THE COMPLETE POEMS
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
WITH THE INTRODUCTION TO "LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE"
W. D. HOWELLS
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 1922
Copyright 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905 BY THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright 1897, 1898, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905 BY THE CURTIS PUBLISHING CO.
Copyright 1898 BY THE OUTLOOK CO.
Copyright 1898 BY J. B. WALKER
Copyright 1903 BY W. H. GANNETT
Copyright 1896, 1899, 1903, 1905, 1913 BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
PRINTED IN U. S. A.
LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE
LYRICS OF THE HEARTHSIDE
LYRICS OF LOVE AND LAUGHTER
MISS CATHERINE IMPEY
LYRICS OF SUNSHINE AND SHADOW
MRS. FRANK CONOVER WITH THANKS FOR HER LONG BELIEF
INTRODUCTION TO LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE
I think I should scarcely trouble the reader with a special appeal in behalf of this book, if it had not specially appealed to me for reasons apart from the author's race, origin, and condition. The world is too old now, and I find myself too much of its mood, to care for the work of a poet because he is black, because his father and mother were slaves, because he was, before and after he began to write poems, an elevator-boy. These facts would certainly attract me to him as a man, if I knew him to have a literary ambition, but when it came to his literary art, I must judge it irrespective of these facts, and enjoy or endure it for what it was in itself.
It seems to me that this was my experience with the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar when I found it in another form, and in justice to him I cannot wish that it should be otherwise with his readers here. Still, it will legitimately interest those who like to know the causes, or, if these may not be known, the sources, of things, to learn that the father and mother of the first poet of his race in our language were negroes without admixture of white blood. The father escaped from slavery in Kentucky to freedom in Canada, while there was still no hope of freedom otherwise; but the mother was freed by the events of the civil war, and came North to Ohio, where their son was born at Dayton, and grew up with such chances and mischances for mental training as everywhere befall the children of the poor. He has told me that his father picked up the trade of a plasterer, and when he had taught himself to read, loved chiefly to read history. The boy's mother shared his passion for literature, with a special love of poetry, and after the father died she struggled on in more than the poverty she had shared with him. She could value the faculty which her son showed first in prose sketches and attempts at fiction, and she was proud of the praise and kindness they won him among the people of the town, where he has never been without the warmest and kindest friends.
In fact from every part of Ohio and from several cities of the adjoining States, there came letters in cordial appreciation of the critical recognition which it was my pleasure no less than my duty to offer Paul Dunbar's work in another place. It seemed to me a happy omen for him that so many people who had known him, or known of him, were glad of a stranger's good word; and it was gratifying to see that at home he was esteemed for the things he had done rather than because as the son of negro slaves he had done them. If a prophet is often without honor in his own country, it surely is nothing against him when he has it. In this case it deprived me of the glory of a discoverer; but that is sometimes a barren joy, and I am always willing to forego it.
What struck me in reading Mr. Dunbar's poetry was what had already struck his friends in Ohio and Indiana, in Kentucky and Illinois. They had felt, as I felt, that however gifted his race had proven itself in music, in oratory, in several of the other arts, here was the first instance of an American negro who had evinced innate distinction in literature. In my criticism of his book I had alleged Dumas in France, and I had forgetfully failed to allege the far greater Pushkin in Russia; but these were both mulattoes, who might have been supposed to derive their qualities from white blood vastly more artistic than ours, and who were the creatures of an environment more favorable to their literary development. So far as I could remember, Paul Dunbar was the only man of pure African blood and of American civilization to feel the negro life aesthetically and express it lyrically. It seemed to me that this had come to its most modern consciousness in him, and that his brilliant and unique achievement was to have studied the American negro objectively, and to have represented him as he found him to be, with humor, with sympathy, and yet with what the reader must instinctively feel to be entire truthfulness. I said that a race which had come to this effect in any member of it, had attained civilization in him, and I permitted myself the imaginative prophecy that the hostilities and the prejudices which had so long constrained his race were destined to vanish in the arts; that these were to be the final proof that God had made of one blood all nations of men. I thought his merits positive and not comparative; and I held that if his black poems had been written by a white man, I should not have found them less admirable. I accepted them as an evidence of the essential unity of the human race, which does not think or feel, black in one and white in another, but humanly in all.
Yet it appeared to me then, and it appears to me now, that there is a precious difference of temperament between the races which it would be a great pity ever to lose, and that this is best preserved and most charmingly suggested by Mr. Dunbar in those pieces of his where he studies the moods and traits of his race in its own accent of our English. We call such pieces dialect pieces for want of some closer phrase, but they are really not dialect so much as delightful personal attempts and failures for the written and spoken language. In nothing is his essentially refined and delicate art so well shown as in these pieces, which, as I ventured to say, described the range between appetite and emotion, with certain lifts far beyond and above it, which is the range of the race. He reveals in these a finely ironical perception of the negro's limitations, with a tenderness for them which I think so very rare as to be almost quite new. I should say, perhaps, that it was this humorous quality which Mr. Dunbar had added to our literature, and it would be this which would most distinguish him, now and hereafter. It is something that one feels in nearly all the dialect pieces; and I hope that in the present collection he has kept all of these in his earlier volume, and added others to them. But the contents of this book are wholly of his own choosing, and I do not know how much or little he may have preferred the poems in literary English. Some of these I thought very good, and even more than very good, but not distinctively his contribution to the body of American poetry. What I mean is that several people might have written them; but I do not know any one else at present who could quite have written the dialect pieces. These are divinations and reports of what passes in the hearts and minds of a lowly people whose poetry had hitherto been inarticulately expressed in music, but now finds, for the first time in our tongue, literary interpretation of a very artistic completeness.
I say the event is interesting, but how important it shall be can be determined only by Mr. Dunbar's future performance. I cannot undertake to prophesy concerning this; but if he should do nothing more than he has done, I should feel that he had made the strongest claim for the negro in English literature that the negro has yet made. He has at least produced something that, however we may critically disagree about it, we cannot well refuse to enjoy; in more than one piece he has produced a work of art.
W. D. HOWELLS.
INDEX OF TITLES
ABSENCE 93 ACCOUNTABILITY 5 ADVICE 250 AFTER A VISIT 42 AFTER MANY DAYS 267 AFTER THE QUARREL 40 AFTER WHILE 53 ALEXANDER CRUMMELL—DEAD 113 ALICE 40 ANCHORED 256 ANGELINA 138 ANTE-BELLUM SERMON, AN 13 APPRECIATION 247 AT CANDLE-LIGHTIN' TIME 155 AT CHESHIRE CHEESE 129 AT LOAFING-HOLT 263 AT NIGHT 254 AT SUNSET TIME 263 AT THE TAVERN 226 AWAKENING, THE 252
BACK-LOG SONG, A 143 BALLAD 58 BALLADE 204 BANJO SONG, A 20 BARRIER, THE 99 BEHIND THE ARRAS 94 BEIN' BACK HOME 259 BEYOND THE YEARS 41 BLACK SAMSON OF BRANDYWINE 205 BLUE 253 BOHEMIAN, THE 92 BOOGAH MAN, THE 185 BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 209 BORDER BALLAD, A 48 BOYS' SUMMER SONG, A 235 BREAKING THE CHARM 149 BRIDAL MEASURE, A 97 BY RUGGED WAYS 215 BY THE STREAM 50
CABIN TALE, A 153 CAPTURE, THE 275 CAREER, A 285 CHANGE HAS COME, THE 58 CHANGE, THE 258 CHANGING TIME 72 CHASE, THE 258 CHOICE, A 125 CHRISTMUS IS A-COMIN' 153 CHRISTMAS ON THE PLANTATION 137 CHRISTMAS 269 CHRISTMAS CAROL 278 CHRISTMAS FOLKSONG, A 236 CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART 105 CIRCUMSTANCES ALTER CASES 261 COLORED BAND, THE 178 COLORED SOLDIERS, THE 50 COLUMBIAN ODE 47 COMMUNION 110 COMPARISON 59 COMPENSATION 256 CONFESSIONAL 116 CONFIDENCE, A 73 CONQUERORS, THE 112 CONSCIENCE AND REMORSE 31 COQUETTE CONQUERED, A 62 CORN-SONG, A 59 CORN-STALK FIDDLE, THE 16 CRISIS, THE 111 CURIOSITY 241 CURTAIN 42
