For we are the same things that our fathers have been, We see the same sights that our fathers have seen; We drink the same stream, and we feel the same sun, And we run the same course that our fathers have run.
The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think, From the death we are shrinking from, they too would shrink, To the life we are clinging to, they too would cling, But it speeds from the earth like a bird on the wing.
They loved—but their story we cannot enfold, They scorned—but the heart of the haughty is cold, They grieved—but no wail from their slumbers may come, They joy'd—but the voice of their gladness—is dumb.
They died, ay, they died! and we things that are now, Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow, Who make in their dwellings a transient abode Meet the changes they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea, hope and despondence, and pleasure and pain, Are mingled together in sunshine and rain; And the smile, and the tear, and the song and the dirge Still follow each other like surge upon surge.
'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath From the blossoms of health to the paleness of death; From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud— Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud!
How He Saved St. Michael's
'Twas long ago—ere ever the signal gun That blazed before Fort Sumter had wakened the North as one; Long ere the wondrous pillar of battle-cloud and fire Had marked where the unchained millions marched on to their heart's desire. On roofs and glittering turrets, that night, as the sun went down, The mellow glow of the twilight shone like a jeweled crown, And, bathed in the living glory, as the people lifted their eyes, They saw the pride of the city, the spire of St. Michael's rise High over the lesser steeples, tipped with a golden ball That hung like a radiant planet caught in its earthward fall; First glimpse of home to the sailor who made the harbor round, And last slow-fading vision dear to the outward bound. The gently gathering shadows shut out the waning light; The children prayed at their bedsides as they were wont each night; The noise of buyer and seller from the busy mart was gone, And in dreams of a peaceful morrow the city slumbered on.
But another light than sunrise aroused the sleeping street, For a cry was heard at midnight, and the rush of trampling feet; Men stared in each other's faces, thro' mingled fire and smoke, While the frantic bells went clashing clamorous, stroke on stroke. By the glare of her blazing roof-tree the houseless mother fled, With the babe she pressed to her bosom shrieking in nameless dread; While the fire-king's wild battalions scaled wall and cap-stone high, And painted their glaring banners against an inky sky. From the death that raged behind them, and the crush of ruin loud, To the great square of the city, were driven the surging crowd, Where yet firm in all the tumult, unscathed by the fiery flood, With its heavenward pointing finger the church of St. Michael's stood.
But e'en as they gazed upon it there rose a sudden wail, A cry of horror blended with the roaring of the gale, On whose scorching wings updriven, a single flaming brand, Aloft on the towering steeple clung like a bloody hand, "Will it fade?" the whisper trembled from a thousand whitening lips; Far out on the lurid harbor they watched it from the ships. A baleful gleam, that brighter and ever brighter shone, Like a flickering, trembling will-o'-the-wisp to a steady beacon grown. "Uncounted gold shall be given to the man whose brave right hand, For the love of the periled city, plucks down yon burning brand!" So cried the Mayor of Charleston, that all the people heard, But they looked each one at his fellow, and no man spoke a word, Who is it leans from the belfry, with face upturned to the sky— Clings to a column and measures the dizzy spire with his eye? Will he dare it, the hero undaunted, that terrible, sickening height, Or will the hot blood of his courage freeze in his veins at the sight? But see! he has stepped on the railing, he climbs with his feet and his hands, And firm on a narrow projection, with the belfry beneath him, he stands! Now once, and once only, they cheer him—a single tempestuous breath, And there falls on the multitude gazing a hush like the stillness of death.
Slow, steadily mounting, unheeding aught save the goal of the fire, Still higher and higher, an atom, he moves on the face of the spire: He stops! Will he fall? Lo! for answer, a gleam like a meteor's track, And, hurled on the stones of the pavement, the red brand lies shattered and black! Once more the shouts of the people have rent the quivering air; At the church door mayor and council wait with their feet on the stair, And the eager throng behind them press for a touch of his hand— The unknown savior whose daring could compass a deed so grand.
But why does a sudden tremor seize on them as they gaze? And what meaneth that stifled murmur of wonder and amaze? He stood in the gate of the temple he had periled his life to save, And the face of the unknown hero was the sable face of a slave! With folded arms he was speaking in tones that were clear, not loud, And his eyes, ablaze in their sockets, burnt into the eyes of the crowd. "Ye may keep your gold, I scorn it! but answer me, ye who can, If the deed I have done before you be not the deed of a man?"
He stepped but a short space backward, and from all the women and men There were only sobs for answer, and the mayor called for a pen, And the great seal of the city, that he might read who ran, And the slave who saved St. Michael's went out from its door a man.
Mary A.P. Stansbury.
Bingen on the Rhine
A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers, There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears; But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away, And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say. The dying soldier faltered, as he took that comrade's hand, And he said, "I never more shall see my own, my native land; Take a message, and a token, to some distant friends of mine, For I was born at Bingen—at Bingen on the Rhine!
"Tell my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around To hear my mournful story in the pleasant vineyard ground, That we fought the battle bravely, and when the day was done, Full many a corpse lay ghastly pale, beneath the setting sun. And 'midst the dead and dying, were some grown old in wars, The death-wound on their gallant breasts the last of many scars: But some were young—and suddenly beheld life's morn decline; And one had come from Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine!
"Tell my mother that her other sons shall comfort her old age, And I was aye a truant bird, that thought his home a cage: For my father was a soldier, and even as a child My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of struggles fierce and wild; And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty hoard, I let them take whate'er they would, but kept my father's sword, And with boyish love I hung it where the bright light used to shine, On the cottage-wall at Bingen—calm Bingen on the Rhine!
"Tell my sister not to weep for me, and sob with drooping head, When the troops are marching home again with glad and gallant tread; But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and steadfast eye, For her brother was a soldier too, and not afraid to die. And if a comrade seek her love, I ask her in my name To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame; And to hang the old sword in its place (my father's sword and mine), For the honor of old Bingen—dear Bingen on the Rhine!
"There's another—not a sister; in the happy days gone by, You'd have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye; Too innocent for coquetry—too fond for idle scorning— Oh, friend! I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning; Tell her the last night of my life (for ere the moon be risen My body will be out of pain—my soul be out of prison), I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow sunlight shine On the vine-clad hills of Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine!
"I saw the blue Rhine sweep along—I heard, or seemed to hear. The German songs we used to sing, in chorus sweet and clear; And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill, The echoing chorus sounded, through the evening calm and still; And her glad blue eyes were on me as we passed with friendly talk Down many a path beloved of yore, and well-remembered walk, And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine: But we'll meet no more at Bingen—loved Bingen on the Rhine!"
His voice grew faint and hoarser,—his grasp was childish weak,— His eyes put on a dying look,—he sighed and ceased to speak; His comrade bent to lift him, but the spark of life had fled,— The soldier of the Legion, in a foreign land—was dead! And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corpses strown; Yea, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine As it shone on distant Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine!
College Oil Cans
On a board of bright mosaic wrought in many a quaint design, Gleam a brace of silver goblets wreathed with flowers and filled with wine. Round the board a group is seated; here and there are threads of white Which their dark locks lately welcomed; but they're only boys tonight. Some whose words have thrilled the senate, some who win the critic's praise— All are "chums" to-night, with voices redolent of college days.
"Boys," said one, "do you remember that old joke—about the wine— How we used to fill our oil cans and repair to 'No. 9'? But at last the old professor—never long was he outdone— Opened up our shining oil cans and demolished all our fun!" In the laugh that rings so gayly through the richly curtained room, Join they all, save one; Why is it? Does he see the waxen bloom Tremble in its vase of silver? Does he see the ruddy wine Shiver in its crystal goblet, or do those grave eyes divine Something sadder yet? He pauses till their mirth has died away, Then in measured tones speaks gravely: "Boys, a story, if I may, I will tell you, though it may not merit worthily your praise, It is bitter fruitage ripened from our pranks of college days,"
Eagerly they claim the story, for they know the LL.D. With his flexible voice would garnish any tale, whate'er it be.
