In the gray of the morn, ere the sun peeped over the dewy horizon, Their journey again was begun, and they toiled up the swift, winding river; And many a shallow they passed on their way to the Lake of the Spirits;[AX] But dauntless they reached it at last, and found Akee-pa-kee-tin's[AY] village, On an isle in the midst of the lake; and a day in his teepees they tarried. Of the deed in the wilderness spake, to the brave Chief, the frank-hearted Frenchman. A generous man was the Chief, and a friend of the fearless explorer; And dark was his visage with grief at the treacherous act of the warriors. "Brave Wazi-kute is a man, and his heart is as clear as the sunlight; But the head of a treacherous clan and a snake-in-the-grass, is Tamdoka," Said the chief; and he promised DuLuth, on the word of a friend and a warrior, To carry the pipe and the truth to his cousin, the chief at Kathaga; For thrice at the Tanka Mede he smoked in the lodge of the Frenchman; And thrice had he carried away the bountiful gifts of the trader.
[AX] Mille Lacs
[AY] See Hennepin's account of "Aqui-pa-que-tin," and his village. Shea's Hennepin, 225.
When the chief could no longer prevail on the white men to rest in his teepees, He guided their feet on the trail to the lakes of the winding Rice-River.[AZ] Now on speeds the light bark canoe, through the lakes to the broad Gitchee Seebee;[BA] And up the great river they row,— up the Big Sandy Lake and Savanna; And down through the meadows they go to the river of blue Gitchee-Gumee.[BB] Still onward they speed to the Dalles— to the roar of the white-rolling rapids, Where the dark river tumbles and falls down the ragged ravine of the mountains. And singing his wild jubilee to the low-moaning pines and the cedars, Rushes on to the unsalted sea o'er the ledges upheaved by volcanoes. Their luggage the voyageurs bore down the long, winding path of the portage,[BC] While they mingled their song with the roar of the turbid and turbulent waters. Down-wimpling and murmuring there 'twixt two dewy hills winds a streamlet, Like a long, flaxen ringlet of hair on the breast of a maid in her slumber.
All safe at the foot of the trail, where they left it, they found their felucca, And soon to the wind spread the sail, and glided at ease through the waters,— Through the meadows and lakelets and forth, round the point stretching south like a finger, From the pine-plumed hills on the north, sloping down to the bay and the lake-side And behold, at the foot of the hill, a cluster of Chippewa wigwams, And the busy wives plying with skill their nets in the emerald waters. Two hundred white winters and more have fled from the face of the Summer Since DuLuth on that wild, somber shore, in the unbroken forest primeval, From the midst of the spruce and the pines, saw the smoke of the wigwams up-curling, Like the fumes from the temples and shrines of the Druids of old in their forests. Ah, little he dreamed then, forsooth, that a city would stand on that hill-side, And bear the proud name of DuLuth, the untiring and dauntless explorer,— A refuge for ships from the storms, and for men from the bee-hives of Europe, Out-stretching her long, iron arms o'er an empire of Saxons and Normans.
[AZ] Now called "Mud River"—it empties into the Mississippi at Aitkin.
[BA] Gitchee See-bee—Big River—is the Ojibway name for the Mississippi, which is a corruption of Gitchee Seebee—as Michigan is a corruption of Gitchee Gumee—Great Lake, the Ojibway name of Lake Superior.
[BB] The Ojibways called the St. Louis River Gitchee-Gumee See-bee—Great-lake River, i.e. the river of the Great Lake (Lake Superior).
[BC] The route of DuLuth above described—from the mouth of the Wild-Rice (Mud) River, to Lake Superior—was for centuries, and still is, the Indians' canoe-route. I have walked over the old portage from the foot of the Dalles to the St. Louis above—trod by the feet of half-breeds and voyageurs for more than two centuries, and by the Indians for perhaps a thousand years.
The swift west-wind sang in the sails, and on flew the boat like a sea-gull, By the green, templed hills and the dales, and the dark, rugged rocks of the North Shore; For the course of the brave Frenchman lay to his fort at the Gah-mah-na-tek-wahk, By the shore of the grand Thunder Bay, where the gray rocks loom up into mountains; Where the Stone Giant sleeps on the Cape, and the god of the storms makes the thunder, And the Makinak lifts his huge shape from the breast of the blue-rolling waters. And thence to the south-westward led his course to the Holy Ghost Mission, Where the Black Robes, the brave shepherds, fed their wild sheep on the isle Wauga-ba-me, In the enchanting Cha-quam-e-gon Bay defended by all the Apostles,[BD] And thence, by the Ke-we-naw, lay his course to the Mission Sainte Marie,[BE] Now the waves clap their myriad hands, and streams the white hair of the surges; DuLuth at the steady helm stands, and he hums as he bounds o'er the billows:
O sweet is the carol of bird, And sweet is the murmur of streams, But sweeter the voice that I heard— In the night—in the midst of my dreams.
[BD] The Apostle Islands.
[BE] At the Sault Ste. Marie.
WINONA AND TA-TE-PSIN.
'Tis the moon of the sere, falling leaves. From the heads of the maples the west-wind Plucks the red-and-gold plumage and grieves on the meads for the rose and the lily; Their brown leaves the moaning oaks strew, and the breezes that roam on the prairies, Low-whistling and wanton pursue the down of the silk-weed and thistle. All sere are the prairies and brown in the glimmer and haze of the Autumn; From the far northern marshes flock down, by thousands, the geese and the mallards. From the meadows and wide-prairied plains, for their long southward journey preparing. In croaking flocks gather the cranes, and choose with loud clamor their leaders. The breath of the evening is cold, and lurid along the horizon The flames of the prairies are rolled, on the somber skies flashing their torches. At noontide a shimmer of gold through the haze pours the sun from his pathway. The wild-rice is gathered and ripe, von the moors, lie the scarlet po-pan-ka,[BF] Michabo is smoking his pipe,— 'tis the soft, dreamy Indian Summer, When the god of the South as he flies from Waziya, the god of the Winter, For a time turns his beautiful eyes, and backward looks over his shoulder.
It is noon. From his path in the skies the red sun looks down on Kathaga. Asleep in the valley it lies, for the swift hunters follow the bison. Ta-te-psin, the aged brave, bends as he walks by the side of Winona; Her arm to his left hand she lends, and he feels with his staff for the pathway; On his slow, feeble footsteps attends his gray dog, the watchful Wichaka; [a] For blind in his years is the chief of a fever that followed the Summer, And the days of Ta-te-psin are brief. Once more by the dark-rolling river Sits the Chief in the warm, dreamy haze of the beautiful Summer in Autumn; And the faithful dog lovingly lays his head at the feet of his master. On a dead, withered branch sits a crow, down-peering askance at the old man; On the marge of the river below romp the nut-brown and merry-voiced children, And the dark waters silently flow, broad and deep, to the plunge of the Ha-ha.
[a] Wee-chah kah—literally "Faithful".
By his side sat Winona. He laid his thin, shriveled hand on her tresses, "Winona my daughter," he said, "no longer thy father beholds thee; But he feels the long locks of thy hair, and the days that are gone are remembered, When Sisoka [BG] sat faithful and fair in the lodge of swift footed Ta-te-psin. The white years have broken my spear; from my bow they have taken the bow-string; But once on the trail of the deer, like a gray wolf from sunrise till sunset, By woodland and meadow and mere, ran the feet of Ta-te-psin untiring. But dim are the days that are gone, and darkly around me they wander, Like the pale, misty face of the moon when she walks through the storm of the winter; And sadly they speak in my ear. I have looked on the graves of my kindred. The Land of the Spirits is near. Death walks by my side like a shadow. Now open thine ear to my voice, and thy heart to the wish of thy father, And long will Winona rejoice that she heeded the words of Ta-te-psin. The cold, cruel winter is near, and famine will sit in the teepee. What hunter will bring me the deer, or the flesh of the bear or the bison? For my kinsmen before me have gone; they hunt in the land of the shadows. In my old age forsaken, alone, must I die in my teepee of hunger? Winona, Tamdoka can make my empty lodge laugh with abundance; For thine aged and blind father's sake, to the son of the Chief speak the promise. For gladly again to my tee will the bridal gifts come for my daughter. A fleet-footed hunter is he, and the good spirits feather his arrows; And the cold, cruel winter will be a feast-time instead of a famine."
[BG] The Robin—the name of Winona's Mother.
"My father," she said, and her voice was filial and full of compassion, "Would the heart of Ta-te-psin rejoice at the death of Winona, his daughter? The crafty Tamdoka I hate. Must I die in his teepee of sorrow? For I love the White Chief and I wait his return to the land of Dakotas. When the cold winds of winter return, and toss the white robes of the prairies, The fire of the White Chief will burn in his lodge at the Meeting-of-Waters. Winona's heart followed his feet far away to the land of the Morning, And she hears in her slumber his sweet, kindly voice call the name of thy daughter. My father, abide, I entreat, the return of the brave to Katahga. The wild-rice is gathered, the meat of the bison is stored in the teepee; Till the Coon-Moon enough and to spare; and if then the white warrior return not, Winona will follow the bear and the coon to their dens in the forest. She is strong; she can handle the spear; she can bend the stout bow of the hunter; And swift on the trail of the deer will she run o'er the snow on her snow-shoes. Let the step-mother sit in the tee, and kindle the fire for my father; And the cold, cruel winter shall be a feast-time instead of a famine." "The White Chief will never return," half angrily muttered Ta-te-psin; "His camp-fire will nevermore burn in the land of the warriors he slaughtered. I grieve, for my daughter has said that she loves the false friend of her kindred; For the hands of the White Chief are red with the blood of the trustful Dakotas."
Then warmly Winona replied, "Tamdoka himself is the traitor, And the brave-hearted stranger had died by his treacherous hand in the forest, But thy daughter's voice bade him beware of the sly death that followed his footsteps. The words of Tamdoka are fair, but his heart is the den of the serpents. When the braves told their tale like a bird sang the heart of Winona rejoicing, But gladlier still had she heard of the death of the crafty Tamdoka. The Chief will return; he is bold, and he carries the fire of Wakinyan: To our people the truth will be told, and Tamdoka will hide like a coward." His thin locks the aged brave shook; to himself half inaudibly muttered; To Winona no answer he spoke,—only moaned he "Micunksee! Micunksee![BH] In my old age forsaken and blind! Yun-he-he! Micunksee! Micunksee!"[BI] And Wichaka, the pitying dog, whined as he looked on the face of his master.
[BH] My Daughter; My Daughter.
[BI] Alas, O My Daughter,—My Daughter!
