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Poems of Cheer by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Own brothers would not know each other,
Robed new in their sorrows and fears.

From broadcloth, and velvet, and laces,
Would echo the groans of despair,
And there would be blanching of faces
And wringing of hands and of hair.
That man with his record of honour,
That lady down there with the rose,
That girl with Spring's freshness upon her,
Who knoweth the secrets of those?

Smile on, O ye maskers, smile sweetly!
Step lightly, bow low and laugh loud!
Though the world is deceived and completely,
I know ye, O sad-hearted crowd!
I watch you with infinite pity:
But play on, play ever your part,
Be gleeful, be joyful, be witty!
'Tis better than showing the heart.

LIFE AND I

Life and I are lovers, straying
Arm in arm along:
Often like two children Maying,
Full of mirth and song,

Life plucks all the blooming hours
Growing by the way;
Binds them on my brow like flowers,
Calls me Queen of May.

Then again, in rainy weather,
We sit vis-a-vis,
Planning work we'll do together
In the years to be.

Sometimes Life denies me blisses,
And I frown or pout;
But we make it up with kisses
Ere the day is out.

Woman-like, I sometimes grieve him,
Try his trust and faith,
Saying I shall one day leave him
For his rival, Death.

Then he always grows more zealous,
Tender, and more true;
Loves the more for being jealous,
As all lovers do.

Though I swear by stars above him,
And by worlds beyond,
That I love him--love him--love him;
Though my heart is fond;

Though he gives me, doth my lover,
Kisses with each breath -
I shall one day throw him over,
And plight troth with Death.

GUERDON

Upon the white cheek of the Cherub Year
I saw a tear.
Alas! I murmured, that the Year should borrow
So soon a sorrow.
Just then the sunlight fell with sudden flame:
The tear became
A wondrous diamond sparkling in the light -
A beauteous sight.

Upon my soul there fell such woeful loss,
I said, "The Cross
Is grievous for a life as young as mine."
Just then, like wine,
God's sunlight shone from His high Heavens down;
And lo! a crown
Gleamed in the place of what I thought a burden -
My sorrow's guerdon.

SNOWED UNDER

Of a thousand things that the Year snowed under -
The busy Old Year who has gone away -
How many will rise in the Spring, I wonder,
Brought to life by the sun of May?
Will the rose-tree branches, so wholly hidden
That never a rose-tree seems to be,
At the sweet Spring's call come forth unbidden,
And bud in beauty, and bloom for me?

Will the fair green Earth, whose throbbing bosom
Is hid like a maid's in her gown at night,
Wake out of her sleep, and with blade and blossom
Gem her garments to please my sight?
Over the knoll in the valley yonder
The loveliest buttercups bloomed and grew;
When the snow has gone that drifted them under,
Will they shoot up sunward, and bloom anew?

When wild winds blew, and a sleet-storm pelted,
I lost a jewel of priceless worth;
If I walk that way when snows have melted,
Will the gem gleam up from the bare brown Earth?
I laid a love that was dead or dying,
For the year to bury and hide from sight;
But out of a trance will it waken, crying,
And push to my heart, like a leaf to the light?

Under the snow lie things so cherished -
Hopes, ambitions, and dreams of men -
Faces that vanished, and trusts that perished,
Never to sparkle and glow again.
The Old Year greedily grasped his plunder,
And covered it over and hurried away:
Of the thousand things that he did, I wonder
How many will rise at the call of May?
O wise Young Year, with your hands held under
Your mantle of ermine, tell me, pray!

"LEUDEMANNS-ON-THE-RIVER."

Toward even, when the day leans down
To kiss the upturned face of night,
Out just beyond the loud-voiced town
I know a spot of calm delight.
Like crimson arrows from a quiver
The red rays pierce the waters flowing,
While we go dreaming, singing, rowing
To Leudemanns-on-the-River.

The hills, like some glad mocking-bird,
Send back our laughter and our singing,
While faint--and yet more faint is heard
The steeple bells all sweetly ringing.
Some message did the winds deliver
To each glad heart that August night,
All heard, but all heard not aright,
By Leudemanns-on-the-River.

Night falls as in some foreign clime,
Between the hills that slope and rise.
So dusk the shades at landing-time,
We could not see each other's eyes.
We only saw the moonbeams quiver
Far down upon the stream! that night
The new moon gave but little light
By Leudemanns-on-the-River.

How dusky were those paths that led
Up from the river to the hall.
The tall trees branching overhead
Invite the early shades that fall.
In all the glad blithe world, oh, never
Were hearts more free from care than when
We wandered through those walks, we ten,
By Leudemanns-on-the-River.

