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Title: Riley Love-Lyrics
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 "Riley Love-Lyrics" ***

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                           RILEY LOVE-LYRICS


                           RILEY LOVE-LYRICS

                         JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

                      ILLUSTRATED BY WILL VAWTER

                     THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY

Copyright, 1883, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1897, 1898, 1901,
1905 by James Whitcomb Riley.

Copyright 1921, The Bobbs-Merrill Company

             _Printed in the United States of America_

                              PRESS OF
                          BRAUNWORTH & CO.
                         BOOK MANUFACTURERS
                           BROOKLYN, N.Y.



    _So were I but a minstrel, deft
      At weaving, with the trembling strings
    Of my glad harp, the warp and weft
      Of rondels such as rapture sings,--
        I'd loop my lyre across my breast,
        Nor stay me till my knee found rest
        In midnight banks of bud and flower
        Beneath my lady's lattice-bower.

    And there, drenched with the teary dews,
      I'd woo her with such wondrous art
    As well might stanch the songs that ooze
      Out of the mockbird's breaking heart;
        So light, so tender, and so sweet
        Should be the words I would repeat,
        Her casement, on my gradual sight,
        Would blossom as a lily might._




BLOOMS OF MAY      185
"DREAM"      41
HE AND I      79
HER HAIR      129
HOME AT NIGHT      122
ILLILEO      113
JUDITH      75
LOST PATH, THE      83
MY MARY      117
NOTHIN' TO SAY      103
RIVAL, THE      137
ROSE, THE      177
SUSPENSE      136
TOM VAN ARDEN      138
VARIATION, A      151

                            RILEY LOVE-LYRICS



    As one who cons at evening o'er an album all alone,
    And muses on the faces of the friends that he has known,
    So I turn the leaves of fancy till, in shadowy design,
    I find the smiling features of an old sweetheart of mine.

    The lamplight seems to glimmer with a flicker of surprise,
    As I turn it low to rest me of the dazzle in my eyes,
    And light my pipe in silence, save a sigh that seems to yoke
    Its fate with my tobacco and to vanish with the smoke.

    Tis a fragrant retrospection--for the loving thoughts that start
    Into being are like perfume from the blossom of the heart;
    And to dream the old dreams over is a luxury divine--
    When my truant fancy wanders with that old sweetheart of mine.

    Though I hear, beneath my study, like a fluttering of wings,
    The voices of my children, and the mother as she sings,
    I feel no twinge of conscience to deny me any theme
    When Care has cast her anchor in the harbor of a dream.


    In fact, to speak in earnest, I believe it adds a charm
    To spice the good a trifle with a little dust of harm--
    For I find an extra flavor in Memory's mellow wine
    That makes me drink the deeper to that old sweetheart of mine.

    A face of lily-beauty, with a form of airy grace.
    Floats out of my tobacco as the genii from the vase;
    And I thrill beneath the glances of a pair of azure eyes
    As glowing as the summer and as tender as the skies.

    I can see the pink sunbonnet and the little checkered dress
    She wore when first I kissed her and she answered the caress
    With the written declaration that, "as surely as the vine
    Grew round the stump," she loved me--that old sweetheart of mine.

    And again I feel the pressure of her slender little hand,
    As we used to talk together of the future we had planned--
    When I should be a poet, and with nothing else to do
    But write the tender verses that she set the music to:

    When we should live together in a cozy little cot
    Hid in a nest of roses, with a fairy garden-spot,
    Where the vines were ever fruited, and the weather ever fine,
    And the birds were ever singing for that old sweetheart of mine:

    When I should be her lover forever and a day,
    And she my faithful sweetheart till the golden hair was gray;
    And we should be so happy that when either's lips were dumb
    They would not smile in Heaven till the other's kiss had come.



    But, ah! my dream is broken by a step upon the stair,
    And the door is softly opened, and--my wife is standing there;
    Yet with eagerness and rapture all my visions I resign
    To greet the living presence of that old sweetheart of mine.




    It's the curiousest thing in creation,
      Whenever I hear that old song
    "Do They Miss Me at Home," I'm so bothered,
      My life seems as short as it's long!--
    Fer ev'rything 'pears like adzackly
      It 'peared in the years past and gone,--
    When I started out sparkin', at twenty,
      And had my first neckercher on!

    Though I'm wrinkelder, older and grayer
      Right now than my parents was then,
    You strike up that song "Do They Miss Me,"
      And I'm jest a youngster again!--
    I'm a-standin' back thare in the furries
      A-wishin' fer evening to come,
    And a-whisperin' over and over
      Them words "Do They Miss Me at Home?"


    You see, _Marthy Ellen she_ sung it
      The first time I heerd it; and so,
    As she was my very first sweetheart,
      It reminds me of her, don't you know;--
    How her face used to look, in the twilight,
      As I tuck her to Spellin'; and she
    Kep' a-hummin' that song tel I ast her,
      Pint-blank, ef she ever missed _me!_

    I can shet my eyes now, as you sing it,
      And hear her low answerin' words;
    And then the glad chirp of the crickets,
      As clear as the twitter of birds;
    And the dust in the road is like velvet,
      And the ragweed and fennel and grass
    Is as sweet as the scent of the lilies
      Of Eden of old, as we pass.