"Just a year ago to-night, boys, I was in my room alone, At the San Francisco L—— House, when I heard a plaintive moan Sounding from the room adjoining. Hoping to give some relief To the suffering one, I entered; but it thrilled my heart with grief Just to see that wreck of manhood—bloated face, disheveled hair— Wildly tossing, ever moaning, while his thin hands beat the air. Broken prayers, vile oaths and curses filled the air as I drew near; Then in faint and piteous accents, these words I could plainly hear: 'Give me one more chance—one only—let me see my little Belle— Then I'll follow where they lead me, be it to the depths of hell!' When he saw me he grew calmer, started strangely—looked me o'er— Oh, the glory of expression! I had seen those eyes before! Yes, I knew him; it was Horace, he who won the college prize; Naught remained of his proud beauty but the splendor of his eyes. He whom we were all so proud of, lay there in the fading light. If my years should number fourscore, I shall ne'er forget that sight. And he knew me—called me 'Albert,' ere a single word I'd said— We were comrades in the old days; I sat down beside the bed.
"Horace seemed to grow more quiet, but he would not go to sleep; He kept talking of our boyhood while my hand he still would keep In his own so white and wasted, and with burning eyes would gaze On my face, still talking feebly of the dear old college days. 'Ah,' he said, 'life held such promise; but, alas! I am to-day But a poor degraded outcast—hopes, ambition swept away, And it dates back to those oil cans that we filled in greatest glee. Little did I think in those days what the harvest now would be!'
"For a moment he was silent, then a cry whose anguish yet Wrings my heart, burst from his white lips, though his teeth were tightly set, And with sudden strength he started—sprang from my detaining arm, Shrieking wildly, 'Curse the demons; do they think to do me harm? Back! I say, ye forked-tongued serpents reeking with the filth of hell! Don't ye see I have her with me—my poor sainted little Belle?'
"When I'd soothed him into quiet, with a trembling arm he drew My head down, 'Oh, Al,' he whispered, 'such remorse you never knew.' And again I tried to soothe him, but my eyes o'erbrimmed with tears; His were dry and clear, as brilliant as they were in college years. All the flush had left his features, he lay white as marble now; Tenderly I smoothed his pillow, wiped the moisture from his brow. Though I begged him to be quiet, he would talk of those old days, Brokenly at times, but always of 'the boys' with loving praise.
"Once I asked him of Lorena—the sweet girl whom he had wed— You remember Rena Barstow. When I asked if she were dead, 'No,' he said, his poor voice faltering, 'she is far beyond the Rhine, But I wish, to God, it were so, and I still might call her mine. She's divorced—she's mine no longer,' here his voice grew weak and hoarse 'But although I am a drunkard, I have one they can't divorce. I've a little girl in heaven, playing round the Savior's knee, Always patient and so faithful that at last she died for me.
"'I had drank so much, so often, that my brain was going wild; Every one had lost hope in me but my faithful little child. She would say, "Now stop, dear papa, for I know you can stop now." I would promise, kiss my darling, and the next day break my vow. So it went until one Christmas, dark and stormy, cold and drear; Out I started, just as usual, for the cursed rum shop near, And my darling followed after, in the storm of rain and sleet, With no covering wrapped about her, naught but slippers on her feet; No one knew it, no one missed her, till there came with solemn tread, Stern-faced men unto our dwelling, bringing back our darling—dead! They had found her cold and lifeless, like, they said, an angel fair, Leaning 'gainst the grog shop window—oh, she thought that I was there! Then he raised his arms toward heaven, called aloud unto the dead, For his mind again was wandering: 'Belle, my precious Belle!' he said, 'Papa's treasure—papa's darling! oh, my baby—did—you—come All the way—alone—my darling—just to lead—poor—papa—home?' And he surely had an answer, for a silence o'er him fell. And I sat alone and lonely—death had come with little Belle."
Silence in that princely parlor—head of every guest is bowed. They still see the red wine sparkle, but 'tis through a misty cloud. Said the host at last, arising, "I have scorned the pledge to sign, Laughed at temperance all my life long. Never more shall drop of wine Touch my lips. The fruit was bitter, boys; 'twas I proposed it first— That foul joke from which poor Horace ever bore a life accurst! Let us pledge ourselves to-night, boys, never more by word, or deed, In our own fair homes, or elsewhere, help to plant the poison seed."
Silence once again, but only for a moment's space, and then, In one voice they all responded with a low and firm "Amen."
Will Victor McGuire.
God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop
The summer and autumn had been so wet, That in winter the corn was growing yet. 'Twas a piteous sight to see all round The grain lie rotting on the ground.
Every day the starving poor Crowded round Bishop Hatto's door, For he had a plentiful last year's store, And all the neighborhood could tell His granaries were furnish'd well.
At last Bishop Hatto appointed a day To quiet the poor without delay; He bade them to his great barn repair, And they should have food for the winter there.
Rejoiced the tidings good to hear, The poor folk flock'd from far and near; The great barn was full as it could hold Of women and children, and young and old.
Then, when he saw it could hold no more, Bishop Hatto he made fast the door, And while for mercy on Christ they call, He set fire to the barn and burnt them all.
"I' faith, 'tis an excellent bonfire!" quoth he, "And the country is greatly obliged to me For ridding it, in these times forlorn, Of rats that only consume the corn."
So then to his palace returned he, And he sat down to supper merrily, And he slept that night like an innocent man; But Bishop Hatto never slept again.
In the morning, as he enter'd the hall Where his picture hung against the wall, A sweat like death all over him came, For the rats had eaten it out of the frame.
As he look'd, there came a man from his farm, He had a countenance white with alarm: "My lord, I open'd your granaries this morn, And the rats had eaten all your corn."
Another came running presently, And he was pale as pale could be. "Fly, my lord bishop, fly!" quoth he, "Ten thousand rats are coming this way, The Lord forgive you for yesterday!"
"I'll go to my tower on the Rhine," replied he; "'Tis the safest place in Germany; The walls are high, and the shores are steep And the stream is strong, and the water deep."
Bishop Hatto fearfully hasten'd away, And he cross'd the Rhine without delay, And reach'd his tower and barr'd with care All the windows, doors, and loopholes there.
He laid him down and closed his eyes, But soon a scream made him arise; He started, and saw two eyes of flame On his pillow, from whence the screaming came.
He listen'd and look'd,—it was only the cat, But the bishop he grew more fearful for that, For she sat screaming, mad with fear At the army of rats that were drawing near.
For they have swum over the river so deep, And they have climb'd the shores so steep, And up the tower their way is bent, To do the work for which they were sent.
They are not to be told by the dozen or score; By thousands they come, and by myriads and more; Such numbers had never been heard of before, Such a judgment had never been witness'd of yore.
Down on his knees the bishop fell, And faster and faster his beads did he tell, As louder and louder, drawing near, The gnawing of their teeth he could hear.
And in at the windows and in at the door, And through the walls helter-skelter they pour; And down from the ceiling and up through the floor,
From the right and the left, from behind and before, From within and without, from above and below,— And all at once to the bishop they go.
They have whetted their teeth against the stones, And now they pick the bishop's bones; They gnaw'd the flesh from every limb, For they were sent to do judgment on him!
The Last Hymn
The Sabbath day was ending in a village by the sea, The uttered benediction touched the people tenderly, And they rose to face the sunset in the glowing, lighted west, And then hastened to their dwellings for God's blessed boon of rest.
Bat they looked across the waters, and a storm was raging there; A fierce spirit moved above them—the wild spirit of the air— And it lashed and shook and tore them till they thundered, groaned and boomed, And, alas! for any vessel in their yawning gulfs entombed.
Very anxious were the people on that rocky coast of Wales, Lest the dawn of coming morrow should be telling awful tales, When the sea had spent its passion and should cast upon the shore Bits of wreck and swollen victims as it had done heretofore.
With the rough winds blowing round her, a brave woman strained her eyes, As she saw along the billows a large vessel fall and rise. Oh, it did not need a prophet to tell what the end must be, For no ship could ride in safety near that shore on such a sea!
Then the pitying people hurried from their homes and thronged the beach. Oh, for power to cross the waters and the perishing to reach! Helpless hands were wrung in terror, tender hearts grew cold with dread, And the ship, urged by the tempest, to the fatal rock-shore sped.
"She's parted in the middle! Oh, the half of her goes down!" "God have mercy! Is his heaven far to seek for those who drown?" Lo! when next the white, shocked faces looked with terror on the sea, Only one last clinging figure on a spar was seen to be.
