AUTHOR OF "POVERTY VS. PAUPERISM," "OUR GIRLS," "VIVE LA REPUBLIQUE," "KEEPING A SECRET," "LITTLE JO," AND OTHER STORIES.
Happy whoever writes a book On which the world shall kindly look, And who, when many a year has flown— The volume worn, the author gone— Revere, admire, and still read on.
HARTFORD PRESS: THE CASE, LOCKWOOD & BRAINARD COMPANY. 1904.
EXTRACTS FROM PRESS NOTICES OF A FORMER VOLUME.
"We find these poems of sentiment by Hattie Howard entirely natural, spontaneous, direct, rhythmical, and free from ambitious pretense. Many of the fanciful verses have a laugh at the end; and the collection has altogether a sunny, hopeful spirit and will be welcome in this time of generally morbid expression."
"This author's verse shows a hearty, wholesome, human spirit, sometimes overflowing into downright fun, and a straightforward directness always. It is a pleasant book, sure to be welcomed by all."
"These garnered gems reveal a genuine poetic faculty, and are worthy their attractive setting. We give the book a hearty welcome."
"Many of the poems abound in playful humor or tender touches of sympathy which appeal to a refined feeling, and love for the good, the true, and the beautiful."
"This poet's ear is so attuned to metric harmony that she must have been born within sound of some osier-fringed brook leaping and hurrying over its pebbly bed. There is a variety of subject and treatment, sufficient for all tastes, and these are poems which should be cherished."
"Lovers of good poetry will herald with pleasure this new and attractive volume by the well-known authoress of Hartford. A wooing sentiment and genial spirit seem to guide her in every train of thought. Her book has received, and deserves, warm commendations of the press."
Copyright, 1904, BY HATTIE HOWARD.
EXTRACTS FROM PRESS NOTICES, 2
"THE SALT OF THE EARTH," 7
NOT GONE, 9
LET US GIVE THANKS, 10
A RAINY DAY, 12
THE SUBWAY, 16
THE APPLE TREE, 18
TWO ROSES, 21
THE TAXIDERMIST, 23
A FOWL AFFAIR, 28
HOLIDAY HOME, 31
THE STUDENT GONE, 36
THE TOURIST, 38
THE ANTIQUARIAN, 40
POOR HOUSEKEEPING, 45
GOING TO TOBOG, 47
"PASSER LE TEMPS," 49
THE TORPEDO, 50
CHRISTMAS BELLS, 53
BY THE SEA, 54
A SONG, 55
IS IT APRIL? 56
JANUARY, 1885, 59
SWEET PEAS, 61
THE SUMMER HOUSE, 62
TO DIE IN AUTUMN, 65
APPLE BLOSSOMS, 67
WITHOUT A MINISTER, 68
INDIAN SUMMER, 70
THE BEAUTY OF NATURE, 74
"ALL THE RAGE," 76
MY MOTHER'S HAND, 79
A LEAP YEAR EPISODE, 80
PERFECT CHARACTER, 84
THE MIRACLE OF SPRING, 85
THE CHARTER OAK, 88
"ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE," 92
OF HER WHO DIED, 96
RECEIVING SIGHT, 100
ON THE COMMON, 104
WOMAN'S HELP, 106
THE WOODS, 110
LIKE SUMMER, 112
SHERIDAN'S LAST RIDE, 114
A BIT OF GLADNESS, 116
THE CHARITY BALL, 118
THE BELL(E) OF BALTIMORE, 120
CHRISTMAS AT CHURCH, 122
"BE NOT ANXIOUS," 126
MOUNT VERNON, 128
A PRISONER, 130
THE SANGAMON RIVER, 133
THE MASTER OF THE GRANGE, 139
A FRIEND INDEED, 142
THE NEEDED ONE, 143
"THY WILL BE DONE," 145
NEVER HAD A CHANCE, 151
SORROW AND JOY, 153
WATCH HILL, 155
"HONEST JOHN," 159
BUSHNELL PARK, 161
AT GENERAL GRANT'S TOMB, 164
"BE COURTEOUS," 166
A NEW SUIT, 168
THE LITTLE CLOCK, 170
ON BANCROFT HEIGHT, 175
A REFORMER, 178
"The Salt of the Earth."
The salt of the earth—what a meaningful phrase From the lips of the Saviour, and one that conveys A sense of the need of a substance saline This pestilent sphere to refresh and refine, And a healthful and happy condition secure By making it pure as the ocean is pure.
In all the nomenclature known to the race, In all appellations of people or place, Was ever a name so befitting, so true Of those who are seeking the wrong to undo, With naught of the Pharisee's arrogant air Their badge of discipleship humbly who wear?
Do beings, forsooth, fashioned out of the mold, So secretly, strangely, those elements hold That may be developed in goodness and grace To shine in demeanor, in form and in face Till they, by renewal of heavenly birth, Shall merit their title—the salt of the earth?
To the landsman at home or the sailor at sea, With nausea, scurvy, or canker maybe, 'Tis never in language to overexalt The potent preservative virtue of salt— A crystal commodity wholesome and good, A cure for disease, and a savor for food.
Ah, the beasts of the wood and the fowls of the air Know all of the need of this condiment rare, Know well where the springs and the "salt-licks" abound, Where streams salinaceous flow out of the ground; And their cravings appease by sipping the brine With more than the relish of topers at wine.
Our wants may be legion, our needs are but few, And every known ill hath its remedy true; 'Tis ours to discover and give to mankind Of hidden essentials the best that we find; 'Tis ours to eradicate error and sin, And help to make better the place we are in.
If ever this world from corruption is free, And righteousness reign in the kingdom to be, Like salt in its simple and soluble way Infusing malodor, preventing decay. So human endeavor in action sublime Must never relax till the finale of time.
To thousands discouraged this comforting truth Appeals like the promise of infinite youth: To know, as they labor like bees in the hive, Yet do little more than keep goodness alive— To know that the Master accredits their worth As blessed disciples—"the salt of the earth."
They are not gone whose lives in beauty so unfolding Have left their own sweet impress everywhere; Like flowers, while we linger in beholding, Diffusing fragrance on the summer air.
They are not gone, for grace and goodness can not perish, But must develop in immortal bloom; The viewless soul, the real self we love and cherish, Shall live and flourish still beyond the tomb.
They are not gone though lost to observation, And dispossessed of those dear forms of clay, Though dust and ashes speak of desolation; The spirit-presence—this is ours alway.
Let Us Give Thanks.
If we have lived another year And, counting friends by regiments Who share our love and confidence, Find no more broken ranks, For this let us give thanks.
If, since the last Thanksgiving-time, Have we been blessed with strength and health, And added to our honest wealth, Nor lost by broken banks, For this would we give thanks.
If through adversity we trod, Yet with serene and smiling face, And trusted more to saving grace Than charlatans and cranks, For this let us give thanks.
If we have somehow worried through The ups and downs along life's track, And still undaunted can look back And smile at Fortune's pranks, For this would we give thanks.
If every page in our account With God and man is fairly writ, We care not who examines it, With no suspicious blanks, For this let us give thanks.
Upon my smile let none pass compliment If it but gleam like an enchanting ray Of sunshine caught from some sweet summer day, In atmosphere of rose and jasmine scent And breath of honeysuckles redolent, When, with the birds that sing their lives away In harmony, the treetops bend and sway, And all the world with joy is eloquent.
But in that day of gloom when skies severe Portend the tempest gathering overhead, If by my face some token shall appear Inspiring hope, dispelling darksome dread, Oh, be the rapture mine that it be said, "Her smile is like the rainbow, full of cheer."
A Rainy Day.
Oh, what a blessed interval A rainy day may be! No lightning flash nor tempest roar, But one incessant, steady pour Of dripping melody; When from their sheltering retreat Go not with voluntary feet The storm-beleaguered family, Nor bird nor animal.
When business takes a little lull, And gives the merchantman A chance to seek domestic scenes, To interview the magazines, Convoke his growing clan, The boys and girls almost unknown, And get acquainted with his own; As well the household budget scan, Or write a canticle.
When farmer John ransacks the barn, Hunts up the harness old— Nigh twenty years since it was new— Puts in an extra thong or two, And hopes the thing will hold Without that missing martingale That bothered Dobbin, head and tail, He, gentle equine, safe controlled But by a twist of yarn.
When busy fingers may provide A savory repast To whet the languid appetite, And give to eating a delight Unknown since seasons past; Avaunt, ill-cookery! whose ranks Develop dull dyspeptic cranks Who, forced to diet or to fast, Ergo, have dined and died.
It is a day of rummaging, The closets to explore; To take down from the dusty shelves The books—that never read themselves— And turning pages o'er Discover therein safely laid The bills forgot and never paid— Somehow that of the corner store Such dunning memories bring.
It gives a chance to liquidate Epistolary debts; To write in humble penitence Acknowledging the negligence, The sin that so besets, And cheer the hearts that hold us dear, Who've known and loved us many a year— Back to the days of pantalets And swinging on the gate.
It gives occasion to repair Unlucky circumstance; To intercept the ragged ends, And for arrears to make amends By mending hose and pants; The romping young ones to re-dress Without those signs of hole-y-ness That so bespeak the mendicants By every rip and tear.
It is a time to gather round The old piano grand, Its dulcet harmonies unstirred Since Lucy sang so like a bird, And played with graceful hand; Like Lucy's voice in pathos sweet Repeating softly "Shall we meet?" Is only in the heavenly land Such clear soprano sound.
It is a time for happy chat En cercle tete-a-tete; Discuss the doings of the day, The club, the sermon, or the play, Affairs of church and state; Fond reminiscence to explore The pleasant episodes of yore, And so till raindrops all abate As erst on Ararat.
Ah, yes, a rainy day may be A blessed interval! A little halt for introspect, A little moment to reflect On life's discrepancy— Our puny stint so poorly done, The larger duties scarce begun— And so may conscience culpable Suggest a remedy.
Oh, who in creation would fail to descend That wonderful hole in the ground?— That, feeling its way like a hypocrite-friend In sinuous fashion, seems never to end; While thunder and lightning abound.
Oh, who in creation would dare to go down That great subterranean hole— The tunnel, the terror, the talk of the town, That gives to the city a mighty renown And a shaking as never before?