DANCE, THE 170 DAT OL' MARE O' MINE 189 DAWN 65 DAY 248 DEACON JONES' GRIEVANCE 39 DEAD 73 DEATH 227 DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN, THE 258 DEATH SONG, A 142 DEBT, THE 213 DE CRITTERS' DANCE 181 DELINQUENT, THE 64 DELY 148 DESERTED PLANTATION, THE 67 DESPAIR 261 DE WAY T'INGS COME 225 DIFFERENCES 192 DILETTANTE, THE: A MODERN TYPE 49 DINAH KNEADING DOUGH 188 DIPLOMACY 238 DIRGE 66 DIRGE FOR A SOLDIER 199 DISAPPOINTED 60 DISCOVERED 60 DISCOVERY, THE 251 DISTINCTION 114 DISTURBER, THE 131 DOUGLASS 208 DOVE, THE 167 DREAM SONG I 104 DREAM SONG II 104 DREAMER, THE 100 DREAMIN' TOWN 254 DREAMS 100 DREAMS 166 DRIZZLE 180 DROWSY DAY, A 65
EASY-GOIN' FELLER, AN 49 ENCOURAGED 238 ENCOURAGEMENT 184 END OF THE CHAPTER, THE 101 EQUIPMENT 276 ERE SLEEP COMES DOWN TO SOOTHE THE WEARY EYES 3 EVENING 276 EXPECTATION 131
FAITH 244 FAREWELL TO ARCADY 123 FARM CHILD'S LULLABY, THE 245 FISHER CHILD'S LULLABY, THE 244 FISHING 172 FLORIDA NIGHT, A 191 FOOLIN' WID DE SEASONS 139 FOR THE MAN WHO FAILS 118 FOREST GREETING, THE 237 FOREVER 240 FOUNT OF TEARS, THE 224 FREDERICK DOUGLASS 6 FROLIC, A 200 FROM THE PORCH AT RUNNYMEDE 275
GARRET, THE 96 GOLDEN DAY, A 251 GOOD-NIGHT 61 GOURD, THE 107 GRIEVANCE, A 188 GROWIN' GRAY 80
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE 119 HAUNTED OAK, THE 219 HE HAD HIS DREAM 61 HER THOUGHT AND HIS 93 HOPE 247 HOW LUCY BACKSLID 158 HOW SHALL I WOO THEE 289 "HOWDY, HONEY, HOWDY!" 196 HUNTING SONG 150 HYMN 66 HYMN 133 HYMN, A 98
IF 75 IONE 31 IN AN ENGLISH GARDEN 111 IN AUGUST 130 IN MAY 166 IN SUMMER 91 IN SUMMER TIME 280 IN THE MORNING 190 IN THE TENDS OF AKBAR 223 INSPIRATION 179 INVITATION TO LOVE 61 ITCHING HEELS 222
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY 287 JEALOUS 145 JILTED 136 JOGGIN' ERLONG 165 JOHNNY SPEAKS 235 JUST WHISTLE A BIT 98
KEEP A-PLUGGIN' AWAY 46 KEEP A SONG UP ON DE WAY 169 KIDNAPED 255 KING IS DEAD, THE 105 KNIGHT, THE 108
LAPSE, THE 122 LAWYERS' WAYS, THE 22 LAZY DAY, THE 249 LESSON, THE 8 LETTER, A 151 LIFE 8 LIFE'S TRAGEDY 225 LI'L' GAL 207 LILY OF THE VALLEY, THE 237 LIMITATIONS 250 LINCOLN 184 LITTLE BROWN BABY 134 LITTLE CHRISTMAS BASKET, A 174 LITTLE LUCY LANDMAN 107 LIZA MAY 267 LONESOME 79 LONG AGO 192 'LONG TO'DS NIGHT 187 LONGING 21 LOOKING-GLASS, THE 206 LOST DREAM, A 270 LOVE 103 LOVE AND GRIEF 102 LOVE DESPOILED 122 LOVE LETTER, A 266 LOVE-SONG 210 LOVE SONG, A 222 LOVER AND THE MOON, THE 29 LOVER'S LANE 132 LOVE'S APOTHEOSIS 89 LOVE'S CASTLE 201 LOVE'S DRAFT 252 LOVE'S HUMILITY 106 LOVE'S PHASES 117 LOVE'S PICTURES 282 LOVE'S SEASONS 215 LULLABY 144 LYRIC, A 288
MADRIGAL, A 287 MARE RUBRUM 110 MASTER-PLAYER THE 17 MASTERS, THE 258 MEADOW LARK, THE 71 MELANCHOLIA 54 MEMORY OF MARTHA, THE 194 MERRY AUTUMN 56 MISTY DAY, A 207 MISAPPREHENSION 117 MONK'S WALK, THE 209 MORNING 252 MORNING SONG OF LOVE 202 MORTALITY 103 MY CORN-COB PIPE 129 MY LADY OF CASTLE GRAND 180 MY LITTLE MARCH GIRL 120 MY SORT O' MAN 140 MY SWEET BROWN GAL 176 MYSTERY, THE 17 MYSTIC SEA, THE 91 MURDERED LOVER, THE 211 MUSICAL, A 253
NATURE AND ART 52 NEGRO LOVE SONG, A 49 NEWS, THE 136 NIGHT 263 NIGHT, DIM NIGHT 227 NIGHT OF LOVE 46 NODDIN' BY DE FIRE 201 NOON 226 NORA: A SERENADE 62 NOT THEY WHO SOAR 18 NUTTING SONG 282
OCTOBER 63 ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAY 22 ODE TO ETHIOPIA 15 OLD APPLE-TREE, THE 10 OLD CABIN, THE 260 OLD FRONT GATE, THE 199 OLD HOMESTEAD, THE 283 OLD MEMORY, AN 284 OL' TUNES, THE 53 ON A CLEAN BOOK 203 ON THE DEATH OF W. C. 284 ON THE DEDICATION OF DOROTHY HALL 214 ON THE RIVER 285 ON THE ROAD 142 ON THE SEA WALL 115 ONE LIFE 72 OPPORTUNITY 242 OVER THE HILLS 90
PARADOX, THE 89 PARTED 240 PARTED 145 PARTY, THE 83 PASSION AND LOVE 11 PATH, THE 21 PHANTOM KISS, THE 109 PHILOSOPHY 212 PHOTOGRAPH, THE 144 PHYLLIS 74 PLACE WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS, THE 246 PLANTATION CHILD'S LULLABY, THE 241 PLANTATION PORTRAIT, A 173 PLANTATION MELODY, A 193 PLEA, A 167 POET AND HIS SONG, THE 4 POET AND THE BABY, THE 114 POET, THE 191 POOL, THE 198 POOR WITHERED ROSE 286 POSSESSION 198 POSSUM 141 POSSUM TROT 147 PRAYER, A 14 PRECEDENT 106 PREFERENCE A 213 PREMONITION 23 PREPARATION 67 PROMETHEUS 117 PROMISE 12 PROTEST 133 PUTTIN' THE BABY AWAY 243
QUILTING, THE 240
RAIN-SONGS 270 REAL QUESTION, THE 135 RELIGION 38 RELUCTANCE 203 REMEMBERED 121 RESIGNATION 106 RESPONSE 175 RETORT 5 RETROSPECTION 24 RIDING TO TOWN 70 RIGHT TO DIE, THE 94 RIGHT'S SECURITY 75 RISING OF THE STORM, THE 8 RIVALS, THE 27 RIVER OF RUIN, THE 265 ROADWAY, A 214 ROBERT GOULD SHAW 221 ROSES 221 ROSES AND PEARLS 270
SAILOR'S SONG, A 92 SAND-MAN, THE 235 SCAMP 239 SECRET, THE 68 SEEDLING, THE 12 SHE GAVE ME A ROSE 103 SHE TOLD HER BEADS 106 SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT 64 SIGNS OF THE TIMES 77 SILENCE 186 SLOW THROUGH THE DARK 211 SNOWIN' 168 SOLILOQUY OF A TURKEY 171 SONG 13 SONG 178 SONG, A 248 SONG, A 271 SONG OF SUMMER 26 SONG, THE 76 SONNET 115 SPARROW, THE 78 SPEAKIN' AT DE' COU'THOUSE 205 SPEAKIN' O' CHRISTMAS 78 SPELLIN'-BEE, THE 42 SPIRITUAL, A 194 SPRING FEVER 176 SPRING SONG 26 SPRING WOOING, A 164 STARRY NIGHT, A 288 SUMMER NIGHT, A 262 STIRRUP CUP, THE 125 SUMMER PASTORAL, A 279 SUMMER'S NIGHT, A 64 SUM, THE 114 SUNSET 9 SUPPOSE 258 SYMPATHY 102
TEMPTATION 146 THANKSGIVING POEM, A 281 THEN AND NOW 129 THEOLOGY 106 THOU ART MY LUTE 109 TILL THE WIND GETS RIGHT 262 TIME TO TINKER 'ROUN'! 135 TO A CAPTIOUS CRITIC 189 TO A LADY PLAYING THE HARP 116 TO A DEAD FRIEND 216 TO A VIOLET FOUND ON ALL SAINTS' DAY 179 TO AN INGRATE 223 TO DAN 248 TO E. H. K. 97 TO HER 266 TO J. Q. 238 TO LOUISE 26 TO PFRIMMER 277 TO THE EASTERN SHORE 202 TO THE MEMORY OF MARY YOUNG 81 TO THE MIAMI 277 TO THE ROAD 163 TO THE SOUTH 216 TROUBLE IN DE KITCHEN 268 TRYST, THE 166 TURNING OF THE BABIES IN THE BED, THE 170 'TWELL DE NIGHT IS PAS' 253 TWILIGHT 241 TWO LITTLE BOOTS 163 TWO SONGS 19
UNEXPRESSED 25 UNLUCKY APPLE, THE 251 UNSUNG HEROES, THE 196
VAGRANTS 119 VALSE, THE 175 VENGEANCE IS SWEET 98 VETERAN, THE 256 VOICE OF THE BANJO, THE 124 VISITOR, THE 177
WADING' IN DE CREEK 239 WAITING 100 WARM DAY IN WINTER, A 168 WE WEAR THE MASK 71 WARRIOR'S PRAYER, THE 123 WELTSCHMERTZ 220 W'EN I GITS HOME 195 WHAT'S THE USE 249 WHEN A FELLER'S ITCHIN' TO BE SPANKED 264 WHEN ALL IS DONE 113 WHEN DE CO'N PONE'S HOT 57 WHEN DEY 'LISTED COLORED SOLDIERS 182 WHEN MALINDY SINGS 82 WHEN SAM'L SINGS 208 WHEN THE OLD MAN SMOKES 95 WHEN WINTER DARKENING ALL AROUND 275 WHIP-POOR-WILL AND KATY-DID 186 WHISTLING SAM 156 WHITTIER 18 WHY FADES A DREAM? 77 WIND AND THE SEA, THE 69 WINTER-SONG 236 WINTER'S APPROACH 256 WINTER'S DAY, A 120 WITH THE LARK 90 WOOING, THE 55 WORN OUT 286 WRAITH, THE 186
YESTERDAY AND TO-MORROW 257
INDEX OF FIRST LINES
A bee that was searching for sweets one day 19 A blue-bell springs upon the ledge 26 A cloud fell down from the heavens 288 A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in 8 A hush is over all the teeming lists 6 A knock is at her door, but she is weak 73 A life was mine full of the close concern 103 A lilt and a swing 226 A little bird with plumage brown 78 A little dreaming by the way 114 A lover whom duty called over the wave 29 A maiden wept and, as a comforter 11 A man of low degree was sore oppressed 111 A song for the unsung heroes who rose in the country's need 196 A song is but a little thing 4 A youth went farming up and down 55 Across the hills and down the narrow ways 120 Adown the west a golden glow 263 Ah, Douglass, we have fall'n on evil days 208 Ah, I have changed, I do not know 270 Ah, love, my love is like a cry in the night 222 Ah me, it is cold and chill 186 Ah, Nora, my Nora, the light fades away 62 Ah, yes, 't is sweet still to remember 31 Ah, yes, the chapter ends to-day 101 Ain't it nice to have a mammy 239 Ain't nobody tol' you not a wo'd a-tall 181 Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah 77 All de night long twell de moon goes down 253 All hot and grimy from the road 224 Along by the river of ruin 265 An angel robed in spotless white 65 An old man planted and dug and tended 60 An old, worn harp that had been played 17 As a quiet little seedling 12 As in some dim baronial hall restrained 94 As lone I sat one summer's day 122 As some rapt gazer on the lowly earth 106 Ashes to ashes, dust unto dust 103 At the golden gate of song 179 Aye, lay him in his grave, the old dead year! 105
Back to the breast of thy mother 113 Because I had loved so deeply 256 Because you love me I have much achieved 238 Bedtime's come fu' little boys 144 Belated wanderer of the ways of spring 179 Beyond the years the answer lies 41 Bird of my lady's bower 19 Bones a-gittin' achy 153 Break me my bounds, and let me fly 285 Breezes blowin' middlin' brisk 78 Bring me the livery of no other man 92 By Mystic's banks I held my dream 204 By rugged ways and thro' the night 215 By the pool that I see in my dreams, dear love 198 By the stream I dream in calm delight, and watch as in a glass 50
Caught Susanner whistlin'; well 149 Come away to dreamin' town 254 Come, drink a stirrup cup with me 125 Come, essay a sprightly measure 97 Come on walkin' wid me, Lucy; 't ain't no time to mope erroun' 164 Come to the pane, draw the curtain apart 120 Come when the nights are bright with stars 61 Cool is the wind, for the summer is waning 163 Cover him over with daisies white 258
