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Title: The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley — Volume 1
Author: Riley, James Whitcomb
Language: English
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Scanned by Charles Keller with
donated by: Calera Recognition Systems
475 Potrero
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
1-408-720-8300
 Mike Lynch


Memorial Edition
The Complete Works of
James Whitcomb Riley
IN TEN VOLUMES
Including Poems and Prose Sketches, many
of which have not heretofore been
published; an authentic Biography, an
elaborate Index and numerous
Illustrations in color from Paintings
by Howard Chandler Christy
and Ethyl Franklin Betts

VOLUME I

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON


COPYRIGHT
1883, 1885, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891, 189, 1893, 1894,
1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 190, 1903, 1904,
1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 191, 1913,
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
COPYRIGHT 1916
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY


TO
THE MEMORY OF
James Whitcomb Riley
AND
IN PLEASANT RECOLLECTION OF MORE THAN THIRTY-FIVE YEARS
OF BUSINESS AND PERSONAL ASSOCIATION
THESE FINAL VOLUMES
ARE AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED

BORN:                       DIED:
October 7, 1849,            July 22, 1916
Greenfield, Ind.            Indianapolis, Ind.



CONTENTS


JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY--A SKETCH
A BACKWARD LOOK
PHILIPER FLASH
THE SAME OLD STORY
TO A BOY WHISTLING
AN OLD FRIEND
WHAT SMITH KNEW ABOUT FARMING
A POET'S WOOING
MAN'S DEVOTION
A BALLAD
THE OLD TIMES WERE THE BEST
A SUMMER AFTERNOON
AT LAST
FARMER WHIPPLE--BACHELOR
MY JOLLY FRIEND'S SECRET
THE SPEEDING OF THE KING'S SPITE
JOB WORK
PRIVATE THEATRICAL
PLAIN SERMONS
"TRADIN' JOE"
DOT LEEDLE BOY
I SMOKE MY PIPE
RED RIDING HOOD
IF I KNEW WHAT POETS KNOW
AN OLD SWEETHEART OF MINE
SQUIRE HAWKINS'S STORY
A COUNTRY PATHWAY
THE OLD GUITAR
"FRIDAY AFTERNOON"
"JOHNSON'S BOY"
HER BEAUTIFUL HANDS
NATURAL PERVERSITIES
THE SILENT VICTORS
SCRAPS
AUGUST
DEAD IN SIGHT OF FAME
IN THE DARK
THE IRON HORSE
DEAD LEAVES
OVER THE EYES OF GLADNESS
ONLY A DREAM
OUR LlTTLE GIRL
THE FUNNY LITTLE FELLOW
SONG OF THE NEW YEAR
A LETTER TO A FRIEND
LINES FOR AN ALBUM
TO ANNIE
FAME
AN EMPTY NEST
MY FATHER'S HALLS
THE HARP OF THE MINSTREL
HONEY DRIPPING FROM THE COMB
JOHN WALSH
ORLIE WILDE
THAT OTHER MAUDE MULLER
A MAN OF MANY PARTS
THE FROG
DEAD SELVES
A DREAM OF LONG AGO
CRAQUEODOOM
JUNE
WASH LOWRY'S REMINISCENCE
THE ANCIENT PRINTERMAN
PRIOR TO MISS BELLE'S APPEARANCE
WHEN MOTHER COMBED MY HAIR
A WRANGDILLION
GEORGE MULLEN'S CONFESSION
"TIRED OUT"
HARLIE
SAY SOMETHING TO ME
LEONAINIE
A TEST OF LOVE
FATHER WILLIAM
WHAT THE WIND SAID
MORTON
AN AUTUMNAL EXTRAVAGANZA
THE ROSE
THE MERMAN
THE RAINY MORNING
WE ARE NOT ALWAYS GLAD WHEN WE SMILE
A SUMMER SUNRISE
DAS KRIST KINDEL
AN OLD YEAR'S ADDRESS
A NEW YEAR S PLAINT
LUTHER BENSON
DREAM
WHEN EVENING SHADOWS FALL
YLLADMAR
A FANTASY
A DREAM
DREAMER, SAY
BRYANT
BABYHOOD
LIBERTY
TOM VAN ARDEN



JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY--A SKETCH


On Sunday morning, October seventh, 1849, Reuben A. Riley and his
wife, Elizabeth Marine Riley, rejoiced over the birth of their
second son.  They called him James Whitcomb.  This was in a shady
little street in the shady little town of Greenfield, which is in
the county of Hancock and the state of Indiana.  The young James
found a brother and a sister waiting to greet him--John Andrew
and Martha Celestia, and afterward came Elva May--Mrs. Henry
Eitel-- Alexander Humbolt and Mary Elizabeth, who, of all, alone
lives to see this collection of her brother's poems.

James Whitcomb was a slender lad, with corn-silk hair and wide
blue eyes.  He was shy and timid, not strong physically, dreading
the cold of winter, and avoiding the rougher sports of his
playmates.  And yet he was full of the spirit of youth, a spirit
that manifested itself in the performance of many ingenious
pranks.  His every-day life was that of the average boy in the
average country town of that day, but his home influences were
exceptional.  His father, who became a captain of cavalry in the
Civil War, was a lawyer of ability and an orator of more than
local distinction.  His mother was a woman of rare strength of
character combined with deep sympathy and a clear understanding.
Together, they made home a place to remember with thankful heart.

When James was twenty years old, the death of his mother made a
profound impression on him, an impression that has influenced
much of his verse and has remained with him always.

At an early age he was sent to school and, "then sent back
again," to use his own words.  He was restive under what he
called the "iron discipline."  A number of years ago, he spoke
of these early educational beginnings in phrases so picturesque
and so characteristic that they are quoted in full:

"My first teacher was a little old woman, rosy and roly-poly, who
looked as though she might have just come tumbling out of a fairy
story, so lovable was she and so jolly and so amiable.  She kept
school in her little Dame-Trot kind of dwelling of three rooms,
with a porch in the rear, like a bracket on the wall, which was
part of the play-ground of her 'scholars,'--for in those days
pupils were called 'scholars' by their affectionate teachers.
Among the twelve or fifteen boys and girls who were there I
remember particularly a little lame boy, who always got the first
ride in the locust-tree swing during recess.

"This first teacher of mine was a mother to all her 'scholars,'
and in every way looked after their comfort, especially when
certain little ones grew drowsy.  I was often, with others,
carried to the sitting-room and left to slumber on a small made-
down pallet on the floor.  She would sometimes take three or four
of us together; and I recall how a playmate and I, having been
admonished into silence, grew deeply interested in watching a
spare old man who sat at a window with its shade drawn down.
After a while we became accustomed to this odd sight and would
laugh, and talk in whispers and give imitations, as we sat in a
low sewing-chair, of the little old pendulating blind man at the
window.  Well, the old man was the gentle teacher's charge, and
for this reason, possibly, her life had become an heroic one,
caring for her helpless husband who, quietly content, waited
always at the window for his sight to come back to him.  And
doubtless it is to-day, as he sits at another casement and sees
not only his earthly friends, but all the friends of the Eternal
Home, with the smiling, loyal, loving little woman forever at his
side.

"She was the kindliest of souls even when constrained to punish
us.  After a whipping she invariably took me into the little
kitchen and gave me two great white slabs of bread cemented
together with layers of butter and jam.  As she always whipped me
with the same slender switch she used for a pointer, and cried
over every lick, you will have an idea how much punishment I
could stand.  When I was old enough to be lifted by the ears out
of my seat that office was performed by a pedagogue whom I
promised to 'whip sure, if he'd just wait till I got big enough.'
He is still waiting!

"There was but one book at school in which I found the slightest
interest:  McGuffey's old leather-bound Sixth Reader.  It was the
tallest book known, and to the boys of my size it was a matter of
eternal wonder how I could belong to 'the big class in that
reader.'  When we were to read the death of 'Little Nell,' I
would run away, for I knew it would make me cry, that the other
boys would laugh at me, and the whole thing would become
ridiculous.  I couldn't bear that.  A later teacher, Captain Lee
O. Harris, came to understand me with thorough sympathy, took
compassion on my weaknesses and encouraged me to read the best
literature.  He understood that he couldn't get numbers into my
head.  You couldn't tamp them in!  History I also disliked as a
dry thing without juice, and dates melted out of my memory as
speedily as tin-foil on a red-hot stove.  But I always was ready
to declaim and took natively to anything dramatic or theatrical.
Captain Harris encouraged me in recitation and reading and had
ever the sweet spirit of a companion rather than the manner of an
instructor."

But if there was "only one book at school in which he found the
slightest interest," he had before that time displayed an
affection for a book--simply as such and not for any printed word
it might contain.  And this, after all, is the true book-lover's
love.  Speaking of this incident--and he liked to refer to it
as his "first literary recollection," he said:  "Long
before I was old enough to read I remember buying a book at an
old auctioneer's shop in Greenfield.  I can not imagine what
prophetic impulse took possession of me and made me forego the
ginger cakes and the candy that usually took every cent of my
youthful income.  The slender little volume must have cost all of
twenty-five cents!  It was Francis Quarles' Divine Emblems,--a
neat little affair about the size of a pocket Testament.  I
carried it around with me all day long, delighted with the very
feel of it.

" 'What have you got there, Bub?' some one would ask.  'A book,'
I would reply.  'What kind of a book?'  'Poetry-book.'  'Poetry!'
would be the amused exclamation.  'Can you read poetry?' and,
embarrassed, I'd shake my head and make my escape, but I held on
to the beloved little volume."

Every boy has an early determination--a first one--to follow some
ennobling profession, once he has come to man's estate, such as
being a policeman, or a performer on the high trapeze.  The poet
would not have been the "Peoples' Laureate," had his fairy god-
mother granted his boy-wish, but the Greenfield baker.  For to
his childish mind it "seemed the acme of delight," using again
his own happy expression, "to manufacture those snowy loaves of
bread, those delicious tarts, those toothsome bon-bons.  And then
to own them all, to keep them in store, to watch over and
guardedly exhibit.  The thought of getting money for them was
to me a sacrilege.  Sell them?  No indeed.  Eat 'em--eat 'em, by
tray loads and dray loads!  It was a great wonder to me why the
pale-faced baker in our town did not eat all his good things.
This I determined to do when I became owner of such a grand
establishment.  Yes, sir.  I would have a glorious feast.  Maybe
I'd have Tom and Harry and perhaps little Kate and Florry in to
help us once in a while.  The thought of these play-mates as
'grown-up folks' didn't appeal to me.  I was but a child, with
wide-open eyes, a healthy appetite and a wondering mind.  That
was all.  But I have the same sweet tooth to-day, and every time
I pass a confectioner's shop, I think of the big baker of our
town, and Tom and Harry and the youngsters all."

As a child, he often went with his father to the court-house
where the lawyers and clerks playfully called him "judge Wick."
Here as a privileged character he met and mingled with the
country folk who came to sue and be sued, and thus early the
dialect, the native speech, the quaint expressions of his "own
people" were made familiar to him, and took firm root in the
fresh soil of his young memory.  At about this time, he made his
first poetic attempt in a valentine which he gave to his mother.
Not only did he write the verse, but he drew a sketch to
accompany it, greatly to his mother's delight, who, according to
the best authority, gave the young poet "three big cookies and
didn't spank me for two weeks.  This was my earliest literary
encouragement."

Shortly after his sixteenth birthday, young Riley turned his back
on the little schoolhouse and for a time wandered through the
different fields of art, indulging a slender talent for painting
until he thought he was destined for the brush and palette, and
then making merry with various musical instruments, the banjo,
the guitar, the violin, until finally he appeared as bass drummer
in a brass band.  "In a few weeks," he said, "I had beat myself
into the more enviable position of snare drummer.  Then I wanted
to travel with a circus, and dangle my legs before admiring
thousands over the back seat of a Golden Chariot.  In a dearth of
comic songs for the banjo and guitar, I had written two or three
myself, and the idea took possession of me that I might be a
clown, introduced as a character-song-man and the composer of my
own ballads.

"My father was thinking of something else, however, and one day I
found myself with a 'five-ought' paint brush under the eaves of
an old frame house that drank paint by the bucketful, learning to
be a painter.  Finally, I graduated as a house, sign and
ornamental painter, and for two summers traveled about with a
small company of young fellows calling ourselves 'The Graphics,'
who covered all the barns and fences in the state with
advertisements."

At another time his, young man's fancy saw attractive
possibilities in the village print-shop, and later his
ambition was diverted to acting, encouraged by the good times he
had in the theatricals of the Adelphian Society of Greenfield.
"In my dreamy way," he afterward said, "I did a little of a
number of things fairly well--sang, played the guitar and violin,
acted, painted signs and wrote poetry.  My father did not
encourage my verse-making for he thought it too visionary, and
being a visionary himself, he believed he understood the dangers
of following the promptings of the poetic temperament.  I doubted
if anything would come of the verse-writing myself.  At this time
it is easy to picture my father, a lawyer of ability, regarding
me, nonplused, as the worst case he had ever had.  He wanted me
to do something practical, besides being ambitious for me to
follow in his footsteps, and at last persuaded me to settle down
and read law in his office.  This I really tried to do
conscientiously, but finding that political economy and
Blackstone did not rhyme and that the study of law was
unbearable, I slipped out of the office one summer afternoon,
when all out-doors called imperiously, shook the last dusty
premise from my head and was away.

"The immediate instigator of my flight was a traveling medicine
man who appealed to me for this reason:  My health was bad, very
bad,--as bad as I was.  Our doctor had advised me to travel, but
how could I travel without money?  The medicine man needed an
assistant and I plucked up courage to ask if I could join the
party and paint advertisements for him.

"I rode out of town with that glittering cavalcade without saying
good-by to any one, and though my patron was not a diplomaed
doctor, as I found out, he was a man of excellent habits, and the
whole company was made up of good straight boys, jolly chirping
vagabonds like myself.  It was delightful to bowl over the
country in that way.  I laughed all the time.  Miles and miles of
somber landscape were made bright with merry song, and when the
sun shone and all the golden summer lay spread out before us, it
was glorious just to drift on through it like a wisp, of
thistle-down, careless of how, or when, or where the wind should
anchor us. 'There's a tang of gipsy blood in my veins that pants
for the sun and the air.'

"My duty proper was the manipulation of two blackboards, swung at
the sides of the wagon during our street lecture and concert.
These boards were alternately embellished with colored drawings
illustrative of the manifold virtues of the nostrum vended.
Sometimes I assisted the musical olio with dialect recitations
and character sketches from the back step of the wagon.  These
selections in the main originated from incidents and experiences
along the route, and were composed on dull Sundays in lonesome
little towns where even the church bells seemed to bark at us."


On his return to Greenfield after this delightful but profitless
tour he became the local editor of his home paper and in a few
months "strangled the little thing into a change of ownership."
The new proprietor transferred him to the literary department and
the latter, not knowing what else to put in the space allotted
him, filled it with verse.  But there was not room in his
department for all he produced, so he began, timidly, to offer
his poetic wares in foreign markets.  The editor of The
Indianapolis Mirror accepted two or three shorter verses but in
doing so suggested that in the future he try prose.  Being but an
humble beginner, Riley harkened to the advice, whereupon the
editor made a further suggestion; this time that he try poetry
again.  The Danbury (Connecticut) News, then at the height of its
humorous reputation, accepted a contribution shortly after The
Mirror episode and Mr. McGeechy, its managing editor, wrote the
young poet a graceful note of congratulation.  Commenting on
these parlous times, Riley afterward wrote, "It is strange how
little a thing sometimes makes or unmakes a fellow.  In these
dark days I should have been content with the twinkle of the
tiniest star, but even this light was withheld from me.  Just
then came the letter from McGeechy; and about the same time,
arrived my first check, a payment from Hearth and Home for a
contribution called A Destiny (now A Dreamer in A Child World).
The letter was signed, 'Editor' and unless sent by an assistant
it must have come from Ik Marvel himself, God bless him!  I
thought my fortune made.  Almost immediately I sent off another
contribution, whereupon to my dismay came this reply:  'The
management has decided to discontinue the publication and hopes
that you will find a market for your worthy work elsewhere.'
Then followed dark days indeed, until finally, inspired by my old
teacher and comrade, Captain Lee O. Harris, I sent some of my
poems to Longfellow, who replied in his kind and gentle manner
with the substantial encouragement for which I had long
thirsted."

In the year following, Riley formed a connection with The
Anderson (Indiana) Democrat and contributed verse and locals in
more than generous quantities.  He was happy in this work and had
begun to feel that at last he was making progress when evil
fortune knocked at his door and, conspiring with circumstances
and a friend or two, induced the young poet to devise what
afterward seemed to him the gravest of mistakes,--the Poe-poem
hoax.  He was then writing for an audience of county papers and
never dreamed that this whimsical bit of fooling would be carried
beyond such boundaries.  It was suggested by these circumstances.

He was inwardly distressed by the belief that his failure to get
the magazines to accept his verse was due to his obscurity, while
outwardly he was harassed to desperation by the junior editor of
the rival paper who jeered daily at his poetical pretensions.
So, to prove that editors would praise from a known source what
they did not hesitate to condemn from one unknown, and to silence
his nagging contemporary, he wrote Leonainie in the style of
Poe, concocting a story, to accompany the poem, setting forth how
Poe came to write it and how all these years it had been lost to
view.  In a few words Mr. Riley related the incident and then
dismissed it.  "I studied Poe's methods.  He seemed to have a
theory, rather misty to be sure, about the use of 'm's' and 'n's'
and mellifluous vowels and sonorous words.  I remember that I was
a long time in evolving the name Leonainie, but at length the
verses were finished and ready for trial.

"A friend, the editor of The Kokomo Dispatch, undertook the
launching of the hoax in his paper; he did this with great
editorial gusto while, at the same time, I attacked the
authenticity of the poem in The Democrat.  That diverted all
possible suspicion from me.  The hoax succeeded far too well, for
what had started as a boyish prank became a literary discussion
nation-wide, and the necessary expose had to be made.  I was
appalled at the result.  The press assailed me furiously, and
even my own paper dismissed me because I had given the
'discovery' to a rival."

Two dreary and disheartening years followed this tragic event,
years in which the young poet found no present help, nor future
hope.  But over in Indianapolis, twenty miles away, happier
circumstances were shaping themselves.  Judge E. B. Martindale,
editor and proprietor of The Indianapolis Journal, had been
attracted by certain poems in various papers over the state and
at the very time that the poet was ready to confess himself
beaten, the judge wrote:  "Come over to Indianapolis and we'll
give you, a place on The Journal."  Mr. Riley went.  That was the
turning point, and though the skies were not always clear, nor
the way easy, still from that time it was ever an ascending
journey.  As soon as he was comfortably settled in his new
position, the first of the Benj. F. Johnson poems made its
appearance.  These dialect verses were introduced with editorial
comment as coming from an old Boone county farmer, and their
reception was so cordial, so enthusiastic, indeed, that the
business manager of The Journal, Mr. George C. Hitt, privately
published them in pamphlet form and sold the first edition of one
thousand copies in local bookstores and over The Journal office
counter.  This marked an epoch in the young poet's progress and
was the beginning of a friendship between him and Mr. Hitt that
has never known interruption.  This first edition of The Old
Swimmin' Hole and 'Leven More Poems has since become extremely
rare and now commands a high premium.  A second edition was
promptly issued by a local book dealer, whose successors, The
Bowen-Merrill Company--now The Bobbs-Merrill Company--have
continued, practically without interruption, to publish Riley's
work.

The call to read from the public platform had by this time become
so insistent that Riley could no longer resist it, although
modesty and shyness fought the battle for privacy.  He told
briefly and in his own inimitable fashion of these trying
experiences.  "In boyhood I had been vividly impressed with
Dickens' success in reading from his own works and dreamed that
some day I might follow his example.  At first I read at Sunday-
school entertainments and later, on special occasions such as
Memorial Days and Fourth of Julys.  At last I mustered up
sufficient courage to read in a city theater, where, despite the
conspiracy of a rainy night and a circus, I got encouragement
enough to lead me to extend my efforts.  And so, my native state
and then the country at large were called upon to bear with me
and I think I visited every sequestered spot north or south
particularly distinguished for poor railroad connections.  At
different times, I shared the program with Mark Twain, Robert J.
Burdette and George Cable, and for a while my gentlest and
cheeriest of friends, Bill Nye, joined with me and made the dusty
detested travel almost a delight.  We were constantly playing
practical jokes on each other or indulging in some mischievous
banter before the audience.  On one occasion, Mr. Nye, coming
before the foot-lights for a word of general introduction, said,
'Ladies and gentlemen, the entertainment to-night is of a dual
nature.  Mr. Riley and I will speak alternately.  First I come
out and talk until I get tired, then Mr. Riley comes out and
talks until YOU get tired!'  And thus the trips went merrily
enough at times and besides I learned to know in Bill Nye a man
blessed with as noble and heroic a heart as ever beat.  But the
making of trains, which were all in conspiracy to outwit me,
schedule or no schedule, and the rush and tyrannical pressure of
inviolable engagements, some hundred to a season and from Boston
to San Francisco, were a distress to my soul.  I am glad that's
over with.  Imagine yourself on a crowded day-long excursion;
imagine that you had to ride all the way on the platform of the
car; then imagine that you had to ride all the way back on the
same platform; and lastly, try to imagine how you would feel if
you did that every day of your life, and you will then get a
glimmer--a faint glimmer--of how one feels after traveling about
on a reading or lecturing tour.

"All this time I had been writing whenever there was any strength
left in me.  I could not resist the inclination to write.  It was
what I most enjoyed doing.  And so I wrote, laboriously ever,
more often using the rubber end of the pencil than the point.

"In my readings I had an opportunity to study and find out for
myself what the public wants, and afterward I would endeavor to
use the knowledge gained in my writing.  The public desires
nothing but what is absolutely natural, and so perfectly natural
as to be fairly artless.  It can not tolerate affectation, and it
takes little interest in the classical production.  It demands
simple sentiments that come direct from the heart.  While on the
lecture platform I watched the effect that my readings had on the
audience very closely and whenever anybody left the hall I knew
that my recitation was at fault and tried to find out why.  Once
a man and his wife made an exit while I was giving The Happy
Little Cripple--a recitation I had prepared with particular
enthusiasm and satisfaction.  It fulfilled, as few poems do, all
the requirements of length, climax and those many necessary
features for a recitation.  The subject was a theme of real
pathos, beautified by the cheer and optimism of the little
sufferer.  Consequently when this couple left the hall I was very
anxious to know the reason and asked a friend to find out.  He
learned that they had a little hunch-back child of their own.
After this experience I never used that recitation again.  On the
other hand, it often required a long time for me to realize that
the public would enjoy a poem which, because of some blind
impulse, I thought unsuitable.  Once a man said to me, 'Why don't
you recite When the Frost Is on the Punkin?' The use of it had
never occurred to me for I thought it 'wouldn't go.'  He
persuaded me to try it and it became one of my most favored
recitations.  Thus, I learned to judge and value my verses by
their effect upon the public.  Occasionally, at first, I had
presumed to write 'over the heads' of the audience, consoling
myself for the cool reception by thinking my auditors were not of
sufficient intellectual height to appreciate my efforts.  But
after a time it came home to me that I myself was at fault in
these failures, and then I disliked anything that did not appeal
to the public and learned to discriminate between that which did
not ring true to my hearers and that which won them by virtue of
its truthfulness and was simply heart high."

As a reader of his own poems, as a teller of humorous stories, as
a mimic, indeed as a finished actor, Riley's genius was rare and
beyond question.  In a lecture on the Humorous Story, Mark Twain,
referring to the story of the One Legged Soldier and the
different ways of telling it, once said:

"It takes only a minute and a half to tell it in its comic form;
and it isn't worth telling after all.  Put into the
humorous-story form, it takes ten minutes, and is about the
funniest thing I have ever listened to--as James Whitcomb Riley
tells it.

