A Little Book of Western Verse by Field, Eugene
A LITTLE BOOK OF WESTERN VERSE
by Eugene Field
TO MARY FIELD FRENCH
A dying mother gave to you Her child a many years ago; How in your gracious love he grew, You know, dear, patient heart, you know.
The mother's child you fostered then Salutes you now and bids you take These little children of his pen And love them for the author's sake.
To you I dedicate this book, And, as you read it line by line, Upon its faults as kindly look As you have always looked on mine.
Tardy the offering is and weak;-- Yet were I happy if I knew These children had the power to speak My love and gratitude to you.
Go, little book, and if an one would speak thee ill, let him bethink him that thou art the child of one who loves thee well.
When those we love have passed away; when from our lives something has gone out; when with each successive day we miss the presence that has become a part of ourselves, and struggle against the realization that it is with us no more, we begin to live in the past and thank God for the gracious boon of memory. Few of us there are who, having advanced to middle life, have not come to look back on the travelled road of human existence in thought of those who journeyed awhile with us, a part of all our hopes and joyousness, the sharers of all our ambitions and our pleasures, whose mission has been fulfilled and who have left us with the mile-stones of years still seeming to stretch out on the path ahead. It is then that memory comes with its soothing influence, telling us of the happiness that was ours and comforting us with the ever recurring thought of the pleasures of that travelled road. For it is happiness to walk and talk with a brother for forty years, and it is happiness to know that the surety of that brother's affection, the knowledge of the greatness of his heart and the nobility of his mind, are not for one memory alone but may be publicly attested for admiration and emulation. That it has fallen to me to speak to the world of my brother as I knew him I rejoice. I do not fear that, speaking as a brother, I shall crowd the laurel wreaths upon him, for to this extent he lies in peace already honored; but if I can show him to the world, not as a poet but as a man,--if I may lead men to see more of that goodness, sweetness, and gentleness that were in him, I shall the more bless the memory that has survived.
My brother was born in St. Louis in 1850. Whether the exact day was September 2 or September 3 was a question over which he was given to speculation, more particularly in later years, when he was accustomed to discuss it frequently and with much earnest ness. In his youth the anniversary was generally held to be September 2, perhaps the result of a half-humorous remark by my father that Oliver Cromwell had died September 3, and he could not reconcile this date to the thought that it was an important anniversary to one of his children. Many years after, when my uncle, Charles Kellogg Field, of Vermont, published the genealogy of the Field family, the original date, September 3, was restored, and from that time my brother accepted it, although with each recurring anniversary the controversy was gravely renewed, much to the amusement of the family and always to his own perplexity. In November, 1856, my mother died, and, at the breaking up of the family in St. Louis, my brother and myself, the last of six children, were taken to Amherst, Massachusetts, by our cousin, Miss Mary F. French, who took upon herself the care and responsibility of our bringing up. How nobly and self-sacrificingly she entered upon and discharged those duties my brother gladly testified in the beautiful dedication of his first published poems, "A Little Book of Western Verse," wherein he honored the "gracious love" in which he grew, and bade her look as kindly on the faults of his pen as she had always looked on his own. For a few years my brother attended a private school for boys in Amherst; then, at the age of fourteen, he was intrusted to the care of Rev. James Tufts, of Monson, one of those noble instructors of the blessed old school who are passing away from the arena of education in America. By Mr. Tufts he was fitted for college, and from the enthusiasm of this old scholar he caught perhaps the inspiration for the love of the classics which he carried through life. In the fall of 1868 he entered Williams College--the choice was largely accidental--and remained there one year. My father died in the summer of 1869, and my brother chose as his guardian Professor John William Burgess, now of Columbia University, New York City. When Professor Burgess, later in the summer, accepted a call to Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, my brother accompanied him and entered that institution, but the restlessness which was so characteristic of him in youth asserted itself after another year and he joined me, then in my junior year at the University of Missouri, at Columbia. It was at this institution that he finished his education so far as it related to prescribed study.
Shortly after attaining his majority he went to Europe, remaining six months in France and Italy. From this European trip have sprung the absurd stories which have represented him as squandering thousands of dollars in the pursuit of pleasure. Unquestionably he had the not unnatural extravagance which accompanies youth and a most generous disposition, for he was lavish and open-handed all through life to an unusual degree, but at no time was he particularly given to wild excesses, and the fact that my father's estate, which was largely realty, had shrunk perceptibly during the panic days of 1873 was enough to make him soon reach the limit of even moderate extravagance. At the same time many good stories have been told illustrative of his contempt for money, and it is eminently characteristic of his lack of the Puritan regard for small things that one day he approached my father's executor, Hon. M. L. Gray, of St. Louis, with a request for seventy-five dollars.
"But," objected this cautious and excellent man, "I gave you seventy-five dollars only yesterday, Eugene. What did you do with that?"
"Oh," replied my brother, with an impatient and scornful toss of the head, "I believe I bought some postage stamps."
Before going to Europe he had met Miss Julia Sutherland Comstock, of St. Joseph, Missouri, the sister of a college friend, and the attachment which was formed led to their marriage in October, 1873. Much of his tenderest and sweetest verse was inspired by love for the woman who became his wife, and the dedication to the "Second Book of Verse" is hardly surpassed for depth of affection and daintiness of sentiment, while "Lover's Lane, St. Jo.," is the very essence of loyalty, love, and reminiscential ardor. At the time of his marriage my brother realized the importance of going to work in earnest, and shortly before the appointment of the wedding-day he entered upon the active duties of journalism, which he never relinquished during life. These duties, with the exception of the year he passed in Europe with his family in 1889-90, were confined to the West. He began as a paragrapher in St. Louis, quickly achieving somewhat more than a merely local reputation. For a time he was in St. Joseph, and for eighteen months following January 1880 he lived in Kansas City, removing thence to Denver. In 1883 he came to Chicago at the solicitation of Melville E. Stone, then editor of the Chicago Daily News, retaining his connection with the News and its offspring, the Record, until his death. Thus hastily have been skimmed over the bare outlines of his life.
The formative period of my brother's youth was passed in New England, and to the influences which still prevail in and around her peaceful hills and gentle streams, the influences of a sturdy stock which has sent so many good and brave men to the West for the upbuilding of the country and the upholding of what is best in Puritan tradition, he gladly acknowledged he owed much that was strong and enduring. While he gloried in the West and remained loyal to the section which gave him birth, and in which he chose to cast his lot, he was not the less proud of his New England blood and not the less conscious of the benefits of a New England training. His boyhood was similar to that of other boys brought up with the best surroundings in a Massachusetts village, where the college atmosphere prevailed. He had his boyish pleasures and his trials, his share of that queer mixture of nineteenth-century worldliness and almost austere Puritanism which is yet characteristic of many New England families. The Sabbath was a veritable day of judgment, and in later years he spoke humorously of the terrors of those all-day sessions in church and Sunday-school, though he never failed to acknowledge the benefits he had derived from an enforced study of the Bible. "If I could be grateful to New England for nothing else," he would say, "I should bless her forevermore for pounding me with the Bible and the spelling-book." And in proof of the earnestness of this declaration he spent many hours in Boston a year or two ago, trying to find "one of those spellers that temporarily made me lose my faith in the system of the universe."
It is easy at this day to look back three decades and note the characteristics which appeared trivial enough then, but which, clinging to him and developing, had a marked effect on his manhood and on the direction of his talents. As a boy his fondness for pets amounted to a passion, but unlike other boys he seemed to carry his pets into a higher sphere and to give them personality. For each pet, whether dog, cat, bird, goat, or squirrel--he had the family distrust of a horse--he not only had a name, but it was his delight to fancy that each possessed a peculiar dialect of human speech, and each he addressed in the humorous manner conceived. He ignored the names in common use for domestic animals and chose or invented those more pleasing to his exuberant fancy. This conceit was always with him, and years afterward, when his children took the place of his boyish pets, he gratified his whim for strange names by ignoring those designated at the baptismal font and substituting freakish titles of his own riotous fancy. Indeed it must have been a tax on his imaginative powers. When in childhood he was conducting a poultry annex to the homestead, each chicken was properly instructed to respond to a peculiar call, and Finnikin, Minnikin, Winnikin, Dump, Poog, Boog, seemed to recognize immediately the queer intonations of their master with an intelligence that is not usually accorded to chickens. With this love for animal life was developed also that tenderness of heart which was so manifest in my brother's daily actions. One day--he was then a good-sized boy--he came into the house, and throwing himself on the sofa, sobbed for half an hour. One of the chickens hatched the day before had been crushed under his foot as he was walking in the chicken-house, and no murderer could have felt more keenly the pangs of remorse. The other boys looked on curiously at this exhibition of feeling, and it was indeed an unusual outburst. But it was strongly characteristic of him through life, and nothing would so excite his anger as cruelty to an animal, while every neglected, friendless dog or persecuted cat always found in him a champion and a friend.
In illustration of this humane instinct it is recalled that a few weeks before he died a lady visiting the house found his room swarming with flies. In response to her exclamation of astonishment he explained that a day or two before he had seen a poor, half-frozen fly on the window-pane outside, and he had been moved by a kindly impulse to open the window and admit her. "And this," he added, "is what I get for it. That ungrateful creature is, as you perceive, the grandmother of eight thousand nine hundred and seventy-six flies!"
That the birds that flew about his house in Buena Park knew his voice has been demonstrated more than once. He would keep bread crumbs scattered along the window-sill for the benefit, as he explained, of the blue jays and the robins who were not in their usual robust health or were too overcome by the heat to make customary exertion. If the jays were particularly noisy he would go into the yard and expostulate with them in a tone of friendly reproach, whereupon, the family affirms, they would apparently apologize and fly away. Once he maintained at considerable expense a thoroughly hopeless and useless donkey, and it was his custom, when returning from the office at any hour of the night, to go into the back yard and say "Poor old Don" in a bass voice that carried a block away, whereupon old Don would lift up his own voice with a melancholy bray of welcome that would shake the windows and start the neighbors from their slumbers. Old Don is passing his declining years in an "Old Kentucky home," and the robins and the blue jays as they return with the spring will look in vain for the friend who fed them at the window.
The family dog at Amherst, which was immortalized many years later with "The Bench-Legged Fyce," and which was known in his day to hundreds of students at the college on account of his surpassing lack of beauty, rejoiced originally in the honest name of Fido, but my brother rejected this name as commonplace and unworthy, and straightway named him "Dooley" on the presumption that there was something Hibernian in his face. It was to Dooley that he wrote his first poem, a parody on "O Had I Wings Like a Dove," a song then in great vogue. Near the head of the village street was the home of the Emersons, a large frame house, now standing for more than a century, and in the great yard in front stood the magnificent elms which are the glory of the Connecticut valley. Many times the boys, returning from school, would linger to cool off in the shade of these glorious trees, and it was on one of these occasions that my brother put into the mouth of Dooley his maiden effort in verse:
O had I wings like a dove I would fly, Away from this world of fleas; I'd fly all round Miss Emerson's yard, And light on Miss Emerson's trees.
Even this startling parody, which was regarded by the boys as a veritable stroke of genius, failed to impress the adult villagers with the conviction that a poet was budding. Yet how much of quiet humor and lively imagination is betrayed by these four lines. How easy it is now to look back at the small boy and picture him sympathizing with his little friend tormented by the heat and the pests of his kind, and making him sigh for the rest that seemed to lurk in the rustling leaves of the stately elms. Perhaps it was not astonishing poetry even for a child, but was there not something in the fancy, the sentiment, and the rhythm which bespoke far more than ordinary appreciation? Is it not this same quality of alert and instinctive sympathy which has run through Eugene Field's writings and touched the spring of popular affection?
Dooley went to the dog heaven many years ago. Finnikin and Poog and Boog and the scores of boyhood friends that followed them have passed to their Pythagorean reward; but the boy who first found in them the delight of companionship and the kindlings of imagination retained all the youthful impulses which made him for nearly half a century the lover of animal life and the gentle singer of the faithful and the good.
Comradeship was the indispensable factor in my brother's life. It was strong in his youth; it grew to be an imperative necessity in later years. In the theory that it is sometimes good to be alone he had little or no faith. Even when he was at work in his study, when it was almost essential to thought that he should be undisturbed, he was never quite content unless aware of the presence of human beings near at hand, as betrayed by their voices. It is customary to think of a poet wandering off in the great solitudes, standing alone in contemplation of the wonderful work of nature, on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, in the paths of the forest or on the mountain side. My brother was not of this order. That he was primarily and essentially a poet of humanity and not of nature does not argue that he was insensible to natural beauty or natural grandeur. Nobody could have been more keenly susceptible to the influences of nature in their temperamental effect, and perhaps this may explain that he did not love nature the less but that he prized companionship more. If nature pleased him he longed for a friend to share his pleasure; if it appalled him he turned from it with repugnance and fear.
Throughout his writings may be found the most earnest appreciation of the joyousness and loveliness of a beautiful landscape, but as he would share it intellectually with his readers so it was a necessity that he could not seek it alone as an actuality. In his boyhood, in the full glory of a perfect day, he loved to ramble through the woods and meadows, and delighted in the azure tints of the far-away Berkshire hills; and later in life he was keen to notice and admire the soft harmonies of landscape, but with a change in weather or with the approach of a storm the poet would be lost in the timidity and distrust of a child.
Companionship with him meant cheerfulness. His horror of gloom and darkness was almost morbid. From the tragedies of life he instinctively shrank, and large as was his sympathy, and generous and genuine his affection, he was often prompted to run from suffering and to betray what must have been a constitutional terror of distress. He did not hesitate to acknowledge this characteristic, and sought to atone for it by writing the most tender and touching lines to those to whom he believed he owed a gift of comfort and strength. His private letters to friends in adversity or bereavement were beautiful in their simplicity and honest and outspoken love, for he was not ashamed to let his friends see how much he thought of them. And even if the emotional quality, which asserts itself in the nervous and artistic temperament, made him realize that he could not trust himself, that same quality gave him a personality marvelous in its magnetism. Both as boy and man he made friends everywhere, and that he retained them to the last speaks for the whole-heartedness and genuineness of his nature.
To two weaknesses he frankly confessed: that he was inclined to be superstitious and that he was afraid of the dark. One of these he stoutly defended, asserting that he who was not fearful in the dark was a dull clod, utterly devoid of imagination. From his earliest childhood my brother was a devourer of fairy tales, and he continually stored his mind with fantastic legends, which found a vent in new shapes in his verses and prose tales. In the ceiling of one of his dens a trap-door led into the attic, and as this door was open he seriously contemplated closing it, because, as he said, he fancied that queer things would come down in the night and spirit him away. It is not to be inferred that he thus remained in a condition of actual fear, but it is true that he was imaginative to the degree of acute nervousness, and, like a child, associated light with safety and darkness with the uncanny and the supernatural. It was after all the better for his songs that it was so, else they might not have been filled with that cheery optimism which praised the happiness of sunlight and warmth, and sought to lift humanity from the darkness of despondency.
This weakness, or intellectual virtue as he pleasantly regarded it, was perhaps rather stronger in him as a man than in his boyhood. He has himself declared that he wrote "Seein' Things at Night" more to solace his own feelings than to delineate the sufferings of childhood, however aptly it may describe them. And when he put into rhythm that "any color, so long as it's red, is the color that suits me best," he spoke not only as a poet but as a man, for red conveyed to him the idea of warmth and cheeriness, and seemed to express to him in color his temperamental demand. All through his life he pandered to these feelings instead of seeking to repress them, for to this extent there was little of the Puritan in his nature, and as he believed that happiness comes largely from within, so he felt that it is not un-Christian philosophy to avoid as far as possible whatever may cloud and render less acceptable one's own existence.
The literary talent of my brother is not easily traceable to either branch of the family. In fact it was tacitly accepted that he would be a lawyer as his father and grandfather had been before him, but the futility of this arrangement was soon manifest, and surely no man less temperamentally equipped for the law ever lived. It has been said of the Fields, speaking generally of the New England division, that they were well adapted to be either musicians or actors, though the talent for music or mimicry has been in no case carried out of private life save in my brother's public readings. Eugene had more than a boy's share of musical talent, but he never cultivated it, preferring to use the fine voice with which he was endowed for recitation, of which he was always fond. Acting was his strongest boyish passion. Even as a child he was a wonderful mimic and thereby the delight of his playmates and the terror of his teachers. He organized a stock company among the small boys of the village and gave performances in the barn of one of the less scrupulous neighbors, but whether for pins or pennies memory does not suggest. He assigned the parts and always reserved for himself the eccentric character and the low comedy, caring nothing for the heroic or the sentimental. One of the plays performed was Lester Wallack's "Rosedale" with Eugene in the dual role of the low comedian and the heavy villain. At this time also he delighted in monologues, imitations of eccentric types, or what Mr. Sol. Smith Russell calls "comics," a word which always amused Eugene and which he frequently used. This fondness for parlor readings and private theatricals he carried through college, remaining steadfast to the "comics" until a few years ago, when he began to give public readings, and discovered that he was capable of higher and more effective work. It was in fact his versatility that made him the most accomplished and the most popular author-entertainer in America. Before he went into journalism the more sedate of his family connections were in constant fear lest he should adopt the profession of the actor, and he held it over them as a good-natured threat. On one occasion, failing to get a coveted appropriation from the executor of the estate, he said calmly to the worthy man: "Very well. I must have money for my living expenses. If you cannot advance it to me out of the estate I shall be compelled to go on the stage. But as I cannot keep my own name I have decided to assume yours, and shall have lithographs struck off at once. They will read, 'Tonight, M. L. Gray, Banjo and Specialty Artist.'" The appropriation was immediately forthcoming.
