John Smith, U.S.A. by Eugene Field

Produced by Kevin O’Hare and PG Distributed Proofreaders JOHN SMITH U.S.A. BY EUGENE FIELD AUTHOR OF THE CLINK OF THE ICE IN WINK-A-WAY-LAND HOOSIER LYRICS, ETC. 1905. INTRODUCTION. From whatever point of view the character of Eugene Field is seen, genius–rare and quaint presents itself is childlike simplicity. That he was a poet of keen
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Produced by Kevin O’Hare and PG Distributed Proofreaders

[Illustration: Eugene Field]











From whatever point of view the character of Eugene Field is seen, genius–rare and quaint presents itself is childlike simplicity. That he was a poet of keen perception, of rare discrimination, all will admit. He was a humorist as delicate and fanciful as Artemus Ward, Mark Twain, Bill Nye, James Whitcomb Riley, Opie Read, or Bret Harte in their happiest moods. Within him ran a poetic vein, capable of being worked in any direction, and from which he could, at will, extract that which his imagination saw and felt most. That he occasionally left the child-world, in which he longed to linger, to wander among the older children of men, where intuitively the hungry listener follows him into his Temple of Mirth, all should rejoice, for those who knew him not, can while away the moments imbibing the genius of his imagination in the poetry and prose here presented.

Though never possessing an intimate acquaintanceship with Field, owing largely to the disparity in our ages, still there existed a bond of friendliness that renders my good opinion of him in a measure trustworthy. Born in the same city, both students in the same college, engaged at various times in newspaper work both in St. Louis and Chicago, residents of the same ward, with many mutual friends, it is not surprising that I am able to say of him that “the world is better off that he lived, not in gold and silver or precious jewels, but in the bestowal of priceless truths, of which the possessor of this book becomes a benefactor of no mean share of his estate.”

Every lover of Field, whether of the songs of childhood or the poems that lend mirth to the out-pouring of his poetic nature, will welcome this unique collection of his choicest wit and humor.


Chicago, January, 1905.


John Smith
The Fisherman’s Feast
To John J. Knickerbocker, Jr.
The Bottle and the Bird
The Man Who Worked with Dana on the “Sun” A Democratic Hymn
The Blue and the Gray
It is the Printer’s Fault
Summer Heat
Plaint of the Missouri ‘Coon in the Berlin Zoological Gardens The Bibliomaniac’s Bride
Ezra J. M’Manus to a Soubrette
The Monstrous Pleasant Ballad of the Taylor Pup Long Meter
To DeWitt Miller
Francois Villon
Lydia Dick
The Tin Bank
In New Orleans
The Peter-Bird
Dibdin’s Ghost
An Autumn Treasure-Trove
When the Poet Came
The Perpetual Wooing
My Playmates
Mediaeval Eventide Song
Alaskan Balladry
Armenian Folk-Song–The Stork
The Vision of the Holy Grail
The Divine Lullaby
A Fickle Woman
Egyptian Folk-Song
Armenian Folk-Song–The Partridge
Alaskan Balladry, No. 1
Old Dutch Love Song
An Eclogue from Virgil
Horace to Maecenas
Horace’s “Sailor and Shade”
Uhland’s “Chapel”
“The Happy Isles” of Horace
Horatian Lyrics
Hugo’s “Pool in the Forest”
Horace I., 4
Love Song–Heine
Horace II., 3
The Two Coffins
Horace I., 31
Horace to His Lute
Horace I., 22
The “Ars Poetica” of Horace XXIII
Marthy’s Younkit
Abu Midjan
The Dying Year
Dead Roses


To-day I strayed in Charing Cross as wretched as could be With thinking of my home and friends across the tumbling sea; There was no water in my eyes, but my spirits were depressed And my heart lay like a sodden, soggy doughnut in my breast. This way and that streamed multitudes, that gayly passed me by– Not one in all the crowd knew me and not a one knew I! “Oh, for a touch of home!” I sighed; “oh, for a friendly face! Oh, for a hearty handclasp in this teeming desert place!” And so, soliloquizing as a homesick creature will, Incontinent, I wandered down the noisy, bustling hill And drifted, automatic-like and vaguely, into Lowe’s, Where Fortune had in store a panacea for my woes. The register was open, and there dawned upon my sight A name that filled and thrilled me with a cyclone of delight– The name that I shall venerate unto my dying day– The proud, immortal signature: “John Smith, U.S.A.”

Wildly I clutched the register and brooded on that name– I knew John Smith, yet could not well identify the same. I knew him North, I knew him South, I knew him East and West– I knew him all so well I knew not which I knew the best. His eyes, I recollect, were gray, and black, and brown, and blue, And, when he was not bald, his hair was of chameleon hue; Lean, fat, tall, short, rich, poor, grave, gay, a blonde and a brunette– Aha, amid this London fog, John Smith, I see you yet; I see you yet, and yet the sight is all so blurred I seem To see you in composite, or as in a waking dream, Which are you, John? I’d like to know, that I might weave a rhyme Appropriate to your character, your politics and clime; So tell me, were you “raised” or “reared”–your pedigree confess In some such treacherous ism as “I reckon” or “I guess”; Let fall your tell-tale dialect, that instantly I may Identify my countryman, “John Smith, U.S.A.”

It’s like as not you are the John that lived a spell ago Down East, where codfish, beans ‘nd bona-fide school-marms grow; Where the dear old homestead nestles like among the Hampshire hills And where the robin hops about the cherry boughs and trills; Where Hubbard squash ‘nd huckleberries grow to powerful size, And everything is orthodox from preachers down to pies; Where the red-wing blackbirds swing ‘nd call beside the pickril pond, And the crows air cawin’ in the pines uv the pasture lot beyond; Where folks complain uv bein’ poor, because their money’s lent Out West on farms ‘nd railroads at the rate uv ten per cent; Where we ust to spark the Baker girls a-comin’ home from choir, Or a-settin’ namin’ apples round the roarin’ kitchen fire: Where we had to go to meetin’ at least three times a week, And our mothers learnt us good religious Dr. Watts to speak, And where our grandmas sleep their sleep–God rest their souls, I say! And God bless yours, ef you’re that John, “John Smith, U.S.A.”

Or, mebbe, Colonel Smith, yo’ are the gentleman I know In the country whar the finest democrats ‘nd horses grow; Whar the ladies are all beautiful an’ whar the crap of cawn Is utilized for Bourbon and true dawters are bawn; You’ve ren for jedge, and killed yore man, and bet on Proctor Knott– Yore heart is full of chivalry, yore skin is full of shot; And I disremember whar I’ve met with gentlemen so true As yo’ all in Kaintucky, whar blood an’ grass are blue; Whar a niggah with a ballot is the signal fo’ a fight, Whar a yaller dawg pursues the coon throughout the bammy night; Whar blooms the furtive ‘possum–pride an’ glory of the South– And Aunty makes a hoe-cake, sah, that melts within yo’ mouth! Whar, all night long, the mockin’-birds are warblin’ in the trees And black-eyed Susans nod and blink at every passing breeze, Whar in a hallowed soil repose the ashes of our Clay– Hyar’s lookin’ at yo’, Colonel “John Smith, U.S.A.”!