So soon, so soon, the changes came.
This August day we two alone,
On that same river, not the same,
Dream of a night for ever flown.
Strange distances have come to sever
The hearts that gaily beat in pleasure,
Long miles we cannot cross or measure -
From Leudemanns-on-the-River.

We'll pluck two leaves, dear friend, to-day.
The green, the russet! seems it strange
So soon, so soon, the leaves can change!
Ah me! so runs all life away.
This night-wind chills me, and I shiver;
The Summer-time is almost past.
One more good-bye--perhaps the last
To Leudemanns-on-the-River.

LITTLE BLUE HOOD

Every morning and every night
There passes our window near the street,
A little girl with an eye so bright,
And a cheek so round and a lip so sweet!
The daintiest, jauntiest little miss
That ever any one longed to kiss,

She is neat as wax, and fresh to view,
And her look is wholesome, and clean, and good.
Whatever her gown, her hood is blue,
And so we call her our "Little Blue Hood,"
For we know not the name of the dear little lass,
But we call to each other to see her pass,

"Little Blue Hood is coming now!"
And we watch from the window while she goes by,
She has such a bonny, smooth, white brow,
And a fearless look in her long-lashed eye!
And a certain dignity wedded to grace
Seems to envelop her form and face.

Every morning, in sun or rain,
She walks by the window with sweet, grave air,
And never guesses behind the pane
We two are watching and thinking her fair;
Lovingly watching her down the street,
Dear little Blue Hood, bright and sweet.

Somebody ties that hood of blue
Under the face so fair to see,
Somebody loves her, beside we two,
Somebody kisses her--why can't we?
Dear Little Blue Hood fresh and fair,
Are you glad we love you, or don't you care?

NO SPRING

Up from the South come the birds that were banished,
Frightened away by the presence of frost.
Back to the vale comes the verdure that vanished,
Back to the forest the leaves that were lost.
Over the hillside the carpet of splendour,
Folded through Winter, Spring spreads down again;
Along the horizon, the tints that were tender,
Lost hues of Summer-time, burn bright as then.

Only the mountains' high summits are hoary,
To the ice-fettered river the sun gives a key.
Once more the gleaming shore lists to the story
Told by an amorous Summer-kissed sea.
All things revive that in Winter time perished,
The rose buds again in the light o' the sun,
All that was beautiful, all that was cherished,
Sweet things and dear things and all things--save one.

Late, when the year and the roses were lying
Low with the ruins of Summer and bloom,
Down in the dust fell a love that was dying,
And the snow piled over it, and made it a tomb.
Lo! now the roses are budded for blossom -
Lo! now the Summer is risen again.
Why dost thou bud not, O Love of my bosom?
Why dost thou rise not, and thrill me as then?

Life without love is a year without Summer,
Heart without love is a wood without song.
Rise then, revive then, thou indolent comer:
Why dost thou lie in the dark earth so long?
Rise! ah, thou can'st not! the rose-tree that sheddest
Its beautiful leaves, in the Springtime may bloom,
But of cold things the coldest, of dead things the deadest,
Love buried once, rises not from the tomb.
Green things may grow on the hillside and heather,
Birds seek the forest and build there and sing.
All things revive in the beautiful weather,
But unto a dead love there cometh no Spring.

MIDSUMMER

After the May time, and after the June time,
Rare with blossoms and perfumes sweet,
Cometh the round world's royal noon time,
The red midsummer of blazing heat.
When the sun, like an eye that never closes,
Bends on the earth its fervid gaze,
And the winds are still, and the crimson roses
Droop and wither and die in its rays.

Unto my heart has come that season,
O my lady, my worshipped one,
When over the stars of Pride and Reason
Sails Love's cloudless, noonday sun.
Like a great red ball in my bosom burning
With fires that nothing can quench or tame.
It glows till my heart itself seems turning
Into a liquid lake of flame.

The hopes half shy, and the sighs all tender,
The dreams and fears of an earlier day,
Under the noontide's royal splendour,
Droop like roses and wither away.
From the hills of doubt no winds are blowing,
From the isle of pain no breeze is sent.
Only the sun in a white heat glowing
Over an ocean of great content.

Sink, O my soul, in this golden glory,
Die, O my heart, in thy rapture-swoon,
For the Autumn must come with its mournful story,
And Love's midsummer will fade too soon.

A REMINISCENCE

I saw the wild honey-bee kissing a rose
A wee one, that grows
Down low on the bush, where her sisters above
Cannot see all that's done
As the moments roll on.
Nor hear all the whispers and murmurs of love.

