Stray Pebbles from the Shores of Thought by Gould, Elizabeth Porter
[Illustration: Yours Sincerely,
Elizabeth Porter Gould.]
STRAY PEBBLES FROM THE SHORES OF THOUGHT
BY ELIZABETH PORTER GOULD
BOSTON PRESS OF T. O. METCALF & CO. 1892
COPYRIGHT 1892 BY ELIZABETH PORTER GOULD
POEMS OF NATURE: PAGE To Walt Whitman 11 To Summer Hours 12 A True Vacation 13 A Question 14 To a Butterfly 16 In a Hammock 18 O rare, sweet summer day 20 An Old Man's Reverie 22 On Jefferson Hill 26 On Sugar Hill 28 At "Fairfield's," Wenham 29 Blossom-time 31 The Primrose 33 Joy, all Joy 35 Among the Pines 37 Conscious or Unconscious 39
POEMS OF LOVE:
Love's How and Why 43 Love's Guerdon 44 A Birthday Greeting 45 Three Kisses 48 If I were only sure 50 Absence 52 A Love Song 53 In Her Garden 55 Love's Wish 56 Is there anything purer 58 Longing 60 Young Love's Message 61 A Diary's Secret 63 A Monologue 65 A Priceless Gift 66 The Ocean's Moan 67 Love's Flower 70 Renunciation 71 Love Discrowned 74 A Widow's Heart Cry 76 Together 78 Shadowed Circles 80
A Song of Success 85 The Under World 87 She Knows 88 At Pittsford, Vermont 90 Childhood's Days 92 An Answer 94 Where, What, Whence 96 Heroes 98 A Magdalen's Easter Cry 100 For the Anniversary of Mrs. Browning's Death 103 Robert Browning 105 To Neptune, in behalf of S. C. G. 107 To the Pansies growing on the grave of A. S. D. 109 A Broken Heart 111 My Release 113 The god of music 115 To Wilhelm Gericke 118 For E. T. F. 1.--After the birth of her son 119 2.--Upon the death of her son 121 To C. H. F. 123 An Anniversary Poem 126 A Comfort 128 An Anniversary 129 To Miss Elizabeth P. Peabody 131 At Life's Setting 133 Grandma Waiting 136 Does it Pay 144 Auxilium ab Alto 145 Limitations 147 The Muse of History 148 An Impromptu to G. H. T. 151 To Mrs. Partington 153 Lines for the Seventieth Birthday Anniversary of Walt Whitman 156
The Known God 161 To Phillips Brooks 163 At the "Porter Manse" 165 Our Lady of the Manse 167 To B. P. Shillaber 169 To Our Mary 171 A Birthday Remembrance 173 Josef Hofmann 175 After the Denial 177 Gethsemane 179 On Lake Memphremagog 181 Luke 23: 24 183 To Members of my Home Club 185
FOR MY LITTLE NEPHEWS AND NIECES:
Mamma's Lullaby 189 Warren's Song 190 Baby Mildred 192 Rosamond and Mildred 194 'Chilla 196 Childish Fancies 197 What little Bertram did 199 "Dear little Mac" 202 Willard and Florence on Mt. Wachusett 207 A little Brazilian 210 The little doubter 213 Our Kitty's Trick 217 A Message 220
POEMS OF NATURE.
TO WALT WHITMAN.
"I loafe and invite my soul." And what do I feel? An influx of life from the great central power That generates beauty from seedling to flower.
"I loafe and invite my soul." And what do I hear? Original harmonies piercing the din Of measureless tragedy, sorrow, and sin.
"I loafe and invite my soul." And what do I see? The temple of God in the perfected man Revealing the wisdom and end of earth's plan.
TO SUMMER HOURS.
Trip lightly, joyous hours, While Day her heart reveals. Such wealth from secret bowers King Time himself ne'er steals. O joy, King Time ne'er steals!
Breathe gently, tireless hours, While Night in beauty sleeps. Hold back e'en softest showers,-- Enough that mortal weeps. Ah me, that my heart weeps!
A TRUE VACATION.
IN A HAMMOCK.
"Cradled thus and wind caressed," Under the trees, (Oh what ease.) Nature full of joyous greeting; Dancing, singing, naught secreting, Ever glorious thoughts repeating-- Pause, O Time, I'm satisfied! Now all life Is glorified!
_Porter Manse, Wenham, Mass._
Is life a farce? Tell me, O breeze, Bearing the perfume of flowers and trees, While gaily decked birds Pour forth their gladness in songs beyond words, And cloudlets coquette in the fresh summer air Rejoicing in everything being so fair-- Is life a farce?
How can it be, child, When Nature at heart Is but the great spirit of love and of art Eternally saying, "I must God impart."
Is life a farce? Tell me, O soul, Struggling to act out humanity's whole 'Midst Error and Wrong, And failure in sight of true victory's song; With Wisdom and Virtue at times lost to view, And love for the many lost in love for the few-- Is life a farce?
How can it be, child, When humanity's heart Is but the great spirit of love and of art Eternally crying, "I must God impart."
TO A BUTTERFLY.
O butterfly, now prancing Through the air, So glad to share The freedom of new living, Come, tell me my heart's seeking. Shall I too know After earth's throe Full freedom of my being? Shall I, as you, Through law as true, Know life of fuller meaning?
O happy creature, dancing, Is time too short With pleasure fraught For you to heed my seeking?
Ah, well, you've left me thinking: If here on earth A second birth Can so transform a being, Why may not I In worlds on high Be changed beyond earth's dreaming?
IN A HAMMOCK.
The rustling leaves above me, The breezes sighing round me, A network glimpse of bluest sky To meet the upturned seeing eye, The greenest lawn beneath me, Loved flowers and birds to greet me, A well-kept house of ancient days To tell of human nature's ways,-- Oh happy, happy hour!
Whence comes all this to bless me, The soft wind to caress me, The life which does my strength renew For purer visions of the true? Alas! no one can tell me. But, hush! let Nature lead me. Let even wisest questions cease While I breathe in such life and peace This happy, happy hour.
_Porter Manse, Wenham, Mass._
O RARE, SWEET SUMMER DAY.
"The day is placid in its going, To a lingering motion bound, Like a river in its flowing-- Can there be a softer sound?"
O rare, sweet summer day, Could'st thou not longer stay? The soothing, whispering wind's caress Was bliss to weary brain, The songs of birds had power to bless As in fair childhood's reign.
The tinted clouds were free from showers, The sky was wondrous clear, The precious incense of rare flowers Made sweet the atmosphere; The shimmering haze of mid-day hour Was balm to restlessness, While thought of silent hidden power Was strength for helplessness-- O rare, sweet summer day, Could'st thou not longer stay?
AN OLD MAN'S REVERIE.
Blow breezes, fresh breezes, on Love's swiftest wing, And bear her the message my heart dares to sing. Pause not on the highways where gathers earth's dust, Nor in the fair heavens, though cloudlets say must. But blow through the valleys where flowers await To give of their essence ere yielding to fate; Or blow on the hill tops where atmospheres lie Imbued with the health which no money can buy. But fail not, O breezes, on Love's swiftest wing To bear her the message my heart dares to sing.
The breezes, thus ladened, sped on in their flight, As, cradled in hammock, I sang in delight, On that blest summer day in the years long ago, When life was all sunshine and youth all aglow. The sweets of the valleys, the breath of the hills Were gathered--the best that our loved earth distills-- As, obedient still to my wish, on they flew To the home of my darling they now so well knew.
* * * * *
Alas for the breezes, alas for my heart, Alas for my message, so full of love's art! If only the breezes had followed their will, And loitered among the pure cloudlets so still, They'd have met a fair soul from the earth just set free In search of their help for its message to me; The message my darling, with last fleeting breath, In vain tried to utter, o'ertaken by death.
The breezes, fresh breezes, have blown on since then, With messages laden again and again. As for me, I send none. I wait only their will To bring me that message my lone heart to fill. They'll find it some day in a light zephyr chase, For nothing is lost in pure love's boundless space.
ON JEFFERSON HILL.
(BEFORE THE PRESIDENTIAL RANGE.)
The sovereign mountains bask in sunset rays, The valleys rest in peace; The lingering clouds melt into twilight haze, The birds their warbling cease; The villagers' hour of welcome sleep is near, The cattle wander home, While wrapped in summer-scented atmosphere, Calm evening comes to roam With gentle pace Through star-lit space, Till moon-kissed Night holds all in her embrace, And Morning waits to show her dawn-flushed face.
ON SUGAR HILL.
TO F. B. F.
