  So--ven der doctor seen id,
  He kindo' shake his head,
  Und feel his pulse--und visper
  "Der boy is a-dyin'."
  You dink I could _believe_ id?--
  _Dot leedle boy of mine_?

  I told you, friends--dot's someding,
  Der last time dot he speak
  Und say "_Goot-bye, Kriss Kringle_!"
  --Dot make me feel so veak
  I yoost kneel down und drimble,
  Und bur-sed out a-gryin'
  "_Mein Goit, mein Gott im Himmel_!--
  _Dot leedle boy, of mine_!"

        *      *      *      *      *

  Der sun don't shine dot Gristmas!
  . . . Eef dot leedle boy vould _liff'd_--
  No deefer-en'! for Heaven vas
  His leedle Gristmas-gift! . . .
  Und der rooster, und der _gandy_,
  Und me--und my Katrine--
  Und der jay-bird--is a-vaiting
  For dot leedle boy of mine.


  Donn Piatt--of Mac-o-chee,--
  Not the one of History,
  Who, with flaming tongue and pen,
  Scathes the vanities of men;
  Not the one whose biting wit
  Cuts pretense and etches it
  On the brazen brow that dares
  Filch the laurel that it wears:
  Not the Donn Piatt whose praise
  Echoes in the noisy ways
  Of the faction, onward led
  By the statesman!--But, instead,
  Give the simple man to me,--
  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee!


  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee!
  Branches of the old oak tree,
  Drape him royally in fine
  Purple shade and golden shine!
  Emerald plush of sloping lawn
  Be the throne he sits upon!
  And, O Summer sunset, thou
  Be his crown, and gild a brow
  Softly smoothed and soothed and calmed
  By the breezes, mellow-palmed
  As Erata's white hand agleam
  On the forehead of a dream.--
  So forever rule o'er me,
  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee!


  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee:
  Through a lilied memory
  Plays the wayward little creek
  Round thy home at hide-and-seek--
  As I see and hear it, still
  Romping round the wooded hill,
  Till its laugh-and-babble blends
  With the silence while it sends
  Glances back to kiss the sight,
  In its babyish delight,
  Ere it strays amid the gloom
  Of the glens that burst in bloom
  Of the rarest rhyme for thee,
  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee!


  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee!
  What a darling destiny
  Has been mine--to meet him there--
  Lolling in an easy chair
  On the terrace, while he told
  Reminiscences of old--
  Letting my cigar die out,
  Hearing poems talked about;
  And entranced to hear him say
  Gentle things of Thackeray,
  Dickens, Hawthorne, and the rest,
  Known to him as host and guest--
  Known to him as he to me--
  Donn Piatt of Mac-o-chee!


  Take a feller 'at's sick and laid up on the shelf,
    All shaky, and ga'nted, and pore--
  Jes all so knocked out he can't handle hisself
    With a stiff upper-lip any more;
  Shet him up all alone in the gloom of a room
    As dark as the tomb, and as grim,
  And then take and send him some roses in bloom,
    And you can have fun out o' him!

  You've ketched him 'fore now--when his liver was sound
    And his appetite notched like a saw--
  A-mockin' you, mayby, fer romancin' round
    With a big posy-bunch in yer paw;
  But you ketch him, say, when his health is away,
    And he's flat on his back in distress,
  And _then_ you kin trot out yer little bokay
    And not be insulted, I guess!

  You see, it's like this, what his weaknesses is,--
    Them flowers makes him think of the days
  Of his innocent youth, and that mother o' his,
    And the roses that _she_ us't to raise:--
  So here, all alone with the roses you send--
    Bein' sick and all trimbly and faint,--
  My eyes is--my eyes is--my eyes is--old friend--
    Is a-leakin'--I'm blamed ef they ain't!


  The man that rooms next door to me:
      Two weeks ago, this very night,
  He took possession quietly,
    As any other lodger might--
      But why the room next mine should so
      Attract him I was vexed to know,--
      Because his quietude, in fine,
      Was far superior to mine.

  "Now, I like quiet, truth to tell,
    A tranquil life is sweet to me--
  But _this_," I sneered, "suits me too well.--
    He shuts his door so noiselessly,
      And glides about so very mute,
      In each mysterious pursuit,
      His silence is oppressive, and
      Too deep for me to understand."

  Sometimes, forgetting book or pen,
    I've found my head in breathless poise
  Lifted, and dropped in shame again,
    Hearing some alien ghost of noise--
      Some smothered sound that seemed to be
      A trunk-lid dropped unguardedly,
      Or the crisp writhings of some quire
      Of manuscript thrust in the fire.

  Then I have climbed, and closed in vain
    My transom, opening in the hall;
  Or close against the window-pane
    Have pressed my fevered face,--but all
      The day or night without held not
      A sight or sound or counter-thought
      To set my mind one instant free
      Of this man's silent mastery.

  And often I have paced the floor
    With muttering anger, far at night,
  Hearing, and cursing, o'er and o'er,
    The muffled noises, and the light
      And tireless movements of this guest
      Whose silence raged above my rest
      Hoarser than howling storms at sea--
      The man that rooms next door to me.

  But twice or thrice, upon the stair,
    I've seen his face--most strangely wan,--
  Each time upon me unaware
    He came--smooth'd past me, and was gone.
      So like a whisper he went by,
      I listened after, ear and eye,
      Nor could my chafing fancy tell
      The meaning of one syllable.

  Last night I caught him, face to face,--
    He entering his room, and I
  Glaring from mine: He paused a space
    And met my scowl all shrinkingly,
      But with full gentleness:  The key
      Turned in his door--and I could see
      It tremblingly withdrawn and put
      Inside, and then--the door was shut.

  Then silence.  _Silence_!--why, last night
    The silence was tumultuous,
  And thundered on till broad daylight;--
    O never has it stunned me thus!--
      It rolls, and moans, and mumbles yet.--
      Ah, God! how loud may silence get
      When man mocks at a brother man
      Who answers but as silence can!

  The silence grew, and grew, and grew,
    Till at high noon to-day 'twas heard
  Throughout the house; and men flocked through
    The echoing halls, with faces blurred
      With pallor, gloom, and fear, and awe,
      And shuddering at what they saw--
      The quiet lodger, as he lay
      Stark of the life he cast away.

       *     *     *     *     *

  So strange to-night--those voices there,
    Where all so quiet was before;
  They say the face has not a care
    Nor sorrow in it any more--
      His latest scrawl:--"Forgive me--You
      Who prayed, 'they know not what they do!'"
      My tears wilt never let me see
      This man that rooms next door to me!


  O the waiting in the watches of the night!
  In the darkness, desolation, and contrition and affright;
  The awful hush that holds us shut away from all delight:
  The ever weary memory that ever weary goes
  Recounting ever over every aching loss it knows--
  The ever weary eyelids gasping ever for repose--
  In the dreary, weary watches of the night!

  Dark--stifling dark--the watches of the night!
  With tingling nerves at tension, how the blackness flashes white
  With spectral visitations smitten past the inner sight!--
  What shuddering sense of wrongs we've wrought
              that may not be redressed--
  Of tears we did not brush away--of lips we left unpressed,
  And hands that we let fall, with all their loyalty unguessed!
  Ah! the empty, empty watches of the night!

  What solace in the watches of the night?--
  What frailest staff of hope to stay--what faintest shaft of light?
  Do we _dream_ and dare _believe_ it, that by never weight of right
  Of our own poor weak deservings, we shall win the dawn at last--
  Our famished souls find freedom from this penance for the past,
  In a faith that leaps and lightens from the gloom
              that flees aghast--
  Shall we survive the watches of the night?

  One leads us through the watches of the night--
  By the ceaseless intercession of our loved ones lost to sight
  He is with us through all trials, in His mercy and His might;--
  With our mothers there about Him, all our sorrow disappears,
  Till the silence of our sobbing is the prayer the Master hears,
  And His hand is laid upon us with the tenderness of tears
  In the waning of the watches of the night.


  Close the book and dim the light,
  I shall read no more to-night.
  No--I am not sleepy, dear--
  Do not go: sit by me here
  In the darkness and the deep
  Silence of the watch I keep.
  Something in your presence so
  Soothes me--as in long ago
  I first felt your hand--as now--
  In the darkness touch my brow;
  I've no other wish than you
  Thus should fold mine eyelids to,
  Saying nought of sigh or tear--
  Just as God were sitting here.


  Season of snows, and season of flowers,
    Seasons of loss and gain!--
  Since grief and joy must alike be ours,
    Why do we still complain?

  Ever our failing, from sun to sun,
    O my intolerent brother:--
  We want just a little too little of one,
    And much too much of the other.


  First the teacher called the roll,
    Clos't to the beginnin',
  "Addeliney Bowersox!"
    Set the school a-grinnin'.
  Wintertime, and stingin'-cold
    When the session took up--
  Cold as _we_ all looked at _her_,
    Though _she_ couldn't look up!

  Total stranger to us, too--
    Country-folks ain't allus
  Nigh so shameful unpolite
    As some people call us!--
  But the honest facts is, _then_,
    Addeliney Bower-
  Sox's feelin's was so hurt
    She cried half an hour!

