To drum beat and heart beat, A soldier marches by, There is color in his cheek, There is courage in his eye; Yet to drum beat and heart beat, In a moment he must die.
By starlight and moonlight, He seeks the Britons' camp; He hears the rustling flag, And the armed sentry's tramp; And the starlight and moonlight His silent wanderings lamp.
With a slow tread and still tread, He scans the tented line, And he counts the battery guns By the gaunt and shadowy pine, And his slow tread and still tread Gives no warning sign.
The dark wave, the plumed wave, It meets his eager glance; And it sparkles 'neath the stars, Like the glimmer of a lance— A dark wave, a plumed wave, On an emerald expanse.
A sharp clang, a steel clang, And terror in the sound! For the sentry, falcon-eyed, In the camp a spy has found; With a sharp clang, a steel clang, The patriot is bound.
With calm brow, steady brow, He listens to his doom. In his look there is no fear, Nor a shadow trace of gloom, But with calm brow, steady brow, He robes him for the tomb.
In the long night, the still night, He kneels upon the sod; And the brutal guards withhold E'en the solemn word of God! In the long night, the still night, He walks where Christ hath trod.
'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn, He dies upon the tree; And he mourns that he can give But one life for liberty; And in the blue morn, the sunny morn His spent wings are free.
But his last words, his message words, They burn, lest friendly eye Should read how proud and calm A patriot could die. With his last words, his dying words, A soldier's battle cry.
From Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf, From monument and urn, The sad of earth, the glad of Heaven, His tragic fate shall learn; And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf, The name of Hale shall burn.
Francis M. Finch.
The Lips That Touch Liquor Must Never Touch Mine
You are coming to woo me, but not as of yore, When I hastened to welcome your ring at the door; For I trusted that he who stood waiting me then, Was the brightest, the truest, the noblest of men. Your lips on my own when they printed "Farewell," Had never been soiled by "the beverage of hell"; But they come to me now with the bacchanal sign, And the lips that touch liquor must never touch mine.
I think of that night in the garden alone, When in whispers you told me your heart was my own, That your love in the future should faithfully be Unshared by another, kept only for me. Oh, sweet to my soul is the memory still Of the lips which met mine, when they murmured "I will"; But now to their pressure no more they incline, For the lips that touch liquor must never touch mine!
O John! how it crushed me, when first in your face The pen of the "Rum Fiend" had written "disgrace"; And turned me in silence and tears from that breath All poisoned and foul from the chalice of death. It scattered the hopes I had treasured to last; It darkened the future and clouded the past; It shattered my idol, and ruined the shrine, For the lips that touch liquor must never touch mine.
I loved you—Oh, dearer than language can tell, And you saw it, you proved it, you knew it too well! But the man of my love was far other than he Who now from the "Tap-room" comes reeling to me; In manhood and honor so noble and right— His heart was so true, and his genius so bright— And his soul was unstained, unpolluted by wine; But the lips that touch liquor must never touch mine.
You promised reform, but I trusted in vain; Your pledge was but made to be broken again: And the lover so false to his promises now, Will not, as a husband, be true to his vow. The word must be spoken that bids you depart— Though the effort to speak it should shatter my heart— Though in silence, with blighted affection, I pine, Yet the lips that touch liquor must never touch mine!
If one spark in your bosom of virtue remain, Go fan it with prayer till it kindle again; Resolved, with "God helping," in future to be From wine and its follies unshackled and free! And when you have conquered this foe of your soul,— In manhood and honor beyond his control— This heart will again beat responsive to thine, And the lips free from liquor be welcome to mine.
George W. Young.
A Perfect Day
When you come to the end of a perfect day And you sit alone with your thought While the chimes ring out with a carol gay For the joy that the day has brought, Do you think what the end of a perfect day Can mean to a tired heart? When the sun goes down with a flaming ray And the dear friends have to part?
Well, this is the end of a perfect day, Near the end of a journey, too; But it leaves a thought that is big and strong, With a wish that is kind and true; For mem'ry has painted this perfect day With colors that never fade, And we find, at the end of a perfect day, The soul of a friend we've made.
Carrie Jacobs Bond.
Kate Ketchem on a winter's night Went to a party dressed in white. Her chignon in a net of gold, Was about as large as they ever sold. Gayly she went, because her "pap" Was supposed to be a rich old chap.
But when by chance her glances fell On a friend who had lately married well, Her spirits sunk, and a vague unrest And a nameless longing filled her breast— A wish she wouldn't have had made known, To have an establishment of her own.
Tom Fudge came slowly through the throng, With chestnut hair, worn pretty long. He saw Kate Ketchem in the crowd, And knowing her slightly, stopped and bowed; Then asked her to give him a single flower, Saying he'd think it a priceless dower.
Out from those with which she was decked, She took the poorest she could select. And blushed as she gave it, looking down To call attention to her gown. "Thanks," said Fudge, and he thought how dear Flowers must be at that time of year.
Then several charming remarks he made, Asked if she sang, or danced, or played; And being exhausted, inquired whether She thought it was going to be pleasant weather. And Kate displayed her "jewelry," And dropped her lashes becomingly; And listened, with no attempt to disguise The admiration in her eyes. At last, like one who has nothing to say, He turned around and walked away.
Kate Ketchem smiled, and said, "You bet. I'll catch that Fudge and his money yet. He's rich enough to keep me in clothes, And I think I could manage him as I chose. He could aid my father as well as not, And buy my brother a splendid yacht. My mother for money should never fret, And all it cried for the baby should get; And after that, with what he could spare, I'd make a show at a charity fair."
Tom Fudge looked back as he crossed the sill, And saw Kate Ketchem standing still. "A girl more suited to my mind It isn't an easy thing to find; And every thing that she has to wear Proves her as rich as she is fair. Would she were mine, and I to-day Had the old man's cash my debts to pay! No creditors with a long account, No tradesmen wanting 'that little amount'; But all my scores paid up when due By a father-in-law as rich as a Jew!"
But he thought of her brother, not worth a straw, And her mother, that would be his, in law; So, undecided, he walked along, And Kate was left alone in the throng. But a lawyer smiled, whom he sought by stealth, To ascertain old Ketchem's wealth; And as for Kate, she schemed and planned Till one of the dancers claimed her hand.
He married her for her father's cash; She married him to cut a dash, But as to paying his debts, do you know, The father couldn't see it so; And at hints for help, Kate's hazel eyes Looked out in their innocent surprise. And when Tom thought of the way he had wed He longed for a single life instead, And closed his eyes in a sulky mood, Regretting the days of his bachelorhood; And said, in a sort of reckless vein, "I'd like to see her catch me again, If I were free, as on that night When I saw Kate Ketchem dressed in white!"
She wedded him to be rich and gay; But husband and children didn't pay, He wasn't the prize she hoped to draw, And wouldn't live with his mother-in-law. And oft when she had to coax and pout In order to get him to take her out, She thought how very attentive and bright He seemed at the party that winter's night; Of his laugh, as soft as a breeze of the south, ('Twas now on the other side of his mouth); How he praised her dress and gems in his talk, As he took a careful account of stock.
Sometimes she hated the very walls— Hated her friends, her dinners, and calls; Till her weak affection, to hatred turned, Like a dying tallow-candle burned. And for him who sat there, her peace to mar, Smoking his everlasting cigar— He wasn't the man she thought she saw, And grief was duty, and hate was law. So she took up her burden with a groan, Saying only, "I might have known!"
Alas for Kate! and alas for Fudge! Though I do not owe them any grudge; And alas for any who find to their shame That two can play at their little game! For of all hard things to bear and grin, The hardest is knowing you're taken in. Ah, well! as a general thing, we fret About the one we didn't get; But I think we needn't make a fuss, If the one we don't want didn't get us.
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea, There's a Burma girl a-settin', an' I know she thinks o' me; For the wind is in the palm-trees, an' the temple-bells they say: "Come you back, you British soldier: come you back to Mandalay!" Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old flotilla lay: Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay? On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
'Er petticut was yaller an' 'er little cap was green, An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat—jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen, An' I seed her fust a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot, An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot; Bloomin' idol made o' mud— Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd— Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud! On the road to Mandalay—
When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' low, She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kul-la-lo-lo!" With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' her cheek agin my cheek We useter watch the steamers and the hathis pilin' teak. Elephints a-pilin' teak In the sludgy, squdgy creek, Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was arf afraid to speak! On the road to Mandalay—
But that's all shove be'ind me—long ago an' fur away, An' there ain't no 'buses runnin' from the Benk to Mandalay; An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year sodger tells: "If you've 'eard the East a-callin', why, you won't 'eed nothin' else." No! you won't 'eed nothin' else But them spicy garlic smells An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells! On the road to Mandalay—
I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gutty pavin'-stones, An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones; Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand, An' they talk a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand? Beefy face an' grubby 'and— Law! wot do they understand? I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land! On the road to Mandalay—
Ship me somewheres east of Suez where the best is like the worst, Where there aren't no Ten Commandments, an' a man can raise a thirst; For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be— By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea— On the road to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay! On the road to Mandalay! Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
Behind him lay the gray Azores, Behind the Gates of Hercules; Before him not the ghost of shores, Before him only shoreless seas. The good mate said: "Now must we pray, For lo! the very stars are gone. Brave Adm'r'l, speak; what shall I say?" "Why, say: 'Sail on! sail on! and on!'"