"The simplicity and innocence and sincerity and unconsciousness
of Riley's old farmer are perfectly simulated, and the result is
a performance which is thoroughly charming and delicious.  This
is art--and fine and beautiful, and only a master can compass
it."

It was in  that The Old Swimmin' Hole and 'Leven More
Poems first appeared in volume form.  Four years afterward, Riley
made his initial appearance before a New York City audience.  The
entertainment was given in aid of an international copyright law,
and the country's most distinguished men of letters took part in
the program.  It is probably true that no one appearing at that
time was less known to the vast audience in Chickering Hall than
James Whitcomb Riley, but so great and so spontaneous was the
enthusiasm when he left the stage after his contribution to the
first day's program, that the management immediately announced a
place would be made for Mr. Riley on the second and last day's
program.  It was then that James Russell Lowell introduced him in
the following words:

"Ladies and gentlemen:  I have very great pleasure in presenting
to you the next reader of this afternoon, Mr. James Whitcomb
Riley, of Indiana.  I confess, with no little chagrin and sense
of my own loss, that when yesterday afternoon, from this
platform, I presented him to a similar assemblage, I was almost
completely a stranger to his poems.  But since that time I have
been looking into the volumes that have come from his pen, and in
them I have discovered so much of high worth and tender quality
that I deeply regret I had not long before made acquaintance with
his work.  To-day, in presenting Mr. Riley to you, I can say to
you of my own knowledge, that you are to have the pleasure of
listening to the voice of a true poet."


Two years later a selection from his poems was published in
England under the title Old Fashioned Roses and his
international reputation was established.  In his own country the
people had already conferred their highest degrees on him and now
the colleges and universities--seats of conservatism--gave him
scholastic recognition.  Yale made him an Honorary Master of Arts
in 1902; in 1903, Wabash and, a year later, the University of
Pennsylvania conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Letters,
and in 1907 Indiana University gave him his LL. D.  Still more
recently the Academy of Arts and Letters elected him to
membership, and in 1912 awarded him the gold medal for poetry.
About this time a yet dearer, more touching tribute came to him
from school children.  On October 7, 1911, the schools of Indiana
and New York City celebrated his birthday by special exercises,
and one year later, the school children of practically every
section of the country had programs in his honor.

As these distinguished honors came they found him each time
surprised anew and, though proud that they who dwell in the high
places of learning should come in cap and gown to welcome him,
yet gently and sincerely protesting his own unworthiness.  And as
they found him when they came so they left him.

Mr. Riley made his home in Indianapolis from the time judge
Martindale invited him to join The Journal's forces, and no one
of her citizens was more devoted, nor was any so universally
loved and honored.  Everywhere he went the tribute of quick
recognition and cheery greeting was paid him, and his home was
the shrine of every visiting Hoosier.  High on a sward of velvet
grass stands a dignified middle-aged brick house.  A dwarfed
stone wall, broken by an iron gate, guards the front lawn, while
in the rear an old-fashioned garden revels in hollyhocks and wild
roses.  Here among his books and his souvenirs the poet spent his
happy andncontented days.  To reach this restful spot, the
pilgrim must journey to Lockerbie Street, a miniature
thoroughfare half hidden between two more commanding avenues.  It
is little more than a lane, shaded, unpaved and from end to end
no longer than a five minutes' walk, but its fame is for all
time.

 "Such a dear little street it is, nestled away
 From the noise of the city and heat of the day,
 In cool shady coverts of whispering trees,
 With their leaves lifted up to shake hands with the breeze
 Which in all its wide wanderings never may meet
 With a resting-place fairer than Lockerbie Street!"


Riley never married.  He lived with devoted, loyal and
understanding friends, a part of whose life he became many years
ago.  Kindly consideration, gentle affection, peace and order,--
all that go to make home home, were found here blooming with the
hollyhocks and the wild roses.  Every day some visitor knocked
for admittance and was not denied; every day saw the poet calling
for some companionable friend and driving with him through the
city's shaded streets or far out into the country.

And so his life drew on to its last and most beautiful year.
Since his serious illness in 1910, the public had shown its love
for him more and more frequently.  On the occasion of his
birthday in 1912, Greenfield had welcomed him home through a host
of children scattering flowers.  Anderson, where he was living
when he first gained public recognition, had a Riley Day in 1913.

The Indiana State University entertained him the same year, as
did also the city of Cincinnati.  In 1915 there was a Riley Day
at Columbus, Indiana, and during all this time each birthday and
Christmas was marked by "poetry-showers," and by thousands of
letters of affectionate congratulation and by many tributes in
the newspapers and magazines.

His last birthday, October 7, 1915, was the most notable of all.
Honorable Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, suggested
to the various school superintendents that one of Riley's poems
be read in each schoolhouse, with the result that Riley
celebrations were general among the children of the entire
country.  In a proclamation by Governor Ralston the State of
Indiana designated the anniversary as Riley Day in honor of its
"most beloved citizen."  Thousands of letters and gifts from the
poet's friends poured in--letters from schools and organizations
and Riley Clubs as well as from individuals--while flowers came
from every section of the country.  Among them all, perhaps the
poet was most pleased with a bunch of violets picked from the
banks of the Brandywine by the children of a Riley school.

It was on this last birthday that an afternoon festival of Riley
poems set to music and danced in pantomime took place at
Indianapolis.  This was followed at night by a dinner in his
honor at which Charles Warren Fairbanks presided, and the
speakers were Governor Ralston, Doctor John Finley, Colonel
George Harvey, Young E. Allison, William Allen White, George Ade,
Ex-Senator Beveridge and Senator Kern.  That night Riley smiled
his most wonderful smile, his dimpled boyish smile, and when he
rose to speak it was with a perceptible quaver in his voice that
he said:  "Everywhere the faces of friends, a beautiful throng of
friends!"

The winter and spring following, Riley spent quietly at Miami,
Florida, where he had gone the two previous seasons to escape the
cold and the rain.  There was a Riley Day at Miami in February.
In April, he returned home, feeling at his best, and, as if by
premonition, sought out many of his friends, new and old, and
took them for last rides in his automobile.  A few days before
the end, he visited Greenfield to attend the funeral of a dear
boyhood chum, Almon Keefer, of whom he wrote in A Child-World.
All Riley's old friends who were still left in Greenfield were
gathered there and to them he spoke words of faith and good
cheer.  Almon Keefer had "just slipped out" quietly and
peacefully, he said, and "it was beautiful."

And as quietly and peacefully his own end came--as he had desired
it, with no dimming of the faculties even to the very close, nor
suffering, nor confronting death.  This was Saturday night, July
22, 1916.  On Monday afternoon and evening his body lay in state
under the dome of Indiana's capitol, while the people filed by,
thousands upon thousands.  Business men were there, and
schoolgirls, matrons carrying market baskets, mothers with little
children, here and there a swarthy foreigner, old folks, too, and
well-dressed youths, here a farmer and his wife, and there a
workman in a blue jumper with his hat in his band, silent,
inarticulate, yet bidding his good-by, too.  On the following
day, with only his nearest and dearest about him, all that was
mortal of the people's poet was quietly and simply laid to rest.



The Complete Works
of James Whitcomb Riley

A BACKWARD LOOK

As I sat smoking, alone, yesterday,
    And lazily leaning back in my chair,
Enjoying myself in a general way--
Allowing my thoughts a holiday
    From weariness, toil and care,--
My fancies--doubtless, for ventilation--
    Left ajar the gates of my mind,--
And Memory, seeing the situation,
    Slipped out in the street of "Auld Lang Syne."--


Wandering ever with tireless feet
    Through scenes of silence, and jubilee
Of long-hushed voices; and faces sweet
Were thronging the shadowy side of the street
    As far as the eye could see;
Dreaming again, in anticipation,
    The same old dreams of our boyhood's days
That never come true, from the vague sensation
    Of walking asleep in the world's strange ways.

Away to the house where I was born!
    And there was the selfsame clock that ticked
From the close of dusk to the burst of morn,
When life-warm hands plucked the golden corn
    And helped when the apples were picked.
And the "chany dog" on the mantel-shelf,
    With the gilded collar and yellow eyes,
Looked just as at first, when I hugged myself
    Sound asleep with the dear surprise.

And down to the swing in the locust-tree,
    Where the grass was worn from the trampled ground,
And where "Eck" Skinner, "Old" Carr, and three
Or four such other boys used to be
    "Doin' sky-scrapers," or "whirlin' round":
And again Bob climbed for the bluebird's nest,
    And again "had shows" in the buggy-shed
Of Guymon's barn, where still, unguessed,
    The old ghosts romp through the best days dead!

And again I gazed from the old schoolroom
    With a wistful look, of a long June day,
When on my cheek was the hectic bloom
Caught of Mischief, as I presume--
    He had such a "partial" way,
It seemed, toward me.--And again I thought
    Of a probable likelihood to be
Kept in after school--for a girl was caught
    Catching a note from me.

And down through the woods to the swimming-hole--
    Where the big, white, hollow old sycamore grows,--
And we never cared when the water was cold,
And always "ducked" the boy that told
    On the fellow that tied the clothes.--
When life went so like a dreamy rhyme,
    That it seems to me now that then
The world was having a jollier time
    Than it ever will have again.



PHILIPER FLASH

Young Philiper Flash was a promising lad,
His intentions were good--but oh, how sad
    For a person to think
    How the veriest pink
And bloom of perfection may turn out bad.
Old Flash himself was a moral man,
And prided himself on a moral plan,
    Of a maxim as old
    As the calf of gold,
Of making that boy do what he was told.

And such a good mother had Philiper Flash;
Her voice was as soft as the creamy plash
    Of the milky wave
    With its musical lave
That gushed through the holes of her patent churn-dash;--
And the excellent woman loved Philiper so,
She could cry sometimes when he stumped his toe,--
    And she stroked his hair
    With such motherly care
When the dear little angel learned to swear.

Old Flash himself would sometimes say
That his wife had "such a ridiculous way,--
    She'd, humor that child
    Till he'd soon be sp'iled,
And then there'd be the devil to pay!"
And the excellent wife, with a martyr's look,
Would tell old Flash himself "he took
    No notice at all
    Of the bright-eyed doll
Unless when he spanked him for getting a fall!"

Young Philiper Flash, as time passed by,
Grew into "a boy with a roguish eye":
    He could smoke a cigar,
    And seemed by far
The most promising youth.--"He's powerful sly,
Old Flash himself once told a friend,
"Every copper he gets he's sure to spend--
    And," said he, "don't you know
    If he keeps on so
What a crop of wild oats the boy will grow!"

But his dear good mother knew Philiper's ways
So--well, she managed the money to raise;
    And old Flash himself
    Was "laid on the shelf,"
(In the manner of speaking we have nowadays).
For "gracious knows, her darling child,
If he went without money he'd soon grow wild."
    So Philiper Flash
    With a regular dash
"Swung on to the reins," and went "slingin' the cash."

As old Flash himself, in his office one day,
Was shaving notes in a barberous way,
    At the hour of four
    Death entered the door
And shaved the note on his life, they say.
And he had for his grave a magnificent tomb,
Though the venturous finger that pointed "Gone Home,"
    Looked white and cold
    From being so bold,
As it feared that a popular lie was told.

Young Philiper Flash was a man of style
When he first began unpacking the pile
    Of the dollars and dimes
    Whose jingling chimes
Had clinked to the tune of his father's smile;
And he strewed his wealth with such lavish hand,
His rakish ways were the talk of the land,
    And gossipers wise
    Sat winking their eyes
(A certain foreboding of fresh surprise).

A "fast young man" was Philiper Flash,
And wore "loud clothes" and a weak mustache,
    And "done the Park,"
    For an "afternoon lark,"
With a very fast horse of "remarkable dash."
And Philiper handled a billiard-cue
About as well as the best he knew,
    And used to say
    "He could make it pay
By playing two or three games a day."

And Philiper Flash was his mother's joy,
He seemed to her the magic alloy
    That made her glad,
    When her heart was sad,
With the thought that "she lived for her darling boy."
His dear good mother wasn't aware
How her darling boy relished a "tare."--
    She said "one night
    He gave her a fright
By coming home late and ACTING tight."

Young Philiper Flash, on a winterish day,
Was published a bankrupt, so they say--
    And as far as I know
    I suppose it was so,
For matters went on in a singular way;
His excellent mother, I think I was told,
Died from exposure and want and cold;
    And Philiper Flash,
    With a horrible slash,
Whacked his jugular open and went to smash.



THE SAME OLD STORY

The same old story told again--
    The maiden droops her head,
The ripening glow of her crimson cheek
    Is answering in her stead.
The pleading tone of a trembling voice
    Is telling her the way
He loved her when his heart was young
    In Youth's sunshiny day:
The trembling tongue, the longing tone,
    Imploringly ask why
They can not be as happy now
    As in the days gone by.
And two more hearts, tumultuous
    With overflowing joy,
Are dancing to the music
    Which that dear, provoking boy
Is twanging on his bowstring,
    As, fluttering his wings,
He sends his love-charged arrows
    While merrily be sings:
"Ho! ho! my dainty maiden,
    It surely can not be
You are thinking you are master
    Of your heart, when it is me."
And another gleaming arrow
    Does the little god's behest,
And the dainty little maiden
    Falls upon her lover's breast.
"The same old story told again,"
    And listened o'er and o'er,
Will still be new, and pleasing, too,
    Till "Time shall be no more."



TO A BOY WHISTLING

The smiling face of a happy boy
    With its enchanted key
    Is now unlocking in memory
My store of heartiest joy.

And my lost life again to-day,
    In pleasant colors all aglow,
    From rainbow tints, to pure white snow,
Is a panorama sliding away.

The whistled air of a simple tune
    Eddies and whirls my thoughts around,
    As fairy balloons of thistle-down
Sail through the air of June.

O happy boy with untaught grace!
    What is there in the world to give
    That can buy one hour of the life you live
Or the trivial cause of your smiling face!



AN OLD FRIEND

Hey, Old Midsummer! are you here again,
    With all your harvest-store of olden joys,--
Vast overhanging meadow-lands of rain,
And drowsy dawns, and noons when golden grain
    Nods in the sun, and lazy truant boys
Drift ever listlessly adown the day,
Too full of joy to rest, and dreams to play.

The same old Summer, with the same old smile
    Beaming upon us in the same old way
We knew in childhood!  Though a weary while
Since that far time, yet memories reconcile
    The heart with odorous breaths of clover hay;
And again I hear the doves, and the sun streams through
The old barn door just as it used to do.

And so it seems like welcoming a friend--
    An old, OLD friend, upon his coming home
From some far country--coming home to spend
Long, loitering days with me:  And I extend
    My hand in rapturous glee:--And so you've come!--
Ho, I'm so glad!  Come in and take a chair:
Well, this is just like OLD times, I declare!



WHAT SMITH KNEW ABOUT FARMING

There wasn't two purtier farms in the state
Than the couple of which I'm about to relate;--
Jinin' each other--belongin' to Brown,
And jest at the edge of a flourishin' town.
Brown was a man, as I understand,
That allus had handled a good 'eal o' land,
And was sharp as a tack in drivin' a trade--
For that's the way most of his money was made.
And all the grounds and the orchards about
His two pet farms was all tricked out
With poppies and posies
And sweet-smellin' rosies;
And hundreds o' kinds
Of all sorts o' vines,
To tickle the most horticultural minds
And little dwarf trees not as thick as your wrist
With ripe apples on 'em as big as your fist:
And peaches,--Siberian crabs and pears,
And quinces--Well! ANY fruit ANY tree bears;
And th purtiest stream--jest a-swimmin' with fish,
And--JEST O'MOST EVERYTHING HEART COULD WISH!
The purtiest orch'rds--I wish you could see
How purty they was, fer I know it 'ud be
A regular treat!--but I'll go ahead with
My story!  A man by the name o' Smith--
(A bad name to rhyme,
But I reckon that I'm
Not goin' back on a Smith! nary time!)
'At hadn't a soul of kin nor kith,
And more money than he knowed what to do with,--
So he comes a-ridin' along one day,
And HE says to Brown, in his offhand way--
Who was trainin' some newfangled vines round a bay-
Winder--"Howdy-do--look-a-here--say:
What'll you take fer this property here?--
I'm talkin' o' leavin' the city this year,
And I want to be
Where the air is free,
And I'll BUY this place, if it ain't too dear!"--
Well--they grumbled and jawed aroun'--
"I don't like to part with the place," says Brown;
"Well," says Smith, a-jerkin' his head,
"That house yonder--bricks painted red--
Jest like this'n--a PURTIER VIEW--
Who is it owns it?"  "That's mine too,"
Says Brown, as he winked at a hole in his shoe,
"But I'll tell you right here jest what I KIN do:--
If you'll pay the figgers I'll sell IT to you.,"
Smith went over and looked at the place--
Badgered with Brown, and argied the case--
Thought that Brown's figgers was rather too tall,
But, findin' that Brown wasn't goin' to fall,
In final agreed,
So they drawed up the deed
Fer the farm and the fixtures--the live stock an' all.
And so Smith moved from the city as soon
As he possibly could--But "the man in the moon"
Knowed more'n Smith o' farmin' pursuits,
And jest to convince you, and have no disputes,
How little he knowed,
I'll tell you his "mode,"
As he called it, o' raisin' "the best that growed,"
In the way o' potatoes--
Cucumbers--tomatoes,
And squashes as lengthy as young alligators.
'Twas allus a curious thing to me
How big a fool a feller kin be
When he gits on a farm after leavin' a town!--
Expectin' to raise himself up to renown,
And reap fer himself agricultural fame,
By growin' of squashes--WITHOUT ANY SHAME--
As useless and long as a technical name.
To make the soil pure,
And certainly sure,
He plastered the ground with patent manure.
He had cultivators, and double-hoss plows,
And patent machines fer milkin' his cows;
And patent hay-forks--patent measures and weights,
And new patent back-action hinges fer gates,
And barn locks and latches, and such little dribs,
And patents to keep the rats out o' the cribs--
Reapers and mowers,
And patent grain sowers;
And drillers
And tillers
And cucumber hillers,
And horries;--and had patent rollers and scrapers,
And took about ten agricultural papers.
So you can imagine how matters turned out:
But BROWN didn't have not a shadder o' doubt
That Smith didn't know what he was about
When he said that "the OLD way to farm was played out."
But Smith worked ahead,
And when any one said
That the OLD way o' workin' was better instead
O' his "modern idees," he allus turned red,
And wanted to know
What made people so
INFERNALLY anxious to hear theirselves crow?
And guessed that he'd manage to hoe his own row.
Brown he come onc't and leant over the fence,
And told Smith that he couldn't see any sense
In goin' to such a tremendous expense
Fer the sake o' such no-account experiments
"That'll never make corn!
As shore's you're born
It'll come out the leetlest end of the horn!"
Says Brown, as he pulled off a big roastin'-ear
From a stalk of his own
That had tribble outgrown
Smith's poor yaller shoots, and says he, "Looky here!
THIS corn was raised in the old-fashioned way,
And I rather imagine that THIS corn'll pay
Expenses fer RAISIN' it!--What do you say?"
Brown got him then to look over his crop.--
HIS luck that season had been tip-top!
And you may surmise
Smith opened his eyes
And let out a look o' the wildest surprise
When Brown showed him punkins as big as the lies
He was stuffin' him with--about offers he's had
Fer his farm:  "I don't want to sell very bad,"
He says, but says he,
"Mr. Smith, you kin see
Fer yourself how matters is standin' with me,
I UNDERSTAND FARMIN' and I'd better stay,
You know, on my farm;--I'm a-makin' it pay--
I oughtn't to grumble!--I reckon I'll clear
Away over four thousand dollars this year."
And that was the reason, he made it appear,
Why he didn't care about sellin' his farm,
And hinted at his havin' done himself harm
In sellin' the other, and wanted to know
If Smith wouldn't sell back ag'in to him.--So
Smith took the bait, and says he, "Mr. Brown,
I wouldn't SELL out but we might swap aroun'--
How'll you trade your place fer mine?"
(Purty sharp way o' comin' the shine
Over Smith!  Wasn't it?) Well, sir, this Brown
Played out his hand and brought Smithy down--
Traded with him an', workin' it cute,
Raked in two thousand dollars to boot
As slick as a whistle, an' that wasn't all,--
He managed to trade back ag'in the next fall,--
And the next--and the next--as long as Smith stayed
He reaped with his harvests an annual trade.--
Why, I reckon that Brown must 'a' easily made--
On an AVERAGE--nearly two thousand a year--
Together he made over seven thousand--clear.--
Till Mr. Smith found he was losin' his health
In as big a proportion, almost, as his wealth;
So at last he concluded to move back to town,
And sold back his farm to this same Mr. Brown
At very low figgers, by gittin' it down.
Further'n this I have nothin' to say
Than merely advisin' the Smiths fer to stay
In their grocery stores in flourishin' towns
And leave agriculture alone--and the Browns.



 A POET'S WOOING

    I woo'd a woman once,
But she was sharper than an eastern wind.
                        --TENNYSON.

"What may I do to make you glad,
To make you glad and free,
    Till your light smiles glance
    And your bright eyes dance
Like sunbeams on the sea?
    Read some rhyme that is blithe and gay
    Of a bright May morn and a marriage day?"
And she sighed in a listless way she had,--
"Do not read--it will make me sad!"

"What shall I do to make you glad--
To make you glad and gay,
    Till your eyes gleam bright
    As the stars at night
When as light as the light of day
    Sing some song as I twang the strings
    Of my sweet guitar through its wanderings?"
And she sighed in the weary way she had,--
"Do not sing--it will make me sad!"

"What can I do to make you glad--
As glad as glad can be,
    Till your clear eyes seem
    Like the rays that gleam
And glint through a dew-decked tree?--
    Will it please you, dear, that I now begin
    A grand old air on my violin?"
And she spoke again in the following way,--
    "Yes, oh yes, it would please me, sir;
I would be so glad you'd play
    Some grand old march--in character,--
And then as you march away
I will no longer thus be sad,
But oh, so glad--so glad--so glad!"



MAN'S DEVOTION

A lover said, "O Maiden, love me well,
For I must go away:
And should ANOTHER ever come to tell
Of love--What WILL you say?"

And she let fall a royal robe of hair
That folded on his arm
And made a golden pillow for her there;
Her face--as bright a charm

As ever setting held in kingly crown--
Made answer with a look,
And reading it, the lover bended down,
And, trusting, "kissed the book."

He took a fond farewell and went away.
And slow the time went by--
So weary--dreary was it, day by day
To love, and wait, and sigh.

She kissed his pictured face sometimes, and said:
    "O Lips, so cold and dumb,
I would that you would tell me, if not dead,
    Why, why do you not come?"

The picture, smiling, stared her in the face
    Unmoved--e'en with the touch
Of tear-drops--HERS--bejeweling the case--
    'Twas plain--she loved him much.

And, thus she grew to think of him as gay
    And joyous all the while,
And SHE was sorrowing--"Ah, welladay!"
    But pictures ALWAYS smile!

And years--dull years--in dull monotony
    As ever went and came,
Still weaving changes on unceasingly,
    And changing, changed her name.

Was she untrue?--She oftentimes was glad
    And happy as a wife;
But ONE remembrance oftentimes made sad
    Her matrimonial life.--

Though its few years were hardly noted, when
    Again her path was strown
With thorns--the roses swept away again,
    And she again alone!

And then--alas! ah THEN!--her lover came:
    "I come to claim you now--
My Darling, for I know you are the same,
    And I have kept my vow

Through these long, long, long years, and now no more
    Shall we asundered be!"
She staggered back and, sinking to the floor,
    Cried in her agony:

"I have been false!" she moaned, "_I_ am not true--
    I am not worthy now,
Nor ever can I be a wife to YOU--
    For I have broke my vow!"

