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Songs and Other Verse
by Eugene Field
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I never should have known him But for the colored folk That here obtain And ne'er in vain That wizard's art invoke; For when the Eye that's Evil Would him and his'n damn, The negro's grief gets quick relief Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam. With the caul of an alligator, The plume of an unborn loon, And the poison wrung From a serpent's tongue By the light of a midnight moon!

In all neurotic ailments I hear that he excels, And he insures Immediate cures Of weird, uncanny spells; The most unruly patient Gets docile as a lamb And is freed from ill by the potent skill Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam; Feathers of strangled chickens, Moss from the dank lagoon, And plasters wet With spider sweat In the light of a midnight moon!

They say when nights are grewsome And hours are, oh! so late, Old Sam steals out And hunts about For charms that hoodoos hate! That from the moaning river And from the haunted glen He silently brings what eerie things Give peace to hoodooed men:— The tongue of a piebald 'possum, The tooth of a senile 'coon, The buzzard's breath that smells of death, And the film that lies On a lizard's eyes In the light of a midnight moon!



WINFREDA

(A BALLAD IN THE ANGLO-SAXON TONGUE)

When to the dreary greenwood gloam Winfreda's husband strode that day, The fair Winfreda bode at home To toil the weary time away; "While thou art gone to hunt," said she, "I'll brew a goodly sop for thee."

Lo, from a further, gloomy wood, A hungry wolf all bristling hied And on the cottage threshold stood And saw the dame at work inside; And, as he saw the pleasing sight, He licked his fangs so sharp and white.

Now when Winfreda saw the beast, Straight at the grinning wolf she ran, And, not affrighted in the least, She hit him with her cooking pan, And as she thwacked him on the head— "Scat! scat!" the fair Winfreda said.

The hills gave answer to their din— The brook in fear beheld the sight. And all that bloody field within Wore token of Winfreda's might. The wolf was very loath to stay— But, oh! he could not get away.

Winfreda swept him o'er the wold And choked him till his gums were blue, And till, beneath her iron hold, His tongue hung out a yard or two, And with his hair the riven ground Was strewn for many leagues around.

They fought a weary time that day, And seas of purple blood were shed, Till by Winfreda's cunning lay That awful wolf all limp and dead; Winfreda saw him reel and drop— Then back she went to brewing sop.

So when the husband came at night From bootless chase, cold, gaunt, and grim, Great was that Saxon lord's delight To find the sop dished up for him; And as he ate, Winfreda told How she had laid the wolf out cold.

The good Winfreda of those days Is only "pretty Birdie" now— Sickly her soul and weak her ways— And she, to whom we Saxons bow, Leaps on a bench and screams with fright If but a mouse creeps into sight.



LYMAN, FREDERICK, AND JIM

(FOR THE FELLOWSHIP CLUB)

Lyman and Frederick and Jim, one day, Set out in a great big ship— Steamed to the ocean adown the bay Out of a New York slip. "Where are you going and what is your game?" The people asked those three. "Darned if we know; but all the same Happy as larks are we; And happier still we're going to be!" Said Lyman And Frederick And Jim.

The people laughed "Aha, oho! Oho, aha!" laughed they; And while those three went sailing so Some pirates steered that way. The pirates they were laughing, too— The prospect made them glad; But by the time the job was through Each of them pirates, bold and bad, Had been done out of all he had By Lyman And Frederick And Jim.

Days and weeks and months they sped, Painting that foreign clime A beautiful, bright vermilion red— And having a —— of a time! 'T was all so gaudy a lark, it seemed As if it could not be, And some folks thought it a dream they dreamed Of sailing that foreign sea, But I'll identify you these three— Lyman And Frederick And Jim.

Lyman and Frederick are bankers and sich And Jim is an editor kind; The first two named are awfully rich And Jim ain't far behind! So keep your eyes open and mind your tricks, Or you are like to be In quite as much of a Tartar fix As the pirates that sailed the sea And monkeyed with the pardners three, Lyman And Frederick And Jim!



BY MY SWEETHEART

Sweetheart, be my sweetheart When birds are on the wing, When bee and bud and babbling flood Bespeak the birth of spring, Come, sweetheart, be my sweetheart And wear this posy-ring!

Sweetheart, be my sweetheart In the mellow golden glow Of earth aflush with the gracious blush Which the ripening fields foreshow; Dear sweetheart, be my sweetheart, As into the noon we go!

Sweetheart, be my sweetheart When falls the bounteous year, When fruit and wine of tree and vine Give us their harvest cheer; Oh, sweetheart, be my sweetheart, For winter it draweth near.

Sweetheart, be my sweetheart When the year is white and old, When the fire of youth is spent, forsooth, And the hand of age is cold; Yet, sweetheart, be my sweetheart Till the year of our love be told!



THE PETER-BIRD

Out of the woods by the creek cometh a calling for Peter, And from the orchard a voice echoes and echoes it over; Down in the pasture the sheep hear that strange crying for Peter, Over the meadows that call is aye and forever repeated. So let me tell you the tale, when, where, and how it all happened, And, when the story is told, let us pay heed to the lesson.

Once on a time, long ago, lived in the State of Kentucky One that was reckoned a witch—full of strange spells and devices; Nightly she wandered the woods, searching for charms voodooistic— Scorpions, lizards, and herbs, dormice, chameleons, and plantains! Serpents and caw-caws and bats, screech-owls and crickets and adders— These were the guides of that witch through the dank deeps of the forest. Then, with her roots and her herbs, back to her cave in the morning Ambled that hussy to brew spells of unspeakable evil; And, when the people awoke, seeing that hillside and valley Sweltered in swathes as of mist—"Look!" they would whisper in terror— "Look! the old witch is at work brewing her spells of great evil!" Then would they pray till the sun, darting his rays through the vapor, Lifted the smoke from the earth and baffled the witch's intentions.

