Rising from every contest with an unbroken heart, Strengthen’d by every struggle, emblem of might thou art! Sign of what man can compass, spite of an adverse state, Still from thy rocky summit, teach us to war with Fate!
* * * * *
=_412._= DIRGE FOR A SAILOR.
Slow, slow! toll it low,
As the sea-waves break and flow;
With the same dull slumberous motion. As his ancient mother, Ocean,
Rocked him on, through storm and calm, From the iceberg to the palm:
So his drowsy ears may deem
That the sound which breaks his dream Is the ever-moaning tide
Washing on his vessel’s side.
Slow, slow! as we go.
Swing his coffin to and fro;
As of old the lusty billow
Swayed him on his heaving pillow:
So that he may fancy still,
Climbing up the watery hill,
Plunging in the watery vale,
With her wide-distended sail,
His good ship securely stands
Onward to the golden lands.
Slow, slow! heave-a-ho!–
Lower him to the mould below;
With the well-known sailor ballad, Lest he grow more cold and pallid
At the thought that Ocean’s child, From his mother’s arms beguiled.
Must repose for countless years,
Reft of all her briny tears,
All the rights he owned by birth, In the dusty lap of earth.
* * * * *
=_William Allen Butler, 1825-._= (Manual, p. 521.)
From “Nothing to Wear.”
O ladies, dear ladies, the next sunny day Please trundle your hoops just out of Broadway, From its whirl and its bustle, its fashion and pride, And the temples of Trade which tower on each side, To the alleys and lanes, where Misfortune and Guilt Their children have gathered, their city have built; Where Hunger and Vice, like twin beasts of prey, Have hunted their victims to gloom and despair; Raise the rich, dainty dress, and the fine broidered skirt, Pick your delicate way through the dampness and dirt, Grope through the dark dens, climb the rickety stair To the garret, where wretches, the young and the old, Half-starved, and half-naked, lie crouched from the cold. See those skeleton limbs, and those frost-bitten feet, All bleeding and bruised by the stones of the street; Hear the sharp cry of childhood, the deep groans that swell From the poor dying creature who writhes on the floor, Hear the curses that sound like the echoes of Hell, As you sicken and shudder and fly from the door; Then home to your wardrobes, and say, if you dare, Spoiled children of Fashion–you’ve nothing to wear!
And O, if perchance there should be a sphere, Where all is made right which so puzzles us here,
* * * * *
Where the soul, disenchanted of flesh and of sense, Unscreened by its trappings, and shows, and pretence, Must be clothed for the life and the service above, With purity, truth, faith, meekness, and love; O daughters of Earth! foolish virgins, beware! Lest in that upper realm, you have nothing to wear!
* * * * *
=_Bayard Taylor, 1825-._= (Manual, pp. 523, 531.)
From “The Atlantic Monthly.”
=_414._= “THE BURDEN OF THE DAY.”
Who shall rise and cast away,
First, the Burden of the Day?
Who assert his place, and teach
Lighter labor, nobler speech,
Standing firm, erect, and strong,
Proud as Freedom, free as song?
Lo! we groan beneath the weight
Our own weaknesses create;
Crook the knee and shut the lip,
All for tamer fellowship;
Load our slack, compliant clay
With the Burden of the Day!
Higher paths there are to tread;
Fresher fields around us spread;
Other flames of sun and star
Flash at hand and lure afar;
Larger manhood might we share,
Surer fortune, did we dare!
In our mills of common thought
By the pattern all is wrought:
In our school of life, the man
Drills to suit the public plan,
And through labor, love and play,
Shifts the Burden of the Day.
Power of all is right of none!
Right hath each beneath the sun
To the breadth and liberal space
Of the independent race,–
To the chariot and the steed,
To the will, desire, and deed!
Ah, the gods of wood and stone
Can a single saint dethrone,
But the people who shall aid
‘Gainst the puppets they have made? First they teach and then obey:
‘Tis the Burden of the Day.
Thunder shall we never hear
In this ordered atmosphere?
Never this monotony feel
Shattered by a trumpet’s peal?
Never airs that burst and blow
From eternal summits, know?
Though no man resent his wrong,
Still is free the poet’s song:
Still, a stag, his thought may leap O’er the herded swine and sheep,
And in pastures far away
Lose the burden of the Day!
* * * * *
=_John Townsend Trowbridge, 1827-._=
From the Atlantic Monthly.
