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Title: By Scarlet Torch and Blade
Author: Anthony Euwer, - To be updated
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "By Scarlet Torch and Blade" ***

Transcriber’s Notes:

  Underscores “_” before and after a word or phrase indicate _italics_
    in the original text.
  Small capitals have been converted to SOLID capitals.
  Illustrations have been moved so they do not break up stanzas.
  Typographical errors have been silently corrected.

                          BY THE SAME AUTHOR

                         RHYMES OF OUR VALLEY
                         CHRISTOPHER CRICKET ON CATS
                         THE LIMERATOMY
                         WINGS AND OTHER WAR RHYMES


    _The tinder-brush has caught the spark, the temples of the night,
     Their purple columns towering high, glow in the amber light._
                                       (“BY SCARLET TORCH AND BLADE.”)]

                      BY SCARLET TORCH AND BLADE

                           BY ANTHONY EUWER


               “_A four-league stretch is burning now—
                   The cavalcade of death
                 Moves on with scarlet torch and blade
                   And with a scarlet breath._”

                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                          NEW YORK AND LONDON
                        The Knickerbocker Press

                            Copyright, 1923
                             Anthony Euwer

                    Second printing, January, 1926

           [Illustration: The Knickerbocker Press New York]

                 Made in the United States of America

                       TO THE MEMORY OF

                               MY SISTER

                     WENT FAR TOWARD THE MAKING OF
                              THIS BOOK.


            To all the joy that colors give beneath the
          sun and moon; to all pleasurable sounds and
          wholesome odors of the earth and air and sea;
          to the warmth and glow of genial firesides and
          to the bite of winter winds; to the rain upon
          the lichens; to the majesty of mountains and the
          awfulness of high places; to the darkness of
          caves and the friendliness of far-off trails;
          to every furry thing—the shy, the dumb, and
          whatsoever creature has found expression in his
          fancy; to both the nobler and the meaner natures
          of men; to life’s laughter and life’s tears and
          to all fruitful experience; to these sources, for
          whatsoever good may here be found, the author
          makes acknowledgment.

            A number of the rhymes in the present volume
          have previously appeared in the Associated Press,
          Judge, Leslie’s, the Oregon Sunday Journal, and
          The Open Road. For permission to reprint the
          drawings the author is indebted to the publishers
          of Scribner’s Magazine.


                  PART ONE
              _THE OPEN SPACES_
    BUILDERS OF HIGHWAYS             10
    OREGON SNOW                      18
    THE PRUNER                       23
    SNOOTS                           27
    LITTLE BLACK BULL                30
    MOUNTAIN TOPS                    32
    THE RIVER                        33
    THE JUGGLER                      34
    NATURE’S TOTEMS                  36
    MINSTRELS OF THE NIGHT           38
    THE LONG BET                     39
    THE CAVES OF JOSEPHINE           43

                  PART TWO
             _PEOPLE AND THINGS_
    HEARTH-GLOW                      61
    THE WANT-AD OF MY SOUL           63
    THE BELL                         65
    GOSSIP                           68
    LOVE’S LABOR LOST                73
    THE HALF UNDONE                  75
    A AND THE                        79
    MELTED CANDLES                   80
    HOLLY                            83

                  PART THREE
    MONDAY                           87
    GETTIN’ TO IT                    90
    FLIES                            93
    A DINO’S AURA                   100
    JUST CAT                        109
    DANGER                          112

                 PART FOUR
    THE FOREST                      115
    THE SEQUOIA GIGANTIA            118
    A SPRUCE’S ROOT                 120
    THE DOUGLAS FIR                 123
    THE TAMARACK                    125
    THE MONTEREY CYPRESS            127
    THE MADRONA                     129
    THE YELLOW PINE                 130
    THE BRUSH                       132
    THE TIMBER-LINE                 135
    THE GHOST-TREES                 138

                  PART FIVE
             _RHYMES OF FRANCE_
    FROGS                           143
    TRANSITION                      145
    KIDDY OF FRANCE                 149
    SPRING—1919                     150
    HOMESICK                        152


    TEMPLES OF THE NIGHT          _Frontispiece_
    BY SCARLET TORCH AND BLADE                4
    OREGON SNOW                              18
    THE LONG BET                             40
    THE WANT-AD OF MY SOUL                   64
    THE SEQUOIA GIGANTIA                    118
    THE DOUGLAS FIR                         124
    THE YELLOW PINE                         130
    THE GHOST-TREES                         138



    All the land is lying listless and a warm September breeze
    Has brushed the green to silver on the rustling orchard trees,
    And the near-by hills are curtained with a doleful, yellow cloak,
    For the world is swathed and sweltering and blanketed in smoke.
    Up the Sacramento Valley from the ’Frisco country south,
    To Seattle and Vancouver there’s a thirsty, baking drouth;
    From the Rockies to the Coast Range ’neath the heavy-hanging haze
    Leagues and leagues of trees are giving up their ghosts in smoke
          and blaze;
    There are endless acres smouldering, their trunks forever dead—
    Oh, is it any wonder that the sun’s a red-hot red!

    From the towns they’re rushing fighters—rushing, rushing them
          by rail.
    They’re meeting them in motors and they’ll tote ’em up the trail
    Where the pack-nags are a-packing with a tramp, tramp, tramp—
    Packing tools and grub and blankets up the canyon to the camp.
    And fire they’ll foil with back-fire—pitting pitch ’gainst
          snarling pitch,
    They’ll slash the brake and lacerate the earth with upturned ditch;
    Their skins will smart with singeing draughts that play along their
    They’ll sting with wet from reeking sweat of shovel, pick and ax.

    She’s headed up for Clear Creek and she’ll make it ’fore she stops,
    For she’s a roaring crown-fire with her windswept, blazing tops.
    From flaming lance to flaming lance on through the parching day,
    Exhaling clouds of rolling black, she surges on her way.
    She sucks the flying embers like a burning hurricane,
    She flings them miles around her in a sputtering, sparking rain,
    She pants and thirsts for living green, she stays not for the snags,
    She’s changed the steep embankments and she’s gained the higher
    Her Devil’s dance leads ever up—exultingly she swings
    Her wild red arms out toward the heights—she sizzles and she sings;
    With dragon-spit she hisses, a maniac in her wrath,
    She laughs to scorn the human things that try to block her path.
    On yonder crest they’ve made their stand—hark to the timber fall,
    Again the winds have veered around—the bosses curse and call
    Through driving blasts of pitch-pine heat and pitch-pine smoke and
    “She’s turned again—hang to your tools—and damn you—run like
    It takes a canny general whose eye’s a weather-vane,
    A mighty canny general with seamed and schemy brain,
    To meet the gay manœuvers and the unconventional ways
    That a breeze kicks up at noonday in a crown-fire forest blaze.


    _Her Devil’s dance leads ever up—
     Exultingly she swings
     Her wild red arms out toward the heights—
     She sizzles and she sings._]

    But when the cooling later hours have lulled her hot desire,
    She straggles down the blackened trunks in fretful gusts of fire.
    The tinder-brush has caught the spark, the temples of the night,
    Their purple columns towering high, glow in the amber light.
    There’s a maple dancing, dancing with her arabesques of gold,
    Till her flaming scarfs have shrivelled, fluttered down and touched
          the mould.
    From censers gleaming fitfully the dripping pitch-gum falls,
    And heavy incense fills those wild and weirdly lighted halls.
    Each hollow stump a cauldron is with molten pitch aglow—
    Its roots are twisted holes of pitch that pierce the earth below.
    Beyond the burning border of the bracken and the vine,
    A ruddy edge is eating through the carpet of the pine,
    But the fighters, they will meet it with their paths of upturned
    It’s many days those little paths have saved in sweat and toil.
    A four-league stretch is burning now—the cavalcade of death
    Moves on with scarlet torch and blade and with a scarlet breath,
    And over all the smoking ridge, the clouds that hang like lead—
    Oh, is it any wonder that the moon’s a red-hot red!

    And when the golden ladders of tomorrow’s sickly sun
    Slant through the mournful tree-tops and the holocaust is done,
    There won’t be much to interest the breathing things around
    In the charred and ashen litter of the scarred and ghastly ground.
    There’s quite a large community that undertook to change
    Its residential section to a more inviting range.
    There is a fox—a red, red fox, who took his bouncing luck
    And dusted down the pathway of a panic-stricken buck;
    There’s a corps of gray-backed diggers and a bunch of cottontails
    Who didn’t tarry very long to figure out their trails;
    And the suckers and the peckers and the flickers and the wrens,
    And the buzzards and the finches and the cocks and pheasant-hens,
    And the jays and bees and skeeters and the gnats and dragon-flies
    Have saved their skins and feathers for they’re fairly weather-wise.
    But woe betide the crawling things and heaven help the mark
    For every wriggly worm that rides the earth or bores the bark;
    And every caterpillar—and a caterpillar’s hairs
    Can get as badly frizzled as a big, brown furry bear’s;
    And woe betide the silly squirrels who for a refuge run
    Far up the blazing trees because it’s what they’ve always done.
    And may the blessed Jesus save all souls of mortal men
    Who perish in that fiery maze, walled in their smothering pen,
    Like those they found near Jefferson upon the mountain side,
    Who strangled there near Jefferson—with fingers clenched they died.

    Oh would you know the meaning of that lazy yellow haze,
    Why the sun’s a scarlet pinwheel in the late September days,
    Why the thirsty earth’s a-drowsing ’neath a lowering panoply
    From ’Frisco to Seattle—from the Rockies to the sea?
    For the skirmish that they’re having up the Clear Creek canyon there
    Is but one of all the flare-ups that are burning everywhere.
    And you’ll know them—oh, you’ll know them when a decade’s come and
    And the lifeless bark has fallen from those trunks now pale and wan,
    And their ghostly, gray battalions in their long unbroken lines,
    Stalk the ridges, rising, falling—ghosts that once were firs and
    You will know them—you will know them when a score of years has
    Faintly limned in mist, or gleaming—silver lances in the sun.


    Masterful builders! You who’ve planned
    Your limitless highways through our land,
    Splendid in vision—well have you wrought,
    Leaving your trails where trails were not;
    Weavers—weaving gigantically
    Into a boundless tapestry,
    Systems of travel skillfully traced,
    Hither and thither—interlaced,
    Gathering, linking, chain on chain,
    Corn-land and pasture, fields of grain,
    Acres of orchard rolling down,
    Forest and homestead, nestling town,
    Binding our counties, joining our states,
    Breaking the locks of our cities’ gates,
    Letting humanity’s stream rush through
    Into the open, into the blue,
    Into the sun or into the shade,
    Into the playgrounds you have made,
    Treading where never before they’ve trod—
    Touching the earth and seeing God!

    Long have you wrestled, unconfounded
    With problems the grim old earth propounded;
    Meeting each taunting challenge while
    She watched with cold, sardonic smile,
    Flinching at nothing your labor met,
    Writing your answer in dirt and sweat.

    First with your transit, pounding stakes—
    Rotten logs, briars, sticks and snakes;
    Trees of the thicket hatchet-scarred,
    Blazing tomorrow’s boulevard;
    Shaping the New World’s big romance,
    Unloosing your swarms of human ants,
    Slashing the willows, crowding in
    Under the maples and chinkapin;
    Tottering timbers—see them crash,
    Deafening thud and crunch and gash,
    Tearing their rifts where boughs arch high,
    Baring blue holes in the gaping sky;
    Follows the blasting—dynamite,
    Deep in the damp earth tamped in tight,
    Sputtering spark
    Into the dark,
    Travels the fuse to the buried guns,
    Vomiting stumps in hurtling tons,
    Falling back mangled, shattered, torn,
    Into the clay where they were born.

    Through pine-pillared aisles the thunderings ring,
    Echoing canyons answering;
    Enter the horses—lashing reins,
    Yelling and curses, jangling chains,
    Snorting and straining, steaming brutes,
    Grappling hooks shackled to stubborn roots,
    Snug in their sockets holding fast—
    Steadily pulling, they yield at last!
    Shovel of steam—omniverous scoop,
    Gouging the way for one more loop;
    Rearing a wall that will prevail
    Against the push of sliding shale;
    Peeling a slope to fill a draw;
    Stuffing the crusher’s hungry maw
    That crumbles to bits the rock you’ve fed
    To blanket a roadway’s winding bed;
    These are the digits running through
    The problems that Nature’s handed you.