"My men grow mutinous day by day; My men grow ghastly wan and weak." The stout mate thought of home; a spray Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek, "What shall I say, brave Adm'r'l, say, If we sight naught but seas at dawn?" "Why, you shall say at break of day: 'Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!'"
They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow, Until at last the blanched mate said: "Why, now not even God would know Should I and all my men fall dead. These very winds forget their way, For God from these dread seas is gone. Now speak, brave Adm'r'l, speak and say—" He said: "Sail on! Sail on! and on!"
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate: "This mad sea shows his teeth tonight. He curls his lips, he lies in wait With lifted teeth, as if to bite! Brave Adm'r'l, say but one good word: What shall we do when hope is gone? The words leapt like a leaping sword; "Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!"
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck, And peered through darkness. Ah, that night Of all dark nights! And then a speck— A light! a light! a light! a light! It grew, a starlit flag unfurled! It grew to be Time's burst of dawn. He gained a world; he gave that world Its grandest lesson; "On! sail on!"
"Sister's Best Feller"
My sister's best feller is 'most six-foot-three, And handsome and strong as a feller can be; And Sis, she's so little, and slender, and small, You never would think she could boss him at all; But, my jing! She don't do a thing But make him jump 'round, like he worked with a string! It jest made me 'shamed of him sometimes, you know, To think that he'll let a girl bully him so.
He goes to walk with her and carries her muff And coat and umbrella, and that kind of stuff; She loads him with things that must weigh 'most a ton; And, honest, he likes it,—as if it was fun! And, oh, say! When they go to a play, He'll sit in the parlor and fidget away, And she won't come down till it's quarter past eight, And then she'll scold him 'cause they get there so late.
He spends heaps of money a-buyin' her things, Like candy, and flowers, and presents, and rings; And all he's got for 'em's a handkerchief case— A fussed-up concern, made of ribbons and lace; But, my land! He thinks it's just grand, "'Cause she made it," he says, "with her own little hand"; He calls her "an angel"—I heard him—and "saint," And "beautif'lest bein' on earth"—but she ain't,
'Fore I go on an errand for her any time, I just make her coax me, and give me a dime; But that great big silly—why, honest and true— He'd run forty miles if she wanted him to. Oh, gee whiz! I tell you what 'tis! I jest think it's awful—those actions of his. I won't fall in love, when I'm grown—no sir-ee! My sister's best feller's a warnin' to me!
Joseph C. Lincoln.
Where the West Begins
Out where the handclasp's a little stronger, Out where a smile dwells a little longer, That's where the West begins. Out where the sun's a little brighter, Where the snow that falls is a trifle whiter, Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter, That's where the West begins.
Out where the skies are a trifle bluer, Out where friendship's a little truer, That's where the West begins. Out where a fresher breeze is blowing, Where there is laughter in every streamlet flowing, Where there's more of reaping and less of sowing, That's where the West begins.
Out where the world is in the making, Where fewer hearts with despair are aching; That's where the West begins. Where there is more of singing and less of sighing, Where there is more of giving and less of buying, And a man makes friends without half trying— That's where the West begins.
The Tapestry Weavers
Let us take to our hearts a lesson—no lesson can braver be— From the ways of the tapestry weavers on the other side of the sea. Above their heads the pattern hangs, they study it with care, The while their fingers deftly move, their eyes are fastened there.
They tell this curious thing, besides, of the patient, plodding weaver: He works on the wrong side evermore, but works for the right side ever. It is only when the weaving stops, and the web is loosed and turned, That he sees his real handiwork—that his marvelous skill is learned.
Ah, the sight of its delicate beauty, how it pays him for all his cost! No rarer, daintier work than his was ever done by the frost. Then the master bringeth him golden hire, and giveth him praise as well, And how happy the heart of the weaver is, no tongue but his can tell.
The years of man are the looms of God, let down from the place of the sun, Wherein we are weaving ever, till the mystic web is done. Weaving blindly but weaving surely each for himself his fate— We may not see how the right side looks, we can only weave and wait.
But, looking above for the pattern, no weaver hath to fear; Only let him look clear into heaven, the Perfect Pattern is there. If he keeps the face of the Savior forever and always in sight His toil shall be sweeter than honey, his weaving sure to be right.
And when the work is ended, and the web is turned and shown, He shall hear the voice of the Master, it shall say unto him, "Well done!" And the white-winged Angels of Heaven, to bear him shall come down; And God shall give him gold for his hire—not a coin—but a glowing crown.
When the Teacher Gets Cross
When the teacher gets cross, and her blue eyes gets black, And the pencil comes down on the desk with a whack, We chillen all sit up straight in a line, As if we had rulers instead of a spine, And it's scary to cough, and it a'n't safe to grin, When the teacher gets cross, and the dimples goes in.
When the teacher gets cross, the tables get mixed, The ones and the twos begins to play tricks. The pluses and minuses is just little smears, When the cry babies cry their slates full of tears, And the figgers won't add,—but just act up like sin, When the teacher gets cross, and the dimples goes in.
When the teacher gets cross, the reading gets bad. The lines jingle round till the' chillen is sad. And Billy boy puffs and gets red in the face, As if he and the lesson were running a race, Until she hollers out, "Next!" as sharp as a pin, When the teacher gets cross, and the dimples goes in.
When the teacher gets good, her smile is so bright, That the tables gets straight, and the reading gets right. The pluses and minuses comes trooping along, And the figgers add up and stop being wrong, And we chillen would like, but we dassent, to shout, When the teacher gets good, and the dimples comes out.
God of our fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-flung battle line, Beneath whose awful Hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies; The captains and the kings depart: Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice, An humble and a contrite heart. Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire: Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe— Such boasting as the Gentiles use, Or lesser breeds without the Law— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard, All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding, calls not Thee to guard, For frantic boast and foolish word, Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
The Eternal Goodness
O Friends! with whom my feet have trod The quiet aisles of prayer, Glad witness to your zeal for God And love of man I bear.
I trace your lines of argument; Your logic linked and strong I weigh as one who dreads dissent, And fears a doubt as wrong.
But still my human hands are weak To hold your iron creeds: Against the words ye bid me speak My heart within me pleads.
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought? Who talks of scheme and plan? The Lord is God! He needeth not The poor device of man.
I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground Ye tread with boldness shod; I dare not fix with mete and bound The love and power of God.
Ye praise His justice; even such His pitying love I deem; Ye seek a king; I fain would touch The robe that hath no seam.
Ye see the curse which overbroods A world of pain and loss; I hear our Lord's beatitudes And prayer upon the cross.
More than your schoolmen teach, within Myself, alas! I know; Too dark ye cannot paint the sin, Too small the merit show.
I bow my forehead to the dust, I veil mine eyes for shame, And urge, in trembling self-distrust, A prayer without a claim.
I see the wrong that round me lies, I feel the guilt within; I hear, with groan and travail-cries, The world confess its sin.
Yet, in the maddening maze of things, And tossed by storm and flood, To one fixed stake my spirit clings; I know that God is good!
Not mine to look where cherubim And seraphs may not see, But nothing can be good in Him Which evil is in me.
The wrong that pains my soul below I dare not throne above; I know not of His hate,—I know His goodness and His love.
I dimly guess from blessings known Of greater out of sight, And, with the chastened Psalmist, own His judgments too are right.
I long for household voices gone, For vanished smiles I long, But God hath led my dear ones on, And he can do no wrong.
I know not what the future hath Of marvel or surprise, Assured alone that life and death His mercy underlies.
And if my heart and flesh are weak To bear an untried pain, The bruised reed He will not break, But strengthen and sustain.
No offering of my own I have, Nor works my faith to prove; I can but give the gifts He gave, And plead His love for love.
And so beside the Silent Sea, I wait the muffled oar; No harm from Him can come to me On ocean or on shore.
I know not where His islands lift Their fronded palms in air; I only know I cannot drift Beyond His love and care.
O brothers! if my faith is vain, If hopes like these betray, Pray for me that my feet may gain The sure and safer way.
And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen Thy creatures as they be, Forgive me if too close I lean My human heart on Thee!
John G. Whittier.
Driving Home the Cows
Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass He turned them into the river-lane; One after another he let them pass. Then fastened the meadow-bars again.
Under the willows and over the hill, He patiently followed their sober pace; The merry whistle for once was still, And something shadowed the sunny face.
Only a boy! and his father had said He never could let his youngest go; Two already were lying dead Under the feet of the trampling foe.
But after the evening work was done, And the frogs were loud in the meadow swamp, Over his shoulder he slung his gun, And stealthily followed the footpath damp,—
Across the clover and through the wheat. With resolute heart and purpose grim, Though cold was the dew on his hurrying feet, And the blind bat's flitting startled him.
Thrice since then had the lanes been white, And the orchards sweet with apple bloom; And now, when the cows came back at night, The feeble father drove them home.
For news had come to the lonely farm That three were lying where two had lain; And the old man's tremulous, palsied arm Could never lean on a son's again.
The summer day grew cool and late; He went for the cows when the work was done; But down the lane, as he opened the gate, He saw them coming, one by one,—
Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess, Shaking their horns in the evening wind, Cropping the buttercups out of the grass— But who was it following close behind?
Loosely swung in the idle air The empty sleeve of army blue; And worn and pale, from the crisping hair, Looked out a face that the father knew.
For southern prisons will sometimes yawn, And yield their dead unto life again; And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn In golden glory at last may wane.
The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes; For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb, And under the silent evening skies Together they followed the cattle home.
Kate P. Osgood.
