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Love or Fame; and Other Poems by Fannie Isabelle Sherrick

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Why should we dream of days gone by?
Why should we wait and wonder?
Sweet summer days have come and gone,
The leaves are falling yonder.

The wee sweet flowers we loved the best,
The king of frost has chosen;
And now the sun looks sadly down
Upon his darlings frozen.

Ah! summer sun and autumn frost,
You are at war forever;
For all the ties that one would make
The other fain would sever.

With autumn days remembrance comes
Of golden glories fleeting;
Of pleasures gone and sorrows come--
Of parting and of meeting.

Oh! summer days, why haunt us still?
Remembrance is a sorrow;
And all the dreams we dream to-day
Will fade upon the morrow.

Each life has some sweet summer-time,
Some perfect day of beauty;
When flowers of love and leaves of hope
Are twined around each duty.

But oh! the autumn-time will come,
Which fades each golden glory;
And life, when we are old and gray,
Seems but a sad, old story.

Winter Flowers.

The summer queen has many flowers
To deck her sunny hair,
And trailing grasses, pure and sweet,
To scent the heavy air;
And upward through the misty sky
There is a glory too,
Of floating clouds and rifts of gold
And depths of smiling blue.

Yet winter, too, can boast a wealth
Of flowers pure and white;
A kingly crown of frosted gems--
A wreath of sparkling light;
So bright and beautiful, indeed,
It were a wondrous sight
To see a world of fragile flowers
Sprung up within a night.

And sometimes there are cast'es, too,
Of glittering ice and snow,
Piled high upon our window-panes
'Neath curtains hanging low;
And they are like the castles fair
Our day-dreams build for aye;
A frozen mist that one warm breath
May quickly drive away.

And yet, how beautiful they are,
These flowers of our breath;
That bloom when not a leaf is left
To mourn the summer's death.
And oh! how wondrous are the things
That God has given the earth;
The day that brings to one a death
Smiles on another's birth.


I wonder what they are,
These pretty, wayward things,
That o'er the gloomy earth
The wind of heaven flings.

Each one a tiny star,
And each a perfect gem;
What magic in the art
That thus has fashioned them.

What beauty in the flake
That falls upon my hand;
And yet this tiny thing
My will cannot command.

No two are just alike,
And yet they are the same;
I wonder if my thought
Could give to each a name.

Unlike the fragile flowers
That love the sun's warm rays,
These snow-flakes love the cold,
And die on sunny days!

So dainty and so pure,
How beautiful they are;
And yet the slightest touch
Their purity may mar.

They must be gazed upon,
Not handled or caressed;
And thus we hold afar
The things we love the best.

Sunset on the Mississippi.

O beautiful hills in the purple light,
That shadow the western sky,
I dream of you oft in the silent night,
As the golden days go by.

The river that flows at my longing feet
Is tinged with a deeper glow;
But the song that it sings is as sad to-day
As it was in the long ago.

The far-off clouds in the far-off sky
Are tinted with gold and red;
But the lesson they tell to the hearts of men
Is a lesson that never is said.

The star-crowned night in her sable plumes
Is veiling the eastern sky,
And she trails her robes in the dying fires
That far in the west do lie.

A single gem from her circlet old
Is lost as she wanders by,
And the beautiful star with its golden light
Shines out in the lonely sky.

O beautiful star in the misty sky,
My soul would take wings with tee;
But you sail away in your golden seas
With never a thought for me.

O sun-crowned hills in the purple light.
I could sit at your feet forever;
But you fade away in the shadowy night
And I'll see you again, ah, never.

Dark river that flows at my longing feet,
I list to your music low;
But the song that you sing brings me thoughts to-night
Of the beautiful long ago;

And my soul grows sad as I think of the day--
That radiant day of light--
When the sun went down in a glory of gold
'Neath the pitiless shadows of night.

