At last we stood at our mother's knee. Do you think, sir, if you try, You can paint the look of a lie? If you can, pray have the grace To put it solely in the face Of the urchin that is likest me: I think 'twas solely mine, indeed: But that's no matter,—paint it so; The eyes of our mother—(take good heed)— Looking not on the nestful of eggs, Nor the fluttering bird, held so fast by the legs, But straight through our faces down to our lies, And, oh, with such injured, reproachful surprise! I felt my heart bleed where that glance went, as though A sharp blade struck through it.
You, sir, know That you on the canvas are to repeat Things that are fairest, things most sweet,— Woods and cornfields and mulberry-tree,— The mother,—the lads, with their bird at her knee: But, oh, that look of reproachful woe! High as the heavens your name I'll shout, If you paint me the picture, and leave that out.
Who Won the War?
Who won the war? 'T was little Belgium stemmed the tide Of ruthless hordes who thought to ride Her borders through and prostrate France Ere yet she'd time to raise her lance. 'T was plucky Belgium.
Who won the war? Italia broke the galling chain Which bound her to the guilty twain; Then fought 'gainst odds till one of these Lay prone and shattered at her knees. 'T was gallant Italy.
Who won the war? Old England's watch dogs of the main Their vigil kept, and not in vain; For not a ship their wrath dared brave Save those which skulked beneath the wave. 'T was mighty England.
Who won the war? 'T was France who wrote in noble rage The grandest words on history's page, "They shall not pass"—the devilish Hun; And he could never pass Verdun. 'T was sturdy France.
Who won the war? In darkest hour there rose a cry, "Liberty, sweet Liberty, thou shalt not die!" Thank God! they came across the sea, Two million men and victory! 'T was glorious America.
Who won the war? No one of these; not one, but all Who answered Freedom's clarion call. Each humble man who did his bit In God's own book of fame is writ. These won the war.
Mothers of Men
The bravest battle that ever was fought! Shall I tell you where and when? On the map of the world you will find it not, 'Twas fought by the mothers of men.
Nay, not with cannon or battle shot, With sword or nobler pen, Nay, not with eloquent words or thought From mouths of wonderful men;
But deep in the walled-up woman's heart— Of woman that would not yield, But bravely, silently, bore her part— Lo, there is the battle field!
No marshaling troup, no bivouac song, No banner to gleam or wave, But oh, these battles, they last so long— From babyhood to the grave.
Yet, faithful as a bridge of stars, She fights in her walled-up town— Fights on and on in the endless wars, Then, silent, unseen, goes down.
Oh, ye with banner and battle shot, And soldiers to shout and praises I tell you the kingliest victories fought Were fought in those silent ways.
Oh, spotless in a world of shame, With splendid and silent scorn, Go back to God as white as you came— The kingliest warrior born!
Plain Bob and a Job
Bob went lookin' for a job— Didn't want a situation; didn't ask a lofty station: Didn't have a special mission for a topnotcher's position; Didn't have such fine credentials—but he had the real essentials— Had a head that kept on workin' and two hands that were not shirkin'; Wasn't either shirk or snob; Wasn't Mister—just plain Bob, Who was lookin' for a job.
Bob went lookin' for a job; And he wasn't scared or daunted when he saw a sign—"Men Wanted," Walked right in with manner fittin' up to where the Boss was sittin', And he said: "My name is Bob, and I'm lookin' for a job; And if you're the Boss that hires 'em, starts 'em working and that fires 'em, Put my name right down here, Neighbor, as a candidate for labor; For my name is just plain 'Bob, And my pulses sort o' throb For that thing they call a job." Bob kept askin' for a job, And the Boss, he says: "What kind?" And Bob answered: "Never mind; For I am not a bit partic'ler and I never was a stickler For proprieties in workin'—if you got some labor lurkin' Anywhere around about kindly go and trot it out. It's, a job I want, you see— Any kind that there may be Will be good enough for me."
Well, sir, Bob he got a job. But the Boss went 'round all day in a dreamy sort of way; And he says to me: "By thunder, we have got the world's Eighth Wonder! Got a feller name of Bob who just asked me for a job— Never asks when he engages about overtime in wages; Never asked if he'd get pay by the hour or by the day; Never asked me if it's airy work and light and sanitary; Never asked me for my notion of the chances of promotion; Never asked for the duration of his annual vacation; Never asked for Saturday half-a-holiday with pay; Never took me on probation till he tried the situation; Never asked me if it's sittin' work or standin', or befittin' Of his birth and inclination—he just filed his application, Hung his coat up on a knob, Said his name was just plain Bob— And went workin' at a job!"
James W. Foley.
Whatever I do and whatever I say, Aunt Tabitha tells me it isn't the way When she was a girl (forty summers ago); Aunt Tabitha tells me they never did so.
Dear aunt! If I only would take her advice! But I like my own way, and I find it so nice! And besides, I forget half the things I am told; But they all will come back to me—when I am old.
If a youth passes by, it may happen, no doubt, He may chance to look in as I chance to look out; She would never endure an impertinent stare— It is horrid, she says, and I mustn't sit there.
A walk in the moonlight has pleasures, I own, But it isn't quite safe to be walking alone; So I take a lad's arm—just for safety you know— But Aunt Tabitha tells me they didn't do so.
How wicked we are, and how good they were then! They kept at arm's length those detestable men; What an era of virtue she lived in!—But stay— Were the men all such rogues in Aunt Tabitha's day?
If the men were so wicked, I'll ask my papa How he dared to propose to my darling mamma; Was he like the rest of them? Goodness! Who knows? And what shall I say, if a wretch should propose?
I am thinking if aunt knew so little of sin, What a wonder Aunt Tabitha's aunt must have been! And her grand-aunt—it scares me—how shockingly sad That we girls of to-day are so frightfully bad!
A martyr will save us, and nothing else can, Let me perish—to rescue some wretched young man! Though when to the altar a victim I go, Aunt Tabitha'll tell me she never did so!
The Flag Goes By
Hats off! Along the street there comes A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums, A flash of color beneath the sky: Hats off! The flag is passing by!
Blue and crimson and white it shines, Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines. Hats off! The colors before us fly; But more than the flag is passing by.
Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great, Fought to make and to save the State; Weary marches and sinking ships; Cheers of victory on dying lips;
Days of plenty and years of peace, March of a strong land's swift increase: Equal justice, right and law, Stately honor and reverent awe;
Sign of a nation, great and strong, To ward her people from foreign wrong; Pride and glory and honor, all Live in the colors to stand or fall.
Hats off! Along the street there comes A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums, And loyal hearts are beating high: Hats off! The flag is passing by!
The Rivers of France
The rivers of France are ten score and twain, But five are the names that we know: The Marne, the Vesle, the Oureq and the Aisne, And the Somme of the swampy flow.
The rivers of France, from source to sea, Are nourished by many a rill, But these five, if ever a drouth there be The fountains of sorrow would fill.
The rivers of France shine silver white, But the waters of five are red With the richest blood, in the fiercest fight For freedom that ever was shed.
The rivers of France sing soft as they run, But five have a song of their own, That hymns the fall of the arrogant one And the proud cast down from his throne.
The rivers of France all quietly take To sleep in the house of their birth, But the carnadined wave of five shall break On the uttermost strands of earth.
Five rivers of France—see! their names are writ On a banner of crimson and gold, And the glory of those who fashioned it Shall nevermore cease to be told.
H.J.M., in London "Times."
Seven Times One
There's no dew left on the daisies and clover, There's no rain left in heaven; I've said my "seven times" over and over: Seven times one are seven.
I am old, so old I can write a letter; My birthday lessons are done; The lambs play always, they know no better, They are only one times one.
O Moon! in the night I have seen you sailing And shining so round and low; You were bright! but your light is failing, You are nothing now but a bow.
You Moon, have you done something wrong in heaven, That God has hidden your face? I hope if you have, you'll soon be forgiven, And shine again in your place.
O velvet Bee, you're a dusty fellow; You've powdered your legs with gold! O brave Marshmary buds, rich and yellow, Give me your money to hold!
O Columbine, open your folded wrapper Where two twin turtle-doves dwell! O Cuckoo-pint, toll me the purple clapper That hangs in your clear green bell!
And show me your nest, with the young ones in it, I will not steal them away; I am old! you may trust me, linnet, linnet, I am seven times one to-day.