And as she kneeled there, sobbing at his feet,
    He calmly spoke--no sign
Betrayed his inward agony--"I count you meet
    To be a wife of mine!"

And raised her up forgiven, though untrue;
    As fond he gazed on her,
She sighed,--"SO HAPPY!"  And she never knew
    HE was a WIDOWER.



A BALLAD

WITH A SERIOUS CONCLUSION

Crowd about me, little children--
    Come and cluster 'round my knee
While I tell a little story
    That happened once with me.

My father he had gone away
    A-sailing on the foam,
Leaving me--the merest infant--
    And my mother dear at home;

For my father was a sailor,
    And he sailed the ocean o'er
For full five years ere yet again
    He reached his native shore.

And I had grown up rugged
    And healthy day by day,
Though I was but a puny babe
    When father went away.

Poor mother she would kiss me
    And look at me and sigh
So strangely, oft I wondered
    And would ask the reason why.

And she would answer sadly,
    Between her sobs and tears,--
"You look so like your father,
    Far away so many years!"

And then she would caress me
    And brush my hair away,
And tell me not to question,
    But to run about my play.

Thus I went playing thoughtfully--
    For that my mother said,--
"YOU LOOK SO LIKE YOUR FATHER!"
    Kept ringing in my head.

So, ranging once the golden sands
    That looked out on the sea,
I called aloud, "My father dear,
    Come back to ma and me!"

Then I saw a glancing shadow
    On the sand, and heard the shriek
Of a sea-gull flying seaward,
    And I heard a gruff voice speak:--

"Ay, ay, my little shipmate,
    I thought I heard you hail;
Were you trumpeting that sea-gull,
    Or do you see a sail?"

And as rough and gruff a sailor
    As ever sailed the sea
Was standing near grotesquely
    And leering dreadfully.

I replied, though I was frightened,
    "It was my father dear
I was calling for across the sea--
    I think he didn't hear."

And then the sailor leered again
    In such a frightful way,
And made so many faces
    I was little loath to stay:

But he started fiercely toward me--
    Then made a sudden halt
And roared, "_I_ think he heard you!"
    And turned a somersault.

Then a wild fear overcame me,
    And I flew off like the wind,
Shrieking "MOTHER!"--and the sailor
    Just a little way behind!

And then my mother heard me,
    And I saw her shade her eyes,
Looking toward me from the doorway,
    Transfixed with pale surprise

For a moment--then her features
    Glowed with all their wonted charms
As the sailor overtook me,
    And I fainted in her arms.

When I awoke to reason
    I shuddered with affright
Till I felt my mother's presence
    With a thrill of wild delight--

Till, amid a shower of kisses
    Falling glad as summer rain,
A muffled thunder rumbled,--
    "Is he coming 'round again?"

Then I shrieked and clung unto her,
    While her features flushed and burned
As she told me it was father
    From a foreign land returned.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

I said--when I was calm again,
    And thoughtfully once more
Had dwelt upon my mother's words
    Of just the day before,--

"I DON'T look like my father,
    As you told me yesterday--
I know I don't--or father
    Would have run the other way."



THE OLD TIMES WERE THE BEST

Friends, my heart is half aweary
    Of its happiness to-night:
Though your songs are gay and cheery,
    And your spirits feather-light,
There's a ghostly music haunting
    Still the heart of every guest
And a voiceless chorus chanting
    That the Old Times were the best.


        CHORUS

All about is bright and pleasant
    With the sound of song and jest,
Yet a feeling's ever present
    That the Old Times were the best.



A SUMMER AFTERNOON

A languid atmosphere, a lazy breeze,
    With labored respiration, moves the wheat
From distant reaches, till the golden seas
    Break in crisp whispers at my feet.

My book, neglected of an idle mind,
    Hides for a moment from the eyes of men;
Or lightly opened by a critic wind,
    Affrightedly reviews itself again.

Off through the haze that dances in the shine
    The warm sun showers in the open glade,
The forest lies, a silhouette design
    Dimmed through and through with shade.

A dreamy day; and tranquilly I lie
    At anchor from all storms of mental strain;
With absent vision, gazing at the sky,
    "Like one that hears it rain."

The Katydid, so boisterous last night,
    Clinging, inverted, in uneasy poise,
Beneath a wheat-blade, has forgotten quite
    If "Katy DID or DIDN'T" make a noise.

The twitter, sometimes, of a wayward bird
    That checks the song abruptly at the sound,
And mildly, chiding echoes that have stirred,
    Sink into silence, all the more profound.

And drowsily I hear the plaintive strain
    Of some poor dove . . . Why, I can scarcely keep
My heavy eyelids--there it is again--
    "Coo-coo!"--I mustn't--"Coo-coo!"--fall asleep!



AT LAST

A dark, tempestuous night; the stars shut in
    With shrouds of fog; an inky, jet-black blot
The firmament; and where the moon has been
    An hour agone seems like the darkest spot.
The weird wind--furious at its demon game--
Rattles one's fancy like a window-frame.

A care-worn face peers out into the dark,
    And childish faces--frightened at the gloom--
Grow awed and vacant as they turn to mark
    The father's as he passes through the room:
The gate latch clatters, and wee baby Bess
Whispers, "The doctor's tummin' now, I dess!"

The father turns; a sharp, swift flash of pain
    Flits o'er his face: "Amanda, child! I said
A moment since--I see I must AGAIN--
    Go take your little sisters off to bed!
There, Effie, Rose, and CLARA MUSTN'T CRY!"
"I tan't he'p it--I'm fyaid 'at mama'll die!"

What are his feelings, when this man alone
    Sits in the silence, glaring in the grate
That sobs and sighs on in an undertone
    As stoical--immovable as Fate,
While muffled voices from the sick one's room
Come in like heralds of a dreaded doom?

The door-latch jingles: in the doorway stands
    The doctor, while the draft puffs in a breath--
The dead coals leap to life, and clap their hands,
    The flames flash up.  A face as pale as death
Turns slowly--teeth tight clenched, and with a look
The doctor, through his specs, reads like a book.

"Come, brace up, Major!"--"Let me know the worst!"
    "W'y you're the biggest fool I ever saw--
Here, Major--take a little brandy first--
    There!  She's a BOY--I mean HE is--hurrah!"
"Wake up the other girls--and shout for joy--
Eureka is his name--I've found A BOY!"



FARMER WHIPPLE--BACHELOR

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 beginnin', so's to set the matter straight
As to how it comes to happen that I never took a wife--
Kindo' "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 a' 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 SOMEPIN' ELSE was workin'! but not a word I said
Of a certain sort o' notion that was runnin' through my head,--
"Some day I'd maybe 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 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 fac',
They's a mighty truthful sayin' somers in a' almanac--
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, and 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' horses, 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' roun'!
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 kind o' 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-by 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 somepin', runnin' down a country lane!

Well, in the morning 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 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.



MY JOLLY FRIEND'S SECRET

Ah, friend of mine, how goes it,
    Since you've taken you a mate?--
Your smile, though, plainly shows it
    Is a very happy state!
Dan Cupid's necromancy!
    You must sit you down and dine,
And lubricate your fancy
    With a glass or two of wine.

And as you have "deserted,"
    As my other chums have done,
While I laugh alone diverted,
    As you drop off one by one--
And I've remained unwedded,
    Till--you see--look here--that I'm,
In a manner, "snatched bald-headed"
    By the sportive hand of Time!

I'm an "old 'un!" yes, but wrinkles
    Are not so plenty, quite,
As to cover up the twinkles
    Of the BOY--ain't I right?
Yet, there are ghosts of kisses
    Under this mustache of mine
My mem'ry only misses
    When I drown 'em out with wine.

From acknowledgment so ample,
    You would hardly take me for
What I am--a perfect sample
    Of a "jolly bachelor";
Not a bachelor has being
    When he laughs at married life
But his heart and soul's agreeing
    That he ought to have a wife!

Ah, ha I old chum, this claret,
    Like Fatima, holds the key
Of the old Blue-Beardish garret
    Of my hidden mystery!
Did you say you'd like to listen?
    Ah, my boy! the "SAD NO MORE!"
And the tear-drops that will glisten--
    TURN THE CATCH UPON THE DOOR,

And sit you down beside me,
    And put yourself at ease--
I'll trouble you to slide me
    That wine decanter, please;
The path is kind o' mazy
    Where my fancies have to go,
And my heart gets sort o' lazy
    On the journey--don't you know?

Let me see--when I was twenty--
    It's a lordly age, my boy,
When a fellow's money's plenty,
    And the leisure to enjoy--
And a girl--with hair as golden
    As--THAT; and lips--well--quite
As red as THIS I'm holdin'
    Between you and the light.

And eyes and a complexion--
    Ah, heavens!--le'-me-see--
Well,--just in this connection,--
    DID YOU LOCK THAT DOOR FOR ME?
Did I start in recitation
    My past life to recall?
Well, THAT'S an indication
    I am purty tight--that's all!



THE SPEEDING OF THE KING'S SPITE

A king--estranged from his loving Queen
    By a foolish royal whim--
Tired and sick of the dull routine
    Of matters surrounding him--
Issued a mandate in this wise.--
    "THE DOWER OF MY DAUGHTER'S HAND
I WILL GIVE TO HIM WHO HOLDS THIS PRIZE,
    THE STRANGEST THING IN THE LAND."

But the King, sad sooth! in this grim decree
    Had a motive low and mean;--
'Twas a royal piece of chicanery
    To harry and spite the Queen;
For King though he was, and beyond compare,
    He had ruled all things save one--
Then blamed the Queen that his only heir
    Was a daughter--not a son.

The girl had grown, in the mother's care,
    Like a bud in the shine and shower
That drinks of the wine of the balmy air
    Till it blooms into matchless flower;
Her waist was the rose's stem that bore
    The flower--and the flower's perfume--
That ripens on till it bulges o'er
    With its wealth of bud and bloom.

And she had a lover--lowly sprung,--
    But a purer, nobler heart
Never spake in a courtlier tongue
    Or wooed with a dearer art:
And the fair pair paled at the King's decree;
    But the smiling Fates contrived
To have them wed, in a secrecy
    That the Queen HERSELF connived--

While the grim King's heralds scoured the land
    And the countries roundabout,
Shouting aloud, at the King's command,
    A challenge to knave or lout,
Prince or peasant,--"The mighty King
    Would have ye understand
That he who shows him the strangest thing
    Shall have his daughter's hand!"

And thousands flocked to the royal throne,
    Bringing a thousand things
Strange and curious;--One, a bone--
    The hinge of a fairy's wings;
And one, the glass of a mermaid queen,
    Gemmed with a diamond dew,
Where, down in its reflex, dimly seen,
    Her face smiled out at you.

One brought a cluster of some strange date,
    With a subtle and searching tang
That seemed, as you tasted, to penetrate
    The heart like a serpent's fang;
And back you fell for a spell entranced,
    As cold as a corpse of stone,
And heard your brains, as they laughed and danced
    And talked in an undertone.

One brought a bird that could whistle a tune
    So piercingly pure and sweet,
That tears would fall from the eyes of the moon
    In dewdrops at its feet;
And the winds would sigh at the sweet refrain,
    Till they swooned in an ecstacy,
To waken again in a hurricane
    Of riot and jubilee.

One brought a lute that was wrought of a shell
    Luminous as the shine
Of a new-born star in a dewy dell,--
    And its strings were strands of wine
That sprayed at the Fancy's touch and fused,
    As your listening spirit leant
Drunken through with the airs that oozed
    From the o'ersweet instrument.

One brought a tablet of ivory
    Whereon no thing was writ,--
But, at night--and the dazzled eyes would see
    Flickering lines o'er it,--
And each, as you read from the magic tome,
    Lightened and died in flame,
And the memory held but a golden poem
    Too beautiful to name.

Till it seemed all marvels that ever were known
    Or dreamed of under the sun
Were brought and displayed at the royal throne,
    And put by, one by one
Till a graybeard monster came to the King--
    Haggard and wrinkled and old--
And spread to his gaze this wondrous thing,--
    A gossamer veil of gold.--

Strangely marvelous--mocking the gaze
    Like a tangle of bright sunshine,
Dipping a million glittering rays
    In a baptism divine:
And a maiden, sheened in this gauze attire--
    Sifting a glance of her eye--
Dazzled men's souls with a fierce desire
    To kiss and caress her and--die.

And the grim King swore by his royal beard
    That the veil had won the prize,
While the gray old monster blinked and leered
    With his lashless, red-rimmed eyes,
As the fainting form of the princess fell,
    And the mother's heart went wild,
Throbbing and swelling a muffled knell
    For the dead hopes of her child.

But her clouded face with a faint smile shone,
    As suddenly, through the throng,
Pushing his way to the royal throne,
    A fair youth strode along,
While a strange smile hovered about his eyes,
    As he said to the grim old King:--
"The veil of gold must lose the prize;
    For _I_ have a stranger thing."

He bent and whispered a sentence brief;
    But the monarch shook his head,
With a look expressive of unbelief--
    "It can't be so," he said;
"Or give me proof; and I, the King,
    Give you my daughter's hand,--
For certes THAT IS a stranger thing--
    THE STRANGEST THING IN THE LAND!"

Then the fair youth, turning, caught the Queen
    In a rapturous caress,
While his lithe form towered in lordly mien,
    As he said in a brief address:--
"My fair bride's mother is this; and, lo,
    As you stare in your royal awe,
By this pure kiss do I proudly show
    A LOVE FOR A MOTHER-IN-LAW!"

Then a thaw set in the old King's mood,
    And a sweet Spring freshet came
Into his eyes, and his heart renewed
    Its love for the favored dame:
But often he has been heard to declare
    That "he never could clearly see
How, in the deuce, such a strange affair
    Could have ended so happily!"


JOB WORK

"Write me a rhyme of the present time".
    And the poet took his pen
And wrote such lines as the miser minds
    Hide in the hearts of men.

He grew enthused, as the poets used
    When their fingers kissed the strings
Of some sweet lyre, and caught the fire
    True inspiration brings,

And sang the song of a nation's wrong--
    Of the patriot's galling chain,
And the glad release that the angel, Peace,
    Has given him again.

He sang the lay of religion's sway,
    Where a hundred creeds clasp hands
And shout in glee such a symphony
    That the whole world understands.

He struck the key of monopoly,
    And sang of her swift decay,
And traveled the track of the railway back
    With a blithesome roundelay--

Of the tranquil bliss of a true love kiss;
    And painted the picture, too,
Of the wedded life, and the patient wife,
    And the husband fond and true;

And sang the joy that a noble boy
    Brings to a father's soul,
Who lets the wine as a mocker shine
    Stagnated in the bowl.

And he stabbed his pen in the ink again,
    And wrote with a writhing frown,
"This is the end."  "And now, my friend,
    You may print it--upside down!"


PRIVATE THEATRICALS

A quite convincing axiom
    Is, "Life is like a play";
For, turning back its pages some
    Few dog-eared years away,
        I find where I
        Committed my
Love-tale--with brackets where to sigh.

I feel an idle interest
    To read again the page;
I enter, as a lover dressed,
    At twenty years of age,
        And play the part
        With throbbing heart,
And all an actor's glowing art.

And she who plays my Lady-love
    Excels!--Her loving glance
Has power her audience to move--
    I am her audience.--
        Her acting tact,
        To tell the fact,
"Brings down the house" in every act.

And often we defy the curse
    Of storms and thunder-showers,
To meet together and rehearse
    This little play of ours--
        I think, when she
        "Makes love" to me,
She kisses very naturally!

    .    .    .    .    .    .

Yes; it's convincing--rather--
    That "Life is like a play":
I am playing "Heavy Father"
    In a "Screaming Farce" to-day,
        That so "brings down
        The house," I frown,
And fain would "ring the curtain down."


PLAIN SERMONS

I saw a man--and envied him beside--
    Because of this world's goods he had great store;
But even as I envied him, he died,
    And left me envious of him no more.

I saw another man--and envied still--
    Because he was content with frugal lot;
But as I envied him, the rich man's will
    Bequeathed him all, and envy I forgot.

Yet still another man I saw, and he
    I envied for a calm and tranquil mind
That nothing fretted in the least degree--
    Until, alas! I found that he was blind.

What vanity is envy! for I find
    I have been rich in dross of thought, and poor
In that I was a fool, and lastly blind
    For never having seen myself before!


"TRADIN' JOE"

I'm one o' these cur'ous kind o' chaps
You think you know when you don't, perhaps!
I hain't no fool--ner I don't p'tend
To be so smart I could rickommend
Myself fer a CONGERSSMAN my friend!--
But I'm kind o' betwixt-and-between, you know,--
One o' these fellers 'at folks call "slow."
And I'll say jest here I'm kind o' queer
Regardin' things 'at I SEE and HEAR,--
Fer I'm THICK o' hearin' SOMETIMES, and
It's hard to git me to understand;
But other times it hain't, you bet!
Fer I don't sleep with both eyes shet!

I've swapped a power in stock, and so
The neighbers calls me "Tradin' Joe"--
And I'm goin' to tell you 'bout a trade,--
And one o' the best I ever made:

Folks has gone so fur's to say
'At I'm well fixed, in a WORLDLY way,
And BEIN' so, and a WIDOWER,
It's not su'prisin', as you'll infer,
I'm purty handy among the sect--
Widders especially, rickollect!
And I won't deny that along o' late
I've hankered a heap fer the married state--
But some way o' 'nother the longer we wait
The harder it is to discover a mate.

Marshall Thomas,--a friend o' mine,
Doin' some in the tradin' line,
But a'most too YOUNG to know it all--
On'y at PICNICS er some BALL!--
Says to me, in a banterin' way,
As 'we was a-loadin' stock one day,--
"You're a-huntin' a wife, and I want you to see
My girl's mother, at Kankakee!--
She hain't over forty--good-lookin' and spry,
And jest the woman to fill your eye!
And I'm a-goin' there Sund'y,--and now," says he,
"I want to take you along with ME;
And you marry HER, and," he says, "by 'shaw I
You'll hev me fer yer son-in-law!"
I studied a while, and says I, "Well, I'll
First have to see ef she suits my style;
And ef she does, you kin bet your life
Your mother-in-law will be my wife!"

Well, Sundy come; and I fixed up some--
Putt on a collar--I did, by gum!--
Got down my "plug," and my satin vest--
(You wouldn't know me to see me dressed!--
But any one knows ef you got the clothes
You kin go in the crowd wher' the best of 'em goes!)
And I greeced my boots, and combed my hair
Keerfully over the bald place there;
And Marshall Thomas and me that day
Eat our dinners with Widder Gray
And her girl Han'!  *  *  *


            Well, jest a glance
O' the widder's smilin' countenance,
A-cuttin' up chicken and big pot-pies,
Would make a man hungry in Paradise!
And passin' p'serves and jelly and cake
'At would make an ANGEL'S appetite ACHE!--
Pourin' out coffee as yaller as gold--
Twic't as much as the cup could hold--
La! it was rich!--And then she'd say,
"Take some o' THIS!' in her coaxin' way,
Tell ef I'd been a hoss I'd 'a' FOUNDERED, shore,
And jest dropped dead on her white-oak floor!

Well, the way I talked would 'a' done you good,
Ef you'd 'a' been there to 'a' understood;
Tel I noticed Hanner and Marshall, they
Was a-noticin' me in a cur'ous way;
So I says to myse'f, says I, "Now, Joe,
The best thing fer you is to jest go slow!"
And I simmered down, and let them do
The bulk o' the talkin' the evening through.

And Marshall was still in a talkative gait
When he left, that evening--tolable late.
"How do you like her?" he says to me;
Says I, "She suits, to a 'T-Y-TEE'!
And then I ast how matters stood
With him in the OPPOSITE neighberhood?
"Bully!" he says; "I ruther guess
I'll finally git her to say the 'yes.'
I named it to her to-night, and she
Kind o' smiled, and said 'SHE'D SEE'--
And that's a purty good sign!" says he:
"Yes" says I, "you're ahead o' ME!"
And then he laughed, and said, "GO IN!
And patted me on the shoulder ag'in.

Well, ever sense then I've been ridin' a good
Deal through the Kankakee neighberhood;
And I make it convenient sometimes to stop
And hitch a few minutes, and kind o' drop
In at the widder's, and talk o' the crop
And one thing o' 'nother.  And week afore last
The notion struck me, as I drove past,
I'd stop at the place and state my case--
Might as well do it at first as last!

I felt first-rate; so I hitched at the gate,
And went up to the house; and, strange to relate,
MARSHALL THOMAS had dropped in, TOO.--
"Glad to see you, sir, how do you do?"
He says, says he!  Well--it SOUNDED QUEER:

And when Han' told me to take a cheer,
Marshall got up and putt out o' the room--
And motioned his hand fer the WIDDER to come.
I didn't say nothin' fer quite a spell,
But thinks I to myse'f, "There's a dog in the well!"
And Han' SHE smiled so cur'ous at me--
Says I, "What's up?"  And she says, says she,
"Marshall's been at me to marry ag'in,
And I told him 'no,' jest as you come in."
Well, somepin' o' 'nother in that girl's voice
Says to me, "Joseph, here's your choice!"
And another minute her guileless breast
Was lovin'ly throbbin' ag'in my vest!--
And then I kissed her, and heerd a smack
Come like a' echo a-flutterin' back,
And we looked around, and in full view
Marshall was kissin' the widder, too!
Well, we all of us laughed, in our glad su'prise,
Tel the tears come A-STREAMIN' out of our eyes!
And when Marsh said "'Twas the squarest trade
That ever me and him had made,"
We both shuck hands, 'y jucks! and swore
We'd stick together ferevermore.
And old Squire Chipman tuck us the trip:
And Marshall and me's in pardnership!


DOT LEEDLE BOY

Ot's a leedle Gristmas 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 monkey-shine,
Ober I vast 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 sauerkraut!
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!"

No more he vas older
    As about a dozen months
He speak der English language
    Und der German--bote at vonce!
Und he dringk his glass of lager
    Like a Londsman fon der Rhine--
Und I klingk my glass togeder
    Mit 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 Gristmas 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."

Vell.--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 topknot
    Und yoost blow in behine--
Und dot make much spectakel
    For dot leedle boy of mine!

Und gandies, nuts und raizens--
    Und 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 t'ought 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-BY, KRISS KRINGLE!"
    --Dot make me feel so veak
I yoost kneel down und drimble,
    Und bur-sed out a-gryin',
"MEIN GOTT, MEIN GOTT IN 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 awaiting
    For dot leedle boy of mine.


I SMOKE MY PIPE

I can't extend to every friend
    In need a helping hand--
No matter though I wish it so,
    'Tis not as Fortune planned;
But haply may I fancy they
    Are men of different stripe
Than others think who hint and wink,--
    And so--I smoke my pipe!

A golden coal to crown the bowl--
    My pipe and I alone,--
I sit and muse with idler views
    Perchance than I should own:--
It might be worse to own the purse
    Whose glutted bowels gripe
In little qualms of stinted alms;
    And so I smoke my pipe.

And if inclined to moor my mind
    And cast the anchor Hope,
A puff of breath will put to death
    The morbid misanthrope
That lurks inside--as errors hide
    In standing forms of type
To mar at birth some line of worth;
    And so I smoke my pipe.

The subtle stings misfortune flings
    Can give me little pain
When my narcotic spell has wrought
    This quiet in my brain:
When I can waste the past in taste
    So luscious and so ripe
That like an elf I hug myself;
    And so I smoke my pipe.

And wrapped in shrouds of drifting clouds,
    I watch the phantom's flight,
Till alien eyes from Paradise
    Smile on me as I write:
And I forgive the wrongs that live,
    As lightly as I wipe
Away the tear that rises here;
    And so I smoke my pipe.



RED RIDING-HOOD

Sweet little myth of the nursery story--
    Earliest love of mine infantile breast,
Be something tangible, bloom in thy glory
    Into existence, as thou art addressed!
Hasten! appear to me, guileless and good--
    Thou are so dear to me, Red Riding-Hood!

