THE HAUNTED HOUR
COMPILED BY MARGARET WIDDEMER
NEW YORK HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE 1920
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE, INC.
THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY RAHWAY, N.J.
For the use of the copyrighted material included in this volume permission has been secured either from the author or his authorized publishers. All rights in these poems are reserved by the holders of the copyright, or the authorized publishers, as named below:
To George H. Doran Co. for the poems of Joyce Kilmer and May Byron.
To Doubleday, Page & Co. and Rudyard Kipling for Mr. Kipling's "The Looking-Glass."
To E.P. Dutton & Co. for Helen Gray Cone's "Blockhouse on the Hill," from her A Chant of Love for England.
To Harper & Bros. for the poems of Arthur Guiterman, Don Marquis, and Don C. Seitz.
To Henry Holt and Co. for the poems of Francis Carlin, Walter De La Mare, Louis Untermeyer, and Margaret Widdemer.
To Houghton Mifflin Co. for Anna Hempstead Branch's "Such Are the Souls in Purgatory" from Heart of the Road, the poems of Henry W. Longfellow, Nathan Haskell Dole's "Russian Fantasy," Amy Lowell's "Haunted" from Pictures of the Floating World, May Kendall's "A Legend."
To Mitchell Kennerley for the poems of Theodosia Garrison, Dora Sigerson Shorter, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
To John Lane Co. for the poems of Rosamund Marriott Watson, Winifred Letts, A.E. Housman's "True Lover," Nora Hopper's "Far Away Country," Marjorie Pickthall's "Mary Shepherdess."
To the Macmillan Co. for W.B. Yeats' "Folk o' the Air," and John Masefield's "Cape Horn Gospel."
To Thomas Bird Mosher for Edith M. Thomas's "The Passer-By" from Flower from the Ashes.
To Frederick A. Stokes Co. for "The Highwayman," by Alfred Noyes.
To Charles Scribner's Sons for Josephine Daskam Bacon's "Little Dead Child."
To Rose de Vaux Royer for Madison Cawein's "Ghosts."
To the Saturday Evening Post for Grantland Rice's "Ghosts of the Argonne."
I have to thank the following authors for express personal permission: Josephine Daskam Bacon, Anna Hempstead Branch, Francis Carlin, Helen Gray Cone, Nathan Haskell Dole, Theodosia Garrison, Arthur Guiterman, Minna Irving, Aline Kilmer, Katherine Tynan Hinkson, Winifred Letts, Amy Lowell, Don Marquis, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ruth Comfort Mitchell, Marjorie L.C. Pickthall, Lizette Woodworth Reese, Grantland Rice, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Haven Schauffler, Don C. Seitz, Clement Shorter (for Dora Sigerson Shorter), Edith M. Thomas, Louis Untermeyer, and William Butler Yeats.
This does not attempt to be an inclusive anthology. The ghostly poetry of the late war alone would have made a book as large as this; and an inclusive scheme would have ended as a six-volume Encyclopedia of Ghostly Verse. I hope that this may be called for some day. The present book has been held to the conventional limits of the type of small anthology which may be read without weariness (I hope) by the exclusion not only of many long and dreary ghost-poems, but many others which it was very hard to leave out.
I have not considered as ghost-poems anything but poems which related to the return of spirits to earth. Thus "The Blessed Damozel," a poem of spirits in heaven, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," whose heroine may be a fairy or witch, and whose ghosts are presented in dream only, do not belong in this classification; nor do such poems as Mathilde Blind's lovely sonnet, "The Dead Are Ever with Us," class as ghost-poems; for in these the dead are living in ourselves in a half-metaphorical sense. If a poem would be a ghost-story, in short, I have considered it a ghost-poem, not otherwise.
In this connection I wish to thank Mabel Cleland Ludlum for her unwearied and intelligent assistance with the selection and compilation of the book; and Aline Kilmer for help in its revision and arrangement.
The Far Away Country Nora Hopper Chesson xiv
"THE NICHT ATWEEN THE SANCTS AN' SOULS"
All-Souls Katherine Tynan 3 All-Saints' Eve Lizette Woodworth Reese 3 A Dream William Allingham 4 The Neighbors Theodosia Garrison 6 A Ballad of Hallowe'en Theodosia Garrison 7 The Forgotten Soul Margaret Widdemer 8 All-Souls' Night Dora Sigerson Shorter 9 Janet's Tryst George Macdonald 10 Hallows' E'en Winifred M. Letts 13 On Kingston Bridge Ellen M.H. Cortissoz 14 All-Souls' Night Louisa Humphreys 16
"ALL THE LITTLE SIGHING SOULS"
Mary Shepherdess Marjorie L.C. Pickthall 21 The Little Ghost Katherine Tynan 22 Two Brothers Theodosia Garrison 24 The Little Dead Child Josephine Daskam Bacon 25 The Child Alone Rosamund Marriott Watson 27 The Child Theodosia Garrison 28 Such Are the Souls in Purgatory Anna Hempstead Branch 29 The Open Door Rosamund Marriott Watson 32 My Laddie's Hounds Marguerite Elizabeth Easter 33 The Old House Katherine Tynan 35
Ballad of the Buried Sword Ernest Rhys 39 The Looking-Glass Rudyard Kipling 40 Drake's Drum Henry Newbolt 41 The Grey Ghost Francis Carlin 42 Ballad of Douglas Bridge Francis Carlin 43 The Indian Burying Ground Philip Freneau 44
"RANK ON RANK OF GHOSTLY SOLDIERS"
The Song of Soldiers Walter De La Mare 49 By the Blockhouse on the Hill Helen Gray Cone 49 Night at Gettysburg Don C. Seitz 51 The Riders Katherine Tynan 52 The White Comrade Robert Haven Schauffler 53 Ghosts of the Argonne Grantland Rice 56 November Eleventh Ruth Comfort Mitchell 57
The Flying Dutchman Charles Godfrey Leland 61 The Phantom Ship Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 61 The Phantom Light of the Baie des Chaleurs Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton 63 The Sands of Dee Charles Kingsley 65 The Lake of the Dismal Swamp Thomas Moore 66 The Flying Dutchman of the Tappan Zee Arthur Guiterman 68 The White Ships and the Red Joyce Kilmer 70 Featherstone's Doom Robert Stephen Hawker 73 Sea-Ghosts May Byron 74 Fog Wraiths Mildred Howells 76
Cape Horn Gospel John Masefield 79 Legend of Hamilton Tighe Richard Harris Barham 80 The Supper Superstition Thomas Hood 84 The Ingoldsby Penance Richard Harris Barham 87 Pompey's Ghost Thomas Hood 103 The Ghost Thomas Hood 107 Mary's Ghost Thomas Hood 109 The Superstitious Ghost Arthur Guiterman 111 Dave Lilly Joyce Kilmer 112 Martin Joyce Kilmer 114
The Listeners Walter De La Mare 119 Haunted Houses Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 120 The Beleaguered City Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 122 A Newport Romance Bret Harte 124 A Legend May Kendall 126 A Midnight Visitor Elizabeth Akers Allen 128 Haunted Amy Lowell 130 The Little Green Orchard Walter De La Mare 131 Fireflies Louise Driscoll 132 The Little Ghost Edna St. Vincent Millay 133 Haunted Louis Untermeyer 134 Ghosts Madison Cawein 135 The Three Ghosts Theodosia Garrison 137
"YOU KNOW THE OLD, WHILE I KNOW THE NEW"
After Death Christina Rossetti 141 The Passer-By Edith M. Thomas 141 At Home Christina Rossetti 142 The Return Minna Irving 143 The Room's Width Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward 144 Haunted Don Marquis 144
"MY LOVE THAT WAS SO TRUE"
One Out-of-Doors Sarah Piatt 149 Sailing Beyond Seas Jean Ingelow 149 Betrayal Aline Kilmer 151 The True Lover A.E. Housman 152 Haunted G.B. Stuart 153 The White Moth Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 154 The Ghost Walter De La Mare 155 Luke Havergal Edwin Arlington Robinson 156 The Highwayman Alfred Noyes 157 The Blue Closet William Morris 163 The Ghost's Petition Christina Georgina Rossetti 166 He and She Sir Edwin Arnold 169
SHAPES OF DOOM
The Dead Coach Katherine Tynan 175 Deid Folks' Ferry Rosamund Marriott Watson 176 Keith of Ravelston Sydney Dobell 178 The Fetch Dora Sigerson Shorter 179 The Banshee Dora Sigerson Shorter 183 The Seven Whistlers Alice E. Gillington 185 The Victor Theodosia Garrison 187 Mawgan of Melhuach Robert Stephen Hawker 188 The Mother's Ghost Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 189 The Dead Mother Robert Buchanan 192
LEGENDS AND BALLADS OF THE DEAD
The Folk of the Air William Butler Yeats 199 The Reconciliation A. Margaret Ramsay 201 The Priest's Brother Dora Sigerson Shorter 203 The Ballad of Judas Iscariot Robert Buchanan 205 The Eve of St. John Walter Scott 212 Fair Margaret's Misfortunes Anon. 220 Sweet William's Ghost Anon. 222 Clerk Saunders Anon. 224 The Wife of Usher's Well Anon. 229 A Lyke-Wake Dirge Anon. 231
THE HAUNTED HOUR
THE FAR AWAY COUNTRY
NORA HOPPER CHESSON
Far away's the country where I desire to go, Far away's the country where the blue roses grow, Far away's the country and very far away, And who would travel thither must go 'twixt night and day.
Far away's the country, and the seas are wild That you must voyage over, grown man or chrisom child, O'er leagues of land and water a weary way you'll go Before you'll find the country where the blue roses grow.
But O, and O, the roses are very strange and fair, You'd travel far to see them, and one might die to wear, Yet, far away's the country, and perilous the sea, And some may think far fairer the red rose on her tree.
Far away's the country, and strange the way to fare, Far away's the country—O would that I were there! It's on and on past Whinny Muir and over Brig o' Dread. And you shall pluck blue roses the day that you are dead.
"THE NICHT ATWEEN THE SANCTS AN' SOULS"
ALL-SOULS: KATHERINE TYNAN
The door of Heaven is on the latch To-night, and many a one is fain To go home for one night's watch With his love again.
Oh, where the father and mother sit There's a drift of dead leaves at the door Like pitter-patter of little feet That come no more.
Their thoughts are in the night and cold, Their tears are heavier than the clay, But who is this at the threshold So young and gay?
They are come from the land o' the young, They have forgotten how to weep; Words of comfort on the tongue, And a kiss to keep.
They sit down and they stay awhile, Kisses and comfort none shall lack; At morn they steal forth with a smile And a long look back.
ALL-SAINTS' EVE: LIZETTE WOODWORTH REESE
Oh, when the ghosts go by, Under the empty trees, Here in my house I sit and cry, My head upon my knees!