    And we of the people—we for whom
    These miracles are, behold we come!
    Driving our chariots blazoned bright,
    Crimson and yellow and pink and white,
    Silver and black and gray and green,
    Rattletrap Lizzie and limousine,
    Bulgy with bedding, grip and can,
    Lashed to the back and tucked to the van;
    Letting our home-town banners flame,
    Advising the world from whence we came,
    From everywhere under the dusty sun—
    From Mosier, White Salmon, Pendleton,
    From Boise, Seattle, Saginaw,
    From Buffalo, Little Rock, Waukesha;
    Still we are coming, see the train—
    From “all points east” to Bangor, Maine;
    Up from the Dixies, looming still,
    From Charleston, Havana, Jacksonville;
    Down from the Old Dominion, see—
    From Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary,
    We of the people are on our way,
    Turning the world to a holiday!

    And vast are the hollows from crest to crest
    Where stretches the hand of the big Northwest
    And out of the winds from her frozen peak
    A welcome speaks:
    “Come all you people! Come and keep
    Tryst in our mountains! Play and sleep,
    Wrapped in the silence here that lies
    Under our star-jeweled western skies;
    Wake if you will and see the sun
    Unveiling our canyons one by one,
    Slanting his golden fingers till
    The shadows have crept from each drowsy hill,
    Rousing the giants in their beds—
    See how they lift their hoary heads
    Up through the purple robe of night
    Into the light!
    Tahoma—the Mountain that was God!
    Jefferson, Adams, St. Helens, Hood!
    Hold fast to your visions and your dreams,
    Memories born of our laughing streams,
    Our cataracts, castles, towering domes—
    Oh carry them back to your million homes!
    Drink, oh you people! Be satisfied!
    Our wells of beauty are never dried.
    Search out each Eden that awaits—
    Blazed are the trails and wide the gates!”

    Come oh you people! Look upon
    The bountiful sweep of the Oregon,
    Forcing a pass through the blue Cascades,
    Lapping the walls of her palisades,
    Cradled in sand-dunes gleaming white,
    Girdling her islands of malachite!
    And high on the hills where a thrush’s song
    Tells out its gladness, there winds along
    Like a sinuous serpent—twist and bend,
    Following on to the river’s trend,
    The lordliest highway that ever ran
    Through the hills of the world since the dawn of man.
    Pride of the West! Sublime event!
    Columbia the Magnificent!
    Conceived by a poet who believed[1]
    Dreams should be dreamed and then achieved.

    And he bored him a tunnel—rock and boulder,
    Out of a mountain’s granite shoulder,
    Chiseled his windows—arching wide,
    Glimpsing the sky and the rolling tide;
    Throwing his graceful spans across
    Dripping ravines of fern and moss;
    Charming the serpent up and down
    Till it lazily coiled on the lofty crown,
    Goal of each traveller who would be
    Thrilled with unspeakable ecstacy.

    Oh climb in your chariots pink and green,
    Rattletrap Lizzie and limousine,
    Throbbing triumphantly toward the sky,
    (There’s never a grade but you take on high)
    Honking and honking, round on round,
    Honking again till the cliffs resound,
    Looping at last the Crown Point top—
    And there you stop!
    Where winds from the North, East, West and South
    Tumble their clouds in the chasm’s mouth—
    Curtains of mist and far-off thunder—
    And somehow you look and look and wonder
    If he who was wise to the sparrow’s fall
    Didn’t have something to do with it all.

    Over the broad Willamette go
    Into the Coast Range—learn to know
    Who are the Vikings—see them rise
    Out of the gulches into the skies;
    There are plummet-lines dropped through the hearts of these
    And they’re girthed like the pillars of Hercules!
    Nursed by the centuries, still they stand,
    The Viking Spruce of the bottom-land.

    And ever the pageant swings along,
    Blossoms and fruit and birds and song—
    Sword-ferns high-heaped beneath the firs,
    Glistening like emerald scimiters;
    Foxglove and fireweed—sunlight flashes
    Blotching the banks in purple splashes;
    Salmon berries in hordes untold—
    Luscious clusters of dangling gold;
    Elders above them, bending branches.
    Falling in ruby-red avalanches,
    Hedging the roadways, climbing back—
    Up through the alders and tamarack;
    And over the bridges, rumbling, coasting—
    Oh God of the Humble—keep us from boasting!
    Ranges, ruff-backed with their jagged trees,
    Crawling and sprawling down into the seas,
    Reaching their ragged, granite hands
    Out through the shifting, drifting sands—
    Out where the wild, white horses prance,
    Tossing their manes—and the cormorants
    Strut with the lions and blustering seals,
    And the sun-god reels
    With a splash of blood
    Into the great, Pacific flood!

    And this is the welcome waiting you,
    Drivers of chariots gold and blue—
    You who fare
    Under the heavens from everywhere—
    This is the crowning of your quest
    When you’ve looked in the heart of the great Northwest!

[1] Reference to Samuel Lancaster, Portland, Oregon.


    I’m glad I’m not in town today
    For townfolk always have a way
    Of hating snow—they stamp it off
    Their feet and shake their clothes and cough
    And fume and curse it every time
    It comes. It seems a crime
    To say you love it when it snows—
    Down in the town. Yet I suppose
    They’re not to blame—it always brings
    A peck of ills and heartache things
    Down in the town. There’s such
    A lot of misery—so much
    That sleeps along until the touch
    Of snow and cold wakes it again
    To sudden pain.
    You really can’t blame folks a bit
    For hating snow and cursing it
    The way they do
    Down in the town—it’s natural to.


    _In great cascades of blinding white
     Shot through with light
     Of morning suns._]

    But here—up here, it’s driving white
    Across the gray tree-trunks; all night
    It fell and laid one blanket more
    Upon the store
    We had.
    And I am glad,
    For here—up here, it’s not a crime
    To love the snow in winter-time.

    It’s hip-deep in the clover-field
    Behind the barn—the woods there shield
    The sun. I took a jog
    On show-shoes with the dog
    Across the ditch that marks the clover’s edge
    Into a straggling hedge
    Of saplings—only yesterday they were
    So cocky and so straight—each baby-fir
    A prickly little grenadier; and now—
    How vanquished! Every bough
    Limp, beaten, crushed, as if
    The snow had said—“Oh stiff
    And upright little tree
    How much of me
    Do you suppose your arms will hold?”
    To which the tree made answer bold—
    “I am a young and husky fir—
    All you can give, I’ll hold, Good Sir!”
    A rather glib and short
    At which the snow was somewhat stirred,
    He took the sapling at his word!
    For so it looked, the way the snow
    Had laid them low,
    Swamped to their ears,
    Those prickly little grenadiers.

    That’s what it is to be so small
    And near the ground, but when you’re grand and tall
    You shake your boughs and let it fall
    In great cascades of blinding white,
    Shot through with light
    Or morning suns—spray after spray.
    The gray boles sway
    With every windy gust that breaks
    To dust and flakes
    The tumbling clumps,
    Baptizing brush and stumps
    And huge-heaped logs—a deluge, white
    And dazzling bright.

    And still it snows,
    And blows
    Across the orchards in big drifts;
    But for the sunbursts through the rifts
    Of cloud today,
    It’s never quit. And when it goes away—
    This snow up here, it will be free from blame
    For it will leave in beauty as it came.
    The sun will loosen all the bonds
    That bind the baby-sapling’s fronds
    Close to the ground,
    And they’ll rebound.
    The ice-locked creek will show its green
    And swirling eddies in between
    The marble bridges flung across
    Its twisted banks of moss.

    Each day will see new colors peep;
    Gray bark and green—the deep
    Rich sheen of laurels—short, stalky grapes,
    Stiff, jagged, red—and twisted shapes
    Of leaves turned russet, shrivelled, sere—
    Still dangling from the stems of the dead year—
    All penciled bold against the bright,
    Cold snow, like patterns on a page of spotless white.
    And each new day will leave some strange,
    Blue arabesque upon the eastern range,
    Drag streaks of ochre down the fields, and shade
    The purple brush-lands deeper where they fade
    Off to the west, and pools of melting snow will hold
    The winter evening sun’s last splash of gold.

    These are the things God keeps in store
    For us up here, when in a few days more,
    This snow—that’s driving hard today,
    Will melt away.


    Listen! That bump against the steps—he’s back.
    The dog comes floundering on his track,
    His shaggy clumps are lumped with ice, he shakes
    Vociferously his drippy coat and makes
    Straight for the kitchen—he’s a dog, the kind
    Who takes no longer than he should to find
    What’s in his pan—or isn’t. It’s cold mush
    This time. The man has just kicked off the slush
    And shuffled up the steps. They’re awkward things—
    Those bear-paws, when the rawhide’s caked; he flings
    His soggy mittens off and takes his hat
    And swishes it across the frozen mat.

    He clatters on the porch—then stoops to loose
    The knots that hold his boots fast in the noose,
    Kicks free his weary feet and stands his hook
    Against the logs. He has an all-in look
    Tonight—that crook that’s got his shoulder-blade
    Is pruner’s luck—a man’s arm isn’t made
    To reach and twist all day without some bit
    Of ache to take home with him when he’s quit.
    That wind-tan and the stubble-growth of beard
    That’s cropped out on his chin and gotten smeared
    Around his throat, they do a useful turn—
    They temper cold and dull the bright snow-burn.

    It snowed this morning when he went away
    With those big bear-paws on—it snowed all day;
    And though his sleeves and neck are soaked a lot
    With all the constant reaching up, it’s not
    So bad—the snow—for when it’s four feet deep
    Or so, a pruner doesn’t have to keep
    That raking stretch. Another day and night,
    If it keeps up like this, will fix it right.
    All yesterday it rained—he didn’t stop,
    Just went ahead and pruned—and let it drop.
    The day before was sun—a blinding glare
    On snow—it’s amber goggles then and they’re
    Forever getting fogged. Of course a day
    Gets sort of tucked in now and then that may
    Not be so bad, although they’re pretty few,
    But good or bad there’s little else to do
    In winter-time, but prune. And it is plain,
    A man who loves his trees won’t stop for rain
    Or cold or driving snow or dazzling sun
    Until the job he started on is done.

    To any man like that a tree is bound
    To mean more than a root shoved in the ground,
    For they are his, his own, his pets—just like
    His kids. They’re part of him and so they strike
    Into his heart. He’s cuddled them, he’s stuck
    With them through all the ups and downs of luck;
    Instead of chicken-pox he’s had to fight
    Anthracnos, winter-kill and scab and blight;
    He knows his rows—what every tree’s been through,
    The one’s who’ve done him proud and strugglers too.
    And he remembers how, four years ago—
    That day the big freeze came with all the snow,
    He found the weighted limbs of some of them
    All split and broken from the mother stem.

    That’s why there’s something human enters in
    To pruning trees—it almost seems a sin
    Sometimes to lop off here and lop off there
    The wood you’ve coaxed with such a heap of care;
    Like punishment it seems, and though it’s wise,
    Those fruit-spurred boughs are hard to sacrifice.
    And when he takes a tree and prunes the wood
    The way it should be done for that tree’s good,
    He does not see the severed sticks that show
    Black-twisted there upon the trampled snow—
    To him, each one’s a green-leafed bough that’s gone,
    With all its scented crimson apples on.

    His blouse is steaming now—hung on a chair
    Before the kitchen-stove—she put it there.
    She’s humming cheerful-like, tonight it’s toast
    And coffee and potatoes and pot-roast;
    He will forget his shoulder after while,
    And when he’s filled and dry—he’ll smile.


    Say—have you ever given thought
    To snoots—just snoots? Most likely not!
    There’s so much else to think about
    That snoots get crowded out.
    An uncouth thing
    And yet most interesting
    Somehow, and so of snoots I sing
    And of that strange, instinctive sense—
    Mute marvel of God’s providence!

    Now take a snoot that’s prowled around
    Like old Pete’s there—along the ground
    And through the brush from log to log—
    The plain snoot of a common dog.
    How often, knocking through the wood,
    Deep in the maples I have stood
    Stock still—and watched that canny brute.
    Tense to the trail, by rock and root,
    Zigzagging now, then onward straight!
    Not once there would he hesitate.
    Eyes to the earth, alert and quick,
    By briar, branch and broken stick,
    Till pausing short, with one glad bound
    And switching tail—his quarry found,
    He sprang to meet
    His master, crouching at his feet,
    At last content.
    And this strange thing—you call it _scent_

    The leaves are trodden by a boot,
    A little later comes a snoot,
    And quick as thought it sniffs the air,
    The soil, and sifts the odors there.
    A hundred kinds of smells we’ll say,
    The mould, the moss, the worms, the clay
    The drying leaves, the twigs and stones,
    The fallen needles and the cones,
    The little flowers, the growing plants.
    The bugs, the chipmunks and the ants;
    And yet that sniffing snoot could tell
    Among all these, the one faint smell
    That lingered vaguely in the wake
    That two swift-striding boots might make.

