How came the shell upon that mountain height? Ah, who can say Whether there dropped by some too careless hand, Or whether there cast when Ocean swept the Land, Ere the Eternal had ordained the Day?
Strange, was it not? Far from its native deep, One song it sang,— Sang of the awful mysteries of the tide, Sang of the misty sea, profound and wide,— Ever with echoes of the ocean rang.
And as the shell upon the mountain height Sings of the sea, So do I ever, leagues and leagues away,— So do I ever, wandering where I may,— Sing, O my home! sing, O my home! of thee.
TO A USURPER
Aha! a traitor in the camp, A rebel strangely bold,— A lisping, laughing, toddling scamp, Not more than four years old!
To think that I, who've ruled alone So proudly in the past, Should be ejected from my throne By my own son at last!
He trots his treason to and fro, As only babies can, And says he'll be his mamma's beau When he's a "gweat, big man"!
You stingy boy! you've always had A share in mamma's heart; Would you begrudge your poor old dad The tiniest little part?
That mamma, I regret to see, Inclines to take your part,— As if a dual monarchy Should rule her gentle heart!
But when the years of youth have sped, The bearded man, I trow, Will quite forget he ever said He'd be his mamma's beau.
Renounce your treason, little son, Leave mamma's heart to me; For there will come another one To claim your loyalty.
And when that other comes to you, God grant her love may shine Through all your life, as fair and true As mamma's does through mine!
LULLABY; BY THE SEA
Fair is the castle up on the hill— Hushaby, sweet my own! The night is fair, and the waves are still, And the wind is singing to you and to me In this lowly home beside the sea— Hushaby, sweet my own!
On yonder hill is store of wealth— Hushaby, sweet my own! And revellers drink to a little one's health; But you and I bide night and day For the other love that has sailed away— Hushaby, sweet my own!
See not, dear eyes, the forms that creep Ghostlike, O my own! Out of the mists of the murmuring deep; Oh, see them not and make no cry Till the angels of death have passed us by— Hushaby, sweet my own!
Ah, little they reck of you and me— Hushaby, sweet my own! In our lonely home beside the sea; They seek the castle up on the hill, And there they will do their ghostly will— Hushaby, O my own!
Here by the sea a mother croons "Hushaby, sweet my own!" In yonder castle a mother swoons While the angels go down to the misty deep, Bearing a little one fast asleep— Hushaby, sweet my own!
SOLDIER, MAIDEN, AND FLOWER
"Sweetheart, take this," a soldier said, "And bid me brave good-by; It may befall we ne'er shall wed, But love can never die. Be steadfast in thy troth to me, And then, whate'er my lot, 'My soul to God, my heart to thee,'— Sweetheart, forget me not!"
The maiden took the tiny flower And nursed it with her tears: Lo! he who left her in that hour Came not in after years. Unto a hero's death he rode 'Mid shower of fire and shot; But in the maiden's heart abode The flower, forget-me-not.
And when he came not with the rest From out the years of blood, Closely unto her widowed breast She pressed a faded bud; Oh, there is love and there is pain, And there is peace, God wot,— And these dear three do live again In sweet forget-me-not.
'T is to an unmarked grave to-day That I should love to go,— Whether he wore the blue or gray, What need that we should know? "He loved a woman," let us say, And on that sacred spot, To woman's love, that lives for aye, We'll strew forget-me-not.
HORACE TO MELPOMENE
Lofty and enduring is the monument I've reared,— Come, tempests, with your bitterness assailing; And thou, corrosive blasts of time, by all things mortal feared, Thy buffets and thy rage are unavailing!
I shall not altogether die; by far my greater part Shall mock man's common fate in realms infernal; My works shall live as tributes to my genius and my art,— My works shall be my monument eternal!
While this great Roman empire stands and gods protect our fanes, Mankind with grateful hearts shall tell the story, How one most lowly born upon the parched Apulian plains First raised the native lyric muse to glory.
Assume, revered Melpomene, the proud estate I've won, And, with thine own dear hand the meed supplying, Bind thou about the forehead of thy celebrated son The Delphic laurel-wreath of fame undying!
AILSIE, MY BAIRN
Lie in my arms, Ailsie, my bairn,— Lie in my arms and dinna greit; Long time been past syn I kenned you last, But my harte been allwais the same, my swete.
Ailsie, I colde not say you ill, For out of the mist of your bitter tears, And the prayers that rise from your bonnie eyes Cometh a promise of oder yeres.
I mind the time when we lost our bairn,— Do you ken that time? A wambling tot, You wandered away ane simmer day, And we hunted and called, and found you not.
I promised God, if He'd send you back, Alwaies to keepe and to love you, childe; And I'm thinking again of that promise when I see you creep out of the storm sae wild.
You came back then as you come back now,— Your kirtle torn and your face all white; And you stood outside and knockit and cried, Just as you, dearie, did to-night.
Oh, never a word of the cruel wrang, That has faded your cheek and dimmed your ee; And never a word of the fause, fause lord,— Only a smile and a kiss for me.
Lie in my arms, as long, long syne, And sleepe on my bosom, deere wounded thing,— I'm nae sae glee as I used to be, Or I'd sing you the songs I used to sing.
But Ile kemb my fingers thro' y'r haire, And nane shall know, but you and I, Of the love and the faith that came to us baith When Ailsie, my bairn, came home to die.
Out on the mountain over the town, All night long, all night long, The trolls go up and the trolls go down, Bearing their packs and crooning a song; And this is the song the hill-folk croon, As they trudge in the light of the misty moon,— This is ever their dolorous tune: "Gold, gold! ever more gold,— Bright red gold for dearie!"
Deep in the hill the yeoman delves All night long, all night long; None but the peering, furtive elves See his toil and hear his song; Merrily ever the cavern rings As merrily ever his pick he swings, And merrily ever this song he sings: "Gold, gold! ever more gold,— Bright red gold for dearie!"
Mother is rocking thy lowly bed All night long, all night long, Happy to smooth thy curly head And to hold thy hand and to sing her song; 'T is not of the hill-folk, dwarfed and old, Nor the song of the yeoman, stanch and bold, And the burden it beareth is not of gold; But it's "Love, love!—nothing but love,— Mother's love for dearie!"
UHLAND'S "THREE CAVALIERS"
There were three cavaliers that went over the Rhine, And gayly they called to the hostess for wine. "And where is thy daughter? We would she were here,— Go fetch us that maiden to gladden our cheer!"
"I'll fetch thee thy goblets full foaming," she said, "But in yon darkened chamber the maiden lies dead." And lo! as they stood in the doorway, the white Of a shroud and a dead shrunken face met their sight.
Then the first cavalier breathed a pitiful sigh, And the throb of his heart seemed to melt in his eye, And he cried, "Hadst thou lived, O my pretty white rose, I ween I had loved thee and wed thee—who knows?"
The next cavalier drew aside a small space, And stood to the wall with his hands to his face; And this was the heart-cry that came with his tears: "I loved her, I loved her these many long years!"
But the third cavalier kneeled him down in that place, And, as it were holy, he kissed that dead face: "I loved thee long years, and I love thee to-day, And I'll love thee, dear maiden, forever and aye!"
A CHAUCERIAN PARAPHRASE OF HORACE
Syn that you, Chloe, to your moder sticken, Maketh all ye yonge bacheloures full sicken; Like as a lyttel deere you ben y-hiding Whenas come lovers with theyre pityse chiding; Sothly it ben faire to give up your moder For to beare swete company with some oder; Your moder ben well enow so farre shee goeth, But that ben not farre enow, God knoweth; Wherefore it ben sayed that foolysh ladyes That marrye not shall leade an aype in Hadys; But all that do with gode men wed full quickylye When that they be on dead go to ye seints full sickerly.
The sky is dark and the hills are white As the storm-king speeds from the north to-night, And this is the song the storm-king sings, As over the world his cloak he flings: "Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep;" He rustles his wings and gruffly sings: "Sleep, little one, sleep."
On yonder mountain-side a vine Clings at the foot of a mother pine; The tree bends over the trembling thing, And only the vine can hear her sing: "Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; What shall you fear when I am here? Sleep, little one, sleep."
The king may sing in his bitter flight, The tree may croon to the vine to-night, But the little snowflake at my breast Liketh the song I sing the best,— Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; Weary thou art, anext my heart Sleep, little one, sleep.