    "_Do They Miss Me at Home_?" Sing it lower--
      And softer--and sweet as the breeze
    That powdered our path with the snowy
      White bloom of the old locus'-trees!
    Let the whipperwills he'p you to sing it,
      And the echoes 'way over the hill,
    Tel the moon boolges out, in a chorus
      Of stars, and our voices is still.

    But oh! "They's a chord in the music
      That's missed when _her_ voice is away!"
    Though I listen from midnight tel morning,
      And dawn tel the dusk of the day!
    And I grope through the dark, lookin' upwards
      And on through the heavenly dome,
    With my longin' soul singin' and sobbin'
      The words "Do They Miss Me at Home?"



    I'm bin a-visitun 'bout a week
    To my little Cousin's at Nameless Creek,
    An' I'm got the hives an' a new straw hat,
    An' I'm come back home where my beau lives at.



    How tired I am! I sink down all alone
      Here by the wayside of the Present. Lo,
    Even as a child I hide my face and moan--
      A little girl that may no farther go;
      The path above me only seems to grow
        More rugged, climbing still, and ever briered
      With keener thorns of pain than these below;
      And O the bleeding feet that falter so
        And are so very tired!

    Why, I have journeyed from the far-off Lands
      Of Babyhood--where baby-lilies blew
    Their trumpets in mine ears, and filled my hands
      With treasures of perfume and honey-dew,
      And where the orchard shadows ever drew
        Their cool arms round me when my cheeks were fired
      With too much joy, and lulled mine eyelids to,
      And only let the starshine trickle through
        In sprays, when I was tired!

    Yet I remember, when the butterfly
      Went flickering about me like a flame
    That quenched itself in roses suddenly,
      How oft I wished that _I_ might blaze the same,
      And in some rose-wreath nestle with my name,
        While all the world looked on it and admired.--
      Poor moth!--Along my wavering flight toward fame
      The winds drive backward, and my wings are lame
        And broken, bruised and tired!

    I hardly know the path from those old times;
      I know at first it was a smoother one
    Than this that hurries past me now, and climbs
      So high, its far cliffs even hide the sun
      And shroud in gloom my journey scarce begun.
        I could not do quite all the world required--
      I could not do quite all I should have done,
      And in my eagerness I have outrun
        My strength--and I am tired....

    Just tired! But when of old I had the stay
      Of mother-hands, O very sweet indeed
    It was to dream that all the weary way
      I should but follow where I now must lead--
      For long ago they left me in my need,
        And, groping on alone, I tripped and mired
      Among rank grasses where the serpents breed
      In knotted coils about the feet of speed.--
        There first it was I tired.

    And yet I staggered on, and bore my load
      Right gallantly: The sun, in summer-time,
    In lazy belts came slipping down the road
      To woo me on, with many a glimmering rhyme
      Rained from the golden rim of some fair clime,
        That, hovering beyond the clouds, inspired
      My failing heart with fancies so sublime
      I half forgot my path of dust and grime,
        Though I was growing tired.

    And there were many voices cheering me:
      I listened to sweet praises where the wind
    Went laughing o'er my shoulders gleefully
      And scattering my love-songs far behind;--
      Until, at last, I thought the world so kind--
        So rich in all my yearning soul desired--
      So generous--so loyally inclined,
      I grew to love and trust it.... I was blind--
        Yea, blind as I was tired!


    And yet one hand held me in creature-touch:
      And O, how fair it was, how true and strong,
    How it did hold my heart up like a crutch,
      Till, in my dreams, I joyed to walk along
      The toilsome way, contented with a song--
        'Twas all of earthly things I had acquired,
      And 'twas enough, I feigned, or right or wrong,
      Since, binding me to man--a mortal thong--
        It stayed me, growing tired....

    Yea, I had e'en resigned me to the strait
      Of earthly rulership--had bowed my head
    Acceptant of the master-mind--the great
      One lover--lord of all,--the perfected
      Kiss-comrade of my soul;--had stammering said
        My prayers to him;--all--all that he desired
      I rendered sacredly as we were wed.--
      Nay--nay!--'twas but a myth I worshippéd.--
        And--God of love!--how tired!

    For, O my friends, to lose the latest grasp--
      To feel the last hope slipping from its hold--
    To feel the one fond hand within your clasp
      Fall slack, and loosen with a touch so cold
    Its pressure may not warm you as of old
        Before the light of love had thus expired--
      To know your tears are worthless, though they rolled
      Their torrents out in molten drops of gold.--
        God's pity! I am tired!

    And I must rest.--Yet do not say "She _died_,"
      In speaking of me, sleeping here alone.
    I kiss the grassy grave I sink beside,
      And close mine eyes in slumber all mine own:
      Hereafter I shall neither sob nor moan
        Nor murmur one complaint;--all I desired,
      And failed in life to find, will now be known--
      So let me dream. Good night! And on the stone
        Say simply: She was tired.




    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.




    Because her eyes were far too deep
    And holy for a laugh to leap
    Across the brink where sorrow tried
    To drown within the amber tide;
    Because the looks, whose ripples kissed
    The trembling lids through tender mist,
    Were dazzled with a radiant gleam--
    Because of this I call her "Dream."

    Because the roses growing wild
    About her features when she smiled
    Were ever dewed with tears that fell
    With tenderness ineffable;
    Because her lips might spill a kiss
    That, dripping in a world like this,
    Would tincture death's myrrh-bitter stream
    To sweetness--so I called her "Dream."