It is in no sense depreciatory of my brother's attainments in life to say that he gave no evidence of precocity in his studies in childhood. On the contrary he was somewhat slow in development, though this was due not so much to a lack of natural ability--he learned easily and quickly when so disposed--as to a fondness for the hundred diversions which occupy a wide-awake boy's time. He possessed a marked talent for caricature, and not a small part of the study hours was devoted to amusing pictures of his teachers, his playmates, and his pets. This habit of drawing, which was wholly without instruction, he always preserved, and it was his honest opinion, even at the height of his success in authorship, that he would have been much greater as a caricaturist than as a writer. Until he was thirty years of age he wrote a fair-sized legible hand, but about that time he adopted the microscopic penmanship which has been so widely reproduced, using for the purpose very fine-pointed pens. With his manuscript he took the greatest pains, often going to infinite trouble to illuminate his letters. Among his friends these letters are held as curiosities of literature, hardly more for the quaint sentiments expressed than for the queer designs in colored inks which embellished them. He was specially fond of drawing weird elves and gnomes, and would spend an hour or two decorating with these comical figures a letter he had written in ten minutes. He was as fastidious with the manuscript for the office as if it had been a specimen copy for exhibition, and it was always understood that his manuscript should be returned to him after it had passed through the printers' hands. In this way all the original copies of his stories and poems have been preserved, and those which he did not give to friends as souvenirs have been bound for his children.
A taste for literary composition might not have passed, as doubtless it did pass, so many years unnoticed, had he been deficient in other talents, and had he devoted himself exclusively to writing. But as a boy he was fond, though in a less degree than many boys, of athletic sports, and his youthful desire for theatrical entertainments, pen caricaturing, and dallying with his pets took up much of his time. Yet he often gave way to a fondness for composition, and there is in the family possession a sermon which he wrote before he was ten years of age, in which he showed the results of those arduous Sabbath days in the old Congregational meeting-house. And at one time, when yet very young, he was at the head of a flourishing boys' paper, while at another, fresh from the inspiration of a blood-curdling romance in a New York Weekly, he prepared a series of tales of adventure which, unhappily, have not been preserved. In his college days he was one of the associate editors of the university magazine, and while at that time he had no serious thought of devoting his life to literature, his talents in that direction were freely confessed. From my father, whose studious habits in life had made him not only eminent at the bar but profoundly conversant with general literature, he had inherited a taste for reading, and it was this omnivorous passion for books that led my brother to say that his education had only begun when he fancied that it had left off. In boyhood he contracted that fascinating but highly injurious habit of reading in bed, which he subsequently extolled with great fervor; and as he grew older the habit increased upon him until he was obliged to admit that he could not enjoy literature unless he took it horizontally. If a friend expostulated with him, advising him to give up tobacco, reading in bed, and late hours, he said: "And what have we left in life if we give up all our bad habits?"
That the poetic instinct was always strong within him there has never been room to question, but, perhaps, for the reasons before assigned, it was tardy in making its way outward. For years his mind lay fallow and receptive, awaiting the occasion which should develop the true inspiration of the poet. He was accustomed to speak of himself, and too modestly, as merely a versifier, but his own experience should have contradicted this estimate, for his first efforts at verse were singularly halting in mechanical construction, and he was well past his twenty-fifth year before he gave to the world any verse worthy the name. What might be called the "curse of comedy" was on him, and it was not until he threw off that yoke and gave expression to the better and the sweeter thoughts within him that, as with Bion, "the voice of song flowed freely from the heart." It seems strange that a man who became a master of the art of mechanism in verse should have been deficient in this particular at a period comparatively late, but it merely illustrates the theory of gradual development and marks the phases of life through which, with his character of many sides, he was compelled to pass. He was nearly thirty when he wrote "Christmas Treasures," the first poem he deemed worthy, and very properly, of preservation, and the publication of this tender commemoration of the death of a child opened the springs of sentiment and love for childhood destined never to run dry while life endured.
In journalism he became immediately successful, not so much for adaptability to the treadmill of that calling as for the brightness and distinctive character of his writing. He easily established a reputation as a humorist, and while he fairly deserved the title he often regretted that he could not entirely shake it off. His powers of perception were phenomenally keen, and he detected the peculiarities of people with whom he was thrown in contact almost at a glance, while his gift of mimicry was such that after a minute's interview he could burlesque the victim to the life, even emphasizing the small details which had been apparently too minute to attract the special notice of those who were acquaintances of years' standing. This faculty he carried into his writing, and it proved immensely valuable, for, with his quick appreciation of the ludicrous and his power of delineating personal peculiarities his sketches were remarkable for their resemblances even when he was indulging apparently in the wildest flights of imagination. It is to be regretted that much of his newspaper work, covering a period of twenty years, was necessarily so full of purely local color that its brilliancy could not be generally appreciated. For it is as if an artist had painted a wondrous picture, clever enough in the general view, but full of a significance hidden to the world.
Equally facile was he in the way of adaptation. He could write a hoax worthy of Poe, and one of his humors of imagination was sufficiently subtle and successful to excite comment in Europe and America, and to call for an explanation and denial from a distinguished Englishman. He lived in Denver only a few weeks when he was writing verse in miners' dialect which has been rightly placed at the head of that style of composition. No matter where he wandered, he speedily became imbued with the spirit of his surroundings, and his quickly and accurately gathered impressions found vent in his pen, whether he was in "St. Martin's Lane" in London, with "Mynheer Von Der Bloom" in Amsterdam, or on the "Schnellest Zug" from Hanover to Leipzig.
At the time of my brother's arrival in Chicago, in 1883--he was then in his thirty-fourth year--he had performed an immense amount of newspaper work, but had done little or nothing of permanent value or with any real literary significance. But despite the fact that he had lived up to that time in the smaller cities he had a large number of acquaintances and a certain following in the journalistic and artistic world, of which from the very moment of his entrance into journalism he never had been deprived. His immense fund of good humor, his powers as a story-teller, his admirable equipment as an entertainer, and the wholehearted way with which he threw himself into life and the pleasures of living attracted men to him and kept him the centre of the multitude that prized his fascinating companionship. His fellows in journalism furthermore had been quick to recognize his talents, and no man was more widely "copied," as the technical expression goes. His early years in Chicago did not differ materially from those of the previous decade, but the enlarged scope gave greater play to his fancy and more opportunity for his talents as a master of satire. The publication of "The Denver Primer" and "Culture's Garland," while adding to his reputation as a humorist, happily did not satisfy him. He was now past the age of thirty-five, and a great psychical revolution was coming on. Though still on the sunny side of middle life, he was wearying of the cup of pleasure he had drunk so joyously, and was drawing away from the multitude and toward the companionship of those who loved books and bookish things, and who could sympathize with him in the aspirations for the better work, the consciousness of which had dawned. It was now that he began to apply himself diligently to the preparation for higher effort, and it is to the credit of journalism, which has so many sins to answer for, that in this he was encouraged beyond the usual fate of men who become slaves to that calling. And yet, though from this time he was privileged to be regarded one of the sweetest singers in American literature, and incomparably the noblest bard of childhood, though the grind of journalism was measurably taken from him, he chafed under the conviction that he was condemned to mingle the prosaic and the practical with the fanciful and the ideal, and that, having given hostages to fortune, he must conform even in a measure to the requirements of a position too lucrative to be cast aside. From this time also his physical condition, which never had been robust, began to show the effects of sedentary life, but the warning of a long siege of nervous dyspepsia was suffered to pass unheeded, and for five or six years he labored prodigiously, his mind expanding and his intellect growing more brilliant as the vital powers decayed.
It would seem that with the awakening of the consciousness of the better powers within him, with the realization that he was destined for a place in literature, my brother felt a quasi remorse for the years he fancied he had wasted. He was too severe with himself to understand that his comparative tardiness in arriving at the earnest, thoughtful stage of lifework was the inexorable law of gradual development which must govern the career of a man of his temperament, with his exuberant vitality and his showy talents. It was a serious mistake, but it was not the less a noble one. And now also the influences of home crept a little closer into his heart. His family life had not been without its tragedies of bereavement, and the death of his oldest boy in Germany had drawn him even nearer to the children who were growing up around him.
Much of his tenderest verse was inspired by affection for his family, and as some great shock is often essential to the revolution in a buoyant nature, so it seemed to require the oft-recurring tragedies of life to draw from him all that was noblest and sweetest in his sympathetic soul. Had the angel of death never hovered over the crib in my brother's home, had he never known the pangs and the heart-hunger which come when the little voice is stilled and the little chair is empty, he could not have written the lines which voice the great cry of humanity and the hope of reunion in immortality beyond the grave.
The flood of appeals for platform readings from cities and towns in all parts of the United States came too late for his physical strength and his ambition. Earlier in life he would have delighted in this form of travel and entertainment, but his nature had wonderfully changed, and, strong as were the financial inducements, he was loath to leave his family and circle of intimate friends, and the home he had just acquired. All of the time which he allotted for recreation he devoted to working around his grounds, in arranging and rearranging his large library, and in the disposition of his curios. For years he had been an indefatigable collector, and he took a boyish pleasure not only in his souvenirs of long journeys and distinguished men and women, but in the queer toys and trinkets of children which seemed to give him inspiration for much that was effective in childhood verse. To the careless observer the immense array of weird dolls and absurd toys in his working-room meant little more than an idiosyncratic passion for the anomalous, but those who were near to him knew what a connecting link they were between him and the little children of whom he wrote, and how each trumpet and drum, each "spinster doll," each little toy dog, each little tin soldier, played its part in the poems he sent out into the world. No writer ever made more persistent and consistent use of the material by which he was surrounded, or put a higher literary value on the little things which go to make up the sum of human existence.
Of the spiritual development of my brother much might be said in conviction and in tenderness. He was not a man who discussed religion freely; he was associated with no religious denomination, and he professed no creed beyond the brotherhood of mankind and the infinitude of God's love and mercy. In childhood he had been reared in much of the austerity of the Puritan doctrine of the relation of this life to the hereafter, and much of the hardness and severity of Christianity, as still interpreted in many parts of New England, was forced upon him. As is not unusual in such cases, he rebelled against this conception of God and God's day, even while he confessed the intellectual advantages he had reaped from frequent compulsory communion with the Bible, and he many times declared that his children should not be brought up to regard religion and the Sabbath as a bugbear. What evolution was going on in his mind at the turning point in his life who can say? Who shall look into the silent soul of the poet and see the hope and confidence and joy that have come from out the chaos of strife and doubt? Yet who can read the verses, telling over and over the beautiful story of Bethlehem, the glory of the Christ-child and the comfort that comes from the Teacher, and doubt that in those moments he walked in the light of the love of God?
It is true that no man living in a Christian nation who is stirred by poetic instinct can fail to recognize and pay homage to that story of wonderful sweetness, the coming of the Christ-child for the redemption of the world. It is true that in commemoration the poet may speak while the man within is silent. But it is hardly true that he whose generous soul responded to every principle of Christ, the Teacher, pleading for humanity, would sing over and over that tender song of love and sacrifice as a mere poetic inspiration. As he slept my brother's soul was called. Who shall say that it was not summoned by that same angel song that awakened "Little Boy Blue"? Who shall doubt that the smile of supreme peace and rest which lingered on his face after that noble spirit had departed spoke for the victory he had won, for the hope and belief that had been justified, and for the happiness he had gained?
To have been with my brother in the last year of his life, to have seen the sweetening of a character already lovable to an unusual degree, to know now that in his unconscious preparation for the life beyond he was drawing closer to those he loved and who loved him, this is the tenderest memory, the most precious heritage. Not to have seen him in that year is never to realize the full beauty of his nature, the complete development of his nobler self, the perfect abandonment of all that might have been ungenerous and intemperate in one even less conscious of the weakness of mortality. He would say when chided for public expression of kind words to those not wholly deserving, that he had felt the sting of harshness and ungraciousness, and never again would he use his power to inflict suffering or wound the feelings of man or child. Who is there to wonder, then, that the love of all went out to him, and that the other triumphs of his life were as nothing in comparison with the grasp he maintained on popular affection? The day after his death a lady was purchasing flowers to send in sympathy for the mourning family, when she was approached by a poorly-clad little girl who timidly asked what she was going to do with so many roses. When she replied that she intended sending them to Mr. Field, the little one said that she wanted so much to send Mr. Field a rose, adding pathetically that she had no money. Deeply touched by the child's sorrowful earnestness the lady picked out a yellow rose and gave it to her, and when the coffin was lowered to the grave a wealth of wreaths and designs was strewn around to mark the spot, but down below the hand of the silent poet held only a little yellow rose, the tribute of a child who did not know him in life, but in whose heart nestled the love his songs had awakened and the magnetism of his great humanity had stirred.
A few hours after his spirit had gone a crippled boy came to the house and begged permission to go to the chamber. The wish was granted, and the boy hobbled to the bedside. Who he was, and in what manner my brother had befriended him, none of the family knew, but as he painfully picked his way down stairs the tears were streaming over his face, and the onlookers forgot their own sorrow in contemplation of his grief. The morning of the funeral, while the family stood around the coffin, the letter-carrier at Buena Park came into the room, and laying a bunch of letters at the foot of the bier said reverently: "There is your last mail, Mr. Field." Then turning with tears in his eyes, as if apologizing for an intrusion, he added: "He was always good to me and I loved him."
It was this affection of those in humbler life that seems to speak the more eloquently for the beneficence and the triumph of his life's work. No funeral could have been less ostentatious, yet none could have been more impressive in the multitude that overflowed the church, or more conformable to his tenacious belief in the democracy of man. People of eminence, of wealth, of fashion, were there, but they were swallowed up in the great congregation of those to whom we are bound by the ties of humanity and universal brotherhood, whose tears as they passed the bier of the dead singer were the earnest and the best tribute to him who sang for all. What greater blessing hath man than this? What stronger assurance can there be of happiness in that life where all is weighed in the scale of love, and where love is triumphant and eternal?
Sleep, my brother, in the perfect joy of an awakening to that happiness beyond the probationary life. Sleep in the assurance that those who loved you will always cherish the memory of that love as the tender inspiration of your gentle spirit. Sleep and dream that the songs you sang will still be sung when those who sing them now are sleeping with you. Sleep and take your rest as calmly and peacefully as you slept when your last "Good-Night" lengthened into eternity. And if the Horace you so merrily invoked comes to you in your slumber and bids you awake to that sweet cheer, that "fellowship that knows no end beyond the misty Stygian sea," tell him that the time has not yet come, and that there are those yet uncalled, to whom you have pledged the joyous meeting on yonder shore, and who would share with you the heaven your companionship would brighten.
ROSWELL MARTIN FIELD.
BUENA PARK, January, 1896.
Contents of this Little Book
CASEY'S TABLE D'HÔTE OUR LADY OF THE MINE THE CONVERSAZZHYONY PROF. VERB DE BLAW MARTHY'S YOUNKIT
OLD ENGLISH LULLABY "LOLLYBY, LOLLY, LOLLYBY" ORKNEY LULLABY LULLABY; BY THE SEA CORNISH LULLABY NORSE LULLABY SICILIAN LULLABY JAPANESE LULLABY LITTLE CROODLIN DOO DUTCH LULLABY CHILD AND MOTHER MEDIAEVAL EVENTIDE SONG CHRISTMAS TREASURES CHRISTMAS HYMN CHRYSTMASSE OF OLDE
OUR TWO OPINIONS APPLE-PIE AND CHEESE "GOOD-BY--GOD BLESS YOU!" HI-SPY LONG AGO
LITTLE BOY BLUE THE LYTTEL BOY KRINKEN TO A USURPER AILSIE, MY BAIRN SOME TIME
MADGE: YE HOYDEN THE DEATH OF ROBIN HOOD TO ROBIN GOODFELLOW YVYTOT THE DIVINE LULLABY IN THE FIRELIGHT THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM AT THE DOOR
THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S PRAYER DE AMICITIIS THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S BRIDE
THE TRUTH ABOUT HORACE HORACE AND LYDIA RECONCILED HORACE III:13 ("FOUNTAIN OF BANDUSIA") HORACE TO MELPOMENE A CHAUCERIAN PARAPHRASE OF HORACE HORACE TO PYRRHA HORACE TO PHYLLIS THE "HAPPY ISLES" OF HORACE
LITTLE MACK MR. DANA, OF THE NEW YORK SUN TO A SOUBRETTE BÉRANGER'S "BROKEN FIDDLE" HEINE'S "WIDOW, OR DAUGHTER?" UHLAND'S "THREE CAVALIERS" BÉRANGER'S "MY LAST SONG PERHAPS" HUGO'S "FLOWER TO BUTTERFLY" BÉRANGER'S "MA VOCATION"
THE LITTLE PEACH A PROPER TREWE IDYLL OF CAMELOT IN FLANDERS OUR BIGGEST FISH
MOTHER AND CHILD THE WANDERER SOLDIER, MAIDEN, AND FLOWER THIRTY-NINE
CASEY'S TABLE D'HÔTE
Oh, them days on Red Hoss Mountain, when the skies wuz fair 'nd blue, When the money flowed like likker, 'nd the folks wuz brave 'nd true! When the nights wuz crisp 'nd balmy, 'nd the camp wuz all astir, With the joints all throwed wide open 'nd no sheriff to demur! Oh, them times on Red Hoss Mountain in the Rockies fur away,-- There's no sich place nor times like them as I kin find to-day! What though the camp _hez_ busted? I seem to see it still A-lyin', like it loved it, on that big 'nd warty hill; And I feel a sort of yearnin' 'nd a chokin' in my throat When I think of Red Hoss Mountain 'nd of Casey's tabble dote!
