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The Home Book of Verse, Volume 4 by Burton Egbert Stevenson

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The Home Book of Verse, Volume 4

by Burton Egbert Stevenson

Contents of Volume I of the two volume set are in our Volume 1
This includes contents of Volumes 1 through 4 of our Etext editions.



"What did the dark-haired Iberian laugh at before the tall blonde
Aryan drove him into the corners of Europe?" - Brander Matthews

I am an ancient Jest!
Palaeolithic man
In his arboreal nest
The sparks of fun would fan;
My outline did he plan,
And laughed like one possessed,
'Twas thus my course began,
I am a Merry Jest!

I am an early Jest!
Man delved, and built, and span;
Then wandered South and West
The peoples Aryan,
I journeyed in their van;
The Semites, too, confessed, -
From Beersheba to Dan, -
I am a Merry Jest!

I am an ancient Jest!
Through all the human clan,
Red, black, white, free, oppressed,
Hilarious I ran!
I'm found in Lucian,
In Poggio, and the rest,
I'm dear to Moll and Nan!
I am a Merry Jest!

Prince, you may storm and ban -
Joe Millers are a pest,
Suppress me if you can!
I am a Merry Jest!

Andrew Lang [1844-1912]



Yes; I write verses now and then,
But blunt and flaccid is my pen,
No longer talked of by young men
As rather clever:
In the last quarter are my eyes,
You see it by their form and size;
Is it not time then to be wise?
Or now or never.

Fairest that ever sprang from Eve!
While Time allows the short reprieve,
Just look at me! would you believe
'Twas once a lover?
I cannot clear the five-bar gate;
But, trying first its timber's state,
Climb stiffly up, take breath, and wait
To trundle over.

Through gallopade I cannot swing
The entangling blooms of Beauty's spring:
I cannot say the tender thing,
Be't true or false,
And am beginning to opine
Those girls are only half-divine
Whose waists yon wicked boys entwine
In giddy waltz.

I fear that arm above that shoulder;
I wish them wiser, graver, older,
Sedater, and no harm if colder,
And panting less.
Ah! people were not half so wild
In former days, when, starchly mild,
Upon her high-heeled Essex smiled
The brave Queen Bess.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


Under the lindens lately sat
A couple, and no more, in chat;
I wondered what they would be at
Under the lindens.

I saw four eyes and four lips meet,
I heard the words, "How sweet! how sweet!"
Had then the Fairies given a treat
Under the lindens?

I pondered long and could not tell
What dainty pleased them both so well:
Bees! bees! was it your hydromel
Under the lindens?

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


To write as your sweet mother does
Is all you wish to do.
Play, sing, and smile for others, Rose!
Let others write for you.

Or mount again your Dartmoor gray,
And I will walk beside,
Until we reach that quiet bay
Which only hears the tide.

Then wave at me your pencil, then
At distance bid me stand,
Before the caverned cliff, again
The creature of your hand.

And bid me then go past the nook
To sketch me less in size;
There are but few content to look
So little in your eyes.

Delight us with the gifts you have,
And wish for none beyond:
To some be gay, to some be grave,
To one (blest youth!) be fond.

Pleasures there are how close to Pain
And better unpossessed!
Let poetry's too throbbing vein
Lie quiet in your breast.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


Never mind how the pedagogue proses,
You want not antiquity's stamp;
The lip, that such fragrance discloses,
Oh! never should smell of the lamp.

Old Chloe, whose withering kisses
Have long set the Loves at defiance,
Now, done with the science of blisses,
May fly to the blisses of science!

Young Sappho, for want of employments,
Alone o'er her Ovid may melt,
Condemned but to read of enjoyments,
Which wiser Corinna had felt.

But for you to be buried in books -
Oh, Fanny! they're pitiful sages;
Who could not in one of your looks
Read more than in millions of pages!

Astronomy finds in your eyes
Better light than she studies above,
And Music must borrow your sighs
As the melody fittest for Love.

In Ethics - 'tis you that can check,
In a minute, their doubts and their quarrels;
Oh! show but that mole on your neck,
And 'twill soon put an end to their morals.

Your Arithmetic only can trip
When to kiss and to count you endeavor;
But eloquence glows on your lip
When you swear that you'll love me for ever.

Thus you see what a brilliant alliance
Of arts is assembled in you, -
A course of more exquisite science
Man never need wish to pursue.

And, oh! - if a Fellow like me
May confer a diploma of hearts,
With my lip thus I seal your degree,
My divine little Mistress of Arts!

Thomas Moore [1779-1852]


I'd be a Butterfly born in a bower,
Where roses and lilies and violets meet;
Roving for ever from flower to flower,
And kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet!
I'd never languish for wealth, or for power,
I'd never sigh to see slaves at my feet:
I'd be a Butterfly born in a bower,
Kissing all buds that are pretty and sweet.

O could I pilfer the wand of a fairy,
I'd have a pair of those beautiful wings;
Their summer days' ramble is sportive and airy,
They sleep in a rose when the nightingale sings.
Those who have wealth must be watchful and wary;
Power, alas! naught but misery brings!
I'd be a Butterfly, sportive and airy,
Rocked in a rose when the nightingale sings!

What, though you tell me each gay little rover
Shrinks from the breath of the first autumn day:
Surely 'tis better when summer is over
To die when all fair things are fading away.
Some in life's winter may toil to discover
Means of procuring a weary delay -
I'd be a butterfly; living, a rover,
Dying when fair things are fading away!

Thomas Haynes Bayly [1797-1839]

Lines Written In A Young Lady's Album

A pretty task, Miss S---, to ask
A Benedictine pen,
That cannot quite at freedom write
Like those of other men.
No lover's plaint my Muse must paint
To fill this page's span,
But be correct and recollect
I'm not a single man.

Pray only think, for pen and ink
How hard to get along,
That may not turn on words that burn,
Or Love, the life of song!
Nine Muses, if I chooses, I
May woo all in a clan;
But one Miss S--- I daren't address -
I'm not a single man.

Scribblers unwed, with little head,
May eke it out with heart
And in their lays it often plays
A rare first-fiddle part.
They make a kiss to rhyme with bliss,
But if I so began,
I have my fears about my ears -
I'm not a single man.