    Because I could not understand
    The magic touches of a hand
    That seemed, beneath her strange control,
    To smooth the plumage of the soul
    And calm it, till, with folded wings,
    It half forgot its flutterings,
    And, nestled in her palm, did seem
    To trill a song that called her "Dream."

    Because I saw her, in a sleep
    As dark and desolate and deep
    And fleeting as the taunting night
    That flings a vision of delight
    To some lorn martyr as he lies
    In slumber ere the day he dies--
    Because she vanished like a gleam
    Of glory, do I call her "Dream."






    He called her in from me and shut the door.
    And she so loved the sunshine and the sky!--
    She loved them even better yet than I
    That ne'er knew dearth of them--my mother dead,
    Nature had nursed me in her lap instead:
    And I had grown a dark and eerie child
    That rarely smiled,
    Save when, shut all alone in grasses high,
    Looking straight up in God's great lonesome sky
    And coaxing Mother to smile back on me.
    'Twas lying thus, this fair girl suddenly
    Came to me, nestled in the fields beside
    A pleasant-seeming home, with doorway wide--
    The sunshine beating in upon the floor
    Like golden rain.--
    O sweet, sweet face above me, turn again
    And leave me! I had cried, but that an ache
    Within my throat so gripped it I could make
    No sound but a thick sobbing. Cowering so,
    I felt her light hand laid
    Upon my hair--a touch that ne'er before
    Had tamed me thus, all soothed and unafraid--
    It seemed the touch the children used to know
    When Christ was here, so dear it was--so dear,--
    At once I loved her as the leaves love dew
    In midmost summer when the days are new.
    Barely an hour I knew her, yet a curl
    Of silken sunshine did she clip for me
    Out of the bright May-morning of her hair,
    And bound and gave it to me laughingly,
    And caught my hands and called me _"Little girl,"_
    Tiptoeing, as she spoke, to kiss me there!
    And I stood dazed and dumb for very stress
    Of my great happiness.
    She plucked me by the gown, nor saw how mean
    The raiment--drew me with her everywhere:
    Smothered her face in tufts of grasses green:
    Put up her dainty hands and peeped between


    Her fingers at the blossoms--crooned and talked
    To them in strange, glad whispers, as we walked,--
    Said _this_ one was her angel mother--_this_,
    Her baby-sister--come back, for a kiss,
    Clean from the Good-World!--smiled and kissed them, then
    Closed her soft eyes and kissed them o'er again.
    And so did she beguile me--so we played,--
    She was the dazzling Shine--I, the dark Shade--
    And we did mingle like to these, and thus,
    Together, made
    The perfect summer, pure and glorious.
    So blent we, till a harsh voice broke upon
    Our happiness.--She, startled as a fawn,
    Cried, "Oh, 'tis Father!"--all the blossoms gone
    From out her cheeks as those from out her grasp.--
    Harsher the voice came:--She could only gasp
    Affrightedly, "Good-bye!--good-bye! good-bye!"
    And lo, I stood alone, with that harsh cry
    Ringing a new and unknown sense of shame
    Through soul and frame,
    And, with wet eyes, repeating o'er and o'er,--
    "He called her in from me and shut the door!"


    He called her in from me and shut the door!
    And I went wandering alone again--
    So lonely--O so very lonely then,
    I thought no little sallow star, alone
    In all a world of twilight, e'er had known
    Such utter loneliness. But that I wore
    Above my heart that gleaming tress of hair
    To lighten up the night of my despair,
    I think I might have groped into my grave
    Nor cared to wave
    The ferns above it with a breath of prayer.
    And how I hungered for the sweet, sweet face
    That bent above me in my hiding-place
    That day amid the grasses there beside
    Her pleasant home!--"Her _pleasant_ home!" I sighed,
    Remembering;--then shut my teeth and feigned
    The harsh voice calling _me_,--then clinched my nails
    So deeply in my palms, the sharp wounds pained,
    And tossed my face toward heaven, as one who pales
    In splendid martrydom, with soul serene,
    As near to God as high the guillotine.


    And I had _envied_ her? Not that--O no!
    But I had longed for some sweet haven so!--
    Wherein the tempest-beaten heart might ride
    Sometimes at peaceful anchor, and abide
    Where those that loved me touched me with their hands,
    And looked upon me with glad eyes, and slipped
    Smooth fingers o'er my brow, and lulled the strands
    Of my wild tresses, as they backward tipped
    My yearning face and kissed it satisfied.
    Then bitterly I murmured as before,--
    "He called her in from me and shut the door!"


    He called her in from me and shut the door!
    After long struggling with my pride and pain--
    A weary while it seemed, in which the more
    I held myself from her, the greater fain
    Was I to look upon her face again;--
    At last--at last--half conscious where my feet
    Were faring, I stood waist-deep in the sweet
    Green grasses there where she
    First came to me.--
    The very blossoms she had plucked that day,
    And, at her father's voice, had cast away,
    Around me lay,
    Still bright and blooming in these eyes of mine;
    And as I gathered each one eagerly,
    I pressed it to my lips and drank the wine
    Her kisses left there for the honey-bee.
    Then, after I had laid them with the tress
    Of her bright hair with lingering tenderness,
    I, turning, crept on to the hedge that bound
    Her pleasant-seeming home--but all around
    Was never sign of her!--The windows all
    Were blinded; and I heard no rippling fall
    Of her glad laugh, nor any harsh voice call;--
    But clutching to the tangled grasses, caught
    A sound as though a strong man bowed his head
    And sobbed alone--unloved--uncomforted!--
    And then straightway before
    My tearless eyes, all vividly, was wrought
    A vision that is with me evermore:--
    A little girl that lies asleep, nor hears
    Nor heeds not any voice nor fall of tears.--
    And I sit singing o'er and o'er and o'er,--
    "God called her in from him and shut the door!"