Wal, yes; it's true I struck it rich, but that don't cut a show When one is old 'nd feeble 'nd it's nigh his time to go; The money that he's got in bonds or carries to invest Don't figger with a codger who has lived a life out West; Us old chaps like to set around, away from folks 'nd noise, 'Nd think about the sights we seen and things we done when boys; The which is why _I_ love to set 'nd think of them old days When all us Western fellers got the Colorado craze,-- And _that_ is why I love to set around all day 'nd gloat On thoughts of Red Hoss Mountain 'nd of Casey's tabble dote.
This Casey wuz an Irishman,--you'd know it by his name And by the facial features appertainin' to the same. He'd lived in many places 'nd had done a thousand things, From the noble art of actin' to the work of dealin' kings, But, somehow, hadn't caught on; so, driftin' with the rest, He drifted for a fortune to the undeveloped West, And he come to Red Hoss Mountain when the little camp wuz new, When the money flowed like likker, 'nd the folks wuz brave 'nd true; And, havin' been a stewart on a Mississippi boat, He opened up a caffy 'nd he run a tabble dote.
The bar wuz long 'nd rangy, with a mirrer on the shelf, 'Nd a pistol, so that Casey, when required, could help himself; Down underneath there wuz a row of bottled beer 'nd wine, 'Nd a kag of Burbun whiskey of the run of '59; Upon the walls wuz pictures of hosses 'nd of girls,-- Not much on dress, perhaps, but strong on records 'nd on curls! The which had been identified with Casey in the past,-- The hosses 'nd the girls, I mean,--and both wuz mighty fast! But all these fine attractions wuz of precious little note By the side of what wuz offered at Casey's tabble dote.
There wuz half-a-dozen tables altogether in the place, And the tax you had to pay upon your vittles wuz a case; The boardin'-houses in the camp protested 't wuz a shame To patronize a robber, which this Casey wuz the same! They said a case was robbery to tax for ary meal; But Casey tended strictly to his biz, 'nd let 'em squeal; And presently the boardin'-houses all began to bust, While Casey kept on sawin' wood 'nd layin' in the dust; And oncet a tray'lin' editor from Denver City wrote A piece back to his paper, puffin' Casey's tabble dote.
A tabble dote is different from orderin' aller cart: In _one_ case you git all there is, in _t' other_, only _part_! And Casey's tabble dote began in French,--as all begin,-- And Casey's ended with the same, which is to say, with "vin;" But in between wuz every kind of reptile, bird, 'nd beast, The same like you can git in high-toned restauraws down east; 'Nd windin' up wuz cake or pie, with coffee demy tass, Or, sometimes, floatin' Ireland in a soothin' kind of sass That left a sort of pleasant ticklin' in a feller's throat, 'Nd made him hanker after more of Casey's tabble dote.
The very recollection of them puddin's 'nd them pies Brings a yearnin' to my buzzum 'nd the water to my eyes; 'Nd seems like cookin' nowadays ain't what it used to be In camp on Red Hoss Mountain in that year of '63; But, maybe, it is better, 'nd, maybe, I'm to blame-- I'd like to be a-livin' in the mountains jest the same-- I'd like to live that life again when skies wuz fair 'nd blue, When things wuz run wide open 'nd men wuz brave 'nd true; When brawny arms the flinty ribs of Red Hoss Mountain smote For wherewithal to pay the price of Casey's tabble dote.
And you, O cherished brother, a-sleepin' 'way out west, With Red Hoss Mountain huggin' you close to its lovin' breast,-- Oh, do you dream in your last sleep of how we used to do, Of how we worked our little claims together, me 'nd you? Why, when I saw you last a smile wuz restin' on your face, Like you wuz glad to sleep forever in that lonely place; And so you wuz, 'nd I 'd be, too, if I wuz sleepin' so. But, bein' how a brother's love ain't for the world to know, Whenever I've this heartache 'nd this chokin' in my throat, I lay it all to thinkin' of Casey's tabble dote.
LITTLE BOY BLUE
The little toy dog is covered with dust, But sturdy and stanch he stands; And the little toy soldier is red with rust, And his musket molds in his hands. Time was when the little toy dog was new And the soldier was passing fair, And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue Kissed them and put them there.
"Now, don't you go till I come," he said, "And don't you make any noise!" So toddling off to his trundle-bed He dreamed of the pretty toys. And as he was dreaming, an angel song Awakened our Little Boy Blue,-- Oh, the years are many, the years are long, But the little toy friends are true.
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand, Each in the same old place, Awaiting the touch of a little hand, The smile of a little face. And they wonder, as waiting these long years through, In the dust of that little chair, What has become of our Little Boy Blue Since he kissed them and put them there.
MADGE: YE HOYDEN
At Madge, ye hoyden, gossips scofft, Ffor that a romping wench was shee-- "Now marke this rede," they bade her oft, "Forsooken sholde your folly bee!" But Madge, ye hoyden, laught & cried, "Oho, oho," in girlish glee, And noe thing mo replied.
No griffe she had nor knew no care, But gayly rompit all daies long, And, like ye brooke that everywhere Goes jinking with a gladsome song, Shee danct and songe from morn till night,-- Her gentil harte did know no wrong, Nor did she none despight.
Sir Tomas from his noblesse halle Did trend his path a somer's daye, And to ye hoyden he did call And these ffull evill words did say: "O wolde you weare a silken gown And binde your haire with ribands gay? Then come with me to town!"
But Madge, ye hoyden, shoke her head,-- "I'le be no lemman unto thee For all your golde and gownes," shee said, "ffor Robin hath bespoken mee." Then ben Sir Tomas sore despight, And back unto his hall went hee With face as ashen white.
"O Robin, wilt thou wed this girl, Whenas she is so vaine a sprite?" So spak ffull many an envious churle Unto that curteyse countrie wight. But Robin did not pay no heede; And they ben wed a somer night & danct upon ye meade.
Then scarse ben past a yeare & daye Whan Robin toke unto his bed, And long, long time therein he lay, Nor colde not work to earn his bread; in soche an houre, whan times ben sore, Sr. Tomas came with haughtie tread & knockit at ye doore.
Saies: "Madge, ye hoyden, do you know how that you once despighted me? But He forgiff an you will go my swete harte lady ffor to bee!" But Madge, ye hoyden, heard noe more,-- straightway upon her heele turnt shee, & shote ye cottage doore.
Soe Madge, ye hoyden, did her parte whiles that ye years did come and go; 't was somer allwais in her harte, tho' winter strewed her head with snowe. She toilt and span thro' all those years nor bid repine that it ben soe, nor never shad noe teares.
Whiles Robin lay within his bed, A divell came and whispered lowe,-- "Giff you will doe my will," he said, "None more of sickness you shall knowe!" Ye which gave joy to Robin's soul-- Saies Robin: "Divell, be it soe, an that you make me whoale!"
That day, upp rising ffrom his bed, Quoth Robin: "I am well again!" & backe he came as from ye dead, & he ben mickle blithe as when he wooed his doxy long ago; & Madge did make ado & then Her teares ffor joy did flowe.
Then came that hell-born cloven thing-- Saies: "Robin, I do claim your life, and I hencefoorth shall be your king, and you shall do my evill strife. Look round about and you shall see sr. Tomas' young and ffoolish wiffe-- a comely dame is shee!"
Ye divell had him in his power, and not colde Robin say thereto: Soe Robin from that very houre did what that divell bade him do; He wooed and dipt, and on a daye Sr. Tomas' wife and Robin flewe a many leagues away.
Sir Tomas ben wood wroth and swore, And sometime strode thro' leaf & brake and knockit at ye cottage door and thus to Madge, ye hoyden, spake: Saies, "I wolde have you ffor mine own, So come with mee & bee my make, syn tother birds ben flown."
But Madge, ye hoyden, bade him noe; Saies: "Robin is my swete harte still, And, tho' he doth despight me soe, I mean to do him good for ill. So goe, Sir Tomas, goe your way; ffor whiles I bee on live I will ffor Robin's coming pray!"
Soe Madge, ye hoyden, kneelt & prayed that Godde sholde send her Robin backe. And tho' ye folke vast scoffing made, and tho' ye worlde ben colde and blacke, And tho', as moneths dragged away, ye hoyden's harte ben like to crack With griff, she still did praye.
Sicke of that divell's damnèd charmes, Aback did Robin come at last, And Madge, ye hoyden, sprad her arms and gave a cry and held him fast; And as she clong to him and cried, her patient harte with joy did brast, & Madge, ye hoyden, died.
OLD ENGLISH LULLABY
Hush, bonnie, dinna greit; Moder will rocke her sweete,-- Balow, my boy! When that his toile ben done, Daddie will come anone,-- Hush thee, my lyttel one; Balow, my boy!
Gin thou dost sleepe, perchaunce Fayries will come to daunce,-- Balow, my boy! Oft hath thy moder seene Moonlight and mirkland queene Daunce on thy slumbering een,-- Balow, my boy!
Then droned a bomblebee Saftly this songe to thee: "Balow, my boy!" And a wee heather bell, Pluckt from a fayry dell, Chimed thee this rune hersell: "Balow, my boy!"
Soe, bonnie, dinna greit; Moder doth rock her sweete,-- Balow, my boy! Give mee thy lyttel hand, Moder will hold it and Lead thee to balow land,-- Balow, my boy!
THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S PRAYER
Keep me, I pray, in wisdom's way That I may truths eternal seek; I need protecting care to-day,-- My purse is light, my flesh is weak. So banish from my erring heart All baleful appetites and hints Of Satan's fascinating art, Of first editions, and of prints. Direct me in some godly walk Which leads away from bookish strife, That I with pious deed and talk May extra-illustrate my life.
But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee To keep me in temptation's way, I humbly ask that I may be Most notably beset to-day; Let my temptation be a book, Which I shall purchase, hold, and keep, Whereon when other men shall look, They'll wail to know I got it cheap. Oh, let it such a volume be As in rare copperplates abounds, Large paper, clean, and fair to see, Uncut, unique, unknown to Lowndes.
THE LYTTEL BOY
Sometime there ben a lyttel boy That wolde not renne and play, And helpless like that little tyke Ben allwais in the way. "Goe, make you merrie with the rest," His weary moder cried; But with a frown he catcht her gown And hong untill her side.
That boy did love his moder well, Which spake him faire, I ween; He loved to stand and hold her hand And ken her with his een; His cosset bleated in the croft, His toys unheeded lay,-- He wolde not goe, but, tarrying soe, Ben allwais in the way.
Godde loveth children and doth gird His throne with soche as these, And He doth smile in plaisaunce while They cluster at His knees; And sometime, when He looked on earth And watched the bairns at play, He kenned with joy a lyttel boy Ben allwais in the way.
And then a moder felt her heart How that it ben to-torne,-- She kissed eche day till she ben gray The shoon he used to worn; No bairn let hold untill her gown, Nor played upon the floore,-- Godde's was the joy; a lyttel boy Ben in the way no more!
THE TRUTH ABOUT HORACE
It is very aggravating To hear the solemn prating Of the fossils who are stating That old Horace was a prude; When we know that with the ladies He was always raising Hades, And with many an escapade his Best productions are imbued.
There's really not much harm in a Large number of his carmina, But these people find alarm in a Few records of his acts; So they'd squelch the muse caloric, And to students sophomoric They d present as metaphoric What old Horace meant for facts.
We have always thought 'em lazy; Now we adjudge 'em crazy! Why, Horace was a daisy That was very much alive! And the wisest of us know him As his Lydia verses show him,-- Go, read that virile poem,-- It is No. 25.
He was a very owl, sir, And starting out to prowl, sir, You bet he made Rome howl, sir, Until he filled his date; With a massic-laden ditty And a classic maiden pretty He painted up the city, And Maecenas paid the freight!
THE DEATH OF ROBIN HOOD
"Give me my bow," said Robin Hood, "An arrow give to me; And where 't is shot mark thou that spot, For there my grave shall be."
Then Little John did make no sign, And not a word he spake; But he smiled, altho' with mickle woe His heart was like to break.
He raised his master in his arms, And set him on his knee; And Robin's eyes beheld the skies, The shaws, the greenwood tree.
The brook was babbling as of old, The birds sang full and clear, And the wild-flowers gay like a carpet lay In the path of the timid deer.
"O Little John," said Robin Hood, "Meseemeth now to be Standing with you so stanch and true Under the greenwood tree.
"And all around I hear the sound Of Sherwood long ago, And my merry men come back again,-- You know, sweet friend, you know!
"Now mark this arrow; where it falls, When I am dead dig deep, And bury me there in the greenwood where I would forever sleep."
He twanged his bow. Upon its course The clothyard arrow sped, And when it fell in yonder dell, Brave Robin Hood was dead.
The sheriff sleeps in a marble vault, The king in a shroud of gold; And upon the air with a chanted pray'r Mingles the mock of mould.
But the deer draw to the shady pool, The birds sing blithe and free, And the wild-flow'rs bloom o'er a hidden tomb Under the greenwood tree.
"LOLLYBY, LOLLY, LOLLYBY"
Last night, whiles that the curfew bell ben ringing, I heard a moder to her dearie singing "Lollyby, lolly, lollyby." And presently that chylde did cease hys weeping, And on his moder's breast did fall a-sleeping, To "lolly, lolly, lollyby."
Faire ben the chylde unto his moder clinging, But fairer yet the moder's gentle singing,-- "Lollyby, lolly, lollyby." And angels came and kisst the dearie smiling In dreems while him hys moder ben beguiling With "lolly, lolly, lollyby!"
Then to my harte saies I, "Oh, that thy beating Colde be assuaged by some swete voice repeating 'Lollyby, lolly, lollyby;' That like this lyttel chylde I, too, ben sleeping With plaisaunt phantasies about me creeping, To 'lolly, lolly, lollyby!'"
Sometime--mayhap when curfew bells are ringing-- A weary harte shall heare straunge voices singing, "Lollyby, lolly, lollyby;" Sometime, mayhap, with Chrysts love round me streaming, I shall be lulled into eternal dreeming With "lolly, lolly, lollyby."
HORACE AND LYDIA RECONCILED
When you were mine in auld lang syne, And when none else your charms might ogle, I'll not deny, Fair nymph, that I Was happier than a Persian mogul.
Before _she_ came--that rival flame!-- (Was ever female creature sillier?) In those good times, Bepraised in rhymes, I was more famed than Mother Ilia!
Chloe of Thrace! With what a grace Does she at song or harp employ her! I'd gladly die If only I Might live forever to enjoy her!
My Sybaris so noble is That, by the gods! I love him madly-- That I might save Him from the grave I'd give my life, and give it gladly!
What if ma belle from favor fell, And I made up my mind to shake her, Would Lydia, then, Come back again And to her quondam flame betake her?
My other beau should surely go, And you alone should find me gracious; For no one slings Such odes and things As does the lauriger Horatius!
OUR TWO OPINIONS
Us two wuz boys when we fell out,-- Nigh to the age uv my youngest now; Don't rec'lect what't wuz about, Some small deeff'rence, I'll allow. Lived next neighbors twenty years, A-hatin' each other, me 'nd Jim,-- He havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_, 'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.
Grew up together 'nd would n't speak, Courted sisters, 'nd marr'd 'em, too; Tended same meetin'-house oncet a week, A-hatin' each other through 'nd through! But when Abe Linkern asked the West F'r soldiers, we answered,--me 'nd Jim,-- _He_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_, 'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.
But down in Tennessee one night Ther' wuz sound uv firin' fur away, 'Nd the sergeant allowed ther' 'd be a fight With the Johnnie Rebs some time nex' day; 'Nd as I wuz thinkin' uv Lizzie 'nd home Jim stood afore me, long 'nd slim,-- _He_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_, 'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.
Seemed like we knew there wuz goin' to be Serious trouble f'r me 'nd him; Us two shuck hands, did Jim 'nd me, But never a word from me or Jim! He went _his_ way 'nd _I_ went _mine_, 'Nd into the battle's roar went we,-- _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv Jim, 'Nd _he_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_.
Jim never come back from the war again, But I ha' n't forgot that last, last night When, waitin' f'r orders, us two men Made up 'nd shuck hands, afore the fight. 'Nd, after it all, it's soothin' to know That here _I_ be 'nd yonder's Jim,-- _He_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_, 'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.
MOTHER AND CHILD
One night a tiny dewdrop fell Into the bosom of a rose,-- "Dear little one, I love thee well, Be ever here thy sweet repose!"
Seeing the rose with love bedight, The envious sky frowned dark, and then Sent forth a messenger of light And caught the dewdrop up again.
"Oh, give me back my heavenly child,-- My love!" the rose in anguish cried; Alas! the sky triumphant smiled, And so the flower, heart-broken, died.
A moonbeam floateth from the skies, Whispering, "Heigho, my dearie! I would spin a web before your eyes,-- A beautiful web of silver light, Wherein is many a wondrous sight Of a radiant garden leagues away, Where the softly tinkling lilies sway, And the snow-white lambkins are at play,-- Heigho, my dearie!"
A brownie stealeth from the vine Singing, "Heigho, my dearie! And will you hear this song of mine,-- A song of the land of murk and mist Where bideth the bud the dew hath kist? Then let the moonbeam's web of light Be spun before thee silvery white, And I shall sing the livelong night,-- Heigho, my dearie!"