They flaunt out their beautiful leaves in the sun,
And they flirt, every one,
With the wild bees who pass, and the gay butterflies.
And that wee thing in pink -
Why, they never once think
That she's won a lover right under their eyes.

It reminded me, Kate, of a time--you know when!
You were so petite then,
Your dresses were short, and your feet were so small.
Your sisters, Maud-Belle
And Madeline--well,
They BOTH set their caps for me, after that ball.

How the blue eyes and black eyes smiled up in my face!
'Twas a neck-and-neck race,
Till that day when you opened the door in the hall,
And looked up and looked down,
With your sweet eyes of brown,
And YOU seemed so tiny, and _I_ felt so tall.

Your sisters had sent you to keep me, my dear,
Till they should appear.
Then you were dismissed like a child in disgrace.
How meekly you went!
But your brown eyes, they sent
A thrill to my heart, and a flush to my face.

We always were meeting some way after that.
You hung up my hat,
And got it again, when I finished my call.
Sixteen, and SO sweet!
Oh, those cute little feet!
Shall I ever forget how they tripped down the hall?

Shall I ever forget the first kiss by the door,
Or the vows murmured o'er,
Or the rage and surprise of Maud-Belle? Well-a-day,
How swiftly time flows,
And who would suppose
That a BEE could have carried me so far away.

A GIRL'S FAITH

Across the miles that stretch between,
Through days of gloom or glad sunlight,
There shines a face I have not seen
Which yet doth make my world more bright.

He may be near, he may be far,
Or near or far I cannot see,
But faithful as the morning star
He yet shall rise and come to me.

What though fate leads us separate ways,
The world is round, and time is fleet.
A journey of a few brief days,
And face to face we two shall meet.

Shall meet beneath God's arching skies,
While suns shall blaze, or stars shall gleam,
And looking in each other's eyes
Shall hold the past but as a dream.

But round and perfect and complete,
Life like a star shall climb the height,
As we two press with willing feet
Together toward the Infinite.

And still behind the space between,
As back of dawns the sunbeams play,
There shines the face I have not seen,
Whose smile shall wake my world to-day.

TWO

One leaned on velvet cushions like a queen -
To see him pass, the hero of an hour,
Whom men called great. She bowed with languid mien,
And smiled, and blushed, and knew her beauty's power.

One trailed her tinselled garments through the street,
And thrust aside the crowd, and found a place
So near, the blooded courser's prancing feet
Cast sparks of fire upon her painted face.

One took the hot-house blossoms from her breast,
And tossed them down, as he went riding by,
And blushed rose-red to see them fondly pressed
To bearded lips, while eye spoke unto eye.

One, bold and hardened with her sinful life,
Yet shrank and shivered painfully, because
His cruel glance cut keener than a knife,
The glance of him who made her what she was.

One was observed, and lifted up to fame,
Because the hero smiled upon her! while
One who was shunned and hated, found her shame
In basking in the death-light of his smile.

SLIPPING AWAY

Slipping away--slipping away!
Out of our brief year slips the May;
And Winter lingers, and Summer flies;
And Sorrow abideth, and Pleasure dies;
And the days are short, and the nights are long;
And little is right, and much is wrong.

Slipping away is the Summer time;
It has lost its rhythm and lilting rhyme -
For the grace goes out of the day so soon,
And the tired head aches in the glare of noon,
And the way seems long to the hills that lie
Under the calm of the western sky.

Slipping away are the friends whose worth
Lent a glow to the sad old earth:
One by one they slip from our sight;
One by one their graves gleam white;
Or we count them lost by the crueller death
Of a trust betrayed, or a murdered faith.

Slipping away are the hopes that made
Bliss out of sorrow, and sun out of shade,
Slipping away is our hold on life;
And out of the struggle and wearing strife,
From joys that diminish, and woes that increase,
We are slipping away to the shores of Peace.

IS IT DONE?

It is done! in the fire's fitful flashes,
The last line has withered and curled.
In a tiny white heap of dead ashes
Lie buried the hopes of your world.
There were mad foolish vows in each letter,
It is well they have shrivelled and burned,
And the ring! oh, the ring was a fetter,
It was better removed and returned.

But ah, is it done? In the embers
Where letters and tokens were cast,
Have you burned up the heart that remembers,
And treasures its beautiful past?
Do you think in this swift reckless fashion
To ruthlessly burn and destroy
The months that were freighted with passion,
The dreams that were drunken with joy?