BERANGER'S "MY LAST SONG PERHAPS" [JANUARY, 1814]
When, to despoil my native France, With flaming torch and cruel sword And boisterous drums her foeman comes, I curse him and his vandal horde! Yet, what avail accrues to her, If we assume the garb of woe? Let's merry be,—in laughter we May rescue somewhat from the foe!
Ah, many a brave man trembles now. I (coward!) show no sign of fear; When Bacchus sends his blessing, friends, I drown my panic in his cheer. Come, gather round my humble board, And let the sparkling wassail flow,— Chuckling to think, the while you drink, "This much we rescue from the foe!"
My creditors beset me so And so environed my abode, That I agreed, despite my need, To settle up the debts I owed; When suddenly there came the news Of this invasion, as you know; I'll pay no score; pray, lend me more,— I—I will keep it from the foe!
Now here's my mistress,—pretty dear!— Feigns terror at this martial noise, And yet, methinks, the artful minx Would like to meet those soldier boys! I tell her that they're coarse and rude, Yet feel she don't believe 'em so,— Well, never mind; so she be kind, That much I rescue from the foe!
If, brothers, hope shall have in store For us and ours no friendly glance, Let's rather die than raise a cry Of welcome to the foes of France! But, like the swan that dying sings, Let us, O Frenchmen, singing go,— Then shall our cheer, when death is near, Be so much rescued from the foe!
MR. DANA, OF THE NEW YORK SUN
Thar showed up out'n Denver in the spring uv '81 A man who'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun. His name wuz Cantell Whoppers, 'nd he wuz a sight ter view Ez he walked inter the orfice 'nd inquired fer work ter do. Thar warn't no places vacant then,—fer be it understood, That wuz the time when talent flourished at that altitood; But thar the stranger lingered, tellin' Raymond 'nd the rest Uv what perdigious wonders he could do when at his best, Till finally he stated (quite by chance) that he hed done A heap uv work with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
Wall, that wuz quite another thing; we owned that ary cuss Who'd worked f'r Mr. Dana must be good enough fer us! And so we tuk the stranger's word 'nd nipped him while we could, For if we didn't take him we knew John Arkins would; And Cooper, too, wuz mouzin' round fer enterprise 'nd brains, Whenever them commodities blew in across the plains. At any rate we nailed him, which made ol' Cooper swear And Arkins tear out handfuls uv his copious curly hair; But we set back and cackled, 'nd bed a power uv fun With our man who'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
It made our eyes hang on our cheeks 'nd lower jaws ter drop, Ter hear that feller tellin' how ol' Dana run his shop: It seems that Dana wuz the biggest man you ever saw,— He lived on human bein's, 'nd preferred to eat 'em raw! If he hed Democratic drugs ter take, before he took 'em, As good old allopathic laws prescribe, he allus shook 'em. The man that could set down 'nd write like Dany never grew, And the sum of human knowledge wuzn't half what Dana knew; The consequence appeared to be that nearly every one Concurred with Mr. Dana of the Noo York Sun.
This feller, Cantell Whoppers, never brought an item in,— He spent his time at Perrin's shakin' poker dice f'r gin. Whatever the assignment, he wuz allus sure to shirk, He wuz very long on likker and all-fired short on work! If any other cuss had played the tricks he dared ter play, The daisies would be bloomin' over his remains to-day; But somehow folks respected him and stood him to the last, Considerin' his superior connections in the past. So, when he bilked at poker, not a sucker drew a gun On the man who 'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
Wall, Dana came ter Denver in the fall uv '83. A very different party from the man we thought ter see,— A nice 'nd clean old gentleman, so dignerfied 'nd calm, You bet yer life he never did no human bein' harm! A certain hearty manner 'nd a fulness uv the vest Betokened that his sperrits 'nd his victuals wuz the best; His face wuz so benevolent, his smile so sweet 'nd kind, That they seemed to be the reflex uv an honest, healthy mind; And God had set upon his head a crown uv silver hair In promise uv the golden crown He meaneth him to wear. So, uv us boys that met him out'n Denver, there wuz none But fell in love with Dana uv the Noo York Sun.
But when he came to Denver in that fall uv '83, His old friend Cantell Whoppers disappeared upon a spree; The very thought uv seein' Dana worked upon him so (They hadn't been together fer a year or two, you know), That he borrered all the stuff he could and started on a bat, And, strange as it may seem, we didn't see him after that. So, when ol' Dana hove in sight, we couldn't understand Why he didn't seem to notice that his crony wa'n't on hand; No casual allusion, not a question, no, not one, For the man who'd "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun!"
We broke it gently to him, but he didn't seem surprised, Thar wuz no big burst uv passion as we fellers had surmised. He said that Whoppers wuz a man he 'd never heerd about, But he mought have carried papers on a Jarsey City route; And then he recollected hearin' Mr. Laffan say That he'd fired a man named Whoppers fur bein' drunk one day, Which, with more likker underneath than money in his vest, Had started on a freight-train fur the great 'nd boundin' West, But further information or statistics he had none Uv the man who'd "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun."
We dropped the matter quietly 'nd never made no fuss,— When we get played for suckers, why, that's a horse on us!— But every now 'nd then we Denver fellers have to laff To hear some other paper boast uv havin' on its staff A man who's "worked with Dana," 'nd then we fellers wink And pull our hats down on our eyes 'nd set around 'nd think. It seems like Dana couldn't be as smart as people say, If he educates so many folks 'nd lets 'em get away; And, as for us, in future we'll be very apt to shun The man who "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun."
But bless ye, Mr. Dana! may you live a thousan' years, To sort o' keep things lively in this vale of human tears; An' may I live a thousan', too,—a thousan' less a day, For I shouldn't like to be on earth to hear you'd passed away. And when it comes your time to go you'll need no Latin chaff Nor biographic data put in your epitaph; But one straight line of English and of truth will let folks know The homage 'nd the gratitude 'nd reverence they owe; You'll need no epitaph but this: "Here sleeps the man who run That best 'nd brightest paper, the Noo York Sun."
Hush, little one, and fold your hands; The sun hath set, the moon is high; The sea is singing to the sands, And wakeful posies are beguiled By many a fairy lullaby: Hush, little child, my little child!
Dream, little one, and in your dreams Float upward from this lowly place,— Float out on mellow, misty streams To lands where bideth Mary mild, And let her kiss thy little face, You little child, my little child!
Sleep, little one, and take thy rest, With angels bending over thee,— Sleep sweetly on that Father's breast Whom our dear Christ hath reconciled; But stay not there,—come back to me, O little child, my little child!
HORACE TO PYRRHA
What perfumed, posie-dizened sirrah, With smiles for diet, Clasps you, O fair but faithless Pyrrha, On the quiet? For whom do you bind up your tresses, As spun-gold yellow,— Meshes that go, with your caresses, To snare a fellow?
How will he rail at fate capricious, And curse you duly! Yet now he deems your wiles delicious, You perfect, truly! Pyrrha, your love's a treacherous ocean; He'll soon fall in there! Then shall I gloat on his commotion, For I have been there!
THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM
My Shepherd is the Lord my God,— There is no want I know; His flock He leads in verdant meads, Where tranquil waters flow.
He doth restore my fainting soul With His divine caress, And, when I stray, He points the way To paths of righteousness.
Yea, though I walk the vale of death, What evil shall I fear? Thy staff and rod are mine, O God, And Thou, my Shepherd, near!
Mine enemies behold the feast Which my dear Lord hath spread; And, lo! my cup He filleth up, With oil anoints my head!
Goodness and mercy shall be mine Unto my dying day; Then will I bide at His dear side Forever and for aye!
THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S BRIDE
The women-folk are like to books,— Most pleasing to the eye, Whereon if anybody looks He feels disposed to buy.
I hear that many are for sale,— Those that record no dates, And such editions as regale The view with colored plates.
Of every quality and grade And size they may be found,— Quite often beautifully made, As often poorly bound.
Now, as for me, had I my choice, I'd choose no folio tall, But some octavo to rejoice My sight and heart withal,—
As plump and pudgy as a snipe; Well worth her weight in gold; Of honest, clean, conspicuous type, And just the size to hold!
With such a volume for my wife How should I keep and con! How like a dream should run my life Unto its colophon!
Her frontispiece should be more fair Than any colored plate; Blooming with health, she would not care To extra-illustrate.
And in her pages there should be A wealth of prose and verse, With now and then a jeu d'esprit,— But nothing ever worse!
Prose for me when I wished for prose, Verse when to verse inclined,— Forever bringing sweet repose To body, heart, and mind.