A serpent, a spider, its mouth at the top Where the flies are all buzzing about; Down into its maw where the populace drop, Who never know where they are going to stop, Or whether they'll ever get out.
Why is it, with millions of acres untrod Where never the ploughshare hath been, That man must needs burrow miles under the sod, As if to get farther and farther from God, And deeper and deeper in sin?
O Dagos and diggers, who can't understand That the planet you'll never get through— Why, there is three times as much water as land, And but for the least little seam in the sand Your life is worth less than a sou.
Come up out of Erebus into the day, There's plenty of room overhead; No boring or blasting of rocks in the way, No stratum of sticky, impervious clay— All vacuous vapor instead.
Oh, give us a transit, a tube or an "el—", Not leagues from the surface below; As if we were never in Heaven to dwell, As if we were all being fired to—well, The place where we don't want to go!
The Apple Tree.
Has ever a tree from the earth upsprung Around whose body have children clung, Whose bounteous branches the birds among Have pecked the fruit, and chirped and sung— Was ever a tree, or shall there be, So hardy, so sturdy, so good to see, So welcome a boon to the family, Like the pride of the farmer, the apple tree?
How he loves to be digging about its root, Or grafting the bud in the tender shoot, The daintiest palate that he may suit With the fairest and finest selected fruit. How he boasts of his Sweetings, so big for size; His delicate Greenings—made for pies; His Golden Pippins that take the prize, The Astrachans tempting, that tell no lies.
How he learns of the squirrel a thing or two That the wise little rodents always knew, And never forget or fail to do, Of laying up store for the winter through; So he hollows a space in the mellow ground Where leaves for lining and straw abound, And well remembers his apple mound When a day of scarcity comes around.
By many a token may we suppose That the knowledge apple no longer grows, That broke up Adam and Eve's repose And set the fashion of fig-leaf clothes; The story's simple and terse and crude, But still with a morsel of truth imbued: For of trees and trees by the multitude Are some that are evil, and some that are good.
The more I muse on those stories old The more philosophy they unfold Of husbands docile and women bold, And Satan's purposes manifold; Ah, many a couple halve their fare With that mistaken and misfit air That the world and all are ready to swear To a mighty unapple-y mated pair.
The apple's an old-fashioned tree I know, All gnarled and bored by the curculio, And loves to stand in a zigzag row; And doesn't make half so much of a show As the lovely almond that blooms like a ball, And spreads out wide like a pink parasol Set on its stem by the garden-wall; But I love the apple tree, after all.
"A little more cider"—sings the bard; And who this juiciness would discard, Though holding the apple in high regard, Must be like the cider itself—very hard; For the spirit within it, as all must know, Is utterly harmless—unless we go Like the fool in his folly, and overflow By drinking a couple of barrels or so.
What of that apple beyond the seas, Fruit of the famed Hesperides? But dust and ashes compared to these That grow on Columbia's apple trees; And I sigh for the apples of years agone: For Rambos streaked like the morning dawn, For Russets brown with their jackets on, And aromatic as cinnamon.
Oh, the peach and cherry may have their place, And the pear is fine in its stately grace; The plum belongs to a puckery race And maketh awry the mouth and face; But I long to roam in the orchard free, The dear old orchard that used to be, And gather the beauties that dropped for me From the bending boughs of the apple tree.
I've a friend beyond the ocean So regardful, so sincere, And he sends me in a letter Such a pretty souvenir.
It is crushed to death and withered, Out of shape and very flat, But its pure, delicious odor Is the richer for all that.
'Tis a rose from Honolulu, And it bears the tropic brand, Sandwiched in this friendly missive From that far-off flower-land.
It shall mingle pot-a-pourri With the scents I love and keep; Some of them so very precious That remembrance makes me weep.
While I dream I hear the music That of happiness foretells, Like the flourishing of trumpets And the sound of marriage bells.
There's a rose upon the prairie, Chosen his by happy fate, He shall gather when he cometh Sailing through the Golden Gate.
Mine, a public posy, growing Somewhere by the garden wall, Might have gone to any stranger, May have been admired by all.
But the rose in beauty blushing, Tenderly and sweetly grown In the home and its affections, Blooms for him, and him alone.
Speed the voyager returning; His shall be a welcome warm, With the Rose of Minnesota Gently resting on his arm.
Love embraces in his kingdom Earth and sea and sky and air. Hail, Columbia! hail, Hawaii! It is Heaven everywhere.
From other men he stands apart, Wrapped in sublimity of thought Where futile fancies enter not; With starlike purpose pressing on Where Agassiz and Audubon Labored, and sped that noble art Yet in its pristine dawn.
Something to conquer, to achieve, Makes life well worth the struggle hard; Its petty ills to disregard, In high endeavor day by day With this incentive—that he may Somehow mankind the richer leave When he has passed away.
Forest and field he treads alone, Finding companionship in birds, In reptiles, rodents, yea, in herds Of drowsy cattle fat and sleek; For these to him a language speak To common multitudes unknown As tones of classic Greek.
Unthinking creatures and untaught, They to his nature answer back Something his fellow mortals lack; And oft educe from him the sigh That they unnoticed soon must die, Leaving of their existence naught To be remembered by.
Man may aspire though in the slough; May dream of glory, strive for fame, Thirst for the prestige of a name. And shall these friends, that so invite The study of the erudite, Ever as he beholds them now Perish like sparks of light?
Nay, 'tis his purpose and design To keep them: not like mummies old Papyrus-mantled fold on fold, But elephant, or dove, or swan, Its native hue and raiment on, In effigy of plumage fine, Or skin its native tawn.
What God hath wrought thus time shall tell, And thus endowment rich and vast Be rescued from the buried past; And rare reliques that never fade Be in the manikin portrayed Till taxidermy witness well The debt to science paid.
Lo! one appeareth unforetold— This re-creator, yea, of men; Making him feel as born again Who looketh up with reverent eyes, Through wonders that his soul surprise, That great Creator to behold All-powerful, all-wise.
"Whom God hath joined"—ah, this sententious phrase A meaning deeper than the sea conveys, And of a sweet and solemn service tells With the rich resonance of wedding-bells; It speaks of vows and obligations given As if amid the harmony of heaven, While seraph lips approving seem to say, "Love, honor, and obey."
Is Hymen then ambassador divine, His mission, matrimonial and benign, The heart to counsel, ardor to incite, Convert the nun, rebuke the eremite? As if were this his mandate from the throne: "It is not good for them to be alone; Behold the land! its fruitage and its flowers, Not mine and thine, but ours."
Did not great Paul aver, in lucid spell, That they of conjugal intent "do well"? But hinted at a better state,—'tis one With which two loving souls have naught to do. For, in well-doing being quite content, Be there another state more excellent To which the celibate doth fain repair, They neither know nor care.
And does the Lord of all become High Priest, And with his presence grace the wedding-feast? Then must the whole celestial throng draw nigh, For nuptials there are none beyond the sky; So is the union sanctified and blest, For Love is host, and Love is welcome guest; So may the joyous bridal season be Like that of Galilee.
Sweet Mary, of the blessed name so dear To all the loving Saviour who revere, Madonna-like be thou in every grace That shall adorn thee in exalted place, And thine the happy privilege to prove The depth, the tenderness of woman's love; So shall the heart that honors thee today Bow down to thee alway.
O radiant June, in wealth of light and air, With leaf and bud and blossom everywhere, Let all bright tokens affluent combine, And round the bridal pair in splendor shine; Let sweethearts coy and lovers fond and true On this glad day their tender vows renew, And all in wedlock's bond rejoice as they Whom God hath joined for aye.
A Fowl Affair.
I hope I'm not too orthodox To give a joke away, That took me like the chicken-pox And left a debt to pay.
Let argument ignore the cost, If it be dear or cheap, And only claim that naught be lost When it's too good to keep.
The proverb says "All flesh is grass," But this I do deny, Because of that which came to pass, But not to pass me by.
A body weighing by the pound Inside of half a score, In case and cordage safely bound, Was landed at my door.
What could it be? for friends are slack, And give, I rather trow, When they are sure of getting back As much as they bestow.
My hair, at thought of dark design, Or dynamitish fate, Stood up like quills of porcupine, But more than twice as straight.
Anon, I mused on something rare, Like duck or terrapin, But dreamed not, of the parcel, there Might be a pullet-in.
A mighty jerk,—the string that broke The fowl affair revealed, The victim of a cruel choke, Its neck completely peeled.
The biped in its paper cof- Fin, cramped and plump and neat, Had scratched its very toenails off In making both ends meat.
The only part I always ate, That never made me ill, Had gone away decapitate And carried off the bill.
I pondered o'er the sacrifice, The merry-thought, the wings, On giblet gravy, salad nice, And chicken-pie-ous things.
In heat of Fahrenheit degree Two hundred twelve or more, Where its grandsire, defying me, Had crowed the year before,
I thrust it with a hope forlorn,— I knew what toughness meant, And sighed that ever I was born To die of roasting scent.
But presto! what denouement grand Of cookery sublime! 'Twas done as by the second hand, The drumsticks beating thyme.
And now the moral—he who buys Will comprehend its worth,— Look not so much to weight and size As to the date of birth.
In fowls there is a difference; "The good die young," they say, And for the death of innocence To make us meat, we pray.
Of all the sweet visions that come unto me Of happy refreshment by land or by sea, Like oases where in life's desert I roam, Is nothing so pleasant as Holiday Home.
I climb to the top of the highest of hills And look to the west with affectionate thrills, And fancy I stand by the emerald side Of charming Geneva, like Switzerland's pride.
In distant perspective unruffled it lies, Except for the packet that paddles and plies, And puffing its way like a pioneer makes Its daily go-round o'er this pearl of the lakes.
Untroubled except for the urchins that come From many a haunt that is never a home, Instinctive as ducklings to swim and to wade, Scarce knowing aforetime why water was made.
All placid except for the dip of the oar Of the skiff, or the barge striking out from the shore, While merry excursionists shout till the gale Reverberates laughter through rigging and sail.
How it scallops its basin and shimmers and shines Like a salver of silver encompassed with vines, In crystal illusion reflecting the skies And the mountain that seems from its bosom to rise.
There stands a great house on a summit so high, Like an eyrie of safety enroofed by the sky; And I think of the rest and the comfort up there To sleep, and to breathe that empyreal air.