Azure-blue eyes, in a marvel of wonder,
    Over the dawn of a blush breaking out;
Sensitive nose, with a little smile under
    Trying to hide in a blossoming pout--
Couldn't be serious, try as you would,
    Little mysterious Red Riding-Hood!

Hah! little girl, it is desolate, lonely,
    Out in this gloomy old forest of Life!--
Here are not pansies and buttercups only--
    Brambles and briers as keen as a knife;
And a Heart, ravenous, trails in the wood
For the meal have he must,--Red Riding-Hood!


IF I KNEW WHAT POETS KNOW

If I knew what poets know,
    Would I write a rhyme
Of the buds that never blow
    In the summer-time?
Would I sing of golden seeds
Springing up in ironweeds?
And of rain-drops turned to snow,
If I knew what poets know?

Did I know what poets do,
    Would I sing a song
Sadder than the pigeon's coo
    When the days are long?
Where I found a heart in pain,
I would make it glad again;
And the false should be the true,
Did I know what poets do.

If I knew what poets know,
    I would find a theme
Sweeter than the placid flow
    Of the fairest dream:
I would sing of love that lives
On the errors it forgives;
And the world would better grow
If I knew what poets know.


AN OLD SWEETHEART OF MINE

An old sweetheart of mine!--Is this her presence here with me,
Or but a vain creation of a lover's memory?
A fair, illusive vision that would vanish into air
Dared I even touch the silence with the whisper of a prayer?

Nay, let me then believe in all the blended false and true--
The semblance of the OLD love and the substance of the NEW,--
The THEN of changeless sunny days--the NOW of shower and shine--
But Love forever smiling--as that old sweetheart of mine.

This ever-restful sense of HOME, though shouts ring in the
hall.--
The easy chair--the old book-shelves and prints along the wall;
The rare HABANAS in their box, or gaunt church-warden-stem
That often wags, above the jar, derisively at them.

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 fancies wander 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.

O Childhood-days enchanted!  O the magic of the Spring!--
With all green boughs to blossom white, and all bluebirds to
sing!
When all the air, to toss and quaff, made life a jubilee
And changed the children's song and laugh to shrieks of ecstasy.

With eyes half closed in clouds that ooze from lips that taste,
as well,
The peppermint and cinnamon, I hear the old School bell,
And from "Recess" romp in again from "Black-man's" broken line,
To smile, behind my "lesson," at 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.

Again I made her presents, in a really helpless way,--
The big "Rhode Island Greening"--I was hungry, too, that day!--
But I follow her from Spelling, with her hand behind her--so--
And I slip the apple in it--and the Teacher doesn't know!

I give my TREASURES to her--all,--my pencil--blue-and-red;--
And, if little girls played marbles, MINE should all be HERS,
instead!
But SHE gave me her PHOTOGRAPH, and printed "Ever Thine"
Across the back--in blue-and-red--that old sweet-heart 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.


SQUIRE HAWKINS'S STORY

I hain't no hand at tellin' tales,
Er spinnin' yarns, as the sailors say;
Someway o' 'nother, language fails
To slide fer me in the oily way
That LAWYERS has; and I wisht it would,
Fer I've got somepin' that I call good;
But bein' only a country squire,
I've learned to listen and admire,
Ruther preferrin' to be addressed
Than talk myse'f--but I'll do my best:--

Old Jeff Thompson--well, I'll say,
Was the clos'test man I ever saw!--
Rich as cream, but the porest pay,
And the meanest man to work fer--La!
I've knowed that man to work one "hand"--
Fer little er nothin', you understand--
From four o'clock in the morning light
Tel eight and nine o'clock at night,
And then find fault with his appetite!
He'd drive all over the neighberhood
To miss the place where a toll-gate stood,
And slip in town, by some old road
That no two men in the county knowed,
With a jag o' wood, and a sack o' wheat,
That wouldn't burn and you couldn't eat!
And the trades he'd make, 'll I jest de-clare,
Was enough to make a preacher swear!
And then he'd hitch, and hang about
Tel the lights in the toll-gate was blowed out,
And then the turnpike he'd turn in
And sneak his way back home ag'in!

Some folks hint, and I make no doubt,
That that's what wore his old wife out--
Toilin' away from day to day
And year to year, through heat and cold,
Uncomplainin'--the same old way
The martyrs died in the days of old;
And a-clingin', too, as the martyrs done,
To one fixed faith, and her ONLY one,--
Little Patience, the sweetest child
That ever wept unrickonciled,
Er felt the pain and the ache and sting
That only a mother's death can bring.

Patience Thompson!--I think that name
Must 'a' come from a power above,
Fer it seemed to fit her jest the same
As a GAITER would, er a fine kid glove!
And to see that girl, with all the care
Of the household on her--I de-clare
It was OUDACIOUS, the work she'd do,
And the thousand plans that she'd putt through;

And sing like a medder-lark all day long,
And drowned her cares in the joys o' song;
And LAUGH sometimes tel the farmer's "hand,"
Away fur off in the fields, would stand
A-listenin', with the plow half drawn,
Tel the coaxin' echoes called him on;
And the furries seemed, in his dreamy eyes,
Like foot-paths a-leadin' to Paradise,
As off through the hazy atmosphere
The call fer dinner reached his ear.

Now LOVE'S as cunnin'a little thing
As a hummin'-bird upon the wing,
And as liable to poke his nose
Jest where folks would least suppose,--
And more'n likely build his nest
Right in the heart you'd leave unguessed,
And live and thrive at your expense--
At least, that's MY experience.
And old Jeff Thompson often thought,
In his se'fish way, that the quiet John
Was a stiddy chap, as a farm-hand OUGHT
To always be,--fer the airliest dawn
Found John busy--and "EASY," too,
Whenever his wages would fall due!--
To sum him up with a final touch,
He EAT so little and WORKED so much,
That old Jeff laughed to hisse'f and said,
"He makes ME money and airns his bread!--

But John, fer all of his quietude,
Would sometimes drap a word er so
That none but PATIENCE understood,
And none but her was MEANT to know!--
Maybe at meal-times John would say,
As the sugar-bowl come down his way,
"Thanky, no; MY coffee's sweet
Enough fer ME!" with sich conceit,
SHE'D know at once, without no doubt,
HE meant because she poured it out;
And smile and blush, and all sich stuff,
And ast ef it was "STRONG enough?"
And git the answer, neat and trim,
"It COULDN'T be too 'strong' fer HIM!"

And so things went fer 'bout a year,
Tel John, at last, found pluck to go
And pour his tale in the old man's ear--
And ef it had been HOT LEAD, I know
It couldn't 'a' raised a louder fuss,
Ner 'a' riled the old man's temper wuss!
He jest LIT in, and cussed and swore,
And lunged and rared, and ripped and tore,
And told John jest to leave his door,
And not to darken it no more!
But Patience cried, with eyes all wet,
"Remember, John, and don't ferget,
WHATEVER comes, I love you yet!"
But the old man thought, in his se'fish way,
"I'll see her married rich some day;
And THAT," thinks he, "is money fer ME--
And my will's LAW, as it ought to be!"

So when, in the course of a month er so,
A WIDOWER, with a farm er two,
Comes to Jeff's, w'y, the folks, you know,
Had to TALK--as the folks'll do:
It was the talk of the neighberhood--
PATIENCE and JOHN, and THEIR affairs;--
And this old chap with a few gray hairs
Had "cut John out," it was understood.
And some folks reckoned "Patience, too,
Knowed what SHE was a-goin' to do--
It was LIKE her--la! indeed!--
All she loved was DOLLARS and CENTS--
Like old JEFF--and they saw no need
Fer JOHN to pine at HER negligence!"

But others said, in a KINDER way,
They missed the songs she used to sing--
They missed the smiles that used to play
Over her face, and the laughin' ring
Of her glad voice--that EVERYthing
Of her OLD se'f seemed dead and gone,
And this was the ghost that they gazed on!

Tel finally it was noised about
There was a WEDDIN' soon to be
Down at Jeff's; and the "cat was out"
Shore enough!--'Ll the JEE-MUN-NEE!
It RILED me when John told me so,--
Fer _I_ WAS A FRIEND O' JOHN'S, you know;
And his trimblin' voice jest broke in two--
As a feller's voice'll sometimes do.--
And I says, says I, "Ef I know my biz--
And I think I know what JESTICE is,--
I've read SOME law--and I'd advise
A man like you to wipe his eyes
And square his jaws and start AGIN,
FER JESTICE IS A-GOIN' TO WIN!"
And it wasn't long tel his eyes had cleared
As blue as the skies, and the sun appeared
In the shape of a good old-fashioned smile
That I hadn't seen fer a long, long while.

So we talked on fer a' hour er more,
And sunned ourselves in the open door,--
Tel a hoss-and-buggy down the road
Come a-drivin' up, that I guess John KNOWED,--
Fer he winked and says, "I'll dessappear--
THEY'D smell a mice ef they saw ME here!"
And he thumbed his nose at the old gray mare,
And hid hisse'f in the house somewhere.

Well.--The rig drove up: and I raised my head
As old Jeff hollered to me and said
That "him and his old friend there had come
To see ef the squire was at home."
. . . I told 'em "I was; and I AIMED to be
At every chance of a weddin'-fee!"
And then I laughed--and they laughed, too,--
Fer that was the object they had in view.
"Would I be on hands at eight that night?"
They ast; and 's-I, "You're mighty right,
I'LL be on hand!"  And then I BU'ST
Out a-laughin' my very wu'st,--
And so did they, as they wheeled away
And drove to'rds town in a cloud o' dust.
Then I shet the door, and me and John
Laughed and LAUGHED, and jest LAUGHED on,
Tel Mother drapped her specs, and BY
JEEWHILLIKERS!  I thought she'd DIE!--
And she couldn't 'a' told, I'll bet my hat,
What on earth she was laughin' at!

But all o' the fun o' the tale hain't done!--
Fer a drizzlin' rain had jest begun,
And a-havin' 'bout four mile' to ride,
I jest concluded I'd better light
Out fer Jeff's and save my hide,--
Fer IT WAS A-GOIN' TO STORM, THAT NIGHT!
So we went down to the barn, and John
Saddled my beast, and I got on;
And he told me somepin' to not ferget,
And when I left, he was LAUGHIN' yet.

And, 'proachin' on to my journey's end,
The great big draps o' the rain come down,
And the thunder growled in a way to lend
An awful look to the lowerin' frown
The dull sky wore; and the lightnin' glanced
Tel my old mare jest MORE'N pranced,
And tossed her head, and bugged her eyes
To about four times their natchurl size,
As the big black lips of the clouds 'ud drap
Out some oath of a thunderclap,
And threaten on in an undertone
That chilled a feller clean to the bone!

But I struck shelter soon enough
To save myse'f.  And the house was jammed
With the women-folks, and the weddin'stuff:--
A great, long table, fairly CRAMMED
With big pound-cakes--and chops and steaks--
And roasts and stews--and stumick-aches
Of every fashion, form, and size,
From twisters up to punkin-pies!
And candies, oranges, and figs,
And reezins,--all the "whilligigs"
And "jim-cracks" that the law allows
On sich occasions!--Bobs and bows
Of gigglin' girls, with corkscrew curls,
And fancy ribbons, reds and blues,
And "beau-ketchers" and "curliques"
To beat the world!  And seven o'clock
Brought old Jeff;-and brought--THE GROOM,--
With a sideboard-collar on, and stock
That choked him so, he hadn't room
To SWALLER in, er even sneeze,
Er clear his th'oat with any case
Er comfort--and a good square cough
Would saw his Adam's apple off!

But as fer PATIENCE--MY! Oomh-OOMH!--
I never saw her look so sweet!--
Her face was cream and roses, too;
And then them eyes o' heavenly blue
Jest made an angel all complete!
And when she split 'em up in smiles
And splintered 'em around the room,
And danced acrost and met the groom,
And LAUGHED OUT LOUD--It kind o' spiles
My language when I come to that--
Fer, as she laid away his hat,
Thinks I, "THE PAPERS HID INSIDE
OF THAT SAID HAT MUST MAKE A BRIDE
A HAPPY ONE FER ALL HER LIFE,
Er else a WRECKED AND WRETCHED WIFE!"
And, someway, then, I thought of JOHN,--
Then looked towards PATIENCE. . . .  She was GONE!--
The door stood open, and the rain
Was dashin' in; and sharp and plain
Above the storm we heerd a cry--
A ringin', laughin', loud "Good-by!"
That died away, as fleet and fast
A hoss's hoofs went splashin' past!
And that was all.  'Twas done that quick! . . .
You've heerd o' fellers "lookin' sick"?
I wisht you'd seen THE GROOM jest then--
I wisht you'd seen them two old men,
With starin' eyes that fairly GLARED
At one another, and the scared
And empty faces of the crowd,--
I wisht you could 'a' been allowed
To jest look on and see it all,--
And heerd the girls and women bawl
And wring their hands; and heerd old Jeff
A-cussin' as he swung hisse'f
Upon his hoss, who champed his bit
As though old Nick had holt of it:
And cheek by jowl the two old wrecks
Rode off as though they'd break their necks.

And as we all stood starin' out
Into the night, I felt the brush
Of some one's hand, and turned about,
And heerd a voice that whispered, "HUSH!--
THEY'RE WAITIN' IN THE KITCHEN, AND
YOU'RE WANTED.  DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?"
Well, ef my MEMORY serves me now,
I think I winked.--Well, anyhow,
I left the crowd a-gawkin' there,
And jest slipped off around to where
The back door opened, and went in,
And turned and shet the door ag'in,
And maybe LOCKED it--couldn't swear,--
A woman's arms around me makes
Me liable to make mistakes.--
I read a marriage license nex',
But as I didn't have my specs
I jest INFERRED it was all right,
And tied the knot so mortal-tight
That Patience and my old friend John
Was safe enough from that time on!

Well, now, I might go on and tell
How all the joke at last leaked out,
And how the youngsters raised the yell
And rode the happy groom about
Upon their shoulders; how the bride
Was kissed a hunderd times beside
The one _I_ give her,--tel she cried
And laughed untel she like to died!
I might go on and tell you all
About the supper--and the BALL.--
You'd ought to see me twist my heel
Through jest one old Furginny reel
Afore you die! er tromp the strings
Of some old fiddle tel she sings
Some old cowtillion, don't you know,
That putts the devil in yer toe!

We kep' the dancin' up tel FOUR
O'clock, I reckon--maybe more.--
We hardly heerd the thunders roar,
ER THOUGHT about the STORM that blowed--
AND THEM TWO FELLERS ON THE ROAD!
Tel all at onc't we heerd the door
Bu'st open, and a voice that SWORE,--
And old Jeff Thompson tuck the floor.
He shuck hisse'f and looked around
Like some old dog about half-drowned--
HIS HAT, I reckon, WEIGHED TEN POUND
To say the least, and I'll say, SHORE,
HIS OVERCOAT WEIGHED FIFTY more--
THE WETTEST MAN YOU EVER SAW,
TO HAVE SO DRY A SON-IN-LAW!

He sized it all; and Patience laid
Her hand in John's, and looked afraid,
And waited.  And a stiller set
O' folks, I KNOW, you never met
In any court room, where with dread
They wait to hear a verdick read.

The old man turned his eyes on me:
"And have you married 'em?" says he.
I nodded "Yes."  "Well, that'll do,"
He says, "and now we're th'ough with YOU,--
YOU jest clear out, and I decide
And promise to be satisfied!"
He hadn't nothin' more to say.
I saw, of course, how matters lay,
And left.  But as I rode away
I heerd the roosters crow fer day.


A COUNTRY PATHWAY

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 all 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 a while.

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 sick
    Our bumblebees 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.


THE  OLD  GUITAR

Neglected now is the old guitar
    And moldering into decay;
Fretted with many a rift and scar
    That the dull dust hides away,
While the spider spins a silver star
    In its silent lips to-day.

The keys hold only nerveless strings--
    The sinews of brave old airs
Are pulseless now; and the scarf that clings
    So closely here declares
A sad regret in its ravelings
    And the faded hue it wears.

But the old guitar, with a lenient grace,
    Has cherished a smile for me;
And its features hint of a fairer face
    That comes with a memory
Of a flower-and-perfume-haunted place
    And a moonlit balcony.

Music sweeter than words confess,
    Or the minstrel's powers invent,
Thrilled here once at the light caress
    Of the fairy hands that lent
This excuse for the kiss I press
    On the dear old instrument.

The rose of pearl with the jeweled stem
    Still blooms; and the tiny sets
In the circle all are here; the gem
    In the keys, and the silver frets;
But the dainty fingers that danced o'er them--
    Alas for the heart's regrets!--

Alas for the loosened strings to-day,
    And the wounds of rift and scar
On a worn old heart, with its roundelay
    Enthralled with a stronger bar
That Fate weaves on, through a dull decay
    Like that of the old guitar!


"FRIDAY AFTERNOON"

TO WILLIAM MORRIS PIERSON

[1868-1870]

Of the wealth of facts and fancies
    That our memories may recall,
The old school-day romances
    Are the dearest, after all!--.
When some sweet thought revises
    The half-forgotten tune
That opened "Exercises"
    On "Friday Afternoon."

We seem to hear the clicking
    Of the pencil and the pen,
And the solemn, ceaseless ticking
    Of the timepiece ticking then;
And we note the watchful master,
    As he waves the warning rod,
With our own heart beating faster
    Than the boy's who threw the wad.

Some little hand uplifted,
    And the creaking of a shoe:--
A problem left unsifted
    For the teacher's hand to do:
The murmured hum of learning--
    And the flutter of a book;
The smell of something burning,
    And the school's inquiring look.

The bashful boy in blushes;
    And the girl, with glancing eyes,
Who hides her smiles, and hushes
    The laugh about to rise,--
Then, with a quick invention,
    Assumes a serious face,
To meet the words, "Attention!
    Every scholar in his place!"

The opening song, page 20.--
    Ah! dear old "Golden Wreath,"
You willed your sweets in plenty;
    And some who look beneath
The leaves of Time will linger,
    And loving tears will start,
As Fancy trails her finger
    O'er the index of the heart.

"Good News from Home"--We hear it
    Welling tremulous, yet clear
And holy as the spirit
    Of the song we used to hear--
"Good news for me" (A throbbing
    And an aching melody)--
"Has come across the"--(sobbing,
    Yea, and salty) "dark blue sea!"

Or the paean "Scotland's burning!"
    With its mighty surge and swell
Of chorus, still returning
    To its universal yell--
Till we're almost glad to drop to
    Something sad and full of pain--
And "Skip verse three," and stop, too,
    Ere our hearts are broke again.

Then "the big girls'" compositions,
    With their doubt, and hope, and glow
Of heart and face,--conditions
    Of "the big boys"--even so,--
When themes of "Spring," and "Summer"
    And of "Fall," and "Winter-time"
Droop our heads and hold us dumber
    Than the sleigh-bell's fancied chime.

Elocutionary science--
    (Still in changeless infancy!)--
With its "Cataline's Defiance,"
    And "The Banner of the Free":
Or, lured from Grandma's attic,
    A ramshackle "rocker" there,
Adds a skreek of the dramatic
    To the poet's "Old Arm-Chair."

Or the "Speech of Logan" shifts us
    From the pathos, to the fire;
And Tell (with Gessler) lifts us
    Many noble notches higher.--
Till a youngster, far from sunny,
    With sad eyes of watery blue,
Winds up with something "funny,"
    Like "Cock-a-doodle-do!"

Then a dialogue--selected
    For its realistic worth:--
The Cruel Boy detected
    With a turtle turned to earth
Back downward; and, in pleading,
    The Good Boy--strangely gay
At such a sad proceeding--
    Says, "Turn him over, pray!"

So the exercises taper
    Through gradations of delight
To the reading of "The Paper,"
    Which is entertaining--quite!
For it goes ahead and mentions
    "If a certain Mr. O.
Has serious intentions
    That he ought to tell her so."

It also "Asks permission
    To intimate to 'John'
The dubious condition
    Of the ground he's standing on";
And, dropping the suggestion
    To "mind what he's about,"
It stuns him with the question:
    "Does his mother know he's out?"

And among the contributions
    To this "Academic Press"
Are "Versified Effusions"
    By--"Our lady editress"--
Which fact is proudly stated
    By the CHIEF of the concern,--
"Though the verse communicated
    Bears the pen-name 'Fanny Fern.' "

    .   .   .   .   .   .
When all has been recited,
    And the teacher's bell is heard,
And visitors, invited,
    Have dropped a kindly word,
A hush of holy feeling
    Falls down upon us there,
As though the day were kneeling,
    With the twilight for the prayer.

    .   .   .   .   .   .
Midst the wealth of facts and fancies
    That our memories may recall,
Thus the old school-day romances
    Are the dearest, after all!--
When some sweet thought revises
    The half-forgotten tune
That opened "Exercises,"
    On "Friday Afternoon."


"JOHNSON'S BOY"

The world is turned ag'in' me,
    And people says, "They guess
That nothin' else is in me
    But pure maliciousness!"
I git the blame for doin'
    What other chaps destroy,
And I'm a-goin' to ruin
    Because I'm "Johnson's boy."

THAT ain't my name--I'd ruther
    They'd call me IKE or PAT--
But they've forgot the other--
    And so have _I_, for that!
I reckon it's as handy,
    When Nibsy breaks his toy,
Or some one steals his candy,
    To say 'twas "JOHNSON'S BOY!"

You can't git any water
    At the pump, and find the spout
So durn chuck-full o' mortar
    That you have to bore it out;
You tackle any scholar
    In Wisdom's wise employ,
And I'll bet you half a dollar
    He'll say it's "Johnson's boy!"

Folks don't know how I suffer
    In my uncomplainin' way--
They think I'm gittin' tougher
    And tougher every day.
Last Sunday night, when Flinder
    Was a-shoutin' out for joy,
And some one shook the winder,
    He prayed for "Johnson's boy."

I'm tired of bein' follered
    By farmers every day,
And then o' bein' collared
    For coaxin' hounds away;
Hounds always plays me double--
    It's a trick they all enjoy--
To git me into trouble,
    Because I'm "Johnson's boy."

But if I git to Heaven,
    I hope the Lord'll see
SOME boy has been perfect,
    And lay it on to me;
I'll swell the song sonorous,
    And clap my wings for joy,
And sail off on the chorus--
    "Hurrah for 'Johnson's boy!'"


HER BEAUTIFUL HANDS

Your hands--they are strangely fair!
O Fair--for the jewels that sparkle there,--
Fair--for the witchery of the spell
That ivory keys alone can tell;
But when their delicate touches rest
Here in my own do I love them best,
As I clasp with eager, acquisitive spans
My glorious treasure of beautiful hands!

Marvelous--wonderful--beautiful hands!
They can coax roses to bloom in the strands
Of your brown tresses; and ribbons will twine,
Under mysterious touches of thine,
Into such knots as entangle the soul
And fetter the heart under such a control
As only the strength of my love understands--
My passionate love for your beautiful hands.

As I remember the first fair touch
Of those beautiful hands that I love so much,
I seem to thrill as I then was thrilled,
Kissing the glove that I found unfilled--
When I met your gaze, and the queenly bow,
As you said to me, laughingly, "Keep it now!" . . .
And dazed and alone in a dream I stand,
Kissing this ghost of your beautiful hand.

When first I loved, in the long ago,
And held your hand as I told you so--
Pressed and caressed it and gave it a kiss
And said "I could die for a hand like this!"
Little I dreamed love's fullness yet
Had to ripen when eyes were wet
And prayers were vain in their wild demands
For one warm touch of your beautiful hands.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Beautiful Hands!--O Beautiful Hands!
Could you reach out of the alien lands
Where you are lingering, and give me, to-night,
Only a touch--were it ever so light--
My heart were soothed, and my weary brain
Would lull itself into rest again;
For there is no solace the world commands
Like the caress of your beautiful hands.