One of the boys at that time was a certain young person named Peter, Given too little to work, given too largely to dreaming; Fonder of books than of chores, you can imagine that Peter Led a sad life on the farm, causing his parents much trouble. "Peter!" his mother would call, "the cream is a'ready for churning!" "Peter!" his father would cry, "go grub at the weeds in the garden!" So it was "Peter!" all day—calling, reminding, and chiding— Peter neglected his work; therefore that nagging at Peter!

Peter got hold of some books—how, I'm unable to tell you; Some have suspected the witch—this is no place for suspicions! It is sufficient to stick close to the thread of the legend. Nor is it stated or guessed what was the trend of those volumes; What thing soever it was—done with a pen and a pencil, Wrought with a brain, not a hoe—surely 't was hostile to farming!

"Fudge on all readin'!" they quoth; or "that's what's the ruin of Peter!"

So, when the mornings were hot, under the beech or the maple, Cushioned in grass that was blue, breathing the breath of the blossoms, Lulled by the hum of the bees, the coo of the ring-doves a-mating, Peter would frivol his time at reading, or lazing, or dreaming. "Peter!" his mother would call, "the cream is a'ready for churning!" "Peter!" his father would cry, "go grub at the weeds in the garden!" "Peter!" and "Peter!" all day—calling, reminding, and chiding— Peter neglected his chores; therefore that outcry for Peter; Therefore the neighbors allowed evil would surely befall him— Yes, on account of these things, ruin would come upon Peter!

Surely enough, on a time, reading and lazing and dreaming Wrought the calamitous ill all had predicted for Peter; For, of a morning in spring when lay the mist in the valleys— "See," quoth the folk, "how the witch breweth her evil decoctions! See how the smoke from her fire broodeth on woodland and meadow! Grant that the sun cometh out to smother the smudge of her caldron! She hath been forth in the night, full of her spells and devices, Roaming the marshes and dells for heathenish magical nostrums; Digging in leaves and at stumps for centipedes, pismires, and spiders, Grubbing in poisonous pools for hot salamanders and toadstools; Charming the bats from the flues, snaring the lizards by twilight, Sucking the scorpion's egg and milking the breast of the adder!"

Peter derided these things held in such faith by the farmer, Scouted at magic and charms, hooted at Jonahs and hoodoos— Thinking and reading of books must have unsettled his reason! "There ain't no witches," he cried; "it isn't smoky, but foggy! I will go out in the wet—you all can't hender me, nuther!"

Surely enough he went out into the damp of the morning, Into the smudge that the witch spread over woodland and meadow, Into the fleecy gray pall brooding on hillside and valley. Laughing and scoffing, he strode into that hideous vapor; Just as he said he would do, just as he bantered and threatened, Ere they could fasten the door, Peter had done gone and done it! Wasting his time over books, you see, had unsettled his reason— Soddened his callow young brain with semi-pubescent paresis, And his neglect of his chores hastened this evil condition.

Out of the woods by the creek cometh a calling for Peter And from the orchard a voice echoes and echoes it over; Down in the pasture the sheep hear that shrill crying for Peter, Up from the spring house the wail stealeth anon like a whisper, Over the meadows that call is aye and forever repeated. Such were the voices that whooped wildly and vainly for Peter Decades and decades ago down in the State of Kentucky— Such are the voices that cry now from the woodland and meadow, "Peter—O Peter!" all day, calling, reminding, and chiding— Taking us back to the time when Peter he done gone and done it! These are the voices of those left by the boy in the farmhouse When, with his laughter and scorn, hatless and bootless and sockless, Clothed in his jeans and his pride, Peter sailed out in the weather, Broke from the warmth of his home into that fog of the devil, Into the smoke of that witch brewing her damnable porridge!

Lo, when he vanished from sight, knowing the evil that threatened, Forth with importunate cries hastened his father and mother. "Peter!" they shrieked in alarm, "Peter!" and evermore "Peter!"— Ran from the house to the barn, ran from the barn to the garden, Ran to the corn-crib anon, then to the smoke-house proceeded; Henhouse and woodpile they passed, calling and wailing and weeping, Through the front gate to the road, braving the hideous vapor— Sought him in lane and on pike, called him in orchard and meadow, Clamoring "Peter!" in vain, vainly outcrying for Peter. Joining the search came the rest, brothers and sisters and cousins, Venting unspeakable fears in pitiful wailing for Peter! And from the neighboring farms gathered the men and the women, Who, upon hearing the news, swelled the loud chorus for Peter.

Farmers and hussifs and maids, bosses and field-hands and niggers, Colonels and jedges galore from cornfields and mint-beds and thickets, All that had voices to voice, all to those parts appertaining, Came to engage in the search, gathered and bellowed for Peter. The Taylors, the Dorseys, the Browns, the Wallers, the Mitchells, the Logans, The Yenowines, Crittendens, Dukes, the Hickmans, the Hobbses, the Morgans; The Ormsbys, the Thompsons, the Hikes, the Williamsons, Murrays, and Hardins,

The Beynroths, the Sherleys, the Hokes, the Haldermans, Harneys, and Slaughters— All, famed in Kentucky of old for prowess prodigious at farming, Now surged from their prosperous homes to join in that hunt for the truant, To ascertain where he was at, to help out the chorus for Peter.

Still on those prosperous farms where heirs and assigns of the people Specified hereinabove and proved by the records of probate— Still on those farms shall you hear (and still on the turnpikes adjacent) That pitiful, petulant call, that pleading, expostulant wailing, That hopeless, monotonous moan, that crooning and droning for Peter. Some say the witch in her wrath transmogrified all those good people; That, wakened from slumber that day by the calling and bawling for Peter, She out of her cave in a thrice, and, waving the foot of a rabbit (Crossed with the caul of a coon and smeared with the blood of a chicken), She changed all those folk into birds and shrieked with demoniac venom: "Fly away over the land, moaning your Peter forever, Croaking of Peter, the boy who didn't believe there were hoodoos, Crooning of Peter, the fool who scouted at stories of witches, Crying of Peter for aye, forever outcalling for Peter!"