Farewell, ye hills in the purple light;
Farewell to your glory forever;
You fade away in the silent night,
And I'll see you again, ah, never!

Not Dead, but Sleeping.

[To the memory of Edwin B. Foster, a member of the Howards, who
nobly sacrificed his own life for others, and in remembrance of
those unknown to fame or friends who have silently followed in
the steps of our Saviour.]

The shadow of death is around us all,
And life is a sorrowful thing;
For the winds sweep by with a mournful sigh,
And sad are the tidings they bring.

He is dead--and the strong, brave life that he gave
Seemed offered to God in vain;
Yet he died, Christ-like, in a labor of love,
'Mid sorrow and death and pain.

And why should we sorrow--the crown is his
And the glory of life is won;
Though he died when his labor was just begun,
Yet the work of his life is done.

The beautiful South is a land of death,
Where the shadows darken the sun;
And the moans of the dying are heard in the night
When the deeds of the day are done.

The sunlight falls with a dreary gleam
On the cities where ruin is spread,
And the rain beats down with a mournful sound
On the graves of the silent dead.

Yet high in the heavens a Hand is stretched,
That treasures the deeds of love;
And the lives gone out in the darkness below
Are wrapped in the glory above.

The North bends down in her icy pride
And kisses the land of the sun;
Love joins them both in a flood of tears,
And the glory of peace is won.

The hand that was dyed in a brother's blood
Now eases that brother's pain;
And the hearts that in life were driven apart,
In death are united again.

Then why should we sorrow--our God is love,
And lives are not lived in vain;
Bright hope still shines like a star of night
In the shadow of death and pain.

A Sunbeam.

The sun was hid all day by clouds,
The rain fell softly down;
A cold gray mist hung o'er the earth,
And veiled the silent town.

Behind the clouds a sunbeam crept
With restless wings of gold;
The skies above were bright and warm,
The earth below was cold.

It glanced along the heavy clouds,
Then sought to glide between;
But ah! they gathered closer still,
With fierce and angry mien.

The dancing ray grew strangely still,
Just like some weary bird,
That droops upon a lonely shore,
And sings its song unheard.

For on the earth the drooping flowers
Were longing for the light;
And children with their watching eyes
Could trace no sunbeam's flight.

At last an angel, wand'ring by,
With snowy wings outspread,
Beheld the sunbeam sad at heart,
And passing by she said:

"Why wait you here above the clouds,
The earth has need of you;
Spread out your wings, speed quickly on
And pierce the vapor through."

But still the sunbeam mournfully
Gazed on the gloom below;
Then looked up in the spirit's face
With softened, anxious glow.

The angel smiled, the clouds gave way
And drifted far apart;
And lo! the glory of that smile
Fell on each earthly heart.

Then quickly through the widening rift
The sunbeam drifted down;
A ray of gold fell through the mist
Upon the silent town.

Two weary eyes beheld its light,
Then closed forevermore;
A soul passed through the rift of blue
And reached the farther shore.

One moment o'er the wan, white face
A ray of glory fell;
Then shadows came, the sunbeam fled;
Its future who can tell?

Once more the clouds enwrapped the earth,
The rain fell softly down;
A cold, gray mist hung o'er the hills
And veiled the silent town.

The Phantom of Love.

She stood by my side with a queenly air,
Her face it was young and proud and fair;
She held my rose in her hands of snow;
It crimsoned her face with a deeper glow;
The sunlight drooped in her eyes of fire
And quickened my heart to a wild desire;
I envied the rose in her hands so fair,
I envied the flowers that gleamed in her hair.

Ah! many a suitor I knew before
Had knelt at her feet in the days of yore;
And many a lover as foolish as I,
Had proudly boasted to win or die.
She had scorned them all with a careless grace
And a woman's scorn on her beautiful face.
Yet now in the summer I knelt at her feet,
And dreamed a dream that was fair and sweet.

