O for a draught of vintage, that hath been Cooled a long age in the deep delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green, Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth! O for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, And purple-stained mouth,— That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs, Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee, Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: Already with thee! tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, Clustered around by all her starry Fays; But here there is no light, Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast-fading violets covered up in leaves; And mid-May's eldest child, The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. Darkling I listen; and for many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death. Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now, more than ever, seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight, with no pain. While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad, In such an ecstasy!— Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn; The same that oft-times hath Charmed magic casements opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell, To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the Fancy cannot cheat so well As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hillside; and now 'tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision or a waking dream? Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?
CATSKILL MOUNTAIN HOUSE.
Wave after wave of greenness rolling down From mountain top to base, a whispering sea Of affluent leaves through which the viewless breeze Murmurs mysteriously.
And towering up amid the lesser throng, A giant oak, so desolately grand, Stretches its gray imploring arms to heaven In agonized demand.
Smitten by lightning from a summer sky, Or bearing in its heart a slow decay, What matter, since inexorable fate Is pitiless to slay.
Ah, wayward soul, hedged in and clothed about, Doth not thy life's lost hope lift up its head, And, dwarfing present joys, proclaim aloud,— "Look on me, I am dead!"
MARY LOUISE RITTER.
BYRON'S LATEST VERSES.
"On this day I completed my thirty-sixth year." —MISSOLONGHI, JANUARY 23, 1824.
'Tis time this heart should be unmoved, Since others it has ceased to move: Yet, though I cannot be beloved, Still let me love!
My days are in the yellow leaf, The flowers and fruits of love are gone: The worm, the canker, and the grief, Are mine alone.
The fire that in my bosom preys Is like to some volcanic isle; No torch is kindled at its blaze,— A funeral pile.
The hope, the fear, the jealous care, The exalted portion of the pain And power of love, I cannot share, But wear the chain.
But 'tis not thus,—and 'tis not here, Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now, Where glory decks the hero's bier, Or binds his brow.
The sword, the banner, and the field, Glory and Greece about us see; The Spartan borne upon his shield Was not more free.
Awake!—not Greece,—she is awake! Awake my spirit! think through whom Thy life-blood tastes its parent lake, And then strike home!
Tread those reviving passions down, Unworthy manhood! unto thee Indifferent should the smile or frown Of beauty be.
If thou regrett'st thy youth,—why live? The land of honorable death Is here:—up to the field, and give Away thy breath!
Seek out—less often sought than found— A soldier's grave, for thee the best; Then look around, and choose thy ground, And take thy rest!
A DOUBTING HEART.
Where are the swallows fled? Frozen and dead Perchance upon some bleak and stormy shore. O doubting heart! Far over purple seas They wait, in sunny ease, The balmy southern breeze To bring them to their northern homes once more.
Why must the flowers die? Prisoned they lie In the cold tomb, heedless of tears or rain. O doubting heart! They only sleep below The soft white ermine snow While winter winds shall blow, To breathe and smile upon you soon again.
The sun has hid its rays These many days; Will dreary hours never leave the earth? O doubting heart! The stormy clouds on high Veil the same sunny sky That soon, for spring is nigh, Shall wake the summer into golden mirth.
Fair hope is dead, and light Is quenched in night; What sound can break the silence of despair? O doubting heart! The sky is overcast, Yet stars shall rise at last, Brighter for darkness past; And angels' silver voices stir the air.
ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER.
We count the broken lyres that rest Where the sweet wailing singers slumber, But o'er their silent sister's breast The wild-flowers who will stoop to number? A few can touch the magic string, And noisy Fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them!
Nay grieve not for the dead alone Whose song has told their hearts' sad story,— Weep for the voiceless, who have known The cross without the crown of glory! Not where Leucadian breezes sweep O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow, But where the glistening night-dews weep On nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.
O hearts that break and give no sign Save whitening lip and fading tresses, Till Death pours out his longed-for wine Slow-dropped from Misery's crushing presses,— If singing breath or echoing chord To every hidden pang were given, What endless melodies were poured, As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
O World! O Life! O Time! On whose last steps I climb, Trembling at that where I had stood before; When will return the glory of your prime? No more,—O nevermore!
Out of the day and night A joy has taken flight: Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight No more,—O nevermore!
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
"WHAT CAN AN OLD MAN DO BUT DIE?"
Spring it is cheery, Winter is dreary, Green leaves hang, but the brown must fly; When he's forsaken, Withered and shaken, What can an old man do but die?
Love will not clip him, Maids will not lip him, Maud and Marian pass him by; Youth it is sunny, Age has no honey,— What can an old man do but die?
June it was jolly, O for its folly! A dancing leg and a laughing eye! Youth may be silly, Wisdom is chilly,— What can an old man do but die?
Friends they are scanty, Beggars are plenty, If he has followers, I know why; Gold's in his clutches (Buying him crutches!)— What can an old man do but die?
OVER THE HILL TO THE POOR-HOUSE.
Over the hill to the poor-house I'm trudgin' my weary way— I, a woman of seventy, and only a trifle gray— I, who am smart an' chipper, for all the years I've told, As many another woman that's only half as old.
Over the hill to the poor-house—I can't quite make it clear! Over the hill to the poor-house—it seems so horrid queer! Many a step I've taken a-toilin' to and fro, But this is a sort of journey I never thought to go.
What is the use of heapin' on me a pauper's shame? Am I lazy or crazy? am I blind or lame? True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful stout; But charity ain't no favor, if one can live without.
I am willin' and anxious an' ready any day To work for a decent livin', an' pay my honest way; For I can earn my victuals, an' more too, I'll be bound, If anybody only is willin' to have me round.
Once I was young an' han'some—I was, upon my soul— Once my cheeks was roses, my eyes as black as coal; And I can't remember, in them days, of hearin' people say, For any kind of a reason, that I was in their way.
'Tain't no use of boastin', or talkin' over free, But many a house an' home was open then to me; Many a ban'some offer I had from likely men, And nobody ever hinted that I was a burden then.
And when to John I was married, sure he was good and smart, But he and all the neighbors would own I done my part; For life was all before me, an' I was young an' strong, And I worked the best that I could in tryin' to get along.
And so we worked together: and life was hard, but gay, With now and then a baby for to cheer us on our way; Till we had half a dozen, an' all growed clean an' neat, An' went to school like others, an' had enough to eat.
So we worked for the child'rn, and raised 'em every one; Worked for 'em summer and winter, just as we ought to 've done; Only perhaps we humored 'em, which some good folks condemn, But every couple's child'rn 's heap the best to them.
Strange how much we think of our blessed little ones!— I'd have died for my daughters, I'd have died for my sons; And God he made that rule of love; but when we're old and gray, I've noticed it sometimes somehow fails to work the other way.
Strange, another thing: when our boys an' girls was grown, And when, exceptin' Charley, they'd left us there alone; When John he nearer an' nearer come, an' dearer seemed to be, The Lord of Hosts he come one day an' took him away from me.
Still I was bound to struggle, an' never to cringe or fall— Still I worked for Charley, for Charley was now my all; And Charley was pretty good to me, with scarce a word or frown, Till at last he went a-courtin', and brought a wife from town.
She was somewhat dressy, an' hadn't a pleasant smile— She was quite conceity, and carried a heap o' style; But if I ever tried to be friends, I did with her, I know; But she was hard and proud, an' I couldn't make it go.
She had an edication, an' that was good for her; But when she twitted me on mine, 'twas carryin' things too fur; An' I told her once, 'fore company (an' it almost made her sick), That I never swallowed a grammar, or 'et a rithmetic.
So 'twas only a few days before the thing was done— They was a family of themselves, and I another one; And a very little cottage one family will do, But I never have seen a house that was big enough for two.
An' I could never speak to suit her, never could please her eye, An' it made me independent, an' then I didn't try; But I was terribly staggered, an' felt it like a blow, When Charley turned ag'in me, an' told me I could go.
I went to live with Susan, but Susan's house was small, And she was always a-hintin' how snug it was for us all; And what with her husband's sisters, and what with child'rn three, 'Twas easy to discover that there wasn't room for me.
An' then I went to Thomas, the oldest son I've got, For Thomas's buildings'd cover the half of an acre lot; But all the child'rn was on me—I couldn't stand their sauce— And Thomas said I needn't think I was comin' there to boss.
