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Shapes of Clay by Ambrose Bierce

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[Illustration: Ambrose Bierce.]

SHAPES OF CLAY

BY

AMBROSE BIERCE

AUTHOR OF "IN THE MIDST OF LIFE," "CAN SUCH THINGS BE?" "BLACK BEETLES
IN AMBER," AND "FANTASTIC FABLES"

1903

DEDICATION.

WITH PRIDE IN THEIR WORK, FAITH IN THEIR FUTURE AND AFFECTION FOR
THEMSELVES, AN OLD WRITER DEDICATES THIS BOOK TO HIS YOUNG FRIENDS AND
PUPILS, GEORGE STERLING AND HERMAN SCHEFFAUER. A.B.

PREFACE.

Some small part of this book being personally censorious, and in that
part the names of real persons being used without their assent, it seems
fit that a few words be said of the matter in sober prose. What it seems
well to say I have already said with sufficient clarity in the preface
of another book, somewhat allied to this by that feature of its
character. I quote from "Black Beetles in Amber:"

"Many of the verses in this book are republished, with considerable
alterations, from various newspapers. Of my motives in writing and in
now republishing I do not care to make either defence or explanation,
except with reference to those who since my first censure of them have
passed away. To one having only a reader's interest in the matter it may
easily seem that the verses relating to those might properly have been
omitted from this collection. But if these pieces, or indeed, if any
considerable part of my work in literature, have the intrinsic worth
which by this attempt to preserve some of it I have assumed, their
permanent suppression is impossible, and it is only a question of when
and by whom they will be republished. Some one will surely search them
out and put them in circulation.

"I conceive it the right of an author to have his fugitive work
collected in his lifetime; and this seems to me especially true of one
whose work, necessarily engendering animosities, is peculiarly exposed
to challenge as unjust. That is a charge that can best be examined
before time has effaced the evidence. For the death of a man of whom
I have written what I may venture to think worthy to live I am no way
responsible; and however sincerely I may regret it, I can hardly consent
that it shall affect my literary fortunes. If the satirist who does not
accept the remarkable doctrine that, while condemning the sin he should
spare the sinner, were bound to let the life of his work be coterminous
with that of his subject his were a lot of peculiar hardship.

"Persuaded of the validity of all this I have not hesitated to reprint
even certain 'epitaphs' which, once of the living, are now of the dead,
as all the others must eventually be. The objection inheres in all forms
of applied satire--my understanding of whose laws and liberties is at
least derived from reverent study of the masters. That in respect of
matters herein mentioned I have but followed their practice can be shown
by abundant instance and example."

In arranging these verses for publication I have thought it needless
to classify them according to character, as "Serious," "Comic,"
"Sentimental," "Satirical," and so forth. I do the reader the honor to
think that he will readily discern the nature of what he is reading;
and I entertain the hope that his mood will accommodate itself without
disappointment to that of his author.

AMBROSE BIERCE.

CONTENTS.

THE PASSING SHOW
ELIXIR VITAE
CONVALESCENT
AT THE CLOSE OF THE CANVASS
NOVUM ORGANUM
GEOTHEOS
YORICK
A VISION OF DOOM
POLITICS
POESY
IN DEFENSE
AN INVOCATION
RELIGION
A MORNING FANCY
VISIONS OF SIN
THE TOWN OF DAE
AN ANARCHIST
AN OFFER OF MARRIAGE
ARMA VIRUMQUE
ON A PROPOSED CREMATORY
A DEMAND
THE WEATHER WIGHT
T.A.H.
MY MONUMENT
MAD
HOSPITALITY
FOR A CERTAIN CRITIC
RELIGIOUS PROGRESS
MAGNANIMITY
TO HER
TO A SUMMER POET
ARTHUR MCEWEN
CHARLES AND PETER
CONTEMPLATION
CREATION
BUSINESS
A POSSIBILITY
TO A CENSOR
THE HESITATING VETERAN
A YEAR'S CASUALTIES
INSPIRATION
TO-DAY
AN ALIBI
REBUKE
J.F.B.
THE DYING STATESMAN
THE DEATH OF GRANT
THE FOUNTAIN REFILLED
LAUS LUCIS
NANINE
TECHNOLOGY
A REPLY TO A LETTER
TO OSCAR WILDE
PRAYER
A "BORN LEADER OF MEN"
TO THE BARTHOLDI STATUE
AN UNMERRY CHRISTMAS
BY A DEFEATED LITIGANT
AN EPITAPH
THE POLITICIAN
AN INSCRIPTION
FROM VIRGINIA TO PARIS
A "MUTE INGLORIOUS MILTON"
THE FREE TRADER'S LAMENT
SUBTERRANEAN PHANTASIES
IN MEMORIAM
THE STATESMEN
THE BROTHERS
THE CYNIC'S BEQUEST
CORRECTED NEWS
AN EXPLANATION
JUSTICE
MR. FINK'S DEBATING DONKEY
TO MY LAUNDRESS
FAME
OMNES VANITAS
ASPIRATION
DEMOCRACY
THE NEW "ULALUME"
CONSOLATION
FATE
PHILOSOPHER BIMM
REMINDED
SALVINI IN AMERICA
ANOTHER WAY
ART
AN ENEMY TO LAW AND ORDER
TO ONE ACROSS THE WAY
THE DEBTOR ABROAD
FORESIGHT
A FAIR DIVISION
GENESIS
LIBERTY
THE PASSING OF "BOSS" SHEPHERD
TO MAUDE
THE BIRTH OF VIRTUE
STONEMAN IN HEAVEN
THE SCURRIL PRESS
STANLEY
ONE OF THE UNFAIR SEX
THE LORD'S PRAYER ON A COIN
A LACKING FACTOR
THE ROYAL JESTER
A CAREER IN LETTERS
THE FOLLOWING PAIR
POLITICAL ECONOMY
VANISHED AT COCK-CROW
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
INDUSTRIAL DISCONTENT
TEMPORA MUTANTUR
CONTENTMENT
THE NEW ENOCH
DISAVOWAL
AN AVERAGE
WOMAN
INCURABLE
THE PUN
A PARTISAN'S PROTEST
TO NANINE
VICE VERSA
A BLACK-LIST
A BEQUEST TO MUSIC
AUTHORITY
THE PSORIAD
ONEIROMANCY
PEACE
THANKSGIVING
L'AUDACE
THE GOD'S VIEW-POINT
THE AESTHETES
JULY FOURTH
WITH MINE OWN PETARD
CONSTANCY
SIRES AND SONS
A CHALLENGE
TWO SHOWS
A POET'S HOPE
THE WOMAN AND THE DEVIL
TWO ROGUES
BEECHER
NOT GUILTY
PRESENTIMENT
A STUDY IN GRAY
A PARADOX
FOR MERIT
A BIT OF SCIENCE
THE TABLES TURNED
TO A DEJECTED POET
A FOOL
THE HUMORIST
MONTEFIORE
A WARNING
DISCRETION
AN EXILE
THE DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT
PSYCHOGRAPHS
TO A PROFESSIONAL EULOGIST
FOR WOUNDS
ELECTION DAY
THE MILITIAMAN
A LITERARY METHOD
A WELCOME
A SERENADE
THE WISE AND GOOD
THE LOST COLONEL
FOR TAT
A DILEMMA
METEMPSYCHOSIS
THE SAINT AND THE MONK
THE OPPOSING SEX
A WHIPPER-IN
JUDGMENT
THE FALL OF MISS LARKIN
IN HIGH LIFE
A BUBBLE
A RENDEZVOUS
FRANCINE
AN EXAMPLE
REVENGE
THE GENESIS OF EMBARRASSMENT
IN CONTUMACIAM
RE-EDIFIED
A BULLETIN
FROM THE MINUTES
WOMAN IN POLITICS
TO AN ASPIRANT
A BALLAD OF PIKEVILLE
A BUILDER
AN AUGURY
LUSUS POLITICUS
BEREAVEMENT
AN INSCRIPTION
A PICKBRAIN
CONVALESCENT
THE NAVAL CONSTRUCTOR
DETECTED
BIMETALISM
THE RICH TESTATOR
TWO METHODS
FOUNDATIONS OF THE STATE
IN IMPOSTER
UNEXPOUNDED
FRANCE
THE EASTERN QUESTION
A GUEST
A FALSE PROPHECY
TWO TYPES
SOME ANTE-MORTEM EPITAPHS
A HYMN OF THE MANY
ONE MORNING
AN ERROR
AT THE "NATIONAL ENCAMPMENT"
THE KING OF BORES
HISTORY
THE HERMIT
TO A CRITIC OF TENNYSON
THE YEARLY LIE
CO-OPERATION
AN APOLOGUE
DIAGNOSIS
FALLEN
DIES IRAE
THE DAY OF WRATH
ONE MOOD'S EXPRESSION
SOMETHING IN THE PAPERS
IN THE BINNACLE
HUMILITY
ONE PRESIDENT
THE BRIDE
STRAINED RELATIONS
THE MAN BORN BLIND
A NIGHTMARE
A WET SEASON
THE CONFEDERATE FLAGS
HAEC FARULA DOCET
EXONERATION
AZRAEL
AGAIN
HOMO PODUNKENSIS
A SOCIAL CALL