    You marvel at his skill when he,
    The master of a symphony,
    Detects one jarring note that comes
    Up through the beat of many drums,
    And tambourines and banging things,
    And blaring brass and whining strings;
    You cite some instance of the kind
    To eulogize the human mind—
    To show attainment absolute!
    I point you to my Peter’s snoot—
    Upon my lap he comes to lay
    Its cold, damp tip, still smeared with clay.

    Oh, all you hordes of furry brutes,
    Be glad you’re blessed with telltale snoots,
    So nicely tuned that with a sniff
    Of earth or air, you catch the whiff
    Of danger there. You mountain sheep,
    Superb upon your rocky steep;
    You splendid elk, far domiciled
    In mountain fastness, coursing wild;
    You bonny deer and monster moose,
    Brandless, unfenced, will-free and loose;
    You wolves couched in your rock-ribbed lairs;
    You blubber-padded, big-pawed bears;
    You foxes tunneled deep in roots,
    Wise was the God Who gave you snoots!


    Born in bobbing clover hay,
    July sun at close of day—
    Black and gleaming little bull
    Appetite all masterful.
    Scarcely dried—his glossy silk,
    When he started in to milk,
    Tongue a-smack and bulging tum,
    Filled at last—his vacuum.
    Soft blue hoofs and knobby pegs
    Soon were prancing just like legs;
    Got him weaned till bran he took
    Like a codfish bolts a hook,
    Till he danced in sheer delight,
    Till he waxed in youthful might.
    Dawn of day and forth he went
    For adventure—jubilant;
    Innocent and wondering eyes,
    All the world a glad surprise,
    Then they drove him down the hill
    In a crate—and wondering still;
    Wondering as the world went by,
    Green of trees and blue of sky,
    What adventure—joyous, new,
    Little bull was going to.


    Old crater-tops! Cloud-bumped! Snow-white!
    Our mountains these—all day and night
    They show above the ridges. What?
    You’ve never climbed? You’ve missed a lot!

    When you have known the grunts and chills,
    The cold, the sweat, the gasps, the thrills;
    And winced at dazzling snow reared high
    Against a dye of cobalt sky;
    And faced the blast that strives its best
    To hurl you headlong off the crest;
    Seen countless ranges fade into
    The whole vast earth-encircling blue
    That holds the rim of the sky’s bowl;
    And sniffed the clouds and watched them roll
    Close-packed beneath you in the sun and ride
    Like foaming billows at flood-tide;
    When you have done these things, you’ll speak
    With reverence of a mountain-peak.

    Such friendships last—they’re not
    Remembered lightly nor forgot.


    Once I gurgled with a hiss
    In the glacier’s cold abyss.
    Dull and muffled was my song
    As I felt my way along
    Through the mystic caves of glass
    Far below the great crevasse.
    Now I greet the blessed light,
    Out of night and bursting white—
    Baby-giant—keen to forge,
    Loudly laughing, through the gorge;
    Straddling rocks and riding bumps,
    Brushing branches, hurdling stumps,
    Peevish, boiling, sluggish, slack,
    Lunging forward, swirling back;
    Leaping from a bouldered dale,
    Snaking through a clay-banked swale,
    Draining streams from every draw
    Down into my hungry maw,
    Swelling with the tribute paid—
    This is how a river’s made.


    You’ve seen him balanced with his staff,
    Far up—and giving death the laugh?
    The Juggler—confident and proud
    Above the gaping, breathless crowd!
    So in the gathering storm, he swayed—
    The Forest Juggler—unafraid!
    Schooled by the blasts of centuries,
    Proudly he looked on lesser trees,
    Rearing his mighty head on high
    Against the red-streaked western sky.
    Then broke the gale—the clouds unlocked,
    And such a wind as never rocked
    His stalwart trunk, now made him dance.
    He swayed in ancient confidence
    Till once he reached—too far! Then all
    His shaft went toppling to the fall,
    With grinding boughs and crunch and thud.
    Upripped those gorgon-roots, the mud—
    Wide-flung, left but a crater-hole
    Where it had towered—that giant bole!
    The wind has gone upon his way,
    A patch of sky shows where he lay—
    Who juggled long and fearlessly
    Until a greater came than he.


    With tools rough-wrought the untaught scribe
    Carved deep the glory of his tribe—
    Amazing monsters—grotesque, stiff,
    With curious, quaint hieroglyph.
    Brave in barbaric dyes, his scroll—
    So left the scribe his totem-pole.

    Though rotted, broken, scattered far
    These totems of the savage are,
    Proud totems—vastly mightier,
    The lineaments of Nature bear.

    The mountain’s twisted ribs of rock
    Laid bare, proclaim the earthquake shock,
    And how it was through turmoil great
    Exalted to its high estate;
    An upturned fossil on the plain
    Reverts to Dinosaurian reign,
    Another shows his prowess gone—
    The advent of the Mastodon;
    The lopside fir is eloquent
    Of battling winters nobly spent;
    The shell upon the mountain side
    Betrays an ancient ocean’s tide;
    These are the totems, cryptic, terse,
    We find in Nature’s universe.


    Woodland voices I have heard—
    Laughing waters, beast and bird;
    Red-squirrels jabb’ring while they eat,
    Cones a-dropping at your feet;
    Pecker diving for a worm,
    Ringing echoes with each squirm;
    Squawking jays and the palaver
    Of a pheasant breaking cover;
    But the strangest sound to me
    Comes when winds blow fitfully,
    In the darkness, like a moan—
    Chilling to the marrow-bone,
    Dying now upon the gale
    Like a far-off cougar’s wail.
    Now it rises—peevish, wild,
    Like the fretting of a child;
    With an easing wind the thing
    Squeaks like monkeys jibbering.
    Thus a leaning, scraping tree
    Sounds its spookish minstrelsy,
    When the night-wind, teasing so,
    Starts it rocking to and fro.


    The mountain road will lead you past
    The shack. It’s easily told, the last
    Old tumbledown this side the ridge
    Of snags; a little bridge
    Is there that hasn’t yet dropped through.
    I don’t know how it is with you,
    But every time I see that shack
    It gets me somehow—calls me back
    And tries to speak. The caved-in shed
    Where some poor nag was fed
    His mighty little, and the rakes
    Upstanding still—and scattered shakes,
    Tell how they labored to deceive
    The man with hope. In make-believe
    They played a barn—and over there
    The several-acre clearing where
    A few anæmic blades of grain
    Still volunteer; but oh
    That Potter’s Field where grow
    In broken rows of twos and threes
    The little, weazened apple-trees.

    Mere stalks are some, that died
    Beside the stakes where they were tied,
    While others held tenaciously
    Their stunted semblance to a tree—
    Their dangling leaves are sparse
    And bloodless—so the farce
    Goes on. I know he stood that day
    He planted them and looked away
    Across his claim—beyond that draw
    Where all the ghost-trees are, and saw
    Them fade away and in their stead
    A smiling orchard with its red
    Fruit-laden boughs. At any rate
    He likely staked with fate
    What all he had—all he could get,
    And made his one long bet.

    He staked the woman too—
    That calico of faded blue
    Still waving by the kitchen door,
    The shreds of curtains on the four
    Wee windows on the front, proclaim
    There was a woman in the game.
    Lord, how he must have strung
    Her on—to drag her up among
    Those snags! And what it must have been
    In winter! Think of living in
    That tumbly hut—eight feet of snow
    Outside—and ten below.
    Suppose the woman took her bed,
    Caved in, just like the shed
    Is now—upon her back laid flat,
    (The work alone would tend to that).


    _The mountain road will lead you past
     The shack. It’s easily told, the last
     Old tumbledown this side the ridge
     Of snags._]

    Of course they had a kid.
    The broken go-cart shows they did,
    It’s shy a wheel and tongue—
    You’ll find it there among
    The weeds just by the front door stoop.
    It’s ten to one he’d have the croup
    And scarcely likely he’d get off
    Without the whooping-cough.
    Good God! It’s fiendish anywhere,
    But think of whooping-cough up there
    In winter! All that gloom—
    A little room
    With stuffy stove and candle-light,
    And whooping, whooping through the night.

    And when the man gave in
    At last and found he couldn’t win,
    Found apples couldn’t keep alive
    Or thrive
    Or come to any good
    One bit more than a human could
    Up there, and when the day
    Came that they went away—
    Packed up their leavings in a load
    And joggled down the mountain road,
    I’ll bet they both looked back
    And cursed that shack.
    And it is hard to think
    That even that rose-pink
    Of early sunrise on the top
    Of that old mountain had one drop
    Of beauty left for them. It might
    Be that the white
    Ghost-trees bespoke their mood
    Of helplessness and solitude
    That day. It’s easily told,
    The old
    Ramshackle place this side the ridge
    Of snags—the little bridge
    That hasn’t yet dropped through,
    Will point it out to you.


    I’m sure if one could probe
    But deep enough, he’d find this globe
    Just tunneled through with catacombs
    And resonant with hollow domes
    And yawning gulfs, abysmal spaces
    And divers dark, unfathomed places
    Where echoes die through mere excess
    Of nothingness.

    There’s mystery in holes—a solid thing
    Is never half so interesting;
    It’s fun to poke around in them—to draw the screen
    Away from things long hidden and unseen,
    Like those in Josephine.
    Ten miles of thickest Douglas green
    The little trail winds through,
    That leads you to
    Old Gray Back with his half-closed,
    Crooked eye. How long he’s dosed
    That way—without a blink,
    Who knows? Until Elijah found the chink
    That day he shot the bear—
    Just crippled her enough to tear
    Down through the rocks—a bloody track
    Into the big, black crack;
    And that was back
    Along there in the seventies.
    Dick Rawly tells the story—he’s
    The guide,
    And how he beams with pride
    To see outsiders rave
    About the marvels of his cave,
    As proud of every chamber, niche and shelf
    As if he’d chiseled it himself.

    And Lord! The more you snoop
    Around down there, and scrape and stoop
    To see the things you see,
    The more you think he has a right to be.
    Dick’s different too—he says his say
    As if he’d learned it yesterday
    Instead of when he did.
    With all the ardor of a kid
    He rambles on—it’s always new
    To him, just as it is to you.

    He tells you how the place was formed
    In glacial days, when waters stormed
    And roared and cut their channels through
    The very spot where you
    Stand marveling. Then comes the change.
    The glaciers pass, along the range
    They ride no more, the streams are dried,
    The conflict stops. On every side
    Lime-laden drops begin
    To percolate and filter in—
    The long, cold sweat appears.
    For several hundred thousand years,
    Away from light, away from time,
    Those little drops have oozed their lime.

    Relentless patience must have played
    Its part when all this underworld was made,
    And infinite variety took hand
    When it was planned—
    Or was it planned? Was it intent—
    Or some sublimely perfect accident
    That caused to be
    That marble-fluted canopy
    Above the many-pillowed throne
    That’s shown
    In brilliant, bold relief against our light
    In this Lost Paradise of night.
    And see—
    Upflocking toward the canopy,
    Those baffling forms that cling
    And swarms of pudgy shapes that ride
    In half-lights, side by side.
    And was it chance that made
    The Coral Garden’s gray arcade
    And pillared it and set in place
    Each tiny statuette and grotesque face;
    And petrified the water-falls;
    And hung the walls
    And roofs of all the halls
    With rows of frescoes—pendant, bright,
    And gleaming like a starry night;
    And made the sweetest chimes to ring—
    We heard their clear notes echoing.
    If it was chance, I didn’t find
    It so. To me it seemed a master-mind
    Was lurking there—some spirit born of endless night,
    Transfusing each slow-dropping mite
    Into a wonder-thing
    By deft, fantastic fashioning.

    Dick said
    The place was uninhabited,
    Except for a few bats
    At times and some pack-rats
    That nested near the mouth—but how could he
    Tell what _had_ been? To me
    The place was just _deserted_—that was all!
    Because we heard no laughter fall,
    Nor voices ring,
    Proved not a thing.

    And when
    The first intrusion came of mortal men,
    There must have been a merry muss
    And universal exodus
    Down through those dark recesses there
    And on to undiscovered regions where
    No man may hope to go.
    I would have witnessed such a show!
    Those trooping little refugees
    Of divers personalities
    In babbling groups, by twos and threes,
    With all their household goods—they must have moved
    Them all—the fact is proved
    Conclusively, as there’s no trace
    Of such effects in any place.

    Perhaps the Pix went first—
    They’re fearsome, so I’ve heard, and cursed
    With nerves. And then the Nixie crew,
    The Pix’s shapely cousins who
    Are beautiful—as Nixies go,
    And no less slow
    To move when trouble stirs the air.
    Now comes a flare
    Of lurid light—the rhythmic tramps
    Of Gwelfs who bear their swinging lamps
    Of cocobol;
    A roll
    Of music like bassoons—
    The beating wings of Dragleloons,
    Their patterned pinions show their sheen
    And glow with iridescent green—
    Out trails the light—a glint of scales
    Gives hint of flashing, rainbow tails.