The lovely valleys nestling in the arms Of glorious mountain peaks; The purple tint of sunset hour, and charms The evening hour bespeaks; The monarch peak kissed by the rising sun, While clouds keep guard below; Grand, restful views, with foliage autumn-won, And Northern lights rare glow,-- Will e'er recall, In memory's hall, The happy days when on fair "Look-Off's" height, Sweet friendship cast her hues of golden light.
_Hotel Look-Off, September, 1891._
AT FAIRFIELDS[A], WENHAM.
Buttercups and daisies, Clover red and white, Ferns and crown-topped grasses Waving with delight, Dainty locust-blossoms, All that glad June yields, Welcome me with gladness To dearly-loved "Fairfields." But where's my happy collie dog, My Rosa?
The orioles sing greeting, The butterflies come near, The hens cease not their cackling, The horses neigh "I'm here," The cows nod "I have missed you," The pigs' eyes even shine, And from the red-house hearth-stone Comes pet cat Valentine. But where's my happy collie dog, My Rosa?
I miss her joyful greeting, Her handsome, high-bred face, Her vigorous, playful action In many a fair field chase. Not even lively Sancho Can fill for me her place.
O Rosa, happy Rosa, Gone where the good dogs go, Dost find such fields as "Fairfields," More love than we could show?
[A] "Fairfields" is but another name for "Porter Manse."
Blossoms floating through the air, Bearing perfumes rich and rare, Free from trouble, toil, and care. Would I were a blossom!
Robins singing in the trees, Feeling every velvet breeze, Free from knowledge that bereaves. Would I were a robin!
Violets peaceful in the vale, Telling each its happy tale, Free from worldly noise and sale. Would I were a violet!
Blessed day of needed wealth, Full of Nature's perfect health, Fill me with thy power.
Then like blossoms I shall be, Wafting only purity, Or like robins, singing free 'Midst the deepening mystery, Or like violets, caring naught Only to reflect God's thought."
Who tells you, sweet primrose, 'tis time to wake up After dreaming all day? Who changes so quickly your sombre green dress To the yellow one gay, And makes you the pet of the twilight's caress, And of poet's sweet lay? Who does, primrose, pray?
The primrose, secure on his emerald throne, Looked up quickly to say, "A dear lovely fairy glides down from his throne In the sun's golden ray, And with a sweet kiss opens wide all our eyes, Saying, 'Now is your day.' And lo! when he's gone we are filled with surprise At our wondrous array, So fresh and so gay. Do tell us the name of this fairy, I pray, Who gives of his beauty, and then hies away Without thanks, without pay. Does he linger your way?"
JOY, ALL JOY.
Lying on the new-mown hay, in a sightly field, On a summer day, With no care to weigh, Or a bitter thought to stay all that sense might yield-- What a joy to have alway!
Sky as blue as blue can be, perfect green all round, Birdlings on the wing Ere they pause to sing On the top of bush or tree, or on sweet hay-mound-- Restful joy in everything!
Butterflies just come to light, proud of freedom's hour, Cows in pastures near, Wondering why I'm here, Chipmunks now and then in sight, bees in clover-flower-- Added joy when these appear!
Happy children far and near climbing loads of hay, Running here and there. Farmer's work to share, Skipping, shouting loud and clear, full of daring play-- Children's joy! Joy everywhere!
AMONG THE PINES.
Far up in air the pines are murmuring Love songs sweet and low, With a rhythmic flow, Worthy of the glad sun's glow.
The airy clouds are o'er them bending, Captured by the sound Of such pleasure found In a playful daily round.
The birds pause in their flight to listen, Wondering all the while How the trees can smile Rooted so to earthly guile.
The hush of summer noon enwraps them Perfumed from below By the flowers that show They, too, murmuring love songs know.
All nature finds a joy in loving-- Oh, that I could hear Love songs once so dear Death has hushed forever here!
_Intervale Woods, North Conway._
CONSCIOUS OR UNCONSCIOUS?
The earthquake's shock, the thunder's roar, The lightning's vivid chain, The ocean's strength, the deluge's pour, The wildest hurricane,
Are moods that Nature loves to show To man who boasts his birth From conscious force she could not know Because denied soul-worth.
But is it true she does not share A knowledge in God's plan? Must not she His own secret bear To so touch soul of man?
Those who deny this see not clear Into the heart of things; For how could otherwise God here Reveal His wanderings?
POEMS OF LOVE.
LOVE'S HOW AND WHY.
How do I love thee? Oh, who knows How the blush of the rose Can its secret disclose? Oh, who knows?
Why do I love thee? Ah, who cares Sound a passion he shares With the angels? Who dares, Yes, who dares?
Thine eyes are stars to hold me To love's pure rapturous height. Thy thoughts are pearls to lead me To truth beyond earth's sight. Thy love is life to keep me Forever in God's light.
A BIRTHDAY GREETING.
Thy birthday, dear? Oh, would I had the poet's art By which I could my wish impart For thy new year; But e'en a poet's pen of gold Would fail my wish to thee unfold In earthly sphere.
Thy birthday, dear? Oh, would I had the painter's skill Prophetic visions to fulfill For thy new year; But e'en a painter's rarest brush Would but my holy visions crush, Or fail to cheer.
Thy birthday, dear? Oh, would I had sweet music's aid To vitalize the prayers I've made For thy new year; Alas! not even music's best Could put in form my soul's behest For thee, my dear.
That only will expression find In purest depths of thine own mind This coming year; As, guided by the inner light, There'll come to thee the new-born sight Of ravished seer.
But in this sight thou may'st so feel Eternal beauty o'er thee steal-- God's gift, my dear-- That thou can'st find the blessed art By which to make e'en depths of heart In form appear.
Yet, it may be a heaven's birthday Will have to dawn for us to say Our best things, dear. For, as thou know'st, Truth's deepest well Must e'er reflect, its depths to tell Heaven's atmosphere.
The kiss still burns upon my brow, That kiss of long ago, When in the flush of love's first hour He said he loved me so.
Another burns yet deeper still, The kiss of wedded bliss, When soul met soul in rapture sweet-- Oh, pure love's burning kiss!
The third was laid away with him, A kiss for heaven's day, (O heart abide God's way)-- When in the life beyond earth's change,
Beyond these mysteries sad and strange, New life will spring from out the old, New thoughts will larger truth unfold, And love have endless sway.
IF I WERE ONLY SURE.
If I were only sure He loves me still, As in the realms of beauteous space (Alas! so far from my embrace) He bides God's will, I could be more content to bear The bitter anguish and despair Which now me fill.
If I were only sure He waits for me To join him in the heavenly realm (Oh, how the thought does overwhelm) When body-free, I could the better bear my fate, As day by day I learn to wait In silent agony.
O Father, in my doubt One thing is sure, That Thou, all love, could ne'er destroy (Death only is in earth's alloy) Such love so pure As that which blessed our union here, The love which knew no change nor fear-- Such must endure.
The days are happy here, dear, But happier would they be Could'st thou be near to bless me With love's sweet ministry;
Then all this beauty round me Would on my memory lie, As prayers of sainted mother, Or childhood's lullaby.
_Hotel Look-Off, Sugar Hill, N.H._
A LOVE SONG.
Oh! ecstasy rare Comes down to share The heart that with human love trembles; While all on the earth Is crowned with new birth And everything heaven resembles.
But grief and despair Have latent their share In hearts that with human love tremble, Since fires of love Enkindled above In frail earthen vessels assemble.
Still, ecstasy rare Comes down to share The heart that with human love trembles; While all on the earth Is crowned with new birth And everything heaven resembles.
IN HER GARDEN.
She picks me June roses. Were ever such roses? Their fragrance would honor The heavenly halls.
She finds me pet pansies. Such wondrous-eyed pansies, And lovely nasturtiums That run on the walls.
Sweet peas she's now bringing, While all the time singing. And I? Ask the flowers To tell what befalls.
Would I were beautiful! Then you at Beauty's shrine might freely dine, A welcome guest For joy's bequest. But, dear, if this were so,-- If I were Beauty's child, all undefiled, To make you blest In beauty's quest,
You might forget to see The soul's pure hidden shrine wherein e'er shine The things that test Love's true behest. Would I were beautiful, That you might better see the soul in me! That wish is best, Is 't not, dearest?
IS THERE ANYTHING PURER?
Oh, the prayer of a dear virgin-heart, Breathed forth with true love's gentle art! Is there anything purer On land or on sea, More laden with blessing For you or for me?
It is sweeter than song ever heard, More precious than love's spoken word. It is fraught with a keen recognition Of truest soul-need and fruition. Is there anything purer On land or on sea, More laden with comfort For you or for me?