Or wuz you that John Smith I knew out yonder in the West– That part of our republic I shall always love the best? Wuz you him that went prospectin’ in the spring of sixty-nine In the Red Hoss mountain country for the Gosh-All-Hemlock Mine? Oh, how I’d like to clasp your hand an’ set down by your side And talk about the good old days beyond the big divide; Of the rackaboar, the snaix, the bear, the Rocky Mountain goat, Of the conversazzhyony ‘nd of Casey’s tabble-dote, And a word of them old pardners that stood by us long ago (Three-Fingered Hoover, Sorry Tom and Parson Jim, you know)! Old times, old friends, John Smith, would make our hearts beat high again,
And we’d see the snow-top mountain like we used to see ’em then; The magpies would go flutterin’ like strange sperrits to ‘nd fro, And we’d hear the pines a-singing’ in the ragged gulch below; And the mountain brook would loiter like upon its windin’ way, Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play.

You see, John Smith, just which you are I cannot well recall, And, really, I am pleased to think you somehow must be all! For when a man sojourns abroad awhile (as I have done) He likes to think of all the folks he left at home as one– And so they are! For well you know there’s nothing in a name— Our Browns, our Joneses and our Smiths are happily the same; All represent the spirit of the land across the sea, All stand for one high purpose in our country of the free! Whether John Smith be from the South, the North, the West, the East– So long as he’s American, it mattereth not the least; Whether his crest be badger, bear, palmetto, sword or pine, He is the glory of the stars that with the stripes combine! Where’er he be, whate’er his lot, he’s eager to be known, Not by his mortal name, but by his country’s name alone! And so, compatriot, I am proud you wrote your name to-day Upon the register at Lowe’s, “John Smith, U.S.A.”


Of all the gracious gifts of Spring, Is there another can safely surpass
This delicate, voluptuous thing–
This dapple-green, plump-shouldered bass? Upon a damask napkin laid,
What exhalations superfine
Our gustatory nerves pervade,
Provoking quenchless thirsts for wine.

The ancients loved this noble fish,
And, coming from the kitchen fire All piping hot upon a dish,
What raptures did he not inspire! “Fish should swim twice,” they used to say– Once in their native vapid brine,
And then a better way–
You understand? Fetch on the wine!

Ah, dainty monarch of the flood,
How often have I cast for you–
How often sadly seen you scud
Where weeds and pussy willows grew! How often have you filched my bait!
How often have you snapped my treacherous line!– Yet here I have you on this plate.
You _shall_ swim twice, and _now_ in _wine_!

And, harkee, garcon! let the blood
Of cobwebbed years be spilt for him– Aye, in a rich Burgundy flood
This piscatorial pride should swim; So, were he living, he should say
He gladly died for me and mine,
And, as it was his native spray,
He’d lash the sauce–What, ho! the wine!

I would it were ordained for me
To share your fate, oh finny friend! I surely were not loath to be
Reserved for such a noble end;
For when old Chronos, gaunt and grim, At last reels in his ruthless line,
What were my ecstacy to swim
In wine, in wine, in glorious wine!

Well, here’s a health to you, sweet Spring! And, prithee, whilst I stick to earth, Come hither every year and bring
The boons provocative of mirth;
And should your stock of bass run low, However much I might repine,
I think I might survive the blow
If plied with wine, and still more wine!


Whereas, good friend, it doth appear You do possess the notion
To his awhile away from here
To lands across the ocean;
Now, by these presents we would show That, wheresoever wend you,
And wheresoever gales may blow,
Our friendship shall attend you.

What though on Scotia’s banks and braes You pluck the bonnie gowan,
Or chat of old Chicago days
O’er Berlin brew with Cowen;
What though you stroll some boulevard In Paris (c’est la belle ville!),
Or make the round of Scotland Yard With our lamented Melville?

Shall paltry leagues of foaming brine True heart from true hearts sever?
No–in this draught of honest wine We pledge it, comrade–never!
Though mountain waves between us roll, Come fortune or disaster–
‘Twill knit us closer soul to soul And bind our friendships faster.

So here’s a bowl that shall be quaff’d To loyalty’s devotion,
And here’s to fortune that shall waft Your ship across the ocean,
And here’s a smile for those who prate Of Davy Jones’s locker,
And here’s a pray’r in every fate– God bless you, Knickerbocker!


Once on a time a friend of mine prevailed on me to go To see the dazzling splendors of a sinful ballet show, And after we had reveled in the saltatory sights We sought a neighboring cafe for more tangible delights; When I demanded of my friend what viands he preferred, He quoth: “A large cold bottle and a small hot bird!”

Fool that I was, I did not know what anguish hidden lies Within the morceau that allures the nostrils and the eyes! There is a glorious candor in an honest quart of wine– A certain inspiration which I cannot well define! How it bubbles, how it sparkles, how its gurgling seems to say: “Come, on a tide of rapture let me float your soul away!”

But the crispy, steaming mouthful that is spread upon your plate– How it discounts human sapience and satirizes fate! You wouldn’t think a thing so small could cause the pains and aches That certainly accrue to him that of that thing partakes; To me, at least (a guileless wight!) it never once occurred What horror was encompassed in that one small hot bird.

Oh, what a head I had on me when I awoke next day, And what a firm conviction of intestinal decay! What seas of mineral water and of bromide I applied To quench those fierce volcanic fires that rioted inside! And, oh! the thousand solemn, awful vows I plighted then Never to tax my system with a small hot bird again!

The doctor seemed to doubt that birds could worry people so, But, bless him! since I ate the bird, I guess I ought to know! The acidous condition of my stomach, so he said, Bespoke a vinous irritant that amplified my head, And, ergo, the causation of the thing, as he inferred, Was the large cold bottle, not the small hot bird.

Of course, I know it wasn’t, and I’m sure you’ll say I’m right If ever it has been your wont to train around at night; How sweet is retrospection when one’s heart is bathed in wine, And before its balmy breath how do the ills of life decline! How the gracious juices drown what griefs would vex a mortal breast, And float the flattered soul into the port of dreamless rest!

But you, O noxious, pigmy bird, whether it be you fly Or paddle in the stagnant pools that sweltering, festering lie– I curse you and your evil kind for that you do me wrong, Engendering poisons that corrupt my petted muse of song; Go, get thee hence, and nevermore discomfit me and mine– I fain would barter all thy brood for one sweet draught of wine!

So hither come, O sportive youth! when fades the tell-tale day– Come hither with your fillets and your wreathes of posies gay; We shall unloose the fragrant seas of seething, frothing wine Which now the cobwebbed glass and envious wire and corks confine, And midst the pleasing revelry the praises shall be heard Of the large cold bottle, _not_ the small hot bird.


Thar showed up out ‘n Denver in the spring of ’81 A man who’d worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun. His name was Cantell Whoppers, ‘nd he was a sight ter view Ez he walked into the orfice ‘nd inquired for work to do; Thar warn’t no places vacant then–fer, be it understood, That was the time when talent flourished at that altitood; But thar the stranger lingered, tellin’ Raymond ‘nd the rest Uv what perdigious wonders he could do when at his best– ‘Til finally he stated (quite by chance) that he had done A heap uv work with Dana on the Noo York Sun.

Wall, that wuz quite another thing; we owned that ary cuss Who’d worked f’r Mr. Dana _must_ be good enough for _us_! And so we tuk the stranger’s word ‘nd nipped him while we could, For if _we didn’t_ take him we knew John Arkins _would_– And Cooper, too, wuz mousin’ round for enterprise ‘nd brains, Whenever them commodities blew in across the plains. At any rate, we nailed him–which made ol’ Cooper swear And Arkins tear out handfuls uv his copious curly hair– But _we_ set back and cackled, ‘nd had a power uv fun With our man who’d worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.

