***Transcriber's Note. Most of this etext was made with a "Top Scan" text scanner, with a bit of correcting here and there. Mr. Riley does spell pretty=purty and such things and have been left as printed, including the first poem in this book listed as "Proem" on both the contents page and the page headers, even though in later editions this poem is simply called "Afterwhiles." In "The South Wind and the Sun" the line is 'Laughed out in every look.' while in later versions it has the word 'nook', replacing 'look.' The poem "Old Aunt Mary's" is later retitled "Out To Old Aunt Mary's" and later enlarged by 13 verses. The "In Dalect" section has the ' to replace a letter that he left out, to make the word sound a certain way, including words like sure-enuff he writes as sho'-nuff, or He'pless as helpless and ect. This etext is based on the 1898 edition Published by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis Publishers. "Teary Eyes" Anderson***
Afterwhiles by James Whitcomb Riley
Dedicated to my mother Elizabeth
Contents Proem (AKA "Afterwhiles") Herr Weiser The Beautiful City Lockerbie Street Das Krist Kindel Anselmo A Home Made Fairy Tale The South Wind and the Sun The Lost Kiss The Sphinx If I knew What Poets Know Ike Walton's Prayer A Rough Sketch Our Kind of a Man The Harper Old Aunt Mary's (AKA "Out To Old Aunt Mary's" Later was enlarged by 13 verses) Illileo The King A Bride The Dead Lover A Song When Bessie Died The Shower A Life-Lesson A Scrawl Away Who Bides His Time From the Headboard of a Grave in Paraguay Laughter Holding Both His Sides Fame The Ripest Peach A Fruit Piece Their Sweet Sorrow John McKeen Out of Nazareth September Dark We to Sigh Instead of Sing The Blossoms on the Trees Last Night And This A Discouraging Model Back from a Two Year Sentence The Wandering Jew Becalmed To Santa Claus Where the Children Used to Play A Glipse of Pan
Sonnets Pan Dusk June Silence Sleep Her Hair Dearth A Voice from the Farm The Serenade Art and Love Longfellow Indiana Time Grant At Rest August 8, 1885
In Dialect Old Fashioned Roses Griggsby's Station Knee Deep in June When the Hearse Comes Back A Canary at the Farm A Liz Town Humorist Kingry's Mill Joney Like His Mother Used to Make The Train Misser Granny Old October Jim To Robert Burns A New Year's Time at Willard's The Town Karnteel Regardin' Terry Hut Leedle Dutch Baby Down on Wriggle Crick When de Folks is Gone The Little Town o' Tailholt Little Orphant Annie
Where are they— the Afterwhiles— Luring us the lengthening miles Of our lives? Where is the dawn With the dew across the lawn Stroked with eager feet the far Way the hills and valleys are? Were the sun that smites the frown Of the eastward-gazer down? Where the rifted wreaths of mist O'er us, tinged with amethyst, Round the mountain's steep defiles? Where are the afterwhiles?
Afterwhile— and we will go Thither, yon, and too and fro— From the stifling city streets To the country's cool retreats— From the riot to the rest Were hearts beat the placidest: Afterwhile, and we will fall Under breezy trees, and loll In the shade, with thirsty sight Drinking deep the blue delight Of the skies that will beguile Us as children— afterwhile.
Afterwhile— and one intends To be gentler to his friends—, To walk with them, in the hush Of still evenings, o'er the plush Of home-leading fields, and stand Long at parting, hand in hand: One, in time, will joy to take New resolves for some one's sake, And wear then the look that lies Clear and pure in other eyes— We will soothe and reconcile His own conscience— afterwhile.
Afterwhile— we have in view A far scene to journey to—, Where the old home is, and where The old mother waits us there, Peering, as the time grows late, Down the old path to the gate—. How we'll click the latch that locks In the pinks and hollyhocks, And leap up the path once more Where she waits us at the door—! How we'll greet the dear old smile, And the warm tears— afterwhile!
Ah, the endless afterwhiles—! Leagues on leagues, and miles on miles, In distance far withdrawn, Stretching on, and on, and on, Till the fancy is footsore And faints in the dust before The last milestone's granite face, Hacked with: Here Beginneth Space. O far glimmering worlds and wings, Mystic smiles and beckonings, Lead us through the shadowy aisles Out into the afterwhiles.
Herr Weiser—! Three-score-years-and-ten—, A hale white rose of his country-men, Transplanted here in the Hoosier loam, And blossomy as his German home— As blossomy and as pure and sweet As the cool green glen of his calm retreat, Far withdrawn from the noisy town Where trade goes clamoring up and down, Whose fret and fever, and stress and strife, May not trouble his tranquil life!
Breath of rest, what a balmy gust—! Quite of the city's heat and dust, Jostling down by the winding road, Through the orchard ways of his quaint abode—. Tether the horse, as we onward fare Under the pear-trees trailing there, And thumping the wood bridge at night With lumps of ripeness and lush delight, Till the stream, as it maunders on till dawn, Is powdered and pelted and smiled upon.
Herr Weiser, with his wholesome face, And the gentle blue of his eyes, and grace Of unassuming honesty, Be there to welcome you and me! And what though the toil of the farm be stopped And the tireless plans of the place be dropped, While the prayerful master's knees are set In beds of pansy and mignonette And lily and aster and columbine, Offered in love, as yours and mine—?
What, but a blessing of kindly thought, Sweet as the breath of forget-me-not—! What, but a spirit of lustrous love White as the aster he bends above—! What, but an odorous memory Of the dear old man, made known to me In days demanding a help like his—, As sweet as the life of the lily is— As sweet as the soul of a babe, bloom-wise Born of a lily in paradise.
The Beautiful City
The Beautiful City! Forever Its rapturous praises resound; We fain would behold it— but never A glimpse of its dory is found: We slacken our lips at the tender White breasts of our mothers to hear Of its marvellous beauty and splendor—; We see— but the gleam of a tear!
Yet never the story may tire us— First graven in symbols of stone— Rewritten on scrolls of papyrus And parchment, and scattered and blown By the winds of the tongues of all nations, Like a litter of leaves wildly whirled Down the rack of a hundred translations, From the earliest lisp of the world.
We compass the earth and the ocean, From the Orient's uttermost light, To where the last ripple in motion Lips hem of the skirt of the night—, But the Beautiful City evades us— No spire of it glints in the sun— No glad-bannered battlement shades us When all our Journey is done.
Where lies it? We question and listen; We lean from the mountain, or mast, And see but dull earth, or the glisten Of seas inconceivably vast: The dust of the one blurs our vision, The glare of the other our brain, Nor city nor island Elysian In all of the land or the main!
We kneel in dim fanes where the thunders Of organs tumultuous roll, And the longing heart listens and wonders, And the eyes look aloft from the soul: But the chanson grows fainter and fainter, Swoons wholly away and is dead; AND our eyes only reach where the painter Has dabbled a saint overhead.
The Beautiful City! O mortal, Fare hopefully on in thy quest, Pass down through the green grassy portal That leads to the Valley of Rest; There first passed the One who, in pity Of all thy great yearning, awaits To point out The Beautiful City, And loosen the trump at the gates.
Such a dear little street it is, nestled away From the noise of the city and heat of the day, In cool shady coverts of whispering trees, With their leaves lifted up to shake hands with the breeze Which in all its wide wanderings never may meet With a resting-place fairer than Lockerbie street!
There is such a relief, from the clangor and din Of the heart of the town, to go loitering in Through the dim, narrow walks, with the sheltering shade Of the trees waving over the long promenade, And littering lightly the ways of our feet With the gold of the sunshine of Lockerbie street.
And the nights that come down the dark pathways of dusk, With the stars in their tresses, and odors of musk In their moon-woven raiments, bespangled with dews, And looped up with lilies for lovers to use In the songs that they sing to the tinkle and beat Of their sweet serenadings through Lockerbie street.
O my Lockerbie street! You are fair to be seen— Be it noon of the day, or the rare and serene Afternoon of the night— you are one to my heart, And I love you above all the phrases of art, For no language could frame and no lips could repeat My rhyme-haunted raptures of Lockerbie street.
Das Krist Kindel
I had fed the fire and stirred it, till the sparkles in delight Snapped their saucy little fingers at the chill December night; And in dressing-gown and slippers, I had tilted back "my throne—" The old split-bottomed rocker— and was musing all alone.
I could hear the hungry Winter prowling round the outer door, And the tread of muffled footsteps on the white piazza floor; But the sounds came to me only as the murmur of a stream That mingled with the current of a lazy-flowing dream.
Like a fragrant incense rising, curled the smoke of my cigar, With the lamplight gleaming through it like a mist-enfolded star—; And as I gazed, the vapor like a curtain rolled away, With a sound of bells that tinkled, and the clatter of a sleigh.
And in a vision, painted like a picture in the air, I saw the elfish figure, of a man with frosty hair— A quaint old man that chuckled with a laugh as he appeared, And with ruddy cheeks like embers in the ashes of his beard.
He poised himself grotesquely, in an attitude of mirth, On a damask-covered hassock that was sitting on the hearth; And at a magic signal of his stubbly little thumb, I saw the fireplace changing to a bright proscenium.
And looking there, I marvelled as I saw a mimic stage Alive with little actors of a very tender age; And some so very tiny that they tottered as they walked, And lisped and purled and gurgled like the brooklets, when they talked.
And their faces were like lilies, and their eyes like purest dew, And their tresses like the shadows that the shine is woven through; And they each had little burdens, and a little tale to tell Of fairy lore, and giants, and delights delectable.
And they mixed and intermingled, weaving melody with joy, Till the magic circle clustered round a blooming baby-boy; And they threw aside their treasures in an ecstasy of glee, And bent, with dazzled faces and with parted lips, to see.
'Twas a wondrous little fellow, with a dainty double-chin And chubby-cheeks, and dimples for the smiles to blossom in; And he looked as ripe and rosy, on his bed of straw and reeds, As a mellow little pippin that had tumbled in the weeds.