Oh, the charm of the glen and the stream and the wood Can never be written, nor be understood, Except by the weary and languid who come To bask in the quiet of Holiday Home.
From prisonlike cellars unwholesome and drear, From attic and alley, from labor severe, For the poor and the famished doth kindness prepare A world of diversion and excellent fare.
To swing in the hammock, disport in the breeze, To lie in the shade of magnificent trees— Oh, this is like quaffing from luxury's bowl The life-giving essence for body and soul!
Nor distance nor time shall efface from the mind The influence gentle, the ministry kind; While gratitude fondly enhallows the thought Of a home and a holiday never forgot.
Ah, one is remembered of saintliest men To lovely Geneva who comes not again; Who left a sweet impress wherever he trod, Humanity's helper, companion of God.
In the hearts of the many there sheltered and fed, As unto a hospice by Providence led, Does often a thought like a sunbeam intrude Of the bounty so free, and the donors so good?
Who of their abundance have cheerfully given Wherewith to develop an embryo heaven— To brighten conditions too hard and too sad And make the unhappy contented and glad.
Be blessedness theirs, who like knights of renown Thus scatter such largesse o'er country and town, Their monument building in many a dome Like healthful and beautiful Holiday Home.
The days are long and lonely, The weary eve comes on, And the nights are filled with dreaming Of one beloved and gone.
I reach out in the darkness And clasp but empty air, For Rutha dear has vanished— I wonder, wonder where.
Yet must it be: her nature So lovely, pure, and true; So nearly like the angels, Is she an angel too.
The cottage is dismantled Of all that made it bright; Beyond its silent portal No love, nor life, nor light.
Where are the hopes I cherished, The joys that once I knew, The dreams, the aspirations? All, all are perished too.
Yes, love's dear chain is broken; From shore to shore I roam— No comfort, no companion, No happiness, no home.
Oh could I but enfold her Unto my heart once more, If aught could e'er restore me My darling as before;
If God would only tell me— Such myriads above— Why He must needs have taken The one I loved to love;
If God would only tell me Why multitudes are left, Unhappy and unlovely, And I am thus bereft;
If—O my soul, be silent And some day thou shalt see Through mystery and shadow, And know why it must be.
To every cry of anguish From every heart distressed, Can be no other answer Than this—God knoweth best.
The Student Gone.
So soon he fell, the world will never know What possibilities within him lay, What hopes irradiated his young life, With high ambition and with ardor rife; But ah! the speedy summons came, and so He passed away.
So soon he fell, there lie unfinished plans By others misapplied, misunderstood; And doors are barred that wait the master-key— That wait his magic Open Sesame!— To that assertive power that commands The multitude.
Too soon he fell! Was he not born to prove What manhood and integrity might be— How one from all base elements apart Might walk serene, in purity of heart, His face the bright transparency of love And sympathy?
The student ranks are closed, there is no gap; Of other brave aspirants is no dearth; Prowess, fidelity, and truth go on, And few shall miss or mourn the student gone, Reposing in the all-protecting lap Of Mother Earth.
Too soon—O God! was it thy will that one Of such endeavor and of noble mien, Enrapt with living, should thus early go From all he loved and all who loved him so, Mid life's activities no longer known, No longer seen?
Oh, not for aye should agonizing lips Quiver with questionings they dare not frame; Though in the dark penumbra of despair Seemeth no light, nor comfort anywhere— All things enshadowed as in dense eclipse, No more the same.
Could we but know, in that Elysian lore Of happy exercise still going on Could we but know of glorious heights attained, Of his reward, of mysteries explained,— Ah! but to know were to lament no more The student gone.
Lo! carpet-bag and bagger occupy the land, And prove the touring season actively begun; His personnel and purpose can none misunderstand, For each upon his frontlet bears his honest brand— The fool-ish one!
By caravan and car, from country and from town, A great grasshopper army fell foraging the land; Like bumblebees that know not where to settle down, Impossible it is to curb or scare or drown The tourist band.
With guidebook, camera, with rod and gun, to shoot, To lure the deer, the hare, the bird, the speckled trout, The pauper or the prince unbidden they salute, And everywhere their royal right dare none dispute— To roam about.
From dark immuring walls and dingy ways of trade, From high society's luxurious stately homes, From lounging places by the park or promenade, From rural dwellings canopied in sylvan shade, The tourist comes.
To every mountain peak within the antipodes, To sweet, sequestered spots no other mortal knows; To every island fair engirt by sunny seas, To forest-centers unexplored by birds or bees, The tourist goes.
For Summer's fingers all the land have richly dressed, Resplendent in regalia of scent and bloom, And stirred in every heart the spirit of unrest, Like that of untamed fledglings in the parent nest For ampler room.
What is it prompts the roving mania—is it love Of wild adventure fanciful, unique, and odd? Is it to be in fashion, and to others prove One's social standing, that impels the madness of The tramp abroad?
The question hangs unanswered, like an unwise prayer, Importunate, but powerless response to bring; Go ask the voyagers, the rovers everywhere— They only say it is their rest-time, outing, their Vacationing.
So is the world's eccentric round of joy complete When happy tourist-traveler, no more to roam, His fascinating, thrilling story shall repeat To impecunious, luckless multitudes who greet The tourist home.
Millions have been and passed from view Benignity who never knew; No aspiration theirs, nor aim; Existence soulless as the clay From whence they sprang, what right have they To eulogy or fame?
So multitudes have been forgot— But drones or dunces, good for naught; Like clinging parasites or burrs Taking from others all they dared, Yet little they for others cared Except as pilferers.
Not so with that majestic man The all-round antiquarian— No model his nor parallel; From selfishness inviolate Are his achievements good and great, And thus shall ages tell.
A love for the antiquities His honest hold, his birthright is! And things unheard of or unread, Defaced by moth or rust or mold, To him are treasures more than gold, Ay, than his daily bread.
At neither ghost nor ghoul aghast He echoes voices of the past, And tones like melancholy knells Of years departed to his ear Are sweeter than of kindred dear, Sweeter than Florimel's.
He delves through centuries of dust To resurrect some unknown bust, A torso, or a goddess whole; Maybe like Venus, minus arms— Haply to find those missing charms; But not the lost, lost soul.
He dotes on aborigines Who lived in caves and hollow trees, And barters for their trinkets rare; Exchanging with those dusky breeds For arrow-heads and shells and beads A scalplock of his hair.
Had he been born—thus he laments— Along with other great events, Coeval say with Noah's flood, A proud relationship to trace With Hittites—or with any race Of blue archaic blood!
Much he adores that Pilgrim flock, The same that split old Plymouth rock, Their "Bay Psalm" when they tried to sing. Devoid of metre, sense, and tune, Who but a Puritanic loon Could have devised the thing?
He revels in a pedigree, The sprouting of a noble tree 'Way back in prehistoric times; And for the "Family Record" true Of scions all that ever grew Would give a billion dimes.
There is a language fossils speak: 'Tis not like Latin, much less Greek, But quite as dead and antiquate Its silent syllables, and cold; But ah, what meanings they unfold, What histories relate!
The earthquake is his best ally— It shows up things he cannot buy, And gives him raw material For making mastodons and such, Enough to beat that ancient "Dutch Republic's Rise and Fall."
A piece of bone can never lie: A rib, a femur, or a thigh Is but a dislocated sign Of something hybrid, half and half Betwixt a crocodile and calf— Maybe a porcupine.
The stately "Antiquarium" Is his emporium, his home. He wonders if when he is gone Will people look with mournful pride On him done up and classified, And the right label on.
He dreams of an emblazoned page, The calendar of every age Down from Creation's primal dawn; With archetypes of spears and bones, And tons of undeciphered stones Its illustrations drawn.
Labor a blessing, not a curse, His hunting ground the Universe, So much the more his nature craves To sound the fathoms of the sea: What mighty wonders there must be Down in those hidden caves!
So toils this dauntless man, alert Amid the ruins and the dirt, That other men to endless day Themselves uplifted from the clod May see, and learn and know that God Is greater far than they.
And thus, of mighty ken and plan, The all-round antiquarian Pursues his happy ministry; And on the world's progressive track Advances, always going back— Back to antiquity.
If there is one gift that I prize above others, That tinges with brightness whatever I do, And gives to the sombre a roseate hue, 'Tis a legacy mine from the nicest of mothers, Who haply the beauty of housewifery knew, And taught me her neatness and diligence too.
So is my discomfort a house in disorder: The service uncleanly, the linen distained, The children like infantry rude and untrained; The portieres dusty and frayed at the border, By lavish expenses the pocketbook drained, And miseries numberless never explained.
I dream not of pleasure in visions untidy, A wrapper all hole-y, a buttonless shoe, A slatternly matron with nothing to do; And all the ill-luck charged to ominous Friday Can never compare with the ills that ensue On wretched housekeeping and cookery too.
There's many a husband, a patient bread-winner, Gets up from the table with look of despair, And something akin to the growl of a bear; Not the saint he might be, but a querulous sinner— One driven to fasting but not unto prayer— Till epitaphed thus—"Indigestible Fare."
There's many a child, from the roof-tree diurnal, A scene of distraction or dullness severe, With the longing of youth for diversion and cheer, That comes like the spring-time refreshing and vernal, Goes out on a ruinous, reckless career, Returning, if ever, not many a year.
O negligent female, imperfect housekeeper, Though faultless in figure and charming of face, In ruffles of ribbon and trailings of lace Usurping the part of a common street-sweeper, You never can pose as a type of your race In frowsy appearance mid things out of place.
O fashion-bred damsel, with folly a-flutter, Until you have learned how to manage a broom, If never you know how to tidy a room, Manipulate bread or decide about butter, The duties of matron how dare you assume, Or ever be bride to a sensible groom?
I covet no part with that army of shirkers All down at the heels in their slipper-y tread, Who hunt for the rolling-pin under the bed, Who look with disdain on intelligent workers And take to the club or the circus instead Of mending a stocking or laying the spread.
Oh, I dream of a system of perfect housekeeping, Where mistress and helper together compete In excellent management, quiet and neat; And though in the bosom of earth I am sleeping, Shall somebody live to whom life will be sweet And home an ideal, idyllic retreat.
Going to Tobog.