The roses drooped in her gold-brown hair,
And quivered and glowed in the sun-lit air;
The jewels gleamed on her hands of snow
And dazzled my eyes with their fitful glow.
A river of gold ran low at our feet,
And echoed the words I cannot repeat.
Oh! life was fair that I loved the sun!
And love was so sweet when the day was done!

The sun in her velvety eyes looked down
And deepened their glow to a warmer brown.
I loved this woman, this woman so fair,
With her sun-lit eyes and her gleaming hair;
I drank in her beauty as men drink wine,--
It filled my soul with a love divine.
The touch of her hand was madness to me;
Oh, my love was as great as love could be!

I kissed the roses that drooped in her hair,
I pressed the dews from her lips so fair;
I held her hands in my own once more;
Oh, never was woman so loved before!
And what did we care that the sun was low,
And the hills were bright with the sunset glow?
The purple that glowed in the skies above,
Was the royal banner of hope and love.

One perfumed breath from her lips so fair,
One sacred kiss on her sun-lit hair,
And then we parted as lovers meet--
I gathered the roses that lay at her feet,
And fastened them in, with a lover's prayer,
Where she loved them best, in her silken hair;
For the things she loved were as dear to me
As the shining stars to the watching sea.

On lake and river, the sun lay low
Where we parted that night in the summer glow
And the hanging clouds were steeped in red,
That rivaled the gold of her sun-crowned head.
And I loved her best as I saw her last.
With the beautiful colors floating past,
And the soft warm light in her velvety eyes,
Reflecting the glow of the sun-kissed skies.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I stood on the shore when the moon hung low
And shone on the clouds like the sun on snow;
And a midnight silence filled the air
As I gazed on the river, calm and fair.
I stood alone where the dark reeds quiver,
And the lilies pale in the night-winds shiver.
I dreamed of my love that was fair as the day,
Oh, the beautiful love that would last for aye!

Oh! what is that--in the river there--
Is it the gleam of the lilies tall and fair,
Or only the branch of some fallen tree,
By the constant wash of the waves set free?
Oh, see! how strange it looks and how white.
How it glistens and gleams in the shining light!
It dazzles my eyes--Oh, what can it be?
It is nearing the shore--it is coming to me!

My God! that my eyes could be blind to-night
To shut out forever that dreadful sight!
Oh, God! am I mad--or can it be
That the woman I loved is thus coming to me?
That bright thing drifting down with the tide,
Is all that is left of my beautiful bride!

Oh, pitiless moon with your pale cold light,
Grow dark for one instant and shut out that sight,
Till my eyes, grown dim with the tears unshed
Shall look no more on the face of my dead.

The pale lilies circle around her head
And whisper slowly--my love is dead.
The dark weeds lie in her tangled hair,
Where I last saw the roses gleaming there.
The cold winds shiver and moan in the night
As they sweep 'round her brow in the shining light.
Oh, God! is it I who am standing alone
Where the night-winds shiver and creep and moan,
Filling my soul with a grief so mad
That I hate the things that are living and glad?

Fear not, my love, you shall welcome be,
For even in death you have come to me.
The dead and the living shall lie to-night.
'Neath the pitiless waves of that river bright.
I grasp her robe as it sweeps me by--
We have lived together, together we die;
Her face is so white--is it a woman I see,
Or only a phantom drifting past me?
Her hand is so near--it touches my own--
My God! it is gone--I am standing alone.

Oh, why did I love when the sun was high,
And the clouds lay piled in the glittering sky!
Oh, why did I love when the sun lay low
And the heavens were red with the blood-red glow!
And why do I live when the purple light
Is faded forever from out of my sight.

Oh, beautiful demon, that men call love,
As fair as the angels that smile above!
'T were better that men should never be born
Than see thy face in the dewy morn.
'T were better that women should stand afar,
And worship in vain some cold, proud star;
Than drink in thy beauty with passionate breath
That brings to them only sorrow and death.

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