Innumerable, white, Like mist they fill the square; The bolt is drawn, the latch made tight, The shutter barred there.
There walks one small and glad, New to the churchyard clod; My little lad, my little lad, A single year with God!
I sit and hide my head Until they all are past, Under the empty trees the dead That go full soft and fast.
Up to my chamber dim, Back to my bed I plod; Oh, would I were a ghost with him, And faring back to God!
A DREAM: WILLIAM ALLINGHAM
I heard the dogs howl in the moonlight night; I went to the window to see the sight; All the dead that ever I knew Going one by one and two by two.
On they pass'd and on they pass'd; Townsfellows all, from first to last; Born in the moonlight of the lane, Quench'd in the heavy shadow again.
Schoolmates, marching as when they play'd At soldiers once—but now more staid; Those were the strangest sight to me Who were drown'd, I knew, in the open sea.
Straight and handsome folk, bent and weak, too; Some that I loved, and gasp'd to speak to; Some but a day in their churchyard bed; Some that I had not known were dead.
A long long crowd—where each seem'd lonely, Yet of them all there was one, one only, Raised a head or looked my way; She linger'd a moment—she might not stay.
How long since I saw that fair pale face! Ah! Mother dear! might I only place My head on thy breast, a moment to rest, While thy hand on my tearful cheek were press'd!
On, on, a moving bridge they made Across the moon-stream, from shade to shade, Young and old, women and men; Many long-forgot, but remember'd then,
And first there came a bitter laughter; A sound of tears a moment after, And then a music so lofty and gay, That every morning, day by day, I strive to recall it if I may.
THE NEIGHBORS: THEODOSIA GARRISON
At first cock-crow The ghosts must go Back to their quiet graves below.
Against the distant striking of the clock I heard the crowing cock, And I arose and threw the window wide; Long, long before the setting of the moon, And yet I knew they must be passing soon— My neighbors who had died— Back to their narrow green-roofed homes that wait Beyond the churchyard gate.
I leaned far out and waited—all the world Was like a thing impearled, Mysterious and beautiful and still: The crooked road seemed one the moon might lay, Our little village slept in Quaker gray, And gray and tall the poplars on the hill; And then far off I heard the cock—and then My neighbors passed again.
At first it seemed a white cloud, nothing more, Slow drifting by my door, Or gardened lilies swaying in the wind; Then suddenly each separate face I knew, The tender lovers drifting two and two, Old, peaceful folk long since passed out of mind, And little children—one whose hand held still An earth-grown daffodil.
And here I saw one pausing for a space To lift a wistful face Up to a certain window where there dreamed A little brood left motherless; and there One turned to where the unploughed fields lay bare; And others lingering passed—but one there seemed So over glad to haste, she scarce could wait To reach the churchyard gate!
The farrier's little maid who loved too well And died—I may not tell How glad she seemed. My neighbors, young and old, With backward glances lingered as they went; Only upon one face was all content, A sorrow comforted—a peace untold. I watched them through the swinging gate—the dawn Stayed till the last had gone.
A BALLAD OF HALLOWE'EN: THEODOSIA GARRISON
All night the wild wind on the heath Whistled its song of vague alarms; All night in some mad dance of death The poplars tossed their naked arms.
Mignon Isa hath left her bed And bared her shoulders to the blast; The long procession of the dead Stared at her as it passed.
"Oh, there, methinks, my mother smiled, And there my father walks forlorn, And there the little nameless child That was the parish scorn.
"And there my olden comrades move, And there my sister smiles apart, But nowhere is the fair, false love That bent and broke my heart.
"Oh, false in life, oh, false in death, Wherever thy mad spirit be, Could it not come this night," she saith, "And keep tryst with me?"
Mignon Isa has turned alone, Bitter the pain and long the years; The moonlight on the old gravestone Was warmer than her tears.
All night the wild wind on the heath Whistled its song of vague alarms; All night in some mad dance of death The poplars tossed their naked arms.
THE FORGOTTEN SOUL: MARGARET WIDDEMER
'Twas I that cried against the pane on All Souls' Night (O pulse of my heart's life, how could you never hear?) You filled the room I knew with yellow candlelight And cheered the lass beside you when she cried in fear.
'Twas I that went beside you in the gray wood-mist (O core of my heart's heart, how could you never know?) You only frowned and shuddered as you bent and kissed The lass hard by you, handfast, as I used to go.
'Twas I that stood to greet you on the churchyard pave (O fire of my heart's grief, how could you never see?) You smiled in careless dreaming as you crossed my grave And hummed a little love-song where they buried me!
ALL-SOULS' NIGHT: DORA SIGERSON
O mother, mother, I swept the hearth, I set his chair and the white board spread, I prayed for his coming to our kind Lady when Death's doors would let out the dead; A strange wind rattled the window-pane, and down the lane a dog howled on, I called his name and the candle flame burnt dim, pressed a hand the door-latch upon. Deelish! Deelish! my woe forever that I could not sever coward flesh from fear. I called his name and the pale ghost came; but I was afraid to meet my dear.
O mother, mother, in tears I checked the sad hours past of the year that's o'er, Till by God's grace I might see his face and hear the sound of his voice once more; The chair I set from the cold and wet, he took when he came from unknown skies Of the land of the dead, on my bent brown head I felt the reproach of his saddened eyes; I closed my lids on my heart's desire, crouched by the fire, my voice was dumb. At my clean-swept hearth he had no mirth, and at my table he broke no crumb. Deelish! Deelish! my woe forever that I could not sever coward flesh from fear. His chair put aside when the young cock cried, and I was afraid to meet my dear.
JANET'S TRYST: GEORGE MACDONALD
"Sweep up the flure, Janet, Put on anither peat. It's a lown and starry nicht, Janet, And neither cold nor weet.
And it's open hoose we keep the nicht For ony that may be oot; It's the nicht atween the Sancts an' Souls Whan the bodiless gang aboot.
Set the chairs back to the wall, Janet, Mak' ready for quaiet fowk, Hae a' thing as clean as a windin'-sheet— They comena ilka ook.
There's a spale upo' the flure, Janet, And there's a rowan berry. Sweep them into the fire, Janet,— They'll be welcomer than merry.
Syne set open the door, Janet,— Wide open for wha kens wha: As ye come to your bed, Janet, Set it open to the wa'."
She set the chairs back to the wa', But ane made of the birk, She swept the flure, but left ane spale, A long spale o' the aik.
The nicht was lown, and the stars sat still A-glintin' doon the sky: And the sauls crept oot o' their mooly graves, A' dank wi' lyin' by.
When midnight came the mither rase— She wad gae see an' hear. Back she cam' wi' a glowrin' face, An' sloomin' wi' verra fear.
"There's ane o' them sittin' afore the fire! Janet, gae na to see; Ye left a chair afore the fire, Whaur I tauld ye nae chair sud be."
Janet she smiled in her mither's face: She had brunt the roddin reid: And she left aneath the birken chair The spale frae a coffin lid.
She rase and she gaed but the hoose, Aye steekin' door and door, Three hours gaed by ere her mother heard Her fit upo' the flure.
But whan the grey cock crew she heard The soun' o' shoeless feet, Whan the red cock crew she heard the door An' a sough o' wind an' weet.
An' Janet cam' back wi' a wan face, But never a word said she; No man ever heard her voice lood oot— It cam' like frae ower the sea.
And no man ever heard her lauch, Nor yet say alas nor wae; But a smile aye glimmert on her wan face Like the moonlicht on the sea.
And ilka nicht 'twixt the Sancts an' Souls Wide open she set the door; And she mendit the fire, and she left ae chair And that spale upo' the flure.
And at midnicht she gaed but the hoose, Aye steekin' door and door. Whan the red cock crew she cam' ben the hoose, Aye wanner than before.
Wanner her face and sweeter her smile, Till the seventh All-Souls Eve Her mither she heard the shoeless feet, Says "She's comin', I believe."
But she camna ben, an' her mither lay; For fear she cudna stan', But up she rase an' ben she gaed Whan the gowden cock hed crawn.
And Janet sat upo' the chair, White as the day did daw, Her smile was as sunlight left on the sea Whan the sun has gane awa.
HALLOWS' E'EN: WINIFRED M. LETTS
The girls are laughing with the boys, and gaming by the fire, They're wishful, every one of them, to see her heart's desire, Twas Thesie cut the barnbrack and found the ring inside, Before next Hallows' E'en has dawned herself will be a bride. But little Mollie stands alone outside the cabin door, And breaks her heart for one the waves threw dead upon the shore.
Twas Katie's nut lepped from the hearth, and left poor Pat's alone But Ellen's stayed by Christy Byrne's upon the wide hearthstone. An' all the while the childher bobbed for apples set afloat, The old men smoked their pipes and talked about the foundered boat, But Mollie walked upon the cliff, and never feared the rain; She called the name of one she loved and bid him come again.
Young Peter pulled the cabbage-stump to win a wealthy wife, Rosanna threw the apple-peel to know who'd share her life; And Lizzie had a looking-glass she'd hid in some dark place To try if there, foreninst her own, she'd see her comrade's face. But Mollie walked along the quay where Terry's feet had trod, And sobbed her grief out in the night, with no one near but God.
She heard the laughter from the house, she heard the fiddle played; She called her dead love to her side—why should she be afraid? She took his cold hands in her own, she had no thought of dread, And not a star looked out to watch the living kiss the dead.
The lads are gaming with the girls, and laughing by the fire. But Mollie in the cold, dark night, has found her heart's desire.
ON KINGSTON BRIDGE: ELLEN M.H. CORTISSOZ
(On All Souls' Night the dead walk on Kingston Bridge.—Old Legend.)
On Kingston Bridge the starlight shone Through hurrying mists in shrouded glow; The boding night-wind made its moan, The mighty river crept below. 'Twas All Souls' Night, and to and fro The quick and dead together walked, The quick and dead together talked, On Kingston Bridge.
Two met who had not met for years; Once was their hate too deep for fears: One drew his rapier as he came, Upleapt his anger like a flame. With clash of mail he faced his foe, And bade him stand and meet him so. He felt a graveyard wind go by Cold, cold as was his enemy. A stony horror held him fast. The Dead looked with a ghastly stare, And sighed "I know thee not," and passed Like to the mist, and left him there On Kingston Bridge.
'Twas All Souls' Night, and to and fro The quick and dead together walked, The quick and dead together talked, On Kingston Bridge.
Two met who had not met for years: With grief that was too deep for tears They parted last. He clasped her hand, and in her eyes He sought Love's rapturous surprise. "Oh, Sweet!" he cried, "hast thou come back To say thou lov'st thy lover still?" —Into the starlight, pale and cold, She gazed afar—her hand was chill: "Dost thou remember how we kept Our ardent vigils?—how we kissed?— Take thou these kisses as of old!" An icy wind about him swept; "I know thee not," she sighed, and passed Into the dim and shrouding mist On Kingston Bridge.