Into my disappointment-cup The snowflakes fell and blocked the road, And so I thought I'd finish up The latest style of Christmas ode; When she, the charming little lass With eyes as bright as isinglass, Before a line my pen had wrought In strange attire came bounding in, As if she had with Bruno fought, And robbed him of his shaggy skin.
She came to me robed cap-a-pie In her bewitching "blanket-suit," In moccasin and toggery, All ready for "that icy chute," And asked me if I thought she'd do; I shake with love of mischief true: "For what?—a polar bear?—why, yes!" "No, no!" she said, with half a pout. "Why, one would think so, by your dress— Say, does your mother know you're out?"
"No, I'm not out," she said, and sighed; "Because the storm so wildly raged— But for the first delightful ride For half a year I've been engaged." "Engaged to what?—an Esquimau? To ride a glacier, or a floe?" "Why, don't you know"—her color glowed, In expectation all agog— "The reason why I'm glad it snowed? Because—I'm going to tobog."
"Passer Le Temps."
So that's the way you pass your time! Indeed your charming, frank confession Betrays no sort of heinous crime, But marks a wonderful digression From puritanic views, less bold, That we were early taught to hold.
"Passer le temps," of course, implies A little cycle of flirtations, Wherein the actors never rise To sober, serious relations, But play just for amusement's sake A harmless game of "give and take."
While moments pass on pinions fleet, And youth in beauty effloresces, The joy that finds itself complete In honeyed words and soft caresses, Alas! an index seems to be Of perilous inconstancy.
It may be with disdainful smile You greet this comment from a stranger, Your pleasure-paths pursuing while A siren voice discounts the danger, Until, some day, in sadder rhyme You rue your mode of "passing time."
Valiant sons of the sea, All the vast deep, your home, Holds no terror so dread As this novel and unseen foe, Lurking under the foam Of some dangerous channel— As the torpedo, the scourge of ships.
Through the rigging may roar AEolus' thousand gales, Yet the mariner's heart Shrinketh not from the howling blast; Though with battle-rent sails, Flames and carnage around him, Cowardice never shall pale his lips.
But when powers concealed, Threatening with death the crew, Pave each eddy below, E'en the bravest are chilled with fear, Lest yon wizard in blue, Who their progress is spying, Touch but the key with his finger-tips.
Lo! with thunderous boom Towers a column bright, And the vessel is gone! In that ocean of blinding spray Sink her turrets from sight, By thy potency broken, O irresistible scourge of ships!
I saw her for a moment, Her presence haunts me yet, In oft-recurring visions Of grace and gladness met That marked the sweet demeanor Of dainty Margaret.
Like gossamer her robe was Around her lightly drawn, A filmy summer-garment That fairy maidens don To make them look like angels Croqueting on the lawn.
The mallet-sport became her In hue of exercise That tinged her cheek with roses; And, dancing in her eyes, Were pantomime suggestions Of having won—a prize.
No more to me a stranger Is she who occupies A place in all my musings; And brings in tender guise A thought of one so like her— Long years in Paradise.
Dear Margaret! that "pearl-name" Is thine—and may it be The synonym of goodness, Of truth and purity, And all ennobling graces Exemplified in thee.
Ring out, O bells, in joyful chime! Again we hail the Christmas time; In melting, mellow atmosphere, The crown and glory of the year.
When bitterness, distrust, and awe Dissolve, like ice in winter's thaw, Beneath the genial touches of Amenity, good will, and love.
When flowers of affection grow, Like edelweiss mid alpine snow, In lives severe and beautiless, Unused to warmth or tenderness.
Let goodness, grace, and gratitude Revive in music's interlude, And paean notes, till time shall cease, Proclaim the blessed reign of peace.
Ring, Christmas bells! for at the sound Sweet memories of Him abound Who laid aside a diadem To be the babe of Bethlehem.
By the Sea.
I am longing to dwell by the sea, And dip in the surf every day, And—height of subaqueous glee— With the sharks and the porpoises play.
To novelty ever inclined— Instead of a calm evening sail, 'Twould suit my adventurous mind To ride on the back of a whale.
I want to disport on the rocks Like a mythical mermaiden belle, And comb out my watery locks, Then dive to my cavernous cell.
I want to discover what lends Such terror to all timid folks— That serpent whose mystery tends To make one believe it a hoax.
They say he's been captured at last; The news is too good to be true— He's slippery, cunning, and fast, And likes notoriety too.
Once had I such longings to be A sailor—those wishes are o'er, But ever in dreams of the sea My horoscope rests on the shore.
Oh, give me a home by the sea— A cottage, a cabin, a tent! Existence should ecstasy be Till summer were joyfully spent.
Oh, sing me a merry song! My heart is sad tonight; The day has been so drear and long, The world has gone awry and wrong, Discouragements around me throng, And gloom surpassing night.
Oh, sing again the song for me My mother used to sing When I, a child beside her knee, Looked up for her sweet sympathy, Nor ever thought how I might be Her little hindering thing.
Oh, sing, as eventide draws near, The old-time lullabys Grandmother sang—forever dear, Though in her grave this many a year She lies who "read her title clear To mansions in the skies."
Oh, sing till all perplexing care Has vanished with the day! And angels ever bright and fair Come down the melody to share, And on their pinions lightly bear My happy soul away.
"Is It April?"
No, this is January, dear, The almanac's untrue; For roaring Boreas, 'tis clear, In sleet and snow and atmosphere, Will be the monarch of the year, And terror, too.
"Is it a blessing in disguise?" Of course, things always are; But Arctic blasts with ardent skies Somehow do not quite harmonize, That try to cheat by weather-lies The calendar.
Old Janus must be double-faced; He promised long ago The maple syrup not to taste, Nor steal the roses from the waist Of one, a damsel fair and chaste As April snow.
O winter of our discontent! Your reign was for a day; Behold! a scene of wonderment, A thousand tongues are eloquent, For spring, in bud and bloom and scent, Is on the way.
Let working-clothes be laid aside, And Industry in festal garb arrayed; Let busy brain and hand from toil and trade Relax at Christmas-tide.
As moments pass by dial, so Let gifts go round the happy circle where In giving and receiving each may share, And mutual kindness show.
The meaning deep, like mystery, That lies in holly-bough or mistletoe, May thousands never fathom—yet who know And hail the Christmas-tree.
So strong a hold on human thought Has this glad day that seasons all the year With the rich flavoring of hearty cheer, It ne'er shall be forgot.
It is the milestone on life's road Where we may lay our burdens down, and take A look at souvenirs, for love's dear sake So prettily bestowed.
Upon its shining tablet we may write— If, like the good Samaritan, in deed— A record that the angel band shall read With impulse of delight.
And this is why on Christmas morn The world should smile and wear its brightest glow: Because some nineteen hundred years ago A little child was born.
These winter days are passing fair! As if a breath of spring Had permeated all the air, And touched each living thing With thankfulness for such a boon— Discounting with a scoff The almanac's report that "June Is yet a long way off!"
We quarrel with the calendar— For May has been misplaced— And doubt the tale oracular Of "Janus, double-faced;" For this "ethereal mildness" looks Toward shadowy delights Of roseate bowers, of cosy nooks, Of coming thermal nights.
Let robes diaphanous succeed Dense garments made of fur, And overcoats maintain the lead— Among the things that were! The wisely-rented sealskin sacque, By many a dame possessed, Be quickly relegated back To its moth-haunted chest!
While every portly alderman, In linen suit arrayed, Manipulates the palm-leaf fan And seeks the cooling shade; And he perspires who not in vain Suggests his funny squibs, By poking his unwelcome cane In other people's ribs.
Who dares to fling opprobrium On January now? As to a potentate we come With reverential bow, Because it doth not yet appear That Time hath ever seen The ruler of th' inverted year In more benignant mien.
O Boreas! do not lie low— That is, if "lie" thou must— Upon our planet; do not blow With fierce and sudden gust, But come so gently, tenderly— As come thou surely wilt— That we may have sweet dreams of thee, Beneath "our crazy quilt!"
By helpful fingers taught to twine Around its trellis, grew A delicate and dainty vine; The bursting bud, its blossom sign, Inlaid with honeyed-dew.
Developing by every art To floriculture known, From tares exempt, and kept apart, Careful, as if in some fond heart Its legume germs were sown.
So thriving, not for me alone Its beauty and perfume— Ah, no, to rich perfection grown By flower mission loved and known In many a darkened room.
And once in strange and solemn place, Mid weeping uncontrolled, Upon the crushed and snowy lace I saw them scattered 'round a face All pallid, still, and cold.
Oh, some may choose, as gaudy shows, Those saucy sprigs of pride The peony, the red, red rose; But give to me the flower that grows Petite and pansy-eyed.
Thus, meditation on Sweet Peas Impels the ardent thought, Would maidens all were more like these, With modesty—that true heartsease— Tying the lover's knot.
The Summer House.
Midway upon the lawn it stands, So picturesque and pretty; Upreared by patient artist hands, Admired of all the city; The very arbor of my dream, A covert cool and airy, So leaf-embowered as to seem The dwelling of a fairy.
It is the place to lie supine Within a hammock swinging, To watch the sunset, red as wine, To hear the crickets singing; And while the insect world around Is buzzing—by the million— No winged thing above the ground Intrudes in this pavilion.
It is the place, at day's decline, To tell the old, old story Behind the dark Madeira vine, Behind the morning glory; To confiscate the rustic seat And barter stolen kisses, For honey must be twice as sweet In such a spot as this is.
It is the haunt where one may get Relief from petty trouble, May read the latest day's gazette About the "Klondike" bubble: How shanties rise like golden courts. Where sheep wear glittering fleeces, How gold is picked up—by the quartz— And all get rich as Croesus.
Here hid away from dust and heat, Secure from rude intrusion, While willing lips the thought repeat, So grows the fond illusion: That happiness the product is Of lazy, languid dozing, Of soft midsummer reveries, Half-waking, half-reposing.
And here in restful interlude, Life's fallacies forgetting, Its frailties—such a multitude— The fuming and the fretting, Amid the fragrance, dusk, and dew, The happy soul at even May walk abroad, and interview Bright messengers from Heaven.
To Die in Autumn.
The melody of autumn Is the only tune I know, And I sing it over and over Because it thrills me so; It stirs anew the happy wish, So near to perfect bliss, To live a little longer in A world like this.