It is oftentimes born in great pain, With no ray of hope's blessed gain. But as lulled by the angels at midnight Ere reaching the infinite daylight Is there anything surer, On land or on sea, To bring the God-Father To you or to me?
Through all this summer joy and rest, Though lying on fair Nature's breast, There breathes the longing heart's desire, Would he were here!
The thrill of pain kind Nature feels; For all the while there o'er me steals Like holy chimes in midnight air, "He'll soon be here."
And flowers and trees, vales, hills, and birds Make haste to echo her glad words, "He'll soon be here."
YOUNG LOVE'S MESSAGE.
Sing too, little bird, what my heart sings to-day. Dost thou know?-- I'll speak low-- "Oh, I do love him so."
Hold safe, waving grass, in thy rhythmical flow, What I say, Till the day When as sweet new-mown hay
Thou can'st bear it to him in the fragrance loved best. Thou dost fear?-- Oh, love dear, How I wish thou wert here!
But pause, little cloud, thou canst carry it now, I am sure, Sweet and pure, Though the winds do allure;
For thou art on the way to the west where he is. But dost know?-- Tell him low, "That I do love him so, Oh! I do love him so."
A DIARY'S SECRET.
_January 1, 1867._
God's love was once enough My heart to satisfy, When in the days of childhood's faith I knew not doubt or sigh.
But since I saw Roy's face, And knew his love's sweet cheer, And felt the anguish and despair Which come from partings here,
So hungry have I grown No love can satisfy, And all my childhood's faith in God Doth mock me as a lie.
But still in these dark hours I hold one anchor fast: Perhaps this is the _woman's_ way To reach God's love at last.
_January 1, 1887._
The deepening years have proved Love's conquest justified. The woman's hungry heart at last In God is satisfied.
Has Love come? Ah, too late! Already Death stands o'er me With hungry eyes that bore me-- O cruel fate, That after all life's years Of sacrifice and tears, 'Tis Death, not Love, that wins. But, stay! This message bear, Ere yet Death's work begins: "In other realms earth's losses Will change from saddening crosses To love-crowned joy, Where Death shall have no mission, But Love his sweet fruition Without alloy."
A PRICELESS GIFT.
'Twas much he asked--a virgin heart Unknown to worldly ways. What could he give? Ah, well he knew He lacked sweet virtue's praise.
The virgin heart was given to him Without a doubting thought, When, lo! through seeming sacrifice A miracle was wrought;
A miracle of love and grace, Revealing woman's power; For, clothed in purity, he rose To meet the coming hour.
THE OCEAN'S MOAN.
Last night the ocean's moan Was to my ears The deep sad undertone Of vanished years,
Bearing a burden, A bliss unattained, A strife and a longing, A life sad and pained, To the shores vast and free Of eternity's sea.
But in that undertone Of restless pain, Came at length a monotone Of sweet refrain,
Bearing a passion Long known to the sea-- Told in moments of silence A sad heart to free-- To be borne me some day In the ocean's own way.
And this rare monotone Of mystery Was now that passion-moan Of secrecy,
Bearing, "I love her, My moaning ne'er'll cease Till she on my breast Findeth love's perfect peace; Till she on my breast Findeth love's perfect rest."
Oh, is there tenderer tone For mortal ear, Than such a monotone, Distinct and clear,
Bearing its comfort, Its heavenly peace, Its help for all sorrow, Its heart-pain release, To a soul waiting long For love's tender, true song?
And now the ocean's moan Is to my ears The dearest undertone Of all the years,
Bearing a memory, A sweet bliss attained, A gratified longing, A life's joys regained, To the shores vast and free Of eternity's sea.
_Boar's Head, Hampton, N.H._
Love's sweet and tender flower Of pure, perennial life, Blooms ever fresh in power O'er all earth's wrong and strife.
Pluck not in haste, young man, This flower of wondrous hue, Nor dare to crush, nor fail to scan. Such beauty ever new.
Gaze at it long, young girl, And guard its sacred blush; Then shall its treasures old unfurl Your yearning soul to hush.
(_In Four Scenes._)
"When he comes, my darling, I shall tell him all: All the secret ecstasy, All the peace and joy, All my heart's sweet fantasy, Free from self's alloy,-- All--
O blessed power Of love's sweet hour, When I shall tell him all, Shall tell him all!"
"Hark, hark! he's come. I hear his step. O joy, love's hour is here. I knew that he was true and pure, I could not feel love's fear. Oh, no; I could not, dear."
She gave one look, one piercing look, Drew back her anguished soul, Then murmured low, "O bitter hour! But--God--forgive--the--whole-- Forgive--
O bitter power Of love's death-hour, I thought to tell him all, To tell him all."
He gazed upon her lifeless face, He held her lifeless hand. Was this the form he once had loved? He did not understand. Once loved? Yes, that was so. He'd loved since, one or two, And--well, what was a woman for, If not for man to woo?
Alas, for broken hearts and lives Of those who can but trust! Alas, for those who see no law But that of selfish must!
"Oh, is not love eternal When once the heart be won? Oh, is not love infernal When love can be undone?"
So sighed a gentle maiden In light of memory dear, As, sad and heavy-laden, She longed for knowledge clear.
But soon the bitter heart-ache Gave way to victory's cheer; For, brave, she chose for His sake The life which knows no peer;
The life of abnegation Which gives the Christ's own peace, But leaves the sad temptation To ask for life's release.
A WIDOW'S HEART-CRY.
"Thy will, not mine, be done!" So breathe I when the day's begun, So breathe I when the day is done.
I whisper it in blinding tears, I pause and listen, till appears The welcome voice for listening ears;
The voice which checks my wayward will And makes my longing heart to thrill With love for those who need me still.
But, O, how long must I so pray? When will I learn to calmly say, "Thy will is mine," both night and day?
Ah! this can never be on earth, Since he who gladly gave me birth To everything that was of worth
Has gone from out my sense and sight, To what? O ye who still invite To heaven's sure realm and faith's own right,
Reveal some clue for me to see What life is his, what he's to me. Alas! ye can't. Then what can be
More precious when the day is done, Or when the morning is begun, Than, "Not my will, but Thine, be done."
Transformed, redeemed from all that dwarfs or blights, In perfect harmony with beauteous sights Beyond imagination's highest flights Ere reached by seer, We shall together walk the golden streets Sometime, my dear.
But how, you ask, shall we each other know, So changed from what we were while here below, When, caged like birds, we longed and suffered so? Ah, do not fear. Will not the soul, when free, seek like the bird Its own, my dear?
It may not be at once or soon, 'tis true. For you may be among the blessed few Who'll sooner reach the blissful heights--your due For pure life here-- But sometime, sure as God is love and truth, We'll meet, my dear.
Some precious, long-forgotten look or word Breathed through the softest, sweetest music heard, Or some vibration rare of soul depths stirred By memory's tear, Will, like a flash of light, reveal our souls Together, dear, To live the fuller life we've dreamed of here.
Why weepest thou, O dear one? Do sorrows press? Beneath the weight of sorrow Is love's caress.
Why joyest thou, O dear one? Is love thine own? Ah! 'neath love's deep rejoicing Is sorrow's moan.
Indeed, all earth's great passions-- Is it not so?-- Are circled in the shadow Of joy or woe.
But why should we bemoan this? Could otherwise Truth's dazzling light be subject To mortal eyes?
Could otherwise we enter The endless light, Beyond the shadowed circle Of mortal sight?
A SONG OF SUCCESS.
I am dancing along. Just to live is a joy, I'm so happy and free. I know not nor care what will tame or destroy, Life now satisfies me. Oh, there's naught like dear youth To reveal the glad truth That 'tis pure, healthful joy just to know and to be!
I am marching along, full of work and of plan To alleviate wrong. With a heart full of love both to God and to man, And an arm free and strong. Oh, there's naught like mid-life To make sure without strife The beauty of progress through action and song.
I am living along, sitting down by the way. My work is all done. I have fought the good fight, known the full of each day, And true victory won. Oh, there's naught like old age To declare with the sage, Life ending on earth is but heaven begun.
Under the restless surface Of ocean's vast domain, The god of perfect quiet Holds ever peaceful reign.
Under the restless surface Of passions strong and wild, The still small voice of conscience Is heard in accents mild.
Under the restless surface Of all man's life on earth, The Christ of sacred story Renews each day his birth.
(_Written at Mountain Cottage, on Mount Wachusett, where Louisa M. Alcott spent the last summer of her life._)
Last summer she believed that in and through these beauteous scenes God's loving self did flow, But now she knows 'tis so.