A Song of Our Flag
Your Flag and my Flag! And, oh, how much it holds— Your land and my land— Secure within its folds! Your heart and my heart Beat quicker at the sight; Sun-kissed and wind-tossed, Red and blue and white. The one Flag—the great Flag—the Flag for me and you— Glorified all else beside—the red and white and blue!
Your Flag and my Flag! To every star and stripe The drums beat as hearts beat And fifers shrilly pipe! Your Flag and my Flag— A blessing in the sky; Your hope and my hope— It never hid a lie! Home land and far land and half the world around, Old Glory hears our glad salute and ripples to the sound!
Wilbur D. Nesbit.
When the Minister Comes to Tea
Oh! they've swept the parlor carpet, and they've dusted every chair, And they've got the tidies hangin' jest exactly on the square; And the what-not's fixed up lovely, and the mats have all been beat, And the pantry's brimmin' over with the bully things ter eat; Sis has got her Sunday dress on, and she's frizzin' up her bangs; Ma's got on her best alpacky, and she's askin' how it hangs; Pa has shaved as slick as can be, and I'm rigged way up in G,— And it's all because we're goin' ter have the minister ter tea. Oh! the table's fixed up gaudy, with the gilt-edged chiny set, And we'll use the silver tea-pot and the comp'ny spoons, you bet; And we're goin' ter have some fruitcake and some thimbleberry jam, And "riz biscuits," and some doughnuts, and some chicken, and some ham. Ma, she'll 'polergize like fury and say everything is bad, And "Sich awful luck with cookin'," she is sure she never had; But, er course, she's only bluffin,' for it's as prime as it can be, And she's only talkin' that way 'cause the minister's ter tea. Everybody'll be a-smilin' and as good as ever was, Pa won't growl about the vittles, like he generally does. And he'll ask me would I like another piece er pie; but, sho! That, er course, is only manners, and I'm s'posed ter answer "No." Sis'll talk about the church-work and about the Sunday-school, Ma'll tell how she liked that sermon that was on the Golden Rule, And if I upset my tumbler they won't say a word ter me:— Yes, a boy can eat in comfort with the minister ter tea! Say! a minister, you'd reckon, never'd say what wasn't true; But that isn't so with ours, and I jest can prove it, too; 'Cause when Sis plays on the organ so it makes yer want ter die, Why, he sets and says it's lovely; and that, seems ter me,'s a lie: But I like him all the samey, and I only wish he'd stay At our house fer good and always, and eat with us every day; Only think of havin' goodies every evenin'! Jimminee! And I'd never git a scoldin' with the minister ter tea!
Joseph C. Lincoln.
When the Cows Come Home
When klingle, klangle, klingle, Far down the dusty dingle, The cows are coming home;
Now sweet and clear, now faint and low, The airy tinklings come and go, Like chimings from the far-off tower, Or patterings of an April shower That makes the daisies grow; Ko-ling, ko-lang, kolinglelingle Far down the darkening dingle, The cows come slowly home.
And old-time friends, and twilight plays, And starry nights and sunny days, Come trooping up the misty ways When the cows come home, With jingle, jangle, jingle, Soft tones that sweetly mingle— The cows are coming home;
Malvine, and Pearl, and Florimel, DeKamp, Red Rose, and Gretchen Schell. Queen Bess and Sylph, and Spangled Sue, Across the fields I hear her "loo-oo" And clang her silver bell; Go-ling, go-lang, golingledingle, With faint, far sounds that mingle, The cows come slowly home.
And mother-songs of long-gone years, And baby-joys and childish fears, And youthful hopes and youthful tears, When the cows come home. With ringle, rangle, ringle, By twos and threes and single, The cows are coming home.
Through violet air we see the town, And the summer sun a-sliding down, And the maple in the hazel glade Throws down the path a longer shade, And the hills are growing brown; To-ring, to-rang, toringleringle, By threes and fours and single, The cows come slowly home.
The same sweet sound of wordless psalm, The same sweet June-day rest and calm, The same sweet smell of buds and balm, When the cows come home. With tinkle, tankle, tinkle, Through fern and periwinkle, The cows are coming home.
A-loitering in the checkered stream, Where the sun-rays glance and gleam, Clarine, Peach-bloom and Phebe Phillis Stand knee-deep in the creamy lilies, In a drowsy dream; To-link, to-lank, tolinklelinkle, O'er banks with buttercups a-twinkle, The cows come slowly home.
And up through memory's deep ravine Come the brook's old song and its old-time sheen, And the crescent of the silver queen, When the cows come home. With klingle, klangle, klingle, With loo-oo, and moo-oo and jingle, The cows are coming home.
And over there on Merlin Hill Sounds the plaintive cry of the whip-poor-will, And the dew-drops lie on the tangled vines, And over the poplars Venus shines, And over the silent mill. Ko-ling, ko-lang, kolinglelingle, With ting-a-ling and jingle, The cows come slowly home.
Let down the bars; let in the train Of long-gone songs, and flowers, and rain; For dear old times come back again, When the cows come home.
Agnes E. Mitchell.
Custer's Last Charge
Dead! Is it possible? He, the bold rider, Custer, our hero, the first in the fight, Charming the bullets of yore to fly wider, Shunning our battle-king's ringlets of light! Dead! our young chieftain, and dead all forsaken! No one to tell us the way of his fall! Slain in the desert, and never to waken, Never, not even to victory's call!
Comrades, he's gone! but ye need not be grieving; No, may my death be like his when I die! No regrets wasted on words I am leaving, Falling with brave men, and face to the sky. Death's but a journey, the greatest must take it: Fame is eternal, and better than all; Gold though the bowl be, 'tis fate that must break it, Glory can hallow the fragments that fall.
Proud for his fame that last day that he met them! All the night long he had been on their track, Scorning their traps and the men that had set them, Wild for a charge that should never give back. There, on the hilltop he halted and saw them— Lodges all loosened and ready to fly; Hurrying scouts with the tidings to awe them, Told of his coming before he was nigh.
All the wide valley was full of their forces, Gathered to cover the lodges' retreat,— Warriors running in haste to their horses, Thousands of enemies close to his feet! Down in the valleys the ages had hollowed, There lay the Sitting Bull's camp for a prey! Numbers! What recked he? What recked those who followed? Men who had fought ten to one ere that day?
Out swept the squadrons, the fated three hundred, Into the battle-line steady and full; Then down the hillside exultingly thundered Into the hordes of the Old Sitting Bull! Wild Ogalallah, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Wild Horse's braves, and the rest of their crew, Shrank from that charge like a herd from a lion. Then closed around the great hell of wild Sioux.
Right to their center he charged, and then, facing— Hark to those yells and around them, Oh, see! Over the hilltops the devils come racing, Coming as fast as the waves of the sea! Red was the circle of fire about them, No hope of victory, no ray of light, Shot through that terrible black cloud about them, Brooding in death over Custer's last fight.
THEN DID HE BLENCH? Did he die like a craven, Begging those torturing fiends for his life? Was there a soldier who carried the Seven Flinched like a coward or fled from the strife? No, by the blood of our Custer, no quailing! There in the midst of the devils they close, Hemmed in by thousands, but ever assailing, Fighting like tigers, all bayed amid foes!
Thicker and thicker the bullets came singing; Down go the horses and riders and all; Swiftly the warriors round them were ringing, Circling like buzzards awaiting their fall. See the wild steeds of the mountain and prairie, Savage eyes gleaming from forests of mane; Quivering lances with pennons so airy; War-painted warriors charging amain.
Backward again and again they were driven, Shrinking to close with the lost little band; Never a cap that had worn the bright Seven Bowed till its wearer was dead on the strand. Closer and closer the death-circle growing, Even the leader's voice, clarion clear, Rang out his words of encouragement glowing, "We can but die once, boys, but SELL YOUR LIVES DEAR!"
Dearly they sold them, like Berserkers raging, Facing the death that encircled them round; Death's bitter pangs by their vengeance assuaging, Marking their tracks by their dead on the ground. Comrades, our children shall yet tell their story,— Custer's last charge on the Old Sitting Bull; And ages shall swear that the cup of his glory Needed but that death to render it full.
A Boy and His Stomach
What's the matter, stummick? Ain't I always been your friend? Ain't I always been a pardner to you? All my pennies don't I spend In getting nice things for you? Don't I give you lots of cake? Say, stummick, what's the matter, You had to go an' ache?
Why, I loaded you with good things yesterday; I gave you more corn an' chicken than you'd ever had before; I gave you fruit an' candy, apple pie an' chocolate cake, An' last night when I got to bed you had to go an' ache.
Say, what's the matter with you? Ain't you satisfied at all? I gave you all you wanted; you was hard jes' like a ball, An' you couldn't hold another bit of puddin'; yet last night You ached most awful, stummick! That ain't treatin' me jest right.
I've been a friend to you, I have! Why ain't you a friend o' mine? They gave me castor oil becoz you made me whine. I'm feelin' fine this mornin'; yes it's true; But I tell you, stummick, you better appreciate things I do for you.
On the Shores of Tennessee
"Move my arm-chair, faithful Pompey, In the sunshine bright and strong, For this world is fading, Pompey— Massa won't be with you long; And I fain would hear the south wind Bring once more the sound to me, Of the wavelets softly breaking On the shores of Tennessee.