Seven Times Two
You bells in the steeple, ring, ring out your changes, How many soever they be, And let the brown meadow-lark's note as he ranges, Come over, come over to me.
Yet birds' clearest carol by fall or by swelling No magical sense conveys, And bells have forgotten their old art of telling The fortune of future days.
"Turn again, turn again," once they rang cheerily. While a boy listened alone; Made his heart yearn again, musing so wearily All by himself on a stone.
Poor bells! I forgive you; your good days are over, And mine, they are yet to be; No listening, no longing shall aught, aught discover: You leave the story to me.
The foxglove shoots out of the green matted heather, Preparing her hoods of snow: She was idle, and slept till the sunshiny weather: Oh, children take long to grow.
I wish and I wish that the spring would go faster, Nor long summer bide so late; And I could grow on like the foxglove and aster, For some things are ill to wait.
I wait for the day when dear hearts shall discover, While dear hands are laid on my head: "The child is a woman, the book may close over, For all the lessons are said."
I wait for my story—the birds cannot sing it, Not one, as he sits on the tree; The bells cannot ring it, but long years, oh bring it! Such as I wish it to be.
Seven Times Three
I leaned out of window, I smelt the white clover, Dark, dark was the garden, I saw not the gate; "Now, if there be footsteps, he comes, my one lover— Hush, nightingale, hush! O sweet nightingale, wait Till I listen and hear If a step draweth near, For my love he is late!
"The skies in the darkness stoop nearer and nearer, A cluster of stars hangs like fruit in the tree, The fall of the water comes sweeter, comes clearer: To what art thou listening, and what dost thou see? Let the star-clusters grow, Let the sweet waters flow. And cross quickly to me.
"You night-moths that hover where honey brims over From sycamore blossoms, or settle or sleep; You glowworms, shine out, and the pathway discover To him that comes darkling along the rough steep. Ah, my sailor, make haste, For the time runs to waste, And my love lieth deep,
"Too deep for swift telling; and yet, my one lover, I've conned thee an answer, it waits thee to-night." By the sycamore passed he, and through the white clover; Then all the sweet speech I had fashioned took flight; But I'll love him more, more Than e'er wife loved before, Be the days dark or bright.
Seven Times Four
Heigh-ho! daisies and buttercups, Fair yellow daffodils, stately and tall! When the wind wakes, how they rock in the grasses, And dance with the cuckoo-buds slender and small! Here's two bonny boys, and here's mother's own lasses Eager to gather them all.
Heigh-ho! daisies and buttercups! Mother shall thread them a daisy chain; Sing them a song of the pretty hedge-sparrow, That loved her brown little ones, loved them full fain; Sing, "Heart, thou art wide though the house be but narrow,"— Sing once, and sing it again.
Heigh-ho! daisies and buttercups, Sweet wagging cowslips, they bend and they bow; A ship sails afar over warm ocean waters, And haply one musing doth stand at her prow, O bonny brown son, and O sweet little daughters, Maybe he thinks on you now!
Heigh-ho! daisies and buttercups, Fair yellow daffodils, stately and tall! A sunshiny world full of laughter and leisure, And fresh hearts unconscious of sorrow and thrall! Send down on their pleasure smiles passing its measure, God that is over us all!
Ere, in the northern gale, The summer tresses of the trees are gone, The woods of Autumn, all around our vale, Have put their glory on.
The mountains that infold, In their wide sweep, the colored landscape round, Seem groups of giant kings, in purple and gold, That guard the enchanted ground.
I roam the woods that crown The upland, where the mingled splendors glow, Where the gay company of trees look down On the green fields below.
My steps are not alone In these bright walks; the sweet southwest, at play, Flies, rustling, where the painted leaves are strown Along the winding way.
And far in heaven, the while, The sun, that sends that gale to wander here, Pours out on the fair earth his quiet smile,— The sweetest of the year.
Where now the solemn shade, Verdure and gloom where many branches meet; So grateful, when the noon of summer made The valleys sick with heat?
Let in through all the trees Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright; Their sunny-colored foliage, in the breeze, Twinkles, like beams of light.
The rivulet, late unseen, Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run, Shines with the image of its golden screen And glimmerings of the sun.
But 'neath yon crimson tree, Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame, Nor mark, within its roseate canopy, Her blush of maiden shame.
Oh, Autumn! why so soon Depart the hues that make thy forests glad; Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon, And leave thee wild and sad?
Ah! 'twere a lot too blessed Forever in thy colored shades to stray; Amid the kisses of the soft southwest To rove and dream for aye;
And leave the vain low strife That makes men mad—the tug for wealth and power, The passions and the cares that wither life, And waste its little hour.
William Cullen Bryant.
The Drummer Boy of Mission Ridge
Did you ever hear of the Drummer Boy of Mission Ridge, who lay With his face to the foe, 'neath the enemy's guns, in the charge of that terrible day? They were firing above him and firing below, and the tempest of shot and shell Was raging like death, as he moaned in his pain, by the breastworks where he fell.
"Go back with your corps," our colonel had said, but he waited the moment when He might follow the ranks and shoulder a gun with the best of us bearded men; And so when the signals from old Fort Wood set an army of veterans wild, He flung down his drum, which spun down the hill like the ball of a wayward child.
And then he fell in with the foremost ranks of brave old company G, As we charged by the flank, with our colors ahead, and our columns closed up like a V, In the long, swinging lines of that splendid advance, when the flags of our corps floated out, Like the ribbons that dance in the jubilant lines of the march of a gala day rout.
He charged with the ranks, though he carried no gun, for the colonel had said him nay, And he breasted the blast of the bristling guns, and the shock of the sickening fray; And when by his side they were falling like hail he sprang to a comrade slain, And shouldered his musket and bore it as true as the hand that was dead in pain.
'Twas dearly we loved him, our Drummer Boy, with a fire in his bright, black eye, That flashed forth a spirit too great for his form—he only was just so high, As tall, perhaps, as your little lad who scarcely reaches your shoulder— Though his heart was the heart of a veteran then, a trifle, it may be, bolder.
He pressed to the front, our lad so leal, and the works were almost won, A moment more and our flags had swung o'er the muzzle of murderous gun; But a raking fire swept the van, and he fell 'mid the wounded and slain, With his wee wan face turned up to Him who feeleth His children's pain.
Again and again our lines fell back, and again with shivering shocks They flung themselves on the rebels' works as ships are tossed on rocks; To be crushed and broken and scattered amain, as the wrecks of the surging storm. Where none may rue and none may reck of aught that has human form.
So under the ridge we were lying for the order to charge again, And we counted our comrades missing, and we counted our comrades slain; And one said, "Johnny, our Drummer Boy, is grievously shot and lies Just under the enemy's breastwork; if left on the field he dies."
Then all the blood that was in me surged up to my aching brow, And my heart leaped up like a ball in my throat—I can feel it even now, And I said I would bring that boy from the field, if God would spare my breath, If all the guns in Mission Ridge should thunder the threat of death.
I crept and crept up the ghastly ridge, by the wounded and the dead, With the moans of my comrades right and left, behind me and yet ahead, Till I came to the form of our Drummer Boy, in his blouse of dusty blue, With his face to the foe, 'neath the enemy's guns, where the blast of the battle blew.
And his gaze as he met my own just there would have melted a heart of stone, As he tried like a wounded bird to rise, and placed his hand in my own; And he said in a voice half smothered, though its whispering thrills me yet, "I think in a moment more that I would have stood on that parapet.
"But now I nevermore will climb, and, Sergeant, when you see The men go up those breastworks there, just stop and waken me; For though I cannot make the charge and join the cheers that rise, I may forget my pain to see the old flag kiss the skies."
Well, it was hard to treat him so, his poor limb shattered sore, But I raised him on my shoulder and to the surgeon bore; And the boys who saw us coming each gave a shout of joy, And uttered fervent prayers for him, our valiant Drummer Boy.
When sped the news that "Fighting Joe" had saved the Union right, With his legions fresh from Lookout; and that Thomas massed his might And forced the rebel center; and our cheering ran like wild; And Sherman's heart was happy as the heart of a little child;
When Grant from his lofty outlook saw our flags by the hundred fly Along the slopes of Mission Ridge, where'er he cast his eye; And when we heard the thrilling news of the mighty battle done, The fearful contest ended, and the glorious victory won;
Then his bright black eyes so yearning grew strangely rapt and wide, And in that hour of conquest our little hero died. But ever in our hearts he dwells, with a grace that ne'er is old, For him the heart to duty wed can nevermore grow cold!