Upon your cheek I may not speak,
Nor on your lip be warm,
I must be wise about your eyes,
And formal with your form;
Of all that sort of thing, in short,
On T. H. Bayly's plan,
I must not twine a single line -
I'm not a single man.

A watchman's part compels my heart
To keep you off its beat,
And I might dare as soon to swear
At you, as at your feet.
I can't expire in passion's fire
As other poets can -
My life (she's by) won't let me die -
I'm not a single man.

Shut out from love, denied a dove,
Forbidden bow and dart;
Without a groan to call my own,
With neither hand nor heart;
To Hymen vowed, and not allowed
To flirt e'en with your fan,
Here end, as just a friend, I must -
I'm not a single man.

Thomas Hood [1799-1845]

TO ---

We met but in one giddy dance,
Good-night joined hands with greeting;
And twenty thousand things may chance
Before our second meeting;
For oh! I have been often told
That all the world grows older,
And hearts and hopes to-day so cold,
To-morrow must be colder.

If I have never touched the string
Beneath your chamber, dear one,
And never said one civil thing
When you were by to hear one, -
If I have made no rhymes about
Those looks which conquer Stoics,
And heard those angel tones, without
One fit of fair heroics, -

Yet do not, though the world's cold school
Some bitter truths has taught me,
Oh, do not deem me quite the fool
Which wiser friends have thought me!
There is one charm I still could feel,
If no one laughed at feeling;
One dream my lute could still reveal, -
If it were worth revealing.

But Folly little cares what name
Of friend or foe she handles,
When merriment directs the game,
And midnight dims the candles;
I know that Folly's breath is weak
And would not stir a feather;
But yet I would not have her speak
Your name and mine together.

Oh no! this life is dark and bright,
Half rapture and half sorrow;
My heart is very full to-night,
My cup shall be to-morrow!
But they shall never know from me,
On any one condition,
Whose health made bright my Burgundy,
Whose beauty was my vision!

Winthrop Mackworth Praed [1802-1839]


Some years ago, ere Time and Taste
Had turned our parish topsy-turvy,
When Darnel Park was Darnel Waste,
And roads as little known as scurvy,
The man who lost his way between
St. Mary's Hill and Sandy Thicket,
Was always shown across the Green,
And guided to the Parson's wicket.

Back flew the bolt of lissom lath;
Fair Margaret, in her tidy kirtle,
Led the lorn traveller up the path
Through clean-clipt rows of box and myrtle;
And Don and Sancho, Tramp and Tray,
Upon the parlor steps collected,
Wagged all their tails, and seemed to say,
"Our master knows you; you're expected!"

Up rose the Reverend Doctor Brown,
Up rose the Doctor's "winsome marrow";
The lady laid her knitting down,
Her husband clasped his ponderous Barrow;
Whate'er the stranger's caste or creed,
Pundit or papist, saint or sinner,
He found a stable for his steed,
And welcome for himself, and dinner.

If, when he reached his journey's end,
And warmed himself in court or college,
He had not gained an honest friend,
And twenty curious scraps of knowledge; -
If he departed as he came,
With no new light on love or liquor, -
Good sooth, the traveller was to blame,
And not the Vicarage, nor the Vicar.

His talk was like a stream which runs
With rapid change from rocks to roses;
It slipped from politics to puns;
It passed from Mahomet to Moses;
Beginning with the laws which keep
The planets in their radiant courses,
And ending with some precept deep
For dressing eels or shoeing horses.

He was a shrewd and sound divine,
Of loud Dissent the mortal terror;
And when, by dint of page and line,
He 'stablished Truth, or startled Error,
The Baptist found him far too deep,
The Deist sighed with saving sorrow,
And the lean Levite went to sleep
And dreamed of tasting pork to-morrow.

His sermon never said or showed
That Earth is foul, that Heaven is gracious,
Without refreshment on the road
From Jerome, or from Athanasius;
And sure a righteous zeal inspired
The hand and head that penned and planned them,
For all who understood, admired,
And some who did not understand them.

He wrote, too, in a quiet way,
Small treatises, and smaller verses,
And sage remarks on chalk and clay,
And hints to noble lords and nurses;
True histories of last year's ghost;
Lines to a ringlet or a turban;
And trifles to the Morning Post,
And nothings for Sylvanus Urban.

He did not think all mischief fair,
Although he had a knack of joking;
He did not make himself a bear,
Although he had a taste for smoking;
And when religious sects ran mad,
He held, in spite of all his learning,
That if a man's belief is bad,
It will not be improved by burning.

And he was kind, and loved to sit
In the low hut or garnished cottage,
And praise the farmer's homely wit,
And share the widow's homelier pottage.
At his approach complaint grew mild,
And when his hand unbarred the shutter,
The clammy lips of Fever smiled
The welcome which they could not utter.

He always had a tale for me
Of Julius Caesar or of Venus;
From him I learned the rule of three,
Cat's-cradle, leap-frog, and Quae genus.
I used to singe his powdered wig,
To steal the staff he put such trust in,
And make the puppy dance a jig
When he began to quote Augustine.

Alack, the change! In vain I look
For haunts in which my boyhood trifled;
The level lawn, the trickling brook,
The trees I climbed, the beds I rifled.
The church is larger than before,
You reach it by a carriage entry:
It holds three hundred people more,
And pews are fitted up for gentry.

Sit in the Vicar's seat; you'll hear
The doctrine of a gentle Johnian,
Whose hand is white, whose voice is clear,
Whose phrase is very Ciceronian.
Where is the old man laid? Look down,
And construe on the slab before you:
"Hic jacet Gulielmus Brown,
Vir nulla non donandus lauru."

Winthrop Mackworth Praed [1802-1839]


Years, years ago, ere yet my dreams
Had been of being wise or witty;
Ere I had done with writing themes,
Or yawned o'er this infernal Chitty; -
Years, years ago, while all my joy
Were in my fowling-piece and filly;
In short, while I was yet a boy,
I fell in love with Laura Lilly.