"Mournful though the ripples murmur As they still the story tell, How no vessels float the banner That I've loved so long and well, I shall listen to their music, Dreaming that again I see Stars and Stripes on sloop and shallop Sailing up the Tennessee;
"And Pompey, while old Massa's waiting For Death's last dispatch to come, If that exiled starry banner Should come proudly sailing home, You shall greet it, slave no longer— Voice and hand shall both be free That shout and point to Union colors On the waves of Tennessee."
"Massa's berry kind to Pompey; But old darkey's happy here, Where he's tended corn and cotton For dese many a long-gone year. Ober yonder, Missis' sleeping— No one tends her grave like me; Mebbe she would miss the flowers She used to love in Tennessee.
"'Pears like, she was watching Massa— If Pompey should beside him stay, Mebbe she'd remember better How for him she used to pray; Telling him that way up yonder White as snow his soul would be, If he served the Lord of Heaven While he lived in Tennessee."
Silently the tears were rolling Down the poor old dusky face, As he stepped behind his master, In his long-accustomed place. Then a silence fell around them, As they gazed on rock and tree Pictured in the placid waters Of the rolling Tennessee;—
Master, dreaming of the battle Where he fought by Marion's side, Where he bid the haughty Tarleton Stoop his lordly crest of pride:— Man, remembering how yon sleeper Once he held upon his knee. Ere she loved the gallant soldier, Ralph Vervair of Tennessee.
Still the south wind fondly lingers 'Mid the veteran's silver hair; Still the bondman, close beside him Stands behind the old arm-chair. With his dark-hued hand uplifted, Shading eyes, he bends to see Where the woodland, boldly jutting, Turns aside the Tennessee.
Thus he watches cloud-born shadows Glide from tree to mountain-crest, Softly creeping, aye and ever To the river's yielding breast. Ha! above the foliage yonder Something flutters wild and free! "Massa! Massa! Hallelujah! The flag's come back to Tennessee!"
"Pompey, hold me on your shoulder, Help me stand on foot once more, That I may salute the colors As they pass my cabin door. Here's the paper signed that frees you, Give a freeman's shout with me— 'God and Union!' be our watchword Evermore in Tennessee!"
Then the trembling voice grew fainter, And the limbs refused to stand; One prayer to Jesus—and the soldier Glided to the better land. When the flag went down the river Man and master both were free; While the ring-dove's note was mingled With the rippling Tennessee.
Ethel Lynn Beers.
The White-Footed Deer
It was a hundred years ago, When, by the woodland ways, The traveler saw the wild deer drink, Or crop the birchen sprays.
Beneath a hill, whose rocky side O'er-browed a grassy mead, And fenced a cottage from the wind, A deer was wont to feed.
She only came when on the cliffs The evening moonlight lay, And no man knew the secret haunts In which she walked by day.
White were her feet, her forehead showed A spot of silvery white, That seemed to glimmer like a star In autumn's hazy night.
And here, when sang the whippoorwill, She cropped the sprouting leaves, And here her rustling steps were heard On still October eves.
But when the broad midsummer moon Rose o'er the grassy lawn, Beside the silver-footed deer There grazed a spotted fawn.
The cottage dame forbade her son To aim the rifle here; "It were a sin," she said, "to harm Or fright that friendly deer.
"This spot has been my pleasant home Ten peaceful years and more; And ever, when the moonlight shines, She feeds before our door,
"The red men say that here she walked A thousand moons ago; They never raise the war whoop here, And never twang the bow.
"I love to watch her as she feeds, And think that all is well While such a gentle creature haunts The place in which we dwell."
The youth obeyed, and sought for game In forests far away, Where, deep in silence and in moss, The ancient woodland lay.
But once, in autumn's golden time, He ranged the wild in vain, Nor roused the pheasant nor the deer, And wandered home again.
The crescent moon and crimson eve Shone with a mingling light; The deer, upon the grassy mead, Was feeding full in sight.
He raised the rifle to his eye, And from the cliffs around A sudden echo, shrill and sharp, Gave back its deadly sound.
Away, into the neighboring wood, The startled creature flew, And crimson drops at morning lay Amid the glimmering dew.
Next evening shone the waxing moon As sweetly as before; The deer upon the grassy mead Was seen again no more.
But ere that crescent moon was old, By night the red men came, And burnt the cottage to the ground, And slew the youth and dame.
Now woods have overgrown the mead, And hid the cliffs from sight; There shrieks the hovering hawk at noon, And prowls the fox at night.
Mount Vernon's Bells
Where Potomac's stream is flowing Virginia's border through, Where the white-sailed ships are going Sailing to the ocean blue;
Hushed the sound of mirth and singing, Silent every one! While the solemn bells are ringing By the tomb of Washington.
Tolling and knelling, With a sad, sweet sound, O'er the waves the tones are swelling By Mount Vernon's sacred ground.
Long ago the warrior slumbered— Our country's father slept; Long among the angels numbered They the hero soul have kept.
But the children's children love him, And his name revere, So where willows wave above him, Sweetly still his knell you hear.
Sail, oh ships, across the billows, And bear the story far; How he sleeps beneath the willows,— "First in peace and first in war,"
Tell while sweet adieus are swelling, Till you come again, He within the hearts is dwelling, Of his loving countrymen.
Heaven is not reached at a single bound; But we build the ladder by which we rise From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies, And we mount to the summit round by round,
I count this thing to be grandly true: That a noble deed is a step toward God, Lifting a soul from the common sod To a purer air and a broader view.
We rise by things that are under our feet; By what we have mastered of good and gain, By the pride deposed and the passion slain, And the vanquished ills that we hourly meet.
We hope, we aspire, we resolve, we trust, When the morning calls us to life and light; But our hearts grow weary, and ere he night Our lives are trailing the sordid dust.
We hope, we resolve, we aspire, we pray, And we think that we mount the air on wings, Beyond the recall of sensual things, While our feet still cling to the heavy clay.
Only in dreams is a ladder thrown From the weary earth to the sapphire walls; But the dreams depart, and the vision falls, And the sleeper awakes on his pillow of stone.
Heaven is not reached at a single bound; But we build the ladder by which we rise From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies, And we mount to the summit round by round.
Mr. Finney's Turnip
Mr. Finney had a turnip And it grew behind the barn; It grew there, and it grew there, And the turnip did no harm,
It grew and it grew, Till it could get no taller; Mr. Finney pulled it up And put it in his cellar.
It lay there and it lay there, Till it began to rot; His daughter Sallie took it up, And put it in the pot.
She boiled it, and she boiled it, As long as she was able; His daughter Peggy fished it out. And put it on the table.
Mr. Finney and his wife. They sat down to sup, And they ate, and they ate, Until they ate the turnip up.
The Village Blacksmith
Under a spreading chestnut tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black and long, His face is like the tan; His brow is wet with honest sweat, He earns whate'er he can, And looks the whole world in the face, For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night, You can hear his bellows blow; You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, With measured beat and slow, Like a sexton ringing the village bell, When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school Look in at the open door; They love to see the flaming forge, And hear the bellows roar, And catch the burning sparks that fly Like chaff from a threshing floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church, And sits among his boys; He hears the parson pray and preach, He hears his daughter's voice, Singing in the village choir, And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice, Singing in Paradise! He needs must think of her once more, How in the grave she lies; And with his hard, rough hand he wipes A tear out of his eyes.
Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing, Onward through life he goes; Each morning sees some task begun, Each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done, Has earned a night's repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, For the lesson thou hast taught! Thus at the flaming forge of life Our fortunes must be wrought; Thus on its sounding anvil shaped Each burning deed and thought.
H. W. Longfellow.
You and You
To the American Private in the Great War
Every one of you won the war— You and you and you— Each one knowing what it was for, And what was his job to do.
Every one of you won the war, Obedient, unwearied, unknown, Dung in the trenches, drift on the shore, Dust to the world's end blown; Every one of you, steady and true, You and you and you— Down in the pit or up in the blue, Whether you crawled or sailed or flew, Whether your closest comrade knew Or you bore the brunt alone—
All of you, all of you, name after name, Jones and Robinson, Smith and Brown, You from the piping prairie town, You from the Fundy fogs that came, You from the city's roaring blocks, You from the bleak New England rocks With the shingled roof in the apple boughs, You from the brown adobe house— You from the Rockies, you from the Coast, You from the burning frontier-post And you from the Klondyke's frozen flanks, You from the cedar-swamps, you from the pine, You from the cotton and you from the vine, You from the rice and the sugar-brakes, You from the Rivers and you from the Lakes, You from the Creeks and you from the Licks And you from the brown bayou— You and you and you— You from the pulpit, you from the mine, You from the factories, you from the banks, Closer and closer, ranks on ranks, Airplanes and cannon, and rifles and tanks, Smith and Robinson, Brown and Jones, Ruddy faces or bleaching bones, After the turmoil and blood and pain Swinging home to the folks again Or sleeping alone in the fine French rain— Every one of you won the war.
Every one of you won the war— You and you and you— Pressing and pouring forth, more and more, Toiling and straining from shore to shore To reach the flaming edge of the dark Where man in his millions went up like a spark, You, in your thousands and millions coming, All the sea ploughed with you, all the air humming, All the land loud with you, All our hearts proud with you, All our souls bowed with the awe of your coming!
Where's the Arch high enough, Lads, to receive you, Where's the eye dry enough, Dears, to perceive you, When at last and at last in your glory you come, Tramping home?