And I saw the happy mother, and a group surrounding her That knelt with costly presents of frankincense and myrrh; And I thrilled with awe and wonder, as a murmur on the air Came drifting o'er the hearing in a melody of prayer—:
By the splendor in the heavens, and the hush upon the sea, And the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee, We feel Thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee And lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.
Thy messenger has spoken, and our doubts have fled and gone As the dark and spectral shadows of the night before the dawn; And in kindly shelter of the light around us drawn, We would nestle down forever in the breast we lean upon.
You have given us a shepherd— You have given us a guide, And the light of Heaven grew dimmer when You sent him from Your side—, But he comes to lead Thy children where the gates will open wide To welcome his returning when his works are glorified.
By the splendor in the heavens, and the hush upon the sea, And the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee—, We feel Thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee And lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.
Then the vision, slowly failing, with the words of the refrain, Fell swooning in the moonlight through the frosty window-pane; And I heard the clock proclaiming, like an eager sentinel Who brings the world good tidings—, "It is Christmas— all is well!"
Years did I vainly seek the good Lord's grace—, Prayed, fasted, and did penance dire and dread; Did kneel, with bleeding knees and rainy face, And mouth the dust, with ashes on my head; Yea, still with knotted scourge the flesh I flayed, Rent fresh the wounds, and moaned and shrieked insanely; And froth oozed with the pleadings that I made, And yet I prayed on vainly, vainly, vainly!
A time, from out of swoon I lifted eye, To find a wretched outcast, gray and grim, Bathing my brow, with many a pitying sigh, And I did pray God's grace might rest on him—. Then, lo! A gentle voice fell on mine ears— "Thou shalt not sob in suppliance hereafter; Take up thy prayers and wring them dry of tears, And lift them, white and pure with love and laughter!"
So is it now for all men else I pray; So is it I am blest and glad alway.
A Home-Made Fairy Tale
Bud, come here to your uncle a spell, And I'll tell you something you mustn't tell— For it's a secret and shore-'nuf true, And maybe I oughtn't to tell it to you—! But out in the garden, under the shade Of the apple-trees, where we romped and played Till the moon was up, and you thought I'd gone Fast asleep—, That was all put on! For I was a-watchin' something queer Goin' on there in the grass, my dear—! 'Way down deep in it, there I see A little dude-Fairy who winked at me, And snapped his fingers, and laughed as low And fine as the whine of a mus-kee-to! I kept still— watchin' him closer— and I noticed a little guitar in his hand, Which he leant 'ginst a little dead bee— and laid His cigarette down on a clean grass-blade, And then climbed up on the shell of a snail— Carefully dusting his swallowtail— And pulling up, by a waxed web-thread, This little guitar, you remember. I said! And there he trinkled and trilled a tune—, "My Love, so Fair, Tans in the Moon!" Till presently, out of the clover-top He seemed to be singing to, came k'pop! The purtiest, daintiest Fairy face In all this world, or any place! Then the little ser'nader waved his hand, As much as to say, "We'll excuse you!" and I heard, as I squinted my eyelids to, A kiss like the drip of a drop of dew!
The South Wind and the Sun
O The South Wind and the Sun! How each loved the other one Full of fancy—- full folly— Full of jollity and fun! How they romped and ran about, Like two boys when school is out, With glowing face, and lisping lip, Low laugh, and lifted shout!
And the South Wind— he was dressed With a ribbon round his breast That floated, flapped and fluttered In a riotous unrest, And a drapery of mist From the shoulder and the wrist Flowing backward with the motion Of the waving hand he kissed.
And the Sun had on a crown Wrought of gilded thistle-down, And a scarf of velvet vapor, And a ravelled-rainbow gown; And his tinsel-tangled hair, Tossed and lost upon the air, Was glossier and flossier Than any anywhere.
And the South Wind's eyes were two Little dancing drops of dew, As he puffed his cheeks, and pursed his lips, And blew and blew and blew! And the Sun's— like diamond-stone, Brighter yet than ever known, As he knit his brows and held his breath, And shone and shone and shone!
And this pair of merry fays Wandered through the summer days; Arm-in-arm they went together Over heights of morning haze— Over slanting slopes of lawn They went on and on and on, Where the daisies looked like star-tracks Trailing up and down the dawn.
And where'er they found the top Of a wheat-stalk droop and lop They chucked it underneath the chin And praised the lavish crop, Till it lifted with the pride Of the heads it grew beside, And then the South Wind and the Sun Went onward satisfied.
Over meadow-lands they tripped, Where the dandelions dipped In crimson foam of clover-bloom, And dripped and dripped and dripped; And they clinched the bumble-stings, Gauming honey on their wings, And bundling them in lily-bells, With maudlin murmurings.
And the humming-bird that hung Like a jewel up among The tilted honeysuckle-horns, They mesmerized, and swung In the palpitating air, Drowsed with odors strange and rare, And with whispered laughter, slipped away, And left him hanging there.
And they braided blades of grass Where the truant had to pass; And they wriggled through the rushes And the reeds of the morass, Where they danced, in rapture sweet, O'er the leaves that laid a street Of undulant mosaic for The touches of their feet.
By the brook with mossy brink Where the cattle came to drink. They trilled and piped and whistled With the thrush and bobolink, Till the kine in listless pause, Switched their tails in mute applause, With lifted heads and dreamy eyes, And bubble-dripping jaws.
And where the melons grew, Streaked with yellow, green and blue These jolly sprites went wandering Through spangled paths of dew; And the melons, here and there, They made love to, everywhere Turning their pink souls to crimson With caresses fond and fair.
Over orchard walls they went, Where the fruited boughs were bent Till they brushed the sward beneath them Where the shine and shadow blent; And the great green pear they shook Till the sallow hue forsook Its features, and the gleam of gold Laughed out in every look.
And they stroked the downy cheek Of the peach, and smoothed it sleek, And flushed it into splendor; And with many an elfish freak, Gave the russet's rust a wipe— Prankt the rambo with a stripe, And the wine-sap blushed its reddest As they spanked the pippins ripe.
Through the woven ambuscade That the twining vines had made, They found the grapes, in clusters, Drinking up the shine and shade— Plumpt like tiny skins of wine, With a vintage so divine That the tongue of fancy tingled With the tang of muscadine.
And the golden-banded bees, Droning o'er the flowery leas, They bridled, reigned, and rode away Across the fragrant breeze, Till in hollow oak and elm They had groomed and stabled them In waxen stalls oozed with dews Of rose and lily-stem.
Where the dusty highway leads, High above the wayside weeds They sowed the air with butterflies Like blooming flower-seeds, Till the dull grasshopper sprung Half a man's height up, and hung Tranced in the heat, with whirring wings, And sung and sung and sung!
And they loitered, hand in hand, Where the snipe along the sand Of the river ran to meet them As the ripple meets the land, Till the dragon-fly, in light Gauzy armor, burnished bright, Came tilting down the waters In a wild, bewildered flight.
And they heard the killdee's call, And afar, the waterfall, But the rustle of a falling leaf They heard above it all; And the trailing willow crept Deeper in the tide that swept The leafy shallop to the shore, And wept and wept and wept!
And the fairy vessel veered From its moorings— tacked and steered For the centre of the current Sailed away and disappeared: And the burthen that it bore From the long-enchanted shore— "Alas! The South Wind and the Sun!" I murmur evermore.
For the South Wind and the Sun, Each so loves the other one, For all his jolly folly And frivolity and fun, That our love for them they weigh As their fickle fancies may, And when at last we love them most, They laugh and sail away.
The Lost Kiss
I put by the half-written poem, While the pen, idly trailed in my hand, Writes on—, "Had I words to complete it, Who'd read it, or who'd understand?" But the little bare feet on the stairway, And the faint, smothered laugh in the hall, And the eerie-low lisp on the silence, Cry up to me over it all.
So I gather it up— where was broken The tear-faded thread of my theme, Telling how, as one night I sat writing, A fairy broke in on my dream, A little inquisitive fairy— My own little girl, with the gold Of the sun in her hair, and the dewy Blue eyes of the fairies of old.
'Twas the dear little girl that I scolded— "For was it a moment like this," I said, "when she knew I was busy, To come romping in for a kiss—? Come rowdying up from her mother, And clamoring there at my knee For 'One 'ittle kiss for my dolly, And one 'ittle uzzer for me!"
God pity, the heart that repelled her, And the cold hand that turned her away, And take, from the lips that denied her, This answerless prayer of to-day! Take Lord, from my mem'ry forever That pitiful sob of despair, And the patter and trip of the little bare feet, And the one piercing cry on the stair!
I put by the half-written poem, While the pen, idly trailed in my hand Writes on—, "Had I words to complete it Who'd read it, or who'd understand?" But the little bare feet on the stairway, And the faint, smothered laugh in the hall, And the eerie-low lisp on the silence, Cry up to me over it all.
I know all about the Sphinx— I know even what she thinks, Staring with her stony eyes Up forever at the skies.
For last night I dreamed that she Told me all the mystery— Why for aeons mute she sat—: She was just cut out for that!
If I knew What Poets Know
If I knew what poets know, Would I write a rhyme Of the buds that never blow In the summer-time ? Would I sing of golden seeds Springing up in ironweeds? And of raindrops turned to snow, If I knew what poets know?
Did I know what poets do, Would I sing a song Sadder than the pigeon's coo When the days are long? Where I found a heart in pain, I would make it glad again; And the false should be the true, Did I know what poets do.
If I knew what poets know, I would find a theme Sweeter than the placid flow Of the fairest dream: I would sing of love that lives On the errors it forgives; And the world would better grow If I knew what poets know.
Ike Walton's Prayer
I crave, dear Lord, No boundless hoard Of gold and gear, Nor jewels fine, Nor lands, nor kine, Nor treasure-heaps of anything—. Let but a little hut be mine Where at the hearthstone I may hear The cricket sing, And have the shine Of one glad woman's eyes to make, For my poor sake, Our simple home a place divine—; Just the wee cot— the cricket's chirr— Love and the smiling face of her.