This is the story they tell; so in good sooth saith the legend; As I have told it to you, so tell the folk and the legend. That it is true I believe, for on the breezes this morning Come the shrill voices of birds calling and calling for Peter; Out of the maple and beech glitter the eyes of the wailers, Peeping and peering for him who formerly lived in these places— Peter, the heretic lad, lazy and careless and dreaming, Sorely afflicted with books and with pubescent paresis, Hating the things of the farm, care of the barn and the garden, Always neglecting his chores—given to books and to reading, Which, as all people allow, turn the young person to mischief, Harden his heart against toil, wean his affections from tillage.

This is the legend of yore told in the state of Kentucky When in the springtime the birds call from the beeches and maples, Call from the petulant thorn, call from the acrid persimmon; When from the woods by the creek and from the pastures and meadows, When from the spring house and lane and from the mint-bed and orchard, When from the redbud and gum and from the redolent lilac, When from the dirt roads and pikes cometh that calling for Peter; Cometh the dolorous cry, cometh that weird iteration Of "Peter" and "Peter" for aye, of "Peter" and "Peter" forever! This is the legend of old, told in the tum-titty meter Which the great poets prefer, being less labor than rhyming (My first attempt at the same, my last attempt, too, I reckon!); Nor have I further to say, for the sad story is ended.



SISTER'S CAKE

I'd not complain of Sister Jane, for she was good and kind, Combining with rare comeliness distinctive gifts of mind; Nay, I'll admit it were most fit that, worn by social cares, She'd crave a change from parlor life to that below the stairs, And that, eschewing needlework and music, she should take Herself to the substantial art of manufacturing cake.

At breakfast, then, it would befall that Sister Jane would say: "Mother, if you have got the things, I'll make some cake to-day!" Poor mother'd cast a timid glance at father, like as not— For father hinted sister's cooking cost a frightful lot— But neither she nor he presumed to signify dissent, Accepting it for gospel truth that what she wanted went!

No matter what the rest of 'em might chance to have in hand, The whole machinery of the house came to a sudden stand; The pots were hustled off the stove, the fire built up anew, With every damper set just so to heat the oven through; The kitchen-table was relieved of everything, to make That ample space which Jane required when she compounded cake.

And, oh! the bustling here and there, the flying to and fro; The click of forks that whipped the eggs to lather white as snow— And what a wealth of sugar melted swiftly out of sight— And butter? Mother said such waste would ruin father, quite! But Sister Jane preserved a mien no pleading could confound As she utilized the raisins and the citron by the pound.

Oh, hours of chaos, tumult, heat, vexatious din, and whirl! Of deep humiliation for the sullen hired-girl; Of grief for mother, hating to see things wasted so, And of fortune for that little boy who pined to taste that dough! It looked so sweet and yellow—sure, to taste it were no sin— But, oh! how sister scolded if he stuck his finger in!

The chances were as ten to one, before the job was through, That sister'd think of something else she'd great deal rather do! So, then, she'd softly steal away, as Arabs in the night, Leaving the girl and ma to finish up as best they might; These tactics (artful Sister Jane) enabled her to take Or shift the credit or the blame of that too-treacherous cake!

And yet, unhappy is the man who has no Sister Jane— For he who has no sister seems to me to live in vain. I never had a sister—may be that is why today I'm wizened and dyspeptic, instead of blithe and gay; A boy who's only forty should be full of romp and mirth, But I (because I'm sisterless) am the oldest man on earth!

Had I a little sister—oh, how happy I should be! I'd never let her cast her eyes on any chap but me; I'd love her and I'd cherish her for better and for worse— I'd buy her gowns and bonnets, and sing her praise in verse; And—yes, what's more and vastly more—I tell you what I'd do: I'd let her make her wondrous cake, and I would eat it, too!

I have a high opinion of the sisters, as you see— Another fellow's sister is so very dear to me! I love to work anear her when she's making over frocks, When she patches little trousers or darns prosaic socks; But I draw the line at one thing—yes, I don my hat and take A three hours' walk when she is moved to try her hand at cake!



ABU MIDJAN

When Father Time swings round his scythe, Intomb me 'neath the bounteous vine, So that its juices, red and blithe, May cheer these thirsty bones of mine.

"Elsewise with tears and bated breath Should I survey the life to be. But oh! How should I hail the death That brings that—vinous grace to me!"

So sung the dauntless Saracen, Whereat the Prophet-Chief ordains That, curst of Allah, loathed of men, The faithless one shall die in chains.

But one vile Christian slave that lay A prisoner near that prisoner saith: "God willing, I will plant some day A vine where liest thou in death."

Lo, over Abu Midjan's grave With purpling fruit a vine-tree grows; Where rots the martyred Christian slave Allah, and only Allah, knows!



ED

Ed was a man that played for keeps, 'nd when he tuk the notion, You cudn't stop him any more'n a dam 'ud stop the ocean; For when he tackled to a thing 'nd sot his mind plum to it, You bet yer boots he done that thing though it broke the bank to do it! So all us boys uz knowed him best allowed he wuzn't jokin' When on a Sunday he remarked uz how he'd gin up smokin'.

Now this remark, that Ed let fall, fell, ez I say, on Sunday— Which is the reason we wuz shocked to see him sail in Monday A-puffin' at a snipe that sizzled like a Chinese cracker An' smelt fur all the world like rags instead uv like terbacker; Recoverin' from our first surprise, us fellows fell to pokin' A heap uv fun at "folks uz said how they had gin up smokin'."