SHAPES OF CLAY

THE PASSING SHOW.

I.

I know not if it was a dream. I viewed
A city where the restless multitude,
Between the eastern and the western deep
Had roared gigantic fabrics, strong and rude.

Colossal palaces crowned every height;
Towers from valleys climbed into the light;
O'er dwellings at their feet, great golden domes
Hung in the blue, barbarically bright.

But now, new-glimmering to-east, the day
Touched the black masses with a grace of gray,
Dim spires of temples to the nation's God
Studding high spaces of the wide survey.

Well did the roofs their solemn secret keep
Of life and death stayed by the truce of sleep,
Yet whispered of an hour-when sleepers wake,
The fool to hope afresh, the wise to weep.

The gardens greened upon the builded hills
Above the tethered thunders of the mills
With sleeping wheels unstirred to service yet
By the tamed torrents and the quickened rills.

A hewn acclivity, reprieved a space,
Looked on the builder's blocks about his base
And bared his wounded breast in sign to say:
"Strike! 't is my destiny to lodge your race.

"'T was but a breath ago the mammoth browsed
Upon my slopes, and in my caves I housed
Your shaggy fathers in their nakedness,
While on their foeman's offal they caroused."

Ships from afar afforested the bay.
Within their huge and chambered bodies lay
The wealth of continents; and merrily sailed
The hardy argosies to far Cathay.

Beside the city of the living spread--
Strange fellowship!--the city of the dead;
And much I wondered what its humble folk,
To see how bravely they were housed, had said.

Noting how firm their habitations stood,
Broad-based and free of perishable wood--
How deep in granite and how high in brass
The names were wrought of eminent and good,

I said: "When gold or power is their aim,
The smile of beauty or the wage of shame,
Men dwell in cities; to this place they fare
When they would conquer an abiding fame."

From the red East the sun--a solemn rite--
Crowned with a flame the cross upon a height
Above the dead; and then with all his strength
Struck the great city all aroar with light!

II.

I know not if it was a dream. I came
Unto a land where something seemed the same
That I had known as 't were but yesterday,
But what it was I could not rightly name.

It was a strange and melancholy land.
Silent and desolate. On either hand
Lay waters of a sea that seemed as dead,
And dead above it seemed the hills to stand,

Grayed all with age, those lonely hills--ah me,
How worn and weary they appeared to be!
Between their feet long dusty fissures clove
The plain in aimless windings to the sea.

One hill there was which, parted from the rest,
Stood where the eastern water curved a-west.
Silent and passionless it stood. I thought
I saw a scar upon its giant breast.

The sun with sullen and portentous gleam
Hung like a menace on the sea's extreme;
Nor the dead waters, nor the far, bleak bars
Of cloud were conscious of his failing beam.

It was a dismal and a dreadful sight,
That desert in its cold, uncanny light;
No soul but I alone to mark the fear
And imminence of everlasting night!

All presages and prophecies of doom
Glimmered and babbled in the ghastly gloom,
And in the midst of that accursed scene
A wolf sat howling on a broken tomb.

ELIXER VITAE.

Of life's elixir I had writ, when sleep
(Pray Heaven it spared him who the writing read!)
Sealed upon my senses with so deep
A stupefaction that men thought me dead.
The centuries stole by with noiseless tread,
Like spectres in the twilight of my dream;
I saw mankind in dim procession sweep
Through life, oblivion at each extreme.
Meanwhile my beard, like Barbarossa's growing,
Loaded my lap and o'er my knees was flowing.

The generations came with dance and song,
And each observed me curiously there.
Some asked: "Who was he?" Others in the throng
Replied: "A wicked monk who slept at prayer."
Some said I was a saint, and some a bear--
These all were women. So the young and gay,
Visibly wrinkling as they fared along,
Doddered at last on failing limbs away;
Though some, their footing in my beard entangled,
Fell into its abysses and were strangled.

At last a generation came that walked
More slowly forward to the common tomb,
Then altogether stopped. The women talked
Excitedly; the men, with eyes agloom
Looked darkly on them with a look of doom;
And one cried out: "We are immortal now--
How need we these?" And a dread figure stalked,
Silent, with gleaming axe and shrouded brow,
And all men cried: "Decapitate the women,
Or soon there'll be no room to stand or swim in!"

So (in my dream) each lovely head was chopped
From its fair shoulders, and but men alone
Were left in all the world. Birth being stopped,
Enough of room remained in every zone,
And Peace ascended Woman's vacant throne.
Thus, life's elixir being found (the quacks
Their bread-and-butter in it gladly sopped)
'Twas made worth having by the headsman's axe.
Seeing which, I gave myself a hearty shaking,
And crumbled all to powder in the waking.