The night wind speedeth from the sea, Murmuring, "Heigho, my dearie! I bring a mariner's prayer for thee; So let the moonbeam veil thine eyes, And the brownie sing thee lullabies; But I shall rock thee to and fro, Kissing the brow _he_ loveth so, And the prayer shall guard thy bed, I trow,-- Heigho, my dearie!"
This talk about the journalists that run the East is bosh, We've got a Western editor that's little, but, O gosh! He lives here in Mizzoora where the people are so set In ante-bellum notions that they vote for Jackson yet; But the paper he is running makes the rusty fossils swear,-- The smartest, likeliest paper that is printed anywhere! And, best of all, the paragraphs are pointed as a tack, And that's because they emanate From little Mack.
In architecture he is what you'd call a chunky man, As if he'd been constructed on the summer cottage plan; He has a nose like Bonaparte; and round his mobile mouth Lies all the sensuous languor of the children of the South; His dealings with reporters who affect a weekly bust Have given to his violet eyes a shadow of distrust; In glorious abandon his brown hair wanders back From the grand Websterian forehead Of little Mack.
No matter what the item is, if there's an item in it, You bet your life he's on to it and nips it in a minute! From multifarious nations, countries, monarchies, and lands, From Afric's sunny fountains and India's coral strands, From Greenland's icy mountains and Siloam's shady rills, He gathers in his telegrams, and Houser pays the bills; What though there be a dearth of news, he has a happy knack Of scraping up a lot of scoops, Does little Mack.
And learning? Well he knows the folks of every tribe and age That ever played a part upon this fleeting human stage; His intellectual system's so extensive and so greedy That, when it comes to records, he's a walkin' cyclopedy; For having studied (and digested) all the books a-goin', It stands to reason he must know about all's worth a-knowin'! So when a politician with a record's on the track, We're apt to hear some history From little Mack.
And when a fellow-journalist is broke and needs a twenty, Who's allus ready to whack up a portion of his plenty? Who's allus got a wallet that's as full of sordid gain As his heart is full of kindness and his head is full of brain? Whose bowels of compassion will in-va-ri-a-bly move Their owner to those courtesies which plainly, surely prove That he's the kind of person that never does go back On a fellow that's in trouble? Why, little Mack!
I've heard 'em tell of Dana, and of Bonner, and of Reid, Of Johnnie Cockerill, who, I'll own, is very smart indeed; Yet I don't care what their renown or influence may be, One metropolitan exchange is quite enough for me! So keep your Danas, Bonners, Reids, your Cockerills, and the rest, The woods is full of better men all through this woolly West; For all that sleek, pretentious, Eastern editorial pack We wouldn't swap the shadow of Our little Mack!
TO ROBIN GOODFELLOW
I see you, Maister Bawsy-brown, Through yonder lattice creepin'; You come for cream and to gar me dream, But you dinna find me sleepin'. The moonbeam, that upon the floor Wi' crickets ben a-jinkin', Now steals away fra' her bonnie play-- Wi' a rosier blie, I'm thinkin'.
I saw you, Maister Bawsy-brown, When the blue bells went a-ringin' For the merrie fays o' the banks an' braes, And I kenned your bonnie singin'; The gowans gave you honey sweets, And the posies on the heather Dript draughts o' dew for the faery crew That danct and sang together.
But posie-bloom an' simmer-dew And ither sweets o' faery C'u'd na gae down wi' Bawsy-brown, Sae nigh to Maggie's dairy! My pantry shelves, sae clean and white, Are set wi' cream and cheeses,-- Gae, gin you will, an' take your fill Of whatsoever pleases.
Then wave your wand aboon my een Until they close awearie, And the night be past sae sweet and fast Wi' dreamings o' my dearie. But pinch the wench in yonder room, For she's na gude nor bonnie,-- Her shelves be dust and her pans be rust, And she winkit at my Johnnie!
APPLE-PIE AND CHEESE
Full many a sinful notion Conceived of foreign powers Has come across the ocean To harm this land of ours; And heresies called fashions Have modesty effaced, And baleful, morbid passions Corrupt our native taste. O tempora! O mores! What profanations these That seek to dim the glories Of apple-pie and cheese!
I'm glad my education Enables me to stand Against the vile temptation Held out on every hand; Eschewing all the tittles With vanity replete, I'm loyal to the victuals Our grandsires used to eat! I'm glad I've got three willing boys To hang around and tease Their mother for the filling joys Of apple-pie and cheese!
Your flavored creams and ices And your dainty angel-food Are mighty fine devices To regale the dainty dude; Your terrapin and oysters, With wine to wash 'em down, Are just the thing for roisters When painting of the town; No flippant, sugared notion Shall _my_ appetite appease, Or bate my soul's devotion To apple-pie and cheese!
The pie my Julia makes me (God bless her Yankee ways!) On memory's pinions takes me To dear Green Mountain days; And seems like I see Mother Lean on the window-sill, A-handin' me and brother What she knows 'll keep us still; And these feelings are so grateful, Says I, "Julia, if you please, I'll take another plateful Of that apple-pie and cheese!"
And cheese! No alien it, sir, That's brought across the sea,-- No Dutch antique, nor Switzer, Nor glutinous de Brie; There's nothing I abhor so As mawmets of this ilk-- Give _me_ the harmless morceau That's made of true-blue milk! No matter what conditions Dyspeptic come to feaze, The best of all physicians Is apple-pie and cheese!
Though ribalds may decry 'em, For these twin boons we stand, Partaking thrice per diem Of their fulness out of hand; No enervating fashion Shall cheat us of our right To gratify our passion With a mouthful at a bite! We'll cut it square or bias, Or any way we please, And faith shall justify us When we carve our pie and cheese!
De gustibus, 't is stated, Non disputandum est. Which meaneth, when translated, That all is for the best. So let the foolish choose 'em The vapid sweets of sin, I will not disabuse 'em Of the heresy they're in; But I, when I undress me Each night, upon my knees Will ask the Lord to bless me With apple-pie and cheese!
Krinken was a little child,-- It was summer when he smiled. Oft the hoary sea and grim Stretched its white arms out to him, Calling, "Sun-child, come to me; Let me warm my heart with thee!" But the child heard not the sea, Calling, yearning evermore For the summer on the shore.
Krinken on the beach one day Saw a maiden Nis at play; On the pebbly beach she played In the summer Krinken made. Fair, and very fair, was she, Just a little child was he. "Krinken," said the maiden Nis, "Let me have a little kiss, Just a kiss, and go with me To the summer-lands that be Down within the silver sea."
Krinken was a little child-- By the maiden Nis beguiled, Hand in hand with her went he, And 'twas summer in the sea. And the hoary sea and grim To its bosom folded him-- Clasped and kissed the little form, And the ocean's heart was warm.
Now the sea calls out no more; It is winter on the shore,-- Winter where that little child Made sweet summer when he smiled; Though 'tis summer on the sea Where with maiden Nis went he,-- Summer, summer evermore,-- It is winter on the shore, Winter, winter evermore. Of the summer on the deep Come sweet visions in my sleep: _His_ fair face lifts from the sea, _His_ dear voice calls out to me,-- These my dreams of summer be.
Krinken was a little child, By the maiden Nis beguiled; Oft the hoary sea and grim Reached its longing arms to him, Crying, "Sun-child, come to me; Let me warm my heart with thee!" But the sea calls out no more; It is winter on the shore,-- Winter, cold and dark and wild; Krinken was a little child,-- It was summer when he smiled; Down he went into the sea, And the winter bides with me. Just a little child was he.
BÉRANGER'S "BROKEN FIDDLE"
There, there, poor dog, my faithful friend, Pay you no heed unto my sorrow: But feast to-day while yet you may,-- Who knows but we shall starve to-morrow!
"Give us a tune," the foemen cried, In one of their profane caprices; I bade them "No"--they frowned, and, lo! They dashed this innocent in pieces!
This fiddle was the village pride-- The mirth of every fête enhancing; Its wizard art set every heart As well as every foot to dancing.
How well the bridegroom knew its voice, As from its strings its song went gushing! Nor long delayed the promised maid Equipped for bridal, coy and blushing.
Why, it discoursed so merrily, It quickly banished all dejection; And yet, when pressed, our priest confessed I played with pious circumspection.
And though, in patriotic song, It was our guide, compatriot, teacher, I never thought the foe had wrought His fury on the helpless creature!
But there, poor dog, my faithful friend, Pay you no heed unto my sorrow; I prithee take this paltry cake,-- Who knows but we shall starve to-morrow!
Ah, who shall lead the Sunday choir As this old fiddle used to do it? Can vintage come, with this voice dumb That used to bid a welcome to it?
It soothed the weary hours of toil, It brought forgetfulness to debtors; Time and again from wretched men It struck oppression's galling fetters.
No man could hear its voice, and hate; It stayed the teardrop at its portal; With that dear thing I was a king As never yet was monarch mortal!
Now has the foe--the vandal foe-- Struck from my hands their pride and glory; There let it lie! In vengeance, I Shall wield another weapon, gory!
And if, O countrymen, I fall, Beside our grave let this be spoken: "No foe of France shall ever dance Above the heart and fiddle, broken!"
So come, poor dog, my faithful friend, I prithee do not heed my sorrow, But feast to-day while yet you may, For we are like to starve to-morrow.
THE LITTLE PEACH
A little peach in the orchard grew,-- A little peach of emerald hue; Warmed by the sun and wet by the dew, It grew.
One day, passing that orchard through, That little peach dawned on the view Of Johnny Jones and his sister Sue-- Them two.
Up at that peach a club they threw-- Down from the stem on which it grew Fell that peach of emerald hue. Mon Dieu!
John took a bite and Sue a chew, And then the trouble began to brew,-- Trouble the doctor couldn't subdue. Too true!
Under the turf where the daisies grew They planted John and his sister Sue, And their little souls to the angels flew,-- Boo hoo!
What of that peach of the emerald hue, Warmed by the sun, and wet by the dew? Ah, well, its mission on earth is through. Adieu!
HORACE III. 13
O fountain of Bandusia, Whence crystal waters flow, With garlands gay and wine I'll pay The sacrifice I owe; A sportive kid with budding horns I have, whose crimson blood Anon shall dye and sanctify Thy cool and babbling flood.
O fountain of Bandusia, The dog-star's hateful spell No evil brings unto the springs That from thy bosom well; Here oxen, wearied by the plough, The roving cattle here, Hasten in quest of certain rest And quaff thy gracious cheer.
O fountain of Bandusia, Ennobled shalt thou be, For I shall sing the joys that spring Beneath yon ilex-tree; Yes, fountain of Bandusia, Posterity shall know The cooling brooks that from thy nooks Singing and dancing go!
THE DIVINE LULLABY
I hear Thy voice, dear Lord; I hear it by the stormy sea When winter nights are black and wild, And when, affright, I call to Thee; It calms my fears and whispers me, "Sleep well, my child."
I hear Thy voice, dear Lord, In singing winds, in falling snow, The curfew chimes, the midnight bell. "Sleep well, my child," it murmurs low; "The guardian angels come and go,-- O child, sleep well!"
I hear Thy voice, dear Lord, Ay, though the singing winds be stilled, Though hushed the tumult of the deep, My fainting heart with anguish chilled By Thy assuring tone is thrilled,-- "Fear not, and sleep!"
Speak on--speak on, dear Lord! And when the last dread night is near, With doubts and fears and terrors wild, Oh, let my soul expiring hear Only these words of heavenly cheer, "Sleep well, my child!"
IN THE FIRELIGHT
The fire upon the hearth is low, And there is stillness everywhere, While like winged spirits, here and there, The firelight shadows fluttering go. And as the shadows round me creep, A childish treble breaks the gloom, And softly from a further room Comes, "Now I lay me down to sleep."
And somehow, with that little prayer And that sweet treble in my ears, My thoughts go back to distant years And linger with a loved one there; And as I hear my child's amen, My mother's faith comes back to me,-- Crouched at her side I seem to be, And Mother holds my hands again.
Oh, for an hour in that dear place! Oh, for the peace of that dear time! Oh, for that childish trust sublime! Oh, for a glimpse of Mother's face! Yet, as the shadows round me creep, I do not seem to be alone,-- Sweet magic of that treble tone, And "Now I lay me down to sleep."
HEINE'S "WIDOW OR DAUGHTER?"
Shall I woo the one or other? Both attract me--more's the pity! Pretty is the widowed mother, And the daughter, too, is pretty.
When I see that maiden shrinking, By the gods I swear I'll get 'er! But anon I fall to thinking That the mother 'll suit me better!
So, like any idiot ass Hungry for the fragrant fodder, Placed between two bales of grass, Lo, I doubt, delay, and dodder!
I count my treasures o'er with care.-- The little toy my darling knew, A little sock of faded hue, A little lock of golden hair.
Long years ago this holy time, My little one--my all to me-- Sat robed in white upon my knee And heard the merry Christmas chime.
"Tell me, my little golden-head, If Santa Claus should come to-night, What shall he bring my baby bright,-- What treasure for my boy?" I said.
And then he named this little toy, While in his round and mournful eyes There came a look of sweet surprise, That spake his quiet, trustful joy.
And as he lisped his evening prayer He asked the boon with childish grace; Then, toddling to the chimney-place, He hung this little stocking there.
That night, while lengthening shadows crept, I saw the white-winged angels come With singing to our lowly home And kiss my darling as he slept.
They must have heard his little prayer, For in the morn, with rapturous face, He toddled to the chimney-place, And found this little treasure there.
They came again one Christmas-tide,-- That angel host, so fair and white! And singing all that glorious night, They lured my darling from my side.
A little sock, a little toy, A little lock of golden hair, The Christmas music on the air, A watching for my baby boy!
But if again that angel train And golden-head come back for me, To bear me to Eternity, My watching will not be in vain!
Though care and strife Elsewhere be rife, Upon my word I do not heed 'em; In bed I lie With books hard by, And with increasing zest I read 'em.
Propped up in bed, So much I've read Of musty tomes that I've a headful Of tales and rhymes Of ancient times, Which, wife declares, are "simply dreadful!"
They give me joy Without alloy; And isn't that what books are made for? And yet--and yet-- (Ah, vain regret!) I would to God they all were paid for!
No festooned cup Filled foaming up Can lure me elsewhere to confound me; Sweeter than wine This love of mine For these old books I see around me!
A plague, I say, On maidens gay; I'll weave no compliments to tell 'em! Vain fool I were, Did I prefer Those dolls to these old friends in vellum!
At dead of night My chamber's bright Not only with the gas that's burning, But with the glow Of long ago,-- Of beauty back from eld returning.
Fair women's looks I see in books, I see _them_, and I hear their laughter,-- Proud, high-born maids, Unlike the jades Which men-folk now go chasing after!
Herein again Speak valiant men Of all nativities and ages; I hear and smile With rapture while I turn these musty, magic pages.
The sword, the lance, The morris dance, The highland song, the greenwood ditty, Of these I read, Or, when the need, My Miller grinds me grist that's gritty!
When of such stuff We've had enough, Why, there be other friends to greet us; We'll moralize In solemn wise With Plato or with Epictetus.
Sneer as you may, _I'm_ proud to say That I, for one, am very grateful To Heaven, that sends These genial friends To banish other friendships hateful!
And when I'm done, I'd have no son Pounce on these treasures like a vulture; Nay, give them half My epitaph, And let them share in my sepulture.
Then, when the crack Of doom rolls back The marble and the earth that hide me, I'll smuggle home Each precious tome, Without a fear my wife shall chide me!
OUR LADY OF THE MINE
The Blue Horizon wuz a mine us fellers all thought well uv, And there befell the episode I now perpose to tell uv; 'T wuz in the year uv sixty-nine,--somewhere along in summer,-- There hove in sight one afternoon a new and curious comer; His name wuz Silas Pettibone,--a' artist by perfession,-- With a kit of tools and a big mustache and a pipe in his possession. He told us, by our leave, he 'd kind uv like to make some sketches Uv the snowy peaks, 'nd the foamin' crick, 'nd the distant mountain stretches; "You're welkim, sir," sez we, although this scenery dodge seemed to us A waste uv time where scenery wuz already sooper-_floo_-us.
All through the summer Pettibone kep' busy at his sketchin',-- At daybreak off for Eagle Pass, and home at nightfall, fetchin' That everlastin' book uv his with spider-lines all through it; Three-Fingered Hoover used to say there warn't no meanin' to it. "Gol durn a man," sez he to him, "whose shif'less hand is sot at A-drawin' hills that's full uv quartz that's pinin' to be got at!" "Go on," sez Pettibone, "go on, if joshin' gratifies ye; But one uv these fine times I'll show ye sumthin' will surprise ye!" The which remark led us to think--although he didn't say it-- That Pettibone wuz owin' us a gredge 'nd meant to pay it.
One evenin' as we sat around the Restauraw de Casey, A-singin' songs 'nd tellin' yarns the which wuz sumwhat racy, In come that feller Pettibone, 'nd sez, "With your permission, I'd like to put a picture I have made on exhibition." He sot the picture on the bar 'nd drew aside its curtain, Sayin', "I reckon you'll allow as how _that's_ art, f'r certain!" And then we looked, with jaws agape, but nary word wuz spoken, And f'r a likely spell the charm uv silence wuz unbroken-- Till presently, as in a dream, remarked Three-Fingered Hoover: "Onless I am mistaken, this is Pettibone's shef doover!"