I saw her at the County Ball;
There, when the sounds of flute and fiddle
Gave signal sweet in that old hall
Of hands across and down the middle,
Hers was the subtlest spell by far
Of all that sets young hearts romancing:
She was our queen, our rose, our star;
And then she danced, - oh, heaven, her dancing!

Dark was her hair, her hand was white;
Her voice was exquisitely tender;
Her eyes were full of liquid light;
I never saw a waist so slender;
Her every look, her every smile,
Shot right and left a score of arrows;
I thought 'twas Venus from her isle,
And wondered where she'd left her sparrows.

She talked of politics or prayers, -
Of Southey's prose, or Wordsworth's sonnets,
Of danglers or of dancing bears,
Of battles, or the last new bonnets;
By candle-light, at twelve o'clock,
To me it mattered not a tittle,
If those bright lips had quoted Locke,
I might have thought they murmured Little.

Through sunny May, through sultry June,
I loved her with a love eternal;
I spoke her praises to the moon,
I wrote them to the Sunday Journal.
My mother laughed; I soon found out
That ancient ladies have no feeling:
My father frowned; but how should gout
See any happiness in kneeling?

She was the daughter of a dean,
Rich, fat, and rather apoplectic;
She had one brother just thirteen,
Whose color was extremely hectic;
Her grandmother, for many a year,
Had fed the parish with her bounty;
Her second cousin was a peer,
And lord-lieutenant of the county.

But titles and the three-per-cents,
And mortgages, and great relations,
And India bonds, and tithes and rents,
Oh, what are they to love's sensations?
Black eyes, fair forehead, clustering locks, -
Such wealth, such honors, Cupid chooses;
He cares as little for the stocks,
As Baron Rothschild for the Muses.

She sketched; the vale, the wood, the beach,
Grew lovelier from her pencil's shading;
She botanized; I envied each
Young blossom in her boudoir fading:
She warbled Handel; it was grand, -
She made the Catilina jealous;
She touched the organ; I could stand
For hours and hours to blow the bellows.

She kept an album, too, at home,
Well filled with all an album's glories;
Paintings of butterflies and Rome,
Patterns for trimmings, Persian stories,
Soft songs to Julia's cockatoo,
Fierce odes to famine and to slaughter,
And autographs of Prince Leboo,
And recipes for elder-water.

And she was flattered, worshipped, bored;
Her steps were watched, her dress was noted;
Her poodle-dog was quite adored;
Her sayings were extremely quoted.
She laughed, and every heart was glad,
As if the taxes were abolished;
She frowned, and every took was sad,
As if the opera were demolished.

She smiled on many just for fun, -
I knew that there was nothing in it;
I was the first, the only one
Her heart had thought of for a minute.
I knew it, for she told me so,
In phrase which was divinely moulded;
She wrote a charming hand, and oh,
How sweetly all her notes were folded!

Our love was like most other loves, -
A little glow, a little shiver,
A rosebud and a pair of gloves,
And "Fly Not Yet," upon the river;
Some jealousy of some one's heir,
Some hopes of dying broken-hearted;
A miniature, a lock of hair,
The usual vows, - and then we parted.

We parted: months and years rolled by;
We met again four summers after.
Our parting was all sob and sigh, -
Our meeting was all mirth and laughter;
For, in my heart's most secret cell,
There had been many other lodgers;
And she was not the ball-room's belle,
But only Mrs. - Something - Rogers.

Winthrop Mackworth Praed [1802-1839]


I'll sing you a good old song,
Made by a good old pate,
Of a fine old English gentleman
Who had an old estate,
And who kept up his old mansion
At a bountiful old rate;
With a good old porter to relieve
The old poor at his gate,
Like a fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

His hall so old was hung around
With pikes and guns and bows,
And swords, and good old bucklers,
That had stood some tough old blows;
'Twas there "his worship" held his state
In doublet and trunk hose,
And quaffed his cup of good old sack,
To warm his good old nose,
Like a fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

When winter's cold brought frost and snow,
He opened house to all;
And though threescore and ten his years,
He featly led the ball;
Nor was the houseless wanderer
E'er driven from his hall;
For while he feasted all the great,
He ne'er forgot the small;
Like a fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

But time, though old, is strong in flight,
And years rolled swiftly by;
And Autumn's falling leaves proclaimed
This good old man must die!
He laid him down right tranquilly,
Gave up life's latest sigh;
And mournful stillness reigned around,
And tears bedewed each eye,
For this fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

Now surely this is better far
Than all the new parade
Of theaters and fancy balls,
"At home" and masquerade:
And much more economical,
For all his bills were paid,
Then leave your new vagaries quite,
And take up the old trade
Of a fine old English gentleman,
All of the olden time.



A Little Saint best fits a little Shrine,
A little Prop best fits a little Vine,
As my small Cruse best fits my little Wine.

A little Seed best fits a little Soil,
A little Trade best fits a little Toil,
As my small Jar best fits my little Oil.

A little Bin best fits a little Bread,
A little Garland fits a little Head,
As my small Stuff best fits my little Shed.

A little Hearth best fits a little Fire,
A little Chapel fits a little Quire,
As my small Bell best fits my little Spire.

A little Stream best fits a little Boat,
A little Lead best fits a little Float,
As my small Pipe best fits my little Note.

A little Meat best fits a little Belly,
As sweetly, lady, give me leave to tell ye,
This little Pipkin fits this little Jelly.

Robert Herrick [1591-1674]


Fair cousin mine! the golden days
Of old romance are over;
And minstrels now care naught for bays,
Nor damsels for a lover;
And hearts are cold, and lips are mute
That kindled once with passion,
And now we've neither lance nor lute,
And tilting's out of fashion.

Yet weeping Beauty mourns the time
When Love found words in flowers;
When softest test sighs were breathed in rhyme,
And sweetest songs in bowers;
Now wedlock is a sober thing -
No more of chains or forges! -
A plain young man - a plain gold ring -
The curate - and St. George's.

Then every cross-bow had a string,
And every heart a fetter;
And making love was quite the thing,
And making verses better;
And maiden-aunts were never seen,
And gallant beaux were plenty;
And lasses married at sixteen,
And died at one-and-twenty.