The sound was never sweeter, The voice so nearly mute, As beauty, dying, loses Her hold upon the lute; And like the harmonies that touch And blend with those above, Forever must an echo wake The heart of love.
Her robe of brown and coral And amber glistens through Rare jewels of the morning, The opals of the dew, Like royal fabrics worn beneath The tinselry of pearls, Or diamond dust by fashion strewn On sunny curls.
If I could wrap such garments In true artistic style About myself departing, And wear as sweet a smile And be as guileless as the flowers My friends would never sigh; 'Twould reconcile them to my death To see me die.
And why should there be sorrow When dying is no more Than 'twixt two bright apartments The opening of a door Through which the freed, enraptured soul From this, a paradise, May pass to that supremely fair Beyond the skies?
Oh, 'twere not hard to finish When earth with tender grace Prepares for her dear children So sweet a resting place; And though in dissolution's throe The melody be riven, The song abruptly ended here Goes on in Heaven.
Of all the lovely blossoms That decorate the trees, And shower down their petals With every breath of breeze, There is nothing so sweet or fair to me As the delicate blooms of the apple tree.
A thousand shrubs and flow'rets Delicious pleasure bring, But beautiful Pomona Must be the queen of spring; And out of her flagon the peach and pear Their chalices fill with essence rare.
Oh, is it any wonder, Devoid of blight or flaw, The peerless blooms of Eden Our primal mother saw In redolent beauty before her placed So tempted fair Eve the fruit to taste?
But woman's love of apples, Involving fearful price, And Adam's love for woman That cost him Paradise, By the labor of hands and sweat of brow, Have softened the curse to a blessing now.
If so those pink-eyed glories, In fields and orchards gay Develop luscious fruitage By Horticulture's way, Then, sweet as the heart of rich legumes, Shall luxury follow the apple blooms.
Without a Minister.
The congregation was devout, The minister inspired, Their attitude to those without By every one admired, And all things so harmonious seemed, Of no calamity we dreamed.
But, just in this quiescent state A little cloud arose Portentous of our certain fate— As everybody knows; Our pastor took it in his head His "resignation" must be read.
In every eye a tear-drop stood, For we accepted it Reluctantly, but nothing could Make him recant one bit; And soon he left for distant parts, While we were left—with broken hearts.
And next the "patriarch" who led For nearly three-score years Our "Sabbath school"—its worthy head— Rekindled all our fears By saying, with a smile benign, "Since it's the fashion, I'll resign!"
And so he did; but promptly came Forth one, of good report— "Our Superintendent" is his name— Who tries to "hold the fort" With wisdom, tact, and rare good sense, In this, his first experience.
The world looks on and says, "How strange! They hang together so, These Baptists do, and never change, But right straight onward go While other flocks are scattering all, And some have strayed beyond recall!"
Is it not our bounden duty Harsh and bitter thoughts to quell, Wild, ambitions schemes repel, And to revel in the beauty Of this Indian summer spell, Bathing forest, field, and dell As with radiance immortelle?
None can paint like nature dying; Whose dissolving struggle lent Wealth of hues so richly blent That, through weary years of trying, Artist skill pre-eminent May not copy or invent Such divine embellishment.
Knights of old from castles riding Scattered largesse as they went Which, like manna heaven-sent, Cheered the poverty-abiding; But, when 'neath "that low green tent" Passed the hand benevolent, Sad were they and indigent.
Monarchs, too, have thus delighted Giving unto courtiers free, Costly robes and tinselry; And, as royal guests, invited Them to sumptuous halls of glee, Banqueting and minstrelsy, Bacchus holding sovereignty.
Then, perchance, in mood capricious Stripped and scorned and turned away Those who tasted for a day Pleasure sweet and food delicious; Nor might any say them nay— Lest his head the forfeit pay Who a king dared disobey.
But our own benignant Giver, Almoner impartial, true, Constantly doth gifts renew; Nor would fitfully deliver Aught unto the chosen few, But to all the wide world through, Who admire his wonders, too.
Never shall the heart be poorer, Never languish in despair, That such affluence may share; For than this is nothing surer— He hath said, and will prepare In those realms of upper air Glories infinitely fair.
Like music heard in mellow chime, The charm of her transforming time Upon my senses steals As softly as from sunny walls, In day's decline, their shadow falls Across the sleeping fields.
A fair, illumined book Is nature's page whereon I look While "autumn turns the leaves;" And many a thought of her designs Between those rare, resplendent lines My fancy interweaves.
I dream of aborigines, Who must have copied from the trees The fashions of the day: Those gorgeous topknots for the head, Of yellow tufts and feathers red, With beads and sinews gay.
I wonder if the saints behold Such pageantry of colors bold Beyond the radiant sky; And if the tints of Paradise Are heightened by the strange device Of making all things die.
Yea, even so; for Nature glows Because of her expiring throes, As if around her tomb Unmeet it were,—the look severe That designates a common bier Enwreathed in deepest gloom.
And so I meditate if aught Can be so fair where death is not; If Heaven's loveliness Is born of struggle and decay; And, but for funeral array, Would it be beautiless?
Oh solemn, sad, sweet mystery That Earth's unrivaled brilliancy Is but her splendid pall! That Heaven were not what it is But for that crown of tragedies, The sacrifice for all.
So not a charm would Zion lose Were it bereft of sparkling hues In gilded lanes and leas; It would be bright though not a flower Unclosed in its celestial bower, And void of jeweled trees.
Yet, lily-like, one bloom I see, Its name is his who died for me; Whose matchless beauty shows Perfection on its bleeding stem, The blossom-bud of Bethlehem, The Resurrection Rose.
The Beauty of Nature.
Oh bud and leaf and blossom, How beautiful they are! Than last year's vernal season 'Tis lovelier by far; This earth was never so enchanting Nor half so bright before— But so I've rhapsodized, in springtime, For forty years or more.
What luxury of color On shrub and plant and vine, From pansies' richest purple To pink of eglantine; From buttercups to "johnny-jump-ups," With deep cerulean eyes, Responding to their modest surname In violet surprise.
Sometimes I think the sunlight That gilds the emerald hills, And makes Aladdin dwellings Of dingy domiciles, Is surplus beauty overflowing That Heaven cannot hold— The topaz glitter, or the jacinth, The glare of streets of gold.
In "Cedar Hill," the city Of "low green tents" of sod, I read the solemn record Of those gone home to God; While from their hallowed dust arising The fragrant lilies grow As if their life was all the sweeter For those who sleep below.
And so 'tis not in sadness I dwell upon the thought, When I am dead and buried That I shall be forgot. Because the germ of reproduction Doth this poor body hold, Perchance to add to nature's beauty A rose above the mold.
"All the Rage."
A common wayside flower it grew, Unhandsome and unnoticed too, Except in deprecation That such an herb unreared by toil, Prolific cumberer of the soil, Defied extermination.
Its gorgeous blooms were never stirred By honey-bee nor humming-bird In their corollas dipping; But they from clover white and red Delicious nectar drew instead In dainty rounds of sipping.
No place its own euphonious name Within the catalogue might claim Of any flora-lover; For, in the scores of passers-by, As yet no true artistic eye Its beauty could discover.
The reaper with his sickle keen Aimed at its crest of gold and green With spiteful stroke relentless, And would have rooted from the ground The "Solidago"—blossom-crowned, But gaudy, rank, and scentless.
But everything must have its day— And since some fickle devotee Or myrmidon of Fashion Declares that this obnoxious weed, From wild, uncultivated seed, Shall be the "ruling passion,"
Effusive schoolgirls dote on it; Whose "frontispieces" infinite That need no decoration Are hid beneath its golden dust, Till many a fine, symmetric bust Is lost to admiration.
Smart dudes and ladies' men—the few Who wish they could be ladies too— Display a sprig of yellow Conspicuous in their buttonhole, To captivate a maiden soul Or vex some other fellow.
And spinsters of uncertain age Are clamoring now for "all the rage" To give a dash of color To their complexions, which appear To be the hue they hold so dear— Except a trifle duller.
That negligee "blue-stocking" friend, Who never cared her time to spend On mysteries of the toilet, Now wears a sumptuous bouquet And shakes your hand a mile away For fear that you will spoil it.
Delightful widows, dressed in black, Complain with modest sighs they lack That coveted expression, That sort of Indian Summer air Which "relicts" always ought to wear By general concession;
And so lugubrious folds of crape Are crimped and twisted into shape With graceful heads of yellow, That give a winsome toning down To sombre hat and sable gown— In autumn tintings mellow.
Alas, we only hate the weed! And think that it must be, indeed, The ladies' last endeavor To match the gentlemen, who flaunt That odious dried tobacco plant At which they puff forever.
My Mother's Hand.
My head is aching, and I wish That I could feel tonight One well-remembered, tender touch That used to comfort me so much, And put distress to flight.
There's not a soothing anodyne Or sedative I know, Such potency can ever hold As that which lovingly controlled My spirit long ago.
How oft my burning cheek as if By Zephyrus was fanned, And nothing interdicted pain Or seemed to make me well again So quick as mother's hand.
'Tis years and years since it was laid, In her own gentle way, On tangled curls of brown and jet Above the downy coverlet 'Neath which the children lay.
As bright as blessed sunlight ray The past comes back to me; Her fingers turn the sacred page For a little group of tender age Who gather at her knee.
And when those hands together clasped Devout and still were we; To whom it seemed God then and there Must surely answer such a prayer, For none could pray as she.
O buried love with her that passed Into the Silent Land! O haunting vision of the night! I see, encoffined, still, and white, A mother's face and hand.
A Leap Year Episode.
Such oranges! so fresh and sweet, So large and lovely—and so cheap! They lay in one delicious heap, And added to the sumptuous feast For each and all in taste expert The acme of all fine dessert; So, singling out the very least As in itself an ample treat, While sparkling repartee and jest Exhilarated host and guest, Of rarity so delicate In dreamy reverie I ate, By magic pinions as it were Transported from this realm of snows To be a happy sojourner Away down where the orange grows; Amid the bloom, the verdure, and The beauty of that tropic land, While redolence seemed wafted in From orchard-groves of Mandarin.