An' then I wrote to Rebecca, my girl who lives out West, And to Isaac, not far from her—some twenty miles at best; And one of 'em said 'twas too warm there for any one so old, And t' other had an opinion the climate was too cold.
So they have shirked and slighted me, an' shifted me about— So they have well-nigh soured me, an' wore my old heart out; But still I've borne up pretty well, an' wasn't much put down, Till Charley went to the poor-master, an' put me on the town.
Over the hill to the poor-house—my child'rn dear, good by! Many a night I've watched you when only God was nigh; And God'll judge between us; but I will al'ays pray That you shall never suffer the half I do to-day.
By the wayside, on a mossy stone, Sat a hoary pilgrim, sadly musing; Oft I marked him sitting there alone. All the landscape, like a page perusing; Poor, unknown, By the wayside, on a mossy stone.
Buckled knee and shoe, and broad-brimmed hat; Coat as ancient as the form 'twas folding; Silver buttons, queue, and crimped cravat; Oaken staff his feeble hand upholding; There he sat! Buckled knee and shoe, and broad-brimmed hat.
Seemed it pitiful he should sit there, No one sympathizing, no one heeding, None to love him for his thin gray hair, And the furrows all so mutely pleading Age and care: Seemed it pitiful he should sit there.
It was summer, and we went to school, Dapper country lads and little maidens; Taught the motto of the "Dunce's Stool,"— Its grave import still my fancy ladens,— "Here's a fool!" It was summer, and we went to school.
When the stranger seemed to mark our play, Some of us were joyous, some sad-hearted, I remember well, too well, that day! Oftentimes the tears unbidden started, Would not stay When the stranger seemed to mark our play.
One sweet spirit broke the silent spell, O, to me her name was always Heaven! She besought him all his grief to tell, (I was then thirteen, and she eleven,) Isabel! One sweet spirit broke the silent spell.
"Angel," said he sadly, "I am old; Earthly hope no longer hath a morrow; Yet, why I sit here thou shalt be told." Then his eyes betrayed a pearl of sorrow, Down it rolled! "Angel," said he sadly, "I am old.
"I have tottered here to look once more On the pleasant scene where I delighted In the careless, happy days of yore, Ere the garden of ray heart was blighted To the core: I have tottered here to look once more.
"All the picture now to me how dear! E'en this old gray rock where I am seated, Is a jewel worth my journey here; Ah that such a scene must be completed With a tear! All the picture now to me how dear!
"Old stone school-house! it is still the same; There's the very step I so oft mounted; There's the window creaking in its frame, And the notches that I cut and counted For the game. Old stone school-house, it is still the same.
"In the cottage yonder I was born; Long my happy home, that humble dwelling; There the fields of clover, wheat, and corn; There the spring with limpid nectar swelling; Ah, forlorn! In the cottage yonder I was born.
"Those two gateway sycamores you see Then were planted just so far asunder That long well-pole from the path to free, And the wagon to pass safely under; Ninety-three! Those two gateway sycamores you see.
"There's the orchard where we used to climb When my mates and I were boys together, Thinking nothing of the flight of time, Fearing naught but work and rainy weather; Past its prime! There's the orchard where we used to climb.
"There the rude, three-cornered chestnut-rails, Bound the pasture where the flocks were grazing Where, so sly, I used to watch for quails In the crops of buckwheat we were raising; Traps and trails! There the rude, three-cornered chestnut-rails.
"There's the mill that ground our yellow grain; Pond and river still serenely flowing; Cot there nestling in the shaded lane, Where the lily of my heart was blowing,— Mary Jane! There's the mill that ground our yellow grain.
"There's the gate on which I used to swing, Brook, and bridge, and barn, and old red stable; But alas! no more the morn shall bring That dear group around my father's table; Taken wing! There's the gate on which I used to swing.
"I am fleeing,—all I loved have fled. Yon green meadow was our place for playing That old tree can tell of sweet things said When around it Jane and I were straying; She is dead! I am fleeing,—all I loved have fled.
"Yon white spire, a pencil on the sky, Tracing silently life's changeful story, So familiar to my dim eye, Points me to seven that are now in glory There on high! Yon white spire, a pencil on the sky.
"Oft the aisle of that old church we trod, Guided hither by an angel mother; Now she sleeps beneath its sacred sod; Sire and sisters, and my little brother, Gone to God! Oft the aisle of that old church we trod.
"There I heard of Wisdom's pleasant ways; Bless the holy lesson!—but, ah, never Shall I hear again those songs of praise, Those sweet voices silent now forever! Peaceful days! There I heard of Wisdom's pleasant ways.
"There my Mary blessed me with her hand When our souls drank in the nuptial blessings, Ere she hastened to the spirit-land, Yonder turf her gentle bosom pressing; Broken band! There my Mary blessed me with her hand.
"I have come to see that grave once more, And the sacred place where we delighted, Where we worshipped, in the days of yore, Ere the garden of my heart was blighted To the care! I have come to see that grave once more.
"Angel," said he sadly, "I am old; Earthly hope no longer hath a morrow, Now, why I sit here thou hast been told." In his eye another pearl of sorrow, Down it rolled! "Angel," said he sadly, "I am old."
By the wayside, on a mossy stone, Sat the hoary pilgrim, sadly musing; Still I marked him sitting there alone, All the landscape, like a page, perusing; Poor, unknown! By the wayside, on a mossy stone.
THE LAST LEAF.
I saw him once before, As he passed by the door; And again The pavement-stones resound As he totters o'er the ground With his cane.
They say that in his prime, Ere the pruning-knife of time Cut him down, Not a better man was found By the crier on his round Through the town.
But now he walks the streets, And he looks at all he meets So forlorn; And he shakes his feeble head, That it seems as if he said, "They are gone."
The mossy marbles rest On the lips that he had pressed In their bloom; And the names he loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb.
My grandmamma has said— Poor old lady! she is dead Long ago— That he had a Roman nose, And his cheek was like a rose In the snow.
But now his nose is thin, And it rests upon his chin Like a staff; And a crook is in his back, And the melancholy crack In his laugh.
I know it is a sin For me to sit and grin At him here, But the old three-cornered hat, And the breeches,—and all that, Are so queer!
And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the spring, Let them smile, as I do now, At the old forsaken bough Where I cling.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
THE LAST LEAF.
YA PEREZHIL SVOI ZHELANYA.
I've overlived aspirings, My fancies I disdain; The fruit of hollow-heartedness, Sufferings alone remain.
'Neath cruel storms of Fate With my crown of bay, A sad and lonely life I lead, Waiting my latest day.
Thus, struck by latter cold While howls the wintry wind, Trembles upon the naked bough The last leaf left behind.
From the Russian of ALEKSANDER SERGYEVICH POUSHKIN. Translation of JOHN POLLEN.
THE OLD VAGABOND.
Here in the ditch my bones I'll lay; Weak, wearied, old, the world I leave. "He's drunk," the passing crowd will say 'T is well, for none will need to grieve. Some turn their scornful heads away, Some fling an alms in hurrying by;— Haste,—'t is the village holyday! The aged beggar needs no help to die.
Yes! here, alone, of sheer old age I die; for hunger slays not all. I hoped my misery's closing page To fold within some hospital; But crowded thick is each retreat, Such numbers now in misery lie. Alas! my cradle was the street! As he was born the aged wretch must die.
In youth, of workmen, o'er and o'er, I've asked, "Instruct me in your trade." "Begone!—our business is not more Than keeps ourselves,—go, beg!" they said. Ye rich, who bade me toil for bread, Of bones your tables gave me store, Your straw has often made my bed;— In death I lay no curses at your door.
Thus poor, I might have turned to theft;— No!—better still for alms to pray! At most, I've plucked some apple, left To ripen near the public way, Yet weeks and weeks, in dungeons laid In the king's name, they let me pine; They stole the only wealth I had,— Though poor and old, the sun, at least, was mine.
What country has the poor to claim? What boots to me your corn and wine, Your busy toil, your vaunted fame, The senate where your speakers shine? Once, when your homes, by war o'erswept, Saw strangers battening on your land, Like any puling fool, I wept! The aged wretch was nourished by their hand.
Mankind! why trod you not the worm, The noxious thing, beneath your heel? Ah! had you taught me to perform Due labor for the common weal! Then, sheltered from the adverse wind, The worm and ant had learned to grow; Ay,—then I might have loved my kind;— The aged beggar dies your bitter foe!
From the French of PIERRE-JEAN DE BERANGER.