It made our eyes hang on our cheeks ‘nd lower jaws ter drop Ter hear that feller tellin’ how ol’ Dana run his shop; It seems that Dana was the biggest man you ever saw– He lived on human bein’s ‘nd preferred to eat ’em raw! If he had democratic drugs to take, before he took ’em, As good old allopathic laws prescribe, he allus shook ’em! The man that could set down ‘nd write like Dana never grew And the sum of human knowledge wuzn’t half what Dana knew. The consequence appeared to be that nearly everyone Concurred with Mr. Dana of the Noo York Sun.

This feller, Cantell Whoppers, never brought an item in– He spent his time at Perrin’s shakin’ poker dice f’r gin; Whatever the assignment, he wuz allus sure to shirk– He wuz very long on likker and all-fired short on work! If any other cuss had played the tricks he dare ter play, The daisies would be bloomin’ over his remains to-day; But, somehow, folks respected him and stood him to the last, Considerin’ his superior connections in the past; So, when he bilked at poker, not a sucker drew a gun On the man who’d worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.

Wall, Dana came ter Denver in the fall uv ’83– A very different party from the man we thought ter see! A nice ‘nd clean old gentleman, so dignerfied ‘nd calm– You bet yer life he never did no human bein’ harm! A certain hearty manner ‘nd a fullness uv the vest Betokened that his sperrits ‘nd his victuals wuz the best; His face was so benevolent, his smile so sweet ‘nd kind, That they seemed to be the reflex uv an honest, healthy mind, And God had set upon his head a crown uv silver hair In promise of the golden crown He meaneth him to wear; So, uv us boys that met him out ‘n Denver there wuz none But fell in love with Dana uv the Noo York Sun.

But when he came to Denver in that fall uv ’83 His old friend, Cantell Whoppers, disappeared upon a spree; The very thought uv seein’ Dana worked upon him so (They hadn’t been together fer a year or two, you know) That he borrowed all the stuff he could and started on a bat, And, strange as it may seem, we didn’t see him after that. So when ol’ Dana hove in sight we couldn’t understand Why he didn’t seem to notice that his crony wa’n’t on hand; No casual allusion–not a question, no, not one– For the man who’d “worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun”!

We broke it gently to him, but he didn’t seem surprised– Thar wuz no big burst uv passion as we fellers had surmised; He said that Whoppers wuz a man he didn’t never heerd about, But he might have carried papers on a Jersey City route– And then he recollected hearin’ Mr. Laflin say That he fired a man named Whoppers fur bein’ drunk one day, Which, with more likker _underneath_ than money in his vest, Had started on a freight train fur the great ‘nd boundin’ West– But further information or statistics he had none Uv the man who’d “worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.”

We dropped the matter quietly ‘nd never made no fuss– When we get played fer suckers–why, that’s a horse on us! But every now ‘nd then we Denver fellers have to laff To hear some other paper boast uv havin’ on its staff A man who’s “worked with Dana”–‘nd then we fellers wink And pull our hats down on our eyes ‘nd set around ‘nd think. It seems like Dana couldn’t be as smart as people say If he educates so many folks ‘nd lets ’em get away; And, as for us, in future we’ll be very apt to shun The man who “worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun”!

But, bless ye, Mr. Dana! may you live a thousan’ years, To sort o’ keep things lively in this vale of human tears; An’ may I live a thousan’, too–a thousan’, less a day, For I shouldn’t like to be on earth to hear you’d passed away. And when it comes your time to go you’ll need no Latin chaff Nor biographic data put in your epitaph; But one straight line of English and of truth will let folks know The homage ‘nd the gratitude ‘nd reverence they owe; You’ll need no epitaph but this: “Here sleeps the man who run That best ‘nd brightest paper, the Noo York Sun.”


Republicans of differing views
Are pro or con protection;
If that’s the issue they would choose, Why, we have no objection.
The issue we propose concerns
Our hearts and homes more nearly: A wife to whom the nation turns
And venerates so dearly.
So, confident of what shall be,
Our gallant host advances,
Giving three cheers for Grover C.
And three times three for Frances!

So gentle is that honored dame,
And fair beyond all telling,
The very mention of her name
Sets every breast to swelling.
She wears no mortal crown of gold– No courtiers fawn around her–
But with their love young hearts and old In loyalty have crowned her–
And so with Grover and his bride
We’re proud to take our chances,
And it’s three times three for the twain give we– But particularly for Frances!


The Blue and the Gray collided one day In the future great town of Missouri,
And if all that we hear is the truth, ‘twould appear That they tackled each other with fury.

While the weather waxed hot they hove and they sot, Like the scow in the famous old story, And what made the fight an enjoyable sight Was the fact that they fought con amore.

They as participants fought in such wise as was taught, As beseemed the old days of the dragons, When you led to the dance and defended with lance The damsel you pledged in your flagons.

In their dialect way the knights of the Gray Gave a flout at the buckeye bandana,
And the buckeye came back with a gosh-awful whack, And that’s what’s the matter with Hannah.

This resisted attack took the Grays all a-back, And feeling less coltish and frisky,
They resolved to elate the cause of their state, And also their persons, with whisky.

Having made ample use of the treacherous juice, Which some folks say stings like an adder, They went back again at the handkerchief men, Who slowly got madder and madder.

You can bet it was h–l in the Southern Hotel And elsewhere, too many to mention,
But the worst of it all was achieved in the hall Where the President held his convention.

They ripped and they hewed and they, sweating imbrued, Volleyed and bellowed and thundered;
There was nothing to do until these yawpers got through, So the rest of us waited and wondered.

As the result of these frays it appears that the Grays, Who once were as chipper as daisies,
Have changed their complexion to one of dejection, And at present are bluer than blazes.


In Mrs. Potter’s latest play
The costuming is fine;
Her waist is made decollete–
Her skirt is new design.


Nay, why discuss this summer heat,
Of which vain people tell?
Oh, sinner, rather were it meet
To fix thy thoughts on hell!

The punishment ordained for you
In that infernal spot
Is het by Satan’s impish crew
And kept forever hot.

Sumatra might be reckoned nice,
And Tophet passing cool,
And Sodom were a cake of ice
Beside that sulphur pool.

An awful stench and dismal wail
Come from the broiling souls,
Whilst Satan with his fireproof tail Stirs up the brimstone coals.

Oh, sinner, on this end ’tis meet
That thou shouldst ponder well,
For what, oh, what, is worldly heat Unto the heat of hell?


Friend, by the way you hump yourself you’re from the States, I know, And born in old Mizzourah, where the ‘coons in plenty grow; I, too, am a native of that clime, but harsh, relentless fate Has doomed me to an exile far from that noble state, And I, who used to climb around and swing from tree to tree, Now lead a life of ignominious ease, as you can see. Have pity, O compatriot mine! and bide a season near While I unfurl a dismal tale to catch your friendly ear.

My pedigree is noble–they used my grandsire’s skin To piece a coat for Patterson to warm himself within– Tom Patterson of Denver; no ermine can compare With the grizzled robe that democratic statesman loves to wear! Of such a grandsire I have come, and in the County Cole, All up an ancient cottonwood, our family had its hole– We envied not the liveried pomp nor proud estate of kings As we hustled around from day to day in search of bugs and things.

And when the darkness fell around, a mocking bird was nigh, Inviting pleasant, soothing dreams with his sweet lullaby; And sometimes came the yellow dog to brag around all night That nary ‘coon could wollop him in a stand-up barrel fight; We simply smiled and let him howl, for all Mizzourians know That ary ‘coon can beat a dog if the ‘coon gets half a show! But we’d nestle close and shiver when the mellow moon had ris’n And the hungry nigger sought our lair in hopes to make us his’n!