    Now Master Goblin falls in line,
    The chills are jumping in his spine,
    His eyeballs bulge with speechless fear,
    His mouth’s a slit from ear to ear.
    He goes galumping in his boots;
    Behind him thump the Dormizoots,
    And then the Elves.
    From all the crannies, nooks and shelves
    The Wiffles come, and scrambling Wools,
    And Blurbs and jibbering Gabools—
    They stumble, tumble—now they run,
    Each fumbles for the other one,
    Mate calls for mate—
    A seething flux conglomerate
    Of cave-born entities.
    They pant and grunt and squeak and wheeze,
    They stampede, yell,
    And chase pell-mell.
    Through tortuous tunnels walled with light
    The pigmy pageant makes its flight,
    The last far turn is made,
    The swinging flicker-flashes fade,
    The clamor and the cries
    Are dimmed—the babbling tumult dies.

    The palace rooms are dark, the halls of state,
    The Coral Gardens—all are desolate.
    No music falls—
    The conclaves and the carnivals,
    The mystic rites,
    The colors bathed in mellow lights,
    The throbbing life and mirth
    Of all this chambered, nether-earth
    Are gone. Nor will one Elf return
    To ring the crystal chimes or burn
    Strange incense at the pillowed throne,
    Because no Elf was ever known
    To tread again where mortal man
    Has been—nor any of the hybrid clan
    Who must have scampered out of there
    That day Elijah shot the bear.


    When I was just a barefoot tike
    I used to wonder what ’twas like
    Up there—oh way, way up—as high
    As all those screaming gulls could fly—
    So white against the blue;
    And where at evening too
    The whippoorwills croaked, darted, swirled,
    So far above my boyhood world.

    Why, every youngster with two eyes
    Has had his dreams about the skies—
    My dreams have never quit
    Although I’m getting on a bit,
    So one day when it came, this chance,
    I took it—over there in France.

    Upholstered in
    A furry skin—
    I think ’twas sheep, the coat,
    Or maybe cow or goat
    And buckled snug round the throat,
    With helmet, goggles—all the frills,
    A bird-man to the very quills;


    _The hills are flat, the roads are streaks,
     The rivers dwindle into creeks—
     A crazy-quilt of gay brocades
     And all the patches fields and glades._]

    And thus I stood—they laughed,
    While I was photographed.
    And out before the hangar there
    Our gleaming Lizzie of the air—
    A dragon-fly—just poised to stay
    A moment here and then away.
    A little nick dug in her side
    Where one might stick a toe, then slide
    Across the top and drop
    With one more roll
    Into the cockpit cubby-hole—
    From here the young Observer chap
    Snaps photographs and makes his map;
    Since you have filled his place, you are
    Lord High Observer of your car!

    The first thing you observe is not
    To let your feet or legs get caught
    In all those shifts and sliding gears
    And lifts with which the Pilot steers,
    Yanks at the cranks and cable-things
    That work the rudders and the wings;
    And next, that life-belt should be placed
    Just sort of loosely ’round the waist—
    Superfluous no doubt,
    But handy when you’re falling out.

    The noisy motor spits and tugs
    In little fits of chuggy-chugs,
    With chuggy-chug—chug-chug—chug-chick,
    Now chug and chick come double quick—
    The stench of petrol it exhales
    With reeking breath. The old prop’s flails,
    Like some titanic tabby’s purr,
    Churn ’round into a deafening whir.
    Goliath! That’s the breed of her—
    You’ll think so when you catch the stir
    She kicks behind her in her wake
    That moment when she starts to make
    Her lovely take-off—once they’ve wheeled
    Her into line upon the field!

    The Pilot, turning, cries “All set?”
    You grab like cripes and yell “You bet!”
    The grinning ground-men wave good-bye,
    And gathering speed, the dragon-fly
    Moves on. The turf’s a blur—so swift
    It flashes by. You feel no lift
    And yet you rise—you only know
    You float by seeing there below
    The earth receding, while the air
    Would gladly tear
    The helmet from your goggled head.
    You glimpse a house, a barn, a shed—
    You only know them by their tops—
    The profile way of seeing stops.
    The hills are flat, the roads are streaks,
    The rivers dwindle into creeks—
    A crazy-quilt of gay brocades
    And all the patches fields and glades.
    And all around, the quilt is spanned
    By vanishing horizon-land,
    Where fading contours disappear
    In wreaths of violet atmosphere
    That gradually evolve into
    That great inverted bowl of blue.

    And are you dizzy? How absurd!
    You’re not of earth—you are a bird.
    You do not have that toppling feel
    When all beneath you seemed to reel
    That day you peeped in timid fright
    From some cathedral’s pigmy height;
    You are afloat on gleaming wings,
    Not propped up with terrestrial things.

    But look! Hold fast! With wicked tilt
    She’s swinging round. That crazy-quilt,
    The spreading earth, has dropped from view—
    Or so it seems somehow to you
    Until your tangled vision sees
    Fields and rivers, roads and trees,
    Barns and houses—little town,
    Smiling at you, looking down.
    Another twist and there you view
    The sprawling world out under you,
    All right-side-up and in its place—
    The play-ground of the human race—
    Those insects whom you left to creep
    And work and laugh and eat and sleep.
    Perspectives do get twisted quite
    In making one’s initial flight!

    But swift! Low bridge! She mounts the loop!
    You meet the onslaught with a stoop,
    And with her upward-moving course,
    You’re shoved against her with such force,
    That little seat you’re sticking to
    Seems fairly crushing into you.
    Then just as quickly, all has ceased,
    The sudden impact is released,
    You clutch to keep from dropping now,
    You clutch and wonder—marvel how
    She slowly crawls across the top,
    She almost stalls—you think she’ll stop!
    You wonder just how long ’twould take
    To make that trip should something break
    Or slip,
    Or should you loose your grip—
    And if you’d strike a church or what—
    Or just some pleasant garden spot;

    Perhaps you hope a kindly fate
    Would cause you to evaporate
    Into an atmospheric state—
    A sort of cosmic spirit-thing,
    And thus take wing, just fluttering,
    Up toward those pearly portals there,
    So nonchalant and debonair—
    Without all that formality
    Of tumbling first into a tree!

    But see! She’s found an even keel
    At last. What joy to feel
    That level glide—to know you’re still
    On board—until,
    Oh Lord! Another stunt!
    You grab, you grunt,
    But breathe you can’t,
    Her nose has struck a fiendish slant!
    That chuggy-chug—has it gone dead?
    Or has the Pilot lost his head?
    He does not swerve, his aim’s exact,
    He’s Hell-bent for that timber-tract!
    Oh were there ever, ever trees
    With such a prickly look as these?
    They’re coming closer up—and see,
    They’re getting sharper—every tree!

    Now look! She zooms! Agile she springs
    Aloft with taut and straining wings.
    In one great climb she squanders all
    The power she gathered in her fall;
    She leaves the woodlands in her wake,
    She cuts across a marshy lake,
    And dipping gently, circles round
    Above the aviation ground,
    Where field-mechanics stand about
    To lend a hand and help you out—
    To ask you how you liked to drop
    Five thousand feet without a stop,
    And if the loop was all you thought
    A loop would likely be or not?

    You thank them—tell them all how glad
    You were to have the ride you had,
    And then, a trifle limp and white,
    With some slight loss of appetite,
    And with two rather wobbly pegs
    As proxies for your former legs,
    You kick the turf up with your heel
    To reassure yourself it’s real—
    A little woozy still you feel,
    A little dizzy—
    And then you take one long, last look—at Lizzie!
    Thus ends my tale—You’ve got it straight,
    The way we teased and tempted fate,
    Shook off this earthly dust and went
    Hobnobbing with the firmament.



    Now a man’s true heart is his home, I think,
      And the hearth with the crackling pine,
    With the leaping flames and the glowing stones,
      Is somehow its inmost shrine.

    And the stones must come from the river’s bed—
      Softly colorful must they be,
    Like the long-dulled rose and the faded green
      Of an old-time tapestry.

    And the light must fall with a fitful flare
      On the logs in the lichened wall—
    (Oh they must be trees where the squirrel’s shrill note
      Once echoed the bluejay’s call.)

    And the light will leap in the man’s dark eyes
      From the flash of each burning brand,
    And the man will know from its quickening touch,
      The where of a woman’s hand.

    And the fears that weighed till he grew afraid
      Will be turned into nothingness
    With the strength that comes from a tender word
      And the warmth of a soft caress.

    And the long-dreamed dreams of the un-lived days
      Out over the rainbow’s rim—
    They will be more real than the stuff of dreams
      Through her wonderful faith in him.

    And it’s this and that which the hearth gives back
      In the glow of the crackling pine,
    That endears the place to a man’s own soul
      Till it’s somehow his inmost shrine.


    My need, which is my creed, I write upon this scroll—
    Be pleased, oh gracious Lord, to heed the want-ad of my soul.
    A cheer that does not lean upon digestion or the sun—
    Supports itself and never asks a boost of any one.
    To laugh whole-heartedly—or should ill-fortune crowd me in,
    Cause me to smile—give me, oh Lord, at least the gift to grin.
    Not quite too proud, oh Lord, to fight, but if the thing’s to do,
    Then tutor me to battle clean—until the round is through.
    If I have good to speak of men, then may that good be said—
    Let me not hold like miser’s gold my say until they’re dead.
    And Lord, I would be schooled to do with neither pomp nor fuss,
    Some decent thing and yet not feel so thundering virtuous.

    Should gossip drop around to claim my hospitality,
    May I not send him forth again but bid him stop with me.
    And if I have to fore-flush, Lord, to keep up with the brood
    Of Fortune’s darlings, then give me the eagle’s solitude.
    Make this almighty me to know that as I trudge along,
    Perhaps once in ten thousand times I’m likely to be wrong;
    And that by some miraculous, unprecedented flight
    Of lucky stars that shelter him, my neighbor may be right.
    Forbid it that my soul grow stale—let me not be defiled
    Nor cloyed with surfeit—let me keep the ardor of a child.
    Give me imagination, Lord, to see the unseen things—
    To know the yonder, far-off feel that comes when some bird sings.
    Help me to square with all the best traditions of my clan—
    Make me, oh Lord, a regular, real, bang-up, manly man.


    _Give me imagination, Lord,
       To see the unseen things—
     To know the yonder, far-off feel
       That comes when some bird sings._]


    I am a cat and I am cruel!
       But beautiful! My fur
    Is soft. I have deep amber eyes
       And a most pleasing purr.
    I am a plaything for a child
       To pinch or squeeze or pull
    Or to adore with soft caress,
       For I am beautiful.

    I am a cat and I am cruel!
       The upper Nile knew me,
    Roaming and wild. Then hunters came,
       I was no longer free.
    For Egypt had great granaries,
       So came a plague of rats,
    They held us sacred like their gods
       For Egypt needed cats.

    I am a cat. Since Pharaoh’s day
       I am what men call tame,
    But deep in me the lust for gore
       Is lurking just the same.
    Stroke me, I purr—my claws relax,
       I drowse—but for all that
    The murderer in me sleeps not,
       Sleeps not, for I’m a cat.

    My mistress too is beautiful,
       Blue-veined with snowy skin,
    She smooths my fur and cuddles me
       Close to her dainty chin.
    An amorous perfume clings to
       Her soft gown’s silken mesh—
    I only want to smell her blood
       And eat her pretty flesh!

    I love to watch the agony
       Of some affrighted thing,
    Life ebbing scarlet, bit by bit,
       Through my slow torturing.
    I am a cat—this is my life,
       To be a pet until
    The age-long urge bestirs my soul
       And I go forth to kill.

    Through velvet black the paws of me
    Touch oh so soft and noiselessly.
    The burning amber of my eyes
    Pierces the night; the rose-moon dies.
    I hear a twitter in the vine,
    My throat is parched—it craves red wine.
    I lift a foot—and all is well
    Until—until—I shake my bell!
    For she has tied a bell on me,
    A bell—a bell—a bell on me,
    A tinkly bell to tell on me,
    To tell—to tell—to tell on me;
    The bell that foils each move I make,
    The bell that tells my prey awake,
    The single dingle jingle-bell
    The little tittle-tattle bell,
    The bell that holds my stroke in check,
    The cursed bell around my neck.


    You’ve never heard Bill Sunday speak?
    No more had I until last week.
    Yes, every mother’s son
    Was there—bar none,
    And women folks—the kids all came
    Just like it was a baseball game!
    Up to the grove on Dobson’s Hill,
    And there was Bill—
    Thumpin’, jumpin’, hell-fire Bill
    Right from his ranch to spill
    Religion till we’d drunk our fill.