But Ed—sez he: "I found my work cud not be done without it— Jes' try the scheme yourselves, my friends, ef any uv you doubt it! It's hard, I know, upon one's health, but there's a certain beauty In makin' sackerfices to the stern demands uv duty! So, wholly in a sperrit uv denial 'nd concession, I mortify the flesh 'nd smoke for the sake uv my perfession!"



JENNIE

Some men affect a liking For the prim in face and mind, And some prefer the striking And the loud in womankind; Wee Madge is wooed of many, And buxom Kate, as well, And Jennie—charming Jennie— Ah, Jennie doesn't tell!

What eyes so bright as Daisy's, And who as Maud so fair? Who does not sing the praises Of Lucy's golden hair? There's Sophie—she is witty, A very sprite is Nell, And Susie's, oh, so pretty— But Jennie doesn't tell!

And now for my confession: Of all the virtues rare, I argue that discretion Doth most beseem the fair. And though I hear the many Extol each other belle, I—I pronounce for Jennie, For Jennie doesn't tell!



CONTENTMENT

Happy the man that, when his day is done, Lies down to sleep with nothing of regret— The battle he has fought may not be won— The fame he sought be just as fleeting yet; Folding at last his hands upon his breast, Happy is he, if hoary and forespent, He sinks into the last, eternal rest, Breathing these only works: "I am content."

But happier he, that, while his blood is warm, See hopes and friendships dead about him lie— Bares his brave breast to envy's bitter storm, Nor shuns the poison barbs of calumny; And 'mid it all, stands sturdy and elate, Girt only in the armor God hath meant For him who 'neath the buffetings of fate Can say to God and man: "I am content."



"GUESS"

There is a certain Yankee phrase I always have revered, Yet, somehow, in these modern days, It's almost disappeared; It was the usage years ago, But nowadays it's got To be regarded coarse and low To answer: "I guess not!"

The height of fashion called the pink Affects a British craze— Prefers "I fancy" or "I think" To that time-honored phrase; But here's a Yankee, if you please, That brands the fashion rot, And to all heresies like these He answers, "I—guess not!"—

When Chaucer, Wycliff, and the rest Express their meaning thus, I guess, if not the very best, It's good enough for us! Why! shall the idioms of our speech Be banished and forgot For this vain trash which moderns teach? Well, no, sir; I guess not!

There's meaning in that homely phrase No other words express— No substitute therefor conveys Such unobtrusive stress. True Anglo-Saxon speech, it goes Directly to the spot, And he who hears it always knows The worth of "I—guess—not!"



NEW-YEAR'S EVE

Good old days—dear old days When my heart beat high and bold— When the things of earth seemed full of life, And the future a haze of gold! Oh, merry was I that winter night, And gleeful our little one's din, And tender the grace of my darling's face As we watched the new year in. But a voice—a spectre's, that mocked at love— Came out of the yonder hall; "Tick-tock, tick-tock!" 't was the solemn clock That ruefully croaked to all. Yet what knew we of the griefs to be In the year we longed to greet? Love—love was the theme of the sweet, sweet dream I fancied might never fleet!

But the spectre stood in that yonder gloom, And these were the words it spake, "Tick-tock, tick-tock"—and they seemed to mock A heart about to break.

'T is new-year's eve, and again I watch In the old familiar place, And I'm thinking again of that old time when I looked on a dear one's face. Never a little one hugs my knee And I hear no gleeful shout— I am sitting alone by the old hearthstone, Watching the old year out. But I welcome the voice in yonder gloom That solemnly calls to me: "Tick-tock, tick-tock!"—for so the clock Tells of a life to be; "Tick-tock, tick-tock!"-'tis so the clock Tells of eternity.



OLD SPANISH SONG

I'm thinking of the wooing That won my maiden heart When he—he came pursuing A love unused to art. Into the drowsy river The moon transported flung Her soul that seemed to quiver With the songs my lover sung. And the stars in rapture twinkled On the slumbrous world below— You see that, old and wrinkled, I'm not forgetful—no!

He still should be repeating The vows he uttered then— Alas! the years, though fleeting, Are truer yet than men! The summer moonlight glistens In the favorite trysting spot Where the river ever listens For a song it heareth not. And I, whose head is sprinkled With time's benumbing snow, I languish, old and wrinkled, But not forgetful—no!

What though he elsewhere turneth To beauty strangely bold? Still in my bosom burneth The tender fire of old; And the words of love he told me And the songs he sung me then Come crowding to uphold me, And I live my youth again! For when love's feet have tinkled On the pathway women go, Though one be old and wrinkled, She's not forgetful—no!



THE BROKEN RING

To the willows of the brookside The mill wheel sings to-day— Sings and weeps, As the brooklet creeps Wondering on its way; And here is the ring she gave me With love's sweet promise then— It hath burst apart Like the trusting heart That may never be soothed again!

Oh, I would be a minstrel To wander far and wide, Weaving in song the merciless wrong Done by a perjured bride! Or I would be a soldier, To seek in the bloody fray What gifts of fate can compensate For the pangs I suffer to-day!

Yet may this aching bosom, By bitter sorrow crushed, Be still and cold In the churchyard mould Ere thy sweet voice be hushed; So sing, sing on forever, O wheel of the brookside mill, For you mind me again Of the old time when I felt love's gracious thrill.



IN PRAISE OF CONTENTMENT

(HORACE'S ODES, III, I)

I hate the common, vulgar herd! Away they scamper when I "booh" 'em! But pretty girls and nice young men Observe a proper silence when I chose to sing my lyrics to 'em.

The kings of earth, whose fleeting pow'r Excites our homage and our wonder, Are precious small beside old Jove, The father of us all, who drove The giants out of sight, by thunder!

This man loves farming, that man law, While this one follows pathways martial— What moots it whither mortals turn? Grim fate from her mysterious urn Doles out the lots with hand impartial.