'Twas All Souls' Night, and to and fro The quick and dead together walked, The quick and dead together talked, On Kingston Bridge.
ALL SOULS' NIGHT: LOUISA HUMPHREYS
Canice the priest went out on the Night of Souls; "Stay, oh stay," said the woman who served his board "Stay, for the path is strait with pits and holes, And the night is dark and the way is lone abroad; Stay within because it is lone, at least." "Nay, it will not be lone," said Canice the priest.
Dim without, and a dim, low-sweeping sky; A scent of earth in the night, of opened mould; A listening pause in the night—and a breath passed by— And its touch was cold, was cold as the graves are cold Canice went on to the waste where no men be; "Nay, I will not be lone to-night," said he.
Shades that flit, besides the shades of the night; Rustling sobs besides the sobs of the wind; Steps of feet that pace with his on the right, Steps that pace on the left, and steps behind. "Nay, no fear that I shall be lone, at least! Lo, there are throngs abroad," said Canice the priest.
Deathly hands that pluck at his cassock's hem; Sighings of earthly breath that smite his cheek; Canice the priest swings on, atune with them, Hears the throbbings of pain, and hears them speak; Hears the word they utter, and answers "Yea! Yea, poor souls, for I heed; I pray, I pray."
Lo, a gleam of gray, and the dark is done; Hark, a bird that trills a song of the light. Canice hies him home by the shine of the sun. What to-day of those pallid wraiths of the night? What of the woeful notes that had wailed and fled? "Maria, ora pro illis!" Canice said.
"ALL THE LITTLE SIGHING SOULS"
MARY SHEPHERDESS: MARJORIE L.C. PICKTHALL
When the heron's in the high wood and the last long furrow's sown With the herded cloud before her and her sea-sweet raiment blown Comes Mary, Mary Shepherdess, a-seeking for her own.
Saint James he calls the righteous folk, Saint John he calls the kind, Saint Peter seeks the valiant men all to loose or bind, But Mary seeks the little souls that are so hard to find.
All the little sighing souls born of dust's despair, They who fed on bitter bread when the world was bare, Frighted of the glory gates and the starry stair.
All about the windy down, housing in the ling, Underneath the alder-bough linnet-light they cling, Frighted of the shining house where the martyrs sing.
Crying in the ivy-bloom, fingering at the pane, Grieving in the hollow dark, lone along the lane, Mary, Mary Shepherdess gathers them again.
And O the wandering women know, in workhouse and in shed, They dream on Mary Shepherdess with doves about her head, And pleasant posies in her hand, and sorrow comforted.
Saying: there's my little lass, faring fine and free, There's the little lad I laid by the holly tree, Dreaming: There's my nameless bairn laughing at her knee.
When the bracken-harvest's gathered and the frost is on the loam When the dream goes out in silence and the ebb runs out in foam, Mary, Mary Shepherdess, she leads the lost lambs home.
If I had a little maid to turn my tears away, If I had a little lad to lead me when I'm gray, All to Mary Shepherdess they'd fold their hands and pray.
THE LITTLE GHOST: KATHERINE TYNAN
The stars began to peep Gone was the bitter day, She heard the milky ewes Bleat to their lambs astray. Her heart cried for her lamb Lapped cold in the churchyard sod, She could not think on the happy children At play with the Lamb of God.
She heard the calling ewes And the lambs answer alas! She heard her heart's blood drip in the night, As the ewes' milk on the grass. Her tears that burnt like fire So bitter and slow ran down She could not think on the new-washed children Playing by Mary's gown.
Oh, who is this comes in Over her threshold stone? And why is the old dog wild with joy Who all day long made moan? This fair little radiant ghost, Her one little son of seven, New 'scaped from the band of merry children In the nurseries of Heaven.
He was all clad in white Without a speck or stain; His curls had a ring of light, That rose and fell again. "Now come with me, my own mother, And you shall have great ease, For you shall see the lost children Gathered at Mary's knees."
Oh, lightly sprang she up Nor waked her sleeping man, And hand in hand with the little ghost Through the dark night she ran. She is gone swift as a fawn, As a bird homes to its nest, She has seen them lie, the sleepy children, 'Twixt Mary's arm and breast.
At morning she came back; Her eyes were strange to see. She will not fear the long journey, However long it be. As she goes in and out She sings unto hersel'; For she has seen the mother's children And knows that it is well.
TWO BROTHERS: THEODOSIA GARRISON
The dead son's mother sat and wept And her live son plucked at her gown, "Oh, mother, long is the watch we've kept!" But she beat the small hands down.
The little live son he clung to her knee— And frightened his eyes and dim— "Have ye never, my mother, a word for me?" But she turned her face from him,
Saying, "Oh and alack, mine own dead son, Could I know but the path aright, How fast and how fast my feet would run Through the way o' Death to-night!"
Saying, "Oh and alack, for thy empty place And the ache in my heart to hide!" The little live son has touched her face, But she thrust his hands aside.
The mother hath laid her down and wept In the midnight's chill and gloom; In the hour ere dawn while the mother slept The ghost came in the room.
And the little live son hath called his name Or ever he passed the door, "Oh, brother, brother, 'tis well ye came, For our mother's grief is sore!
"Oh, brother, brother, she weeps for thee As a rain that beats all day, But me she pushes from off her knee And turneth her eyes away."
And the little dead son he spake again, "My brother, the dead have grace Though they lay them low from the sight of men With a white cloth on their face.
"Oh, brother, the dead have gifts of love, Though lonely and low they lie, By my mother's love do I speak and move And may not wholly die."
The little live son he sighed apart, "Oh, brother, ye live," quoth he, "In my mother's grief and my mother's heart And my mother's memory.
"And vain for thee is my mother's cry," The little live son hath said, "For ye are loved and ye may not die— It is only I who am dead!"
THE LITTLE DEAD CHILD: JOSEPHINE DASKAM BACON
When all but her were sleeping fast, And the night was nearly fled, The little dead child came up the stair And stood by his mother's bed.
"Ah, God!" she cried, "the nights are three, And yet I have not slept!" The little dead child he sat him down, And sank his head and wept.
"And is it thou, my little dead child, Come in from out the storm? Ah, lie thou back against my heart, And I will keep thee warm!"
That is long ago, mother, Long and long ago! Shall I grow warm who lay three nights Beneath the winter snow?
* * * * *
"Hast thou not heard the old nurse weep? She sings to us no more; And thy brothers leave the broken toys And whisper in the door."
That is far away, mother, Far and far away! Above my head the stone is white. My hands forget to play.
* * * * *
"What wilt thou then, my little dead child, Since here thou may'st not lie? Ah, me! that snow should be thy sheet, And winds thy lullaby!"
Down within my grave, mother, I heard, I know not how, "Go up to God, thou little child, Go up and meet him now!"
That is far to fare, mother, Far and far to fare! I come for thee to carry me The way from here to there.
"Oh, hold thy peace, my little dead child. My heart will break in me! Thy way to God thou must go alone, I may not carry thee!"
* * * * *
The cock crew out the early dawn Ere she could stay her moan; She heard the cry of a little child, Upon his way alone.
THE CHILD ALONE: ROSAMUND MARRIOTT WATSON
They say the night has fallen chill— But I know naught of mist or rain, Only of two small hands that still Beat on the darkness all in vain.
They say the wind blows high and wild Down the long valleys to the sea; But I can only hear the child, Who weeps in darkness, wanting me.
Beyond the footfalls in the street, Above the voices of the bay, I hear the sound of little feet, Two little stumbling feet astray.
Oh, loud the autumn wind makes moan, The desolate wind about my door, And a little child goes all alone Who never was alone before.
THE CHILD: THEODOSIA GARRISON
I heard her crying in the night,— So long, so long I lay awake, Watching the moonlight ebb and break Against the sill like waves of light.
I tried to close my eyes nor heed And lie quite still—but oh, again The little voice of fright and pain Sobbed in the darkness of her need.
Strange shadows led me down the stair; Creaked as I went the hollow floor; I drew the bolt and flung the door Wide, wide, and softly called her there.
Ah me, as happy mothers call Through the tender twilights to the gay, Glad truant making holiday Too long before the evenfall.
The garden odors drifted through, The scent of earth and box and rose, And then, as silently as those, A little wistful child I knew.
So small, so frightened and so cold, Ah, close, so close I gathered her Within my arms, she might not stir, And crooned and kissed her in their hold.
As might a happy mother, when, Aghast for some quaint, trifling thing, One runs to her for comforting, And smiles within her arms again.
All night upon my heart she lay, All night I held her warm and close, Until the morning wind arose And called across the world for day.
The garden odors drifted through The open door; as still as they She passed into the awful day, A little, wistful child I knew.
Think you for this God's smile may dim (His are so many, many dead) Seeing that I but comforted A child—and sent her back to Him!
SUCH ARE THE SOULS IN PURGATORY: ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH
Three days she wandered forth from me, Then sought me as of old. "I did not know how dark 'twould be," She sobbed, "nor yet how cold.
"And it is chill for me to fare Who have not long been dead. If thou wouldst give away thy cloak I might go comforted."
I would have soothed her on my breast But that she needs must go. The dead must journey without rest Whether they will or no.
But I had kept for love of her The cloak she wore, the shoes, And every day I touched the things She had been wont to use.
All night the dead must hurry on, They may not ever sleep. And so I gave away her cloak That I was fain to keep.
The second time she sought me out Her eyes were full of need. "If thou wouldst give away my shoes Perchance I would not bleed."
I cried to her aloud, "My child, They are all I have to keep, To lay my hand upon and touch At night before I sleep.
"The earth shall keep the body I bore, And Heaven thy soul. I may not choose. Let be—I ask a little thing, That I should keep thy shoes.
"But I will give away my own. Lord, Lord, wilt Thou not see? Let Thou her road to Paradise This way be eased by me."
All night alone by brier and stone I ran that road unshod, So I might know instead of her The pains that lead to God.
When next she came for a brief space She tarried at my side, So happy was she in that place, So glad that she had died.
"The last night that I roamed," she said, "Some one had gone before. I followed where those feet had led, And found it rough no more.
"And then I came to a good place, So kind, so dear are they I may not come again," and so She smiled and went away.
Dear Christ, Who died to save us all, Who trod the ways so cold and wild, The love of Mary in thy heart Did let me ease my child.
She may not leave the place of bliss, I may not touch her hands and hair, But every night I touch and kiss The shoes she used to wear.
THE OPEN DOOR: ROSAMUND MARRIOTT WATSON
O listen for her step when the fire burns hollow When the low fire whispers and the white ash sinks, When all about the chamber shadows troop and follow As drowsier yet the hearth's red watchlight blinks.
While bare black night through empty casements staring Waits to storm the wainscot till the fire lies dead, Fast along the snowbound waste little feet are faring— Hush and listen—listen—but never turn your head.