    Well say,
    Since Bill let loose that day
    There’s not a kid ’round here for miles
    But what can juggle more new styles
    Of double-jointed, back-talk stuff
    And compound cursin’ guff
    Than they’d have picked up with their ears
    In twenty years
    From other folks. But to resume,
    Bill started on the temperance boom!
    Statistics? Gosh! Blood-curdlin’ tales—
    He had ’em stacked ’round there in bales,
    With starvin’ children, murdered wives,
    And drunken males with guns and knives.

    The way Bill talked you would have thought
    Our Valley here had gone to pot
    And ruin from the curse of drink.
    But what I think
    Is mostly wrong with this here place
    Is just a simple case
    Of scandal!
    Why, drinkin’ doesn’t hold a candle
    To all the dirty mess that’s stirred
    With every slanderous word
    That’s rolled along—and every time
    It’s shoved a bit, it gathers slime.
    When certain people get together
    It ain’t the weather
    Worries them! Not much! It’s who the heck
    Deserves it hardest in the neck!

    I’ve read somewhere how they could hear
    A little whisper ringin’ clear
    Across the dome
    Of old St. Peter’s there in Rome.
    Well, I have heard a whisper go
    From Hillman’s ranch down there below
    The base-line road, to Eric Lane’s
    Then shoot across and hit MacGrain’s,
    From where it kept on bouncin’ till
    It struck the Hendricks on the hill,
    Then glanced and hit our house kerzip,
    Two days exactly on the trip!
    Though whisperin’s good down there in Rome,
    We’ve some acoustics here at home.

    Accordin’ to Amanda Higgins,
    Jim Gillan’s wild on Mrs. Wiggins;
    That’s why Jim’s wife goes ’round so white
    And frets her heart out day and night.
    Accordin’ to Matilda Blink
    “That teacher last year used to drink—
    She roamed at will with Ruf MacGrore,
    Who was immoral to the core;
    That car Zeb Brinker bought for Blanche
    Meant one more mortgage on their ranch,
    While Hiram Tyler, he sets back
    And drives the same old squeaky hack
    And makes his wife and daughters face
    Shame and disgrace—
    Old Hiram who has laid away
    Enough to pay
    For twenty cars—
    My stars!”
    So runs the gospel link by link
    Accordin’ to Matilda Blink.

    Of course you can’t gainsay the claim
    That some small flame
    Of truth might be
    Where gossip’s smoke blows ’round so free,
    But oh the misery that’s begun
    When each poor family skeleton
    Is wakened from its peaceful trance
    And made to dance
    A shandigee
    For all the blame community.

    What’s wanted most around this place
    Is supernatural grace.
    If we could find
    Some heavenly-antiseptic kind
    Of moral mouth-wash that would take
    A slanderous tongue and make
    It CLEAN—and God knows there
    Would have to be enough to spare
    For all of us—both wives and men,
    To take a gargle now and then—
    If we could ever hope
    To find that kind of dope,
    Our little parson on the hill
    As well as Bill,
    Could save a precious pile
    Of energy and rest a while.


    John had the “con,” the Doctor said.
    He stayed around the house and read
    Most of the time or worked at such
    Chores as would not exert him much
    And slept on the veranda where
    The Doctor thought was better air.

    Each little thing the family knew
    Would make him happier, they’d do.
    “He won’t be with us long,” they’d say,
    Then scrap and wrangle on, the way
    That families do when rounding curves,
    Each getting on the other’s nerves
    With back-bite, spit-fire—loading full
    The fleeting hours per usual.

    At times of utmost unction, Bill
    Would be the goat—on him they’d spill
    The general peeve and blame. Bill stood
    The gaff to help the common good.
    One day Bill up and got the flu
    And did what flu-folks sometimes do—

    He died. Three days was all he took.
    He lay there in a curtained nook;
    It hit them sort of by surprise
    To see him there with calm, closed eyes
    And flowers all ’round and all so still.
    They stood there looking down on Bill
    And sobbed as families do when caught
    So sudden like—they looked and thought
    Of all the times they’d given him Hell;
    And John—oh yes, poor John got well.


    He chose to do his stint by deed—
    Not words but action was his creed;
    When at his door some need would knock,
    He gave—and wasted little talk.

    He never had too big a load
    To ease the traveller on the road;
    His hearth was warm—so was his bed
    And no one left his house unfed.
    He did not gossip—if he talked
    ’Twas well advised—he never knocked;
    He never knocked nor did he raise
    At any time his voice in praise;
    The little gracious things folks say,
    He left them out—it was his way.

    He left so many out that they
    Who shared his roof from day to day,
    Went hungering in their souls the while
    For just a pleasant word or smile.
    It was as if he’d gone and made
    A covenant with God to aid
    His fellowman—so far as he
    Could help that man materially;
    But as for giving from his store
    Those gifts the heart keeps longing for—
    And lacking which goes beggaring—
    Well that was quite another thing.

    Somehow I think that such an one
    Leaves half his task in life undone.


    The whelp who did the trick, I think he knows—
    I think he feels it everywhere he goes.
    A dog knows he’s a dog—there’s no pretend,
    He starts out dog and he’s dog to the end.
    At that, he’s got a dog’s sense of what’s right
    And lives dog-loyalty according to his light.
    And when a man less than a dog, he knows—
    Though he may look like man and wear man’s clothes,
    He knows the scut he is beneath it all.
    The dog knew too—that’s why he tried to crawl
    Back home—up to his kennel by the shed—
    Dragged all the way—just like a lump of lead,
    Because no self-respecting, decent hound
    Would want to die upon his poisoner’s ground
    If he could get away. Just what the use
    Was, doing it—or what kind of excuse
    He had, is more than I can figure out.
    We raised that yellow hound—he’s gone about
    For five years now and he was decent stuff,
    And there’s no reason I know good enough
    For what he got. A poisoner’s not the kind
    To say—“That yellow cur of yours—you’ll find
    Him here—I murdered him!” Or else—“That hound
    You’ve got up there—I poisoned him, I found
    Him running round my stable-yard today.”
    When he’s through with his job, he doesn’t say
    Those things, because it’s not a poisoner’s way—
    His secret’s kept between himself and God
    And that dumb brute that rots beneath the sod.


    A shingled shack beneath a hill,
    A clump of alders—dangling still
    Their russet leaves and just below,
    A creek half-filled with ice and snow;
    A chicken-coop and little pens—
    Against the snow some rust-red hens;
    A cow, a child with ragged coat—
    And by the fence a billy-goat.

    These were the things that caught my eye
    From a car-window passing by.
    To me it was a hill, a brook,
    A house caught in a passing look;
    But to the child with ragged coat
    It was the house, the hill, the goat.
    To me and to each other eye
    That saw as we went swiftly by,
    It was one rill of many rills,
    One hill among a thousand hills,
    One little man-made blotch upon
    A changing ’scape that’s come and gone—
    Oh what a difference there can be
    ’Twixt little things like A and The.


    Evergreen, holly and mistletoe,
      Heigho and a Christmas night!
    Wind in the pines and drifting snow,
      Stars and a world of white.

    Oh, the joyful Christmas music!
      There’s a carol—do you hear?
    Have you caught the thrill of gladness
      On this night of all the year?
    Golden bells and shining baubles,
      Spangled angels—do you see?
    Silvered globes and painted soldiers,
    Gay and gallant, gaudy soldiers,
      Dangling from the Christmas tree.

    There are candles, gleaming candles,
      Down and ’round and overhead,
    Twinkling, blinking ’twixt the branches,
      Candles pink and blue and red.
    Christmas candles, waxen candles,
      Once so hard but soft’ning now,
    Candles that the flames are melting,
    Tiny Yuletide flames are melting,
      Melting on the greenwood bough.

    There is love and grace abounding
      In the vibrant Christmas air.
    Has it touched you? Has it thrilled you?
      Have you felt it pulsing there?
    Where the hearthstone of your heart is?
      Or have all the wintry years
    Only left beneath their drifting,
    ’Neath their cold and cheerless drifting,
      Cherished wrongs and bitter tears?

    Is there nothing in the spirit
      Of the garlands and the wreathes?
    Is there nothing in the message
      That the fragrant balsam breathes?
    Is there nothing in the legend
      Of the Christ-child that can move
    The lifeless souls of mortals,
    The bleak, gray souls of mortals
      To forgiveness, grace and love?

    Oh, the hearts that beat resentment
      While the Yuletides come and go,
    Hearts that crave one little token,
      Hearts too proud to have it so.

    Christmas magic, may it move them,
      Wheresoever rankle be,
    Melt them as the flaming beacons,
    As the radiant Yuletide beacons
      Melt the candles on the tree.

    Evergreen, holly and mistletoe,
      Heigho and a Christmas night!
    Wind in the pines and drifting snow,
      Stars and a world of white.


    There’s holly on our lawn—all year
    It grows, and when the Yuletide’s here
    And others from the market bring,
    We take from our tree’s burgeoning
    And with each gleaming emerald spray
    Our house is glad on Christmas day.
    Throughout the year our holly tree
    Tells of a Christmas that’s to be
    And like its own rich evergreen
    Keeps fresh the Yuletides that have been—
    One—long ago near Galilee—
    I’m glad we have a holly tree.



    Lickety-klang! Lickety-klang!
    Boom-a-lang! Boom-a-lang! Boom!
    Swishity-swish! Kettle and dish!
    Out of the kitchen and room!
    Room! Room!

    Steam up the water hotter and hotter,
    Tin an’ enamel-ware, linen an’ camel-hair
    Into the boiler and tubs, tubs, tubs!
    Erin’s fair daughter, prime for the slaughter,
    Tumbled and tawny-like, hefty and brawny-like,
    Promptly at seven and rubs, rubs, rubs!

    Mouth like a grotto! No hippopotto
    Rushes his ration so, shuns mastication so—
    No hippopotto would dare, dare, dare!
    Coffee and tater—into the crater,
    Front of stalactites, molars for back-bites
    Crunching away with a tear, tear, tear!

    Blazes are dwindling, shove in the kindling,
    All the pajamas on—see how the Amazon
    Mixes the pudding of duds, duds, duds!
    Skirts and chemises, shirts, B. V. D-ses,
    Stir them around again—unwound and wound again,
    Swirled in a vortex of suds, suds, suds!

    Rinse ’em and ring ’em, twist ’em and sling ’em
    Out of the stewing-place into the bluing-place,
    Whiter and whiter they grow, grow, grow!
    One more ablution—careful, that ruchin’!
    Purged all the finery, pinned on the linery,
    Swinging away there like snow, snow, snow!

    Wash-lady Bridget’s weary old digits—
    Would she complain of it? Fume at the strain! of it?
    Not if she dropped in the way, way, way!
    Now ends the tubbing—home to more grubbing,
    Back to that man of hers and that wee clan of hers,
    Back at the end of the day, day, day!

    Shirts and chemises caught by the breezes,
    Fluttering nigh to her, waving good-bye to her,
    Gorgeous and gold in the sun, sun, sun!
    Aprons of gingham—how she did ring ’em,
    Sheets blowing billowy, hose limp and willowy,
    Praise be to Bridget—they’re done, done, done!

    Lickety-klang! Lickety-klang!
    Boom-a-lang! Boom-a-lang! Boom!
    Swishity-swish! Kettle and dish!
    Out of the kitchen and room!
    Room! Room!


    When Jim gets to it he’s goin’ to fix
    The front door where it always sticks,
    And oil the hinges where they squeak
    And put new shingles on the leak
    That trickled down and ruined all
    The paper on the spare-room wall.
    He’s goin’ to take a piece of lead
    And mend the drain-pipe, so he said,
    By solderin’ up that pesky chink
    Down underneath the kitchen sink;
    And nail the loose boards on the floors
    And patch up all the fly-screen doors.

    When Jim gets to it he’s goin’ to clean
    The wood-shed like you’ve never seen,
    And hang the hoes and rakes on racks,
    And shake out all the gunny-sacks,
    And all the empty cans and truck
    And old gum-boots he’s goin’ to chuck,
    And leave a place big enough
    For all the mops and brooms and stuff.
    And oh the wood he’s goin’ to chop!
    When Jim gets to it there’ll be a crop
    Of kindlin’ that will see you through
    At least a dozen years or two.

    When Jim gets to it he’s goin’ to take
    And fix his teeth so they won’t ache,
    Especially some molars there
    That’s just got wrecked through wear and tear—
    Their nerves had ought to first be killed
    And ’bout a dozen others filled.
    He’s goin’ to have some X-ray man
    Examine him if he can
    Find why he’s been so plagued of late
    Along his spinal vertebrate.