I pray not for Great riches, nor For vast estates and castle-halls—, Give me to hear the bare footfalls Of children o'er An oaken floor New-rinsed with sunshine, or bespread With but the tiny coverlet And pillow for the baby's head; And pray Thou, may The door stand open and the day Send ever in a gentle breeze, With fragrance from the locust-trees, And drowsy moan of doves, and blur Of robin-chirps, and drone of bees, With after-hushes of the stir Of intermingling sounds, and then The good-wife and the smile of her Filling the silences again— The cricket's call And the wee cot, Dear Lord of all, Deny me not!
I pray not that Men tremble at My power of place And lordly sway—, I only pray for simple grace To look my neighbor in the face Full honestly from day to day— Yield me his horny palm to hold. And I'll not pray For gold—; The tanned face, garlanded with mirth, It hath the kingliest smile on earth; The swart brow, diamonded with sweat, Hath never need of coronet. And so I reach, Dear Lord, to Thee, And do beseech Thou givest me The wee cot, and the cricket's chirr, Love and the glad sweet face of her!
A Rough Sketch
I caught, for a second, across the crowd— Just for a second, and barely that— A face, pox-pitted and evil-browed, Hid in the shade of a slouch-rim'd hat— With small gray eyes, of a look as keen As the long, sharp nose that grew between.
And I said: 'Tis a sketch of Nature's own, Drawn i' the dark o' the moon, I swear, On a tatter of Fate that the winds have blown Hither and thither and everywhere— With its keen little sinister eyes of gray, And nose like the beak of a bird of prey!
Our Kind of a Man
1 The kind of a man for you and me! He faces the world unflinchingly, And smites, as long as the wrong resists, With a knuckled faith and force like fists: He lives the life he is preaching of, And loves where most is the need of love; His voice is clear to the deaf man's ears, And his face sublime through the blind man's tears; The light shines out where the clouds were dim, And the widow's prayer goes up for him; The latch is clicked at the hovel door And the sick man sees the sun once more, And out o'er the barren fields he sees Springing blossoms and waving trees, Feeling as only the dying may, That God's own servant has come that way, Smoothing the path as it still winds on Through the golden gate where his loved have gone.
2 The kind of a man for me and you! However little of worth we do He credits full, and abides in trust That time will teach us how more is just. He walks abroad, and he meets all kinds Of querulous and uneasy minds, And sympathizing, he shares the pain Of the doubts that rack us, heart and brain; And knowing this, as we grasp his hand We are surely coming to understand! He looks on sin with pitying eyes— E'en as the Lord, since Paradise—, Else, should we read, Though our sins should glow As scarlet, they shall be white as snow—? And feeling still, with a grief half glad, That the bad are as good as the good are bad, He strikes straight out for the Right— and he Is the kind of a man for you and me!
Like a drift of faded blossoms Caught in a slanting rain, His fingers glimpsed down the strings of his harp In a tremulous refrain:
Patter and tinkle, and drip and drip! Ah! But the chords were rainy sweet! And I closed my eyes and I bit my lip, As he played there in the street.
Patter, and drip, and tinkle! And there was the little bed In the corner of the garret, And the rafters overhead!
And there was the little window— Tinkle, and drip, and drip—! The rain above, and a mother's love, And God's companionship!
Old Aunt Mary's
Wasn't it pleasant, O brother mine, In those old days of the lost sunshine Of youth— when the Saturday's chores were through, And the "Sunday's wood" in the kitchen too, And we went visiting, "me and you," Out to Old Aunt Mary's?
It all comes back so clear to-day! Though I am as bald as you are gray— Out by the barn-lot, and down the lane, We patter along in the dust again, As light as the tips of the drops of the rain, Out to Old Aunt Mary's!
We cross the pasture, and through the wood Where the old gray snag of the poplar stood, Where the hammering "red-heads" hopped awry, And the buzzard "raised" in the "clearing" sky And lolled and circled, as we went by Out to Old Aunt Mary's.
And then in the dust of the road again; And the teams we met, and the countrymen; And the long highway, with sunshine spread As thick as butter on country bread, Our cares behind, and our hearts ahead Out to Old Aunt Mary's.
Why, I see her now in the open door, Where the little gourds grew up the sides and o'er The clapboard roof—! And her face— ah, me! Wasn't it good for a boy to see— And wasn't it good for a boy to be Out to Old Aunt Mary's?
The jelly— the Jam and the marmalade, And the cherry and quince "preserves'' she made! And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear, With cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare—! And the more we ate was the more to spare, Out to Old Aunt Mary's!
And the old spring-house in the cool green gloom Of the willow-trees—, and the cooler room Where the swinging-shelves and the crocks were kept— Where the cream in a golden languor slept While the waters gurgled and laughed and wept— Out to Old Aunt Mary's.
And O my brother, so far away, This is to tell you she waits to-day To welcome us—: Aunt Mary fell Asleep this morning, whispering— "Tell The boys to come!" And all is well Out to Old Aunt Mary's.
Illileo, the moonlight seemed lost across the vales— The stars but strewed the azure as an armor's scattered scales; The airs of night were quiet as the breath of silken sails, And all your words were sweeter than the notes of nightingales.
Illileo Legardi, in the garden there alone, With your figure carved of fervor, as the Psyche carved of stone, There came to me no murmur of the fountain's undertone So mystically, musically mellow as your own.
You whispered low, Illileo— so low the leaves were mute, And the echoes faltered breathless in your voice's vain pursuit; And there died the distant dalliance of the serenader's lute: And I held you in my bosom as the husk may hold the fruit.
Illileo, I listened. I believed you. In my bliss, What were all the worlds above me since I found you thus in this—? Let them reeling reach to win me— even Heaven I would miss, Grasping earthward—! I would cling here, though I clung by just a kiss.
And blossoms should grow odorless— and lilies all aghast— And I said the stars should slacken in their paces through the vast, Ere yet my loyalty should fail enduring to the last—. So vowed I. It is written. It is changeless as the past.
IIlileo Legardi, in the shade your palace throws Like a cowl about the singer at your gilded porticos, A moan goes with the music that may vex the high repose Of a heart that fades and crumbles as the crimson of a rose.
They rode right out of the morning sun— A glimmering, glittering cavalcade Of knights and ladies and every one In princely sheen arrayed; And the king of them all, O he rode ahead, With a helmet of gold, and a plume of red That spurted about in the breeze and bled In the bloom of the everglade.
And they rode high over the dewy lawn, With brave, glad banners of every hue That rolled in ripples, as they rode on In splendor, two and two; And the tinkling links of the golden reins Of the steeds they rode rang such refrains As the castanets in a dream of Spain's Intensest gold and blue.
And they rode and rode; and the steeds they neighed And pranced, and the sun on their glossy hides Flickered and lightened and glanced and played Like the moon on rippling tides;
And their manes were silken, and thick and strong, And their tails were flossy, and fetlock-long, And jostled in time to the teeming throng, And their knightly song besides.
Clank of scabbard and jingle of spur, And the fluttering sash of the queen went wild In the wind, and the proud king glanced at her As one at a wilful child—, And as knight and lady away they flew, And the banners flapped, and the falcon too, And the lances flashed and the bugle blew, He kissed his hand and smiled.
And then, like a slanting sunlit shower, The pageant glittered across the plain, And the turf spun back, and the wildweed flower Was only a crimson stain. And a dreamer's eyes they are downward cast, As he blends these words with the wailing blast: "It is the King of the Year rides past!" And Autumn is here again.
"O I am weary!" she sighed, as her billowy Hair she unloosed in a torrent of gold That rippled and fell o'er a figure as willowy, Graceful and fair as a goddess of old: Over her jewels she flung herself drearily, Crumpled the laces that snowed on her breast, Crushed with her fingers the lily that wearily Clung in her hair like a dove in its nest—. And naught but her shadowy form in the mirror To kneel in dumb agony down and weep near her!
"Weary—?" Of what? Could we fathom the mystery—? Lift up the lashes weighed down by her tears And wash with their dews one white face from her history, Set like a gem in the red rust of years? Nothing will rest her— unless he who died of her Strayed from his grave, and in place of the groom, Tipping her face, kneeling there by the side of her, Drained the old kiss to the dregs of his doom—. And naught but that shadowy form in the mirror To heel in dumb agony down and weep near her!
The Dead Lover
Time is so long when a man is dead! Some one sews; and the room is made Very clean; and the light is shed Soft through the window-shade.
Yesterday I thought: "I know Just how the bells will sound, and how The friends will talk, and the sermon go, And the hearse-horse bow and bow!"
This is to-day; and I have no thing To think of— nothing whatever to do But to hear the throb of the pulse of a wing That wants to fly back to you.
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear; There is ever a something sings alway: There's the song of the lark when the skies are clear, And the song of the thrush when the skies are gray. The sunshine showers across the grain, And the bluebird trills in the orchard tree; And in and out, when the eaves dip rain, The swallows are twittering ceaselessly.
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear, Be the skies above or dark or fair, There is ever a song that our hearts may hear— There is ever a song somewhere, my dear There is ever a song somewhere!
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear, In the midnight black, or the mid-day blue: The robin pipes when the sun is here, And the cricket chirrups the whole night through. The buds may blow, and the fruit may grow, And the autumn leaves drop crisp and sear; But whether the sun, or the rain, or the snow, There is ever a song somewhere, my dear.
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear, Be the skies above or dark or fair, There is ever a song that our hearts may hear— There is ever a song somewhere, my dear— There is ever a song somewhere!
When Bessie Died
If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped, And ne'er would nestle in your palm again; If the white feet into the grave had tripped—"
When Bessie died— We braided the brown hair, and tied It just as her own little hands Had fastened back the silken strands A thousand times— the crimson bit Of ribbon woven into it That she had worn with childish pride— Smoothed down the dainty bow— and cried When Bessie died.
When Bessie died— We drew the nursery blinds aside, And as the morning in the room Burst like a primrose into bloom, Her pet canary's cage we hung Where she might hear him when he sung— And yet not any note he tried, Though she lay listening folded-eyed.