Oh, I should bind this priceless prize In bindings full and fine, And keep her where no human eyes Should see her charms, but mine!
With such a fair unique as this What happiness abounds! Who—who could paint my rapturous bliss, My joy unknown to Lowndes!
Sing, Christmas bells! Say to the earth this is the morn Whereon our Saviour-King is born; Sing to all men,—the bond, the free, The rich, the poor, the high, the low, The little child that sports in glee, The aged folk that tottering go,— Proclaim the morn That Christ is born, That saveth them and saveth me!
Sing, angel host! Sing of the star that God has placed Above the manger in the east; Sing of the glories of the night, The virgin's sweet humility, The Babe with kingly robes bedight, Sing to all men where'er they be This Christmas morn; For Christ is born, That saveth them and saveth me!
Sing, sons of earth! O ransomed seed of Adam, sing! God liveth, and we have a king! The curse is gone, the bond are free,— By Bethlehem's star that brightly beamed, By all the heavenly signs that be, We know that Israel is redeemed; That on this morn The Christ is born That saveth you and saveth me!
Sing, O my heart! Sing thou in rapture this dear morn Whereon the blessed Prince is born! And as thy songs shall be of love, So let my deeds be charity,— By the dear Lord that reigns above, By Him that died upon the tree, By this fair morn Whereon is born The Christ that saveth all and me!
Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,— Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes; Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging— Swinging the nest where her little one lies.
Away out yonder I see a star,— Silvery star with a tinkling song; To the soft dew falling I hear it calling— Calling and tinkling the night along.
In through the window a moonbeam comes,— Little gold moonbeam with misty wings; All silently creeping, it asks, "Is he sleeping— Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?"
Up from the sea there floats the sob Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore, As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning— Bemoaning the ship that shall come no more.
But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,— Little blue pigeon with mournful eyes; Am I not singing?—see, I am swinging— Swinging the nest where my darling lies.
"GOOD-BY—GOD BLESS YOU!"
I like the Anglo-Saxon speech With its direct revealings; It takes a hold, and seems to reach 'Way down into your feelings; That some folk deem it rude, I know, And therefore they abuse it; But I have never found it so,— Before all else I choose it. I don't object that men should air The Gallic they have paid for, With "Au revoir," "Adieu, ma chere," For that's what French was made for. But when a crony takes your hand At parting, to address you, He drops all foreign lingo and He says, "Good-by—God bless you!"
This seems to me a sacred phrase, With reverence impassioned,— A thing come down from righteous days, Quaintly but nobly fashioned; It well becomes an honest face, A voice that's round and cheerful; It stays the sturdy in his place, And soothes the weak and fearful. Into the porches of the ears It steals with subtle unction, And in your heart of hearts appears To work its gracious function; And all day long with pleasing song It lingers to caress you,— I'm sure no human heart goes wrong That's told "Good-by—God bless you!"
I love the words,—perhaps because, When I was leaving Mother, Standing at last in solemn pause We looked at one another, And I—I saw in Mother's eyes The love she could not tell me,— A love eternal as the skies, Whatever fate befell me; She put her arms about my neck And soothed the pain of leaving, And though her heart was like to break, She spoke no word of grieving; She let no tear bedim her eye, For fear that might distress me, But, kissing me, she said good-by, And asked our God to bless me.
HORACE TO PHYLLIS
Come, Phyllis, I've a cask of wine That fairly reeks with precious juices, And in your tresses you shall twine The loveliest flowers this vale produces.
My cottage wears a gracious smile,— The altar, decked in floral glory, Yearns for the lamb which bleats the while As though it pined for honors gory.
Hither our neighbors nimbly fare,— The boys agog, the maidens snickering; And savory smells possess the air As skyward kitchen flames are flickering.
You ask what means this grand display, This festive throng, and goodly diet? Well, since you're bound to have your way, I don't mind telling, on the quiet.
'Tis April 13, as you know,— A day and month devote to Venus, Whereon was born, some years ago, My very worthy friend Maecenas.
Nay, pay no heed to Telephus,— Your friends agree he doesn't love you; The way he flirts convinces us He really is not worthy of you!
Aurora's son, unhappy lad! You know the fate that overtook him? And Pegasus a rider had— I say he had before he shook him!
Haec docet (as you must agree): 'T is meet that Phyllis should discover A wisdom in preferring me And mittening every other lover.
So come, O Phyllis, last and best Of loves with which this heart's been smitten,— Come, sing my jealous fears to rest, And let your songs be those I've written.
CHRYSTMASSE OF OLDE
God rest you, Chrysten gentil men, Wherever you may be,— God rest you all in fielde or hall, Or on ye stormy sea; For on this morn oure Chryst is born That saveth you and me.
Last night ye shepherds in ye east Saw many a wondrous thing; Ye sky last night flamed passing bright Whiles that ye stars did sing, And angels came to bless ye name Of Jesus Chryst, oure Kyng.
God rest you, Chrysten gentil men, Faring where'er you may; In noblesse court do thou no sport, In tournament no playe, In paynim lands hold thou thy hands From bloudy works this daye.
But thinking on ye gentil Lord That died upon ye tree, Let troublings cease and deeds of peace Abound in Chrystantie; For on this morn ye Chryst is born That saveth you and me.
AT THE DOOR
I thought myself indeed secure, So fast the door, so firm the lock; But, lo! he toddling comes to lure My parent ear with timorous knock.
My heart were stone could it withstand The sweetness of my baby's plea,— That timorous, baby knocking and "Please let me in,—it's only me."
I threw aside the unfinished book, Regardless of its tempting charms, And opening wide the door, I took My laughing darling in my arms.
Who knows but in Eternity, I, like a truant child, shall wait The glories of a life to be, Beyond the Heavenly Father's gate?
And will that Heavenly Father heed The truant's supplicating cry, As at the outer door I plead, "'T is I, O Father! only I"?
Strange that the city thoroughfare, Noisy and bustling all the day, Should with the night renounce its care, And lend itself to children's play!
Oh, girls are girls, and boys are boys, And have been so since Abel's birth, And shall be so till dolls and toys Are with the children swept from earth.
The self-same sport that crowns the day Of many a Syrian shepherd's son, Beguiles the little lads at play By night in stately Babylon.
I hear their voices in the street, Yet 't is so different now from then! Come, brother! from your winding-sheet, And let us two be boys again!
LITTLE CROODLIN DOO
Ho, pretty bee, did you see my croodlin doo? Ho, little lamb, is she jinkin' on the lea? Ho, bonnie fairy, bring my dearie back to me— Got a lump o' sugar an' a posie for you, Only bring back my wee, wee croodlin doo!
Why, here you are, my little croodlin doo! Looked in er cradle, but didn't find you there, Looked f'r my wee, wee croodlin doo ever'where; Ben kind lonesome all er day withouten you; Where you ben, my little wee, wee croodlin doo?
Now you go balow, my little croodlin doo; Now you go rockaby ever so far,— Rockaby, rockaby, up to the star That's winkin' an' blinkin' an' singin' to you As you go balow, my wee, wee croodlin doo!
THE "HAPPY ISLES" OF HORACE
Oh, come with me to the Happy Isles In the golden haze off yonder, Where the song of the sun-kissed breeze beguiles, And the ocean loves to wander.
Fragrant the vines that mantle those hills, Proudly the fig rejoices; Merrily dance the virgin rills, Blending their myriad voices.
Our herds shall fear no evil there, But peacefully feed and rest them; Neither shall serpent nor prowling bear Ever come there to molest them.
Neither shall Eurus, wanton bold, Nor feverish drouth distress us, But he that compasseth heat and cold Shall temper them both to bless us.
There no vandal foot has trod, And the pirate hosts that wander Shall never profane the sacred sod Of those beautiful Isles out yonder.
Never a spell shall blight our vines, Nor Sirius blaze above us, But you and I shall drink our wines And sing to the loved that love us.
So come with me where Fortune smiles And the gods invite devotion,— Oh, come with me to the Happy Isles In the haze of that far-off ocean!