Can you burn up the rapture of kisses
That flashed from the lips to the soul,
Or the heart that grows sick for lost blisses
In spite of its strength of control?
Have you burned up the touch of warm fingers
That thrilled through each pulse and each vein,
Or the sound of a voice that still lingers
And hurts with a haunting refrain?

Is it done? is the life drama ended?
You have put all the lights out, and yet,
Though the curtain, rung down, has descended,
Can the actors go home and forget?
Ah, no! they will turn in their sleeping
With a strange restless pain in their hearts,
And in darkness, and anguish, and weeping,
Will dream they are playing their parts.

A LEAF

Somebody said, in the crowd, last eve,
That you were married, or soon to be.
I have not thought of you, I believe,
Since last we parted. Let me see:
Five long Summers have passed since then -
Each has been pleasant in its own way -
And you are but one of a dozen men
Who have played the suitor a Summer day.

But, nevertheless, when I heard your name,
Coupled with some one's, not my own,
There burned in my bosom a sudden flame,
That carried me back to the day that is flown.
I was sitting again by the laughing brook,
With you at my feet, and the sky above,
And my heart was fluttering under your look -
The unmistakable look of Love.

Again your breath, like a South wind, fanned
My cheek, where the blushes came and went;
And the tender clasp of your strong, warm hand
Sudden thrills through my pulses sent.
Again you were mine by Love's own right -
Mine for ever by Love's decree:
So for a moment it seemed last night,
When somebody mentioned your name to me.

Just for the moment I thought you mine -
Loving me, wooing me, as of old.
The tale remembered seemed half divine -
Though I held it lightly enough when told.
The past seemed fairer than when it was near,
As "blessings brighten when taking flight;"
And just for the moment I held you dear -
When somebody mentioned your name last night.

AESTHETIC

In a garb that was guiltless of colours
She stood, with a dull, listless air -
A creature of dumps and of dolours,
But most undeniably fair.

The folds of her garment fell round her,
Revealing the curve of each limb;
Well proportioned and graceful I found her,
Although quite alarmingly slim.

From the hem of her robe peeped one sandal -
"High art" was she down to her feet;
And though I could not understand all
She said, I could see she was sweet.

Impressed by her limpness and languor,
I proffered a chair near at hand;
She looked back a mild sort of anger -
Posed anew, and continued to stand.

Some praises I next tried to mutter
Of the fan that she held to her face;
She said it was "utterly utter,"
And waved it with languishing grace.

I then, in a strain quite poetic,
Begged her gaze on the bow in the sky,
She looked--said its curve was "aesthetic."
But the "tone was too dreadfully high."

Her lovely face, lit by the splendour
That glorified landscape and sea,
Woke thoughts that were daring and tender:
Did HER thoughts, too, rest upon me?

"Oh, tell me," I cried, growing bolder,
"Have I in your musings a place?"
"Well, yes," she said over her shoulder:
"I was thinking of nothing in space."

POEMS OF THE WEEK

SUNDAY

Lie still and rest, in that serene repose
That on this holy morning comes to those
Who have been burdened with the cares which make
The sad heart weary and the tired head ache.
Lie still and rest -
God's day of all is best.

MONDAY

Awake! arise! Cast off thy drowsy dreams!
Red in the East, behold the Morning gleams.
"As Monday goes, so goes the week," dames say.
Refreshed, renewed, use well the initial day.
And see! thy neighbour
Already seeks his labour.

TUESDAY

Another morning's banners are unfurled -
Another day looks smiling on the world.
It holds new laurels for thy soul to win;
Mar not its grace by slothfulness or sin,
Nor sad, away,
Send it to yesterday.

WEDNESDAY

Half-way unto the end--the week's high noon.
The morning hours do speed away so soon!
And, when the noon is reached, however bright,
Instinctively we look toward the night.
The glow is lost
Once the meridian cross'd.

THURSDAY

So well the week has sped, hast thou a friend,
Go spend an hour in converse. It will lend
New beauty to thy labours and thy life
To pause a little sometimes in the strife.
Toil soon seems rude
That has no interlude.

FRIDAY

From feasts abstain; be temperate, and pray;
Fast if thou wilt; and yet, throughout the day,
Neglect no labour and no duty shirk:
Not many hours are left thee for thy work -
And it were meet
That all should be complete.

SATURDAY

Now with the almost finished task make haste.
So near the night thou hast no time to waste.
Post up accounts, and let thy Soul's eyes look
For flaws and errors in Life's ledger-book.
When labours cease,
How sweet the sense of peace!

GHOSTS

There are ghosts in the room.
As I sit here alone, from the dark corners there
They come out of the gloom,
And they stand at my side and they lean on my chair.