Nearer to the trembling watchers came the wreck tossed by the wave, And the man still clung and floated, though no power on earth could save. "Could we send him a short message? Here's a trumpet. Shout away!" 'Twas the preacher's hand that took it, and he wondered what to say.
Any memory of his sermon? Firstly? Secondly? Ah, no! There was but one thing to utter in that awful hour of woe. So he shouted through the trumpet, "Look to Jesus! Can you hear?" And "Aye, aye, sir," rang the answer o'er the waters loud and clear.
Then they listened,—"He is singing, 'Jesus, lover of my soul.'" And the winds brought back the echo, "While the nearer waters roll." Strange, indeed, it was to hear him,—"Till the storm of life is past," Singing bravely o'er the waters, "Oh, receive my soul at last!"
He could have no other refuge,—"Hangs my helpless soul on thee." "Leave, ah! leave me not"—the singer dropped at last into the sea. And the watchers, looking homeward, through their eyes by tears made dim, Said, "He passed to be with Jesus in the singing of that hymn."
A Fence or an Ambulance
'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed, Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant; But over its terrible edge there had slipped A duke and full many a peasant. So the people said something would have to be done, But their projects did not at all tally; Some said, "Put a fence around the edge of the cliff," Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day, For it spread through the neighboring city; A fence may be useful or not, it is true, But each heart became brimful of pity For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff; And the dwellers in highway and alley Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence, But an ambulance down in the valley.
"For the cliff is all right, if you're careful," they said, "And, if folks even slip and are dropping, It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much, As the shock down below when they're stopping." So day after day, as these mishaps occurred, Quick forth would these rescuers sally To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff, With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked: "It's a marvel to me That people give far more attention To repairing results than to stopping the cause, When they'd much better aim at prevention. Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he, "Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally, If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense With the ambulance down in the valley."
"Oh, he's a fanatic," the others rejoined, "Dispense with the ambulance? Never. He'd dispense with all charities, too, if he could; No! No! We'll support them forever. Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall? And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he? Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence, While the ambulance works in the valley?"
But a sensible few, who are practical too, Will not bear with such nonsense much longer; They believe that prevention is better than cure, And their party will soon be the stronger. Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen, And while other philanthropists dally, They will scorn all pretense and put up a stout fence On the cliff that hangs over the valley.
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old, For the voice of true wisdom is calling, "To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best To prevent other people from falling." Better close up the source of temptation and crime, Than deliver from dungeon or galley; Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliff Than an ambulance down in the valley."
The Smack in School
A district school, not far away, 'Mid Berkshire hills, one winter's day, Was humming with its wonted noise Of three-score mingled girls and boys; Some few upon their tasks intent, But more on furtive mischief bent. The while the master's downward look Was fastened on a copy-book; When suddenly, behind his back, Rose sharp and clear a rousing smack! As 'twere a battery of bliss Let off in one tremendous kiss! "What's that?" the startled master cries; "That, thir," a little imp replies, "Wath William Willith, if you pleathe, I thaw him kith Thuthanna Peathe!" With frown to make a statue thrill, The master thundered, "Hither, Will!" Like wretch o'ertaken in his track With stolen chattels on his back, Will hung his head in fear and shame, And to the awful presence came,— A great, green, bashful simpleton, The butt of all good-natured fun, With smile suppressed, and birch upraised The threatener faltered, "I'm amazed That you, my biggest pupil, should Be guilty of an act so rude— Before the whole set school to boot— What evil genius put you to 't?" "'Twas she, herself, sir," sobbed the lad; "I did not mean to be so bad; But when Susanna shook her curls, And whispered I was 'fraid of girls, And dursn't kiss a baby's doll, I couldn't stand it, sir, at all, But up and kissed her on the spot! I know—boo-hoo—I ought to not, But, somehow, from her looks—boo-hoo— I thought she kind o' wished me to!"
William Pitt Palmer.
A Woman's Question
Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing Ever made by the Hand above— A woman's heart and a woman's life, And a woman's wonderful love?
Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing As a child might ask for a toy; Demanding what others have died to win, With the reckless dash of a boy?
You have written my lesson of duty out, Man-like you have questioned me— Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul, Until I shall question thee.
You require your mutton shall always be hot, Your socks and your shirts shall be whole. I require your heart to be true as God's stars, And pure as heaven your soul.
You require a cook for your mutton and beef; I require a far better thing— A seamstress you're wanting for stockings and shirts— I look for a man and a king.
A king for a beautiful realm called home, And a man that the Maker, God, Shall look upon as He did the first, And say, "It is very good."
I am fair and young, but the rose will fade From my soft, young cheek one day— Will you love then, 'mid the falling leaves, As you did 'mid the bloom of May?
Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep I may launch my all on its tide? A loving woman finds heaven or hell On the day she is made a bride.
I require all things that are grand and true, All things that a man should be; If you give this all, I would stake my life To be all you demand of me.
If you cannot do this, a laundress and cook You can hire with little to pay; But a woman's heart and a woman's life Are not to be won that way.
I want free life and I want fresh air; And I sigh for the canter after the cattle, The crack of the whips like shots in battle, The mellay of horns, and hoofs, and heads That wars, and wrangles, and scatters, and spreads; The green beneath and the blue above, And dash and danger, and life and love; And Lasca! Lasca used to ride On a mouse-gray mustang, close to my side, With blue serape and bright-belled spur; I laughed with joy as I looked at her! Little knew she of books or creeds; An Ave Maria sufficed her needs; Little she cared, save to be by my side, To ride with me, and ever to ride, From San Saba's shore to Lavaca's tide. She was as bold as the billows that beat, She was as wild as the breezes that blow; From her little head to her little feet She was swayed, in her suppleness, to and fro By each gust of passion; a sapling pine, That grows on the edge of a Kansas bluff And wars with the wind when the weather is rough, Is like this Lasca, this love of mine. She would hunger that I might eat, Would take the bitter and leave me the sweet; But once, when I made her jealous for fun, At something I'd whispered, or looked, or done, One Sunday, in San Antonio, To a glorious girl on the Alamo, She drew from her girdle a dear little dagger, And—sting of a wasp!—it made me stagger! An inch to the left or an inch to the right, And I shouldn't be maundering here to-night; But she sobbed, and, sobbing, so swiftly bound Her torn rebosa about the wound That I quite forgave her. Scratches don't count In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.
Her eye was brown,—a deep, deep brown; Her hair was darker than her eye; And something in her smile and frown, Curled crimson lip, and instep high, Showed that there ran in each blue vein, Mixed with the milder Aztec strain, The vigorous vintage of old Spain. She was alive in every limb With feeling, to the finger tips; And when the sun is like a fire, And sky one shining, soft sapphire, One does not drink in little sips.
The air was heavy, the night was hot, I sat by her side, and forgot—forgot; Forgot the herd that were taking their rest; Forgot that the air was close opprest; That the Texas norther comes sudden and soon, In the dead of night or the blaze of noon; That once let the herd at its breath take fright, That nothing on earth can stop the flight; And woe to the rider, and woe to the steed, Who falls in front of their mad stampede! Was that thunder? No, by the Lord! I sprang to my saddle without a word, One foot on mine, and she clung behind. Away on a hot chase down the wind! But never was fox-hunt half so hard, And never was steed so little spared, For we rode for our lives. You shall hear how we fared In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.
The mustang flew, and we urged him on; There was one chance left, and you have but one; Halt, jump to the ground, and shoot your horse; Crouch under his carcass, and take your chance; And if the steers, in their frantic course, Don't batter you both to pieces at once, You may thank your star; if not, good-by To the quickening kiss and the long-drawn sigh, And the open air and the open sky, In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.
The cattle gained on us, and just as I felt For my old six-shooter, behind in my belt, Down came the mustang, and down came we, Clinging together, and—what was the rest? A body that spread itself on my breast, Two arms that shielded my dizzy head, Two lips that hard on my lips were pressed; Then came thunder in my ears, As over us surged the sea of steers, Blows that beat blood into my eyes, And when I could rise, Lasca was dead!