CONVALESCENT.

What! "Out of danger?" Can the slighted Dame
Or canting Pharisee no more defame?
Will Treachery caress my hand no more,
Nor Hatred He alurk about my door?--
Ingratitude, with benefits dismissed,
Not close the loaded palm to make a fist?
Will Envy henceforth not retaliate
For virtues it were vain to emulate?
Will Ignorance my knowledge fail to scout,
Not understanding what 'tis all about,
Yet feeling in its light so mean and small
That all his little soul is turned to gall?

What! "Out of danger?" Jealousy disarmed?
Greed from exaction magically charmed?
Ambition stayed from trampling whom it meets,
Like horses fugitive in crowded streets?
The Bigot, with his candle, book and bell,
Tongue-tied, unlunged and paralyzed as well?
The Critic righteously to justice haled,
His own ear to the post securely nailed--
What most he dreads unable to inflict,
And powerless to hawk the faults he's picked?
The liar choked upon his choicest lie,
And impotent alike to villify
Or flatter for the gold of thrifty men
Who hate his person but employ his pen--
Who love and loathe, respectively, the dirt
Belonging to his character and shirt?

What! "Out of danger?"--Nature's minions all,
Like hounds returning to the huntsman's call,
Obedient to the unwelcome note
That stays them from the quarry's bursting throat?--
Famine and Pestilence and Earthquake dire,
Torrent and Tempest, Lightning, Frost and Fire,
The soulless Tiger and the mindless Snake,
The noxious Insect from the stagnant lake
(Automaton malevolences wrought
Out of the substance of Creative Thought)--
These from their immemorial prey restrained,
Their fury baffled and their power chained?

I'm safe? Is that what the physician said?
What! "Out of danger?" Then, by Heaven, I'm dead!

AT THE CLOSE OF THE CANVASS.

'Twas a Venerable Person, whom I met one Sunday morning,
All appareled as a prophet of a melancholy sect;
And in a jeremaid of objurgatory warning
He lifted up his _jodel_ to the following effect:

O ye sanguinary statesmen, intermit your verbal tussles
O ye editors and orators, consent to hear my lay!
And a little while the digital and maxillary muscles
And attend to what a Venerable Person has to say.

Cease your writing, cease your shouting, cease your wild unearthly lying;
Cease to bandy such expressions as are never, never found
In the letter of a lover; cease "exposing" and "replying"--
Let there be abated fury and a decrement of sound.

For to-morrow will be Monday and the fifth day of November--
Only day of opportunity before the final rush.
_Carpe diem!_ go conciliate each person who's a member
Of the other party--do it while you can without a blush.

"Lo! the time is close upon you when the madness of the season
Having howled itself to silence, like a Minnesota 'clone,
Will at last be superseded by the still, small voice of reason,
When the whelpage of your folly you would willingly disown.

"Ah, 'tis mournful to consider what remorses will be thronging,
With a consciousness of having been so ghastly indiscreet,
When by accident untoward two ex-gentlemen belonging
To the opposite political denominations meet!

"Yes, 'tis melancholy, truly, to forecast the fierce, unruly
Supersurging of their blushes, like the flushes upon high
When Aurora Borealis lights her circumpolar palace
And in customary manner sets her banner in the sky.

"Each will think: 'This falsifier knows that I too am a liar.
Curse him for a son of Satan, all unholily compound!
Curse my leader for another! Curse that pelican, my mother!
Would to God that I when little in my victual had been drowned!'"

Then that Venerable Person went away without returning
And, the madness of the season having also taken flight,
All the people soon were blushing like the skies to crimson burning
When Aurora Borealis fires her premises by night.

NOVUM ORGANUM.

In Bacon see the culminating prime
Of Anglo-Saxon intellect and crime.
He dies and Nature, settling his affairs,
Parts his endowments among us, his heirs:
To every one a pinch of brain for seed,
And, to develop it, a pinch of greed.
Each thrifty heir, to make the gift suffice,
Buries the talent to manure the vice.

GEOTHEOS.

As sweet as the look of a lover
Saluting the eyes of a maid,
That blossom to blue as the maid
Is ablush to the glances above her,
The sunshine is gilding the glade
And lifting the lark out of shade.

Sing therefore high praises, and therefore
Sing songs that are ancient as gold,
Of Earth in her garments of gold;
Nor ask of their meaning, nor wherefore
They charm as of yore, for behold!
The Earth is as fair as of old.

Sing songs of the pride of the mountains,
And songs of the strength of the seas,
And the fountains that fall to the seas
From the hands of the hills, and the fountains
That shine in the temples of trees,
In valleys of roses and bees.

Sing songs that are dreamy and tender,
Of slender Arabian palms,
And shadows that circle the palms,
Where caravans, veiled from the splendor,
Are kneeling in blossoms and balms,
In islands of infinite calms.

Barbaric, O Man, was thy runing
When mountains were stained as with wine
By the dawning of Time, and as wine
Were the seas, yet its echoes are crooning,
Achant in the gusty pine
And the pulse of the poet's line.

YORICK.

Hard by an excavated street one sat
In solitary session on the sand;
And ever and anon he spake and spat
And spake again--a yellow skull in hand,
To which that retrospective Pioneer
Addressed the few remarks that follow here:

"Who are you? Did you come 'der blains agross,'
Or 'Horn aroundt'? In days o' '49
Did them thar eye-holes see the Southern Cross
From the Antarctic Sea git up an' shine?
Or did you drive a bull team 'all the way
From Pike,' with Mr. Joseph Bowers?--say!

"Was you in Frisco when the water came
Up to Montgum'ry street? and do you mind
The time when Peters run the faro game--
Jim Peters from old Mississip--behind
Wells Fargo's, where he subsequent was bust
By Sandy, as regards both bank and crust?

"I wonder was you here when Casey shot
James King o' William? And did you attend
The neck-tie dance ensuin'? _I_ did not,
But j'ined the rush to Go Creek with my friend
Ed'ard McGowan; for we was resolved
In sech diversions not to be involved.

"Maybe I knowed you; seems to me I've seed
Your face afore. I don't forget a face,
But names I disremember--I'm that breed
Of owls. I'm talking some'at into space
An' maybe my remarks is too derned free,
Seein' yer name is unbeknown to me.

"Ther' was a time, I reckon, when I knowed
Nigh onto every dern galoot in town.
That was as late as '50. Now she's growed
Surprisin'! Yes, me an' my pardner, Brown,
Was wide acquainted. If ther' was a cuss
We didn't know, the cause was--he knowed us.

"Maybe you had that claim adjoinin' mine
Up thar in Calaveras. Was it you
To which Long Mary took a mighty shine,
An' throwed squar' off on Jake the Kangaroo?
I guess if she could see ye now she'd take
Her chance o' happiness along o' Jake.