When Bessie died— We writhed in prayer unsatisfied: We begged of God, and He did smile In silence on us all the while; And we did see Him, through our tears, Enfolding that fair form of hers, She laughing back against His love The kisses had nothing of— And death to us He still denied, When Bessie died— When Bessie died.
The landscape, like the awed face of a child, Grew curiously blurred; a hush of death Fell on the fields, and in the darkened wild The zephyr held its breath.
No wavering glamour-work of light and shade Dappled the shivering surface of the brook; The frightened ripples in their ambuscade Of willows thrilled and shook.
The sullen day grew darker, and anon Dim flashes of pent anger lit the sky; With rumbling wheels of wrath came rolling on The storm's artillery.
The cloud above put on its blackest frown, And then, as with a vengeful cry of pain, The lightning snatched it, ripped and flung it down In ravelled shreds of rain:
While I, transfigured by some wondrous art, Bowed with the thirsty lilies to the sod, My empty soul brimmed over, and my heart Drenched with the love of God.
A Life Lesson
There! Little girl; don't cry! They have broken your doll, I know; And your tea-set blue, And your play-house too, Are things of the long ago; But childish troubles will soon pass by—. There! Little girl; don't cry!
There! Little girl; don't cry! They have broken your slate, I know; And the glad, wild ways Of your school-girl days Are things of the long ago; But life and love will soon come by—. There! Little girl; don't cry!
There! Little girl; don't cry! They have broken your heart, I know; And the rainbow gleams Of your youthful dreams Are things of the long ago; But heaven holds all for which you sigh—. There! Little girl; don't cry!
I want to sing something— but this is all— I try and I try, but the rhymes are dull As though they were damp, and the echoes fall Limp and unlovable.
Words will not say what I yearn to say— They will not walk as I want them to, But they stumble and fall in the path of the way Of my telling my love for you.
Simply take what the scrawl is worth— Knowing I love you as sun the sod On the ripening side of the great round earth That swings in the smile of God.
I cannot say, and I will not say That he is dead—. He is just away!
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you— O you, who the wildest yearn For the old-time step and the glad return—,
Think of him faring on, as dear In the love of There as the love of Here;
And loyal still, as he gave the blows Of his warrior-strength to his country's foes—.
Mild and gentle, as he was brave—, When the sweetest love of his life he gave
To simple things—: Where the violets grew Blue as the eyes they were likened to,
The touches of his hands have strayed As reverently as his lips have prayed:
When the little brown thrush that harshly chirred Was dear to him as the mocking-bird;
And he pitied as much as a man in pain A writhing honey-bee wet with rain—.
Think of him still as the same, I say: He is not dead— he is just away!
Who Bides His Time
Who bides his time, and day by day Faces defeat full patiently, And lifts a mirthful roundelay, However poor his fortunes be—, He will not fail in any qualm Of poverty— the paltry dime It will grow golden in his palm, Who bides his time.
Who bides his time— he tastes the sweet Of honey in the saltest tear; And though he fares with slowest feet, Joy runs to meet him, drawing near; The birds are heralds of his cause; And like a never-ending rhyme, The roadsides bloom in his applause, Who bides his time.
Who bides his time, and fevers not In the hot race that none achieves, Shall wear cool-wreathen laurel, wrought With crimson berries in the leaves; And he shall reign a goodly king, And sway his hand o'er every clime, With peace writ on his signet-ring, Who bides his time.
From the Headboard of a Grave in Paraguay
A troth, and a grief, and a blessing, Disguised them and came this way—, And one was a promise, and one was a doubt, And one was a rainy day.
And they met betimes with this maiden, And the promise it spake and lied, And the doubt it gibbered and hugged itself, And the rainy day— she died.
Laughter Holding Both His Sides
Ay, thou varlet! Laugh away! All the world's a holiday! Laugh away, and roar and shout Till thy hoarse tongue lolleth out! Bloat thy cheeks, and bulge thine eyes Unto bursting; pelt thy thighs With thy swollen palms, and roar As thou never hast before! Lustier! Wilt thou! Peal on peal! Stiflest? Squat and grind thy heel— Wrestle with thy loins, and then Wheeze thee whiles, and whoop again!
1 Once, in a dream, I saw a man, With haggard face and tangled hair, And eyes that nursed as wild a care As gaunt Starvation ever can; And in his hand he held a wand Whose magic touch gave life and thought Unto a form his fancy wrought And robed with coloring so grand, It seemed the reflex of some child Of Heaven, fair and undefiled— A face of purity and love— To woo him into worlds above: And as I gazed with dazzled eyes, A gleaming smile lit up his lips As his bright soul from its eclipse Went flashing into Paradise. Then tardy Fame came through the door And found a picture— nothing more.
2 And once I saw a man alone, In abject poverty, with hand Uplifted o'er a block of stone That took a shape at his command And smiled upon him, fair and good— A perfect work of womanhood, Save that the eyes might never weep, Nor weary hands be crossed in sleep, Nor hair that fell from crown to wrist, Be brushed away, caressed and kissed. And as in awe I gazed on her, I saw the sculptor's chisel fall— I saw him sink, without a moan, Sink life less at the feet of stone, And lie there like a worshipper. Fame crossed the threshold of the hall, And found a statue— that was all.
3 And once I saw a man who drew A gloom about him like cloak, And wandered aimlessly. The few Who spoke of him at all, but spoke Disparagingly of a mind The Fates had faultily designed: Too indolent for modern times— Too fanciful, and full of whims— For talking to himself in rhymes, And scrawling never-heard-of hymns, The idle life to which he clung Was worthless as the songs he sung! I saw him, in my vision, filled With rapture o'er a spray of bloom The wind threw in his lonely room; And of the sweet perfume it spilled He drank to drunkenness, and flung His long hair back, and laughed and sung And clapped his hands as children do At fairy tales they listen to, While from his flying quill there dripped Such music on his manuscript That he who listens to the words May close his eyes and dream the birds Are twittering on every hand A language he can understand. He journeyed on through life unknown, Without one friend to call his own; He tired. No kindly hand to press The cooling touch of tenderness Upon his burning brow, nor lift To his parched lips God's freest gift— No sympathetic sob or sigh Of trembling lips— no sorrowing eye Looked out through tears to see him die. And Fame her greenest laurels brought To crown a head that heeded not.
And this is Fame! A thing indeed, That only comes when least the need: The wisest minds of every age The book of life from page to page Have searched in vain; each lesson conned Will promise it the page beyond— Until the last, when dusk of night Falls over it, and reason's light Is smothered by that unknown friend Who signs his nom de plume, The End.
The Ripest Peach
The ripest peach is highest on the tree— And so her love, beyond the reach of me, Is dearest in my sight. Sweet breezes bow Her heart down to me where I worship now!
She looms aloft where every eye may see The ripest peach is highest on the tree. Such fruitage as her love I know, alas! I may not reach here from the orchard grass.
I drink the sunshine showered past her lips As roses drain the dewdrop as it drips. The ripest peach is highest on the tree, And so mine eyes gaze upward eagerly.
Why— why do I not turn away in wrath And pluck some heart here hanging in my path—? Lover's lower boughs bend with them— but, ah me! The ripest peach is highest on the tree!
A Fruit Piece
The afternoon of summer folds Its warm arms round the marigolds,
And with its gleaming fingers, pets The watered pinks and violets
That from the casement vases spill, Over the cottage window-sill,
Their fragrance down the garden walks Where droop the dry-mouthed hollyhocks.
How vividly the sunshine scrawls The grape-vine shadows on the walls!
How like a truant swings the breeze In high boughs of the apple-trees!
The slender "free-stone" lifts aloof, Full languidly above the roof,
A hoard of fruitage, stamped with gold And precious mintings manifold.
High up, through curled green leaves, a pear Hangs hot with ripeness here and there.
Beneath the sagging trellisings, In lush, lack-lustre clusterings,
Great torpid grapes, all fattened through With moon and sunshine, shade and dew,
Until their swollen girths express But forms of limp deliciousness—
Drugged to an indolence divine With heaven's own sacramental wine.
Their Sweet Sorrow
They meet to say farewell: Their way Of saying this is hard to say—. He holds her hand an Instant, wholly Distressed— and she unclasps it slowly,
He lends his gaze evasively Over the printed page that she Recurs to, with a new-moon shoulder Glimpsed from the lace-mists that infold her.
The clock, beneath its crystal cup, Discreetly clicks— "Quick! Act! Speak up!" A tension circles both her slender Wrists— and her raised eyes flash in splendor,
Even as he feels his dazzled own—. Then blindingly, round either thrown, They feel a stress of arms that ever Strain tremblingly— and "Never! Never!"
Is whispered brokenly, with half A sob, like a belated laugh—, While cloyingly their blurred kiss closes—, Sweet as the dew's lip to the rose's.
John McKeen, in his rusty dress, His loosened collar, and swarthy throat, His face unshaven, and none the less, His hearty laugh and his wholesomeness, And the wealth of a workman's vote!
Bring him, O Memory, here once more, And tilt him back in his Windsor chair By the kitchen stove, when the day is o'er And the light of the hearth is across the floor, And the crickets everywhere!
And let their voices be gladly blent With a watery jingle of pans and spoons, And a motherly chirrup of sweet content, And neighborly gossip and merriment, And old-time fiddle-tunes!
Tick the clock with a wooden sound, And fill the hearing with childish glee Of rhyming riddle, or story found In the Robinson Crusoe, leather-bound Old book of the Used-to-be!
John McKeen of the Past! Ah John, To have grown ambitious in worldly ways—! To have rolled your shirt-sleeves down, to don A broadcloth suit, and forgetful, gone Out on election days!
John ah, John! Did it prove your worth To yield you the office you still maintain—? To fill your pockets, but leave the dearth Of all the happier things on earth To the hunger of heart and brain?
Under the dusk of your villa trees, Edging the drives where your blooded span Paw the pebbles and wait your ease—, Where are the children about your knees, And the mirth, and the happy man?