    He’s goin’ to take and drown I guess
    ’Bout ninety kittens more or less,
    That make a point of hangin’ round
    The kitchen door and gettin’ wound
    Up in your feet so that you squash
    A kitten with each step, by Gosh!

    There’s lots of things that Jim declares
    Each day will want some new repairs;
    The barnyard gate is far from straight
    And saggin’ pretty low of late;
    The buck-saws will need filin’ soon
    The new piano’s out of tune,
    The wagon-reach is split and may
    Capsize a cargo any day.

    It seems like quite a lot to do,
    But I suppose he’ll see it through
    When nothin’ else is crowdin’ him
    Nor pressin’ on his mind, and Jim
    Is feelin’ fairly fit and prime—
    But when it comes to that there time
    I guess it’s not too much to say
    That Jim will have one busy day.


[Sidenote: Wherein the reader is instructed in certain mysteries. He
acquainteth himself with the multiple personages of the little drama.]

    Our kitchen’s full of flies an’ things,
      A billion very near,
    And though they’re tantalizin’ things,
    At times they’re tantalizin’ things,
      They give it atmosphere.
    A kitchen is more kitchy when
      The flies are everywhere,
    And work goes on less hitchy when,
    A hundred times less hitchy when
      There’s music in the air.
    When chilly their stupidity
      Is really quite a deal,
    They like the mild humidity,
    They much prefer humidity,
      It helps them uncongeal.

[Sidenote: With the advent of day a new life dawns—there is bustle and
activity and all the ether is jubilant with praise.]

    It’s then they totter ’round a bit
      And gradually relax,
    Their wings begin to sound a bit,
    To sizz and sing and sound a bit
      Abaft their beady backs.
    Anon the whole community
      Is pulsing through the void,
    Each purrs his little tunity
    His titillating tunity
      With pleasure unalloyed.
    Some for the unwashed dishes steer,
      They joy to congregate
    Where fragmentary fishes smear.
    Where frequent flecks of fishes smear
      The surface of a plate.

[Sidenote: After bodily comfort and satiety a care-free spirit fireth
their souls to further conquest.]

    And how they love to wallow in
      A bowl of batter, oh
    How they do love to swallow in,
    To sip and sup and swallow in
      Those drippy dabs of dough.
    They’re happy and go-lucky and
      They’re irresponsible,
    They’ve predilections mucky and,
    Most mushy-mush and mucky and
      They gorge until they’re full.
    Betimes they gallivanting go
      To forage where they may,
    With buzzy minors chanting low,
    With chirpy chirrups chanting low,
      They drone a roundelay.

[Sidenote: Imbued with an inherent love of cleanliness, their
antiseptic endeavors are pursued with almost a religious fervor.]

    When one is very fortunate
      He summons with his hums,
    With thrumming most importunate,
    Impatiently importunate,
      His gummy little chums.
    But when they’ve slaked their appetites
      They pause a while because
    The stuffed and wheezy happy mites,
    The puffed and greasy happy mites
      Desire to dry their paws.
    They rub their front ones violently,
      They rub them to the tips,
    They rub them very silently,
    They slip and slide them silently
      Until they’re dry as chips.

[Sidenote: How love of family together with a wholesome disposition for
outdoor sports, tendeth to produce the ideal citizen.]

    In manner quite identical,
      They manicure with stress
    Each tiny, hinder tentacle,
    Each sticky, tickly tentacle
      That’s draggled through the mess.
    They’re fond of domesticity
      And always striving to
    Facilitate felicity,
    A frolicsome felicity,
      As all good flies should do.
    Their games are often nautical,
      They dearly love to plunge
    In milk-bowl depths aquatical,
    In quivery depths aquatical
      With lacteal lurch and lunge.

[Sidenote: A wanton spirit of recklessness worketh dire mischief.]

    But when the cream is thick enough
      They dance along the top,
    Their dancing must be quick enough,
    Alert and spick and quick enough,
      Forestalling any stop;
    In which eventuality
      Their limbs are soon involved
    In struggling with mortality,
    With miry, moist mortality
      Until they’re quite dissolved.
    And thus a woeful paucity
      Of wits within their pates,
    May, with their curiosity,
    Their curbless curiosity,
      Precipitate dire straits.

[Sidenote: How one who lacketh the art of divination yet abounding in a
foolish optimism, may unwarily enter into the very jaws of destruction.]

    For instance they’ll go hovering
      With lack-wit dawdling drone,
    And near without discovering,
    Detecting or discovering
      A lurking danger zone.
    Their kinsmen multifarious
      Are strewn upon a sheet
    In poses strange and various,
    Vituperative, various,
      With upturned toes and feet.
    They read in big, black typing there
    They see their comrades griping there,
    Grimacing, gripping, griping there,
      And yet they don’t get wise.

[Sidenote: With unavailing penitence they rue the day of woe and
reckoning. Death and destruction hold the stage—the curtain falls.]

    And they that were so cheerupy,
      Who flew the air so free,
    Now on that surface syrupy,
    So sinister and syrupy,
      Bemoan their misery.
    They kick with motions panicky
      Until they’ve quite unlatched
    Their divers parts organicky,
    Orchestral and organicky,
      With feet and legs detached.
    Until most penitentially
      With slow surcease of toils,
    Their souls float out eventually,
    Evacuate eventually,
      Their mangled mortal coils.

[Sidenote: The reader is admonished to a life of gentleness and

    And so I’ve tried to tune a verse
      Or so, to eulogize
    Our kitchen’s little universe,
    Unique, unnumbered universe
      Of busy, buzzy flies.
    With measures lilting, lyrical
      I’ve striven to describe
    In ballad panegyrical—
    In part it’s panegyrical,
      This much despiséd tribe.
    And if I’ve touched the heart of you,
      Oh promise me you’ll try
    To crush that naughty party of you,
    That pugilistic part of you
      And NEVER swat a fly.


    Now Cloud Cap’s near to Cooper Spur
      Hard by the timber-line,
    Above it looms the mountain and
      Below it blooms the pine.

    It’s reared of logs and sits bang up
      Right pert upon a crag,
    And through the roof a chimney’s built
      Of hacked volcanic slag.

    We gathered ’round the fireplace there—
      The guide, the guests and me,
    The Junior from New Haven and
      The man from Tennessee.

    We’d had a rousing dinner of
      Spaghetti and roast-lamb,
    Substantially supported by
      A chowder made of clam.

    We talked about the morrow and
      The perils of the hike,
    About the snowy crater there
      And what it all was like.

    We got along to bergschrunds and
      Erosion and seracs,
    And that kind of queer explosion when
      A nervous serac cracks.

    We figured out how long ’twould take
      (We all submitted plans)
    To parcel-post a glacier’s ice
      By shipping it in cans.

    We talked of starry nebulæ,
      Auroras, comets’ tails,
    Toads found alive in sandstone rock
      And ice-imprisoned whales;

    Suspended animation and
      The tribe of Dinosaurs,
    (Just here the man from Tennessee
      Passed ’round some good cigars);

    We stated and we countered in
      A wordy-wise delirium
    About the reptile Dinosaur
      And mammal Dinotherium.

    In short we talked of everything
      That people talk about
    When sparring for a last word more
      To help the conflab out.

    We sprawled a bit, we yawned and stretched,
      We lumberingly arose
    And brought a most loquacious night
      Abruptly to a close.

    A dozen moments afterwards,
      A dozen drowsy heads
    Had hit a dozen pillows on
      A dozen downy beds.

    For prostrate with their hikings were
      A dozen pair of shanks
    As they slept the sleep of Vikings ’neath
      The wood-rat riddled planks.

    The old Inn shook and trembled with
      A rat-a-tat-a-tat,
    As all the blustering four winds blew
      Like Great Jehoshaphat—

    Like Blazes blew and Blitzen, banged
      The window-sash till sud-
    denly the thing just opened with
      One gosh-almighty thud.

    Then quickly—as if conscious of
      Such ill-timed, boorish riot,
    Those shrieking, spiteful, frightful winds
      Became most meek and quiet;

    And in the lull there rolled a dull,
      Strange gurgle in my ear
    And through the window-space I saw
      A monstrous thing appear—

    A snow-white critter, giant-high,
      With trunk and pussy’s paws—
    In short his make-up seemed exempt
      From all of Nature’s laws.

    A husky, tusky Titan growth
      With squidgy, squinty eyes—
    I drew the covers closer up—
      The creature said “Arise!”

    “Not so, old Scout,” I squiddled out,
      “Bed’s good enough for me!”
    His trunk moved slowly toward my bunk,
      The monster said “We’ll see!”

    “Then who are you and what’s your game?”
      (I tried to be as calm as
    A man can be while shivering
      In only silk pajamas.)

    “To thus intrude your presence rude,
      You big Albino cur!”
    “What’s that!” said he, “You don’t know me—
      I am a Dino, Sir!”

    “A Dinosaur? The heck you are!
      From your get-up I’ll swan
    You’re what our scientific sharks
      Have dubbed a Mastodon!

    A rare, old wooly specimen
      ’Mongst fossil Pachyderms!”
    “For what they claim I’m not to blame,
      I have no knack at terms;

    “I only know I say what’s so,
      A Dino’s what I be—
    Because your experts get things wrong—
      That doesn’t bother me.

    “I am a Dino—or to be
      A little more exact,
    I am a Dino’s aura, Sir!
      A Dino’s ghost in fact!

    “I overheard your talk tonight
      About our ancient clan—
    I grew absorbed, I got a hunch,
      Thinks I ‘At last—my man!’

    “You spoke of ice-imprisoned whales—
      Oh little did you know
    The way that touched my heart that pulsed
      A million years ago—

    “My other heart that lies so still
      Within my frozen fur—
    My other heart upon the hill
      Deep in yon glacier.

    “Oh could I break that crystal mold
      Where I’ve been doomed to freeze
    Down in that gloom and bitter cold
      For untold centuries,

    “I’m sure my heart would pulse again,
      Those haunches limber grow,
    And I could roam as once I did—
      Once in the Long-ago!

    “There is an ice-cave known to none,
      Leads to that Mausoleum,
    And he that was that other me
      Rests there where you shall see him.

    “So come and look—perhaps you could
      Evolve some keen device
    To extricate my stiffened shanks
      From out that flux of ice,

    “And I will bear you back, I swear,
      As I’m a Dino’s spirit,
    To this here shack before the crack
      Of daylight—never fear it!”

    “But Brother—” here you will observe
      How friendly we’d become,
    “For me to go up there tonight
      With You—is going Some!

    “And such a task! What could I do?
      ’Twould weigh so mighty on
    My mortal shoulders—and besides
      I’ve but my nightie on!”

    “Why don’t you see” replied the wraith,
      “What faith I’ve got in you—
    Who’d parcel-post a glacier’s ice
      In cans—what can’t you do?

    “Some high explosive you could get
      Like dynamite and blow
    Me out from all my frigid plight—
      It could be done, I know.”

    “It could be done,” I said, “but then
      The risk you run is heightened—
    The dyna-MITE blow bones and all—
      And then again it mightn’t!”

    I looked to see—perhaps the pun
      Had punched his ponderous thinker—
    His countenance was passive quite,
      He never winked a blinker.

    But then his wraithy nut, I ween,
      Was shadow-celled—not solid,
    Hence this hiatus in his bean,
      His manner grave and stolid.

    “This dynamiting Dinos is
      Quite risky in the main—
    Although you haven’t much to lose
      And quite a bit to gain!”

    “I’ll chance it—come!” the Dino said,
      “There’s little time to lose—
    We ghosts you know, can only romp
      While other people snooze.”

    His trunk galumpled toward my bunk,
      It snoodled till it found me,
    Then with a firm but gentle squeeze
      It wrapped itself around me;

    It lifted me into the air
      Out toward the window-sash—
    The lamp upon the table there
      Fell with a telltale crash,

    Which roused my next-door neighbor up,
      The man from Tennessee,
    Who with his light came rushing in
      To learn what it could be.

    Of course no wraith can stand the light—
      It must have made him sore
    To have his trunk dissolve in night
      While I sprawled on the floor.

    As for the man from Tennessee
      And what had just occurred—
    With me in my pajamas there,
      I told him not a word.

    I told him nothing for I knew
      He’d never understand—
    I asked him just to get a rag
      And wrap my bruiséd hand.


    We have a cat of common gray—
    In fact a plain and everyday
    Old Tab—to be exact I’d say
    She’s common in most every way.

    She’s common in her manners quite,
    She’s never known the word “polite,”
    When dining with her neighbors, _might_
    To her cat mind is always _right_.

    She’s common in her diet too—
    Cheese, liver, milk, or cold beef-stew—
    And when at last she finds she’s through,
    She licks her chops as most cats do.