    Ah, help me! but her face and brow
    Are lovelier than lilies are
    Beneath the light of moon and star
    That smile as they are smiling now--
    White lilies in a pallid swoon
    Of sweetest white beneath the moon--
    White lilies, in a flood of bright
    Pure lucidness of liquid light
    Cascading down some plenilune,
    When all the azure overhead
    Blooms like a dazzling daisy-bed.--
    So luminous her face and brow,
    The luster of their glory, shed
    In memory, even, blinds me now.


    O her beautiful eyes! they are 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 shifts the mists and the clouds from the skies
    So I stand in the dawn of her beautiful eyes.

    And her beautiful eyes are as mid-day 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 groped through the night of her beautiful eyes.



    When she comes home again! A thousand ways
      I fashion, to myself, the tenderness
      Of my glad welcome: I shall tremble--yes;
    And touch her, as when first in the old days
    I touched her girlish hand, nor dared upraise
      Mine eyes, such was my faint heart's sweet distress.
      Then silence: And the perfume of her dress:
    The room will sway a little, and a haze
      Cloy eyesight--soulsight, even--for a space:
    And tears--yes; and the ache here in the throat,
      To know that I so ill deserve the place
    Her arms make for me; and the sobbing note
      I stay with kisses, ere the tearful face
      Again is hidden in the old embrace.



    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!



    Leonainie--Angels named her;
      And they took the light
    Of the laughing stars and framed her
      In a smile of white;
          And they made her hair of gloomy
          Midnight, and her eyes of bloomy
          Moonshine, and they brought her to me
      In the solemn night.--

    In a solemn night of summer,
      When my heart of gloom
    Blossomed up to greet the comer
      Like a rose in bloom;
          All forebodings that distressed me
          I forgot as Joy caressed me,
          (_Lying_ Joy! that caught and pressed me
      In the arms of doom!)

    Only spake the little lisper
      In the Angel-tongue;
    Yet I, listening, heard her whisper--
      "Songs are only sung
          Here below that they may grieve you,
          Tales but told you to deceive you,--
          So must Leonainie leave you
      While her love is young,"

    Then God smiled and it was morning
      Matchless and supreme
    Heaven's glory seemed adorning
      Earth with its esteem:
          Every heart but mine seemed gifted
          With the voice of prayer, and lifted
          Where my Leonainie drifted
      From me like a dream.




                             In some strange place
    Of long-lost lands he finds her waiting face--
    Comes marveling upon it, unaware,
    Set moonwise in the midnight of her hair.




    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!


    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.



    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 wall 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.



    HE AND I

    Just drifting on together--
          He and I--
    As through the balmy weather
          Of July
      Drift two thistle-tufts imbedded
      Each in each--by zephyrs wedded--
      Touring upward, giddy-headed,
          For the sky.

    And, veering up and onward,
          Do we seem
    Forever drifting dawnward
          In a dream,
      Where we meet song-birds that know us,
      And the winds their kisses blow us,
      While the years flow far below us
          Like a stream.

    And we are happy--very--
            He and I--
    Aye, even glad and merry
            Though on high
      The heavens are sometimes shrouded
      By the midnight storm, and clouded
      Till the pallid moon is crowded
            From the sky.

    My spirit ne'er expresses
            Any choice
    But to clothe him with caresses
            And rejoice;
      And as he laughs, it is in
      Such a tone the moonbeams glisten
      And the stars come out to listen
            To his voice.

    And so, whate'er the weather,
            He and I,--
    With our lives linked thus together,
            Float and fly
      As two thistle-tufts imbedded
      Each in each--by zephyrs wedded--
      Touring upward, giddy-headed,
            For the sky.




    Alone they walked--their fingers knit together,
       And swaying listlessly as might a swing
    Wherein Dan Cupid dangled in the weather
     Of some sun-flooded afternoon of Spring.

    Within the clover-fields the tickled cricket
      Laughed lightly as they loitered down the lane,
    And from the covert of the hazel-thicket
      The squirrel peeped and laughed at them again.

    The bumble-bee that tipped the lily-vases
      Along the road-side in the shadows dim,
    Went following the blossoms of their faces
      As though their sweets must needs be shared with

    Between the pasture bars the wondering cattle
      Stared wistfully, and from their mellow bells
    Shook out a welcoming whose dreamy rattle
      Fell swooningly away in faint farewells.

    And though at last the gloom of night fell o'er them
      And folded all the landscape from their eyes,
    They only knew the dusky path before them
      Was leading safely on to Paradise.




    O soul of mine, look out and see
        My bride, my bride that is to be!
      Reach out with mad, impatient hands,
    And draw aside futurity
    As one might draw a veil aside--
      And so unveil her where she stands
    Madonna-like and glorified--
      The queen of undiscovered lands
    Of love, to where she beckons me--
    My bride--my bride that is to be.