Daih's a moughty soothin' feelin' 187 Darling, my darling, my heart is on the wing 202 Days git wa'm an' wa'mah 239 De axes has been ringin' in de woods de blessid day 143 De breeze is blowin' 'cross de bay 145 De 'cession's stahted on de gospel way 194 De da'kest hour, dey allus say 165 De dog go howlin' 'long de road 247 De night creep down erlong de lan' 166 De ol' time's gone, de new time's hyeah 192 De sun hit shine an' de win' hit blow 256 De times is mighty stirrin' 'mong de people up ouah way 158 De trees is bendin' in de sto'm 193 De way t'ings come, hit seems to me 225 De win' is blowin' wahmah 236 De win' is hollahin' "Daih you" to de shuttahs an' de fiah 174 Dear critic, who my lightness so deplores 189 Dear heart, good-night! 23 Dear Miss Lucy: I been t'inkin' dat I'd write you long fo' dis 151 Deep in my heart that aches with the repression 25 Dey been speakin' at de cou't-house 205 Dey had a gread big pahty down to Tom's de othah night 83 Dey is snow upon the meddahs 168 Dey is times in life when Nature 57 Dey was oncet a awful quoil 'twixt de skillet an' de pot 268 Dey was talkin' in de cabin, dey was talkin' in de hall 182 Dey's a so't o' threatenin' feelin' in de blowin' of de breeze 171 Dinah stan' befo' de glass 206 Dis is gospel weathah sho'— 26 Do' a-stan'in' on a jar, fiah a-shinin' thoo 196 Dolly sits a-quilting by her mother, stitch by stitch 240 Done are the toils and the wearisome marches 22 Dream days of fond delight and hours 287 Dream on, for dreams are sweet 100 Driftwood gathered here and there 277 Duck come switchin' 'cross de lot 275
Ef dey's anyt'ing dat riles me 141 Ef you's only got de powah fe' to blow a little whistle 250 Eight of 'em hyeah all tol' an' yet 243 Emblem of blasted hope and lost desire 115 Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes 3
Folks ain't got no right to censuah othah folks about dey habits 5 Folks is talkin' 'bout de money, 'bout de silvah an' de gold 135 Four hundred years ago a tangled waste 47 Fu' de peace o' my eachin' heels, set down 222
God has his plans, and what if we 81 "Good-bye," I said to my conscience 31 Goo'-by, Jinks, I got to hump 64 Good hunting!—aye, good hunting 237 Good-night, my love, for I have dreamed of thee 93 Granny's gone a-visitin' 242 Grass commence a-comin' 176 Gray are the pages of record 205 Gray is the palace where she dwells 180 G'way an' quit dat noise, Miss Lucy 82
Hain't you see my Mandy Lou 173 He had his dream, and all through life 61 He loved her, and through many years 129 He sang of life serenely sweet 191 He scribbles some in prose and verse 49 Heart of my heart, the day is chill 207 Heart of the Southland, heed me pleading now 216 Heel and toe, heel and toe 170 Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray 80 Hit's been drizzlin' an' been sprinklin' 180 Home agin, an' home to stay 259 How shall I woo thee to win thee, mine own? 289 How sweet the music sounded 284 How's a man to write a sonnet, can you tell 114 Hurt was the nation with a mighty wound 184 Hyeah come Caesar Higgins 145 Hyeah dat singin' in de medders 208
"I am but clay," the sinner plead 114 I am no priest of crooks nor creeds 38 I am the mother of sorrows 89 I be'n down in ole Kentucky 42 I been t'inkin' 'bout de preachah; whut he said de othah night 212 I did not know that life could be so sweet 252 I done got 'uligion, honey, an' I's happy ez a king 146 I don't believe in 'ristercrats 140 I grew a rose once more to please mine eyes 13 I grew a rose within a garden fair 12 I had not known before 240 I has hyeahd o' people dancin' an' I's hyeahd o' people singin' 156 I have no fancy for that ancient cant 94 I have seen full many a sight 188 I held my heart so far from harm 255 I found you and I lost you 251 I know a man 235 I know my love is true 58 I know what the caged bird feels, alas! 102 I never shall furgit that night when father hitched up Dobbin 42 I sit upon the old sea wall 115 I stand above the city's rush and din 275 I stood by the shore at the death of day 69 I think that though the clouds be dark 53 I was not; now I am—a few days hence 17 If Death should claim me for her own to-day 210 If life were but a dream, my Love 75 If the muse were mine to tempt it 50 If thro' the sea of night which here surrounds me 256 If 'twere fair to suppose 258 If you could sit with me beside the sea to-day 21 In a small and lonely cabin out of noisy traffic's way 124 In de dead of night I sometimes 260 In Life's Red Sea with faith I plant my feet 110 In the east the morning comes 199 In the heavy earth the miner 107 In the forenoon's restful quiet 95 In the silence of my heart 110 In this sombre garden close 209 In the tents of Akbar 223 In this old garden, fair, I walk to-day 111 I's a-gittin' weary of de way dat people do 244 I's boun' to see my gal to-night 142 I's feelin' kin' o' lonesome in my little room to-night 202 It is as if a silver chord 216 It may be misery not to sing at all 225 It was Chrismus Eve, I mind hit fu' a mighty gloomy day 137 It's all a farce,—these tales they tell 56 It's hot to-day. The bees is buzzin' 279 It's moughty tiahsome layin' 'roun' 195 I've a humble little motto 46 I've always been a faithful man 267 I've been list'nin' to them lawyers 22 I've been watchin' of 'em, parson 39 I've journeyed 'roun' consid'able, a-seein' men an' things 147
Jes' lak toddy wahms you thoo' 148 Just whistle a bit, if the day be dark 98
Key and bar, key and bar 201 Kiss me, Miami, thou most constant one! 277 Know you, winds that blow your course 40
Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass 142 Lead gently, Lord, and slow 98 Let me close the eyes of my soul 261 Let those who will stride on their barren roads 214 'Lias! 'Lias! Bless de Lawd! 190 Like sea-washed sand upon the shore 202 Like the blush upon the rose 282 Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes 134 Little brown face full of smiles 267 Little lady at de do' 177 Long had I grieved at what I deemed abuse 106 Long since, in sore distress, I heard one pray 123 Long time ago, we too set out 119 Long years ago, within a distant clime 104 Love hath the wings of the butterfly 117 Love is the light of the world, my dear 231 Love me. I care not what the circling years 89 Love used to carry a bow, you know 258 Lucy done gone back on me 136
Mammy's in de kitchen, an' de do' is shet 241 Mastah drink his ol' Made'a 213 Men may sing of their Havanas, elevating to the stars 129 Mother's gone a-visitin' to spend a month er two 79 My cot was down by a cypress grove 8 My heart to thy heart 13 My lady love lives far away 288 My muvver's ist the nicest one 247 My neighbor lives on the hill 192 My soul, lost in the music's mist 76
Night, dim night, and it rains, my love, it rains 227 Night is for sorrow and dawn is for joy 90 Not o'er thy dust let there be spent 18 No matter what you call it 287 Not they who soar, but they who plod 18 Not to the midnight of the gloomy past 214
O li'l' lamb out in de col' 133 O Lord, the hard-won miles 11 O Mother Race! to thee I bring 15 October is the treasurer of the year 63 Oh, de clouds is mighty heavy 169 Oh, de grubbin'-hoe's a-rustin' in de co'nah 67 Oh, de weathah it is balmy an' de breeze is sighin' low 207 Oh, dere's lots o' keer an' trouble 20 Oh for the breath of the briny deep 92 Oh, I am hurt to death, my Love 72 Oh, I des received a letter f'om de sweetest little gal 266 Oh, I haven't got long to live, for we all 48 Oh, summer has clothed the earth 91 Oh the breeze is blowin' balmy 262 Oh, the day has set me dreaming 107 Oh, the little bird is rocking in the cradle of the wind 245 Oh, the poets may sing of their Lady Irenes 26 Oh to have you in May 166 Oh, what shall I do? I am wholly upset 131 Oh, who is the Lord of the land of life 268 Oh, who would be sad tho' the sky be a-graying 236 Oh, wind of the spring-time, oh, free wind of May 221 On a summer's day as I sat by a stream 248 On the wide veranda white 59 Once Love grew bold and arrogant of air 102 One night in my room, still and beamless 109 Our good knight, Ted, girds his broadsword on 108 Out in de night a sad bird moans 194 Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing 64 Out of my heart, one day, I wrote a song 117 Out of my heart, one treach'rous winter's day 102 Out of the sunshine and out of the heat 167 Outside the rain upon the street 253 Over the hills and the valleys of dreaming 90
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day 74 Place this bunch of mignonette 66 Poor withered rose, she gave it me 286 Pray, what can dreams avail 104 Pray why are you so bare, so bare 219 Prometheus stole from Heaven the sacred fire 117
Ring out, ye bells! 278 Round the wide earth, from the red field your valour has won 112
Say a mass for my soul's repose, my brother 211 Search thou my heart 116 See dis pictyah in my han' 144 Seems lak folks is mighty curus 139 Seen my lady home las' night 49 Seen you down at chu'ch las' night 60 Shadder in de valley 226 She gave a rose 103 She sang, and I listened the whole song thro' 121 She told the story, and the whole world wept 119 She told her beads with downcast eyes 106 She wrapped her soul in a lace of lies 240 Silence, and whirling worlds afar 263 Silently without my window 54 Since I left the city's heat 263 Slow de night's a-fallin' 186 Slow moves the pageant of a climbing race 211 So we, who 'we supped the selfsame cup 40 Some folks t'inks hit's right an' p'opah 201 Standin' at de winder 253 Step me now a bridal measure 248 Step wid de banjo an' glide wid de fiddle 269 Storm and strife and stress 227 Summah night an' sighin' breeze 132 Summah's nice, wif sun a-shinin' 132 Summer is de lovin' time 262 Sunshine on de medders 168 Sweetest of the flowers a-blooming 237 Swing yo' lady roun' an' roun' 200