"You ain't so purty now as you was then:
Yer eyes is nothin' but two prospect holes,
An' women which are hitched to better men
Would hardly for sech glances damn their souls,
As Lengthie did. By G----! I _hope_ it's you,
For" _(kicks the skull)_ "I'm Jake the Kangaroo."

A VISION OF DOOM.

I stood upon a hill. The setting sun
Was crimson with a curse and a portent,
And scarce his angry ray lit up the land
That lay below, whose lurid gloom appeared
Freaked with a moving mist, which, reeking up
From dim tarns hateful with some horrid ban,
Took shapes forbidden and without a name.
Gigantic night-birds, rising from the reeds
With cries discordant, startled all the air,
And bodiless voices babbled in the gloom--
The ghosts of blasphemies long ages stilled,
And shrieks of women, and men's curses. All
These visible shapes, and sounds no mortal ear
Had ever heard, some spiritual sense
Interpreted, though brokenly; for I
Was haunted by a consciousness of crime,
Some giant guilt, but whose I knew not. All
These things malign, by sight and sound revealed,
Were sin-begotten; that I knew--no more--
And that but dimly, as in dreadful dreams
The sleepy senses babble to the brain
Imperfect witness. As I stood a voice,
But whence it came I knew not, cried aloud
Some words to me in a forgotten tongue,
Yet straight I knew me for a ghost forlorn,
Returned from the illimited inane.
Again, but in a language that I knew,
As in reply to something which in me
Had shaped itself a thought, but found no words,
It spake from the dread mystery about:
"Immortal shadow of a mortal soul
That perished with eternity, attend.
What thou beholdest is as void as thou:
The shadow of a poet's dream--himself
As thou, his soul as thine, long dead,
But not like thine outlasted by its shade.
His dreams alone survive eternity
As pictures in the unsubstantial void.
Excepting thee and me (and we because
The poet wove us in his thought) remains
Of nature and the universe no part
Or vestige but the poet's dreams. This dread,
Unspeakable land about thy feet, with all
Its desolation and its terrors--lo!
'T is but a phantom world. So long ago
That God and all the angels since have died
That poet lived--yourself long dead--his mind
Filled with the light of a prophetic fire,
And standing by the Western sea, above
The youngest, fairest city in the world,
Named in another tongue than his for one
Ensainted, saw its populous domain
Plague-smitten with a nameless shame. For there
Red-handed murder rioted; and there
The people gathered gold, nor cared to loose
The assassin's fingers from the victim's throat,
But said, each in his vile pursuit engrossed:
'Am I my brother's keeper? Let the Law
Look to the matter.' But the Law did not.
And there, O pitiful! the babe was slain
Within its mother's breast and the same grave
Held babe and mother; and the people smiled,
Still gathering gold, and said: 'The Law, the Law,'
Then the great poet, touched upon the lips
With a live coal from Truth's high altar, raised
His arms to heaven and sang a song of doom--
Sang of the time to be, when God should lean
Indignant from the Throne and lift his hand,
And that foul city be no more!--a tale,
A dream, a desolation and a curse!
No vestige of its glory should survive
In fact or memory: its people dead,
Its site forgotten, and its very name
Disputed."

"Was the prophecy fulfilled?"
The sullen disc of the declining sun
Was crimson with a curse and a portent,
And scarce his angry ray lit up the land
That lay below, whose lurid gloom appeared
Freaked with a moving mist, which, reeking up
From dim tarns hateful with a horrid ban,
Took shapes forbidden and without a name.
Gigantic night-birds, rising from the reeds
With cries discordant, startled all the air,
And bodiless voices babbled in the gloom.
But not to me came any voice again;
And, covering my face with thin, dead hands,
I wept, and woke, and cried aloud to God!

POLITICS.

That land full surely hastens to its end
Where public sycophants in homage bend
The populace to flatter, and repeat
The doubled echoes of its loud conceit.
Lowly their attitude but high their aim,
They creep to eminence through paths of shame,
Till fixed securely in the seats of pow'r,
The dupes they flattered they at last devour.

POESY.

Successive bards pursue Ambition's fire
That shines, Oblivion, above thy mire.
The latest mounts his predecessor's trunk,
And sinks his brother ere himself is sunk.
So die ingloriously Fame's _elite_,
But dams of dunces keep the line complete.

IN DEFENSE.

You may say, if you please, Johnny Bull, that our girls
Are crazy to marry your dukes and your earls;
But I've heard that the maids of your own little isle
Greet bachelor lords with a favoring smile.

Nay, titles, 'tis said in defense of our fair,
Are popular here because popular there;
And for them our ladies persistently go
Because 'tis exceedingly English, you know.

Whatever the motive, you'll have to confess
The effort's attended with easy success;
And--pardon the freedom--'tis thought, over here,
'Tis mortification you mask with a sneer.

It's all very well, sir, your scorn to parade
Of the high nasal twang of the Yankee maid,
But, ah, to my lord when he dares to propose
No sound is so sweet as that "Yes" from the nose.

Our ladies, we grant, walk alone in the street
(Observe, by-the-by, on what delicate feet!)
'Tis a habit they got here at home, where they say
The men from politeness go seldom astray.

Ah, well, if the dukes and the earls and that lot
Can stand it (God succor them if they cannot!)
Your commoners ought to assent, I am sure,
And what they 're not called on to suffer, endure.

"'Tis nothing but money?" "Your nobles are bought?"
As to that, I submit, it is commonly thought
That England's a country not specially free
Of Croesi and (if you'll allow it) Croesae.

You've many a widow and many a girl
With money to purchase a duke or an earl.
'Tis a very remarkable thing, you'll agree,
When goods import buyers from over the sea.

Alas for the woman of Albion's isle!
She may simper; as well as she can she may smile;
She may wear pantalettes and an air of repose--
But my lord of the future will talk through his nose.

AN INVOCATION.

[Read at the Celebration of Independence Day in San
Francisco, in 1888.]

Goddess of Liberty! O thou
Whose tearless eyes behold the chain,
And look unmoved upon the slain,
Eternal peace upon thy brow,--

Before thy shrine the races press,
Thy perfect favor to implore--
The proudest tyrant asks no more,
The ironed anarchist no less.

Thine altar-coals that touch the lips
Of prophets kindle, too, the brand
By Discord flung with wanton hand
Among the houses and the ships.

Upon thy tranquil front the star
Burns bleak and passionless and white,
Its cold inclemency of light
More dreadful than the shadows are.

Thy name we do not here invoke
Our civic rites to sanctify:
Enthroned in thy remoter sky,
Thou heedest not our broken yoke.

Thou carest not for such as we:
Our millions die to serve the still
And secret purpose of thy will.
They perish--what is that to thee?

The light that fills the patriot's tomb
Is not of thee. The shining crown
Compassionately offered down
To those who falter in the gloom,

And fall, and call upon thy name,
And die desiring--'tis the sign
Of a diviner love than thine,
Rewarding with a richer fame.