Raised as I was, it’s hardly strange I pine for those old days– I cannot get acclimated or used to German ways; The victuals that they give me here may all be very fine For vulgar, common palates, but they will not do for mine! The ‘coon that’s been used to stanch democratic cheer Will not put up with onion tarts and sausage steeped in beer! No; let the rest, for meat and drink, accede to slavish terms, But send _me_ back from whence I came and let me grub for worms!

They come (these gaping Teutons do) on Sunday afternoons And wonder what I am–alas! there are no German ‘coons! For, if there were, I might still swing at home from tree to tree, A symbol of democracy that’s woolly, blythe and free. And yet for what my captors are I would not change my lot, For _I_ have tasted liberty–these others, _they_ have not! So, even caged, the democratic ‘coon more glory feels Than the conscript German puppets with their swords about their heels!

Well, give my love to Crittenden, to Clardy and O’Neill, To Jasper Burke and Colonel Jones, and tell ’em how I feel; My compliments to Cockrill, Munford, Switzler, Hasbrook, Vest, Bill Nelson, J. West Goodwin, Jedge Broadhead and the rest; Bid them be steadfast in the faith and pay no heed at all To Joe McCullagh’s badinage or Chauncy Filley’s gall; And urge them to retaliate for what I’m suffering here By cinching all the alien class that wants its Sunday beer.


The women folk are like to books–
Most pleasing to the eye,
Whereon if anybody looks
He feels disposed to buy.

I hear that many are for sale–
Those that record no dates,
And such editions as regale
The view with colored plates.

Of every quality and grade
And size they may be found–
Quite often beautifully made,
As often poorly bound.

Now, as for me, had I my choice,
I’d choose no folio tall,
But some octavo to rejoice
My sight and heart withal.

As plump and pudgy as a snipe–
Well worth her weight in gold,
Of honest, clean, conspicuous type, And just the size to hold!

With such a volume for my wife,
How should I keep and con?
How like a dream should speed my life Unto its colophon!

Her frontispiece should be more fair Than any colored plate;
Blooming with health she would not care To extra-illustrate.

And in her pages there should be
A wealth of prose and verse,
With now and then a jeu d’esprit– But nothing ever worse!

Prose for me when I wished for prose, Verse, when to verse inclined–
Forever bringing sweet repose
To body, heart, and mind.

Oh, I should bind this priceless prize In bindings full and fine,
And keep her where no human eyes
Should see her charms, but mine!

With such a fair unique as this,
What happiness abounds!
Who–who could paint my rapturous bliss, My joy unknown to Lowndes!


‘Tis years, soubrette, since last we met, And yet, ah yet, how swift and tender
My thoughts go back in Time’s dull track To you, sweet pink of female gender!
I shall not say–though others may– That time all human joy enhances;
But the same old thrill comes to me still With memories of your songs and dances.

Soubrettish ways these latter days
Invite my praise, but never get it; I still am true to yours and you–
My record’s made–I’ll not upset it! The pranks they play, the things they say– I’d blush to put the like on paper;
And I’ll avow they don’t know how
To dance, so awkwardly they caper!

I used to sit down in the pit
And see you flit like elf or fairy Across the stage, and I’ll engage
No moonbeam sprite were half so airy. Lo! everywhere about me there
Were rivals reeking with pomatum, And if perchance they caught a glance
In song or dance, how did I hate ’em!

At half-past ten came rapture–then
Of all those men was I most happy, For wine and things and food for kings
And tete-a-tetes were on the tapis. Did you forget, my fair soubrette,
Those suppers in the Cafe Rector– The cozy nook where we partook
Of sweeter draughts than fabled nectar?

Oh, happy days, when youth’s wild ways Knew every phase of harmless folly!
Oh, blissful nights whose fierce delights Defied gaunt-featured Melancholy!
Gone are they all beyond recall,
And I, a shade–a mere reflection– Am forced to feed my spirits’ greed
Upon the husks of retrospection.

And lo! to-night the phantom light
That as a sprite flits on the fender Reveals a face whose girlish grace
Brings back the feeling, warm and tender; And all the while the old time smile
Plays on my visage, grim and wrinkled, As though, soubrette, your footfalls yet Upon my rusty heart-strings tinkled.


Now lithe and listen, gentles all,
Now lithe ye all and hark
Unto a ballad I shall sing
About Buena Park.

Of all the wonders happening there
The strangest hap befell
Upon a famous April morn,
As you I now shall tell.

It is about the Taylor pup
And of his mistress eke,
And of the pranking time they had
That I would fain to speak.


The pup was of a noble mein
As e’er you gazed upon;
They called his mother Lady
And his father was a Don.

And both his mother and his sire
Were of the race Bernard–
The family famed in histories
And hymned of every bard.

His form was of exuberant mold,
Long, slim and loose of joints;
There never was a pointer-dog
So full as he of points.

His hair was like a yellow fleece,
His eyes were black and kind,
And like a nodding, gilded plume
His tail stuck up behind.

His bark was very, very fierce
And fierce his appetite,
Yet was it only things to eat
That he was prone to bite.

But in that one particular
He was so passing true
That never did he quit a meal
Until he had got through.

Potatoes, biscuits, mush or hash,
Joint, chop, or chicken limb–
So long as it was edible,
‘Twas all the same to him!

And frequently when Hunger’s pangs
Assailed that callow pup,
He masticated boots and gloves
Or chewed a door-mat up.

So was he much beholden of
The folk that him did keep;
They loved him when he was awake
And better still asleep.


Now once his master lingering o’er
His breakfast coffee-cup,
Observed unto his doting spouse:
“You ought to wash the pup!”

“That shall I do this very day,”
His doting spouse replied;
“You will not know the pretty thing When he is washed and dried.

“But tell me, dear, before you go
Unto your daily work,
Shall I use Ivory soap on him,
Or Colgate, Pears’ or Kirk?”

“Odzooks, it matters not a whit–
They all are good to use!
Take Pearline, if it pleases you– Sapolio, if you choose!

“Take any soap, but take the pup
And also water take,
And mix the three discreetly up
Till they a lather make.

“Then mixing these constituent parts, Let nature take her way,”
With such advice that sapient sir
Had nothing more to say.

Then fared he to his daily toil
All in the Board of Trade,
While Mistress Taylor for that bath Due preparations made.


She whistled gayly to the pup
And called him by his name,
And presently the guileless thing
All unsuspecting came.

But when she shut the bath-room door And caught him as catch-can,
And dove him in that odious tub,
His sorrows then began.

How did that callow, yellow thing
Regret that April morn–
Alas! how bitterly he rued
The day that he was born!

Twice and again, but all in vain
He lifted up his wail;
His voice was all the pup could lift, For thereby hangs this tale.

‘Twas by that tail she held him down And presently she spread
The creamery lather on his back,
His stomach and his head.

His ears hung down in sorry wise,
His eyes were, oh! so sad–
He looked as though he just had lost The only friend he had.

And higher yet the water rose,
The lather still increased,
And sadder still the countenance
Of that poor martyred beast!

Yet all this time his mistress spoke Such artful words of cheer
As “Oh, how nice!” and “Oh, how clean!” And “There’s a patient dear!”

At last the trial had an end,
At last the pup was free;
She threw awide the bath-room door– “Now get you gone!” quoth she.


Then from that tub and from that room He gat with vast ado;
At every hop he gave a shake
And–how the water flew!

He paddled down the winding stairs
And to the parlor hied,
Dispensing pools of foamy suds
And slop on every side.

Upon the carpet then he rolled
And brushed against the wall,
And, horror! whisked his lathery sides On overcoat and shawl.