Nor sumptuous feasts nor studied sports Delight the heart by care tormented; The mightiest monarch knoweth not The peace that to the lowly cot Sleep bringeth to the swain contented.

On him untouched of discontent Care sits as lightly as a feather; He doesn't growl about the crops, Or worry when the market drops, Or fret about the changeful weather.

Not so with him who, rich in fact, Still seeks his fortune to redouble; Though dig he deep or build he high, Those scourges twain shall lurk anigh— Relentless Care, relentless Trouble!

If neither palaces nor robes Nor unguents nor expensive toddy Insure Contentment's soothing bliss, Why should I build an edifice Where Envy comes to fret a body?

Nay, I'd not share your sumptuous cheer, But rather sup my rustic pottage, While that sweet boon the gods bestow— The peace your mansions cannot know— Blesseth my lowly Sabine cottage.



THE BALLAD OF THE TAYLOR PUP

Now lithe and listen, gentles all, Now lithe ye all and hark Unto a ballad I shall sing About Buena Park.

Of all the wonders happening there The strangest hap befell Upon a famous Aprile morn, As I you now shall tell.

It is about the Taylor pup And of his mistress eke And of the prankish time they had That I am fain to speak.

FITTE THE FIRST

The pup was of as noble mien As e'er you gazed upon; They called his mother Lady And his father was a Don.

And both his mother and his sire Were of the race Bernard— The family famed in histories And hymned of every bard.

His form was of exuberant mold, Long, slim, and loose of joints; There never yet was pointer-dog So full as he of points.

His hair was like to yellow fleece, His eyes were black and kind, And like a nodding, gilded plume His tail stuck up behind.

His bark was very, very fierce, And fierce his appetite, Yet was it only things to eat That he was prone to bite.

But in that one particular He was so passing true That never did he quit a meal Until he had got through.

Potatoes, biscuits, mush or hash, Joint, chop, or chicken limb— So long as it was edible, 'T was all the same to him!

And frequently when Hunger's pangs Assailed that callow pup, He masticated boots and gloves Or chewed a door-mat up.

So was he much beholden of The folk that him did keep; They loved him when he was awake And better still asleep.

FITTE THE SECOND

Now once his master, lingering o'er His breakfast coffee-cup, Observed unto his doting spouse: "You ought to wash the pup!"

"That shall I do this very day", His doting spouse replied; "You will not know the pretty thing When he is washed and dried.

"But tell me, dear, before you go Unto your daily work, Shall I use Ivory soap on him, Or Colgate, Pears' or Kirk?"

"Odzooks, it matters not a whit— They all are good to use! Take Pearline, if it pleases you— Sapolio, if you choose!

"Take any soap, but take the pup And also water take, And mix the three discreetly up Till they a lather make.

"Then mixing these constituent parts, Let Nature take her way," With which advice that sapient sir Had nothing more to say.

Then fared he to his daily toil All in the Board of Trade, While Mistress Taylor for that bath Due preparation made.

FITTE THE THIRD

She whistled gayly to the pup And called him by his name, And presently the guileless thing All unsuspecting came.

But when she shut the bath-room door, And caught him as catch-can, And hove him in that odious tub, His sorrows then began.

How did that callow, yallow thing Regret that Aprile morn— Alas! how bitterly he rued The day that he was born!

Twice and again, but all in vain He lifted up his wail; His voice was all the pup could lift, For thereby hangs this tale.

'Twas by that tail she held him down, And presently she spread The creamy lather on his back, His stomach, and his head.

His ears hung down in sorry wise, His eyes were, oh! so sad— He looked as though he just had lost The only friend he had.

And higher yet the water rose, The lather still increased, And sadder still the countenance Of that poor martyred beast!

Yet all the time his mistress spoke Such artful words of cheer As "Oh, how nice!" and "Oh, how clean!" And "There's a patient dear!"

At last the trial had an end, At last the pup was free; She threw aside the bath-room door— "Now get you gone!" quoth she.

FITTE THE FOURTH

Then from that tub and from that room He gat with vast ado; At every hop he gave a shake, And—how the water flew!

He paddled down the winding stairs And to the parlor hied, Dispensing pools of foamy suds And slop on every side.

Upon the carpet then he rolled And brushed against the wall, And, horror! whisked his lathery sides On overcoat and shawl.

Attracted by the dreadful din, His mistress came below— Who, who can speak her wonderment— Who, who can paint her woe!

Great smears of soap were here and there— Her startled vision met With blobs of lather everywhere, And everything was wet!

Then Mrs. Taylor gave a shriek Like one about to die: "Get out—get out, and don't you dare Come in till you are dry!"

With that she opened wide the door And waved the critter through; Out in the circumambient air With grateful yelps he flew.

FITTE THE FIFTH

He whisked into the dusty street And to the Waller lot, Where bonnie Annie Evans played With charming Sissy Knott.

And with those pretty little dears He mixed himself all up— Oh, fie upon such boisterous play— Fie, fie, you naughty pup!

Woe, woe on Annie's India mull, And Sissy's blue percale! One got that pup's belathered flanks, And one his soapy tail!

Forth to the rescue of those maids Rushed gallant Willie Clow; His panties they were white and clean— Where are those panties now?

Where is the nicely laundered shirt That Kendall Evans wore, And Robbie James' tricot coat All buttoned up before?

The leaven, which, as we are told, Leavens a monstrous lump, Hath far less reaching qualities Than a wet pup on the jump.

This way and that he swung and swayed, He gambolled far and near, And everywhere he thrust himself He left a soapy smear.

FITTE THE SIXTH

That noon a dozen little dears Were spanked and put to bed With naught to stay their appetites But cheerless crusts of bread.

That noon a dozen hired girls Washed out each gown and shirt Which that exuberant Taylor pup Had frescoed o'er with dirt.

That whole day long the Aprile sun Smiled sweetly from above On clotheslines flaunting to the breeze The emblems mothers love.