Tek a cool night, good an' cleah 150 Tell your love where the roses blow 238 Temples he built, and palaces of air 100 The air is dark, the sky is gray 65 The change has come, and Helen sleeps 58 The cloud looked in at the window 72 The draft of love was cool and sweet 252 The gray dawn on the mountain top 248 The gray of the sea, and the gray of the sky 93 The lake's dark breast 8 The lark is silent in his nest 61 The little bird sits in the nest and sings 67 The Midnight wooed the Morning-Star 99 The mist has left the greening plain 252 The moon begins her stately ride 276 The moon has left the sky, love 46 The night is dewy as a maiden's mouth 64 The November sun invites me 282 The poor man went to the rich man's doors 106 The rain streams down like harpstrings from the sky 270 The river sleeps beneath the sky 9 The sand-man he's a jolly old fellow 235 The sky of brightest gray seems dark 59 The smell of the sea in my nostrils 91 The snow lies deep upon the ground 105 The sun has slipped his tether 100 The sun hath shed its kindly light 281 The sun is low 285 The trees bend down along the stream 249 The wind is out in its rage to-night 244 The wind told the little leaves to hurry 258 The word is writ that he who runs may read 209 The world is a snob, and the man who wins 118 The young queen Nature, ever sweet and fair 52 Ther' ain't no use in all this strife 49 There are no beaten paths to Glory's height 21 There is a heaven, for ever, day by day 106 There's a fabulous story 246 There's a memory keeps a-runnin' 10 These are the days of elfs and fays 251 They please me not—these solemn songs 125 This is the debt I pay 213 This is to-day, a golden summer's day 223 This poem must be done to-day 122 Thou arrant robber, Death! 284 "Thou art a fool," said my head to my heart 5 Thou art my lute, by thee I sing 109 Thou art the soul of a summer's day 271 Though the winds be dank 71 Thy tones are silver melted into sound 116 Tim Murphy's gon' walkin' wid Maggie O'Neill 261 'Tis an old deserted homestead 283 'Tis better to set here beside the sea 186 'Tis fine to play 235 To me, like hauntings of a vagrant breath 97 Treat me nice, Miss Mandy Jane 167 'Twas the apple that in Eden 251 'Twas three an' thirty year ago 27 'Twixt a smile and a tear 241 Two little boots all rough an' wo' 163
Uncle John, he makes me tired 73 Underneath the autumn sky 256
Villain shows his indiscretion 42
Want to trade me, do you, mistah? Oh, well, now, I reckon not 189 We is gathahed hyeah, my brothahs 13 We wear the mask that grins and lies 71 W'en daih's chillun in de house 199 W'en de clouds is hangin' heavy in de sky 176 W'en de colo'ed ban' comes ma'chin' down de street 178 W'en de evenin' shadders 185 W'en de snow's a-fallin' 188 W'en I git up in de mo'nin' an' de clouds is big an' black 172 W'en us fellers stomp around, makin' lots o' noise 264 W'en you full o' worry 250 What are the things that make life bright? 238 What dreams we have and how they fly 166 What if the wind do howl without 75 What says the wind to the waving trees? 68 What's the use o' folks a-frownin' 249 When all is done, and my last word is said 113 When August days are hot an' dry 130 When de fiddle gits to singin' out a ol' Vahginny reel 138 When first of wise old Johnson taught 129 When I come in f'm de co'n-fiel' aftah wo'kin' ha'd all day 155 When I was young I longed for Love 98 When labor is light and the morning is fair 70 When Phyllis sighs and from her eyes 175 When storms arise 66 When summer time has come, and all 280 When the bees are humming in the honeysuckle vine 215 When the corn's all cut and the bright stalks shine 16 When to sweet music my lady is dancing 175 When winter covering all the ground 275 When you and I were young, the days 24 Who dat knockin' at de do'? 184 Who say my hea't ain't true to you? 133 Whose little lady is you, chile 198 Whut dat you whisperin' keepin' f'om me? 136 Whut time 'd dat clock strike? 254 Whut you say, dah? huh, uh! chile 153 Why fades a dream? 77 Why was it that the thunder voice of Fate 221 Will I have some mo' dat pie? 203 Win' a-blowin' gentle so de san' lay low 191 Wintah, summah, snow er shine 178 Wintah time hit comin' 241 With sombre mien, the evening gray 123 With what thou gavest me, O Master 276 Within a London garret high 96 Woman's sho' a cur'ous critter, an' dey ain't no doubtin' dat 170
Yes, my ha't 's ez ha'd ez stone 62 Yesterday I held your hand 257 You ask why I am sad to-day 220 You bid me hold my peace 286 You kin talk about yer anthems 53 You'll be wonderin' whut's de reason 131 Your presence like a benison to me 266 Your spoken words are roses fine and sweet 270
LYRICS OF LOWLY LIFE
ERE SLEEP COMES DOWN TO SOOTHE THE WEARY EYES
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, Which all the day with ceaseless care have sought The magic gold which from the seeker flies; Ere dreams put on the gown and cap of thought, And make the waking world a world of lies,— Of lies most palpable, uncouth, forlorn, That say life's full of aches and tears and sighs,— Oh, how with more than dreams the soul is torn, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, How all the griefs and heart-aches we have known Come up like pois'nous vapors that arise From some base witch's caldron, when the crone, To work some potent spell, her magic plies. The past which held its share of bitter pain, Whose ghost we prayed that Time might exorcise, Comes up, is lived and suffered o'er again, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, What phantoms fill the dimly lighted room; What ghostly shades in awe-creating guise Are bodied forth within the teeming gloom. What echoes faint of sad and soul-sick cries, And pangs of vague inexplicable pain That pay the spirit's ceaseless enterprise, Come thronging through the chambers of the brain, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, Where ranges forth the spirit far and free? Through what strange realms and unfamiliar skies Tends her far course to lands of mystery? To lands unspeakable—beyond surmise, Where shapes unknowable to being spring, Till, faint of wing, the Fancy fails and dies Much wearied with the spirit's journeying, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes, How questioneth the soul that other soul,— The inner sense which neither cheats nor lies, But self exposes unto self, a scroll Full writ with all life's acts unwise or wise, In characters indelible and known; So, trembling with the shock of sad surprise, The soul doth view its awful self alone, Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.
When sleep comes down to seal the weary eyes, The last dear sleep whose soft embrace is balm, And whom sad sorrow teaches us to prize For kissing all our passions into calm, Ah, then, no more we heed the sad world's cries, Or seek to probe th' eternal mystery, Or fret our souls at long-withheld replies, At glooms through which our visions cannot see, When sleep comes down to seal the weary eyes.
THE POET AND HIS SONG
A song is but a little thing, And yet what joy it is to sing! In hours of toil it gives me zest, And when at eve I long for rest; When cows come home along the bars, And in the fold I hear the bell, As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars, I sing my song, and all is well.
There are no ears to hear my lays, No lips to lift a word of praise; But still, with faith unfaltering, I live and laugh and love and sing. What matters yon unheeding throng? They cannot feel my spirit's spell, Since life is sweet and love is long, I sing my song, and all is well.
My days are never days of ease; I till my ground and prune my trees. When ripened gold is all the plain, I put my sickle to the grain. I labor hard, and toil and sweat, While others dream within the dell; But even while my brow is wet, I sing my song, and all is well.
Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot, My garden makes a desert spot; Sometimes a blight upon the tree Takes all my fruit away from me; And then with throes of bitter pain Rebellious passions rise and swell; But—life is more than fruit or grain, And so I sing, and all is well.
"Thou art a fool," said my head to my heart, "Indeed, the greatest of fools thou art, To be led astray by the trick of a tress, By a smiling face or a ribbon smart;" And my heart was in sore distress.
Then Phyllis came by, and her face was fair, The light gleamed soft on her raven hair; And her lips were blooming a rosy red. Then my heart spoke out with a right bold air: "Thou art worse than a fool, O head!"
Folks ain't got no right to censuah othah folks about dey habits; Him dat giv' de squir'ls de bushtails made de bobtails fu' de rabbits. Him dat built de gread big mountains hollered out de little valleys, Him dat made de streets an' driveways wasn't shamed to make de alleys.
We is all constructed diff'ent, d'ain't no two of us de same; We cain't he'p ouah likes an' dislikes, ef we'se bad we ain't to blame. Ef we 'se good, we need n't show off, case you bet it ain't ouah doin' We gits into su'ttain channels dat we jes' cain't he'p pu'suin'.
But we all fits into places dat no othah ones could fill, An' we does the things we has to, big er little, good er ill. John cain't tek de place o' Henry, Su an' Sally ain't alike; Bass ain't nuthin' like a suckah, chub ain't nuthin' like a pike.
When you come to think about it, how it 's all planned out it 's splendid. Nuthin 's done er evah happens, 'dout hit 's somefin' dat 's intended; Don't keer whut you does, you has to, an' hit sholy beats de dickens,— Viney, go put on de kittle, I got one o' mastah's chickens.
A hush is over all the teeming lists, And there is pause, a breath-space in the strife; A spirit brave has passed beyond the mists And vapors that obscure the sun of life. And Ethiopia, with bosom torn, Laments the passing of her noblest born.
She weeps for him a mother's burning tears— She loved him with a mother's deepest love. He was her champion thro' direful years, And held her weal all other ends above. When Bondage held her bleeding in the dust, He raised her up and whispered, "Hope and Trust."
For her his voice, a fearless clarion, rung That broke in warning on the ears of men; For her the strong bow of his power he strung, And sent his arrows to the very den Where grim Oppression held his bloody place And gloated o'er the mis'ries of a race.
And he was no soft-tongued apologist; He spoke straightforward, fearlessly uncowed; The sunlight of his truth dispelled the mist, And set in bold relief each dark hued cloud; To sin and crime he gave their proper hue, And hurled at evil what was evil's due.