And when they tell of heroes, and the laurels they have won, Of the scars they are doomed to carry, of the deeds that they have done; Of the horror to be biding among the ghastly dead, The gory sod beneath them, the bursting shell o'erhead,
My heart goes back to Mission Ridge and the Drummer Boy who lay With his face to the foe, 'neath the enemy's guns, in the charge of that terrible day; And I say that the land that bears such sons is crowned and dowered with all The dear God giveth nations to stay them lest they fall.
Oh, glory of Mission Ridge, stream on, like the roseate light of morn, On the sons that now are living, on the sons that are yet unborn! And cheers for our comrades living, and tears as they pass away! And three times three for the Drummer Boy who fought at the front that day!
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about don't deal in lies, Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream and not make dreams your master; If you can think and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss. And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!
Some boys are mad when comp'ny comes to stay for meals. They hate To have the other people eat while boys must wait and wait, But I've about made up my mind I'm different from the rest, For as for me, I b'lieve I like the second table best.
To eat along with comp'ny is so trying, for it's tough To sit and watch the victuals when you dassent touch the stuff. You see your father serving out the dark meat and the light Until a boy is sure he'll starve before he gets a bite.
And when, he asks you what you'll have,—you've heard it all before,— You know you'll get just what you get and won't get nothing more; For, when you want another piece, your mother winks her eye, And so you say, "I've plenty, thanks!" and tell a whopping lie.
When comp'ny is a-watching you, you've got to be polite, And eat your victuals with a fork and take a little bite. You can't have nothing till you're asked and, 'cause a boy is small, Folks think he isn't hungry, and he's never asked at all.
Since I can first remember I've been told that when the cake Is passed around, the proper thing is for a boy to take The piece that's nearest to him, and so all I ever got, When comp'ny's been to our house, was the smallest in the lot.
It worries boys like everything to have the comp'ny stay A-setting round the table, like they couldn't get away. But when they've gone, and left the whole big shooting match to me, Say! ain't it fun to just wade in and help myself? Oh, gee!
With no one round to notice what you're doing—bet your life!— Boys don't use forks to eat with when they'd rather use a knife, Nor take such little bites as when they're eating with the rest And so, for lots of things, I like the second table best
When the lessons and tasks are all ended, And the school for the day is dismissed, And the little ones gather around me, To bid me good night and be kissed; Oh, the little white arms that encircle My neck in their tender embrace! Oh, the smiles that are halos of heaven, Shedding sunshine of love on my face!
And when they are gone, I sit dreaming Of my childhood, too lovely to last; Of love that my heart will remember When it wakes to the pulse of the past, Ere the world and its wickedness made me A partner of sorrow and sin,— When the glory of God was about me, And the glory of gladness within.
All my heart grows weak as a woman's And the fountains of feeling will flow, When I think of the paths steep and stony, Where the feet of the dear ones must go; Of the mountains of sin hanging o'er them, Of the tempest of Fate blowing wild; Oh, there's nothing on earth half so holy As the innocent heart of a child!
They are idols of hearts and of households; They are angels of God in disguise; His sunlight still sleeps in their tresses, His glory still gleams in their eyes; Oh, these truants from home and from heaven,— They have made me more manly and mild; And I know now how Jesus could liken The kingdom of God to a child!
I ask not a life for the dear ones All radiant, as others have done, But that life may have just enough shadow To temper the glare of the sun; I would pray God to guard them from evil, But my prayer would bound back to myself; Ah! a seraph may pray for a sinner, But a sinner must pray for himself.
The twig is so easily bended, I have banished the rule and the rod; I have taught them the goodness of knowledge, They have taught me the goodness of God. My heart is the dungeon of darkness, Where I shut them for breaking a rule; My frown is sufficient correction; My love is the law of the school.
I shall leave the old house in the autumn, To traverse its threshold no more; Ah! how shall I sigh for the dear ones That meet me each morn at the door! I shall miss the "good nights" and the kisses, And the gush of their innocent glee. The group on its green, and the flowers That are brought every morning to me.
I shall miss them at morn and at even, Their song in the school and the street; I shall miss the low hum of their voices, And the tread of their delicate feet. When the lessons of life are all ended, And death says, "The school is dismissed!" May the little ones gather around me To bid me good night and be kissed!
Charles M. Dickinson.
A Visit from St. Nicholas
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,— When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Gave a luster of midday to objects below: When what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! now Dancer! now, Prancer! now Vixen! On, Comet, on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!— To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall! Now, dash away, dash sway, dash away all!" As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, So, up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too, And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes how they twinkled; his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump—a right jolly old elf— And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spake not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle; But I heard him exclaim, ere they drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Clement C. Moore.
If you cannot on the ocean Sail among the swiftest fleet, Rocking on the highest billows, Laughing at the storms you meet, You can stand among the sailors, Anchored yet within the bay, You can lend a hand to help them, As they launch their boats away.
If you are too weak to journey Up the mountain steep and high, You can stand within the valley, While the multitudes go by; You can chant in happy measure, As they slowly pass along; Though they may forget the singer, They will not forget the song.
If you have not gold and silver Ever ready to command, If you cannot towards the needy Reach an ever-open hand, You can visit the afflicted, O'er the erring you can weep, You can be a true disciple, Sitting at the Savior's feet.
If you cannot in the conflict, Prove yourself a soldier true, If where fire and smoke are thickest, There's no work for you to do, When the battle-field is silent, You can go with careful tread, You can bear away the wounded, You can cover up the dead.
Do not then stand idly waiting For some greater work to do, Fortune is a lazy goddess, She will never come to you. Go and toil in any vineyard, Do not fear to do or dare, If you want a field of labor, You can find it anywhere.
Ellen H. Gates.
The House by the Side of the Road
There are hermit souls that live withdrawn In the peace of their self-content; There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart, In a fellowless firmament; There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths Where highways never ran; But let me live by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
Let me live in a house by the side of the road, Where the race of men go by, The men who are good and the men who are bad, As good and as bad as I. I would not sit in the scorner's seat, Or hurl the cynic's ban; Let me live in a house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
I see from my house by the side of the road, By the side of the highway of life, The men who press with the ardor of hope, The men who are faint with the strife. But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears, Both parts of an infinite plan; Let me live in my house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead And mountains of wearisome height; That the road passes on through the long afternoon And stretches away to the night. But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice, And weep with the strangers that moan. Nor live in my house by the side of the road Like a man who dwells alone.
Let me live in my house by the side of the road Where the race of men go by; They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, Wise, foolish—so am I. Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat, Or hurl the cynic's ban? Let me live in my house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss.
Asleep at the Switch
The first thing that I remember was Carlo tugging away, With the sleeve of my coat fast in his teeth, pulling, as much as to say: "Come, master, awake, attend to the switch, lives now depend upon you. Think of the souls in the coming train, and the graves you are sending them to. Think of the mother and the babe at her breast, think of the father and son, Think of the lover and the loved one too, think of them doomed every one To fall (as it were by your very hand) into yon fathomless ditch, Murdered by one who should guard them from harm, who now lies asleep at the switch."
I sprang up amazed—scarce knew where I stood, sleep had o'ermastered me so; I could hear the wind hollowly howling, and the deep river dashing below, I could hear the forest leaves rustling, as the trees by the tempest were fanned, But what was that noise in the distance? That, I could not understand. I heard it at first indistinctly, like the rolling of some muffled drum, Then nearer and nearer it came to me, till it made my very ears hum; What is this light that surrounds me and seems to set fire to my brain? What whistle's that, yelling so shrill? Ah! I know now; it's the train.
We often stand facing some danger, and seem to take root to the place; So I stood—with this demon before me, its heated breath scorching my face; Its headlight made day of the darkness, and glared like the eyes of some witch,— The train was almost upon me before I remembered the switch. I sprang to it, seizing it wildly, the train dashing fast down the track; The switch resisted my efforts, some devil seemed holding it back; On, on came the fiery-eyed monster, and shot by my face like a flash; I swooned to the earth the next moment, and knew nothing after the crash.