  My dest was acrost from her 'n:
    Set and watched her tryin'
  To p'tend she didn't keer,
    And a kind o' dryin'
  Up her tears with smiles---tel I
    Thought, "Well, '_Addeliney
  Bowersox_' is plain, but _she's_
    Purty as a piney!"

  It's be'n many of a year
    Sence that most oncommon
  Cur'ous name o' _Bowersox_
    Struck me so abomin-
  Nubble and outlandish-like!--
    I changed it to Adde-
  Liney _Daubenspeck_--and _that_
    Nearly killed her Daddy!


  Get gone, thou most uncomfortable ghost!
    Thou really dost annoy me with thy thin
    Impalpable transparency of grin;
  And the vague, shadowy shape of thee almost
  Hath vext me beyond boundary and coast
    Of my broad patience.  Stay thy chattering chin,
    And reel the tauntings of thy vain tongue in,
  Nor tempt me further with thy vaporish boast
    That I am _helpless_ to combat thee!  Well,
  Have at thee, then!  Yet if a doom most dire
    Thou wouldst escape, flee whilst thou canst!--Revile
  Me not, Miasmic Mist!--Rank Air! _retire_!
    One instant longer an thou haunt'st me, I'll
  _Inhale_ thee, O thou wraith despicable!


  They faced each other: Topaz-brown
  And lambent burnt her eyes and shot
  Sharp flame at his of amethyst.--
  "I hate you!  Go, and be forgot
  As death forgets!" their glitter _hissed_
  (So _seemed_ it) in their hatred.  Ho!
  Dared any mortal front her so?--
  Tempestuous eyebrows knitted down--
  Tense nostril, mouth--no muscle slack,--
  And black--the suffocating black--
  The stifling blackness of her frown!

  Ah! but the lifted face of her!
  And the twitched lip and tilted head!
  Yet he did neither wince nor stir,--
  Only--his hands clenched; and, instead
  Of words, he answered with a stare
  That stammered not in aught it said,
  As might his voice if trusted there.

  And what--what spake his steady gaze?--
  Was there a look that harshly fell
  To scoff her?--or a syllable
  Of anger?--or the bitter phrase
  That myrrhs the honey of love's lips,
  Or curdles blood as poison drips?
  What made their breasts to heave and swell
  As billows under bows of ships
  In broken seas on stormy days?
  We may not know--nor _they_ indeed--
  What mercy found them in their need.

  A sudden sunlight smote the gloom;
  And round about them swept a breeze,
  With faint breaths as of clover-bloom;
  A bird was heard, through drone of bees,--
  Then, far and clear and eerily,
  A child's voice from an orchard-tree--
  Then laughter, sweet as the perfume
  Of lilacs, could the hearing see.
  And he--O Love! he fed thy name
  On bruiséd kisses, while her dim
  Deep eyes, with all their inner flame,
  Like drowning gems were turned on him.



  As one in sorrow looks upon
    The dead face of a loyal friend,
  By the dim light of New Year's dawn
    I saw the Old Year end.

  Upon the pallid features lay
    The dear old smile--so warm and bright
  Ere thus its cheer had died away
    In ashes of delight.

  The hands that I had learned to love
    With strength of passion half divine,
  Were folded now, all heedless of
    The emptiness of mine.

  The eyes that once had shed their bright
    Sweet looks like sunshine, now were dull,
  And ever lidded from the light
    That made them beautiful.


  The chimes of bells were in the air,
    And sounds of mirth in hall and street,
  With pealing laughter everywhere
    And throb of dancing feet:

  The mirth and the convivial din
    Of revelers in wanton glee,
  With tunes of harp and violin
    In tangled harmony.

  But with a sense of nameless dread,
    I turned me, from the merry face
  Of this newcomer, to my dead;
    And, kneeling there a space,

  I sobbed aloud, all tearfully:--
    By this dear face so fixed and cold,
  O Lord, let not this New Year be
    As happy as the old!


  Hereafter!  O we need not waste
    Our smiles or tears, whatever befall:
  No happiness but holds a taste
    Of something sweeter, after all;--
  No depth of agony but feels
    Some fragment of abiding trust,--
  Whatever death unlocks or seals,
    The mute beyond is just.


  Writ in between the lines of his life-deed
  We trace the sacred service of a heart
  Answering the Divine command, in every part
  Bearing on human weal: His love did feed
  The loveless; and his gentle hands did lead
  The blind, and lift the weak, and balm the smart
  Of other wounds than rankled at the dart
  In his own breast, that gloried thus to bleed.
  He served the lowliest first--nay, them alone--
  The most despised that e'er wreaked vain breath
  In cries of suppliance in the reign whereat
  Red Guilt sate squat upon her spattered throne.--
  For these doomed there it was he went to death.
  God! how the merest man loves one like that!


  I have sipped, with drooping lashes,
    Dreamy draughts of Verzenay;
  I have flourished brandy-smashes
    In the wildest sort of way;
  I have joked with "Tom and Jerry"
    Till wee hours ayont the twal'--
  But I've found my tea the very
    Safest tipple of them all!

  'Tis a mystical potation
    That exceeds in warmth of glow
  And divine exhilaration
    All the drugs of long ago--
  All of old magicians' potions--
    Of Medea's filtered spells--
  Or of fabled isles and oceans
    Where the Lotos-eater dwells!

  Though I've reveled o'er late lunches
    With _blasé_ dramatic stars,
  And absorbed their wit and punches
    And the fumes of their cigars--
  Drank in the latest story,
    With a cock-tail either end,--
  I have drained a deeper glory
    In a cup of tea, my friend.

  Green, Black, Moyune, Formosa,
    Congou, Amboy, Pingsuey--
  No odds the name it knows--ah!
    Fill a cup of it for me!
  And, as I clink my china
    Against your goblet's brim,
  My tea in steam shall twine a
    Fragrant laurel round its rim.


  O her eyes are amber-fine--
  Dark and deep as wells of wine,
  While her smile is like the noon
  Splendor of a day of June.
  If she sorrow--lo! her face
  It is like a flowery space
  In bright meadows, overlaid
  With light clouds and lulled with shade
  If she laugh--it is the trill
  Of the wayward whippoorwill
  Over upland pastures, heard
  Echoed by the mocking-bird
  In dim thickets dense with bloom
  And blurred cloyings of perfume.
  If she sigh--a zephyr swells
  Over odorous asphodels
  And wan lilies in lush plots
  Of moon-drown'd forget-me-nots.
  Then, the soft touch of her hand--
  Takes all breath to understand
  What to liken it thereto!--
  Never roseleaf rinsed with dew
  Might slip soother-suave than slips
  Her slow palm, the while her lips
  Swoon through mine, with kiss on kiss
  Sweet as heated honey is.


  Grand Haven is in Michigan, and in possession, too,
  Of as many rare attractions as our party ever knew:--
  The fine hotel, the landlord, and the lordly bill of fare,
  And the dainty-neat completeness of the pretty waiters there;
  The touch on the piano in the parlor, and the trill
  Of the exquisite soprano, in our fancy singing still;
  Our cozy room, its comfort, and our thousand grateful tho'ts,
  And at our door the gentle face

  His artless observations, and his drollery of style,
  Bewildered with that sorrowful serenity of smile--
  The eye's elusive twinkle, and the twitching of the lid,
  Like he didn't go to say it and was sorry that he did.
  O Artemus of Michigan! so worthy of the name,
  Our manager indorses it, and Bill Nye does the same--
  You tickled our affection in so many tender spots
  That even Recollection laughs

  And hark ye!  O Grand Haven! count your rare attractions o'er--
  The commerce of your ships at sea, and ships along the shore;
  Your railroads, and your industries, and interests untold,
  Your Opera House--our lecture, and the gate-receipts in gold!--
  Ay, Banner Town of Michigan! count all your treasures through--
  Your crowds of summer tourists, and your Sanitarium, too;
  Your lake, your beach, your drives, your breezy groves
              and grassy plots,
  But head the list of all of these


  Owned a pair o' skates onc't.--Traded
    Fer 'em,--stropped 'em on and waded
  Up and down the crick, a-waitin'
  Tel she'd freeze up fit fer skatin'.
  Mildest winter I remember--
    More like Spring- than Winter-weather!--
  Did n't _frost_ tel bout December-
    Git up airly ketch a' feather
  Of it, mayby, 'crost the winder--
  Sunshine swinge it like a cinder!

  Well--I _waited_--and _kep_' waitin'!
    Couldn't see my money's w'oth in
  Them-air skates and was no skatin',
    Ner no hint o' ice ner nothin'!
  So, one day--along in airly
  Spring--I swopped 'em off--and barely
  Closed the dicker, 'fore the weather
    Natchurly jes slipped the ratchet,
  And crick--tail-race--all together,
    Froze so tight cat couldn't scratch it!




  BILLY MILLER      )           The Rivals

  TOMMY WELLS                   Conspirator

  TIME--Noon: SCENE--Country Town--Rear-view of the
  Miller Mansion, showing Barn, with practical loft-window
  opening on alley-way, with colored-crayon poster beneath,
  announcing:--"BILLY MILLER'S Big Show and Monstur Circus
  and Equareum!  A shour-bath fer Each and All fer 20 pins.
  This Afternoon!  Don't fer git the date!"  Enter TOMMY
  WELLS and JOHNNY WILLIAMS, who gaze awhile at poster,
  TOMMY secretly smiling and winking at BILLY MILLER,
  concealed at loft-window above.