Then hawking was a noble sport,
And chess a pretty science;
And huntsmen learned to blow a morte,
And heralds a defiance;
And knights and spearmen showed their might,
And timid hinds took warning;
And hypocras was warmed at night,
And coursers in the morning.

Then plumes and pennons were prepared,
And patron-saints were lauded;
And noble deeds were bravely dared,
And noble dames applauded;
And Beauty played the leech's part,
And wounds were healed with syrup;
And warriors sometimes lost a heart,
But never lost a stirrup.

Then there was no such thing as Fear,
And no such word as Reason;
And Faith was like a pointed spear,
And Fickleness was treason;
And hearts were soft, though blows were hard;
But when the fight was over,
A brimming goblet cheered the board,
His Lady's smile the lover.

Ay, those were golden days! The moon
Had then her true adorers;
And there were lyres and lutes in tune,
And no such thing as snorers;
And lovers swam, and held at naught
Streams broader than the Mersey;
And fifty thousand would have fought
For a smile from Lady Jersey.

Then people wore an iron vest,
And bad no use for tailors;
And the artizans who lived the best
Were armorers and nailers;
And steel was measured by the ell
And trousers lined with leather;
And jesters wore a cap and bell,
And knights a cap and feather.

Then single folks might live at ease,
And married ones might sever;
Uncommon doctors had their fees,
But Doctor's Commons never;
O! had we in those times been bred,
Fair cousin, for thy glances,
Instead of breaking Priscian's head,
I had been breaking lances!

Edward Fitzgerald [1809-1883]


A street there is in Paris famous,
For which no rhyme our language yields,
Rue Neuve des Petits Champs its name is -
The New Street of the Little Fields;
And there's an inn, not rich and splendid,
But still in comfortable case -
The which in youth I oft attended,
To eat a bowl of Bouillabaisse.

This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is -
A sort of soup, or broth, or brew,
Or hotchpotch of all sorts of fishes,
That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffern,
Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace:
All these you eat at Terre's tavern,
In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.

Indeed, a rich and savory stew 'tis;
And true philosophers, methinks,
Who love all sorts of natural beauties,
Should love good victuals and good drinks.
And Cordelier or Benedictine
Might gladly, sure, his lot embrace,
Nor find a fast-day too afflicting,
Which served him up a Bouillabaisse.

I wonder if the house still there is?
Yes, here the lamp is as before;
The smiling, red-cheeked ecaillere is
Still opening oysters at the door.
Is Terre still alive and able?
I recollect his droll grimace;
He'd come and smile before your table
And hope you liked your Bouillabaisse.

We enter; nothing's changed or older.
"How's Monsieur Terre, waiter, pray?"
The waiter stares and shrugs his shoulder; -
"Monsieur is dead this many a day."
"It is the lot of saint and sinner.
So honest Terre's run his race!"
"What will Monsieur require for dinner?"
"Say, do you still cook Bouillabaisse?"

"Oh, oui, Monsieur," 's the waiter's answer;
"Quel vin Monsieur desire-t-il?"
"Tell me a good one." "That I can, Sir;
The Chambertin with yellow seal."
"So Terre's gone," I say, and sink in
My old accustomed corner-place;
"He's done with feasting and with drinking,
With Burgundy and Bouillabaisse."

My old accustomed corner here is, -
The table still is in the nook;
Ah! vanished many a busy year is,
This well-known chair since last I took,
When first I saw ye, cari luoghi,
I'd scarce a beard upon my face,
And now a grizzled, grim old fogy,
I sit and wait for Bouillabaisse.

Where are you, old companions trusty
Of early days here met to dine?
Come, waiter! quick, a flagon crusty -
I'll pledge them in the good old wine.
The kind old voices and old faces
My memory can quick retrace;
Around the board they take their places,
And share the wine and Bouillabaisse.

There's Jack has made a wondrous marriage;
There's laughing Tom is laughing yet;
There's brave Augustus drives his carriage;
There's poor old Fred in the Gazette;
On James's head the grass is growing:
Good Lord! the world has wagged apace
Since here we set the Claret flowing,
And drank, and ate the Bouillabaisse.

Ah me! how quick the days are flitting!
I mind me of a time that's gone,
When here I'd sit, as now I'm sitting,
In this same place - but not alone.
A fair young form was nestled near me,
A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to cheer me.
- There's no one now to share my cup. . . .

I drink it as the Fates ordain it.
Come, fill it, and have done with rhymes;
Fill up the lonely glass, and drain it
In memory of dear old times.
Welcome the wine, whate'er the seal is;
And sit you down and say your grace
With thankful heart, whate'er the meal is.
- Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse!

William Makepeace Thackeray [1811-1863]

Suggested By A Picture By Mr. Romney

Under the elm a rustic seat
Was merriest Susan's pet retreat
To merry-make

This Relative of mine
Was she seventy-and-nine
When she died?
By the canvas may be seen
How she looked at seventeen,
As a Bride.

Beneath a summer tree
Her maiden reverie
Has a charm;
Her ringlets are in taste;
What an arm! and what a waist
For an arm!

With her bridal-wreath, bouquet,
Lace farthingale, and gay
Falbala, -
If Romney's touch be true,
What a lucky dog were you,

Her lips are sweet as love;
They are parting! Do they move?
Are they dumb?
Her eyes are blue, and beam
Beseechingly, and seem
To say, "Come!"

What funny fancy slips
From atween these cherry lips?
Whisper me,
Fair Sorceress in paint,
What canon says I mayn't
Marry thee?

That good-for-nothing Time
Has a confidence sublime!
When I first
Saw this Lady, in my youth,
Her winters had, forsooth,
Done their worst.

Her locks, as white as snow,
Once shamed the swarthy crow;
That fowl's avenging sprite
Set his cruel foot for spite
Near her eye.

Her rounded form was lean,
And her silk was bombazine:
Well I wot
With her needles would she sit,
And for hours would she knit. -
Would she not?

Ah perishable clay!
Her charms had dropped away
One by one:
But if she heaved a sigh
With a burden, it was, "Thy
Will be done."

In travail, as in tears,
With the fardel of her years
In mercy she was borne
Where the weary and the worn
Are at rest.