How long I lay there unconscious 'twas impossible for me to tell; My stupor was almost a heaven, my waking almost a hell,— For then I heard the piteous moaning and shrieking of husbands and wives, And I thought of the day we all shrink from, when I must account for their lives; Mothers rushed by me like maniacs, their eyes glaring madly and wild; Fathers, losing their courage, gave way to their grief like a child; Children searching for parents, I noticed, as by me they sped, And lips, that could form naught but "Mamma," were calling for one perhaps dead.
My mind was made up in a moment, the river should hide me away, When, under the still burning rafters I suddenly noticed there lay A little white hand; she who owned it was doubtless an object of love To one whom her loss would drive frantic, though she guarded him now from above; I tenderly lifted the rafters and quietly laid them one side; How little she thought of her journey when she left for this dark, fatal ride! I lifted the last log from off her, and while searching for some spark of life, Turned her little face up in the starlight, and recognized—Maggie, my wife!
O Lord! my scourge is a hard one, at a blow thou hast shattered my pride; My life will be one endless nightmare, with Maggie away from my side. How often I'd sat down and pictured the scenes in our long, happy life; How I'd strive through all my lifetime, to build up a home for my wife; How people would envy us always in our cozy and neat little nest; How I should do all the labor, and Maggie should all the day rest; How one of God's blessings might cheer us, how some day I perhaps should be rich:— But all of my dreams had been shattered, while I lay there asleep at the switch!
I fancied I stood on my trial, the jury and judge I could see; And every eye in the court room was steadily fixed upon me; And fingers were pointed in scorn, till I felt my face blushing blood-red, And the next thing I heard were the words, "Hanged by the neck until dead." Then I felt myself pulled once again, and my hand caught tight hold of a dress, And I heard, "What's the matter, dear Jim? You've had a bad nightmare, I guess!" And there stood Maggie, my wife, with never a scar from the ditch, I'd been taking a nap in my bed, and had not been "asleep at the switch."
Each in His Own Tongue
A fire-mist and a planet, A crystal and a cell, A jellyfish and a saurian, And caves where the cavemen dwell; Then a sense of law and beauty, And a face turned from the clod,— Some call it Evolution, And others call it God.
A haze in the far horizon, The infinite, tender sky; The ripe, rich tints of the cornfields, And the wild geese sailing high; And all over upland and lowland The charm of the goldenrod,— Some of us call it Nature, And others call it God.
Like tides on a crescent sea-beach, When the moon is new and thin, Into our hearts high yearnings Come welling and surging in,— Come from the mystic ocean. Whose rim no foot has trod,— Some of us call it Longing, And others call it God.
A picket frozen on duty, A mother starved for her brood, Socrates drinking the hemlock, And Jesus on the rood; The millions who, humble and nameless, The straight, hard pathway trod,— Some call it Consecration, And others call it God.
William Herbert Carruth.
How Cyrus Laid the Cable
Come, listen all unto my song; It is no silly fable; 'Tis all about the mighty cord They call the Atlantic Cable.
Bold Cyrus Field he said, says he, I have a pretty notion That I can run the telegraph Across the Atlantic Ocean.
Then all the people laughed, and said They'd like to see him do it; He might get half-seas over, but He never could go through it;
To carry out his foolish plan He never would be able; He might as well go hang himself With his Atlantic Cable.
But Cyrus was a valiant man, A fellow of decision; And heeded not their mocking words, Their laughter and derision.
Twice did his bravest efforts fail, And yet his mind was stable; He wa'n't the man to break his heart Because he broke his cable.
"Once more, my gallant boys!" he cried; "Three times!—you know the fable,— (I'll make it thirty," muttered he, "But I will lay this cable!")
Once more they tried—hurrah! hurrah! What means this great commotion? The Lord be praised! the cable's laid Across the Atlantic Ocean.
Loud ring the bells,—for, flashing through Six hundred leagues of water, Old Mother England's benison Salutes her eldest daughter.
O'er all the land the tidings speed, And soon, in every nation, They'll hear about the cable with Profoundest admiration!
* * * * *
And may we honor evermore The manly, bold, and stable; And tell our sons, to make them brave, How Cyrus laid the cable.
John G. Saxe.
Jane Jones keeps talkin' to me all the time, An' says you must make it a rule To study your lessons 'nd work hard 'nd learn, An' never be absent from school. Remember the story of Elihu Burritt, An' how he clum up to the top, Got all the knowledge 'at he ever had Down in a blacksmithing shop? Jane Jones she honestly said it was so! Mebbe he did— I dunno! O' course what's a-keepin' me 'way from the top, Is not never havin' no blacksmithing shop.
She said 'at Ben Franklin was awfully poor, But full of ambition an' brains; An' studied philosophy all his hull life, An' see what he got for his pains! He brought electricity out of the sky, With a kite an' a bottle an' key, An' we're owing him more'n any one else For all the bright lights 'at we see. Jane Jones she honestly said it was so! Mebbe he did— I dunno! O' course what's allers been hinderin' me Is not havin' any kite, lightning er key.
Jane Jones said Abe Lincoln had no books at all, An' used to split rails when a boy; An' General Grant was a tanner by trade An' lived 'way out in Illinois. So when the great war in the South first broke out He stood on the side o' the right, An' when Lincoln called him to take charge o' things, He won nearly every blamed fight. Jane Jones she honestly said it was so! Mebbe he did— I dunno! Still I ain't to blame, not by a big sight, For I ain't never had any battles to fight.
She said 'at Columbus was out at the knees When he first thought up his big scheme, An' told all the Spaniards 'nd Italians, too, An' all of 'em said 'twas a dream. But Queen Isabella jest listened to him, 'Nd pawned all her jewels o' worth, 'Nd bought him the Santa Maria 'nd said, "Go hunt up the rest o' the earth!" Mebbe he did— I dunno! O' course that may be, but then you must allow They ain't no land to discover jest now!
The Leap of Roushan Beg
Mounted on Kyrat strong and fleet, His chestnut steed with four white feet, Roushan Beg, called Kurroglou, Son of the road and bandit chief, Seeking refuge and relief, Up the mountain pathway flew.
Such was Kyrat's wondrous speed, Never yet could any steed Reach the dust-cloud in his course. More than maiden, more than wife, More than gold and next to life Roushan the Robber loved his horse.
In the land that lies beyond Erzeroum and Trebizond, Garden-girt his fortress stood; Plundered khan, or caravan Journeying north from Koordistan, Gave him wealth and wine and food.
Seven hundred and fourscore Men at arms his livery wore, Did his bidding night and day, Now, through regions all unknown, He was wandering, lost, alone, Seeking without guide his way.
Suddenly the pathway ends, Sheer the precipice descends, Loud the torrent roars unseen; Thirty feet from side to side Yawns the chasm; on air must ride He who crosses this ravine,
Following close in his pursuit, At the precipice's foot Reyhan the Arab of Orfah Halted with his hundred men, Shouting upward from the glen, "La Illah illa Allah!"
Gently Roushan Beg caressed Kyrat's forehead, neck, and breast, Kissed him upon both his eyes; Sang to him in his wild way, As upon the topmost spray Sings a bird before it flies.
"O my Kyrat, O my steed, Round and slender as a reed, Carry me this peril through! Satin housings shall be thine, Shoes of gold, O Kyrat mine, O thou soul of Kurroglou!
"Soft thy skin as silken skein, Soft as woman's hair thy mane, Tender are thine eyes and true; All thy hoofs like ivory shine, Polished bright; O life of mine, Leap, and rescue Kurroglou!"
Kyrat, then, the strong and fleet, Drew together his four white feet, Paused a moment on the verge, Measured with his eye the space, And into the air's embrace Leaped, as leaps the ocean surge.
As the ocean surge o'er sand Bears a swimmer safe to land, Kyrat safe his rider bore; Rattling down the deep abyss, Fragments of the precipice Rolled like pebbles on a shore.
Roushan's tasseled cap of red Trembled not upon his head, Careless sat he and upright; Neither hand nor bridle shook, Nor his head he turned to look, As he galloped out of sight.
Flash of harness in the air, Seen a moment like the glare Of a sword drawn from its sheath; Thus the phantom horseman passed, And the shadow that he cast Leaped the cataract underneath.