Through good and ill report he cleaved his way. Right onward, with his face set toward the heights, Nor feared to face the foeman's dread array,— The lash of scorn, the sting of petty spites. He dared the lightning in the lightning's track, And answered thunder with his thunder back.
When men maligned him, and their torrent wrath In furious imprecations o'er him broke, He kept his counsel as he kept his path; 'T was for his race, not for himself he spoke. He knew the import of his Master's call, And felt himself too mighty to be small.
No miser in the good he held was he,— His kindness followed his horizon's rim. His heart, his talents, and his hands were free To all who truly needed aught of him. Where poverty and ignorance were rife, He gave his bounty as he gave his life.
The place and cause that first aroused his might Still proved its power until his latest day. In Freedom's lists and for the aid of Right Still in the foremost rank he waged the fray; Wrong lived; his occupation was not gone. He died in action with his armor on!
We weep for him, but we have touched his hand, And felt the magic of his presence nigh, The current that he sent throughout the land, The kindling spirit of his battle-cry. O'er all that holds us we shall triumph yet, And place our banner where his hopes were set!
Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the shore, But still thy voice is ringing o'er the gale! Thou 'st taught thy race how high her hopes may soar, And bade her seek the heights, nor faint, nor fail. She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring cry, She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh, And, rising from beneath the chast'ning rod, She stretches out her bleeding hands to God!
A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in, A minute to smile and an hour to weep in, A pint of joy to a peck of trouble, And never a laugh but the moans come double; And that is life!
A crust and a corner that love makes precious, With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us; And joy seems sweeter when cares come after, And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter; And that is life!
My cot was down by a cypress grove, And I sat by my window the whole night long, And heard well up from the deep dark wood A mocking-bird's passionate song.
And I thought of myself so sad and lone, And my life's cold winter that knew no spring; Of my mind so weary and sick and wild, Of my heart too sad to sing.
But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song, A thought stole into my saddened heart, And I said, "I can cheer some other soul By a carol's simple art."
For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives Come songs that brim with joy and light, As out of the gloom of the cypress grove The mocking-bird sings at night.
So I sang a lay for a brother's ear In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart, And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre, Though mine was a feeble art.
But at his smile I smiled in turn, And into my soul there came a ray: In trying to soothe another's woes Mine own had passed away.
THE RISING OF THE STORM
The lake's dark breast Is all unrest, It heaves with a sob and a sigh. Like a tremulous bird, From its slumber stirred, The moon is a-tilt in the sky.
From the silent deep The waters sweep, But faint on the cold white stones, And the wavelets fly With a plaintive cry O'er the old earth's bare, bleak bones.
And the spray upsprings On its ghost-white wings, And tosses a kiss at the stars; While a water-sprite, In sea-pearls dight, Hums a sea-hymn's solemn bars.
Far out in the night, On the wavering sight I see a dark hull loom; And its light on high, Like a Cyclops' eye, Shines out through the mist and gloom.
Now the winds well up From the earth's deep cup, And fall on the sea and shore, And against the pier The waters rear And break with a sullen roar.
Up comes the gale, And the mist-wrought veil Gives way to the lightning's glare, And the cloud-drifts fall, A sombre pall, O'er water, earth, and air.
The storm-king flies, His whip he plies, And bellows down the wind. The lightning rash With blinding flash Comes pricking on behind.
Rise, waters, rise, And taunt the skies With your swift-flitting form. Sweep, wild winds, sweep, And tear the deep To atoms in the storm.
And the waters leapt, And the wild winds swept, And blew out the moon in the sky, And I laughed with glee, It was joy to me As the storm went raging by!
The river sleeps beneath the sky, And clasps the shadows to its breast; The crescent moon shines dim on high; And in the lately radiant west The gold is fading into gray. Now stills the lark his festive lay, And mourns with me the dying day.
While in the south the first faint star Lifts to the night its silver face, And twinkles to the moon afar Across the heaven's graying space, Low murmurs reach me from the town, As Day puts on her sombre crown, And shakes her mantle darkly down.
THE OLD APPLE-TREE
There's a memory keeps a-runnin' Through my weary head to-night, An' I see a picture dancin' In the fire-flames' ruddy light; 'Tis the picture of an orchard Wrapped in autumn's purple haze, With the tender light about it That I loved in other days. An' a-standin' in a corner Once again I seem to see The verdant leaves an' branches Of an old apple-tree.
You perhaps would call it ugly, An' I don't know but it's so, When you look the tree all over Unadorned by memory's glow; For its boughs are gnarled an' crooked, An' its leaves are gettin' thin, An' the apples of its bearin' Would n't fill so large a bin As they used to. But I tell you, When it comes to pleasin' me, It's the dearest in the orchard,— Is that old apple-tree.
I would hide within its shelter, Settlin' in some cosy nook, Where no calls nor threats could stir me From the pages o' my book. Oh, that quiet, sweet seclusion In its fulness passeth words! It was deeper than the deepest That my sanctum now affords. Why, the jaybirds an' the robins, They was hand in glove with me, As they winked at me an' warbled In that old apple-tree.
It was on its sturdy branches That in summers long ago I would tie my swing an' dangle In contentment to an' fro, Idly dreamin' childish fancies, Buildin' castles in the air, Makin' o' myself a hero Of romances rich an' rare. I kin shet my eyes an' see it Jest as plain as plain kin be, That same old swing a-danglin' To the old apple-tree.
There's a rustic seat beneath it That I never kin forget. It's the place where me an' Hallie— Little sweetheart—used to set, When we 'd wander to the orchard So 's no listenin' ones could hear As I whispered sugared nonsense Into her little willin' ear. Now my gray old wife is Hallie, An' I 'm grayer still than she, But I 'll not forget our courtin' 'Neath the old apple-tree.
Life for us ain't all been summer, But I guess we 'we had our share Of its flittin' joys an' pleasures, An' a sprinklin' of its care. Oft the skies have smiled upon us; Then again we 've seen 'em frown, Though our load was ne'er so heavy That we longed to lay it down. But when death does come a-callin', This my last request shall be,— That they 'll bury me an' Hallie 'Neath the old apple tree.
O Lord, the hard-won miles Have worn my stumbling feet: Oh, soothe me with thy smiles, And make my life complete.
The thorns were thick and keen Where'er I trembling trod; The way was long between My wounded feet and God.
Where healing waters flow Do thou my footsteps lead. My heart is aching so; Thy gracious balm I need.
PASSION AND LOVE
A maiden wept and, as a comforter, Came one who cried, "I love thee," and he seized Her in his arms and kissed her with hot breath, That dried the tears upon her flaming cheeks. While evermore his boldly blazing eye Burned into hers; but she uncomforted Shrank from his arms and only wept the more.
Then one came and gazed mutely in her face With wide and wistful eyes; but still aloof He held himself; as with a reverent fear, As one who knows some sacred presence nigh. And as she wept he mingled tear with tear, That cheered her soul like dew a dusty flower,— Until she smiled, approached, and touched his hand!
As a quiet little seedling Lay within its darksome bed, To itself it fell a-talking, And this is what it said:
"I am not so very robust, But I 'll do the best I can;" And the seedling from that moment Its work of life began.
So it pushed a little leaflet Up into the light of day, To examine the surroundings And show the rest the way.
The leaflet liked the prospect, So it called its brother, Stem; Then two other leaflets heard it, And quickly followed them.
To be sure, the haste and hurry Made the seedling sweat and pant; But almost before it knew it It found itself a plant.
The sunshine poured upon it, And the clouds they gave a shower; And the little plant kept growing Till it found itself a flower.
Little folks, be like the seedling, Always do the best you can; Every child must share life's labor Just as well as every man.
And the sun and showers will help you Through the lonesome, struggling hours, Till you raise to light and beauty Virtue's fair, unfading flowers.
I grew a rose within a garden fair, And, tending it with more than loving care, I thought how, with the glory of its bloom, I should the darkness of my life illume; And, watching, ever smiled to see the lusty bud Drink freely in the summer sun to tinct its blood.
My rose began to open, and its hue Was sweet to me as to it sun and dew; I watched it taking on its ruddy flame Until the day of perfect blooming came, Then hasted I with smiles to find it blushing red— Too late! Some thoughtless child had plucked my rose and fled!
I grew a rose once more to please mine eyes. All things to aid it—dew, sun, wind, fair skies— Were kindly; and to shield it from despoil, I fenced it safely in with grateful toil. No other hand than mine shall pluck this flower, said I, And I was jealous of the bee that hovered nigh. It grew for days; I stood hour after hour To watch the slow unfolding of the flower, And then I did not leave its side at all, Lest some mischance my flower should befall. At last, oh joy! the central petals burst apart. It blossomed—but, alas! a worm was at its heart!
My heart to thy heart, My hand to thine; My lip to thy lips, Kisses are wine Brewed for the lover in sunshine and shade; Let me drink deep, then, my African maid.
Lily to lily, Rose unto rose; My love to thy love Tenderly grows. Rend not the oak and the ivy in twain, Nor the swart maid from her swarthier swain.
AN ANTE-BELLUM SERMON
We is gathahed hyeah, my brothahs, In dis howlin' wildaness, Fu' to speak some words of comfo't To each othah in distress. An' we chooses fu' ouah subjic' Dis—we'll 'splain it by an' by; "An' de Lawd said, 'Moses, Moses,' An' de man said, 'Hyeah am I.'"
Now ole Pher'oh, down in Egypt, Was de wuss man evah bo'n, An' he had de Hebrew chillun Down dah wukin' in his co'n; 'T well de Lawd got tiahed o' his foolin', An' sez he: "I' ll let him know— Look hyeah, Moses, go tell Pher'oh Fu' to let dem chillun go."
"An' ef he refuse to do it, I will make him rue de houah, Fu' I'll empty down on Egypt All de vials of my powah." Yes, he did—an' Pher'oh's ahmy Wasn't wuth a ha'f a dime; Fu' de Lawd will he'p his chillun, You kin trust him evah time.
An' yo' enemies may 'sail you In de back an' in de front; But de Lawd is all aroun' you, Fu' to ba' de battle's brunt. Dey kin fo'ge yo' chains an' shackles F'om de mountains to de sea; But de Lawd will sen' some Moses Fu' to set his chillun free.
An' de lan' shall hyeah his thundah, Lak a blas' f'om Gab'el's ho'n, Fu' de Lawd of hosts is mighty When he girds his ahmor on. But fu' feah some one mistakes me, I will pause right hyeah to say, Dat I 'm still a-preachin' ancient, I ain't talkin' 'bout to-day.