=_415._= “DOROTHY IN THE GARRET.”
In the low-raftered garret, stooping Carefully over the creaking boards,
Old Maid Dorothy goes a-groping
Among its dusty and cobwebbed hoards; Seeking some bundle of patches, hid
Far under the eaves, or bunch of sage, Or satchel hung on its nail, amid
The heir-looms of a by-gone age.
There is the ancient family chest,
There the ancestral cards and hatchel; Dorothy, sighing, sinks down to rest,
Forgetful of patches, sage, and satchel. Ghosts of faces peer from the gloom
Of the chimney, where, with swifts and reel, And the long-disused, dismantled loom,
Stands the old-fashioned spinning wheel.
She sees it back in the clean-swept kitchen, A part of her girlhood’s little world; Her mother is there by the window, stitching; Spindle buzzes, and reel is whirled
With many a click; on her little stool She sits, a child by the open door,
Watching, and dabbling her feet in the pool Of sunshine spilled on the gilded floor.
Her sisters are spinning all day long; To her wakening sense, the first sweet warning Of daylight come, is the cheerful song
To the hum of the wheel, in the early morning. Benjie, the gentle, red-cheeked boy,
On his way to school, peeps in at the gate; In neat, white pinafore, pleased and coy, She reaches a hand to her bashful mate;
And under the elms, a prattling pair, Together they go, through glimmer and gloom It all comes back to her, dreaming there In the low-raftered garret room;
The hum of the wheel, and the summer weather The heart’s first trouble, and love’s beginning, Are all in her memory linked together;
And now it is she herself that is spinning.
With the bloom of youth on cheek and lip, Turning the spokes with the flashing pin, Twisting the thread from the spindle-tip, Stretching it out and winding it in,
To and fro, with a blithesome tread, Singing she goes, and her heart is full, And many a long-drawn golden thread
Of fancy, is spun with the shining wool.
[Footnote 91: After struggling through many early discouragements has attained high repute, both in prose and verse. Has written several novels. New York is his native State.]
* * * * *
=_Henry Timrod, 1829-1867._=
From his “Poems.”
=_416._= THE UNKNOWN DEAD.
The rain is plashing on my sill,
But all the winds of Heaven are still; And so it falls with that dull sound
Which thrills us in the church-yard ground, When the first spadeful drops like lead Upon the coffin of the dead.
Beyond my streaming window-pane,
I cannot see the neighboring vane, Yet from its old familiar tower
The bell comes, muffled, through the shower What strange and unsuspected link
Of feeling touched, has made me think– While with a vacant soul and eye
I watch that gray and stony sky–
Of nameless graves on battle-plains Washed by a single winter’s rains,
Where–some beneath Virginian hills, And some by green Atlantic rills,
Some by the waters of the West–
A myriad unknown heroes rest?
Ah! not the chiefs, who, dying, see Their flags in front of victory,
Or, at their life-blood’s noble cost Pay for a battle nobly lost,
Claim from their monumental beds
The bitterest tears a nation sheds. Beneath yon lonely mound–the spot
By all save some fond few, forgot– Lie the true martyrs of the fight
Which strikes for freedom and for right. Of them, their patriot zeal and pride,
The lofty faith that with them died, No grateful page shall farther tell
Than that so many bravely fell;
And we can only dimly guess
What worlds of all this world’s distress, What utter woe, despair, and dearth,
Their fate has brought to many a hearth. Just such a sky as this should weep
Above them, always, where they sleep; Yet, haply, at this very hour
Their graves are like a lover’s bower; And Nature’s self, with eyes unwet,
Oblivious of the crimson debt
To which she owes her April grace, Laughs gayly o’er their burial-place.
[Footnote 92: A native of South Carolina. He has a fine poetic sentiment, with much beauty of expression, and is an especial favorite in the South.]
* * * * *
=_Susan A. Talley Von Weiss,_= about =_1830-._=
=_417._= THE SEA-SHELL.
Sadly the murmur, stealing
Through the dim windings of the mazy shell, Seemeth some ocean-mystery concealing
Within its cell.
And ever sadly breathing,
As with the tone of far-off waves at play, That dreamy murmur through the sea-shell wreathing Ne’er dies away.
It is no faint replying
Of far-off melodies of wind and wave, No echo of the ocean billow, sighing
Through gem-lit cave.