    The shadow of a willow-tree
      That wavers on a garden-wall
      In summertime may never fall
    In attitude as gracefully
    As my fair bride that is to be;--
      Nor ever Autumn's leaves of brown
    As lightly flutter to the lawn
    As fall her fairy-feet upon
      The path of love she loiters down.--
    O'er drops of dew she walks, and yet
    Not one may stain her sandal wet--
    Aye, she might _dance_ upon the way
    Nor crush a single drop to spray,
    So airy-like she seems to me,--
    My bride, my bride that is to be.

    I know not if her eyes are light
    As summer skies or dark as night,--
    I only know that they are dim
      With mystery: In vain I peer
      To make their hidden meaning clear,
      While o'er their surface, like a tear
    That ripples to the silken brim,
    A look of longing seems to swim


      All worn and wearylike to me;
    And then, as suddenly, my sight
    Is blinded with a smile so bright,
      Through folded lids I still may see
      My bride, my bride that is to be.

    Her face is like a night of June
    Upon whose brow the crescent-moon
    Hangs pendant in a diadem
    Of stars, with envy lighting them.--
      And, like a wild cascade, her hair
    Floods neck and shoulder, arm and wrist,
    Till only through a gleaming mist
      I seem to see a siren there,
    With lips of love and melody
      And open arms and heaving breast
      Wherein I fling myself to rest,
    The while my heart cries hopelessly
    For my fair bride that is to be...

    Nay, foolish heart and blinded eyes!
    My bride hath need of no disguise.--
      But, rather, let her come to me
    In such a form as bent above
      My pillow when in infancy
    I knew not anything but love.--
    O let her come from out the lands
      Of Womanhood--not fairy isles,--
    And let her come with Woman's hands
      And Woman's eyes of tears and smiles,--
    With Woman's hopefulness and grace
    Of patience lighting up her face:
    And let her diadem be wrought
    Of kindly deed and prayerful thought,
    That ever over all distress
    May beam the light of cheerfulness.--
    And let her feet be brave to fare
    The labyrinths of doubt and care,
    That, following, my own may find
    The path to Heaven God designed.--
    O let her come like this to me--
    My bride--my bride that is to be.


    I got to thinkin' of her--both her parents dead and gone--
    And all her sisters married off, and none but her and John
    A-livin' all alone there in that lonesome sort o' way,
    And him a blame' old bachelor, confirm'der ev'ry day!
    I'd knowed 'em all from childern, and their daddy from the time
    He settled in the neighberhood, and hadn't airy a dime
    Er dollar, when he married, fer to start housekeepin' on!--
    So I got to thinkin' of her--both her parents dead and gone!

    I got to thinkin' of her; and a-wundern what she done
    That all her sisters kep' a-gittin' married, one by one,
    And her without no chances--and the best girl of the pack--
    An old maid, with her hands, you might say, tied behind her back!
    And Mother, too, afore she died, she ust to jes' take on,
    When none of 'em was left, you know, but Evaline and John,
    And jes' declare to goodness 'at the young men must be bline
    To not see what a wife they'd git if they got Evaline!

    I got to thinkin' of her; in my great affliction she
    Was sich a comfert to us, and so kind and neighberly,--
    She'd come, and leave her housework, fer to he'p out little Jane,
    And talk of _her own_ mother 'at she'd never see again--
    Maybe sometimes cry together--though, fer the most part she
    Would have the child so riconciled and happy-like 'at we
    Felt lonesomer 'n ever when she'd put her bonnet on
    And say she'd railly haf to be a-gittin' back to John!


    I got to thinkin' of her, as I say,--and more and more
    I'd think of her dependence, and the burdens 'at she bore,--
    Her parents both a-bein' dead, and all her sisters gone
    And married off, and her a-livin' there alone with John--
    You might say jes' a-toilin' and a-slavin' out her life
    Fer a man 'at hadn't pride enough to git hisse'f a wife--
    'Less some one married _Evaline_ and packed her off some day!--
    So I got to thinkin' of her--and it happened that-away.




    When my dreams come true--when my dreams come true--
    Shall I lean from out my casement, in the starlight and the dew,


    To listen--smile and listen to the tinkle of the strings
    Of the sweet guitar my lover's fingers fondle, as he sings?
    And the nude moon slowly, slowly shoulders into view,
    Shall I vanish from his vision--when my dreams come true?

    When my dreams come true--shall the simple gown I wear
    Be changed to softest satin, and my maiden-braided hair
    Be raveled into flossy mists of rarest, fairest gold,
    To be minted into kisses, more than any heart can hold?--
    Or "the summer of my tresses" shall my lover liken to
    "The fervor of his passion"--when my dreams come true?


    When my dreams come true--I shall bide among the sheaves
    Of happy harvest meadows; and the grasses and the leaves
    Shall lift and lean between me and the splendor of the sun,
    Till the moon swoons into twilight, and the gleaners' work is done--
    Save that yet an arm shall bind me, even as the reapers do
    The meanest sheaf of harvest--when my dreams come true.

    When my dreams come true! when my dreams come true!
    True love in all simplicity is fresh and pure as dew;
    The blossom in the blackest mold is kindlier to the eye
    Than any lily born of pride that looms against the sky:
    And so it is I know my heart will gladly welcome you,
    My lowliest of lovers, when my dreams come true.



    Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!
    Gyrls that's in love, I've noticed, ginerly has their way!
    Yer mother did afore you, when her folks objected to me--
    Yit here I am, and here you air; and yer mother--where is she?