Pity the sorrows of a poor old man! Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door, Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span, O, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store.
These tattered clothes my poverty bespeak, These hoary locks proclaim my lengthened years; And many a furrow in my grief-worn cheek Has been the channel to a stream of tears.
Yon house, erected on the rising ground, With tempting aspect drew me from my road, For plenty there a residence has found, And grandeur a magnificent abode.
(Hard is the fate of the infirm and poor!) Here craving for a morsel of their bread, A pampered menial drove me from the door, To seek a shelter in the humble shed.
O, take me to your hospitable dome, Keen blows the wind, and piercing is the cold! Short is my passage to the friendly tomb, For I am poor and miserably old.
Should I reveal the source of every grief, If soft humanity e'er touched your breast, Your hands would not withhold the kind relief, And tears of pity could not be repressed.
Heaven sends misfortunes,—why should we repine? 'T is Heaven has brought me to the state you see: And your condition may be soon like mine, The child of sorrow and of misery.
A little farm was my paternal lot, Then, like the lark, I sprightly hailed the morn; But ah! oppression forced me from my cot; My cattle died, and blighted was my corn.
My daughter,—once the comfort of my age! Lured by a villain from her native home, Is cast, abandoned, on the world's wild stage, And doomed in scanty poverty to roam.
My tender wife,—sweet soother of my care!— Struck with sad anguish at the stern decree, Fell,—lingering fell, a victim to despair, And left the world to wretchedness and me.
Pity the sorrows of a poor old man! Whose trembling limbs have born him to your door, Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span, O, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store.
A ROUGH RHYME ON A ROUGH MATTER.
THE ENGLISH GAME LAWS.
The merry brown hares came leaping Over, the crest of the hill, Where the clover and corn lay sleeping, Under the moonlight still. Leaping late and early, Till under their bite and their tread, The swedes, and the wheat, and the barley Lay cankered, and trampled, and dead.
A poacher's widow sat sighing On the side of the white chalk bank, Where, under the gloom of fire-woods, One spot in the lea throve rank.
She watched a long tuft of clover, Where rabbit or hare never ran, For its black sour haulm covered over The blood of a murdered man.
She thought of the dark plantation, And the hares, and her husband's blood, And the voice of her indignation Rose up to the throne of God:
"I am long past wailing and whining, I have wept too much in my life: I've had twenty years of pining As an English laborer's wife.
"A laborer in Christian England, Where they cant of a Saviour's name, And yet waste men's lives like the vermin's For a few more brace of game.
"There's blood on your new foreign shrubs, squire, There's blood on your pointer's feet; There's blood on the game you sell, squire, And there's blood on the game you eat.
"You have sold the laboring man, squire, Both body and soul to shame, To pay for your seat in the House, squire, And to pay for the feed of your game.
"You made him a poacher yourself, squire, When you'd give neither work nor meat, And your barley-fed hares robbed the garden At our starving children's feet;
"When, packed in one reeking chamber, Man, maid, mother, and little ones lay; While the rain pattered in on the rotten bride-bed, And the walls let in the day;
"When we lay in the burning fever, On the mud of the cold clay floor, Till you parted us all for three months, squire, At the cursed workhouse door.
"We quarrelled like brutes, and who wonders? What self-respect could we keep, Worse housed than your hacks and your pointers, Worse fed than your hogs and your sheep?
"Our daughters, with base-born babies, Have wandered away in their shame; If your misses had slept, squire, where they did, Your misses might do the same.
"Can your lady patch hearts that are breaking, With handfuls of coals and rice, Or by dealing out flannel and sheeting A little below cost price?
"You may tire of the jail and the workhouse, And take to allotments and schools, But you 've run up a debt that will never Be repaid us by penny-club rules.
"In the season of shame and sadness, In the dark and dreary day. When scrofula, gout, and madness Are eating your race away;
"When to kennels and liveried varlets You have cast your daughters' bread, And, worn out with liquor and harlots, Your heir at your feet lies dead;
"When your youngest, the mealy-mouthed rector, Lets your soul rot asleep to the grave, You will find in your God the protector Of the freeman you fancied your slave."
She looked at the tuft of clover, And wept till her heart grew light; And at last, when her passion was over, Went wandering into the night.
But the merry brown hares came leaping Over the uplands still, Where the clover and corn lay sleeping On the side of the white chalk hill.
"THEY ARE DEAR FISH TO ME."
The farmer's wife sat at the door, A pleasant sight to see; And blithesome were the wee, wee bairns That played around her knee.
When, bending 'neath her heavy creel, A poor fish-wife came by, And, turning from the toilsome road, Unto the door drew nigh.
She laid her burden on the green, And spread its scaly store; With trembling hands and pleading words, She told them o'er and o'er.
But lightly laughed the young guidwife, "We're no sae scarce o' cheer; Tak' up your creel, and gang your ways,— I'll buy nae fish sae dear."
Bending beneath her load again, A weary sight to see; Right sorely sighed the poor fish-wife, "They are dear fish to me!
"Our boat was oot ae fearfu' night, And when the storm blew o'er, My husband, and my three brave sons, Lay corpses on the shore.
"I've been a wife for thirty years, A childless widow three; I maun buy them now to sell again,— They are dear fish to me!"
The farmer's wife turned to the door,— What was't upon her cheek? What was there rising in her breast, That then she scarce could speak?
She thought upon her ain guidman, Her lightsome laddies three; The woman's words had pierced her heart,— "They are dear fish to me!"
"Come back," she cried, with quivering voice, And pity's gathering tear; "Come in, come in, my poor woman, Ye 're kindly welcome here.
"I kentna o' your aching heart, Your weary lot to dree; I'll ne'er forget your sad, sad words: 'They are dear fish to me!'"
Ay, let the happy-hearted learn To pause ere they deny The meed of honest toil, and think How much their gold may buy,—
How much of manhood's wasted strength, What woman's misery,— What breaking hearts might swell the cry: "They are dear fish to me!"
GIVE ME THREE GRAINS OF CORN, MOTHER.
THE IRISH FAMINE.
Give me three grains of corn, mother,— Only three grains of corn; It will keep the little life I have Till the coming of the morn. I am dying of hunger and cold, mother,— Dying of hunger and cold; And half the agony of such a death My lips have never told.
It has gnawed like a wolf, at my heart, mother,— A wolf that is fierce for blood; All the livelong day, and the night beside, Gnawing for lack of food. I dreamed of bread in my sleep, mother, And the sight was heaven to see, I awoke with an eager, famishing lip, But you had no bread for me.
How could I look to you, mother,— How could I look to you For bread to give to your starving boy, When you were starving too? For I read the famine in your cheek, And in your eyes so wild, And I felt it in your bony hand, As you laid it on your child.
The Queen has lands and gold, mother, The Queen has lands and gold, While you are forced to your empty breast A skeleton babe to hold,— A babe that is dying of want, mother, As I am dying now, With a ghastly look in its sunken eye, And famine upon its brow.
What has poor Ireland done, mother,— What has poor Ireland done, That the world looks on, and sees us starve, Perishing one by one? Do the men of England care not, mother,— The great men and the high,— For the suffering sons of Erin's isle, Whether they live or die?
There is many a brave heart here, mother, Dying of want and cold, While only across the Channel, mother, Are many that roll in gold; There are rich and proud men there, mother, With wondrous wealth to view, And the bread they fling to their dogs to-night Would give life to me and you.
Come nearer to my side, mother. Come nearer to my side, And hold me fondly, as you held My father when he died; Quick, for I cannot see you, mother, My breath is almost gone; Mother! dear mother! ere I die, Give me three grains of corn.
AMELIA BLANDFORD EDWARDS.
THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.
With fingers weary and worn, With eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, Plying her needle and thread,— Stitch! stitch! stitch! In poverty, hunger, and dirt; And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the "Song of the Shirt!"
"Work! work! work While the cock is crowing aloof! And work—work—work Till the stars shine through the roof! It's, O, to be a slave Along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save, If this is Christian work!
"Work—work—work Till the brain begins to swim! Work—work—work Till the eyes are heavy and dim! Seam, and gusset, and band, Band, and gusset, and seam,— Till over the buttons I fall asleep, And sew them on in a dream!
"O men with sisters dear! O men with mothers and wives! It is no linen you're wearing out, But human creatures' lives! Stitch! stitch! stitch, In poverty, hunger, and dirt,— Sewing at once, with a double thread, A shroud as well as a shirt!