Attracted by the dreadful din,
His mistress came below–
Who, who can speak her wonderment– Who, who can paint her woe!

Great smears of soap were here and there– Her startled vision met
With blots of lather everywhere,
And everything was wet!

Then Mrs. Taylor gave a shriek
Like one about to die;
“Get out–get out, and don’t you dare Come in till you are dry!”

With that she opened wide the door
And waved the critter through;
Out in the circumambient air
With grateful yelp he flew.


He whisked into the dusty street
And to the Waller lot
Where bonny Annie Evans played
With charming Sissy Knott.

And with these pretty little dears
He mixed himself all up–
Oh, fie upon such boisterous play– Fie, fie, you naughty pup!

Woe, woe on Annie’s India mull,
And Sissy’s blue percale!
One got the pup’s belathered flanks, And one his soapy tail!

Forth to the rescue of those maids
Rushed gallant Willie Clow;
His panties they were white and clean– Where are those panties now?

Where is the nicely laundered shirt
That Kendall Evans wore,
And Robbie James’ tricot coat
All buttoned up before?

The leaven, which, as we are told,
Leavens a monstrous lump,
Hath far less reaching qualities
Than a wet pup on the jump.

This way and that he swung and swayed, He gamboled far and near,
And everywhere he thrust himself
He left a soapy smear.


That noon a dozen little dears
Were spanked and put to bed
With naught to stay their appetites But cheerless crusts of bread.

That noon a dozen hired girls
Washed out each gown and shirt
Which that exuberant Taylor pup
Had frescoed o’er with dirt.

That whole day long the April sun
Smiled sweetly from above
On clothes lines flaunting to the breeze With emblems mothers love.

That whole day long the Taylor pup
This way and that did hie
Upon his mad, erratic course
Intent on getting dry.

That night when Mr. Taylor came
His vesper meal to eat,
He uttered things my pious pen
Would liefer not repeat.

Yet still that noble Taylor pup
Survives to romp and bark
And stumble over folks and things
In fair Buena Park.

Good sooth, I wot he should be called Buena’s favorite son
Who’s sired of such a noble sire
And damned by every one.


All human joys are swift of wing
For heaven doth so allot it
That when you get an easy thing
You find you haven’t got it.

Man never yet has loved a maid,
But they were sure to part, sir;
Nor never lacked a paltry spade
But that he drew a heart, sir!

Go, Chauncey! it is plain as day
You much prefer a dinner
To walking straight in wisdom’s way– Go to, thou babbling sinner.

The froward part that you have played To me this lesson teaches:
To trust no man whose stock in trade Is after-dinner speeches.


Dear Miller: You and I despise
The cad who gathers books to sell ’em, Be they but sixteen-mos in cloth
Or stately folios garbed in vellum.

But when one fellow has a prize
Another bibliophile is needing,
Why, then, a satisfactory trade
Is quite a laudable proceeding.

There’s precedent in Bristol’s case
The great collector–preacher-farmer; And in the case of that divine
Who shrives the soul of P.D. Armour.

When from their sapient, saintly lips The words of wisdom are not dropping,
They turn to trade–that is to say, When they’re not preaching they are swapping!

So to the flock it doth appear
That this a most conspicuous fact is: That which these godly pastors do
Must surely be a proper practice.

Now, here’s a pretty prize, indeed,
On which De Vinne’s art is lavished; Harkee! the bonny, dainty thing
Is simply waiting to be ravished!

And you have that for which I pine
As you should pine for this fair creature: Come, now, suppose we make a trade–
You take this gem, and send the Beecher!

Surely, these graceful, tender songs (In samite garb with lots of gilt on)
Are more to you than those dull tome? Her pastor gave to Lizzie Tilton!


If I were Francois Villon and Francois Villon I, What would it matter to me how the time might drag or fly? _He_ would in sweaty anguish toil the days and night away, And still not keep the prowling, growling, howling wolf at bay! But, with my valiant bottle and my frouzy brevet-bride, And my score of loyal cut-throats standing guard for me outside, What worry of the morrow would provoke a casual sigh If I were Francois Villon and Francois Villon I?

If I were Francois Villon and Francois Villon I, To yonder gloomy boulevard at midnight I would hie; “Stop, stranger! and deliver your possessions, ere you feel The mettle of my bludgeon or the temper of my steel!” He should give me gold and diamonds, his snuffbox and his cane– “Now back, my boon companions, to our brothel with our gain!” And, back within that brothel, how the bottles they would fly, If I were Francois Villon and Francois Villon I!

If I were Francois Villon and Francois Villon I, We both would mock the gibbet which the law has lifted high; _He_ in his meager, shabby home, _I_ in my roaring den– He with his babes around him, _I_ with my hunted men! His virtue be his bulwark–my genius should be mine!– “Go fetch my pen, sweet Margot, and a jorum of your wine!”

* * * * *

So would one vainly plod, and one win immortality– If I were Francois Villon and Francois Villon I!


When I was a boy at college,
Filling up with classic knowledge, Frequently I wondered why
Old Professor Demas Bently
Used to praise so eloquently
“Opera Horatii.”

Toiling on a season longer
Till my reasoning power got stronger, As my observation grew,
I became convinced that mellow,
Massic-loving poet fellow
Horace knew a thing or two

Yes, we sophomores figured duly
That, if we appraised him truly,
Horace must have been a brick;
And no wonder that with ranting
Rhymes he went a-gallivanting
Round with sprightly Lydia Dick!

For that pink of female gender
Tall and shapely was, and slender, Plump of neck and bust and arms;
While the raiment that invested
Her so jealously suggested
Certain more potential charms.

Those dark eyes of her that fired him– Those sweet accents that inspired him,
And her crown of glorious hair–
These things baffle my description; I should have a fit conniption
If I tried–so I forbear!

May be Lydia had her betters;
Anyway, this man of letters
Took that charmer as his pick;
Glad–yes, glad I am to know it!
I, a fin de siecle poet,
Sympathize with Lydia Dick!

Often in my arbor shady
I fall thinking of that lady
And the pranks she used to play;
And I’m cheered–for all we sages
Joy when from those distant ages
Lydia dances down our way.

Otherwise some folks might wonder
With good reason why in thunder
Learned professors, dry and prim, Find such solace in the giddy
Pranks that Horace played with Liddy Or that Liddy played on him.

Still this world of ours rejoices
In those ancient singing voices,
And our hearts beat high and quick, To the cadence of old Tiber
Murmuring praise of roistering Liber And of charming Lydia Dick.

Still, Digentia, downward flowing,
Prattleth to the roses blowing
By the dark, deserted grot;
Still, Soracte, looming lonely,
Watcheth for the coming only
Of a ghost that cometh not.


Speaking of banks, I’m bound to say
That a bank of tin is far the best, And I know of one that has stood for years In a pleasant home away out west.
It has stood for years on the mantelpiece Between the clock and the Wedgwood plate– A wonderful bank, as you’ll concede
When you’ve heard the things I’ll now relate.

This bank was made of McKinley tin,
Well soldered up at sides and back; But it didn’t resemble tin at all,
For they’d painted it over an iron black. And that it really was a bank
‘Twas an easy thing to see and say, For above the door in gorgeous red
Appeared the letters B-A-N-K!

The bank had been so well devised
And wrought so cunningly that when You put your money in at the hole
It couldn’t get out of that hole again! Somewhere about that stanch, snug thing A secret spring was hid away,
But _where_ it was or _how it_ worked– Excuse me, please, but I will not say.

