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The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley

Part 4 out of 4

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Of the soul, we confess
We are not always glad when we smile.

A SUMMER SUNRISE

AFTER LEE O. HARRIS

The master-hand whose pencils trace
This wondrous landscape of the morn,
Is but the sun, whose glowing face
Reflects the rapture and the grace
Of inspiration Heaven-born.

And yet with vision-dazzled eyes,
I see the lotus-lands of old,
Where odorous breezes fall and rise,
And mountains, peering in the skies,
Stand ankle-deep in lakes of gold.

And, spangled with the shine and shade,
I see the rivers raveled out
In strands of silver, slowly fade
In threads of light along the glade
Where truant roses hide and pout.

The tamarind on gleaming sands
Droops drowsily beneath the heat;
And bowed as though aweary, stands
The stately palm, with lazy hands
That fold their shadows round his feet.

And mistily, as through a veil,
I catch the glances of a sea
Of sapphire, dimpled with a gale
Toward Colch's blowing, where the sail
Of Jason's Argo beckons me.

And gazing on and farther yet,
I see the isles enchanted, bright
With fretted spire and parapet,
And gilded mosque and minaret,
That glitter in the crimson light.

But as I gaze, the city's walls
Are keenly smitten with a gleam
Of pallid splendor, that appalls
The fancy as the ruin falls
In ashen embers of a dream.

Yet over all the waking earth
The tears of night are brushed away,
And eyes are lit with love and mirth,
And benisons of richest worth
Go up to bless the new-born day.

DAS KRIST KINDEL

I had fed the fire and stirred it, till the sparkles in delight
Snapped their saucy little fingers at the chill December night;
And in dressing-gown and slippers, I had tilted back "my
throne"--
The old split-bottomed rocker--and was musing all alone.

I could hear the hungry Winter prowling round the outer door,
And the tread of muffled footsteps on the white piazza floor;
But the sounds came to me only as the murmur of a stream
That mingled with the current of a lazy-flowing dream.

Like a fragrant incense rising, curled the smoke of my cigar,
With the lamplight gleaming through it like a mist-enfolded
star;--
And as I gazed, the vapor like a curtain rolled away,
With a sound of bells that tinkled, and the clatter of a sleigh.

And in a vision, painted like a picture in the air,
I saw the elfish figure of a man with frosty hair--
A quaint old man that chuckled with a laugh as he appeared,
And with ruddy cheeks like embers in the ashes of his beard.

He poised himself grotesquely, in an attitude of mirth,
On a damask-covered hassock that was sitting on the hearth;
And at a magic signal of his stubby little thumb,
I saw the fireplace changing to a bright proscenium.

And looking there, I marveled as I saw a mimic stage
Alive with little actors of a very tender age;
And some so very tiny that they tottered as they walked,
And lisped and purled and gurgled like the brooklets, when they
talked.

And their faces were like lilies, and their eyes like purest dew,
And their tresses like the shadows that the shine is woven
through;
And they each had little burdens, and a little tale to tell
Of fairy lore, and giants, and delights delectable.

And they mixed and intermingled, weaving melody with joy,
Till the magic circle clustered round a blooming baby-boy;
And they threw aside their treasures in an ecstacy of glee,
And bent, with dazzled faces and with parted lips, to see.

'Twas a wondrous little fellow, with a dainty double-chin,
And chubby cheeks, and dimples for the smiles to blossom in;
And he looked as ripe and rosy, on his bed of straw and reeds,
As a mellow little pippin that had tumbled in the weeds.

And I saw the happy mother, and a group surrounding her
That knelt with costly presents of frankincense and myrrh;
And I thrilled with awe and wonder, as a murmur on the air
Came drifting o'er the hearing in a melody of prayer:--

'By the splendor in the heavens, and the hush upon the sea,
And the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee,--
We feel Thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee
And lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.

Thy messenger has spoken, and our doubts have fled and gone
As the dark and spectral shadows of the night before the dawn;
And, in the kindly shelter of the light around us drawn,
We would nestle down forever in the breast we lean upon.