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night Sailed off in a wooden shoe,— Sailed on a river of misty light Into a sea of dew. "Where are you going, and what do you wish?" The old moon asked the three. "We have come to fish for the herring-fish That live in this beautiful sea; Nets of silver and gold have we," Said Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
The old moon laughed and sung a song, As they rocked in the wooden shoe; And the wind that sped them all night long Ruffled the waves of dew; The little stars were the herring-fish That lived in the beautiful sea. "Now cast your nets wherever you wish, But never afeard are we!" So cried the stars to the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
All night long their nets they threw For the fish in the twinkling foam, Then down from the sky came the wooden shoe, Bringing the fishermen home; 'T was all so pretty a sail, it seemed As if it could not be; And some folk thought 't was a dream they'd dreamed Of sailing that beautiful sea; But I shall name you the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, And Nod is a little head, And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies Is a wee one's trundle-bed; So shut your eyes while Mother sings Of wonderful sights that be, And you shall see the beautiful things As you rock on the misty sea Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three,— Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
HUGO'S "FLOWER TO BUTTERFLY"
Sweet, bide with me and let my love Be an enduring tether; Oh, wanton not from spot to spot, But let us dwell together.
You've come each morn to sip the sweets With which you found me dripping, Yet never knew it was not dew But tears that you were sipping.
You gambol over honey meads Where siren bees are humming; But mine the fate to watch and wait For my beloved's coming.
The sunshine that delights you now Shall fade to darkness gloomy; You should not fear if, biding here, You nestled closer to me.
So rest you, love, and be my love, That my enraptured blooming May fill your sight with tender light, Your wings with sweet perfuming.
Or, if you will not bide with me Upon this quiet heather, Oh, give me wing, thou beauteous thing, That we may soar together.
A PROPER TREWE IDYLL OF CAMELOT
Whenas ye plaisaunt Aperille shoures have washed and purged awaye Ye poysons and ye rheums of earth to make a merrie May, Ye shraddy boscage of ye woods ben full of birds that syng Right merrilie a madrigal unto ye waking spring, Ye whiles that when ye face of earth ben washed and wiped ycleane Her peeping posies blink and stare like they had ben her een;
Then, wit ye well, ye harte of man ben turned to thoughts of love, And, tho' it ben a lyon erst, it now ben like a dove! And many a goodly damosel in innocence beguiles Her owne trewe love with sweet discourse and divers plaisaunt wiles. In soche a time ye noblesse liege that ben Kyng Arthure hight Let cry a joust and tournament for evereche errant knyght, And, lo! from distant Joyous-garde and eche adjacent spot A company of noblesse lords fared unto Camelot, Wherein were mighty feastings and passing merrie cheere, And eke a deale of dismal dole, as you shall quickly heare.
It so befell upon a daye when jousts ben had and while Sir Launcelot did ramp around ye ring in gallaunt style, There came an horseman shriking sore and rashing wildly home,— A mediaeval horseman with ye usual flecks of foame; And he did brast into ye ring, wherein his horse did drop, Upon ye which ye rider did with like abruptness stop, And with fatigue and fearfulness continued in a swound Ye space of half an hour or more before a leech was founde. "Now tell me straight," quod Launcelot, "what varlet knyght you be, Ere that I chine you with my sworde and cleave your harte in three!" Then rolled that knyght his bloudy een, and answered with a groane,— "By worthy God that hath me made and shope ye sun and mone, There fareth hence an evil thing whose like ben never seene, And tho' he sayeth nony worde, he bode the ill, I ween. So take your parting, evereche one, and gird you for ye fraye, By all that's pure, ye Divell sure doth trend his path this way!" Ye which he quoth and fell again into a deadly swound, And on that spot, perchance (God wot), his bones mought yet be founde.
Then evereche knight girt on his sworde and shield and hied him straight To meet ye straunger sarasen hard by ye city gate; Full sorely moaned ye damosels and tore their beautyse haire For that they feared an hippogriff wolde come to eate them there; But as they moaned and swounded there too numerous to relate, Kyng Arthure and Sir Launcelot stode at ye city gate, And at eche side and round about stode many a noblesse knyght With helm and speare and sworde and shield and mickle valor dight.
Anon there came a straunger, but not a gyaunt grim, Nor yet a draggon,—but a person gangling, long, and slim; Yclad he was in guise that ill-beseemed those knyghtly days, And there ben nony etiquette in his uplandish ways; His raiment was of dusty gray, and perched above his lugs There ben the very latest style of blacke and shiny pluggs; His nose ben like a vulture beake, his blie ben swart of hue, And curly ben ye whiskers through ye which ye zephyrs blewe; Of all ye een that ben yseene in countries far or nigh, None nonywhere colde hold compare unto that straunger's eye; It was an eye of soche a kind as never ben on sleepe, Nor did it gleam with kindly beame, nor did not use to weepe; But soche an eye ye widdow hath,—an hongrey eye and wan, That spyeth for an oder chaunce whereby she may catch on; An eye that winketh of itself, and sayeth by that winke Ye which a maiden sholde not knowe nor never even thinke; Which winke ben more exceeding swift nor human thought ben thunk, And leaveth doubting if so be that winke ben really wunke; And soch an eye ye catte-fysshe hath when that he ben on dead And boyled a goodly time and served with capers on his head; A rayless eye, a bead-like eye, whose famisht aspect shows It hungereth for ye verdant banks whereon ye wild time grows; An eye that hawketh up and down for evereche kind of game, And, when he doth espy ye which, he tumbleth to ye same.
Now when he kenned Sir Launcelot in armor clad, he quod, "Another put-a-nickel-in-and-see-me-work, be god!" But when that he was ware a man ben standing in that suit, Ye straunger threw up both his hands, and asked him not to shoote.
Then spake Kyng Arthure: "If soe be you mind to do no ill, Come, enter into Camelot, and eat and drink your fill; But say me first what you are hight, and what mought be your quest." Ye straunger quod, "I'm five feet ten, and fare me from ye West!" "Sir Fivefeetten," Kyng Arthure said, "I bid you welcome here; So make you merrie as you list with plaisaunt wine and cheere; This very night shall be a feast soche like ben never seene, And you shall be ye honored guest of Arthure and his queene. Now take him, good sir Maligraunce, and entertain him well Until soche time as he becomes our guest, as I you tell."
That night Kyng Arthure's table round with mighty care ben spread, Ye oder knyghts sate all about, and Arthure at ye heade: Oh, 't was a goodly spectacle to ken that noblesse liege Dispensing hospitality from his commanding siege! Ye pheasant and ye meate of boare, ye haunch of velvet doe, Ye canvass hamme he them did serve, and many good things moe. Until at last Kyng Arthure cried: "Let bring my wassail cup, And let ye sound of joy go round,—I'm going to set 'em up! I've pipes of Malmsey, May-wine, sack, metheglon, mead, and sherry, Canary, Malvoisie, and Port, swete Muscadelle and perry; Rochelle, Osey, and Romenay, Tyre, Rhenish, posset too, With kags and pails of foaming ales of brown October brew. To wine and beer and other cheere I pray you now despatch ye, And for ensample, wit ye well, sweet sirs, I'm looking at ye!"
Unto which toast of their liege lord ye oders in ye party Did lout them low in humble wise and bid ye same drink hearty. So then ben merrisome discourse and passing plaisaunt cheere, And Arthure's tales of hippogriffs ben mervaillous to heare; But stranger far than any tale told of those knyghts of old Ben those facetious narratives ye Western straunger told. He told them of a country many leagues beyond ye sea Where evereche forraine nuisance but ye Chinese man ben free, And whiles he span his monstrous yarns, ye ladies of ye court Did deem ye listening thereunto to be right plaisaunt sport; And whiles they listened, often he did squeeze a lily hande, Ye which proceeding ne'er before ben done in Arthure's lande; And often wank a sidelong wink with either roving eye, Whereat ye ladies laughen so that they had like to die. But of ye damosels that sat around Kyng Arthure's table He liked not her that sometime ben ron over by ye cable, Ye which full evil hap had harmed and marked her person so That in a passing wittie jest he dubbeth her ye crow.
But all ye oders of ye girls did please him passing well And they did own him for to be a proper seeming swell; And in especial Guinevere esteemed him wondrous faire, Which had made Arthure and his friend, Sir Launcelot, to sware But that they both ben so far gone with posset, wine, and beer, They colde not see ye carrying-on, nor neither colde not heare; For of eche liquor Arthure quafft, and so did all ye rest, Save only and excepting that smooth straunger from the West. When as these oders drank a toast, he let them have their fun With divers godless mixings, but he stock to willow run, Ye which (and all that reade these words sholde profit by ye warning) Doth never make ye head to feel like it ben swelled next morning. Now, wit ye well, it so befell that when the night grew dim, Ye Kyng was carried from ye hall with a howling jag on him, Whiles Launcelot and all ye rest that to his highness toadied Withdrew them from ye banquet-hall and sought their couches loaded.