But I tell you, fellah christuns, Things'll happen mighty strange; Now, de Lawd done dis fu' Isrul, An' his ways don't nevah change, An' de love he showed to Isrul Was n't all on Isrul spent; Now don't run an' tell yo' mastahs Dat I's preachin' discontent.
'Cause I isn't; I'se a-judgin' Bible people by deir ac's; I 'se a-givin' you de Scriptuah, I 'se a-handin' you de fac's. Cose ole Pher'oh b'lieved in slav'ry, But de Lawd he let him see, Dat de people he put bref in,— Evah mothah's son was free.
An' dahs othahs thinks lak Pher'oh, But dey calls de Scriptuah liar, Fu' de Bible says "a servant Is a-worthy of his hire." An' you cain't git roun' nor thoo dat, An' you cain't git ovah it, Fu' whatevah place you git in, Dis hyeah Bible too 'll fit.
So you see de Lawd's intention, Evah sence de worl' began, Was dat His almighty freedom Should belong to evah man, But I think it would be bettah, Ef I'd pause agin to say, Dat I'm talkin' 'bout ouah freedom In a Bibleistic way.
But de Moses is a-comin', An' he's comin', suah and fas' We kin hyeah his feet a-trompin', We kin hyeah his trumpit blas'. But I want to wa'n you people, Don't you git too brigity; An' don't you git to braggin' 'Bout dese things, you wait an' see.
But when Moses wif his powah Comes an' sets us chillun free, We will praise de gracious Mastah. Dat has gin us liberty; An' we 'll shout ouah halleluyahs, On dat mighty reck'nin' day, When we 'se reco'nised ez citiz'— Huh uh! Chillun, let us pray!
ODE TO ETHIOPIA
O Mother Race! to thee I bring This pledge of faith unwavering, This tribute to thy glory. I know the pangs which thou didst feel, When Slavery crushed thee with its heel, With thy dear blood all gory.
Sad days were those—ah, sad indeed! But through the land the fruitful seed Of better times was growing. The plant of freedom upward sprung, And spread its leaves so fresh and young— Its blossoms now are blowing.
On every hand in this fair land, Proud Ethiope's swarthy children stand Beside their fairer neighbor; The forests flee before their stroke, Their hammers ring, their forges smoke,— They stir in honest labour.
They tread the fields where honour calls; Their voices sound through senate halls In majesty and power. To right they cling; the hymns they sing Up to the skies in beauty ring, And bolder grow each hour.
Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul; Thy name is writ on Glory's scroll In characters of fire. High 'mid the clouds of Fame's bright sky Thy banner's blazoned folds now fly, And truth shall lift them higher.
Thou hast the right to noble pride, Whose spotless robes were purified By blood's severe baptism. Upon thy brow the cross was laid, And labour's painful sweat-beads made A consecrating chrism.
No other race, or white or black, When bound as thou wert, to the rack, So seldom stooped to grieving; No other race, when free again, Forgot the past and proved them men So noble in forgiving.
Go on and up! Our souls and eyes Shall follow thy continuous rise; Our ears shall list thy story From bards who from thy root shall spring, And proudly tune their lyres to sing Of Ethiopia's glory.
THE CORN-STALK FIDDLE
When the corn 's all cut and the bright stalks shine Like the burnished spears of a field of gold; When the field-mice rich on the nubbins dine, And the frost comes white and the wind blows cold; Then it's heigho! fellows and hi-diddle-diddle, For the time is ripe for the corn-stalk fiddle.
And you take a stalk that is straight and long, With an expert eye to its worthy points, And you think of the bubbling strains of song That are bound between its pithy joints— Then you cut out strings, with a bridge in the middle, With a corn-stalk bow for a corn-stalk fiddle.
Then the strains that grow as you draw the bow O'er the yielding strings with a practised hand! And the music's flow never loud but low Is the concert note of a fairy band. Oh, your dainty songs are a misty riddle To the simple sweets of the corn-stalk fiddle.
When the eve comes on, and our work is done, And the sun drops down with a tender glance, With their hearts all prime for the harmless fun, Come the neighbor girls for the evening's dance, And they wait for the well-known twist and twiddle— More time than tune—from the corn-stalk fiddle.
Then brother Jabez takes the bow, While Ned stands off with Susan Bland, Then Henry stops by Milly Snow, And John takes Nellie Jones's hand, While I pair off with Mandy Biddle, And scrape, scrape, scrape goes the corn-stalk fiddle.
"Salute your partners," comes the call, "All join hands and circle round," "Grand train back," and "Balance all," Footsteps lightly spurn the ground. "Take your lady and balance down the middle" To the merry strains of the corn-stalk fiddle.
So the night goes on and the dance is o'er, And the merry girls are homeward gone, But I see it all in my sleep once more, And I dream till the very break of dawn Of an impish dance on a red-hot griddle To the screech and scrape of a corn-stalk fiddle.
An old, worn harp that had been played Till all its strings were loose and frayed, Joy, Hate, and Fear, each one essayed, To play. But each in turn had found No sweet responsiveness of sound.
Then Love the Master-Player came With heaving breast and eyes aflame; The Harp he took all undismayed, Smote on its strings, still strange to song, And brought forth music sweet and strong.
I was not; now I am—a few days hence I shall not be; I fain would look before And after, but can neither do; some Power Or lack of power says "no" to all I would. I stand upon a wide and sunless plain, Nor chart nor steel to guide my steps aright. Whene'er, o'ercoming fear, I dare to move, I grope without direction and by chance. Some feign to hear a voice and feel a hand That draws them ever upward thro' the gloom. But I—I hear no voice and touch no hand, Tho' oft thro' silence infinite I list, And strain my hearing to supernal sounds; Tho' oft thro' fateful darkness do I reach, And stretch my hand to find that other hand. I question of th' eternal bending skies That seem to neighbor with the novice earth; But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes On me, as I one day shall do on them, And tell me not the secret that I ask.
NOT THEY WHO SOAR
Not they who soar, but they who plod Their rugged way, unhelped, to God Are heroes; they who higher fare, And, flying, fan the upper air, Miss all the toil that hugs the sod. 'Tis they whose backs have felt the rod, Whose feet have pressed the path unshod, May smile upon defeated care, Not they who soar.
High up there are no thorns to prod, Nor boulders lurking 'neath the clod To turn the keenness of the share, For flight is ever free and rare; But heroes they the soil who 've trod, Not they who soar!
Not o'er thy dust let there be spent The gush of maudlin sentiment; Such drift as that is not for thee, Whose life and deeds and songs agree, Sublime in their simplicity.
Nor shall the sorrowing tear be shed. O singer sweet, thou art not dead! In spite of time's malignant chill, With living fire thy songs shall thrill, And men shall say, "He liveth still!"
Great poets never die, for Earth Doth count their lives of too great worth To lose them from her treasured store; So shalt thou live for evermore— Though far thy form from mortal ken— Deep in the hearts and minds of men.
A bee that was searching for sweets one day Through the gate of a rose garden happened to stray. In the heart of a rose he hid away, And forgot in his bliss the light of day, As sipping his honey he buzzed in song; Though day was waning, he lingered long, For the rose was sweet, so sweet.
A robin sits pluming his ruddy breast, And a madrigal sings to his love in her nest: "Oh, the skies they are blue, the fields are green, And the birds in your nest will soon be seen!" She hangs on his words with a thrill of love, And chirps to him as he sits above For the song is sweet, so sweet.
A maiden was out on a summer's day With the winds and the waves and the flowers at play; And she met with a youth of gentle air, With the light of the sunshine on his hair. Together they wandered the flowers among; They loved, and loving they lingered long, For to love is sweet, so sweet.
* * * * *
Bird of my lady's bower, Sing her a song; Tell her that every hour, All the day long, Thoughts of her come to me, Filling my brain With the warm ecstasy Of love's refrain.
Little bird! happy bird! Being so near, Where e'en her slightest word Thou mayest hear, Seeing her glancing eyes, Sheen of her hair, Thou art in paradise,— Would I were there.
I am so far away, Thou art so near; Plead with her, birdling gay, Plead with my dear. Rich be thy recompense, Fine be thy fee, If through thine eloquence She hearken me.
A BANJO SONG
Oh, dere 's lots o' keer an' trouble In dis world to swaller down; An' ol' Sorrer 's purty lively In her way o' gittin' roun'. Yet dere's times when I furgit em,— Aches an' pains an' troubles all,— An' it's when I tek at ebenin' My ol' banjo f'om de wall.
'Bout de time dat night is fallin' An' my daily wu'k is done, An' above de shady hilltops I kin see de settin' sun; When de quiet, restful shadders Is beginnin' jes' to fall,— Den I take de little banjo F'om its place upon de wall.
Den my fam'ly gadders roun' me In de fadin' o' de light, Ez I strike de strings to try 'em Ef dey all is tuned er-right. An' it seems we 're so nigh heaben We kin hyeah de angels sing When de music o' dat banjo Sets my cabin all er-ring.
An' my wife an' all de othahs,— Male an' female, small an' big,— Even up to gray-haired granny, Seem jes' boun' to do a jig; 'Twell I change de style o' music, Change de movement an' de time, An' de ringin' little banjo Plays an ol' hea't-feelin' hime.
An' somehow my th'oat gits choky, An' a lump keeps tryin' to rise Lak it wan'ed to ketch de water Dat was flowin' to my eyes; An' I feel dat I could sorter Knock de socks clean off o' sin Ez I hyeah my po' ol' granny Wif huh tremblin' voice jine in.
Den we all th'ow in our voices Fu' to he'p de chune out too, Lak a big camp-meetin' choiry Tryin' to sing a mou'nah th'oo. An' our th'oahts let out de music, Sweet an' solemn, loud an' free, 'Twell de raftahs o' my cabin Echo wif de melody.
Oh, de music o' de banjo, Quick an' deb'lish, solemn, slow, Is de greates' joy an' solace Dat a weary slave kin know! So jes' let me hyeah it ringin', Dough de chune be po' an' rough, It's a pleasure; an' de pleasures O' dis life is few enough.
Now, de blessed little angels Up in heaben, we are told, Don't do nothin' all dere lifetime 'Ceptin' play on ha'ps o' gold. Now I think heaben 'd be mo' homelike Ef we 'd hyeah some music fall F'om a real ol'-fashioned banjo, Like dat one upon de wall.
If you could sit with me beside the sea to-day, And whisper with me sweetest dreamings o'er and o'er; I think I should not find the clouds so dim and gray, And not so loud the waves complaining at the shore.