Thither, with dimpled cheeks aglow,
Came pretty children oftentimes,
And, standing up on stool or chair, Put in their divers pence and dimes.
Once Uncle Hank came home from town After a cycle of grand events,
And put in a round, blue, ivory thing, He said was good for 50 cents!

The bank went clinkety-clinkety-clink, And larger grew the precious sum
Which grandma said she hoped would prove A gracious boon to heathendom!
But there were those–I call no names– Who did not fancy any plan
That did not in some wise involve
The candy and banana man.

Listen; once when the wind went “Yooooooo!” And the raven croaked in the tangled tarn– When, with a wail, the screech-owl flew Out of her lair in the haunted barn–
There came three burglars down the road– Three burglars skilled in arts of sin, And they cried: “What’s this? Aha! Oho!” And straightway tackled the bank of tin.

They burgled from half-past ten p.m., Till the village bell struck four o’clock; They hunted and searched and guessed and tried– But the little tin bank would not unlock! They couldn’t discover the secret spring! So, when the barn-yard rooster crowed, They up with their tools and stole away With the bitter remark that they’d be blowed!

Next morning came a sweet-faced child And reached her dimpled hand to take
A nickel to send to the heathen poor And a nickel to spend for her stomach’s sake. She pressed the hidden secret spring,
And lo! the bank flew open then
With a cheery creak that seemed to say: “I’m glad to see you; come again!”

If you were I, and if I were you,
What would we keep our money in?
In a downtown bank of British steel, Or an at-home bank of McKinley tin?
Some want silver and some want gold, But the little tin bank that wants the two And is run on the double standard plan– Why, that is the bank for me and you!


‘Twas in the Crescent city not long ago befell The tear-compelling incident I now propose to tell; So come, my sweet collector friends, and listen while I sing Unto your delectation this brief, pathetic thing– No lyric pitched in vaunting key, but just a requiem Of blowing twenty dollars in by 9 o’clock a.m.

Let critic folk the poet’s use of vulgar slang upbraid, But, when I’m speaking by the card, I call a spade a spade; And I, who have been touched of that same mania, myself, Am well aware that, when it comes to parting with his pelf, The curio collector is so blindly lost in sin That he doesn’t spend his money–he simply blows it in!

In Royal Street (near Conti) there’s a lovely curio-shop, And there, one balmy, fateful morn, it was my chance to stop: To stop was hesitation–in a moment I was lost– That kind of hesitation does not hesitate at cost: I spied a pewter tankard there, and, my! it was a gem– And the clock in old St. Louis told the hour of 8 a.m.!

Three quaint Bohemian bottles, too, of yellow and of green, Cut in archaic fashion that I ne’er before had seen; A lovely, hideous platter wreathed about with pink and rose, With its curious depression into which the gravy flows; Two dainty silver salters–oh, there was no resisting them.– And I’d blown in twenty dollars by 9 o’clock a.m.

With twenty dollars, one who is a prudent man, indeed, Can buy the wealth of useful things his wife and children need; Shoes, stockings, knickerbockers, gloves, bibs, nursing-bottles, caps, A gown–the gown for which his spouse too long has pined, perhaps! These and ten thousand other specters harrow and condemn The man who’s blowing in twenty by 9 o’clock a.m.

Oh, mean advantage conscience takes (and one that I abhor!) In asking one this question: “What did you buy it for?” Why doesn’t conscience ply its blessed trade before the act, Before one’s cussedness becomes a bald, accomplished fact– Before one’s fallen victim to the Tempter’s strategem And blown in twenty dollars by 9 o’clock a.m.?

Ah, me! now the deed is done, how penitent I am! I was a roaring lion–behold a bleating lamb! I’ve packed and shipped those precious things to that most precious wife Who shares with our sweet babes the strange vicissitudes of life, While he, who, in his folly, gave up his store of wealth, Is far away, and means to keep his distance–for his health!


Out of the woods by the creek cometh a calling for Peter, From the orchard a voice echoes and echoes it over; Down in the pasture the sheep hear that strange crying for Peter, Over the meadows that call is aye and forever repeated. So let me tell you the tale, when, where and how it all happened, And, when the story is told, let us pay heed to the lesson.

Once on a time, long ago, lived in the state of Kentucky One that was reckoned a witch–full of strange spells and devices; Nightly she wandered the woods, searching for charms voodooistic– Scorpions, lizards, and herbs, dormice, chameleons and plantains! Serpents and caw-caws and bats, screech-owls and crickets and adders– These were the guides of the witch through the dank deeps of the forest. Then, with her roots and her herbs, back to her cave in the morning Ambled that hussy to brew spells of unspeakable evil; And, when the people awoke, seeing the hillside and valley Sweltered in swathes as of mist–“Look!” they would whisper in terror– “Look! the old witch is at work brewing her spells of great evil!” Then would they pray till the sun, darting his rays through the vapor, Lifted the smoke from the earth and baffled the witch’s intentions.

One of the boys at that time was a certain young person named Peter, Given too little to work, given too largely to dreaming; Fonder of books than of chores you can imagine that Peter Led a sad life on the farm, causing his parents much trouble. “Peter!” his mother would call, “the cream is a-ready for churning!” “Peter!” his father would cry, “go grub at the weeds in the garden!” So it was “Peter!” all day–calling, reminding and chiding– Peter neglected his work; therefore that nagging at Peter!

Peter got hold of some books–how I’m unable to tell you; Some have suspected the witch–this is no place for suspicions! It is sufficient to stick close to the thread of the legend. Nor is it stated or guessed what was the trend of those volumes; What thing soever it was–done with a pen and a pencil, Wrought with the brain, not a hoe–surely ’twas hostile to farming! “Fudge on the readin’!” they quoth; “that’s what’s the ruin of Peter!”

So, when the mornings were hot, under the beech or the maple, Cushioned in grass that was blue, breathing the breath of the blossoms. Lulled by the hum of the bees, the coo of the ringdoves a-mating, Peter would frivol his time at reading, or lazing, or dreaming. “Peter!” his mother would call, “the cream is a-ready for churning!” “Peter!” his father would cry, “go grub at the weeds in the garden!” “Peter!” and “Peter!” all day–calling, reminding and chiding– Peter neglected his chores; therefore that outcry for Peter; Therefore the neighbors allowed evil would surely befall him– Yes, on account of these things, ruin would come upon Peter!

Surely enough, on a time, reading and lazing and dreaming Wrought the calamitous ill all had predicted for Peter; For, of a morning in spring when lay the mist in the valleys– “See,” quoth the folk, “how the witch breweth her evil decoctions! See how the smoke from her fire broodeth on wood land and meadow! Grant that the sun cometh out to smother the smudge of her caldron! She hath been forth in the night, full of her spells and devices, Roaming the marshes and dells for heathenish musical nostrums; Digging in leaves and at stumps for centipedes, pismires and spiders, Grubbing in poisonous pools for hot salmanders and toadstools; Charming the bats from the flues, snaring the lizards by twilight, Sucking the scorpion’s egg and milking the breast of the adder!”

Peter derided these things held in such faith by the farmer, Scouted at magic and charms, hooted at Jonahs and hoodoos– Thinking the reading of books must have unsettled his reason! “There ain’t no witches,” he cried; “it isn’t smoky, but foggy! I will go out in the wet–you all can’t hender me, nuther!”

Surely enough he went out into the damp of the morning, Into the smudge that the witch spread over woodland and meadow, Into the fleecy gray pall brooding on hillside and valley. Laughing and scoffing, he strode into that hideous vapor; Just as he said he would do, just as he bantered and threatened, Ere they could fasten the door, Peter had gone and done it! Wasting his time over books, you see, had unsettled his reason– Soddened his callow young brain with semi-pubescent paresis, And his neglect of his chores hastened this evil condition.