NATURAL PERVERSITIES

I am not prone to moralize
    In scientific doubt
On certain facts that Nature tries
    To puzzle us about,--
For I am no philosopher
    Of wise elucidation,
But speak of things as they occur,
    From simple observation.

I notice LITTLE things--to wit:--
    I never missed a train
Because I didn't RUN for it;
    I never knew it rain
That my umbrella wasn't lent,--
    Or, when in my possession,
The sun but wore, to all intent,
    A jocular expression.

I never knew a creditor
    To dun me for a debt
But I was "cramped" or "bu'sted"; or
    I never knew one yet,
When I had plenty in my purse,
    To make the least invasion,--
As I, accordingly perverse,
    Have courted no occasion.

Nor do I claim to comprehend
    What Nature has in view
In giving us the very friend
    To trust we oughtn't to.--
But so it is:  The trusty gun
    Disastrously exploded
Is always sure to be the one
    We didn't think was loaded.

Our moaning is another's mirth,--
    And what is worse by half,
We say the funniest thing on earth
    And never raise a laugh:
'Mid friends that love us over well,
    And sparkling jests and liquor,
Our hearts somehow are liable
    To melt in tears the quicker.

We reach the wrong when most we seek
    The right; in like effect,
We stay the strong and not the weak--
    Do most when we neglect.--
Neglected genius--truth be said--
    As wild and quick as tinder,
The more you seek to help ahead
    The more you seem to hinder.

I've known the least the greatest, too--
    And, on the selfsame plan,
The biggest fool I ever knew
    Was quite a little man:
We find we ought, and then we won't--
    We prove a thing, then doubt it,--
Know EVERYTHING but when we don't
    Know ANYTHING about it.


THE SILENT VICTORS

MAY 30, 1878,

Dying for victory, cheer on cheer
Thundered on his eager ear.
            --CHARLES L. HOLSTEIN.

I

Deep, tender, firm and true, the Nation's heart
    Throbs for her gallant heroes passed away,
Who in grim Battle's drama played their part,
    And slumber here to-day.--

Warm hearts that beat their lives out at the shrine
    Of Freedom, while our country held its breath
As brave battalions wheeled themselves in line
    And marched upon their death:

When Freedom's Flag, its natal wounds scarce healed,
    Was torn from peaceful winds and flung again
To shudder in the storm of battle-field--
    The elements of men,--

When every star that glittered was a mark
    For Treason's ball, and every rippling bar
Of red and white was sullied with the dark
    And purple stain of war:

When angry guns, like famished beasts of prey,
    Were howling o'er their gory feast of lives,
And sending dismal echoes far away
    To mothers, maids, and wives:--

The mother, kneeling in the empty night,
    With pleading hands uplifted for the son
Who, even as she prayed, had fought the fight--
    The victory had won:

The wife, with trembling hand that wrote to say
    The babe was waiting for the sire's caress--
The letter meeting that upon the way,--
    The babe was fatherless:

The maiden, with her lips, in fancy, pressed
    Against the brow once dewy with her breath,
Now lying numb, unknown, and uncaressed
    Save by the dews of death.

II

What meed of tribute can the poet pay
    The Soldier, but to trail the ivy-vine
Of idle rhyme above his grave to-day
    In epitaph design?--

Or wreathe with laurel-words the icy brows
    That ache no longer with a dream of fame,
But, pillowed lowly in the narrow house,
    Renowned beyond the name.

The dewy tear-drops of the night may fall,
    And tender morning with her shining hand
May brush them from the grasses green and tall
    That undulate the land.--

Yet song of Peace nor din of toil and thrift,
    Nor chanted honors, with the flowers we heap,
Can yield us hope the Hero's head to lift
    Out of its dreamless sleep:

The dear old Flag, whose faintest flutter flies
    A stirring echo through each patriot breast,
Can never coax to life the folded eyes
    That saw its wrongs redressed--

That watched it waver when the fight was hot,
    And blazed with newer courage to its aid,
Regardless of the shower of shell and shot
    Through which the charge was made;--

And when, at last, they saw it plume its wings,
    Like some proud bird in stormy element,
And soar untrammeled on its wanderings,
    They closed in death, content.

III

O Mother, you who miss the smiling face
    Of that dear boy who vanished from your sight,
And left you weeping o'er the vacant place
    He used to fill at night,--

Who left you dazed, bewildered, on a day
    That echoed wild huzzas, and roar of guns
That drowned the farewell words you tried to say
    To incoherent ones;--

Be glad and proud you had the life to give--
    Be comforted through all the years to come,--
Your country has a longer life to live,
    Your son a better home.

O Widow, weeping o'er the orphaned child,
    Who only lifts his questioning eyes to send
A keener pang to grief unreconciled,--
    Teach him to comprehend

He had a father brave enough to stand
    Before the fire of Treason's blazing gun,
That, dying, he might will the rich old land
    Of Freedom to his son.

And, Maiden, living on through lonely years
    In fealty to love's enduring ties,--
With strong faith gleaming through the tender tears
    That gather in your eyes,

Look up! and own, in gratefulness of prayer,
    Submission to the will of Heaven's High Host:--
I see your Angel-soldier pacing there,
    Expectant at his post.--

I see the rank and file of armies vast,
    That muster under one supreme control;
I hear the trumpet sound the signal-blast--
    The calling of the roll--

The grand divisions falling into line
    And forming, under voice of One alone
Who gives command, and joins with tongue divine
    The hymn that shakes the Throne.

IV

And thus, in tribute to the forms that rest
    In their last camping-ground, we strew the bloom
And fragrance of the flowers they loved the best,
    In silence o'er the tomb.

With reverent hands we twine the Hero's wreath
    And clasp it tenderly on stake or stone
That stands the sentinel for each beneath
    Whose glory is our own.

While in the violet that greets the sun,
    We see the azure eye of some lost boy;
And in the rose the ruddy cheek of one
    We kissed in childish joy,--

Recalling, haply, when he marched away,
    He laughed his loudest though his eyes were wet.--
The kiss he gave his mother's brow that day
    Is there and burning yet:

And through the storm of grief around her tossed,
    One ray of saddest comfort she may see,--
Four hundred thousand sons like hers were lost
    To weeping Liberty.

    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
But draw aside the drapery of gloom,
    And let the sunshine chase the clouds away
And gild with brighter glory every tomb
    We decorate to-day:

And in the holy silence reigning round,
    While prayers of perfume bless the atmosphere,
Where loyal souls of love and faith are found,
    Thank God that Peace is here!

And let each angry impulse that may start,
    Be smothered out of every loyal breast;
And, rocked within the cradle of the heart,
    Let every sorrow rest.


SCRAPS

There's a habit I have nurtured,
    From the sentimental time
When my life was like a story,
    And my heart a happy rhyme,--
Of clipping from the paper,
    Or magazine, perhaps,
The idle songs of dreamers,
    Which I treasure as my scraps.

They hide among my letters,
    And they find a cozy nest
In the bosom of my wrapper,
    And the pockets of my vest;
They clamber in my fingers
    Till my dreams of wealth relapse
In fairer dreams than Fortune's
    Though I find them only scraps.

Sometimes I find, in tatters
    Like a beggar, form as fair
As ever gave to Heaven
    The treasure of a prayer;
And words all dim and faded,
    And obliterate in part,
Grow into fadeless meanings
    That are printed on the heart.

Sometimes a childish jingle
    Flings an echo, sweet and clear,
And thrills me as I listen
    To the laughs I used to hear;
And I catch the gleam of faces,
    And the glimmer of glad eyes
That peep at me expectant
    O'er the walls of Paradise.

O syllables of measure!
    Though you wheel yourselves in line,
And await the further order
    Of this eager voice of mine;
You are powerless to follow
    O'er the field my fancy maps,
So I lead you back to silence
    Feeling you are only scraps.


AUGUST

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 thrilling 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.


DEAD IN SIGHT OF FAME

    DIED--Early morning of September 5, 1876, and
in the gleaming dawn of "name and fame,"
Hamilton J. Dunbar.

Dead!  Dead!  Dead!
    We thought him ours alone;
And were so proud to see him tread
The rounds of fame, and lift his head
    Where sunlight ever shone;
But now our aching eyes are dim,
And look through tears in vain for him.

Name!  Name!  Name!
    It was his diadem;
Nor ever tarnish-taint of shame
Could dim its luster--like a flame
    Reflected in a gem,
He wears it blazing on his brow
Within the courts of Heaven now.

Tears!  Tears!  Tears!
    Like dews upon the leaf
That bursts at last--from out the years
The blossom of a trust appears
    That blooms above the grief;
And mother, brother, wife and child
Will see it and be reconciled.


IN THE DARK

O In the depths of midnight
    What fancies haunt the brain!
When even the sigh of the sleeper
    Sounds like a sob of pain.

A sense of awe and of wonder
    I may never well define,--
For the thoughts that come in the shadows
    Never come in the shine.

The old clock down in the parlor
    Like a sleepless mourner grieves,
And the seconds drip in the silence
    As the rain drips from the eaves.

And I think of the hands that signal
    The hours there in the gloom,
And wonder what angel watchers
    Wait in the darkened room.

And I think of the smiling faces
    That used to watch and wait,
Till the click of the clock was answered
    By the click of the opening gate.--

They are not there now in the evening--
    Morning or noon--not there;
Yet I know that they keep their vigil,
    And wait for me Somewhere.


THE IRON HORSE

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 a touch he changes pace,
And, gliding backward, stops again.

And talk of mettle--Ah! my friend,
    Such passion smolders in his breast
That when awakened it will send
    A thrill of rapture wilder than
    E'er 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:
    Thou bear'st the father to the son,
And sweet relief to bitter need;
Thou bear'st the stranger to his friends;
    Thou bear'st 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 hooves 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.


DEAD LEAVES

    DAWN

As though a gipsy maiden with dim look,
    Sat crooning by the roadside of the year,
    So, Autumn, in thy strangeness, thou art here
To read dark fortunes for us from the book
Of fate; thou flingest in the crinkled brook
    The trembling maple's gold, and frosty-clear
    Thy mocking laughter thrills the atmosphere,
And drifting on its current calls the rook
To other lands.  As one who wades, alone,
    Deep in the dusk, and hears the minor talk
Of distant melody, and finds the tone,
    In some wierd way compelling him to stalk
The paths of childhood over,--so I moan,
    And like a troubled sleeper, groping, walk.

    DUSK

The frightened herds of clouds across the sky
    Trample the sunshine down, and chase the day
    Into the dusky forest-lands of gray
And somber twilight.  Far, and faint, and high
The wild goose trails his harrow, with a cry
    Sad as the wail of some poor castaway
    Who sees a vessel drifting far astray
Of his last hope, and lays him down to die.
The children, riotous from school, grow bold
    And quarrel with the wind, whose angry gust
Plucks off the summer hat, and flaps the fold
    Of many a crimson cloak, and twirls the dust
In spiral shapes grotesque, and dims the gold
    Of gleaming tresses with the blur of rust.

     NIGHT

Funereal Darkness, drear and desolate,
    Muffles the world.  The moaning of the wind
    Is piteous with sobs of saddest kind;
And laughter is a phantom at the gate
Of memory.  The long-neglected grate
    Within sprouts into flame and lights the mind
    With hopes and wishes long ago refined
To ashes,--long departed friends await
    Our words of welcome: and our lips are dumb
And powerless to greet the ones that press
    Old kisses there.  The baby beats its drum,
And fancy marches to the dear caress
    Of mother-arms, and all the gleeful hum
Of home intrudes upon our loneliness.


OVER THE EYES OF GLADNESS

"The voice of One hath spoken,
    And the bended reed is bruised--
The golden bowl is broken,
    And the silver cord is loosed."

Over the eyes of gladness
    The lids of sorrow fall,
And the light of mirth is darkened
    Under the funeral pall.

The hearts that throbbed with rapture
    In dreams of the future years,
Are wakened from their slumbers,
    And their visions drowned in tears.

    .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Two buds on the bough in the morning--
    Twin buds in the smiling sun,
But the frost of death has fallen
    And blighted the bloom of one.

One leaf of life still folded
    Has fallen from the stem,
Leaving the symbol teaching
    There still are two of them,--

For though--through Time's gradations,
    The LIVING bud may burst,--
The WITHERED one is gathered,
    And blooms in Heaven first.


ONLY A DREAM

Only a dream!
            Her head is bent
Over the keys of the instrument,
While her trembling fingers go astray
In the foolish tune she tries to play.
He smiles in his heart, though his deep, sad eyes
Never change to a glad surprise
As he finds the answer he seeks confessed
In glowing features, and heaving breast.

Only a dream!
            Though the fete is grand,
And a hundred hearts at her command,
She takes no part, for her soul is sick
Of the Coquette's art and the Serpent's trick,--
She someway feels she would like to fling
Her sins away as a robe, and spring
Up like a lily pure and white,
And bloom alone for HIM to-night.

Only a dream
            That the fancy weaves.
The lids unfold like the rose's leaves,
And the upraised eyes are moist and mild
As the prayerful eyes of a drowsy child.
Does she remember the spell they once
Wrought in the past a few short months?
Haply not--yet her lover's eyes
Never change to the glad surprise.

Only a dream!
            He winds her form
Close in the coil of his curving arm,
And whirls her away in a gust of sound
As wild and sweet as the poets found
In the paradise where the silken tent
Of the Persian blooms in the Orient,--
While ever the chords of the music seem
Whispering sadly,--"Only a dream!"


OUR LITTLE GIRL

Her heart knew naught of sorrow,
    Nor the vaguest taint of sin--
'Twas an ever-blooming blossom
    Of the purity within:
And her hands knew only touches
    Of the mother's gentle care,
And the kisses and caresses
    Through the interludes of prayer.

Her baby-feet had journeyed
    Such a little distance here,
They could have found no briers
    In the path to interfere;
The little cross she carried
    Could not weary her, we know,
For it lay as lightly on her
    As a shadow on the snow.

And yet the way before us--
    O how empty now and drear!--
How ev'n the dews of roses
    Seem as dripping tears for her!
And the song-birds all seem crying,
    As the winds cry and the rain,
All sobbingly,--"We want--we want
    Our little girl again!"


THE FUNNY LITTLE FELLOW

'Twas a Funny Little Fellow
    Of the very purest type,
For he had a heart as mellow
    As an apple over ripe;
And the brightest little twinkle
    When a funny thing occurred,
And the lightest little tinkle
    Of a laugh you ever heard!

His smile was like the glitter
    Of the sun in tropic lands,
And his talk a sweeter twitter
    Than the swallow understands;
Hear him sing--and tell a story--
    Snap a joke--ignite a pun,--
'Twas a capture--rapture--glory,
    An explosion--all in one!

Though he hadn't any money--
    That condiment which tends
To make a fellow "honey"
    For the palate of his friends;--
Sweet simples he compounded--
    Sovereign antidotes for sin
Or taint,--a faith unbounded
    That his friends were genuine.

He wasn't honored, maybe--
    For his songs of praise were slim,--
Yet I never knew a baby
    That wouldn't crow for him;
I never knew a mother
    But urged a kindly claim
Upon him as a brother,
    At the mention of his name.

The sick have ceased their sighing,
    And have even found the grace
Of a smile when they were dying
    As they looked upon his face;
And I've seen his eyes of laughter
    Melt in tears that only ran
As though, swift-dancing after,
    Came the Funny Little Man.

He laughed away the sorrow
    And he laughed away the gloom
We are all so prone to borrow
    From the darkness of the tomb;
And he laughed across the ocean
    Of a happy life, and passed,
With a laugh of glad emotion,
    Into Paradise at last.

And I think the Angels knew him,
    And had gathered to await
His coming, and run to him
    Through the widely opened Gate,
With their faces gleaming sunny
    For his laughter-loving sake,
And thinking, "What a funny
    Little Angel he will make!"


SONG OF THE NEW YEAR

I heard the bells at midnight
    Ring in the dawning year;
And above the clanging chorus
    Of the song, I seemed to hear
A choir of mystic voices
    Flinging echoes, ringing clear,
From a band of angels winging
    Through the haunted atmosphere:
        "Ring out the shame and sorrow,
            And the misery and sin,
        That the dawning of the morrow
            May in peace be ushered in."

And I thought of all the trials
    The departed years had cost,
And the blooming hopes and pleasures
    That are withered now and lost;
And with joy I drank the music
    Stealing o'er the feeling there
As the spirit song came pealing
    On the silence everywhere:
        "Ring out the shame and sorrow,
            And the misery and sin,
        That the dawning of the morrow
            May in peace be ushered in."

And I listened as a lover
    To an utterance that flows
In syllables like dewdrops
    From the red lips of a rose,
Till the anthem, fainter growing,
    Climbing higher, chiming on
Up the rounds of happy rhyming,
    Slowly vanished in the dawn:
        "Ring out the shame and sorrow,
            And the misery and sin,
        That the dawning of the morrow
            May in peace be ushered in."

Then I raised my eyes to Heaven,
    And with trembling lips I pled
For a blessing for the living
    And a pardon for the dead;
And like a ghost of music
    Slowly whispered--lowly sung--
Came the echo pure and holy
    In the happy angel tongue:
        "Ring out the shame and sorrow,
            And the misery and sin,
        And the dawn of every morrow
            Will in peace be ushered in."


A LETTER TO A FRIEND

The past is like a story
    I have listened to in dreams
That vanished in the glory
    Of the Morning's early gleams;
And--at my shadow glancing--
    I feel a loss of strength,
As the Day of Life advancing
    Leaves it shorn of half its length.

But it's all in vain to worry
    At the rapid race of Time--
And he flies in such a flurry
    When I trip him with a rhyme,
I'll bother him no longer
    Than to thank you for the thought
That "my fame is growing stronger
    As you really think it ought."

And though I fall below it,
    I might know as much of mirth
To live and die a poet
    Of unacknowledged worth;
For Fame is but a vagrant--
    Though a loyal one and brave,
And his laurels ne'er so fragrant
    As when scattered o'er the grave.


LINES FOR AN ALBUM

I would not trace the hackneyed phrase
Of shallow words and empty praise,
And prate of "peace" till one might think
My foolish pen was drunk with ink.
Nor will I here the wish express
Of "lasting love and happiness,"
And "cloudless skies"--for after all
"Into each life some rain must fall."
--No.  Keep the empty page below,
In my remembrance, white as snow--
Nor sigh to know the secret prayer
My spirit hand has written there.


TO ANNIE

When the lids of dusk are falling
    O'er the dreamy eyes of day,
And the whippoorwills are calling,
    And the lesson laid away,--
May Mem'ry soft and tender
    As the prelude of the night,
Bend over you and render
    As tranquil a delight.


FAME

I

Once, in a dream, I saw a man
    With haggard face and tangled hair,
And eyes that nursed as wild a care
    As gaunt Starvation ever can;
And in his hand he held a wand
    Whose magic touch gave life and thought
    Unto a form his fancy wrought
And robed with coloring so grand,
    It seemed the reflex of some child
    Of Heaven, fair and undefiled--
    A face of purity and love--
    To woo him into worlds above:
And as I gazed with dazzled eyes,
    A gleaming smile lit up his lips
    As his bright soul from its eclipse
Went flashing into Paradise.
Then tardy Fame came through the door
And found a picture--nothing more.

II

And once I saw a man, alone,
    In abject poverty, with hand
Uplifted o'er a block of stone
    That took a shape at his command
And smiled upon him, fair and good--
A perfect work of womanhood,
Save that the eyes might never weep,
Nor weary hands be crossed in sleep,
Nor hair that fell from crown to wrist,
Be brushed away, caressed and kissed.
And as in awe I gazed on her,
    I saw the sculptor's chisel fall--
        I saw him sink, without a moan,
        Sink lifeless at the feet of stone,
And lie there like a worshiper.
    Fame crossed the threshold of the hall,
    And found a statue--that was all.

III

And once I saw a man who drew
    A gloom about him like a cloak,
And wandered aimlessly.  The few
    Who spoke of him at all, but spoke
Disparagingly of a mind
The Fates had faultily designed:
Too indolent for modern times--
    Too fanciful, and full of whims--
For, talking to himself in rhymes,
    And scrawling never-heard-of hymns,
The idle life to which he clung
Was worthless as the songs he sung!
I saw him, in my vision, filled
    With rapture o'er a spray of bloom
    The wind threw in his lonely room;
And of the sweet perfume it spilled
He drank to drunkenness, and flung
His long hair back, and laughed and sung
And clapped his hands as children do
At fairy tales they listen to,
While from his flying quill there dripped
Such music on his manuscript
That he who listens to the words
May close his eyes and dream the birds
Are twittering on every hand
A language he can understand.
He journeyed on through life, unknown,
Without one friend to call his own;
He tired.  No kindly hand to press
The cooling touch of tenderness
Upon his burning brow, nor lift
To his parched lips God's freest gift--
No sympathetic sob or sigh
Of trembling lips--no sorrowing eye
Looked out through tears to see him die.
And Fame her greenest laurels brought
To crown a head that heeded not.

And this is Fame!  A thing, indeed,
That only comes when least the need:
The wisest minds of every age
The book of life from page to page
Have searched in vain; each lesson conned
Will promise it the page beyond--
Until the last, when dusk of night
Falls over it, and reason's light
Is smothered by that unknown friend
Who signs his nom de plume, The End


AN EMPTY NEST

I find an old deserted nest,
    Half-hidden in the underbrush:
A withered leaf, in phantom jest,
    Has nestled in it like a thrush
With weary, palpitating breast.

I muse as one in sad surprise
    Who seeks his childhood's home once more,
And finds it in a strange disguise
    Of vacant rooms and naked floor,
With sudden tear-drops in his eyes.

An empty nest!  It used to bear
    A happy burden, when the breeze
Of summer rocked it, and a pair
    Of merry tattlers told the trees
What treasures they had hidden there.

But Fancy, flitting through the gleams
    Of youth's sunshiny atmosphere,
Has fallen in the past, and seems,
    Like this poor leaflet nestled here,--
A phantom guest of empty dreams.


MY FATHER'S HALLS

My father's halls, so rich and rare,
Are desolate and bleak and bare;
My father's heart and halls are one,
Since I, their life and light, am gone.

O, valiant knight, with hand of steel
And heart of gold, hear my appeal:
Release me from the spoiler's charms,
And bear me to my father's arms.


THE HARP OF THE MINSTREL

The harp of the minstrel has never a tone
    As sad as the song in his bosom to-night,
For the magical touch of his fingers alone
    Can not waken the echoes that breathe it aright;
But oh! as the smile of the moon may impart
    A sorrow to one in an alien clime,
Let the light of the melody fall on the heart,
    And cadence his grief into musical rhyme.

The faces have faded, the eyes have grown dim
    That once were his passionate love and his pride;
And alas! all the smiles that once blossomed for him
    Have fallen away as the flowers have died.
The hands that entwined him the laureate's wreath
    And crowned him with fame in the long, long ago,
Like the laurels are withered and folded beneath
    The grass and the stubble--the frost and the snow.

Then sigh, if thou wilt, as the whispering strings
    Strive ever in vain for the utterance clear,
And think of the sorrowful spirit that sings,
    And jewel the song with the gem of a tear.
For the harp of the minstrel has never a tone
    As sad as the song in his bosom tonight,
And the magical touch of his fingers alone
    Can not waken the echoes that breathe it aright.


HONEY DRIPPING FROM THE COMB

How slight a thing may set one's fancy drifting
    Upon the dead sea of the Past!--A view--
Sometimes an odor--or a rooster lifting
        A far-off "OOH! OOH-OOH!"

And suddenly we find ourselves astray
    In some wood's-pasture of the Long Ago--
Or idly dream again upon a day
        Of rest we used to know.

I bit an apple but a moment since--
    A wilted apple that the worm had spurned,--
Yet hidden in the taste were happy hints
        Of good old days returned.--

And so my heart, like some enraptured lute,
    Tinkles a tune so tender and complete,
God's blessing must be resting on the fruit--
        So bitter, yet so sweet!