To him alone let freemen cry
Who hears alike the victor's shout,
The song of faith, the moan of doubt,
And bends him from his nearer sky.

God of my country and my race!
So greater than the gods of old--
So fairer than the prophets told
Who dimly saw and feared thy face,--

Who didst but half reveal thy will
And gracious ends to their desire,
Behind the dawn's advancing fire
Thy tender day-beam veiling still,--

To whom the unceasing suns belong,
And cause is one with consequence,--
To whose divine, inclusive sense
The moan is blended with the song,--

Whose laws, imperfect and unjust,
Thy just and perfect purpose serve:
The needle, howsoe'er it swerve,
Still warranting the sailor's trust,--

God, lift thy hand and make us free
To crown the work thou hast designed.
O, strike away the chains that bind
Our souls to one idolatry!

The liberty thy love hath given
We thank thee for. We thank thee for
Our great dead fathers' holy war
Wherein our manacles were riven.

We thank thee for the stronger stroke
Ourselves delivered and incurred
When--thine incitement half unheard--
The chains we riveted we broke.

We thank thee that beyond the sea
The people, growing ever wise,
Turn to the west their serious eyes
And dumbly strive to be as we.

As when the sun's returning flame
Upon the Nileside statue shone,
And struck from the enchanted stone
The music of a mighty fame,

Let Man salute the rising day
Of Liberty, but not adore.
'Tis Opportunity--no more--
A useful, not a sacred, ray.

It bringeth good, it bringeth ill,
As he possessing shall elect.
He maketh it of none effect
Who walketh not within thy will.

Give thou or more or less, as we
Shall serve the right or serve the wrong.
Confirm our freedom but so long
As we are worthy to be free.

But when (O, distant be the time!)
Majorities in passion draw
Insurgent swords to murder Law,
And all the land is red with crime;

Or--nearer menace!--when the band
Of feeble spirits cringe and plead
To the gigantic strength of Greed,
And fawn upon his iron hand;--

Nay, when the steps to state are worn
In hollows by the feet of thieves,
And Mammon sits among the sheaves
And chuckles while the reapers mourn;

Then stay thy miracle!--replace
The broken throne, repair the chain,
Restore the interrupted reign
And veil again thy patient face.

Lo! here upon the world's extreme
We stand with lifted arms and dare
By thine eternal name to swear
Our country, which so fair we deem--

Upon whose hills, a bannered throng,
The spirits of the sun display
Their flashing lances day by day
And hear the sea's pacific song--

Shall be so ruled in right and grace
That men shall say: "O, drive afield
The lawless eagle from the shield,
And call an angel to the place!"

RELIGION.

Hassan Bedreddin, clad in rags, ill-shod,
Sought the great temple of the living God.
The worshippers arose and drove him forth,
And one in power beat him with a rod.

"Allah," he cried, "thou seest what I got;
Thy servants bar me from the sacred spot."
"Be comforted," the Holy One replied;
"It is the only place where I am not."

A MORNING FANCY.

I drifted (or I seemed to) in a boat
Upon the surface of a shoreless sea
Whereon no ship nor anything did float,
Save only the frail bark supporting me;
And that--it was so shadowy--seemed to be
Almost from out the very vapors wrought
Of the great ocean underneath its keel;
And all that blue profound appeared as naught
But thicker sky, translucent to reveal,
Miles down, whatever through its spaces glided,
Or at the bottom traveled or abided.

Great cities there I saw--of rich and poor,
The palace and the hovel; mountains, vales,
Forest and field, the desert and the moor,
Tombs of the good and wise who'd lived in jails,
And seas of denser fluid, white with sails
Pushed at by currents moving here and there
And sensible to sight above the flat
Of that opaquer deep. Ah, strange and fair
The nether world that I was gazing at
With beating heart from that exalted level,
And--lest I founder--trembling like the devil!

The cities all were populous: men swarmed
In public places--chattered, laughed and wept;
And savages their shining bodies warmed
At fires in primal woods. The wild beast leapt
Upon its prey and slew it as it slept.
Armies went forth to battle on the plain
So far, far down in that unfathomed deep
The living seemed as silent as the slain,
Nor even the widows could be heard to weep.
One might have thought their shaking was but laughter;
And, truly, most were married shortly after.

Above the wreckage of that silent fray
Strange fishes swam in circles, round and round--
Black, double-finned; and once a little way
A bubble rose and burst without a sound
And a man tumbled out upon the ground.
Lord! 'twas an eerie thing to drift apace
On that pellucid sea, beneath black skies
And o'er the heads of an undrowning race;
And when I woke I said--to her surprise
Who came with chocolate, for me to drink it:
"The atmosphere is deeper than you think it."

VISIONS OF SIN.

KRASLAJORSK, SIBERIA, March 29.

"My eyes are better, and I shall travel slowly toward home."
DANENHOWER.

From the regions of the Night,
Coming with recovered sight--
From the spell of darkness free,
What will Danenhower see?

He will see when he arrives,
Doctors taking human lives.
He will see a learned judge
Whose decision will not budge
Till both litigants are fleeced
And his palm is duly greased.
Lawyers he will see who fight
Day by day and night by night;
Never both upon a side,
Though their fees they still divide.
Preachers he will see who teach
That it is divine to preach--
That they fan a sacred fire
And are worthy of their hire.
He will see a trusted wife

(Pride of some good husband's life)
Enter at a certain door
And--but he will see no more.
He will see Good Templars reel--
See a prosecutor steal,
And a father beat his child.
He'll perhaps see Oscar Wilde.

From the regions of the Night
Coming with recovered sight--
From the bliss of blindness free,
That's what Danenhower'll see.

1882.

THE TOWN OF DAE.

_Swains and maidens, young and old,
You to me this tale have told._

Where the squalid town of Dae
Irks the comfortable sea,
Spreading webs to gather fish,
As for wealth we set a wish,
Dwelt a king by right divine,
Sprung from Adam's royal line,
Town of Dae by the sea,
Divers kinds of kings there be.

Name nor fame had Picklepip:
Ne'er a soldier nor a ship
Bore his banners in the sun;
Naught knew he of kingly sport,
And he held his royal court
Under an inverted tun.
Love and roses, ages through,
Bloom where cot and trellis stand;
Never yet these blossoms grew--
Never yet was room for two--
In a cask upon the strand.

So it happened, as it ought,
That his simple schemes he wrought
Through the lagging summer's day
In a solitary way.
So it happened, as was best,
That he took his nightly rest
With no dreadful incubus
This way eyed and that way tressed,
Featured thus, and thus, and thus,
Lying lead-like on a breast
By cares of State enough oppressed.
Yet in dreams his fancies rude
Claimed a lordly latitude.
Town of Dae by the sea,
Dreamers mate above their state
And waken back to their degree.