You have given us a shepherd--You have given us a guide,
And the light of Heaven grew dimmer when You sent him from Your
side,--
But he comes to lead Thy children where the gates will open wide
To welcome his returning when his works are glorified.

By the splendor in the heavens, and the hush upon the sea,
And the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee,--
We feel Thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee
And lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.'

Then the vision, slowly failing, with the words of the refrain,
Fell swooning in the moonlight through the frosty window-pane;
And I heard the clock proclaiming, like an eager sentinel
Who brings the world good tidings,--"It is Christmas--all is
well!"

AN OLD YEAR'S ADDRESS

"I have twankled the strings of the twinkering rain;
I have burnished the meteor's mail;
I have bridled the wind
When he whinnied and whined
With a bunch of stars tied to his tail;
But my sky-rocket hopes, hanging over the past,
Must fuzzle and fazzle and fizzle at last!"

I had waded far out in a drizzling dream,
And my fancies had spattered my eyes
With a vision of dread,
With a number ten head,
And a form of diminutive size--
That wavered and wagged in a singular way
As he wound himself up and proceeded to say,--

"I have trimmed all my corns with the blade of the moon;
I have picked every tooth with a star:
And I thrill to recall
That I went through it all
Like a tune through a tickled guitar.
I have ripped up the rainbow and raveled the ends
When the sun and myself were particular friends."

And pausing again, and producing a sponge
And wiping the tears from his eyes,
He sank in a chair
With a technical air
That he struggled in vain to disguise,--
For a sigh that he breathed, as I over him leant,
Was haunted and hot with a peppermint scent.

"Alas!" he continued in quavering tones
As a pang rippled over his face,
"The life was too fast
For the pleasure to last
In my very unfortunate case;
And I'm going"--he said as he turned to adjust
A fuse in his bosom,--"I'm going to--BUST!"

I shrieked and awoke with the sullen che-boom
Of a five-pounder filling my ears;
And a roseate bloom
Of a light in the room
I saw through the mist of my tears,--
But my guest of the night never saw the display,
He had fuzzled and fazzled and fizzled away!

A NEW YEAR'S PLAINT

In words like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold;
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
--TENNYSON.

The bells that lift their yawning throats
And lolling tongues with wrangling cries
Flung up in harsh, discordant notes,
As though in anger, at the skies,--
Are filled with echoings replete,
With purest tinkles of delight--
So I would have a something sweet
Ring in the song I sing to-night.

As when a blotch of ugly guise
On some poor artist's naked floor
Becomes a picture in his eyes,
And he forgets that he is poor,--
So I look out upon the night,
That ushers in the dawning year,
And in a vacant blur of light
I see these fantasies appear.

I see a home whose windows gleam
Like facets of a mighty gem
That some poor king's distorted dream
Has fastened in his diadem.
And I behold a throng that reels
In revelry of dance and mirth,
With hearts of love beneath their heels,
And in their bosoms hearts of earth.

O Luxury, as false and grand
As in the mystic tales of old,
When genii answered man's command,
And built of nothing halls of gold!
O Banquet, bright with pallid jets,
And tropic blooms, and vases caught
In palms of naked statuettes,
Ye can not color as ye ought!

For, crouching in the storm without,
I see the figure of a child,
In little ragged roundabout,
Who stares with eyes that never smiled--
And he, in fancy can but taste
The dainties of the kingly fare,
And pick the crumbs that go to waste
Where none have learned to kneel in prayer.

Go, Pride, and throw your goblet down--
The "merry greeting" best appears
On loving lips that never drown
Its worth but in the wine of tears;
Go, close your coffers like your hearts,
And shut your hearts against the poor,
Go, strut through all your pretty parts
But take the "Welcome" from your door.

LUTHER BENSON

AFTER READING HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY

POOR victim of that vulture curse
That hovers o'er the universe,
With ready talons quick to strike
In every human heart alike,
And cruel beak to stab and tear
In virtue's vitals everywhere,--
You need no sympathy of mine
To aid you, for a strength divine
Encircles you, and lifts you clear
Above this earthly atmosphere.