"But why do I talk of death,— That phantom of grisly bone? I hardly fear his terrible shape, It seems so like my own,— It seems so like my own Because of the fasts I keep; O God! that bread should be so dear, And flesh and blood so cheap!
"Work—work—work My labor never flags; And what are its wages? A bed of straw, A crust of bread—and rags, That shattered roof—and this naked floor— A table—a broken chair— And a wall so blank my shadow I thank For sometimes falling there!
"Work—work—work From weary chime to chime! Work—work—work As prisoners work for crime! Band, and gusset, and seam, Seam, and gusset, and band, Till the heart is sick and the brain benumbed, As well as the weary hand.
"Work—work—work In the dull December light! And work—work—work— When the weather is warm and bright! While underneath the eaves The brooding swallows cling, As if to show me their sunny backs, And twit me with the Spring.
"O, but to breathe the breath Of the cowslip and primrose sweet,— With the sky above my head, And the grass beneath my feet! For only one short hour To feel as I used to feel, Before I knew the woes of want And the walk that costs a meal!
"O but for one short hour,— A respite, however brief! No blessed leisure for love or hope, But only time for grief! A little weeping would ease my heart; But in their briny bed My tears must stop, for every drop Hinders needle and thread!"
With fingers weary and worn, With eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, Plying her needle and thread,— Stitch! stitch! stitch, In poverty, hunger, and dirt; And still with a voice of dolorous pitch— Would that its tone could reach the rich!— She sang this "Song of the Shirt!"
THE PAUPER'S DRIVE.
There's a grim one-horse hearse in a jolly round trot— To the churchyard a pauper is going, I wot; The road it is rough, and the hearse has no springs; And hark to the dirge which the mad driver sings; Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
O, where are the mourners? Alas! there are none, He has left not a gap in the world, now he's gone,— Not a tear in the eye of child, woman, or man; To the grave with his carcass as fast as you can: Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
What a jolting and creaking and splashing and din! The whip, how it cracks! and the wheels, how they spin! How the dirt, right and left, o'er the hedges is hurled! The pauper at length makes a noise in the world! Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
Poor pauper defunct! he has made some approach To gentility, now that he's stretched in a coach! He's taking a drive in his carriage at last! But it will not be long, if he goes on so fast: Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
You bumpkins! who stare at your brother conveyed, Behold what respect to a cloddy is paid! And be joyful to think, when by death you 're laid low, You've a chance to the grave like a gemman to go! Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
But a truce to this strain; for my soul it is sad, To think that a heart in humanity clad Should make, like the brute, such a desolate end, And depart from the light without leaving a friend! Bear soft his bones over the stones! Though a pauper, he's one whom his Maker yet owns!
The shadows lay along Broadway, 'T was near the twilight-tide, And slowly there a lady fair Was walking in her pride. Alone walked she; but, viewlessly, Walked spirits at her side.
Peace charmed the street beneath her feet, And Honor charmed the air; And all astir looked kind on her, And called her good as fair,— For all God ever gave to her She kept with chary care.
She kept with care her beauties rare From lovers warm and true, For her heart was cold to all but gold, And the rich came not to woo,— But honored well are charms to sell If priests the selling do.
Now walking there was one more fair,— A slight girl, lily-pale; And she had unseen company To make the spirit quail,— 'Twixt Want and Scorn she walked forlorn, And nothing could avail.
No mercy now can clear her brow For this world's peace to pray; For, as love's wild prayer dissolved in air, Her woman's heart gave way!— But the sin forgiven by Christ in heaven By man is cursed alway!
NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS.
O the snow, the beautiful snow, Filling the sky and the earth below! Over the house-tops, over the street, Over the heads of the people you meet, Dancing, Flirting, Skimming along. Beautiful snow! it can do nothing wrong. Flying to kiss a fair lady's cheek; Clinging to lips in a frolicsome freak; Beautiful snow, from the heavens above, Pure as an angel and fickle as love!
O the snow, the beautiful snow! How the flakes gather and laugh as they go! Whirling about in its maddening fun, It plays in its glee with every one. Chasing, Laughing, Hurrying by, It lights up the face and it sparkles the eye; And even the dogs, with a bark and a bound, Snap at the crystals that eddy around. The town is alive, and its heart in a glow, To welcome the coming of beautiful snow. How the wild crowd go swaying along, Hailing each other with humor and song! How the gay sledges like meteors flash by,— Bright for the moment, then lost to the eye! Ringing, Swinging, Dashing they go Over the crest of the beautiful snow: Snow so pure when it falls from the sky, To be trampled in mud by the crowd rushing by; To be trampled and tracked by the thousands of feet Till it blends with the horrible filth in the street.
Once I was pure as the snows,—but I fell: Fell, like the snow-flakes, from heaven—to hell: Fell, to be tramped as the filth of the street: Fell, to be scoffed, to be spit on, and beat. Pleading, Cursing, Dreading to die, Selling my soul to whoever would buy, Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread, Hating the living and fearing the dead. Merciful God! have I fallen so low? And yet I was once like this beautiful snow!
Once I was fair as the beautiful snow, With an eye like its crystals, a heart like its glow; Once I was loved for my innocent grace,— Flattered and sought for the charm of my face. Father, Mother, Sisters all, God, and myself, I have lost by my fall. The veriest wretch that goes shivering by Will take a wide sweep, lest I wander too nigh; For all that is on or about me, I know There is nothing that's pure but the beautiful snow.
How strange it should be that this beautiful snow Should fall on a sinner with nowhere to go! How strange it would be, when the night comes again, If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain! Fainting, Freezing, Dying alone, Too wicked for prayer, too weak for my moan To be heard in the crash of the crazy town, Gone mad in its joy at the snow's coming down; To lie and to die in my terrible woe, With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow!
JAMES W. WATSON.
I stood, one Sunday morning, Before a large church door, The congregation gathered, And carriages a score,— From one out stepped a lady I oft had seen before.
Her hand was on a prayer-book, And held a vinaigrette; The sign of man's redemption Clear on the book was set,— But above the cross there glistened A golden Coronet.
For her the obsequious beadle The inner door flung wide; Lightly, as up a ball-room, Her footsteps seemed to glide,— There might be good thoughts in her, For all her evil pride.
But after her a woman Peeped wistfully within, On whose wan face was graven Life's hardest discipline,— The trace of the sad trinity Of weakness, pain, and sin.
The few free-seats were crowded Where she could rest and pray; With her worn garb contrasted Each side in fair array,— "God's house holds no poor sinners," She sighed, and crept away.
RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES (LORD HOUGHTON.)
THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS.
One more unfortunate, Weary of breath, Rashly importunate, Gone to her death!
Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care! Fashioned so slenderly, Young, and so fair!
Look at her garments Clinging like cerements, Whilst the wave constantly Drips from her clothing; Take her up instantly, Loving, not loathing!
Touch her not scornfully! Think of her mournfully, Gently and humanly,— Not of the stains of her; All that remains of her Now is pure womanly.
Make no deep scrutiny Into her mutiny, Rash and undutiful; Past all dishonor, Death has left on her Only the beautiful.
Still, for all slips of hers,— One of Eve's family,— Wipe those poor lips of hers, Oozing so clammily. Loop up her tresses Escaped from the comb,— Her fair auburn tresses,— Whilst wonderment guesses Where was her home?
Who was her father? Who was her mother? Had she a sister? Had she a brother? Or was there a dearer one Still, and a nearer one Yet, than all other?
Alas! for the rarity Of Christian charity Under the sun! O, it was pitiful! Near a whole city full, Home she had none.
Sisterly, brotherly, Fatherly, motherly Feelings had changed,— Love, by harsh evidence, Thrown from its eminence; Even God's providence Seeming estranged.
Where the lamps quiver So far in the river, With many a light From window and casement, From garret to basement, She stood, with amazement, Houseless by night.
The bleak wind of March Made her tremble and shiver; But not the dark arch, Or the black floating river; Mad from life's history, Glad to death's mystery, Swift to be hurled— Anywhere, anywhere Out of the world!
In she plunged boldly,— No matter how coldly The rough river ran— Over the brink of it! Picture it—think of it, Dissolute man! Lave in it, drink of it, Then, if you can!
Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care! Fashioned so slenderly, Young, and so fair!