    Guess 'at Billy haint got back,--
    Can't see nothin' through the crack---
    Can't hear nothin' neither--No!
    . . . Thinks he's got the dandy show,
    Don't he?

  JOHNNY (scornfully)--
    'Course' but what _I_ care?--
    He haint got no show in there!--
    What's _he_ got in there but that
    Old hen, cooped up with a cat
    An' a turkle, an' that thing
    'At he calls his "circus-ring?"
    "_What a circus-ring_!"  I'd _quit_!
    Bet mine's twic't as big as it!

    Yes, but _you_ got no machine
    Wat you bathe with, painted green,
    With a string to work it, guess!

  JOHNNY (contemptuously)--
    Folks don't _bathe_ in _circuses_!--
    _Ladies_ comes to _mine_, you bet!
    I' got seats where girls can set;
    An' a dressin'-room, an' all,
    Fixed up in my pony's stall--
    Yes, an' I' got _carpet_, too,
    Fer the tumblers, and a blue

          Well, Billy, he's
    Got a tight-rope an' trapeze,
    An' a hoop 'at he jumps through

          Well, what's _that_ to do--
    Lightin' on a pile o' hay?
    Haint no _actin_' thataway!

    Don't care what you say, he draws
    Bigger crowds than you do, 'cause
    Sense he started up, I know
    All the fellers says his show
    Is the best-un!

          Yes, an' he
    Better not tell things on me!
    His old circus haint no good!--
    'Cause he's got the neighborhood
    Down on me he thinks 'at I'm
    Goin' to stand it all the time;
    Thinks ist 'cause my Pa don't 'low
    Me to fight, he's got me now.
    An' can say I lie, an' call
    Me ist anything at all!
    Billy Miller thinks I am
    'Feared to say 'at he says "dam"--
    Yes, and worser ones! and I'm
    Goin' to tell his folks sometime!--
    An' ef he don't shet his head
    I'll tell worse 'an _that_ he said
    When he fighted Willie King--
    An' got licked like ever'thing!--
    Billy Miller better shin
    Down his Daddy's lane agin,
    Like a cowardy-calf, an' climb
    In fer home another time!

    [Here BILLY leaps down from the loft upon his unsuspecting
    victim; and two minutes, later, JOHNNY, with the half of a
    straw hat, a bleeding nose, and a straight rent across one
    trouser-knee, makes his inglorious--exit.]


  Wintertime, er Summertime,
  Of late years I notice I'm,
  Kindo'-like, more subjec' to
  What the _weather_ is.  Now, you
  Folks 'at lives in town, I s'pose,
  Thinks its bully when it snows;
  But the chap 'at chops and hauls
  Yer wood fer ye, and then stalls,
  And snapps tuggs and swingletrees,
  And then has to walk er freeze,
  Haint so much "stuck on" the snow
  As stuck _in_ it--Bless ye, no!--
  When its packed, and sleighin's good,
  And _church_ in the neighborhood,
  Them 'at's _got_ their girls, I guess,
  Takes 'em, likely, more er less,
  Tell the plain facts o' the case,
  No men-folks about our place
  On'y me and Pap--and he
  'Lows 'at young folks' company
  Allus made him sick!  So I
  Jes don't want, and jes don't try!
  Chinkypin, the dad-burn town,
  'S too fur off to loaf aroun'
  Either day er night--and no
  Law compellin' me to go!--
  'Less 'n some Old-Settlers' Day,
  Er big-doin's thataway--
  _Then_, to tell the p'inted fac',
  I've went more so's to come back
  By old Guthrie's 'still-house, where
  Minors _has_ got licker there--
  That's pervidin' we could show 'em
  Old folks sent fer it from home!
  Visit roun' the neighbors some,
  When the boys wants me to come.--
  Coon-hunt with 'em; er set traps
  Fer mussrats; er jes, perhaps,
  Lay in roun' the stove, you know,
  And parch corn, and let her snow!
  Mostly, nights like these, you'll be
  (Ef you' got a writ fer _me_)
  Ap' to skeer me up, I guess,
  In about the Wigginses.
  Nothin' roun' _our_ place to keep
  Me at home--with Pap asleep
  'Fore it's dark; and Mother in
  Mango pickles to her chin;
  And the girls, all still as death,
  Piecin' quilts.--Sence I drawed breath
  Twenty year' ago, and heerd
  Some girls whispern' so's it 'peared
  Like they had a row o' pins
  In their mouth--right there begins
  My first rickollections, built
  On that-air blame old piece-quilt!

  Summertime, it's jes the same--
  'Cause I've noticed,--and I claim,
  As I said afore, I'm more
  Subjec' to the weather, _shore_,
  'Proachin' my majority,
  Than I ever ust to be!
  Callin' back _last_ Summer, say,--
  Don't seem hardly past away--
  With night closin' in, and all
  S' lonesome-like in the dew-fail:
  Bats--ad-drat their ugly muggs!--
  Flickern' by; and lightnin'-bugs
  Huckstern' roun' the airly night
  Little sickly gasps o' light;--
  Whip-poor-wills, like all possessed,
  Moanin' out their mournfullest;--
  Frogs and katydids and things
  Jes clubs in and sings and sings
  Their _ding-dangdest_!--Stock's all fed,
  And Pap's washed his feet fer bed;--
  Mother and the girls all down
  At the milk-shed, foolin' roun'--
  No wunder 'at I git blue,
  And lite out--and so would you!
  I caint stay aroun' no place
  Whur they haint no livin' face:--
  'Crost the fields and thue the gaps
  Of the hills they's friends, perhaps,
  Waitin' somers, 'at kin be
  Kindo' comfertin' to me!

  Neighbors all 'is plenty good,
  Scattered thue this neighberhood;
  Yit, of all, I like to jes
  Drap in on the Wigginses.--
  Old man, and old lady too,
  'Pear-like, makes so much o' you--,
  Least, they've allus pampered me
  Like one of the fambily.--
  The boys, too, 's all thataway--
  Want you jes to come and stay;--
  Price, and Chape, and Mandaville,
  Poke, Chasteen, and "Catfish Bill"--
  Poke's the runt of all the rest,
  But he's jes the beatinest
  Little schemer, fer fourteen,
  Anybody ever seen!--
  "Like his namesake," old man claims,
  "Jeems K. Poke, the first o' names!
  Full o' tricks and jokes--and you
  Never know what _Poke's_ go' do!"
  Genius, too, that-air boy is,
  With them awk'ard hands o' his:
  Gits this blame pokeberry-juice,
  Er some stuff, fer ink--and goose-
  Quill pen-p'ints:  And then he'll draw
  Dogdest pictures yevver saw!
  Er make deers and eagles good
  As a writin'-teacher could!
  Then they's two twin boys they've riz
  Of old Coonrod Wigginses
  'At's deceast--and glad of it,
  'Cause his widder's livin' yit!

  Course _the boys_ is mostly jes'
  Why I go to Wigginses.---
  Though _Melviney_, sometimes, _she_
  Gits her slate and algebry
  And jes' sets there ciphern' thue
  Sums old Ray hisse'f caint do!--
  Jes' sets there, and tilts her chair
  Forreds tel, 'pear-like, her hair
  Jes' _spills_ in her lap--and then
  She jes' dips it up again
  With her hands, as white, I swan,
  As the apern she's got on!

  Talk o' hospitality!--
  Go to Wigginses with me--
  Overhet, or froze plum thue,
  You'll find welcome waitin' you:--
  Th'ow out yer tobacker 'fore
  You set foot acrost that floor,--
  "Got to eat whatever's set--
  Got to drink whatever's wet!"
  Old man's sentimuns--them's his---
  And means jes the best they is!
  Then he lights his pipe; and she,
  The old lady, presen'ly
  She lights her'n; and Chape and Poke.
  I haint got none, ner don't smoke,--
  (In the crick afore their door--
  Sorto so's 'at I'd be shore--
  Drownded mine one night and says
  "I won't smoke at _Wigginses_!")
  Price he's mostly talkin' 'bout
  Politics, and "thieves turned out"--
  What he's go' to be, ef he
  Ever "gits there"--and "we'll see!"--
  Poke he 'lows they's blame few men
  Go' to hold their breath tel then!
  Then Melviney smiles, as she
  Goes on with her algebry,
  And the clouds clear, and the room's
  Sweeter 'n crabapple-blooms!
  (That Melviney, she' got some
  Most surprisin' ways, I gum!--
  Don't 'pear like she ever _says_
  Nothin', yit you'll _listen_ jes
  Like she was a-talkin', and
  Half-way seem to understand,
  But not quite,--_Poke_ does, I know,
  'Cause he good as told me so,--
  Poke's her favo-rite; and he--
  That is, confidentially--
  He's _my_ favo-rite--and I
  Got my whurfore and my why!)