Once to cask himself away
He prepared at close of day.
As he tugged with swelling throat
At a most unkingly coat--
Not to get it off, but on,
For the serving sun was gone--
Passed a silk-appareled sprite
Toward her castle on the height,
Seized and set the garment right.
Turned the startled Picklepip--
Splendid crimson cheek and lip!
Turned again to sneak away,

But she bade the villain stay,
Bade him thank her, which he did
With a speech that slipped and slid,
Sprawled and stumbled in its gait
As a dancer tries to skate.
Town of Dae by the sea,
In the face of silk and lace
Rags too bold should never be.

Lady Minnow cocked her head:
"Mister Picklepip," she said,
"Do you ever think to wed?"
Town of Dae by the sea,
No fair lady ever made a
Wicked speech like that to me!

Wretched little Picklepip
Said he hadn't any ship,
Any flocks at his command,
Nor to feed them any land;
Said he never in his life
Owned a mine to keep a wife.
But the guilty stammer so
That his meaning wouldn't flow;
So he thought his aim to reach
By some figurative speech:
Said his Fate had been unkind
Had pursued him from behind
(How the mischief could it else?)

Came upon him unaware,
Caught him by the collar--there
Gushed the little lady's glee
Like a gush of golden bells:
"Picklepip, why, that is _me_!"
Town of Dae by the sea,
Grammar's for great scholars--she
Loved the summer and the lea.

Stupid little Picklepip
Allowed the subtle hint to slip--
Maundered on about the ship
That he did not chance to own;
Told this grievance o'er and o'er,
Knowing that she knew before;
Told her how he dwelt alone.
Lady Minnow, for reply,
Cut him off with "So do I!"
But she reddened at the fib;
Servitors had she, _ad lib._
Town of Dae by the sea,
In her youth who speaks no truth
Ne'er shall young and honest be.

Witless little Picklepip
Manned again his mental ship
And veered her with a sudden shift.
Painted to the lady's thought
How he wrestled and he wrought

Stoutly with the swimming drift
By the kindly river brought
From the mountain to the sea,
Fuel for the town of Dae.
Tedious tale for lady's ear:
From her castle on the height,
She had watched her water-knight
Through the seasons of a year,
Challenge more than met his view
And conquer better than he knew.
Now she shook her pretty pate
And stamped her foot--'t was growing late:
"Mister Picklepip, when I
Drifting seaward pass you by;
When the waves my forehead kiss
And my tresses float above--
Dead and drowned for lack of love--
You'll be sorry, sir, for this!"
And the silly creature cried--
Feared, perchance, the rising tide.
Town of Dae by the sea,
Madam Adam, when she had 'em,
May have been as bad as she.

_Fiat lux!_ Love's lumination
Fell in floods of revelation!
Blinded brain by world aglare,
Sense of pulses in the air,

Sense of swooning and the beating
Of a voice somewhere repeating
Something indistinctly heard!
And the soul of Picklepip
Sprang upon his trembling lip,
But he spake no further word
Of the wealth he did not own;
In that moment had outgrown
Ship and mine and flock and land--
Even his cask upon the strand.
Dropped a stricken star to earth,
Type of wealth and worldly worth.
Clomb the moon into the sky,
Type of love's immensity!
Shaking silver seemed the sea,
Throne of God the town of Dae!
Town of Dae by the sea,
From above there cometh love,
Blessing all good souls that be.

AN ANARCHIST.

False to his art and to the high command
God laid upon him, Markham's rebel hand
Beats all in vain the harp he touched before:
It yields a jingle and it yields no more.
No more the strings beneath his finger-tips
Sing harmonies divine. No more his lips,
Touched with a living coal from sacred fires,
Lead the sweet chorus of the golden wires.
The voice is raucous and the phrases squeak;
They labor, they complain, they sweat, they reek!
The more the wayward, disobedient song
Errs from the right to celebrate the wrong,
More diligently still the singer strums,
To drown the horrid sound, with all his thumbs.
Gods, what a spectacle! The angels lean
Out of high Heaven to view the sorry scene,
And Israfel, "whose heart-strings are a lute,"
Though now compassion makes their music mute,
Among the weeping company appears,
Pearls in his eyes and cotton in his ears.

AN OFFER OF MARRIAGE.

Once I "dipt into the future far as human eye could see,"
And saw--it was not Sandow, nor John Sullivan, but she--
The Emancipated Woman, who was weeping as she ran
Here and there for the discovery of Expurgated Man.
But the sun of Evolution ever rose and ever set,
And that tardiest of mortals hadn't evoluted yet.
Hence the tears that she cascaded, hence the sighs that tore apart
All the tendinous connections of her indurated heart.
Cried Emancipated Woman, as she wearied of the search:
"In Advancing I have left myself distinctly in the lurch!
Seeking still a worthy partner, from the land of brutes and dudes
I have penetrated rashly into manless solitudes.
Now without a mate of any kind where am I?--that's to say,
Where shall I be to-morrow?--where exert my rightful sway
And the purifying strength of my emancipated mind?
Can solitude be lifted up, vacuity refined?
Calling, calling from the shadows in the rear of my Advance--
From the Region of Unprogress in the Dark Domain of Chance--
Long I heard the Unevolvable beseeching my return
To share the degradation he's reluctant to unlearn.
But I fancy I detected--though I pray it wasn't that--
A low reverberation, like an echo in a hat.
So I've held my way regardless, evoluting year by year,
Till I'm what you now behold me--or would if you were here--
A condensed Emancipation and a Purifier proud
An Independent Entity appropriately loud!
Independent? Yes, in spirit, but (O, woful, woful state!)
Doomed to premature extinction by privation of a mate--
To extinction or reversion, for Unexpurgated Man
Still awaits me in the backward if I sicken of the van.
O the horrible dilemma!--to be odiously linked
With an Undeveloped Species, or become a Type Extinct!"

As Emancipated Woman wailed her sorrow to the air,
Stalking out of desolation came a being strange and rare--
Plato's Man!--bipedal, featherless from mandible to rump,
Its wings two quilless flippers and its tail a plumeless stump.
First it scratched and then it clucked, as if in hospitable terms
It invited her to banquet on imaginary worms.
Then it strutted up before her with a lifting of the head,
And in accents of affection and of sympathy it said:
"My estate is some 'at 'umble, but I'm qualified to draw
Near the hymeneal altar and whack up my heart and claw
To Emancipated Anything as walks upon the earth;
And them things is at your service for whatever they are worth.
I'm sure to be congenial, marm, nor e'er deserve a scowl--
I'm Emancipated Rooster, I am Expurgated Fowl!"

From the future and its wonders I withdrew my gaze, and then
Wrote this wild unfestive prophecy about the Coming Hen.

ARMA VIRUMQUE.

"Ours is a Christian Army"; so he said
A regiment of bangomen who led.
"And ours a Christian Navy," added he
Who sailed a thunder-junk upon the sea.
Better they know than men unwarlike do
What is an army and a navy, too.
Pray God there may be sent them by-and-by
The knowledge what a Christian is, and why.
For somewhat lamely the conception runs
Of a brass-buttoned Jesus firing guns.