I gouged out a grave a few feet deep, And there in Earth's arms I laid her to sleep! And there she is lying, and no one knows, And the summer shines and the winter snows; For many a day the flowers have spread A pall of petals over her head; And the little gray hawk hangs aloft in the air, And the sly coyote trots here and there, And the black snake glides, and glitters, and slides Into the rift in a cotton-wood tree; And the buzzard sails on, And comes and is gone, Stately and still like a ship at sea; And I wonder why I do not care For the things that are like the things that were. Does half my heart lie buried there In Texas, down by the Rio Grande?
Over the Hill to the Poor-House
Over the hill to the poor-house I'm trudgin' my weary way— I, a woman of seventy, and only a trifle gray— I, who am smart an' chipper, for all the years I've told, As many another woman that's only half as old.
Over the hill to the poor-house—I can't quite make it clear! Over the hill to the poor-house-it seems so horrid queer! Many a step I've taken a-toiling to and fro, But this is a sort of journey I never thought to go.
What is the use of heapin' on me a pauper's shame? Am I lazy or crazy? Am I blind or lame? True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful stout; But charity ain't no favor, if one can live without.
I am willin' and anxious an' ready any day To work for a decent livin', an' pay my honest way; For I can earn my victuals, an' more too, I'll be bound, If anybody only is willin' to have me round.
Once I was young an' han'some—I was upon my soul— Once my cheeks was roses, my eyes as black as coal; And I can't remember, in them days, of hearin' people say, For any kind of a reason, that I was in their way.
'Tain't no use of boastin', or talkin' over-free, But many a house an' home was open then to me; Many a han'some offer I had from likely men, And nobody ever hinted that I was a burden then.
And when to John I was married, sure he was good and smart, But he and all the neighbors would own I done my part; For life was all before me, an' I was young an' strong, And I worked the best that I could in tryin' to get along.
And so we worked together: and life was hard, but gay, With now and then a baby for to cheer us on our way; Till we had half a dozen, an' all growed clean an' neat, An' went to school like others, an' had enough to eat.
So we worked for the childr'n, and raised 'em every one, Worked for 'em summer and winter just as we ought to've done; Only, perhaps, we humored 'em, which some good folks condemn— But every couple's childr'n's a heap the best to them.
Strange how much we think of our blessed little ones! I'd have died for my daughters, I'd have died for my sons; And God he made that rule of love; but when we're old and gray, I've noticed it sometimes, somehow, fails to work the other way.
Strange, another thing: when our boys an' girls was grown, And when, exceptin' Charley, they'd left us there alone; When John he nearer an' nearer come, an' dearer seemed to be, The Lord of Hosts he come one day, an' took him away from me.
Still I was bound to struggle, an' never to cringe or fall— Still I worked for Charley, for Charley was now my all; And Charley was pretty good to me, with scarce a word or frown, Till at last he went a-courtin', and brought a wife from town.
She was somewhat dressy, an' hadn't a pleasant smile— She was quite conceity, and carried a heap o' style; But if ever I tried to be friends, I did with her, I know; But she was hard and proud, an' I couldn't make it go.
She had an edication, an' that was good for her; But when she twitted me on mine, 'twas carryin' things too fur; An' I told her once, 'fore company (an' it almost made her sick), That I never swallowed a grammar, or eat a 'rithmetic.
So 'twas only a few days before the thing was done— They was a family of themselves, and I another one; And a very little cottage one family will do, But I never have seen a house that was big enough for two.
An' I never could speak to suit her, never could please her eye, An' it made me independent, an' then I didn't try; But I was terribly staggered, an' felt it like a blow, When Charley turn'd agin me, an' told me I could go.
I went to live with Susan, but Susan's house was small, And she was always a-hintin' how snug it was for us all; And what with her husband's sisters, and what with childr'n three, 'Twas easy to discover that there wasn't room for me.
An' then I went to Thomas, the oldest son I've got, For Thomas's buildings'd cover the half of an acre lot; But all the childr'n was on me—I couldn't stand their sauce— And Thomas said I needn't think I was comin' there to boss.
An' then I wrote Rebecca, my girl who lives out West, And to Isaac, not far from her—some twenty miles, at best; And one of 'em said 'twas too warm there for any one so old, And t'other had an opinion the climate was too cold.
So they have shirked and slighted me, an' shifted me about— So they have well-nigh soured me, an' wore my old heart out; But still I've borne up pretty well, an' wasn't much put down, Till Charley went to the poor-master, an' put me on the town.
Over the hill to the poor-house—my childr'n dear, good-by! Many a night I've watched you when only God was nigh; And God'll judge between us; but I will always pray That you shall never suffer the half I do to-day.
The American Flag
When Freedom from her mountain height Unfurled her standard to the air, She tore the azure robe of night, And set the stars of glory there. She mingled with its gorgeous dyes The milky baldric of the skies, And striped its pure celestial white With streakings of the morning light; Then from his mansion in the sun She called her eagle bearer down, And gave into his mighty hand The symbol of her chosen land.
Majestic monarch of the cloud, Who rear'st aloft thy regal form, To hear the tempest trumpings loud And see the lightning lances driven, When strive the warriors of the storm, And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven, Child of the sun! to thee 'tis given To guard the banner of the free, To hover in the sulphur smoke, To ward away the battle stroke, And bid its blendings shine afar, Like rainbows on the cloud of War, The harbingers of victory!
Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly, The sign of hope and triumph high, When speaks the signal trumpet tone, And the long line comes gleaming on. Ere yet the lifeblood, warm and wet, Has dimmed the glistening bayonet, Each soldier eye shall brightly turn To where thy sky-born glories burn, And, as his springing steps advance, Catch war and vengeance from the glance.
And when the cannon-mouthings loud Heave in wild wreaths the battle shroud, And gory sabres rise and fall Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall, Then shall thy meteor glances glow, And cowering foes shall shrink beneath Each gallant arm that strikes below That lovely messenger of death.
Flag of the seas! on ocean wave Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave; When death, careering on the gale, Sweeps darkly 'round the bellied sail, And frighted waves rush wildly back Before the broadside's reeling rack, Each dying wanderer of the sea Shall look at once to heaven and thee, And smile to see thy splendors fly In triumph o'er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart's hope and home! By angel hands to valor given; Thy stars have lit the welkin dome, And all thy hues were born in heaven. Forever float that standard sheet! Where breathes the foe but falls before us, With Freedom's soil beneath our feet, And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us?
Joseph Rodman Drake.
A bunch of golden keys is mine To make each day with gladness shine.
"Good morning!" that's the golden key That unlocks every door for me.
When evening comes, "Good night!" I say, And close the door of each glad day.
When at the table "If you please" I take from off my bunch of keys.
When friends give anything to me, I'll use the little "Thank you" key.
"Excuse me," "Beg your pardon," too, When by mistake some harm I do.
Or if unkindly harm I've given, With "Forgive me" key I'll be forgiven.
On a golden ring these keys I'll bind, This is its motto: "Be ye kind."
I'll often use each golden key, And so a happy child I'll be.
The Four-leaf Clover
I know a place where the sun is like gold, And the cherry blooms burst like snow; And down underneath is the loveliest nook, Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
One leaf is for faith, and one is for hope, And one is for love, you know; And God put another one in for luck— If you search, you will find where they grow.
But you must have faith and you must have hope, You must love and be strong, and so If you work, if you wait, you will find the place Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
Telling the Bees
NOTE: A remarkable custom, brought from the Old Country, formerly prevailed in the rural districts of New England. On the death of a member of the family, the bees were at once informed of the event, and their hives dressed in mourning. This ceremonial was supposed to be necessary to prevent the swarms from leaving their hives and seeking a new home.
Here is the place; right over the hill Runs the path I took; You can see the gap in the old wall still. And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.
There is the house, with the gate red-barred, And the poplars tall; And the barn's brown length, and the cattle-yard, And the white horns tossing above the wall.
There are the beehives ranged in the sun; And down by the brink Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o'errun, Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.
A year has gone, as the tortoise goes, Heavy and slow; And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows, And the same brook sings of a year ago.
There's the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze; And the June sun warm Tangles his wings of fire in the trees, Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.
I mind me how with a lover's care From my Sunday coat I brushed off the burs, and smoothed my hair, And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.
Since we parted, a month had passed,— To love, a year; Down through the beeches I looked at last On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.
I can see it all now,—the slantwise rain Of light through the leaves, The sundown's blaze on her window-pane, The bloom of her roses under the eaves.