  I haint never ben no hand
  Much at talkin', understand,
  But they's _thoughts_ o' mine 'at's jes
  Jealous o' them Wigginses!--
  Gift o' talkin 's what they got,
  Whether they want to er not--
  F'r instunce, start the old man on
  Huntin'-scrapes, 'fore game was gone,
  'Way back in the Forties, when
  Bears stold pigs right out the pen,
  Er went waltzin' 'crost the farm
  With a bee-hive on their arm!--
  And--sir, _ping_! the old man's gun
  Has plumped-over many a one,
  Firin' at him from afore
  That-air very cabin-door!
  Yes--and _painters_, prowlin' 'bout,
  Allus darkest nights.--Lay out
  Clost yer cattle.--Great, big red
  Eyes a-blazin' in their head,
  Glittern' 'long the timber-line--
  Shine out some, and then _un_-shine,
  And shine back--Then, stiddy! whizz!
  'N there yer Mr. Painter is
  With a hole bored spang between
  Them-air eyes!  Er start Chasteen,
  Say, on blooded racin'-stock,
  Ef you want to hear him talk;
  Er tobacker--how to raise,
  Store, and k-yore it, so's she pays:
  The old lady--and she'll cote
  Scriptur' tel she'll git yer vote!

  Prove to you 'at wrong is right,
  Jes as plain as black is white:
  Prove when you're asleep in bed
  You're a-standin' on yer head,
  And yer train 'at's goin' West,
  'S goin' East its level best;
  And when bees dies, it's their wings
  Wears out--and a thousand things!
  And the boys is "chips," you know;
  "Off the old block"--So I go
  To the Wigginses, 'cause--jes
  'Cause I _like_ the Wigginses--
  Even ef Melviney _she_
  Hardly 'pears to notice me!

  Rid to Chinkypin this week--
  Yisterd'y.--No snow to speak
  Of, and didn't have no sleigh
  Anyhow; so, as I say,
  I rid in--and froze one ear
  And both heels--and I don't keer!--
  "Mother and the girls kin jes
  Bother 'bout their Chris'mases
  _Next_ time fer _theirse'vs_, I jack!"
  Thinks-says-I, a-startin' back,--
  Whole durn meal-bag full of things
  Wrapped in paper-sacks, and strings
  Liable to snap their holt
  Jes at any little jolt!
  That in front o' me, and _wind_
  With _nicks_ in it, 'at jes skinned
  Me alive!--I'm here to say
  Nine mile' hossback thataway
  Would a-walked my log!  But, as
  Somepin' allus comes to pass,
  As I topped old Guthrie's hill.
  Saw a buggy, front the 'Still,
  P'inted home'ards, and a thin
  Little chap jes climbin' in.
  Six more minutes I were there
  On the groun's'--And course it were--
  It were little Poke--and he
  Nearly fainted to see me!--
  "You ben in to Chinky, too?"
  "Yes; and go' ride back with you,"
  I-says-I.  He he'pped me find
  Room fer my things in behind--
  Stript my hoss's reins down, and
  Put his mitt' on the right hand
  So's to lead--"Pile in!" says he,
  "But you 've struck pore company!"
  Noticed he was pale--looked sick,
  Kindo-like, and had a quick
  Way o' flickin' them-air eyes
  0' his roun' 'at didn't size
  Up right with his usual style--
  s' I, "You well?"  He tried to smile,
  But his chin shuck and tears come.--
  "_I've run 'Viney 'way from home_!"

  Don't know jes what all occurred
  Next ten seconds--Nary word,
  But my heart jes drapt, stobbed thue,
  And whirlt over and come to.--
  Wrenched a big quart bottle from
  That fool-boy!--and cut my thumb
  On his little fiste-teeth--helt
  Him snug in one arm, and felt
  That-air little heart o' his
  Churn the blood o' Wigginses
  Into that old bead 'at spun
  Roun' her, spilt at Lexington!
  His k'niptions, like enough,
  He'pped us both,--though it was rough--
  Rough on him, and rougher on
  Me when last his nerve was gone,
  And he laid there still, his face
  Fishin' fer some hidin'-place
  Jes a leetle lower down
  In my breast than he 'd yit foun'!

  Last I kindo' soothed him, so's
  He could talk.--And what you s'pose
  Them-air revelations of
  Poke's was? . . .  He'd ben writin' love-
  Letters to Melviney, and
  Givin her to understand
  They was from "a young man who
  Loved her," and--"the violet's blue
  'N sugar's sweet"--and Lord knows what!
  Tel, 'peared-like, Melviney got
  S' interested in "the young
  Man," Poke _he_ says, 'at she brung
  A' answer onc't fer him to take,
  Statin' "she'd die fer his sake,"
  And writ fifty xs "fer
  Love-kisses fer him from her!"
  I was standin' in the road
  By the buggy, all I knowed
  When Poke got that fer.--"That's why,"
  Poke says, "I 'fessed up the lie--
  _Had_ to--'cause I see," says he,
  "'Viney was in airnest--she
  Cried, too, when I told her.--Then
  She swore me, and smiled again,
  And got Pap and Mother to
  Let me hitch and drive her thue
  Into Chinkypin, to be
  At Aunt 'Rindy's Chris'mas-tree--
  That's to-night."  Says I, "Poke--durn
  Your lyin' soul!--'s that beau o' hern--
  That--_she_--loves--Does _he_ live in
  That hellhole o' Chinkypin?"
  "No," says Poke, "er 'Viney would
  Went some _other_ neighborhood."
  "Who _is_ the blame whelp?" says I.
  "Promised 'Viney, hope I'd die
  Ef I ever told!" says Poke,
  Pittiful and jes heart-broke--
  "'Sides that's why she left the place,--
  'She caint look him in the face
  Now no more on earth!' she says.--"
  And the child broke down and jes
  Sobbed!  Says I, "Poke, I p'tend
  T' be _your_ friend, and your _Pap's_ friend,
  And your _Mother's_ friend, and all
  The _boys_' friend, little, large and small--
  The _whole fambily's_ friend--and you
  Know that means _Melviney_, too.--
  Now--you hush yer troublin!'--I'm
  Go' to he'p friends ever' time--
  On'y in _this_ case, _you_ got
  To he'p _me_--and, like as not
  I kin he'p Melviney then,
  And we'll have her home again.
  And now, Poke, with your consent,
  I'm go' go to that-air gent
  She's in love with, and confer
  With _him_ on his views o' _her_.--
  Blast him! give the man _some_ show.--
  Who is he?--_I'm go' to know_!"
  Somepin' struck the little chap
  Funny, 'peared-like.--Give a slap
  On his leg--laughed thue the dew
  In his eyes, and says: "It's you!"

  Yes, and--'cordin' to the last
  Love-letters of ours 'at passed
  Thue his hands--we was to be
  Married Chris'mas.--"Gee-mun-_nee_!
  Poke," says I, "it's _suddent_--yit
  We _kin_ make it!  You're to git
  Up tomorry, say, 'bout _three_--
  Tell your folks you're go' with me:--
  We'll hitch up, and jes drive in
  'N take the town o' Chinkypin!"


  Go, Winter!  Go thy ways!  We want again
  The twitter of the bluebird and the wren;
  Leaves ever greener growing, and the shine
      Of Summer's sun--not thine.--

  Thy sun, which mocks our need of warmth and love
  And all the heartening fervencies thereof,
  It scarce hath heat enow to warm our thin
      Pathetic yearnings in.

  So get thee from us!  We are cold, God wot,
  Even as _thou_ art.--We remember not
  How blithe we hailed thy coming.--That was O
      Too long--too long ago!

  Get from us utterly!  Ho!  Summer then
  Shall spread her grasses where thy snows have been,
  And thy last icy footprint melt and mold
      In her first marigold.


  _May 1, 1891_.


  Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!
  The first May-morning whispereth
  Thy gentle name in every breeze
  That lispeth through the young-leaved trees,
  New raimented in white and green
  Of bloom and leaf to crown thee queen;--
  And, as in odorous chorus, all
  The orchard-blossoms sweetly call
  Even as a singing voice that saith
      Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!


  Elizabeth!  Lo, lily-fair,
  In deep, cool shadows of thy hair,
  Thy face maintaineth its repose.--
  Is it, O sister of the rose,
  So better, sweeter, blooming thus
  Than in this briery world with us?--
    Where frost o'ertaketh, and the breath
    Of biting winter harrieth
  With sleeted rains and blighting snows
      All fairest blooms--Elizabeth!


  Nay, then!--So reign, Elizabeth,
  Crowned, in thy May-day realm of death!
  Put forth the scepter of thy love
  In every star-tipped blossom of
  The grassy dais of thy throne!
  Sadder are we, thus left alone,
  But gladder they that thrill to see
  Thy mother's rapture, greeting thee.
    Bereaved are we by life--not death--
      Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!


  Orphaned, I cry to thee:
  Sweet sleep!  O kneel and be
  A mother unto me!
    Calm thou my childish fears:
  Fold--fold mine eyelids to, all tenderly,
        And dry my tears.

  Come, Sleep, all drowsy-eyed
  And faint with languor,--slide
  Thy dim face down beside
    Mine own, and let me rest
  And nestle in thy heart, and there abide,
        A favored guest.

  Good night to every care,
  And shadow of despair!
  Good night to all things where
    Within is no delight!--
  Sleep opens her dark arms, and, swooning there,
        I sob: Good night--good night!


  Old friend of mine, whose chiming name
    Has been the burthen of a rhyme
  Within my heart since first I came
    To know thee in thy mellow prime;
      With warm emotions in my breast
        That can but coldly be expressed,
        And hopes and wishes wild and vain,
        I reach my hand to thee, Dan Paine.