It is no dim retaining
Of sounds that through the dim sea-caverns swell But some lone ocean spirit’s sad complaining, Within that cell.
* * * * *
I languish for the ocean–
I pine to view the billow’s heaving crest; I miss the music of its dream-like motion, That lulled to rest.
How like art thou, sad spirit,
To many a one, the lone ones of the earth! Who in the beauty of their souls inherit A purer birth;
* * * * *
Yet thou, lone child of ocean,
May’st never more behold thine ocean-foam, While they shall rest from each wild, sad emotion, And find their home!
[Footnote 93: A native of Virginia; her poetical pieces have been much admired.]
* * * * *
=_Albert Sutliffe, 1830-._=
=_418._= “MAY NOON.”
The farmer tireth of his half-day toil, He pauseth at the plough,
He gazeth o’er the furrow-lined soil, Brown hand above his brow.
He hears, like winds lone muffled ‘mong the hills, The lazy river run;
From shade of covert woods, the eager rills Bound forth into the sun.
The clustered clouds of snowy apple-blooms, Scarce shivered by a breeze,
With odor faint, like flowers in feverish rooms, Fall, flake by flake, in peace.
‘Tis labor’s ebb; a hush of gentle joy, For man, and beast, and bird;
The quavering songster ceases its employ; The aspen is not stirred.
But Nature hath no pause; she toileth still; Above the last-year leaves
Thrusts the lithe germ, and o’er the terraced hill A fresher carpet weaves.
From many veins she sends her gathered streams To the huge-billowed main,
Then through the air, impalpable as dreams, She calls them back again.
She shakes the dew from her ambrosial locks, She pours adown the steep
The thundering waters; in her palm, she rocks The flower-throned bee to sleep.
Smile in the tempest, faint and fragile man, And tremble in the calm!
God plainest shows what great. Jehovah can, In these fair days of balm.
[Footnote 94: A native of Connecticut, but has lived for many years in the West, and latterly in Minnesota.]
* * * * *
=_Elijah E. Edwards, 1831-._=
=_419._= “LET ME REST.”
“Let me rest!”
It was the voice of one
Whose life-long journey was but just begun. With genial radiance shone his morning sun; The lark sprang up rejoicing from her nest, To warble praises in her Maker’s ear;
The fields were clad in flower-enamelled vest, And air of balm, and sunshine clear,
Failed not to cheer
That yet unweary pilgrim; but his breast Was harrowed with a strange, foreboding fear; Deeming the life to come, at best,
But weariness, he murmured, “Let me rest.”
* * * * *
“Let me rest!”
But not at morning’s hour,
Nor yet when clouds above my pathway lower; Let me bear up against affliction’s power, Till life’s red sun has sought its quiet west, Till o’er me spreads the solemn, silent night, When, having passed the portals of the blessed, I may repose upon the Infinite,
And learn aright
Why He, the wise, the ever-loving, traced The path to heaven through a desert waste. Courage, ye fainting ones! at His behest Ye pass through labor unto endless rest.
[Footnote 95: Born in Ohio; of late professor of ancient languages in Minnesota; a contributor in prose and verse to various magazines.]
* * * * *
=_Paul Hamilton Hayne, 1831-._=
The passionate summer’s dead! the sky’s aglow With roseate flushes of matured desire; The winds at eve are musical and low
As sweeping chords of a lamenting lyre, Far up among the pillared clouds of fire, Whose pomp in grand procession upward grows, With gorgeous blazonry of funereal shows, To celebrate the summer’s past renown. Ah, me! how regally the heavens look down, O’ershadowing beautiful autumnal woods, And harvest-fields with hoarded incense brown, And deep-toned majesty of golden floods, That lift their solemn dirges to the sky, To swell the purple pomp that floateth by.
[Footnote 96: A poet and critic of much Note; a native of South Carolina.]
* * * * *
=_Rosa V. Johnson Jeffrey_= about =_1832-._=
=_421._= ANGEL WATCHERS.
Angel faces watch my pillow, angel voices haunt my sleep,– And upon the winds of midnight, shining pinions round me sweep; Floating downward on the starlight, two bright infant-forms I see– They are mine, my own bright darlings, come from heaven to visit me.
Earthly children smile upon me, but those little ones’ above, Were the first to stir the fountains of a mother’s deathless love, And, as now they watch my slumber, while their soft eyes on me shine, God forgive a mortal yearning still to call his angels mine.