Reyhan the Arab held his breath While this vision of life and death Passed above him. "Allahu!" Cried he. "In all Koordistan Lives there not so brave a man As this Robber Kurroglou!"
Henry W. Longfellow.
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky; Beneath it rung the battle shout, And burst the cannon's roar;— The meteor of the ocean air Shall sweep the clouds no more!
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood, Where knelt the vanquished foe, When winds were hurrying o'er the flood, And waves were white below, No more shall feel the victor's tread, Or know the conquered knee;— The harpies of the shore shall pluck The eagle of the sea!
Oh, better that her shattered hulk Should sink beneath the wave! Her thunders shook the mighty deep, And there should be her grave; Nail to the mast her holy flag, Set every threadbare sail, And give her to the god of storms, The lightning and the gale!
Oliver Wendell Holmes.
A Psalm of Life
Tell me not, in mournful numbers, "Life is but an empty dream!" For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; "Dust thou art, to dust returnest," Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act that each to-morrow Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act, act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o'er life's solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
Henry W. Longfellow.
Johnny's Hist'ry Lesson
I think, of all the things at school A boy has got to do, That studyin' hist'ry, as a rule, Is worst of all, don't you? Of dates there are an awful sight, An' though I study day an' night, There's only one I've got just right— That's fourteen ninety-two.
Columbus crossed the Delaware In fourteen ninety-two; We whipped the British, fair an' square, In fourteen ninety-two. At Concord an' at Lexington. We kept the redcoats on the run, While the band played Johnny Get Your Gun, In fourteen ninety-two.
Pat Henry, with his dyin' breath— In fourteen ninety-two— Said, "Gimme liberty or death!" In fourteen ninety-two. An' Barbara Frietchie, so 'tis said, Cried, "Shoot if you must this old, gray head, But I'd rather 'twould be your own instead!" In fourteen ninety-two.
The Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock In fourteen ninety-two, An' the Indians standin' on the dock Asked, "What are you goin' to do?" An' they said, "We seek your harbor drear That our children's children's children dear May boast that their forefathers landed here In fourteen ninety-two."
Miss Pocahontas saved the life— In fourteen ninety-two— Of John Smith, an' became his wife In fourteen ninety-two. An' the Smith tribe started then an' there, An' now there are John Smiths ev'rywhere, But they didn't have any Smiths to spare In fourteen ninety-two.
Kentucky was settled by Daniel Boone In fourteen ninety-two, An' I think the cow jumped over the moon In fourteen ninety-two. Ben Franklin flew his kite so high He drew the lightnin' from the sky, An' Washington couldn't tell a lie, In fourteen ninety-two.
Riding on the Rail
Singing through the forests, rattling over ridges, Shooting under arches, rumbling over bridges, Whizzing through the mountains, buzzing o'er the vale,— Bless me! this is pleasant, riding on the rail!
Men of different stations in the eye of Fame, Here are very quickly coming to the same; High and lowly people, birds of every feather, On a common level, traveling together!
Gentlemen in shorts, blooming very tall; Gentlemen at large, talking very small; Gentlemen in tights, with a loosish mien; Gentlemen in gray, looking very green!
Gentlemen quite old, asking for the news; Gentlemen in black, with a fit of blues; Gentlemen in claret, sober as a vicar; Gentlemen in tweed, dreadfully in liquor!
Stranger on the right looking very sunny, Obviously reading something very funny. Now the smiles are thicker—wonder what they mean? Faith, he's got the Knickerbocker Magazine!
Stranger on the left, closing up his peepers; Now he snores again, like the Seven Sleepers; At his feet a volume gives the explanation, How the man grew stupid from "association"!
Ancient maiden lady anxiously remarks That there must be peril 'mong so many sparks; Roguish-looking fellow, turning to the stranger, Says 'tis his opinion she is out of danger!
Woman with her baby, sitting vis a vis; Baby keeps a-squalling, woman looks at me; Asks about the distance—says 'tis tiresome talking, Noises of the cars are so very shocking!
Market woman, careful of the precious casket, Knowing eggs are eggs, tightly holds her basket; Feeling that a smash, if it came, would surely Send her eggs to pot rather prematurely.
Singing through the forests, rattling over ridges, Shooting under arches, rumbling over bridges, Whizzing through the mountains, buzzing o'er the vale,— Bless me! this is pleasant, riding on the rail!
The Building of the Ship
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate! We know what Master laid thy keel, What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel, Who made each mast, and sail, and rope, What anvils rang, what hammers beat, In what a forge and what a heat Were shaped the anchors of thy hope! Fear not each sudden sound and shock, 'Tis of the wave and not the rock; 'Tis but the flapping of the sail, And not a rent made by the gale! In spite of rock and tempest's roar, In spite of false lights on the shore, Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea! Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee, Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears, Our faith truiumphant o'er our fears, Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
The Dead Pussy Cat
You's as stiff an' as cold as a stone, Little cat! Dey's done frowed you out an' left you alone, Little cat! I's a-strokin' you's fur, But you don't never purr Nor hump up anywhere, Little cat. W'y is dat? Is you's purrin' an' humpin'-up done?
An' w'y fer is you's little foot tied, Little cat? Did dey pisen you's tummick inside, Little cat? Did dey pound you wif bricks, Or wif big nasty sticks, Or abuse you wif kicks, Little cat? Tell me dat, Did dey holler at all when you cwied?
Did it hurt werry bad w'en you died, Little cat? Oh, w'y didn't yo wun off and hide, Little cat? I is wet in my eyes, 'Cause I most always cwies W'en a pussy cat dies, Little cat, Tink of dat, An' I's awfully solly besides!
Dest lay still dere in de sof gwown', Little cat, W'ile I tucks de gween gwass all awoun', Little cat. Dey can't hurt you no more W'en you's tired an' so sore, Dest sleep twiet, you pore Little cat, Wif a pat, An' fordet all de kicks of de town.
The Owl Critic
"Who stuffed that white owl?" No one spoke in the shop; The barber was busy, and he couldn't stop; The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading The Daily, the Herald, the Post, little heeding The young man who blurted out such a blunt question; Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion; And the barber kept on shaving.
"Don't you see, Mister Brown," Cried the youth, with a frown, "How wrong the whole thing is, How preposterous each wing is. How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is— In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck 'tis! I make no apology; I've learned owleology. I've passed days and nights in a hundred collections, And cannot be blinded to any deflections Arising from unskilful fingers that fail To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail. Mister Brown! Mister Brown! Do take that bird down, Or you'll soon be the laughing-stock all over town!" And the barber kept on shaving.
"I've studied owls, And other night fowls, And I tell you What I know to be true: An owl cannot roost With his limbs so unloosed; No owl in this world Ever had his claws curled, Ever had his legs slanted, Ever had his bill canted, Ever had his neck screwed Into that attitude. He can't do it, because 'Tis against all bird laws. Anatomy teaches, Ornithology preaches, An owl has a toe That can't turn out so! I've made the white owl my study for years, And to see such a job almost moves me to tears! Mister Brown, I'm amazed You should be so gone crazed As to put up a bird In that posture absurd! To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness; The man who stuffed him don't half know his business!" And the barber kept on shaving.
"Examine those eyes. I'm filled with surprise Taxidermists should pass Off on you such poor glass; So unnatural they seem They'd make Audubon scream, And John Burroughs laugh To encounter such chaff. Do take that bird down; Have him stuffed again, Brown!" And the barber kept on shaving.
"With some sawdust and bark I could stuff in the dark An owl better than that. I could make an old hat Look more like an owl Than that horrid fowl, Stuck up here so stiff like a side of coarse leather. In fact, about him there's not one natural feather." Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch, The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch, Walked round, and regarded his fault-finding critic (Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic, And then fairly hooted, as if he should say: "Your learning's at fault this time, anyway; Don't waste it again on a live bird, I pray. I'm an owl; you're another. Sir Critic, good-day!" And the barber kept on shaving.
James T. Fields.
The end has come, as come it must To all things; in these sweet June days The teacher and the scholar trust Their parting feet to separate ways.
They part: but in the years to be Shall pleasant memories cling to each, As shells bear inland from the sea The murmur of the rhythmic beach.
One knew the joys the sculptor knows When, plastic to his lightest touch, His clay-wrought model slowly grows To that fine grace desired so much.