It wuz a face--a human face--a woman's, fair 'nd tender-- Sot gracefully upon a neck white as a swan's, and slender; The hair wuz kind uv sunny, 'nd the eyes wuz sort uv dreamy, The mouth wuz half a-smilin', 'nd the cheeks wuz soft 'nd creamy; It seemed like she wuz lookin' off into the west out yonder, And seemed like, while she looked, we saw her eyes grow softer, fonder,-- Like, lookin' off into the west, where mountain mists wuz fallin', She saw the face she longed to see and heerd his voice a-callin'; "Hooray!" we cried,--"a woman in the camp uv Blue Horizon! Step right up, Colonel Pettibone, 'nd nominate your pizen!"
A curious situation,--one deservin' uv your pity,-- No human, livin', female thing this side of Denver City! But jest a lot uv husky men that lived on sand 'nd bitters,-- Do you wonder that that woman's face consoled the lonesome critters? And not a one but what it served in some way to remind him Of a mother or a sister or a sweetheart left behind him; And some looked back on happier days, and saw the old-time faces And heerd the dear familiar sounds in old familiar places,-- A gracious touch of home. "Look here," sez Hoover, "ever'body Quit thinkin' 'nd perceed at oncet to name his favorite toddy!"
It wuzn't long afore the news had spread the country over, And miners come a-flockin' in like honey-bees to clover; It kind uv did 'em good, they said, to feast their hungry eyes on That picture uv Our Lady in the camp uv Blue Horizon. But one mean cuss from Nigger Crick passed criticisms on 'er,-- Leastwise we overheerd him call her Pettibone's madonner, The which we did not take to be respectful to a lady, So we hung him in a quiet spot that wuz cool 'nd dry 'nd shady; Which same might not have been good law, but it _wuz_ the right manoeuvre To give the critics due respect for Pettibone's shef doover.
Gone is the camp,--yes, years ago the Blue Horizon busted, And every mother's son uv us got up one day 'nd dusted, While Pettibone perceeded East with wealth in his possession, And went to Yurrup, as I heerd, to study his perfession; So, like as not, you'll find him now a-paintin' heads 'nd faces At Venus, Billy Florence, and the like I-talyun places. But no sech face he'll paint again as at old Blue Horizon, For I'll allow no sweeter face no human soul sot eyes on; And when the critics talk so grand uv Paris 'nd the Loover, I say, "Oh, but you orter seen the Pettibone shef doover!"
Upon a mountain height, far from the sea, I found a shell, And to my listening ear the lonely thing Ever a song of ocean seemed to sing, Ever a tale of ocean seemed to tell.
How came the shell upon that mountain height? Ah, who can say Whether there dropped by some too careless hand, Or whether there cast when Ocean swept the Land, Ere the Eternal had ordained the Day?
Strange, was it not? Far from its native deep, One song it sang,-- Sang of the awful mysteries of the tide, Sang of the misty sea, profound and wide,-- Ever with echoes of the ocean rang.
And as the shell upon the mountain height Sings of the sea, So do I ever, leagues and leagues away,-- So do I ever, wandering where I may,-- Sing, O my home! sing, O my home! of thee.
TO A USURPER
Aha! a traitor in the camp, A rebel strangely bold,-- A lisping, laughing, toddling scamp, Not more than four years old!
To think that I, who've ruled alone So proudly in the past, Should be ejected from my throne By my own son at last!
He trots his treason to and fro, As only babies can, And says he'll be his mamma's beau When he's a "gweat, big man"!
You stingy boy! you've always had A share in mamma's heart; Would you begrudge your poor old dad The tiniest little part?
That mamma, I regret to see, Inclines to take your part,-- As if a dual monarchy Should rule her gentle heart!
But when the years of youth have sped, The bearded man, I trow, Will quite forget he ever said He'd be his mamma's beau.
Renounce your treason, little son, Leave mamma's heart to me; For there will come another one To claim your loyalty.
And when that other comes to you, God grant her love may shine Through all your life, as fair and true As mamma's does through mine!
LULLABY; BY THE SEA
Fair is the castle up on the hill-- Hushaby, sweet my own! The night is fair, and the waves are still, And the wind is singing to you and to me In this lowly home beside the sea-- Hushaby, sweet my own!
On yonder hill is store of wealth-- Hushaby, sweet my own! And revellers drink to a little one's health; But you and I bide night and day For the other love that has sailed away-- Hushaby, sweet my own!
See not, dear eyes, the forms that creep Ghostlike, O my own! Out of the mists of the murmuring deep; Oh, see them not and make no cry Till the angels of death have passed us by-- Hushaby, sweet my own!
Ah, little they reck of you and me-- Hushaby, sweet my own! In our lonely home beside the sea; They seek the castle up on the hill, And there they will do their ghostly will-- Hushaby, O my own!
Here by the sea a mother croons "Hushaby, sweet my own!" In yonder castle a mother swoons While the angels go down to the misty deep, Bearing a little one fast asleep-- Hushaby, sweet my own!
SOLDIER, MAIDEN, AND FLOWER
"Sweetheart, take this," a soldier said, "And bid me brave good-by; It may befall we ne'er shall wed, But love can never die. Be steadfast in thy troth to me, And then, whate'er my lot, 'My soul to God, my heart to thee,'-- Sweetheart, forget me not!"
The maiden took the tiny flower And nursed it with her tears: Lo! he who left her in that hour Came not in after years. Unto a hero's death he rode 'Mid shower of fire and shot; But in the maiden's heart abode The flower, forget-me-not.
And when _he_ came not with the rest From out the years of blood, Closely unto her widowed breast She pressed a faded bud; Oh, there is love and there is pain, And there is peace, God wot,-- And these dear three do live again In sweet forget-me-not.
'T is to an unmarked grave to-day That I should love to go,-- Whether he wore the blue or gray, What need that we should know? "He loved a woman," let us say, And on that sacred spot, To woman's love, that lives for aye, We'll strew forget-me-not.
HORACE TO MELPOMENE
Lofty and enduring is the monument I've reared,-- Come, tempests, with your bitterness assailing; And thou, corrosive blasts of time, by all things mortal feared, Thy buffets and thy rage are unavailing!
I shall not altogether die; by far my greater part Shall mock man's common fate in realms infernal; My works shall live as tributes to my genius and my art,-- My works shall be my monument eternal!
While this great Roman empire stands and gods protect our fanes, Mankind with grateful hearts shall tell the story, How one most lowly born upon the parched Apulian plains First raised the native lyric muse to glory.
Assume, revered Melpomene, the proud estate I've won, And, with thine own dear hand the meed supplying, Bind thou about the forehead of thy celebrated son The Delphic laurel-wreath of fame undying!
AILSIE, MY BAIRN
Lie in my arms, Ailsie, my bairn,-- Lie in my arms and dinna greit; Long time been past syn I kenned you last, But my harte been allwais the same, my swete.
Ailsie, I colde not say you ill, For out of the mist of your bitter tears, And the prayers that rise from your bonnie eyes Cometh a promise of oder yeres.
I mind the time when we lost our bairn,-- Do you ken that time? A wambling tot, You wandered away ane simmer day, And we hunted and called, and found you not.
I promised God, if He'd send you back, Alwaies to keepe and to love you, childe; And I'm thinking again of that promise when I see you creep out of the storm sae wild.
You came back then as you come back now,-- Your kirtle torn and your face all white; And you stood outside and knockit and cried, Just as you, dearie, did to-night.
Oh, never a word of the cruel wrang, That has faded your cheek and dimmed your ee; And never a word of the fause, fause lord,-- Only a smile and a kiss for me.
Lie in my arms, as long, long syne, And sleepe on my bosom, deere wounded thing,-- I'm nae sae glee as I used to be, Or I'd sing you the songs I used to sing.
But Ile kemb my fingers thro' y'r haire, And nane shall know, but you and I, Of the love and the faith that came to us baith When Ailsie, my bairn, came home to die.
Out on the mountain over the town, All night long, all night long, The trolls go up and the trolls go down, Bearing their packs and crooning a song; And this is the song the hill-folk croon, As they trudge in the light of the misty moon,-- This is ever their dolorous tune: "Gold, gold! ever more gold,-- Bright red gold for dearie!"
Deep in the hill the yeoman delves All night long, all night long; None but the peering, furtive elves See his toil and hear his song; Merrily ever the cavern rings As merrily ever his pick he swings, And merrily ever this song he sings: "Gold, gold! ever more gold,-- Bright red gold for dearie!"
Mother is rocking thy lowly bed All night long, all night long, Happy to smooth thy curly head And to hold thy hand and to sing her song; 'T is not of the hill-folk, dwarfed and old, Nor the song of the yeoman, stanch and bold, And the burden it beareth is not of gold; But it's "Love, love!--nothing but love,-- Mother's love for dearie!"
UHLAND'S "THREE CAVALIERS"
There were three cavaliers that went over the Rhine, And gayly they called to the hostess for wine. "And where is thy daughter? We would she were here,-- Go fetch us that maiden to gladden our cheer!"
"I'll fetch thee thy goblets full foaming," she said, "But in yon darkened chamber the maiden lies dead." And lo! as they stood in the doorway, the white Of a shroud and a dead shrunken face met their sight.
Then the first cavalier breathed a pitiful sigh, And the throb of his heart seemed to melt in his eye, And he cried, "Hadst thou lived, O my pretty white rose, I ween I had loved thee and wed thee--who knows?"
The next cavalier drew aside a small space, And stood to the wall with his hands to his face; And this was the heart-cry that came with his tears: "I loved her, I loved her these many long years!"
But the third cavalier kneeled him down in that place, And, as it were holy, he kissed that dead face: "I loved thee long years, and I love thee to-day, And I'll love thee, dear maiden, forever and aye!"
A CHAUCERIAN PARAPHRASE OF HORACE
Syn that you, Chloe, to your moder sticken, Maketh all ye yonge bacheloures full sicken; Like as a lyttel deere you ben y-hiding Whenas come lovers with theyre pityse chiding; Sothly it ben faire to give up your moder For to beare swete company with some oder; Your moder ben well enow so farre shee goeth, But that ben not farre enow, God knoweth; Wherefore it ben sayed that foolysh ladyes That marrye not shall leade an aype in Hadys; But all that do with gode men wed full quickylye When that they be on dead go to ye seints full sickerly.
The sky is dark and the hills are white As the storm-king speeds from the north to-night, And this is the song the storm-king sings, As over the world his cloak he flings: "Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep;" He rustles his wings and gruffly sings: "Sleep, little one, sleep."
On yonder mountain-side a vine Clings at the foot of a mother pine; The tree bends over the trembling thing, And only the vine can hear her sing: "Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; What shall you fear when I am here? Sleep, little one, sleep."
The king may sing in his bitter flight, The tree may croon to the vine to-night, But the little snowflake at my breast Liketh the song _I_ sing the best,-- Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; Weary thou art, anext my heart Sleep, little one, sleep.
BÉRANGER'S "MY LAST SONG PERHAPS" [JANUARY, 1814]
When, to despoil my native France, With flaming torch and cruel sword And boisterous drums her foeman comes, I curse him and his vandal horde! Yet, what avail accrues to her, If we assume the garb of woe? Let's merry be,--in laughter we May rescue somewhat from the foe!
Ah, many a brave man trembles now. I (coward!) show no sign of fear; When Bacchus sends his blessing, friends, I drown my panic in his cheer. Come, gather round my humble board, And let the sparkling wassail flow,-- Chuckling to think, the while you drink, "This much we rescue from the foe!"
My creditors beset me so And so environed my abode, That I agreed, despite my need, To settle up the debts I owed; When suddenly there came the news Of this invasion, as you know; I'll pay no score; pray, lend me more,-- I--_I_ will keep it from the foe!
Now here's my mistress,--pretty dear!-- Feigns terror at this martial noise, And yet, methinks, the artful minx Would like to meet those soldier boys! I tell her that they're coarse and rude, Yet feel she don't believe 'em so,-- Well, never mind; so she be kind, That much I rescue from the foe!
If, brothers, hope shall have in store For us and ours no friendly glance, Let's rather die than raise a cry Of welcome to the foes of France! But, like the swan that dying sings, Let us, O Frenchmen, singing go,-- Then shall our cheer, when death is near, Be so much rescued from the foe!
MR. DANA, OF THE NEW YORK SUN
Thar showed up out'n Denver in the spring uv '81 A man who'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun. His name wuz Cantell Whoppers, 'nd he wuz a sight ter view Ez he walked inter the orfice 'nd inquired fer work ter do. Thar warn't no places vacant then,--fer be it understood, That wuz the time when talent flourished at that altitood; But thar the stranger lingered, tellin' Raymond 'nd the rest Uv what perdigious wonders he could do when at his best, Till finally he stated (quite by chance) that he hed done A heap uv work with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
Wall, that wuz quite another thing; we owned that ary cuss Who'd worked f'r Mr. Dana _must_ be good enough fer _us_! And so we tuk the stranger's word 'nd nipped him while we could, For if _we didn't_ take him we knew John Arkins _would_; And Cooper, too, wuz mouzin' round fer enterprise 'nd brains, Whenever them commodities blew in across the plains. At any rate we nailed him, which made ol' Cooper swear And Arkins tear out handfuls uv his copious curly hair; But _we_ set back and cackled, 'nd bed a power uv fun With our man who'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
It made our eyes hang on our cheeks 'nd lower jaws ter drop, Ter hear that feller tellin' how ol' Dana run his shop: It seems that Dana wuz the biggest man you ever saw,-- He lived on human bein's, 'nd preferred to eat 'em raw! If he hed Democratic drugs ter take, before he took 'em, As good old allopathic laws prescribe, he allus shook 'em. The man that could set down 'nd write like Dany never grew, And the sum of human knowledge wuzn't half what Dana knew; The consequence appeared to be that nearly every one Concurred with Mr. Dana of the Noo York Sun.
This feller, Cantell Whoppers, never brought an item in,-- He spent his time at Perrin's shakin' poker dice f'r gin. Whatever the assignment, he wuz allus sure to shirk, He wuz very long on likker and all-fired short on work! If any other cuss had played the tricks he dared ter play, The daisies would be bloomin' over his remains to-day; But somehow folks respected him and stood him to the last, Considerin' his superior connections in the past. So, when he bilked at poker, not a sucker drew a gun On the man who 'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
Wall, Dana came ter Denver in the fall uv '83. A very different party from the man we thought ter see,-- A nice 'nd clean old gentleman, so dignerfied 'nd calm, You bet yer life he never did no human bein' harm! A certain hearty manner 'nd a fulness uv the vest Betokened that his sperrits 'nd his victuals wuz the best; His face wuz so benevolent, his smile so sweet 'nd kind, That they seemed to be the reflex uv an honest, healthy mind; And God had set upon his head a crown uv silver hair In promise uv the golden crown He meaneth him to wear. So, uv us boys that met him out'n Denver, there wuz none But fell in love with Dana uv the Noo York Sun.
But when he came to Denver in that fall uv '83, His old friend Cantell Whoppers disappeared upon a spree; The very thought uv seein' Dana worked upon him so (They hadn't been together fer a year or two, you know), That he borrered all the stuff he could and started on a bat, And, strange as it may seem, we didn't see him after that. So, when ol' Dana hove in sight, we couldn't understand Why he didn't seem to notice that his crony wa'n't on hand; No casual allusion, not a question, no, not one, For the man who'd "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun!"
We broke it gently to him, but he didn't seem surprised, Thar wuz no big burst uv passion as we fellers had surmised. He said that Whoppers wuz a man he 'd never heerd about, But he mought have carried papers on a Jarsey City route; And then he recollected hearin' Mr. Laffan say That he'd fired a man named Whoppers fur bein' drunk one day, Which, with more likker _underneath_ than money _in_ his vest, Had started on a freight-train fur the great 'nd boundin' West, But further information or statistics he had none Uv the man who'd "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun."
We dropped the matter quietly 'nd never made no fuss,-- When we get played for suckers, why, that's a horse on us!-- But every now 'nd then we Denver fellers have to laff To hear some other paper boast uv havin' on its staff A man who's "worked with Dana," 'nd then we fellers wink And pull our hats down on our eyes 'nd set around 'nd think. It seems like Dana couldn't be as smart as people say, If he educates so many folks 'nd lets 'em get away; And, as for us, in future we'll be very apt to shun The man who "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun."
But bless ye, Mr. Dana! may you live a thousan' years, To sort o' keep things lively in this vale of human tears; An' may _I_ live a thousan', too,--a thousan' less a day, For I shouldn't like to be on earth to hear you'd passed away. And when it comes your time to go you'll need no Latin chaff Nor biographic data put in your epitaph; But one straight line of English and of truth will let folks know The homage 'nd the gratitude 'nd reverence they owe; You'll need no epitaph but this: "Here sleeps the man who run That best 'nd brightest paper, the Noo York Sun."
Hush, little one, and fold your hands; The sun hath set, the moon is high; The sea is singing to the sands, And wakeful posies are beguiled By many a fairy lullaby: Hush, little child, my little child!
Dream, little one, and in your dreams Float upward from this lowly place,-- Float out on mellow, misty streams To lands where bideth Mary mild, And let her kiss thy little face, You little child, my little child!
Sleep, little one, and take thy rest, With angels bending over thee,-- Sleep sweetly on that Father's breast Whom our dear Christ hath reconciled; But stay not there,--come back to me, O little child, my little child!
HORACE TO PYRRHA
What perfumed, posie-dizened sirrah, With smiles for diet, Clasps you, O fair but faithless Pyrrha, On the quiet? For whom do you bind up your tresses, As spun-gold yellow,-- Meshes that go, with your caresses, To snare a fellow?