And yet I can but call you poor,
As, looking through the open door
Of your sad life, I only see
A broad landscape of misery,
And catch through mists of pitying tears
The ruins of your younger years,
I see a father's shielding arm
Thrown round you in a wild alarm--
Struck down, and powerless to free
Or aid you in your agony.

I see a happy home grow dark
And desolate--the latest spark
Of hope is passing in eclipse--
The prayer upon a mother's lips
Has fallen with her latest breath
In ashes on the lips of death--
I see a penitent who reels,
And writhes, and clasps his hands, and kneels,
And moans for mercy for the sake
Of that fond heart he dared to break.

And lo! as when in Galilee
A voice above the troubled sea
Commanded "Peace; be still!" the flood
That rolled in tempest-waves of blood
Within you, fell in calm so sweet
It ripples round the Saviour's feet;
And all your noble nature thrilled
With brightest hope and faith, and filled
Your thirsty soul with joy and peace
And praise to Him who gave release.

"DREAM"

Because her eyes were far too deep
And holy for a laugh to leap
Across the brink where sorrow tried
To drown within the amber tide;
Because the looks, whose ripples kissed
The trembling lids through tender mist,
Were dazzled with a radiant gleam--
Because of this I called her "Dream."

Because the roses growing wild
About her features when she smiled
Were ever dewed with tears that fell
With tenderness ineffable;
Because her lips might spill a kiss
That, dripping in a world like this,
Would tincture death's myrrh-bitter stream
To sweetness--so I called her "Dream."

Because I could not understand
The magic touches of a hand
That seemed, beneath her strange control,
To smooth the plumage of the soul
And calm it, till, with folded wings,
It half forgot its flutterings,
And, nestled in her palm, did seem
To trill a song that called her "Dream."

Because I saw her, in a sleep
As dark and desolate and deep
And fleeting as the taunting night
That flings a vision of delight
To some lorn martyr as he lies
In slumber ere the day he dies--
Because she vanished like a gleam
Of glory, do I call her "Dream."

WHEN EVENING SHADOWS FALL

When evening shadows fall,
She hangs her cares away
Like empty garments on the wall
That hides her from the day;
And while old memories throng,
And vanished voices call,
She lifts her grateful heart in song
When evening shadows fall.

Her weary hands forget
The burdens of the day.
The weight of sorrow and regret
In music rolls away;
And from the day's dull tomb,
That holds her in its thrall,
Her soul springs up in lily bloom
When evening shadows fall.

O weary heart and hand,
Go bravely to the strife--
No victory is half so grand
As that which conquers life!
One day shall yet be thine--
The day that waits for all
Whose prayerful eyes are things divine
When evening shadows fall.

YLLADMAR

Her hair was, oh, so dense a blur
Of darkness, midnight envied her;
And stars grew dimmer in the skies
To see the glory of her eyes;
And all the summer rain of light
That showered from the moon at night
Fell o'er her features as the gloom
Of twilight o'er a lily-bloom.

The crimson fruitage of her lips
Was ripe and lush with sweeter wine
Than burgundy or muscadine
Or vintage that the burgher sips
In some old garden on the Rhine:
And I to taste of it could well
Believe my heart a crucible
Of molten love--and I could feel
The drunken soul within me reel
And rock and stagger till it fell.

And do you wonder that I bowed
Before her splendor as a cloud
Of storm the golden-sandaled sun
Had set his conquering foot upon?
And did she will it, I could lie
In writhing rapture down and die
A death so full of precious pain
I'd waken up to die again.

A FANTASY

A fantasy that came to me
As wild and wantonly designed
As ever any dream might be
Unraveled from a madman's mind,--
A tangle-work of tissue, wrought
By cunning of the spider-brain,
And woven, in an hour of pain,
To trap the giddy flies of thought.

I stood beneath a summer moon
All swollen to uncanny girth,
And hanging, like the sun at noon,
Above the center of the earth;
But with a sad and sallow light,
As it had sickened of the night
And fallen in a pallid swoon.
Around me I could hear the rush
Of sullen winds, and feel the whir
Of unseen wings apast me brush
Like phantoms round a sepulcher;
And, like a carpeting of plush,0
A lawn unrolled beneath my feet,
Bespangled o'er with flowers as sweet
To look upon as those that nod
Within the garden-fields of God,
But odorless as those that blow
In ashes in the shades below.