Now, lithe and listen, lordings all, whiles I do call it shame That, making cheer with wine and beer, men do abuse ye same; Though eche be well enow alone, ye mixing of ye two Ben soche a piece of foolishness as only ejiots do. Ye wine is plaisaunt bibbing whenas ye gentles dine, And beer will do if one hath not ye wherewithal for wine, But in ye drinking of ye same ye wise are never floored By taking what ye tipplers call too big a jag on board. Right hejeous is it for to see soche dronkonness of wine Whereby some men are used to make themselves to be like swine; And sorely it repenteth them, for when they wake next day Ye fearful paynes they suffer ben soche as none mought say, And soche ye brenning in ye throat and brasting of ye head And soche ye taste within ye mouth like one had been on dead,—Soche be ye foul conditions that these unhappy men Sware they will never drink no drop of nony drinke again. Yet all so frail and vain a thing and weak withal is man That he goeth on an oder tear whenever that he can. And like ye evil quatern or ye hills that skirt ye skies, Ye jag is reproductive and jags on jags arise.
Whenas Aurora from ye east in dewy splendor hied King Arthure dreemed he saw a snaix and ben on fire inside, And waking from this hejeous dreeme he sate him up in bed,— "What, ho! an absynthe cocktail, knave! and make it strong!" he said; Then, looking down beside him, lo! his lady was not there— He called, he searched, but, Goddis wounds! he found her nonywhere; And whiles he searched, Sir Maligraunce rashed in, wood wroth, and cried, "Methinketh that ye straunger knyght hath snuck away my bride!" And whiles he spake a motley score of other knyghts brast in And filled ye royall chamber with a mickle fearfull din, For evereche one had lost his wiffe nor colde not spye ye same, Nor colde not spye ye straunger knyght, Sir Fivefeetten of name.
Oh, then and there was grevious lamentation all arounde, For nony dame nor damosel in Camelot ben found,— Gone, like ye forest leaves that speed afore ye autumn wind. Of all ye ladies of that court not one ben left behind Save only that same damosel ye straunger called ye crow, And she allowed with moche regret she ben too lame to go; And when that she had wept full sore, to Arthure she confess'd That Guinevere had left this word for Arthure and ye rest: "Tell them," she quod, "we shall return to them whenas we've made This little deal we have with ye Chicago Bourde of Trade."
BERANGER'S "MA VOCATION"
Misery is my lot, Poverty and pain; Ill was I begot, Ill must I remain; Yet the wretched days One sweet comfort bring, When God whispering says, "Sing, O singer, sing!"
Chariots rumble by, Splashing me with mud; Insolence see I Fawn to royal blood; Solace have I then From each galling sting In that voice again,— "Sing, O singer, sing!"
Cowardly at heart, I am forced to play A degraded part For its paltry pay; Freedom is a prize For no starving thing; Yet that small voice cries, "Sing, O singer, sing!"
I was young, but now, When I'm old and gray, Love—I know not how Or why—hath sped away; Still, in winter days As in hours of spring, Still a whisper says, "Sing, O singer, sing!"
Ah, too well I know Song's my only friend! Patiently I'll go Singing to the end; Comrades, to your wine! Let your glasses ring! Lo, that voice divine Whispers, "Sing, oh, sing!"
CHILD AND MOTHER
O mother-my-love, if you'll give me your hand, And go where I ask you to wander, I will lead you away to a beautiful land,— The Dreamland that's waiting out yonder. We'll walk in a sweet posie-garden out there, Where moonlight and starlight are streaming, And the flowers and the birds are filling the air With the fragrance and music of dreaming.
There'll be no little tired-out boy to undress, No questions or cares to perplex you, There'll be no little bruises or bumps to caress, Nor patching of stockings to vex you; For I'll rock you away on a silver-dew stream And sing you asleep when you're weary, And no one shall know of our beautiful dream But you and your own little dearie.
And when I am tired I'll nestle my head In the bosom that's soothed me so often, And the wide-awake stars shall sing, in my stead, A song which our dreaming shall soften. So, Mother-my-Love, let me take your dear hand, And away through the starlight we'll wander,— Away through the mist to the beautiful land,— The Dreamland that's waiting out yonder.
What conversazzhyonies wuz I really did not know, For that, you must remember, wuz a powerful spell ago; The camp wuz new 'nd noisy, 'nd only modrit sized, So fashionable sossiety wuz hardly crystallized. There hadn't been no grand events to interest the men, But a lynchin', or a inquest, or a jackpot now an' then. The wimmin-folks wuz mighty scarce, for wimmin, ez a rool, Don't go to Colorado much, excep' for teachin' school, An' bein' scarce an' chipper and pretty (like as not), The bachelors perpose, 'nd air accepted on the spot.
Now Sorry Tom wuz owner uv the Gosh-all-Hemlock mine, The wich allowed his better haff to dress all-fired fine; For Sorry Tom wuz mighty proud uv her, an' she uv him, Though she wuz short an' tacky, an' he wuz tall an' slim, An' she wuz edjicated, an' Sorry Tom wuz not, Yet, for her sake, he'd whack up every cussid cent he'd got! Waal, jest by way uv celebratin' matrimonial joys, She thought she'd give a conversazzhyony to the boys,— A peert an' likely lady, 'nd ez full uv 'cute idees 'Nd uv etiquettish notions ez a fyste is full uv fleas.
Three-fingered Hoover kind uv kicked, an' said they might be durned So far ez any conversazzhyony was concerned; He'd come to Red Hoss Mountain to tunnel for the ore, An' not to go to parties,—quite another kind uv bore! But, bein' he wuz candidate for marshal uv the camp, I rayther had the upper holts in arguin' with the scamp; Sez I, "Three-fingered Hoover, can't ye see it is yer game To go for all the votes ye kin an' collar uv the same?" The wich perceivin', Hoover sez, "Waal, ef I must, I must; So I'll frequent that conversazzhyony, ef I bust!"
Three-fingered Hoover wuz a trump! Ez fine a man wuz he Ez ever caused an inquest or blossomed on a tree!— A big, broad man, whose face bespoke a honest heart within,— With a bunch uv yaller whiskers appertainin' to his chin, 'Nd a fierce mustache turnt up so fur that both his ears wuz hid, Like the picture that you always see in the "Life uv Cap'n Kidd." His hair wuz long an' wavy an' fine as Southdown fleece,— Oh, it shone an' smelt like Eden when he slicked it down with grease! I'll bet there wuzn't anywhere a man, all round, ez fine Ez wuz Three-fingered Hoover in the spring uv '69!
The conversazzhyony wuz a notable affair, The bong tong deckolett 'nd en regaly bein' there; The ranch where Sorry Tom hung out wuz fitted up immense,— The Denver papers called it a "palashal residence." There wuz mountain pines an' fern an' flowers a-hangin' on the walls, An' cheers an' hoss-hair sofies wuz a-settin' in the halls; An' there wuz heaps uv pictures uv folks that lived down East, Sech ez poets an' perfessers, an' last, but not the least, Wuz a chromo uv old Fremont,—we liked that best, you bet, For there's lots uv us old miners that is votin' for him yet!
When Sorry Tom received the gang perlitely at the door, He said that keerds would be allowed upon the second floor; And then he asked us would we like a drop uv ody vee. Connivin' at his meanin', we responded promptly, "Wee." A conversazzhyony is a thing where people speak The langwidge in the which they air partickulerly weak: "I see," sez Sorry Tom, "you grasp what that 'ere lingo means." "You bet yer boots," sez Hoover; "I've lived at Noo Orleens, An', though I ain't no Frenchie, nor kin unto the same, I kin parly voo, an' git there, too, like Eli, toot lee mame!"
As speakin' French wuz not my forte,—not even oovry poo,— I stuck to keerds ez played by them ez did not parly voo, An' bein' how that poker wuz my most perficient game, I poneyed up for 20 blues an' set into the same. Three-fingered Hoover stayed behind an' parly-vood so well That all the kramy delly krame allowed he wuz the belle. The other candidate for marshal didn't have a show; For, while Three-fingered Hoover parlyed, ez they said, tray bow, Bill Goslin didn't know enough uv French to git along, 'Nd I reckon that he had what folks might call a movy tong.
From Denver they had freighted up a real pianny-fort Uv the warty-leg and pearl-around-the-keys-an'-kivver sort, An', later in the evenin', Perfesser Vere de Blaw Performed on that pianny, with considerble eclaw, Sech high-toned opry airs ez one is apt to hear, you know, When he rounds up down to Denver at a Emmy Abbitt show; An' Barber Jim (a talented but ornery galoot) Discoursed a obligatter, conny mory, on the floot, 'Till we, ez sot up-stairs indulgin' in a quiet game, Conveyed to Barber Jim our wish to compromise the same.