Leave the door upon the latch—she could never reach it— You would hear her crying, crying there till break of day, Out on the cold moor 'mid the snows that bleach it, Weeping as once in the long years past away.
Lean deeper in the settle-corner lest she find you— Find and grow fearsome, too afraid to stay: Do you hear the hinge of the oaken press behind you? There all her toys were kept, there she used to play.
Do you hear the light, light foot, the faint sweet laughter Happy stir and murmur of a child that plays: Slowly the darkness creeps up from floor to rafter, Slowly the fallen snow covers all the ways.
Falls as it once fell on a tide past over, Golden the hearth glowed then, bright the windows shone; And still, she comes through the sullen drifts above her Home to the cold hearth though all the lights are gone.
Far or near no one knew—none would now remember Where she wandered no one knew—none will ever know; Somewhere Spring must give her flowers, somewhere white December Calls her from the moorland to her playthings through the snow.
MY LADDIE'S HOUNDS: MARGUERITE ELIZABETH EASTER
They are my laddie's hounds That rin the wood at brak o' day. Wha is it taks them hence? Can ony say Wha is it taks my laddie's hounds At brak o' day?
They cleek aff thegither, And then fa' back, wi' room atween For ane to walk; sae aften, I hae seen The baith cleek aff thegither Wi' ane atween!
And when toward the pines Up yonder lane they loup alang I see ae laddie brent and strang, I see ae laddie loup alang Toward the pines.
I follow them in mind Ilk time; right weel I ken the way,— They thrid the wood, an' speel the staney brae An' skir the field; I follow them, I ken the way.
They daddle at the creek, Whaur down fra aff the reachin'-logs I stoup, wi' my dear laddie, and the dogs, An' drink o' springs that spait the creek Maist to the logs.
He's but a bairn, atho' He hunts the mountain's lonely bree, His doggies' ears abune their brows wi' glee He ties; he's but a bairn, atho' He hunts the bree.
Fu' length they a' stretch out Upon ae bink that green trees hap In shade. He whusslits saft; the beagles nap Wi' een half shut, a stretchin' out Whaur green trees hap.
And noo he fades awa' Frae 'tween the twa—into the blue. My sight gats blind; gude Lord, it isna true That he has gane for aye awa Into the blue!
They are my laddie's hounds That mak the hill at fa' o' day Wi' dowie heads hung laigh; can ony say Wha is it hunts my laddie's hounds Till fa' o day?
THE OLD HOUSE: KATHERINE TYNAN
The boys who used to come and go In the grey kindly house are flown. They have taken the way the young feet know; Not alone, not alone! Thronged is the road the young feet go.
Yet in the quiet evening hour What comes, oh, lighter than a bird? Touches her cheek, soft as a flower. What moved, what stirred? What was the joyous whisper heard?
What flitted in the corridor Like a boy's shape so dear and slight? What was the laughter ran before? Delicate, light, Like harps the wind plays out of sight.
The boys who used to go and come In the grey house are come again; Of the grey house and firelit room They are fain, they are fain: They have come home from the night and rain.
BALLAD OF THE BURIED SWORD: ERNEST RHYS
In a winter's dream, on Gamellyn moor, I found the lost grave of Lord Glyndwr.
I followed three shadows against the moon, That marched while the thin reed whistled the tune,
Three swordsmen they were out of Harry's wars, That made a Welsh song of their Norman scars,
But they sang no longer of Agincourt, When they came to a grave, for there lay Glyndwr.
Said the one, "My sword, th'art rust, my dear, I but brought thee home to break thee here."
And the second, "Ay, here is the narrow home, To which our tired hearts are come!"
And the third, "We are all that are left, Glyndwr, To guard thee now on Gamellyn moor."
Straightway I saw the dead forth-stand, His good sword bright in his right hand,
And the marsh-reeds with a whistling sound, To a thousand gray swordsmen were turned around.
The moon did shake in the south to see, The dead man stand with his soldiery.
But the brighter his sword, the grave before, Turn'd its gate of death to a radiant door.
Therein the thousand, before their Lord, Marched at the summons of his bright sword.
Then the night grew strange, the blood left my brain, And I stood alone by the grave again.
But brightly his sword still before me shone, Across the dark moor as I passed alone.
And still it shines, a silver flame, Across the dark night of the Cymraec shame.
THE LOOKING-GLASS: RUDYARD KIPLING
The Queen was in her chamber, and she was middling old, Her petticoat was of satin, and her stomacher was gold. Backwards and forwards and sideways did she pass, Making up her mind to face the cruel looking-glass. The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass As comely or as kindly or as young as what she was!
The Queen was in her chamber, a-combing of her hair. There came Queen Mary's spirit and It stood behind her chair, Singing, "Backwards and forwards and sideways may you pass, But I will stand beside you till you face the looking-glass. The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass As lovely or unlucky or as lonely as I was."
The Queen was in her chamber, a-weeping very sore, There came Lord Leicester's spirit and It scratched upon the door, Singing, "Backwards and forwards and sideways may you pass, But I will walk beside you till you face the looking-glass. The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass, As hard and unforgiving and as wicked as you was!"
The Queen was in her chamber, her sins were on her head. She looked the spirits up and down and statelily she said:— "Backwards and forwards and sideways though I've been, Yet I am Harry's daughter and I am England's Queen!" And she faced the looking-glass (and whatever else there was) And she saw her day was over and she saw her beauty pass In the cruel looking-glass, that can always hurt a lass More hard than any ghost there is or any man there was!
DRAKE'S DRUM: HENRY NEWBOLT
Drake he's in his hammock an' a thousand miles away, (Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?) Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay, An' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe. Yarnder lumes the Island, yarnder lie the ships, Wi' sailor lads a dancin' heel-an'-toe, An' the shore light flashin' an' the night-tide dashin' He sees et arl so plainly as he saw et long ago.
Drake he was a Devon man, an' ruled the Devon seas, (Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?) Rovin' tho' his death fell, he went with wi' heart of ease An' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe. "Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore, Strike et when your powder's runnin' low; If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the port o' Heaven, An' drum them up the channel as we drummed them long ago."
Drake he's in his hammock till the great Armadas come, (Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?) Slung atween the round shot, listenin' for the drum, An' dreamin' all the time of Plymouth Hoe. Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound, Call him when ye sail to meet the foe Where the old trade's plyin' an' the old flag flyin' They shall find him ware and wakin', as they found him long ago!
THE GREY GHOST: FRANCIS CARLIN
From year to year there walks a Ghost in grey, Through misty Connemara in the West; And those who seek the cause of his unrest, Need go but to the Death-dumb in the clay, To those that fell defiant in the fray, Among the boggy wilds of Ireland, blest By Cromwell, when his Puritanic jest Left Hell and Connaught open on their way. As I have heard so may the stranger hear! That he who drove the natives from the lawn, Must wander o'er the marsh and foggy fen Until the Irish gather with a cheer In Dublin of the Parliaments at dawn. God rest the ghost of Cromwell's dust, Amen!
BALLAD OF DOUGLAS BRIDGE: FRANCIS CARLIN
On Douglas Bridge I met a man Who lived adjacent to Straban, Before the English hung him high For riding with O'Hanlon.
The eyes of him were just as fresh As when they burned within the flesh; And his boot-legs widely walked apart From riding with O'Hanlon.
"God save you, Sir!" I said with fear, "You seem to be a stranger here." "Not I," said he, "nor any man Who rides with Count O'Hanlon."
"I know each glenn from North Tyrone To Monaghan, and I've been known By every clan and parish, since I rode with Count O'Hanlon."
"Before that time," said he with pride, "My fathers rode where now they ride As Rapperees, before the time Of Trouble and O'Hanlon."
"Good night to you, and God be with The Tellers of the tale and myth, For they are of the spirit-stuff That rides with Count O'Hanlon."
"Good night to you," said I, "and God Be with the chargers, fairy-shod, That bear the Ulster's heroes forth To ride with Count O'Hanlon."
On Douglas Bridge we parted, but The Gap o' Dreams is never shut, To one whose saddled soul to-night Rides out with Count O'Hanlon.
THE INDIAN BURYING GROUND: PHILIP FRENEAU
In spite of all the learned have said, I still my old opinion keep; The posture that we give the dead Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands;— The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds and painted bowl, And venison, for a journey dressed, Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity, that wants no rest.
His bow for action ready bent, And arrows with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the old ideas gone.
Thou, stranger that shalt come this way, No fraud upon the dead commit,— Observe the swelling turf and say, They do not lie, but here they sit.
Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace, (Now wasted half by wearing rains,) The fancies of a ruder race.
Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far projecting shade, (And which the shepherd still admires,) The children of the forest played.
There oft a restless Indian queen, (Pale Shebah with her braided hair,) And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er misting dews, In habit of the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer—a shade!
And long shall timorous Fancy see The painted chief and pointed spear, The Reason's self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.
"RANK ON RANK OF GHOSTLY SOLDIERS"
THE SONG OF SOLDIERS: WALTER DE LA MARE
As I sat musing by the frozen dyke, There was one man marching with a bright steel pike, Marching in the daylight, like a ghost came he, And behind me was the moaning and the murmur of the sea.
As I sat musing, 'twas not one but ten— Rank on rank of ghostly soldiers marching o'er the fen, Marching in the misty air they showed in dreams to me, And behind me was the shouting and the shattering of the sea.
As I sat musing, 'twas a host in dark array, With their horses and their cannon wheeling onward to the fray, Moving like a shadow to the fate the brave must dree, And behind me roared the drums, rang the trumpets of the sea.
BY THE BLOCKHOUSE ON THE HILL: HELEN GRAY CONE
A Ballad of Ninety-eight
The soul of the fair young man sprang up From the earth where his body lay, And he was aware of a grim dark soul Companioning his way.
"Who are you, brother?" the fair soul said, "We wing together still!" And the soul replied that was swart and red, "The spirit of him who shot you dead By the blockhouse on the hill.
"Your men and you on the crest were first, And the last foe left was I, In the crackle of rifles I dropped and cursed, Lightning-struck as the cheer outburst And the hot charge panted nigh.
"You saw me writhe at the side of the trench; You bade—I know not what; With one last gnash, with one last wrench, I sped my last, sure shot.
"The thing that lies on the sodden ground Like a wrack of the whirlwind's track, Your men have made of the body of me, But they could not call you back!
"In that black game I won, I won! But had you worked your will, Speak now the shame that you would have done In the blockhouse under the hill!"
"God judge my men!" said the fair young soul, "He knows you tried them sore. Had He given me power to bide an hour I had wrought that they forebore.
"I bade them, ere your bullet brought This swift, this sweet release, To bear your body out of the fire That you might rest in peace."
Said the grim dark soul, "Farewell, farewell, Farewell 'twixt you and me Till they set red Judas free from Hell To kneel at the Lord Christ's knee!"