And on my hearing fell a storm
Of gusty music, sadder yet
Than every whimper of regret
That sobbing utterance could form,
And patched with scraps of sound that seemed
Torn out of tunes that demons dreamed,
And pitched to such a piercing key,
It stabbed the ear with agony;
And when at last it lulled and died,
I stood aghast and terrified.
I shuddered and I shut my eyes,
And still could see, and feel aware
Some mystic presence waited there;
And staring, with a dazed surprise,
I saw a creature so divine
That never subtle thought of mine
May reproduce to inner sight
So fair a vision of delight.

A syllable of dew that drips
From out a lily's laughing lips
Could not be sweeter than the word
I listened to, yet never heard.--
For, oh, the woman hiding there
Within the shadows of her hair,
Spake to me in an undertone
So delicate, my soul alone
But understood it as a moan
Of some weak melody of wind
A heavenward breeze had left behind.

A tracery of trees, grotesque
Against the sky, behind her seen,
Like shapeless shapes of arabesque
Wrought in an Oriental screen;
And tall, austere and statuesque
She loomed before it--e'en as though
The spirit-hand of Angelo
Had chiseled her to life complete,
With chips of moonshine round her feet.
And I grew jealous of the dusk,
To see it softly touch her face,
As lover-like, with fond embrace,
It folded round her like a husk:
But when the glitter of her hand,
Like wasted glory, beckoned me,
My eyes grew blurred and dull and dim--
My vision failed--I could not see--
I could not stir--I could but stand,
Till, quivering in every limb,
I flung me prone, as though to swim
The tide of grass whose waves of green
Went rolling ocean-wide between
My helpless shipwrecked heart and her
Who claimed me for a worshiper.

And writhing thus in my despair,
I heard a weird, unearthly sound,
That seemed to lift me from the ground
And hold me floating in the air.
I looked, and lo! I saw her bow
Above a harp within her hands;
A crown of blossoms bound her brow,
And on her harp were twisted strands
Of silken starlight, rippling o'er
With music never heard before
By mortal ears; and, at the strain,
I felt my Spirit snap its chain
And break away,--and I could see
It as it turned and fled from me
To greet its mistress, where she smiled
To see the phantom dancing wild
And wizard-like before the spell
Her mystic fingers knew so well.

A DREAM

I dreamed I was a spider;
A big, fat, hungry spider;
A lusty, rusty spider
With a dozen palsied limbs;
With a dozen limbs that dangled
Where three wretched flies were tangled
And their buzzing wings were strangled
In the middle of their hymns.

And I mocked them like a demon--
A demoniacal demon
Who delights to be a demon
For the sake of sin alone;
And with fondly false embraces
Did I weave my mystic laces
Round their horror-stricken faces
Till I muffled every groan.

And I smiled to see them weeping,
For to see an insect weeping,
Sadly, sorrowfully weeping,
Fattens every spider's mirth;
And to note a fly's heart quaking,
And with anguish ever aching
Till you see it slowly breaking
Is the sweetest thing on earth.

I experienced a pleasure,
Such a highly-flavored pleasure,
Such intoxicating pleasure,
That I drank of it like wine;
And my mortal soul engages
That no spider on the pages
Of the history of ages
Felt a rapture more divine.

I careened around and capered--
Madly, mystically capered--
For three days and nights I capered
Round my web in wild delight;
Till with fierce ambition burning,
And an inward thirst and yearning
I hastened my returning
With a fiendish appetite.

And I found my victims dying,
"Ha!" they whispered, "we are dying!"
Faintly whispered, "we are dying,
And our earthly course is run."
And the scene was so impressing
That I breathed a special blessing,
As I killed them with caressing
And devoured them one by one.

DREAMER, SAY

Dreamer, say, will you dream for me
A wild sweet dream of a foreign land,
Whose border sips of a foaming sea
With lips of coral and silver sand;
Where warm winds loll on the shady deeps,
Or lave themselves in the tearful mist
The great wild wave of the breaker weeps
O'er crags of opal and amethyst?