Ere her limbs, frigidly, Stiffen too rigidly, Decently, kindly! Smooth and compose them; And her eyes, close them, Staring so blindly! Dreadfully staring Through muddy impurity, As when with the daring Last look of despairing Fixed on futurity.
Perishing gloomily, Spurred by contumely, Cold inhumanity, Burning insanity, Into her rest! Cross her hands humbly, As if praying dumbly, Over her breast!
Owning her weakness, Her evil behavior, And leaving, with meekness, Her sins to her Saviour!
GUILTY, OR NOT GUILTY?
She stood at the bar of justice, A creature wan and wild, In form too small for a woman, In feature too old for a child. For a look so worn and pathetic Was stamped on her pale young face, It seemed long years of suffering Must have left that silent trace.
"Your name," said the judge, as he eyed her With kindly look, yet keen, "Is—?" "Mary McGuire, if you please, sir." "And your age?" "I am turned fifteen." "Well, Mary—" And then from a paper He slowly and gravely read, "You are charged here—I am sorry to say it— With stealing three loaves of bread.
"You look not like an offender, And I hope that you can show The charge to be false. Now, tell me, Are you guilty of this, or no?" A passionate burst of weeping Was at first her sole reply; But she dried her tears in a moment, And looked in the judge's eye.
"I will tell you just how it was, sir; My father and mother are dead, And my little brothers and sisters Were hungry, and asked me for bread. At first I earned it for them By working hard all day, But somehow the times were hard, sir, And the work all fell away.
"I could get no more employment; The weather was bitter cold; The young ones cried and shivered (Little Johnnie's but four years old). So what was I to do, sir? I am guilty, but do not condemn; I took—oh, was it stealing?— The bread to give to them."
Every man in the court-room— Graybeard and thoughtless youth— Knew, as he looked upon her, That the prisoner spake the truth. Out from their pockets came kerchiefs, Out from their eyes sprang tears, And out from the old faded wallets Treasures hoarded for years.
The judge's face was a study, The strangest you ever saw, As he cleared his throat and murmured Something about the law. For one so learned in such matters, So wise in dealing with men, He seemed on a simple question Sorely puzzled just then.
But no one blamed him, or wondered, When at last these words they heard, "The sentence of this young prisoner Is for the present deferred." And no one blamed him, or wondered, When he went to her and smiled, And tenderly led from the court-room, Himself, the "guilty" child.
THE FEMALE CONVICT.
She shrank from all, and her silent mood Made her wish only for solitude: Her eye sought the ground, as it could not brook, For innermost shame, on another's to look; And the cheerings of comfort fell on her ear Like deadliest words, that were curses to hear!— She still was young, and she had been fair; But weather-stains, hunger, toil, and care, That frost and fever that wear the heart, Had made the colors of youth depart From the sallow cheek, save over it came The burning flush of the spirit's shame.
They were sailing over the salt sea-foam, Far from her country, far from her home; And all she had left for her friends to keep Was a name to hide and a memory to weep! And her future held forth but the felon's lot,— To live forsaken, to die forgot! She could not weep, and she could not pray, But she wasted and withered from day to day, Till you might have counted each sunken vein, When her wrist was prest by the iron chain; And sometimes I thought her large dark eye Had the glisten of red insanity.
She called me once to her sleeping-place, A strange, wild look was upon her face, Her eye flashed over her cheek so white, Like a gravestone seen in the pale moonlight, And she spoke in a low, unearthly tone,— The sound from mine ear hath never gone!— "I had last night the loveliest dream: My own land shone in the summer beam, I saw the fields of the golden grain, I heard the reaper's harvest strain; There stood on the hills the green pine-tree, And the thrush and the lark sang merrily. A long and a weary way I had come; But I stopped, methought, by mine own sweet home. I stood by the hearth, and my father sat there, With pale, thin face, and snow-white hair! The Bible lay open upon his knee, But he closed the book to welcome me. He led me next where my mother lay, And together we knelt by her grave to pray, And heard a hymn it was heaven to hear, For it echoed one to my young days dear. This dream has waked feelings long, long since fled, And hopes which I deemed in my heart were dead! —We have not spoken, but still I have hung On the Northern accents that dwell on thy tongue. To me they are music, to me they recall The things long hidden by Memory's pall! Take this long curl of yellow hair, And give it my father, and tell him my prayer, My dying prayer, was for him." ...
Next day Upon the deck a coffin lay; They raised it up, and like a dirge The heavy gale swept over the surge; The corpse was cast to the wind and wave,— The convict has found in the green sea a grave.
LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON.
I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless,— That only men incredulous of despair, Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air Beat upwards to God's throne in loud access Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness, In souls as countries lieth silent-bare Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare Of the absolute heavens. Deep-hearted man, express Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death; Most like a monumental statue set In everlasting watch and moveless woe, Till itself crumble to the dust beneath. Touch it: the marble eyelids are not wet— If it could weep, it could arise and go.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
* * * * *
IV. COMFORT AND CHEER.
Let nothing make thee sad or fretful, Or too regretful; Be still; What God hath ordered must be right; Then find in it thine own delight, My will.
Why shouldst thou fill to-day with sorrow About to-morrow. My heart? One watches all with care most true; Doubt not that he will give thee too Thy part.
Only be steadfast; never waver, Nor seek earth's favor, But rest: Thou knowest what God wills must be For all his creatures, so for thee, The best.
From the German of PAUL FLEMING. Translation of CATHERINE WINKWORTH.
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring; To which, besides their own demean, The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring. Grief melts away Like snow in May, As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shrivelled heart Could have recovered greenness? It was gone Quite underground; as flowers depart To see their mother root, when they have blown; Where they together All the hard weather, Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power, Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell And up to heaven in an houre; Making a chiming of a passing-bell. We say amisse This or that is: Thy word is all, if we could spell.
O that I once past changing were, Fast in thy paradise, where no flower can wither! Many a spring I shoot up fair, Off'ring at heav'n, growing and groning thither; Nor doth my flower Want a spring-showre, My sinnes and I joining together.
But, while I grow in a straight line, Still upwards bent, as if heav'n were mine own, Thy anger comes, and I decline: What frost to that? what pole is not the zone Where all things burn, When thou dost turn, And the least frown of thine is shown?
And now in age I bud again; After so many deaths I live and write; I once more smell the dew and rain, And relish versing: O my only light, It cannot be That I am he On whom thy tempests fell all night!
These are thy wonders, Lord of love, To make us see we are but flowers that glide; Which when we once can finde and prove, Thou hast a garden for us where to bide. Who would be more, Swelling through store, Forfeit their paradise by their pride.
TO CYRIACK SKINNER.
Cyriack, this three years' day, these eyes, though clear, To outward view, of blemish or of spot, Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot: Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear Of sun, or moon, or stars, throughout the year, Or man or woman, yet I argue not Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask? The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied In Liberty's defence, my noble task, Of which all Europe rings from side to side. This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask, Content, though blind, had I no better guide.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud; Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.
WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.
AFAR IN THE DESERT.
Afar in the desert I love to ride, With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side: When the sorrows of life the soul o'ercast, And, sick of the present, I cling to the past; When the eye is suffused with regretful tears, From the fond recollections of former years; And shadows of things that have long since fled Flit over the brain, like the ghosts of the dead,— Bright visions of glory that vanished too soon; Day-dreams, that departed ere manhood's noon; Attachments by fate or falsehood reft; Companions of early days lost or left; And my native land, whose magical name Thrills to the heart like electric flame; The home of my childhood; the haunts of my prime; All the passions and scenes of that rapturous time When the feelings were young, and the world was new, Like the fresh bowers of Eden unfolding to view; All, all now forsaken, forgotten, foregone! And I, a lone exile remembered of none, My high aims abandoned, my good acts undone, Aweary of all that is under the sun, With that sadness of heart which no stranger may scan, I fly to the desert afar from man.
Afar in the desert I love to ride, With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side! When the wild turmoil of this wearisome life, With its scenes of oppression, corruption, and strife, The proud man's frown, and the base man's fear, The scorner's laugh, and the sufferer's tear, And malice, and meanness, and falsehood, and folly, Dispose me to musing and dark melancholy; When my bosom is full, and my thoughts are high, And my soul is sick with the bondman's sigh,— O, then there is freedom, and joy, and pride, Afar in the desert alone to ride! There is rapture to vault on the champing steed, And to bound away with the eagle's speed, With the death-fraught firelock in my hand,— The only law of the Desert Land!