Waziya came down from the North— from the land of perpetual winter. From his frost-covered beard issued forth the sharp-biting, shrill-whistling North-wind; At the touch of his breath the wide earth turned to stone, and the lakes and the rivers: From his nostrils the white vapors rose, and they covered the sky like a blanket. Like the down of Maga[BJ] fell the snows, tossed and whirled into heaps by the North-wind. Then the blinding storms roared on the plains, like the simoons on sandy Sahara; From the fangs of the fierce hurricanes fled the elk and the deer and the bison. Ever colder and colder it grew, till the frozen ground cracked and split open; And harder and harder it blew, till the hillocks were bare as the boulders. To the southward the buffalos fled, and the white rabbits hid in their burrows; On the bare sacred mounds of the dead howled the gaunt, hungry wolves in the night-time, The strong hunters crouched in their tees; by the lodge-fires the little ones shivered; And the Magic-Men[BK] danced to appease, in their teepee, the wrath of Waziya; But famine and fatal disease, like phantoms, crept into the village. The Hard Moon[BL] was past, but the moon when the coons make their trails in the forest[BM] Grew colder and colder. The coon, or the bear, ventured not from his cover; For the cold, cruel Arctic simoon swept the earth like the breath of a furnace. In the tee of Ta-te-psin the store of wild-rice and dried meat was exhausted; And Famine crept in at the door, and sat crouching and gaunt by the lodge-fire. But now with the saddle of deer and the gifts came the crafty Tamdoka; And he said, "Lo I bring you good cheer, for I love the blind Chief and his daughter. Take the gifts of Tamdoka, for dear to his heart is the dark-eyed Winona." The aged Chief opened his ears; in his heart he already consented: But the moans of his child and her tears touched the age-softened heart of the father, And he said, "I am burdened with years,— I am bent by the snows of my winters; Ta-te-psin will die in his tee; let him pass to the Land of the Spirits; But Winona is young; she is free and her own heart shall choose her a husband." The dark warrior strode from the tee; low-muttering and grim he departed; "Let him die in his lodge," muttered he, "but Winona shall kindle my lodge-fire."
Then forth went Winona. The bow of Ta-te-psin she took and his arrows, And afar o'er the deep, drifted snow through the forest she sped on her snow shoes. Over meadow and ice-covered mere, through the thickets of red-oak and hazel, She followed the tracks of the deer, but like phantoms they fled from her vision. From sunrise to sunset she sped; half famished she camped in the thicket; In the cold snow she made her lone bed; on the buds of the birch[BN] made her supper. To the dim moon the gray owl preferred, from the tree-top, his shrill lamentation, And around her at midnight she heard the dread famine-cries of the gray wolves. In the gloam of the morning again on the trail of the red-deer she followed— All day long through the thickets in vain, for the gray wolves were chasing the roebucks; And the cold, hungry winds from the plain chased the wolves and the deer and Winona.
[BN] The pheasant feeds on birch-buds in winter. Indians eat them when very hungry.
In the twilight of sundown she sat in the forest, all weak and despairing; Ta-te-psin's bow lay at her feet, and his otter-skin quiver of arrows "He promised,—he promised," she said,— half-dreamily uttered and mournful,— "And why comes he not? Is he dead? Was he slain by the crafty Tamdoka? Must Winona, alas, make her choice— make her choice between death and Tamdoka? She will die, but her soul will rejoice in the far Summer-land of the spirits. Hark! I hear his low, musical voice! he is coming! My White Chief is coming! Ah, no, I am half in a dream!— 'twas the memory of days long departed; But the birds of the green Summer seem to be singing above in the branches." Then forth from her bosom she drew the crucified Jesus in silver. In her dark hair the cold north-wind blew, as meekly she bent o'er the image. "O Christ of the Whiteman," she prayed, "lead the feet of my brave to Kathaga; Send a good spirit down to my aid, or the friend of the White Chief will perish." Then a smile on her wan features played, and she lifted her pale face and chanted
"E-ye-he-kta! E-ye-he-kta! He-kta-ce; e-ye-ce-quon. Mi-Wamdee-ska, he-he-kta, He-kta-ce, e-ye-ce-quon, Mi-Wamdee-ska."
He will come; he will come; He will come, for he promised. My White Eagle, he will come; He will come, for he promised—— My White Eagle.
Thus sadly she chanted, and lo— allured by her sorrowful accents— From the dark covert crept a red roe and wonderingly gazed on Winona. Then swift caught the huntress her bow; from her trembling hand hummed the keen arrow. Up-leaped the red roebuck and fled, but the white snow was sprinkled with scarlet, And he fell in the oak thicket dead. On the trail ran the eager Winona. Half-famished the raw flesh she ate. To the hungry maid sweet was her supper Then swift through the night ran her feet, and she trailed the sleek roebuck behind her; And the guide of her steps was a star— the cold-glinting star of Waziya[BO]— Over meadow and hilltop afar, on the way to the lodge of her father. But hark! on the keen frosty air wind the shrill hunger-howls of the gray-wolves! And nearer,—still nearer!—the blood of the deer have they scented and follow; Through the thicket, the meadow, the wood, dash the pack on the trail of Winona. Swift she speeds with her burden, but swift on her track fly the minions of famine; Now they yell on the view from the drift, in the reeds at the marge of the meadow; Red gleam their wild, ravenous eyes, for they see on the hill-side their supper; The dark forest echoes their cries, but her heart is the heart of a warrior. From its sheath snatched Winona her knife, and a leg from the roebuck she severed; With the carcass she ran for her life,— to a low-branching oak ran the maiden; Round the deer's neck her head-strap[BP] was tied; swiftly she sprang to the arms of the oak-tree; Quick her burden she drew to her side, and higher she clomb on the branches, While the maddened wolves battled and bled, dealing death o'er the leg to each other; Their keen fangs devouring the dead,— yea, devouring the flesh of the living, They raved and they gnashed and they growled, like the fiends in the regions infernal; The wide night re-echoing howled, and the hoarse North-wind laughed o'er the slaughter. But their ravenous maws unappeased by the blood and the flesh of their fellows, To the cold wind their muzzles they raised, and the trail to the oak-tree they followed. Round and round it they howled for the prey, madly leaping and snarling and snapping; But the brave maiden's keen arrows slay, till the dead number more than the living. All the long, dreary night-time, at bay, in the oak sat the shivering Winona; But the sun gleamed at last, and away skulked the gray cowards[BQ] down through the forest. Then down dropped the deer and the maid. Ere the sun reached the midst of his journey, Her red, welcome burden she laid at the feet of her famishing father. Waziya's wild wrath was appeased, and homeward he turned to his teepee, O'er the plains and the forest-land breezed from the Islands of Summer the South-wind. From their dens came the coon and the bear; o'er the snow through the woodlands they wandered; On her snow-shoes with stout bow and spear on their trails ran the huntress Winona. The coon to his den in the tree, and the bear to his burrow she followed; A brave, skillful hunter was she, and Ta-te-psin's lodge laughed with abundance.
[BO] Waziya's Star is the North-star.
[BP] A strap used in carrying burdens.
[BQ] Wolves sometimes attack people at night, but rarely, if ever, in the day time. If they have followed a hunter all night, and "treed" him, they will skulk away as soon as the sun rises.
DEATH OF TA-TE-PSIN.
The long winter wanes. On the wings of the spring come the geese and the mallards; On the bare oak the red-robin sings, and the crocus peeps up on the prairies, And the bobolink pipes, but he brings of the blue-eyed, brave White Chief no tidings. With the waning of winter, alas, waned the life of the aged Ta-te-psin; Ere the wild pansies peeped from the grass, to the Land of the Spirits he journeyed; Like a babe in its slumber he passed, or the snow from the hill-tops of April; And the dark-eyed Winona, at last, stood alone by the graves of her kindred. When their myriad mouths opened the trees to the sweet dew of heaven and the raindrops, And the April showers fell on the leas, on his mound fell the tears of Winona. Round her drooping form gathered the years and the spirits unseen of her kindred, As low, in the midst of her tears, at the grave of her father she chanted
E-yo-tan-han e-yay-wah-ke-yay! E-yo-tan-han e-yay-wah-ke-yay! E-yo-tan-han e-yay-wah-ke-yay! Ma-kah kin hay-chay-dan tay-han wan-kay. Tu-way ne ktay snee e-yay-chen e-wah chay. E-yo-tan-han e-yay-wah-ke-yay! E-yo-tan-han e-yay-wah-ke-yay! Ma-kah kin hay-chay-dan tay-han wan-kay.
Sore is my sorrow! Sore is my sorrow! Sore is my sorrow! The earth alone lasts. I speak as one dying; Sore is my sorrow! Sore is my sorrow! The earth alone lasts.
Still hope, like a star in the night gleaming oft through the broken clouds somber, Cheered the heart of Winona, and bright on her dreams beamed the face of the Frenchman. As the thought of a loved one and lost, sad and sweet were her thoughts of the White Chief; In the moon's mellow light, like a ghost, walked Winona alone by the Ha-Ha, Ever wrapped in a dream. Far away— to the land of the sunrise—she wandered; On the blue-rolling Tanka-Mede[BR] in the midst of her dreams, she beheld him— In his white-winged canoe, like a bird, to the land of Dakotas returning,
[BR] Lake Superior,—The Gitchee Gumee of the Chippewas.
And often in fancy she heard the dip of his oars on the river. On the dark waters glimmered the moon, but she saw not the boat of the Frenchman. On the somber night bugled the loon, but she heard not the song of the boatmen. The moon waxed and waned, but the star of her hope never waned to the setting; Through her tears she beheld it afar, like a torch on the eastern horizon. "He will come,—he is coming," she said; "he will come, for my White Eagle promised," And low to the bare earth the maid bent her ear for the sound of his footsteps, "He is gone, but his voice in my ear still remains like the voice of the robin; He is far, but his footsteps I hear; he is coming; my White Chief is coming!" But the moon waxed and waned. Nevermore will the eyes of Winona behold him. Far away on the dark, rugged shore of the blue Gitchee Gumee he lingers. No tidings the rising sun brings; no tidings the star of the evening; But morning and evening she sings, like a turtle-dove widowed and waiting:
Ake u, ake u, ake u; Ma cante maseeca. Ake u, ake u, ake u; Ma cante maseca.
Come again, come again, come again; For my heart is sad. Come again, come again, come again; For my heart is sad.
DEATH OF WINONA.
Down the broad Ha-Ha Wak-pa[BS] the band took their way to the Games at Keoza While the swift-footed hunters by land ran the shores for the elk and the bison. Like magas[BT] ride the birchen canoes on the breast of the dark, winding river, By the willow-fringed island they cruise, by the grassy hills green to their summits; By the lofty bluffs hooded with oaks that darken the deep with their shadows; And bright in the sun gleam the strokes of the oars in the hands of the women. With the band went Winona. The oar plied the maid with the skill of a hunter. They tarried a time on the shore of Remnica— the Lake of the Mountains.[BU] There the fleet hunters followed the deer, and the thorny pahin[BV] for the women From the tees rose the smoke of good cheer, curling blue through the tops of the maples, Near the foot of a cliff that arose, like the battle-scarred walls of a castle, Up-towering, in rugged repose, to a dizzy height over the waters.