  In fancy, as I sit alone
    In gloomy fellowship with care,
  I hear again thy cheery tone,
    And wheel for thee an easy chair;
      And from my hand the pencil falls--
        My book upon the carpet sprawls,
        As eager soul and heart and brain,
        Leap up to welcome thee, Dan Paine.

  A something gentle in thy mein,
    A something tender in thy voice,
  Has made my trouble so serene,
    I can but weep, from very choice.
      And even then my tears, I guess,
        Hold more of sweet than bitterness,
        And more of gleaming shine than rain,
        Because of thy bright smile, Dan Paine.

  The wrinkles that the years have spun
    And tangled round thy tawny face,
  Are kinked with laughter, every one,
    And fashioned in a mirthful grace.
      And though the twinkle of thine eyes
        Is keen as frost when Summer dies,
        It can not long as frost remain
        While thy warm soul shines out, Dan Paine.

  And so I drain a health to thee;--
    May merry Joy and jolly Mirth
  Like children clamber on thy knee,
    And ride thee round the happy earth!
      And when, at last, the hand of Fate
        Shall lift the latch of Canaan's gate,
        And usher me in thy domain,
        Smile on me just as now, Dan Paine.


  I have jest about decided
    It 'ud keep a _town-boy_ hoppin'
    Fer to work all winter, choppin'
  Fer a' old fire-place, like _I_ did!
  Lawz! them old times wuz contrairy!--
    Blame backbone o' winter, 'peared-like,
    _Wouldn't_ break!--and I wuz skeerd-like
  Clean on into _Febuary_!
    Nothin' ever made we madder
  Than fer Pap to stomp in, layin'
  On a' extra fore-stick, sayin'
    "Groun'hog's out and seed his shadder!"



  An afternoon as ripe with heat
    As might the golden pippin be
  With mellowness if at my feet
    It dropped now from the apple-tree
    My hammock swings in lazily.


  The boughs about me spread a shade
    That shields me from the sun, but weaves
    With breezy shuttles through the leaves
  Blue rifts of skies, to gleam and fade
    Upon the eyes that only see
    Just of themselves, all drowsily.


  Above me drifts the fallen skein
    Of some tired spider, looped and blown,
  As fragile as a strand of rain,
    Across the air, and upward thrown
    By breaths of hayfields newly mown--
  So glimmering it is and fine,
    I doubt these drowsy eyes of mine.


  Far-off and faint as voices pent
    In mines, and heard from underground,
  Come murmurs as of discontent,
    And clamorings of sullen sound
  The city sends me, as, I guess,
  To vex me, though they do but bless
  Me in my drowsy fastnesses.


  I have no care.  I only know
    My hammock hides and holds me here
    In lands of shade a prisoner:
  While lazily the breezes blow
    Light leaves of sunshine over me,
  And back and forth and to and fro
    I swing, enwrapped in some hushed glee,
    Smiling at all things drowsily.


  He leant against a lamp-post, lost
  In some mysterious reverie:
  His head was bowed; his arms were crossed;
  He yawned, and glanced evasively:
  Uncrossed his arms, and slowly put
  Them back again, and scratched his side--
  Shifted his weight from foot to foot,
  And gazed out no-ward, idle-eyed.

  Grotesque of form and face and dress,
  And picturesque in every way--
  A figure that from day to day
  Drooped with a limper laziness;
  A figure such as artists lean,
  In pictures where distress is seen,
  Against low hovels where we guess
  No happiness has ever been.


  A song of Long Ago:
  Sing it lightly--sing it low--
  Sing it softly--like the lisping of the lips we used to know
  When our baby-laughter spilled
  From the glad hearts ever filled
  With music blithe as robin ever trilled!

  Let the fragrant summer-breeze,
  And the leaves of locust-trees,
  And the apple-buds and blossoms, and the wings of honey-bees,
  All palpitate with glee,
  Till the happy harmony
  Brings back each childish joy to you and me.

  Let the eyes of fancy turn
  Where the tumbled pippins burn
  Like embers in the orchard's lap of tangled grass and fern,--
  There let the old path wind
  In and out and on behind
  The cider-press that chuckles as we grind.

  Blend in the song the moan
  Of the dove that grieves alone,
  And the wild whir of the locust, and the bumble's drowsy drone;
  And the low of cows that call
  Through the pasture-bars when all
  The landscape fades away at evenfall.

  Then, far away and clear,
  Through the dusky atmosphere,
  Let the wailing of the kildee be the only sound we hear:
  O sad and sweet and low
  As the memory may know
  Is the glad-pathetic song of Long Ago!


  I bear dis cross dis many a mile.
    O de cross-bearin' chile--
      De cross-bearin' chile!

  I bear dis cross 'long many a road
  Wha' de pink ain't bloom' an' de grass done mowed.
    O de cross-bearin' chile--
      De cross-bearin' chile!

  Hits on my conscience all dese days
  Fo' ter bear de cross ut de good Lord lays
  On my po' soul, an' ter lif my praise.
    O de cross-bearin' chile--
      De cross-bearin' chile!

  I 's nigh-'bout weak ez I mos' kin be,
  Yit de Marstah call an' He say,--"You 's free
  Fo' ter 'cept dis cross, an' ter cringe yo' knee
  To no n'er man in de worl' but me!"
    O de cross-bearin' chile--
      De cross-bearin' chile!

  Says you guess wrong, ef I let you guess--
  Says you 'spec' mo', an'-a you git less:--
  Says you go eas', says you go wes',
  An' whense you fine de road ut you like bes'
  You betteh take ch'ice er any er de res'!
    O de cross-bearin' chile--
      De cross-bearin' chile!

  He build my feet, an' He fix de signs
  Dat de shoe hit pinch an' de shoe hit bines
  Ef I on'y w'ah eights an-a wanter w'ah nines;
  I hone fo' de rain, an' de sun hit shines,
  An' whilse I hunt de sun, hits de rain I fines.--
  O-a trim my lamp, an-a gyrd my lines!
    O de cross-bearin' chile--
      De cross-bearin' chile!

  I wade de wet, an' I walk de dry:
  I done tromp long, an' I done clim high;
  An' I pilgrim on ter de jasper sky,
  An' I taken de resk fo' ter cas' my eye
  Wha' de Gate swing wide an' de Lord draw nigh,
  An' de Trump hit blow, an' I hear de cry,--
  "You lay dat cross down by an' by!--
    O de Cross-bearin' Chile--
      Do Cross-bearin' Chile!"


  Let us be thankful--not only because
    Since last our universal thanks were told
  We have grown greater in the world's applause,
    And fortune's newer smiles surpass the old--

  But thankful for all things that come as alms
    From out the open hand of Providence:--
  The winter clouds and storms---the summer calms--
    The sleepless dread--the drowse of indolence.

  Let us be thankful--thankful for the prayers
    Whose gracious answers were long, long delayed,
  That they might fall upon us unawares,
    And bless us, as in greater need, we prayed.

  Let us be thankful for the loyal hand
    That love held out in welcome to our own,
  When love and only love could understand
    The need of touches we had never known.

  Let us be thankful for the longing eyes
    That gave their secret to us as they wept,
  Yet in return found, with a sweet surprise,
    Love's touch upon their lids, and, smiling, slept.

  And let us, too, be thankful that the tears
    Of sorrow have not all been drained away,
  That through them still, for all the coming years,
    We may look on the dead face of To-day.


  As a harvester, at dusk,
  Faring down some woody trail
  Leading homeward through the musk
  Of may-apple and pawpaw,
  Hazel-bush, and spice and haw,--
  So comes Autumn, swart and hale,
  Drooped of frame and slow of stride.
  But withal an air of pride
  Looming up in stature far
  Higher than his shoulders are;
  Weary both in arm and limb,
  Yet the wholesome heart of him
  Sheer at rest and satisfied.

  Greet him as with glee of drums
  And glad cymbals, as he comes!
  Robe him fair, O Rain and Shine.
  He the Emperor--the King--
  Royal lord of everything
  Sagging Plenty's granary floors
  And out-bulging all her doors;
  He the god of corn and wine,
  Honey, milk, and fruit and oil--
  Lord of feast, as lord of toil--
  Jocund host of yours and mine!

  Ho! the revel of his laugh!--
  Half is sound of winds, and half
  Roar of ruddy blazes drawn
  Up the throats of chimneys wide,
  Circling which, from side to side,
  Faces--lit as by the Dawn,
  With her highest tintings on
  Tip of nose, and cheek, and chin--
  Smile at some old fairy-tale
  Of enchanted lovers, in
  Silken gown and coat of mail,
  With a retinue of elves
  Merry as their very selves,
  Trooping ever, hand in hand,
  Down the dales of Wonderland.

  Then the glory of his song!--
  Lifting up his dreamy eyes--
  Singing haze across the skies;
  Singing clouds that trail along
  Towering tops of trees that seize
  Tufts of them to stanch the breeze;
  Singing slanted strands of rain
  In between the sky and earth,
  For the lyre to mate the mirth
  And the might of his refrain:
  Singing southward-flying birds
  Down to us, and afterwards
  Singing them to flight again;
  Singing blushes to the cheeks
  Of the leaves upon the trees--
  Singing on and changing these
  Into pallor, slowly wrought,
  Till the little, moaning creeks
  Bear them to their last farewell,
  As Elaine, the lovable,
  Was borne down to Lancelot.--
  Singing drip of tears, and then
  Drying them with smiles again.