Afar in the desert I love to ride, With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side, Away, away from the dwellings of men, By the wild deer's haunt, by the buffalo's glen; By valleys remote where the oribi plays, Where the gnu, the gazelle, and the hartebeest graze, And the kudu and eland unhunted recline By the skirts of gray forest o'erhung with wild vine; Where the elephant browses at peace in his wood, And the river-horse gambols unscared in the flood, And the mighty rhinoceros wallows at will In the fen where the wild ass is drinking his fill.
Afar in the desert I love to ride, With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side, O'er the brown karroo, where the bleating cry Of the springbok's fawn sounds plaintively; And the timorous quagga's shrill whistling neigh Is heard by the fountain at twilight gray; Where the zebra wantonly tosses his mane. With wild hoof scouring the desolate plain; And the fleet-footed ostrich over the waste Speeds like a horseman who travels in haste, Hieing away to the home of her rest, Where she and her mate have scooped their nest, Far hid from the pitiless plunderer's view In the pathless depths of the parched karroo.
Afar in the desert I love to ride. With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side, Away, away, in the wilderness vast Where the white man's foot hath never passed, And the quivered Coranna or Bechuan Hath rarely crossed with his roving clan,— A region of emptiness, howling and drear, Which man hath abandoned from famine and fear; Which the snake and the lizard inhabit alone, With the twilight bat from the yawning stone; Where grass, nor herb, nor shrub takes root, Save poisonous thorns that pierce the foot; And the bitter-melon, for food and drink, Is the pilgrim's fare by the salt lake's brink; A region of drought, where no river glides, Nor rippling brook with osiered sides; Where sedgy pool, nor bubbling fount, Nor tree, nor cloud, nor misty mount, Appears, to refresh the aching eye; But the barren earth and the burning sky, And the blank horizon, round and round, Spread,—void of living sight or sound. And here, while the night-winds round me sigh, And the stars burn bright in the midnight sky, As I sit apart by the desert stone, Like Elijah at Horeb's cave, alone, "A still small voice" comes through the wild (Like a father consoling his fretful child), Which banishes bitterness, wrath, and fear, Saying,—Man is distant, but God is near!
SAD IS OUR YOUTH, FOR IT IS EVER GOING.
Sad is our youth, for it is ever going, Crumbling away beneath our very feet; Sad is our life, for onward it is flowing In current unperceived, because so fleet; Sad are our hopes, for they were sweet in sowing,— But tares, self-sown, have overtopped the wheat; Sad are our joys, for they were sweet in blowing, And still, O, still their dying breath is sweet; And sweet is youth, although it hath bereft us Of that which made our childhood sweeter still; And sweet is middle life, for it hath left us A nearer good to cure an older ill; And sweet are all things, when we learn to prize them, Not for their sake, but His who grants them or denies them!
AUBREY THOMAS DE VERE.
MY WIFE AND CHILD.
The tattoo beats,—the lights are gone, The camp around in slumber lies, The night with solemn pace moves on, The shadows thicken o'er the skies; But sleep my weary eyes hath flown, And sad, uneasy thoughts arise.
I think of thee, O darling one, Whose love my early life hath blest— Of thee and him—our baby son— Who slumbers on thy gentle breast. God of the tender, frail, and lone, O, guard the tender sleeper's rest!
And hover gently, hover near To her whose watchful eye is wet,—
To mother, wife,—the doubly dear, In whose young heart have freshly met Two streams of love so deep and clear, And cheer her drooping spirits yet.
Now, while she kneels before thy throne, O, teach her, Ruler of the skies, That, while by thy behest alone Earth's mightiest powers fall and rise, No tear is wept to thee unknown, No hair is lost, no sparrow dies!
That thou canst stay the ruthless hands Of dark disease, and soothe its pain; That only by thy stern commands The battle's lost, the soldier's slain; That from the distant sea or land Thou bring'st the wanderer home again.
And when upon her pillow lone Her tear-wet cheek is sadly pressed, May happier visions beam upon The brightened current of her breast, No frowning look or angry tone Disturb the Sabbath of her rest!
Whatever fate these forms may show, Loved with a passion almost wild, By day, by night, in joy or woe, By fears oppressed, or hopes beguiled, From every danger, every foe, O God, protect my wife and child!
HENRY R. JACKSON.
 Written in the year 1846, in Mexico, the writer being at that time Colonel of the 1st regiment of Georgia Volunteers.
THE RAINY DAY.
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; The vine still clings to the moldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
TIMES GO BY TURNS.
The lopped tree in time may grow again; Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower; The sorest wight may find release of pain, The driest soil suck in some moist'ning shower; Times go by turns and chances change by course, From foul to fair, from better hap to worse. The sea of Fortune doth not ever flow, She draws her favors to the lowest ebb; Her time hath equal times to come and go, Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web; No joy so great but runneth to an end, No hap so hard but may in fine amend.
Not always fall of leaf nor ever spring, No endless night yet not eternal day; The saddest birds a season find to sing, The roughest storm a calm may soon allay; Thus with succeeding turns God tempereth all, That man may hope to rise yet fear to fall.
A chance may win that by mischance was lost; The well that holds no great, takes little fish; In some things all, in all things none are crossed, Few all they need, but none have all they wish; Unmeddled joys here to no man befall, Who least hath some, who most hath never all.
Tears wash away the atoms in the eye That smarted for a day; Rain-clouds that spoiled the splendors of the sky The fields with flowers array.
No chamber of pain but has some hidden door That promises release; No solitude so drear but yields its store Of thought and inward peace.
No night so wild but brings the constant sun With love and power untold; No time so dark but through its woof there run Some blessed threads of gold.
And through the long and storm-tost centuries burn In changing calm and strife The Pharos-lights of truth, where'er we turn,— The unquenched lamps of life.
O Love supreme! O Providence divine! What self-adjusting springs Of law and life, what even scales, are thine, What sure-returning wings
Of hopes and joys, that flit like birds away, When chilling autumn blows, But come again, long ere the buds of May Their rosy lips unclose!
What wondrous play of mood and accident Through shifting days and years; What fresh returns of vigor overspent In feverish dreams and fears!
What wholesome air of conscience and of thought When doubts and forms oppress; What vistas opening to the gates we sought Beyond the wilderness;
Beyond the narrow cells, where self-involved, Like chrysalids, we wait The unknown births, the mysteries unsolved Of death and change and fate!
O Light divine! we need no fuller test That all is ordered well; We know enough to trust that all is best Where love and wisdom dwell.
CHRISTOPHER PEARSE CRANCH.
THE CHANGED CROSS.
It was a time of sadness, and my heart, Although it knew and loved the better part, Felt wearied with the conflict and the strife, And all the needful discipline of life.
And while I thought on these, as given to me, My trial-tests of faith and love to be, It seemed as if I never could be sure That faithful to the end I should endure.
And thus, no longer trusting to his might Who says, "We walk by faith and not by sight," Doubting, and almost yielding to despair, The thought arose, "My cross I cannot bear.
"Far heavier its weight must surely be Than those of others which I daily see; Oh! if I might another burden choose, Methinks I should not fear my crown to lose."
A solemn silence reigned on all around, E'en Nature's voices uttered not a sound; The evening shadows seemed of peace to tell, And sleep upon my weary spirit fell.
A moment's pause,—and then a heavenly light Beamed full upon my wondering, raptured sight; Angels on silvery wings seemed everywhere, And angels' music thrilled the balmy air.
Then One, more fair than all the rest to see, One to whom all the others bowed the knee, Came gently to me, as I trembling lay, And, "Follow me," he said; "I am the Way."
Then, speaking thus, he led me far above, And there, beneath a canopy of love, Grosses of divers shape and size were seen, Larger and smaller than my own had been.
And one there was, most beauteous to behold,— A little one, with jewels set in gold. "Ah! this," methought, "I can with comfort wear, For it will be an easy one to bear."
And so the little cross I quickly took, But all at once my frame beneath it shook; The sparkling jewels, fair were they to see, But far too heavy was their weight for me.
"This may not be," I cried, and looked again, To see if there was any here could ease my pain; But, one by one, I passed them slowly by, Till on a lovely one I cast my eye.
Fair flowers around its sculptured form entwined, And grace and beauty seemed in it combined. Wondering, I gazed,—and still I wondered more, To think so many should have passed it o'er.
But oh! that form so beautiful to see Soon made its hidden sorrows known to me; Thorns lay beneath those flowers and colors fair; Sorrowing, I said, "This cross I may not bear."