Just the same as a month before,— The house and the trees, The barn's brown gable, the vine by the door,— Nothing changed but the hives of bees.
Before them, under the garden wall, Forward and back, Went drearily singing the chore-girl small, Draping each hive with a shred of black.
Trembling, I listened; the summer sun Had the chill of snow; For I knew she was telling the bees of one Gone on the journey we all must go!
Then I said to myself, "My Mary weeps For the dead to-day: Haply her blind grandsire sleeps The fret and pain of his age away."
But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill, With his cane to his chin, The old man sat; and the chore-girl still Sung to the bees stealing out and in.
And the song she was singing ever since In my ear sounds on:— "Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence! Mistress Mary is dead and gone!"
John G. Whittier.
Not understood, we move along asunder, Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep Along the years. We marvel and we wonder, Why life is life, and then we fall asleep, Not understood.
Not understood, we gather false impressions, And hug them closer as the years go by, Till virtues often seem to us transgressions; And thus men rise and fall and live and die, Not understood.
Not understood, poor souls with stunted visions Often measure giants by their narrow gauge; The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision Are oft impelled 'gainst those who mould the age, Not understood.
Not understood, the secret springs of action Which lie beneath the surface and the show Are disregarded; with self-satisfaction We judge our neighbors, and they often go Not understood.
Not understood, how trifles often change us— The thoughtless sentence or the fancied slight— Destroy long years of friendship and estrange us, And on our souls there falls a freezing blight— Not understood.
Not understood, how many hearts are aching For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking, How many noble spirits pass away Not understood.
O God! that men would see a little clearer, Or judge less hardly when they cannot see! O God! that men would draw a little nearer To one another! They'd be nearer Thee, And understood.
The woman was old, and ragged, and gray, And bent with the chill of a winter's day; The streets were white with a recent snow, And the woman's feet with age were slow.
At the crowded crossing she waited long, Jostled aside by the careless throng Of human beings who passed her by, Unheeding the glance of her anxious eye.
Down the street with laughter and shout, Glad in the freedom of "school let out," Come happy boys, like a flock of sheep, Hailing the snow piled white and deep; Past the woman, so old and gray, Hastened the children on their way.
None offered a helping hand to her, So weak and timid, afraid to stir, Lest the carriage wheels or the horses' feet Should trample her down in the slippery street.
At last came out of the merry troop The gayest boy of all the group; He paused beside her, and whispered low, "I'll help you across, if you wish to go."
Her aged hand on his strong young arm She placed, and so without hurt or harm, He guided the trembling feet along, Proud that his own were young and strong; Then back again to his friends he went, His young heart happy and well content.
"She's somebody's mother, boys, you know, For all she's aged, and poor, and slow; And some one, some time, may lend a hand To help my mother—you understand?— If ever she's poor, and old, and gray, And her own dear boy is far away."
"Somebody's mother" bowed low her head, In her home that 'night, and the prayer she said Was: "God, be kind to that noble boy, Who is somebody's son, and pride and joy."
Faint was the voice, and worn and weak, But the Father hears when His children speak; Angels caught the faltering word, And "Somebody's Mother's" prayer was heard.
To a Waterfowl
Whither, midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly seen against the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean-side?
There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast— The desert and illimitable air— Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned, At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere; Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end; Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend, Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright.
William Cullen Bryant.
Who fed me from her gentle breast And hushed me in her arms to rest, And on my cheek sweet kisses prest? My mother.
When sleep forsook my open eye, Who was it sung sweet lullaby And rocked me that I should not cry? My mother.
Who sat and watched my infant head When sleeping in my cradle bed, And tears of sweet affection shed? My mother.
When pain and sickness made me cry, Who gazed upon my heavy eye, And wept, for fear that I should die? My mother.
Who ran to help me when I fell And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the part to make it well? My mother.
Who taught my infant lips to pray, To love God's holy word and day, And walk in wisdom's pleasant way? My mother.
And can I ever cease to be Affectionate and kind to thee Who wast so very kind to me,— My mother.
Oh, no, the thought I cannot bear; And if God please my life to spare I hope I shall reward thy care, My mother.
When thou art feeble, old and gray, My healthy arms shall be thy stay, And I will soothe thy pains away, My mother.
And when I see thee hang thy head, 'Twill be my turn to watch thy bed, And tears of sweet affection shed,— My mother.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
The sun was shining on the sea, Shining with all his might: He did his very best to make The billows smooth and bright— And this was odd, because it was The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily, Because she thought the sun Had got no business to be there After the day was done— "It's very rude of him," she said, "To come and spoil the fun!"
The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry. You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky: No birds were flying overhead— There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Were walking close at hand: They wept like anything to see Such quantities of sand: "If this were only cleared away," They said, "it would be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year, Do you suppose," the Walrus said, "That they could get it clear?" "I doubt it," said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!" The Walrus did beseech. "A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, Along the briny beach: We cannot do with more than four, To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him, But never a word he said: The eldest Oyster winked his eye, And shook his heavy head— Meaning to say he did not choose To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up, All eager for the treat: Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, Their shoes were clean and neat— And this was odd, because, you know, They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them, And yet another four; And thick and fast they came at last, And more, and more, and more— All hopping through the frothy waves, And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Walked on a mile or so, And then they rested on a rock Conveniently low: And all the little Oysters stood And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— Of cabbages and kings— And why the sea is boiling hot— And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried, "Before we have our chat; For some of us are out of breath, And all of us are fat!" "No hurry!" said the Carpenter. They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said, "Is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides Are very good indeed— Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear, We can begin to feed."
"But not on us!" the Oysters cried, Turning a little blue. "After such kindness, that would be A dismal thing to do!" "The night is fine," the Walrus said, "Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come! And you are very nice!" The Carpenter said nothing but "Cut us another slice. I wish you were not quite so deaf— I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said, "To play them such a trick. After we've brought them out so far, And made them trot so quick!" The Carpenter said nothing but "The butter's spread too thick!"
"I weep for you," the Walrus said; "I deeply sympathize." With sobs and tears he sorted out Those of the largest size, Holding his pocket-handkerchief Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?" But answer came there none— And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one.
The Teacher's Dream
The weary teacher sat alone While twilight gathered on: And not a sound was heard around,— The boys and girls were gone.
The weary teacher sat alone; Unnerved and pale was he; Bowed 'neath a yoke of care, he spoke In sad soliloquy:
"Another round, another round Of labor thrown away, Another chain of toil and pain Dragged through a tedious day.
"Of no avail is constant zeal, Love's sacrifice is lost. The hopes of morn, so golden, turn, Each evening, into dross.
"I squander on a barren field My strength, my life, my all: The seeds I sow will never grow,— They perish where they fall."
He sighed, and low upon his hands His aching brow he pressed; And o'er his frame ere long there came A soothing sense of rest.
And then he lifted up his face, But started back aghast,— The room, by strange and sudden change, Assumed proportions vast.
It seemed a Senate-hall, and one Addressed a listening throng; Each burning word all bosoms stirred, Applause rose loud and long.
The 'wildered teacher thought he knew The speaker's voice and look, "And for his name," said he, "the same Is in my record book."
The stately Senate-hall dissolved, A church rose in its place, Wherein there stood a man of God, Dispensing words of grace.
And though he spoke in solemn tone, And though his hair was gray, The teacher's thought was strangely wrought— "I whipped that boy to-day."
The church, a phantom, vanished soon; What saw the teacher then? In classic gloom of alcoved room An author plied his pen.
"My idlest lad!" the teacher said, Filled with a new surprise; "Shall I behold his name enrolled Among the great and wise?"
The vision of a cottage home The teacher now descried; A mother's face illumed the place Her influence sanctified.
"A miracle! a miracle! This matron, well I know, Was but a wild and careless child, Not half an hour ago.
"And when she to her children speaks Of duty's golden rule, Her lips repeat in accents sweet, My words to her at school."
The scene was changed again, and lo! The schoolhouse rude and old; Upon the wall did darkness fall, The evening air was cold.
"A dream!" the sleeper, waking, said, Then paced along the floor, And, whistling slow and soft and low, He locked the schoolhouse door.
And, walking home, his heart was full Of peace and trust and praise; And singing slow and soft and low, Said, "After many days."