The maynoo that wuz spread that night wuz mighty hard to beat,— Though somewhat awkward to pernounce, it was not so to eat: There wuz puddin's, pies, an' sandwidges, an' forty kinds uv sass, An' floatin' Irelands, custards, tarts, an' patty dee foy grass; An' millions uv cove oysters wuz a-settin' round in pans, 'Nd other native fruits an' things that grow out West in cans. But I wuz all kufflummuxed when Hoover said he'd choose "Oon peety morso, see voo play, de la cette Charlotte Rooze;" I'd knowed Three-fingered Hoover for fifteen years or more, 'Nd I'd never heern him speak so light uv wimmin folks before!
Bill Goslin heern him say it, 'nd uv course he spread the news Uv how Three-fingered Hoover had insulted Charlotte Rooze At the conversazzhyony down at Sorry Tom's that night, An' when they asked me, I allowed that Bill for once wuz right; Although it broke my heart to see my friend go up the fluke, We all opined his treatment uv the girl deserved rebuke. It warn't no use for Sorry Tom to nail it for a lie,— When it come to sassin' wimmin, there wuz blood in every eye; The boom for Charlotte Rooze swep' on an' took the polls by storm, An' so Three-fingered Hoover fell a martyr to reform!
Three-fingered Hoover said it was a terrible mistake, An' when the votes wuz in, he cried ez if his heart would break. We never knew who Charlotte wuz, but Goslin's brother Dick Allowed she wuz the teacher from the camp on Roarin' Crick, That had come to pass some foreign tongue with them uv our alite Ez wuz at the high-toned party down at Sorry Tom's that night. We let it drop—this matter uv the lady—there an' then, An' we never heerd, nor wanted to, of Charlotte Rooze again, An' the Colorado wimmin-folks, ez like ez not, don't know How we vindicated all their sex a twenty year ago.
For in these wondrous twenty years has come a mighty change, An' most of them old pioneers have gone acrosst the range, Way out into the silver land beyond the peaks uv snow,— The land uv rest an' sunshine, where all good miners go. I reckon that they love to look, from out the silver haze, Upon that God's own country where they spent sech happy days; Upon the noble cities that have risen since they went; Upon the camps an' ranches that are prosperous and content; An' best uv all, upon those hills that reach into the air, Ez if to clasp the loved ones that are waitin' over there.
PROF. VERE DE BLAW
Achievin' sech distinction with his moddel tabble dote Ez to make his Red Hoss Mountain restauraw a place uv note, Our old friend Casey innovated somewhat round the place, In hopes he would ameliorate the sufferin's uv the race; 'Nd uv the many features Casey managed to import The most important wuz a Steenway gran' pianny-fort, An' bein' there wuz nobody could play upon the same, He telegraffed to Denver, 'nd a real perfesser came,— The last an' crownin' glory uv the Casey restauraw Wuz that tenderfoot musicianer, Perfesser Vere de Blaw!
His hair wuz long an' dishybill, an' he had a yaller skin, An' the absence uv a collar made his neck look powerful thin: A sorry man he wuz to see, az mebby you'd surmise, But the fire uv inspiration wuz a-blazin' in his eyes! His name wuz Blanc, wich same is Blaw (for that's what Casey said, An' Casey passed the French ez well ez any Frenchie bred); But no one ever reckoned that it really wuz his name, An' no one ever asked him how or why or whence he came,— Your ancient history is a thing the Coloradan hates, An' no one asks another what his name wuz in the States!
At evenin', when the work wuz done, an' the miners rounded up At Casey's, to indulge in keerds or linger with the cup, Or dally with the tabble dote in all its native glory, Perfessor Vere de Blaw discoursed his music repertory Upon the Steenway gran' piannyfort, the wich wuz sot In the hallway near the kitchen (a warm but quiet spot), An' when De Blaw's environments induced the proper pride,— Wich gen'rally wuz whiskey straight, with seltzer on the side,— He throwed his soulful bein' into opry airs 'nd things Wich bounded to the ceilin' like he'd mesmerized the strings.
Oh, you that live in cities where the gran' piannies grow, An' primy donnies round up, it's little that you know Uv the hungerin' an' the yearnin' wich us miners an' the rest Feel for the songs we used to hear before we moved out West. Yes, memory is a pleasant thing, but it weakens mighty quick; It kind uv dries an' withers, like the windin' mountain crick, That, beautiful, an' singin' songs, goes dancin' to the plains, So long ez it is fed by snows an' watered by the rains; But, uv that grace uv lovin' rains 'nd mountain snows bereft, Its bleachin' rocks, like dummy ghosts, is all its memory left.
The toons wich the perfesser would perform with sech eclaw Would melt the toughest mountain gentleman I ever saw,— Sech touchin' opry music ez the Trovytory sort, The sollum "Mizer Reery," an' the thrillin' "Keely Mort;" Or, sometimes, from "Lee Grond Dooshess" a trifle he would play, Or morsoze from a' opry boof, to drive dull care away; Or, feelin' kind uv serious, he'd discourse somewhat in C,— The wich he called a' opus (whatever that may be); But the toons that fetched the likker from the critics in the crowd Wuz not the high-toned ones, Perfesser Vere de Blaw allowed.
'T wuz "Dearest May," an' "Bonnie Doon," an' the ballard uv "Ben Bolt," Ez wuz regarded by all odds ez Vere de Blaw's best holt; Then there wuz "Darlin' Nellie Gray," an' "Settin' on the Stile," An' "Seein' Nellie Home," an' "Nancy Lee," 'nd "Annie Lisle," An' "Silver Threads among the Gold," an' "The Gal that Winked at Me," An' "Gentle Annie," "Nancy Till," an' "The Cot beside the Sea." Your opry airs is good enough for them ez likes to pay Their money for the truck ez can't be got no other way; But opry to a miner is a thin an' holler thing,—The music that he pines for is the songs he used to sing.
One evenin' down at Casey's De Blaw wuz at his best, With four-fingers uv old Wilier-run concealed beneath his vest; The boys wuz settin' all around, discussin' folks an' things, 'Nd I had drawed the necessary keerds to fill on kings; Three-fingered Hoover kind uv leaned acrosst the bar to say If Casey'd liquidate right off, he'd liquidate next day; A sperrit uv contentment wuz a-broodin' all around (Onlike the other sperrits wich in restauraws abound), When, suddenly, we heerd from yonder kitchen-entry rise A toon each ornery galoot appeared to recognize.
Perfesser Vere de Blaw for once eschewed his opry ways, An' the remnants uv his mind went back to earlier, happier days, An' grappled like an' wrassled with a' old familiar air The wich we all uv us had heern, ez you have, everywhere! Stock still we stopped,—some in their talk uv politics an' things, I in my unobtrusive attempt to fill on kings, 'Nd Hoover leanin' on the bar, an' Casey at the till,— We all stopped short an' held our breaths (ez a feller sometimes will), An' sot there more like bumps on logs than healthy, husky men, Ez the memories uv that old, old toon come sneakin' back again.
You've guessed it? No, you hav n't; for it wuzn't that there song Uv the home we'd been away from an' had hankered for so long,— No, sir; it wuzn't "Home, Sweet Home," though it's always heard around Sech neighborhoods in wich the home that is "sweet home" is found. And, ez for me, I seemed to see the past come back again, And hear the deep-drawed sigh my sister Lucy uttered when Her mother asked her if she 'd practised her two hours that day, Wich, if she hadn't, she must go an' do it right away! The homestead in the States 'nd all its memories seemed to come A-floatin' round about me with that magic lumty-tum.
And then uprose a stranger wich had struck the camp that night; His eyes wuz sot an' fireless, 'nd his face wuz spookish white, 'Nd he sez: "Oh, how I suffer there is nobody kin say, Onless, like me, he's wrenched himself from home an' friends away To seek surcease from sorrer in a fur, seclooded spot, Only to find—alars, too late!—the wich surcease is not! Only to find that there air things that, somehow, seem to live For nothin' in the world but jest the misery they give! I've travelled eighteen hundred miles, but that toon has got here first; I'm done,—I'm blowed,—I welcome death, an' bid it do its worst!"