The blinds of your mansion are battened to; Your faded wife is a close recluse; And your "finished" daughters will doubtless do Dutifully all that is willed of you, And marry as you shall choose—!
But O for the old-home voices, blent With the watery jingle of pans and spoons, And the motherly chirrup of glad content, And neighborly gossip and merriment, And the old-time fiddle-tunes!
Out of Nazareth
"He shall sleep unscathed of thieves Who loves Allah and believes." Thus heard one who shared the tent, In the far-off Orient, Of the Bedouin ben Ahrzz— Nobler never loved the stars Through the palm-leaves nigh the dim Dawn his courser neighed to him!
He said: "Let the sands be swarmed With such thieves as I, and thou Shalt at morning rise unharmed, Light as eyelash to the brow Of thy camel amber-eyed, Ever munching either side, Striding still, with nestled knees, Through the midnight's oases."
"Who can rob thee an thou hast More than this that thou hast cast At my feet— this dust of gold? Simply this and that, all told! Hast thou not a treasure of Such a thing as men call love?"
"Can the dusky band I lead Rob thee of thy daily need Of a whiter soul, or steal What thy lordly prayers reveal? Who could be enriched of thee By such hoard of poverty As thy niggard hand pretends To dole me— thy worst of friends? Therefore shouldst thou pause to bless One indeed who blesses thee: Robbing thee, I dispossess But myself—. Pray thou for me!"
He shall sleep unscathed of thieves Who loves Allah and believes.
1 The air falls chill; The whippoorwill Pipes lonesomely behind the Hill: The dusk grows dense, The silence tense; And lo, the katydids commence.
2 Through shadowy rifts Of woodland lifts The low, slow moon, and upward drifts, While left and right The fireflies' light Swirls eddying in the skirts of Night.
3 O Cloudland gray And level lay Thy mists across the face of Day! At foot and head, Above the dead O Dews, weep on uncomforted!
We To Sigh Instead of Sing
"Rain and rain! And rain and rain!" Yesterday we muttered Grimly as the grim refrain That the thunders uttered: All the heavens under cloud— All the sunshine sleeping; All the grasses limply bowed With their weight of weeping.
Sigh and sigh! And sigh and sigh! Never end of sighing; Rain and rain for our reply— Hopes half drowned and dying; Peering through the window-pane, Naught but endless raining— Endless sighing, and as vain, Endlessly complaining,
Shine and shine! And shine and shine! Ah! To-day the splendor—! All this glory yours and mine— God! But God is tender! We to sigh instead of sing, Yesterday, in sorrow, While the Lord was fashioning This for our To-morrow!
The Blossoms on the Trees
Blossoms crimson, white, or blue, Purple, pink, and every hue, From sunny skies, to tintings drowned In dusky drops of dew, I praise you all, wherever found, And love you through and through—; But, Blossoms On The Trees, With your breath upon the breeze There's nothing all the world around As half as sweet as you!
Could the rhymer only wring All the sweetness to the lees Of all the kisses clustering In juicy Used-to-bes, To dip his rhymes therein and sing The blossoms on the trees—, "O Blossoms on the Trees," He would twitter, trill, and coo, "However sweet, such songs as these Are not as sweet as you—: For you are blooming melodies The eyes may listen to!"
Last Night— And This
Last night— how deep the darkness was! And well I knew its depths, because I waded it from shore to shore, Thinking to reach the light no more.
She would not even touch my hand—-. The winds rose and the cedars fanned The moon out, and the stars fled back In heaven and hid— and all was black!
But ah! To-night a summons came, Signed with a tear-drop for a name, For as I wondering kissed it, lo A line beneath it told me so.
And now— the moon hangs over me A disk of dazzling brilliancy, And every star-tip stabs my sights With splintered glitterings of light!
A Discouraging Model
Just the airiest, fairiest slip of a thing, With a Gainsborough hat, like a butterfly's wing, Tilted up at one side with the jauntiest air, And a knot of red roses sown in under there Where the shadows are lost in her hair.
Then a cameo face, carven in on a ground Of that shadowy hair where the roses are wound; And the gleam of a smile, O as fair and as faint And as sweet as the master of old used to paint Round the lips of their favorite saint!
And that lace at her throat— and fluttering hands Snowing there, with a grace that no art understands, The flakes of their touches— first fluttering at The bow— then the roses— the hair and then that Little tilt of the Gainsborough hat.
Ah, what artist on earth with a model like this, Holding not on his palette the tint of a kiss, Nor a pigment to hint of the hue of her hair Nor the gold of her smile— O what artist could dare To expect a result half so fair?
Back From a Two-years' Sentence
Back from a two-years' sentence! And though it had been ten, You think, I were scarred no deeper In the eyes of my fellow-men. "My fellow-men—?" Sounds like a satire, You think— and I so allow, Here in my home since childhood, Yet more than a stranger now!
Pardon—! Not wholly a stranger—, For I have a wife and child: That woman has wept for two long years, And yet last night she smiled—! Smiled, as I leapt from the platform Of the midnight train, and then— All that I knew was that smile of hers, And our babe in my arms again!
Back from a two-years' sentence— But I've thought the whole thing through—, A hint of it came when the bars swung back And I looked straight up in the blue Of the blessed skies with my hat off! O-ho! I've a wife and child: That woman has wept for two long years, And yet last night she smiled!
The Wandering Jew
The stars are falling, and the sky Is like a field of faded flowers; The winds on weary wings go by; The moon hides, and the tempest lowers; And still through every clime and age I wander on a pilgrimage That all men know an idle quest, For that the goal I seek is— Rest!
I hear the voice of summer streams, And following, I find the brink Of cooling springs, with childish dreams Returning as I bend to drink— But suddenly, with startled eyes, My face looks on its grim disguise Of long gray beard; and so, distressed, I hasten on, nor taste of rest.
I come upon a merry group Of children in the dusky wood, Who answer back the owlet's whoop, That laughs as it had understood; And I would pause a little space, But that each happy blossom-face Is like to one His hands have blessed Who sent me forth in search of rest.
Sometimes I fain would stay my feet In shady lanes, where huddled kine Couch in the grasses cool and sweet, And lift their patient eyes to mine; But I, for thoughts that ever then Go back to Bethlehem again, Must needs fare on my weary quest, And weep for very need of rest.
Is there no end? I plead in vain: Lost worlds nor living answer me. Since Pontius Pilate's awful reign Have I not passed eternity? Have I not drunk the fetid breath Of every fevered phase of death, And come unscathed through every pest And scourge and plague that promised rest?
Have I not seen the stars go out That shed their light o'er Galilee, And mighty kingdoms tossed about And crumbled clod-like in the sea? Dead ashes of dead ages blow And cover me like drifting snow, And time laughs on as 'twere a jest That I have any need of rest.
1 Would that the winds might only blow As they blew in the golden long ago—! Laden with odors of Orient isles Where ever and ever the sunshine smiles, And the bright sands blend with the shady trees, And the lotus blooms in the midst of these.
2 Warm winds won from the midland vales To where the tress of the Siren trails O'er the flossy tip of the mountain phlox And the bare limbs twined in the crested rocks, High above as the seagulls flap Their lopping wings at the thunder-clap.
3 Ah! That the winds might rise and blow The great surge up from the port below, Bloating the sad, lank, silken sails Of the Argo out with the swift, sweet gales That blew from Colchis when Jason had His love's full will and his heart was glad— When Medea's voice was soft and low. Ah! That the winds might rise and blow!
To Santa Claus
Most tangible of all the gods that be, O Santa Claus— our own since Infancy! As first we scampered to thee— now, as then, Take us as children to thy heart again.
Be wholly good to us, just as of old: As a pleased father, let thine arms infold Us, homed within the haven of thy love, And all the cheer and wholesomeness thereof.
Thou lone reality, when O so long Life's unrealities have wrought us wrong: Ambition hath allured us—, fame likewise, And all that promised honor in men's eyes.
Throughout the world's evasions, wiles, and shifts, Thou only bidest stable as thy gifts—: A grateful king re-ruleth from thy lap, Crowned with a little tinselled soldier-cap:
A mighty general— a nation's pride— Thou givest again a rocking-horse to ride, And wildly glad he groweth as the grim Old jurist with the drum thou givest him:
The sculptor's chisel, at thy mirth's command, Is as a whistle in his boyish hand; The painters model fadeth utterly, And there thou standest—, and he painteth thee—:
Most like a winter pippin, sound and fine And tingling-red that ripe old face of thine, Set in thy frosty beard of cheek and chin As midst the snows the thaws of spring set in.
Ho! Santa Claus— our own since Infancy— Most tangible of all the gods that be—! As first we scampered to thee— now, as then, Take us as children to thy heart again.
Where the Children used to Play
The old farm-home is Mother's yet and mine, And filled it is with plenty and to spare—, But we are lonely here in life's decline, Though fortune smiles around us everywhere: We look across the gold Of the harvests, as of old— The corn, the fragrant clover, and the hay; But most we turn our gaze, As with eyes of other days, To the orchard where the children used to play.
O from our life's full measure And rich hoard of worldly treasure We often turn our weary eyes away, And hand in hand we wander Down the old path winding yonder To the orchard where the children used to play.
Our sloping pasture-lands are filled with herds; The barn and granary-bins are bulging o'ver; The grove's a paradise of singing birds— The woodland brook leaps laughing by the door; Yet lonely, lonely still, Let us prosper as we will, Our old hearts seem so empty everyway— We can only through a mist See the faces we have kissed In the orchard where the children used to play.
O from our life's full measure And rich hoard of worldly treasure We often turn our weary eyes away, And hand in hand we wander Down the old path winding yonder To the orchard where the children used to play.
A Glimpse of Pan
I caught but a glimpse of him. Summer was here. And I strayed from the town and its dust and heat. And walked in a wood, while the noon was near, Where the shadows were cool, and the atmosphere Was misty with fragrances stirred by my feet From surges of blossoms that billowed sheer Of the grasses, green and sweet.