Dreamer, say, will you dream a dream
Of tropic shades in the lands of shine,
Where the lily leans o'er an amber stream
That flows like a rill of wasted wine,--
Where the palm-trees, lifting their shields of green,
Parry the shafts of the Indian sun
Whose splintering vengeance falls between
The reeds below where the waters run?

Dreamer, say, will you dream of love
That lives in a land of sweet perfume,
Where the stars drip down from the skies above
In molten spatters of bud and bloom?
Where never the weary eyes are wet,
And never a sob in the balmy air,
And only the laugh of the paroquet
Breaks the sleep of the silence there?

BRYANT

The harp has fallen from the master's hand;
Mute is the music, voiceless are the strings,
Save such faint discord as the wild wind flings
In sad aeolian murmurs through the land.
The tide of melody, whose billows grand
Flowed o'er the world in clearest utterings,
Now, in receding current, sobs and sings
That song we never wholly understand.
* * O, eyes where glorious prophecies belong,
And gracious reverence to humbly bow,
And kingly spirit, proud, and pure, and strong;
O, pallid minstrel with the laureled brow,
And lips so long attuned to sacred song,
How sweet must be the Heavenly anthem now!

BABYHOOD

Heigh-ho! Babyhood! Tell me where you linger!
Let's toddle home again, for we have gone astray;
Take this eager hand of mine and lead me by the finger
Back to the lotus-lands of the far-away!

Turn back the leaves of life.--Don't read the story.--
Let's find the pictures, and fancy all the rest;
We can fill the written pages with a brighter glory
Than old Time, the story-teller, at his very best.

Turn to the brook where the honeysuckle tipping
O'er its vase of perfume spills it on the breeze,
And the bee and humming-bird in ecstacy are sipping
From the fairy flagons of the blooming locust-trees.

Turn to the lane where we used to "teeter-totter,"
Printing little foot-palms in the mellow mold--
Laughing at the lazy cattle wading in the water
Where the ripples dimple round the buttercups of gold;

Where the dusky turtle lies basking on the gravel
Of the sunny sand-bar in the middle tide,
And the ghostly dragon-fly pauses in his travel
To rest like a blossom where the water-lily died.

Heigh-ho! Babyhood! Tell me where you linger!
Let's toddle home again, for we have gone astray;
Take this eager hand of mine and lead me by the finger
Back to the lotus-lands of the far-away!

LIBERTY

NEW CASTLE, JULY 4, 1878

For a hundred years the pulse of time
Has throbbed for Liberty;
For a hundred years the grand old clime
Columbia has been free;
For a hundred years our country's love,
The Stars and Stripes, has waved above.

Away far out on the gulf of years--
Misty and faint and white
Through the fogs of wrong--a sail appears,
And the Mayflower heaves in sight,
And drifts again, with its little flock
Of a hundred souls, on Plymouth Rock.

Do you see them there--as long, long since--
Through the lens of History;
Do you see them there as their chieftain prints
In the snow his bended knee,
And lifts his voice through the wintry blast
In thanks for a peaceful home at last?

Though the skies are dark and the coast is bleak,
And the storm is wild and fierce,
Its frozen flake on the upturned cheek
Of the Pilgrim melts in tears,
And the dawn that springs from the darkness there
Is the morning light of an answered prayer.

The morning light of the day of Peace
That gladdens the aching eyes,
And gives to the soul that sweet release
That the present verifies,--
Nor a snow so deep, nor a wind so chill
To quench the flame of a freeman's will!

II

Days of toil when the bleeding hand
Of the pioneer grew numb,
When the untilled tracts of the barren land
Where the weary ones had come
Could offer nought from a fruitful soil
To stay the strength of the stranger's toil.

Days of pain, when the heart beat low,
And the empty hours went by
Pitiless, with the wail of woe
And the moan of Hunger's cry--
When the trembling hands upraised in prayer
Had only the strength to hold them there.

Days when the voice of hope had fled--
Days when the eyes grown weak
Were folded to, and the tears they shed
Were frost on a frozen cheek--
When the storm bent down from the skies and gave
A shroud of snow for the Pilgrim's grave.