[BS] The Dakota name for the Mississippi, see note 76 in Appendix.
[BT] Wild Geese.
[BU] Lake Pepin, by Hennepin called Lake of Tears—Called by the Dakotas Remnee-chah-Mday—Lake of the Mountains.
[BV] Pah-hin—the porcupine—the quills of which are greatly prized for ornamental work.
But the man-wolf still followed his prey, and the step-mother ruled in the teepee; Her will must Winona obey, by the custom and law of Dakotas. The gifts to the teepee were brought— the blankets and beads of the White men, And Winona, the orphaned, was bought by the crafty, relentless Tamdoka. In the Spring-time of life, in the flush of the gladsome mid-May days of Summer, When the bobolink sang and the thrush, and the red robin chirped in the branches, To the tent of the brave must she go; she must kindle the fire in his teepee; She must sit in the lodge of her foe, as a slave at the feet of her master. Alas for her waiting! the wings of the East-wind have brought her no tidings; On the meadow the meadow-lark sings, but sad is her song to Winona, For the glad warbler's melody brings but the memory of voices departed. The Day-Spirit walked in the west to his lodge in the land of the shadows; His shining face gleamed on the crest of the oak-hooded hills and the mountains, And the meadow-lark hied to her nest, and the mottled owl peeped from her cover. But hark! from the teepees a cry! Hear the shouts of the hurrying warriors! Are the feet of the enemy nigh,— of the crafty and cruel Ojibways? Nay; look!—on the dizzy cliff high— on the brink of the cliff stands Winona! Her sad face up-turned to the sky. Hark! I hear the wild wail of her death-song:
"My Father's Spirit, look down, look down— From your hunting grounds in the shining skies; Behold, for the light of my heart is gone; The light is gone and Winona dies.
I looked to the East, but I saw no star; The face of my White Chief was turned away. I harked for his footsteps in vain; afar His bark sailed over the Sunrise-sea.
Long have I watched till my heart is cold; In my breast it is heavy and cold as a stone. No more shall Winona his face behold, And the robin that sang in her heart is gone.
Shall I sit at the feet of the treacherous brave? On his hateful couch shall Winona lie? Shall she kindle his fire like a coward slave? No!—a warrior's daughter can bravely die.
My Father's Spirit, look down, look down— From your hunting-grounds in the shining skies; Behold, for the light in my heart is gone; The light is gone and Winona dies."
Swift the strong hunters climbed as she sang, and the foremost of all was Tamdoka; From crag to crag upward he sprang; like a panther he leaped to the summit. Too late!—on the brave as he crept turned the maid in her scorn and defiance; Then swift from the dizzy height leaped. Like a brant arrow-pierced in mid-heaven. Down whirling and fluttering she fell, and headlong plunged into the waters. Forever she sank mid the wail, and the wild lamentation of women. Her lone spirit evermore dwells in the depths of the Lake of the Mountains, And the lofty cliff evermore tells to the years as they pass her sad story.[BW]
In the silence of sorrow the night o'er the earth spread her wide, sable pinions; And the stars hid their faces; and light on the lake fell the tears of the spirits. As her sad sisters watched on the shore for her spirit to rise from the waters, They heard the swift dip of an oar, and a boat they beheld like a shadow, Gliding down through the night in the gray, gloaming mists on the face of the waters. 'Twas the bark of DuLuth on his way from the Falls to the Games at Keoza.
[BW] The Dakotas say that the spirit of Winona forever haunts the lake. They say that it was many, many winters ago when Winona leaped from the rock,—that the rock was then perpendicular to the water's edge and she leaped into the lake, but now the rock has partly crumbled down and the waters have also receded, so that they do not now reach, the foot of the perpendicular rock as of old.
Et nunc omnis ager, mine omms parturit arbos; Nunc frondent sylvae, nunc formostssimus annus. —Virgil.
Delightful harbinger of joys to come, Of summer's verdure and a fruitful year, Who bids thee o'er our northern snow-fields roam, And make all gladness in thy bright career? Lo from the Indian Isle thou dost appear, And dost a thousand pleasures with thee bring: But why to us art thou so ever dear? Bearest thou the hope—upon thy radiant wing— Of Immortality, O soft, celestial Spring?
Yea, buds and flowers that fade not, they are thine, And youth-renewing balms; the sear and old Are young and gladsome at thy touch divine. Thou breath'st upon the frozen earth—behold, Meadows and vales of grass and floral gold, Green-covered hills and leafy mountains grand: Young life leaps up where all was dumb and cold, As smoldering embers into flame are fanned, Or the dead came back to life at the touch of the Savior's hand.
The snow-clouds fly the canopy of heaven; The rivulets ripple with the merry tone Of wanton waters, and the breezes given To fan the budding hills are all thine own. Returning songsters from the tropic zone Their vernal love-songs in the tree tops sing, And talk and twitter in a tongue unknown Of joys that journey on thy golden wing, And God who sends thee forth to wake the world, O Spring!
Emblem of youth—enchanting goddess, Spring; Lo now the happy rustic wends his way O'er meadows decked with violets from thy wing, And laboring to the rhythm of song all day, Performs the task the harvest shall repay An hundredfold into the reaper's hand. What recks the tiller of his toil in May? What cares he if his cheeks are tinged and tanned By thy warm sunshine-kiss and by thy breezes bland?
Hark to the tinkling bells of grazing kine! The lambkins bleating on the mountain-side! The red squirrel chippering in the proud old pine! The pigeon-cock cooing to his vernal bride! O'er all the land and o'er the peaceful tide, Singing and praising every living thing, Till one sweet anthem, echoed far and wide, Makes all the broad blue bent of ether ring With welcomings to thee, God-given, supernal Spring.
O Mollie, I would I possessed such a heart; It enchants me—so gentle and true; I would I possessed all its magical art, Then, Mollie, I would enchant you.
Those dear, rosy lips—tho' I never caressed them(?)— Are as sweet as the wild honey-dew; Your cheeks—all the angels in Heaven have blessed them, But not one is as lovely as you.
Then give me that heart,—O that innocent heart! For mine own is cold and perdu; It enchants me, but give me its magical art, Then, Mollie, I will enchant you.
I know thou art true, and I know thou art fair As the rose-bud that blooms in thy beautiful hair; Thou art far, but I feel the warm throb of thy heart; Thou art far, but I love thee wherever thou art.
Wherever at noontide my spirit may be, At evening it silently wanders to thee; It seeks thee, my dear one, for comfort and rest, As the weary-winged dove seeks at night-fall her nest.
Through the battle of life—through its sorrow and care— Till the mortal sink down with its load of despair,— Till we meet at the feet of the Father and Son, I'll love thee and cherish thee, beautiful one.
[Nov. 26, 1857, during the great financial depression.]
Father, our thanks are due to thee For many a blessing given, By thy paternal love and care, From the bounty-horn of heaven.
We know that still that horn is filled With blessings for our race, And we calmly look thro' winter's storm To thy benignant face.
Father, we raise our thanks to Thee,— Who seldom thanked before; And seldom bent the stubborn knee Thy goodness to adore:
But Father, thou hast blessings poured On all our wayward days And now thy mercies manifold Have filled our hearts with praise
The winter-storm may rack and roar; We do not fear its blast; And we'll bear with faith and fortitude The lot that thou hast cast.
But Father,—Father,—O look down On the poor and homeless head And feed the hungry thousands That cry to thee for bread.
Thou givest us our daily bread; We would not ask for more; But, Father, give their daily bread To the multitudes of poor.
In all the cities of the land The naked and hungry are; O feed them with thy manna, Lord, And clothe them with thy care.
Thou dost not give a serpent, Lord, We will not give a stone; For the bread and meat thou givest us Are not for us alone.
And while a loaf is given to us From thy all-bounteous horn We'll cheerfully divide that loaf With the hungry and forlorn.
Frail are the best of us, brothers— God's charity cover us all— Yet we ask for perfection in others, And scoff when they stumble and fall. Shall we give him a fish—or a serpent— Who stretches his hand in his need? Let the proud give a stone, but the manly Will give him a hand full of bread.
Let us search our own hearts and behavior Ere we cast at a brother a stone, And remember the words of the Savior To the frail and unfortunate one; Remember when others displease us The Nazarene's holy command, For the only word written by Jesus Was charity—writ in the sand.
[Written in a friend's book of autographs, 1876.]
Bear and forbear, I counsel thee, Forgive and be forgiven, For Charity is the golden key That opens the gate of heaven.
Away, away, o'er the bounding sea My spirit flies like a gull; For I know my Mary is watching for me, And the moon is bright and full.
She sits on the rock by the sounding shore, And gazes over the sea; And she sighs, "Will my sailor-boy come no more? Will he never come back to me?"
The moonbeams play in her raven hair; And the soft breeze kisses her brow; But if your sailor-boy, love, were there, He would kiss your sweet lips I trow.
And mother—she sits in the cottage-door; But her heart is out on the sea; And she sighs, "Will my sailor-boy come no more? Will he never come back to me?"
Ye winds that over the billows roam With a low and sullen moan, O swiftly come to waft me home; O bear me back to my own.
For long have I been on the billowy deep, On the boundless waste of sea; And while I sleep there are two who weep, And watch and pray for me.
When the mad storm roars till the stoutest fear And the thunders roll over the sea, I think of you, Mary and mother dear, For I know you are thinking of me.
Then blow, ye winds, for my swift return; Let the tempest roar o'er the main; Let the billows yearn and the lightning burn; They will hasten me home again.
Last night in my feverish dreams I heard A voice like the moan of an autumn sea, Or the low, sad wail of a widowed bird, And it said—"My darling, come home to me."
Then a hand was laid on my throbbing head— As cold as clay, but it soothed my pain: I wakened and knew from among the dead My darling stood by my coach again.
DUST TO DUST
Dust to dust: Fall and perish love and lust: Life is one brief autumn day; Sin and sorrow haunt the way To the narrow house of clay, Clutching at the good and just: Dust to dust.
Dust to dust: Still we strive and toil and trust, From the cradle to the grave: Vainly crying, "Jesus, save!" Fall the coward and the brave, Fall the felon and the just: Dust to dust.
Dust to dust: Hark, I hear the wintry gust; Yet the roses bloom to-day, Blushing to the kiss of May, While the north winds sigh and say: "Lo we bring the cruel frost— Dust to dust."
Dust to dust: Yet we live and love and trust, Lifting burning brow and eye To the mountain peaks on high: From the peaks the ages cry, Strewing ashes, rime and rust: "Dust to dust!"
Dust to dust: What is gained when all is lost? Gaily for a day we tread— Proudly with averted head O'er the ashes of the dead— Blind with pride and mad with lust: Dust to dust.
Hope and trust: All life springs from out the dust: Ah, we measure God by man, Looking forward but a span On His wondrous, boundless plan; All His ways are wise and just; Hope and trust.