ON A PROPOSED CREMATORY.

When a fair bridge is builded o'er the gulf
Between two cities, some ambitious fool,
Hot for distinction, pleads for earliest leave
To push his clumsy feet upon the span,
That men in after years may single him,
Saying: "Behold the fool who first went o'er!"
So be it when, as now the promise is,
Next summer sees the edifice complete
Which some do name a crematorium,
Within the vantage of whose greater maw's
Quicker digestion we shall cheat the worm
And circumvent the handed mole who loves,
With tunnel, adit, drift and roomy stope,
To mine our mortal parts in all their dips
And spurs and angles. Let the fool stand forth
To link his name with this fair enterprise,
As first decarcassed by the flame. And if
With rival greedings for the fiery fame
They push in clamoring multitudes, or if
With unaccustomed modesty they all
Hold off, being something loth to qualify,
Let me select the fittest for the rite.
By heaven! I'll make so warrantable, wise
And excellent censure of their true deserts,
And such a searching canvass of their claims,
That none shall bait the ballot. I'll spread my choice
Upon the main and general of those
Who, moved of holy impulse, pulpit-born,
Protested 'twere a sacrilege to burn
God's gracious images, designed to rot,
And bellowed for the right of way for each
Distempered carrion through the water pipes.
With such a sturdy, boisterous exclaim
They did discharge themselves from their own throats
Against the splintered gates of audience
'Twere wholesomer to take them in at mouth
Than ear. These shall burn first: their ignible
And seasoned substances--trunks, legs and arms,
Blent indistinguishable in a mass,
Like winter-woven serpents in a pit--
None vantaged of his fellow-fools in point
Of precedence, and all alive--shall serve
As fueling to fervor the retort
For after cineration of true men.

A DEMAND.

You promised to paint me a picture,
Dear Mat,
And I was to pay you in rhyme.
Although I am loth to inflict your
Most easy of consciences, I'm
Of opinion that fibbing is awful,
And breaking a contract unlawful,
Indictable, too, as a crime,
A slight and all that.

If, Lady Unbountiful, any
Of that
By mortals called pity has part
In your obdurate soul--if a penny
You care for the health of my heart,
By performing your undertaking
You'll succor that organ from breaking--
And spare it for some new smart,
As puss does a rat.

Do you think it is very becoming,
Dear Mat,
To deny me my rights evermore
And--bless you! if I begin summing
Your sins they will make a long score!
You never were generous, madam,
If you had been Eve and I Adam
You'd have given me naught but the core,
And little of that.

Had I been content with a Titian,
A cat
By Landseer, a meadow by Claude,
No doubt I'd have had your permission
To take it--by purchase abroad.
But why should I sail o'er the ocean
For Landseers and Claudes? I've a notion
All's bad that the critics belaud.
I wanted a Mat.

Presumption's a sin, and I suffer
For that:
But still you _did_ say that sometime,
If I'd pay you enough (here's enougher--
That's more than enough) of rhyme
You'd paint me a picture. I pay you
Hereby in advance; and I pray you
Condone, while you can, your crime,
And send me a Mat.

But if you don't do it I warn you,
Dear Mat,
I'll raise such a clamor and cry
On Parnassus the Muses will scorn you
As mocker of poets and fly
With bitter complaints to Apollo:
"Her spirit is proud, her heart hollow,
Her beauty"--they'll hardly deny,
On second thought, _that_!

THE WEATHER WIGHT.

The way was long, the hill was steep,
My footing scarcely I could keep.

The night enshrouded me in gloom,
I heard the ocean's distant boom--

The trampling of the surges vast
Was borne upon the rising blast.

"God help the mariner," I cried,
"Whose ship to-morrow braves the tide!"

Then from the impenetrable dark
A solemn voice made this remark:

"For this locality--warm, bright;
Barometer unchanged; breeze light."

"Unseen consoler-man," I cried,
"Whoe'er you are, where'er abide,

"Thanks--but my care is somewhat less
For Jack's, than for my own, distress.

"Could I but find a friendly roof,
Small odds what weather were aloof.

"For he whose comfort is secure
Another's woes can well endure."

"The latch-string's out," the voice replied,
"And so's the door--jes' step inside."

Then through the darkness I discerned
A hovel, into which I turned.

Groping about beneath its thatch,
I struck my head and then a match.

A candle by that gleam betrayed
Soon lent paraffinaceous aid.

A pallid, bald and thin old man
I saw, who this complaint began:

"Through summer suns and winter snows
I sets observin' of my toes.

"I rambles with increasin' pain
The path of duty, but in vain.

"Rewards and honors pass me by--
No Congress hears this raven cry!"

Filled with astonishment, I spoke:
"Thou ancient raven, why this croak?

"With observation of your toes
What Congress has to do, Heaven knows!

"And swallow me if e'er I knew
That one could sit and ramble too!"

To answer me that ancient swain
Took up his parable again:

"Through winter snows and summer suns
A Weather Bureau here I runs.

"I calls the turn, and can declare
Jes' when she'll storm and when she'll fair.

"Three times a day I sings out clear
The probs to all which wants to hear.

"Some weather stations run with light
Frivolity is seldom right.

"A scientist from times remote,
In Scienceville my birth is wrote.

"And when I h'ist the 'rainy' sign
Jes' take your clo'es in off the line."

"Not mine, O marvelous old man,
The methods of your art to scan,

"Yet here no instruments there be--
Nor 'ometer nor 'scope I see.

"Did you (if questions you permit)
At the asylum leave your kit?"

That strange old man with motion rude
Grew to surprising altitude.

"Tools (and sarcazzems too) I scorns--
I tells the weather by my corns.

"No doors and windows here you see--
The wind and m'isture enters free.

"No fires nor lights, no wool nor fur
Here falsifies the tempercher.

"My corns unleathered I expose
To feel the rain's foretellin' throes.

"No stockin' from their ears keeps out
The comin' tempest's warnin' shout.

"Sich delicacy some has got
They know next summer's to be hot.

"This here one says (for that he's best):
'Storm center passin' to the west.'

"This feller's vitals is transfixed
With frost for Janawary sixt'.

"One chap jes' now is occy'pied
In fig'rin on next Fridy's tide.

"I've shaved this cuss so thin and true
He'll spot a fog in South Peru.

"Sech are my tools, which ne'er a swell
Observatory can excel.

"By long a-studyin' their throbs
I catches onto all the probs."

Much more, no doubt, he would have said,
But suddenly he turned and fled;

For in mine eye's indignant green
Lay storms that he had not foreseen,

Till all at once, with silent squeals,
His toes "caught on" and told his heels.

T.A.H.