And I peered through a vista of leaning tree, Tressed with long tangles of vines that swept To the face of a river, that answered these With vines in the wave like the vines in the breeze, Till the yearning lips of the ripples crept And kissed them, with quavering ecstasies, And wistfully laughed and wept
And there, like a dream in swoon, I swear I saw Pan lying—, his limbs in the dew And the shade, and his face in the dazzle and glare Of the glad sunshine; while everywhere, Over across, and around him blew Filmy dragon-flies hither and there, And little white butterflies, two and two, In eddies of odorous air.
This Pan is but an idle god, I guess, Since all the fair midsummer of my dreams He loiters listlessly by woody streams, Soaking the lush glooms up with laziness; Or drowsing while the maiden-winds caress Him prankishly, and powder him with gleams Of sifted sunshine. And he ever seems Drugged with a joy unutterable— unless His low pipes whistle hints of it far out Across the ripples to the dragon-fly That like a wind-born blossom blown about, Drops quiveringly down, as though to die— Then lifts and wavers on, as if in doubt Whether to fan his wings or fly without.
The frightened herds of clouds across the sky Trample the sunshine down, and chase the day Into the dusky forest-lands of gray And sombre twilight. Far and faint, and high, The wild goose trails his harrow, with a cry Sad as the wail of some poor castaway Who sees a vessel drifting far astray Of his last hope, and lays him down to die. The children, riotous from school, grow bold And quarrel with the wind whose angry gust Plucks off the summer-hat, and flaps the fold Of many a crimson cloak, and twirls the dust In spiral shapes grotesque, and dims the gold Of gleaming tresses with the blur of rust.
O queenly month of indolent repose! I drink thy breath in sips of rare perfume, As in thy downy lap of clover-bloom I nestle like a drowsy child and doze The lazy hours away. The zephyr throws The shifting shuttle of the Summer's loom And weaves a damask-work of gleam and gloom Before thy listless feet. The lily blows A bugle-call of fragrance o'er the glade; And wheeling into ranks, with plume and spear, Thy harvest-armies gather on parade; While faint and far away, yet pure and clear, A voice calls out of alien lands of shade—: All hail the Peerless Goddess of the Year!
Thousands of thousands of hushed years ago, Out on the edge of Chaos, all alone I stood on peaks of vapor, high upthrown Above a sea that knew nor ebb nor flow, Nor any motion won of winds that blow, Nor any sound of watery wail or moan, Nor lisp of wave, nor wandering undertone Of any tide lost in the night below. So still it was, I mind me, as I laid My thirsty ear against mine own faint sigh To drink of that, I sipped it, half afraid 'Twas but the ghost of a dead voice spilled by The one starved star that tottered through the shade And came tiptoeing toward me down the sky.
Thou drowsy god, whose blurred eyes, half awink Muse on me—, drifting out upon thy dreams, I lave my soul as in enchanted streams Where revelling satyrs pipe along the brink, And tipsy with the melody they drink, Uplift their dangling hooves, and down the beams Of sunshine dance like motes. Thy languor seems An ocean-depth of love wherein I sink Like some fond Argonaut, right willingly—, Because of wooing eyes upturned to mine, And siren-arms that coil their sorcery About my neck, with kisses so divine, The heavens reel above me, and the sea Swallows and licks its wet lips over me.
The beauty of her hair bewilders me— Pouring adown the brow, its cloven tide Swirling about the ears on either side And storming round the neck tumultuously: Or like the lights of old antiquity Through mullioned windows, in cathedrals wide Spilled moltenly o'er figures deified In chastest marble, nude of drapery. And so I love it—. Either unconfined; Or plaited in close braidings manifold; Or smoothly drawn; or indolently twined In careless knots whose coilings come unrolled At any lightest kiss; or by the wind Whipped out in flossy ravellings of gold.
I hold your trembling hand to-night— and yet I may not know what wealth of bliss is mine, My heart is such a curious design Of trust and jealousy! Your eyes are wet— So must I think they jewel some regret—, And lo, the loving arms that round me twine Cling only as the tendrils of a vine Whose fruit has long been gathered: I forget, While crimson clusters of your kisses press Their wine out on my lips, my royal fair Of rapture, since blind fancy needs must guess They once poured out their sweetness otherwhere, With fuller flavoring of happiness Than e'en your broken sobs may now declare.
A Voice From the Farm
It is my dream to have you here with me, Out of the heated city's dust and din— Here where the colts have room to gambol in, And kine to graze, in clover to the knee. I want to see your wan face happily Lit with the wholesome smiles that have not been In use since the old games you used to win When we pitched horseshoes: And I want to be At utter loaf with you in this dim land Of grove and meadow, while the crickets make Our own talk tedious, and the bat wields His bulky flight, as we cease converse and In a dusk like velvet smoothly take Our way toward home across the dewy fields.
The midnight is not more bewildering To her drowsed eyes, than to her ears, the sound Of dim, sweet singing voices, interwound With purl of flute and subtle twang of string, Strained through the lattice, where the roses cling And, with their fragrance, waft the notes around Her haunted senses. Thirsting beyond bound Of her slow-yielding dreams, the lilt and swing Of the mysterious delirious tune, She drains like some strange opiate, with awed eyes Upraised against her casement, where aswoon, The stars fail from her sight, and up the skies Of alien azure rolls the full round moon Like some vast bubble blown of summer noon.
Art and Love
He faced his canvas (as a seer whose ken Pierces the crust of this existence through) And smiled beyond on that his genius knew Ere mated with his being. Conscious then Of his high theme alone, he smiled again Straight back upon himself in many a hue And tint, and light and shade, which slowly grew Enfeatured of a fair girl's face, as when First time she smiles for love's sake with no fear. So wrought he, witless that behind him leant A woman, with old features, dim and sear, And glamoured eyes that felt the brimming tear, And with a voice, like some sad instrument, That sighing said, "I'm dead there; love me here!"
The winds have talked with him confidingly; The trees have whispered to him; and the night Hath held him gently as a mother might, And taught him all sad tones of melody: The mountains have bowed to him; and the sea, In clamorous waves, and murmurs exquisite, Hath told him all her sorrow and delight— Her legends fair— her darkest mystery. His verse blooms like a flower, night and day; Bees cluster round his rhymes; and twitterings Of lark and swallow, in an endless May, Are mingling with the tender songs he sings—. Nor shall he cease to sing— in every lay Of Nature's voice he sings— and will alway.
Our Land— our Home— the common home indeed Of soil-born children and adopted ones— The stately daughters and the stalwart sons Of Industry—: All greeting and godspeed! O home to proudly live for, and if need Be proudly die for, with the roar of guns Blent with our latest prayer—. So died men once... Lo Peace...! As we look on the land They freed— Its harvests all in ocean-over flow Poured round autumnal coasts in billowy gold— Its corn and wine and balmed fruits and flow'rs—, We know the exaltation that they know Who now, steadfast inheritors, behold The Land Elysian, marvelling "This is ours?"
1 The ticking— ticking— ticking of the clock—! That vexed me so last night—! "For though Time keeps Such drowsy watch," I moaned, "he never sleeps, But only nods above the world to mock Its restless occupant, then rudely rock It as the cradle of a babe that weeps!" I seemed to see the seconds piled in heaps Like sand about me; and at every shock O' the bell, the piled sands were swirled away As by a desert-storm that swept the earth Stark as a granary floor, whereon the gray And mist-bedrizzled moon amidst the dearth Came crawling, like a sickly child, to lay Its pale face next mine own and weep for day.
2 Wait for the morning! Ah! We wait indeed For daylight, we who toss about through stress Of vacant-armed desires and emptiness Of all the warm, warm touches that we need, And the warm kisses upon which we feed Our famished lips in fancy! May God bless The starved lips of us with but one caress Warm as the yearning blood our poor hearts bleed...! A wild prayer—! Bite thy pillow, praying so— Toss this side, and whirl that, and moan for dawn; Let the clock's seconds dribble out their woe, And Time be drained of sorrow! Long ago We heard the crowing cock, with answer drawn As hoarsely sad at throat as sobs... Pray on!
Grant At Rest— August 8, 1885
Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and endlong in a wide forest, and held no path but as wild adventure led him... And he returned and came again to his horse, and took off his saddle and his bridle, and let him pasture; and unlaced his helm, and ungirdled his sword, and laid him down to sleep upon his shield before the cross. —Age of Chivalary
What shall we say of the soldier. Grant, His sword put by and his great soul free? How shall we cheer him now or chant His requiem befittingly? The fields of his conquest now are seen Ranged no more with his armed men— But the rank and file of the gold and green Of the waving grain is there again.
Though his valiant life is a nation's pride, And his death heroic and half divine, And our grief as great as the world is wide, There breaks in speech but a single line—: We loved him living, revere him dead—! A silence then on our lips is laid: We can say no thing that has not been said, Nor pray one prayer that has not been prayed.
But a spirit within us speaks: and lo, We lean and listen to wondrous words That have a sound as of winds that blow, And the voice of waters and low of herds; And we hear, as the song flows on serene, The neigh of horses, and then the beat Of hooves that skurry o'er pastures green, And the patter and pad of a boy's bare feet.
A brave lad, wearing a manly brow, Knit as with problems of grave dispute, And a face, like the bloom of the orchard bough, Pink and pallid, but resolute; And flushed it grows as the clover-bloom, And fresh it gleams as the morning dew, As he reins his steed where the quick quails boom Up from the grasses he races through.
And ho! As he rides what dreams are his? And what have the breezes to suggest—? Do they whisper to him of shells that whiz O'er fields made ruddy with wrongs redressed? Does the hawk above him an Eagle float? Does he thrill and his boyish heart beat high, Hearing the ribbon about his throat Flap as a Flag as the winds go by?
And does he dream of the Warrior's fame— This Western boy in his rustic dress? For in miniature, this is the man that came Riding out of the Wilderness—! The selfsame figure— the knitted brow— The eyes full steady— the lips full mute— And the face, like the bloom of the orchard bough, Pink and pallid, but resolute.