    She’s common for the reason that
    No chipmunk, gopher, mouse or rat
    Is sure she won’t cave in his slat
    To decorate our kitchen-mat.

    She’s common in the way she’ll toy
    With life—decoy and then annoy
    And torture with cool, fiendish joy
    The thing she would at last destroy.

    She’s common in the motherly
    Devotion with which she can see
    Her kits lick up the blood—to be
    Eventually as cruel as she.

    She’s common in the attitude
    Which she’s persistently pursued
    Toward rearing up a meowing brood—
    Twice every year the stunt’s renewed.

    She’s common in the view she’d share
    With all those poor folks who declare
    That the community should care
    For all the young they choose to bear.

    Indeed so common is she here,
    That should we count each little dear
    That’s littered every fiscal year,
    (Her seventh winter’s drawing near),

    Allowing six to every score,
    (At times it’s less but mostly more),
    The tally would not figure lower
    Than somewhere say—near eighty-four.

    But as four out of every six
    Are ferried ’cross the River Styx
    And swiftly rendered good for nix
    Before they register their kicks,

    And whereas those that still remain
    In order to relieve the strain
    And thus assuage a mother’s pain
    Until her grief is on the wane,

    Are likewise held beneath the spout,
    Or soon or later parcelled out
    To someone who beyond a doubt
    Enjoys the feel of cats about,

    It will be fitting to observe
    That we have done our best to serve
    This purring matron through each curve
    Of her plain, boundless, common nerve.

    We’ve done our best—as one may see,
    To quell each base antipathy,
    That she—our Tab might still be free
    To rear her endless progeny.


    Look out! Don’t touch me, man, I’m sore!
      I’m ulcerous—I’m more,
    I boil, I fume, I sizzle, I’m
      Cantankerous to the core.

    A blister that is being shaved,
      A wild cat up a tree.
    A chestnut-bur with every spur
      An exposed nerve—that’s me!

    I am the heat that turns to flame
      When in Fate’s glass is caught
    The world’s choice store of toughest luck
      And focused on one spot.

    What’s wrong? Why, eighty dozen things,
      Each one of which would stall
    An ORDINARY man—it’s just
      My rotten day, that’s all!

    What’s that? Cheer up? Say that again!
      No, don’t—just—go away!
    I’ve never killed a man before—
      I mustn’t start today.


        When the Man of Galilee spoke of “The Tree of
      Life” the metaphor was used advisedly. Is not a tree
      the very essence of life unfolding hour by hour and
      day by day—the harbinger of beauty on mountain
      and plain, the salvation of the waste-places, the
      antithesis of all monotony? The tender green of young
      trees in the sunlight, the golden laughter of autumn
      boughs, the loneliness of leafless trees against the
      sunset sky, the mystery of solemn contours drenched
      in moonlight, the cold, white loveliness of trees in
      winter—what would earth be without these things? And
      could the mind of man conceive a treeless heaven?

        When the Great Love has stirred your soul and
      you are one with the Tribe of Trees through the
      blood-brotherhood of common understanding, you will
      see a deal of this humanity of ours mirrored in the
      multifarious tree-life of our western hills. Gird
      yourself with an open mind, take Fancy with you
      and go forth—learn of the old men, chat with the
      gossips, question the seers, ponder the heraldry of
      their ancient totems—do these things and you will
      return with Wisdom, and Joy will dance in the heart
      of you.


    We are the hosts innumerable who ride
    Upon the hills—who stride
    The plains and surge upon the mountainside.
    We are the onward-sweeping tide
    Of ceaseless growth, the countless entities
    Of all the rolling, emerald seas
    Of timber-land—we are the Trees!

    The dam who suckles us is Earth,
    She gives us birth
    And when
    Our night is come, she claims her own again.
    We live to grow and to this end
    Recurring seasons lend
    Their favor; Winter comes, our labors cease,
    It is a time of cold, white peace;
    When Spring walks jubilantly through the land
    We know the hour of increase is at hand;
    Then stirs our forest-heart and sap runs free—
    The sap which is the life-blood of a tree.
    Our skin is bark, and fiber is our flesh
    And through the pores of every fresh
    Green leaf, we breathe. Our good?
    Is to make wood;
    To hold in check the floods that devastate;
    To mediate
    Between the Heavens and the Earth,
    That there shall be no dearth
    Of water nor excess—yet still enough
    Stored in our forest floor of matted duff
    To save the land from barrenness,
    And when we tender less
    Than this, or stop
    From making wood, we’re dead! In time, we drop,
    And when we drop, we rot.
    Such is our lot; our lives are fraught
    With much vicissitude, not always free
    To shape our destiny—
    A tale where each slow-born event
    Is moulded by environment.

    And there is stuff
    Enough of drama if the rough,
    Rude story were all told—a stage
    Where age-
    Old patriarchs make way
    For jostling, upstart youth and gay,
    Bepainted courtezans and those who weep
    With trailing tears; and anchorites who keep
    Their solitary trysts; and those who sing;
    And gossips bent in whispering;
    Defiant wretches of the sod,
    Hurling invective at their God;
    Or those whose arms in priestly-wise
    Turn supplicating to the skies,
    Or stoop to bless
    With benediction and caress;
    And gnarled hags
    And misshaped monsters of the crags;
    And moon-white hosts
    Of beckoning ghosts.

    With wild, spendthrift magnificence
    The stage is set—immense
    And primal. Flash
    And flood and thunder-crash,
    Devouring flame and scattered dead
    And silences that hang like lead.
    Enough for drama if the rough
    Rude story were all told;
    A tale as old
    As dusk, as new as dawn—
    The play is always going on—
    The curtain’s never drawn.


    I am the oldest and the biggest thing
    That lives—a link forever lengthening,
    That binds the vanished THEN fast to
    The fleeting NOW. I grew—
    Each ’circling ring bespoke a year,
    Recording there
    My prospering—or marked perchance
    Some hindering of circumstance.
    This towering shaft in armored front
    Of thickest bark, has borne the brunt
    Of frost and flame; it has endured
    Through countless plagues and is inured
    To all the ravagings
    Of crawling things.

    My grizzled head has glimpsed the wax
    And wane of comets and the tracks
    Of trailing meteors; and I
    Have watched across the sky
    Of time,
    Young nations rise and reach their prime
    And then grow dim again.
    I was a sturdy sapling when
    Gray Egypt reared the slave-hewn stones
    That hearsed the bones
    Of Rameses; and full two thousand folds and more
    Had sealed my red heart’s inmost core
    When He drew breath—
    The Christ of little Nazareth.


    _I am the oldest and the biggest thing
     That lives—a link forever lengthening,
     That binds the vanished THEN fast to
     The fleeting NOW._]

    I’ve kept my long-established place
    And I am solid—crown to base;
    My heart is sound, my bole is straight,
    My limbs hang with an even weight,
    I do not sag and there is no
    Near gully where the freshets flow
    To undermine my roots. God planned
    It so, and by his grace I’ll stand
    Against the centuries still.
    So will I fill
    My destiny—
    To be
    A messenger—to carry on, to give
    Tomorrow’s children who shall live
    When this fair present’s passed away,
    The legend of my yesterday.


    I am the grisly claws
    Of this crestfallen spruce that was.
    Almighty tall he grew and straight—
    I bore his Lordship’s weight
    For some odd centuries, and great
    It was to see a tree so fine
    In bulk and splendid in design.
    His portly tons increased with age
    While I sprawled in the cellarage,
    And when winds tossed his noble head
    I knew how shallow was my bed,
    For in my youth I led
    A rambling life, quite free from toil;
    I sucked the soggy surface-soil,
    I did not deem it worth
    The while to pierce the deeper earth
    To make my base a solid thing
    Against the days of reckoning.
    My tangled talons forked far out,
    They squirmed and twisted round about,
    They radiated from my crown—
    They went _along_ but never _down_.

    Once now and then some minstrel breezes strolled
    Our way—they bowled
    Old-timers down. The ground
    Was strewn with windfalls all around;
    A rendezvous
    For every breeze that blew
    For miles—a test
    I’ll warrant for the best
    Of trees and doom for all the rest.
    Great strapping fellows—hale and well
    To look upon, but how they fell!
    A crack! A bump!
    A splintered, jagged stump!
    And how the pride of some did smart
    To have a rotted heart
    Torn open thus—relentlessly exposed!
    Meanwhile his Lordship posed—
    The peer without a flaw!
    And he was held in very proper awe—
    He saw his rivals snapped like straws,
    And still he stood—while I dug in my claws.

    I knew that it would come—some gust would blow
    To spill him low.
    His great bole swayed
    And trembled like a barley-blade,
    His lifelong balance-line he tottered past—
    The die was cast,
    For there was no rebound.
    The ground
    Ripped as he rocked
    And with the crash my roots unlocked.

    In such a wise—upturned by fate,
    I was exalted from my low estate.
    I am a monstrous thing to see,
    A flat, misshapen prodigy
    Of towsie tentacles and mud and stones
    And twisted bones—
    A ghastly secret raised to smear
    This forest nobleman’s career.


    By crowding upward toward the light
    Day and night,
    We lift (the lifting never stops)
    Our panoply of towering tops.
    We are all height and gloom;
    We have no room,
    No place
    For our own brothers in the race
    For light; if they can not keep pace
    With us, nor reach as high,
    They die!

    Our lancet-stems are clean like stalks of grain,
    Thus we maintain
    Our creed, which is to rise
    In unspoiled beauty toward the skies—
    We make no compromise!
    Across the fire-swept areas our seeds
    Are blown, to drop among the weeds.
    A little while they lie
    And germinate, and by and by
    WE spring—a sapling here—and there—
    And everywhere,
    Elbowing in
    Through chinkapin
    And rhododendrons and the crush
    Of maple brush;
    Before we know,
    We’ve grown into a forest, while below
    We glimpse the copse
    And see the tops
    Of things
    That have become our underlings.

    There are no thicker stands
    Than ours, in all the Northwest lands—
    By grace of rivalry we grow so straight,
    And thrive and dominate.


    _Our lancet-stems are clean like stalks of grain,
     Thus we maintain
     Our creed, which is to rise
     In unspoiled beauty toward the skies._]


    Among the evergreens I grow
    All summer long—they do not know—
    I look so much as if I were
    An honest upright kind of fir.
    I even think they envy me,
    My fronds show such a filigree
    Of needlework, all interlaced—
    They do not know I’m double-faced.
    I am as straight as any lance
    And so I win their confidence;
    I know their inmost secret things,
    I hear their softest murmurings,
    I listen and maintain my mien—
    They think I am an evergreen!

    But when the summer goes,
    October knows! October knows!
    For then my needles turn to gold,
    I stand a traitor to the fold,
    I am the turncoat of the pack—
    The yellow-flaming tamarack!
    I hoist my shining staff,
    I give them all the laugh,
    Until my golden needles drop
    And sober up. I’ve had my fling—
    Next spring
    When I am seen
    Again, I’ll be an evergreen!


    The rocks and sands of Monterey—
    Nourished me
    Beside the sea.
    My age? It matters not—
    It was enough to batter me a bit; I’ve got
    My own credentials of what’s what.
    The way my flattened trunk is worn
    Shows well enough I was not born
    Into this planet yesterday; whoever will
    Can count my rings the day I fall—until
    That time, the secret I have kept
    Shall sleep as it has slept.

    Had fate dealt otherwise, I might have been
    Bestowed in safety with my kin
    To landward there, a half-mile in—
    Most orthodox and prim
    In trunk and limb.
    For such an orthodoxy, bah, who’d give
    Two grains of sand—they do not live!
    They’ve nothing to _combat_. I get
    The first-hand give-and-take; the wet,
    Flung spray, the savage shoulder-drive
    Of unspent blasts—on these I thrive.

    And then I watch—for me
    The sweep of sea,
    Unbroken, beautiful. I get the first
    Of everything. I see the burst
    Of evening clouds unrolled
    Upon a palpitating field of gold.
    Shot through with fiery javelins that dart
    Up from the sun’s red heart.
    So passes out my day. My night
    Is moon and mist and light
    Of stars—I keep
    The sweep
    Of sky and sea—
    Which somehow seems all made for me.


    When my skin is newly green,
    When it’s turned a copper sheen,
    When it’s flushed to ruddiness like rich, old wine,
    Seek me in the wilderness,
    Seek me in my gleaming dress,
    Seek me in the shadows of the covering pine.

    Lace of leafy malachite
    Letting in the splashing light,
    Dappling all my full, round limbs with leopard gold;
    Lovely as a mottled snake,
    Grace in every curve I make,
    Amorously beautiful my arms unfold.

    Never was a gypsy maid
    More audaciously arrayed,
    Never half so ravishing or so fair—
    Topaz clusters, look at them,
    Set in Autumn’s diadem,
    Dazzling in the darkness of my thick, green hair.