And so it was with each and all around,— Not one to suit my need could there be found; Weeping, I laid each heavy burden down, As my Guide gently said, "No cross,—no crown."
At length to him I raised my saddened heart; He knew its sorrows, bade its doubts depart; "Be not afraid," he said, "but trust in me; My perfect love shall now be shown to thee."
And then, with lightened eyes and willing feet, Again I turned my earthly cross to meet; With forward footsteps, turning not aside, For fear some hidden evil might betide;
And there—in the prepared, appointed way, Listening to hear, and ready to obey— A cross I quickly found of plainest form, With only words of love inscribed thereon.
With thankfulness I raised it from the rest, And joyfully acknowledged it the best, The only one, of all the many there. That I could feel was good for me to bear.
And, while I thus my chosen one confessed, I saw a heavenly brightness on it rest; And as I bent, my burden to sustain, I recognized my own old cross again.
But oh! how different did it seem to be, Now I had learned its preciousness to see! No longer could I unbelieving say "Perhaps another is a better way."
Ah, no! henceforth my one desire shall be, That he who knows me best should choose for me; And so, whate'er his love sees good to send, I'll trust it's best,—because he knows the end.
HON. MRS. CHARLES HOBART.
Something beyond! though now, with joy unfound, The life-task falleth from thy weary hand, Be brave, be patient! In the fair beyond Thou'lt understand.
Thou'lt understand why our most royal hours Couch sorrowful slaves bound by low nature's greed; Why the celestial soul's a minion made To narrowest need.
In this pent sphere of being incomplete, The imperfect fragment of a beauteous whole, For yon rare regions, where the perfect meet, Sighs the lone soul.
Sighs for the perfect! Far and fair it lies; It hath no half-fed friendships perishing fleet, No partial insights, no averted eyes, No loves unmeet.
Something beyond! Light for our clouded eyes! In this dark dwelling, in its shrouded beams, Our best waits masked, few pierce the soul's disguise; How sad it seems!
Something beyond! Ah, if it were not so, Darker would be thy face, O brief To-day; Earthward we 'd bow beneath life's smiting woe, Powerless to pray.
Something beyond! The immortal morning stands Above the night; clear shines her precious brow; The pendulous star in her transfigured hands Brightens the Now.
MARY CLEMMER AMES HUDSON.
Say not, the struggle nought availeth, The labor and the wounds are vain, The enemy faints not, nor faileth, And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars; It may be, in you smoke concealed, Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers, And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, Seem here no painful inch to gain, Far back, through creeks and inlets making, Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only. When daylight comes, comes in the light; In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly, But westward, look, the land is bright.
ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH.
GOD'S SURE HELP IN SORROW.
Leave all to God, Forsaken one, and stay thy tears; For the Highest knows thy pain, Sees thy sufferings and thy fears; Thou shalt not wait his help in vain; Leave all to God!
Be still and trust! For his strokes are strokes of love, Thou must for thy profit bear; He thy filial fear would move, Trust thy Father's loving care, Be still and trust!
Know, God is near! Though thou think him far away, Though his mercy long have slept, He will come and not delay, When his child enough hath wept, For God is near!
Oh, teach him not When and how to hear thy prayers; Never doth our God forget; He the cross who longest bears Finds his sorrows' bounds are set; Then teach him not!
If thou love him, Walking truly in his ways, Then no trouble, cross, or death E'er shall silence faith and praise; All things serve thee here beneath, If thou love God.
From the German of ANTON ULEICH, DUKE OF BRUNSWICK, 1667. Translation of CATHERINE WINKWORTH, 1855.
While yet these tears have power to flow For hours for ever past away; While yet these swelling sighs allow My faltering voice to breathe a lay; While yet my hand can touch the chords, My tender lute, to wake thy tone; While yet my mind no thought affords, But one remembered dream alone, I ask not death, whate'er my state: But when my eyes can weep no more, My voice is lost, my hand untrue. And when my spirit's fire is o'er, Nor can express the love it knew, Come, Death, and cast thy shadows o'er my fate!
From the French of LOUISE LABE. Translation of LOUISE STUART COSTELLO.
Serene, I fold my hands and wait, Nor care for wind, or tide, or sea; I rave no more 'gainst time or fate, For, lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays, For what avails this eager pace? I stand amid the eternal ways, And what is mine shall know my face.
Asleep, awake, by night or day. The friends I seek are seeking me; No wind can drive my bark astray, Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone? I wait with joy the coming years; My heart shall reap where it has sown, And garner up its fruit of tears.
The waters know their own and draw The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky; The tidal wave unto the sea; Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high, Can keep my own away from me.
AUNT PHILLIS'S GUEST.
ST. HELENA ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, IN 1863.
I was young and "Harry" was strong, The summer was bursting from sky and plain, Thrilling our blood as we bounded along,— When a picture flashed, and I dropped the rein.
A black sea-creek, with snaky run Slipping through low green leagues of sedge, An ebbing tide, and a setting sun; A hut and a woman by the edge.
Her back was bent and her wool was gray; The wrinkles lay close on the withered face; Children were buried and sold away,— The Freedom had come to the last of a race!
She lived from a neighbor's hominy-pot; And praised the Lord, if "the pain" passed by; From the earthen floor the smoke curled out Through shingles patched with the bright blue sky.
"Aunt Phillis, you live here all alone?" I asked, and pitied the gray old head; Sure as a child, in quiet tone, "Me and Jesus, Massa," she said.
I started, for all the place was aglow With a presence I had not seen before; The air was full of a music low, And the Guest Divine stood at the door!
Ay, it was true that the Lord of Life, Who seeth the widow give her mite, Had watched this slave in her weary strife, And shown himself to her longing sight.
The hut and the dirt, the rags and the skin, The grovelling want and the darkened mind,— I looked on this; but the Lord, within: I would what he saw was in me to find!
A childlike soul, whose faith had force To see what the angels see in bliss: She lived, and the Lord lived; so, of course, They lived together,—she knew but this.
And the life that I had almost despised As something to pity, so poor and low, Had already borne fruit that the Lord so prized He loved to come near and see it grow.
No sorrow for her that life was done: A few more days of the hut's unrest, A little while longer to sit in the sun,— Then—He would be host, and she would be guest!
And up above, if an angel of light Should stop on his errand of love some day To ask, "Who lives in the mansion bright?" "Me and Jesus," Aunt Phillis will say.
* * * * *
A fancy, foolish and fond, does it seem? And things are not as Aunt Phillises dream?
Friend, surely so! For this I know,— That our faiths are foolish by falling below, Not coming above, what God will show; That his commonest thing hides a wonder vast, To whose beauty our eyes have never passed; That his face in the present, or in the to-be, Outshines the best that we think we see.
WILLIAM CHANNING GANNETT.
ILKA BLADE O' GRASS KEPS ITS AIN DRAP O' DEW.
Confide ye aye in Providence, for Providence is kind, And bear ye a' life's changes, wi' a calm and tranquil mind, Though pressed and hemmed on every side, ha'e faith and ye 'll win through, For ilka blade o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew.
Gin reft frae friends or crest in love, as whiles nae doubt ye've been, Grief lies deep hidden in your heart or tears flow frae your een, Believe it for the best, and trow there's good in store for you, For ilka blade o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew.
In lang, lang days o' simmer, when the clear and cloudless sky Refuses ae wee drap o' rain to nature parched and dry, The genial night, wi' balmy breath, gars verdure spring anew, And ilka blade o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew.
Sae, lest 'mid fortune's sunshine we should feel owre proud and hie, And in our pride forget to wipe the tear frae poortith's ee, Some wee dark clouds o' sorrow come, we ken na whence or hoo, But ilka blade o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew.
In early days methought that all must last; Then I beheld all changing, dying, fleeting; But though my soul now grieves for much that's past, And changeful fortunes set my heart oft beating, I yet believe in mind that all will last, Because the old in new I still am meeting.
From the German of FRIEDRICH MARTIN VON BODENSTEDT.
I HOLD STILL.
Pain's furnace heat within me quivers, God's breath upon the flame doth blow, And all my heart in anguish shivers, And trembles at the fiery glow: And yet I whisper, As God will! And in his hottest fire hold still.
He comes and lays my heart, all heated, On the hard anvil, minded so Into his own fair shape to beat it With his great hammer, blow on blow: And yet I whisper, As God will! And at his heaviest blows hold still.