There's the ghost of a Hope
That lighted my days with a fanciful glow.
In her hand is the rope
That strangled her life out. Hope was slain long ago.

But her ghost comes to-night,
With its skeleton face and expressionless eyes,
And it stands in the light,
And mocks me, and jeers me with sobs and with sighs.

There's the ghost of a Joy,
A frail, fragile thing, and I prized it too much,
And the hands that destroy
Clasped it close, and it died at the withering touch.

There's the ghost of a Love,
Born with joy, reared with hope, died in pain and unrest,
But he towers above
All the others--this ghost: yet a ghost at the best.

I am weary, and fain
Would forget all these dead: but the gibbering host
Make my struggle in vain,
In each shadowy corner there lurketh a ghost.

FLEEING AWAY

My thoughts soar not as they ought to soar,
Higher and higher on soul-lent wings;
But ever and often, and more and more
They are dragged down earthward by little things,
By little troubles and little needs,
As a lark might be tangled among the weeds.

My purpose is not what it ought to be,
Steady and fixed, like a star on high,
But more like a fisherman's light at sea;
Hither and thither it seems to fly -
Sometimes feeble, and sometimes bright,
Then suddenly lost in the gloom of night.

My life is far from my dream of life -
Calmly contented, serenely glad;
But, vexed and worried by daily strife,
It is always troubled, and ofttimes sad -
And the heights I had thought I should reach one day
Grow dimmer and dimmer, and farther away.

My heart finds never the longed-for rest;
Its worldly striving, its greed for gold,
Chilled and frightened the calm-eyed guest,
Who sometimes sought me in days of old;
And ever fleeing away from me
Is the higher self that I long to be.

ALL MAD

"He is mad as a hare, poor fellow,
And should be in chains," you say.
I haven't a doubt of your statement,
But who isn't mad, I pray?
Why, the world is a great asylum,
And people are all insane,
Gone daft with pleasure or folly,
Or crazed with passion and pain.

The infant who shrieks at a shadow,
The child with his Santa Claus faith,
The woman who worships Dame Fashion,
Each man with his notions of death,
The miser who hoards up his earnings,
The spendthrift who wastes them too soon,
The scholar grown blind in his delving,
The lover who stares at the moon.

The poet who thinks life a paean,
The cynic who thinks it a fraud,
The youth who goes seeking for pleasure,
The preacher who dares talk of God,
All priests with their creeds and their croaking,
All doubters who dare to deny,
The gay who find aught to wake laughter,
The sad who find aught worth a sigh,
Whoever is downcast or solemn,
Whoever is gleeful and glad,
Are only the dupes of delusions -
We are all of us--all of us mad.

HIDDEN GEMS

We know not what lies in us, till we seek;
Men dive for pearls--they are not found on shore,
The hillsides most unpromising and bleak
Do sometimes hide the ore.

Go, dive in the vast ocean of thy mind,
O man! far down below the noisy waves,
Down in the depths and silence thou mayst find
Rare pearls and coral caves.

Sink thou a shaft into the mine of thought;
Be patient, like the seekers after gold;
Under the rocks and rubbish lieth what
May bring thee wealth untold.

Reflected from the vastly Infinite,
However dulled by earth, each human mind
Holds somewhere gems of beauty and of light
Which, seeking, thou shalt find.

BY-AND-BYE

"By-and-bye," the maiden sighed--"by-and-bye
He will claim me for his bride,
Hope is strong and time is fleet;
Youth is fair, and love is sweet,
Clouds will pass that fleck my sky,
He will come back by-and-bye--by-and-bye."

"By-and-bye," the soldier said--"by-and-bye,
After I have fought and bled,
I shall go home from the wars,
Crowned with glory, seamed with scars.
Joy will flash from some one's eye
When she greets me by-and-bye--by-and-bye."

"By-and-bye," the mother cried--"by-and-bye,
Strong and sturdy at my side,
Like a staff supporting me,
Will my bonnie baby be.
Break my rest, then, wail and cry -
Thou'lt repay me by-and-bye--by-and-bye."

Fleeting years of time have sped--hurried by -
Still the maiden is unwed:
All unknown the soldier lies,
Buried under alien skies;
And the son, with blood-shot eye,
Saw his mother starve and die.
God in Heaven! dost Thou on high,
Keep the promised "by-and-bye"--by-and-bye?

OVER THE MAY HILL

All through the night time, and all through the day time,
Dreading the morning and dreading the night,
Nearer and nearer we drift to the May time
Season of beauty and season of blight,
Leaves on the linden, and sun on the meadow,
Green in the garden, and bloom everywhere,
Gloom in my heart, and a terrible shadow,
Walks by me, sits by me, stands by my chair.