In dinner costume a la mode, Expressing from the spongy skin The nectar that ran down her chin In little rills of lusciousness, Sat Maud, the beautiful coquette; Her dainty mouth, like "two lips" wet With morning dew, her crimson dress, A sad discoloration showed Where orange-juice—it was a sin!— A polka-dot had painted in; Which moved the roguish girl to say Half-ruefully (half-decollete)— "I'm glad it's Leap Year now, for I—" Her voice was like a moistened lute "Shall wear the flowers, by and by— I do not like this leaky fruit!" And looking straight and saucily At cousin Ned, her vis-a-vis; While Will, who never dared propose, Was blushing like a red, red rose.
The company was large, and she Touched elbows with the exquisite, Gay Archibald, who took her wit And pertness all as meant for him; Who, thereby lifted some degrees Above less-favored devotees, With rainbow sails began to trim His craft of sweet felicity; So mirth in reckless afterlude Convulsed the merry multitude, Who laughed at Archie's self-esteem, And pitied Will's long-cherished dream; While all declared, for her and Ned— His face was like a silver tray— The wedding-banquet should be spread Before a twelvemonth passed away. But, ah, the sequel—blind were we To woman and her strategy! For he so long afraid to speak Bore off the bride within a week.
If all the sermons good men preach And all the precepts that they teach Were gathered into one Unbroken line of silver speech, The shining filament might reach From earth unto the sun.
If all the stories ever told By wild romancers, young or old, Into a thread were drawn, And from its cable coil unrolled, 'Twould span those misty hills of gold That heaven seems resting on.
If every folly, every freak, From day to day, from week to week, Is written in "The Book," With all the idle words we speak, Would it not crimson many a cheek Upon the page to look?
If all the good deeds that we do From honest motives pure and true Shall there recorded be, Known unto God and angels too, Is it not sad they are so few And wrought so charily?
He lives but half who never stood By the grave of one held dear, And out of the deep, dark loneliness Of a heart bereaved and comfortless, From sorrow's crystal plentitude, Feeling his loss severe, Dropped a regretful tear.
Oh, life's divinest draught doth not In the wells of joy abound! For the purest streams are those that flow Out of the depths of crushing woe, As from the springs of love and thought Hid in some narrow mound, Making it holy ground.
He hath been blessed who sometimes knelt Owning that God is just, And in the stillness of cypress shade Rosemary's tender symbol laid Upon a cherished shrine, and felt Strengthened in faith and trust Over the precious dust.
So perfect character is wrought, Rounded and beautified, By the alchemy of that strange alloy, The intermingling of grief and joy; So nearer Heaven the spirit, brought Bleeding, so sorely tried, Finds its diviner side.
The Miracle of Spring.
What touch is like the Spring's? By dainty fingerings Such rare delight to give, 'Tis luxury to live Amid florescent things.
Through weary months of snow When Boreas swept low, How many an anxious hour We watched one little flower, And tried to make it grow;
And thrilled with ecstasy When, half distrustfully, A timid bud appeared, A tender scion reared In window greenery.
But lo! Spring's wealth of bloom And richness of perfume Comes as by miracle; Then why not possible Within a curtained room?
Ah, no! that everywhere The earth is passing fair, And strange new life hath caught, Is but the marvel wrought By sunlight, rain, and air.
O charming blossom of the sea Atlantic waters bosomed in! Abiding-place of gayety, Elysian bower of "Cora Linn," The sprightly, lively debiteuse Recounting all she sees and does.
Oh, how it makes the northern heart, With sluggish current half-congealed, In ecstasy and vigor start To read about this tropic field; The garden of luxuriousness, In winter wearing summer's dress.
With gelid sap and frozen gum In maple trees and hackmatack, While waiting for the spring to come Of life's necessities we lack; And sip the nectar that we find In luscious fruit with golden rind.
But down the street we dread to walk, For all the teachings of our youth Receive an agonizing shock; Do tempting labels lie, forsooth? For "out of Florida," she says, "Come our Bermuda oranges."
To speed the penitential prayer Our rosary we finger o'er, A yellow necklace rich and rare— 'Twas purchased at the dollar store; But oh, it makes us sigh to see That land of amber bijouterie!
Oh, ocean wave and flying sail Shall never waft us to its shore! But if some reckless cyclone gale Should drop Bermuda at our door, 'Twould warm our February sky And bring the time of roses nigh!
The Charter Oak.
I seem to see the old tree stand, Its sturdy, giant form A spectacle remembered, and A pilgrim-shrine for all the land Before it met the storm.
Unnumbered gales the tree defied; It towered like a king Above his courtiers, reaching wide, And sheltering scions at its side As with protecting wing.
Revered as one among the trees To mark the seasons born, To watchful aborigines It told by leafy indices The time of planting corn.
The landmark of the past is gone, Its site is overgrown; A mansion overlooks the lawn Where history is traced upon A parapet of stone.
Shall e'er Connecticut forget What unto it we owe— How Wadsworth coped with Andros' threat, And tyranny, in council met, Outwitted years ago?
Aye, but it rouses loyal spunk To think of that old tree! Its stately stem, its spacious trunk By Nature robbed of pith and punk To guard our liberty.
But of the oak long-perished, why Is earth forever full? For, like the loaf and fish supply, Its stock of fiber, tough and dry, Seems inexhaustible.
Rare souvenirs the stranger sees— Who never sees a joke— And innocently dreams that these, From knotty, gnarly, scraggy trees, Were once the Charter Oak!
Yes, it is drawing nigh— The time of blossoming; The waiting heart beats stronger With every breath of Spring, The days are growing longer; While happy hours go by As if on zephyr wing.
A wealth of mellow light Reflected from the skies The hill and vale is flooding; Still in their leafless guise The Jacqueminots are budding, Creating new delight By promise of surprise.
The air is redolent As ocean breezes are From spicy islands blowing, Or groves of Malabar Where sandal-wood is growing; Or sweet, diffusive scent, From fragrant attar-jar.
Just so is loveliness Renewed from year to year; And thus emotions tender, Born of the atmosphere, Of bloom, and vernal splendor That words cannot express, Make Spring forever dear.
Can mortal man behold So beautiful a scene, Without the innate feeling That thus, like dying sheen The sunset hues revealing, Glints pure, celestial gold On fields of living green?
"One of the Least of These."
'Twas on a day of cold and sleet, A little nomad of the street With tattered garments, shoeless feet, And face with hunger wan, Great wonder-eyes, though beautiful, Hedged in by features pinched and dull, Betraying lines so pitiful By sorrow sharply drawn;
Ere yet the service half was o'er, Approached the great cathedral door As choir and organ joined to pour Their sweetness on the air; Then, sudden, bold, impelled to glide With fleetness to the altar's side, Her trembling form she sought to hide Amid the shadows there,
Half fearful lest some worshiper, Enveloped close in robes of fur, Had cast a scornful glance at her As she had stolen by, But soon the swelling anthem, fraught With reverence, her spirit caught As rapt she listened, heeding not The darkness drawing nigh.
'Mid novelty and sweet surprise Her soul, enraptured, seemed to rise And tread the realms of Paradise; Her shivering limbs grew warm, And as the shadows longer crept Across the chancel, angels kept Their vigils o'er her as she slept Secure from cold and storm.
No sound her peaceful slumber broke, But one, whose gentle face bespoke True goodness, took her costly cloak In tender, thoughtful way, And as the sleeper sweetly smiled, Perchance by dreams of Heaven beguiled, O'erspread the passive, slumbering child, And softly stepped away.
So rest thee, child! since Sorrow's dart Has touched like thine the Saviour's heart, Thou hast a nearer, dearer part In his great love for thee; And when life's shadows all are gone, May Heaven reveal a brighter dawn To thee who, unaware, hast drawn Our hearts in sympathy.
Around my vine-wreathed portico, At evening, there's a perfect glow Of little lights a-flashing— As if the stellar bodies had From super-heat grown hyper-mad, And spend their ire in clashing.
As frisky each as shooting star, These tiny electricians are The Lampyrine Linnaean— Or lightning-bugs, that sparkling gleam Like scintillations in a dream Of something empyrean.
They brush my face, light up my hair, My garments touch, dart everywhere; And if I try to catch them They're quicker than the wicked flea— And then I wonder how 'twould be To have a dress to match them.
To be a "princess in disguise," And wear a robe of fireflies All strung and wove together, And be the cynosure of all At Madame Haut-ton's carnival, In fashion's gayest feather.
So, sudden, falls upon the grass The overpow'ring light of gas, And through the lattice streaming; As wearily I close my eyes Brief are the moments that suffice To reach the land of dreaming.
Now at the ball, superbly dressed As I suppose, to eclipse the rest, Within an alcove shady A brilliant flame I hope to be, While all admire and envy me, The "bright electric lady."
But, ah, they never shine at all! My eyes ignite—I leave the hall, For wrathful tears have filled them; I could have crushed them on the spot— The bugs, I mean!—and quite forgot That stringing them had killed them.
Of Her who Died.
We look up to the stars tonight, Idolatrous of them, And dream that Heaven is in sight, And each a ray of purest light From some celestial gem In her bright diadem.
Before that lonely home we wait, Ah! nevermore to see Her lovely form within the gate Where heart and hearthstone desolate And vine and shrub and tree Seem asking: "Where is she?"
There is the cottage Love had planned— Where hope in ashes lies— A tower beautiful to stand, Her monument whose gentle hand And presence in the skies Make home of Paradise.
In wintry bleakness nature glows Beneath the stellar ray; We see the mold, but not the rose, And meditate if knowledge goes Into yon mound of clay, With her who passed away.
Of sighs, and tears, and joys denied Do echoes reach up there? Do seraphs know—God does—how wide And deep is sorrow's bitter tide Of dolor and despair, And darkness everywhere?
Dear angel, snatched from our caress, So suddenly withdrawn, Alone are we and comfortless; As in a dome of emptiness The old routine goes on, Aimless, since thou art gone.
Oh, dearer unto us than aught In all the world beside Of thee to cherish blessed thought; So early thy sweet mission wrought, As friend, as promised bride, Who lived, and loved, and died.
Nature, erewhile so marvelously lovely, is bereft Of her supernal charm; And with the few dead garlands of departed splendor left, Like crape upon her arm, In boreal hints, and sudden gusts That fan the glowing ember, By multitude of ways fulfills The promise of November.
Upon the path where Beauty, sylvan priestess, sped away, Lies the rich afterglow Of Indian Summer, bringing round the happy holiday That antedates the snow: The glad Thanksgiving time, the cheer, The festival commotion That stirs fraternal feeling from The mountains to the ocean.