Oh, if you now are there,
And sweet as once you were,
This nether world agrees
You'll all the better please

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]


She has dancing eyes and ruby lips,
Delightful boots - and away she skips

They nearly strike me dumb, -
I tremble when they come
This palpitation means
These Boots are Geraldine's -
Think of that!

O, where did hunter win
So delicate a skin
For her feet?
You lucky little kid,
You perished, so you did,
For my Sweet.

The fairy stitching gleams
On the sides, and in the seams,
And reveals
That the Pixies were the wags
Who tipped these funny tags,
And these heels.

What soles to charm an elf! -
Had Crusoe, sick of self,
Chanced to view
One printed near the tide,
O, how hard he would have tried
For the two!

For Gerry's debonair,
And innocent and fair
As a rose;
She's an Angel in a frock, -
She's an Angel with a clock
To her hose!

The simpletons who squeeze
Their pretty toes to please
Would positively flinch
From venturing to pinch

Cinderella's lefts and rights
To Geraldine's were frights:
And I trow
The Damsel, deftly shod,
Has dutifully trod
Until now.

Come, Gerry, since it suits
Such a pretty Puss (in Boots)
These to don,
Set your dainty hand awhile
On my shoulder, Dear, and I'll
Put them on.

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]

Geraldine And I

Dite, Damasippe, deaeque
Verum ob consilium donent tonsore.

We have loitered and laughed in the flowery croft,
We have met under wintry skies;
Her voice is the dearest voice, and soft
Is the light in her wistful eyes;
It is bliss in the silent woods, among
Gay crowds, or in any place,
To mould her mind, to gaze in her young
Confiding face.

For ever may roses divinely blow,
And wine-dark pansies charm
By that prim box path where I felt the glow
Of her dimpled, trusting arm,
And the sweep of her silk as she turned and smiled
A smile as pure as her pearls;
The breeze was in love with the darling Child,
And coaxed her curls.

She showed me her ferns and woodbine sprays,
Foxglove and jasmine stars,
A mist of blue in the beds, a blaze
Of red in the celadon jars:
And velvety bees in convolvulus bells,
And roses of bountiful Spring.
But I said - "Though roses and bees have spells,
They have thorn, and sting."

She showed me ripe peaches behind a net
As fine as her veil, and fat
Goldfish a-gape, who lazily met
For her crumbs - I grudged them that!
A squirrel, some rabbits with long lop ears,
And guinea-pigs, tortoise-shell - wee;
And I told her that eloquent truth inheres
In all we see.

I lifted her doe by its lops, quoth I,
"Even here deep meaning lies, -
Why have squirrels these ample tails, and why
Have rabbits these prominent eyes?"
She smiled and said, as she twirled her veil,
"For some nice little cause, no doubt -
If you lift a guinea-pig up by the tail
His eyes drop out!"

Frederick Locker Lampson [1821-1895]


Heigh-ho! they're wed. The cards are dealt,
Our frolic games are o'er;
I've laughed, and fooled, and loved. I've felt -
As I shall feel no more!
Yon little thatch is where she lives,
Yon spire is where she met me; -
I think that if she quite forgives,
She cannot quite forget me.

Last year I trod these fields with Di, -
Fields fresh with clover and with rye;
They now seem arid:
Then Di was fair and single; how
Unfair it seems on me, for now
Di's fair, - and married!

A blissful swain, - I scorned the song
Which tells us though young Love is strong,
The Fates are stronger:
Then breezes blew a boon to men,
Then buttercups were bright, and then
The grass was longer.

That day I saw, and much esteemed,
Di's ankles, that the clover seemed
Inclined to smother:
It twitched, and soon untied (for fun)
The ribbons of her shoes, first one,
And then the other.

I'm told that virgins augur some
Misfortune if their shoe-strings come
To grief on Friday:
And so did Di, - and then her pride
Decreed that shoe-strings so untied,
Are "so untidy!"

Of course I knelt; with fingers deft
I tied the right, and tied the left:
Says Di, "This stubble
Is very stupid! - as I live
I'm quite ashamed! - I'm shocked to give
You so much trouble!"

For answer I was fain to sink
To what we all would say and think
Were Beauty present:
"Don't mention such a simple act -
A trouble? not the least! In fact
It's rather pleasant!"

I trust that Love will never tease
Poor little Di, or prove that he's
A graceless rover.
She's happy now as Mrs. Smith -
But less polite when walking with
Her chosen lover!

Heigh-ho! Although no moral clings
To Di's blue eyes, and sandal strings,
We had our quarrels.
I think that Smith is thought an ass, -
I know that when they walk in grass
She wears balmorals.

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]


The characters of great and small
Come ready made, we can't bespeak one;
Their sides are many, too, and all
(Except ourselves) have got a weak one.
Some sanguine people love for life,
Some love their hobby till it flings them.
How many love a pretty wife
For love of the eclat she brings them! . . .

A little to relieve my mind
I've thrown off this disjointed chatter,
But more because I'm disinclined
To enter on a painful matter:
Once I was bashful; I'll allow
I've blushed for words untimely spoken;
I still am rather shy, and now . . .
And now the ice is fairly broken.

We all have secrets: you have one
Which may n't be quite your charming spouse's;
We all lock up a Skeleton
In some grim chamber of our houses;
Familiars who exhaust their days
And nights in probing where our smart is,
And who, for all their spiteful ways,
Are "silent, unassuming Parties."

We hug this Phantom we detest,
Rarely we let it cross our portals:
It is a most exacting guest,
And we are much afflicted mortals.
Your neighbor Gay, that jovial wight,
As Dives rich, and brave as Hector,
Poor Gay steals twenty times a night,
On shaking knees, to see his Specter.

Old Dives fears a pauper fate,
So hoarding is his ruling passion: -
Some gloomy souls anticipate
A waistcoat, straiter than the fashion!
She childless pines, that lonely wife,
And secret tears are bitter shedding;
Hector may tremble all his life,
And die, - but not of that he's dreading. . . .

Ah me, the World! How fast it spins!
The beldams dance, the caldron bubbles;
They shriek, they stir it for our sins,
And we must drain it for our troubles.
We toil, we groan; the cry for love
Mounts up from this poor seething city,
And yet I know we have above
A Father, infinite in pity.