That whole day long the Taylor pup This way and that did hie Upon his mad, erratic course, Intent on getting dry.

That night when Mr. Taylor came His vesper meal to eat, He uttered things my pious pen Would liefer not repeat.

Yet still that noble Taylor pup Survives to romp and bark And stumble over folks and things In fair Buena Park.

Good sooth, I wot he should be called Buena's favorite son Who's sired of such a noble sire And dammed by every one!



AFTER READING TROLLOPE'S HISTORY OF FLORENCE

My books are on their shelves again And clouds lie low with mist and rain. Afar the Arno murmurs low The tale of fields of melting snow. List to the bells of times agone The while I wait me for the dawn.

Beneath great Giotto's Campanile The gray ghosts throng; their whispers steal From poets' bosoms long since dust; They ask me now to go. I trust Their fleeter footsteps where again They come at night and live as men.

The rain falls on Ghiberti's gates; The big drops hang on purple dates; And yet beneath the ilex-shades— Dear trysting-place for boys and maids— There comes a form from days of old, With Beatrice's hair of gold.

The breath of lands or lilied streams Floats through the fabric of my dreams; And yonder from the hills of song, Where psalmists brood and prophets throng, The lone, majestic Dante leads His love across the blooming meads.

Along the almond walks I tread And greet the figures of the dead. Mirandula walks here with him Who lived with gods and seraphim; Yet where Colonna's fair feet go There passes Michael Angelo.

In Rome or Florence, still with her Stands lone and grand her worshipper. In Leonardo's brain there move Christ and the children of His love; And Raphael is touching now, For the last time, an angel's brow.

Angelico is praying yet Where lives no pang of man's regret, And, mixing tears and prayers within His palette's wealth, absolved from sin, He dips his brush in hues divine; San Marco's angel faces shine.

Within Lorenzo's garden green, Where olives hide their boughs between, The lovers, as they read betimes Their love within Petrarca's lines, Stand near the marbles found at Rome, Lost shades that search in vain for home.

They pace the paths along the stream, Dark Vallombrosa in their dream. They sing, amidst the rain-drenched pines, Of Tuscan gold that ruddier shines Behind a saint's auroral face That shows e'en yet the master's trace.

But lo, within the walls of gray, E're yet there falls a glint of day, And far without, from hill to vale, Where honey-hearted nightingale Or meads of pale anemones Make sweet the coming morning breeze—

I hear a voice, of prophet tone, A voice of doom, like his alone That once in Gadara was heard; The old walls trembled—lo, the bird Has ceased to sing, and yonder waits Lorenzo at his palace gates.

Some Romola in passing by Turns toward the ruler, and his sigh Wanders amidst the myrtle bowers Or o'er the city's mantled towers, For she is Florence! "Wilt thou hear San Marco's prophet? Doom is near."

"Her liberties," he cries, "restore! This much for Florence—yea, and more To men and God!" The days are gone; And in an hour of perfect dawn I stand beneath the cypress trees That shiver still with words like these.



A LULLABY

The stars are twinkling in the skies, The earth is lost in slumbers deep; So hush, my sweet, and close thine eyes, And let me lull thy soul to sleep. Compose thy dimpled hands to rest, And like a little birdling lie Secure within thy cozy nest Upon my loving mother breast, And slumber to my lullaby, So hushaby—O hushaby.

The moon is singing to a star The little song I sing to you; The father sun has strayed afar, As baby's sire is straying too. And so the loving mother moon Sings to the little star on high; And as she sings, her gentle tune Is borne to me, and thus I croon For thee, my sweet, that lullaby Of hushaby—O hushaby.

There is a little one asleep That does not hear his mother's song; But angel watchers—as I weep— Surround his grave the night-tide long. And as I sing, my sweet, to you, Oh, would the lullaby I sing— The same sweet lullaby he knew While slumb'ring on this bosom too— Were borne to him on angel's wing! So hushaby—O hushaby.



"THE OLD HOMESTEAD"

JEST as atween the awk'ard lines a hand we love has penn'd Appears a meanin' hid from other eyes, So, in your simple, homespun art, old honest Yankee friend, A power o' tearful, sweet seggestion lies. We see it all—the pictur' that our mem'ries hold so dear— The homestead in New England far away, An' the vision is so nat'ral-like we almost seem to hear The voices that were heshed but yesterday.

Ah, who'd ha' thought the music of that distant childhood time Would sleep through all the changeful, bitter years To waken into melodies like Chris'mas bells a-chime An' to claim the ready tribute of our tears! Why, the robins in the maples an' the blackbirds round the pond, The crickets an' the locusts in the leaves, The brook that chased the trout adown the hillside just beyond, An' the swallers in their nests beneath the eaves— They all come troopin' back with you, dear Uncle Josh, to-day, An' they seem to sing with all the joyous zest Of the days when we were Yankee boys an' Yankee girls at play, With nary thought of "livin' way out West"!

God bless ye, Denman Thomps'n, for the good y' do our hearts, With this music an' these memories o' youth— God bless ye for the faculty that tops all human arts, The good ol' Yankee faculty of Truth!



CHRISTMAS HYMN

Sing, Christmas bells! Say to the earth this is the morn Whereon our Saviour-King is born; Sing to all men—the bond, the free, The rich, the poor, the high, the low— The little child that sports in glee— The aged folk that tottering go— Proclaim the morn That Christ is born, That saveth them and saveth me!

Sing, angel host! Sing of the star that God has placed Above the manger in the east; Sing of the glories of the night, The virgin's sweet humility, The Babe with kingly robes bedight— Sing to all men where'er they be This Christmas morn, For Christ is born, That saveth them and saveth me!