JOHN WALSH

A strange life--strangely passed!
    We may not read the soul
    When God has folded up the scroll
        In death at last.
We may not--dare not say of one
Whose task of life as well was done
As he could do it,--"This is lost,
And prayers may never pay the cost."

Who listens to the song
    That sings within the breast,
    Should ever hear the good expressed
        Above the wrong.
And he who leans an eager ear
To catch the discord, he will hear
The echoes of his own weak heart
Beat out the most discordant part.

Whose tender heart could build
    Affection's bower above
    A heart where baby nests of love
        Were ever filled,--
With upward growth may reach and twine
About the children, grown divine,
That once were his a time so brief
His very joy was more than grief.

O Sorrow--"Peace, be still!"
    God reads the riddle right;
    And we who grope in constant night
        But serve His will;
And when sometime the doubt is gone,
And darkness blossoms into dawn,--
"God keeps the good," we then will say:
" 'Tis but the dross He throws away."


ORLIE WILDE

A goddess, with a siren's grace,--
A sun-haired girl on a craggy place
Above a bay where fish-boats lay
Drifting about like birds of prey.

Wrought was she of a painter's dream,--
Wise only as are artists wise,
My artist-friend, Rolf Herschkelhiem,
With deep sad eyes of oversize,
And face of melancholy guise.

I pressed him that he tell to me
This masterpiece's history.
He turned--REturned--and thus beguiled
Me with the tale of Orlie Wilde:--

"We artists live ideally:
We breed our firmest facts of air;
We make our own reality--
We dream a thing and it is so.
The fairest scenes we ever see
Are mirages of memory;
The sweetest thoughts we ever know
We plagiarize from Long Ago:
And as the girl on canvas there
Is marvelously rare and fair,
'Tis only inasmuch as she
Is dumb and may not speak to me!"
He tapped me with his mahlstick--then
The picture,--and went on again:

"Orlie Wilde, the fisher's child--
I see her yet, as fair and mild
As ever nursling summer day
Dreamed on the bosom of the bay:
For I was twenty then, and went
Alone and long-haired--all content
With promises of sounding name
And fantasies of future fame,
And thoughts that now my mind discards
As editor a fledgling bard's.

"At evening once I chanced to go,
With pencil and portfolio,
Adown the street of silver sand
That winds beneath this craggy land,
To make a sketch of some old scurf
Of driftage, nosing through the surf
A splintered mast, with knarl and strand
Of rigging-rope and tattered threads
Of flag and streamer and of sail
That fluttered idly in the gale
Or whipped themselves to sadder shreds.
The while I wrought, half listlessly,
On my dismantled subject, came
A sea-bird, settling on the same
With plaintive moan, as though that he
Had lost his mate upon the sea;
And--with my melancholy trend--
It brought dim dreams half understood--
It wrought upon my morbid mood,--
I thought of my own voyagings
That had no end--that have no end.--
And, like the sea-bird, I made moan
That I was loveless and alone.
And when at last with weary wings
It went upon its wanderings,
With upturned face I watched its flight
Until this picture met my sight:
A goddess, with a siren's grace,--
A sun-haired girl on a craggy place
Above a bay where fish-boats lay
Drifting about like birds of prey.

"In airy poise she, gazing, stood
A machless form of womanhood,
That brought a thought that if for me
Such eyes had sought across the sea,
I could have swum the widest tide
That ever mariner defied,
And, at the shore, could on have gone
To that high crag she stood upon,
To there entreat and say, 'My Sweet,
Behold thy servant at thy feet.'
And to my soul I said:  'Above,
There stands the idol of thy love!'

"In this rapt, awed, ecstatic state
I gazed--till lo! I was aware
A fisherman had joined her there--
A weary man, with halting gait,
Who toiled beneath a basket's weight:
Her father, as I guessed, for she
Had run to meet him gleefully
And ta'en his burden to herself,
That perched upon her shoulder's shelf
So lightly that she, tripping, neared
A jutting crag and disappeared;
But she left the echo of a song
That thrills me yet, and will as long
As I have being! . . .


            . . . "Evenings came
And went,--but each the same--the same:
She watched above, and even so
I stood there watching from below;
Till, grown so bold at last, I sung,--
(What matter now the theme thereof!)--
It brought an answer from her tongue--
Faint as the murmur of a dove,
Yet all the more the song of love. . . .

"I turned and looked upon the bay,
With palm to forehead--eyes a-blur
In the sea's smile--meant but for her!--
I saw the fish-boats far away
In misty distance, lightly drawn
In chalk-dots on the horizon--
Looked back at her, long, wistfully;--
And, pushing off an empty skiff,
I beckoned her to quit the cliff
And yield me her rare company
Upon a little pleasure-cruise.--
She stood, as loathful to refuse,
To muse for full a moment's time,--
Then answered back in pantomime
'She feared some danger from the sea
Were she discovered thus with me.'
I motioned then to ask her if
I might not join her on the cliff
And back again, with graceful wave
Of lifted arm, she anwer gave
'She feared some danger from the sea.'

"Impatient, piqued, impetuous, I
Sprang in the boat, and flung 'Good-by'
From pouted mouth with angry hand,
And madly pulled away from land
With lusty stroke, despite that she
Held out her hands entreatingly:
And when far out, with covert eye
I shoreward glanced, I saw her fly
In reckless haste adown the crag,
Her hair a-flutter like a flag
Of gold that danced across the strand
In little mists of silver sand.
All curious I, pausing, tried
To fancy what it all implied,--
When suddenly I found my feet
Were wet; and, underneath the seat
On which I sat, I heard the sound
Of gurgling waters, and I found
The boat aleak alarmingly. . . .
I turned and looked upon the sea,
Whose every wave seemed mocking me;
I saw the fishers' sails once more--
In dimmer distance than before;
I saw the sea-bird wheeling by,
With foolish wish that _I_ could fly:
I thought of firm earth, home and friends--
I thought of everything that tends
To drive a man to frenzy and
To wholly lose his own command;
I thought of all my waywardness--
Thought of a mother's deep distress;
Of youthful follies yet unpurged--
Sins, as the seas, about me surged--
Thought of the printer's ready pen
To-morrow drowning me again;--
A million things without a name--
I thought of everything but--Fame. . . .

"A memory yet is in my mind,
So keenly clear and sharp-defined,
I picture every phase and line
Of life and death, and neither mine,--
While some fair seraph, golden-haired,
Bends over me,--with white arms bared,
That strongly plait themselves about
My drowning weight and lift me out--
With joy too great for words to state
Or tongue to dare articulate!

"And this seraphic ocean-child
And heroine was Orlie Wilde:
And thus it was I came to hear
Her voice's music in my ear--
Ay, thus it was Fate paved the way
That I walk desolate to-day!" . . .

The artist paused and bowed his face
Within his palms a little space,
While reverently on his form
I bent my gaze and marked a storm
That shook his frame as wrathfully
As some typhoon of agony,
And fraught with sobs--the more profound
For that peculiar laughing sound
We hear when strong men weep. . . .  I leant
With warmest sympathy--I bent
To stroke with soothing hand his brow,
He murmuring--"Tis over now!--

And shall I tie the silken thread
Of my frail romance?"  "Yes," I said.--
He faintly smiled; and then, with brow
In kneading palm, as one in dread--
His tasseled cap pushed from his head
" 'Her voice's music,' I repeat,"
He said,--" 'twas sweet--O passing sweet!--
Though she herself, in uttering
Its melody, proved not the thing
Of loveliness my dreams made meet
For me--there, yearning, at her feet--
Prone at her feet--a worshiper,--
For lo! she spake a tongue," moaned he,
"Unknown to me;--unknown to me
As mine to her--as mine to her."


THAT OTHER MAUD MULLER

Maud Muller worked at making hay,
And cleared her forty cents a day.

Her clothes were coarse, but her health was fine,
And so she worked in the sweet sunshine

Singing as glad as a bird in May
"Barbara Allen" the livelong day.

She often glanced at the far-off town,
And wondered if eggs were up or down.

And the sweet song died of a strange disease,
Leaving a phantom taste of cheese,

And an appetite and a nameless ache
For soda-water and ginger cake.

The judge rode slowly into view--
Stopped his horse in the shade and threw

His fine-cut out, while the blushing Maud
Marveled much at the kind he "chawed."

"He was dry as a fish," he said with a wink,
"And kind o' thought that a good square drink

Would brace him up."  So the cup was filled
With the crystal wine that old spring spilled;

And she gave it him with a sun-browned hand.
"Thanks," said the judge in accents bland;

"A thousand thanks! for a sweeter draught,
From a fairer hand"--but there he laughed.

And the sweet girl stood in the sun that day,
And raked the judge instead of the hay.


A MAN OF MANY PARTS

It was a man of many parts,
    Who in his coffer mind
Had stored the Classics and the Arts
    And Sciences combined;
The purest gems of poesy
    Came flashing from his pen--
The wholesome truths of History
    He gave his fellow men.

He knew the stars from "Dog" to Mars;
    And he could tell you, too,
Their distances--as though the cars
    Had often checked him through--
And time 'twould take to reach the sun,
    Or by the "Milky Way,"
Drop in upon the moon, or run
    The homeward trip, or stay.

With Logic at his fingers' ends,
    Theology in mind,
He often entertained his friends
    Until they died resigned;
And with inquiring mind intent
    Upon Alchemic arts
A dynamite experiment--
    .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    A man of many parts!


THE FROG

Who am I but the Frog--the Frog!
    My realm is the dark bayou,
And my throne is the muddy and moss-grown log
    That the poison-vine clings to--
And the blacksnakes slide in the slimy tide
    Where the ghost of the moon looks blue.

What am I but a King--a King!--
    For the royal robes I wear--
A scepter, too, and a signet-ring,
    As vassals and serfs declare:
And a voice, god wot, that is equaled not
    In the wide world anywhere!

I can talk to the Night--the Night!--
    Under her big black wing
She tells me the tale of the world outright,
    And the secret of everything;
For she knows you all, from the time you crawl,
    To the doom that death will bring.

The Storm swoops down, and he blows--and blows,--
    While I drum on his swollen cheek,
And croak in his angered eye that glows
    With the lurid lightning's streak;
While the rushes drown in the watery frown
    That his bursting passions leak.

And I can see through the sky--the sky--
    As clear as a piece of glass;
And I can tell you the how and why
    Of the things that come to pass--
And whether the dead are there instead,
    Or under the graveyard grass.

To your Sovereign lord all hail--all hail!--
    To your Prince on his throne so grim!
Let the moon swing low, and the high stars trail
    Their heads in the dust to him;
And the wide world sing:  Long live the King,
    And grace to his royal whim!


DEAD SELVES

How many of my selves are dead?
    The ghosts of many haunt me: Lo,
The baby in the tiny bed
With rockers on, is blanketed
    And sleeping in the long ago;
And so I ask, with shaking head,
How many of my selves are dead?

A little face with drowsy eyes
    And lisping lips comes mistily
From out the faded past, and tries
The prayers a mother breathed with sighs
    Of anxious care in teaching me;
But face and form and prayers have fled--
How many of my selves are dead?

The little naked feet that slipped
    In truant paths, and led the way
Through dead'ning pasture-lands, and tripped
O'er tangled poison-vines, and dipped
    In streams forbidden--where are they?
In vain I listen for their tread--
How many of my selves are dead?

The awkward boy the teacher caught
    Inditing letters filled with love,
Who was compelled, for all he fought,
To read aloud each tender thought
    Of "Sugar Lump" and "Turtle Dove."
I wonder where he hides his head--
How many of my selves are dead?

The earnest features of a youth
    With manly fringe on lip and chin,
With eager tongue to tell the truth,
To offer love and life, forsooth,
    So brave was he to woo and win;
A prouder man was never wed--
How many of my selves are dead?

The great, strong hands so all-inclined
    To welcome toil, or smooth the care
From mother-brows, or quick to find
A leisure-scrap of any kind,
    To toss the baby in the air,
Or clap at babbling things it said--
How many of my selves are dead?

The pact of brawn and scheming brain--
    Conspiring in the plots of wealth,
Still delving, till the lengthened chain,
Unwindlassed in the mines of gain,
    Recoils with dregs of ruined health
And pain and poverty instead--
How many of my selves are dead?

The faltering step, the faded hair--
    Head, heart and soul, all echoing
With maundering fancies that declare
That life and love were never there,
    Nor ever joy in anything,
Nor wounded heart that ever bled--
How many of my selves are dead?

So many of my selves are dead,
    That, bending here above the brink
Of my last grave, with dizzy head,
I find my spirit comforted,
    For all the idle things I think:
It can but be a peaceful bed,
Since all my other selves are dead.


A DREAM OF LONG AGO

Lying listless in the mosses
Underneath a tree that tosses
Flakes of sunshine, and embosses
    Its green shadow with the snow--
Drowsy-eyed, I sink in slumber
Born of fancies without number--
Tangled fancies that encumber
    Me with dreams of long ago.

Ripples of the river singing;
And the water-lilies swinging
Bells of Parian, and ringing
    Peals of perfume faint and fine,
While old forms and fairy faces
Leap from out their hiding-places
In the past, with glad embraces
    Fraught with kisses sweet as wine.

Willows dip their slender fingers
O'er the little fisher's stringers,
While he baits his hook and lingers
    Till the shadows gather dim;
And afar off comes a calling
Like the sounds of water falling,
With the lazy echoes drawling
    Messages of haste to him.

Little naked feet that tinkle
Through the stubble-fields, and twinkle
Down the winding road, and sprinkle
    Little mists of dusty rain,
While in pasture-lands the cattle
Cease their grazing with a rattle
Of the bells whose clappers tattle
    To their masters down the lane.

Trees that hold their tempting treasures
O'er the orchard's hedge embrasures,
Furnish their forbidden pleasures
    As in Eden lands of old;
And the coming of the master
Indicates a like disaster
To the frightened heart that faster
    Beats pulsations manifold.

Puckered lips whose pipings tingle
In staccato notes that mingle
Musically with the jingle-
    Haunted winds that lightly fan
Mellow twilights, crimson-tinted
By the sun, and picture-printed
Like a book that sweetly hinted
    Of the Nights Arabian.

Porticoes with columns plaited
And entwined with vines and freighted
With a bloom all radiated
    With the light of moon and star;
Where some tender voice is winging
In sad flights of song, and singing
To the dancing fingers flinging
    Dripping from the sweet guitar.

Would my dreams were never taken
From me: that with faith unshaken
I might sleep and never waken
    On a weary world of woe!
Links of love would never sever
As I dreamed them, never, never!
I would glide along forever
    Through the dreams of long ago.


CRAQUEODOOM

The Crankadox leaned o'er the edge of the moon
    And wistfully gazed on the sea
Where the Gryxabodill madly whistled a tune
    To the air of "Ti-fol-de-ding-dee."
The quavering shriek of the Fly-up-the-creek
    Was fitfully wafted afar
To the Queen of the Wunks as she powdered her cheek
    With the pulverized rays of a star.

The Gool closed his ear on the voice of the Grig,
    And his heart it grew heavy as lead
As he marked the Baldekin adjusting his wing
    On the opposite side of his head,
And the air it grew chill as the Gryxabodill
    Raised his dank, dripping fins to the skies,
And plead with the Plunk for the use of her bill
    To pick the tears out of his eyes.

The ghost of the Zhack flitted by in a trance,
    And the Squidjum hid under a tub
As he heard the loud hooves of the Hooken advance
    With a rub-a-dub--dub-a-dub--dub!
And the Crankadox cried, as he lay down and died,
    "My fate there is none to bewail,"
While the Queen of the Wunks drifted over the tide
    With a long piece of crape to her tail.


JUNE

Queenly month of indolent repose!
    I drink thy breath in sips of rare perfume,
    As in thy downy lap of clover-bloom
I nestle like a drowsy child and doze
The lazy hours away.  The zephyr throws
    The shifting shuttle of the Summer's loom
    And weaves a damask-work of gleam and gloom
Before thy listless feet.  The lily blows
A bugle-call of fragrance o'er the glade;
    And, wheeling into ranks, with plume and spear,
Thy harvest-armies gather on parade;
    While, faint and far away, yet pure and clear,
A voice calls out of alien lands of shade:--
    All hail the Peerless Goddess of the Year!


WASH LOWRY'S REMINISCENCE

And you're the poet of this concern?
    I've seed your name in print
A dozen times, but I'll be dern
    I'd 'a' never 'a' took the hint
O' the size you are--fer I'd pictured you
    A kind of a tallish man--
Dark-complected and sallor too,
    And on the consumpted plan.

'Stid o' that you're little and small,
    With a milk-and-water face--
'Thout no snap in your eyes at all,
    Er nothin' to suit the case!
Kind o'look like a--I don't know--
    One o' these fair-ground chaps
That runs a thingamajig to blow,
    Er a candy-stand perhaps.

'Ll I've allus thought that poetry
    Was a sort of a--some disease--
Fer I knowed a poet once, and he
    Was techy and hard to please,
And moody-like, and kindo' sad
    And didn't seem to mix
With other folks--like his health was bad,
    Er his liver out o' fix.

Used to teach fer a livelihood--
    There's folks in Pipe Crick yit
Remembers him--and he was good
    At cipherin' I'll admit--
And posted up in G'ography
    But when it comes to tact,
And gittin' along with the school, you see,
    He fizzled, and that's a fact!

Boarded with us fer fourteen months
    And in all that time I'll say
We never catched him a-sleepin' once
    Er idle a single day.
But shucks!  It made him worse and worse
    A-writin' rhymes and stuff,
And the school committee used to furse
    'At the school warn't good enough.

He warn't as strict as he ought to been,
    And never was known to whip,
Or even to keep a scholard in
    At work at his penmanship;
'Stid o' that he'd learn 'em notes,
    And have 'em every day,
Spilin' hymns and a-splittin' th'oats
    With his "Do-sol-fa-me-ra!"

Tel finally it was jest agreed
    We'd have to let him go,
And we all felt bad--we did indeed,
    When we come to tell him so;
Fer I remember, he turned so white,
    And smiled so sad, somehow,
I someway felt it wasn't right,
    And I'm shore it wasn't now!

He hadn't no complaints at all--
    He bid the school adieu,
And all o' the scholards great and small
    Was mighty sorry too!
And when he closed that afternoon
    They sung some lines that he
Had writ a purpose, to some old tune
    That suited the case, you see.

And then he lingered and delayed
    And wouldn't go away--
And shet himself in his room and stayed
    A-writin' from day to day;
And kep' a-gittin' stranger still,
    And thinner all the time,
You know, as any feller will
    On nothin' else but rhyme.

He didn't seem adzactly right,
    Er like he was crossed in love,
He'd work away night after night,
    And walk the floor above;
We'd hear him read and talk, and sing
    So lonesome-like and low,
My woman's cried like ever'thing--
    'Way in the night, you know.

And when at last he tuck to bed
    He'd have his ink and pen;
"So's he could coat the muse" he said,
    "He'd die contented then";
And jest before he past away
    He read with dyin' gaze
The epitaph that stands to-day
    To show you where he lays.

And ever sence then I've allus thought
    That poetry's some disease,
And them like you that's got it ought
    To watch their q's and p's ;
And leave the sweets of rhyme, to sup
    On the wholesome draughts of toil,
And git your health recruited up
    By plowin' in rougher soil.


THE ANCIENT PRINTERMAN

"O Printerman of sallow face,
    And look of absent  guile,
Is it the 'copy' on your 'case'
    That causes you to smile?
Or is it some old treasure scrap
    You cull from Memory's file?

"I fain would guess its mystery--
    For often I can trace
A fellow dreamer's history
    Whene'er it haunts the face;
Your fancy's running riot
    In a retrospective race!

"Ah, Printerman, you're straying
    Afar from 'stick' and type--
Your heart has 'gone a-maying,'
    And you taste old kisses, ripe
Again on lips that pucker
    At your old asthmatic pipe!

"You are dreaming of old pleasures
    That have faded from your view;
And the music-burdened measures
    Of the laughs you listen to
Are now but angel-echoes--
    O, have I spoken true?"

The ancient Printer hinted
    With a motion full of grace
To where the words were printed
    On a card above his "case,"--
"I am deaf and dumb!" I left him
    With a smile upon his face.


PRIOR TO MISS BELLE'S APPEARANCE

What makes you come HERE fer, Mister,
    So much to our house?--SAY?
Come to see our big sister!--
An' Charley he says 'at you kissed her
    An' he ketched you, th'uther day!--
Didn' you, Charley?--But we p'omised Belle
An' crossed our heart to never to tell--
'Cause SHE gived us some o' them-er
Chawk'lut-drops 'at you bringed to her!

Charley he's my little b'uther--
    An' we has a-mostest fun,
Don't we, Charley?--Our Muther,
Whenever we whips one anuther,
    Tries to whip US--an' we RUN--
Don't we, Charley?--An' nen, bime-by,
Nen she gives us cake--an' pie--
Don't she, Charley?--when we come in
An' pomise never to do it ag'in!

HE'S named Charley.--I'm WILLIE--
    An' I'm got the purtiest name!
But Uncle Bob HE calls me "Billy"--
Don't he, Charley?--'N' our filly
    We named "Billy," the same
Ist like me!  An' our Ma said
'At "Bob puts foolishnuss into our head!"--
Didn' she, Charley?--An' SHE don't know
Much about BOYS!--'Cause Bob said so!

Baby's a funniest feller!
    Nain't no hair on his head--
IS they, Charley?--It's meller
Wite up there!  An' ef Belle er
    Us ask wuz WE that way, Ma said,--
"Yes; an' yer PA'S head wuz soft as that,
An' it's that way yet!"--An' Pa grabs his hat
An' says, "Yes, childern, she's right about Pa--
'Cause that's the reason he married yer Ma!"

An' our Ma says 'at "Belle couldn'
    Ketch nothin' at all but ist 'BOWS!"--
An' PA says 'at "you're soft as puddun!"--
An' UNCLE BOB says "you're a good-un--
    'Cause he can tell by yer nose!"-
Didn' he, Charley?--An' when Belle'll play
In the poller on th' pianer, some day,
Bob makes up funny songs about you,
Till she gits mad-like he wants her to!

Our sister FANNY she's 'LEVEN
    Years old!  'At's mucher 'an _I_--
Ain't it, Charley? . . .  I'm seven!--
But our sister Fanny's in HEAVEN!
    Nere's where you go ef you die!--
Don't you, Charley?--Nen you has WINGS--
IST LIKE FANNY!--an' PURTIEST THINGS!--
Don't you, Charley?--An' nen you can FLY--
Ist fly-an' EVER'thing! . . . I Wisht I'D die!


WHEN MOTHER COMBED MY HAIR

When Memory, with gentle hand,
Has led me to that foreign land
Of childhood days, I long to be
Again the boy on bended knee,
With head a-bow, and drowsy smile
Hid in a mother's lap the while,
With tender touch and kindly care,
She bends above and combs my hair.

Ere threats of Time, or ghosts of cares
Had paled it to the hue it wears,
Its tangled threads of amber light
Fell o'er a forehead, fair and white,
That only knew the light caress
Of loving hands, or sudden press
Of kisses that were sifted there
The times when mother combed my hair.

But its last gleams of gold have slipped
Away; and Sorrow's manuscript
Is fashioned of the snowy brow--
So lined and underscored now
That you, to see it, scarce would guess
It e'er had felt the fond caress
Of loving lips, or known the care
Of those dear hands that combed my hair.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

I am so tired!  Let me be
A moment at my mother's knee;
One moment--that I may forget
The trials waiting for me yet:
One moment free from every pain--
O!  Mother!  Comb my hair again!
And I will, oh, so humbly bow,
For I've a wife that combs it now.