He takes my softened heart and beats it,— The sparks fly off at every blow; He turns it o'er and o'er, and heats it, And lets it cool, and makes it glow: And yet I whisper, As God will! And, in his mighty hand, hold still.
Why should I murmur? for the sorrow Thus only longer-lived would be; Its end may come, and will, to-morrow, When God has done his work in me; So I say, trusting, As God will! And, trusting to the end, hold still.
He kindles for my profit purely Affliction's glowing fiery brand, And all his heaviest blows are surely Inflicted by a Master-hand: So I say, praying, As God will! And hope in him, and suffer still.
From the German of JULIUS STURM.
THE GOOD GREAT MAN.
How seldom, Friend! a good great man inherits Honor or wealth with all his worth and pains! It sounds like stories from the land of spirits. If any man obtain that which he merits, Or any merit that which he obtains.
* * * * *
For shame, dear Friend; renounce this canting strain! What wouldst thou have a good great man obtain? Place—titles—salary—a gilded chain— Or throne of corses which his sword has slain? Greatness and goodness are not means, but ends!
Hath he not always treasures, always friends, The good great man? three treasures,—love, and light, And calm thoughts, regular as infant's breath; And three firm friends, more sure than day and night— Himself, his Maker, and the angel Death.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
WHEN MY SHIP COMES IN.
Somewhere, out on the blue seas sailing, Where the winds dance and spin; Beyond the reach of my eager hailing, Over the breakers' din; Out where the dark storm-clouds are lifting, Out where the blinding fog is drifting, Out where the treacherous sand is shifting, My ship is coming in.
Oh, I have watched till my eyes were aching, Day after weary day; Oh, I have hoped till my heart was breaking, While the long nights ebbed away; Could I but know where the waves had tossed her, Could I but know what storms had crossed her, Could I but know where the winds had lost her, Out in the twilight gray!
But though the storms her course have altered, Surely the port she'll win; Never my faith in my ship has faltered, I know she is coming in. For through the restless ways of her roaming, Through the mad rush of the wild waves foaming, Through the white crest of the billows combing, My ship is coming in.
Breasting the tides where the gulls are flying, Swiftly she's coming in; Shallows and deeps and rocks defying, Bravely she's coming in; Precious the love she will bring to bless me, Snowy the arms she will bring to caress me, In the proud purple of kings she will dress me. My ship that is coming in.
White in the sunshine her sails will be gleaming, See, where my ship comes in; At mast-head and peak her colors streaming, Proudly she's sailing in; Love, hope, and joy on her decks are cheering. Music will welcome her glad appearing. And my heart will sing at her stately nearing, When my ship comes in.
ROBERT JONES BURDETTE.
Never despair! Let the feeble in spirit Bow like the willow that stoops to the blast. Droop not in peril! 'T is manhood's true merit Nobly to struggle and hope to the last.
When by the sunshine of fortune forsaken Faint sinks the heart of the feeble with fear, Stand like the oak of the forest—unshaken, Never despair—Boys—oh! never despair.
Never despair! Though adversity rages,
Fiercely and fell as the surge on the shore, Firm as the rock of the ocean for ages, Stem the rude torrent till danger is o'er. Fate with its whirlwind our joys may all sever, True to ourselves, we have nothing to fear. Be this our hope and our anchor for ever— Never despair—Boys—oh! never despair.
WILLIAM SMITH O'BRIEN.
 These lines were sent to me by William Smith O'Brien, the evening of Monday, October 8, 1848, the day on which sentence of death was passed upon him.
THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER. October 12, 1848.
THE SADDEST FATE.
To touch a broken lute, To strike a jangled string, To strive with tones forever mute The dear old tunes to sing— What sadder fate could any heart befall? Alas! dear child, never to sing at all.
To sigh for pleasures flown. To weep for withered flowers, To count the blessings we have known, Lost with the vanished hours— What sadder fate could any heart befall? Alas! dear child, ne'er to have known them all.
To dream of love and rest, To know the dream has past, To bear within an aching breast Only a void at last— What sadder fate could any heart befall? Alas! dear child, ne'er to have loved at all.
To trust an unknown good, To hope, but all in vain, Over a far-off bliss to brood, Only to find it pain— What sadder fate could any soul befall? Alas! dear child, never to hope at all.
THE SONG OF THE SAVOYARDS.
Far poured past Broadway's lamps alight, The tumult of her motley throng. When high and clear upon the night Rose an inspiring song. And rang above the city's din To sound of harp and violin; A simple but a manly strain, And ending with the brave refrain— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
And now where rose that song of cheer. Both old and young stood still for joy; Or from the windows hung to hear The children of Savoy: And many an eye with rapture glowed, And saddest hearts forgot their load, And feeble souls grew strong again, So stirring was the brave refrain— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
Alone, with only silence there, Awaiting his life's welcome close, A sick man lay, when on the air That clarion arose; So sweet the thrilling cadence rang, It seemed to him an angel sang, And sang to him; and he would fain Have died upon that heavenly strain— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
A sorrow-stricken man and wife, With nothing left them but to pray, Heard streaming over their sad life That grand, heroic lay: And through the mist of happy tears They saw the promise-laden years; And in their joy they sang again, And carolled high the fond refrain— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
Two artists, in the cloud of gloom Which hung upon their hopes deferred, Resounding through their garret-room That noble chanson heard; And as the night before the day Their weak misgivings fled away; And with the burden of the strain They made their studio ring again— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
Two poets, who in patience wrought The glory of an aftertime,— Lords of an age which knew them not, Heard rise that lofty rhyme; And on their hearts it fell, as falls The sunshine upon prison-walls; And one caught up the magic strain And to the other sang again— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
And unto one, who, tired of breath, And day and night and name and fame, Held to his lips a glass of death, That song a savior came; Beseeching him from his despair, As with the passion of a prayer; And kindling in his heart and brain The valor of its blest refrain— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
O thou, with earthly ills beset, Call to thy lips those words of joy, And never in thy life forget The brave song of Savoy! For those dear words may have the power To cheer thee in thy darkest hour; The memory of that loved refrain Bring gladness to thy heart again!— Courage! courage, mon camarade!
HENRY AMES BLOOD.
* * * * *
V. DEATH AND BEREAVEMENT.
We are born; we laugh; we weep; We love; we droop; we die! Ah! wherefore do we laugh or weep? Why do we live or die? Who knows that secret deep? Alas not I!
Why doth the violet spring Unseen by human eye? Why do the radiant seasons bring Sweet thoughts that quickly fly? Why do our fond hearts cling To things that die?
We toil—through pain and wrong; We fight—and fly; We love; we lose; and then, ere long, Stone-dead we lie, O life! is all thy song "Endure and—die?"
BRYAN WALLER PROCTER (Barry Cornwall).
SOLILOQUY ON DEATH.
FROM "HAMLET," ACT III. SC. I.
HAMLET.—To be, or not to be,—that is the question Whether 't is nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?—To die, to sleep;— No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to,—'t is a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die,—to sleep;— To sleep! perchance to dream:—ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there's the respect That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pains of despised love, the law's delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death,— The undiscovered country, from whose bourn No traveller returns,—puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we have, Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought; And enterprises of great pith and moment, With this regard, their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action.
Like to the falling of a star, Or as the flights of eagles are, Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue, Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood, Or bubbles which on water stood,—
E'en such is man, whose borrowed light Is straight called in, and paid to-night. The wind blows out, the bubble dies, The spring entombed in autumn lies, The dew dries up, the star is shot, The flight is past,—and man forgot!
 Claimed for Francis Beaumont by some authorities.
DEATH THE LEVELLER.
[These verses are said to have "chilled the heart" of Oliver Cromwell.]
The glories of our blood and state Are shadows, not substantial things; There is no armor against fate; Death lays his icy hand on kings: Sceptre and crown Must tumble down. And in the dust be equal made With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field, And plant fresh laurels where they kill; But their strong nerves at last must yield; They tame but one another still: Early or late, They stoop to fate. And must give up their murmuring breath, When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow, Then boast no more your mighty deeds; Upon death's purple altar now See where the victor-victim bleeds: Your heads must come To the cold tomb; Only the actions of the just Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright, The bridall of the earth and skie; The dew shall weep thy fall to-night; For thou must die. Sweet Rose, whose hue angrie and brave Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye, Thy root is ever in its grave, And all must die.