  Singing apple, peach and grape,
  Into roundest, plumpest shape,
  Rosy ripeness to the face
  Of the pippin; and the grace
  Of the dainty stamin-tip
  To the huge bulk of the pear,
  Pendant in the green caress
  Of the leaves, and glowing through
  With the tawny laziness
  Of the gold that Ophir knew,--
  Haply, too, within its rind
  Such a cleft as bees may find,
  Bungling on it half aware.
  And wherein to see them sip
  Fancy lifts an oozy lip,
  And the singer's falter there.

  Sweet as swallows swimming through
  Eddyings of dusk and dew,
  Singing happy scenes of home
  Back to sight of eager eyes
  That have longed for them to come,
  Till their coming is surprise
  Uttered only by the rush
  Of quick tears and prayerful hush;
  Singing on, in clearer key,
  Hearty palms of you and me
  Into grasps that tingle still
  Rapturous, and ever will!
  Singing twank and twang of strings--
  Trill of flute and clarinet
  In a melody that rings
  Like the tunes we used to play,
  And our dreams are playing yet!
  Singing lovers, long astray,
  Each to each, and, sweeter things--
  Singing in their marriage-day,
  And a banquet holding all
  These delights for festival.


  One 's the pictur' of his Pa,
  And the _other_ of her Ma--
  Jes the bossest pair o' babies 'at a mortal ever saw!
  And we love 'em as the bees
  Loves the blossoms of the trees,
  A-ridin' and a-rompin' in the breeze!

  One's got her Mammy's eyes--
  Soft and blue as Apurl-skies--
  With the same sort of a smile, like--Yes,
              and mouth about her size,--
  Dimples, too, in cheek and chin,
  'At my lips jes _wallers_ in,
  A-goin' to work, er gittin' home agin.

  And the _other_--Well, they say
  That he's got his Daddy's way
  O' bein' ruther soberfied, er ruther extry gay,--
  That he either cries his best,
  Er he laughs his howlin'est--
  Like all he lacked was buttons and a vest!

  Look at _her_!--and look at _him_!--
  Talk about yer "Cheru-_bim_!"
  Roll 'em up in dreams together, rosy arm and chubby limb!
  O we love 'em as the bees
  Loves the blossoms of the trees,
  A-ridin' and a-rompin' in the breeze!


  O love is like an untamed steed!--
  So hot of heart and wild of speed,
  And with fierce freedom so in love,
  The desert is not vast enough,
  With all its leagues of glimmering sands,
  To pasture it!  Ah, that my hands
  Were more than human in their strength,
  That my deft lariat at length
  Might safely noose this splendid thing
  That so defies all conquering!
  Ho! but to see it whirl and reel--
  The sands spurt forward--and to feel
  The quivering tension of the thong
  That throned me high, with shriek and song!
  To grapple tufts of tossing mane--
  To spurn it to its feet again,
  And then, sans saddle, rein or bit,
  To lash the mad life out of it!



  Tugg Martin's tough.--No doubt o' that!
        And down there at
  The town he come from word's bin sent
  Advisin' this-here Settle-ment
    To kindo' _humor_ Tugg, and not
        To git him hot--
  Jest pass his imperfections by,
  And he's as good as pie!


  They claim he's _wanted_ back there.--Yit
  The officers they mostly quit
        _Insistin'_ when
  They notice Tugg's so _back'ard_, and
  Sorto' gives 'em to understand
    He druther not!--A Deputy
    (The slickest one you ever see!)
  Tackled him _last_--"disguisin' then,"
  As Tugg says, "as a gentlemen!"--
    You 'd ort o' hear _Tugg_ tell it!--_My_!
        I thought I'd _die_!


  The way it wuz;--Tugg and the rest
        The boys wuz jest
  A-kindo' gittin' thawed out, down
  At "Guss's Place," fur-end o' town,
    One night, when, first we knowed,
        Some feller rode
  Up in a buggy at the door,
    And hollered fer some one to come
        And fetch him some
  Red-licker out--And whirped and swore
  That colt he drove wuz "_Thompson's_" shore!


  Guss went out, and come in agin
    And filled a pint and tuck it out--
  Stayed quite a spell--then peeked back in,
    Half-hid-like where the light wuz dim,
        And jieuked his head
        At Tugg and said,--
  "Come out a minute--here's a gent
    Wants you to take a drink with him."


  Well--Tugg laid down his cards and went--
      In fact, _we all_
        Got up, you know,
        _Startin'_ to go--
  When in reels Guss aginst the wall,
        As white as snow,
  Gaspin',--"_He's tuck Tugg!--wher's my gun_?"
    And-sir, outside we heerd
  The hoss snort and kick up his heels
    Like he wuz skeerd,
  And then the buggy-wheels
  Scrape--and then Tugg's voice hollerun',--
    "I'm bested!--Good-bye, fellers!" . . . 'Peared
        S' all-fired suddent,
        Nobody couldn't
  Jest git it fixed,--tel hoss and man,
    Buggy and Tugg, off through the dark
  Went like the devil beatin' tan-


  What _could_ we do? . . . We filed back to
    The bar: And Guss jest _looked_ at us,
  And we looked back "The same as you,"
  Still sayin' nothin'--And the sap
        It stood in every eye,
  And every hat and cap
  Went off, as we teched glasses solemnly,
        And Guss says-he:
  "Ef it's 'good-bye' with Tugg, fer _shore_,--I say
        God bless him!--Er ef they
        Aint railly no _need_ to pray,
  I'm not reniggin!--board's the play,
  And here's God bless him, anyway!"


  It must a-bin an hour er so
        We all set there,
    Talkin o' pore
        Old Tugg, you know,
    'At never, wuz ketched up before--
    When--all slow-like--the door-
  Knob turned--and Tugg come shamblin' in,
    Hand-cuffed'--'at's what he wuz, I swear!--
        Yit smilin,' like he hadn't bin
    Away at all!  And when we ast him where
    The _Deputy_ wuz at,--"I don't know where," Tugg said,--
        "All _I_ know is--he's dead."


  Let us forget.  What matters it that we
    Once reigned o'er happy realms of long-ago,
    And talked of love, and let our voices low,
  And ruled for some brief sessions royally?
  What if we sung, or laughed, or wept maybe?
    It has availed not anything, and so
    Let it go by that we may better know
  How poor a thing is lost to you and me.
    But yesterday I kissed your lips, and yet
  Did thrill you not enough to shake the dew
    From your drenched lids--and missed, with no regret,
  Your kiss shot back, with sharp breaths failing you;
    And so, to-day, while our worn eyes are wet
    With all this waste of tears, let us forget!


  We got up a Christmas-doin's
    Last Christmas Eve--
  Kindo' dimonstration
    'At I railly believe
  Give more satisfaction--
    Take it up and down--
  Than ary intertainment
    Ever come to town!

  Railly was a _theater_--
    That's what it was,--
  But, bein' in the church, you know,
    We had a "_Santy Clause_"--
  So 's to git the _old folks_
    To patternize, you see,
  And _back_ the institootion up
    Kindo' _morally_.

  Schoolteacher writ the thing--
    (Was a friend o' mine),
  Got it out o' Longfeller's
    Pome "Evangeline"--
  Er some'rs--'bout the _Purituns_--.
    _Anyway_, the part
  "_John Alden_" fell to _me_--
    And learnt it all by heart!

  Claircy was "_Percilly_"--
    (Schoolteacher 'lowed
  Me and her could act them two
    Best of all the crowd)--
  Then--blame ef he didn't
    Git her Pap, i jing!--
  To take the part o' "_Santy Clause_,"
    To wind up the thing.

  Law! the fun o' practisun!--
    Was a week er two
  Me and Claircy didn't have
    Nothin' else to do!--
  Kep' us jes a-meetin' round,
    Kindo' here and there,
  Ever' night rehearsin'-like,
    And gaddin' ever'where!

  Game was wo'th the candle, though!--
    Christmas Eve at last
  Rolled around.--And 'tendance jes
    Couldn't been surpassed!--
  Neighbors from the country
    Come from Clay and Rush--
  Yes, and 'crost the county-line
    Clean from Puckerbrush!

  Meetin'-house jes trimbled
    As "Old Santy" went
  Round amongst the childern,
    With their pepperment
  And sassafrac and wintergreen
    Candy, and "a ball
  O' popcorn," the preacher 'nounced,
    "Free fer each and all!"

  Schoolteacher suddently
    Whispered in my ear,--
  "Guess I got you:--_Christmas-gift_!--
    _Christmas is here_!"
  I give _him_ a gold pen,
    And case to hold the thing,--
  And _Claircy_ whispered "_Christmas-gift_!"
    And I give her a _ring_.

  "And now," says I, "jes watch _me_--
  Christmas-gift," says I,
  "_I'm_ a-goin' to git one--
  '_Santy's_' comin' by!"--
  Then I rech and grabbed him:
  And, as you'll infer,
  'Course I got the old man's,
  And _he_ gimme _her_!


  Reach your hand to me, my friend,
    With its heartiest caress--
  Sometime there will come an end
    To its present faithfulness--
        Sometime I may ask in vain
        For the touch of it again,
        When between us land or sea
        Holds it ever back from me.