How will he rail at fate capricious, And curse you duly! Yet now he deems your wiles delicious, _You_ perfect, truly! Pyrrha, your love's a treacherous ocean; He'll soon fall in there! Then shall I gloat on his commotion, For _I_ have been there!
THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM
My Shepherd is the Lord my God,-- There is no want I know; His flock He leads in verdant meads, Where tranquil waters flow.
He doth restore my fainting soul With His divine caress, And, when I stray, He points the way To paths of righteousness.
Yea, though I walk the vale of death, What evil shall I fear? Thy staff and rod are mine, O God, And Thou, my Shepherd, near!
Mine enemies behold the feast Which my dear Lord hath spread; And, lo! my cup He filleth up, With oil anoints my head!
Goodness and mercy shall be mine Unto my dying day; Then will I bide at His dear side Forever and for aye!
THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S BRIDE
The women-folk are like to books,-- Most pleasing to the eye, Whereon if anybody looks He feels disposed to buy.
I hear that many are for sale,-- Those that record no dates, And such editions as regale The view with colored plates.
Of every quality and grade And size they may be found,-- Quite often beautifully made, As often poorly bound.
Now, as for me, had I my choice, I'd choose no folio tall, But some octavo to rejoice My sight and heart withal,--
As plump and pudgy as a snipe; Well worth her weight in gold; Of honest, clean, conspicuous type, And _just_ the size to hold!
With such a volume for my wife How should I keep and con! How like a dream should run my life Unto its colophon!
Her frontispiece should be more fair Than any colored plate; Blooming with health, she would not care To extra-illustrate.
And in her pages there should be A wealth of prose and verse, With now and then a _jeu d'esprit_,-- But nothing ever worse!
Prose for me when I wished for prose, Verse when to verse inclined,-- Forever bringing sweet repose To body, heart, and mind.
Oh, I should bind this priceless prize In bindings full and fine, And keep her where no human eyes Should see her charms, but mine!
With such a fair unique as this What happiness abounds! Who--who could paint my rapturous bliss, My joy unknown to Lowndes!
Sing, Christmas bells! Say to the earth this is the morn Whereon our Saviour-King is born; Sing to all men,--the bond, the free, The rich, the poor, the high, the low, The little child that sports in glee, The aged folk that tottering go,-- Proclaim the morn That Christ is born, That saveth them and saveth me!
Sing, angel host! Sing of the star that God has placed Above the manger in the east; Sing of the glories of the night, The virgin's sweet humility, The Babe with kingly robes bedight, Sing to all men where'er they be This Christmas morn; For Christ is born, That saveth them and saveth me!
Sing, sons of earth! O ransomed seed of Adam, sing! God liveth, and we have a king! The curse is gone, the bond are free,-- By Bethlehem's star that brightly beamed, By all the heavenly signs that be, We know that Israel is redeemed; That on this morn The Christ is born That saveth you and saveth me!
Sing, O my heart! Sing thou in rapture this dear morn Whereon the blessed Prince is born! And as thy songs shall be of love, So let my deeds be charity,-- By the dear Lord that reigns above, By Him that died upon the tree, By this fair morn Whereon is born The Christ that saveth all and me!
Sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,-- Little blue pigeon with velvet eyes; Sleep to the singing of mother-bird swinging-- Swinging the nest where her little one lies.
Away out yonder I see a star,-- Silvery star with a tinkling song; To the soft dew falling I hear it calling-- Calling and tinkling the night along.
In through the window a moonbeam comes,-- Little gold moonbeam with misty wings; All silently creeping, it asks, "Is he sleeping-- Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?"
Up from the sea there floats the sob Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore, As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning-- Bemoaning the ship that shall come no more.
But sleep, little pigeon, and fold your wings,-- Little blue pigeon with mournful eyes; Am I not singing?--see, I am swinging-- Swinging the nest where my darling lies.
"GOOD-BY--GOD BLESS YOU!"
I like the Anglo-Saxon speech With its direct revealings; It takes a hold, and seems to reach 'Way down into your feelings; That some folk deem it rude, I know, And therefore they abuse it; But I have never found it so,-- Before all else I choose it. I don't object that men should air The Gallic they have paid for, With "Au revoir," "Adieu, ma chère," For that's what French was made for. But when a crony takes your hand At parting, to address you, He drops all foreign lingo and He says, "Good-by--God bless you!"
This seems to me a sacred phrase, With reverence impassioned,-- A thing come down from righteous days, Quaintly but nobly fashioned; It well becomes an honest face, A voice that's round and cheerful; It stays the sturdy in his place, And soothes the weak and fearful. Into the porches of the ears It steals with subtle unction, And in your heart of hearts appears To work its gracious function; And all day long with pleasing song It lingers to caress you,-- I'm sure no human heart goes wrong That's told "Good-by--God bless you!"
I love the words,--perhaps because, When I was leaving Mother, Standing at last in solemn pause We looked at one another, And I--I saw in Mother's eyes The love she could not tell me,-- A love eternal as the skies, Whatever fate befell me; She put her arms about my neck And soothed the pain of leaving, And though her heart was like to break, She spoke no word of grieving; She let no tear bedim her eye, For fear _that_ might distress me, But, kissing me, she said good-by, And asked our God to bless me.
HORACE TO PHYLLIS
Come, Phyllis, I've a cask of wine That fairly reeks with precious juices, And in your tresses you shall twine The loveliest flowers this vale produces.
My cottage wears a gracious smile,-- The altar, decked in floral glory, Yearns for the lamb which bleats the while As though it pined for honors gory.
Hither our neighbors nimbly fare,-- The boys agog, the maidens snickering; And savory smells possess the air As skyward kitchen flames are flickering.
You ask what means this grand display, This festive throng, and goodly diet? Well, since you're bound to have your way, I don't mind telling, on the quiet.
'Tis April 13, as you know,-- A day and month devote to Venus, Whereon was born, some years ago, My very worthy friend Maecenas.
Nay, pay no heed to Telephus,-- Your friends agree he doesn't love you; The way he flirts convinces us He really is not worthy of you!
Aurora's son, unhappy lad! You know the fate that overtook him? And Pegasus a rider had-- I say he _had_ before he shook him!
Haec docet (as you must agree): 'T is meet that Phyllis should discover A wisdom in preferring me And mittening every other lover.
So come, O Phyllis, last and best Of loves with which this heart's been smitten,-- Come, sing my jealous fears to rest, And let your songs be those _I've_ written.
CHRYSTMASSE OF OLDE
God rest you, Chrysten gentil men, Wherever you may be,-- God rest you all in fielde or hall, Or on ye stormy sea; For on this morn oure Chryst is born That saveth you and me.
Last night ye shepherds in ye east Saw many a wondrous thing; Ye sky last night flamed passing bright Whiles that ye stars did sing, And angels came to bless ye name Of Jesus Chryst, oure Kyng.
God rest you, Chrysten gentil men, Faring where'er you may; In noblesse court do thou no sport, In tournament no playe, In paynim lands hold thou thy hands From bloudy works this daye.
But thinking on ye gentil Lord That died upon ye tree, Let troublings cease and deeds of peace Abound in Chrystantie; For on this morn ye Chryst is born That saveth you and me.
AT THE DOOR
I thought myself indeed secure, So fast the door, so firm the lock; But, lo! he toddling comes to lure My parent ear with timorous knock.
My heart were stone could it withstand The sweetness of my baby's plea,-- That timorous, baby knocking and "Please let me in,--it's only me."
I threw aside the unfinished book, Regardless of its tempting charms, And opening wide the door, I took My laughing darling in my arms.
Who knows but in Eternity, I, like a truant child, shall wait The glories of a life to be, Beyond the Heavenly Father's gate?
And will that Heavenly Father heed The truant's supplicating cry, As at the outer door I plead, "'T is I, O Father! only I"?
Strange that the city thoroughfare, Noisy and bustling all the day, Should with the night renounce its care, And lend itself to children's play!
Oh, girls are girls, and boys are boys, And have been so since Abel's birth, And shall be so till dolls and toys Are with the children swept from earth.
The self-same sport that crowns the day Of many a Syrian shepherd's son, Beguiles the little lads at play By night in stately Babylon.
I hear their voices in the street, Yet 't is so different now from then! Come, brother! from your winding-sheet, And let us two be boys again!
LITTLE CROODLIN DOO
Ho, pretty bee, did you see my croodlin doo? Ho, little lamb, is she jinkin' on the lea? Ho, bonnie fairy, bring my dearie back to me-- Got a lump o' sugar an' a posie for you, Only bring back my wee, wee croodlin doo!
Why, here you are, my little croodlin doo! Looked in er cradle, but didn't find you there, Looked f'r my wee, wee croodlin doo ever'where; Ben kind lonesome all er day withouten you; Where you ben, my little wee, wee croodlin doo?
Now you go balow, my little croodlin doo; Now you go rockaby ever so far,-- Rockaby, rockaby, up to the star That's winkin' an' blinkin' an' singin' to you As you go balow, my wee, wee croodlin doo!
THE "HAPPY ISLES" OF HORACE
Oh, come with me to the Happy Isles In the golden haze off yonder, Where the song of the sun-kissed breeze beguiles, And the ocean loves to wander.
Fragrant the vines that mantle those hills, Proudly the fig rejoices; Merrily dance the virgin rills, Blending their myriad voices.
Our herds shall fear no evil there, But peacefully feed and rest them; Neither shall serpent nor prowling bear Ever come there to molest them.
Neither shall Eurus, wanton bold, Nor feverish drouth distress us, But he that compasseth heat and cold Shall temper them both to bless us.
There no vandal foot has trod, And the pirate hosts that wander Shall never profane the sacred sod Of those beautiful Isles out yonder.
Never a spell shall blight our vines, Nor Sirius blaze above us, But you and I shall drink our wines And sing to the loved that love us.
So come with me where Fortune smiles And the gods invite devotion,-- Oh, come with me to the Happy Isles In the haze of that far-off ocean!
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night Sailed off in a wooden shoe,-- Sailed on a river of misty light Into a sea of dew. "Where are you going, and what do you wish?" The old moon asked the three. "We have come to fish for the herring-fish That live in this beautiful sea; Nets of silver and gold have we," Said Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
The old moon laughed and sung a song, As they rocked in the wooden shoe; And the wind that sped them all night long Ruffled the waves of dew; The little stars were the herring-fish That lived in the beautiful sea. "Now cast your nets wherever you wish, But never afeard are we!" So cried the stars to the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
All night long their nets they threw For the fish in the twinkling foam, Then down from the sky came the wooden shoe, Bringing the fishermen home; 'T was all so pretty a sail, it seemed As if it could not be; And some folk thought 't was a dream they'd dreamed Of sailing that beautiful sea; But I shall name you the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, And Nod is a little head, And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies Is a wee one's trundle-bed; So shut your eyes while Mother sings Of wonderful sights that be, And you shall see the beautiful things As you rock on the misty sea Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three,-- Wynken, Blynken, And Nod.
HUGO'S "FLOWER TO BUTTERFLY"
Sweet, bide with me and let my love Be an enduring tether; Oh, wanton not from spot to spot, But let us dwell together.
You've come each morn to sip the sweets With which you found me dripping, Yet never knew it was not dew But tears that you were sipping.
You gambol over honey meads Where siren bees are humming; But mine the fate to watch and wait For my beloved's coming.
The sunshine that delights you now Shall fade to darkness gloomy; You should not fear if, biding here, You nestled closer to me.
So rest you, love, and be my love, That my enraptured blooming May fill your sight with tender light, Your wings with sweet perfuming.
Or, if you will not bide with me Upon this quiet heather, Oh, give me wing, thou beauteous thing, That we may soar together.
A PROPER TREWE IDYLL OF CAMELOT
Whenas ye plaisaunt Aperille shoures have washed and purged awaye Ye poysons and ye rheums of earth to make a merrie May, Ye shraddy boscage of ye woods ben full of birds that syng Right merrilie a madrigal unto ye waking spring, Ye whiles that when ye face of earth ben washed and wiped ycleane Her peeping posies blink and stare like they had ben her een;
Then, wit ye well, ye harte of man ben turned to thoughts of love, And, tho' it ben a lyon erst, it now ben like a dove! And many a goodly damosel in innocence beguiles Her owne trewe love with sweet discourse and divers plaisaunt wiles. In soche a time ye noblesse liege that ben Kyng Arthure hight Let cry a joust and tournament for evereche errant knyght, And, lo! from distant Joyous-garde and eche adjacent spot A company of noblesse lords fared unto Camelot, Wherein were mighty feastings and passing merrie cheere, And eke a deale of dismal dole, as you shall quickly heare.
It so befell upon a daye when jousts ben had and while Sir Launcelot did ramp around ye ring in gallaunt style, There came an horseman shriking sore and rashing wildly home,-- A mediaeval horseman with ye usual flecks of foame; And he did brast into ye ring, wherein his horse did drop, Upon ye which ye rider did with like abruptness stop, And with fatigue and fearfulness continued in a swound Ye space of half an hour or more before a leech was founde. "Now tell me straight," quod Launcelot, "what varlet knyght you be, Ere that I chine you with my sworde and cleave your harte in three!" Then rolled that knyght his bloudy een, and answered with a groane,-- "By worthy God that hath me made and shope ye sun and mone, There fareth hence an evil thing whose like ben never seene, And tho' he sayeth nony worde, he bode the ill, I ween. So take your parting, evereche one, and gird you for ye fraye, By all that's pure, ye Divell sure doth trend his path this way!" Ye which he quoth and fell again into a deadly swound, And on that spot, perchance (God wot), his bones mought yet be founde.
Then evereche knight girt on his sworde and shield and hied him straight To meet ye straunger sarasen hard by ye city gate; Full sorely moaned ye damosels and tore their beautyse haire For that they feared an hippogriff wolde come to eate them there; But as they moaned and swounded there too numerous to relate, Kyng Arthure and Sir Launcelot stode at ye city gate, And at eche side and round about stode many a noblesse knyght With helm and speare and sworde and shield and mickle valor dight.
Anon there came a straunger, but not a gyaunt grim, Nor yet a draggon,--but a person gangling, long, and slim; Yclad he was in guise that ill-beseemed those knyghtly days, And there ben nony etiquette in his uplandish ways; His raiment was of dusty gray, and perched above his lugs There ben the very latest style of blacke and shiny pluggs; His nose ben like a vulture beake, his blie ben swart of hue, And curly ben ye whiskers through ye which ye zephyrs blewe; Of all ye een that ben yseene in countries far or nigh, None nonywhere colde hold compare unto that straunger's eye; It was an eye of soche a kind as never ben on sleepe, Nor did it gleam with kindly beame, nor did not use to weepe; But soche an eye ye widdow hath,--an hongrey eye and wan, That spyeth for an oder chaunce whereby she may catch on; An eye that winketh of itself, and sayeth by that winke Ye which a maiden sholde not knowe nor never even thinke; Which winke ben more exceeding swift nor human thought ben thunk, And leaveth doubting if so be that winke ben really wunke; And soch an eye ye catte-fysshe hath when that he ben on dead And boyled a goodly time and served with capers on his head; A rayless eye, a bead-like eye, whose famisht aspect shows It hungereth for ye verdant banks whereon ye wild time grows; An eye that hawketh up and down for evereche kind of game, And, when he doth espy ye which, he tumbleth to ye same.
Now when he kenned Sir Launcelot in armor clad, he quod, "Another put-a-nickel-in-and-see-me-work, be god!" But when that he was ware a man ben standing in that suit, Ye straunger threw up both his hands, and asked him not to shoote.
Then spake Kyng Arthure: "If soe be you mind to do no ill, Come, enter into Camelot, and eat and drink your fill; But say me first what you are hight, and what mought be your quest." Ye straunger quod, "I'm five feet ten, and fare me from ye West!" "Sir Fivefeetten," Kyng Arthure said, "I bid you welcome here; So make you merrie as you list with plaisaunt wine and cheere; This very night shall be a feast soche like ben never seene, And you shall be ye honored guest of Arthure and his queene. Now take him, good sir Maligraunce, and entertain him well Until soche time as he becomes our guest, as I you tell."
That night Kyng Arthure's table round with mighty care ben spread, Ye oder knyghts sate all about, and Arthure at ye heade: Oh, 't was a goodly spectacle to ken that noblesse liege Dispensing hospitality from his commanding siege! Ye pheasant and ye meate of boare, ye haunch of velvet doe, Ye canvass hamme he them did serve, and many good things moe. Until at last Kyng Arthure cried: "Let bring my wassail cup, And let ye sound of joy go round,--I'm going to set 'em up! I've pipes of Malmsey, May-wine, sack, metheglon, mead, and sherry, Canary, Malvoisie, and Port, swete Muscadelle and perry; Rochelle, Osey, and Romenay, Tyre, Rhenish, posset too, With kags and pails of foaming ales of brown October brew. To wine and beer and other cheere I pray you now despatch ye, And for ensample, wit ye well, sweet sirs, I'm looking at ye!"
Unto which toast of their liege lord ye oders in ye party Did lout them low in humble wise and bid ye same drink hearty. So then ben merrisome discourse and passing plaisaunt cheere, And Arthure's tales of hippogriffs ben mervaillous to heare; But stranger far than any tale told of those knyghts of old Ben those facetious narratives ye Western straunger told. He told them of a country many leagues beyond ye sea Where evereche forraine nuisance but ye Chinese man ben free, And whiles he span his monstrous yarns, ye ladies of ye court Did deem ye listening thereunto to be right plaisaunt sport; And whiles they listened, often he did squeeze a lily hande, Ye which proceeding ne'er before ben done in Arthure's lande; And often wank a sidelong wink with either roving eye, Whereat ye ladies laughen so that they had like to die. But of ye damosels that sat around Kyng Arthure's table He liked not her that sometime ben ron over by ye cable, Ye which full evil hap had harmed and marked her person so That in a passing wittie jest he dubbeth her ye crow.