Ay, this is the man, with features grim And stoical as the Sphinx's own, That heard the harsh guns calling him, As musical as the bugle blown, When the sweet spring heavens were clouded o'er With a tempest, glowering and wild, And our country's flag bowed down before Its bursting wrath as a stricken child.
Thus, ready mounted and booted and spurred, He loosed his bridle and dashed away—! Like a roll of drums were his hoof-beats heard, Like the shriek of the fife his charger's neigh! And over his shoulder and backward blown, We heard his voice, and we saw the sod Reel, as our wild steeds chased his own As though hurled on by the hand of God!
And still, in fancy, we see him ride In the blood-red front of a hundred frays, His face set stolid, but glorified As a knight's of the old Arthurian days: And victor ever as courtly too, Gently lifting the vanquished foe, And staying him with a hand as true As dealt the deadly avenging blow.
So brighter than all of the cluster of stars Of the flag enshrouding his form to-day, His face shines forth from the grime of wars With a glory that shall not pass away: He rests at last: he has borne his part Of salutes and salvos and cheers on cheers— But O the sobs of his country's heart, And the driving rain of a nations tears!
Old Fashioned Roses
They ain't no style about 'em, And they're sorto' pale and faded, Yit the doorway here, without 'em, Would be lonesomer, and shaded With a good 'eal blacker shudder Than the morning-glories makes, And the sunshine would look sadder Fer their good old-fashion' sakes.
I like 'em 'cause they kindo'— Sorto' make a feller like 'em! And I tell you, when I find a Bunch out whur the sun kin strike 'em, It allus sets me thinkin' O' the ones 'at used to grow And peek in thro' the chinkin' O' the cabin, don't you know!
And then I think o' mother, And how she ust to love 'em— When they wuzn't any other, 'Less she found 'em up above 'em! And her eyes, afore she shut 'em, Whispered with a smile and said We must pick a bunch and putt 'em In her hand when she wuz dead.
But as I wuz a-sayin', They ain't no style about 'em Very gaudy er displayin', But I wouldn't be without 'em—, 'Cause I'm happier in these posies, And the hollyhawks and sich, Than the hummin'-bird 'at noses In the roses of the rich.
Pap's got his patent-right, and rich is all creation; But where's the peace and comfort that we all had before? Le's go a-visitin' back to Griggsby's Station— Back where we ust to be so happy and so pore!
The likes of us a-livin' here! It's jest a mortal pity To see us in this great big house, with cyarpets on the stairs, And the pump right in the kitchen! And the city! City! City And nothin' but the city all around us ever'wheres!
Climb clean above the roof and look from the steeple, And never see a robin, nor a beech or ellum tree! And right here in ear-shot of at least a thousan' people, And none that neighbors with us or we want to go and see!
Le's go a-visitin' back to Griggsby's Station— Back where the latch-strings a-hangin' from the door, And ever' neighbor round the place is dear as a relation— Back where we ust to be so happy and so pore!
I want to see the Wiggenses, the whole kit-and-bilin', A-drivin' up from Shallor Ford to stay the Sunday through; And I want to see 'em hitchin' at their son-in-law's and pilin' Out there at 'Lizy Ellen's like they ust to do!
I want to see the piece-quilts the Jones girls is makin'; And I want to pester Laury 'bout their freckled hired hand, And joke her 'bout the widower she come purt' nigh a-takin', Till her Pap got his pension 'lowed in time to save his land.
Le's go a-visitin' back to Griggsby's Station— Back where they's nothin' aggervatin' any more, Shet away safe in the woods around the old location— Back where we ust to be so happy and so pore!
I want to see Marindy and he'p her with her sewin', And hear her talk so lovin' of her man that's dead and gone, And stand up with Emanuel to show me how he's growin', And smile as I have saw her 'fore she putt her mournin' on.
And I want to see the Samples, on the old lower eighty, Where John, our oldest boy, he was tuk and burried— for His own sake and Katy's—, and I want to cry with Katy As she reads all his letters over, writ from The War.
What's in all this grand life and high situation, And nary pink nor hollyhawk a-bloomin' at the door—? Le's go a-visitin' back to Griggsby's Station— Back where we ust to be so happy and so pore!
Knee Deep in June
1 Tell you what I like the best— 'Long about knee-deep in June, 'Bout the time strawberries melts On the vine—, some afternoon Like to jes' git out and rest, And not work at nothin' else!
2 Orchard's where I'd ruther be— Needn't fence it in fer me—! Jes' the whole sky overhead, And the whole airth underneath— Sorto' so's a man kin breathe Like he ort, and kindo' has Elbow-room to keerlessly Sprawl out len'thways on the grass Where the shadders thick and soft As the kivvers on the bed Mother fixes in the loft Allus, when they's company!
3 Jes' a-sorto' lazin' there— S'lazy, 'at you peeks and peer Through the wavin' leaves above, Like a feller 'ats in love And don't know it, ner don't keer! Ever'thing you hear and see Got some sort o' interest— Maybe find a bluebird's nest Tucked up there conveenently Fer the boy 'at's ap' to be Up some other apple-tree! Watch the swallers skootin' past 'Bout as peert as you could ast; Er the Bob-white raise and whiz Where some other's whistle is.
4 Ketch a shadder down below, And look up to find the crow— Er a hawk—, away up there 'Pearantly froze in the air—! Hear the old hen squawk, and squat Over ever' chick she's got, Suddent-like—! And she knows where That-air hawk is, well as you—! You jes' bet yer life she do—! Eyes a-glittern' like glass, Waitin' till he makes a pass!
5 Pee-wees' singin', to express My opinion, 's second class, Yit you'll hear 'em more er less; Sapsucks gittin' down to biz, Weedin' out the lonesomeness; Mr. Bluejay, full o' sass, In them base-ball clothes o' his, Sportin' round the orchard jes' Life he owned the premises! Sun out in the fields kin sizz, But flat on yer back, I guess, In the shade's where glory is! That's jes' what I'd like to do Stiddy fer a year er two!
6 Plague! Ef they ain't somepin' in Work 'at kindo' goes ag'in' My convictions—! 'Long about Here in June especially—! Under some old apple-tree, Jes' a-restin' through and through, I could git along without Nothin' else at all to do Only jes' a-wishin' you Wuz a-gittin' there like me, And June was eternity!
7 Lay out there and try to see Jes' how lazy you kin be—! Tumble round and souse yer head In the clover-bloom, er pull Yer straw hat acrost yer eyes And peek through it at the skies, Thinkin' of old chums 'at's dead, Maybe, smilin' back at you In betwixt the 'beautiful Clouds o' gold and white and blue—! Month a man kin railly love June, you know, I'm talkin' of!
8 March ain't never nothin' new—! Aprile's altogether too Brash fer me! And May— I jes' 'Bominate its promises—, Little hints o' sunshine and Green around the timber-land— A few blossoms, and a few Chip-birds, and a sprout er two—, Drap asleep, and it turns in 'Fore daylight and snows ag'in—! But when June comes— Clear my th'oat With wild honey—! Rench my hair In the dew! And hold my coat! Whoop out loud! And th'ow my hat—! June wants me, and I'm to spare! Spread them shadders anywhere, I'll git down and waller there, And obleeged to you at that!
When The Hearse Comes Back
A thing 'at's 'bout as tryin' as a healthy man kin meet Is some poor feller's funeral a-joggin' 'long the street: The slow hearse and the hosses— slow enough, to say at least, Fer to even tax the patience of gentleman deceased! The low scrunch of the gravel— and the slow grind of the wheels—, The slow, slow go of ev'ry woe 'at ev'rybody feels! So I ruther like the contrast when I hear the whip-lash crack A quickstep fer the hosses, When the Hearse Comes Back!
Meet it goin' to'rds the cimet'ry, you'll want to drap yer eyes— But ef the plumes don't fetch you, it'll ketch you otherwise— You'll haf to see the caskit, though you'd ort to look away And 'conomize and save yer sighs fer any other day! Yer sympathizin' won't wake up the sleeper from his rest— Yer tears won't thaw them hands o' his 'at's froze acrost his breast! And this is why— when airth and sky's a gittin blurred and black— I like the flash and hurry When the Hearse Comes Back!
It's not 'cause I don't 'preciate it ain't no time fer jokes, Ner 'cause I' got no common human feelin' fer the folks—; I've went to funerals myse'f, and tuk on some, perhaps— Fer my hearth's 'bout as mal'able as any other chap's—, I've buried father, mother— But I'll haf to jes' git you To "excuse me," as the feller says—. The p'int I'm drivin' to Is simply when we're plum broke down and all knocked out o' whack, It he'ps to shape us up like, When the Hearse Comes Back!
The idy! Wadin round here over shoe-mouth deep in woe, When they's a graded 'pike o' joy and sunshine don't you know! When evening strikes the pastur', cows'll pull out fer the bars, And skittish-like from out the night'll prance the happy stars. And so when my time comes to die, and I've got ary friend 'At wants expressed my last request— I'll mebby, rickommend To drive slow, ef they haf to, goin' 'long the out'ard track, But I'll smile and say, "You speed 'em When the Hearse Comes Back!"
A Canary At the Farm
Folks has be'n to town, and Sahry Fetched 'er home a pet canary—, And of all the blame', contrary, Aggervatin' things alive! I love music— that I love it When it's free— and plenty of it—; But I kindo' git above it, At a dollar-eighty-five!
Reason's plain as I'm a-sayin'—, Jes' the idy, now, o' layin' Out yer money, and a-payin' Fer a willer-cage and bird, When the medder-larks is wingin' Round you, and the woods is ringin' With the beautifullest singin' That a mortal ever heard!
Sahry's sot, tho'—. So I tell her He's a purty little feller, With his wings o' creamy-yeller, And his eyes keen as a cat; And the twitter o' the critter 'Pears to absolutely glitter! Guess I'll haf to go and git her A high-priceter cage 'n that!
A Liz Town Humorist
Settin' round the stove, last night, Down at Wess's store, was me And Mart Strimples, Tunk, and White, And Doc Bills, and two er three Fellers o' the Mudsock tribe No use tryin' to describe! And says Doc, he says, says he—, "Talkin' 'bout good things to eat, Ripe mushmillon's hard to beat!"