For, having crossed the boundary lines of honest doubt and fear, She sees with spirit-eye What sense could not descry.
Her firm belief, thus blossomed into perfect flower of sight, Becomes a restful cheer To all who linger here,
Still asking for the secret of these changing, beauteous scenes, And troubled with the why Of all earth's sorrowing cry.
Her presence here has filled the place with memory of a soul Made beautiful through pain Eternity to gain.
AT PITTSFORD, VERMONT.
TO J. A. C.
As winds the lovely Otter Creek through vales of summer green, Ne'er pausing on its way, Though love its tribute pay,
So gently winds my loving thought through memory's changing scenes, To days of long ago When thee I first did know.
Thy heartfelt sympathy and help were to my fresh young soul What these dear Vermont hills Are to the little rills;
A presence near, a faithful strength, life-giving and serene-- Oh, hills, be now as much To her who feels Time's touch!
In different paths, through various ways, we've known the world since then. Together now we rest On Nature's peaceful breast.
TO M. C.
If knowledge gained in later years May wholly cloud from sight The glimpse which childhood's eye hath caught Of heaven's celestial light,
Then need we not the atmosphere Of second childhood's days To catch another broader glimpse Of heaven's immortal rays?
Ah, yes; we even need to seek, Through earth's illusive hour, Immortal childhood's heavenly days Of sweet, revealing power;
For how can otherwise we catch The deeper glimpses yet Of life eternal, glorious, pure, Where sun hath never set?
TO B. P. S.
"Why don't I write a story?" Ah, friend, if you could see The depths of hidden heart-life Alas! so known to me,
You'd find the truest story Flashed out in gleams of light, Before which all pens falter And vanish out of sight.
And as they vanish from me They leave the impress clear, That only Heaven's pen could write Such stories acted here.
So in His book of life, Revealed to all some day, You'll find my story grand and true, Worked out in His own way.
WHERE? WHAT? WHENCE?
The kingdom of heaven is where? Oh, where? Would that the heart which with pity o'erflows, While deigning love's burdens to share, Could disclose!
The kingdom of heaven is what? Oh, what? Would that the Infinite Presence which flows Through a life on the earth finely cut Might disclose!
The kingdom of heaven is whence? Oh, whence? Ah! let the wind and the breath of the rose Their secrets of life and of sense Dare disclose! Could we then see the better whence spirit arose? Who knows? Oh, who knows?
The heroes on the battlefield are calm in death, Their fighting o'er; They feel no more the fevered breath Of battle's war; They hear at last the voice that saith "Fight on no more."
But oh, the heroes on the grander field of peace, Who know no rest! Whose hearts ne'er feel the full release From mortal quest, Nor breathe the air where struggles cease The soul to test.
For such we mourn, O purifying soul of life, For such we pray. Let Nature free them from the strife Of falsehood's way, And Love through every struggle rife Have free, full play.
A MAGDALEN'S EASTER CRY.
In the different mansions of heavenly space Prepared for the faithful and pure, (Ah me, for the faithful and pure!) Can I dare hope to find e'en a small resting place Free from sin and all earthly allure?
Can a soul such as mine, that has wasted life's wealth On the baubles and gewgaws of time, (Ah me, on the baubles of time!) Have a fitting strength left to regain needed health For the life of a heavenly clime?
For a life where the laws of the spirit, not sense, Bring their perfect eternal reward, (Ah me, their eternal reward!) And the pleasures obtained with such fever intense Can find nowhere a vibrating chord?
Oh, woe is me, woe is me, this Easter day! No hope riseth up in my soul. (Ah me, my poor sin-laden soul!) I have only the dregs of my pleasure to pay, And such wrong, bitter thoughts of life's whole.
But, listen! What's that? What's that message I hear Bearing down on my sad troubled heart? (Ah me, on my sad troubled heart!) "Christ is risen indeed. He is risen to cheer, And His strength to the weakest impart."
O Christ, can it be that Thine own risen strength Can give life, added life, to my soul, To my sin-laden, weak, starving soul? Yes, 'tis true. I'll believe, and rejoice now at length To feel Easter's sweet joy o'er me roll.
FOR THE ANNIVERSARY OF MRS. BROWNING'S DEATH.
_June 29, 1861._
"'Tis beautiful," she faintly cried, Then closed her weary eyes and died.
So stands plain fact on history's page, Attested to by friend and sage.
But in our hearts the fact grows bright, Illumined with immortal light.
For open eyes saw heaven's shores, And life, not death, revealed its stores.
"'Tis beautiful!" It must be so, If such a soul 'midst parting's woe,
Could with truth's perfect clearness see The secret of life's mystery;
Could _know_ that fullest life of man Needs heaven's light to round God's plan.
O woman-soul without a peer, We thank thee more and more each year
For this sweet proof of Beauty's power Beyond earth's transitory hour.
It calms our hours of doubt and pain, And beautifies earth's troubled reign,
To feel that thou art sending still This same sweet message of God's will,
Born of fruition's grander sight, Of perfect beauty, peace, and light.
"A peace out of pain, Then a light, then thy breast. O thou soul of my soul, I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest!"
_Fulfilled December 12, 1889._
Oh, the blessed fruition Of peace out of pain! Of a light without darkness, A clasping again! Of a full soul reunion In Love's endless reign!
Sing, O earth, with new joy At this victory won! For the faith that endured Till the setting of sun!
For the hope that shone clear Through the mighty work done! For the love that sought God To guide love here begun! Sing, O earth, with new joy For such victory won!
TO NEPTUNE, IN BEHALF OF S. C. G.
O Neptune, in thy vast survey Of all the ships that sail, Watch lovingly the well-known way Of one we wait to hail.
The Cephalonia is her name-- But why need I tell more? Thou knowest indeed the well earned fame She bears from shore to shore.
But since among her company's band Is one who's life to me, O Neptune, bear her in thy hand E'en yet more tenderly,
O'er gentle waves, 'neath fair blue sky, 'Midst winds that only blow To make the time more swiftly fly For hearts that hunger so.
_Boston, September 4, 1886._
TO THE PANSIES GROWING ON THE GRAVE OF A. S. D.
Beautiful pansies, ye must know Your sacred mission here, For how could otherwise ye grow So sweet and full of cheer?
Your watchful love we can't o'errate, As, lingering here in tears, Fond memory brings the precious weight Of friendship's golden years.
Ye are the symbols, pure and sweet, Of heartsease and of life, Through which our thought may dare retreat From pain and death so rife,
To realms of light and peace above, From earth's alloy set free, Wherein abide immortal love And deathless ministry.
But still, while we your comfort seek, Our hearts will wildly yearn To hear once more the loved one speak, Once more the form discern.
_At Woodlawn Cemetery, May, 1886._
A BROKEN HEART.
Must I always look for sorrow On the morrow? Must I never have the hope That a life of larger scope Will before my vision ope?
Ah, 'tis true there is but sorrow On the morrow For the broken hearts that wait, Bearing secretly their fate. Yet the opening of the gate To the blessed heaven's morrow, When the aching, longing heart Shall be free from pain and sorrow, Comes before my tired eyes With a wondrous sweet surprise.
But this joy is not for me, Not for me. Alas! for my poor broken heart, With its poisoned arrow's dart. Without hope, alone, apart.
I hear in the ocean's restless moan My soul's lament. Will it ever cease?
I feel in the rumbling earthquake's groan Deep anguish spent. Shall I now know peace?
I see in the smallest heaven's loan Enough for content-- But is that release?
O no! My release is but found in the pure undertone, Coming nearer and dearer to me,
Of a great human love beyond Nature at best, Eternal, inspiring, and free. Oh, that's my release. Happy me, happy me!
THE GOD OF MUSIC.
TO E. T. G.
Out from the depths of silence The god of music came, To echo heavenly cadence On earth's fair shores of fame.
Full-orbed, with heavenly glory, He met the lords of earth. But 'twas the old, old story, They blind were to his worth.
So back to depths of silence He flew on wings of light, "To bide their time of nonsense," He sang when out of sight.
And as rolled on the ages, He ever and anon Sent down to earth his pages The lords to breathe upon.
At length he felt vibrations, From Germany's fair clime, Of sweetest modulations E'er heard in realms of time.
So forth he flew in rapture To that dear father-land, To seize--ere earth could capture-- A spirit pure and grand,
To which he could surrender Himself with perfect ease, And weave the music tender, Of heaven's own harmonies.
He found the child Beethoven; On him his blessing fell. And in his soul was woven The sounds we know so well.
TO WILHELM GERICKE.
(_On the completion of his conductorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra._)
Great poets can without the aid Of kindred mind Reveal to us the secrets laid On them to find; But music-kings need ministries To sound their hidden harmonies.