Oh, but the birds by the brooklet are cheery,
Oh, but the woods show such delicate greens,
Strange how you droop and how soon you are weary -
Too well I know what that weariness means.
But how could I know in the crisp winter weather
(Though sometimes I noticed a catch in your breath),
Riding and singing and dancing together,
How could I know you were racing with death?

How could I know when we danced until morning,
And you were the gayest of all the gay crowd -
With only that shortness of breath for a warning,
How could I know that you danced for a shroud?
Whirling and whirling through moonlight and starlight.
Rocking as lightly as boats on the wave,
Down in your eyes shone a deep light--a far light,
How could I know 'twas the light to your grave?

Day by day, day by day, nearing and nearing,
Hid under greenness, and beauty and bloom,
Cometh the shape and the shadow I'm fearing,
"Over the May hill" is waiting your tomb.
The season of mirth and of music is over -
I have danced my last dance, I have sung my last song,
Under the violets, under the clover,
My heart and my love will be lying ere long

FOES

Thank Fate for foes! I hold mine dear
As valued friends. He cannot know
The zest of life who runneth here
His earthly race without a foe.

I saw a prize. "Run," cried my friend;
"'Tis thine to claim without a doubt."
But ere I half-way reached the end,
I felt my strength was giving out.

My foe looked on the while I ran;
A scornful triumph lit his eyes.
With that perverseness born in man,
I nerved myself, and won the prize.

All blinded by the crimson glow
Of sin's disguise, I tempted Fate.
"I knew thy weakness!" sneered my foe,
I saved myself, and balked his hate.

For half my blessings, half my gain,
I needs must thank my trusty foe;
Despite his envy and disdain,
He serves me well where'er I go.

So may I keep him to the end,
Nor may his enmity abate:
More faithful than the fondest friend,
He guards me ever with his hate.

FRIENDSHIP

Dear friend, I pray thee, if thou wouldst be proving
Thy strong regard for me,
Make me no vows. Lip-service is not loving;
Let thy faith speak for thee.

Swear not to me that nothing can divide us -
So little such oaths mean.
But when distrust and envy creep beside us
Let them not come between.

Say not to me the depths of thy devotion
Are deeper than the sea;
But watch, lest doubt or some unkind emotion
Embitter them for me.

Vow not to love me ever and for ever,
Words are such idle things;
But when we differ in opinions, never
Hurt me by little stings.

I'm sick of words: they are so lightly spoken,
And spoken, are but air.
I'd rather feel thy trust in me unbroken
Than list thy words so fair.

If all the little proofs of trust are heeded,
If thou art always kind,
No sacrifice, no promise will be needed
To satisfy my mind.

TWO SAT DOWN

Two sat down in the morning time,
One to sing and one to spin.
All men listened the song sublime -
But no one listened the dull wheel's din.

The singer sat in a pleasant nook,
And sang of a life that was fair and sweet,
While the spinner sat with a steadfast look,
Busily plying her hands and feet.

The singer sang on with a rose in her hair,
And all men listened her dulcet tone;
And the spinner spun on with a dull despair
Down in her heart as she sat alone.

But lo! on the morrow no one said
Aught of the singer or what she sang.
Men were saying: "Behold this thread,"
And loud the praise of the spinner rang.

The world has forgotten the singer's name -
Her rose is faded, her songs are old;
But far o'er the ocean the spinner's fame
Yet is blazoned in lines of gold.

BOUND AND FREE

Come to me, Love! Come on the wings of the wind!
Fly as the ring-dove would fly to his mate!
Leave all your cares and your sorrows behind!
Leave all the fears of your future to Fate!
Come! and our skies shall be glad with the gold
That paled into gray when you parted from me.
Come! but remember that, just as of old,
You must be bound, Love, and I must be free.

Life has lost savour since you and I parted;
I have been lonely, and you have been sad.
Youth is too brief to be sorrowful-hearted -
Come! and again let us laugh and be glad.
Lips should not sigh that are fashioned to kiss -
Breasts should not ache that joy's secrets have found.
Come! but remember, in spite of all this,
I must be free, Love, while you must be bound.

You must be bound to be true while you live,
And I keep my freedom for ever, as now.
You must ask only for that which I give -
Kisses and love-words, but never a vow.
Come! I am lonely, and long for your smile,
Bring back the lost lovely Summer to me!
Come! but remember, remember the while,
That you must be bound, Love, and I must be free.