Earthly children fondly call me, but no mortal voice can seem Sweet as those that whisper “Mother!” ‘mid the glories of my dream; Years will pass, and earthly prattlers cease perchance to lisp my name; But my angel babies’ accents shall be evermore the same.
And the bright band now around me, from their home perchance will rove, In their strength no more depending on my constant care and love; But my first-born still shall wander, from the sky in dreams to rest Their soft cheeks and shining tresses on an earthly mother’s breast.
Time may steal away the freshness, or some ‘whelming grief destroy All the hopes that erst had blossomed, in my summer-time of joy; Earthly children may forsake me, earthly friends perhaps betray, Every tie that now unites me to this life may pass away;–
But, unchanged, those angel watchers, from their blest immortal home, Pure and fair, to cheer the sadness of my darkened dreams shall come; And I cannot feel forsaken, for, though ‘reft of earthly love, Angel children call me “Mother,” and my soul will look above.
[Footnote 97: A native of Mississippi, but of late a resident of Kentucky; the author of several novels, and of many poetical pieces.]
* * * * *
=_Sarah J. Lippincott._=
From Putnam’s Magazine.
The long day waned, when spent with pain, I seemed To drift on slowly toward the restful shore,– So near, I breathed in balm, and caught faint gleams Of Lotus-blooms that fringe the waves of death, And breathless Palms that crown the heights of God.
Then I bethought me how dear hands would close These wistful eyes in welcome night, and fold These poor, tired hands in blameless idleness. In tender mood I pictured forth the spot Wherein I should be laid to take my rest.
“It shall be in some paradise of graves, Where Sun and Shade do hold alternate watch; Where Willows sad trail low their tender green, And pious Elms build arches worshipful, O’ertowered by solemn Pines, in whose dark tops Enchanted storm-winds sigh through summer-nights; The stalwart exile from fair Lombardy,
And slender Aspens, whose quiet, watchful leaves Give silver challenge to the passing breeze, And softly flash and clash like fairy shields, Shall sentinel that quiet camping ground; The glow and grace of flowers will flood those mounds An ever-widening sea of billowy bloom;
And not least lovely shall my grave-sod be, With Myrtles blue, and nestling Violets, And Star-flowers pale with watching–Pansies, dark, With mourning thoughts, and Lilies saintly pure; Deep-hearted Roses, sweet as buried love, And Woodbine-blossoms dripping honeyed dew Over a tablet and a sculptured name.
There little song-birds, careless of my sleep, Shall shake fine raptures from their throats, and thrill With life’s triumphant joy the ear of Death; And lovely, gauzy creatures of an hour
Preach immortality among the graves. The chime of silvery waters shall be there– A pleasant stream that winds among the flowers, But lingers not, for that it ever hears, Through leagues of wood and field and towered town, The great sea calling from his secret deeps.”
‘Twas here, methought or dreamed, an angel came And stood beside my couch, and bent on me A face of solemn questioning, still and stern, But passing beautiful, and searched my soul With steady eyes, the while he seemed to say.
What hast thou done here, child, that thy poor dust Should lie embosomed in such loveliness? Why should the gracious trees stand guard o’er thee? Hast thou aspired, like them, through all thy life, And rest and healing with thy shadow cast? Have deeds of thine brightened the world like flowers, And sweetened it with holiest charities?
* * * * *
=_Edmund Clarence Stedman, 1833-._=
From “The Blameless Prince and other Poems.”
=_423._= THE MOUNTAINS.
Two thousand feet in air it stands
Betwixt the bright and shaded lands, Above the regions it divides
And borders with its furrowed sides. The seaward valley laughs with light
Till the round sun o’erhangs this height; But then, the shadow of the crest
No more the plains that lengthen west Enshrouds, yet slowly, surely creeps
Eastward, until the coolness steeps A darkling league of tilth and wold,
And chills the flocks that seek their fold.
Not like those ancient summits lone, Mont Blanc on his eternal throne,–
The city-gemmed Peruvian, peak,–
The sunset portals landsmen seek,
Whose train, to reach the Golden Land, Crawls slow and pathless through the sand,– Or that whose ice-lit beacon guides
The mariner on tropic tides,
And flames across the Gulf afar,
A torch by day, by night a star,– Not thus to cleave the outer skies.
Does my serener mountain rise.