For showing us the inmost heart Of these great kings, And making clear with wondrous art Their wanderings, We thank thee, while we tender here A "bon voyage" to home's loved sphere.
FOR E. T. F.
AFTER THE BIRTH OF HER SON, R. A. F.
_May 28, 1887._
I'd rather hear my baby's coo, That little gurgling coo, Than rarest song or symphony Born out of music's mystery Which once did woo.
I'd rather see my baby's face, That lovely dimpled face, Than all the choicest works of art, Inspired by loving hand or heart, Contained in space.
I'd rather feel my baby's eyes, Such deep blue heavenly eyes, Than all the world's delighted gaze, Proclaiming with continued praise My power to rise.
O yes, 'tis true, my baby dear, My precious baby dear, Is more than music, art, or fame, Or anything that bears the name Of pleasure here.
For in this joy I find a rest, A soul-inspiring rest, Beyond the wealth of fame or art, To satisfy my woman-heart, Or make it blest.
And as I live in this my gift, My heaven-sent, blessed gift, Thoughts such as Mary pondered o'er Deep in her heart in days of yore Come to uplift,
And make the claims of motherhood, Dear sacred motherhood, Become creation's mountain height, Whereon e'er shines the beacon-light Of womanhood.
AFTER THE DEATH OF R. A. F.
_February 5, 1888._
Would I could see my baby's face, That lovely dimpled face,-- O God, how can I bear the pain Of never seeing it again, My baby's face;
Of never seeing in those eyes, Those deep blue heavenly eyes, The wondrous glimpses of soul-light Which filled my heart with strange delight And sweet surprise;
Of never hearing baby's coo, That little gurgling coo-- O God, how can I bear the pain Of never hearing it again, My baby's coo.
Alas! "Thy will, not mine, be done." Not mine, but Thine, be done. I can but breathe again this prayer, As in the days of past despair, When peace was won.
TO C. H. F.
(_Upon receiving a twig of green from the grave of Helen Hunt Jackson, October, 1888._)
With reverent touch and grateful heart, Dear thoughtful friend, I hold this precious bit of green You kindly send From Cheyenne's holy, lonely grave, Where pilgrims tend.
It touches springs of tenderest life Inspired by her, Who, child of poetry and ease, Did not demur From sacrificing all to be Wrong's arbiter.
That rare mosaic it suggests Made by the hand Of those who seek this favored spot In chosen land, Where, oft in life, she penned her soul At Truth's command.
'Tis true, she wished no monument To mark the place; But must she not be satisfied To see the space Thus blessed and open to the heart Of every race?
O brain of power and heart of fire, America's pride, No wonder that the mountain height, Above sin's tide, Was chosen as the resting place With death to hide;
For such could give the needed rest On earth denied, Could satisfy the poet's thought, Unsatisfied, And symbolize the soul's true rest When glorified.
AN ANNIVERSARY POEM.
And is time marked in heaven? Dost know, O spirit friend, 'Tis just a year ago to-day Thou went so suddenly away, And left me in my loneliness the weary days to spend?-- Ah, weary days, Denied thy praise And all thy many helpful ways!
And is earth known in heaven? Dost see, O clear-eyed soul, The present changing life of man Still working out the wondrous plan Of making even broken lives add to the complete whole?-- Ah, broken lives That death deprives Of help like thine that heavenward strives!
And are we known in heaven? Do I, thy once fond care, Still have that patient yearning love Which longed to lift my soul above The sweet though transitory joys of even earth's best fare?-- Ah, earth's best fare Cannot compare With thy ideal of me laid bare!
TO S. R. H.
I have sowed in tears,-- Shall I reap in joy? Shall my human heart be satisfied, And sorrow and pain be justified? Shall full fruition free my soul From limitation's sad control, And all my faculties of mind Their perfect rest and freedom find?
"They that sow in tears Shall reap in joy," Sang a poet-heart in the long ago, 'Midst depths of sorrow, pain, and woe; And what to him was truth and life Has shone through all the ages' strife, To be at last our beacon-light Of comfort in the darkest night.
The autumn tints of these loved hills Outlined against the sky, Are dearer far to me this year Than in the years gone by;
For they are colors Nature wears To celebrate the time When her pet child changed life on earth For that of heavenly clime.
She thus rejoices, while our hearts Wear not their flowers of joy. Alas! could she but give us back Our gifted artist boy!
But then she sees that it was best That he, like her, should know Death, and the Resurrection too, The fullest life to show.
TO MISS ELIZABETH P. PEABODY.
Thou priestess of pure childhood's heart, Wherein God's spirit lies, Thou willing priestess of the art Of true self-sacrifice,
Ere thy rare spirit takes its flight To realms beyond our praise, Where childhood's pure eternal light Shines through the blessed days,
We thank thee for thy legacy Of thought wrought out in deed, By which love's sweet supremacy Becomes man's potent need.
* * * * *
Our nation must thy secret share, Ere it can fully rise To heights of truth and insight where True wisdom's glory lies.
AT LIFE'S SETTING.
Put your arms around me. There--like that. I want a little petting At life's setting. For 'tis harder to be brave When feeble age comes creeping, And finds me weeping (Dear ones gone), Or brings before my tired eyes Sweet visions of my youth's fair prize (There is a pain in sacrifice), Denied me then and ever. Left me alone? No, never. For in God's love I nestled, While with deep thought I wrestled, Till all my busy life at length Was spent in giving others strength, In making others' homes more bright, In making others' burdens light.
But now, alone and weary, I am hungry For a human love's sweet petting At life's setting. Keep your arms around me, Kiss my fevered brow, Whisper that you love me I can bear it now.
Oh, how this does rest me Now my work is done! I've all my life loved others, Now I want love, dear one. Just a little petting At life's setting; For I'm old, alone, and tired, And my long life's work is done.
A TRUE EXPERIENCE.
"Still waiting, dear good grandma, for the blessed angel Death?"
"Yes waiting, only waiting to be borne across the sea, To the home my soul's been building all these years of mystery, Through ninety years and over now of deep and wondrous change, Wherein I've known the heights and depths of human feeling's range, And tried to solve the problems old of human life so strange.
* * * * *
You want to know my history, because I am so good? Ah, child, no human life can here be fully understood. You call me good, and what is more, a 'true and blessed saint.' (There is illusion sweet indeed in what you child-souls paint Before you know too much of life and feel its evil taint.) You even picture beauties of my home across the sea Which I never dared to hope for e'en on heights of ecstasy. You see me sitting helpless here, blind now for many years, Apparently so full of peace, so free from doubts and fears,-- Though never free from Memory's thought which often brings the tears,-- And you wonder where's the passion and the energy of youth, The power that even dared to sway to evil ways forsooth. Ah, you but see the blessed fruit of what God planted sure, When in my years of sorrow He was whispering, 'Endure.' You cannot see the dreadful scars which naught on earth can cure. You cannot see the passion wild, when, 'neath the coffin lid, Among the flowers, my children three, my precious all, were hid.
Nor can you see my conflict sore, when I went almost mad Before the dying form of him who had loved me from a lad, A loving husband, kind and true, as ever woman had. But still, before my dear one died, more children came to me: Two lovely boys, who seemed at last a recompense to be. For sometimes it does seem as if God sends a special gift, To be a special help and strength, the selfish clouds to lift, Or--what, perhaps, we need as much--the wheat from chaff to sift. Through all my lonely, widowed life I lived in their sweet ways, And found no sacrifice too great in work for future days. At length they were my crowning joy. I'd come again to know The blessings of a married life--the happiest here below-- When, lo! Death seized the oldest one, my boy that I loved so. This opened fresh the old deep wounds; but still I had much left, For then I was not, as before, of every child bereft. So on I went in daily life, determined to be true To blessings that were left to me. That does one's life renew,-- Remember this, my dear one, when your grandma's gone from you.
The years went on. I felt I'd had my share of sorrow's pain, So I banished every lingering thought that Death could come again. But when we are the surest, child, 'tis then he seems to be More vigilant than ever to proclaim his mystery, As if he envied us an hour of joy's sweet company. My husband first was stricken down; then came the added blow: Two grown up sons, all settled with as fine a business show As ever comes to mortals, were cut down in prime of life, Having just begun to free me from the circumstances rife, Which boded of the bitterness of poverty's dread strife. My soul was then so mystified, so dazed before God's will, That I could only find my voice in His calm words, 'Be still.' Oh, could I not been spared this stroke, known one less bitter pain, And been as good for duties here, as fit for heaven's reign? Was this the way, the only way, eternal life to gain?