Sing, sons of earth! O ransomed seed of Adam, sing! God liveth, and we have a King! The curse is gone, the bond are free— By Bethlehem's star that brightly beamed, By all the heavenly signs that be, We know that Israel is redeemed— That on this morn The Christ is born That saveth you and saveth me!

Sing, O my heart! Sing thou in rapture this dear morn Whereon the blessed Prince is born! And as thy songs shall be of love, So let my deeds be charity— By the dear Lord that reigns above, By Him that died upon the tree, By this fair morn Whereon is born The Christ that saveth all and me!



A PARAPHRASE OF HEINE

(LYRIC INTERMEZZO)

There fell a star from realms above— A glittering, glorious star to see! Methought it was the star of love, So sweetly it illumined me.

And from the apple branches fell Blossoms and leaves that time in June; The wanton breezes wooed them well With soft caress and amorous tune.

The white swan proudly sailed along And vied her beauty with her note— The river, jealous of her song, Threw up its arms to clasp her throat.

But now—oh, now the dream is past— The blossoms and the leaves are dead, The swan's sweet song is hushed at last, And not a star burns overhead.



THE CONVALESCENT GRIPSTER

The gods let slip that fiendish grip Upon me last week Sunday— No fiercer storm than racked my form E'er swept the Bay of Fundy; But now, good-by To drugs, say I— Good-by to gnawing sorrow; I am up to-day, And, whoop, hooray! I'm going out to-morrow!

What aches and pain in bones and brain I had I need not mention; It seemed to me such pangs must be Old Satan's own invention; Albeit I Was sure I'd die, The doctor reassured me— And, true enough, With his vile stuff, He ultimately cured me.

As there I lay in bed all day, How fair outside looked to me! A smile so mild old Nature smiled It seemed to warm clean through me. In chastened mood The scene I viewed, Inventing, sadly solus, Fantastic rhymes Between the times I had to take a bolus.

Of quinine slugs and other drugs I guess I took a million— Such drugs as serve to set each nerve To dancing a cotillon; The doctors say The only way To rout the grip instanter Is to pour in All kinds of sin— Similibus curantur!

'Twas hard; and yet I'll soon forget Those ills and cures distressing; One's future lies 'neath gorgeous skies When one is convalescing! So now, good-by To drugs say I— Good-by, thou phantom Sorrow! I am up to-day, And, whoop, hooray! I'm going out to-morrow.



THE SLEEPING CHILD

My baby slept—how calm his rest, As o'er his handsome face a smile Like that of angel flitted, while He lay so still upon my breast!

My baby slept—his baby head Lay all unkiss'd 'neath pall and shroud: I did not weep or cry aloud— I only wished I, too, were dead!

My baby sleeps—a tiny mound, All covered by the little flowers, Woos me in all my waking hours, Down in the quiet burying-ground.

And when I sleep I seem to be With baby in another land— I take his little baby hand— He smiles and sings sweet songs to me.

Sleep on, O baby, while I keep My vigils till this day be passed! Then shall I, too, lie down at last, And with my baby darling sleep.



THE TWO COFFINS

In yonder old cathedral Two lovely coffins lie; In one, the head of the state lies dead, And a singer sleeps hard by.

Once had that King great power And proudly ruled the land— His crown e'en now is on his brow And his sword is in his hand.

How sweetly sleeps the singer With calmly folded eyes, And on the breast of the bard at rest The harp that he sounded lies.

The castle walls are falling And war distracts the land, But the sword leaps not from that mildewed spot There in that dead king's hand.

But with every grace of nature There seems to float along— To cheer again the hearts of men The singer's deathless song.



CLARE MARKET

In the market of Clare, so cheery the glare Of the shops and the booths of the tradespeople there; That I take a delight on a Saturday night In walking that way and in viewing the sight. For it's here that one sees all the objects that please— New patterns in silk and old patterns in cheese, For the girls pretty toys, rude alarums for boys, And baubles galore while discretion enjoys— But here I forbear, for I really despair Of naming the wealth of the market of Clare.

A rich man comes down from the elegant town And looks at it all with an ominous frown; He seems to despise the grandiloquent cries Of the vender proclaiming his puddings and pies; And sniffing he goes through the lanes that disclose Much cause for disgust to his sensitive nose; And free of the crowd, he admits he is proud That elsewhere in London this thing's not allowed; He has seen nothing there but filth everywhere, And he's glad to get out of the market of Clare.

But the child that has come from the gloom of the slum Is charmed by the magic of dazzle and hum; He feasts his big eyes on the cakes and the pies, And they seem to grow green and protrude with surprise At the goodies they vend and the toys without end— And it's oh! if he had but a penny to spend! But alas, he must gaze in a hopeless amaze At treasures that glitter and torches that blaze— What sense of despair in this world can compare With that of the waif in the market of Clare?

So, on Saturday night, when my custom invites A stroll in old London for curious sights, I am likely to stray by a devious way Where goodies are spread in a motley array, The things which some eyes would appear to despise Impress me as pathos in homely disguise, And my battered waif-friend shall have pennies to spend, So long as I've got 'em (or chums that will lend); And the urchin shall share in my joy and declare That there's beauty and good in the market of Clare.

A DREAM OF SUNSHINE

I'm weary of this weather and I hanker for the ways Which people read of in the psalms and preachers paraphrase— The grassy fields, the leafy woods, the banks where I can lie And listen to the music of the brook that flutters by, Or, by the pond out yonder, hear the redwing blackbird's call Where he makes believe he has a nest, but hasn't one at all; And by my side should be a friend—a trusty, genial friend, With plenteous store of tales galore and natural leaf to lend; Oh, how I pine and hanker for the gracious boon of spring— For then I'm going a-fishing with John Lyle King!