Out of the woods by the creek cometh a calling for Peter And from the orchard a voice echoes and echoes it over; Down in the pasture the sheep hear that shrill crying for Peter, Up from the spring-house the wail stealeth anon like a whisper, Over the meadows that call is aye and forever repeated. Such are the voices that whooped wildly and vainly for Peter Decades and decades ago down in the state of Kentucky– Such are the voices that cry from the woodland and meadow, “Peter–O Peter!” all day, calling, reminding, and chiding– Taking us back to the time when Peter he done gone and done it! These are the voices of those left by the boy in the farmhouse When, with his laughter and scorn, hatless and bootless and sockless, Clothed in his jeans and his pride, Peter sailed out in the weather, Broke from the warmth of his home into that fog of the devil. Into the smoke of that witch brewing her damnable porridge!

Lo, when he vanished from sight, knowing the evil that threatened, Forth with importunate cries hastened his father and mother. “Peter!” they shrieked in alarm, “Peter!” and evermore “Peter!”– Ran from the house to the barn, ran from the barn to the garden, Ran to the corn-crib anon, then to the smokehouse proceeded; Henhouse and woodpile they passed, calling and wailing and weeping, Through the front gate to the road, braving the hideous vapor– Sought him in lane and on pike, called him in orchard and meadow, Clamoring “Peter!” in vain, vainly outcrying for Peter. Joining the search came the rest, brothers, and sisters and cousins, Venting unspeakable fears in pitiful wailing for Peter! And from the neighboring farms gathered the men and the women. Who, upon hearing the news, swelled the loud chorus for Peter.

Farmers and hussifs and maids, bosses and field-hands and niggers, Colonels and jedges galore from corn-fields and mint-beds and thickets. All that had voices to voice, all to those parts appertaining. Came to engage in the search, gathered and bellowed for Peter. The Taylors, the Dorseys, the Browns, the Wallers, the Mitchells, the Logans.
The Yenowines, Crittendens, Dukes, the Hickmans, the Hobbses, the Morgans;
The Ormsbys, the Thompsons, the Hikes, the Williamsons, Murrays and Hardins,
The Beynroths, the Sherlays, the Hokes, the Haldermans, Harneys and Slaughters–
All famed in Kentucky of old for prowess prodigious at farming. Now surged from their prosperous homes to join in the hunt for the truant.
To ascertain where he was at, to help out the chorus for Peter.

Still on these prosperous farms were heirs and assigns of the people Specified hereinabove and proved by the records of probate– Still on these farms shall you hear (and still on the turnpikes adjacent) That pitiful, petulant call, that pleading, expostulant wailing, That hopeless, monotonous moan, that crooning and droning for Peter. Some say the witch in her wrath transmogrified all those good people; That, wakened from slumber that day by the calling and bawling for Peter, She out of her cave in a trice, and, waving the foot of a rabbit (Crossed with the caul of a coon and smeared with the blood of a chicken),
She changed all these folks into birds and shrieking with demoniac venom:
“Fly away over the land, moaning your Peter forever, Croaking of Peter, the boy who didn’t believe there were hoodoos, Crooning of Peter the fool who scouted at stories of witches. Crying for Peter for aye, forever outcalling for Peter!”

This is the story they tell; so in good sooth saith the legend: As I have told, so tell the folk and the legend, That it is true I believe, for on the breeze of the morning Come the shrill voices of birds calling and calling for Peter; Out of the maple and beech glitter the eyes of the wailers, Peeping and peering for him who formerly lived in these places– Peter, the heretic lad, lazy and careless and dreaming, Sorely afflicted with books and with pubescent paresis. Hating the things of the farm, care of the barn and the garden. Always neglecting his chores–given to books and to reading, Which, as all people allow, turn the young person to mischief, Harden his heart against toil, wean his affections from tillage.

This is the legend of yore told in the state of Kentucky When in the springtime the birds call from the beeches and maples, Call from the petulant thorn, call from the acrid persimmon; When from the woods by the creek and from the pastures and meadows, When from the spring-house and lane and from the mint-bed and orchard, When from the redbud and gum and from redolent lilac, When from the dirt roads and pikes comes that calling for Peter; Cometh the dolorous cry, cometh that weird iteration Of “Peter” and “Peter” for aye, of “Peter” and “Peter” forever! This is the legend of old, told in the tumtitty meter Which the great poets prefer, being less labor than rhyming (My first attempt at the same, my last attempt, too, I reckon,) Nor have I further to say, for the sad story is ended.


Dear wife, last midnight while I read The tomes you so despise,
A specter rose beside the bed
And spoke in this true wise;
“From Canaan’s beatific coast
I’ve come to visit thee,
For I’m Frognall Dibdin’s ghost!”
Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

I bade him welcome and we twain
Discussed with buoyant hearts
The various things that appertain
To bibliomaniac arts.
“Since you are fresh from t’other side, Pray tell me of that host
That treasured books before they died,” Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.

“They’ve entered into perfect rest,
For in the life they’ve won
There are no auctions to molest,
No creditors to dun;
Their heavenly rapture has no bounds Beside that jasper sea–
It is a joy unknown to Lowndes!”
Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

Much I rejoiced to hear him speak
Of biblio-bliss above,
For I am one of those who seek
What bibliomaniacs love;
“But tell me–for I long to hear
What doth concern me most–
Are wives admitted to that sphere?” Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.

“The women folk are few up there,
For ’twere not fair you know
That they our heavenly joy should share Who vex us here below!
The few are those who have been kind To husbands such as we–
They knew our fads, and didn’t mind,” Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

“But what of those who scold at us
When we would read in bed?
Or, wanting victuals, make a fuss
If we buy books, instead?
And what of those who’ve dusted not Our motley pride and boast?
Shall they profane that sacred spot?” Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.

“Oh, no! they tread that other path
Which leads where torments roll,
And worms–yes bookworms–vent their wrath Upon the guilty soul!
Untouched of bibliomaniac grace
That saveth such as we,
They wallow in that dreadful place!” Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

“To my dear wife will I recite
What things I’ve heard you say;
She’ll let me read the books by night She’s let me buy by day;
For we, together, by and by,
Would join that heavenly host–
She’s earned a rest as well as I!” Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.


‘Tis the time of the year’s sundown, and flame Hangs on the maple bough;
And June is the faded flower of a name; The thin hedge hides not a singer now. Yet rich am I; for my treasures be
The gold afloat in my willow-tree.

Sweet morn on the hillside dripping with dew, Girded with blue and pearl,
Counts the leaves afloat in the streamlet too; As the love-lorn heart of a wistful girl, She sings while her soul brooding tearfully Sees a dream of gold in the willow-tree.

All day pure white and saffron at eve, Clouds awaiting the sun
Turn them at length to ghosts that leave When the moon’s white path is slowly run Till the morning comes, and with joy for me O’er my gold agleam in the willow-tree.

The lilacs that blew on the breast of May Are an old and lost delight;
And the rose lies ruined in his careless way As the wind turns the poplars underwhite, Yet richer am I for the autumn; see
All my misty gold in the willow-tree.


The ferny places gleam at morn,
The dew drips off the leaves of corn; Along the brook a mist of white
Fades as a kiss on lips of light;
For, lo! the poet with his pipe
Finds all these melodies are ripe!

Far up within the cadenced June
Floats, silver-winged, a living tune That winds within the morning’s chime
And sets the earth and sky to rhyme; For, lo! the poet, absent long,
Breathes the first raptures of his song!