"Not so, not so," said the fair young soul, "But reach me out your hand: We two will kneel at the Lord Christ's knee, And he that was hanged on the cruel tree Will remember and understand.
"We two will pray at the Lord Christ's knee That never on earth again The breath of the hot brute guns shall cloud The sight in the eyes of men!"
The clean stars came into the sky, The perfect night was still; Yet rose to heaven the old blood-cry From the blockhouse under the hill.
NIGHT AT GETTYSBURG: DON C. SEITZ
By day Golgotha sleeps, but when night comes The army rallies to the beating drums; Columns are formed and banners wave O'er armies summoned from the grave.
The wheat field waves with reddened grain And the wounded wail and writhe in pain. The hard-held Bloody Angle drips anew And Pickett charges with a ghostly crew,
While where the road to the village turns Stands the tall shadow of old John Burns!
THE RIDERS: KATHERINE TYNAN
Rheims is down in fire and smoke, The hour of God is at the stroke,
Round and round the ruined place,— Jesus, Mary, give us grace!
There are two riders clad in mail Silver as the moon is pale.
One is tall as a knight's spear, The younger one is lowlier.
Small and slim and like a maid— Steeds and riders cast no shade.
Who are then these cavaliers? There was a sound as Heaven dropt tears.
Who are those who ride so light, Soundless in the flaming light,
Where Rheims burns, that was given By France to Mary, Queen of Heaven?
Oh, our Rheims, our Rheims is down, Naught is left of her renown.
Hist! what sound is in the breeze Like the sighing of forest trees?
Or the great wind, or an army, Or the waves of the wild sea?
The tall knight rides fierce and fast To the sound of a trumpet-blast.
The little knight in fire and flame, Slender and soft as a dame,
Rides and is not far behind: His long hair floats on the wind,
And ever the tramp of chivalry Comes like the sound of the sea.
This is Michael rides abroad, Prince of the army of God,
And this like a lily arrayed Is Joan, the blessed Maid.
Rheims is down in fire and smoke And the hour of God's at the stroke.
THE WHITE COMRADE: ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER
Under our curtain of fire, Over the clotted clods, We charged, to be withered, to reel And despairingly wheel When the signal bade us retire From the terrible odds. As we ebbed with the battle-tide, Fingers of red-hot steel Suddenly closed on my side. I fell, and began to pray. I crawled on my hands and lay Where a shallow crater yawned wide; Then,—I swooned....
When I woke, it was yet day. Fierce was the pain of my wound, But I saw it was death to stir, For fifty paces away Their trenches were. In torture I prayed for the dark And the stealthy step of my friend Who, stanch to the very end, Would creep to the danger zone And offer his life as a mark To save my own.
Night fell. I heard his tread, Not stealthy, but firm and serene, As if my comrade's head Were lifted far from that scene Of passion and pain and dread; As if my comrade's heart In carnage took no part; As if my comrade's feet Were set on some radiant street Such as no darkness might haunt; As if my comrade's eyes No deluge of flame could surprise, No death and destruction daunt, No red-beaked bird dismay, Nor sight of decay.
Then in the bursting shells' dim light I saw he was clad in white. For a moment I thought that I saw the smock Of a shepherd in search of his flock. Alert were the enemy, too, And their bullets flew Straight at a mark no bullet could fail; For the seeker was tall and his robe was bright; But he did not flee nor quail. Instead, with unhurrying stride He came, And gathering my tall frame, Like a child, in his arms....
Again I slept, And awoke From a blissful dream In a cave by a stream. My silent comrade had bound my side. No pain now was mine, but a wish that I spoke,— A mastering wish to serve this man Who had ventured through hell my doom to revoke, As only the truest of comrades can. I begged him to tell me how best I might aid him, And urgently prayed him Never to leave me, whatever betide;— When I saw he was hurt— Shot through the hands that were clasped in prayer! Then as the dark drops gathered there And fell in the dirt, The wounds of my friend Seemed to me such as no man might bear. Those bullet-holes in the patient hands Seemed to transcend All horrors that ever these war-drenched lands Had known or would know till the mad world's end. Then suddenly I was aware That his feet had been wounded too; And, dimming the white of his side, A dull stain grew. "You are hurt, White Comrade!" I cried. His words I already foreknew: "These are old wounds," said he, "But of late they have troubled me."
GHOSTS OF THE ARGONNE: GRANTLAND RICE
You can hear them at night when the moon is hidden; They sound like the rustle of winter leaves, Or lone lost winds that arise, unbidden, Or rain that drips from the forest eaves, As they glide again from their silent crosses To meet and talk of their final fight, Where over the group some stark tree tosses Its eerie shadow across the night.
If you'll take some night with its moonless weather, I know you will reason beyond a doubt That the rain and the wind and the leaves together Are making the sounds you will hear about: The wintry rustle of dead leaves falling, The whispering wind through the matted glen; But I can swear it's a sergeant calling The ghostly roll of his squad again.
They talk of war and its crimson glory, And laugh at the trick which Fate has played; And over and over they tell the story Of their final charge through the Argonne glade; But gathering in by hill and hollow With their ghostly tramp on the rain-soaked loam, There is one set rule which the clan must follow: They never speak of returning home.
They whisper still of the rifles' clatter, The riveting racket machine guns gave, Until dawn comes and the clan must scatter As each one glides to his waiting grave; But here at the end of their last endeavor However their stark dreams leap the foam There is one set rule they will keep forever: "Death to the Phantom who speaks of home!"
NOVEMBER ELEVENTH: RUTH COMFORT MITCHELL
It was three slim young wraiths that met in the heart of a great play-ground, And two of them watched the shining sports in the fields that ringed them round, But one of them bent an earthward ear to follow a far-off sound.
"Listen," he cried, "they know, down there! Oh! don't you hear the bells?" "Not I," said one, with a wise young smile, "I used to hear the shells. Not now; oh, not for ages now! I came from the Dardanelles."
"I from the Marne," the third one sighed, "but these are only names. Eh bien, mon vieux, one must forget those little strifes and fames! Here is a host of Golden Lads, that play at golden games."
But the new boy ran to the turf's green rim and bent with an anxious frown,— "It's the curfew bell! I hear them cheer! It's my little own home town! I hear my dad! I can almost see—" and his eager gaze plunged down.
"Soon, mon ami," soothed the dark-eyed wraith, "these teasing dreams will cease! One plays all day, one leaps the stars, one seeks the Golden Fleece!" Still the new boy turned his white young face from the Land of the Great Release.— "But I was killed two hours ago, while they signed the terms of peace."
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN: CHARLES GODFREY LELAND
We met the Flying Dutchman, By midnight he came, His hull was all of hell fire, His sails were all aflame; Fire on the main-top, Fire on the bow, Fire on the gun-deck, Fire down below.
Four-and-twenty dead men, Those were the crew, The devil on the bowsprit, Fiddled as she flew, We gave her the broadside, Right in the dip, Just like a candle, Went out the ship.
THE PHANTOM SHIP: HENRY W. LONGFELLOW
In Mather's Magnalia Christi, Of the old colonial time, May be found in prose the legend That is here set down in rhyme.
A ship sailed from New Haven, And the keen and the frosty airs, That filled her sails at parting, Were heavy with good men's prayers.
"O Lord, if it be thy pleasure"— Thus prayed the old divine— "To bury our friends in the ocean, Take them, for they are thine."
But Master Lamberton muttered, And under his breath said he, "This ship is so crank and walty, I fear our grave she will be!"
And the ships that came from England, When the winter months were gone, Brought no tidings of this vessel Nor of Master Lamberton.
This put the people to praying That the Lord would let them hear What in his greater wisdom He had done with their friends so dear.
And at last their prayers were answered: It was in the month of June, An hour before the sunset Of a windy afternoon.
When steadily steering landward, A ship was seen below, And they knew it was Lamberton, Master, Who sailed so long ago.
On she came with a cloud of canvas, Right against the wind that blew, Until the eye could distinguish The faces of the crew.
Then fell her straining topmasts, Hanging tangled in the shrouds. And her sails were loosened and lifted, And blown away like clouds.
And the masts, with all their rigging, Fell slowly, one by one, And the hulk dilated and vanished, As a sea-mist in the sun!
And the people who saw this marvel Each said unto his friend, That this was the mould of the vessel, And thus her tragic end.
And the pastor of the village Gave thanks to God in prayer, That, to quiet their troubled spirits, He had sent this ship of air.
THE PHANTOM LIGHT OF THE BAIE DES CHALEURS: ARTHUR WENTWORTH HAMILTON EATON
'Tis the laughter of pines that swing and sway Where the breeze from the land meets the breeze from the bay, 'Tis the silvery foam of the silver tide In ripples that reach to the forest side; 'Tis the fisherman's boat, in the track of sheen, Plying through tangled seaweed green, O'er the Baie des Chaleurs.
Who has not heard of the phantom light That over the moaning waves at night Dances and drifts in endless play, Close to the shore, then far away, Fierce as the flame in sunset skies, Cold as the winter light that lies On the Baie des Chaleurs.
They tell us that many a year ago, From lands where the palm and olive grow, Where vines with their purple clusters creep Over the hillsides gray and steep, A knight in his doublet, slashed with gold, Famed in that chivalrous time of old, For valorous deeds and courage rare, Sailed with a princess wondrous fair To the Baie des Chaleurs.
That a pirate crew from some isle of the sea, A murderous band as e'er could be, With a shadowy sail, and a flag of night, That flaunted and flew in heaven's sight, Swept in the wake of the lovers there, And sank the ship and its freight so fair In the Baie des Chaleurs.
Strange is the tale that the fishermen tell,— They say that a ball of fire fell Straight from the sky, with crash and roar, Lighting the bay from shore to shore; That the ship with a shudder and a groan, Sank through the waves to the caverns lone Of the Baie des Chaleurs.
That was the last of the pirate crew, But many a night a black flag flew From the mast of a spectre vessel, sailed By a spectre band that wept and wailed, For the wreck they had wrought on the sea and the land, For the innocent blood they had spilt on the sand, Of the Baie des Chaleurs.
This is the tale of the phantom light, That fills the mariner's heart at night, With dread as it gleams o'er his path on the bay, Now by the shore, then far away, Fierce as the flame in sunset skies, Cold as the winter moon that lies On the Baie des Chaleurs.
THE SANDS OF DEE: CHARLES KINGSLEY
"O Mary, go and call the cattle home, And call the cattle home, And call the cattle home, Across the sands of Dee!" The western wind was wild and dank wi' foam, And all alone went she.
The western tide crept up along the sand, And o'er and o'er the sand, And round and round the sand, As far as eye could see. The rolling mist came down and hid the land— And never home came she.
"Oh, is it weed, or fish, or floating hair— A tress of golden hair, A drowned maiden's hair Above the nets at sea? Was never salmon yet that shone so fair, Among the stakes of Dee."