When Beauty smiles, when Sorrow weeps,
Where sunbeams play, where shadows darken,
One inmate of our dwelling keeps
Its ghastly carnival; but hearken!
How dry the rattle of the bones!
That sound was not to make you start meant:
Stand by! Your humble servant owns
The Tenant of this Dark Apartment.

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]


I recollect a nurse called Ann,
Who carried me about the grass,
And one fine day a fine young man
Came up, and kissed the pretty lass:
She did not make the least objection!
Thinks I, "Aha!
When I can talk I'll tell Mamma"
- And that's my earliest recollection.

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]

A Tale Of A Grandfather

I know not of what we pondered
Or made pretty pretence to talk,
As, her hand within mine, we wandered.
Toward the pool by the lime-tree walk,
While the dew fell in showers from the passion flowers
And the blush-rose bent on her stalk.

I cannot recall her figure:
Was it regal as Juno's own?
Or only a trifle bigger
Than the elves who surround the throne
Of the Fairy Queen, and are seen, I ween,
By mortals in dreams alone?

What her eyes were like I know not:
Perhaps they were blurred with tears;
And perhaps in yon skies there glow not
(On the contrary) clearer spheres.
No! as to her eyes I am just as wise
As you or the cat, my dears.

Her teeth, I presume, were "pearly":
But which was she, brunette or blonde?
Her hair, was it quaintly curly,
Or as straight as a beadle's wand?
That I failed to remark: it was rather dark
And shadowy round the pond.

Then the hand that reposed so snugly
In mine, - was it plump or spare?
Was the countenance fair or ugly?
Nay, children, you have me there!
My eyes were p'haps blurred; and besides I'd heard
That it's horribly rude to stare.

And I, - was I brusque and surly?
Or oppressively bland and fond?
Was I partial to rising early?
Or why did we twain abscond,
When nobody knew, from the public view
To prowl by a misty pond?

What passed, what was felt or spoken, -
Whether anything passed at all, -
And whether the heart was broken
That beat under that sheltering shawl, -
(If shawl she had on, which I doubt), - has gone,
Yes, gone from me past recall.

Was I haply the lady's suitor?
Or her uncle? I can't make out;
Ask your governess, dears, or tutor.
For myself, I'm in hopeless doubt
As to why we were there, who on earth we were,
And what this is all about.

Charles Stuart Calverley [1831-1884]

A Family Portrait

Grandmother's mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less:
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist;
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;
So they painted the little maid.

On her hand a parrot green
Sits unmoving and broods serene.
Hold up the canvas full in view, -
Look! there's a rent the light shines through,
Dark with a century's fringe of dust, -
That was a Red-Coat's rapier-thrust!
Such is the tale the lady old,
Dorothy's daughter's daughter, told.

Who the painter was none may tell, -
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry, it must be confessed,
Flat as a rose that has long been pressed;
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white,
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien.

Look not on her with eyes of scorn, -
Dorothy Q. was a lady born!
Ay! since the galloping Normans came,
England's annals have known her name;
And still to the three-hilled rebel town
Dear is that ancient name's renown,
For many a civic wreath they won,
The youthful sire and the gray-haired son.

O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.!
Strange is the gift that I owe to you;
Such a gift as never a king
Save to daughter or son might bring, -
All my tenure of heart and hand,
All my title to house and land;
Mother and sister and child and wife
And joy and sorrow and death and life!

What if a hundred years ago
Those close-shut lips had answered No,
When forth the tremulous question came
That cost the maiden her Norman name,
And under the folds that look so still
The bodice swelled with the bosom's thrill?
Should I be I, or would it be
One tenth another, to nine tenths me?

Soft is the breath of a maiden's YES:
Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
But never a cable that holds so fast
Through all the battles of wave and blast,
And never an echo of speech or song
That lives in the babbling air so long!
There were tones in the voice that whispered then
You may hear to-day in a hundred men.

O lady and lover, how faint and far
Your images hover, - and here we are
Solid and stirring in flesh and bone, -
Edward's and Dorothy's - all their own, -
A goodly record for Time to show
Of a syllable spoken so long ago! -
Shall I bless you, Dorothy, or forgive
For the tender whisper that bade me live?

It shall be a blessing, my little maid!
I will heal the stab of the Red-Coat's blade,
And freshen the gold of the tarnished frame,
And gild with a rhyme your household name;
So you shall smile on us brave and bright
As first you greeted the morning's light,
And live untroubled by woes and fears
Through a second youth of a hundred years.

Oliver Wendell Holmes [1809-1894]


My aunt! my dear unmarried aunt!
Long years have o'er her flown;
Yet still she strains the aching clasp
That binds her virgin zone;
I know it hurts her, - though she looks
As cheerful as she can;
Her waist is ampler than her life,
For life is but a span.

My aunt! my poor deluded aunt!
Her hair is almost gray;
Why will she train that winter curl
In such a spring-like way?
How can she lay her glasses down,
And say she reads as well,
When, through a double convex lens,
She just makes out to spell?

Her father, - grandpapa! forgive
This erring lip its smiles, -
Vowed she should make the finest girl
Within a hundred miles;
He sent her to a stylish school;
'Twas in her thirteenth June;
And with her, as the rules required,
"Two towels and a spoon."

They braced my aunt against a board,
To make her straight and tall;
They laced her up, they starved her down,
To make her light and small;
They pinched her feet, they singed her hair,
They screwed it up with pins; -
Oh, never mortal suffered more
In penance for her sins.

So, when my precious aunt was done,
My grandsire brought her back;
(By daylight, lest some rabid youth
Might follow on the track;)
"Ah!" said my grandsire, as be shook
Some powder in his pan,
"What could this lovely creature do
Against a desperate man!"

Alas! nor chariot, nor barouche,
Nor bandit cavalcade,
Tore from the trembling father's arms
His all-accomplished maid.
For her how happy had it been!
And Heaven had spared to me
To see one sad, ungathered rose
On my ancestral tree.

Oliver Wendell Holmes [1809-1894]


I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
"They are gone."