Nor aye forget its gentle birth
Upon the dewey, pastoral earth.
But ever, in the noonday light,
Are scenes whereof I love the sight,– Broad pictures of the lower world
Beneath my gladdened eyes unfurled. Irradiate distances reveal
Fair nature wed to human weal;
The rolling valley made a plain;
Its chequered squares of grass and grain; The silvery rye, the golden wheat,
The flowery elders where they meet,– Ay, even the springing corn I see,
And garden haunts of bird and bee; And where, in daisied meadows, shines
The wandering river through its vines, Move, specks at random, which I know
Are herds a-grazing to and fro.
[Footnote 98: Was born in Connecticut but has long resided in New York, where he has combined an active business life with literary pursuits–a favorite contributor to that magazines.]
* * * * *
=_John James Piatt, 1835-._=
From “Landmarks and other Poems.”
=_424._= LONG AGO.
Though for the soul a lovely Heaven awaits, Through years of woe,
The Paradise with angels in its gates Is Long Ago.
The heart’s lost Home! Ah, thither winging ever, In silence, show
Vanishing faces! but they vanish never In Long Ago!
Ye toil’d through desert sands to reach To-morrow, With footsteps slow,
Poor Yesterdays! Immortal gleams ye borrow In Long Ago.
The world is dark: backward our thoughts are yearning, Our eyes o’erflow:
Sweet Memories, angels to our tears returning, Leave Long Ago.
We climb: child-roses to our knees are climbing, From valleys low;
To call us back, dear birds and brooks are rhyming In Long Ago.
Hands clasp’d, tears shed, sad songs are sung!–the fair Beloved ones, lo!
Shine yonder, through the angel gates of air, In Long Ago.
[Footnote 99: Of Western birth and education. His verse though somewhat crude, has a flow of tenderness and freshness.]
* * * * *
=_Celia Thaxter, 1835-._=
From The Atlantic Monthly.
Softly Death touched her, and she passed away, Out of this glad, bright world she made more fair; Sweet as the apple blossoms, when in May, The orchards flush, of summer grown aware.
All that fresh delicate beauty gone from sight, That gentle, gracious presence felt no more! How must the house be emptied of delight! What shadows on the threshold she passed o’er!
She loved me. Surely I was grateful, yet I could not give her back all she gave me,– Ever I think of it with vain regret,
Musing upon a summer by the sea:
Remembering troops of merry girls who pressed About me, clinging arms and tender eyes, And love, light scent of roses. With the rest She came to fill my heart with new surprise.
The day I left them all and sailed away, While o’er the calm sea, ‘neath the soft gray sky They waved farewell, she followed me to say Yet once again her wistful, sweet “good by.”
At the boat’s bow she drooped; her light green dress Swept o’er the skiff in many a graceful fold, Her glowing face, bright with a mute caress, Crowned with her lovely hair of shadowy gold:
And tears she dropped into the crystal brine For me, unworthy, as we slowly swung
Free of the mooring. Her last look was mine, Seeking me still the motley crowd among.
O tender memory of the dead I hold
So precious through the fret and change of years! Were I to live till Time itself grew old, The sad sea would be sadder for those tears.
[Footnote 100: A native of New Hampshire; long resident on the Isles of Shoals, and remarkable for her vivid pictures of ocean life, in both prose and verse.]
* * * * *
=_Theophilus H. Hill. 1836-._=
From “The Song of the Butterfly.”
When the shades of evening fall,
Like the foldings of a pall,–
When the dew is on the flowers,
And the mute, unconscious hours,
Still pursue their noiseless flight Through the dreamy realms of night,
In the shut or open rose
Ah, how sweetly I repose!
* * * * *
And Diana’s starry train,
Sweetly scintillant again,
Never sleep while I repose
On the petals of the rose.
Sweeter couch hath who than I?
Quoth the brilliant Butterfly.
Life is but a summer day,
Gliding languidly away;
Winter comes, alas! too soon,–
Would it were forever June!
Yet though brief my flight may be, Fun and frolic still for me!
When the summer leaves and flowers, Now so beautiful and gay,
In the cold autumnal showers,
Droop and fade, and pine away,
Who would not prefer to die?
What were life to _such as I_?
Quoth the flaunting Butterfly.
[Footnote 101: Born in North Carolina; in the intervals of his law practice has published a volume of poems.]