Hope and trust: Hope will blossom from the dust; Love is queen: God's throne is hers; His great heart with loving force Throbs throughout the universe; We are His and He is just; Hope and trust.
O LET ME DREAM THE DREAMS OF LONG AGO
Call me not back, O cold and crafty world: I scorn your thankless thanks and hollow praise. Wiser than seer or scientist—content To tread no paths beyond these bleating hills, Here let me lie beneath this dear old elm, Among the blossoms of the clover-fields, And listen to the humming of the bees. Here in those far-off, happy, boyhood years, When all my world was bounded by these hills, I dreamed my first dreams underneath this elm. Dreamed? Aye, and builded castles in the clouds; Dreamed, and made glad a fond, proud mother's heart, Now moldering into clay on yonder hill; Dreamed till my day-dreams paved the world with gold; Dreamed till my mad dreams made one desolate; Dreamed—O my soul, and was it all a dream?
As I lay dreaming under this old elm, Building my castles in the sunny clouds, Her soft eyes peeping from the copse of pine, Looked tenderly on me and my glad heart leaped Following her footsteps. O the dream—the dream! O fawn-eyed, lotus-lipped, white-bosomed Flore! I hide my bronzed face in your golden hair: Thou wilt not heed the dew-drops on my beard; Thou wilt not heed the wrinkles on my brow; Thou wilt not chide me for my long delay.
Here we stood heart to heart and eye to eye, And I looked down into her inmost soul, The while she drank my promise like sweet wine O let me dream the dreams of long ago! Soft are the tender eyes of maiden love; Sweet are the dew-drops of a dear girl's lips When love's red roses blush in sudden bloom: O let me dream the dreams of long ago! Hum soft and low, O bee-bent clover-fields; Blink, blue-eyed violets, from the dewy grass; Break into bloom, my golden dandelions; Break into bloom, my dear old apple-trees. I hear the robins cherup on the hedge, I hear the warbling of the meadow-larks; I hear the silver-fluted whippowil; I hear the harps that moan among the pines Touched by the ghostly fingers of the dead. Hush!—let me dream the dreams of long ago.
And wherefore left I these fair, flowery fields, Where her fond eyes and ever gladsome voice Made all the year one joyous, warbling June, To chase my castles in the passing clouds— False as the mirage of some Indian isle To shipwrecked sailors famished on the brine? Wherefore?—Look out upon the babbling world— Fools clamoring at the heels of clamorous fools! I hungered for the sapless husks of fame. Dreaming I saw, beyond my native hills, The sunshine shimmer on the laurel trees. Ah tenderly plead her fond eyes brimmed with tears; But lightly laughing at her fears I turned, Eager to clutch my crown of laurel leaves, Strong-souled and bold to front all winds of heaven— A lamb and lion molded into one— And burst away to tread the hollow world. Ah nut-brown boys that tend the lowing kine, Ah blithesome plowmen whistling on the glebe, Ah merry mowers singing in the swaths, Sweet, simple souls, contented not to know, Wiser are ye and ye may teach the wise.
Years trode upon the heels of flying years, And still my Ignis Fatuus flew before; On thorny paths my eager feet pursued, Till she whose fond heart doted on my dreams Passed painless to the pure eternal peace. Years trode upon the heels of flying years And touched my brown beard with their silver wands, And still my Ignis Fatuus flew before; Through thorns and mire my torn feet followed still, Till she, my darling, unforgotten Flore, Nursing her one hope all those weary years Waiting my tardy coming, drooped and died. I hear her low, sweet voice among the pines: O let me dream the dreams of long ago: I see her fond eyes peeping from the pines: O let me dream the dreams of long ago And hide my bronzed face in her golden hair.
Is this the Indian summer of my days— Wealth without care and love without desire? O misty, cheerless moon of falling leaves! Is this the fruitage promised by the spring? O blighted clusters withering on the vine! O promised lips of love to one who dreams And wakens holding but the hollow air!
Let me dream on lest, dead unto my dead, False to the true and true unto the false, Maddened by thoughts of that which might have been, And weary of the chains of that which is, I slake my heart-thirst at forbidden springs. I hear the voices of the moaning pines; I hear the low, hushed whispers of the dead, And one wan face looks in upon my dreams And wounds me with her sad, imploring eyes.
The dead sun sinks beyond the misty hills; The chill winds whistle in the leafless elms; The cold rain patters on the fallen leaves. Where pipes the silver-fluted whippowil? I hear no hum of bees among the bloom; I hear no robin cherup on the hedge: One dumb, lone lark sits shivering in the rain. I hear the voices of the Autumn wind; I hear the cold rain dripping on the leaves; I hear the moaning of the mournful pines; I hear the hollow voices of the dead. O let me dream the dreams of long ago And dreaming pass into the dreamless sleep— Beyond the voices of the autumn winds, Beyond the patter of the dreary rain, Beyond compassion and all vain regret Beyond all waking and all weariness: O let me dream the dreams of long ago.
When Mollie and I were married from the dear old cottage-home, In the vale between the hills of fir and pine, I parted with a sigh in a stranger-land to roam, And to seek a western home for me and mine.
By a grove-encircled lake in the wild and prairied West, As the sun was sinking down one summer day, I laid my knapsack down and my weary limbs to rest, And resolved to build a cottage-home and stay.
I staked and marked my "corners," and I "filed" upon my claim, And I built a cottage-home of "logs and shakes;" And then I wrote a letter, and Mollie and baby came Out to bless me and to bake my johnny-cakes.
When Mollie saw my "cottage" and the way that I had "bached", She smiled, but I could see that she was "blue;" Then she found my "Sunday-clothes" all soiled and torn and patched, And she hid her face and shed a tear or two.
But she went to work in earnest and the cabin fairly shone, And her dinners were so savory and so nice That I felt it was "not good that the man should be alone"— Even in this lovely land of Paradise.
Well, the neighbors they were few and were many miles apart, And you couldn't hear the locomotive scream; But I was young and hardy, and my Mollie gave me heart, And my "steers" they made a fast and fancy team.
And the way I broke the sod was a marvel, you can bet, For I fed my "steers" before the dawn of day; And when the sun went under I was plowing prairie yet, Till my Mollie blew the old tin horn for tea.
And the lazy, lousy "Injuns" came a-loafing round the lake, And a-begging for a bone or bit of bread; And the sneaking thieves would steal whatever they could take— From the very house where they were kindly fed.
O the eastern preachers preach, and the long-haired poets sing Of the "noble braves" and "dusky maidens fair;" But if they had pioneered 'twould have been another thing When the "Injuns" got a-hankering for their "hair."
Often when we lay in bed in the middle of the night, How the prairie-wolves would howl their jubilee! Then Mollie she would waken in a shiver and a fright, Clasp our baby-pet and snuggle up to me.
There were hardships you may guess, and enough of weary toil For the first few years, but then it was so grand To see the corn and wheat waving o'er the virgin soil, And two stout and loving hearts went hand in hand.
But Mollie took the fever when our second babe was born, And she lay upon the bed as white as snow; And my idle cultivator lay a rusting in the corn; And the doctor said poor Mollie she must go.
Now I never prayed before, but I fell upon my knees, And I prayed as never any preacher prayed; And Mollie always said that it broke the fell disease; And I truly think the Lord He sent us aid:
For the fever it was broken, and she took a bit of food, And O then I went upon my knees again; And I never cried before,—and I never thought I could,— But my tears they fell upon her hand like rain.
And I think the Lord has blessed us ever since I prayed the prayer, For my crops have never wanted rain or dew: And Mollie often said in the days of debt and care, "Don't you worry, John, the Lord will help us through."
For the "pesky," painted Sioux, in the fall of 'sixty-two, Came a-whooping on their ponies o'er the plain, And they killed my pigs and cattle, and I tell you it looked "blue," When they danced around my blazing stacks of grain.
And the settlers mostly fled, but I didn't have a chance, So I caught my hunting-rifle long and true, And Mollie poured the powder while I made the devils dance, To a tune that made 'em jump and tumble, too.
And they fired upon the cabin; 'twas as good as any fort, But the "beauties" wouldn't give us any rest; For they skulked and blazed away, and I didn't call it sport, For I had to do my very "level best."
Now they don't call me a coward, but my Mollie she's a "brick;" For she chucked the children down the cellar-way, And she never flinched a hair tho' the bullets pattered thick, And we held the "painted beauties" well at bay.
But once when I was aiming, a bullet grazed my head, And it cut the scalp and made the air look blue; Then Mollie straightened up like a soldier and she said: "Never mind it, John, the Lord will help us through."
And you bet it raised my "grit," and I never flinched a bit, And my nerves they got as strong as steel or brass; And when I fired again I was sure that I had hit, For I saw the skulking devil "claw the grass."
Well, the fight was long and hot, and I got a charge of shot In the shoulder, but it never broke a bone; And I never stopped to think whether I was hit or not Till we found our ammunition almost gone.
But the "Rangers" came at last—just as we were out of lead,— And I thanked the Lord, and Mollie thanked Him, too; Then she put her arms around my neck and sobbed and cried and said: "Bless the Lord!—I knew that He would help us through."
And yonder on the hooks hangs that same old trusty gun, And above it—I am sorry they're so few— Hang the black and braided trophies[BX] yet that I and Mollie won In that same old bloody battle with the Sioux.
Fifteen years have rolled away since I laid my knapsack down, And my prairie claim is now one field of grain; And yonder down the lake loom the steeples of a town, And my flocks are feeding out upon the plain.
The old log-house is standing filled with bins of corn and wheat, And the cars they whistle past our cottage-home; But my span of spanking trotters they are "just about" as fleet, And I wouldn't give my farm to rule in Rome.
For Mollie and I are young yet, and monarchs, too, are we— Of a "section" just as good as lies out-doors; And the children are so happy (and Mollie and I have three) And we think that we can "lie upon our oars."
So this summer we went back to the old home by the hill: O the hills they were so rugged and so tall! And the lofty pines were gone but the rocks were all there still, And the valleys looked so crowded and so small;
And the dear familiar faces that I longed so much to see, Looked so strangely unfamiliar and so old, That the land of hills and valleys was no more a home to me, And the river seemed a rivulet as it rolled.
So I gladly hastened back to the prairies of the West— To the boundless fields of waving grass and corn; And I love the lake-gemmed land where the wild-goose builds her nest, Far better than the land where I was born.
And I mean to lay my bones over yonder by the lake— By and by when I have nothing else to do— And I'll give the "chicks" the farm, and I know for Mollie's sake, That the good and gracious Lord will help 'em through.
"Le notte e madre dipensien."
I tumble and toss on my pillow, As a ship without rudder or spars Is tumbled and tossed on the billow, 'Neath the glint and the glory of stars. 'Tis midnight and moonlight, and slumber Has hushed every heart but my own; O why are these thoughts without number Sent to me by the man in the moon?