Days at last when the smiling sun
Glanced down from a summer sky,
And a music rang where the rivers run,
And the waves went laughing by;
And the rose peeped over the mossy bank
While the wild deer stood in the stream and drank.

And the birds sang out so loud and good,
In a symphony so clear
And pure and sweet that the woodman stood
With his ax upraised to hear,
And to shape the words of the tongue unknown
Into a language all his own--

1

'Sing! every bird, to-day!
Sing for the sky so clear,
And the gracious breath of the atmosphere
Shall waft our cares away.
Sing! sing! for the sunshine free;
Sing through the land from sea to sea;
Lift each voice in the highest key
And sing for Liberty!'

2

'Sing for the arms that fling
Their fetters in the dust
And lift their hands in higher trust
Unto the one Great King;
Sing for the patriot heart and hand;
Sing for the country they have planned;
Sing that the world may understand
This is Freedom's land!'

3

'Sing in the tones of prayer,
Sing till the soaring soul
Shall float above the world's control
In freedom everywhere!
Sing for the good that is to be,
Sing for the eyes that are to see
The land where man at last is free,
O sing for liberty!'

III

A holy quiet reigned, save where the hand
Of labor sent a murmur through the land,
And happy voices in a harmony
Taught every lisping breeze a melody.
A nest of cabins, where the smoke upcurled
A breathing incense to the other world.
A land of languor from the sun of noon,
That fainted slowly to the pallid moon,
Till stars, thick-scattered in the garden-land
Of Heaven by the great Jehovah's hand,
Had blossomed into light to look upon
The dusky warrior with his arrow drawn,
As skulking from the covert of the night
With serpent cunning and a fiend's delight,
With murderous spirit, and a yell of hate
The voice of Hell might tremble to translate:
When the fond mother's tender lullaby
Went quavering in shrieks all suddenly,
And baby-lips were dabbled with the stain
Of crimson at the bosom of the slain,
And peaceful homes and fortunes ruined--lost
In smoldering embers of the holocaust.
Yet on and on, through years of gloom and strife,
Our country struggled into stronger life;
Till colonies, like footprints in the sand,
Marked Freedom's pathway winding through the land--
And not the footprints to be swept away
Before the storm we hatched in Boston Bay,--
But footprints where the path of war begun
That led to Bunker Hill and Lexington,--
For he who "dared to lead where others dared
To follow" found the promise there declared
Of Liberty, in blood of Freedom's host
Baptized to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Oh, there were times when every patriot breast
Was riotous with sentiments expressed
In tones that swelled in volume till the sound
Of lusty war itself was well-nigh drowned.
Oh, those were times when happy eyes with tears
Brimmed o'er as all the misty doubts and fears
Were washed away, and Hope with gracious mien,
Reigned from her throne again a sovereign queen.
Until at last, upon a day like this
When flowers were blushing at the summer's kiss,
And when the sky was cloudless as the face
Of some sweet infant in its angel grace,--
There came a sound of music, thrown afloat
Upon the balmy air--a clanging note
Reiterated from the brazen throat
Of Independence Bell: A sound so sweet,
The clamoring throngs of people in the streets
Were stilled as at the solemn voice of prayer,
And heads were bowed, and lips were moving there
That made no sound--until the spell had passed,
And then, as when all sudden comes the blast
Of some tornado, came the cheer on cheer
Of every eager voice, while far and near
The echoing bells upon the atmosphere
Set glorious rumors floating, till the ear
Of every listening patriot tingled clear,
And thrilled with joy and jubilee to hear.

I

'Stir all your echoes up,
O Independence Bell,
And pour from your inverted cup
The song we love so well.

'Lift high your happy voice,
And swing your iron tongue
Till syllables of praise rejoice
That never yet were sung.

'Ring in the gleaming dawn
Of Freedom--Toll the knell
Of Tyranny, and then ring on,
O Independence Bell.--

'Ring on, and drown the moan,
Above the patriot slain,
Till sorrow's voice shall catch the tone
And join the glad refrain.

'Ring out the wounds of wrong
And rankle in the breast;
Your music like a slumber-song
Will lull revenge to rest.