It cannot be much longer. I shall soon have crossed the sea, To the home my soul's been building all these years of mystery. I've had my share of sorrow, but I've done the best I could. God knows I've tried through all to grow more patient, wise, and good; To get at least this out of life, as every mortal should. But, though I've had his comfort, and still hear his sweet 'Endure,' I feel the bitter heartache which no time or sense can cure. My friends have all been laid away, my work long since was o'er, And now I'm only waiting for Death's landing on the shore. I hope 'twill be at sunset when he knocks at my soul's door; For, somehow, it much easier seems to go the unknown way Attended by the beauty of the sun's last glorious ray. But as I calmly wait and think, it does seem rather queer That what you 'blessed angel' call has seemed my chief curse here. Alas! how much we suffer before God's ways appear."
DOES IT PAY?
Does it pay--all this burden and worry, All the learning acquired with pain, All the planning and nervous wild action, The restlessness following gain, Does it pay?
To be free from this burden and worry, To have knowledge without fear and pain, To be peaceful, far-seeing, sweet tempered, And calm in the presence of gain, We must know the pure secret of Nature, Like her be obedient to law, And work in the light of the promise Of blessed results Christ foresaw. Then each day, And alway, Life will pay.
AUXILIUM AB ALTO.
The poet young e'er finds a tongue To tell the joys of love. The poet bold e'en dares behold The mystery above.
The poet brave e'er loves to rave Of wars and victories gained. The poet sweet e'en dares repeat The angels' songs unfeigned.
And to each one we say, "Well done, Go on and do thy best." Though still we feel each doth but seal A part of life's bequest.
But yet we cry, "O goddess high, Must thou thy wealth so share? America feign would have the reign Of _one_ thy gift to bear.
She needs such one to help her shun The dangerous shoals of thought, Which in this age of clown and sage Her progress gained hath wrought.
She needs such one to help her shun The deeper shoals of wrong, Which in these days of doubt's fond lays Tempt e'en her favored strong.
Oh, send such one to say, 'Well done,' And tell in truth God's plan, While he declares as well as shares The fullest life of man."
"Would that my acts could equal the noble acts I've told. Would that I could but master myself as visions bold!"
So cried a famous artist, in agony of soul, As waves of great temptation before him high did roll.
"Oh, would that I could body the thoughts that govern me. Oh, would that I could picture the visions I foresee!"
So cried a saintly woman, in ecstasy of pain, As waves of sad depression rolled on her soul to gain.
THE MUSE OF HISTORY.
Clio, with her flickering light And book of valued lore, Comes down the ages, dark and bright, Our interest to implore.
She walks with glad majestic mien, Proud of her knowledge gained; Though mourning oft at having seen Man's life so dulled and pained.
Her face with lines of care is wrought, From searching mystery's cause, And dealing with the hidden thought Of nature's subtle laws.
Yet still she blushes with new life At sight of actions fine, And pales with anguish at the strife Of evil's dread design.
She stops to sing her grandest lays When, in creation's heat, She sees evolved a higher phase Of life's fruition sweet.
'Twas thus in days of Genesis, When man came forth supreme. 'Twas thus in days of Nemesis, When Love did dare redeem.
And thus 'twill be in future days, When out from spirit laws, Shall be brought forth for lasting praise The ever great First Cause.
Oh, gladly know this wondrous muse Who walks the aisles of Time, And not so thoughtlessly refuse Her book of lore sublime;
For in it is the precious force Of spirit-life divine, Which even through a winding course Leads in to Wisdom's shrine.
(_Written for G. H. T., on the death of W. S. T., March, 1889._)
As brothers here we've shared the smiles, The tears of boyhood's hour, And felt the sweet companionship Of manhood's love and power.
But now the tie is snapped. He's fled Beyond the mortal sight. The grave with all its mystery Asserts Death's power to blight.
Alas! Death seems the cruel thing In this bright world of ours. The bravest soul shrinks from its hold Though loving faith empowers.
But, hark! Is 't not his voice I hear, With comfort as of yore? "Dear brother, Death is but more Life, The grave is heaven's door."
TO MRS. PARTINGTON.
_July 12, 1886._
Another birthday here? It hardly seems a year Since I these words did hear,-- When three score years and one did crown thee,-- "Not till I am an octagon, Or, worse still, a centurion, Shall I be old, with factories gone All idiomatic and forlorn."
But thou art still a "membrane" dear Of what we call society's cheer; "Ordained beforehand, in advance." ('Twas "foreordained," that does enhance,)
To hurl not "epitaphs" which sting, But a new "Erie's" dawn to bring, Of "fluid" thoughts which counteract The "bigamies" of fate and fact.
Alas! thy crutch of many years Still hints "romantic" pains and fears; A "Widow Cruise's oil jug" say, To keep "plumbago" still at bay!
Its helpful mission has a share In "Lines of Pleasant Places" rare. And, by the way, not crutch alone Finds in that book its value shown.
There in the depths of friendship's mines Are seen thy tenderest, purest lines; Impromptus born at love's command To deck occasion's wise demand.
One finds no "Sarah's desert" there, No "reprehensible" despair; But teeming thoughts on Mounds and Press Poured out in pure unselfishness.
This brings to mind thy _Knitting-Work_, Wherein that "plaguey Ike" does lurk, And other books with humor rife, Done in the priming of thy life.
"Contusion of ideas." O no; What "Angular Saxon" would say so? "Congestive thoughts then so inane They'd decompose the soundest brain."
Yes, there it is, thy humor still, Not seventy years and two can kill. 'Tis free from all "harmonious" lore, A "wholesome" not a "ringtail" store.
SENT TO THE DINNER GIVEN IN HONOR OF WALT WHITMAN'S SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY, AT CAMDEN, N.J., MAY 31, 1889, AT 5 O'CLOCK P.M.
"Splendor of ended day floating and filling me,"[B] Comes to my mind as I think of the hour When our poet and friend will be lovingly drinking The mystical cup of the seventy years' power.
Were I the man-of-war bird he has pictured Nothing could keep me from flying that way. But, though absent in body, there's nothing can hinder My tasting the joys of that festive birthday;
For on the swift wings of the ending day's splendor My soul will glide in to drink deep the cup's wealth. Who knows but the poet's keen sense of pure friendship Will feel, 'midst the joy, what I drink to his health?-- Splendor of ended day Be but the door Opening the endless way Life evermore.
[B] "Song at Sunset."--_W. W._
THE KNOWN GOD.
(_Suggested by Arlo Bates' sonnet, "The Unknown God," published in the_ BOSTON COURIER _of August 21, 1887_.)
If Paul in Athens' street left nothing more Than what he found when deep in sacred thought, He stood and marvelled o'er what had been wrought,-- The _To the Unknown God_ of heathen lore,-- Then were he only one on thought's wide shore To lose his name in others. But, heaven-taught, Undaunted, and in words experienced-fraught, Declared he God as known forevermore.
Paul's words, made deep and strong by martyred life, Are more than vision deified. They are Love's balm to permeate true mental strife, And bring to sin-sick weary souls a star Of hope born of temptation's struggles rife. _To the Known God._ Through Paul we dare thus far.
TO PHILLIPS BROOKS.
O type of manhood, strong, serene, and chaste, Attuned to law of man as well as God, We hail thee as a guide, who, having trod With Christ the spirit-fields, in eager haste Makes glad return to give us blessed taste Of fruit there found. Through thee our feet are shod With gospel-peace, while thy imperial rod Becomes our need in times of drought or waste.
How can we thank thee for thy helpful cheer, O master-spirit of the priests of earth? By daily doing penance without fear, Or resting satisfied in deeds of worth? O no! 'Tis when we breathe love's atmosphere, And live like thee the life of heavenly birth.
AT THE "PORTER MANSE."
[That part of the Porter Manse containing the room referred to was built early in the last half of the seventeenth century. It was the house which Wenham (the first distinct township set off--in 1639--from Salem) gave to the second pastor of its church, Rev. Antipas Newman, who married, while living there, Governor Winthrop's daughter. It was bought by John Porter in 1703, and has remained in his family name without alienation to this day.]
Before a smouldering fire at twilight hour I muse alone. The ancient room, low-beamed, Holds for my ear thoughts voiced by forms that teemed Two hundred years ago with life and power. I breathe the essence of sweet joys that flower In light of home; while life that only _seemed_ On history's page becomes the real, redeemed From all the chaff that time fails not to shower.
Ah, such old places, holding through the years Continuous life of man's activity, Reveal a wealth beyond that which appears In modern homes built e'er so lovingly. Imbued so long with human hopes and fears, Have they not claim to personality?