Thoughts of the Here and Hereafter,— Thoughts all unbidden to come,— Thoughts that are echoes of laughter— Thoughts that are ghosts from the tomb,— Thoughts that are sweet as wild honey,— Thoughts that are bitter as gall,— Thoughts to be coined into money,— Thoughts of no value at all.
Dreams that are tangled like wild-wood, A hint creeping in like a hare; Visions of innocent childhood,— Glimpses of pleasure and care; Brave thoughts that flash like a saber,— Cowards that crouch as they come,— Thoughts of sweet love and sweet labor In the fields at the old cottage-home.
Visions of maize and of meadow, Songs of the birds and the brooks, Glimpses of sunshine and shadow, Of hills and the vine-covered nooks; Dreams that were dreams of a lover,— A face like the blushing of morn,— Hum of bees and the sweet scent of clover And a bare-headed girl in the corn.
Hopes that went down in the battle, Apples that crumbled to dust,— Manna for rogues, and the rattle Of hail-storms that fall on the just. The "shoddy" that lolls in her chariot,— Maud Muller at work in the grass: Here a silver-bribed Judas Iscariot,— There—Leonidas dead in the pass.
Commingled the good and the evil; Sown together the wheat and the tares; In the heart of the wheat is the weevil; There is joy in the midst of our cares. The past,—shall we stop to regret it? What is,—shall we falter and fall? If the envious wrong thee, forget it; Let thy charity cover them all.
The cock hails the morn, and the rumble Of wheels is abroad in the streets, Still I tumble and mumble and grumble At the fleas in my ears and—the sheets; Mumble and grumble and tumble Till the buzz of the bees is no more; In a jumble I mumble and drumble And tumble off—into a snore.
[Written at the grave of an old friend.]
Down into the darkness at last, Daniel,—down into the darkness at last; Laid in the lap of our Mother, Daniel,—sleeping the dreamless sleep,— Sleeping the sleep of the babe unborn—the pure and the perfect rest: Aye, and is it not better than this fitful fever and pain? Aye, and is it not better, if only the dead soul knew?
Joy was there in the spring-time and hope like a blossoming rose, When the wine-blood of youth ran tingling and throbbing in every vein; Chirrup of robin and blue-bird in the white-blossomed apple and pear; Carpets of green on the meadows spangled with dandelions; Lowing of kine in the valleys, bleating of lambs on the hills; Babble of brooks and the prattle of fountains that flashed in the sun; Glad, merry voices, ripples of laughter, snatches of music and song, And blue-eyed girls in the gardens that blushed like the roses they wore.
And life was a pleasure unvexed, unmingled with sorrow and pain? A round of delight from the blink of morn till the moon rose laughing at night? Nay, there were cares and cankers—envy and hunger and hate; Death and disease in the pith of the limbs, in the root and the bud and the branch; Dry-rot, alas, at the heart, and a canker-worm gnawing therein.
The summer of life came on with its heat and its struggle and toil, Sweat of the brow and the soul, throbbing of muscle and brain, Toil and moil and grapple with Fortune clutched as she flew— Only a shred of her robe, and a brave heart baffled and bowed! Stern-visaged Fate with a hand of iron uplifted to fell; The secret stab of a friend that stung like the sting of an asp, Wringing red drops from the soul and a stifled moan of despair; The loose lips of gossip and then—a storm of slander and lies, Till Justice was blind as a bat and deaf to the cries of the just, And Mercy, wrapped up in her robe, stood by like a statue in stone.
Sear autumn followed the summer with frost and the falling of leaves And red-ripe apples that blushed on the hills in the orchard of peace: Red-ripe apples, alas, with worms writhing down to the core, Apples of ashes and fungus that fell into rot at a touch; Clusters of grapes in the garden blighted and sour on the vines; Wheat-fields that waved in the valley and promised a harvest of gold, Thrashing but chaff and weevil or cockle and shriveled cheat. Fair was the promise of spring-time; the harvest a harvest of lies: Fair was the promise of summer with Fortune clutched by the robe; Fair was the promise of autumn—a hollow harlot in red, A withered rose at her girdle and the thorns of the rose in her hand.
Down into the darkness at last, Daniel,—down into the darkness at last; Laid in the lap of our Mother, Daniel, sleeping the dreamless sleep— Sleeping the sleep of the babe unborn—the pure and the perfect rest: Aye, and is it not better than this fitful fever and pain? Aye, and is it not better, if only the dead soul knew? Dead Ashes, what do you care if it storm, if it shine, if it shower? Hail-storm, tornado or tempest, or the blinding blizzard of snow, Or the mid-May showers on the blossoms with the glad sun blinking between, Dead Ashes, what do you care?—they break not the sleep of the dead.
Proud stands the ship to the sea, fair breezes belly her sails; Strong masted, stanch in her shrouds, stanch in her beams and her bones; Bound for Hesperian isles—for the isles of the plantain and palm, Hope walks her deck with a smile and Confidence stands at the helm; Proudly she turns to the sea and walks like a queen on the waves. Caught in the grasp of the tempest, lashed by the fiends of the storm, Torn into shreds are her sails, tumbled her masts to the main; Rudderless, rolling she drives and groans in the grasp of the sea; Harbor or hope there is none; she goes to her grave in the brine: Dead in the fathomless slime lie the bones of the ship and her crew. Such was the promise of life; so is the promise fulfilled.
Down into the darkness at last, Daniel,—down into the darkness at last; Laid in the lap of our Mother, Daniel,—sleeping the dreamless sleep,— Sleeping the sleep of the babe unborn—the pure and the perfect rest: Aye, and is it not better than this fitful fever and pain? Aye, and is it not better, if only the dead soul knew? Over your grave the tempest may roar or the zephyr sigh; Over your grave the blue-bells may blink or the snow-drifts whirl,— Dead Ashes, what do you care?—they break not the sleep of the dead. They that were friends may mourn, they that were friends may praise; They that knew you and yet—knew you never—may cavil and blame; They that were foes in disguise may strike at you down in the grave; Slander, the scavenger-buzzard—may vomit her lies on you there; Dead Ashes, what do you care?—they break not the sleep of the dead.
The hoarse, low voice of the years croaks on forever-and-aye: Change! Change! Change! and the winters wax and wane. The old oak dies in the forest; the acorn sprouts at its feet; The sea gnaws on at the land; the continent crowds on the sea. Bound to the Ixion wheel with brazen fetters of fate Man rises up from the dust and falls to the dust again. God washes our eyes with tears, and still they are blinded with dust: We grope in the dark and marvel, and pray to the Power unknown— Crying for help to the desert: not even an echo replies. Doomed unto death like the moon, like the midget that men call man, Wrinkled with age and agony the old Earth rolls her rounds; Shrinking and shuddering she rolls—an atom in God's great sea— Only an atom of dust in the infinite ocean of space. What to him are the years who sleeps in her bosom there? What to him is the cry wrung out of the souls of men? Change, Change, Change, and the sea gnaws on at the land: Dead Ashes, what do you care?—it breaks not the sleep of the dead.
Down into the darkness at last, Daniel,—down into the darkness at last; Laid in the lap of our Mother, Daniel,—sleeping the dreamless sleep,— Sleeping the sleep of the babe unborn—the pure and the perfect rest: Aye, and is it not better than this fitful fever and pain? Aye, and is it not better if only the dead soul knew?
Up—out of the darkness at last, Daniel,—out of the darkness at last; Into the light of the life eternal—into the sunlight of God, Singing the song of the soul immortal freed from the fetters of flesh: Aye, and is it not better than this fitful fever and pain? Aye, and is it not better than sleeping the dreamless sleep? Hark! from the reel of the spheres eternal the freed soul answereth "Aye." Aye—Aye—Aye—it is better, brothers, if it be but the dream of the famished soul.
[BY] The Dakota name for this beautiful lake is We-ne-a-tan-ka—Broad Water. By dropping the "a" before "tanka" we have changed the name to Big Water.
I sit once more on breezy shore, at sunset in this glorious June, I hear the dip of gleaming oar, I list the singers' merry tune. Beneath my feet the waters beat, and ripple on the polished stones, The squirrel chatters from his seat; the bag-pipe beetle hums and drones. The pink and gold in blooming wold,—the green hills mirrored in the lake! The deep, blue waters, zephyr-rolled, along the murmuring pebbles break. The maples screen the ferns, and lean the leafy lindens o'er the deep; The sapphire, set in emerald green, lies like an Orient gem asleep. The crimson west glows like the breast of Rhuddin[CA] when he pipes in May, As downward droops the sun to rest, and shadows gather on the bay. In amber sky the swallows fly and sail and circle o'er the deep; The light-winged night-hawks whir and cry; the silver pike and salmon leap. The rising moon, o'er isle and dune, looks laughing down on lake and lea; Weird o'er the waters shrills the loon; the high stars twinkle in the sea. From bank and hill the whippowil sends piping forth his flute-like notes, And clear and shrill the answers trill from leafy isles and silver throats. The twinkling light on cape and height; the hum of voices on the shores; The merry laughter on the night; the dip and plash of frolic oars,— These tell the tale. On hill and dale the cities pour their gay and fair; Along the sapphire lake they sail, and quaff like wine the balmy air. 'Tis well. Of yore from isle and shore the smoke of Indian teepees[CB] rose; The hunter plied the silent oar; the forest lay in still repose. The moon-faced maid, in leafy glade, her warrior waited from the chase; The nut-brown, naked children played, and chased the gopher on the grass. The dappled fawn on wooded lawn, peeped out upon the birch canoe, Swift-gliding in the gray of dawn along the silent waters blue. In yonder tree the great Wanm-dee[CC] securely built her spacious nest; The blast that swept the landlocked sea[CD] but rocked her clamorous babes to rest. By grassy mere the elk and deer gazed on the hunter as he came; Nor fled with fear from bow or spear;— "so wild were they that they were tame." Ah, birch canoe, and hunter, too, have long forsaken lake and shore; He bade his fathers' bones adieu and turned away forevermore. But still, methinks, on dusky brinks the spirit of the warrior moves; At crystal springs the hunter drinks, and nightly haunts the spot he loves. For oft at night I see the light of lodge-fires on the shadowy shores, And hear the wail some maiden's sprite above her slaughtered warrior pours. I hear the sob, on Spirit Knob,[BZ] of Indian mother o'er her child; And on the midnight waters throb her low yun-he-he's[CE] weird and wild: And sometimes, too, the light canoe glides like a shadow o'er the deep At midnight when the moon is low, and all the shores are hushed in sleep. Alas,—Alas!—for all things pass; and we shall vanish too, as they; We build our monuments of brass, and granite, but they waste away.
[BZ] Spirit-Knob was a small hill upon a point in the lake in full view from Wayzata. It is now washed away by the waves. The spirit of a Dakota mother, whose only child was drowned in the lake during a storm many years ago, often wailed at midnight (so the Dakotas said), on this hill. So they called it Wa-na-gee Pa-zo-dan—Spirit-Knob. (Literally—little hill of the spirit.)