So daily grew before her eyes The living shapes whereon she wrought, Strong, tender, innocently wise, The child's heart with the woman's thought.
And one shall never quite forget The voice that called from dream and play, The firm but kindly hand that set Her feet in learning's pleasant way,—
The joy of Undine soul-possessed, The wakening sense, the strange delight That swelled the fabled statue's breast And filled its clouded eyes with sight!
O Youth and Beauty, loved of all! Ye pass from girlhood's gate of dreams; In broader ways your footsteps fall, Ye test the truth of all that seems.
Her little realm the teacher leaves, She breaks her wand of power apart, While, for your love and trust, she gives The warm thanks of a grateful heart.
Hers is the sober summer noon Contrasted with your morn of spring; The waning with the waxing moon, The folded with the outspread wing.
Across the distance of the years She sends her God-speed back to you; She has no thought of doubts or fears; Be but yourselves, be pure, be true,
And prompt in duty; heed the deep, Low voice of conscience; through the ill And discord round about you, keep Your faith in human nature still.
Be gentle: unto griefs and needs Be pitiful as woman should, And, spite of all the lies of creeds, Hold fast the truth that God is good.
Give and receive; go forth and bless The world that needs the hand and heart Of Martha's helpful carefulness No less than Mary's better part.
So shall the stream of time flow by And leave each year a richer good, And matron loveliness outvie The nameless charm of maidenhood.
And, when the world shall link your names With gracious lives and manners fine, The teacher shall assert her claims, And proudly whisper, "These were mine!"
John G. Whittier.
The Wild White Rose
Oh, that I might have my request, and that God would grant me the thing that I long for.—Job 6:8.
It was peeping through the brambles, that little wild white rose, Where the hawthorn hedge was planted, my garden to enclose. All beyond was fern and heather, on the breezy, open moor; All within was sun and shelter, and the wealth of beauty's store. But I did not heed the fragrance of flow'ret or of tree, For my eyes were on that rosebud, and it grew too high for me. In vain I strove to reach it through the tangled mass of green, It only smiled and nodded behind its thorny screen. Yet through that summer morning I lingered near the spot: Oh, why do things seem sweeter if we possess them not? My garden buds were blooming, but all that I could see Was that little mocking wild rose, hanging just too high for me.
So in life's wider garden there are buds of promise, too, Beyond our reach to gather, but not beyond our view; And like the little charmer that tempted me astray, They steal out half the brightness of many a summer's day. Oh, hearts that fail with longing for some forbidden tree, Look up and learn a lesson from my white rose and me. 'Tis wiser far to number the blessings at my feet, Than ever to be sighing for just one bud more sweet. My sunbeams and my shadows fall from a pierced Hand, I can surely trust His wisdom since His heart I understand; And maybe in the morning, when His blessed face I see, He will tell me why my white rose grew just too high for me.
Ellen H. Willis.
When Earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried, When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died, We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it—lie down for an aeon or two, Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!
And those who were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair; They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet's hair; They shall find real saints to draw from—Magdalene, Peter and Paul; They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame; And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame; But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star, Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!
Whistling in Heaven
You're surprised that I ever should say so? Just wait till the reason I've given Why I say I sha'n't care for the music, Unless there is whistling in heaven. Then you'll think it no very great wonder, Nor so strange, nor so bold a conceit, That unless there's a boy there a-whistling, Its music will not be complete.
It was late in the autumn of '40; We had come from our far Eastern home Just in season to build us a cabin, Ere the cold of the winter should come; And we lived all the while in our wagon That husband was clearing the place Where the house was to stand; and the clearing And building it took many days.
So that our heads were scarce sheltered In under its roof when our store Of provisions was almost exhausted, And husband must journey for more; And the nearest place where he could get them Was yet such a distance away, That it forced him from home to be absent At least a whole night and a day.
You see, we'd but two or three neighbors, And the nearest was more than a mile; And we hadn't found time yet to know them, For we had been busy the while. And the man who had helped at the raising Just staid till the job was well done; And as soon as his money was paid him Had shouldered his axe and had gone.
Well, husband just kissed me and started— I could scarcely suppress a deep groan At the thought of remaining with baby So long in the house alone; For, my dear, I was childish and timid, And braver ones might well have feared, For the wild wolf was often heard howling. And savages sometimes appeared.
But I smothered my grief and my terror Till husband was off on his ride, And then in my arms I took Josey, And all the day long sat and cried, As I thought of the long, dreary hours When the darkness of night should fall, And I was so utterly helpless, With no one in reach of my call.
And when the night came with its terrors, To hide ev'ry ray of light, I hung up a quilt by the window, And, almost dead with affright, I kneeled by the side of the cradle, Scarce daring to draw a full breath, Lest the baby should wake, and its crying Should bring us a horrible death.
There I knelt until late in the evening And scarcely an inch had I stirred, When suddenly, far in the distance, A sound as of whistling I heard. I started up dreadfully frightened, For fear 'twas an Indian's call; And then very soon I remembered The red man ne'er whistles at all.
And when I was sure 'twas a white man, I thought, were he coming for ill, He'd surely approach with more caution— Would come without warning, and still. Then the sound, coming nearer and nearer, Took the form of a tune light and gay, And I knew I needn't fear evil From one who could whistle that way.
Very soon I heard footsteps approaching, Then came a peculiar dull thump, As if some one was heavily striking An ax in the top of a stump; And then, in another brief moment, There came a light tap on the door, When quickly I undid the fast'ning, And in stepped a boy, and before
There was either a question or answer Or either had time to speak, I just threw my glad arms around him, And gave him a kiss on the cheek. Then I started back, scared at my boldness. But he only smiled at my fright, As he said, "I'm your neighbor's boy, Ellick, Come to tarry with you through the night.
"We saw your husband go eastward, And made up our minds where he'd gone, And I said to the rest of our people, 'That woman is there all alone, And I venture she's awfully lonesome, And though she may have no great fear, I think she would feel a bit safer If only a boy were but near.'
"So, taking my axe on my shoulder, For fear that a savage might stray Across my path and need scalping, I started right down this way; And coming in sight of the cabin, And thinking to save you alarm, I whistled a tune, just to show you I didn't intend any harm.
"And so here I am, at your service; But if you don't want me to stay, Why, all you need do is to say so, And should'ring my axe, I'll away." I dropped in a chair and near fainted, Just at thought of his leaving me then, And his eye gave a knowing bright twinkle As he said, "I guess I'll remain."
And then I just sat there and told him How terribly frightened I'd been, How his face was to me the most welcome Of any I ever had seen; And then I lay down with the baby, And slept all the blessed night through, For I felt I was safe from all danger Near so brave a young fellow, and true.
So now, my dear friend, do you wonder, Since such a good reason I've given, Why I say I sha'n't care for the music, Unless there is whistling in heaven? Yes, often I've said so in earnest, And now what I've said I repeat, That unless there's a boy there a-whistling, Its music will not be complete.
Sleep, Baby, Sleep
Sleep, baby, sleep! Thy father's watching the sheep, Thy mother's shaking the dreamland tree, And down drops a little dream for thee. Sleep, baby, sleep!
Sleep, baby, sleep! The large stars are the sheep, The little stars are the lambs, I guess, The bright moon is the shepherdess. Sleep, baby, sleep!
Sleep, baby, sleep! Thy Savior loves His sheep; He is the Lamb of God on high Who for our sakes came down to die. Sleep, baby, sleep!
The Lost Chord
Seated one day at the organ, I was weary and ill at ease, And my fingers wandered idly Over the noisy keys.
I do not know what I was playing, Or what I was dreaming then; But I struck one chord of music, Like the sound of a great Amen.
It flooded the crimson twilight, Like the close of an angel's psalm; And it lay on my fevered spirit With a touch of infinite calm.
It quieted pain and sorrow, Like love overcoming strife; It seemed the harmonious echo From our discordant life.
It linked all perplexing meanings Into one perfect peace, And trembled away into silence As if it were loth to cease.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly, That one lost chord divine, That came from the soul of the organ, And entered into mine.
It may be that Death's bright angel Will speak in that chord again; It may be that only in Heaven I shall hear that grand Amen.
Adelaide A. Procter.