    You look lots like yer mother: Purty much same in size;
    And about the same complected; and favor about the eyes:
    Like her, too, about _livin'_ here,--because _she_ couldn't stay:
    It'll 'most seem like you was dead--like her!--But I hain't got
                                                      nothin' to say!

    She left you her little Bible--writ yer name acrost the page--
    And left her ear bobs fer you, ef ever you come of age.
    I've allus kep'em and gyuarded 'em, but ef yer goin' away--
    Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!

    You don't rikollect her, I reckon? No; you wasn't a year old then!
    And now yer--how old _air_ you? W'y, child, not _"twenty!"_ When?
    And yer nex' birthday's in Aprile? and you want to git married that
    I wisht yer mother was livin'!--But--I hain't got nothin' to say!

    Twenty year! and as good a gyrl as parent ever found!
    There's a straw ketched onto yer dress there--I'll bresh it
                                                      off--turn around.
    (Her mother was jes' twenty when us two run away!)
    Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!




    I crave, dear Lord,
      No boundless hoard
      Of gold and gear,
        Nor jewels fine,
        Nor lands, nor kine,
    Nor treasure-heaps of anything.--
      Let but a little hut be mine
    Where at the hearthstone I may hear
          The cricket sing,
        And have the shine
      Of one glad woman's eyes to make,
      For my poor sake,
        Our simple home a place divine;--
    Just the wee cot--the cricket's chirr--
    Love, and the smiling face of her.

    I pray not for
    Great riches, nor
      For vast estates, and castle-halls,--
      Give me to hear the bare footfalls
        Of children o'er
        An oaken floor,
      New-rinsed with sunshine, or bespread
      With but the tiny coverlet
      And pillow for the baby's head;
    And pray Thou, may
    The door stand open and the day
      Send ever in a gentle breeze,
      With fragrance from the locust-trees,
        And drowsy moan of doves, and blur
      Of robin-chirps, and drone of bees,


      With afterhushes of the stir
    Of intermingling sounds, and then
      The good-wife and the smile of her
    Filling the silences again--
        The cricket's call,
          And the wee cot,
        Dear Lord of all,
          Deny me not!

    I pray not that
    Men tremble at
      My power of place
        And lordly sway,--
    I only pray for simple grace
    To look my neighbor in the face
      Full honestly from day to day--
    Yield me his horny palm to hold,
        And I'll not pray
          For gold;--
    The tanned face, garlanded with mirth,
    It hath the kingliest smile on earth--
    The swart brow, diamonded with sweat,
    Hath never need of coronet.
        And so I reach,
          Dear Lord, to Thee,
        And do beseech
          Thou givest me
    The wee cot, and the cricket's chirr,
    Love, and the glad sweet face of her.



    Illileo, the moonlight seemed lost across the vales--
    The stars but strewed the azure as an armor's scattered scales;
    The airs of night were quiet as the breath of silken sails;
    And all your words were sweeter than the notes of nightingales.

    Illileo Legardi, in the garden there alone,
    With your figure carved of fervor, as the Psyche carved of stone,
    There came to me no murmur of the fountain's undertone
    So mystically, musically mellow as your own.

    You whispered low, Illileo--so low the leaves were mute,
    And the echoes faltered breathless in your voice's vain pursuit;
    And there died the distant dalliance of the serenader's lute:
    And I held you in my bosom as the husk may hold the fruit.
    Illileo, I listened. I believed you. In my bliss,
    What were all the worlds above me since I found you thus in this?--
    Let them reeling reach to win me--- even Heaven I would miss,
    Grasping earthward!--I would cling here, though I clung by just a

    And blossoms should grow odorless--and lilies all aghast--
    And I said the stars should slacken in their paces through the vast,
    Ere yet my loyalty should fail enduring to the last.--
    So vowed I. It is written. It is changeless as the past.

    Illileo Legardi, in the shade your palace throws
    Like a cowl about the singer at your gilded porticos,
    A moan goes with the music that may vex the high repose
    Of a heart that fades and crumbles as the crimson of a rose.



    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.




    My Mary, O my Mary!
      The simmer-skies are blue;
    The dawnin' brings the dazzle,
      An' the gloamin' brings the dew?--
    The mirk o' nicht the glory
      O' the moon, an' kindles, too,
    The stars that shift aboon the lift.---
      But nae thing brings me you!

    Where is it, O my Mary,
      Ye are biding a' the while?
    I ha' wended by your window--
      I ha' waited by the stile,
    An' up an' down the river
      I ha' won for mony a mile,
    Yet never found, adrift or drown'd,
      Your lang-belated smile.

    Is it forgot, my Mary,
      How glad we used to be?--
    The simmer-time when bonny bloomed
      The auld trysting-tree,--
    How there I carved the name for you,
      An' you the name for me;
    An' the gloamin' kenned it only
      When we kissed sae tenderly.

    Speek ance to me, my Mary!---
      But whisper in my ear
    As light as ony sleeper's breath,
      An' a' my soul will hear;
    My heart shall stap its beating
      An' the soughing atmosphere
    Be hushed the while I leaning smile
      An' listen to you, dear!

    My Mary, O my Mary!
      The blossoms bring the bees;
    The sunshine brings the blossoms,
      An' the leaves on a' the trees;
    The simmer brings the sunshine
      An' the fragrance o' the breeze,--
    But O wi'out you, Mary,
      I care nae thing for these!