O Hospitality! unclose thy bounty-laden hand In generous dealing, where Is gathered in reunion each long-severed household band, And let no vacant chair Show where the strongest, brightest link In love's dear chain is broken— A symbol more pathetic than By language ever spoken.
Into the place held sacred to the memory of some Beloved absentee, Perchance passed to the other shore, oh, let the stranger come And in gratuity Partake of festal favors that Shall sweeten hours of labor, And strengthen amity and love Unto his friend and neighbor.
Let gratitude's pure incense in warm orisons ascend, A blessing to secure, And gracious impulse bearing largesse of good gifts extend To all deserving poor; So may the day be hallowed by Unstinted thanks and giving, In sweet remembrance of the dead And kindness to the living.
In hours of meditation fraught With mem'ries of departed days, Comes oft a tender, loving thought Of one who shared our youthful plays.
In gayest sports and pleasures rife Whose happy nature reveled so, That on her ardent, joyous life A shadow lay, we did not know;
And bade her look one summer night Up to the sky that seemed to hold, In dying sunset splendor bright, All hues of sapphire, red, and gold.
How strange the spell that mystified Us all, and hushed our wonted glee, As sadly her sweet voice replied, "Why, don't you know I cannot see?"
Too true! those eyes bereft of sight No blemish bare, no drop-serene, But nothing in this world of light And beauty they had ever seen.
A dozen years in gentle ruth Their impress lent to brow and cheek, When precious words of sacred truth Led her the Saviour's face to seek.
Responsive unto earnest prayers Commingling love and penitence, A blessing came—not unawares— In new and strange experience.
And all was light, as Faith's clear eye A brighter world than ours divined; For never clouds obscured the sky That she could see, while we were blind.
Oh, it must be an awful thing To be shut out from light of day!— From summer's grace, and bloom of spring In gladness words cannot portray.
But haply into every heart May enter that Celestial Light That doth to life's dark ways impart A radiance hid from mortal sight.
Beside my window day and night, Its tendrils reaching left and right, A morning glory grew; With blossoms covered, pink and white And deep, delicious blue.
Its care became my daily thought, Who to the sweet diversion brought A bit of florist skill To guide its progress, till it caught The meaning of my will.
When through the trellis in and out It bent and turned and climbed about And so ambitious grew, O'erleaped a chasm beyond the spout Where raindrops trickled through,
Then, in caressing, graceful way, Around a door knob twined one day With modest show of pride; All unaware that danger lay Just on the other side.
An awkward, verdant "maid of work," Who dearly loved her tasks to shirk, While rummaging among Unused apartments, with a jerk The door wide open flung.
And lo! there lay, uprooted quite, The object of my heart's delight— I did not weep or rant, And yet a grain or two of spite My secret thoughts would haunt.
So when at night her favorite beau Beside his charmer sat below— That is, dans le cuisine— Occurred, as all the neighbors know, A semi-tragic scene.
The garden hose, obscured from view, Turned on itself and drenched the two— A hapless circumstance That lengthened out her "frizzes" new, But shrunk his Sunday pants.
Remember this was years agone— The madcap now hath sober grown And hose is better wrought, And neither now would run alone The risk of being caught.
On the Common.
We met on "Boston Common"— Of course it was by chance— A sudden, unexpected, But happy circumstance That gave the dull October day A beautiful, refulgent ray.
Like wandering refugees from A city of renown, Impelled to reconnoiter This Massachusetts town, Each by a common object urged, Upon the park our paths converged.
Good nature, bubbling over In healthy, hearty laughs, And little lavish speeches Like pleasant paragraphs, The kind regard, unstudied joke, His true felicity bespoke.
A bit of doleful knowledge Confided unto me, About the way the doctors— Who never could agree— His knees had tortured, softly drew My sympathy and humor, too.
I hoped he wouldn't lose them, And languish in the dumps By having to quadrille on A pair of polished stumps— But a corky limb, though one might dread, Isn't half as bad as a wooden head.
He censured those empirics Who never heal an ill, Though bound by their diplomas To either cure or kill, Who should, with ignominy crowned, Their patients follow—under ground.
I left him at the foot of "The Soldiers' Monument," With incoherent mutterings— As though 'twere his intent To turn the sod, a rod or two, And sleep beside the "boys in blue."
In Hartford's charming circles His bonhommie I miss, And having never seen him From that day unto this, I think of him with much regret As lying—with the soldiers—yet.
Sometimes I long to write an ode And magnify his name, The man of honor, on the road To opulence and fame, On whom was never aid bestowed By any helpful dame.
To all the world I fain would show That talent widely known, Rare eloquence, of burning glow To melt a heart of stone, That all his gifts, a dazzling row, Are his, and his alone.
But him, of character and mind Superb, alert, and strong, I never study but to find The subject of my song, Some paragon of womankind, Has helped him all along.
He may not know, he may not guess, How much to her he owes, How every scion of success That in his nature grows, Developed by her watchfulness, Becomes a blooming rose.
From buffetings in humble place, And labors ill begun, To proud achievement in the race And laurels grandly won, His trials all she dares to face As friend and champion.
The bars that hinder his advance And half obscure the goal, The stubborn bond of circumstance That irritates his soul, The countershafts of arrogance, All yield to her control.
He builds a tower—she below Is handing up the bricks; His light is brilliant just as though Her hand had trimmed the wicks; He prays for daily bread—the dough A woman deigns to mix.
Oh, the rare exhilaration, Oh, the novel delectation Of a ride down the slide! Packed like ice in zero weather, Pleasure-seekers close together, On a board as thin as wafer, Barely wider, scarcely safer, At the height of recreation Find a glorious inspiration, Ere the speedy termination In the snowy meadow wide, Sloping to the river's side.
Oh, such quakers we begin it, Timorous of the icy route! But to learn in half a minute What felicity is in it, As we shoot down the chute, Smothered in toboggan suit, Redingote or roquelaure, Buttoned up (and down) before, Mittens, cap, and moccasin, Just the garb to revel in; So, the signal given, lo! Over solid ice and snow, Down the narrow gauge we go Swifter than a bird o'erhead, Swifter than an arrow sped From the staunchest, strongest bow.
Oh, it beats all "Copenhagen," Silly lovers' paradise! Like the frozen Androscoggin, Slippery, and smooth, and nice, Is the track of the toboggan; And there's nothing cheap about it, Everything is steep about it, The insolvent weep about it, For the biggest thing on ice Is its tip-top price; But were this three times the money, Then the game were thrice as funny.
Ye who dwell in latitudes Where "the blizzard" ne'er intrudes, And the water seldom freezes; Ye of balmy Southern regions, Alabama's languid legions, From the "hot blast" of your breezes, Where the verdure of the trees is Limp, and loose, and pitiful, Come up here where branches bare Stand like spikes in frosty air; Come up here where arctic rigor Shall restore your bloom and vigor, Making life enjoyable; Come and take a jog on The unparalleled toboggan! Such the zest that he who misses Never knows what perfect bliss is. So the sport, the day's sensation, Thrills and recreates creation.
I love the woods when the magic hand Of Spring, as if sweeping the keys Of a wornout instrument, touches the earth; When beauty and song in the gladness of birth Awaken the heart of the desolate land, And carol its rapture to every breeze.
In summer's still solstice my steps are drawn To the shade of the forest trees; To revel with Pan in his secret haunts, To pipe mazourkas while satyrs dance, Or lull to soft slumber some favorite faun And fascinate strange wild birds and bees.
I love the woods when autumnal fires Are kindled on every hill; When dead leaves rustle in grove and field, And trees are known by the fruits they yield, And the wild grapes, sweetened by frost, inspire A mildly-desperate, bibulous thrill.
There's a joy for which I would fling to the air My petty portion of wealth and fame, In tracking the rabbit o'er fresh-fallen snow, The ways of the 'coon and opossum to know, To capture squirrels when branches are bare As the cupboard shelf of that ancient dame.
Oh, I long to explore the woods again In my own aboriginal way, As before I knew how culture could frown On a hoydenish gait and a homespun gown Or dreamed that the strata of proud "upper-ten" Would smile at rusticity's naivete.
I sigh for the pleasures of long ago In youth's sweet halcyon time; When better beloved than the thoroughfare By multitudes trod were the woodlands, where Was never a path that I did not know, Nor thrifty sapling I dared not climb.
Alas for lost freedom! Alas for me! For oh, Society's lip would curl, Propriety's self with scornful eye And gilt-edged Fashion would pass me by To know that sometimes I'm dying to be The romp, the rover, the same old girl.
November? 'tis a summer's day! For tropic airs are blowing As soft as whispered roundelay From unseen lips that seem to say To feathered songsters going To sunnier, southern climes afar, "Stay where you are—stay where you are!"
And other tokens glad as these Declare that Summer lingers: Round latent buds still hum the bees, Slow fades the green from forest trees Ere Autumn's artist fingers Have touched the landscape, and instead Brought out the amber, brown, and red.
The invalid may yet enjoy His favorite recreation, Gay, romping girl, unfettered boy In outdoor sports the time employ, And happy consummation Of prudent plans the farmer know Ere wintry breezes round him blow.
And they by poverty controlled— Good fortune shall betide them As scenes of beauty they behold, And seem to revel in the gold Which Plutus has denied them; For, ah! the poor from want's despair Oft covet wealth they never share.
Sheridan's Last Ride.
While Phoebus lent his hottest rays To signalize midsummer days, I stood in that far-famed enclosure By thousands visited, Where, in the stillness of reposure, Are grouped battalions dead.
Where, round each simple burial stone, The grass for decades twain has grown, Protecting them in dreamless slumber Who perished long ago, The multitudes defying number, A part of war's tableau.
Along the winding avenue A vast procession came in view; The mourners' slow, advancing column With reverent step drew near, The "Dead March" playing, sad and solemn, Above a soldier's bier.
There were the colonels, brigadiers, Comrades in arms of other years, Civilians, true and loyal-hearted To him their bravest man, Who seemed to say to those departed, "Make room for Sheridan!"
Anon, beside the new-made mound, The warworn veterans gathered round, And spake of Lyon and of Lander, And others ranked as high, Recalling each his old commander, One not afraid to die.