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has pressed
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said, -
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago, -
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow:

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

Oliver Wendell Holmes [1809-1894]

"Man wants but little here below"

Little I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A very plain brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own; -
And close at hand is such a one,
In yonder street that fronts the sun.

Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten; -
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
I always thought cold victual nice; -
My choice would be vanilla-ice.

I care not much for gold or land; -
Give me a mortgage here and there, -
Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share, -
I only ask that Fortune send
A little more than I shall spend.

Honors are silly toys, I know,
And titles are but empty names;
I would, perhaps, be Plenipo, -
But only near St. James;
I'm very sure I should not care
To fill our Gubernator's chair.

Jewels are baubles; 'tis a sin
To care for such unfruitful things; -
One good-sized diamond in a pin, -
Some, not so large, in rings, -
A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
Will do for me; - I laugh at show.

My dame should dress in cheap attire;
(Good heavy silks are never dear;) -
I own perhaps I might desire
Some shawls of true Cashmere, -
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.

I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
An easy gait - two forty-five -
Suits me; I do not care; -
Perhaps, far just a single spurt,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.

Of pictures, I should like to own
Titians and Raphaels three or four, -
I love so much their style and tone, -
One Turner, and no more,
(A landscape, - foreground golden dirt, -
The sunshine painted with a squirt.)

Of books but few, - some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor; -
Some little luxury there
Of red morocco's gilded gleam,
And vellum rich as country cream.

Busts, cameos, gems, - such things as these,
Which others often show for pride,
I value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride; -
One Stradivarius, I confess,
Two meerschaums, I would fain possess.

Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn,
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool; -
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
But all must be of buhl?
Give grasping pomp its double share, -
I ask but one recumbent chair.

Thus humble let me live and die,
Nor long for Midas' golden touch;
If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them much, -
Too grateful for the blessing lent
Of simple tastes and mind content!

Oliver Wendell Holmes [1809-1894]


Has there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite!
Old Time is a liar! We're twenty to-night!

We're twenty! We're twenty! Who, says we are more?
He's tipsy, - young jackanapes! - show him the door!
"Gray temples at twenty?" - Yes! white if we please!
Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze!

Was it snowing I spoke of? Excuse the mistake!
Look close, - you will not see a sign of a flake!
We want some new garlands for those we have shed, -
And these are white roses in place of the red.

We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told,
Of talking (in public) as if we were old: -
That boy we call "Doctor," and this we call "Judge;"
It's a neat little fiction, - of course it's all fudge.

That fellow's the "Speaker," - the one on the right;
"Mr. Mayor," my young one, how are you to-night?
That's our "Member of Congress," we say when we chaff;
There's the "Reverend" What's his name? - don't make me laugh.

That boy with the grave mathematical look
Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true!
So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too!

There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
That could harness a team with a logical chain;
When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
We called him "The Justice," but now he's "The Squire."

And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith, -
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free, -
Just read on his medal, "My country," "of thee!"

You hear that boy laughing? - You think he's all fun;
But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!

Yes, we're boys, - always playing with tongue or with pen, -
And I sometimes have asked, - Shall we ever be men?
Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay,
Till the last dear companion drops smiling away?

Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray!
The stars of its winter, the dews of its May!
And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
Dear Father, take care of thy children, The Boys!

Oliver Wendell Holmes [1809-1894]


'Twas a jolly old pedagogue, long ago,
Tall and slender, and sallow and dry;
His form was bent, and his gait was slow,
His long, thin hair was as white as snow,
But a wonderful twinkle shone in his eye;
And he sang every night as he went to bed,
"Let us be happy down here below:
The living should live, though the dead be dead,"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

He taught his scholars the rule of three,
Writing, and reading, and history, too;
He took the little ones up on his knee,
For a kind old heart in his breast had he,
And the wants of the littlest child he knew:
"Learn while you're young," he often said,
"There is much to enjoy, down here below;
Life for the living, and rest for the dead!"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

With the stupidest boys he was kind and cool,
Speaking only in gentlest tones;
The rod was hardly known in his school . . .
Whipping, to him, was a barbarous rule,
And too hard work for his poor old bones;
Besides, it was painful, he sometimes said:
"We should make life pleasant, down here below,
The living need charity more than the dead,"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

He lived in the house by the hawthorn lane,
With roses and woodbine over the door;
His rooms were quiet, and neat, and plain,
But a spirit of comfort there held reign,
And made him forget he was old and poor;
"I need so little," he often said;
"And my friends and relatives here below
Won't litigate over me when I am dead,"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

But the pleasantest times that he had, of all,
Were the sociable hours he used to pass,
With his chair tipped back to a neighbor's wall,
Making an unceremonious call,
Over a pipe and a friendly glass:
This was the finest picture, he said,
Of the many he tasted, here below;
"Who has no cronies, had better be dead!"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

Then the jolly old pedagogue's wrinkled face
Melted all over in sunshiny smiles;
He stirred his glass with an old-school grace,
Chuckled, and sipped, and prattled apace,
Till the house grew merry, from cellar to tiles:
"I'm a pretty old man," he gently said,
"I've lingered a long while, here below;
But my heart is fresh, if my youth is fled!"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

He smoked his pipe in the balmy air,
Every night when the sun went down,
While the soft wind played in his silvery hair,
Leaving its tenderest kisses there,
On the jolly old pedagogue's jolly old crown:
And, feeling the kisses, he smiled and said,
'Twas a glorious world, down here below;
"Why wait for happiness till we are dead?"
Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

He sat at his door, one midsummer night,
After the sun had sunk in the west,
And the lingering beams of golden light
Made his kindly old face look warm and bright,
While the odorous night-wind whispered "Rest!"
Gently, gently, he bowed his head. . . .
There were angels waiting for him, I know;
He was sure of happiness, living or dead,
This jolly old pedagogue, long ago!

George Arnold [1834-1865]


Beneath the warrior's helm, behold
The flowing tresses of the woman!
Minerva, Pallas, what you will -
A winsome creature, Greek or Roman.

Minerva? No! 'tis some sly minx
In cousin's helmet masquerading;
If not - then Wisdom was a dame
For sonnets and for serenading!

I thought the goddess cold, austere,
Not made for love's despairs and blisses:
Did Pallas wear her hair like that?
Was Wisdom's mouth so shaped for kisses?