If you could sit with me upon the shore to-day, And hold my hand in yours as in the days of old, I think I should not mind the chill baptismal spray, Nor find my hand and heart and all the world so cold.
If you could walk with me upon the strand to-day, And tell me that my longing love had won your own, I think all my sad thoughts would then be put away, And I could give back laughter for the Ocean's moan!
There are no beaten paths to Glory's height, There are no rules to compass greatness known; Each for himself must cleave a path alone, And press his own way forward in the fight. Smooth is the way to ease and calm delight, And soft the road Sloth chooseth for her own; But he who craves the flower of life full-blown, Must struggle up in all his armor dight! What though the burden bear him sorely down And crush to dust the mountain of his pride, Oh, then, with strong heart let him still abide; For rugged is the roadway to renown, Nor may he hope to gain the envied crown, Till he hath thrust the looming rocks aside.
THE LAWYERS' WAYS
I 've been list'nin' to them lawyers In the court house up the street, An' I 've come to the conclusion That I'm most completely beat. Fust one feller riz to argy, An' he boldly waded in As he dressed the tremblin' pris'ner In a coat o' deep-dyed sin.
Why, he painted him all over In a hue o' blackest crime, An' he smeared his reputation With the thickest kind o' grime, Tell I found myself a-wond'rin', In a misty way and dim, How the Lord had come to fashion Sich an awful man as him.
Then the other lawyer started, An' with brimmin', tearful eyes, Said his client was a martyr That was brought to sacrifice. An' he give to that same pris'ner Every blessed human grace, Tell I saw the light o' virtue Fairly shinin' from his face.
Then I own 'at I was puzzled How sich things could rightly be; An' this aggervatin' question Seems to keep a-puzzlin' me. So, will some one please inform me, An' this mystery unroll— How an angel an' a devil Can persess the self-same soul?
ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAY
Done are the toils and the wearisome marches, Done is the summons of bugle and drum. Softly and sweetly the sky over-arches, Shelt'ring a land where Rebellion is dumb. Dark were the days of the country's derangement, Sad were the hours when the conflict was on, But through the gloom of fraternal estrangement God sent his light, and we welcome the dawn. O'er the expanse of our mighty dominions, Sweeping away to the uttermost parts, Peace, the wide-flying, on untiring pinions, Bringeth her message of joy to our hearts.
Ah, but this joy which our minds cannot measure, What did it cost for our fathers to gain! Bought at the price of the heart's dearest treasure, Born out of travail and sorrow and pain; Born in the battle where fleet Death was flying, Slaying with sabre-stroke bloody and fell; Born where the heroes and martyrs were dying, Torn by the fury of bullet and shell. Ah, but the day is past: silent the rattle, And the confusion that followed the fight. Peace to the heroes who died in the battle, Martyrs to truth and the crowning of Right!
Out of the blood of a conflict fraternal, Out of the dust and the dimness of death, Burst into blossoms of glory eternal Flowers that sweeten the world with their breath. Flowers of charity, peace, and devotion Bloom in the hearts that are empty of strife; Love that is boundless and broad as the ocean Leaps into beauty and fulness of life. So, with the singing of paeans and chorals, And with the flag flashing high in the sun, Place on the graves of our heroes the laurels Which their unfaltering valor has won!
Dear heart, good-night! Nay, list awhile that sweet voice singing When the world is all so bright, And the sound of song sets the heart a-ringing, Oh, love, it is not right— Not then to say, "Good-night."
Dear heart, good-night! The late winds in the lake weeds shiver, And the spray flies cold and white. And the voice that sings gives a telltale quiver— "Ah, yes, the world is bright, But, dearest heart, good-night!"
Dear heart, good-night! And do not longer seek to hold me! For my soul is in affright As the fearful glooms in their pall enfold me. See him who sang how white And still; so, dear, good-night.
Dear heart, good-night! Thy hand I 'll press no more forever, And mine eyes shall lose the light; For the great white wraith by the winding river Shall check my steps with might. So, dear, good-night, good-night!
When you and I were young, the days Were filled with scent of pink and rose, And full of joy from dawn till close, From morning's mist till evening's haze. And when the robin sung his song The verdant woodland ways along, We whistled louder than he sung. And school was joy, and work was sport For which the hours were all too short, When you and I were young, my boy, When you and I were young.
When you and I were young, the woods Brimmed bravely o'er with every joy To charm the happy-hearted boy. The quail turned out her timid broods; The prickly copse, a hostess fine, Held high black cups of harmless wine; And low the laden grape-vine swung With beads of night-kissed amethyst Where buzzing lovers held their tryst, When you and I were young, my boy, When you and I were young.
When you and I were young, the cool And fresh wind fanned our fevered brows When tumbling o'er the scented mows, Or stripping by the dimpling pool, Sedge-fringed about its shimmering face, Save where we 'd worn an ent'ring place. How with our shouts the calm banks rung! How flashed the spray as we plunged in,— Pure gems that never caused a sin! When you and I were young, my boy, When you and I were young.
When you and I were young, we heard All sounds of Nature with delight,— The whirr of wing in sudden flight, The chirping of the baby-bird. The columbine's red bells were rung; The locust's vested chorus sung; While every wind his zithern strung To high and holy-sounding keys, And played sonatas in the trees— When you and I were young, my boy, When you and I were young.
When you and I were young, we knew To shout and laugh, to work and play, And night was partner to the day In all our joys. So swift time flew On silent wings that, ere we wist, The fleeting years had fled unmissed; And from our hearts this cry was wrung— To fill with fond regret and tears The days of our remaining years— "When you and I were young, my boy, When you and I were young."
Deep in my heart that aches with the repression, And strives with plenitude of bitter pain, There lives a thought that clamors for expression, And spends its undelivered force in vain.
What boots it that some other may have thought it? The right of thoughts' expression is divine; The price of pain I pay for it has bought it, I care not who lays claim to it—'t is mine!
And yet not mine until it be delivered; The manner of its birth shall prove the test. Alas, alas, my rock of pride is shivered— I beat my brow—the thought still unexpressed.
SONG OF SUMMER
Dis is gospel weathah sho'— Hills is sawt o' hazy. Meddahs level ez a flo' Callin' to de lazy. Sky all white wif streaks o' blue, Sunshine softly gleamin', D'ain't no wuk hit's right to do, Nothin' 's right but dreamin'.
Dreamin' by de rivah side Wif de watahs glist'nin', Feelin' good an' satisfied Ez you lay a-list'nin' To the little nakid boys Splashin' in de watah, Hollerin' fu' to spress deir joys Jes' lak youngsters ought to.
Squir'l a-tippin' on his toes, So 's to hide an' view you; Whole flocks o' camp-meetin' crows Shoutin' hallelujah. Peckahwood erpon de tree Tappin' lak a hammah; Jaybird chattin' wif a bee, Tryin' to teach him grammah.
Breeze is blowin' wif perfume, Jes' enough to tease you; Hollyhocks is all in bloom, Smellin' fu' to please you. Go 'way, folks, an' let me 'lone, Times is gettin' dearah— Summah's settin' on de th'one, An' I 'm a-layin' neah huh!
A blue-bell springs upon the ledge, A lark sits singing in the hedge; Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air, And life is brimming everywhere. What lark and breeze and bluebird sing, Is Spring, Spring, Spring!
No more the air is sharp and cold; The planter wends across the wold, And, glad, beneath the shining sky We wander forth, my love and I. And ever in our hearts doth ring This song of Spring, Spring!
For life is life and love is love, 'Twixt maid and man or dove and dove. Life may be short, life may be long, But love will come, and to its song Shall this refrain for ever cling Of Spring, Spring, Spring!
Oh, the poets may sing of their Lady Irenes, And may rave in their rhymes about wonderful queens; But I throw my poetical wings to the breeze, And soar in a song to my Lady Louise. A sweet little maid, who is dearer, I ween, Than any fair duchess, or even a queen. When speaking of her I can't plod in my prose, For she 's the wee lassie who gave me a rose.
Since poets, from seeing a lady's lip curled, Have written fair verse that has sweetened the world; Why, then, should not I give the space of an hour To making a song in return for a flower? I have found in my life—it has not been so long— There are too few of flowers—too little of song. So out of that blossom, this lay of mine grows, For the dear little lady who gave me the rose.
I thank God for innocence, dearer than Art, That lights on a by-way which leads to the heart, And led by an impulse no less than divine, Walks into the temple and sits at the shrine. I would rather pluck daisies that grow in the wild, Or take one simple rose from the hand of a child, Then to breathe the rich fragrance of flowers that bide In the gardens of luxury, passion, and pride.
I know not, my wee one, how came you to know Which way to my heart was the right way to go; Unless in your purity, soul-clean and clear, God whispers his messages into your ear. You have now had my song, let me end with a prayer That your life may be always sweet, happy, and fair; That your joys may be many, and absent your woes, O dear little lady who gave me the rose!