OUR LADY OF THE MANSE.
Of all those born into the name to share The charming freedom of the Porter Manse, None were more worthy of inheritance Than she who now presides as lady there. Her gracious calm makes hospitality wear A beauteous crown of peace. Kind tolerance And wide-embracing sympathy enhance Her power to please and lighten daily care.
'Tis only such rare souls who pierce the truth Of home-life secrets, and through tact and grace, Make growing years reflect the joys of youth. They lose not hope, though sorrow leave a trace In all their joy. Such cannot fail, forsooth, Of making home a loved abiding place.
TO B. P. SHILLABER.
_July 12, 1888._
When lingering Day at last recedes from sight, And Night comes slowly forth to fill her place, Preceded by a twilight-hour's loved face Reflecting glorious rays of sunset light, 'Tis then my thoughts go wandering with delight Through oft-frequented avenues of space To those dear souls--the dearest of the race-- Who've dwelt with me on friendship's purest height. From this old mountain-top I come to you, My large souled trusted friend of many a year, With birthday greetings of the roseate hue Left by a perfect Day just lingering here. Oh, may life's twilight hold a peace as true, And be as filled with hope of dawn's sweet cheer!
_Mount Wachusett, Mass._
TO OUR MARY.
Sweet sister, thoughtful ever of our need, Forgetting self, if only we be served, How oft thy loving sympathy has nerved Our fainting hearts to kinder, nobler deed, Or brought to being thoughts that intercede For others' progress. We, all undeserved, Cannot forget that life to ends thus curved Made time for us to plant our own pet seed.
The world owes much to many a sister dear, Who, banishing with tears in midnight hour A fond desire for larger, happier sphere, Strives faithfully in lowly life to shower Rich daily blessings. Such may know e'en here A Christ-like joy unknown to worldly power.
_Chelsea, Mass., 1887._
A BIRTHDAY REMEMBRANCE.
TO F. D. L.
Time brings to thee from out his storehouse old Another year, which graciously awaits Thy fair soul's bidding, as it estimates The wealth the parting year has left untold. Clothed in chameleon garments, which unfold The fresh new days thine eye ne'er underrates, It brings continued hope of life that dates Man's finest being. Thou its secrets hold! Are not such birthdays restful stepping stones, To aid the growing soul pick out the way To life eternal? Not earth's bitterest moans Or wildest joys can man's true progress stay, If, in these pauses, he but hear the tones Of immortality's soothing, deathless lay.
(_After hearing him play at Boston Music Hall in 1888._)
O marvellous child, a temple where in ease Expectant Genius dwells, while lingering here On earth to fit us for the heavenly sphere, Dost feel awe-struck to know thou hast the keys To new and wondrous unheard harmonies? O favored boy, marked out to be the peer Of those who in all ages God's voice hear, Hushed are our souls before what thy soul sees!
Guard tenderly, O earth, O sky, O fates, This precious earthly temple of Art's shrine! May chilling poverty, or sin that dates Soul loss, ne'er hinder Genius' wise design To have full sway--as she anticipates-- In working out, in time, her laws divine.
AFTER THE DENIAL.
_John 21: 15-18._
When fast was broken on Tiberias' shore, The risen Lord, still anxious that his own Should know love's secret as to him 'twas known, Thrice asked of Peter, "Lovest thou me more Than these?" The third time Peter's heart was sore. Must even love divine have doubt's sad tone? "Thou knowest, Lord, I love thee," was his moan. Then, "Feed my sheep," Christ answered as before. Still in these days the risen Lord bends o'er The shores of time, and longs for human love; The love that hears his voice, awake, asleep, And makes response as Peter did of yore. "Lovest thou me?" O Christ, from heights above, Thou knowest that we love thee. "Feed my sheep."
"Could ye not watch with me one hour?" O heart Of Christ, still longing in the bitterest hour For human sympathy and love to shower A needed strength beyond words to impart! Humanity is richer for this art Of seeing in poor finite man a power-- Before which even ministering angels cower-- To know all truth, e'en dread Gethsemane's smart. Alas! the power to know will bring the pain. But through the pain of wisdom's true insight Is Christ's own perfect sympathy made plain. Possessed of this, we see in tenderest light His sorrowing heart in failing to obtain The longed-for love in hour of darkest night.
ON LAKE MEMPHREMAGOG.
By old Owl's Head on Memphremagog's side, In hammock-nook 'midst scenery wild and bold, The spirit of the waters, as of old, Broods o'er my soul, its secrets to confide, It whispers of the anguish, joy, and pride, The heart of man has on its bosom told; And hails as conqueror Him who once did hold Its heart in peace when tempest-tossed and tried.
Loved spirit of the waters, we too hail The power of Him who walked the holy sea Of Galilee. Capacity to fail Were harder to believe than victory. May He who conquered wildest Nature's heart His infinite power and rest to us impart!
From holy depths he to the Father prayed, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." His heart, pierced then with anguish through and through, Cried out "'Tis finished," as he death obeyed. In bitterest wrong this marvellous soul was weighed With tenderest love and longing towards those who, Through ignorance of what they might be too, Were now the slaves of evil passion's raid. "They know not what they do." O blessed sight Into the heart of sin's great mystery. Forgiveness here is shown in sweetest light, Clothed in her garment of sincerity. Blest are those souls who reach this precious height; They know the secret of Christ's victory.
TO THE MEMBERS OF MY HOME CLUB.[C]
While dwelling in sweet wisdom's fruitful ways, In company with poets grand and good Who met our human nature's every mood, What life was ours, beyond our words to praise! In seeking for the secret of the lays Which clothed in art pure Nature's daily food, Or brought to light a Christian brotherhood, Did we not garner thoughts for future days? 'Tis one of wisdom's joys, while lingering here To plant her seeds of righteousness and peace, To give a sweet companionship and cheer To those who seek from her their soul's increase. This, friends, we've felt in our Club atmosphere. May its sweet memory linger till life cease!
_Chelsea, Mass., 1888._
[C] For an account of this Home Club, see the _Boston Literary World_, of July 9, 1887, and June 9, 1888; also, _Lend a Hand_, for September, 1889.
FOR MY LITTLE NEPHEWS AND NIECES.
A MAMMA'S LULLABY.
Dream of loveliest beauty in thine hour of sleep, Harold, baby boy. Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby. Catch the sweetest glimpses of the heavenly bliss, While the holy angels bless thee with a kiss. Lullaby, lullaby. So shall mamma feel a breath Of celestial power, To beautify the ministry, Of baby's waking hour. Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby, Harold, baby boy. Lullaby, lullaby.
How I love you, baby dear, Sister Rosamond! I must kiss you, I must hug you, I must be your little beau, To protect you Or to rescue From the faults of friend or foe. I must grow more wise and graceful Every way, That I may be true and helpful For the day When, as lovely fair young woman, You will need my stay. Darling Rosebud, How I love you, How I love you, sister dear! Oh, I will be good and pure, Striving always to endure What will make me honest, kind, Generous, manly, strong in mind, Worthy of my Rosebud. Darling Rosebud, Sweetest Rosebud, How I love you, sister dear!
Darling baby Mildred, playing on the floor-- I see! Creeping here and creeping there, Into mischief everywhere, Mamma's little pet and care-- I see!
Fearless baby Mildred, on her rocking horse-- I see! Never slipping from her place, Joyous laughter keeping pace With a motion full of grace-- I see!
Thoughtful baby Mildred, papa's pet and pride-- I know! Lighting up the passing days With such happy, winsome ways, Joy of household life that pays-- I know!
Tired baby Mildred, lovely eyes all closed-- Sleep on! Waking, heaven will be more near For the angels' presence here, Whispering secrets in her ear-- Sleep on! Sleep on!
ROSAMOND AND MILDRED.
Rosamond and Mildred, playing on the floor-- I see! Laughing blue eyes, dimpled face, Laughing brown eyes, ways of grace, Chubby hands that interlace-- I see!
Rosamond and Mildred, trying hard to walk-- I see! Clinging now to mamma's dress, Trembling in new happiness, Then at last a sweet success-- I see!
Rosamond and Mildred, born the same glad year-- I know! Cousins; each in her own way Growing wiser every day, Full of promise as of play-- I know!
Rosamond and Mildred, parting to go home-- Good-bye! Each a little picture fair, Carrying blessing everywhere. Grateful are we for our share-- Good-bye! Good-bye!
Chinchilla? Come, 'Chilla!-- Ah, here she comes bounding, So quickly responding, Oh, who could but love her! Her fur like chinchilla-- Her movements all grace-- Such a wise little face-- What kitty is like her? Oh, who could but love her, Our dear pretty 'Chilla!