Every one of you won the war, You and you and you— You that carry an unscathed head, You that halt with a broken tread, And oh, most of all, you Dead, you Dead! Lift up the Gates for these that are last, That are last in the great Procession. Let the living pour in, take possession, Flood back to the city, the ranch, the farm, The church and the college and mill, Back to the office, the store, the exchange, Back to the wife with the babe on her arm, Back to the mother that waits on the sill, And the supper that's hot on the range.
And now, when the last of them all are by, Be the Gates lifted up on high To let those Others in, Those Others, their brothers, that softly tread, That come so thick, yet take no ground, That are so many, yet make no sound, Our Dead, our Dead, our Dead!
O silent and secretly-moving throng, In your fifty thousand strong, Coming at dusk when the wreaths have dropt, And streets are empty, and music stopt, Silently coming to hearts that wait Dumb in the door and dumb at the gate, And hear your step and fly to your call— Every one of you won the war, But you, you Dead, most of all!
Edith Wharton (Copyright 1919 by Charles Scrihner's, Sons).
The First Snow-fall
The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white.
Every pine and fir and hemlock Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm tree Was ridged inch-deep with pearl.
From sheds new-roofed with Carrara Came Chanticleer's muffled crow, The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down, And still fluttered down the snow.
I stood and watched by the window The noiseless work of the sky, And the sudden flurries of snow-birds, Like brown leaves whirling by.
I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn Where a little headstone stood; How the flakes were folding it gently, As did robins the babes in the wood.
Up spoke our own little Mabel, Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?" And I told of the good All-father Who cares for us here below.
Again I looked at the snow-fall, And thought of the leaden sky That arched o'er our first great sorrow, When that mound was heaped so high.
I remembered the gradual patience That fell from that cloud like snow, Flake by flake, healing and hiding The scar of our deep-plunged woe.
And again to the child I whispered, "The snow that husheth all, Darling, the merciful Father Alone can make it fall!"
Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her; And she, kissing back, could not know That my kiss was given to her sister, Folded close under deepening snow.
James Russell Lowell.
The Concord Hymn
Sung at the completion of the Concord Monument, April 19, 1836.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone, That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made these heroes dare To die, to leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Casey at the Bat
It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day; The score stood two to four with but an inning left to play; So, when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same, A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest, With that hope which springs eternal within the human breast, For they thought: "If only Casey could get a whack at that," They'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, and likewise so did Blake, And the former was a puddin', and the latter was a fake; So on that stricken multitude a deathlike silence sat. For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat,
But Flynn let drive a "single," to the wonderment of all, And the much-despised Blakey "tore the cover off the ball"; And when the dust had lifted and they saw what had occurred, There was Blakey safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin' third.
Then, from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell, It rumbled in the mountain-tops, it rattled in the dell; It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat; For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place, There was pride in Casey's bearing, and a smile on Casey's face. And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat, No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt, Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt; Then while the New York pitcher ground the ball into his hip, Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there. Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped— "That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, Like the beating of great storm waves on a stern and distant shore. "Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand. And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised a hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone; He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on; He signaled to Sir Timothy, once more the spheroid flew; But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."
"Fraud," cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!" But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed. They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate; He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate; And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light; And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout: But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
(Being a reply to "Casey at the Bat.")
There were saddened hearts in Mudville for a week or even more; There were muttered oaths and curses—every fan in town was sore. "Just think," said one, "how soft it looked with Casey at the bat! And then to think he'd go and spring a bush league trick like that."
All his past fame was forgotten; he was now a hopeless "shine." They called him "Strike-out Casey" from the mayor down the line. And as he came to bat each day his bosom heaved a sigh, While a look of hopeless fury shone in mighty Casey's eye.
The lane is long, someone has said, that never turns again, And Fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men. And Casey smiled—his rugged face no longer wore a frown; The pitcher who had started all the trouble came to town.
All Mudville has assembled; ten thousand fans had come To see the twirler who had put big Casey on the bum; And when he stepped into the box the multitude went wild. He doffed his cap in proud disdain—but Casey only smiled.
"Play ball!" the umpire's voice rang out, and then the game began; But in that throng of thousands there was not a single fan Who thought that Mudville had a chance; and with the setting sun Their hopes sank low—the rival team was leading "four to one."
The last half of the ninth came round, with no change in the score; But when the first man up hit safe the crowd began to roar. The din increased, the echo of ten thousand shouts was heard When the pitcher hit the second and gave "four balls" to the third.
Three men on base—nobody out—three runs to tie the game! A triple meant the highest niche in Mudville's hall of fame. But here the rally ended and the gloom was deep as night When the fourth one "fouled to catcher," and the fifth "flew out to right."
A dismal groan in chorus came—a scowl was on each face— When Casey walked up, bat in hand, and slowly took his place; His bloodshot eyes in fury gleamed; his teeth were clinched in hate; He gave his cap a vicious hook and pounded on the plate.
But fame is fleeting as the wind, and glory fades away; There were no wild and woolly cheers, no glad acclaim this day. They hissed and groaned and hooted as they clamored, "Strike him out!" But Casey gave no outward sign that he had heard the shout.
The pitcher smiled and cut one loose; across the plate it spread; Another hiss, another groan—"Strike one!" the umpire said. Zip! Like a shot, the second curve broke just below his knee— "Strike two!" the umpire roared aloud; but Casey made no plea.
No roasting for the umpire now—his was an easy lot. But here the pitcher twirled again—was that a rifle shot? A whack; a crack; and out through space the leather pellet flew— A blot against the distant sky, a speck against the blue.
Above the fence in center field, in rapid whirling flight The sphere sailed on; the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight. Ten thousand hats were thrown in air, ten thousand threw a fit; But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit!
Oh, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun, And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun; And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall, But Mudville hearts are happy now—for Casey hit the ball!
Rock Me to Sleep
Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight, Make me a child again just for tonight! Mother, come back from the echoless shore, Take me again to your heart as of yore; Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care, Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair; Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;— Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years! I am so weary of toil and of tears,— Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,— Take them, and give me my childhood again! I have grown weary of dust and decay,— Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away; Weary of sowing for others to reap;— Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue, Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you! Many a summer the grass has grown green, Blossomed and faded, our faces between; Yet with strong yearning and passionate pain Long I to-night for your presence again. Come from the silence so long and so deep;— Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Over my heart, in the days that are flown, No love like mother-love ever has shone; No other worship abides and endures— Faithful, unselfish and patient, like yours; None like a mother can charm away pain From the sick soul and the world-weary brain. Slumber's soft calms o'er my heavy lids creep;— Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold, Fall on your shoulders again as of old; Let it drop over my forehead to-night, Shading my faint eyes away from the light; For with its sunny-edged shadows once more Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore; Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;— Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Mother, dear mother, the years have been long Since I last listened your lullaby song; Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem Womanhood's years have been only a dream. Clasped to your breast in a loving embrace, With your light lashes just sweeping my face, Never hereafter to wake or to weep;— Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
Elizabeth Akers Allen.
An Answer to "Rock Me to Sleep"
My child, ah, my child; thou art weary to-night, Thy spirit is sad, and dim is the light; Thou wouldst call me back from the echoless shore To the trials of life, to thy heart as of yore; Thou longest again for my fond loving care, For my kiss on thy cheek, for my hand on thy hair; But angels around thee their loving watch keep, And angels, my darling, will rock thee to sleep.
"Backward?" Nay, onward, ye swift rolling years! Gird on thy armor, keep back thy tears; Count not thy trials nor efforts in vain, They'll bring thee the light of thy childhood again. Thou shouldst not weary, my child, by the way, But watch for the light of that brighter day; Not tired of "Sowing for others to reap," For angels, my darling, will rock thee to sleep.
Tired, my child, of the "base, the untrue!" I have tasted the cup they have given to you; I've felt the deep sorrow in the living green Of a low mossy grave by the silvery stream. But the dear mother I then sought for in vain Is an angel presence and with me again; And in the still night, from the silence deep, Come the bright angels to rock me to sleep.
Nearer thee now than in days that are flown, Purer the love-light encircling thy home; Far more enduring the watch for tonight Than ever earth worship away from the light; Soon the dark shadows will linger no more. Nor come to thy call from the opening door; But know thou, my child, that the angels watch keep, And soon, very soon, they'll rock thee to sleep.
They'll sing thee to sleep with a soothing song; And, waking, thou'lt be with a heavenly throng; And thy life, with its toil and its tears and pain, Thou wilt then see has not been in vain. Thou wilt meet those in bliss whom on earth thou didst love, And whom thou hast taught of the "Mansions above." "Never hereafter to suffer or weep," The angels, my darling, will rock thee to sleep.
(December 15, 1862)
'Twas the last fight at Fredericksburg,— Perhaps the day you reck, Our boys, the Twenty-second Maine, Kept Early's men in check. Just where Wade Hampton boomed away The fight went neck and neck.
All day the weaker wing we held, And held it with a will. Five several stubborn times we charged The battery on the hill, And five times beaten back, re-formed, And kept our column still.
At last from out the center fight Spurred up a general's aide, "That battery must silenced be!" He cried, as past he sped. Our colonel simply touched his cap, And then, with measured tread,
To lead the crouching line once more, The grand old fellow came. No wounded man but raised his head And strove to gasp his name, And those who could not speak nor stir, "God blessed him" just the same.
For he was all the world to us, That hero gray and grim; Right well we knew that fearful slope We'd climb with none but him, Though while his white head led the way We'd charge hell's portals in.
This time we were not half way up When, midst the storm of shell, Our leader, with his sword upraised, Beneath our bayonets fell, And as we bore him back, the foe Set up a joyous yell.