A WRANGDILLION

Dexery-tethery! down in the dike,
    Under the ooze and the slime,
Nestles the wraith of a reticent Gryke,
    Blubbering bubbles of rhyme:
Though the reeds touch him and tickle his teeth--
    Though the Graigroll and the Cheest
Pluck at the leaves of his laureate-wreath,
    Nothing affects him the least.

He sinks to the dregs in the dead o' the night,
    And he shuffles the shadows about
As he gathers the stars in a nest of delight
    And sets there and hatches them out:
The Zhederrill peers from his watery mine
    In scorn with the Will-o'-the-wisp,
As he twinkles his eyes in a whisper of shine
    That ends in a luminous lisp.

The Morning is born like a baby of gold,
    And it lies in a spasm of pink,
And rallies the Cheest for the horrible cold
    He has dragged to the willowy brink,
The Gryke blots his tears with a scrap of his grief,
    And growls at the wary Graigroll
As he twunkers a tune on a Tiljicum leaf
    And hums like a telegraph pole.


GEORGE MULLEN'S CONFESSION

For the sake of guilty conscience, and the heart that ticks the
time
Of the clockworks of my nature, I desire to say that I'm
A weak and sinful creature, as regards my daily walk
The last five years and better.  It ain't worth while to talk--

I've been too mean to tell it!  I've been so hard, you see,
And full of pride, and--onry--now there's the word for me--
Just onry--and to show you, I'll give my history
With vital points in question, and I think you'll all agree.

I was always stiff and stubborn since I could recollect,
And had an awful temper, and never would reflect;
And always into trouble--I remember once at school
The teacher tried to flog me, and I reversed that rule.

O I was bad I tell you!  And it's a funny move
That a fellow wild as I was could ever fall in love;
And it's a funny notion that an animal like me,
Under a girl's weak fingers was as tame as tame could be!

But it's so, and sets me thinking of the easy way she had
Of cooling down my temper--though I'd be fighting mad.
"My Lion Queen" I called her--when a spell of mine occurred
She'd come in a den of feelings and quell them with a word.

I'll tell you how she loved me--and what her people thought:
When I asked to marry Annie they said "they reckoned not--
That I cut too many didoes and monkey-shines to suit
Their idea of a son-in-law, and I could go, to boot!"

I tell you that thing riled me!  Why, I felt my face turn white,
And my teeth shut like a steel trap, and the fingers of my right
Hand pained me with their pressure--all the rest's a mystery
Till I heard my Annie saying--"I'm going, too, you see."

We were coming through the gateway, and she wavered for a spell
When she heard her mother crying and her raving father yell
That she wa'n't no child of his'n--like an actor in a play
We saw at Independence, coming through the other day.

Well! that's the way we started.  And for days and weeks and
months
And even years we journeyed on, regretting never once
Of starting out together upon the path of life--
Akind o' sort o' husband, but a mighty loving wife,--

And the cutest little baby--little Grace--I see her now
A-standin' on the pig-pen as her mother milked the cow--
And I can hear her shouting--as I stood unloading straw,--
"I'm ain't as big as papa, but I'm biggerest'n ma."

Now folks that never married don't seem to understand
That a little baby's language is the sweetest ever planned--
Why, I tell you it's pure music, and I'll just go on to say
That I sometimes have a notion that the angels talk that way!

There's a chapter in this story I'd be happy to destroy;
I could burn it up before you with a mighty sight of joy;
But I'll go ahead and give it--not in detail, no, my friend,
For it takes five years of reading before you find the end.

My Annie's folks relented--at least, in some degree;
They sent one time for Annie, but they didn't send for me.
The old man wrote the message with a heart as hot and dry
As a furnace--"Annie Mullen, come and see your mother die."

I saw the slur intended--why I fancied I could see
The old man shoot the insult like a poison dart at me;
And in that heat of passion I swore an inward oath
That if Annie pleased her father she could never please us both.

I watched her--dark and sullen--as she hurried on her shawl;
I watched her--calm and cruel, though I saw her tear-drops fall;
I watched her--cold and heartless, though I heard her moaning,
call
For mercy from high Heaven--and I smiled throughout it all.

Why even when she kissed me, and her tears were on my brow,
As she murmured, "George, forgive me--I must go to mother now!"
Such hate there was within me that I answered not at all,
But calm, and cold and cruel, I smiled throughout it all.

But a shadow in the doorway caught my eye, and then the face
Full of innocence and sunshine of little baby Grace.
And I snatched her up and kissed her, and I softened through and
through
For a minute when she told me "I must kiss her muvver too."

I remember, at the starting, how I tried to freeze again
As I watched them slowly driving down the little crooked lane--
When Annie shouted something that ended in a cry,
And how I tried to whistle and it fizzled in a sigh.

I remember running after, with a glimmer in my sight--
Pretending I'd discovered that the traces wasn't right;
And the last that I remember, as they disappeared from view,
Was little Grace a-calling, "I see papa!  Howdy-do!"

And left alone to ponder, I again took up my hate
For the old man who would chuckle that I was desolate;
And I mouthed my wrongs in mutters till my pride called up the
pain
His last insult had given me--until I smiled again

Till the wild beast in my nature was raging in the den--
With no one now to quell it, and I wrote a letter then
Full of hissing things, and heated with so hot a heat of hate
That my pen flashed out black lightning at a most terrific rate.

I wrote that "she had wronged me when she went away from me--
Though to see her dying mother 'twas her father's victory,
And a woman that could waver when her husband's pride was rent
Was no longer worthy of it."  And I shut the house and went.

To tell of my long exile would be of little good--
Though I couldn't half-way tell it, and I wouldn't if I could!
I could tell of California--of a wild and vicious life;
Of trackless plains, and mountains, and the Indian's
scalping-knife.

I could tell of gloomy forests howling wild with threats of
death;
I could tell of fiery deserts that have scorched me with their
breath;
I could tell of wretched outcasts by the hundreds, great and
small,
And could claim the nasty honor of the greatest of them all.

I could tell of toil and hardship; and of sickness and disease,
And hollow-eyed starvation, but I tell you, friend, that these
Are trifles in comparison with what a fellow feels
With that bloodhound, Remorsefulness, forever at his heels.

I remember--worn and weary of the long, long years of care,
When the frost of time was making early harvest of my hair--
I remember, wrecked and hopeless of a rest beneath the sky,
My resolve to quit the country, and to seek the East, and die.

I remember my long journey, like a dull, oppressive dream,
Across the empty prairies till I caught the distant gleam
Of a city in the beauty of its broad and shining stream
On whose bosom, flocked together, float the mighty swans of
steam.

I remember drifting with them till I found myself again
In the rush and roar and rattle of the engine and the train;
And when from my surroundings something spoke of child and wife,
It seemed the train was rumbling through a tunnel in my life.

Then I remember something--like a sudden burst of light--
That don't exactly tell it, but I couldn't tell it right--
A something clinging to me with its arms around my neck--
A little girl, for instance--or an angel, I expect--

For she kissed me, cried and called me "her dear papa," and I
felt
My heart was pure virgin gold, and just about to melt--
And so it did--it melted in a mist of gleaming rain
When she took my hand and whispered, "My mama's on the train."

There's some things I can dwell on, and get off pretty well,
But the balance of this story I know I couldn't tell;
So I ain't going to try it, for to tell the reason why--
I'm so chicken-hearted lately I'd be certain 'most to cry.


"TIRED OUT"

"tired out!"  Yet face and brow
Do not look aweary now,
And the eyelids lie like two
Pure, white rose-leaves washed with dew.
Was her life so hard a task?--
Strange that we forget to ask
What the lips now dumb for aye
Could have told us yesterday!

"Tired out!"  A faded scrawl
Pinned upon the ragged shawl--
Nothing else to leave a clue
Even of a friend or two,
Who might come to fold the hands,
Or smooth back the dripping strands
Of her tresses, or to wet
Them anew with fond regret.

"Tired out!"  We can but guess
Of her little happiness--
Long ago, in some fair land,
When a lover held her hand
In the dream that frees us all,
Soon or later, from its thrall--
Be it either false or true,
We, at last, must tire, too.


HARLIE

Fold the little waxen hands
Lightly.  Let your warmest tears
Speak regrets, but never fears,--
    Heaven understands!
Let the sad heart, o'er the tomb,
Lift again and burst in bloom
Fragrant with a prayer as sweet
As the lily at your feet.

Bend and kiss the folded eyes--
They are only feigning sleep
While their truant glances peep
    Into Paradise.
See, the face, though cold and white,
Holds a hint of some delight
E'en with Death, whose finger-tips
Rest upon the frozen lips.

When, within the years to come,
Vanished echoes live once more--
Pattering footsteps on the floor,
    And the sounds of home,--
Let your arms in fancy fold
Little Harlie as of old--
As of old and as he waits
At the City's golden gates.


SAY SOMETHING TO ME

Say something to me!  I've waited so long--
    Waited and wondered in vain;
Only a sentence would fall like a song
    Over this listening pain--
Over a silence that glowers and frowns,--
    Even my pencil to-night
Slips in the dews of my sorrow and wounds
    Each tender word that I write.

Say something to me--if only to tell
    Me you remember the past;
Let the sweet words, like the notes of a bell,
    Ring out my vigil at last.
O it were better, far better than this
    Doubt and distrust in the breast,--
For in the wine of a fanciful kiss
    I could taste Heaven, and--rest.

Say something to me!  I kneel and I plead,
    In my wild need, for a word;
If my poor heart from this silence were freed,
    I could soar up like a bird
In the glad morning, and twitter and sing,
    Carol and warble and cry
Blithe as the lark as he cruises awing
    Over the deeps of the sky.


LEONAINIE

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.


A TEST OF LOVE

"Now who shall say he loves me not."

He wooed her first in an atmosphere
    Of tender and low-breathed sighs;
But the pang of her laugh went cutting clear
    To the soul of the enterprise;
"You beg so pert for the kiss you seek
    It reminds me, John," she said,
"Of a poodle pet that jumps to 'speak'
    For a crumb or a crust of bread."

And flashing up, with the blush that flushed
    His face like a tableau-light,
Came a bitter threat that his white lips hushed
    To a chill, hoarse-voiced "Good night!"
And again her laugh, like a knell that tolled,
    And a wide-eyed mock surprise,--
"Why, John," she said, "you have taken cold
    In the chill air of your sighs!"

And then he turned, and with teeth tight clenched,
    He told her he hated her,--
That his love for her from his heart he wrenched
    Like a corpse from a sepulcher.
And then she called him "a ghoul all red
    With the quintessence of crimes"--
"But I know you love me now," she said,
    And kissed him a hundred times.


FATHER WILLIAM

A NEW VERSION BY LEE O. HARRIS AND JAMES
WHITCOMB RILEY

"You are old, Father William, and though one would think
    All the veins in your body were dry,
Yet the end of your nose is red as a pink;
    I beg your indulgence, but why?"

"You see," Father William replied, "in my youth--
    'Tis a thing I must ever regret--
It worried me so to keep up with the truth
    That my nose has a flush on it yet."

"You are old," said the youth, "and I grieve to detect
    A feverish gleam in your eye;
Yet I'm willing to give you full time to reflect.
    Now, pray, can you answer me why?"

"Alas," said the sage, "I was tempted to choose
    Me a wife in my earlier years,
And the grief, when I think that she didn't refuse,
    Has reddened my eyelids with tears."

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
    "And you never touch wine, you declare,
Yet you sleep with your feet at the head of the bed;
    Now answer me that if you dare."

"In my youth," said the sage, "I was told it was true,
    That the world turned around in the night;
I cherished the lesson, my boy, and I knew
    That at morning my feet would be right."

"You are old," said the youth, "and it grieved me to note,
    As you recently fell through the door,
That 'full as a goose' had been chalked on your coat;
    Now answer me that I implore."

"My boy," said the sage, "I have answered you fair,
    While you stuck to the point in dispute,
But this is a personal matter, and there
    Is my answer--the toe of my boot."


WHAT THE WIND SAID

'I muse to-day, in a listless way,
    In the gleam of a summer land;
I close my eyes as a lover may
    At the touch of his sweetheart's hand,
And I hear these things in the whisperings
    Of the zephyrs round me fanned':--

I am the Wind, and I rule mankind,
    And I hold a sovereign reign
Over the lands, as God designed,
    And the waters they contain:
Lo! the bound of the wide world round
    Falleth in my domain!

I was born on a stormy morn
    In a kingdom walled with snow,
Whose crystal cities laugh to scorn
    The proudest the world can show;
And the daylight's glare is frozen there
    In the breath of the blasts that blow.

Life to me was a jubilee
    From the first of my youthful days:
Clinking my icy toys with glee--
    Playing my childish plays;
Filling my hands with the silver sands
    To scatter a thousand ways:

Chasing the flakes that the Polar shakes
    From his shaggy coat of white,
Or hunting the trace of the track he makes
    And sweeping it from sight,
As he turned to glare from the slippery stair
    Of the iceberg's farthest height.

Till I grew so strong that I strayed ere long
    From my home of ice and chill;
With an eager heart and a merry song
    I traveled the snows until
I heard the thaws in the ice-crag's jaws
    Crunched with a hungry will;

And the angry crash of the waves that dash
    Themselves on the jagged shore
Where the splintered masts of the ice-wrecks flash,
    And the frightened breakers roar
In wild unrest on the ocean's breast
    For a thousand leagues or more.

And the grand old sea invited me
    With a million beckoning hands,
And I spread my wings for a flight as free
    As ever a sailor plans
When his thoughts are wild and his heart beguiled
    With the dreams of foreign lands.

I passed a ship on its homeward trip,
    With a weary and toil-worn crew;
And I kissed their flag with a welcome lip,
    And so glad a gale I blew
That the sailors quaffed their grog and laughed
    At the work I made them do.

I drifted by where sea-groves lie
    Like brides in the fond caress
Of the warm sunshine and the tender sky--
    Where the ocean, passionless
And tranquil, lies like a child whose eyes
    Are blurred with drowsiness.

I drank the air and the perfume there,
    And bathed in a fountain's spray;
And I smoothed the wings and the plumage rare
    Of a bird for his roundelay,
And fluttered a rag from a signal-crag
    For a wretched castaway.

With a sea-gull resting on my breast,
    I launched on a madder flight:
And I lashed the waves to a wild unrest,
    And howled with a fierce delight
Till the daylight slept; and I wailed and wept
    Like a fretful babe all night.

For I heard the boom of a gun strike doom;
    And the gleam of a blood-red star
Glared at me through the mirk and gloom
    From the lighthouse tower afar;
And I held my breath at the shriek of death
    That came from the harbor bar.

For I am the Wind, and I rule mankind,
    And I hold a sovereign reign
Over the lands, as God designed,
    And the waters they contain:
Lo! the bound of the wide world round
    Falleth in my domain!

I journeyed on, when the night was gone,
    O'er a coast of oak and pine;
And I followed a path that a stream had drawn
    Through a land of vale and vine,
And here and there was a village fair
    In a nest of shade and shine.

I passed o'er lakes where the sunshine shakes
    And shivers his golden lance
On the glittering shield of the wave that breaks
    Where the fish-boats dip and dance,
And the trader sails where the mist unveils
    The glory of old romance.

I joyed to stand where the jeweled hand
    Of the maiden-morning lies
On the tawny brow of the mountain-land.
    Where the eagle shrieks and cries,
And holds his throne to himself alone
    From the light of human eyes.

Adown deep glades where the forest shades
    Are dim as the dusk of day--
Where only the foot of the wild beast wades,
    Or the Indian dares to stray,
As the blacksnakes glide through the reeds and hide
    In the swamp-depths grim and gray.

And I turned and fled from the place of dread
    To the far-off haunts of men.
"In the city's heart is rest," I said,--
    But I found it not, and when
I saw but care and vice reign there
    I was filled with wrath again:

And I blew a spark in the midnight dark
    Till it flashed to an angry flame
And scarred the sky with a lurid mark
    As red as the blush of shame:
And a hint of hell was the dying yell
    That up from the ruins came.

The bells went wild, and the black smoke piled
    Its pillars against the night,
Till I gathered them, like flocks defiled,
    And scattered them left and right,
While the holocaust's red tresses tossed
    As a maddened Fury's might.

"Ye overthrown!" did I jeer and groan--
    "Ho! who is your master?--say!--
Ye shapes that writhe in the slag and moan
    Your slow-charred souls away--
Ye worse than worst of things accurst--
    Ye dead leaves of a day!"

I am the Wind, and I rule mankind,
    And I hold a sovereign reign
Over the lands, as God designed,
    And the waters they contain:
Lo! the bound of the wide world round
    Falleth in my domain!

    .   .   .   .   .   .   .

'I wake, as one from a dream half done,
    And gaze with a dazzled eye
On an autumn leaf like a scrap of sun
    That the wind goes whirling by,
While afar I hear, with a chill of fear,
    The winter storm-king sigh.'


MORTON

The warm pulse of the nation has grown chill;
    The muffled heart of Freedom, like a knell,
Throbs solemnly for one whose earthly will
    Wrought every mission well.

Whose glowing reason towered above the sea
    Of dark disaster like a beacon light,
And led the Ship of State, unscathed and free,
    Out of the gulfs of night.

When Treason, rabid-mouthed, and fanged with steel,
    Lay growling o'er the bones of fallen braves,
And when beneath the tyrant's iron heel
    Were ground the hearts of slaves,

And War, with all his train of horrors, leapt
    Across the fortress-walls of Liberty
With havoc e'en the marble goddess wept
    With tears of blood to see.

Throughout it all his brave and kingly mind
    Kept loyal vigil o'er the patriot's vow,
And yet the flag he lifted to the wind
    Is drooping o'er him now.

And Peace--all pallid from the battle-field
    When first again it hovered o'er the land
And found his voice above it like a shield,
    Had nestled in his hand.

    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

O throne of State and gilded Senate halls--
    Though thousands throng your aisles and galleries--
How empty are ye! and what silence falls
    On your hilarities!

And yet, though great the loss to us appears,
    The consolation sweetens all our pain--
Though hushed the voice, through all the coming years
    Its echoes will remain.


AN AUTUMNAL EXTRAVAGANZA

With a sweeter voice than birds
    Dare to twitter in their sleep,
Pipe for me a tune of words,
    Till my dancing fancies leap
Into freedom vaster far
Than the realms of Reason are!
Sing for me with wilder fire
    Than the lover ever sung,
From the time he twanged the lyre
    When the world was baby-young.

O my maiden Autumn, you--
You have filled me through and through
With a passion so intense,
All of earthly eloquence
    Fails, and falls, and swoons away
In your presence.  Like as one
Who essays to look the sun
    Fairly in the face, I say,
Though my eyes you dazzle blind
Greater dazzled is my mind.
So, my Autumn, let me kneel
    At your feet and worship you!
Be my sweetheart; let me feel
Your caress; and tell me too
Why your smiles bewilder me--
Glancing into laughter, then
Trancing into calm again,
Till your meaning drowning lies
In the dim depths of your eyes.
Let me see the things you see
Down the depths of mystery!
Blow aside the hazy veil
    From the daylight of your face
With the fragrance-ladened gale
    Of your spicy breath and chase
    Every dimple to its place.
Lift your gipsy finger-tips
To the roses of your lips,
And fling down to me a bud--
    But an unblown kiss--but one--
It shall blossom in my blood,
    Even after life is done--
When I dare to touch the brow
Your rare hair is veiling now--
When the rich, red-golden strands
Of the treasure in my hands
Shall be all of worldly worth
Heaven lifted from the earth,
Like a banner to have set
On its highest minaret.


THE ROSE

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 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 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.


THE MERMAN

I

Who would be
    A merman gay,
    Singing alone,
    Sitting alone,
With a mermaid's knee,
    For instance--hey--
        For a throne?

II

I would be a merman gay;
    I would sit and sing the whole day long;
I would fill my lungs with the strongest brine,
    And squirt it up in a spray of song,
And soak my head in my liquid voice;
    I'd curl my tail in curves divine,
And let each curve in a kink rejoice.
    I'd tackle the mermaids under the sea,
And yank 'em around till they yanked me,
        Sportively, sportively;
And then we would wiggle away, away,
To the pea-green groves on the coast of day,
        Chasing each other sportively.

III

There would be neither moon nor star;
But the waves would twang like a wet guitar
Low thunder and thrum in the darkness grum--
        Neither moon nor star;
We would shriek aloud in the dismal dales--
Shriek at each other and squawk and squeal,
        "All night!" rakishly, rakishly;
They would pelt me with oysters and wiggletails,
Laughing and clapping their hands at me,
        "All night!" prankishly, prankishly;
But I would toss them back in mine,
Lobsters and turtles of quaint design;
Then leaping out in an abrupt way,
I'd snatch them bald in my devilish glee,
And skip away when they snatched at me,
        Fiendishly, fiendishly.
O, what a jolly life I'd lead,
Ah, what a "bang-up" life indeed!
Soft are the mermaids under the sea--
We would live merrily, merrily.


THE RAINY MORNING

The dawn of the day was dreary,
    And the lowering clouds o'erhead
Wept in a silent sorrow
    Where the sweet sunshine lay dead;
And a wind came out of the eastward
    Like an endless sigh of pain,
And the leaves fell down in the pathway
    And writhed in the falling rain.

I had tried in a brave endeavor
    To chord my harp with the sun,
But the strings would slacken ever,
    And the task was a weary one:
And so, like a child impatient
    And sick of a discontent,
I bowed in a shower of tear-drops
    And mourned with the instrument.

And lo! as I bowed, the splendor
    Of the sun bent over me,
With a touch as warm and tender
    As a father's hand might be:
And, even as I felt its presence,
    My clouded soul grew bright,
And the tears, like the rain of morning,
    Melted in mists of light.


WE ARE NOT ALWAYS GLAD WHEN
WE SMILE

We are not always glad when we smile:
    Though we wear a fair face and are gay,
        And the world we deceive
        May not ever believe
    We could laugh in a happier way.--
Yet, down in the deeps of the soul,
    Ofttimes, with our faces aglow,
        There's an ache and a moan
        That we know of alone,
    And as only the hopeless may know.

We are not always glad when we smile,--
    For the heart, in a tempest of pain,
        May live in the guise
        Of a smile in the eyes
    As a rainbow may live in the rain;
And the stormiest night of our woe
    May hang out a radiant star
        Whose light in the sky
        Of despair is a lie
    As black as the thunder-clouds are.

We are not always glad when we smile!--
    But the conscience is quick to record,
        All the sorrow and sin
        We are hiding within
    Is plain in the sight of the Lord:
And ever, O ever, till pride
    And evasion shall cease to defile
        The sacred recess
        Of the soul, we confess
    We are not always glad when we smile.


A SUMMER SUNRISE

AFTER LEE O. HARRIS

The master-hand whose pencils trace
    This wondrous landscape of the morn,
Is but the sun, whose glowing face
Reflects the rapture and the grace
    Of inspiration Heaven-born.

And yet with vision-dazzled eyes,
    I see the lotus-lands of old,
Where odorous breezes fall and rise,
And mountains, peering in the skies,
    Stand ankle-deep in lakes of gold.

And, spangled with the shine and shade,
    I see the rivers raveled out
In strands of silver, slowly fade
In threads of light along the glade
    Where truant roses hide and pout.

The tamarind on gleaming sands
    Droops drowsily beneath the heat;
And bowed as though aweary, stands
The stately palm, with lazy hands
    That fold their shadows round his feet.

And mistily, as through a veil,
    I catch the glances of a sea
Of sapphire, dimpled with a gale
Toward Colch's blowing, where the sail
    Of Jason's Argo beckons me.

And gazing on and farther yet,
    I see the isles enchanted, bright
With fretted spire and parapet,
And gilded mosque and minaret,
    That glitter in the crimson light.

But as I gaze, the city's walls
    Are keenly smitten with a gleam
Of pallid splendor, that appalls
The fancy as the ruin falls
    In ashen embers of a dream.