* * * * *
=_Thomas Hailey Aldrich. 1836-._=
From his “Poems.”
=_427._= THE CRESCENT AND THE CROSS.
Kind was my friend who, in the Eastern land, Remembered me with such a gracious hand, And sent this Moorish Crescent which has been Worn on the tawny bosom of a queen.
No more it sinks and rises in unrest To the soft music of her heathen breast; No barbarous chief shall bow before it more, No turbaned slave shall envy and adore!
I place beside this relic of the Sun A cross of Cedar brought from Lebanon,
Once ‘borne, perchance, by some pale monk who trod The desert to Jerusalem–and his God!
Here do they lie, two symbols of two creeds, Each meaning something to our human needs, Both stained with blood, and sacred made by faith, By tears, and prayers, and martyrdom, and death.
That for the Moslem is, but this for me! The waning Crescent lacks divinity:
It gives me dreams of battles, and the woes Of women shut in hushed seraglios.
But when this Cross of simple wood I see, The Star of Bethlehem shines again for me, And glorious visions break upon my gloom– The patient Christ, and Mary at the Tomb!
[Footnote 102: Born in New Hampshire, but long connected with the press in New York. Has produced several volumes of poetry of unusual beauty and finish.]
* * * * *
=_Francis Bret Harte._=
From his “Poems.”
=_428._= DICKENS IN CAMP.
Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting, The river ran below;
The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting Their minarets of snow.
The roaring camp-fire, with rude humor, painted The ruddy tints of health,
On haggard face, and form that drooped and fainted In the fierce race for wealth;
Till one arose, and from his pack’s scant treasure A hoarded volume drew,
And cards were dropped from hands of listless leisure, To hear the tale anew;
And then, while round them shadows gathered faster, And as the firelight fell,
He read aloud the book wherein the Master Had writ of “Little Nell.”
Perhaps ’twas boyish fancy,–for the reader Was youngest of them all,–
But, as he read, from clustering pine and cedar, A silence seemed to fall.
The fir-trees, gathering closer in the shadows, Listened in every spray,
While the whole camp, with “Nell” on English meadows, Wandered, and lost their way.
And so in mountain solitudes–o’ertaken As by some spell divine–
Their cares dropped from them like the needles shaken From out the gusty pine.
Lost is that camp I and wasted all its fire: And he who wrought that spell?–
Ah, towering pine and stately Kentish spire, Ye have one tale to tell!
Lost is that camp! but let its fragrant story Blend with the breath that thrills
With hop-vines’ incense all the pensive glory That fills the Kentish hills.
And on that grave where English oak and holly And laurel wreaths intwine,
Deem it not all a too presumptuous folly,– This spray of Western pine!
* * * * *
From “East and West Poems.”
=_429._= THE TWO SHIPS.
As I stand by the cross on the lone mountain’s crest, Looking over the ultimate sea,
In the gloom of the mountain a ship lies at rest, And one sails away from the lea:
One spreads its white wings on a far-reaching track, With pennant and sheet flowing free;
One hides in the shadow with sails laid aback,– The ship that is waiting for me!
But lo, in the distance the clouds break away! The Gate’s glowing portals I see;
And I hear from the outgoing ship in the bay The song of the sailors in glee:
So I think of the luminous footprints that bore The comfort o’er dark Galilee,
And wait for the signal to go to the shore, To the ship that is waiting for me.
* * * * *
=_Charles Dimitry, 1838-._=
=_430._= “THE SERGEANT’S STORY.”
Our army lay,
At break of day,
A full league from the foe away.
At set of sun,
The battle done,
We cheered our triumph, dearly won.
* * * * *
All night before,
We marked the roar
Of hostile guns that on us bore;
And ‘here and there,
The sudden blare
Of fitful bugles smote the air.
No idle word
The quiet stirred
Among us as the morning neared;
And brows were bent,
As silent went
Unto its post each regiment.
Blank broke the day,
And wan and gray
The drifting clouds went on their way. So sad the morn,
Our colors torn,
Upon the ramparts drooped forlorn!
At early sun,
The vapors dun
Were lifted by a nearer gun;
At stroke of nine,
The sun shone out along the line.
Then loud and clear,
And rifleman arose a cheer;
For as the gray
Mists cleared away,
We saw the charging foe’s array.