Thus, silent tenants one by one Are crowding in at Arlington; Thus Sheridan, the horseman daring, Has joined the honored corps Of those, their true insignia wearing, Who battle nevermore.
Potomac's wave shall placid flow, And sing his requiem soft and low, His terrace grave be sweet with clover, And daisies star his bed, For Sheridan's last ride is over— The General is dead!
A Bit of Gladness.
As I near my lonely cottage, At the close of weary day, There's a little bit of gladness Comes to meet me on the way: Dimpled, tanned, and petticoated, Innocent as angels are, Like a smiling, straying sunbeam Is my Stella—like a star.
Soon a hand of tissue-softness Slips confidingly in mine, And with tender look appealing Eyes of beauty sweetly shine; Like a gentle shepherd guiding Some lost lamb unto the fold, So she leads me homeward, prattling Till her stories are all told.
"Papa, I'm so glad to see you— Cousin Mabel came today— And the gas-man brought a letter That he said you'd better pay— Yes, and awful things is happened: My poor kitty's drowned to death— Mamma's got the 'Pigs in Clover'—" Here she stops for want of breath.
I am like the bold knight-errant, From his castle who would roam, Trusting her, my faithful steward, For a strict account of home; And each day I toil, and hazard All that any man may dare, For a resting-place at even, And the love that waits me there.
And sometimes I look with pity On my neighbor's mansion tall: There are chambers full of pictures, There are marbles in the hall, Yet with all the signs of splendor That may gild a pile of stone, Not a living thing about it But the owner, grim and lone.
I believe that all his millions He would give without repine For a little bit of gladness In his life, like that in mine; This it is that makes my pathway Beautiful, wherever trod, Keeps my soul from wreck and ruin, Keeps me nearer to my God.
The Charity Ball.
There was many a token of festal display, And reveling crowds who were never so gay, And, as it were AEolus charming the hours, An orchestra hidden by foliage and flowers; There were tapestries fit for the home of a queen, And mirrors that glistened in wonderful sheen; There was feasting and mirth in the banqueting-hall, For this was the annual Charity Ball.
There were pompous civilians, in wealth who abide, Displaying their purses, the source of their pride; And plethoric dealers in margins and stocks, And owners of acres of elegant blocks, And tenement-landlords who cling to a cent When from the poor widow exacting her rent— Immovable, stern, as an adamant wall— And yet, who "came down" to this Charity Ball.
There was Beauty whose toilet, superb and unique, Cost underpaid industry many a week Of arduous labor of eye, and heartache, Its starving inadequate pittance to make; There were mischievous maidens and cavaliers bold, Whose blushes and glances and coquetry told A tale of the monarch who held them in thrall— Who met, as by chance, at the Charity Ball.
There were delicate viands the poor never taste, And dollars were lavished in prodigal waste To pamper the palate of epicures rich; Who drew from the wine cellar's cavernous niche "Excelsior" brands of the rarest champagnes To loosen their tongues—though it pilfered their brains— Oh, sad if a step in some woeful downfall Should ever be traced to a Charity Ball!
Outside of the window, pressed close to the pane, And furrowed by tears that had fallen like rain, Was the face of a woman, so spectral in hue, With great liquid eyes, like twin oceans of blue, And cheeks in whose hollows were written the lines That pitiless hunger so often defines, Who muttered, as closer she gathered the shawl, "Oh, never for me is this Charity Ball!"
From liveried hirelings who bade her begone, By uniformed minions compelled to move on, Out into the street again driven to roam— For friends she had none, neither fortune nor home; While carnival-goers in morning's dull gray As homeward returning, fatigued and blase, A vision encountered their hearts to appall, And banish all thought of the Charity Ball.
As if seeking warmth from the icy curb-stone, A form half-reclining, half-clad, and unknown. Dead eyes looking up with a meaningless stare, Lay close to the crowded and broad thoroughfare; A form so emaciate the spirit had fled— But the pulpit and press and the public all said, As society's doings they sought to recall, That a "brilliant success" was the Charity Ball.
The Bell(e) of Baltimore.
[One of the notable features of Baltimore is the big bell that hangs in the city hall tower, to strike the hour and sound the fire alarm. It is called "Big Sam," and weighs 5,000 pounds]
A million feet above the ground (For so it seemed in winding round), A million, and two more, The latter stiff and sore, While perspiration formed a part Of every reeking pore, I viewed the city like a chart Spread out upon the floor.
And said: "Great guide Jehoiakin, To me is meagre pleasure in The height of spires and domes, Of walls like ancient Rome's; Nor care I for the marts of trade, Or shelves of musty tomes, Nor yet for yonder colonnade Before your palace homes;
"But curiosity is keen To know the city's reigning queen, Who suiteth well the score Of suitors at her door; Oh, which of your divinities Is she whom all adore? Embodiment of truth, who is The belle of Baltimore?"
Veracity's revolving eyes Looked up as if to read the skies: "Why, Lor'-a-miss, see dar— De bell is in de air! Lan' sakes! of all de missteries Yo' nebber learn before! Why, don' yo' know 'Big Sam'? He is De bell of Baltimore!"
Christmas at Church.
'Twas drawing near the holiday, When piety and pity met In whisp'ring council, and agreed That Christmas time, in homes of need, Should be remembered in a way They never could forget.
Then noble generosity Took youth and goodness by the hand, And planned a thousand charming ways To celebrate this best of days, While hearts were held in sympathy By love's encircling band.
So multitudes together came, Like wandering magi from the East With precious gifts unto the King, With every good and perfect thing To satisfy a shivering frame Or amplify a feast.
The angels had looked long and far The happy scene to parallel, When through the sanctuary door Were carried gifts from shop and store, The treasures of the rich bazaar, To give—but not to sell.
As once the apostolic twelve Of goods allotment made, So equity dealt out with care The widow's and the orphan's share, And of the aged forced to delve At drudging task or trade.
Oh, could the joy which tears express That out of gladness come Be mirrored in its tender glow, Before the beautiful tableau Ingratitude and selfishness Would shrink abashed and dumb!
If every year and everywhere Could kindness thus expand In bounteous gratuity, To all her children earth would be A flowery vale like Eden fair, A milk-and-honey land.
The morning sun rose bright and fair Upon a lovely village where Prosperity abounded, And ceaseless hum of industry In lines of friendly rivalry From day to day resounded.
Its shaded avenues were wide, And closely bordered either side With cottages or mansions, Or marked by blocks of masonry That might defy a century To loosen from their stanchions.
Its peaceful dwellers daily vied To make this spot, with anxious pride, A Paradise of beauty, Recounted its attractions o'er, And its adornment held no more A pleasure than a duty.
But, ere the daylight passed away, That hamlet fair in ruins lay, Its hapless people scattered Like playthings, at the cyclone's will, And scarce remained one domicile Its fury had not shattered.
Few moments of the tempest's wrath Sufficed to mark one dreadful path With scenes of devastation; While over piles of wild debris Rose shrieks of dying agony Above the desolation.
Oh, mystery! who can understand Why, sudden, from God's mighty hand Destructive bolts of power Without discrimination strike The evil and the good alike— As in that dreadful hour!
Alas for aching hearts that wait Today in homes made desolate By one sharp blow appalling— For all who kneel by altars lone, And strive to say "Thy will be done," That awful day recalling!
We dare not question his decrees Who seeth not as mortal sees, Nor doubt his goodness even; Nor let our hearts be dispossessed Of faith that he disposeth best All things in earth and Heaven.
"Be not Anxious."
"Be careful for nothing," Phil. iv. 6. Revised version, "Be not anxious."
Of all the precepts in the Book By word of inspiration given, That bear the import, tone, and look Of messages direct from heaven, From Revelation back to Genesis Is nothing needed half so much as this.
Ah, well the great apostle spake In admonition wise and kind, Who bade humanity forsake The petty weaknesses that bind The spirit like a bird with pinioned wings, That to a broken bough despairing clings.
Were all undue anxiety Eliminated from desire, Could feverish fears and fancies be Consumed on some funeral pyre, Like holy hecatomb or sacrifice, 'Twould be accepted up in Paradise.
Could this machinery go on Without the friction caused by fret, What greater loads were lightly drawn, More easily were trials met; Then might existence be with blessings rife, And lengthened out like Hezekiah's life.
Oh, be not anxious; trouble grows When cherished like a secret grief; It is the worm within the rose That eats the heart out leaf by leaf; And though the outer covering be fair, The weevil of decay is busy there.
In deep despondency to pine, Or vain solicitude, Is to deny this truth divine That God is great and good; That he is Ruler over earth and Heaven, And so disposes and makes all things even.
Subdued and sad, I trod the place Where he, the hero, lived and died; Where, long-entombed beneath the shade By willow bough and cypress made, The peaceful scene with verdure rife, He and the partner of his life, Beloved of every land and race, Are sleeping side by side.
The summer solstice at its height Reflected from Potomac's tide A glare of light, and through the trees Intensified the Southern breeze, That dallied, in the deep ravines, With graceful ferns and evergreens, While Northern cheeks so strangely white Grew dark as Nubia's pride.
What must this homestead once have been In boundless hospitality, When Greene or Putnam may have met The host who welcomed Lafayette, Or when Pulaski, honored guest, Accepted shelter, food and rest, While rank and talent gathered in Its banquet hall of luxury!
What comfort, cheer, and kind intent The weary stranger oft hath known When she, its mistress, fair and good, Reigned here in peerless womanhood, When soft, shy maiden fancy gave Encouragement to soldiers brave, And Washington his presence lent To grace its bright hearthstone!
O beautiful Mount Vernon home, The Mecca of our long desire; Of more than passing interest To North and South, to East and West, To all Columbia's children free A precious, priceless legacy, Thine altar-shrine, as pilgrims come, Rekindles patriot fire!
Where I can see him all day long And hear his wild, spontaneous song, Before my window in his cage, A blithe canary sits and swings, And circles round on golden wings; And startles all the vicinage When from his china tankard He takes a dainty drink To clear his throat For as sweet a note As ever yet was caroled By lark or bobolink.
Sometimes he drops his pretty head And seems to be dispirited, And then his little mistress says: "Poor Dickie misses his chickweed, Or else I've fed him musty seed As stale as last year's oranges!" But all the time I wonder If we half comprehend In sweet song-words The thought of birds, Or why so oft their raptures In sudden silence end.