But all ye oders of ye girls did please him passing well And they did own him for to be a proper seeming swell; And in especial Guinevere esteemed him wondrous faire, Which had made Arthure and his friend, Sir Launcelot, to sware But that they both ben so far gone with posset, wine, and beer, They colde not see ye carrying-on, nor neither colde not heare; For of eche liquor Arthure quafft, and so did all ye rest, Save only and excepting that smooth straunger from the West. When as these oders drank a toast, he let them have their fun With divers godless mixings, but _he_ stock to willow run, Ye which (and all that reade these words sholde profit by ye warning) Doth never make ye head to feel like it ben swelled next morning. Now, wit ye well, it so befell that when the night grew dim, Ye Kyng was carried from ye hall with a howling jag on him, Whiles Launcelot and all ye rest that to his highness toadied Withdrew them from ye banquet-hall and sought their couches loaded.
Now, lithe and listen, lordings all, whiles I do call it shame That, making cheer with wine and beer, men do abuse ye same; Though eche be well enow alone, ye mixing of ye two Ben soche a piece of foolishness as only ejiots do. Ye wine is plaisaunt bibbing whenas ye gentles dine, And beer will do if one hath not ye wherewithal for wine, But in ye drinking of ye same ye wise are never floored By taking what ye tipplers call too big a jag on board. Right hejeous is it for to see soche dronkonness of wine Whereby some men are used to make themselves to be like swine; And sorely it repenteth them, for when they wake next day Ye fearful paynes they suffer ben soche as none mought say, And soche ye brenning in ye throat and brasting of ye head And soche ye taste within ye mouth like one had been on dead,--Soche be ye foul conditions that these unhappy men Sware they will never drink no drop of nony drinke again. Yet all so frail and vain a thing and weak withal is man That he goeth on an oder tear whenever that he can. And like ye evil quatern or ye hills that skirt ye skies, Ye jag is reproductive and jags on jags arise.
Whenas Aurora from ye east in dewy splendor hied King Arthure dreemed he saw a snaix and ben on fire inside, And waking from this hejeous dreeme he sate him up in bed,-- "What, ho! an absynthe cocktail, knave! and make it strong!" he said; Then, looking down beside him, lo! his lady was not there-- He called, he searched, but, Goddis wounds! he found her nonywhere; And whiles he searched, Sir Maligraunce rashed in, wood wroth, and cried, "Methinketh that ye straunger knyght hath snuck away my bride!" And whiles _he_ spake a motley score of other knyghts brast in And filled ye royall chamber with a mickle fearfull din, For evereche one had lost his wiffe nor colde not spye ye same, Nor colde not spye ye straunger knyght, Sir Fivefeetten of name.
Oh, then and there was grevious lamentation all arounde, For nony dame nor damosel in Camelot ben found,-- Gone, like ye forest leaves that speed afore ye autumn wind. Of all ye ladies of that court not one ben left behind Save only that same damosel ye straunger called ye crow, And she allowed with moche regret she ben too lame to go; And when that she had wept full sore, to Arthure she confess'd That Guinevere had left this word for Arthure and ye rest: "Tell them," she quod, "we shall return to them whenas we've made This little deal we have with ye Chicago Bourde of Trade."
BÉRANGER'S "MA VOCATION"
Misery is my lot, Poverty and pain; Ill was I begot, Ill must I remain; Yet the wretched days One sweet comfort bring, When God whispering says, "Sing, O singer, sing!"
Chariots rumble by, Splashing me with mud; Insolence see I Fawn to royal blood; Solace have I then From each galling sting In that voice again,-- "Sing, O singer, sing!"
Cowardly at heart, I am forced to play A degraded part For its paltry pay; Freedom is a prize For no starving thing; Yet that small voice cries, "Sing, O singer, sing!"
I _was_ young, but now, When I'm old and gray, Love--I know not how Or why--hath sped away; Still, in winter days As in hours of spring, _Still_ a whisper says, "Sing, O singer, sing!"
Ah, too well I know Song's my only friend! Patiently I'll go Singing to the end; Comrades, to your wine! Let your glasses ring! Lo, that voice divine Whispers, "Sing, oh, sing!"
CHILD AND MOTHER
O mother-my-love, if you'll give me your hand, And go where I ask you to wander, I will lead you away to a beautiful land,-- The Dreamland that's waiting out yonder. We'll walk in a sweet posie-garden out there, Where moonlight and starlight are streaming, And the flowers and the birds are filling the air With the fragrance and music of dreaming.
There'll be no little tired-out boy to undress, No questions or cares to perplex you, There'll be no little bruises or bumps to caress, Nor patching of stockings to vex you; For I'll rock you away on a silver-dew stream And sing you asleep when you're weary, And no one shall know of our beautiful dream But you and your own little dearie.
And when I am tired I'll nestle my head In the bosom that's soothed me so often, And the wide-awake stars shall sing, in my stead, A song which our dreaming shall soften. So, Mother-my-Love, let me take your dear hand, And away through the starlight we'll wander,-- Away through the mist to the beautiful land,-- The Dreamland that's waiting out yonder.
What conversazzhyonies wuz I really did not know, For that, you must remember, wuz a powerful spell ago; The camp wuz new 'nd noisy, 'nd only modrit sized, So fashionable sossiety wuz hardly crystallized. There hadn't been no grand events to interest the men, But a lynchin', or a inquest, or a jackpot now an' then. The wimmin-folks wuz mighty scarce, for wimmin, ez a rool, Don't go to Colorado much, excep' for teachin' school, An' bein' scarce an' chipper and pretty (like as not), The bachelors perpose, 'nd air accepted on the spot.
Now Sorry Tom wuz owner uv the Gosh-all-Hemlock mine, The wich allowed his better haff to dress all-fired fine; For Sorry Tom wuz mighty proud uv her, an' she uv him, Though _she_ wuz short an' tacky, an' _he_ wuz tall an' slim, An' _she_ wuz edjicated, an' Sorry Tom wuz _not_, Yet, for _her_ sake, he'd whack up every cussid cent he'd got! Waal, jest by way uv celebratin' matrimonial joys, She thought she'd give a conversazzhyony to the boys,-- A peert an' likely lady, 'nd ez full uv 'cute idees 'Nd uv etiquettish notions ez a fyste is full uv fleas.
Three-fingered Hoover kind uv kicked, an' said they might be durned So far ez any conversazzhyony was concerned; _He'd_ come to Red Hoss Mountain to tunnel for the ore, An' _not_ to go to parties,--quite another kind uv bore! But, bein' he wuz candidate for marshal uv the camp, I rayther had the upper holts in arguin' with the scamp; Sez I, "Three-fingered Hoover, can't ye see it is yer game To go for all the votes ye kin an' collar uv the same?" The wich perceivin', Hoover sez, "Waal, ef I _must_, I _must_; So I'll frequent that conversazzhyony, ef I bust!"
Three-fingered Hoover wuz a trump! Ez fine a man wuz he Ez ever caused an inquest or blossomed on a tree!-- A big, broad man, whose face bespoke a honest heart within,-- With a bunch uv yaller whiskers appertainin' to his chin, 'Nd a fierce mustache turnt up so fur that both his ears wuz hid, Like the picture that you always see in the "Life uv Cap'n Kidd." His hair wuz long an' wavy an' fine as Southdown fleece,-- Oh, it shone an' smelt like Eden when he slicked it down with grease! I'll bet there wuzn't anywhere a man, all round, ez fine Ez wuz Three-fingered Hoover in the spring uv '69!
The conversazzhyony wuz a notable affair, The bong tong deckolett 'nd en regaly bein' there; The ranch where Sorry Tom hung out wuz fitted up immense,-- The Denver papers called it a "palashal residence." There wuz mountain pines an' fern an' flowers a-hangin' on the walls, An' cheers an' hoss-hair sofies wuz a-settin' in the halls; An' there wuz heaps uv pictures uv folks that lived down East, Sech ez poets an' perfessers, an' last, but not the least, Wuz a chromo uv old Fremont,--we liked that best, you bet, For there's lots uv us old miners that is votin' for him yet!
When Sorry Tom received the gang perlitely at the door, He said that keerds would be allowed upon the second floor; And then he asked us would we like a drop uv ody vee. Connivin' at his meanin', we responded promptly, "Wee." A conversazzhyony is a thing where people speak The langwidge in the which they air partickulerly weak: "I see," sez Sorry Tom, "you grasp what that 'ere lingo means." "You bet yer boots," sez Hoover; "I've lived at Noo Orleens, An', though I ain't no Frenchie, nor kin unto the same, I kin parly voo, an' git there, too, like Eli, toot lee mame!"
As speakin' French wuz not my forte,--not even oovry poo,-- I stuck to keerds ez played by them ez did not parly voo, An' bein' how that poker wuz my most perficient game, I poneyed up for 20 blues an' set into the same. Three-fingered Hoover stayed behind an' parly-vood so well That all the kramy delly krame allowed he wuz _the_ belle. The other candidate for marshal didn't have a show; For, while Three-fingered Hoover parlyed, ez they said, tray bow, Bill Goslin didn't know enough uv French to git along, 'Nd I reckon that he had what folks might call a movy tong.
From Denver they had freighted up a real pianny-fort Uv the warty-leg and pearl-around-the-keys-an'-kivver sort, An', later in the evenin', Perfesser Vere de Blaw Performed on that pianny, with considerble eclaw, Sech high-toned opry airs ez one is apt to hear, you know, When he rounds up down to Denver at a Emmy Abbitt show; An' Barber Jim (a talented but ornery galoot) Discoursed a obligatter, conny mory, on the floot, 'Till we, ez sot up-stairs indulgin' in a quiet game, Conveyed to Barber Jim our wish to compromise the same.
The maynoo that wuz spread that night wuz mighty hard to beat,-- Though somewhat awkward to pernounce, it was not so to eat: There wuz puddin's, pies, an' sandwidges, an' forty kinds uv sass, An' floatin' Irelands, custards, tarts, an' patty dee foy grass; An' millions uv cove oysters wuz a-settin' round in pans, 'Nd other native fruits an' things that grow out West in cans. But I wuz all kufflummuxed when Hoover said he'd choose "Oon peety morso, see voo play, de la cette Charlotte Rooze;" I'd knowed Three-fingered Hoover for fifteen years or more, 'Nd I'd never heern him speak so light uv wimmin folks before!
Bill Goslin heern him say it, 'nd uv course _he_ spread the news Uv how Three-fingered Hoover had insulted Charlotte Rooze At the conversazzhyony down at Sorry Tom's that night, An' when they asked me, I allowed that Bill for once wuz right; Although it broke my heart to see my friend go up the fluke, We all opined his treatment uv the girl deserved rebuke. It warn't no use for Sorry Tom to nail it for a lie,-- When it come to sassin' wimmin, there wuz blood in every eye; The boom for Charlotte Rooze swep' on an' took the polls by storm, An' so Three-fingered Hoover fell a martyr to reform!
Three-fingered Hoover said it was a terrible mistake, An' when the votes wuz in, he cried ez if his heart would break. We never knew who Charlotte wuz, but Goslin's brother Dick Allowed she wuz the teacher from the camp on Roarin' Crick, That had come to pass some foreign tongue with them uv our alite Ez wuz at the high-toned party down at Sorry Tom's that night. We let it drop--this matter uv the lady--there an' then, An' we never heerd, nor wanted to, of Charlotte Rooze again, An' the Colorado wimmin-folks, ez like ez not, don't know How we vindicated all their sex a twenty year ago.
For in these wondrous twenty years has come a mighty change, An' most of them old pioneers have gone acrosst the range, Way out into the silver land beyond the peaks uv snow,-- The land uv rest an' sunshine, where all good miners go. I reckon that they love to look, from out the silver haze, Upon that God's own country where they spent sech happy days; Upon the noble cities that have risen since they went; Upon the camps an' ranches that are prosperous and content; An' best uv all, upon those hills that reach into the air, Ez if to clasp the loved ones that are waitin' over there.
PROF. VERE DE BLAW
Achievin' sech distinction with his moddel tabble dote Ez to make his Red Hoss Mountain restauraw a place uv note, Our old friend Casey innovated somewhat round the place, In hopes he would ameliorate the sufferin's uv the race; 'Nd uv the many features Casey managed to import The most important wuz a Steenway gran' pianny-fort, An' bein' there wuz nobody could play upon the same, He telegraffed to Denver, 'nd a real perfesser came,-- The last an' crownin' glory uv the Casey restauraw Wuz that tenderfoot musicianer, Perfesser Vere de Blaw!
His hair wuz long an' dishybill, an' he had a yaller skin, An' the absence uv a collar made his neck look powerful thin: A sorry man he wuz to see, az mebby you'd surmise, But the fire uv inspiration wuz a-blazin' in his eyes! His name wuz Blanc, wich same is Blaw (for that's what Casey said, An' Casey passed the French ez well ez any Frenchie bred); But no one ever reckoned that it really wuz his name, An' no one ever asked him how or why or whence he came,-- Your ancient history is a thing the Coloradan hates, An' no one asks another what his name wuz in the States!
At evenin', when the work wuz done, an' the miners rounded up At Casey's, to indulge in keerds or linger with the cup, Or dally with the tabble dote in all its native glory, Perfessor Vere de Blaw discoursed his music repertory Upon the Steenway gran' piannyfort, the wich wuz sot In the hallway near the kitchen (a warm but quiet spot), An' when De Blaw's environments induced the proper pride,-- Wich gen'rally wuz whiskey straight, with seltzer on the side,-- He throwed his soulful bein' into opry airs 'nd things Wich bounded to the ceilin' like he'd mesmerized the strings.
Oh, you that live in cities where the gran' piannies grow, An' primy donnies round up, it's little that you know Uv the hungerin' an' the yearnin' wich us miners an' the rest Feel for the songs we used to hear before we moved out West. Yes, memory is a pleasant thing, but it weakens mighty quick; It kind uv dries an' withers, like the windin' mountain crick, That, beautiful, an' singin' songs, goes dancin' to the plains, So long ez it is fed by snows an' watered by the rains; But, uv that grace uv lovin' rains 'nd mountain snows bereft, Its bleachin' rocks, like dummy ghosts, is all its memory left.
The toons wich the perfesser would perform with sech eclaw Would melt the toughest mountain gentleman I ever saw,-- Sech touchin' opry music ez the Trovytory sort, The sollum "Mizer Reery," an' the thrillin' "Keely Mort;" Or, sometimes, from "Lee Grond Dooshess" a trifle he would play, Or morsoze from a' opry boof, to drive dull care away; Or, feelin' kind uv serious, he'd discourse somewhat in C,-- The wich he called a' opus (whatever that may be); But the toons that fetched the likker from the critics in the crowd Wuz _not_ the high-toned ones, Perfesser Vere de Blaw allowed.
'T wuz "Dearest May," an' "Bonnie Doon," an' the ballard uv "Ben Bolt," Ez wuz regarded by all odds ez Vere de Blaw's best holt; Then there wuz "Darlin' Nellie Gray," an' "Settin' on the Stile," An' "Seein' Nellie Home," an' "Nancy Lee," 'nd "Annie Lisle," An' "Silver Threads among the Gold," an' "The Gal that Winked at Me," An' "Gentle Annie," "Nancy Till," an' "The Cot beside the Sea." Your opry airs is good enough for them ez likes to pay Their money for the truck ez can't be got no other way; But opry to a miner is a thin an' holler thing,--The music that he pines for is the songs he used to sing.
One evenin' down at Casey's De Blaw wuz at his best, With four-fingers uv old Wilier-run concealed beneath his vest; The boys wuz settin' all around, discussin' folks an' things, 'Nd I had drawed the necessary keerds to fill on kings; Three-fingered Hoover kind uv leaned acrosst the bar to say If Casey'd liquidate right off, _he'd_ liquidate next day; A sperrit uv contentment wuz a-broodin' all around (Onlike the other sperrits wich in restauraws abound), When, suddenly, we heerd from yonder kitchen-entry rise A toon each ornery galoot appeared to recognize.
Perfesser Vere de Blaw for once eschewed his opry ways, An' the remnants uv his mind went back to earlier, happier days, An' grappled like an' wrassled with a' old familiar air The wich we all uv us had heern, ez you have, everywhere! Stock still we stopped,--some in their talk uv politics an' things, I in my unobtrusive attempt to fill on kings, 'Nd Hoover leanin' on the bar, an' Casey at the till,-- We all stopped short an' held our breaths (ez a feller sometimes will), An' sot there more like bumps on logs than healthy, husky men, Ez the memories uv that old, old toon come sneakin' back again.
You've guessed it? No, you hav n't; for it wuzn't that there song Uv the home we'd been away from an' had hankered for so long,-- No, sir; it wuzn't "Home, Sweet Home," though it's always heard around Sech neighborhoods in wich the home that _is_ "sweet home" is found. And, ez for me, I seemed to see the past come back again, And hear the deep-drawed sigh my sister Lucy uttered when Her mother asked her if she 'd practised her two hours that day, Wich, if she hadn't, she must go an' do it right away! The homestead in the States 'nd all its memories seemed to come A-floatin' round about me with that magic lumty-tum.