The Children's Hour
Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me The patter of little feet, The sound of a door that is opened, And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight, Descending the broad hall stair, Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence: Yet I know by their merry eyes They are plotting and planning together To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway, A sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret O'er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses, Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, Because you have scaled the wall, Such an old mustache as I am Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress, And will not let you depart, But put you down into the dungeon In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day, Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, And moulder in dust away!
Henry W. Longfellow.
Woodman, Spare That Tree!
Woodman, spare that tree! Touch not a single bough! In youth it sheltered me, And I'll protect it now. 'T was my forefather's hand That placed it near his cot; There, woodman, let it stand. Thy ax shall harm it not!
That old familiar tree, Whose glory and renown Are spread o'er land and sea— And wouldst thou hew it down? Woodman, forbear thy stroke! Cut not its earth-bound ties; Oh, spare that aged oak, Now towering to the skies!
When but an idle boy, I sought its grateful shade; In all their gushing joy Here, too, my sisters played. My mother kissed me here; My father pressed my hand— Forgive this foolish tear, But let that old oak stand!
My heart-strings round thee cling, Close as thy bark, old friend! Here shall the wild-bird sing, And still thy branches bend. Old tree! the storm still brave! And, woodman, leave the spot; While I've a hand to save, Thy ax shall harm it not!
George Pope Morris.
Little Brown Hands
They drive home the cows from the pasture, Up through the long shady lane, Where the quail whistles loud in the wheat-fields, That are yellow with ripening grain. They find, in the thick waving grasses, Where the scarlet-lipped strawberry grows. They gather the earliest snowdrops, And the first crimson buds of the rose.
They toss the new hay in the meadow, They gather the elder-bloom white, They find where the dusky grapes purple In the soft-tinted October light. They know where the apples hang ripest, And are sweeter than Italy's wines; They know where the fruit hangs the thickest On the long, thorny blackberry vines.
They gather the delicate sea-weeds, And build tiny castles of sand; They pick up the beautiful sea shells— Fairy barks that have drifted to land. They wave from the tall, rocking tree-tops, Where the oriole's hammock-nest swings, And at night time are folded in slumber By a song that a fond mother sings.
Those who toil bravely are strongest; The humble and poor become great; And so from these brown-handed children Shall grow mighty rulers of state. The pen of the author and statesman,— The noble and wise of the land,— The sword, and the chisel, and palette, Shall be held in the little brown hand.
Mary H. Krout.
Up from the meadows rich with corn Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep, Apple and peach tree fruited deep,
Fair as the garden of the Lord To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,
On that pleasant morn of the early fall When Lee marched over the mountain-wall,—
Over the mountains winding down, Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars, Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind; the sun Of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then, Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town, She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic window the staff she set, To show that one heart was loyal yet.
Up the street came the rebel tread, Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right He glanced; the old flag met his sight.
"Halt!"—the dust-brown ranks stood fast. "Fire!"—out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash; It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;
She leaned far out on the window-sill, And shook it forth with a royal will.
"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country's flag," she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame, Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred To life at that woman's deed and word:
"Who touches a hair of yon gray head Dies like a dog; march on!" he said.
All day long through Frederick street Sounded the tread of marching feet;
All day long that free flag tost Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light Shone over it a warm good night.
Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er. And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie's grave, Flag of freedom and Union wave!
Peace and order and beauty draw Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down On thy stars below in Frederick town.
John G. Whittier.
I Want to Go to Morrow
I started on a journey just about a week ago, For the little town of Morrow, in the State of Ohio. I never was a traveler, and really didn't know That Morrow had been ridiculed a century or so. I went down to the depot for my ticket and applied For the tips regarding Morrow, not expecting to be guyed. Said I, "My friend, I want to go to Morrow and return Not later than to-morrow, for I haven't time to burn."
Said he to me, "Now let me see if I have heard you right, You want to go to Morrow and come back to-morrow night. You should have gone to Morrow yesterday and back to-day, For if you started yesterday to Morrow, don't you see, You could have got to Morrow and returned to-day at three. The train that started yesterday—now understand me right— To-day it gets to Morrow, and returns to-morrow night."
Said I, "My boy, it seems to me you're talking through your hat, Is there a town named Morrow on your line? Now tell me that." "There is," said he, "and take from me a quiet little tip— To go from here to Morrow is a fourteen-hour trip. The train that goes to Morrow leaves to-day eight-thirty-five; Half after ten to-morrow is the time it should arrive. Now if from here to Morrow is a fourteen-hour jump, Can you go to-day to Morrow and come back to-day, you chump?"
Said I, "I want to go to Morrow; can I go to-day And get to Morrow by to-night, if there is no delay?" "Well, well," said he, "explain to me and I've no more to say; Can you go anywhere to-morrow and come back from there to-day?" For if to-day you'd get to Morrow, surely you'll agree You should have started not to-day, but yesterday, you see. So if you start to Morrow, leaving here to-day, you're flat, You won't get to Morrow till the day that follows that.
"Now if you start to-day to Morrow, it's a cinch you'll land To-morrow into Morrow, not to-day, you understand. For the train to-day to Morrow, if the schedule is right, Will get you into Morrow by about to-morrow night." Said I, "I guess you know it all, but kindly let me say, How can I go to Morrow, if I leave the town to-day?" Said he, "You cannot go to Morrow any more to-day, For the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way."
I was so disappointed I was mad enough to swear; The train had gone to Morrow and had left me standing there. The man was right in telling me I was a howling jay; I didn't go to Morrow, so I guess I'll go to-day.
Out in the Fields
The little cares that fretted me, I lost them yesterday Among the fields above the seas, Among the winds at play; Among the lowing of the herds, The rustling of the trees, Among the singing of the birds, The humming of the bees.
The foolish fears of what might happen,— I cast them all away Among the clover-scented grass, Among the new-mown hay; Among the husking of the corn, Where drowsy poppies nod, Where ill thoughts die and good are born, Out in the fields with God.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
The Bluebird's Song
I know the song that the bluebird is singing, Out in the apple tree where he is swinging. Brave little fellow! the skies may be dreary— Nothing cares he while his heart is so cheery.
Hark! how the music leaps out from his throat! Hark! was there ever so merry a note? Listen a while, and you'll hear what he's saying, Up in the apple tree swinging and swaying.
"Dear little blossoms down under the snow, You must be weary of winter I know. Listen, I'll sing you a message of cheer! Summer is coming! and springtime is here!
"Little white snowdrop! I pray you arise; Bright yellow crocus! please open your eyes; Sweet little violets, hid from the cold, Put on your mantles of purple and gold; Daffodils! Daffodils! say, do you hear?— Summer is coming, and springtime is here!"
Emily Huntington Miller.
The Main Truck, or a Leap for Life
Old Ironsides at anchor lay, In the harbor of Mahon; A dead calm rested on the bay,— The waves to sleep had gone; When little Hal, the Captain's son, A lad both brave and good, In sport, up shroud and rigging ran, And on the main truck stood!
A shudder shot through every vein,— All eyes were turned on high! There stood the boy, with dizzy brain, Between the sea and sky; No hold had he above, below; Alone he stood in air: To that far height none dared to go,— No aid could reach him there.
We gazed, but not a man could speak,— With horror all aghast,— In groups, with pallid brow and cheek,— We watched the quivering mast. The atmosphere grew thick and hot, And of a lurid hue;— As riveted unto the spot, Stood officers and crew.
The father came on deck:—he gasped, "Oh, God; thy will be done!" Then suddenly a rifle grasped, And aimed it at his son. "Jump, far out, boy, into the wave! Jump, or I fire," he said; "That only chance your life can save; Jump, jump, boy!" He obeyed.
He sunk,—he rose,—he lived,—he moved,— And for the ship struck out. On board we hailed the lad beloved, With many a manly shout. His father drew, in silent joy, Those wet arms round his neck, And folded to his heart his boy,— Then fainted on the deck.
The Arrow and the Song
I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For who has sight so keen and strong, That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak I found the arrow, still unbroke; And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.