'Ring out from Occident
To Orient, and peal
From continent to continent
The mighty joy you feel.

'Ring! Independence Bell!
Ring on till worlds to be
Shall listen to the tale you tell
Of love and Liberty!'

IV

O Liberty--the dearest word
A bleeding country ever heard,--
We lay our hopes upon thy shrine
And offer up our lives for thine.
You gave us many happy years
Of peace and plenty ere the tears
A mourning country wept were dried
Above the graves of those who died
Upon thy threshold. And again
When newer wars were bred, and men
Went marching in the cannon's breath
And died for thee and loved the death,
While, high above them, gleaming bright,
The dear old flag remained in sight,
And lighted up their dying eyes
With smiles that brightened paradise.
O Liberty, it is thy power
To gladden us in every hour
Of gloom, and lead us by thy hand
As little children through a land
Of bud and blossom; while the days
Are filled with sunshine, and thy praise
Is warbled in the roundelays
Of joyous birds, and in the song
Of waters, murmuring along
The paths of peace, whose flowery fringe
Has roses finding deeper tinge
Of crimson, looking on themselves
Reflected--leaning from the shelves
Of cliff and crag and mossy mound
Of emerald splendor shadow-drowned.--
We hail thy presence, as you come
With bugle blast and rolling drum,
And booming guns and shouts of glee
Commingled in a symphony
That thrills the worlds that throng to see
The glory of thy pageantry.
0And with thy praise, we breathe a prayer
That God who leaves you in our care
May favor us from this day on
With thy dear presence--till the dawn
Of Heaven, breaking on thy face,
Lights up thy first abiding place.

TOM VAN ARDEN

Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
Our warm fellowship is one
Far too old to comprehend
Where its bond was first begun:
Mirage-like before my gaze
Gleams a land of other days,
Where two truant boys, astray,
Dream their lazy lives away.

There's a vision, in the guise
Of Midsummer, where the Past
Like a weary beggar lies
In the shadow Time has cast;
And as blends the bloom of trees
With the drowsy hum of bees,
Fragrant thoughts and murmurs blend,
Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
All the pleasures we have known
Thrill me now as I extend
This old hand and grasp your own--
Feeling, in the rude caress,
All affection's tenderness;
Feeling, though the touch be rough,
Our old souls are soft enough.

So we'll make a mellow hour:
Fill your pipe, and taste the wine--
Warp your face, if it be sour,
I can spare a smile from mine;
If it sharpen up your wit,
Let me feel the edge of it--
I have eager ears to lend,
Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
Are we "lucky dogs," indeed?
Are we all that we pretend
In the jolly life we lead?--
Bachelors, we must confess,
Boast of "single blessedness"
To the world, but not alone--
Man's best sorrow is his own!

And the saddest truth is this,--
Life to us has never proved
What we tasted in the kiss
Of the women we have loved:
Vainly we congratulate
Our escape from such a fate
As their lying lips could send,
Tom Van Arden, my old friend!

Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
Hearts, like fruit upon the stem,
Ripen sweetest, I contend,
As the frost falls over them:
Your regard for me to-day
Makes November taste of May,
And through every vein of rhyme
Pours the blood of summer-time.

When our souls are cramped with youth
Happiness seems far away
In the future, while, in truth,

We look back on it to-day
Through our tears, nor dare to boast,--
"Better to have loved and lost!"
Broken hearts are hard to mend,
Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
I grow prosy, and you tire;
Fill the glasses while I bend
To prod up the failing fire. . . .
You are restless:--I presume
There's a dampness in the room.--
Much of warmth our nature begs,
With rheumatics in our legs! . . .

Humph! the legs we used to fling
Limber-jointed in the dance,
When we heard the fiddle ring
Up the curtain of Romance,
And in crowded public halls
Played with hearts like jugglers' balls.--
FEATS OF MOUNTEBANKS, DEPEND!--
Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
Pardon, then, this theme of mine:
While the firelight leaps to lend
Higher color to the wine,--
I propose a health to those
Who have HOMES, and home's repose,
Wife- and child-love without end!
. . . Tom Van Arden, my old friend.

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