    We were sae happy, Mary!
      O think how ance we said--
    Wad ane o' us gae fickle,
      Or are o' us lie dead,--
    To feel anither's kisses
      We wad feign the auld instead,
    And ken the ither's footsteps
      In the green grass owerhead.

    My Mary, O my Mary!
      Are ye daughter o' the air,
    That ye vanish aye before me
      As I follow everywhere?--
    Or is it ye are only
      But a mortal, wan wi' care?--
    Syne I search through a' the kirkyird
      An' I dinna find ye there!



    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,




    When Lide married _him_--w'y, she had to jes dee-fy
    The whole poppilation!--But she never bat' an eye!
    Her parents begged, and _threatened_--she must give him up--that _he_
    Wuz jes "a common drunkard!"--And he _wuz_, appearantly.--
              Swore they'd chase him off the place
              Ef he ever showed his face--
    Long after she'd _eloped_ with him and _married_ him fer shore!--
    When Lide married _him_, it wuz _"Katy, bar the door!"_

    When Lide married _him_--Well! she had to go and be
    A _hired girl_ in town somewheres--while he tromped round to see
    What _he_ could git that _he_ could do,--you might say, jes sawed
    From door to door!--that's what he done--'cause that wuz best he
            And the strangest thing, i jing!
              Wuz, he didn't _drink_ a thing,--
    But jes got down to bizness, like he someway _wanted_ to,
    When Lide married _him_, like they warned her _not_ to do!

    When Lide married _him_--er, ruther, _had_ ben married
    A little up'ards of a year--some feller come and carried
    That _hired girl_ away with him--a ruther _stylish_ feller
    In a bran-new green spring-wagon, with the wheels striped red and
             And he whispered, as they driv
             Tords the country, _"Now we'll live!"_--
    And _somepin' else_ she _laughed_ to hear, though both her eyes wuz
    'Bout _"trustin' Love and Heav'n above_, sence Lide married _him!"_




    The beauty of her hair bewilders me--
      Pouring adown the brow, its cloven tide
      Swirling about the ears on either side
    And storming around the neck tumultuously:
    Or like the lights of old antiquity
      Through mullioned windows, in cathedrals wide,
      Spilled moltenly o'er figures deified
    In chastest marble, nude of drapery.
    And so I love it.--Either unconfined;
      Or plaited in close braidings manifold;
    Or smoothly drawn; or indolently twined
      In careless knots whose coilings come unrolled
    At any lightest kiss; or by the wind
      Whipped out in flossy ravelings of gold.


    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!




    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.

    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 so fair?



    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!"



    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.



    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.




    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 whippoorwill
    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!



    I am tired of this!
      Nothing else but loving!
    Nothing else but kiss and kiss,
      Coo, and turtle-doving!
        Can't you change the order some?
        Hate me just a little--come!

    Lay aside your "dears,"
      "Darlings", "kings" and "princes!"--
    Call me knave, and dry your tears--
      Nothing in me winces,--
        Call me something low and base--
        Something that will suit the case!

    Wish I had your eyes
      And their drooping lashes!
    I would dry their teary lies
      Up with lightning-flashes--
        Make your sobbing lips unsheathe
        All the glitter of your teeth!

    Can't you lift one word--
      With some pang of laughter--
    Louder than the drowsy bird
      Crooning 'neath the rafter?
        Just one bitter word, to shriek
        Madly at me as I speak!

    How I hate the fair
      Beauty of your forehead!


    How I hate your fragrant hair!
      How I hate the torrid
        Touches of your splendid lips,
        And the kiss that drips and drips!

    Ah, you pale at last!
      And your face is lifted
    Like a white sail to the blast,
      And your hands are shifted
        Into fists: and, towering thus,
        You are simply glorious!

    Now before me looms
      Something more than human;
    Something more than beauty blooms
      In the wrath of Woman--
        Something to bow down before
        Reverently and adore.



    "Where shall we land you, sweet?"--Swinburne.

    All listlessly we float
    Out seaward in the boat
        That beareth Love.
    Our sails of purest snow
    Bend to the blue below
        And to the blue above.
        Where shall be land?

    We drift upon a tide
    Shoreless on every side,
        Save where the eye
    Of Fancy sweeps far lands
    Shelved slopingly with sands
        Of gold and porphyry.
            Where shall we land?

    The fairy isles we see,
    Loom up so mistily--
        So vaguely fair,
    We do not care to break
    Fresh bubbles in our wake
        To bend our course for there.
            Where shall we land?

    The warm winds of the deep
    Have lulled our sails to sleep,
        And so we glide
    Careless of wave or wind,
    Or change of any kind,
        Or turn of any tide.
            Where shall we land?

    We droop our dreamy eyes
    Where our reflection lies
        Steeped in the sea,
    And, in an endless fit
    Of languor, smile on it
        And its sweet mimicry.
            Where shall we land?

    "Where shall we land?" God's grace!
    I know not any place
        So fair as this--
    Swung here between the blue
    Of sea and sky, with you
        To ask me, with a kiss,
            "Where shall we land?"


    The touches of her hands are like the fall
      Of velvet snowflakes; like the touch of down
    The peach just brushes 'gainst the garden wall;
    The flossy fondling of the thistle-wisp
    Caught in the crinkle of a leaf of brown
    The blighting frost hath turned from green to crisp.