The Green Mountain Justice
"The snow is deep," the Justice said; "There's mighty mischief overhead." "High talk, indeed!" his wife exclaimed; "What, sir! shall Providence be blamed?" The Justice, laughing, said, "Oh no! I only meant the loads of snow Upon the roofs. The barn is weak; I greatly fear the roof will break. So hand me up the spade, my dear, I'll mount the barn, the roof to clear." "No!" said the wife; "the barn is high, And if you slip, and fall, and die, How will my living be secured?— Stephen, your life is not insured. But tie a rope your waist around, And it will hold you safe and sound." "I will," said he. "Now for the roof— All snugly tied, and danger-proof! Excelsior! Excel—But no! The rope is not secured below!" Said Rachel, "Climb, the end to throw Across the top, and I will go And tie that end around my waist." "Well, every woman to her taste; You always would be tightly laced. Rachel, when you became my bride, I thought the knot securely tied; But lest the bond should break in twain, I'll have it fastened once again." Below the arm-pits tied around, She takes her station on the ground, While on the roof, beyond the ridge, He shovels clear the lower edge. But, sad mischance! the loosened snow Comes sliding down, to plunge below. And as he tumbles with the slide, Up Rachel goes on t'other side. Just half-way down the Justice hung; Just half-way up the woman swung. "Good land o' Goshen!" shouted she; "Why, do you see it?" answered he.
The couple, dangling in the breeze, Like turkeys hung outside to freeze, At their rope's end and wits' end, too, Shout back and forth what best to do. Cried Stephen, "Take it coolly, wife; All have their ups and downs in life." Quoth Rachel, "What a pity 'tis To joke at such a thing as this! A man whose wife is being hung Should know enough to hold his tongue." "Now, Rachel, as I look below, I see a tempting heap of snow. Suppose, my dear, I take my knife, And cut the rope to save my life?" She shouted, "Don't! 'twould be my death— I see some pointed stones beneath. A better way would be to call, With all our might, for Phebe Hall." "Agreed!" he roared. First he, then she Gave tongue; "O Phebe! Phebe! Phe-e-be Hall!" in tones both fine and coarse. Enough to make a drover hoarse.
Now Phebe, over at the farm, Was sitting, sewing, snug and warm; But hearing, as she thought, her name, Sprang up, and to the rescue came; Beheld the scene, and thus she thought: "If now a kitchen chair were brought, And I could reach the lady's foot, I'd draw her downward by the boot, Then cut the rope, and let him go; He cannot miss the pile of snow." He sees her moving toward his wife. Armed with a chair and carving-knife, And, ere he is aware, perceives His head ascending to the eaves; And, guessing what the two are at, Screams from beneath the roof, "Stop that! You make me fall too far, by half!" But Phebe answers, with a laugh, "Please tell a body by what right You've brought your wife to such a plight!" And then, with well-directed blows, She cuts the rope and down he goes. The wife untied, they walk around When lo! no Stephen can be found. They call in vain, run to and fro; They look around, above, below; No trace or token can they see, And deeper grows the mystery. Then Rachel's heart within her sank; But, glancing at the snowy bank, She caught a little gleam of hope,— A gentle movement of the rope. They scrape away a little snow; What's this? A hat! Ah! he's below; Then upward heaves the snowy pile, And forth he stalks in tragic style, Unhurt, and with a roguish smile; And Rachel sees, with glad surprise, The missing found, the fallen rise.
Rev. Henry Reeves.
About the time of Christmas (Not many months ago), When the sky was black With wrath and rack, And the earth was white with snow, When loudly rang the tumult Of winds and waves of strife, In her home by the sea, With her babe on her knee, Sat Harry Conquest's wife.
And he was on the ocean, Although she knew not where, For never a lip Could tell of the ship, To lighten her heart's despair. And her babe was fading and dying; The pulse in the tiny wrist Was all but still, And the brow was chill, And pale as the white sea mist.
Jane Conquest's heart was hopeless; She could only weep and pray That the Shepherd mild Would take her child Without a pain away. The night was dark and darker, And the storm grew stronger still, And buried in deep And dreamless sleep Lay the hamlet under the hill.
The fire was dead on the hearthstone Within Jane Conquest's room, And still sat she, With her babe on her knee, At prayer amid the gloom. When, borne above the tempest, A sound fell on her ear, Thrilling her through, For well she knew 'Twas the voice of mortal fear.
And a light leaped in at the lattice, Sudden and swift and red; Crimsoning all, The whited wall, And the floor, and the roof o'erhead. For one brief moment, heedless Of the babe upon her knee, With the frenzied start Of a frightened heart, Upon her feet rose she.
And through the quaint old casement She looks upon the sea; Thank God that the sight She saw that night So rare a sight should be! Hemmed in by many a billow With mad and foaming lip, A mile from shore, Or hardly more, She saw a gallant ship.
And to her horror she beheld it Aflame from stem to stern; For there seemed no speck On all that wreck Where the fierce fire did not burn; Till the night was like a sunset, And the sea like a sea of blood, And the rocks and shore Were bathed all o'er And drenched with the gory flood.
She looked and looked, till the terror Went creeping through every limb; And her breath came quick, And her heart grew sick, And her sight grew dizzy and dim; And her lips had lost their utterance, For she tried but could not speak; And her feelings found No channel of sound In prayer, or sob, or shriek.
Once more that cry of anguish Thrilled through the tempest's strife, And it stirred again In heart and brain The active thinking life; And the light of an inspiration Leaped to her brightened eye, And on lip and brow Was written now A purpose pure and high.
Swiftly she turns, and softly She crosses the chamber floor, And faltering not, In his tiny cot She laid the babe she bore. And then with a holy impulse, She sank to her knees, and made A lowly prayer, In the silence there, And this was the prayer she prayed:
"O Christ, who didst bear the scourging, And who now dost wear the crown, I at Thy feet, O True and Sweet, Would lay my burden down. Thou bad'st me love and cherish The babe Thou gavest me, And I have kept Thy word, nor stept Aside from following Thee.
"And lo! my boy is dying! And vain is all my care; And my burden's weight Is very great, Yea, greater than I can bear! O Lord, Thou know'st what peril Doth threat these poor men's lives, And I, a woman, Most weak and human, Do plead for their waiting wives.
"Thou canst not let them perish; Up, Lord, in Thy strength, and save From the scorching breath Of this terrible death On this cruel winter wave. Take Thou my babe and watch it, No care is like to Thine; And let Thy power In this perilous hour Supply what lack is mine."
And so her prayer she ended, And rising to her feet, Gave one long look At the cradle nook Where the child's faint pulses beat; And then with softest footsteps Retrod the chamber floor, And noiselessly groped For the latch, and oped, And crossed the cottage door.
And through the tempest bravely Jane Conquest fought her way, By snowy deep And slippery steep To where her duty lay. And she journeyed onward, breathless, And weary and sore and faint, Yet forward pressed With the strength, and the zest, And the ardor of a saint.
Solemn, and weird, and lonely Amid its countless graves, Stood the old gray church On its tall rock perch, Secure from the sea and its waves; And beneath its sacred shadow Lay the hamlet safe and still; For however the sea And the wind might be, There was quiet under the hill.
Jane Conquest reached the churchyard, And stood by the old church door, But the oak was tough And had bolts enough, And her strength was frail and poor; So she crept through a narrow window, And climbed the belfry stair, And grasped the rope, Sole cord of hope, For the mariners in despair.
And the wild wind helped her bravely, And she wrought with an earnest will, And the clamorous bell Spoke out right well To the hamlet under the hill. And it roused the slumbering fishers, Nor its warning task gave o'er Till a hundred fleet And eager feet Were hurrying to the shore.
And then it ceased its ringing, For the woman's work was done, And many a boat That was now afloat Showed man's work had begun. But the ringer in the belfry Lay motionless and cold, With the cord of hope. The church-bell rope, Still in her frozen hold.
How long she lay it boots not, But she woke from her swoon at last In her own bright room. To find the gloom, And the grief, and the peril past, With the sense of joy within her, And the Christ's sweet presence near; And friends around, And the cooing sound Of her babe's voice in her ear.
And they told her all the story, How a brave and gallant few O'ercame each check, And reached the wreck, And saved the hopeless crew. And how the curious sexton Had climbed the belfry stair, And of his fright When, cold and white, He found her lying there;
And how, when they had borne her Back to her home again, The child she left With a heart bereft Of hope, and weary with pain, Was found within his cradle In a quiet slumber laid; With a peaceful smile On his lips the while, And the wasting sickness stayed.
And she said "Twas the Christ who watched it, And brought it safely through"; And she praised His truth And His tender ruth Who had saved her darling too.