AQUILEIA

[On the election of the Roman Emperor Maximus, by the Senate, A.D.
238, a powerful army, headed by the Thracian giant Maximus, laid
siege to Aquileia. Though poorly prepared for war, the constancy of
her citizens rendered her impregnable. The women of Aquileia cut
off their hair to make ropes for the military engines. The small
body of troops was directed by Chrispinus, a Lieutenant of the
Senate. Apollo was the deity supposed to protect them. --Gibbon's
Roman History.]

"The ropes, the ropes! Apollo send us ropes,"
Chrispinus cried, "or death attends our hopes."
Then panic reigned, and many a mournful sound
Hurt the cleft air; for where could ropes be found?

Up rose a Roman mother; tall was she
As her own son, a youth of noble height.
A little child was clinging to her knee -
She loosed his twining arms and put him down,
And her dark eyes flashed with a sudden light.

How like a queen she stood! her royal crown,
The rich dark masses of her splendid hair.
Just flecked with spots of sunshine here and there,
Twined round her brow; 'twas like a coronet,
Where gems of gold lie bedded deep in jet.

She loosed the comb that held the shining strands,
And threaded out the meshes with her hands.
The purple mass fell to her garment's hem.
A queen new clothed without her diadem
She stood before her subjects.

"Now," she cried,
"Give me thy sword, Julianus!" And her son
Unsheathed the blade (that had not left his side
Save when it sought a foeman's blood to shed),
Awed by her regal bearing, and obeyed.

With the white beauty of her firm fair hand
She clasped the hilt; then severed, one by one,
Her gold-flecked purple tresses. Strand on strand,
Free e'en as foes had fallen by that blade,
Robbed of its massive wealth of curl and coil,
Yet like some antique model, rose her head
In all its classic beauty.

"See!" she said,
And pointed to the shining mound of hair;
"Apollo makes swift answer to thy prayer,
Chrispinus. Quick! now, soldiers, to thy toil!"
Forth from a thousand throats what seemed one voice
Rose shrilly, filling all the air with cheer.
"Lo!" quoth the foe, "our enemies rejoice!"
Well might the Thracian giant quake with fear!
For while skilled hands caught up the gleaming threads
And bound them into cords, a hundred heads
Yielded their beauteous tresses to the sword,
And cast them down to swell the precious hoard.

Nor was the noble sacrifice in vain
Another day beheld the giant slain.

WISHES FOR A LITTLE GIRL

What would I ask the kindly fates to give
To crown her life, if I could have my way?
My strongest wishes would be negative,
If they would but obey.

Give her not greatness. For great souls must stand
Alone and lonely in this little world:
Cleft rocks that show the great Creator's hand,
Thither by earthquakes hurled.

Give her not genius. Spare her the cruel pain
Of finding her whole life a prey for daws;
Of hearing with quickened sense and burning brain
The world's sneer-tinged applause.

Give her not perfect beauty's gifts. For then
Her truthful mirror would infuse her mind
With love for self, and for the praise of men,
That lowers woman-kind.

But make her fair and comely to the sight,
Give her more heart than brain, more love than pride.
Let her be tender-thoughted, cheerful, bright,
Some strong man's star and guide.

Not vainly questioning why she was sent
Into this restless world of toil and strife,
Let her go bravely on her way, content
To make the best of life.

ROMNEY

Nay, Romney, nay--I will not hear you say
Those words again: "I love you, love you sweet!"
You are profane--blasphemous. I repeat,
You are no actor for so grand a play.

You love with all your heart? Well, that may be;
Some cups are fashioned shallow. Should I try
To quench my thirst from one of those, when dry -
I who have had a full bowl proffered me -

A new bowl brimming with a draught divine,
One single taste thrilled to the finger-tips?
Think you I even care to bathe my lips
With this poor sweetened water you call wine?

And though I spilled the nectar ere 'twas quaffed,
And broke the bowl in wanton folly, yet
I would die of my thirst ere I would wet
My burning lips with any meaner draught.

So leave me, Romney. One who has seen a play
Enacted by a star cannot endure
To see it rendered by an amateur.
You know not what Love is--now go away!

MY HOME

This is the place that I love the best,
A little brown house like a ground-bird's nest,
Hid among grasses, and vines, and trees,
Summer retreat of the birds and bees.

The tenderest light that ever was seen
Sifts through the vine-made window screen -
Sifts and quivers, and flits and falls
On home-made carpets and gray-hung walls.

All through June, the west wind free
The breath of the clover brings to me.
All through the languid July day
I catch the scent of the new-mown hay.