[CA] The Welsh name for the robin.
[CC] Wanm-dee—the war-eagle of the Dakotas.
[CD] Lake Superior.
[CE] Pronounced Yoon-hay-hay—the exclamation used by Dakota women in their lament for the dead, and equivalent to "woe-is-me."
White-haired and hoary-bearded, who art thou That speedest on, albeit bent with age, Even as a youth that followeth after dreams? Whence are thy feet, and whither trends thy way?
Stayed not his hurried steps, but as he passed His low, hoarse answer fell upon the wind: "Go thou and question yonder mountain-peaks; Go thou and ask the hoary-heaving main;— Nay, if thou wilt, the great, globed, silent stars That sail innumerable the shoreless sea, And let the eldest answer if he may. Lo the unnumbered myriad, myriad worlds Rolling around innumerable suns, Through all the boundless, bottomless abyss, Are but as grains of sand upwhirled and flung By roaring winds and scattered on the sea. I have beheld them and my hand hath sown.
"Far-twinkling faint through dim, immeasured depths, Behold Alcyone—a grander sun. Round him thy solar orb with all his brood Glimmering revolves. Lo from yon mightier sphere Light, flying faster than the thoughts of men, Swift as the lightnings cleave the glowering storm, Shot on and on through dim, ethereal space, Ere yet it touched thy little orb of Earth, Five hundred cycles of thy world and more. Round him thy Sun, obedient to his power, Thrice tenfold swifter than the swiftest wing, His aeon-orbit, million-yeared and vast, Wheels through the void. Him flaming I beheld When first he flashed from out his central fire— A mightier orb beyond thine utmost ken. Round upon round innumerable hath swung Thy sun upon his circuit; grander still His vaster orbit far Alcyone Wheels and obeys the mightier orb unseen.
"Seest thou yon star-paved pathway like an arch Athwart thy welkin?—wondrous zone of stars, Dim in the distance circling one huge sun, To whom thy sun is but a spark of fire— To whom thine Earth is but a grain of dust: Glimmering around him myriad suns revolve And worlds innumerable as sea-beach sands. Ere on yon Via Lactea rolled one star Lo I was there and trode the mighty round; Yea, ere the central orb was fired and hung A lamp to light the chaos. Star on star, System on system, myriad worlds on worlds, Beyond the utmost reach of mortal ken, Beyond the utmost flight of mortal dream, Yet have mine eyes beheld the birth of all. But whence I am I know not. We are three— Known, yet unknown—unfathomable to man, Time, Space, and Matter pregnant with all life, Immortals older than the oldest orb. We were and are forever: out of us Are all things—suns and satellites, midge and man. Worlds wax and wane, suns flame and glow and die; Through shoreless space their scattered ashes float, Unite, cohere, and wax to worlds again, Changing, yet changless—new, but ever old— No atom lost and not one atom gained, Though fire to vapor melt the adamant, Or feldspar fall in drops of summer rain. And in the atoms sleep the germs of life, Myriad and multiform and marvelous, Throughout all vast, immeasurable space, In every grain of dust, in every drop Of water, waiting but the thermal touch. Yea, in the womb of nature slumber still Wonders undreamed and forms beyond compare, Minds that will cleave the chaos and unwind The web of fate, and from the atom trace The worlds, the suns, the universal law: And from the law, the Master; yea, and read On yon grand starry scroll the Master's will."
Yea, but what Master? Lift the veil, O Time! Where lie the bounds of Space and whither dwells The Power unseen—the infinite Unknown? Faint from afar the solemn answer fell:
"AEon on aeon, cycles myriad-yeared, Swifter than light out-flashing from the suns, My flying feet have sought the bounds of space And found not, nor the infinite Unknown. I see the Master only in his work: I see the Ruler only in his law: Time hath not touched the great All-father's throne, Whose voice unheard the Universe obeys, Who breathes upon the deep and worlds are born. Worlds wax and wane, suns crumble into dust, But matter pregnant with immortal life, Since erst the white-haired centuries wheeled the vast, Hath lost nor gained. Who made it, and who made The Maker? Out of nothing, nothing. Lo The worm that crawls from out the sun-touched sand, What knows he of the huge, round, rolling Earth? Yet more than thou of all the vast Beyond, Or ever wilt. Content thee; let it be: Know only this—there is a Power unknown— Master of life and Maker of the worlds."
On the death of Captain Hiram A. Coats, my old schoolmate and friend.
Dead? or is it a dream— Only the voice of a dream? Dead in the prime of his years, And laid in the lap of the dust; Only a handful of ashes Moldering down into dust.
Strong and manly was he, Strong and tender and true; Proud in the prime of his years; Strong in the strength of the just: A heart that was half a lion's, And half the heart of a girl; Tender to all that was tender, And true to all that was true; Bold in the battle of life, And bold on the bloody field; First at the call of his country, First in the front of the foe. Hope of the years was his— The golden and garnered sheaves; Fair on the hills of autumn Reddened the apples of peace.
Dead? or is it a dream? Dead in the prime of his years, And laid in the lap of the dust.
Aye, it is but a dream; For the life of man is a dream: Dead in the prime of his years And laid in the lap of the dust; Only a handful of ashes Moldering down into dust.
Only a handful of ashes Moldering down into dust? Aye, but what of the breath Blown out of the bosom of God? What of the spirit that breathed And burned in the temple of clay? Dust unto dust returns; The dew-drop returns to the sea; The flash from the flint and the steel Returns to its source in the sun. Change cometh forever-and-aye, But forever nothing is lost— The dew-drop that sinks in the sand, Nor the sunbeam that falls in the sea. Ah, life is only a link In the endless chain of change. Death giveth the dust to the dust And the soul to the infinite soul: For aye since the morning of man—
Since the human rose up from the brute— Hath Hope, like a beacon of light, Like a star in the rift of the storm, Been writ by the finger of God On the longing hearts of men. O follow no goblin fear; O cringe to no cruel creed; Nor chase the shadow of doubt Till the brain runs mad with despair. Stretch forth thy hand, O man, To the winds and the quaking earth— To the heaving and falling sea— To the ultimate stars and feel The throb of the spirit of God— The pulse of the Universe.
THE BRAVE FERRY-MAN
[NOTE.—The great Sioux massacre in Minnesota commenced at the Agency village, on the Minnesota River, early in the morning of the 16th day of August, 1862, precipitated, doubtless, by the murders at Acton on the day previous. The massacre and the Indian war that followed developed many brave men, but no truer hero than Mauley, an obscure Frenchman, the ferry-man at the Agency. Continually under fire, he resolutely ran his ferry-boat back and forth across the river, affording the terror-stricken people the only chance for escape. He was shot down on his boat just as he had landed on the opposite shore the last of those who fled from the burning village to the ferry-landing. The Indians disemboweled his dead body, cut off the head, hands and feet and thrust them into the cavity. See Heard's Hist. Sioux War, p 67.]
Crouching in the early morning, Came the swarth and naked "Sioux;"[CF] On the village, without warning, Fell the sudden, savage blow. Horrid yell and crack of rifle Mingle as the flames arise;— With the tomahawk they stifle Mothers' wails and children's cries. Men and women to the ferry Fly from many a blazing cot;— Brave and ready—grim and steady, Mauley mans the ferry-boat.
Can they cross the ambushed river? 'Tis for life the only chance; Only this may some deliver From the scalping-knife and lance. Through the throng of wailing women Frantic men in terror burst;— "Back, ye cowards!" thundered Mauley,— "I will take the women first!" Then with brawny arms and lever Back the craven men he smote. Brave and ready—grim and steady, Mauley mans the ferry-boat.
To and fro across the river Plies the little mercy-craft, While from ambushed gun and quiver On it falls the fatal shaft. Trembling from the burning village, Still the terror-stricken fly, For the Indians' love of pillage Stays the bloody tragedy. At the windlass-bar bare-headed— Bare his brawny arms and throat— Brave and ready—grim and steady, Mauley mans the ferry-boat.
Hark!—a sudden burst of war-whoops! They are bent on murder now; Down the ferry-road they rally, Led by furious Little Crow. Frantic mothers clasp their children, And the help of God implore; Frantic men leap in the river Ere the boat can reach the shore. Mauley helps the weak and wounded Till the last soul is afloat;— Brave and ready—grim and steady, Mauley mans the ferry-boat.
Speed the craft!—The fierce Dakotas Whoop and hasten to the shore, And a shower of shot and arrows On the crowded boat they pour. Fast it floats across the river, Managed by the master hand, Laden with a freight so precious,— God be thanked!—it reaches land. Where is Mauley—grim and steady, Shall his brave deed be forgot? Grasping still the windlass-lever, Dead he lies upon the boat.
[CF] Pronounced Soo; a name given to the Dakotas in early days by the French traders.
Man is a creature of a thousand whims; The slave of hope and fear and circumstance. Through toil and martyrdom a million years Struggling and groping upward from the brute, And ever dragging still the brutish chains, And ever slipping backward to the brute. Shall he not break the galling, brazen bonds That bind him writhing on the wheel of fate? Long ages groveling with his brother brutes, He plucked the tree of knowledge and uprose And walked erect—a god; but died the death: For knowledge brings but sadness and unrest Forever, insatiate longing and regret. Behold the brute's unerring instinct guides True as the pole-star, while man's reason leads How oft to quicksands and the hidden reefs! Contented brute, his daily wants how few! And these by Nature's mother-hand supplied. Man's wants unnumbered and unsatisfied, And multiplied at every onward step— Insatiate as the cavernous maw of time. His real wants how simple and how few! Behold the kine in yonder pasture-field Cropping the clover, or in rest reclined, Chewing meek-eyed the cud of sweet content. Ambition plagues them not, nor hope, nor fear; No demons fright them and no cruel creeds; No pangs of disappointment or remorse. See man the picture of perpetual want, The prototype of all disquietude; Full of trouble, yet ever seeking more; Between the upper and the nether stone Ground and forever in the mill of fate. Nature and art combine to clothe his form, To feed his fancy and to fill his maw; And yet the more they give the more he craves. Give him the gold of Ophir, still he delves; Give him the land, and he demands the sea; Give him the earth—he reaches for the stars. Doomed by his fate to scorn the good he has And grasp at fancied good beyond his reach, He seeks for silver in the distant hills While in the sand gold glitters at his feet.