    I do not like the cloistered wood
    And little good
    I find in forest gloom,
    I much prefer the elbow-room
    Of well-spaced groves, earth kempt and free
    Of undergrowth; to be
    Respectfully removed, with green
    And pleasant interludes between,
    And in the middle distance see
    My fellows grouped fraternally
    Against a haze of blue; beyond, a maze
    Of trunks receding till they all
    Seem drawn together in a wall
    Where every tree
    Is lost in dark uncertainty.


    _A strange
     Unearthly beauty I have known
     When like a hyacinth full-blown
     I’ve stood
     Upon a winter morning in the wood._]

    Or better still
    The isolated grandeur of a hill,
    Just as the day is done,
    To watch the sun
    Hit full my western side
    And splash my alligator’s hide
    Of burnished copper scales with golden light;
    To see me so, against the purple night
    Banked high upon some eastern range,
    Is well—but there is yet a strange
    Unearthly beauty I have known,
    When like a hyacinth full-blown,
    I’ve stood
    Upon a winter morning in the wood
    Transfigured in the snow,
    Until the wind would blow
    And then
    I’d find myself a tree again.


    On every fire-swept blotch we stick,
    We are the thick
    Impenetrable brush—
    The nondescripts who rush
    To claim the open. We’re the mass—
    We have no cliques, we have no class;
    We crowd and push,
    Tree and bush;
    Who keeps our frenzied pace
    Is welcome to the race.

    The affable spiræa likes
    To bob her ivory spikes,
    Hobnobbing free
    With such a tolerable company.
    The dogwoods do not hold
    Aloof from mingling with our fold;
    The snowdrop crowd
    Seem very proud
    To dangle in the dancing light
    Their pretty balls of white;
    And if the willows do not care
    To share
    Our comradeship, they’ve kept their secret well.
    So with the snarling chaparral
    And manzanita with her thin,
    Red, scaling arms—and burry chinkapin.
    We do not ban
    That painted courtezan,
    Vine-maple, she whose fingers clutch
    Each place they touch.
    We do not fuss—
    Like other crowds, she’s part of us;
    As is the tremulous
    And quaking aspen; each little troop
    Of goldenrods; each whispering group
    Of girlish alders and the countless breeds
    Of weeds.

    After our kind, we live;
    Week after week we give
    Our dower
    Of fruit and flower
    In little or largess
    Accordingly as we possess.
    In Autumn we hold carnival
    And over all
    The hills, our many-patterned carpet lies
    Bright with a thousand dyes;
    Rich-tufted plush
    Of brush,
    Deep-grained and thick; this covering
    Each year we bring—
    A dress
    Of wildest loveliness
    To merge in beauty more and more
    The ancient forest floor.


    We were not meant for forest life—
    Not we! we chose the strife
    Of high adventure—took our luck
    Here on the rocks and here we’ve stuck
    We are the pigmies of the spurs—
    The little warriors!

    Perched on these crags, we hurled
    Our challenge to the world.
    The wind heard our defy
    And blew till all the sky
    Grew purply-black and thundery.
    Uncommon wroth was he,
    When like a rumbling blunderbuss
    He tried to topple us,
    But wallowed flat—we were too short
    To fall! And it was merry sport
    Upon our jagged floor
    To see him wrestling there; a score
    Of holds he tried and thought each bout
    Would tire us out.

    Oh Lord,
    The way he stormed and roared!
    Then desperate he tried to tear
    Us limb from limb—to wear
    Us down upon his rack,
    A-bending back
    Our arms, so we would cry “enough!”
    We were too _tough_
    To crack! Then came the snow—so light
    At first, but soon its white
    Dead weight in silence crept
    Upon our shoulders and we slept
    The sleep that no spring wakes,
    But only summer breaks,
    When with her melting hand she takes
    Our blankets off and shakes
    The dripping fleece into the flow
    Of rushing torrents far below.

    Thus we are stooped by weight of snows
    And twisted by each wind that blows;
    Our arms are gouged and shot
    By sharp-edged sands the winds have caught
    And driven home; our trunks are gashed
    And riven where the lightning flashed,
    And little increase may we show,
    So brief a season do we grow.
    Though Time’s attrition has been spent
    In our grotesque disfigurement.
    Still we can lift our flattened heads
    In pride, for we are thoroughbreds.
    We have not flinched and we can show
    At what far heights a tree can grow.
    We are the pigmies of the spurs—
    The little warriors
    Who left the haunts of fir and pine
    To mark the topmost timber-line.


    We are the stricken—those who died
    But did not fall. Once, side by side,
    We burned and bled—
    We are the countless standing dead.
    Not like the Capuchins, cowl-topped,
    Dried in their cerements, stiff-propped
    And postured in the charnel gloom
    Of some deep-caverned chapel-room,
    But in the full, white light of day
    We stand—gaunt, naked, gray—
    Close-locked in death,
    Yet ever with the breath
    Of life around us. We can see
    The quickened green of each young tree,
    Their bobbing heads
    Upcrowding at our feet; and beds
    Of paint-brush and the blue
    Of lupine. Years renew
    Their seasons—dust and rain and snow.
    For us dawns glow,
    And setting suns transfuse our cold
    And ashen palor into gold;
    Moons rise, and then
    We all are turned to ghosts again.


    _We are the stricken—those who died
     But did not fall. Once, side by side,
     We burned and bled—
     We are the countless standing dead._]

    We look upon some mighty fir,
    Remembering ourselves that were;
    It was a lightning flash that came,
    And flame
    Encircled us. All night
    The sky was crimson with our light.
    Day dawned upon the hills—the sun rose red,
    It saw the dying and the dead,
    The vast, uncounted dead—and over all,
    A smoky pall
    That wavered in the wind. We did not fall—
    We did not fall, like some—magnificent in strength
    Who measured out their length,
    Still smouldering, upon the ash-heaped mat
    Of earth—we were not burned enough for that.

    Years passed
    Our dried bark cracked—at last
    It flaked and fell. In high distress
    We were—gaunt in our nakedness.
    So have we stood—
    The gray ghost-brotherhood,
    We who have burned and bled
    But did not fall—the standing dead.



    We’ve called you “Frogs” my hearties,
      With your regimental blue,
    And perhaps ’twas not through lovin’
       That we wished the name on you.
    But now that you have got it
       And it’s likely it will cling,
    There’s a chance that maybe somehow
       There’s a meanin’ to the thing.

    Through four long fearful winters
       In your muggy Flanders bogs,
    You squatted—eating, sleeping,
       In your mud-holes, just like frogs.
    Like frogs whose spots are mingled
       With each grass and stone and stick,
    You camouflaged your hiding—
       You were first to pull that trick.

    Like frogs you sat and squinted
       ’Cross at Fritzie day by day,
    But you were ‘_tout ’suite beaucoup_’
       When you leaped into the fray.

    You left a heap of frogs’ legs
       In the marshes where you soaked—
    Where tens and tens of thousands
       Of your punctured Poilus croaked.

    We’ve called you “Frogs” my hearties,
       With your spattered rags of blue,
    With your stumps and scars and crutches
       Which you’ll carry till you’re through,
    But well you’ve shown your fitness
       For the rank you got by chance,
    And so—once more—here’s to you,
       Oh you dauntless Frogs of France!

                      LA FERTE, FRANCE,
                                January, 1919.


    It rained like cats and dogs that night—
      The kid—he rambled on;
    We sat, we two, by candle-light
       In a tavern in Ballon.
    “The first I killed—that hand-made dirk,
       Well that’s a souvenir!
    I got it cheap—though that poor Turk,
       It cost him pretty dear.

    “He’d jumped our trench—the fog was thick—
       Thinks I—‘one of our men’
    Still I yelled ‘Halt!’—he beat it quick,
       And then I yelled again.
    And on he went—I watched him till
       He scrambled to the top—
    Says I—‘Not if I know it, Bill!’
       And then I saw him drop.

    “Our First Lieutenant heard me blaze
       And soon he came along,
    I stood there in a kind of daze
       And then he said ‘What’s wrong?’

    I told him and he said ‘Good work,
       Suppose we have a look’—
    He yanked a button from the Turk,
       I showed you what I took.

    “That night I tried and tried to pray,
       But something, it began
    To pound away inside and say
       ‘Hey boy—you’ve killed a man!’
    I just could see his clotted head
       In mud—the blood it ran—
    Oh God—all night! while something said
       ‘Hey boy—you’ve killed a man!’

    “You’ll go to Hell—that’s where you’ll go”—
       For once the kid was still—
    “It’s funny how it gets you so,
       The first man that you kill.
    And yet—it’s just as funny too,
       How killin’ seems all right
    When hate gets jazzin’ ’round in you,
       Once when you’re in the fight.

    “That’s how it was the day our squad
       Got blowed to Kingdom Come
    When Fritzie’s steel plowed up the sod
       Down there along the Somme.

    My first machine-gun man stood there,
       As near as me to you—
    It tore his head off clean and bare
       And ripped his chest all through.

    “You don’t stop much for scruples when
       You’ve seen a sight like that,
    The rest of us advanced again,
       Their pills came pit-a-pat.
    Another fell—I grabbed his gun
       And left him my canteen,
    And then I started in to run
       Up toward a Boche machine.

    “I ducked around—for two more men
       That Jerry there had picked,
    Got in behind—and leveled when
       The damned thing only clicked!
    Down went his hand, I saw his game,
       He grabbed his Luger, but
    I swung my stock and down it came
       Upon his bloomin’ nut.

    “That there’s the souvenir I copped,
       Some pretty watch—eh what!
    From that there time she’s never stopped—
       She’s Fritzie on the spot!

    You can’t have scruples when you’ve seen
       Your poor old pal go West,
    With blood a-tricklin’ in the mud
       And oozin’ from his chest.

    “You carry on, you just don’t care,
       For somethin’ seems to tell
    He’s callin’ to you from somewhere—
       ‘Go on—and give ’em Hell!’”

                    LE MANS, FRANCE,
                               January, 1919.


    Kiddy of France in your raggedy clothes
    Toddling along in your wooden sabots—
    Daddy’s old cap on his little Poilu—
    Now it’s all faded but once it was new—
    Kiddy of France with that laugh in your eyes,
    Tell me the secret that under it lies—
    _Comment allez-vous_ today?

    Kiddy—_mon chérie, Je vous demande_
    Why do you press so with that little hand?
    Why are you jogging along at my side?
    Measure for measure you stretch to my stride.
    Kiddy—_mon chérie_, now out with it, come,
    “_Avez-vous, avez-vous_—some chewing gum?
    _Avez-vous_ candy?”—I thought so, go on,
    “_Avez-vous chocolat_”—yes, yes—and “_bon-bon_?”
    There now _mon chérie_, my little Poilu,
    _Voilà_: Your gum! And now then—_que dites-vous?_
    “_Merci Monsieur_”—ah you’re welcome, I’m sure
    A hundred times welcome, _mon chérie_: _Bonjour!_

                                     BALLON, FRANCE,
                                           February, 1919.


    What is this France of today, you ask?
      It’s a madhouse of homesick men,
    Chafing, each one, to renew his task
      In the land of his dreams again.
    France! It is khaki and France is blue
      And France is a green-capped Hun—
    Badge of the bondage he’s destined to
      Till the days of his debt are done.

    France is an emerald rolling plain,
      Ribboned with winding ways,
    Quivering white through the fields of grain
      And lost in the purple haze.
    France is a village of dung and ducks
      Where the muck-brown urchins play,
    Rumbling all day with the motor-trucks
      As they roll down the old highway.

    France is a hill with an ancient church—
      Gray towers through the poplar trees,
    Gargoyles a-grin from each crumbling perch
      At the saints on their balconies.
    France is a window of mellow light
      Where the day’s last gold has died—
    France is a woman with brow of white
      At the feet of the Crucified.

    France is a cap and an empty coat
      And a space where the embers glow—
    France is a grave by a shell-torn moat
      Where the weeds and the poppies grow.
    France is the ashes of yesterday
      And France is tomorrow’s dawn—
    France is a bough with a blossom spray
      On the ruins of Montfaucon.

                      VERDUN, FRANCE,
                              April, 1919.


    In the winter when the snow fell
      And this France was bleak and white,
    And the days turned—oh so quickly
       To the cold and cheerless night,
             I was homesick.

    When the rains came, ceasing never,
       And the earth was all a mire,
    And we tried to crowd the gloom out
       With our puny fagot fire,
             I was homesick.

    Now it’s summer and the poppies
       Are a-flaming on the hill—
    It is France in all her glory
       And the larks are singing, still
             I am homesick.

                     ALLEREY, FRANCE,
                                  May, 1919.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "By Scarlet Torch and Blade" ***

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