Yes, he was that, or that, as you prefer--
Did so and so, though, faith, it wasn't all;
Lived like a fool, or a philosopher.
And had whatever's needful for a fall.
As rough inflections on a planet merge
In the true bend of the gigantic sphere,
Nor mar the perfect circle of its verge,
So in the survey of his worth the small
Asperities of spirit disappear,
Lost in the grander curves of character.
He lately was hit hard: none knew but I
The strength and terror of that ghastly stroke--
Not even herself. He uttered not a cry,
But set his teeth and made a revelry;
Drank like a devil--staining sometimes red
The goblet's edge; diced with his conscience; spread,
Like Sisyphus, a feast for Death, and spoke
His welcome in a tongue so long forgot
That even his ancient guest remembered not
What race had cursed him in it. Thus my friend
Still conjugating with each failing sense
The verb "to die" in every mood and tense,
Pursued his awful humor to the end.
When like a stormy dawn the crimson broke
From his white lips he smiled and mutely bled,
And, having meanly lived, is grandly dead.

MY MONUMENT.

It is pleasant to think, as I'm watching my ink
A-drying along my paper,
That a monument fine will surely be mine
When death has extinguished my taper.

From each rhyming scribe of the journalist tribe
Purged clean of all sentiments narrow,
A pebble will mark his respect for the stark
Stiff body that's under the barrow.

By fellow-bards thrown, thus stone upon stone
Will make my celebrity deathless.
O, I wish I could think, as I gaze at my ink,
They'd wait till my carcass is breathless.

MAD.

O ye who push and fight
To hear a wanton sing--
Who utter the delight
That has the bogus ring,--

O men mature in years,
In understanding young,
The membranes of whose ears
She tickles with her tongue,--

O wives and daughters sweet,
Who call it love of art
To kiss a woman's feet
That crush a woman's heart,--

O prudent dams and sires,
Your docile young who bring
To see how man admires
A sinner if she sing,--

O husbands who impart
To each assenting spouse
The lesson that shall start
The buds upon your brows,--

All whose applauding hands
Assist to rear the fame
That throws o'er all the lands
The shadow of its shame,--

Go drag her car!--the mud
Through which its axle rolls
Is partly human blood
And partly human souls.

Mad, mad!--your senses whirl
Like devils dancing free,
Because a strolling girl
Can hold the note high C.

For this the avenging rod
Of Heaven ye dare defy,
And tear the law that God
Thundered from Sinai!

HOSPITALITY.

Why ask me, Gastrogogue, to dine
(Unless to praise your rascal wine)
Yet never ask some luckless sinner
Who needs, as I do not, a dinner?

FOR A CERTAIN CRITIC.

Let lowly themes engage my humble pen--
Stupidities of critics, not of men.
Be it mine once more the maunderings to trace
Of the expounders' self-directed race--
Their wire-drawn fancies, finically fine,
Of diligent vacuity the sign.
Let them in jargon of their trade rehearse
The moral meaning of the random verse
That runs spontaneous from the poet's pen
To be half-blotted by ambitious men
Who hope with his their meaner names to link
By writing o'er it in another ink
The thoughts unreal which they think they think,
Until the mental eye in vain inspects
The hateful palimpsest to find the text.

The lark ascending heavenward, loud and long
Sings to the dawning day his wanton song.
The moaning dove, attentive to the sound,
Its hidden meaning hastens to expound:
Explains its principles, design--in brief,
Pronounces it a parable of grief!

The bee, just pausing ere he daubs his thigh
With pollen from a hollyhock near by,
Declares he never heard in terms so just
The labor problem thoughtfully discussed!
The browsing ass looks up and clears his whistle
To say: "A monologue upon the thistle!"
Meanwhile the lark, descending, folds his wing
And innocently asks: "What!--did I sing?"

O literary parasites! who thrive
Upon the fame of better men, derive
Your sustenance by suction, like a leech,
And, for you preach of them, think masters preach,--
Who find it half is profit, half delight,
To write about what you could never write,--
Consider, pray, how sharp had been the throes
Of famine and discomfiture in those
You write of if they had been critics, too,
And doomed to write of nothing but of you!

Lo! where the gaping crowd throngs yonder tent,
To see the lion resolutely bent!
The prosing showman who the beast displays
Grows rich and richer daily in its praise.
But how if, to attract the curious yeoman,
The lion owned the show and showed the showman?

RELIGIOUS PROGRESS.

Every religion is important. When men rise above existing
conditions a new religion comes in, and it is better
than the old one.--_Professor Howison_.

Professor dear, I think it queer
That all these good religions
('Twixt you and me, some two or three
Are schemes for plucking pigeons)--

I mean 'tis strange that every change
Our poor minds to unfetter
Entails a new religion--true
As t' other one, and better.

From each in turn the truth we learn,
That wood or flesh or spirit
May justly boast it rules the roast
Until we cease to fear it.

Nay, once upon a time long gone
Man worshipped Cat and Lizard:
His God he'd find in any kind
Of beast, from a to izzard.

When risen above his early love
Of dirt and blood and slumber,
He pulled down these vain deities,
And made one out of lumber.

"Far better that than even a cat,"
The Howisons all shouted;
"When God is wood religion's good!"
But one poor cynic doubted.

"A timber God--that's very odd!"
Said Progress, and invented
The simple plan to worship Man,
Who, kindly soul! consented.

But soon our eye we lift asky,
Our vows all unregarded,
And find (at least so says the priest)
The Truth--and Man's discarded.

Along our line of march recline
Dead gods devoid of feeling;
And thick about each sun-cracked lout
Dried Howisons are kneeling.

MAGNANIMITY.

"To the will of the people we loyally bow!"
That's the minority shibboleth now.
O noble antagonists, answer me flat--
What would you do if you didn't do that?

TO HER.

O, Sinner A, to me unknown
Be such a conscience as your own!
To ease it you to Sinner B
Confess the sins of Sinner C.

TO A SUMMER POET.

Yes, the Summer girl is flirting on the beach,
With a him.
And the damboy is a-climbing for the peach,
On the limb;
Yes, the bullfrog is a-croaking
And the dudelet is a-smoking
Cigarettes;
And the hackman is a-hacking
And the showman is a-cracking
Up his pets;
Yes, the Jersey 'skeeter flits along the shore
And the snapdog--we have heard it o'er and o'er;
Yes, my poet,
Well we know it--
Know the spooners how they spoon
In the bright
Dollar light
Of the country tavern moon;
Yes, the caterpillars fall
From the trees (we know it all),
And with beetles all the shelves
Are alive.

Please unbuttonhole us--O,
Have the grace to let us go,
For we know
How you Summer poets thrive,
By the recapitulation
And insistent iteration
Of the wondrous doings incident to Life Among
Ourselves!
So, I pray you stop the fervor and the fuss.
For you, poor human linnet,
There's a half a living in it,
But there's not a copper cent in it for us!

ARTHUR McEWEN.

Posterity with all its eyes
Will come and view him where he lies.
Then, turning from the scene away
With a concerted shrug, will say:
"H'm, Scarabaeus Sisyphus--
What interest has that to us?
We can't admire at all, at all,
A tumble-bug without its ball."
And then a sage will rise and say:

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