Our hearts went with him. Back we swept, And when the bugle said, "Up, charge again!" no man was there But hung his dogged head. "We've no one left to lead us now," The sullen soldiers said.
Just then before the laggard line The colonel's horse we spied— Bay Billy, with his trappings on, His nostrils swelling wide, As though still on his gallant back The master sat astride.
Right royally he took the place That was of old his wont, And with a neigh that seemed to say, Above the battle's brunt, "How can the Twenty-second charge If I am not in front?"
Like statues rooted there we stood, And gazed a little space; Above that floating mane we missed The dear familiar face, But we saw Bay Billy's eye of fire, And it gave us heart of grace.
No bugle-call could rouse us all As that brave sight had done. Down all the battered line we felt A lightning impulse run. Up, up the hill we followed Bill,— And we captured every gun!
And when upon the conquered height Died out the battle's hum, Vainly 'mid living and the dead We sought our leader dumb. It seemed as if a spectre steed To win that day had come.
And then the dusk and dew of night Fell softly o'er the plain, As though o'er man's dread work of death The angels wept again, And drew night's curtain gently round A thousand beds of pain.
All night the surgeons' torches went The ghastly rows between,— All night with solemn step I paced The torn and bloody green. But who that fought in the big war Such dread sights have not seen?
At last the morning broke. The lark Sang in the merry skies, As if to e'en the sleepers there It said "Awake, arise!" Though naught but that last trump of all Could ope their heavy eyes.
And then once more, with banners gay, Stretched out the long brigade. Trimly upon the furrowed field The troops stood on parade, And bravely 'mid the ranks were closed The gaps the fight had made.
Not half the Twenty-second's men Were in their place that morn; And Corporal Dick, who yester-noon Stood six brave fellows on, Now touched my elbow in the ranks, For all between were gone.
Ah! who forgets that weary hour When, as with misty eyes, To call the old familiar roll The solemn sergeant tries,— One feels that thumping of the heart As no prompt voice replies.
And as in faltering tone and slow The last few names were said, Across the field some missing horse Toiled up with weary tread. It caught the sergeant's eye, and quick Bay Billy's name he read.
Yes! there the old bay hero stood, All safe from battle's harms, And ere an order could be heard, Or the bugle's quick alarms, Down all the front, from end to end, The troops presented arms!
Not all the shoulder-straps on earth Could still our mighty cheer; And ever from that famous day, When rang the roll-call clear, Bay Billy's name was read, and then The whole line answered, "Here!"
Frank H. Gassaway.
The Legend of the Organ-Builder
Day by day the Organ-builder in his lonely chamber wrought; Day by day the soft air trembled to the music of his thought; Till at last the work was ended; and no organ voice so grand Ever yet had soared responsive to the master's magic hand.
Ay, so rarely was it builded that whenever groom and bride, Who, in God's sight were well-pleasing, in the church stood side by side, Without touch or breath the organ of itself began to play, And the very airs of heaven through the soft gloom seemed to stray.
He was young, the Organ-builder, and o'er all the land his fame Ran with fleet and eager footsteps, like a swiftly rushing flame. All the maidens heard the story; all the maidens blushed and smiled, By his youth and wondrous beauty and his great renown beguiled.
So he sought and won the fairest, and the wedding-day was set Happy day—the brightest jewel in the glad year's coronet! But when they the portal entered, he forgot his lovely bride— Forgot his love, forgot his God, and his heart swelled high with pride.
"Ah!" thought he, "how great a master am I! When the organ plays, How the vast cathedral-arches will re-echo with my praise!" Up the aisle the gay procession moved. The altar shone afar, With every candle gleaming through soft shadows like a star.
But he listened, listened, listened, with no thought of love or prayer, For the swelling notes of triumph from his organ standing there. All was silent. Nothing heard he save the priest's low monotone, And the bride's robe trailing softly o'er the floor of fretted stone.
Then his lips grew white with anger. Surely God was pleased with him, Who had built the wondrous organ for His temple vast and dim! Whose the fault then? Hers—the maiden standing meekly at his side! Flamed his jealous rage, maintaining she was false to him—his bride.
Vain were all her protestations, vain her innocence and truth; On that very night he left her to her anguish and her ruth. Far he wandered to a country wherein no man knew his name: For ten weary years he dwelt there, nursing still his wrath and shame.
Then his haughty heart grew softer, and he thought by night and day Of the bride he had deserted, till he hardly dared to pray; Thought of her, a spotless maiden, fair and beautiful and good; Thought of his relentless anger, that had cursed her womanhood;
Till his yearning grief and penitence at last were all complete, And he longed, with bitter longing, just to fall down at her feet. Ah! how throbbed his heart when, after many a weary day and night, Rose his native towers before him, with the sunset glow alight!
Through the gates into the city on he pressed with eager tread; There he met a long procession—mourners following the dead. "Now why weep ye so, good people? And whom bury ye today? Why do yonder sorrowing maidens scatter flowers along the way?
"Has some saint gone up to heaven?" "Yes," they answered, weeping sore; "For the Organ-builder's saintly wife our eyes shall see no more; And because her days were given to the service of God's poor, From His church we mean to bury her. See! yonder is the door."
No one knew him; no one wondered when he cried out, white with pain; No one questioned when, with pallid lips, he poured his tears like rain. "'Tis someone she has comforted, who mourns with us," they said, As he made his way unchallenged, and bore the coffin's head;
Bore it through the open portal, bore it up the echoing aisle, Let it down before the altar, where the lights burned clear the while. When, oh, hark; the wondrous organ of itself began to play Strains of rare, unearthly sweetness never heard until that day!
All the vaulted arches rang with music sweet and clear; All the air was filled with glory, as of angels hovering near; And ere yet the strain was ended, he who bore the coffin's head, With the smile of one forgiven, gently sank beside it—dead.
They who raised the body knew him, and they laid him by his bride; Down the aisle and o'er the threshold they were carried, side by side; While the organ played a dirge that no man ever heard before, And then softly sank to silence—silence kept forevermore.
Julia C. R. Dorr.
"Hi! Harry Holly! Halt; and tell A fellow just a thing or two; You've had a furlough, been to see How all the folks in Jersey do. It's months ago since I was there— I, and a bullet from Fair Oaks. When you were home, old comrade, say, Did you see any of our folks?
"You did? Shake hands—Oh, ain't I glad! For if I do look grim and rough, I've got some feelin'— People think A soldier's heart is mighty tough; But, Harry, when the bullets fly, And hot saltpetre flames and smokes, While whole battalions lie afield, One's apt to think about his folks.
"And so you saw them—when? and where? The old man—is he hearty yet? And mother—does she fade at all? Or does she seem to pine and fret For me? And Sis?—has she grown tall? And did you see her friend—you know— That Annie Moss— (How this pipe chokes!) Where did you see her?—Tell: me, Hal, A lot of news about our folks,
"You saw them in the church—you say, It's likely, for they're always there. Not Sunday? No? A funeral? Who? Who, Harry? how you shake and stare! All well, you say, and all were out. What ails you, Hal? Is this a hoax? Why don't you tell me like a man: What is the matter with our folks?"
"I said all well, old comrade, true; I say all well, for He knows best Who takes the young ones in his arms, Before the sun goes to the west. The axe-man Death deals right and left, And flowers fall as well as oaks; And so— Fair Annie blooms no more! And that's the matter with your folks.
"See, this long curl was kept for you; And this white blossom from her breast; And here—your sister Bessie wrote A letter telling all the rest. Bear up, old friend." Nobody speaks; Only the old camp-raven croaks, And soldiers whisper, "Boys, be still; There's some bad news from Granger's folks."
He turns his back—the only foe That ever saw it—on this grief, And, as men will, keeps down the tears Kind nature sends to woe's relief. Then answers he: "Ah, Hal, I'll try; But in my throat there's something chokes, Because, you see, I've thought so long To count her in among our folks.
"I s'pose she must be happy now, But still I will keep thinking, too, I could have kept all trouble off, By being tender, kind and true. But maybe not. She's safe up there, And when the Hand deals other strokes, She'll stand by Heaven's gate, I know, And wait to welcome in our folks."
Ethel Lynn Beers.
The Face upon the Floor
'Twas a balmy summer evening, and a goodly crowd was there, Which well-nigh filled Joe's bar-room on the corner of the square; And as songs and witty stories came through the open door, A vagabond crept slowly in and posed upon the floor.
"Where did it come from?" someone said. "The wind has blown it in." "What does it want?" another cried. "Some whisky, rum or gin?" "Here, Toby, seek him, if your stomach's equal to the work— I wouldn't touch him with a fork, he's as filthy as a Turk."
This badinage the poor wretch took with stoical, good grace; In fact, he smiled as though he thought he'd struck the proper place. "Come, boys, I know there's kindly hearts among so good a crowd— To be in such good company would make a deacon proud.
"Give me a drink—that's what I want—I'm out of funds, you know; When I had cash to treat the gang, this hand was never slow. What? You laugh as though you thought this pocket never held a sou; I once was fixed as well, my boys, as any one of you.
"There, thanks; that's braced me nicely; God bless you one and all; Next time I pass this good saloon, I'll make another call. Give you a song? No, I can't do that, my singing days are past; My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out, and my lungs are going fast.
"Say! give me another whisky, and I'll tell you what I'll do— I'll tell you a funny story, and a fact, I promise, too. That I was ever a decent man, not one of you would think; But I was, some four or five years back. Say, give me another drink.