I chawed on. And Mart he 'lowed Wortermillon beat the mush—. "Red," he says, "and juicy— Hush—! I'll jes' leave it to the crowd!" Then a Mudsock chap, says he—, "Punkin's good enough fer me— Punkin pies, I mean," he says—, Them beats millons—! What say, Wess?
I chawed on. And Wess says—, "Well, You jes' fetch that wife of mine All yer wortermillon-rine—, And she'll bile it down a spell— In with sorghum, I suppose, And what else, Lord only knows—! But I'm here to tell all hands Them p'serves meets my demands!"
I chawed on. And White he says—, "Well, I'll jes' stand, in with Wess— I'm no hog!" And Tunk says—, "I Guess I'll pastur' out on pie With the Mudsock boys!" says he; "Now what's yourn?" he says to me: I chawed on— fer— quite a spell Then I speaks up, slow and dry—, Jes' tobacker!" I-says-I—. And you'd ort o' heerd 'em yell!
On old Brandywine— about Where White's Lots is now laid out, And the old crick narries down To the ditch that splits the town—, Kingry's Mill stood. Hardly see Where the old dam ust to be; Shallor, long, dry trought o' grass Where the old race ust to pass!
That's be'n forty years ago— Forty years o' frost and snow— Forty years o' shade and shine Sence them boyhood-days o' mine—! All the old landmarks o' town. Changed about, er rotted down! Where's the Tanyard? Where's the Still? Tell me where's old Kingry's Mill?
Don't seem furder back, to me, I'll be dogg'd! Than yisterd'y, Since us fellers, in bare feet And straw hats, went through the wheat, Cuttin' 'crost the shortest shoot Fer that-air old ellum root Jest above the mill-dam— where The blame' cars now crosses there!
Through the willers down the crick We could see the old mill stick Its red gable up, as if It jest knowed we'd stol'd the skiff! See the winders in the sun Blink like they wuz wonderun' What the miller ort to do With sich boys as me and you!
But old Kingry—! Who could fear That old chap, with all his cheer—? Leanin' at the window-sill, Er the half-door o' the mill, Swoppin' lies, and pokin' fun, 'N jigglin' like his hoppers done— Laughin' grists o' gold and red Right out o' the wagon-bed!
What did he keer where we went—? "Jest keep out o' devilment, And don't fool around the belts, Bolts, ner burrs, ner nothin' else 'Bout the blame machinery, And that's all I ast!" says-ee. Then we'd climb the stairs, and play In the bran-bins half the day!
Rickollect the dusty wall, And the spider-webs, and all! Rickollect the trimblin' spout Where the meal come josslln' out— Stand and comb yer fingers through The fool-truck an hour er two— Felt so sorto' warm-like and Soothin' to a feller's hand!
Climb, high up above the stream, And "coon" out the wobbly beam And peek down from out the lof' Where the weather-boards was off— Gee-mun-nee! w'y, it takes grit Even jest to think of it—! Lookin' 'way down there below On the worter roarin' so!
Rickollect the flume, and wheel, And the worter slosh and reel And jest ravel out in froth Flossier'n satin cloth! Rickollect them paddles jest Knock the bubbles galley-west, And plunge under, and come up Drippin' like a worter-pup!
And to see them old things gone That I onc't was bettin' on, In rale p'int o' fact, I feel kindo' like that worter-wheel—, Sorto' drippy-like and wet Round the eyes— but paddlin' yet, And in mem'ry, loafin' still Down around old Kingry's Mill!
Had a hare-lip— Joney had: Spiled his looks, and Joney knowed it: Fellers tried to bore him, bad— But ef ever he got mad, He kep' still and never showed it. 'Druther have his mouth all pouted And split up, and like it wuz, Than the ones 'at laughed about it. Purty is as purty does!
Had to listen ruther clos't 'Fore you knowed "what he wuz givin' You; and yet, without no boast, Joney he wuz jest the most Entertainin' talker livin'! Take the Scriptur's and run through 'em, Might say, like a' auctioneer, And 'ud argy and review 'em 'At wuz beautiful to hear!
Hare-lip and inpediment, Both wuz bad, and both ag'in' him— But the old folks where he went, 'Preared like, knowin' his intent, 'Scused his mouth fer what wuz in him. And the childern all loved Joney— And he loved 'em back, you bet—! Putt their arms around him— on'y None had ever kissed him yet!
In young company, someway, Boys 'ud grin at one another On the sly; and girls 'ud lay Low, with nothin' much to say, Er leave Joney with their mother. Many and many a time he's fetched 'em Candy by the paper sack, And turned right around and ketched 'em Makin mouths behind his back!
S'prised sometimes, the slurs he took—. Chap said onc't his mouth looked sorter Like a fish's mouth 'ud look When he'd be'n jerked off the hook And plunked back into the worter—. Same durn feller— it's su'prisin', But it's facts— 'at stood and cherred From the bank that big babtizin' 'Pike-bridge accident occurred—!
Cherred for Joney while he give Life to little childern drowndin'! Which wuz fittenest to live— Him 'at cherred, er him 'at div' And saved thirteen lives...? They found one Body, three days later, floated Down the by-o, eight mile' south, All so colored-up and bloated— On'y knowed him by his mouth!
Had a hare-lip— Joney had— Folks 'at filed apast all knowed it—. Them 'at ust to smile looked sad, But ef he thought good er bad, He kep' still and never showed it. 'Druther have that mouth, all pouted And split up, and like it wuz, Than the ones 'at laughed about it—. Purty is as purty does!
Like His Mother Used To Make
"Uncle Jake's Place," St. Jo, Mo., 1874
"I was born in Indiany," says a stranger, lank and slim, As us fellers in the restarunt was kindo' guyin' him, And Uncle Jake was slidin' him another punkin pie And a' extry cup o' coffee, with a twinkle in his eye. "I was born in Indiany— more'n forty year' ago— I hain't be'n back in twenty— and I'm workin' back'ards slow; But I've et in ever' restarunt 'twixt here and Santy Fee, And I want to state this coffee tastes like gittin' home, to me!"
"Pour us out another, Daddy," says the feller, warmin' up, A-speakin' 'cost a saucerful, as Uncle tuk his cup—, "When I seed yer sign out yander," he went on, to Uncle Jake- -, "'Come in and git some coffee like yer mother used to make'— I thought of my old mother, and the Posey County farm, And me a little kid ag'in, a-hangin' in her arm, As she set the pot: a-bilin', broke the eggs and poured 'em in—" And the feller kindo' halted, with a trimble in his chin:
And Uncle Jake he fetched the feller's coffee back, and stood As solemn, fer a minute, as a' undertaker would; Then he sorto' turned and tiptoed to'rds the kitchen door— and nex', Here comes his old wife out with him, a-rubbin' of her specs— And she rushes fer the stranger, and she hollers out, "It's him—! Thank God we've met him comin'—! Don't you know, yer mother, Jim?" And the feller, as he grabbed her, says—, "You bet I hain't forgot— But," wipin' of his eyes, says he, "yer coffee's mighty hot!"
The Train Misser
At Union Station
'Ll where in the world my eyes has bin— Ef I hain't missed that train ag'in! Chuff! And whistle! And toot! And ring! But blast and blister the dasted train—! How it does it I can't explain! Git here thirty-five minutes before The durn things due—! And, drat the thing It'll manage to git past-shore!
The more I travel around, the more I got no sense—! To stand right here And let it beat me! 'Ll ding my melts! I got no gumption, ner nothin' else! Ticket Agent's a dad-burned bore—! Sell you a tickets all they keer—! Ticket Agents ort to all be
Prosecuted— and that's jes what—! How'd I know which train's fer me? And how'd I know which train was not—? Goern and comin' and gone astray, And backin' and switchin' ever'-which-way!
Ef I could jes sneak round behind Myse'f, where I could git full swing, I'd lift my coat, and kick, by jing! Till I jes got jerked up and fined—! Fer here I stood, as a durn fool's apt To, and let that train jes chuff and choo Right apast me— and mouth jes gapped Like a blamed old sandwitch warped in two!
Granny's come to our house, And ho! My lawzy-daisy! All the childern round the place Is ist a-runnin' crazy! Fetched a cake fer little Jake, And fetched a pie fer Nanny, And fetched a pear fer all the pack That runs to kiss their Granny!
Lucy Ellen's in her lap, And Wade and Silas Walker Both's a ridin' on her foot, And 'Pollos on the rocker; And Marthy's twins, from Aunt Marinn's And little Orphant Annie, All's a-eatin' gingerbread And giggle-un at Granny!
Tells us all the fairy tales Ever thought er wundered— And 'bundance o' other stories— Bet she knows a hunderd—!
Bob's the one fer "Whittington," And "Golden Locks" fer Fanny! Hear 'em laugh and clap their hands, Listenin' at Granny!
"Jack the Giant-Killer" 's good; And "Bean-Stalk" 's another—! So's the one of "Cinderell'" And her old godmother—; That-un's best of all the rest— Bestest one of any—, Where the mices scampers home Like we runs to Granny!
Granny's come to our house, Ho! My lawzy-daisy! All the childern round the place Is ist a runnin' crazy! Fetched a cake fer little Jake, And fetched a pie fer Nanny, And fetched a pear fer all the pack That runs to kiss their Granny!
Old October's purt' nigh gone, And the frosts is comin' on Little heavier every day— Like our hearts is thataway! Leaves is changin' overhead Back from green to gray and red, Brown and yeller, with their stems Loosenin' on the oaks and e'ms; And the balance of the trees Gittin' balder every breeze— Like the heads we're scratchin' on! Old October's purt' nigh gone.
I love Old October so, I can't bear to see her go— Seems to me like losin' some Old-home relative er chum— 'Pears like sorto' settin' by Some old friend 'at sigh by sigh Was a-passin' out o' sight Into everlastin' night! Hickernuts a feller hears Rattlin' down is more like tears Drappin' on the leaves below— I love Old October so!