Yet over all the waking earth
    The tears of night are brushed away,
And eyes are lit with love and mirth,
And benisons of richest worth
    Go up to bless the new-born day.


DAS KRIST KINDEL

I had fed the fire and stirred it, till the sparkles in delight
Snapped their saucy little fingers at the chill December night;
And in dressing-gown and slippers, I had tilted back "my
throne"--
The old split-bottomed rocker--and was musing all alone.

I could hear the hungry Winter prowling round the outer door,
And the tread of muffled footsteps on the white piazza floor;
But the sounds came to me only as the murmur of a stream
That mingled with the current of a lazy-flowing dream.

Like a fragrant incense rising, curled the smoke of my cigar,
With the lamplight gleaming through it like a mist-enfolded
star;--
And as I gazed, the vapor like a curtain rolled away,
With a sound of bells that tinkled, and the clatter of a sleigh.

And in a vision, painted like a picture in the air,
I saw the elfish figure of a man with frosty hair--
A quaint old man that chuckled with a laugh as he appeared,
And with ruddy cheeks like embers in the ashes of his beard.

He poised himself grotesquely, in an attitude of mirth,
On a damask-covered hassock that was sitting on the hearth;
And at a magic signal of his stubby little thumb,
I saw the fireplace changing to a bright proscenium.

And looking there, I marveled as I saw a mimic stage
Alive with little actors of a very tender age;
And some so very tiny that they tottered as they walked,
And lisped and purled and gurgled like the brooklets, when they
talked.

And their faces were like lilies, and their eyes like purest dew,
And their tresses like the shadows that the shine is woven
through;
And they each had little burdens, and a little tale to tell
Of fairy lore, and giants, and delights delectable.

And they mixed and intermingled, weaving melody with joy,
Till the magic circle clustered round a blooming baby-boy;
And they threw aside their treasures in an ecstacy of glee,
And bent, with dazzled faces and with parted lips, to see.

'Twas a wondrous little fellow, with a dainty double-chin,
And chubby cheeks, and dimples for the smiles to blossom in;
And he looked as ripe and rosy, on his bed of straw and reeds,
As a mellow little pippin that had tumbled in the weeds.

And I saw the happy mother, and a group surrounding her
That knelt with costly presents of frankincense and myrrh;
And I thrilled with awe and wonder, as a murmur on the air
Came drifting o'er the hearing in a melody of prayer:--

'By the splendor in the heavens, and the hush upon the sea,
And the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee,--
We feel Thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee
And lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.

Thy messenger has spoken, and our doubts have fled and gone
As the dark and spectral shadows of the night before the dawn;
And, in the kindly shelter of the light around us drawn,
We would nestle down forever in the breast we lean upon.

You have given us a shepherd--You have given us a guide,
And the light of Heaven grew dimmer when You sent him from Your
side,--
But he comes to lead Thy children where the gates will open wide
To welcome his returning when his works are glorified.

By the splendor in the heavens, and the hush upon the sea,
And the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee,--
We feel Thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee
And lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.'

Then the vision, slowly failing, with the words of the refrain,
Fell swooning in the moonlight through the frosty window-pane;
And I heard the clock proclaiming, like an eager sentinel
Who brings the world good tidings,--"It is Christmas--all is
well!"


AN OLD YEAR'S ADDRESS

"I have twankled the strings of the twinkering rain;
    I have burnished the meteor's mail;
        I have bridled the wind
        When he whinnied and whined
    With a bunch of stars tied to his tail;
But my sky-rocket hopes, hanging over the past,
Must fuzzle and fazzle and fizzle at last!"

I had waded far out in a drizzling dream,
    And my fancies had spattered my eyes
        With a vision of dread,
        With a number ten head,
    And a form of diminutive size--
That wavered and wagged in a singular way
As he wound himself up and proceeded to say,--

"I have trimmed all my corns with the blade of the moon;
    I have picked every tooth with a star:
        And I thrill to recall
        That I went through it all
    Like a tune through a tickled guitar.
I have ripped up the rainbow and raveled the ends
When the sun and myself were particular friends."

And pausing again, and producing a sponge
    And wiping the tears from his eyes,
        He sank in a chair
        With a technical air
    That he struggled in vain to disguise,--
For a sigh that he breathed, as I over him leant,
Was haunted and hot with a peppermint scent.

"Alas!" he continued in quavering tones
    As a pang rippled over his face,
        "The life was too fast
        For the pleasure to last
    In my very unfortunate case;
And I'm going"--he said as he turned to adjust
A fuse in his bosom,--"I'm going to--BUST!"

I shrieked and awoke with the sullen che-boom
    Of a five-pounder filling my ears;
        And a roseate bloom
        Of a light in the room
    I saw through the mist of my tears,--
But my guest of the night never saw the display,
He had fuzzled and fazzled and fizzled away!


A NEW YEAR'S PLAINT

In words like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
    Like coarsest clothes against the cold;
    But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
                        --TENNYSON.

The bells that lift their yawning throats
    And lolling tongues with wrangling cries
Flung up in harsh, discordant notes,
    As though in anger, at the skies,--
Are filled with echoings replete,
    With purest tinkles of delight--
So I would have a something sweet
    Ring in the song I sing to-night.

As when a blotch of ugly guise
    On some poor artist's naked floor
Becomes a picture in his eyes,
    And he forgets that he is poor,--
So I look out upon the night,
    That ushers in the dawning year,
And in a vacant blur of light
    I see these fantasies appear.

I see a home whose windows gleam
    Like facets of a mighty gem
That some poor king's distorted dream
    Has fastened in his diadem.
And I behold a throng that reels
    In revelry of dance and mirth,
With hearts of love beneath their heels,
    And in their bosoms hearts of earth.

O Luxury, as false and grand
    As in the mystic tales of old,
When genii answered man's command,
    And built of nothing halls of gold!
O Banquet, bright with pallid jets,
    And tropic blooms, and vases caught
In palms of naked statuettes,
    Ye can not color as ye ought!

For, crouching in the storm without,
    I see the figure of a child,
In little ragged roundabout,
    Who stares with eyes that never smiled--
And he, in fancy can but taste
    The dainties of the kingly fare,
And pick the crumbs that go to waste
    Where none have learned to kneel in prayer.

Go, Pride, and throw your goblet down--
    The "merry greeting" best appears
On loving lips that never drown
    Its worth but in the wine of tears;
Go, close your coffers like your hearts,
    And shut your hearts against the poor,
Go, strut through all your pretty parts
    But take the "Welcome" from your door.


LUTHER BENSON

AFTER READING HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY

POOR victim of that vulture curse
That hovers o'er the universe,
With ready talons quick to strike
In every human heart alike,
And cruel beak to stab and tear
In virtue's vitals everywhere,--
You need no sympathy of mine
To aid you, for a strength divine
Encircles you, and lifts you clear
Above this earthly atmosphere.

And yet I can but call you poor,
As, looking through the open door
Of your sad life, I only see
A broad landscape of misery,
And catch through mists of pitying tears
The ruins of your younger years,
I see a father's shielding arm
Thrown round you in a wild alarm--
Struck down, and powerless to free
Or aid you in your agony.

I see a happy home grow dark
And desolate--the latest spark
Of hope is passing in eclipse--
The prayer upon a mother's lips
Has fallen with her latest breath
In ashes on the lips of death--
I see a penitent who reels,
And writhes, and clasps his hands, and kneels,
And moans for mercy for the sake
Of that fond heart he dared to break.

And lo! as when in Galilee
A voice above the troubled sea
Commanded "Peace; be still!" the flood
That rolled in tempest-waves of blood
Within you, fell in calm so sweet
It ripples round the Saviour's feet;
And all your noble nature thrilled
With brightest hope and faith, and filled
Your thirsty soul with joy and peace
And praise to Him who gave release.


"DREAM"

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 called 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."


WHEN EVENING SHADOWS FALL

When evening shadows fall,
    She hangs her cares away
Like empty garments on the wall
    That hides her from the day;
And while old memories throng,
    And vanished voices call,
She lifts her grateful heart in song
    When evening shadows fall.

Her weary hands forget
    The burdens of the day.
The weight of sorrow and regret
    In music rolls away;
And from the day's dull tomb,
    That holds her in its thrall,
Her soul springs up in lily bloom
    When evening shadows fall.

O weary heart and hand,
    Go bravely to the strife--
No victory is half so grand
    As that which conquers life!
One day shall yet be thine--
    The day that waits for all
Whose prayerful eyes are things divine
    When evening shadows fall.


YLLADMAR

Her hair was, oh, so dense a blur
Of darkness, midnight envied her;
And stars grew dimmer in the skies
To see the glory of her eyes;
And all the summer rain of light
That showered from the moon at night
Fell o'er her features as the gloom
Of twilight o'er a lily-bloom.

The crimson fruitage of her lips
Was ripe and lush with sweeter wine
Than burgundy or muscadine
Or vintage that the burgher sips
In some old garden on the Rhine:
And I to taste of it could well
Believe my heart a crucible
Of molten love--and I could feel
The drunken soul within me reel
And rock and stagger till it fell.

And do you wonder that I bowed
Before her splendor as a cloud
Of storm the golden-sandaled sun
Had set his conquering foot upon?
And did she will it, I could lie
In writhing rapture down and die
A death so full of precious pain
I'd waken up to die again.


A FANTASY

A fantasy that came to me
    As wild and wantonly designed
As ever any dream might be
    Unraveled from a madman's mind,--
A tangle-work of tissue, wrought
    By cunning of the spider-brain,
    And woven, in an hour of pain,
To trap the giddy flies of thought.

I stood beneath a summer moon
    All swollen to uncanny girth,
And hanging, like the sun at noon,
    Above the center of the earth;
    But with a sad and sallow light,
    As it had sickened of the night
And fallen in a pallid swoon.
Around me I could hear the rush
    Of sullen winds, and feel the whir
Of unseen wings apast me brush
    Like phantoms round a sepulcher;
And, like a carpeting of plush,0
    A lawn unrolled beneath my feet,
    Bespangled o'er with flowers as sweet
    To look upon as those that nod
    Within the garden-fields of God,
    But odorless as those that blow
    In ashes in the shades below.

And on my hearing fell a storm
    Of gusty music, sadder yet
    Than every whimper of regret
That sobbing utterance could form,
    And patched with scraps of sound that seemed
    Torn out of tunes that demons dreamed,
    And pitched to such a piercing key,
    It stabbed the ear with agony;
    And when at last it lulled and died,
    I stood aghast and terrified.
I shuddered and I shut my eyes,
    And still could see, and feel aware
    Some mystic presence waited there;
And staring, with a dazed surprise,
    I saw a creature so divine
    That never subtle thought of mine
    May reproduce to inner sight
    So fair a vision of delight.

A syllable of dew that drips
From out a lily's laughing lips
Could not be sweeter than the word
I listened to, yet never heard.--
For, oh, the woman hiding there
Within the shadows of her hair,
Spake to me in an undertone
So delicate, my soul alone
But understood it as a moan
Of some weak melody of wind
A heavenward breeze had left behind.

A tracery of trees, grotesque
    Against the sky, behind her seen,
Like shapeless shapes of arabesque
    Wrought in an Oriental screen;
And tall, austere and statuesque
    She loomed before it--e'en as though
    The spirit-hand of Angelo
    Had chiseled her to life complete,
    With chips of moonshine round her feet.
And I grew jealous of the dusk,
    To see it softly touch her face,
    As lover-like, with fond embrace,
It folded round her like a husk:
But when the glitter of her hand,
    Like wasted glory, beckoned me,
    My eyes grew blurred and dull and dim--
    My vision failed--I could not see--
I could not stir--I could but stand,
    Till, quivering in every limb,
    I flung me prone, as though to swim
    The tide of grass whose waves of green
    Went rolling ocean-wide between
    My helpless shipwrecked heart and her
    Who claimed me for a worshiper.

And writhing thus in my despair,
    I heard a weird, unearthly sound,
    That seemed to lift me from the ground
And hold me floating in the air.
I looked, and lo!  I saw her bow
    Above a harp within her hands;
A crown of blossoms bound her brow,
    And on her harp were twisted strands
Of silken starlight, rippling o'er
With music never heard before
By mortal ears; and, at the strain,
I felt my Spirit snap its chain
And break away,--and I could see
It as it turned and fled from me
To greet its mistress, where she smiled
To see the phantom dancing wild
And wizard-like before the spell
Her mystic fingers knew so well.


A DREAM

I dreamed I was a spider;
A big, fat, hungry spider;
A lusty, rusty spider
    With a dozen palsied limbs;
With a dozen limbs that dangled
Where three wretched flies were tangled
And their buzzing wings were strangled
    In the middle of their hymns.

And I mocked them like a demon--
A demoniacal demon
Who delights to be a demon
    For the sake of sin alone;
And with fondly false embraces
Did I weave my mystic laces
Round their horror-stricken faces
    Till I muffled every groan.

And I smiled to see them weeping,
For to see an insect weeping,
Sadly, sorrowfully weeping,
    Fattens every spider's mirth;
And to note a fly's heart quaking,
And with anguish ever aching
Till you see it slowly breaking
    Is the sweetest thing on earth.

I experienced a pleasure,
Such a highly-flavored pleasure,
Such intoxicating pleasure,
    That I drank of it like wine;
And my mortal soul engages
That no spider on the pages
Of the history of ages
    Felt a rapture more divine.

I careened around and capered--
Madly, mystically capered--
For three days and nights I capered
    Round my web in wild delight;
Till with fierce ambition burning,
And an inward thirst and yearning
I hastened my returning
    With a fiendish appetite.

And I found my victims dying,
"Ha!" they whispered, "we are dying!"
Faintly whispered, "we are dying,
    And our earthly course is run."
And the scene was so impressing
That I breathed a special blessing,
As I killed them with caressing
    And devoured them one by one.


DREAMER, SAY

Dreamer, say, will you dream for me
    A wild sweet dream of a foreign land,
Whose border sips of a foaming sea
    With lips of coral and silver sand;
Where warm winds loll on the shady deeps,
    Or lave themselves in the tearful mist
The great wild wave of the breaker weeps
    O'er crags of opal and amethyst?

Dreamer, say, will you dream a dream
    Of tropic shades in the lands of shine,
Where the lily leans o'er an amber stream
    That flows like a rill of wasted wine,--
Where the palm-trees, lifting their shields of green,
    Parry the shafts of the Indian sun
Whose splintering vengeance falls between
    The reeds below where the waters run?

Dreamer, say, will you dream of love
    That lives in a land of sweet perfume,
Where the stars drip down from the skies above
    In molten spatters of bud and bloom?
Where never the weary eyes are wet,
    And never a sob in the balmy air,
And only the laugh of the paroquet
    Breaks the sleep of the silence there?


BRYANT

The harp has fallen from the master's hand;
Mute is the music, voiceless are the strings,
    Save such faint discord as the wild wind flings
In sad aeolian murmurs through the land.
The tide of melody, whose billows grand
    Flowed o'er the world in clearest utterings,
    Now, in receding current, sobs and sings
That song we never wholly understand.
* * O, eyes where glorious prophecies belong,
    And gracious reverence to humbly bow,
And kingly spirit, proud, and pure, and strong;
    O, pallid minstrel with the laureled brow,
And lips so long attuned to sacred song,
    How sweet must be the Heavenly anthem now!


BABYHOOD

Heigh-ho!  Babyhood!  Tell me where you linger!
    Let's toddle home again, for we have gone astray;
Take this eager hand of mine and lead me by the finger
    Back to the lotus-lands of the far-away!

Turn back the leaves of life.--Don't read the story.--
    Let's find the pictures, and fancy all the rest;
We can fill the written pages with a brighter glory
    Than old Time, the story-teller, at his very best.

Turn to the brook where the honeysuckle tipping
    O'er its vase of perfume spills it on the breeze,
And the bee and humming-bird in ecstacy are sipping
    From the fairy flagons of the blooming locust-trees.

Turn to the lane where we used to "teeter-totter,"
    Printing little foot-palms in the mellow mold--
Laughing at the lazy cattle wading in the water
    Where the ripples dimple round the buttercups of gold;

Where the dusky turtle lies basking on the gravel
    Of the sunny sand-bar in the middle tide,
And the ghostly dragon-fly pauses in his travel
    To rest like a blossom where the water-lily died.

Heigh-ho!  Babyhood!  Tell me where you linger!
    Let's toddle home again, for we have gone astray;
Take this eager hand of mine and lead me by the finger
    Back to the lotus-lands of the far-away!


LIBERTY

NEW CASTLE, JULY 4, 1878

For a hundred years the pulse of time
    Has throbbed for Liberty;
For a hundred years the grand old clime
    Columbia has been free;
        For a hundred years our country's love,
        The Stars and Stripes, has waved above.

Away far out on the gulf of years--
    Misty and faint and white
Through the fogs of wrong--a sail appears,
    And the Mayflower heaves in sight,
        And drifts again, with its little flock
        Of a hundred souls, on Plymouth Rock.

Do you see them there--as long, long since--
    Through the lens of History;
Do you see them there as their chieftain prints
    In the snow his bended knee,
        And lifts his voice through the wintry blast
        In thanks for a peaceful home at last?

Though the skies are dark and the coast is bleak,
    And the storm is wild and fierce,
Its frozen flake on the upturned cheek
    Of the Pilgrim melts in tears,
        And the dawn that springs from the darkness there
        Is the morning light of an answered prayer.

The morning light of the day of Peace
    That gladdens the aching eyes,
And gives to the soul that sweet release
    That the present verifies,--
        Nor a snow so deep, nor a wind so chill
        To quench the flame of a freeman's will!

II

Days of toil when the bleeding hand
    Of the pioneer grew numb,
When the untilled tracts of the barren land
    Where the weary ones had come
        Could offer nought from a fruitful soil
        To stay the strength of the stranger's toil.

Days of pain, when the heart beat low,
    And the empty hours went by
Pitiless, with the wail of woe
    And the moan of Hunger's cry--
        When the trembling hands upraised in prayer
        Had only the strength to hold them there.

Days when the voice of hope had fled--
    Days when the eyes grown weak
Were folded to, and the tears they shed
    Were frost on a frozen cheek--
        When the storm bent down from the skies and gave
        A shroud of snow for the Pilgrim's grave.

Days at last when the smiling sun
    Glanced down from a summer sky,
And a music rang where the rivers run,
    And the waves went laughing by;
        And the rose peeped over the mossy bank
        While the wild deer stood in the stream and drank.

And the birds sang out so loud and good,
    In a symphony so clear
And pure and sweet that the woodman stood
    With his ax upraised to hear,
        And to shape the words of the tongue unknown
        Into a language all his own--


     1

'Sing! every bird, to-day!
    Sing for the sky so clear,
    And the gracious breath of the atmosphere
Shall waft our cares away.
Sing! sing! for the sunshine free;
Sing through the land from sea to sea;
Lift each voice in the highest key
        And sing for Liberty!'


     2

'Sing for the arms that fling
    Their fetters in the dust
    And lift their hands in higher trust
Unto the one Great King;
Sing for the patriot heart and hand;
Sing for the country they have planned;
Sing that the world may understand
        This is Freedom's land!'


     3

'Sing in the tones of prayer,
    Sing till the soaring soul
    Shall float above the world's control
In freedom everywhere!
Sing for the good that is to be,
Sing for the eyes that are to see
The land where man at last is free,
        O sing for liberty!'

III

A holy quiet reigned, save where the hand
Of labor sent a murmur through the land,
And happy voices in a harmony
Taught every lisping breeze a melody.
A nest of cabins, where the smoke upcurled
A breathing incense to the other world.
A land of languor from the sun of noon,
That fainted slowly to the pallid moon,
Till stars, thick-scattered in the garden-land
Of Heaven by the great Jehovah's hand,
Had blossomed into light to look upon
The dusky warrior with his arrow drawn,
As skulking from the covert of the night
With serpent cunning and a fiend's delight,
With murderous spirit, and a yell of hate
The voice of Hell might tremble to translate:
When the fond mother's tender lullaby
Went quavering in shrieks all suddenly,
And baby-lips were dabbled with the stain
Of crimson at the bosom of the slain,
And peaceful homes and fortunes ruined--lost
In smoldering embers of the holocaust.
Yet on and on, through years of gloom and strife,
Our country struggled into stronger life;
Till colonies, like footprints in the sand,
Marked Freedom's pathway winding through the land--
And not the footprints to be swept away
Before the storm we hatched in Boston Bay,--
But footprints where the path of war begun
That led to Bunker Hill and Lexington,--
For he who "dared to lead where others dared
To follow" found the promise there declared
Of Liberty, in blood of Freedom's host
Baptized to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Oh, there were times when every patriot breast
Was riotous with sentiments expressed
In tones that swelled in volume till the sound
Of lusty war itself was well-nigh drowned.
Oh, those were times when happy eyes with tears
Brimmed o'er as all the misty doubts and fears
Were washed away, and Hope with gracious mien,
Reigned from her throne again a sovereign queen.
Until at last, upon a day like this
When flowers were blushing at the summer's kiss,
And when the sky was cloudless as the face
Of some sweet infant in its angel grace,--
There came a sound of music, thrown afloat
Upon the balmy air--a clanging note
Reiterated from the brazen throat
Of Independence Bell:  A sound so sweet,
The clamoring throngs of people in the streets
Were stilled as at the solemn voice of prayer,
And heads were bowed, and lips were moving there
That made no sound--until the spell had passed,
And then, as when all sudden comes the blast
Of some tornado, came the cheer on cheer
Of every eager voice, while far and near
The echoing bells upon the atmosphere
Set glorious rumors floating, till the ear
Of every listening patriot tingled clear,
And thrilled with joy and jubilee to hear.

         I

'Stir all your echoes up,
    O Independence Bell,
And pour from your inverted cup
    The song we love so well.

'Lift high your happy voice,
    And swing your iron tongue
Till syllables of praise rejoice
    That never yet were sung.

'Ring in the gleaming dawn
    Of Freedom--Toll the knell
Of Tyranny, and then ring on,
    O Independence Bell.--

'Ring on, and drown the moan,
    Above the patriot slain,
Till sorrow's voice shall catch the tone
    And join the glad refrain.

'Ring out the wounds of wrong
    And rankle in the breast;
Your music like a slumber-song
    Will lull revenge to rest.

'Ring out from Occident
    To Orient, and peal
From continent to continent
    The mighty joy you feel.

'Ring! Independence Bell!
    Ring on till worlds to be
Shall listen to the tale you tell
    Of love and Liberty!'

IV

O Liberty--the dearest word
A bleeding country ever heard,--
We lay our hopes upon thy shrine
And offer up our lives for thine.
You gave us many happy years
Of peace and plenty ere the tears
A mourning country wept were dried
Above the graves of those who died
Upon thy threshold.  And again
When newer wars were bred, and men
Went marching in the cannon's breath
And died for thee and loved the death,
While, high above them, gleaming bright,
The dear old flag remained in sight,
And lighted up their dying eyes
With smiles that brightened paradise.
O Liberty, it is thy power
To gladden us in every hour
Of gloom, and lead us by thy hand
As little children through a land
Of bud and blossom; while the days
Are filled with sunshine, and thy praise
Is warbled in the roundelays
Of joyous birds, and in the song
Of waters, murmuring along
The paths of peace, whose flowery fringe
Has roses finding deeper tinge
Of crimson, looking on themselves
Reflected--leaning from the shelves
Of cliff and crag and mossy mound
Of emerald splendor shadow-drowned.--
We hail thy presence, as you come
With bugle blast and rolling drum,
And booming guns and shouts of glee
Commingled in a symphony
That thrills the worlds that throng to see
The glory of thy pageantry.
0And with thy praise, we breathe a prayer
That God who leaves you in our care
May favor us from this day on
With thy dear presence--till the dawn
Of Heaven, breaking on thy face,
Lights up thy first abiding place.


TOM VAN ARDEN

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 summer-time.

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 firelight 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.





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