The Nightingale should be her bird,
And not the Owl, big-eyed and solemn:
How very fresh she looks, and yet
She's older far than Trajan's Column!

The magic hand that carved this face,
And set this vine-work round it running,
Perhaps ere mighty Phidias wrought,
Had lost its subtle skill and cunning.

Who was he? Was he glad or sad,
Who knew to carve in such a fashion?
Perchance he graved the dainty head
For some brown girl that scorned his passion.

Perchance, in some still garden-place,
Where neither fount nor tree to-day is,
He flung the jewel at the feet
Of Phryne, or perhaps 'twas Lais.

But he is dust; we may not know
His happy or unhappy story:
Nameless, and dead these centuries,
His work outlives him, - there's his glory!

Both man and jewel lay in earth
Beneath a lava-buried city;
The countless summers came and went,
With neither haste, nor hate, nor pity.

Years blotted out the man, but left
The jewel fresh as any blossom,
Till some Visconti dug it up, -
To rise and fall on Mabel's bosom!

O nameless brother! see how Time
Your gracious handiwork has guarded:
See how your loving, patient art
Has come, at last, to be rewarded.

Who would not suffer slights of men,
And pangs of hopeless passion also,
To have his carven agate-stone
On such a bosom rise and fall so!

Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1837-1907]

A Middle-aged Lyrical Poet Is supposed To Be Taking
Final Leave Of The Muse Of Comedy. She Has Brought
Him His Hat And Gloves, And Is Abstractedly Picking
A Thread Of Gold Hair From His Coat Sleeve As He
Begins To Speak:

I say it under the rose -
oh, thanks! - yes, under the laurel,
We part lovers, not foes;
we are not going to quarrel.

We have too long been friends
on foot and in gilded coaches,
Now that the whole thing ends,
to spoil our kiss with reproaches.

I leave you; my soul is wrung;
I pause, look back from the portal -
Ah, I no more am young,
and you, child, you are immortal!

Mine is the glacier's way,
yours is the blossom's weather -
When were December and May
known to be happy together?

Before my kisses grow tame,
before my moodiness grieve you,
While yet my heart is flame,
and I all lover, I leave you.

So, in the coming time,
when you count the rich years over,
Think of me in my prime,
and not as a white-haired lover,

Fretful, pierced with regret,
the wraith of a dead Desire
Thrumming a cracked spinet
by a slowly dying fire.

When, at last, I am cold -
years hence, if the gods so will it -
Say, "He was true as gold,"
and wear a rose in your fillet!

Others, tender as I,
will come and sue for caresses,
Woo you, win you, and die -
mind you, a rose in your tresses!

Some Melpomene woo,
some hold Clio the nearest;
You, sweet Comedy - you
were ever sweetest and dearest!

Nay, it is time to go.
When writing your tragic sister
Say to that child of woe
how sorry I was I missed her.

Really, I cannot stay,
though "parting is such sweet sorrow" . . .
Perhaps I will, on my way
down-town, look in to-morrow!

Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1837-1907]

A. D. 1867

Just where the Treasury's marble front
Looks over Wall Street's mingled nations;
Where Jews and Gentiles most are wont
To throng for trade and last quotations;
Where, hour by hour, the rates of gold
Outrival, in the ears of people,
The quarter-chimes, serenely tolled
From Trinity's undaunted steeple, -

Even there I heard a strange, wild strain
Sound high above the modern clamor,
Above the cries of greed and gain,
The curbstone war, the auction's hammer;
And swift, on Music's misty ways,
It led, from all this strife for millions,
To ancient, sweet-to-nothing days
Among the kirtle-robed Sicilians.

And as it stilled the multitude,
And yet more joyous rose, and shriller,
I saw the minstrel, where he stood
At ease against a Doric pillar:
One hand a droning organ played,
The other held a Pan's-pipe (fashioned
Like those of old) to lips that made
The reeds give out that strain impassioned.

'Twas Pan himself had wandered here
A-strolling through this sordid city,
And piping to the civic ear
The prelude of some pastoral ditty!
The demigod had crossed the seas, -
From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr,
And Syracusan times, - to these
Far shores and twenty centuries later.

A ragged cap was on his head;
But - hidden thus - there was no doubting
That, all with crispy locks o'erspread,
His gnarled horns were somewhere sprouting;
His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes,
Were crossed, as on some frieze you see them,
And trousers, patched of divers hues,
Concealed his crooked shanks beneath them.

He filled the quivering reeds with sound,
And o'er his mouth their changes shifted,
And with his goat's-eyes looked around
Where'er the passing current drifted;
And soon, as on Trinacrian hills
The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him,
Even now the tradesmen from their tills,
With clerks and porters, crowded near him.

The bulls and bears together drew
From Jauncey Court and New Street Alley,
As erst, if pastorals be true,
Came beasts from every wooded valley;
The random passers stayed to list, -
A boxer Aegon, rough and merry,
A Broadway Daphnis, on his tryst
With Nais at the Brooklyn Ferry.

A one-eyed Cyclops halted long
In tattered cloak of army pattern,
And Galatea joined the throng, -
A blowsy, apple-vending slattern;
While old Silenus staggered out
From some new-fangled lunch-house handy,
And bade the piper, with a shout,
To strike up Yankee Doodle Dandy!

A newsboy and a peanut-girl
Like little Fauns began to caper:
His hair was all in tangled curl,
Her tawny legs were bare and taper;
And still the gathering larger grew,
And gave its pence and crowded nigher,
While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew
His pipe, and struck the gamut higher.

O heart of Nature, beating still
With throbs her vernal passion taught her, -
Even here, as on the vine-clad hill,
Or by the Arethusan water!
New forms may fold the speech, new lands
Arise within these ocean-portals,
But Music waves eternal wands, -
Enchantress of the souls of mortals!

So thought I, - but among us trod
A man in blue, with legal baton,
And scoffed the vagrant demigod,
And pushed him from the step I sat on.
Doubting I mused upon the cry,
"Great Pan is dead!" - and all the people
Went on their ways: - and clear and high
The quarter sounded from the steeple.

Edmund Clarence Stedman [1833-1908]


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