A Legend of Bregenz
Girt round with rugged mountains, the fair Lake Constance lies; In her blue heart reflected shine back the starry skies; And watching each white cloudlet float silently and slow, You think a piece of heaven lies on our earth below!
Midnight is there: and silence, enthroned in heaven, looks down Upon her own calm mirror, upon a sleeping town: For Bregenz, that quaint city upon the Tyrol shore, Has stood above Lake Constance a thousand years and more.
Her battlement and towers, from off their rocky steep, Have cast their trembling shadow for ages on the deep; Mountain, and lake, and valley, a sacred legend know, Of how the town was saved, one night three hundred years ago.
Far from her home and kindred, a Tyrol maid had fled, To serve in the Swiss valleys, and toil for daily bread; And every year that fleeted so silently and fast, Seemed to bear farther from her the memory of the past.
She served kind, gentle masters, nor asked for rest or change; Her friends seemed no more new ones, their speech seemed no more strange; And when she led her cattle to pasture every day, She ceased to look and wonder on which side Bregenz lay.
She spoke no more of Bregenz, with longing and with tears; Her Tyrol home seemed faded in a deep mist of years; She heeded not the rumors of Austrian war and strife; Each day she rose, contented, to the calm toils of life.
Yet when her master's children would clustering round her stand, She sang them ancient ballads of her own native land; And when at morn and evening she knelt before God's throne, The accents of her childhood rose to her lips alone.
And so she dwelt: the valley more peaceful year by year; When suddenly strange portents of some great deed seemed near. The golden corn was bending upon its fragile stock, While farmers, heedless of their fields, paced up and down in talk.
The men seemed stern and altered, with looks cast on the ground; With anxious faces, one by one, the women gathered round; All talk of flax, or spinning, or work, was put away; The very children seemed afraid to go alone to play.
One day, out in the meadow with strangers from the town, Some secret plan discussing, the men walked up and down, Yet now and then seemed watching a strange uncertain, gleam, That looked like lances 'mid the trees that stood below the stream.
At eve they all assembled, then care and doubt were fled; With jovial laugh they feasted; the board was nobly spread. The elder of the village rose up, his glass in hand, And cried, "We drink the downfall of an accursed land!
"The night is growing darker,—ere one more day is flown, Bregenz, our foeman's stronghold, Bregenz shall be our own!" The women shrank in terror, (yet Pride, too, had her part,) But one poor Tyrol maiden felt death within her heart.
Before her stood fair Bregenz, once more her towers arose; What were the friends beside her? Only her country's foes! The faces of her kinsfolk, the days of childhood flown, The echoes of her mountains, reclaimed her as their own!
Nothing she heard around her, (though shouts rang forth again,) Gone were the green Swiss valleys, the pasture, and the plain; Before her eyes one vision, and in her heart one cry, That said, "Go forth, save Bregenz, and then, if need be, die!"
With trembling haste and breathless, with noiseless step, she sped; Horses and weary cattle were standing in the shed; She loosed the strong white charger, that fed from out her hand, She mounted, and she turned his head towards her native land.
Out—out into the darkness—faster, and still more fast; The smooth grass flies behind her, the chestnut wood is past; She looks up; clouds are heavy: Why is her steed so slow?— Scarcely the wind beside them can pass them as they go.
"Faster!" she cries. "Oh, faster!" Eleven the church-bells chime; "O God," she cries, "help Bregenz, and bring me there in time!" But louder than bells' ringing, or lowing of the kine, Grows nearer in the midnight the rushing of the Rhine.
Shall not the roaring waters their headlong gallop check? The steed draws back in terror, she leans upon his neck To watch the flowing darkness,—the bank is high and steep; One pause—he staggers forward, and plunges in the deep.
She strives to pierce the blackness, and looser throws the rein; Her steed must breast the waters that dash above his mane. How gallantly, how nobly, he struggles through the foam, And see—in the far distance shine out the lights of home!
Up the steep bank he bears her, and now they rush again Toward the heights of Bregenz, that tower above the plain. They reach the gate of Bregenz, just as the midnight rings, And out come serf and soldier to meet the news she brings.
Bregenz is saved! Ere daylight her battlements are manned; Defiance greets the army that marches on the land. And if to deeds heroic should endless fame be paid, Bregenz does well to honor the noble Tyrol maid.
Three hundred years are vanished, and yet upon the hill An old stone gateway rises, to do her honor still. And there, when Bregenz women sit spinning in the shade, They see in quaint old carving the charger and the maid.
And when, to guard old Bregenz, by gateway, street, and tower, The warder paces all night long, and calls each passing hour: "Nine," "ten," "eleven," he cries aloud, and then (O crown of fame!) When midnight pauses in the skies he calls the maiden's name!
Adelaide A. Procter.
Better Than Gold
Better than grandeur, better than gold, Than rank and title a thousand fold, Is a healthy body, a mind at ease, And simple pleasures that always please; A heart that can feel for a neighbor's woe And share his joys with a genial glow,— With sympathies large enough to enfold All men as brothers,—is better than gold.
Better than gold is a conscience clear, Though toiling for bread in an humble sphere: Doubly blest with content and health, Untried by the lusts or cares of wealth. Lowly living and lofty thought Adorn and ennoble a poor man's cot; For mind and morals, in Nature's plan, Are the genuine test of a gentleman.
Better than gold is the sweet repose Of the sons of toil when their labors close; Better than gold is the poor man's sleep, And the balm that drops on his slumbers deep. Bring sleeping draughts to the downy bed, Where luxury pillows his aching head; His simple opiate labor deems A shorter road to the land of dreams.
Better than gold is a thinking mind That in the realm of books can find A treasure surpassing Australian ore, And live with the great and good of yore. The sage's lore and the poet's lay, The glories of empires pass'd away, The world's great drama will thus unfold And yield a pleasure better than gold.
Better than gold is a peaceful home, Where all the fireside charities come;— The shrine of love and the heaven of life, Hallowed by mother, or sister, or wife. However humble the home may be, Or tried with sorrow by Heaven's decree, The blessings that never were bought or sold, And center there, are better than gold.
October's Bright Blue Weather
O suns and skies and clouds of June, And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour October's bright blue weather;
When loud the bumblebee makes haste, Belated, thriftless vagrant, And goldenrod is dying fast, And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
When gentians roll their fringes tight To save them for the morning, And chestnuts fall from satin burrs Without a sound of warning;
When on the ground red apples lie In piles like jewels shining, And redder still on old stone walls Are leaves of woodbine twining;
When all the lovely wayside things Their white-winged seeds are sowing, And in the fields, still green and fair, Late aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low, and on the brooks, In idle, golden freighting, Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts, By twos and threes together, And count like misers hour by hour, October's bright blue weather.
O suns and skies and flowers of June, Count all your boasts together, Love loveth best of all the year October's bright blue weather.
Helen Hunt Jackson.
Said Brier-Rose's mother to the naughty Brier-Rose: "What will become of you, my child, the Lord Almighty knows. You will not scrub the kettles, and you will not touch the broom; You never sit a minute still at spinning-wheel or loom."
Thus grumbled in the morning, and grumbled late at eve, The good-wife as she bustled with pot and tray and sieve; But Brier-Rose, she laughed and she cocked her dainty head: "Why, I shall marry, mother dear," full merrily she said.
"You marry; saucy Brier-Rose! The man, he is not found To marry such a worthless wench, these seven leagues around." But Brier-Rose, she laughed and she trilled a merry lay: "Perhaps he'll come, my mother dear, from eight leagues away."
The good-wife with a "humph" and a sigh forsook the battle, And flung her pots and pails about with much vindictive rattle; "O Lord, what sin did I commit in youthful days, and wild, That thou hast punished me in age with such a wayward child?"
Up stole the girl on tiptoe, so that none her step could hear, And laughing pressed an airy kiss behind the good-wife's ear. And she, as e'er relenting, sighed: "Oh, Heaven only knows Whatever will become of you, my naughty Brier-Rose!"
The sun was high and summer sounds were teeming in the air; The clank of scythes, the cricket's whir, and swelling woodnotes rare, From fields and copse and meadow; and through the open door Sweet, fragrant whiffs of new-mown hay the idle breezes bore.
Then Brier-Rose grew pensive, like a bird of thoughtful mien, Whose little life has problems among the branches green. She heard the river brawling where the tide was swift and strong, She heard the summer singing its strange, alluring song.