Across the clover-blossoms, wet,
With dainty clumps of violet,
And wild red roses in her hair,
There comes a little maiden fair.
I cannot more of June rehearse–
She is the ending of my verse.

Ah, nay! For through perpetual days
Of summer gold and filmy haze,
When Autumn dies in Winter’s sleet, I yet will see those dew-washed feet,
And o’er the tracts of Life and Time They make the cadence for my rhyme.


The dull world clamors at my feet
And asks my hand and helping sweet; And wonders when the time shall be
I’ll leave off dreaming dreams of thee. It blames me coining soul and time
And sending minted bits of rhyme– A-wooing of thee still.

Shall I make answer? This it is:
I camp beneath thy galaxies
Of starry thoughts and shining deeds; And, seeing new ones, I must needs
Arouse my speech to tell thee, dear, Though thou art nearer, I am near–
A-wooing of thee still.

I feel thy heart-beat next mine own; Its music hath a richer tone.
I rediscover in thine eyes
A balmier, dewier paradise.
I’m sure thou art a rarer girl–
And so I seek thee, finest pearl,
A-wooing of thee still.

With blood of roses on thy lips–
Canst doubt my trembling?–something slips Between thy loveliness and me–
So commonplace, so fond of thee.
Ah, sweet, a kiss is waiting where That last one stopped thy lover’s prayer– A-wooing of thee still.

When new light falls upon thy face
My gladdened soul discerns some trace Of God, or angel, never seen
In other days of shade and sheen.
Ne’er may such rapture die, or less Than joy like this my heart confess–
A-wooing of thee still.

Go thou, O soul of beauty, go
Fleet-footed toward the heavens aglow. Mayhap, in following, thou shalt see
Me worthier of thy love and thee.
Thou wouldst not have me satisfied Until thou lov’st me–none beside–
A-wooing of thee still.

This was a song of years ago–
Of spring! Now drifting flowers of snow Bloom on the window-sills as white
As gray-beard looking through love’s light And holding blue-veined hands the while. He finds her last–the sweetest smile– A-wooing of her still.


The wind comes whispering to me of the country green and cool– Of redwing blackbirds chattering beside a reedy pool; It brings me soothing fancies of the homestead on the hill, And I hear the thrush’s evening song and the robin’s morning trill; So I fall to thinking tenderly of those I used to know Where the sassafras and snakeroot and checker-berries grow.

What has become of Ezra Marsh who lived on Baker’s hill? And what’s become of Noble Pratt whose father kept the mill? And what’s become of Lizzie Crum and Anastasia Snell, And of Roxie Root who ‘tended school in Boston for a spell? They were the boys and they the girls who shared my youthful play– They do not answer to my call! My playmates–where are they?

What has become of Levi and his little brother Joe Who lived next door to where we lived some forty years ago? I’d like to see the Newton boys and Quincy Adams Brown, And Hepsy Hall and Ella Cowles who spelled the whole school down! And Gracie Smith, the Cutler boys, Leander Snow and all Who I’m sure would answer could they only hear my call!

I’d like to see Bill Warner and the Conkey boys again And talk about the times we used to wish that we were men! And one–I shall not name her–could I see her gentle face And hear her girlish treble in this distant, lonely place! The flowers and hopes of springtime–they perished long ago And the garden where they blossomed is white with winter snow.

O cottage ‘neath the maples, have you seen those girls and boys That but a little while ago made, oh! such pleasant noise? O trees, and hills, and brooks, and lanes, and meadows, do you know Where I shall find my little friends of forty years ago? You see I’m old and weary, and I’ve traveled long and far; I am looking for my playmates–I wonder where they are!


Come hither, lyttel chylde, and lie upon my breast to-night, For yonder fares an angell yclad in raimaunt white, And yonder sings ye angell, as onely angells may, And hys songe ben of a garden that bloometh farre awaye.

To them that have no lyttel chylde Godde sometimes sendeth down A lyttel chylde that ben a lyttel lampkyn of His own, And, if soe be they love that chylde, He willeth it to staye, But, elsewise, in His mercie He taketh it awaye.

And, sometimes, though they love it, Godde yearneth for ye chylde, And sendeth angells singing whereby it ben beguiled– They fold their arms about ye lamb that croodleth at his playe And bear him to ye garden that bloometh farre awaye.

I wolde not lose ye lyttel lamb that Godde hath lent to me– If I colde sing that angell songe, hoy joysome I sholde bee! For, with my arms about him my music in his eare, What angell songe of paradize soever sholde I feare?

Soe come, my lyttel chylde, and lie upon my breast to-night, For yonder fares an angell, yclad in raimaunt white, And yonder sings that angell, as onely angells may, And hys songe ben of a garden that bloometh farre awaye.


Krinken was a little child–
It was summer when he smiled;
Oft the hoary sea and grim
Stretched its white arms out to him, Calling: “Sun-Child, come to me,
Let me warm my heart with thee”–
But the child heard not the sea
Calling, yearning evermore
For the summer on the shore.

Krinken on the beach one day
Saw a maiden Nis at play–
On the pebbly beach she played
In the summer Krinken made.
Fair and very fair was she–
Just a little child was he.
“Krinken,” said the maiden Nis
“Let me have a little kiss–
Just a kiss and go with me
To the summer lands that be
Down within the silver sea!”

Krinken was a little child–
By the maiden Nis beguiled,
Hand in hand with her went he–
And ’twas summer in the sea!
And the hoary sea and grim
To its bosom folded him–
Clasped and kissed the little form, And the ocean’s heart was warm.
But upon the misty shore
Winter brooded evermore.

With that winter in my heart,
Oft in dead of night I start–
Start and lift me up and weep,
For those visions in my sleep
Mind me of the yonder deep!
‘Tis _his_ face lifts from the sea– ‘Tis _his_ voice calls out to me–
_Thus_ the winter bides with me.

Krinken was the little child
By the maiden Nis beguiled;
Oft the hoary sea and grim
Reached its longing arms to him,
Calling: “Sun-Child, come to me,
Let me warm my heart with thee!”
But the sea calls out no more
And ’tis winter on the shore–
Summer in the silver sea
Where with maiden Nis went he–
And the winter bides with me!


Welcome, O truant stork!
And where have you been so long?
And do you bring that grace of spring That filleth my heart with song?

Descend upon my roof–
Bide on this ash content;
I would have you know what cruel woe Befell me when you went.

All up in the moody sky
(A shifting threat o’er head!)
They were breaking the snow and bidding it go Cover the beautiful dead.

Came snow on garden spot,
Came snow on mere and wold,
Came the withering breath of white robed death, And the once warm earth was cold.

Stork, the tender rose tree,
That bloometh when you are here,
Trembled and sighed like a waiting bride– Then drooped on a virgin bier.

But the brook that hath seen you come Leaps forth with a hearty shout,
And the crocus peeps from the bed where it sleeps To know what the noise is about.

Welcome, O honest friend!
And bide on my roof content;
For my heart would sing of the grace of spring, When the winter of woe is spent.


_Deere Chryste, let not the cheere of earth, To fill our hearts with heedless mirth
This holy Christmasse time;
But give us of thy heavenly cheere That we may hold thy love most deere
And know thy peace sublime._

* * * * *

Full merry waxed King Pelles court
With Yuletide cheere and Yuletide sport, And, when the board was spread,
Now wit ye well ’twas good to see
So fair and brave a companie
With Pelles at the head.

“Come hence, Elaine,” King Pelles cried, “Come hence and sit ye by my side,
For never yet, I trow,
Have gentle virtues like to thine
Been proved by sword nor pledged in wine,