'T was three an' thirty year ago, When I was ruther young, you know, I had my last an' only fight About a gal one summer night. 'T was me an' Zekel Johnson; Zeke 'N' me 'd be'n spattin' 'bout a week, Each of us tryin' his best to show That he was Liza Jones's beau. We could n't neither prove the thing, Fur she was fur too sharp to fling One over fur the other one An' by so doin' stop the fun That we chaps did n't have the sense To see she got at our expense, But that's the way a feller does, Fur boys is fools an' allus was. An' when they's females in the game I reckon men's about the same. Well, Zeke an' me went on that way An' fussed an' quarrelled day by day; While Liza, mindin' not the fuss, Jest kep' a-goin' with both of us, Tell we pore chaps, that's Zeke an' me, Was jest plum mad with jealousy. Well, fur a time we kep' our places, An' only showed by frownin' faces An' looks 'at well our meanin' boded How full o' fight we both was loaded. At last it come, the thing broke out, An' this is how it come about. One night ('t was fair, you'll all agree) I got Eliza's company, An' leavin' Zekel in the lurch, Went trottin' off with her to church. An' jest as we had took our seat (Eliza lookin' fair an' sweet), Why, I jest could n't help but grin When Zekel come a-bouncin' in As furious as the law allows. He 'd jest be'n up to Liza's house, To find her gone, then come to church To have this end put to his search. I guess I laffed that meetin' through, An' not a mortal word I knew Of what the preacher preached er read Er what the choir sung er said. Fur every time I 'd turn my head I could n't skeercely help but see 'At Zekel had his eye on me. An' he 'ud sort o' turn an' twist An' grind his teeth an' shake his fist. I laughed, fur la! the hull church seen us, An' knowed that suthin' was between us. Well, meetin' out, we started hum, I sorter feelin' what would come. We 'd jest got out, when up stepped Zeke, An' said, "Scuse me, I 'd like to speak To you a minute." "Cert," said I— A-nudgin' Liza on the sly An' laughin' in my sleeve with glee, I asked her, please, to pardon me. We walked away a step er two, Jest to git out o' Liza's view, An' then Zeke said, "I want to know Ef you think you 're Eliza's beau, An' 'at I 'm goin' to let her go Hum with sich a chap as you?" An' I said bold, "You bet I do." Then Zekel, sneerin', said 'at he Did n't want to hender me. But then he 'lowed the gal was his An' 'at he guessed he knowed his biz, An' was n't feared o' all my kin With all my friends an' chums throwed in. Some other things he mentioned there That no born man could no ways bear Er think o' ca'mly tryin' to stan' Ef Zeke had be'n the bigges' man In town, an' not the leanest runt 'At time an' labor ever stunt. An' so I let my fist go "bim," I thought I 'd mos' nigh finished him. But Zekel did n't take it so. He jest ducked down an' dodged my blow An' then come back at me so hard, I guess I must 'a' hurt the yard, Er spilet the grass plot where I fell, An' sakes alive it hurt me; well, It would n't be'n so bad, you see, But he jest kep' a-hittin' me. An' I hit back an' kicked an' pawed, But 't seemed 't was mostly air I clawed, While Zekel used his science well A-makin' every motion tell. He punched an' hit, why, goodness lands, Seemed like he had a dozen hands. Well, afterwhile they stopped the fuss, An' some one kindly parted us. All beat an' cuffed an' clawed an' scratched, An' needin' both our faces patched, Each started hum a different way; An' what o' Liza, do you say, Why, Liza—little humbug—dern her, Why, she 'd gone home with Hiram Turner.
THE LOVER AND THE MOON
A lover whom duty called over the wave, With himself communed: "Will my love be true If left to herself? Had I better not sue Some friend to watch over her, good and grave? But my friend might fail in my need," he said, "And I return to find love dead. Since friendships fade like the flow'rs of June, I will leave her in charge of the stable moon."
Then he said to the moon: "O dear old moon, Who for years and years from thy thrown above Hast nurtured and guarded young lovers and love, My heart has but come to its waiting June, And the promise time of the budding vine; Oh, guard thee well this love of mine." And he harked him then while all was still, And the pale moon answered and said, "I will."
And he sailed in his ship o'er many seas, And he wandered wide o'er strange far strands: In isles of the south and in Orient lands, Where pestilence lurks in the breath of the breeze. But his star was high, so he braved the main, And sailed him blithely home again; And with joy he bended his footsteps soon To learn of his love from the matron moon.
She sat as of yore, in her olden place, Serene as death, in her silver chair. A white rose gleamed in her whiter hair, And the tint of a blush was on her face. At sight of the youth she sadly bowed And hid her face 'neath a gracious cloud. She faltered faint on the night's dim marge, But "How," spoke the youth, "have you kept your charge?"
The moon was sad at a trust ill-kept; The blush went out in her blanching cheek, And her voice was timid and low and weak, As she made her plea and sighed and wept. "Oh, another prayed and another plead, And I could n't resist," she answering said; "But love still grows in the hearts of men: Go forth, dear youth, and love again."
But he turned him away from her proffered grace. "Thou art false, O moon, as the hearts of men, I will not, will not love again." And he turned sheer 'round with a soul-sick face To the sea, and cried: "Sea, curse the moon, Who makes her vows and forgets so soon." And the awful sea with anger stirred, And his breast heaved hard as he lay and heard.
And ever the moon wept down in rain, And ever her sighs rose high in wind; But the earth and sea were deaf and blind, And she wept and sighed her griefs in vain. And ever at night, when the storm is fierce, The cries of a wraith through the thunder pierce; And the waves strain their awful hands on high To tear the false moon from the sky.
CONSCIENCE AND REMORSE
"Good-bye," I said to my conscience— "Good-bye for aye and aye," And I put her hands off harshly, And turned my face away; And conscience smitten sorely Returned not from that day.
But a time came when my spirit Grew weary of its pace; And I cried: "Come back, my conscience; I long to see thy face." But conscience cried: "I cannot; Remorse sits in my place."
Ah, yes, 't is sweet still to remember, Though 'twere less painful to forget; For while my heart glows like an ember, Mine eyes with sorrow's drops are wet, And, oh, my heart is aching yet. It is a law of mortal pain That old wounds, long accounted well, Beneath the memory's potent spell, Will wake to life and bleed again.
So 't is with me; it might be better If I should turn no look behind,— If I could curb my heart, and fetter From reminiscent gaze my mind, Or let my soul go blind—go blind! But would I do it if I could? Nay! ease at such a price were spurned; For, since my love was once returned, All that I suffer seemeth good.
I know, I know it is the fashion, When love has left some heart distressed, To weight the air with wordful passion; But I am glad that in my breast I ever held so dear a guest. Love does not come at every nod, Or every voice that calleth "hasten;" He seeketh out some heart to chasten, And whips it, wailing, up to God!
Love is no random road wayfarer Who where he may must sip his glass. Love is the King, the Purple-Wearer, Whose guard recks not of tree or grass To blaze the way that he may pass. What if my heart be in the blast That heralds his triumphant way; Shall I repine, shall I not say: "Rejoice, my heart, the King has passed!"
In life, each heart holds some sad story— The saddest ones are never told. I, too, have dreamed of fame and glory, And viewed the future bright with gold; But that is as a tale long told. Mine eyes have lost their youthful flash, My cunning hand has lost its art; I am not old, but in my heart The ember lies beneath the ash.
I loved! Why not? My heart was youthful, My mind was filled with healthy thought. He doubts not whose own self is truthful, Doubt by dishonesty is taught; So loved I boldly, fearing naught. I did not walk this lowly earth; Mine was a newer, higher sphere, Where youth was long and life was dear, And all save love was little worth.
Her likeness! Would that I might limn it, As Love did, with enduring art; Nor dust of days nor death may dim it, Where it lies graven on my heart, Of this sad fabric of my life a part. I would that I might paint her now As I beheld her in that day, Ere her first bloom had passed away, And left the lines upon her brow.
A face serene that, beaming brightly, Disarmed the hot sun's glances bold. A foot that kissed the ground so lightly, He frowned in wrath and deemed her cold, But loved her still though he was old. A form where every maiden grace Bloomed to perfection's richest flower,— The statued pose of conscious power, Like lithe-limbed Dian's of the chase.
Beneath a brow too fair for frowning, Like moon-lit deeps that glass the skies Till all the hosts above seem drowning, Looked forth her steadfast hazel eyes, With gaze serene and purely wise. And over all, her tresses rare, Which, when, with his desire grown weak, The Night bent down to kiss her cheek, Entrapped and held him captive there.
This was Ione; a spirit finer Ne'er burned to ash its house of clay; A soul instinct with fire diviner Ne'er fled athwart the face of day, And tempted Time with earthly stay. Her loveliness was not alone Of face and form and tresses' hue: For aye a pure, high soul shone through Her every act: this was Ione.
'T was in the radiant summer weather, When God looked, smiling, from the sky; And we went wand'ring much together By wood and lane, Ione and I, Attracted by the subtle tie Of common thoughts and common tastes, Of eyes whose vision saw the same, And freely granted beauty's claim Where others found but worthless wastes.
We paused to hear the far bells ringing Across the distance, sweet and clear. We listened to the wild bird's singing The song he meant for his mate's ear, And deemed our chance to do so dear. We loved to watch the warrior Sun, With flaming shield and flaunting crest, Go striding down the gory West, When Day's long fight was fought and won.
And life became a different story; Where'er I looked, I saw new light. Earth's self assumed a greater glory, Mine eyes were cleared to fuller sight. Then first I saw the need and might Of that fair band, the singing throng, Who, gifted with the skill divine, Take up the threads of life, spun fine, And weave them into soulful song.
They sung for me, whose passion pressing My soul, found vent in song nor line. They bore the burden of expressing All that I felt, with art's design, And every word of theirs was mine. I read them to Ione, ofttimes, By hill and shore, beneath fair skies, And she looked deeply in mine eyes, And knew my love spoke through their rhymes.
Her life was like the stream that floweth, And mine was like the waiting sea; Her love was like the flower that bloweth, And mine was like the searching bee— I found her sweetness all for me. God plied him in the mint of time, And coined for us a golden day, And rolled it ringing down life's way With love's sweet music in its chime.
And God unclasped the Book of Ages, And laid it open to our sight; Upon the dimness of its pages, So long consigned to rayless night, He shed the glory of his light. We read them well, we read them long, And ever thrilling did we see That love ruled all humanity,— The master passion, pure and strong.
To-day my skies are bare and ashen, And bend on me without a beam. Since love is held the master-passion, Its loss must be the pain supreme— And grinning Fate has wrecked my dream. But pardon, dear departed Guest, I will not rant, I will not rail; For good the grain must feel the flail; There are whom love has never blessed.
I had and have a younger brother, One whom I loved and love to-day As never fond and doting mother Adored the babe who found its way From heavenly scenes into her day. Oh, he was full of youth's new wine,— A man on life's ascending slope, Flushed with ambition, full of hope; And every wish of his was mine.
A kingly youth; the way before him Was thronged with victories to be won; So joyous, too, the heavens o'er him Were bright with an unchanging sun,— His days with rhyme were overrun. Toil had not taught him Nature's prose, Tears had not dimmed his brilliant eyes, And sorrow had not made him wise; His life was in the budding rose.
I know not how I came to waken, Some instinct pricked my soul to sight; My heart by some vague thrill was shaken,— A thrill so true and yet so slight, I hardly deemed I read aright. As when a sleeper, ign'rant why, Not knowing what mysterious hand Has called him out of slumberland, Starts up to find some danger nigh.
Love is a guest that comes, unbidden, But, having come, asserts his right; He will not be repressed nor hidden. And so my brother's dawning plight Became uncovered to my sight. Some sound-mote in his passing tone Caught in the meshes of my ear; Some little glance, a shade too dear, Betrayed the love he bore Ione.
What could I do? He was my brother, And young, and full of hope and trust; I could not, dared not try to smother His flame, and turn his heart to dust. I knew how oft life gives a crust To starving men who cry for bread; But he was young, so few his days, He had not learned the great world's ways, Nor Disappointment's volumes read.