And out she skipped the meadows o'er and gazed into the sky; Her heart o'erbrimmed with gladness, she scarce herself knew why, And to a merry tune she hummed, "Oh, Heaven only knows Whatever will become of the naughty Brier-Rose!"
Whene'er a thrifty matron this idle maid espied, She shook her head in warning, and scarce her wrath could hide; For girls were made for housewives, for spinning-wheel and loom, And not to drink the sunshine and wild flower's sweet perfume.
And oft the maidens cried, when the Brier-Rose went by, "You cannot knit a stocking, and you cannot make a pie." But Brier-Rose, as was her wont, she cocked her curly head: "But I can sing a pretty song," full merrily she said.
And oft the young lads shouted, when they saw the maid at play: "Ho, good-for-nothing Brier-Rose, how do you do to-day?" Then she shook her tiny fist; to her cheeks the color flew: "However much you coax me, I'll never dance with you."
* * * * *
Thus flew the years light winged over Brier-Rose's head, Till she was twenty summers old and yet remained unwed. And all the parish wondered: "The Lord Almighty knows Whatever will become of that naughty Brier-Rose!"
And while they wondered came the spring a-dancing o'er the hills; Her breath was warmer than of yore, and all the mountain rills, With their tinkling and their rippling and their rushing, filled the air, And the misty sounds of water forth-welling everywhere.
And in the valley's depth, like a lusty beast of prey, The river leaped and roared aloud and tossed its mane of spray; Then hushed again its voice to a softly plashing croon, As dark it rolled beneath the sun and white beneath the moon.
It was a merry sight to see the lumber as it whirled Adown the tawny eddies that hissed and seethed and swirled, Now shooting through the rapids and, with a reeling swing, Into the foam-crests diving like an animated thing.
But in the narrows of the rocks, where o'er a steep incline The waters plunged, and wreathed in foam the dark boughs of the pine, The lads kept watch with shout and song, and sent each straggling beam A-spinning down the rapids, lest it should lock the stream.
* * * * *
And yet—methinks I hear it now—wild voices in the night, A rush of feet, a dog's harsh bark, a torch's flaring light, And wandering gusts of dampness, and round us far and nigh, A throbbing boom of water like a pulse-beat in the sky.
The dawn just pierced the pallid east with spears of gold and red. As we, with boat-hooks in our hands, toward the narrows sped. And terror smote us; for we heard the mighty tree-tops sway, And thunder, as of chariots, and hissing showers of spray.
"Now, lads," the sheriff shouted, "you are strong, like Norway's rock: A hundred crowns I give to him who breaks the lumber lock! For if another hour go by, the angry waters' spoil Our homes will be, and fields, and our weary years of toil."
We looked each at the other; each hoped his neighbor would Brave death and danger for his home, as valiant Norsemen should. But at our feet the brawling tide expanded like a lake, And whirling beams came shooting on, and made the firm rock quake.
"Two hundred crowns!" the sheriff cried, and breathless stood the crowd. "Two hundred crowns, my bonny lads!" in anxious tones and loud. But not a man came forward, and no one spoke or stirred, And nothing save the thunder of the cataract was heard.
But as with trembling hands and with fainting hearts we stood, We spied a little curly head emerging from the wood. We heard a little snatch of a merry little song, And saw the dainty Brier-Rose come dancing through the throng.
An angry murmur rose from the people round about. "Fling her into the river," we heard the matrons shout; "Chase her away, the silly thing; for God himself scarce knows Why ever he created that worthless Brier-Rose."
Sweet Brier-Rose, she heard their cries; a little pensive smile Across her fair face flitted that might a stone beguile; And then she gave her pretty head a roguish little cock: "Hand me a boat-hook, lads," she said; "I think I'll break the lock."
Derisive shouts of laughter broke from throats of young and old: "Ho! good-for-nothing Brier-Rose, your tongue was ever bold." And, mockingly, a boat-hook into her hands was flung, When, lo! into the river's midst with daring leaps she sprung!
We saw her dimly through a mist of dense and blinding spray; From beam to beam she skipped, like a water-sprite at play. And now and then faint gleams we caught of color through the mist: A crimson waist, a golden head, a little dainty wrist.
In terror pressed the people to the margin of the hill, A hundred breaths were bated, a hundred hearts stood still. For, hark! from out the rapids came a strange and creaking sound, And then a crash of thunder which shook the very ground.
The waters hurled the lumber mass down o'er the rocky steep. We heard a muffled rumbling and a rolling in the deep; We saw a tiny form which the torrent swiftly bore And flung into the wild abyss, where it was seen no more.
Ah, little naughty Brier-Rose, thou couldst not weave nor spin; Yet thou couldst do a nobler deed than all thy mocking kin; For thou hadst courage e'en to die, and by thy death to save A thousand farms and lives from the fury of the wave.
And yet the adage lives, in the valley of thy birth, When wayward children spend their days in heedless play and mirth, Oft mothers say, half smiling, half sighing, "Heaven knows Whatever will become of the naughty Brier-Rose!"
Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen.
King Robert of Sicily
Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine, Appareled in magnificent attire With retinue of many a knight and squire, On St. John's eve, at vespers, proudly sat And heard the priests chant the Magnificat. And as he listened, o'er and o'er again Repeated, like a burden or refrain, He caught the words, "Deposuit potentes De sede, et exaltavit humiles"; And slowly lifting up his kingly head, He to a learned clerk beside him said, "What mean those words?" The clerk made answer meet, "He has put down the mighty from their seat, And has exalted them of low degree." Thereat King Robert muttered scornfully, "'Tis well that such seditious words are sung Only by priests, and in the Latin tongue; For unto priests, and people be it known, There is no power can push me from my throne," And leaning back he yawned and fell asleep, Lulled by the chant monotonous and deep.
When he awoke, it was already night; The church was empty, and there was no light, Save where the lamps, that glimmered few and faint, Lighted a little space before some saint. He started from his seat and gazed around, But saw no living thing and heard no sound. He groped towards the door, but it was locked; He cried aloud, and listened, and then knocked, And uttered awful threatenings and complaints, And imprecations upon men and saints. The sounds re-echoed from the roof and walls As if dead priests were laughing in their stalls.
At length the sexton, hearing from without The tumult of the knocking and the shout, And thinking thieves were in the house of prayer, Came with his lantern, asking "Who is there?" Half choked with rage, King Robert fiercely said, "Open; 'tis I, the king! Art thou afraid?" The frightened sexton, muttering with a curse, "This is some drunken vagabond, or worse!" Turned the great key and flung the portal wide; A man rushed by him at a single stride, Haggard, half-naked, without hat or cloak, Who neither turned, nor looked at him, nor spoke, But leaped into the blackness of the night, And vanished like a spectre from his sight.
Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine, Despoiled of his magnificent attire, Bare-headed, breathless, and besprent with mire, With sense of wrong and outrage desperate, Strode on and thundered at the palace gate; Rushed through the court-yard, thrusting in his rage To right and left each seneschal and page, And hurried up the broad and sounding stair, His white face ghastly in the torches' glare. From hall to hall he passed with breathless speed; Voices and cries he heard, but did not heed, Until at last he reached the banquet-room, Blazing with light, and breathing with perfume.
There on the dais sat another king, Wearing his robes, his crown, his signet ring— King Robert's self in features, form, and height, But all transfigured with angelic light! It was an angel; and his presence there With a divine effulgence filled the air, An exaltation, piercing the disguise, Though none the hidden angel recognize.
A moment speechless, motionless, amazed, The throneless monarch on the angel gazed, Who met his look of anger and surprise With the divine compassion of his eyes! Then said, "Who art thou, and why com'st thou here?" To which King Robert answered with a sneer, "I am the king, and come to claim my own From an impostor, who usurps my throne!" And suddenly, at these audacious words, Up sprang the angry guests, and drew their swords; The angel answered with unruffled brow, "Nay, not the king, but the king's jester; thou Henceforth shalt wear the bells and scalloped cape And for thy counselor shalt lead an ape; Thou shalt obey my servants when they call, And wait upon my henchmen in the hall!"