Then, like a man whose mind wuz sot on yieldin' to his fate, He waltzed up to the counter an' demanded whiskey straight, Wich havin' got outside uv,—both the likker and the door,— We never seen that stranger in the bloom uv health no more! But some months later, what the birds had left uv him wuz found Associated with a tree, some distance from the ground; And Husky Sam, the coroner, that set upon him, said That two things wuz apparent, namely: first, deceast wuz dead; And, second, previously had got involved beyond all hope In a knotty complication with a yard or two uv rope!
MEDIAEVAL EVENTIDE SONG
Come hither, lyttel childe, and lie upon my breast to-night, For yonder fares an angell yclad in raimaunt white, And yonder sings ye angell as onely angells may, And his songe ben of a garden that bloometh farre awaye.
To them that have no lyttel childe Godde sometimes sendeth down A lyttel childe that ben a lyttel lambkyn of his owne; And if so bee they love that childe, He willeth it to staye, But elsewise, in His mercie He taketh it awaye.
And sometimes, though they love it, Godde yearneth for ye childe, And sendeth angells singing, whereby it ben beguiled; They fold their arms about ye lamb that croodleth at his play, And beare him to ye garden that bloometh farre awaye.
I wolde not lose ye lyttel lamb that Godde hath lent to me; If I colde sing that angell songe, how joysome I sholde bee! For, with mine arms about him, and my musick in his eare, What angell songe of paradize soever sholde I feare?
Soe come, my lyttel childe, and lie upon my breast to-night, For yonder fares an angell yclad in raimaunt white, And yonder sings that angell, as onely angells may, And his songe ben of a garden that bloometh farre awaye.
The mountain brook sung lonesomelike, and loitered on its way Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play; The wild-flowers uv the hillside bent down their heads to hear The music uv the little feet that had somehow grown so dear; The magpies, like winged shadders, wuz a-flutterin' to an' fro Among the rocks an' holler stumps in the ragged gulch below; The pines an' hemlocks tosst their boughs (like they wuz arms) and made Soft, sollum music on the slope where he had often played; But for these lonesome, sollum voices on the mountain-side, There wuz no sound the summer day that Marthy's younkit died.
We called him Marthy's younkit, for Marthy wuz the name Uv her ez wuz his mar, the wife uv Sorry Tom,—the same Ez taught the school-house on the hill, way back in '69, When she marr'd Sorry Tom, wich owned the Gosh-all-Hemlock mine! And Marthy's younkit wuz their first, wich, bein' how it meant The first on Red Hoss Mountain, wuz truly a' event! The miners sawed off short on work ez soon ez they got word That Dock Devine allowed to Casey what had just occurred; We loaded up an' whooped around until we all wuz hoarse Salutin' the arrival, wich weighed ten pounds, uv course!
Three years, and sech a pretty child!—his mother's counterpart! Three years, an' sech a holt ez he had got on every heart! A peert an' likely little tyke with hair ez red ez gold, A-laughin', toddlin' everywhere,—'nd only three years old! Up yonder, sometimes, to the store, an' sometimes down the hill He kited (boys is boys, you know,—you couldn't keep him still!) An' there he'd play beside the brook where purpul wild-flowers grew, An' the mountain pines an' hemlocks a kindly shadder threw, An' sung soft, sollum toons to him, while in the gulch below The magpies, like strange sperrits, went flutterin' to an' fro.
Three years, an' then the fever come,—it wuzn't right, you know, With all us old ones in the camp, for that little child to go; It's right the old should die, but that a harmless little child Should miss the joy uv life an' love,—that can't be reconciled! That's what we thought that summer day, an' that is what we said Ez we looked upon the piteous face uv Marthy's younkit dead. But for his mother's sobbin', the house wuz very still, An' Sorry Tom wuz lookin', through the winder, down the hill, To the patch beneath the hemlocks where his darlin' used to play, An' the mountain brook sung lonesomelike an' loitered on its way.
A preacher come from Roarin' Crick to comfort 'em an' pray, 'Nd all the camp wuz present at the obsequies next day; A female teacher staged it twenty miles to sing a hymn, An' we jined her in the chorus,—big, husky men an' grim Sung "Jesus, Lover uv my Soul," an' then the preacher prayed, An' preacht a sermon on the death uv that fair blossom laid Among them other flowers he loved,—wich sermon set sech weight On sinners bein' always heeled against the future state, That, though it had been fashionable to swear a perfec' streak, There warn't no swearin' in the camp for pretty nigh a week!
Last thing uv all, four strappin' men took up the little load An' bore it tenderly along the windin', rocky road, To where the coroner had dug a grave beside the brook, In sight uv Marthy's winder, where the same could set an' look An' wonder if his cradle in that green patch, long an' wide, Wuz ez soothin' ez the cradle that wuz empty at her side; An' wonder if the mournful songs the pines wuz singin' then Wuz ez tender ez the lullabies she'd never sing again, 'Nd if the bosom of the earth in wich he lay at rest Wuz half ez lovin' 'nd ez warm ez wuz his mother's breast.
The camp is gone; but Red Hoss Mountain rears its kindly head, An' looks down, sort uv tenderly, upon its cherished dead; 'Nd I reckon that, through all the years, that little boy wich died Sleeps sweetly an' contentedly upon the mountain-side; That the wild-flowers uv the summer-time bend down their heads to hear The footfall uv a little friend they know not slumbers near; That the magpies on the sollum rocks strange flutterin' shadders make, An' the pines an' hemlocks wonder that the sleeper doesn't wake; That the mountain brook sings lonesomelike an' loiters on its way Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play.
Through sleet and fogs to the saline bogs Where the herring fish meanders, An army sped, and then, 't is said, Swore terribly in Flanders: "————!" "————!" A hideous store of oaths they swore, Did the army over in Flanders!
At this distant day we're unable to say What so aroused their danders; But it's doubtless the case, to their lasting disgrace, That the army swore in Flanders: "————!" "————!" And many more such oaths they swore, Did that impious horde in Flanders!
Some folks contend that these oaths without end Began among the commanders, That, taking this cue, the subordinates, too, Swore terribly in Flanders: Twas "——————!" "————"
Why, the air was blue with the hullaballoo Of those wicked men in Flanders!
But some suppose that the trouble arose With a certain Corporal Sanders, Who sought to abuse the wooden shoes That the natives wore in Flanders. Saying: "————!" "————"
What marvel then, that the other men Felt encouraged to swear in Flanders! At any rate, as I grieve to state, Since these soldiers vented their danders Conjectures obtain that for language profane There is no such place as Flanders. "————" "————"
This is the kind of talk you'll find If ever you go to Flanders. How wretched is he, wherever he be, That unto this habit panders! And how glad am I that my interests lie In Chicago, and not in Flanders! "————————!" "————————!"
Would never go down in this circumspect town However it might in Flanders.
OUR BIGGEST FISH
When in the halcyon days of old, I was a little tyke, I used to fish in pickerel ponds for minnows and the like; And oh, the bitter sadness with which my soul was fraught When I rambled home at nightfall with the puny string I'd caught! And, oh, the indignation and the valor I'd display When I claimed that all the biggest fish I'd caught had got away!
Sometimes it was the rusty hooks, sometimes the fragile lines, And many times the treacherous reeds would foil my just designs; But whether hooks or lines or reeds were actually to blame, I kept right on at losing all the monsters just the same— I never lost a little fish—yes, I am free to say It always was the biggest fish I caught that got away.
And so it was, when later on, I felt ambition pass From callow minnow joys to nobler greed for pike and bass; I found it quite convenient, when the beauties wouldn't bite And I returned all bootless from the watery chase at night, To feign a cheery aspect and recount in accents gay How the biggest fish that I had caught had somehow got away.
And really, fish look bigger than they are before they are before they're caught— When the pole is bent into a bow and the slender line is taut, When a fellow feels his heart rise up like a doughnut in his throat And he lunges in a frenzy up and down the leaky boat! Oh, you who've been a-fishing will indorse me when I say That it always is the biggest fish you catch that gets away!
'T 'is even so in other things—yes, in our greedy eyes The biggest boon is some elusive, never-captured prize; We angle for the honors and the sweets of human life— Like fishermen we brave the seas that roll in endless strife;
And then at last, when all is done and we are spent and gray, We own the biggest fish we've caught are those that got away.
I would not have it otherwise; 't is better there should be Much bigger fish than I have caught a-swimming in the sea; For now some worthier one than I may angle for that game— May by his arts entice, entrap, and comprehend the same; Which, having done, perchance he'll bless the man who's proud to say That the biggest fish he ever caught were those that got away.