O man, thy wisdom is but folly still; Wiser the brute and full of sweet content. The wit and wisdom of five thousand years—What are they but the husks we feed upon, While beast and bird devour the golden grain? Lo for the brutes dame Nature sows and tills; For them the Tuba-tree of Paradise Bends with its bounties free and manifold; For them the fabled fountain Salsabil, Gushes pure wine that sparkles as it runs, And fair Al Cawthar flows with creamy milk. But man, forever doomed to toil and sweat, Digs the hard earth and casts his seeds therein, And hopes the harvest;—how oft he hopes in vain! Weeds choke, winds blast, and myriad pests devour, The hot sun withers and the floods destroy. Unceasing labor, vigilance and care Reward him here and there with bounteous store. Had man the blessed wisdom of content, Happy were he—as wise Horatius sung— To whom God gives enough with sparing hand. Of all the crops by sighing mortals sown, And watered with man's sweat and woman's tears, There is but only one that never fails In drouth or flood, on fat or flinty soil, On Nilus' banks or Scandia's stony hills— The plenteous, never-stinted crop of fools. So hath it been since erst aspiring man Broke from the brute and plucked the fatal tree, And will be till eternity grows gray.
Princes and parasites comprise mankind: To one wise prince a million parasites; The most uncommon thing is common-sense; A truly wise man is a freak of nature. The herd are parasites of parasites That blindly follow priest or demagogue, Himself blind leader of the blind. The wise Weigh words, but by the yard fools measure them. The wise beginneth at the end; the fool Ends at the beginning, or begins anew: Aye, every ditch is full of after-wit. Folly sows broad cast; Wisdom gathers in, And so the wise man fattens on the fool, And from the follies of the foolish learns Wisdom to guide himself and bridle them. "To-morrow I made my fortune," cries the fool, "To-day I'll spend it." Thus will Folly eat His chicken ere the hen hath laid the egg. So Folly blossoms with promises all the year— Promises that bud and blossom but to blast. "All men are fools," said Socrates, the wise, And in the broader sense I grant it true, For even Socrates had his Xanthipp'. Whose head is wise oft hath a foolish heart; The wisest has more follies than he needs; Wisdom and madness, too, are near akin. The marrow-maddening canker-worm of love Feeds on the brains of wise men as on fools'.
The wise man gathers wisdom from all men As bees their honey hive from plant and weed. Yea, from the varied history of the world, From the experience of all times, all men, The wise man learneth wisdom. Folly learns From his own bruises if he learns at all. The fool—born wise—what need hath he to learn? He needs but gabble wisdom to the world: Grill him on a gridiron and he gabbles still.
Wise men there are—wise in the eyes of men— Who cram their hollow heads with ancient wit Cackled in Carthage, babbled in Babylon, Gabbled in Greece and riddled in old Rome, And never coin a farthing of their own. Wise men there are—for owls are counted wise— Who love to leave the lamp-lit paths behind, And chase the shapeless shadow of a doubt. Too wise to learn, too wise to see the truth, E'en though it glow and sparkle like a gem On God's outstretched forefinger for all time. These have one argument, and only one, For good or evil, earth or jeweled heaven— The olden, owlish argument of doubt. Ah, he alone is wise who ever stands Armed cap-a-pie with God's eternal truth. Where Grex is Rex God help the hapless land. The yelping curs that bay the rising moon Are not more clamorous, and the fitful winds Not more inconstant. List the croaking frogs That raise their heads in fen or stagnant pool, Shouting at eve their wisdom from the mud. Beside the braying, bleating, bellowing mob, Their jarring discords are sweet harmony. The headless herd are but a noise of wind; Sometimes, alas, the wild tornado's roar. As full of freaks as curs are full of fleas, Like gnats they swarm, like flies they buzz and breed. Thought works in silence: Wisdom stops to think. No ass so obstinate as ignorance. Oft as they seize the ship of state, behold— Overboard goes all ballast and they crowd To blast or breeze or hurricane full sail, Each dunce a pilot and a captain too. How often cross-eyed Justice hits amiss! Doomed by Athenian mobs to banishment, See Aristides leave the land he saved: Wisdom his fault and justice his offense. See Caesar crowned a god and Tully slain; See Paris red with riot and noble blood, A king beheaded and a monster throned,— King Drone, flat fool that weather-cocked all winds, Gulped gall and vinegar and smacked it wine, Wig-wagged his way from gilded Oeil de Boeuf Through mob and maelstrom to the guillotine. Chateaus up-blazing torch the doom of France, While human wolves howl ruin round their walls. Contention hisses from a million mouths, And from ten thousand muttering craters smokes The smell of sulphur. Gaul becomes a ghoul; While Parlez-Tous in hot palaver holds Hubbub ad Bedlam—Pandemonium thriced. There, voices drowning voice with frantic cries, Discord demented flaps her ruffled wings And shrieks delirium to her screeching brood. Sneer-lipped, hawk-eyed, wolf-tongued oraculars— Wise-wigs, Girondins, frothing Jacobins— Reason to madness run, tongues venom-tanged— Howl chaos all with one united throat. Maelstrom of madness, lazar-howled, hag-shrilled! Quack quackles quack; all doctors disagree, While Doctor Guillotine's huge scalpel heads Hell-dogs beheading helpless innocents. The very babes bark rabies. Journalism, Moon-mad, green-eyed, hound-scented, lupus-tongued On howls the pack and smells her bread in blood.
O Tempus ferax insanorum, Heu! Physicked with metaphysics, pamphleteered Into paroxysms, bruited into brutes. And metamorphosed into murder, lo Men lapse to savagery and turn to beasts. Hell-broth hag-boiled: a mad Theroigne is queen— Mounts to the brazen throne of Harlotdom, Queen of the cursed, and flares her cannon-torch. Watch-wolves, lean-jawed, fore-smelling feast of blood, In packs on Paris howl from farthest France. Discord demented bursts the bounds of Dis; Mad Murder raves and Horror holds her hell. Hades up-heaves her whelps. In human forms Up-flare the Furies, serpent-haired and grin Horrid with bloody jaws. Scaled reptiles crawl From slum and sewer, slimy, coil on coil— Danton, dark beast, that builded for himself A monument of quicksand limed with blood; Horse-leech Marat, blear-eyed, vile vulture born; Fair Charlotte's dagger robbed the guillotine! Black-biled, green-visaged, traitorous Robespierre, That buzzard-beaked, hawk-taloned octopus Who played with pale poltroonery of men, And drank the cup of flattery till he reeled; Hell's pope uncrowned, immortal for a day. Tinville, relentless dog of murder-plot— Doom-judge whose trembling victims were foredoomed; Maillard who sucked his milk from Murder's dugs, Twin-whelp to Theroigne, captain of the hags; Jourdan, red-grizzled mule-son blotched with blood, Headsman forever "famous-infamous;" Keen, hag-whelped journalist Camille Desmoulins, Who with a hundred other of his ilk Hissed on the hounds and smeared his bread with blood; Lebon, man-fiend, that vampire-ghoul who drank Hot blood of headless victims, and compelled Mothers to view the murder of their babes; At whose red guillotine, in Arras raised, The pipe and fiddle played at every fall Of ghastly head the ribald "Ca Ira;" And fiends unnamed and nameless brutes untaled.
Petticoat-patriots sans bas, and Sans-culottes, Rampant in rags and hunger-toothed uproar Paris the proud. With Jacobin clubs they club The head of France till all her brains are out. Hired murder hunts in packs. Men murder-mad Slay for the love of murder. Gloomy night, Hiding her stars lest they in pity fall, Beholds a thousand guiltless, trembling souls— Men, women, children—forth from prisons flung In flare of torch and glare of demon eyes, Among the howling wolves and lazar-hags, Crying for mercy where no mercy is, Hewed down in heaps by bloody ax and pike. From their grim battlements the imps of hell Indignant hissed and damped their fires with tears; And Manhood from the watch-towers of the world Cried in the name of Human Nature—"Hold!" As well the drifting snail might strive to still The volcan-heaved, storm-struck, moon-maddened sea. Blood-frenzied beasts demand their feast of blood. "Liberty—Equality—Fraternity!"—the cry Of blood-hounds baying on the track of babes. Queen innocent beheaded—mother-queen! And queenly Roland—Nature's queenly queen! Aye, at the foot of bloody guillotine She stood a heroine: before her loomed The Goddess of Liberty—in statue-stone. Queen Roland saw, and spake the words that ring Along the centuries—"O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!"—and died. And when the headsman raised her severed head To hell-dogs shouting "Vive la Liberte," Godlike disdain still sparkled in her eyes. Grim Hell herself in pity stood aghast, Clanged shut her doors and stopped her ears with pitch.
See the wise ruler—father of Brazil, Who struck the shackles from a million slaves, Whose reign was peace and love and gentleness, Despoiled and driven from the land he loves. See jealous Labor strike the hand that feeds, And burn the mills that grind his daily bread; Yea, in blind rage denounce the very laws That shield his home from Europe's pauperdom. See the grieved farmer raise his horny hand And splutter garlic. Hear the demagogues Fist-maul the wind and weather-cock the crowd, With brazen foreheads full of empty noise Out-bellowing the bulls of Bashan; and behold Shrill, wrinkled Amazons in high harangue Stamp their flat feet and gnash their toothless gums, And flaunt their petticoat-flag of "Liberty." Hear the old bandogs of the Daily Press, Chained to their party posts, or fetter-free And running amuck against old party creeds, On-howl their packs and glory in the fight. See mangy curs, whose editorial ears Prick to all winds to catch the popular breeze, Slang-whanging yelp, and froth and snap and snarl, And sniff the gutters for their daily food. And these—are they our prophets and our priests? Hurra!—Hurra!—Hurra!—for "Liberty!" Flaunt the red flag and flutter the petticoat; Ran-tan the drums and let the bugles bray, The eagle scream and sixty million throats Sing Yankee-doodle—Yankee-doodle-doo.
The state is sick and every fool a quack Running with pills and plasters and sure-cures, And every pill and package labelled Ism. See Liberty run mad, and Anarchy, Bearing the torch, the dagger and the bomb Red-mouthed run riot in her sacred name Hear mobs of idlers cry—"Equality! Let all men share alike: divide, divide!" Butting their heads against the granite rocks Of Nature and the eternal laws of God. Pull down the toiler, lift the idler up! Despoil the frugal, crown the negligent! Offer rewards to idleness and crime! And pay a premium for improvidence! Fools, can your wolfish cries repeal the laws Of God engraven on the granite hills, Written in every Wrinkle of the earth, On every plain, on every mountain-top,— Nay, blazened o'er all the boundless Universe On every jewel that sparkles on God's throne? And can ye rectify God's mighty plan? O pygmies, can ye measure God himself? Aye, would ye measure God's almighty power, Go—crack Earth's bones and heave the granite hills; Measure the ocean in a drinking-cup; Measure Eternity by the town-clock; Nay, with a yard-stick measure the Universe: Measure for measure. Measure God by man! "Fools to the midmost marrow of your bones!" O buzzing flies and gnats! Ye cannot strike One little atom from God's Universe, Or warp the laws of Nature by a hair!