They rowed her in across the rolling foam, The cruel, crawling foam, The cruel, hungry foam, To her grave beside the sea, But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home, Across the sands of Dee!
THE LAKE OF THE DISMAL SWAMP: THOMAS MOORE
"They made her a grave too cold and damp For a soul so warm and true; And she's gone to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp, Where all night long, by a firefly lamp, She paddles her white canoe.
And her firefly lamp I soon shall see, And her paddle I soon shall hear; Long and loving our life shall be, And I'll hide the maid in a cypress-tree, When the footstep of death is near!"
Away to the Dismal Swamp he speeds,— His path was rugged and sore, Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds, Through many a fen where the serpent feeds, And man never trod before!
And when on the earth he sunk to sleep, If slumber his eyelids knew, He lay where the deadly vine doth weep Its venomous tear, and nightly steep The flesh with blistering dew!
And near him the she-wolf stirred the brake, And the copper-snake breathed in his ear, Till he starting cried, from his dream awake, "Oh, when shall I see the dusky Lake, And the white canoe of my dear?"
He saw the Lake, and a meteor bright Quick over its surface played,— "Welcome," he said, "my dear one's light!" And the dim shore echoed for many a night, The name of the death-cold maid!
He hollowed a boat of the birchen bark, Which carried him off from shore; Far he followed the meteor spark, The wind was high and the clouds were dark, And the boat returned no more.
But oft from the Indian hunter's camp, This lover and maid so true, Are seen at the hour of midnight damp, To cross the lake by a firefly lamp, And paddle their white canoe!
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN OF THE TAPPAN ZEE: ARTHUR GUITERMAN
On Tappan Zee a shroud of gray Is heavy, dank, and low. And dimly gleams the beacon-ray Of white Pocantico.
No skipper braves old Hudson now Where Nyack's Headlands frown, And safely moored is every prow Of drowsy Tarrytown;
Yet, clear as word of human lip, The river sends its shores The rhythmic rullock-clank and drip Of even-rolling oars.
What rower plies a reckless oar With mist on flood and strand? That Oarsman toils forevermore And ne'er shall reach the land.
* * * * *
Roystering, rollicking Ram van Dam, Fond of a frolic and fond of a dram, Fonder—yea, fonder, proclaims renown,— Of Tryntje Bogardus of Tarrytown, Leaves Spuyten Duyvil to roar his song! Pull! For the current is sly and strong; Nestles the robin and flies the bat. Ho! for the frolic at Kakiat!
Merry, the sport at the quilting bee Held at the farm on the Tappan Zee! Jovial labor with quips and flings, Dances with wonderful pigeon wings, Twitter of maidens and clack of dames, Honest flirtations and rousing games; Platters of savory beef and brawn, Buckets of treacle and good suppawn, Oceans of cider, and beer in lakes, Mountains of crullers and honey-cakes— Such entertainment could never pall! Rambout Van Dam took his fill of all; Laughed with the wittiest, worked with a zest, Danced with the prettiest, drank with the best.
Oh! that enjoyment should breed annoy! Tryntje grew fickle or cold or coy; Rambout, possessed of a jealous sprite, Scowled like the sky on a stormy night, Snarled a good-bye from his sullen throat, Blustered away to his tugging boat. After him hastened Jacobus Horn: "Stay with us, Rambout, till Monday morn. Soon in the east will the dawn be gray, Rest from thy oars on the Sabbath Day."
Angrily Rambout van Dam ripped back: "Dunder en Blitzen! du Schobbejak! Preach to thy children! and let them know Spite of the duyvil and thee, I'll row Thousands of Sundays, if need there be, Home o'er this ewig-vervlekte zee!" Muttering curses, he headed south. Jacob, astounded, with open mouth Watched him receding, when—crash on crash Volleyed the thunder! A hissing flash Smote on the river! He looked again. Rambout was gone from the sight of men!
* * * * *
Old Dunderberg with grumbling roar Hath warned the fog to flee, But still that never-wearied oar Is heard on Tappan Zee.
A moon is closed on Hudson's breast And lanterns gem the town; The phantom craft that may not rest Plies ever, up and down,
'Neath skies of blue and skies of gray, In spite of wind or tide, Until the trump of Judgment Day— A sound—and naught beside.
THE WHITE SHIPS AND THE RED: JOYCE KILMER
With drooping sail and pennant That never a wind may reach, They float in sunless waters Beside a sunless beach. Their misty masts and funnels Are white as driven snow, And with a pallid radiance Their ghostly bulwarks glow.
Here is a Spanish galleon That once with gold was gay, Here is a Roman trireme Whose hues outshone the day. But Tyrian dyes have faded, And prows that once were bright With rainbow stains wear only Death's livid, dreadful white.
White as the ice that clove her That unforgotten day, Among her pallid sisters The grim Titanic lay. And through the leagues above her She looked aghast and said: "What is this living ship that comes Where every ship is dead?"
The ghostly vessels trembled From ruined stern to prow; What was this thing of terror That broke their vigil now? Down through the startled ocean A mighty vessel came, Not white, as all dead ships must be, But red, like living flame!
The pale green waves above her Were swiftly, strangely dyed, By the great scarlet stream that flowed From out her wounded side. And all her decks were scarlet And all her shattered crew. She sank among the white ghost ships And stained them through and through.
The grim Titanic greeted her. "And who art thou?" she said; "Why dost thou join our ghostly fleet Arrayed in living red? We are the ships of sorrow Who spend the weary night, Until the dawn of Judgment Day, Obscure and still and white."
"Nay," said the scarlet visitor, "Though I sink through the sea, A ruined thing that was a ship, I sink not as did ye. For ye met with your destiny By storm or rock or fight, So through the lagging centuries Ye wear your robes of white.
"But never crashing iceberg Nor honest shot of foe, Nor hidden reef has sent me The way that I must go. My wounds that stain the waters, My blood that is like flame, Bear witness to a loathly deed, A deed without a name.
"I went not forth to battle, I carried friendly men, The children played about my decks, The women sang—and then— And then—the sun blushed scarlet And Heaven hid its face, The world that God created Became a shameful place!
"My wrongs cry out for vengeance, The blow that sent me here Was aimed in Hell. My dying scream Has reached Jehovah's ear. Not all the seven oceans Shall wash away that stain; Upon the brow that wears a crown I am the brand of Cain."
When God's great voice assembles The fleet on Judgment Day, The ghosts of ruined ships will rise In sea and strait and bay. Though they have lain for ages Beneath the changeless flood, They shall be white as silver, But one—shall be like blood.
FEATHERSTONE'S DOOM: ROBERT STEPHEN HAWKER
Twist thou and twine! in light and gloom A spell is on thy hand; The wind shall be thy changeful loom, Thy web the twisting sand.
Twine from this hour, in ceaseless toil, On Blackrock's sullen shore: Till cordage of the sand shall coil Where crested surges roar.
'Tis for that hour, when from the wave Near voices wildly cried; When thy stern hand no succour gave, The cable at thy side.
Twist thou and twine! In light and gloom The spell is on thine hand; The wind shall be thy changeful loom, Thy web the shifting sand.
SEA-GHOSTS: MAY BYRON
O' stormy nights, be they summer or winter, Hurricane nights like these, When spar and topsail are rag and splinter Hurled o'er the sluicing seas,
To the jagged edge where the cliffs lean over, Climb as you best may climb; Lie there and listen where mysteries hover, Haunting the tides of Time.
* * * * *
The crumbling surf on the shingle rattles, The great waves topple and pour, Full of the fury of ancient battles, Clamant with cries of war.
The gale has summoned, the night has beckoned— Lo, from the east and west, Stately shadows arise unreckoned Out of their deeps of rest!
Wild on the wind are voices ringing, Echoes that throng the air, Valiant voices, of victory singing, Or dark with sublime despair.
To the distant drums with their rumbling hollow, The answering trumpets blow: War-horn and fife and cymbals follow, From galleys of long ago.
The crested breaker on reef and boulder That swirls in cavernous black, Carries a challenge from decks that moulder To ships that never came back.
The gale that swoops and the sea that wrestles Are one in their wrath and might With the crash and clashing of armed vessels, Grinding across the night.
Out of the dark the broadsides thunder, Clattering to and fro: The old sea-fighters, the old world's wonder, Are manning their wrecks below.
You shall smell the smoke, you shall hear the crackle, Shall mark on the surly blast Rush and tear of the rending tackle, Thud of the falling mast.
With the foam that flies and the spray that spatters, Scourging the strand again, A terrible outcry leaps and shatters— Tumult of drowning men.
The steep gray cliff is alive and trembles— Was never such fear as this! A fleet, a fleet at its foot assembles Out of the sea's abyss.
It quails and quivers, its grassy verges Vibrant with uttermost dread: It knows the groan of the laden surges, The shout of the deathless Dead.
In a rolling march of reverberations, Marching with wind and tide, Heroes of unremembered nations Vaunt their immortal pride.
Briton, Spaniard, Phoenician, Roman, Gallant implacable hosts— Locked in fight with phantom foeman, Gather the grim sea-ghosts.
FOG WRAITHS: MILDRED HOWELLS
In from the ocean the white fog creeps, Blotting out ship, and rock, and tree, While wrapped in its shroud, from the soundless deeps, Back to the land come the lost at sea.
Over the weeping grass they drift By well-known paths to their homes again, To finger the latch they may not lift And peer through the glistering window-pane.
Then in the churchyard each seeks the stone To its memory raised among the rest, And they watch by their empty graves alone Till the fog rolls back to the ocean's breast.
CAPE HORN GOSPEL: JOHN MASEFIELD
"I was in a hooker once," said Karlssen, "And Bill, as was a seaman, died, So we lashed him in an old tarpaulin And tumbled him across the side; And the fun of it was that all his gear was Divided up among the crew Before that blushing human error Our crawling little captain, knew.
"On the passage home one morning (As certain as I prays for grace) There was old Bill's shadder a-hauling At the mizzen weather topsail brace. He was all grown green with seaweed He was all lashed up and shored; So I says to him, I says, 'Why, Billy! What's a-bringin' of you back aboard?'
"'I'm a-weary of them there mermaids,' Says old Bill's ghost to me; 'It ain't no place for a Christian Below there—under sea. For it's all blown sand and shipwrecks And old bones eaten bare, And them cold fishy females With long green weeds for hair.
"'And there ain't no dances shuffled, And no old yarns is spun, And there ain't no stars but starfish, And never any moon or sun. I heard your keel a-passing And the running rattle of the brace, And I says, "Stand by,"' says William, '"For a shift towards a better place."'
"Well, he sogered about decks till sunrise, When a rooster in the hen-coop crowed, And as so much smoke he faded, And as so much smoke he goed; And I've often wondered since, Jan, How his old ghost stands to fare Long o' them cold fishy females With long green weeds for hair."