How like to pigmies will appear creation, as we float Upon the bosom of the tide in a three-by-thirteen boat— Forgotten all vexations and all vanities shall be, As we cast our cares to windward and our anchor to the lee; Anon the minnow-bucket will emit batrachian sobs, And the devil's darning-needles shall come wooing of our bobs; The sun shall kiss our noses and the breezes toss our hair (This latter metaphoric—we've no fimbriae to spare!); And I—transported by the bliss—shan't do a plaguey thing But cut the bait and string the fish for John Lyle King!

Or, if I angle, it will be for bullheads and the like, While he shall fish for gamey bass, for pickerel, and for pike; I really do not care a rap for all the fish that swim— But it's worth the wealth of Indies just to be along with him In grassy fields, in leafy woods, beside the water-brooks, And hear him tell of things he's seen or read of in his books— To hear the sweet philosophy that trickles in and out The while he is discoursing of the things we talk about; A fountain-head refreshing—a clear, perennial spring Is the genial conversation of John Lyle King!

Should varying winds or shifting tides redound to our despite— In other words, should we return all bootless home at night, I'd back him up in anything he had a mind to say Of mighty bass he'd left behind or lost upon the way; I'd nod assent to every yarn involving piscine game— I'd cross my heart and make my affidavit to the same; For what is friendship but a scheme to help a fellow out— And what a paltry fish or two to make such bones about! Nay, Sentiment a mantle of sweet charity would fling O'er perjuries committed for John Lyle King.

At night, when as the camp-fire cast a ruddy, genial flame, He'd bring his tuneful fiddle out and play upon the same; No diabolic engine this—no instrument of sin— No relative at all to that lewd toy, the violin! But a godly hoosier fiddle—a quaint archaic thing Full of all the proper melodies our grandmas used to sing; With "Bonnie Doon," and "Nellie Gray," and "Sitting on the Stile," "The Heart Bowed Down," the "White Cockade," and "Charming Annie Lisle" Our hearts would echo and the sombre empyrean ring Beneath the wizard sorcery of John Lyle King.

The subsequent proceedings should interest me no more— Wrapped in a woolen blanket should I calmly dream and snore; The finny game that swims by day is my supreme delight— And not the scaly game that flies in darkness of the night! Let those who are so minded pursue this latter game But not repine if they should lose a boodle in the same; For an example to you all one paragon should serve— He towers a very monument to valor and to nerve; No bob-tail flush, no nine-spot high, no measly pair can wring A groan of desperation from John Lyle King!

A truce to badinage—I hope far distant is the day When from these scenes terrestrial our friend shall pass away! We like to hear his cheery voice uplifted in the land, To see his calm, benignant face, to grasp his honest hand; We like him for his learning, his sincerity, his truth, His gallantry to woman and his kindliness to youth, For the lenience of his nature, for the vigor of his mind, For the fulness of that charity he bears to all mankind— That's why we folks who know him best so reverently cling (And that is why I pen these lines) to John Lyle King.

And now adieu, a fond adieu to thee, O muse of rhyme— I do remand thee to the shades until that happier time When fields are green, and posies gay are budding everywhere, And there's a smell of clover bloom upon the vernal air; When by the pond out yonder the redwing blackbird calls, And distant hills are wed to Spring in veils of water-falls; When from his aqueous element the famished pickerel springs Two hundred feet into the air for butterflies and things— Then come again, O gracious muse, and teach me how to sing The glory of a fishing cruise with John Lyle King!



UHLAND'S WHITE STAG.

Into the woods three huntsmen came, Seeking the white stag for their game.

They laid them under a green fir-tree And slept, and dreamed strange things to see.

(FIRST HUNTSMAN)

I dreamt I was beating the leafy brush, When out popped the noble stag—hush, hush!

(SECOND HUNTSMAN)

As ahead of the clamorous pack he sprang, I pelted him hard in the hide—piff, bang!

(THIRD HUNTSMAN)

And as that stag lay dead I blew On my horn a lusty tir-ril-la-loo!

So speak the three as there they lay When lo! the white stag sped that way,

Frisked his heels at those huntsmen three, Then leagues o'er hill and dale was he— Hush, hush! Piff, bang! Tir-ril-la-loo!



HOW SALTY WIN OUT

I used to think that luck wuz luck and nuthin' else but luck— It made no diff'rence how or when or where or why it struck; But sev'ral years ago I changt my mind, an' now proclaim That luck's a kind uv science—same as any other game; It happened out in Denver in the spring uv '80 when Salty teched a humpback an' win out ten.

Salty wuz a printer in the good ol' Tribune days, An', natural-like, he fell into the good ol' Tribune ways; So, every Sunday evenin' he would sit into the game Which in this crowd uv thoroughbreds I think I need not name; An' there he'd sit until he rose, an', when he rose, he wore Invariably less wealth about his person than before.

But once there came a powerful change; one sollum Sunday night Occurred the tidal wave that put ol' Salty out o' sight. He win on deuce an' ace an' Jack—he win on king an' queen— Clif Bell allowed the like uv how he win wuz never seen. An' how he done it wuz revealed to all us fellers when He said he teched a humpback to win out ten.

There must be somethin' in it, for he never win afore, An' when he told the crowd about the humpback, how they swore! For every sport allows it is a losin' game to luck Agin the science uv a man who's teched a hump f'r luck; And there is no denyin' luck wuz nowhere in it when Salty teched a humpback an' win out ten.

I've had queer dreams an' seen queer things, an' allus tried to do The thing that luck apparently intended f'r me to; Cats, funerils, cripples, beggers have I treated with regard, An' charity subscriptions have hit me powerful hard; But what's the use uv talkin'? I say, an' say again: You've got to tech a humpback to win out ten!

So, though I used to think that luck wuz lucky, I'll allow That luck, for luck, agin a hump aint nowhere in it now! An' though I can't explain the whys an' wherefores, I maintain There must be somethin' in it when the tip's so straight an' plain; For I wuz there an' seen it, an' got full with Salty when Salty teched a humpback an' win out ten!

THE END

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