    Soft as the falling of the dusk at night,
    The touches of her hands, and the delight--
      The touches of her hands!
    The touches of her hands are like the dew
    That falls so softly down no one e'er knew
    The touch thereof save lovers like to one
    Astray in lights where ranged Endymion.

    O rarely soft, the touches of her hands,
    As drowsy zephyrs in enchanted lands;
      Or pulse of dying fay; or fairy sighs;
    Or--in between the midnight and the dawn,
    When long unrest and tears and fears are gone--
      Sleep, smoothing down the lids of weary eyes.



    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

    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 working 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 one'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 burin' 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 arms 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 fact,
    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 it's 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 kindo' 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' hosses, 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 road-side, 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
    Sorto' 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 respect--
    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 mistakened 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 stoppin'-place at last;
    And that night, at the tavern, I dreamp' _I_ was a train
    O' cars, and _skeered_ at sompin', 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 inte_rest_in'--I su'prised him, I suppose,
    By the loud and frequent manner in which I blowed my nose!--
    But his surprise 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 meetin', 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.



    It tossed its head at the wooing breeze;
      And the sun, like a bashful swain,
    Beamed on it through the waving trees
      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 returned 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 dewdrops three
    And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

    And I said: I will cull 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.


    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!




    Has she forgotten? On this very May
    We were to meet here, with the birds and bees,
    As on that Sabbath, underneath the trees
    We strayed among the tombs, and stripped away
    The vines from these old granites, cold and gray--
    And yet indeed not grim enough were they
    To stay our kisses, smiles and ecstasies,
    Or closer voice-lost vows and rhapsodies.
    Has she forgotten--that the May has won
    Its promise?--that the bird-songs from the tree
    Are sprayed above the grasses as the sun
    Might jar the dazzling dew down showeringly?
    Has she forgotten life--love--everyone--
    Has she forgotten me--forgotten me?


    Low, low down in the violets I press
    My lips and whisper to her. Does she hear,
    And yet hold silence, though I call her dear,
    Just as of old, save for the tearfulness
    Of the clenched eyes, and the soul's vast distress?
    Has she forgotten thus the old caress
    That made our breath a quickened atmosphere
    That failed nigh unto swooning with the sheer
    Delight? Mine arms clutch now this earthen heap
    Sodden with tears that flow on ceaselessly
    As autumn rains the long, long, long nights weep
    In memory of days that used to be,--
    Has she forgotten these? And in her sleep,
    Has she forgotten me--forgotten me?


    To-night, against my pillow, with shut eyes,
    I mean to weld our faces--through the dense
    Incalculable darkness make pretense
    That she has risen from her reveries
    To mate her dreams with mine in marriages
    Of mellow palms, smooth faces, and tense ease
    Of every longing nerve of indolence,--
    Lift from the grave her quiet lips, and stun
    My senses with her kisses--drawl the glee
    Of her glad mouth, full blithe and tenderly,
    Across mine own, forgetful if is done
    The old love's awful dawn-time when said we,
    "To-day is ours!"... Ah, Heaven! can it be
    She has forgotten me--forgotten me!



    But yesterday!...
    O blooms of May,
    And summer roses--Where-away?
    O stars above,
    And lips of love
    And all the honeyed sweets thereof!

    O lad and lass
    And orchard-pass
    And briered lane, and daisied grass!
    O gleam and gloom,
    And woodland bloom,
    And breezy breaths of all perfume!--

    No more for me
    Or mine shall be
    Thy raptures--save in memory,--
    No more--no more--
    Till through the Door
    Of Glory gleam the days of yore.





    Wilful we are in our infirmity
      Of childish questioning and discontent.
      Whate'er befalls us is divinely meant--
    Thou Truth the clearer for thy mystery!
    Make us to meet what is or is to be
      With fervid welcome, knowing it is sent
      To serve us in some way full excellent,
    Though we discern it all belatedly.
    The rose buds, and the rose blooms and the rose
      Bows in the dews, and in its fulness, lo,
        Is in the lover's hand,--then on the breast
    Of her he loves,--and there dies.--And who knows
      Which fate of all a rose may undergo
        Is fairest, dearest, sweetest, loveliest?

    Nay, we are children: we will not mature.
      A blessed gift must seem a theft; and tears
      Must storm our eyes when but a joy appears
    In drear disguise of sorrow; and how poor
    We seem when we are richest,--most secure
      Against all poverty the lifelong years
      We yet must waste in childish doubts and fears
    That, in despite of reason, still endure!
    Alas! the sermon of the rose we will
      Not wisely ponder; nor the sobs of grief
        Lulled into sighs of rapture; nor the cry
    Of fierce defiance that again is still.
      Be patient--patient with our frail belief,
        And stay it yet a little ere we die.

    O opulent life of ours, though dispossessed
      Of treasure after treasure! Youth most fair
      Went first, but left its priceless coil of hair--
    Moaned over sleepless nights, kissed and caressed
    Through drip and blur of tears the tenderest.
      And next went Love--the ripe rose glowing there
      Her very sister!... It is here; but where
    Is she, of all the world the first and best?
    And yet how sweet the sweet earth after rain--
      How sweet the sunlight on the garden wall
        Across the roses--and how sweetly flows
    The limpid yodel of the brook again!
      And yet--and yet how sweeter after all,
        The smouldering sweetness of a dead red rose!


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