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The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley

Part 3 out of 4

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

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

SONG OF THE NEW YEAR

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

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

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

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

A LETTER TO A FRIEND

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

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

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

LINES FOR AN ALBUM

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

TO ANNIE

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

FAME

I

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

II

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

III

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

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

AN EMPTY NEST

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

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

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

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

MY FATHER'S HALLS

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

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

THE HARP OF THE MINSTREL

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

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

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

HONEY DRIPPING FROM THE COMB

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

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

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

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

JOHN WALSH

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

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

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

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


ORLIE WILDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THAT OTHER MAUD MULLER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A MAN OF MANY PARTS

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

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

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

THE FROG

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEAD SELVES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A DREAM OF LONG AGO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CRAQUEODOOM

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

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

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


JUNE

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

WASH LOWRY'S REMINISCENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ANCIENT PRINTERMAN

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

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

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

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

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

PRIOR TO MISS BELLE'S APPEARANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHEN MOTHER COMBED MY HAIR

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

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

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

. . . . . . . .

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

A WRANGDILLION

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

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

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

GEORGE MULLEN'S CONFESSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"TIRED OUT"

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

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

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

HARLIE

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

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

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

SAY SOMETHING TO ME

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

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

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

LEONAINIE

Leonainie--Angels named her;
And they took the light
Of the laughing stars and framed her
In a smile of white;
And they made her hair of gloomy
Midnight, and her eyes of bloomy
Moonshine, and they brought her to me
In the solemn night.--

In a solemn night of summer,
When my heart of gloom
Blossomed up to greet the comer
Like a rose in bloom;
All forebodings that distressed me
I forgot as Joy caressed me--
(LYING Joy! that caught and pressed me
In the arms of doom!)

Only spake the little lisper
In the Angel-tongue;
Yet I, listening, heard her whisper,--
"Songs are only sung
Here below that they may grieve you--
Tales but told you to deceive you,--
So must Leonainie leave you
While her love is young."

Then God smiled and it was morning.
Matchless and supreme
Heaven's glory seemed adorning
Earth with its esteem:
Every heart but mine seemed gifted
With the voice of prayer, and lifted
Where my Leonainie drifted
From me like a dream.

A TEST OF LOVE

"Now who shall say he loves me not."

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

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

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

FATHER WILLIAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE WIND SAID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . . . . .

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

MORTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . . . . . .

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

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

AN AUTUMNAL EXTRAVAGANZA

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

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

THE ROSE

It tossed its head at the wooing breeze;
And the sun, like a bashful swain,
Beamed on it through the waving trees
With a passion all in vain,--
For my rose laughed in a crimson glee,
And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

The honey-bee came there to sing
His love through the languid hours,
And vaunt of his hives, as a proud old king
Might boast of his palace-towers:
But my rose bowed in a mockery,
And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

The humming-bird, like a courtier gay,
Dipped down with a dalliant song,
And twanged his wings through the roundelay
Of love the whole day long:
Yet my rose turned from his minstrelsy
And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

The firefly came in the twilight dim
My red, red rose to woo--
Till quenched was the flame of love in him,
And the light of his lantern too,
As my rose wept with dewdrops three
And hid in the leaves in wait for me.

And I said: I will cull my own sweet rose--
Some day I will claim as mine
The priceless worth of the flower that knows
No change, but a bloom divine--
The bloom of a fadeless constancy
That hides in the leaves in wait for me!

But time passed by in a strange disguise,
And I marked it not, but lay
In a lazy dream, with drowsy eyes,
Till the summer slipped away,
And a chill wind sang in a minor key:
"Where is the rose that waits for thee?"

. . . . . . . .

I dream to-day, o'er a purple stain
Of bloom on a withered stalk,
Pelted down by the autumn rain
In the dust of the garden-walk,
That an Angel-rose in the world to be
Will hide in the leaves in wait for me.

THE MERMAN

I

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

II

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

III

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

THE RAINY MORNING

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

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

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

WE ARE NOT ALWAYS GLAD WHEN
WE SMILE

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

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

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

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