  Sometime I may need it so,
    Groping somewhere in the night,
  It will seem to me as though
    Just a touch, however light,
        Would make all the darkness day,
        And along some sunny way
        Lead me through an April-shower
        Of my tears to this fair hour.

  O the present is too sweet
    To go on forever thus!
  Round the corner of the street
    Who can say what waits for us?--
        Meeting--greeting, night and day,
        Faring each the self-same way--
        Still somewhere the path must end.--
        Reach your hand to me, my friend!


  It tossed its head at the wooing breeze;
    And the sun, like a bashful swain,
  Beamed on it through the waving frees
    With a passion all in vain,--
  For my rose laughed in a crimson glee,
  And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

  The honey-bee came there to sing
    His love through the languid hours,
  And vaunt of his hives, as a proud old king
    Might boast of his palace-towers:
  But my rose bowed in a mockery,
  And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

  The humming-bird, like a courtier gay,
    Dipped down with a dalliant song,
  And twanged his wings through the roundelay
    Of love the whole day long:
  Yet my rose turned from his minstrelsy
  And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

  The firefly came in the twilight dim
    My red, red rose to woo--
  Till quenched was the flame of love in him,
    And the light of his lantern too,
  As my rose wept with dew-drops three
  And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

  And I said: I will cult my own sweet rose--
    Some day I will claim as mine
  The priceless worth of the flower that knows
    No change, but a bloom divine--
  The bloom of a fadeless constancy
  That hides in the leaves in wait for me!

  But time passed by in a strange disguise,
    And I marked it not, but lay
  In a lazy dream, with drowsy eyes,
    Till the summer slipped away,
  And a chill wind sang in a minor key:
  "Where is the rose that waits for thee?"

       *     *     *     *     *

  I dream to-day, o'er a purple stain
    Of bloom on a withered stalk,
  Pelted down by the autumn rain
    In the dust of the garden-walk,
  That an Angel-rose in the world to be
  Will hide in the leaves in wait for me.


  "He is my friend," I said,--
  "Be patient!"  Overhead
  The skies were drear and dim;
  And lo! the thought of him
  Smited on my heart--and then
  The sun shone out again!

  "He is my friend!"  The words
  Brought summer and the birds;
  And all my winter-time
  Thawed into running rhyme
  And rippled into song,
  Warm, tender, brave, and strong.

  And so it sings to-day.--
  So may it sing alway!
  Though waving grasses grow
  Between, and lilies blow
  Their trills of perfume clear
  As laughter to the ear,
  Let each mute measure end
  With "Still he is thy friend."


  A woman's figure, on a ground of night
    Inlaid with sallow stars that dimly stare
    Down in the lonesome eyes, uplifted there
  As in vague hope some alien lance of light
  Might pierce their woe.  The tears that blind her sight--
    The salt and bitter blood of her despair--
    Her hands toss back through torrents of her hair
  And grip toward God with anguish infinite.
    And O the carven mouth, with all its great
  Intensity of longing frozen fast
    In such a smile as well may designate
  The slowly-murdered heart, that, to the last,
    Conceals each newer wound, and back at Fate
  Throbs Love's eternal lie--"Lo, I can wait!"


  O touch me with your hands--
                          For pity's sake!
  My brow throbs ever on with such an ache
  As only your cool touch may take away;
  And so, I pray
              You, touch me with your hands!

  Touch--touch me with your hands.--
                          Smooth back the hair
  You once caressed, and kissed, and called so fair
  That I did dream its gold would wear alway,
  And lo, to-day--
                  O touch me with your hands!

  Just touch me with your hands,
                          And let them press
  My weary eyelids with the old caress,
  And lull me till I sleep.  Then go your way,
  That Death may say:
                      He touched her with his hands.


  By her white bed I muse a little space:
  She fell asleep--not very long ago,--
  And yet the grass was here and not the snow--
  The leaf, the bud, the blossom, and--her face!--
  Midsummer's heaven above us, and the grace
  Of Lovers own day, from dawn to afterglow;
  The fireflies' glimmering, and the sweet and low
  Plaint of the whip-poor-wills, and every place
  In thicker twilight for the roses' scent.
  Then _night_.--She slept--in such tranquility,
  I walk atiptoe still, nor _dare_ to weep,
  Feeling, in all this hush, she rests content--
  That though God stood to wake her for me, she
  Would mutely plead: "Nay, Lord!  Let _him_ so sleep."


  "Rain and rain! and rain and rain!"
  Yesterday we muttered
  Grimly as the grim refrain
  That the thunders uttered:
  All the heavens under cloud--
  All the sunshine sleeping;
  All the grasses limply bowed
  With their weight of weeping.

  Sigh and sigh! and sigh and sigh!
  Never end of sighing;
  Rain and rain for our reply--
  Hopes half-drowned and dying;
  Peering through the window-pane,
  Naught but endless raining--
  Endless sighing, and, as vain,
  Endlessly complaining.

  Shine and shine! and shine and shine!
  Ah! to-day the splendor!--
  All this glory yours and mine--
  God! but God is tender!
  We to sigh instead of sing,
  _Yesterday_, in sorrow,
  While the Lord was fashioning
  This for our To-morrow!


  Blossoms crimson, white, or blue,
    Purple, pink, and every hue,
  From sunny skies, to tintings drowned
    In dusky drops of dew,
  I praise you all, wherever found,
    And love you through and through;--
      _But_, Blossoms On The Trees,
      With your breath upon the breeze,
  There's nothing all the world around
    As half as sweet as you!

  Could the rhymer only wring
    All the sweetness to the lees
  Of all the kisses clustering
    In juicy Used-to-bes,
  To dip his rhymes therein and sing
    The blossoms on the trees,--
  "O Blossoms on the Trees,"
    He would twitter, trill and coo,
  "However sweet, such songs as these
    Are not as sweet as you:--
  For you are _blooming_ melodies
    The _eyes_ may listen to!"


  Just the airiest, fairiest slip of a thing,
  With a Gainsborough hat, like a butterfly's wing,
  Tilted up at one side with the jauntiest air,
  And a knot of red roses sown in under there
    Where the shadows are lost in her hair.

  Then a cameo face, carven in on a ground
  Of that shadowy hair where the roses are wound;
  And the gleam of a smile O as fair and as faint
  And as sweet as the masters of old used to paint
    Round the lips of their favorite saint!

  And that lace at her throat--and the fluttering hands
  Snowing there, with a grace that no art understands,
  The flakes of their touches--first fluttering at
  The bow--then the roses--the hair--and then that
    Little tilt of the Gainsborough hat.

  O what artist on earth with a model like this,
  Holding not on his palette the tint of a kiss,
  Nor a pigment to hint of the hue of her hair,
  Nor the gold of her smile--O what artist could dare
    To expect a result half so fair?


  Last night--how deep the darkness was!
  And well I knew its depths, because
  I waded it from shore to shore,
  Thinking to reach the light no more.

  She would not even touch my hand.--
  The winds rose and the cedars fanned
  The moon out, and the stars fled back
  In heaven and hid--and all was black!

  But ah!  To-night a summons came,
  Signed with a teardrop for a name,--
  For as I wondering kissed it, lo,
  A line beneath it told me so.

  And _now_--the moon hangs over me
  A disk of dazzling brilliancy,
  And every star-tip stabs my sight
  With splintered glitterings of light!



  The air falls chill;
  The whip-poor-will
  Pipes lonesomely behind the hill:
  The dusk grows dense,
  The silence tense;
  And lo, the katydids commence.


  Through shadowy rifts
  Of woodland, lifts
  The low, slow moon, and upward drifts,
  While left and right
  The fireflies' light
  Swirls eddying in the skirts of Night.


  O Cloudland, gray
  And level, lay
  Thy mists across the face of Day!
  At foot and head,
  Above the dead,
  O Dews, weep on uncomforted!


  I caught but a glimpse of him.  Summer was here,
  And I strayed from the town and its dust and heat
  And walked in a wood, while the noon was near,
  Where the shadows were cool, and the atmosphere
  Was misty with fragrances stirred by my feet
  From surges of blossoms that billowed sheer
  O'er the grasses, green and sweet.

  And I peered through a vista of leaning trees,
  Tressed with long tangles of vines that swept
  To the face of a river, that answered these
  With vines in the wave like the vines in the breeze,
  Till the yearning lips of the ripples crept
  And kissed them, with quavering ecstacies,
  And gurgled and laughed and wept.

  And there, like a dream in a swoon, I swear
  I saw Pan lying,--his limbs in the dew
  And the shade, and his face in the dazzle and glare
  Of the glad sunshine; while everywhere,
  Over, across, and around him blew
  Filmy dragonflies hither and there,
  And little white butterflies, two and two,
  In eddies of odorous air.


  "He shall sleep unscathed of thieves
  Who loves Allah and believes."
  Thus heard one who shared the tent,
  In the far-off Orient,
  Of the Bedouin ben Ahrzz--
  Nobler never loved the stars
  Through the palm-leaves nigh the dim
  Dawn his courser neighed to him!

  He said: "Let the sands be swarmed
    With such thieves as I, and thou
  Shalt at morning rise, unharmed,
    Light as eyelash to the brow
  Of thy camel, amber-eyed,
  Ever munching either side,
  Striding still, with nestled knees,
  Through the midnight's oases.