And then uprose a stranger wich had struck the camp that night; His eyes wuz sot an' fireless, 'nd his face wuz spookish white, 'Nd he sez: "Oh, how I suffer there is nobody kin say, Onless, like me, he's wrenched himself from home an' friends away To seek surcease from sorrer in a fur, seclooded spot, Only to find--alars, too late!--the wich surcease is not! Only to find that there air things that, somehow, seem to live For nothin' in the world but jest the misery they give! I've travelled eighteen hundred miles, but that toon has got here first; I'm done,--I'm blowed,--I welcome death, an' bid it do its worst!"
Then, like a man whose mind wuz sot on yieldin' to his fate, He waltzed up to the counter an' demanded whiskey straight, Wich havin' got outside uv,--both the likker and the door,-- We never seen that stranger in the bloom uv health no more! But some months later, what the birds had left uv him wuz found Associated with a tree, some distance from the ground; And Husky Sam, the coroner, that set upon him, said That two things wuz apparent, namely: first, deceast wuz dead; And, second, previously had got involved beyond all hope In a knotty complication with a yard or two uv rope!
MEDIAEVAL EVENTIDE SONG
Come hither, lyttel childe, and lie upon my breast to-night, For yonder fares an angell yclad in raimaunt white, And yonder sings ye angell as onely angells may, And his songe ben of a garden that bloometh farre awaye.
To them that have no lyttel childe Godde sometimes sendeth down A lyttel childe that ben a lyttel lambkyn of his owne; And if so bee they love that childe, He willeth it to staye, But elsewise, in His mercie He taketh it awaye.
And sometimes, though they love it, Godde yearneth for ye childe, And sendeth angells singing, whereby it ben beguiled; They fold their arms about ye lamb that croodleth at his play, And beare him to ye garden that bloometh farre awaye.
I wolde not lose ye lyttel lamb that Godde hath lent to me; If I colde sing that angell songe, how joysome I sholde bee! For, with mine arms about him, and my musick in his eare, What angell songe of paradize soever sholde I feare?
Soe come, my lyttel childe, and lie upon my breast to-night, For yonder fares an angell yclad in raimaunt white, And yonder sings that angell, as onely angells may, And his songe ben of a garden that bloometh farre awaye.
The mountain brook sung lonesomelike, and loitered on its way Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play; The wild-flowers uv the hillside bent down their heads to hear The music uv the little feet that had somehow grown so dear; The magpies, like winged shadders, wuz a-flutterin' to an' fro Among the rocks an' holler stumps in the ragged gulch below; The pines an' hemlocks tosst their boughs (like they wuz arms) and made Soft, sollum music on the slope where he had often played; But for these lonesome, sollum voices on the mountain-side, There wuz no sound the summer day that Marthy's younkit died.
We called him Marthy's younkit, for Marthy wuz the name Uv her ez wuz his mar, the wife uv Sorry Tom,--the same Ez taught the school-house on the hill, way back in '69, When she marr'd Sorry Tom, wich owned the Gosh-all-Hemlock mine! And Marthy's younkit wuz their first, wich, bein' how it meant The first on Red Hoss Mountain, wuz truly a' event! The miners sawed off short on work ez soon ez they got word That Dock Devine allowed to Casey what had just occurred; We loaded up an' whooped around until we all wuz hoarse Salutin' the arrival, wich weighed ten pounds, uv course!
Three years, and sech a pretty child!--his mother's counterpart! Three years, an' sech a holt ez he had got on every heart! A peert an' likely little tyke with hair ez red ez gold, A-laughin', toddlin' everywhere,--'nd only three years old! Up yonder, sometimes, to the store, an' sometimes down the hill He kited (boys is boys, you know,--you couldn't keep him still!) An' there he'd play beside the brook where purpul wild-flowers grew, An' the mountain pines an' hemlocks a kindly shadder threw, An' sung soft, sollum toons to him, while in the gulch below The magpies, like strange sperrits, went flutterin' to an' fro.
Three years, an' then the fever come,--it wuzn't right, you know, With all us old ones in the camp, for that little child to go; It's right the old should die, but that a harmless little child Should miss the joy uv life an' love,--that can't be reconciled! That's what we thought that summer day, an' that is what we said Ez we looked upon the piteous face uv Marthy's younkit dead. But for his mother's sobbin', the house wuz very still, An' Sorry Tom wuz lookin', through the winder, down the hill, To the patch beneath the hemlocks where his darlin' used to play, An' the mountain brook sung lonesomelike an' loitered on its way.
A preacher come from Roarin' Crick to comfort 'em an' pray, 'Nd all the camp wuz present at the obsequies next day; A female teacher staged it twenty miles to sing a hymn, An' we jined her in the chorus,--big, husky men an' grim Sung "Jesus, Lover uv my Soul," an' then the preacher prayed, An' preacht a sermon on the death uv that fair blossom laid Among them other flowers he loved,--wich sermon set sech weight On sinners bein' always heeled against the future state, That, though it had been fashionable to swear a perfec' streak, There warn't no swearin' in the camp for pretty nigh a week!
Last thing uv all, four strappin' men took up the little load An' bore it tenderly along the windin', rocky road, To where the coroner had dug a grave beside the brook, In sight uv Marthy's winder, where the same could set an' look An' wonder if his cradle in that green patch, long an' wide, Wuz ez soothin' ez the cradle that wuz empty at her side; An' wonder if the mournful songs the pines wuz singin' then Wuz ez tender ez the lullabies she'd never sing again, 'Nd if the bosom of the earth in wich he lay at rest Wuz half ez lovin' 'nd ez warm ez wuz his mother's breast.
The camp is gone; but Red Hoss Mountain rears its kindly head, An' looks down, sort uv tenderly, upon its cherished dead; 'Nd I reckon that, through all the years, that little boy wich died Sleeps sweetly an' contentedly upon the mountain-side; That the wild-flowers uv the summer-time bend down their heads to hear The footfall uv a little friend they know not slumbers near; That the magpies on the sollum rocks strange flutterin' shadders make, An' the pines an' hemlocks wonder that the sleeper doesn't wake; That the mountain brook sings lonesomelike an' loiters on its way Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play.
Through sleet and fogs to the saline bogs Where the herring fish meanders, An army sped, and then, 't is said, Swore terribly in Flanders: "--------!" "--------!" A hideous store of oaths they swore, Did the army over in Flanders!
At this distant day we're unable to say What so aroused their danders; But it's doubtless the case, to their lasting disgrace, That the army swore in Flanders: "--------!" "--------!" And many more such oaths they swore, Did that impious horde in Flanders!
Some folks contend that these oaths without end Began among the commanders, That, taking this cue, the subordinates, too, Swore terribly in Flanders: Twas "------------!" "--------"
Why, the air was blue with the hullaballoo Of those wicked men in Flanders!
But some suppose that the trouble arose With a certain Corporal Sanders, Who sought to abuse the wooden shoes That the natives wore in Flanders. Saying: "--------!" "--------"
What marvel then, that the other men Felt encouraged to swear in Flanders! At any rate, as I grieve to state, Since these soldiers vented their danders Conjectures obtain that for language profane There is no such place as Flanders. "--------" "--------"
This is the kind of talk you'll find If ever you go to Flanders. How wretched is he, wherever he be, That unto this habit panders! And how glad am I that my interests lie In Chicago, and not in Flanders! "----------------!" "----------------!"
Would never go down in this circumspect town However it might in Flanders.
OUR BIGGEST FISH
When in the halcyon days of old, I was a little tyke, I used to fish in pickerel ponds for minnows and the like; And oh, the bitter sadness with which my soul was fraught When I rambled home at nightfall with the puny string I'd caught! And, oh, the indignation and the valor I'd display When I claimed that all the biggest fish I'd caught had got away!
Sometimes it was the rusty hooks, sometimes the fragile lines, And many times the treacherous reeds would foil my just designs; But whether hooks or lines or reeds were actually to blame, I kept right on at losing all the monsters just the same-- I never lost a _little_ fish--yes, I am free to say It always was the _biggest_ fish I caught that got away.
And so it was, when later on, I felt ambition pass From callow minnow joys to nobler greed for pike and bass; I found it quite convenient, when the beauties wouldn't bite And I returned all bootless from the watery chase at night, To feign a cheery aspect and recount in accents gay How the biggest fish that I had caught had somehow got away.
And really, fish look bigger than they are before they are before they're caught-- When the pole is bent into a bow and the slender line is taut, When a fellow feels his heart rise up like a doughnut in his throat And he lunges in a frenzy up and down the leaky boat! Oh, you who've been a-fishing will indorse me when I say That it always _is_ the biggest fish you catch that gets away!
'T 'is even so in other things--yes, in our greedy eyes The biggest boon is some elusive, never-captured prize; We angle for the honors and the sweets of human life-- Like fishermen we brave the seas that roll in endless strife;
And then at last, when all is done and we are spent and gray, We own the biggest fish we've caught are those that got away.
I would not have it otherwise; 't is better there should be Much bigger fish than I have caught a-swimming in the sea; For now some worthier one than I may angle for that game-- May by his arts entice, entrap, and comprehend the same; Which, having done, perchance he'll bless the man who's proud to say That the biggest fish he ever caught were those that got away.
O hapless day! O wretched day! I hoped you'd pass me by-- Alas, the years have sneaked away And all is changed but I! Had I the power, I would remand You to a gloom condign, But here you've crept upon me and I--I am thirty-nine!
Now, were I thirty-five, I could Assume a flippant guise; Or, were I forty years, I should Undoubtedly look wise; For forty years are said to bring Sedateness superfine; But thirty-nine don't mean a thing-- _À bas_ with thirty-nine!
You healthy, hulking girls and boys,-- What makes you grow so fast? Oh, I'll survive your lusty noise-- I'm tough and bound to last! No, no--I'm old and withered too-- I feel my powers decline (Yet none believes this can be true Of one at thirty-nine).
And you, dear girl with velvet eyes, I wonder what you mean Through all our keen anxieties By keeping sweet sixteen. With your dear love to warm my heart, Wretch were I to repine; I was but jesting at the start-- I'm glad I'm thirty-nine!
So, little children, roar and race As blithely as you can, And, sweetheart, let your tender grace Exalt the Day and Man; For then these factors (I'll engage) All subtly shall combine To make both juvenile and sage The one who's thirty-nine!
Yes, after all, I'm free to say I would much rather be Standing as I do stand to-day, 'Twixt devil and deep sea; For though my face be dark with care Or with a grimace shine, Each haply falls unto my share, For I am thirty-nine!
'Tis passing meet to make good cheer And lord it like a king, Since only once we catch the year That doesn't mean a thing. O happy day! O gracious day! I pledge thee in this wine-- Come, let us journey on our way A year, good Thirty-Nine!
Sept. 2, 1889.
_Where wail the waters in their flaw A spectre wanders to and fro, And evermore that ghostly shore Bemoans the heir of Yvytot_.
_Sometimes, when, like a fleecy pall, The mists upon the waters fall, Across the main float shadows twain That do not heed the spectre's call_.
The king his son of Yvytot Stood once and saw the waters go Boiling around with hissing sound The sullen phantom rocks below.
And suddenly he saw a face Lift from that black and seething place-- Lift up and gaze in mute amaze And tenderly a little space,
A mighty cry of love made he-- No answering word to him gave she, But looked, and then sunk back again Into the dark and depthless sea.
And ever afterward that face, That he beheld such little space, Like wraith would rise within his eyes And in his heart find biding place.
So oft from castle hall he crept Where mid the rocks grim shadows slept, And where the mist reached down and kissed The waters as they wailed and wept.
The king it was of Yvytot That vaunted, many years ago, There was no coast his valiant host Had not subdued with spear and bow.
For once to him the sea-king cried: "In safety all thy ships shall ride An thou but swear thy princely heir Shall take my daughter to his bride.
"And lo, these winds that rove the sea Unto our pact shall witness be, And of the oath which binds us both Shall be the judge 'twixt me and thee!"
Then swore the king of Yvytot Unto the sea-king years ago, And with great cheer for many a year His ships went harrying to and fro.
Unto this mighty king his throne Was born a prince, and one alone-- Fairer than he in form and blee And knightly grace was never known.
But once he saw a maiden face Lift from a haunted ocean place-- Lift up and gaze in mute amaze And tenderly a little space.
Wroth was the king of Yvytot, For that his son would never go Sailing the sea, but liefer be Where wailed the waters in their flow,
Where winds in clamorous anger swept, Where to and fro grim shadows crept, And where the mist reached down and kissed The waters as they wailed and wept.
So sped the years, till came a day The haughty king was old and gray, And in his hold were spoils untold That he had wrenched from Norroway.
Then once again the sea-king cried: "Thy ships have harried far and wide; My part is done--now let thy son Require my daughter to his bride!"
Loud laughed the king of Yvytot, And by his soul he bade him no-- "I heed no more what oath I swore, For I was mad to bargain so!"
Then spake the sea-king in his wrath: "Thy ships lie broken in my path! Go now and wring thy hands, false king! Nor ship nor heir thy kingdom hath!
"And thou shalt wander evermore All up and down this ghostly shore, And call in vain upon the twain That keep what oath a dastard swore!"
The king his son of Yvytot Stood even then where to and fro The breakers swelled--and there beheld A maiden face lift from below.
"Be thou or truth or dream," he cried, "Or spirit of the restless tide, It booteth not to me, God wot! But I would have thee to my bride."
Then spake the maiden: "Come with me Unto a palace in the sea, For there my sire in kingly ire Requires thy king his oath of thee!"
Gayly he fared him down the sands And took the maiden's outstretched hands; And so went they upon their way To do the sea-king his commands.
The winds went riding to and fro And scourged the waves that crouched below, And bade them sing to a childless king The bridal song of Yvytot.
So fell the curse upon that shore, And hopeless wailing evermore Was the righteous dole of the craven soul That heeded not what oath he swore.
An hundred ships went down that day All off the coast of Norroway, And the ruthless sea made mighty glee Over the spoil that drifting lay.
The winds went calling far and wide To the dead that tossed in the mocking tide: "Come forth, ye slaves! from your fleeting graves And drink a health to your prince his bride!"
_Where wail the waters in their flow A spectre wanders to and fro, But nevermore that ghostly shore Shall claim the heir of Yvytot_.
_Sometimes, when, like a fleecy pall, The mists upon the waters fall, Across the main flit shadows twain That do not heed the spectre's call_.
I once knew all the birds that came And nested in our orchard trees; For every flower I had a name-- My friends were woodchucks, toads, and bees; I knew where thrived in yonder glen What plants would soothe a stone-bruised toe-- Oh, I was very learned then; But that was very long ago!
I knew the spot upon the hill Where checkerberries could be found, I knew the rushes near the mill Where pickerel lay that weighed a pound! I knew the wood,--the very tree Where lived the poaching, saucy crow, And all the woods and crows knew me-- But that was very long ago.
And pining for the joys of youth, I tread the old familiar spot Only to learn this solemn truth: I have forgotten, am forgot. Yet here's this youngster at my knee Knows all the things I used to know; To think I once was wise as he-- But that was very long ago.
I know it's folly to complain Of whatsoe'er the Fates decree; Yet were not wishes all in vain, I tell you what my wish should be: I'd wish to be a boy again, Back with the friends I used to know; For I was, oh! so happy then-- But that was very long ago!
TO A SOUBRETTE
'Tis years, soubrette, since last we met; And yet--ah, yet, how swift and tender My thoughts go back in time's dull track To you, sweet pink of female gender! I shall not say--though others may-- That time all human joy enhances; But the same old thrill comes to me still With memories of your songs and dances.
Soubrettish ways these latter days Invite my praise, but never get it; I still am true to yours and you-- My record's made, I'll not upset it! The pranks they play, the things they say-- I'd blush to put the like on paper, And I'll avow they don't know how To dance, so awkwardly they caper!
I used to sit down in the pit And see you flit like elf or fairy Across the stage, and I'll engage No moonbeam sprite was half so airy; Lo, everywhere about me there Were rivals reeking with pomatum, And if, perchance, they caught your glance In song or dance, how did I hate 'em!
At half-past ten came rapture--then Of all those men was I most happy, For bottled beer and royal cheer And têtes-à-têtes were on the tapis. Do you forget, my fair soubrette, Those suppers at the Cafe Rector,-- The cosey nook where we partook Of sweeter cheer than fabled nectar?
Oh, happy days, when youth's wild ways Knew every phase of harmless folly! Oh, blissful nights, whose fierce delights Defied gaunt-featured Melancholy! Gone are they all beyond recall, And I--a shade, a mere reflection-- Am forced to feed my spirit's greed Upon the husks of retrospection!
And lo! to-night, the phantom light, That, as a sprite, flits on the fender, Reveals a face whose girlish grace Brings back the feeling, warm and tender; And, all the while, the old-time smile Plays on my visage, grim and wrinkled,-- As though, soubrette, your footfalls yet Upon my rusty heart-strings tinkled!
Last night, my darling, as you slept, I thought I heard you sigh, And to your little crib I crept, And watched a space thereby; And then I stooped and kissed your brow, For oh! I love you so-- You are too young to know it now, But some time you shall know!
Some time when, in a darkened place Where others come to weep, Your eyes shall look upon a face Calm in eternal sleep, The voiceless lips, the wrinkled brow, The patient smile shall show-- You are too young to know it now, But some time you may know!
Look backward, then, into the years, And see me here to-night-- See, O my darling! how my tears Are falling as I write; And feel once more upon your brow The kiss of long ago-- You are too young to know it now, But some time you shall know.