The morning glories and scarlet vine
Over the doorway twist and twine;
And every day, when the house is still,
The humming-bird comes to the window-sill.

In the cunningest chamber under the sun
I sink to sleep when the day is done;
And am waked at morn, in my snow-white bed,
By a singing-bird on the roof o'erhead.

Better than treasures brought from Rome
Are the living pictures I see at home -
My aged father, with frosted hair,
And mother's face like a painting rare
Far from the city's dust and heat,
I get but sounds and odours sweet.
Who can wonder I love to stay,
Week after week, here hidden away,
In this sly nook that I love the best -
The little brown house, like a ground-bird's nest?

TO MARRY OR NOT TO MARRY?
A GIRL'S REVERIE

Mother says, "Be in no hurry,
Marriage oft means care and worry."

Auntie says, with manner grave,
"Wife is synonym for slave."

Father asks, in tones commanding,
"How does Bradstreet rate his standing?"

Sister crooning to her twins,
Sighs, "With marriage care begins."

Grandma, near life's closing days,
Murmurs, "Sweet are girlhood's ways."

Maud, twice widowed ("sod and grass")
Looks at me and moans "Alas!"

They are six, and I am one,
Life for me has just begun.

They are older, calmer, wiser:
Age should aye be youth's adviser.

They must know--and yet, dear me,
When in Harry's eyes I see

All the world of love there burning -
On my six advisers turning,

I make answer, "Oh, but Harry
Is not like most men who marry.

"Fate has offered me a prize,
Life with love means Paradise.

"Life without it is not worth
All the foolish joys of earth."

So, in spite of all they say,
I shall name the wedding day.

AN AFTERNOON

I am stirred by the dream of an afternoon
Of a perfect day--though it was not June;
The lilt of winds, and the droning tune
That a busy city was humming.

And a bronze-brown head, and lips like wine
Leaning out through the window-vine
A-list for steps that were maybe mine -
Eager steps that were coming.

I can see it all, as a dreamer may -
The tender smile on your lips that day,
And the glow on your cheek as we rode away
Into the golden weather.

And a love-light shone in your eyes of brown -
I swear there did!--as we drove down
The crowded avenue out of the town,
Through shadowy lanes, together:

Drove out into the sunset-skies
That glowed with wonderful crimson dyes;
And with soul and spirit, and heart and eyes,
We silently drank their splendour.

But the golden glory that lit the place
Was not alone from the sunset's grace -
For I saw in your fair, uplifted face
A light that was wondrously tender.

I say I saw it. And yet to-day
I ask myself, in a cynical way,
Was it only a part you had learned to play,
To see me act the lover?

And I curse myself for a fool. And yet
I would willingly die without one regret
Could I bring back the day whose sun has set -
And you--and live it over.

RIVER AND SEA

We stood by the river that swept
In its glory and grandeur away;
But never a pulse o' me leapt,
And you wondered at me that day.

We stood by the lake as it lay
With its dimpled face turned to the light;
Was it strange I had nothing to say
To so fair and enchanting a sight?

I look on your tresses of gold -
You are fair and a thing to be loved -
Do you think I am heartless and cold
That I look and am wholly unmoved?

One answer, dear friend, I will make
To the questions your eyes ask of me:
"Talk not of the river or lake
To those who have looked on the sea"

WHAT HAPPENS?

When thy hand touches mine, through all the mesh
Of intricate and interlaced veins
Shoot swift delights that border on keen pains:
Flesh thrills to thrilling flesh.

When in thine eager eyes I look to find
A comrade to my thought, thy ready brain
Delves down and makes its inmost meaning plain:
Mind answers unto mind.

When hands and eyes are hid by seas that roll
Wide wastes between us, still so near thou art
I count the very pulses of thy heart:
Soul speaketh unto soul.

So every law, or human or divine,
In heart and brain and spirit makes thee mine.

POSSESSION

That which we had we still possess,
Though leaves may drop and stars may fall;
No circumstance can make it less,
Or take it from us, all in all.

That which is lost we did not own;
We only held it for a day -
A leaf by careless breezes blown;
No fate could take our own away.

I hold it as a changeless law
From which no soul can sway or swerve,
We have that in us which will draw
Whate'er we need or most deserve.

Even as the magnet to the steel
Our souls are to our best desires;
The Fates have hearts and they can feel -
They know what each true life requires.

We think we lose when we most gain;
We call joys ended ere begun;
When stars fade out do skies complain,
Or glory in the rising sun?

No fate could rob us of our own -
No circumstance can make it less;
What time removes was but a loan,
For what was ours we still possess.

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