LEGEND OF HAMILTON TIGHE: RICHARD HARRIS BARHAM
The Captain is walking his quarter-deck, With a troubled brow and a bended neck; One eye is down through the hatchway cast, The other turns up to the truck on the mast; Yet none of the crew may venture to hint "Our skipper hath gotten a sinister squint!"
The Captain again the letter hath read Which the bum-boat woman brought out to Spithead— Still, since the good ship sail'd away, He reads that letter three times a-day; Yet the writing is broad and fair to see As a Skipper may read in his degree, And the seal is as black, and as broad, and as flat, As his own cockade in his own cock'd hat: He reads, and he says, as he walks to and fro, "Curse the old woman—she bothers me so!"
He pauses now, for the topmen hail— "On the larboard quarter a sail! a sail!" That grim old Captain he turns him quick, And bawls through his trumpet for Hairy-faced Dick. "The breeze is blowing—huzza! huzza! The breeze is blowing—away! away! The breeze is blowing—a race! a race! The breeze is blowing—we near the chase! Blood will flow, and bullets will fly,— Oh, where will be then young Hamilton Tighe?"
—"On the foeman's deck, where a man should be, With his sword in his hand, and his foe at his knee. Cockswain, or boatswain, or reefer may try, But the first man on board will be Hamilton Tighe!"
* * * * *
Hairy-faced Dick hath a swarthy hue, Between a gingerbread-nut and a Jew, And his pigtail is long, and bushy, and thick, Like a pump-handle stuck on the end of a stick. Hairy-faced Dick understands his trade; He stand by the breech of a long carronade, The linstock glows in his bony hand, Waiting that grim old Skipper's command.
"The bullets are flying—huzza! huzza! The bullets are flying—away! away!"— The brawny boarders mount by the chains, And are over their buckles in blood and in brains. On the foeman's deck, where a man should be, Young Hamilton Tighe waves his cutlass high, And Capitaine Crapaud bends low at his knee.
Hairy-faced Dick, linstock in hand, Is waiting that grim-looking Skipper's command:— A wink comes sly from that sinister eye— Hairy-faced Dick at once lets fly, And knocks off the head of young Hamilton Tighe!
There's a lady sits lonely in bower and hall, Her pages and handmaidens come at her call: "Now look ye, my handmaidens, haste now and see How he sits there and glow'rs with his head on his knee! The maidens smile, and, her thought to destroy, They bring her a little, pale, mealy-faced boy; And the mealy-faced boy says, "Mother, dear, Now Hamilton's dead, I've ten thousand a-year!"
The lady has donned her mantle and hood, She is bound for shrift at St. Mary's Rood:— "Oh! the taper shall burn, and the bell shall toll, And the mass shall be said for my step-son's soul, And the tablet fair shall be hung on high, Orate pro anima Hamilton Tighe!"
Her coach and four Draws up to the door With her groom, and her footman, and a half score more The lady steps into her coach alone, And they hear her sigh, and they hear her groan; They close the door, and they turn the pin, But there's One rides with her that never stept in!
All the way there, and all the way back, The harness strains, and the coach-springs crack, The horses snort, and plunge, and kick, Till the coachman thinks he is driving Old Nick; And the grooms and the footmen wonder, and say, "What makes the old coach so heavy to-day?" But the mealy-faced boy peeps in, and sees A man sitting there with his head on his knees!
'Tis ever the same—in hall or in bower, Wherever the place, whatever the hour, That Lady mutters, and talks to the air, And her eye is fix'd on an empty chair; But the mealy-faced boy still whispers with dread, "She talks to a man with never a head!"
* * * * *
There's an old Yellow Admiral living at Bath, As grey as a badger, as thin as a lath; And his very queer eyes have such very queer leers, They seem to be trying to peep at his ears; That old Yellow Admiral goes to the Rooms, And he plays long whist, but he frets and he fumes, For all his knaves stand upside down, And the Jack of Clubs does nothing but frown; And the Kings and the Aces, and all the best trumps Get into the hands of the other old frumps; While, close to his partner, a man he sees Counting the tricks with his head on his knees.
In Ratcliffe Highway there's an old marine store, And a great black doll hangs out of the door; There are rusty locks, and dusty bags, And musty phials, and fusty rags, And a lusty old woman, call'd Thirsty Nan, And her crusty old husband's a Hairy-faced man!
That Hairy-faced man is sallow and wan, And his great thick pigtail is wither'd and gone; And he cries, "Take away that lubberly chap That sits there and grins with his head in his lap!" And the neighbors say, as they see him look sick, "What a rum old covey is Hairy-faced Dick!"
That Admiral, Lady, and Hairy-faced man May say what they please, and may do what they can; But one things seems remarkably clear,— They may die to-morrow, or live till next year,— But wherever they live, or whenever they die, They'll never get quit of young Hamilton Tighe!
THE SUPPER SUPERSTITION: THOMAS HOOD
A Pathetic Ballad
"Oh flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!"—Mercutio.
'Twas twelve o'clock by the Chelsea chimes, When all in a hungry trim, Good Mr. Jupp sat down to sup With wife, and Kate and Jim.
Said he, "Upon this dainty cod How bravely I shall sup"— When, whiter than the tablecloth, A ghost came rising up!
"O father dear, O mother dear, Dear Kate, and brother Jim— You know when some one went to sea— Don't cry—but I am him!
"You hope some day with fond embrace To greet your lonesome Jack, But oh, I am come here to say I'm never coming back!
"From Alexandria we set sail, With corn, and oil, and figs, But steering 'too much Sow,' we struck Upon the Sow and Pigs!
"The ship we pumped till we could see Old England from the tops; When down she went with all our hands, Right in the Channel's Chops.
"Just give a look in Norey's Chart, The very place it tells: I think it says twelve fathom deep, Clay bottom, mixed with shells.
"Well, there we are till 'hands aloft,' We have at last a call, The pug I had for brother Jim, Kate's parrot, too, and all."
"But oh, my spirit cannot rest In Davy Jones's sod, Till I've appeared to you and said, 'Don't sup on that there Cod!
"You live on land, and little think What passes in the sea; Last Sunday week, at 2 P.M., That Cod was picking me!
"Those oysters, too, that look so plump, And seem so nicely done, They put my corpse in many shells, Instead of only one.
"Oh, do not eat those oysters, then, And do not touch the shrimps; When I was in my briny grave They sucked my blood like imps!
"Don't eat what brutes would never eat, The brutes I used to pat, They'll know the smell they used to smell, Just try the dog and cat!"
The spirit fled, they wept his fate, And cried Alas, Alack! At last up started brother Jim— "Let's try if Jack, was Jack!"
They called the Dog, they called the Cat, The little Kitten, too, And down they put the Cod and sauce To see what brutes would do.
Old Tray licked all the oysters up, Puss never stood at crimps, But munched the Cod—and little Kit Quite feasted on the Shrimps!
The thing was odd, and minus Cod And sauce, they stood like posts; Oh, prudent folks, for fear of hoax, Put no belief in Ghosts!
THE INGOLDSBY PENANCE: RICHARD HARRIS BARHAM
A Legend of Palestine and West Kent
Out and spake Sir Ingoldsby Bray, A stalwart knight, I ween, was he, "Come east, come west, Come lance in rest, Come falchion in hand, I'll tickle the best Of the Soldan's Chivalrie!"
Oh, they came west, and they came east, Twenty-four Emirs and Sheiks at the least, And they hammer'd away At Sir Ingoldsby Bray, Fall back, fall edge, cut, thrust, and point,— But he topp'd off head, and he lopp'd off joint; Twenty and three, Of high degree, Lay stark and stiff on the crimson'd lea, All—all save one—and he ran up a tree! "Now count them, my Squire, now count them and see!" "Twenty and three! Twenty and three!— All of them nobles of high degree: There they be lying on Ascalon lea!"
Out and spake Sir Ingoldsby Bray, "What news? What news? Come tell to me! What news? what news, thou little Foot-page?— I've been whacking the foe till it seems an age Since I was in Ingoldsby Hall so free! What news? what news from Ingoldsby Hall? Come tell me now, thou page so small!"
"O, Hawk and Hound Are safe and sound, Beast in byre and Steed in stall; And the Watch-dog's bark, As soon as it's dark Bays wakeful guard around Ingoldsby Hall!"
—"I care not a pound For Hawk or for Hound For Steed in stall or for Watch-dog's bay. Fain would I hear Of my dainty dear; How fares Dame Alice, my Lady gay?"— Sir Ingoldsby Bray, he said in his rage, "What news? what news? thou naughty Foot-page."
The little Foot-page full low crouch'd he, And he doff'd his cap, and he bended his knee, "Now lithe and listen, Sir Bray, to me: Lady Alice sits lonely in bower and hall, Her sighs they rise, and her tears they fall. She sits alone, And she makes her moan; Dance and song, She considers quite wrong; Feast and revel Mere snares of the devil; She mendeth her hose, and she crieth 'Alack! When will Sir Ingoldsby Bray come back?'"
"Thou liest! thou liest! thou naughty Foot-page, Full loud doth thou lie, false Page, to me! There in thy breast, 'Neath thy silken vest, What scroll is that, false Page, I see?"
Sir Ingoldsby Bray in his rage drew near, That little Foot-page, he blanch'd with fear;
"Now where may the Prior of Abingdon lie? King Richard's confessor, I ween, is he, And tidings rare To him do I bear, And news of price from his rich Ab-bee!"
"Now nay, now nay, thou naughty Page! No learned clerk I trow am I, But well I ween May there be seen Dame Alice's hand with half an eye; Now nay, now nay, thou naughty Page, From Abingdon Abbey comes not thy news; Although no clerk, Well may I mark The particular turn of her P's and Q's!"
Sir Ingoldsby Bray in his fury and rage, By the back of the neck takes that little Foot-page; The scroll he seizes, The page he squeezes, And buffets—and pinches his nose till he sneezes;— Then he cuts with his dagger the silken threads Which they used in those days 'stead of little Queen's heads.
When the contents of the scroll met his view, Sir Ingoldsby Bray in a passion grew, Backward he drew His mailed shoe, And he kicked that naughty Foot-page, that he flew Like a cloth-yard shaft from a bended yew, I may not say whither—I never knew. "Now count the slain Upon Ascalon plain— Go count them, my Squire, go count them again!"
"Twenty and three! There they be, Stiff and stark on that crimson'd lea!— Twenty and three?—Stay—let me see! Stretched in his gore There lieth one more! By the Pope's triple crown there are twenty and four! Twenty-four trunks I ween are there But their heads and their limbs are no-body knows where! Ay, twenty-four corpses, I rede there be, Though one got away, and ran up a tree!"
"Look nigher, look nigher, My trusty Squire!" "One is the corse of a bare-footed Friar!"