Deaf to King Robert's threats and cries and prayers, They thrust him from the hall and down the stairs; A group of tittering pages ran before, And as they opened wide the folding door, His heart failed, for he heard, with strange alarms, The boisterous laughter of the men-at-arms, And all the vaulted chamber roar and ring With the mock plaudits of "Long live the king!"
Next morning, waking with the day's first beam, He said within himself, "It was a dream!" But the straw rustled as he turned his head, There were the cap and bells beside his bed; Around him rose the bare, discolored walls, Close by, the steeds were champing in their stalls, And in the corner, a revolting shape, Shivering and chattering, sat the wretched ape. It was no dream; the world he loved so much Had turned to dust and ashes at his touch!
Days came and went; and now returned again To Sicily the old Saturnian reign; Under the angel's governance benign The happy island danced with corn and wine, And deep within the mountain's burning breast Enceladus, the giant, was at rest.
Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate, Sullen and silent and disconsolate. Dressed in the motley garb that jesters wear, With look bewildered, and a vacant stare, Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn, By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn, His only friend the ape, his only food What others left—he still was unsubdued. And when the angel met him on his way, And half in earnest, half in jest, would say, Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel, "Art thou the king?" the passion of his woe Burst from him in resistless overflow. And lifting high his forehead, he would fling The haughty answer back, "I am, I am the king!"
Almost three years were ended, when there came Ambassadors of great repute and name From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine, Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane By letter summoned them forthwith to come On Holy Thursday to his City of Rome. The angel with great joy received his guests, And gave them presents of embroidered vests, And velvet mantles with rich ermine lined, And rings and jewels of the rarest kind. Then he departed with them o'er the sea Into the lovely land of Italy, Whose loveliness was more resplendent made By the mere passing of that cavalcade With plumes, and cloaks, and housings, and the stir Of jeweled bridle and of golden spur.
And lo! among the menials, in mock state, Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait, His cloak of foxtails flapping in the wind, The solemn ape demurely perched behind, King Robert rode, making huge merriment In all the country towns through which they went.
The Pope received them with great pomp, and blare Of bannered trumpets, on St. Peter's Square, Giving his benediction and embrace, Fervent, and full of apostolic grace. While with congratulations and with prayers He entertained the angel unawares, Robert, the jester, bursting through the crowd, Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud: "I am the king! Look and behold in me Robert, your brother, King of Sicily! This man, who wears my semblance to your eyes, Is an impostor in a king's disguise. Do you not know me? Does no voice within Answer my cry, and say we are akin?" The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien, Gazed at the angel's countenance serene; The Emperor, laughing, said, "It is strange sport To keep a mad man for thy fool at court!" And the poor, baffled jester, in disgrace Was hustled back among the populace.
In solemn state the holy week went by, And Easter Sunday gleamed upon the sky; The presence of the angel, with its light, Before the sun rose, made the city bright, And with new fervor filled the hearts of men, Who felt that Christ indeed had risen again. Even the jester, on his bed of straw, With haggard eyes the unwonted splendor saw; He felt within a power unfelt before, And kneeling humbly on his chamber floor, He heard the rustling garments of the Lord Sweep through the silent air, ascending heavenward.
And now the visit ending, and once more Valmond returning to the Danube's shore, Homeward the angel journeyed, and again The land was made resplendent with his train, Flashing along the towns of Italy Unto Salerno, and from thence by sea. And when once more within Palermo's wall, And, seated on the throne in his great hall, He heard the Angelus from convent towers, As if the better world conversed with ours, He beckoned to King Robert to draw nigher, And with a gesture bade the rest retire. And when they were alone, the angel said, "Art thou the king?" Then, bowing down his head, King Robert crossed both hands upon his breast, And meekly answered him, "Thou knowest best! My sins as scarlet are; let me go hence, And in some cloister's school of penitence, Across those stones that pave the way to heaven Walk barefoot till my guilty soul be shriven!"
The angel smiled, and from his radiant face A holy light illumined all the place, And through the open window, loud and clear, They heard the monks chant in the chapel near, Above the stir and tumult of the street, "He has put down the mighty from their seat, And has exalted them of low degree!" And through the chant a second melody Rose like the throbbing of a single string: "I am an angel, and thou art the king!"
King Robert, who was standing near the throne, Lifted his eyes, and lo! he was alone! But all appareled as in days of old, With ermined mantle and with cloth of gold; And when his courtiers came they found him there, Kneeling upon the floor, absorbed in silent prayer.
It was late in mild October, and the long autumnal rain Had left the summer harvest-fields all green with grass again; The first sharp frosts had fallen, leaving all the woodlands gay With the hues of summer's rainbow, or the meadow-flowers of May.
Through a thin, dry mist, that morning, the sun rose broad and red, At first a rayless disk of fire, he brightened as he sped; Yet, even his noontide glory fell chastened and subdued, On the cornfields and the orchards, and softly pictured wood.
And all that quiet afternoon, slow sloping to the night, He wove with golden shuttle the haze with yellow light; Slanting through the painted beeches, he glorified the hill; And beneath it, pond and meadow lay brighter, greener still.
And shouting boys in woodland haunts caught glimpses of that sky, Flecked by the many-tinted leaves, and laughed, they knew not why; And schoolgirls, gay with aster-flowers, beside the meadow brooks, Mingled the glow of autumn with the sunshine of sweet looks.
From spire and ball looked westerly the patient weathercock, But even the birches on the hill stood motionless as rocks. No sound was in the woodlands, save the squirrel's dropping shell, And the yellow leaves among the boughs, low rustling as they fell.
The summer grains were harvested; the stubble-fields lay dry, Where June winds rolled, in light and shade, the pale green waves of rye; But still, on gentle hill-slopes, in valleys fringed with wood, Ungathered, bleaching in the sun, the heavy corn crop stood.
Bent low, by autumn's wind and rain, through husks that, dry and sere, Unfolded by their ripened charge, shone out the yellow ear; Beneath, the turnip lay concealed, in many a verdant fold, And glistened in the slanting light the pumpkin's sphere of gold.
There wrought the busy harvesters; and many a creaking wain Bore slowly to the long barn-floor its load of husk and grain; Till broad and red, as when he rose, the sun sank down, at last, And like a merry guest's farewell, the day in brightness passed.
And lo! as through the western pines on meadow, stream, and pond, Flamed the red radiance of a sky, set all afire beyond, Slowly o'er the eastern sea-bluffs a milder glory shone, And the sunset and the moonrise were mingled into one!
As thus into the quiet night the twilight lapsed away, And deeper in the brightening moon the tranquil shadows lay; From many a brown old farm-house, and hamlet without name, Their milking and their home-tasks done, the merry huskers came.
Swung o'er the heaped-up harvest, from pitchforks in the mow, Shone dimly down the lanterns on the pleasant scene below; The growing pile of husks behind, the golden ears before, And laughing eyes and busy hands and brown cheeks glimmering o'er.
Half hidden in a quiet nook, serene of look and heart, Talking their old times over, the old men sat apart; While, up and down the unhusked pile, or nestling in its shade, At hide-and-seek, with laugh and shout, the happy children played.
Urged by the good host's daughter, a maiden young and fair, Lifting to light her sweet blue eyes and pride of soft brown hair, The master of the village school, sleek of hair and smooth of tongue, To the quaint tune of some old psalm, a husking-ballad sung.
John G. Whittier.
Darius Green and His Flying Machine
If ever there lived a Yankee lad, Wise or otherwise, good or bad, Who, seeing the birds fly, didn't jump With flapping arms from stake or stump, Or, spreading the tail Of his coat for a sail, Take a soaring leap from post or rail, And wonder why He couldn't fly, And flap and flutter and wish and try— If ever you knew a country dunce Who didn't try that as often as once, All I can say is, that's a sign He never would do for a hero of mine.
An aspiring genius was D. Green: The son of a farmer,—age fourteen; His body was long and lank and lean,— Just right for flying, as will be seen; He had two eyes, each bright as a bean, And a freckled nose that grew between, A little awry,—for I must mention That he had riveted his attention Upon his wonderful invention, Twisting his tongue as he twisted the strings, Working his face as he worked the wings, And with every turn of gimlet and screw Turning and screwing his mouth round, too, Till his nose seemed bent To catch the scent, Around some corner, of new-baked pies, And his wrinkled cheeks and his squinting eyes Grew puckered into a queer grimace, That made him look very droll in the face, And also very wise.