His loving eye sees through all evil good. Man's life is but a breath; but lo with Him To-day, to-morrow, yesterday, are one One in the cycle of eternal time That hath beginning none, nor any end. The Earth revolving round her sire, the Sun, Measures the flying year of mortal man, But who shall measure God's eternal year? The unbegotten, everlasting God; Unmade, eternal, all-pervading power; Center and source of all things, high and low, Maker and master of the Universe— Ah, nay, the mighty Universe itself! All things in nature bear God's signature So plainly writ that he who runs may read. We know not what life is; how may we know Death—what it is, or what may lie beyond? Whoso forgets his God forgets himself.
Let me not blindly judge my brother man: There is but one just judge; there is but one Who knows the hearts of men. Him let us praise— Not with blind prayer, or idle, sounding psalms— But let us daily in our daily works, Praise God by righteous deeds and brother-love. Go forth into the forest and observe— For men believe their eyes and doubt their ears— The creeping vine, the shrub, the lowly bush, The dwarfed and stunted trees, the bent and bowed, And here and there a lordly oak or elm, And o'er them all a tall and princely pine. All struggle upward, but the many fail; The low dwarfed by the shadows of the great, The stronger basking in the genial sun. Observe the myriad fishes of the seas— The mammoths and the minnows of the deep. Behold the eagle and the little wren, The condor on his cliff, the pigeon-hawk, The teal, the coot, the broad-winged albatross. Turn to the beasts in forest and in field— The lion, the lynx, the mammoth and the mouse, The sheep, the goat, the bullock and the horse, The fierce gorillas and the chattering apes— Progenitors and prototypes of man. Not only differences in genera find, But grades in every kind and every class.
I would not doom to serfdom or to toil One race, one caste, one class, or any man: Give every honest man an honest chance; Protect alike the rich man and the poor; Let not the toiler live upon a crust While Croesus' bread is buttered on both sides.
O people's king and shepherd, throned Law, Strike down the monsters of Monopoly. Lift up thy club, O mighty Hercules! Behold thy "Labors" yet unfinished are: Tear off thy Nessus shirt and bare thine arms. The Numean lion fattens on our flocks; The Lernean Hydra coils around our farms, Our towns, our mills, our mines, our factories; The triple monster Geryon lives again, Grown quadruple, and over all our plains And thousand hills his fattening oxen feed. Stymphalean buzzards ravage round our fields; The Augean stables reeking stench the land; The hundred-headed monster Cerberus, That throttled Greece and ravaged hapless France, Hath broke from hell and howls for human blood. Lift up thy knotted club, O Hercules! Strike swift and sure: crush down the Hydra's heads; Throttle the Numean lion: strike! nor spare The monster Geryon or the buzzard-beaks. Clean the Augean stables if thou can'st; But hurl the hundred-headed monster down Headlong to Hades: chain him; make thee sure He shall not burst the bonds of hell again.
To you, O chosen makers of the laws, The nation looks—and shall it look in vain? Will ye sit idle, or in idle wind Blow out your zeal, and crack your party whips, Or drivel dotage, while the crisis cries— While all around the dark horizon loom Clouds thunder-capped that bode a hurricane? Sleep ye as slept the "Notables" of France, While under them an hundred AEtnas hissed And spluttered sulphur, gathering for the shock? Be ye our Hercules—and Lynceus-eyed: Still ye the storm or ere the storm begin— Ere "Liberty" take Justice by the throat, And run moon-mad a Malay murder-muck, Throttle the "Trusts", and crush the coils combined That crack our bones and fatten on our fields. Strike down the hissing heads of Anarchy: Strike swift and hard, nor parley with the fiend Mothered of hell and father of all fiends— Fell monster with an hundred bloody mouths, And every mouth an hundred hissing tongues, And every tongue drips venom from his fangs.
Protect the toiling millions by just laws; Let honest labor find its sure reward; Let willing hands find work and honest bread. So frame the laws that every honest man May find his home protected and his craft. Let Liberty and Order walk hand in hand With Justice: happy Trio! let them rule. Put up the bars: bar out the pauper swarms Alike from Asia's huts and Europe's hives. Let charity begin at home. In vain Will we bar out the swarms from Europe's hives And Asia's countless lepers, if our ports Are free to all the products of their hands. Put up the bars: bar out the pauper hordes; Bar out their products that compete with ours: Give honest toil at home an honest chance: Build up our own and keep our coin at home. In vain our mines pour forth their wealth of gold And silver, if by every ship it sail For London, Paris, Birmingham or Berlin.
We have been prodigal. The days are past When virgin acres wanted willing hands, When fertile empires lay in wilderness Waiting the teeming millions of the world. Lo where the Indian and the bison roamed—Lords of the prairies boundless as the sea—But twenty years ago, behold the change! Homesteads and hamlets, flocks and lowing herds, Railways and cities, miles of rustling corn, And leagues on leagues of waving fields of gold.
Let wise men teach and honest men proclaim The mutual dependence of the rich and poor; For if the wealthy profit by the poor, The poor man profits ever by the rich. Wealth builds our churches and our colleges; Wealth builds the mills that grind the million's bread; Wealth builds the factories that clothe the poor; Wealth builds the railways and the million ride. God hath so willed the toiling millions reap The golden harvest that the rich have sown. Six feet of earth make all men even; lo The toilers are the rich man's heirs at last. But there be men would grumble at their lot, Even if it were a corner-lot on Broadway. We stand upon the shoulders of the past. Who knoweth not the past how may he know The folly or the wisdom of to-day? For by comparison we weigh the good, And by comparison all evil weigh. "What can we reason, but from what we know?" Let honest men look back an hundred years— Nay, fifty, and behold the wondrous change. Where wooden tubs like sluggards sailed the sea, Steam-ships of steel like greyhounds course the main; Where lumbering coach and wain and wagon toiled Through mud and mire and rut and rugged way, The cushioned train a mile a minute flies. Then by slow coach the message went and came, But now by lightning bridled to man's use We flash our silent thoughts from sea to sea; Nay, under ocean's depths from shore to shore; And talk by telephone to distant ears. The dreams of yesterday are deeds to-day. Our frugal mothers spun with tedious toil, And wove the homespun cloth for all their fold; Their needles plied by weary fingers sewed. Behold, the humming factory spins and weaves, The singing "Singer" sews with lightning speed. Our fathers sowed their little fields by hand, And reaped with bended sickles and bent backs; By hand they bound the sheaves of wheat and rye; With flails they threshed and winnowed in the wind. Now by machines we sow and reap and bind; By steam we thresh and sack the bounteous grain. These are but few of all the million ways Whereby man's toil is lightened and he hath gained Tenfold in comfort, luxury and ease. For these and more the millions that enjoy May thank the wise and wealthy few who gave. If the rich are richer the poor are richer too. A narrow demagogue I count the man Who cries to-day—"Progress and Poverty"; As if a thousand added comforts made The poor man poorer and his lot the worse. 'Tis but a new toot on the same old horn That brayed in ancient Greece and Babylon, And now amid the ruined walls of Rome Lies buried fathoms deep in dead men's dust.
"Progress and Poverty!" Man, hast thou traced The blood that throbs commingled in thy veins? Over thy shoulder hast thou cast a glance On thine old Celtic-Saxon-Norman sires— Huddled in squalid huts on beds of straw? Barefooted churls swine-herding in the fens, Bare-legged cowherds in their cow-skin coats, Wearing the collars of their Thane or Eorl, His serfs, his slaves, even as thy dog is thine; Harried by hunger, pillaged, ravaged, slain, By Viking robbers and the warring Jarls; Oft glad like hunted swine to fill their maws With herbs and acorns. "Progress and Poverty!" The humblest laborer in our mills or mines Is royal Thane beside those slavish churls; The frugal farmer in our land to-day Lives better than their kings—himself a king.
Lo every age refutes old errors still, And still begets new errors for the next; But all the creeds of politics or priests Can't make one error truth, one truth a lie. There is no religion higher than the truth; Men make the creeds, but God ordains the law.
Above all cant, all arguments of men, Above all superstitions, old or new, Above all creeds of every age and clime, Stands the eternal truth—the creed of creeds.
Sweet is the lute to him who hath not heard The prattle of his children at his knees: Ah, he is rich indeed whose humble home Contains a frugal wife and sweet content.
I saw a light on yester-night— A low light on the misty lea; The stars were dim and silence grim Sat brooding on the sullen sea.
From out the silence came a voice— A voice that thrilled me through and through, And said, "Alas, is this your choice? For he is false and I was true."
And in my ears the passing years Will sadly whisper words of rue: Forget—and yet—can I forget That one was false and one was true?
Change is the order of the universe. Worlds wax and wane; suns die and stars are born. Two atoms of cosmic dust unite, cohere— And lo the building of a world begun. On all things—high or low, or great or small— Earth, ocean, mountain, mammoth, midge and man, On mind and matter—lo perpetual change— God's fiat—stamped! The very bones of man Change as he grows from infancy to age. His loves, his hates, his tastes, his fancies, change. His blood and brawn demand a change of food; His mind as well: the sweetest harp of heaven Were hateful if it played the selfsame tune Forever, and the fairest flower that gems The garden, if it bloomed throughout the year, Would blush unsought. The most delicious fruits Pall on our palate if we taste too oft, And Hyblan honey turns to bitter gall. Perpetual winter is a reign of gloom; Perpetual summer hardly pleases more. Behold the Esquimau—the Hottentot: This doomed to regions of perpetual ice, And that to constant summer's heat and glow: Inferior both, both gloomy and unblessed. The home of happiness and plenty lies Where autumn follows summer and the breath Of spring melts into rills the winter's snows. How gladly, after summer's blazing suns, We hail the autumn frosts and autumn fruits: How blithesome seems the fall of feathery snow When winter comes with merry clang of bells: And after winter's reign of ice and storm How glad we hail the robins of the spring. For God hath planted in the hearts of men The love of change, and sown the seeds of change In earth and air and sea and shoreless space. Day follows night and night the dying day, And every day—and every hour—is change; From when on dewy hills the rising dawn Sprinkles her mists of silver in the east, Till in the west the golden dust up-wheels Behind the chariot of the setting sun; From when above the hills the evening star Sparkles a diamond 'mong the grains of gold, Until her last faint flicker on the sea. The voices of the hoar and hurrying years Cry from the silence—"Change!—perpetual Change!" Man's heart responding throbs—"Perpetual Change," And grinds like a mill-stone: wanting grists of change It grinds and grinds upon its troubled self.
Behold the flowers that spring and bloom and fade. Behold the blooming maid: the song of larks Is in her warbling throat; the blue of heaven Is in her eyes; her loosened tresses fall A shower of gold on shoulders tinged with rose; Her form a seraph's and her gladsome face A benediction. Lo beneath her feet The loving crocus bursts in sudden bloom. Fawn-eyed and full of gentleness she moves— A sunbeam on the lawn. The hearts of men Follow her footsteps. He whose sinewy arms Might burst through bars of steel like bands of straw, Caught in the net of her unloosened hair, A helpless prisoner lies and loves his chains. Blow, ye soft winds, from sandal-shaded isle, And bring the mogra's breath and orange-bloom.