Out and spake Sir Ingoldsby Bray, "A boon, a boon, King Richard," quoth he, "Now Heav'n thee save, A boon I crave, A boon, Sir King, on my bended knee; A year and a day Have I been away, King Richard, from Ingoldsby Hall so free; Dame Alice she sits there in lonely guise, And she makes her moan, and she sobs and she sighs, And tears like rain-drops fall from her eyes, And she darneth her hose, and she crieth 'Alack! Oh, when will Sir Ingoldsby Bray come back?' A boon, a boon, my liege," quoth he, "Fair Ingoldsby Hall I fain would see!"
"Rise up, rise up, Sir Ingoldsby Bray," King Richard said right graciously, "Of all in my host That I love the most, I love none better, Sir Bray, than thee! Rise up, rise up, thou hast my boon; But mind you make haste, and come back again soon!"
Pope Gregory sits in St. Peter's chair, Pontiff proud, I ween, is he, And a belted Knight, In armour dight, Is begging a boon on his bended knee, With sighs of grief and sounds of woe, Featly he kisseth his Holiness' toe. "Now pardon, Holy Father, I crave, O Holy Father, pardon and grace! In my fury and rage A little Foot-page I have left, I fear me, in evil case: A scroll of shame From a faithless dame Did that naughty Foot-page to a paramour bear: I gave him a 'lick' With a stick, And a kick, That sent him—I can't tell your Holiness where! Had he as many necks as hairs, He had broken them all down those perilous stairs!"
"Rise up, rise up, Sir Ingoldsby Bray, Rise up, rise up, I say to thee; A soldier, I trow, Of the Cross art thou; Rise up, rise up, from thy bended knee! Ill it seems that soldier true Of Holy Church should vainly sue:— —Foot-pages they are by no means rare, A thriftless crew, I ween, be they; Well mote we spare A Page—or a pair, For the matter of that—Sir Ingoldsby Bray, But stout and true Soldiers like you, Grow scarcer and scarcer every day!— Be prayers for the dead Duly read, Let a mass be sung, and a pater be said: So may your qualms of conscience cease, And the little Foot-page shall rest in peace!"
"Now pardon, Holy Father, I crave. O Holy Father, pardon and grace! Dame Alice, my wife, The bane of my life, I have left, I fear me, in evil case! A scroll of shame in my rage I tore, Which that caitiff Page to a paramour bore; 'Twere bootless to tell how I storm'd and swore; Alack! and alack! too surely I knew The turn of each P, and the tail of each Q, And away to Ingoldsby Hall I flew! Dame Alice I found,—She sank on the ground,— I twisted her neck till I twisted it round! With jibe and jeer and mock and scoff, I twisted it on—till I twisted it off!— All the King's Doctors and all the King's Men Can't put fair Alice's head on agen!"
"Well-a-day! well-a-day! Sir Ingoldsby Bray, Why really—I hardly know what to say:— Foul sin, I trow, a fair Ladye to slay, Because she's perhaps been a little too gay.— —Monk must chaunt and Nun must pray; For each mass they sing, and each pray'r they say, For a year and a day, Sir Ingoldsby Bray A fair rose-noble must duly pay! So may his qualms of conscience cease, And the soul of Dame Alice may rest in peace!"
"Now pardon, Holy Father, I crave, O Holy Father, pardon and grace! No power could save That paramour knave; I left him, I wot, in evil case! There midst the slain Upon Ascalon plain, Unburied, I trow, doth his body remain His legs lie here and his arms lie there, And his head lies—I can't tell your Holiness where!"
"Now out and alas! Sir Ingoldsby Bray, Foul sin it were, thou doughty Knight, To hack and to hew A champion true Of holy Church in such pitiful plight! Foul sin her warriors so to slay, When they're scarcer and scarcer every day!— A chauntry fair, And of Monks a pair, To pray for his soul for ever and aye, Thou must duly endow, Sir Ingoldsby Bray, And fourteen marks by the year thou must pay For plenty of lights To burn there o' nights— None of your rascally 'dips'—but sound, Round, ten-penny moulds of four to the pound;— And a shirt of the roughest and coarsest hair For a year and a day, Sir Ingoldsby, wear!— So may your qualms of conscience cease, And the soul of the Soldier shall rest in peace!"
"Now, nay, Holy Father; now nay, now nay! Less penance may serve!" quoth Sir Ingoldsby Bray. "No champion free of the Cross was he; No belted Baron of high degree; No Knight nor Squire Did there expire; He was, I trow, a bare-footed Friar! And the Abbot of Abingdon long may wait, With his monks around him, and early and late, May look from loop-hole, and turret, and gate, He hath lost his Prior—his Prior his pate!"
"Now Thunder and turf!" Pope Gregory said, And his hair raised his triple crown right off his head— "Now Thunder and turf! and out and alas! A horrible thing has come to pass! What! cut off the head of the Reverend Prior, And say he was 'only (!!!) a bare-footed Friar!'— 'What Baron or Squire, Or Knight of the shire Is half so good as a holy Friar?' O, turpissime! Vir nequissime! Sceleratissime!—quissime!—issime! Never, I trow, have the Servi servorum Had before 'em Such a breach of decorum, Such a gross violation of morum bonorum, And won't have again saecula saeculorum!— Come hither to me, My Cardinals three, My Bishops in partibus, Masters in Artibus, Hither to me, A.B. and D.D., Doctors and Proctors of every degree! Go fetch me a book, go fetch me a bell As big as a dustman's!—and a candle as well— I'll send him where—good manners won't let me tell!"
—"Pardon and grace!—now pardon and grace!" —Sir Ingoldsby Bray fell flat on his face— "Mea culpa!—in sooth I'm in pitiful case. Peccavi! peccavi!—I've done every wrong! But my heart it is stout and my arm it is strong, And I'll fight for Holy Church all the day long; And the Ingoldsby lands are broad and fair, And they're here and they're there and I can't tell you where, And the Holy Church shall come in for her share!" Pope Gregory paused and he sat himself down, And he somewhat relaxed his terrible frown, And his Cardinals three they picked up his crown.
"Now if it be so that you own you've been wrong, And your heart is so stout and your arm is so strong, And you really will fight like a trump all day long;— If the Ingoldsby lands do lie here and there, And Holy Church shall come in for her share,— Why, my Cardinals three, You'll agree With me, That it gives a new turn to the whole affair, And I think that the Penitent need not despair! —If it be so, as you seem to say, Rise up, rise up, Sir Ingoldsby Bray! An Abbey so fair Sir Bray shall found, Whose innermost wall's encircling bound Shall take in a couple of acres of ground; And there in that Abbey, all the year round, A full choir of monks and a full choir of nuns, And Sir Ingoldsby Bray, Without delay, Shall hie him again To Ascalon plain, And gather the bones of the foully slain; And shall place said bones, with all possible care, In an elegant shrine in his abbey so fair; And plenty of lights shall be there o' nights— None of your rascally 'dips,' but sound, Best superfine wax-wicks, four to the pound; And Monk and Nun Shall pray, each one, For the soul of the Prior of Abingdon!
And Sir Ingoldsby Bray, so bold and so brave, Never shall wash himself, comb or shave, Nor adorn his body, Nor drink gin-toddy, Nor indulge in a pipe— But shall dine upon tripe And blackberries gathered before they are ripe, And forever abhor, renounce and abjure Rum, hollands, and brandy, wine, punch and liqueur!"
(Sir Ingoldsby Bray Here gave way To a feeling which prompted a word profane, But he swallowed it down, by an effort, again, And His Holiness luckily fancied his gulp a Mere repetition of O mea culpa!)
"Thrice three times on Candlemas-day, Between Vespers and Compline, Sir Ingoldsby Bray Shall run round the Abbey, as best he may, Subjecting his back To thump and to thwack, Well and truly laid on by a bare-footed Friar, With a stout cat o' ninetails of whip-cord and wire, And not he nor his heir Shall take, use or bear, Any more from this day, The surname of Bray, As being dishonour'd, but all issue male he has Shall, with himself, go henceforth by an alias! So his qualms of conscience at length shall cease, And Page, Dame and Prior shall rest in peace!"
Sir Ingoldsby (now no longer Bray) Is off like a shot away and away, Over the brine To far Palestine, To rummage and hunt over Ascalon plain For the unburied bones of his victim slain. "Look out, my Squire, Look nigher and nigher, Look out for the corpse of a bare-footed Friar! And pick up the arms and the legs of the dead, And pick up his body and pick up his head!"
Ingoldsby Abbey is fair to see, It hath manors a dozen, and royalties three, With right of free-warren (whatever that be); Rich pastures in front, and green woods in the rear, All in full leaf at the right time of year; About Christmas or so, they fall into the sear, And the prospect, of course, becomes rather more drear; But it's really delightful in spring-time,—and near The great gate Father Thames rolls sun-bright and clear. Cobham woods to the right,—on the opposite shore Landon Hill in the distance, ten miles off or more; Then you've Milton and Gravesend behind—and before You can see almost all the way down to the Nore.— So charming a spot, It's rarely one's lot To see, and when seen it's as rarely forgot.
Yes, Ingoldsby Abbey is fair to see, And its Monks and its Nuns are fifty and three, And there they all stand each in their degree, Drawn up in the front of their sacred abode, Two by two in their regular mode, While a funeral comes down the Rochester road, Palmers twelve, from a foreign strand, Cockle in hat and staff in hand, Come marching in pairs, a holy band! Little boys twelve, dressed all in white, Each with his brazen censer bright, And singing away with all his might, Follow the Palmers—a goodly sight; Next high in air Twelve Yeomen bear On their sturdy backs, with a good deal of care, A patent sarcophagus firmly rear'd Of Spanish mahogany (not veneer'd), And behind walks a Knight with a very long beard. Close by his side Is a Friar, supplied With a stout cat o' ninetails of tough cow-hide, While all sorts of queer men Bring up the rear—Men-at-arms, Nigger captives, and Bow-men and Spear-men.
It boots not to tell What you'll guess very well, How some sang the requiem, some toll'd the bell; Suffice it to say, 'Twas on Candlemas-day The procession I speak of reached the Sacellum: And in lieu of a supper The Knight on his crupper Received the first taste of the Father's flagellum;— That, as chronicles tell, He continued to dwell All the rest of his days in the Abbey he'd founded, By the pious of both sexes ever surrounded, And, partaking the fare of the Monks and the Nuns, Ate the cabbage alone without touching the buns; —That year after year, having run round the Quad With his back, as enjoin'd him, exposed to the rod, Having not only kissed it, but bless'd it and thank'd it, he Died, as all thought in the odour of sanctity, When,—strange to relate! and you'll hardly believe What I'm going to tell you,—next Candlemas Eve The Monks and the Nuns in the dead of the night Tumble, all of them, out of their bed in affright, Alarm'd by the bawls, And the calls and the squalls Of some one who seemed running all round the walls!