O hapless day! O wretched day! I hoped you'd pass me by— Alas, the years have sneaked away And all is changed but I! Had I the power, I would remand You to a gloom condign, But here you've crept upon me and I—I am thirty-nine!
Now, were I thirty-five, I could Assume a flippant guise; Or, were I forty years, I should Undoubtedly look wise; For forty years are said to bring Sedateness superfine; But thirty-nine don't mean a thing— A bas with thirty-nine!
You healthy, hulking girls and boys,— What makes you grow so fast? Oh, I'll survive your lusty noise— I'm tough and bound to last! No, no—I'm old and withered too— I feel my powers decline (Yet none believes this can be true Of one at thirty-nine).
And you, dear girl with velvet eyes, I wonder what you mean Through all our keen anxieties By keeping sweet sixteen. With your dear love to warm my heart, Wretch were I to repine; I was but jesting at the start— I'm glad I'm thirty-nine!
So, little children, roar and race As blithely as you can, And, sweetheart, let your tender grace Exalt the Day and Man; For then these factors (I'll engage) All subtly shall combine To make both juvenile and sage The one who's thirty-nine!
Yes, after all, I'm free to say I would much rather be Standing as I do stand to-day, 'Twixt devil and deep sea; For though my face be dark with care Or with a grimace shine, Each haply falls unto my share, For I am thirty-nine!
'Tis passing meet to make good cheer And lord it like a king, Since only once we catch the year That doesn't mean a thing. O happy day! O gracious day! I pledge thee in this wine— Come, let us journey on our way A year, good Thirty-Nine!
Sept. 2, 1889.
Where wail the waters in their flaw A spectre wanders to and fro, And evermore that ghostly shore Bemoans the heir of Yvytot.
Sometimes, when, like a fleecy pall, The mists upon the waters fall, Across the main float shadows twain That do not heed the spectre's call.
The king his son of Yvytot Stood once and saw the waters go Boiling around with hissing sound The sullen phantom rocks below.
And suddenly he saw a face Lift from that black and seething place— Lift up and gaze in mute amaze And tenderly a little space,
A mighty cry of love made he— No answering word to him gave she, But looked, and then sunk back again Into the dark and depthless sea.
And ever afterward that face, That he beheld such little space, Like wraith would rise within his eyes And in his heart find biding place.
So oft from castle hall he crept Where mid the rocks grim shadows slept, And where the mist reached down and kissed The waters as they wailed and wept.
The king it was of Yvytot That vaunted, many years ago, There was no coast his valiant host Had not subdued with spear and bow.
For once to him the sea-king cried: "In safety all thy ships shall ride An thou but swear thy princely heir Shall take my daughter to his bride.
"And lo, these winds that rove the sea Unto our pact shall witness be, And of the oath which binds us both Shall be the judge 'twixt me and thee!"
Then swore the king of Yvytot Unto the sea-king years ago, And with great cheer for many a year His ships went harrying to and fro.
Unto this mighty king his throne Was born a prince, and one alone— Fairer than he in form and blee And knightly grace was never known.
But once he saw a maiden face Lift from a haunted ocean place— Lift up and gaze in mute amaze And tenderly a little space.
Wroth was the king of Yvytot, For that his son would never go Sailing the sea, but liefer be Where wailed the waters in their flow,
Where winds in clamorous anger swept, Where to and fro grim shadows crept, And where the mist reached down and kissed The waters as they wailed and wept.
So sped the years, till came a day The haughty king was old and gray, And in his hold were spoils untold That he had wrenched from Norroway.
Then once again the sea-king cried: "Thy ships have harried far and wide; My part is done—now let thy son Require my daughter to his bride!"
Loud laughed the king of Yvytot, And by his soul he bade him no— "I heed no more what oath I swore, For I was mad to bargain so!"
Then spake the sea-king in his wrath: "Thy ships lie broken in my path! Go now and wring thy hands, false king! Nor ship nor heir thy kingdom hath!
"And thou shalt wander evermore All up and down this ghostly shore, And call in vain upon the twain That keep what oath a dastard swore!"
The king his son of Yvytot Stood even then where to and fro The breakers swelled—and there beheld A maiden face lift from below.
"Be thou or truth or dream," he cried, "Or spirit of the restless tide, It booteth not to me, God wot! But I would have thee to my bride."
Then spake the maiden: "Come with me Unto a palace in the sea, For there my sire in kingly ire Requires thy king his oath of thee!"
Gayly he fared him down the sands And took the maiden's outstretched hands; And so went they upon their way To do the sea-king his commands.
The winds went riding to and fro And scourged the waves that crouched below, And bade them sing to a childless king The bridal song of Yvytot.
So fell the curse upon that shore, And hopeless wailing evermore Was the righteous dole of the craven soul That heeded not what oath he swore.
An hundred ships went down that day All off the coast of Norroway, And the ruthless sea made mighty glee Over the spoil that drifting lay.
The winds went calling far and wide To the dead that tossed in the mocking tide: "Come forth, ye slaves! from your fleeting graves And drink a health to your prince his bride!"
Where wail the waters in their flow A spectre wanders to and fro, But nevermore that ghostly shore Shall claim the heir of Yvytot.
Sometimes, when, like a fleecy pall, The mists upon the waters fall, Across the main flit shadows twain That do not heed the spectre's call.
I once knew all the birds that came And nested in our orchard trees; For every flower I had a name— My friends were woodchucks, toads, and bees; I knew where thrived in yonder glen What plants would soothe a stone-bruised toe— Oh, I was very learned then; But that was very long ago!
I knew the spot upon the hill Where checkerberries could be found, I knew the rushes near the mill Where pickerel lay that weighed a pound! I knew the wood,—the very tree Where lived the poaching, saucy crow, And all the woods and crows knew me— But that was very long ago.
And pining for the joys of youth, I tread the old familiar spot Only to learn this solemn truth: I have forgotten, am forgot. Yet here's this youngster at my knee Knows all the things I used to know; To think I once was wise as he— But that was very long ago.
I know it's folly to complain Of whatsoe'er the Fates decree; Yet were not wishes all in vain, I tell you what my wish should be: I'd wish to be a boy again, Back with the friends I used to know; For I was, oh! so happy then— But that was very long ago!
TO A SOUBRETTE
'Tis years, soubrette, since last we met; And yet—ah, yet, how swift and tender My thoughts go back in time's dull track To you, sweet pink of female gender! I shall not say—though others may— That time all human joy enhances; But the same old thrill comes to me still With memories of your songs and dances.
Soubrettish ways these latter days Invite my praise, but never get it; I still am true to yours and you— My record's made, I'll not upset it! The pranks they play, the things they say— I'd blush to put the like on paper, And I'll avow they don't know how To dance, so awkwardly they caper!
I used to sit down in the pit And see you flit like elf or fairy Across the stage, and I'll engage No moonbeam sprite was half so airy; Lo, everywhere about me there Were rivals reeking with pomatum, And if, perchance, they caught your glance In song or dance, how did I hate 'em!
At half-past ten came rapture—then Of all those men was I most happy, For bottled beer and royal cheer And tetes-a-tetes were on the tapis. Do you forget, my fair soubrette, Those suppers at the Cafe Rector,— The cosey nook where we partook Of sweeter cheer than fabled nectar?
Oh, happy days, when youth's wild ways Knew every phase of harmless folly! Oh, blissful nights, whose fierce delights Defied gaunt-featured Melancholy! Gone are they all beyond recall, And I—a shade, a mere reflection— Am forced to feed my spirit's greed Upon the husks of retrospection!
And lo! to-night, the phantom light, That, as a sprite, flits on the fender, Reveals a face whose girlish grace Brings back the feeling, warm and tender; And, all the while, the old-time smile Plays on my visage, grim and wrinkled,— As though, soubrette, your footfalls yet Upon my rusty heart-strings tinkled!
Last night, my darling, as you slept, I thought I heard you sigh, And to your little crib I crept, And watched a space thereby; And then I stooped and kissed your brow, For oh! I love you so— You are too young to know it now, But some time you shall know!
Some time when, in a darkened place Where others come to weep, Your eyes shall look upon a face Calm in eternal sleep, The voiceless lips, the wrinkled brow, The patient smile shall show— You are too young to know it now, But some time you may know!
Look backward, then, into the years, And see me here to-night— See, O my darling! how my tears Are falling as I write; And feel once more upon your brow The kiss of long ago— You are too young to know it now, But some time you shall know.