[Footnote 103: Of a Louisiana family: is considered one of the most promising of the young writers of the South. The present is a favorable specimen of the poetry of the secession writers.]
* * * * *
From “Pike County Ballads.”
=_431._= THE PRAIRIE.
The skies are blue above my head,
The prairie green below,
And flickering o’er the tufted grass The shifting shadows go,
Vague-sailing, where the feathery clouds Fleck white the tranquil skies,
Black javelins darting where aloft The whirring pheasant flies.
A glimmering plain in drowsy trance
The dim horizon bounds,
Where all the air is resonant
With sleepy summer sounds,–
The life that sings among the flowers, The lisping of the breeze,
The hot cicada’s sultry cry,
The murmurous dream of bees.
The butterfly–a flying flower–
Wheels swift in flashing rings,
And flutters round his quiet kin
With brave flame-mottled wings.
The wild Pinks burst in crimson fire, The Phlox’ bright clusters shine,
And Prairie-cups are swinging free To spill their airy wine.
* * * * *
Far in the East, like low-hung clouds The waving woodlands lie;
Far in the West, the glowing plain Melts warmly in the sky;
No accent wounds the reverent air, No foot-print dints the sod,–
Lone in the light the prairie lies, Rapt in a dream of God.
[Footnote 104: Born in Indiana. Gave up the practice of the law to become Secretary and Aide-de-camp to President Lincoln. Served briefly in the Rebellion war with the rank of Colonel, and was afterward Secretary of Legation at Paris and Madrid, and for some months, Charge d’Affaires at Vienna. Subsequently applied himself to literature and journalism.]
* * * * *
From “Songs of the Sierras.”
=_432._= THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA.
Dared I but say a prophecy,
As sang the holy men of old,
Of rock-built cities yet to be
Along those shining shores of gold, Crowding athirst into the sea,
What wondrous marvels might be told! Enough to know that empire here
Shall burn her brightest, loftiest star; Here art and eloquence shall reign,
As o’er the wolf-reared realm of old; Here learn’d and famous from afar,
To pay their noble court, shall come, And shall not seek or see in vain,
But look on all, with wonder dumb.
Afar the bright Sierras lie,
A swaying line of snowy white,
A fringe of heaven hung in sight
Against the blue base of the sky.
I look along each gaping gorge,
I near a thousand sounding strokes, Like giants rending giant oaks,
Or brawny Vulcan at his forge;
I see pick-axes flash and shine,
And great wheels whirling in a mine. Here winds a thick and yellow thread,
A moss’d and silver stream instead; And trout that leap’d its rippled tide
Have turn’d upon their sides and died.
Lo! when the last pick in the mine Is rusting red with idleness,
And rot yon cabins in the mould,
And wheels no more croak in distress, And tall pines reassert command,
Sweet bards along this sunset shore Their mellow melodies will pour;
Will charm as charmers very wise,
Will strike the harp with master-hand, Will sound unto the vaulted skies
The valor of these men of old–
The mighty men of ‘Forty-nine;
Will sweetly sing and proudly say, Long, long agone, there was a day
When there were giants in the land.
[Footnote 105: Cincinnatus Heine Miller, commonly known by his assumed name of Joaquin Miller. Born in Indiana, but was taken when very young to Oregon. After a wild career in Oregon and California, he at length studied for the law. His poetry, like his life, is of an eccentric cast.]
* * * * *
=_Joel Chandler Harris, 1846-._=
She has a tender, winning way,
And walks the earth with gentle grace, And roses with the lily play
Amid the beauties of her face.
When’er she tunes her voice to sing, The song-birds list, with anxious looks, For it combines the notes of spring
With all the music of the brooks.
Her merry laughter, soft and low,
Is as the chimes of silver bells,– That like sweet anthems float, and flow Through woodland groves and bosky dells,
And when the violets see her eyes,
They flush and glow–with love and shame, They meekly droop with sad surprise,
As though unworthy of the name.
But still they bloom where’er she throws Her dainty glance and smiles so sweet. And e’en amid stern winter’s snows
The daisies spring beneath her feet.
She wears a crown of Purity,
Full set with woman’s brightest gem,– A wreath of maiden modesty,
And Virtue is the diadem.
And when the pansies bloom again,
And spring and summer intertwine. Great joys will fall on me like rain,
For she will be for ever mine!
[Footnote 106: A native of Georgia; is deemed one of the best of the younger poets of the South.]