  "Who can rob thee an thou hast
  More than this that thou hast cast
  At my feet--this dust of gold?
  Simply this and that, all told!
  Hast thou not a treasure of
  Such a thing as men call love?

  "Can the dusky band I lead
  Rob thee of thy daily need
  Of a whiter soul, or steal
  What thy lordly prayers reveal?
  Who could be enriched of thee
  By such hoard of poverty
  As thy niggard hand pretends
  To dole me--thy worst of friends?
    Therefore shouldst thou pause to bless
  One indeed who blesses thee;
    Robbing thee, I dispossess
  But myself.--Pray thou for me!"

  He shall sleep unscathed of thieves
  Who loves Allah and believes.


  The stars are failing, and the sky
    Is like a field of faded flowers;
  The winds on weary wings go by;
    The moon hides, and the temptest lowers;
      And still through every clime and age
      I wander on a pilgrimage
      That all men know an idle quest,
      For that the goal I seek is--REST!

  I hear the voice of summer streams,
    And, following, I find the brink
  Of cooling springs, with childish dreams
    Returning as I bend to drink--
      But suddenly, with startled eyes,
      My face looks on its grim disguise
      Of long gray beard; and so, distressed,
      I hasten on, nor taste of rest.

  I come upon a merry group
    Of children in the dusky wood,
  Who answer back the owlet's whoop,
    That laughs as it had understood;
      And I would pause a little space,
      But that each happy blossom-face
      Is like to one His hands have blessed
      Who sent me forth in search of rest.

  Sometimes I fain would stay my feet
    In shady lanes, where huddled kine
  Couch in the grasses cool and sweet,
    And lift their patient eyes to mine;
      But I, for thoughts that ever then
      Go back to Bethlehem again,
      Must needs fare on my weary quest,
      And weep for very need of rest.

  Is there no end?  I plead in vain:
    Lost worlds nor living answer me.
  Since Pontius Pilate's awful reign
    Have I not passed eternity?
      Have I not drank the fetid breath
      Of every fevered phase of death,
      And come unscathed through every pest
      And scourge and plague that promised rest?

  Have I not seen the stars go out
    That shed their light o'er Galilee,
  And mighty kingdoms tossed about
    And crumbled clod-like in the sea?
      Dead ashes of dead ages blow
      And cover me like drifting snow,
      And time laughs on as 'twere a jest
      That I have any need of rest.


  The winds have talked with him confidingly;
    The trees have whispered to him; and the night
    Hath held him gently as a mother might,
  And taught him all sad tones of melody:
  The mountains have bowed to him; and the sea,
    In clamorous waves, and murmurs exquisite,
    Hath told him all her sorrow and delight--
  Her legends fair--her darkest mystery.
    His verse blooms like a flower, night and day;
  Bees cluster round his rhymes; and twitterings
    Of lark and swallow, in an endless May,
  Are mingling with the tender songs he sings.--
    Nor shall he cease to sing--in every lay
    Of Nature's voice he sings--and will alway.


John McKeen, in his rusty dress,
  His loosened collar, and swarthy throat;
His face unshaven, and none the less,
His hearty laugh and his wholesomeness,
  And the wealth of a workman's vote!

Bring him, O Memory, here once more,
  And tilt him back in his Windsor chair
By the kitchen-stove, when the day is o'er
And the light of the hearth is across the floor,
  And the crickets everywhere!

And let their voices be gladly blent
  With a watery jingle of pans and spoons,
And a motherly chirrup of sweet content,
And neighborly gossip and merriment,
  And old-time fiddle-tunes!

Tick the clock with a wooden sound,
  And fill the hearing with childish glee
Of rhyming riddle, or story found
In the Robinson Crusoe, leather-bound
 Old book of the Used-to-be!

John McKeen of the Past!  Ah, John,
  To have grown ambitious in worldly ways!--
To have rolled your shirt-sleeves down, to don
A broadcloth suit, and, forgetful, gone
  Out on election days!

John, ah, John! did it prove your worth
  To yield you the office you still maintain?
To fill your pockets, but leave the dearth
Of all the happier things on earth
  To the hunger of heart and brain?

Under the dusk of your villa trees,
  Edging the drives where your blooded span
Paw the pebbles and wait your ease,--
Where are the children about your knees,
  And the mirth, and the happy man?

The blinds of your mansion are battened to;
  Your faded wife is a close recluse;
And your "finished" daughters will doubtless do
Dutifully all that is willed of you,
  And marry as you shall choose!--

But O for the old-home voices, blent
  With the watery jingle of pans and spoons,
And the motherly chirrup of glad content
And neighborly gossip and merriment,
  And the old-time fiddle-tunes!


They meet to say farewell: Their way
Of saying this is hard to say.--
  He holds her hand an instant, wholly
  Distressed--and she unclasps it slowly.

He bends his gaze evasively
Over the printed page that she
  Recurs to, with a new-moon shoulder
  Glimpsed from the lace-mists that enfold her.

The clock, beneath its crystal cup,
Discreetly clicks--"Quick!  Act!  Speak up!"
  A tension circles both her slender
  Wrists--and her raised eyes flash in splendor,

Even as he feels his dazzled own.--
Then, blindingly, round either thrown,
  They feel a stress of arms that ever
  Strain tremblingly--and "Never!  Never!"

Is whispered brokenly, with half
A sob, like a belated laugh,--
  While cloyingly their blurred kiss closes,
  Sweet as the dew's lip to the rose's.


Wunst I looked our pepper-box lid
An' cut little pie-dough biscuits, I did,
And cooked 'em on our stove one day
When our hired girl she said I may.

_Honey's_ the goodest thing--Oo-_ooh_!
And blackberry-pies is goodest, too!
But wite hot biscuits, ist soakin'-wet
Wiv tree-mullasus, is goodest yet!

Miss Maimie she's my Ma's friend,--an'
She's purtiest girl in all the lan'!--
An' sweetest smile an' voice an' face--
An' eyes ist looks like p'serves tas'e'!

I _ruther_ go to the Circus-show;
But, 'cause my _parunts_ told me so,
I ruther go to the Sund'y School,
'Cause there I learn the goldun rule.

Say, Pa,--what _is_ the goldun rule
'At's allus at the Sund'y School?


They called him Mr. What's-his-name:
From where he was, or why he came,
Or when, or what he found to do,
Nobody in the city knew.

He lived, it seemed, shut up alone
In a low hovel of his own;
There cooked his meals and made his bed,
Careless of all his neighbors said.

His neighbors, too, said many things
Expressive of grave wonderings,
Since none of them had ever been
Within his doors, or peered therein.

In fact, grown watchful, they became
Assured that Mr. What's-his-name
Was up to something wrong--indeed,
Small doubt of it, we all agreed.

At night were heard strange noises there,
When honest people everywhere
Had long retired; and his light
Was often seen to burn all night.

He left his house but seldom--then
Would always hurry back again,
As though he feared some stranger's knock,
Finding him gone, might burst the lock.

Beside, he carried, every day,
At the one hour he went away,
A basket, with the contents hid
Beneath its woven willow lid.

And so we grew to greatly blame
This wary Mr. What's-his-name,
And look on him with such distrust
His actions seemed to sanction just.

But when he died--he died one day--
Dropped in the street while on his way
To that old wretched hut of his--
You'll think it strange--perhaps it is--

But when we lifted him, and past
The threshold of his home at last,
No man of all the crowd but stepped
With reverence,--Aye, _quailed_ and _wept_!

What was it?  Just a shriek of pain
I pray to never hear again--
A withered woman, old and bowed,
That fell and crawled and cried aloud--

And kissed the dead man's matted hair--
Lifted his face and kissed him there--
Called to him, as she clutched his hand,
In words no one could understand.

Insane?  Yes.--Well, we, searching, found
An unsigned letter, in a round
Free hand, within the dead man's breast:
"Look to my mother--_I'm_ at rest.

You'll find my money safely hid
Under the lining of the lid
Of my work-basket.  It is hers,
And God will bless her ministers!"

And some day--though he died unknown--
If through the City by the Throne
I walk, all cleansed of earthly shame,
I'll ask for Mr. What's-his-name.


When Age comes on!--
"The deepening dusk is where the dawn
  Once glittered splendid, and the dew
In honey-drips, from red rose-lips
  Was kissed away by me and you.--
And now across the frosty lawn
Black foot-prints trail, and Age comes on--
          And Age comes on!
  And biting wild-winds whistle through
Our tattered hopes--and Age comes on!

When Age comes on!--
O tide of raptures, long withdrawn,
  Flow back in summer-floods, and fling
Here at our feet our childhood sweet,
  And all the songs we used to sing! . . .
Old loves, old friends--all dead and gone--
Our old faith lost--and Age comes on--
          And Age comes on!
  Poor hearts! have we not anything
But longings left when Age comes on?


Just as of old!  The world rolls on and on;
The day dies into night--night into dawn--
Dawn into dusk--through centuries untold.--
        Just as of old.

Time loiters not.  The river ever flows,
Its brink or white with blossoms or with snows;
Its tide or warm with Spring or Winter cold:
        Just as of old.

Lo! where is the beginning, where the end
Of living, loving, longing?  Listen, friend!--
God answers with a silence of pure gold--
        Just as of old.

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