"Fill her up, Joe, I want to put some life into my frame— Such little drinks, to a bum like me, are miserably tame; Five fingers—there, that's the scheme—and corking whisky, too. Well, here's luck, boys; and landlord, my best regards to you.
"You've treated me pretty kindly, and I'd like to tell you how I came to be the dirty sot you see before you now. As I told you, once I was a man, with muscle, frame and health, And but for a blunder, ought to have made considerable wealth.
"I was a painter—not one that daubed on bricks and wood, But an artist, and, for my age, was rated pretty good. I worked hard at my canvas, and was bidding fair to rise, For gradually I saw the star of fame before my eyes.
"I made a picture, perhaps you've seen, 'tis called the 'Chase of Fame.' It brought me fifteen hundred pounds, and added to my name. And then I met a woman—now comes the funny part— With eyes that petrified my brain and sunk into my heart.
"Why don't you laugh? 'Tis funny that the vagabond you see Could ever love a woman, and expect her love for me; But 'twas so, and for a month or two her smiles were freely given, And when her loving lips touched mine it carried me to heaven.
"Did you ever see a woman for whom your soul you'd give, With a form like the Milo Venus, too beautiful to live; With eyes that would beat the Koh-i-noor, and a wealth of chestnut hair? If so, 'twas she, for there never was another half so fair.
"I was working on a portrait, one afternoon in May, Of a fair-haired boy, a friend of mine, who lived across the way; And Madeline admired it, and, much to my surprise, Said that she'd like to know the man that had such dreamy eyes.
"It didn't take long to know him, and before the month had flown, My friend had stolen my darling, and I was left alone; And ere a year of misery had passed above my head, The jewel I had treasured so had tarnished, and was dead.
"That's why I took to drink, boys. Why, I never saw you smile,— I thought you'd be amused, and laughing all the while. Why, what's the mattter, friend? There's a teardrop in your eye, Come, laugh, like me; 'tis only babes and women that should cry.
"Say, boys, if you give me just another whisky, I'll be glad, And I'll draw right here a picture of the face that drove me mad. Give me that piece of chalk with which you mark the baseball score— You shall see the lovely Madeline upon the bar-room floor."
Another drink, and, with chalk in hand, the vagabond began To sketch a face that well might buy the soul of any man. Then as he placed another lock upon the shapely head, With a fearful shriek, he leaped, and fell across the picture dead.
H. Antoine D'Arcy.
The Calf Path
One day through the primeval wood, A calf walked home, as good calves should; But made a trail all bent askew, A crooked trail, as all calves do. Since then three hundred years have fled, And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail, And thereby hangs a moral tale. The trail was taken up next day By a lone dog that passed that way, And then the wise bell-wether sheep Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep, And drew the flock behind him, too, As good bell-wethers always do. And from that day, o'er hill and glade, Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out, And turned and dodged and bent about, And uttered words of righteous wrath Because 'twas such a crooked path: But still they followed—do not laugh— The first migrations of that calf, And through this winding woodway stalked Because he wabbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane, That bent and turned and turned again; This crooked path became a road. Where many a poor horse, with his load, Toiled on beneath the burning sun, And traveled some three miles in one. And thus a century and a half They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet, The road became a village street; And this, before men were aware, A city's crowded thoroughfare. And soon the central street was this Of a renowned metropolis. And men two centuries and a half Trod in the footsteps of that calf!
Each day a hundred thousand rout Followed the zigzag calf about; And o'er his crooked journey went The traffic of a continent. A hundred thousand men were led By a calf near three centuries dead. They followed still his crooked way And lost one hundred years a day; For thus such reverence is lent To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach Were I ordained and called to preach; For men are prone to go it blind, Along the calf-paths of the mind, And work away from sun to sun To do what other men have done. They follow in the beaten track, And out and in, and forth and back, And still their devious course pursue, To keep the path that others do. But how the wise wood-gods must laugh, Who saw the first primeval calf; Ah, many things this tale might teach— But I am not ordained to preach.
Sam Walter Foss.
The Ride of Jennie M'Neal
Paul Revere was a rider bold— Well has his valorous deed been told; Sheridan's ride was a glorious one— Often it has been dwelt upon; But why should men do all the deeds On which the love of a patriot feeds? Hearken to me, while I reveal The dashing ride of Jennie M'Neal.
On a spot as pretty as might be found In the dangerous length of the Neutral Ground, In a cottage, cozy, and all their own, She and her mother lived alone. Safe were the two, with their frugal store, From all of the many who passed their door; For Jennie's mother was strange to fears, And Jennie was large for fifteen years; With vim her eyes were glistening, Her hair was the hue of a blackbird's wing; And while the friends who knew her well The sweetness of her heart could tell, A gun that hung on the kitchen wall Looked solemnly quick to heed her call; And they who were evil-minded knew Her nerve was strong and her aim was true. So all kind words and acts did deal To generous, black-eyed Jennie M'Neal.
One night, when the sun had crept to bed, And rain-clouds lingered overhead, And sent their surly drops for proof To drum a tune on the cottage roof, Close after a knock at the outer door There entered a dozen dragoons or more. Their red coats, stained by the muddy road, That they were British soldiers showed; The captain his hostess bent to greet, Saying, "Madam, please give us a bit to eat; We will pay you well, and, if may be, This bright-eyed girl for pouring our tea; Then we must dash ten miles ahead, To catch a rebel colonel abed. He is visiting home, as doth appear; We will make his pleasure cost him dear." And they fell on the hasty supper with zeal, Close-watched the while by Jennie M'Neal.
For the gray-haired colonel they hovered near Had been her true friend, kind and dear; And oft, in her younger days, had he Right proudly perched her upon his knee, And told her stories many a one Concerning the French war lately done. And oft together the two friends were, And many the arts he had taught to her; She had hunted by his fatherly side, He had shown her how to fence and ride; And once had said, "The time may be, Your skill and courage may stand by me." So sorrow for him she could but feel, Brave, grateful-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
With never a thought or a moment more, Bare-headed she slipped from the cottage door, Ran out where the horses were left to feed, Unhitched and mounted the captain's steed, And down the hilly and rock-strewn way She urged the fiery horse of gray. Around her slender and cloakless form Pattered and moaned the ceaseless storm; Secure and tight a gloveless hand Grasped the reins with stern command; And full and black her long hair streamed, Whenever the ragged lightning gleamed. And on she rushed for the colonel's weal, Brave, lioness-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
Hark! from the hills, a moment mute, Came a clatter of hoofs in hot pursuit; And a cry from the foremost trooper said, "Halt! or your blood be on your head"; She heeded it not, and not in vain She lashed the horse with the bridle-rein.
So into the night the gray horse strode; His shoes hewed fire from the rocky road; And the high-born courage that never dies Flashed from his rider's coal-black eyes. The pebbles flew from the fearful race: The raindrops grasped at her glowing face. "On, on, brave beast!" with loud appeal, Cried eager, resolute Jennie M'Neal.
"Halt!" once more came the voice of dread; "Halt! or your blood be on your head!" Then, no one answering to the calls, Sped after her a volley of balls. They passed her in her rapid flight, They screamed to her left, they screamed to her right; But, rushing still o'er the slippery track, She sent no token of answer back, Except a silvery laughter-peal, Brave, merry-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
So on she rushed, at her own good will, Through wood and valley, o'er plain and hill; The gray horse did his duty well, Till all at once he stumbled and fell, Himself escaping the nets of harm, But flinging the girl with a broken arm. Still undismayed by the numbing pain, She clung to the horse's bridle-rein And gently bidding him to stand, Petted him with her able hand; Then sprung again to the saddle bow, And shouted, "One more trial now!" As if ashamed of the heedless fall, He gathered his strength once more for all, And, galloping down a hillside steep, Gained on the troopers at every leap; No more the high-bred steed did reel, But ran his best for Jennie M'Neal.
They were a furlong behind, or more, When the girl burst through the colonel's door, Her poor arm helpless hanging with pain, And she all drabbled and drenched with rain, But her cheeks as red as fire-brands are, And her eyes as bright as a blazing star, And shouted, "Quick! be quick, I say! They come! they come! Away! away!" Then, sunk on the rude white floor of deal, Poor, brave, exhausted Jennie M'Neal.
The startled colonel sprung, and pressed The wife and children to his breast, And turned away from his fireside bright, And glided into the stormy night; Then soon and safely made his way To where the patriot army lay. But first he bent in the dim firelight, And kissed the forehead broad and white, And blessed the girl who had ridden so well To keep him out of a prison-cell. The girl roused up at the martial din, Just as the troopers came rushing in, And laughed, e'en in the midst of a moan, Saying, "Good sirs, your bird has flown. 'Tis I who have scared him from his nest; So deal with me now as you think best." But the grand young captain bowed, and said, "Never you hold a moment's dread. Of womankind I must crown you queen; So brave a girl I have never seen. Wear this gold ring as your valor's due; And when peace comes I will come for you." But Jennie's face an arch smile wore, As she said, "There's a lad in Putnam's corps, Who told me the same, long time ago; You two would never agree, I know. I promised my love to be as true as steel," Said good, sure-hearted Jennie M'Neal.
The Hand That Rules the World
They say that man is mighty, he governs land and sea; He wields a mighty scepter o'er lesser powers that be; By a mightier power and stronger, man from his throne is hurled, And the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of woman! angels guard its strength and grace, In the palace, cottage, hovel, oh, no matter where the place! Would that never storms assailed it, rainbows ever gently curled; For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Infancy's the tender fountain, power may with beauty flow; Mother's first to guide the streamlets, from them souls unresting grow; Grow on for the good or evil, sunshine streamed or darkness hurled; For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Woman, how divine your mission here upon our natal sod! Keep, oh, keep the young heart open always to the breath of God! All true trophies of the ages are from mother-love impearled, For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of woman! fathers, sons and daughters cry, And the sacred song is mingled with the worship in the sky— Mingles where no tempest darkens, rainbows evermore are curled; For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
William Ross Wallace.
What I Live For
I live for those who love me, Whose hearts are kind and true, For the heaven that smiles above me, And awaits my spirit, too; For the human ties that bind me, For the task by God assigned me, For the bright hopes left behind me, And the good that I can do.
I live to learn their story Who've suffered for my sake, To emulate their glory, And to follow in their wake; Bards, patriots, martyrs, sages, The noble of all ages, Whose deeds crowd history's pages, And Time's great volume make.
I live to hold communion With all that is divine, To feel there is a union 'Twixt Nature's heart and mine; To profit by affliction, Reap truths from fields of fiction, Grow wiser from conviction, And fulfill each grand design.
I live to hail that season, By gifted minds foretold, When men shall rule by reason, And not alone by gold; When man to man united, And every wrong thing righted, The whole world shall be lighted As Eden was of old.
I live for those who love me, For those who know me true, For the heaven that smiles above me, And awaits my spirit, too; For the cause that lacks assistance, For the wrong that needs resistance, For the future in the distance, And the good that I can do.
George Linnaeus Banks.
My Love Ship
If all the ships I have at sea Should come a-sailing home to me, Weighed down with gems, and silk and gold, Ah! well, the harbor would not hold So many ships as there would be, If all my ships came home from sea.
If half my ships came home from sea, And brought their precious freight to me, Ah! well, I should have wealth as great As any king that sits in state, So rich the treasure there would be In half my ships now out at sea.
If but one ship I have at sea Should come a-sailing home to me, Ah! well, the storm clouds then might frown, For, if the others all went down, Still rich and glad and proud I'd be If that one ship came home to me.
If that one ship went down at sea And all the others came to me Weighed down with gems and wealth untold, With honor, riches, glory, gold, The poorest soul on earth I'd be If that one ship came not to me.
O skies, be calm; O winds, blow free! Blow all my ships safe home to me, But if thou sendest some awrack, To nevermore come sailing back, Send any, all that skim the sea, But send my love ship home to me.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
The Man With the Hoe
(Written after seeing Millet's famous painting.)
God made man in His own image; in the image of God made he him.—GENESIS.
Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground, The emptiness of ages in his face, And on his back the burden of the world. Who made him dead to rapture and despair, A thing that grieves not and that never hopes, Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox? Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw? Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow? Whose breath blew out the light within this brain? Is this the Thing, the Lord God made and gave To have dominion over sea and land; To trace the stars and search the heavens for power; To feel the passion of Eternity? Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns And pillared the blue firmament with light? Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf There is no shape more terrible than this— More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed— More filled with signs and portents for the soul— More fraught with menace to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim! Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades? What the long reaches of the peaks of song, The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose? Through this dread shape the suffering ages look; Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop; Through this dread shape humanity betrayed, Plundered, profaned and disinherited, Cries protest to the judges of the world, A protest that is also prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, Is this the handiwork you give to God, This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched? How will you ever straighten up this shape; Touch it again with immortality; Give back the upward looking and the light, Rebuild it in the music and the dream; Make right the immemorial infamies, perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, How will the Future reckon with this man? How answer his brute question in that hour When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world? How will it be with kingdom and with kings— With those who shaped him to the thing he is— When this dumb Terror shall reply to God, After the silence of the centuries?
Did you say you wished to see me, sir? Step in; 'tis a cheerless place, But you're heartily welcome all the same; to be poor is no disgrace. Have I been here long? Oh, yes, sir! 'tis thirty winters gone Since poor Jim took to crooked ways and left me all alone! Jim was my son, and a likelier lad you'd never wish to see, Till evil counsels won his heart and led him away from me.
'Tis the old, sad, pitiful story, sir, of the devil's winding stair, And men go down—and down—and down—to blackness and despair; Tossing about like wrecks at sea, with helm and anchor lost, On and on, through the surging waves, nor caring to count the cost; I doubt sometimes if the Savior sees, He seems so far away, How the souls He loved and died for, are drifting—drifting astray!
Indeed,'tis little wonder, sir, if woman shrinks and cries When the life-blood on Rum's altar spilled is calling to the skies; Small wonder if her own heart feels each sacrificial blow, For isn't each life a part of hers? each pain her hurt and woe? Read all the records of crime and shame—'tis bitterly, sadly true; Where manliness and honor die, there some woman's heart dies, too.
I often think, when I hear folks talk so prettily and so fine Of "alcohol as needful food"; of the "moderate use of wine"; How "the world couldn't do without it, there was clearly no other way But for a man to drink, or let it alone, as his own strong will might say"; That "to use it, but not abuse it, was the proper thing to do," How I wish they'd let old Poorhouse Nan preach her little sermon, too!
I would give them scenes in a woman's life that would make their pulses stir, For I was a drunkard's child and wife—aye, a drunkard's mother, sir! I would tell of childish terrors, of childish tears and pain. Of cruel blows from a father's hand when rum had crazed his brain; He always said he could drink his fill, or let it alone as well; Perhaps he might, he was killed one night in a brawl—in a grog-shop hell!
I would tell of years of loveless toil the drunkard's child had passed, With just one gleam of sunshine, too beautiful to last. When I married Tom I thought for sure I had nothing more to fear, That life would come all right at last; the world seemed full of cheer. But he took to moderate drinking—he allowed 'twas a harmless thing, So the arrow sped, and my bird of Hope came down with a broken wing.
Tom was only a moderate drinker; ah, sir, do you bear in mind How the plodding tortoise in the race left the leaping hare behind? 'Twas because he held right on and on, steady and true, if slow, And that's the way, I'm thinking, that the moderate drinkers go! Step over step—day after day—with sleepless, tireless pace, While the toper sometimes looks behind and tarries in the race!
Ah, heavily in the well-worn path poor Tom walked day by day, For my heart-strings clung about his feet and tangled up the way; The days were dark, and friends were gone, and life dragged on full slow, And children came, like reapers, and to a harvest of want and woe! Two of them died, and I was glad when they lay before me dead; I had grown so weary of their cries—their pitiful cries for bread.
There came a time when my heart was stone; I could neither hope nor pray; Poor Tom lay out in the Potter's Field, and my boy had gone astray; My boy who'd been my idol, while, like hound athirst for blood, Between my breaking heart and him the liquor seller stood, And lured him on with pleasant words, his pleasures and his wine; Ah, God have pity on other hearts as bruised and hurt as mine.
There were whispers of evil-doing, of dishonor, and of shame, That I cannot bear to think of now, and would not dare to name! There was hiding away from the light of day, there was creeping about at night, A hurried word of parting—then a criminal's stealthy flight! His lips were white with remorse and fright when he gave me a good-by kiss; And I've never seen my poor lost boy from that black day to this.
Ah, none but a mother can tell you, sir, how a mother's heart will ache, With the sorrow that comes of a sinning child, with grief for a lost one's sake, When she knows the feet she trained to walk have gone so far astray, And the lips grown bold with curses that she taught to sing and pray; A child may fear—a wife may weep, but of all sad things, none other Seems half so sorrowful to me as being a drunkard's mother.
They tell me that down in the vilest dens of the city's crime and murk, There are men with the hearts of angels, doing the angels' work; That they win back the lost and the straying, that they help the weak to stand, By the wonderful power of loving words—and the help of God's right hand! And often and often, the dear Lord knows, I've knelt and prayed to Him, That somewhere, somehow, 'twould happen that they'd find and save my Jim!
You'll say 'tis a poor old woman's whim; but when I prayed last night, Right over yon eastern window there shone a wonderful light! (Leastways it looked that way to me) and out of the light there fell The softest voice I had ever heard: it rung like a silver bell; And these were the words, "The prodigal turns, so tired by want and sin, He seeks his father's open door—he weeps—and enters in."
Why, sir, you're crying as hard as I; what—is it really done? Have the loving voice and the Helping Hand brought back my wandering son? Did you kiss me and call me "Mother"—and hold me to your breast, Or is it one of the taunting dreams that come to mock my rest? No—no! thank God, 'tis a dream come true! I can die, for He's saved my boy! And the poor old heart that had lived on grief was broken at last by joy!
Lucy M. Blinn.
Why Should the Spirit of Mortal be Proud!
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud! Like a swift fleeting meteor, a fast flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, He passes from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willows shall fade, Be scattered around, and together be laid; And the young and the old, and the low and the high Shall moulder to dust, and together shall die.
The child whom a mother attended and loved, The mother that infant's affection who proved, The husband that mother and infant who blessed, Each—all are away to their dwelling of rest.
The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye Shone beauty and pleasure—her triumphs are by; And the memory of those who loved her and praised Are alike from the minds of the living erased.
The hand of the king who the scepter hath borne, The brow of the priest who the mitre hath worn, The eye of the sage and the heart of the brave Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap, The herdsman who climbed with his goats to the steep, The beggar who wandered in search of his bread Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven, The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven, The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
So the multitude goes—like the flower and the weed That wither away to let others succeed; So the multitude comes—even those we behold, To repeat every tale that has often been told.