My little nephew, four years old, A sweet-faced, blue-eyed boy, Was one day playing by my side With this and that pet toy,
When all at once he said to me,-- As, laying down my book, I paused a while to watch with joy His bright, expressive look,--
"If Mac and I should plant today Some paper in the ground, Say, would it grow to be a book Like yours, with leaves all bound?"
These were the same two little boys Whose nurse searched far and wide For little sister's rubber shoes; "Where can they be?" she cried.
"I know," replied Mac, eagerly, "We planted them last night, To see if they would bigger grow To fit our feet all right."
Dear little boys! These fancies hint Of future questions deep, When evolution's grand idea Shall o'er their vision sweep.
God grant that when these come to them, As at Truth's shrine they bow, A childlike faith and earnestness May fill them then as now.
WHAT LITTLE BERTRAM DID.
Our little Bertram, six years old, Sat on his grandpa's knee, Enjoying to the full the love That grandpa gave so free,
When, looking up bewitchingly, He said,--the little teaze,-- "Will grandpa give me just one cent To buy some candy, please?"
Who could resist such loveliness? This grandpa could not, sure. So with a kiss he gave the cent-- Ah, how such things allure!
No sooner was the cent in hand, Than off the fair boy ran To buy his candy, "'lasses kind," Or little "candy-man."
Now on his way, in scanning well A window full of toys, He spied a ring with big red stone, O'erlooked by other boys.
All thought of candy was forgot. He'd buy that ring so fine For his new sister, Rosamond-- Oh, how his eyes did shine!
How could he stop to calculate The size of such a thing; His only care was for the price-- Would one cent buy the ring?
Ah yes, it would. The ring was bought; And never girl or boy Went tripping homeward through the streets With greater wealth or joy.
"DEAR LITTLE MAC."[D]
When nearly eight years old, dear little Mac Was called from out his happy home-life here To that blest sphere Beyond earth's dearest power to call him back.
"His questions wise will now sure answer find," Said one who'd loved to watch his eager face, In happy chase Of many a thought which flitted through his mind.
"Yes, he knows more than we," another said, "Instead of guiding him, he'll be our guide To where abide The things we need most to be comforted."
While thus the older ones their comfort sought, Two of the children paused in midst of play, To have their say Concerning this great mystery Death had brought.
"Dear little Mac," said Miriam, with a sigh, "He's gone way up to heaven where angels are, Way up so far That we can't ever see him till we die."
"He's not up there," said Bertram. "He can't be. I saw them put him in the cold dark ground, And I went round And threw some flowers in for him to see."
"He isn't there," replied the four-year old, "He's up in heaven. My mamma told me so. He _is_, I know. He isn't in the ground all dark and cold."
A moment Bertram sat absorbed in thought, While Miriam felt the joy of victory. Then suddenly The lovely six-year-old this idea caught:
"I tell you what, Mac's body's in the ground; His head, his feet, and every other part, But just his heart-- And that's gone up to heaven, and angels found."
The child thus solved the thought that troubled so. And as I overheard this earnest talk,-- Which might some shock,-- I wondered if we could more wisdom show.
As each seemed satisfied, their play went on. But Bertram's thought sank deep in sister's mind, And left behind The wonder how dear Mac to heaven had gone.
At last, when ready for their sweet "Good Night," She softly said, "It can't be very dark, Not _very_ dark For Mac, I know, 'cause God will make it light."
Oh, lovely faith of childhood's trusting days, Sent fresh from heaven to be our loving guide, When sadly tried By doubt or sorrow's strange, mysterious ways.
[D] MacLaurin Cooke Gould, died in Maplewood, Mass., November 8, 1887.
WILLARD AND FLORENCE ON MOUNT WACHUSETT.
Happy little girl and boy, Dancing hand in hand Over hill and valley land, Filled with summer joy;
Climbing up the steep path side To Wachusett's top, With that graceful skip and hop Born where fairies hide;
Seeing Holyoke from the height, Old Monadnock clear, While Washacum twin-lakes near Sparkle in sun-light;
Tripping down the mountain-road Back to cottage home, Only pausing there to roam Where laurel finds abode;
Jumping on the new-mown hay, Sitting under trees, Feeling every mountain breeze, Hearing birds' sweet lay;
Lying on the mossy stone By the brook's cascade, Listening 'neath the sylvan shade To its rippling tone;
Down at pretty Echo Lake, Plucking maiden-hair, Gathering glistening "sundew" there For "dear mamma's sake";
Picking in the pastures near Berries red and blue; Spying where the mayflowers grew Earlier in the year;
Watching for the sun to rise, Following sunset-cloud, Singing low and singing loud While the swift day flies;
Waiting for the "Tally-Ho," With its looked-for mails, Hearing strangers tell their tales As they come and go;
Happy little girl and boy, Dancing hand in hand Over hill and valley land, Filled with summer joy.
A LITTLE BRAZILIAN.
'Twas in Brazil last Christmas day, While at a family feast, A little girl of five years old The merriment increased,
By crying out,--as glasses held The ice she ne'er had seen,-- "Oh see! what pretty little stones. What for? Where have they been?"
"Here, give her one," the host exclaimed, Pleased with her childish glee. "'Twill show her as no words could show What ice is, and must be."
She grasped the "white stone" in her hand, All watching eagerly, When suddenly she let it fall, And cried, "It's burning me."
But, anxious still to see it more, She asked a servant near To hand it in a napkin wrapped-- Then there would be no fear.
Again the ice was in her hand, Her plaything for the day, When all at once she cried aloud, "The stone is running away."
A glass of water now was used, Sure that would keep it hers. But no! with all her loving watch The same result occurs.
The plaything gone, at evening hour She sat on uncle's knee. "Who makes those white stones, you or God?" She asked, inquiringly.
"In Miss Brown's land [a Boston friend] God makes them," answered he. "But in Brazil a factory-man Makes them for you and me."
A moment's pause. Then said the child,-- Heaven's blessing on her fall,-- "Why doesn't God get from Brazil A man to make them all?"
THE LITTLE DOUBTER.
"Mamma, where is the sun to-day, While all this rain comes down?" Ah, little girl Of flaxen curl, Who has not asked before This question o'er and o'er?
"Behind the clouds so thick and black The sun is shining still," The mother quickly answered back, Her child with faith to fill.
The child looked up in strange surprise, In doubt almost a pain, Then turned again her wistful eyes To watch the pouring rain.
"I don't believe 'tis shining still," She muttered to herself. Ah, little girl Of flaxen curl, Why doubt e'en mother's word, Because of feelings stirred?
"I won't believe it till I see The sun behind that cloud," She still went on, defiantly, To say in accents loud.
Now, while she gazed as if to see The truth made known by sight, Behold the cloud did suddenly Become imbued with light.
"There, there, mamma, the sun, the sun!" The little doubter cried. And, full of joy at victory won, She danced with childish pride.
The mother watched with tearful eyes Her child's transparent joy, But dared not quench the glad surprise, Or victory's power destroy.
"Perhaps she'll need this proof," she sighed, "Of hidden things made plain, When in the depths of life she's tried, And all fond hopes are slain."
While thus she mused, as mothers will, The little daughter fair Rushed to her arms, all smiling still, And said, while nestling there,
"Behind the clouds the sun _does_ shine, E'en while the rain comes down." Ah, little girl Of flaxen curl, This wisdom is indeed For future hours of need.
OUR KITTY'S TRICK.[E]
I know that all the boys and girls Would be so glad to see Our kitty do the little trick She often does for me.
When asked, "O kitty, where's the ball?" She to my shoulder leaps, And looks directly to the shelf, Where from a box it peeps.
She will not cease to look and beg, Until I find the place Where she can take between her teeth The ball with easy grace.
Then quickly to the floor she jumps; When, dropping first the ball, She runs behind the open door That leads into the hall.
She waits, with only head in sight, The ball to see me throw; Then after it she scampers well Some forty feet or so.
She never fails to bring it back; Then lifts with wondrous grace Her velvet paw to take the ball From out its hiding place.
This done, she nestles by my side, And purrs while I caress, Unconscious of the trick she's done, Since three months old or less.
She thus will lie in calm repose So long as I am still; But if I move to touch the ball, Then all her nerves will thrill,
Her eyes will shine, she'll quickly find Her place behind the door, And wait again to see the ball Roll on the long hall floor.
Ah, kitty dear, who told you how To join thought, act, and sight? Must not we think that in you dwells The germ of mental light,
The germ that makes you kin to us In kind though not degree, But which was quickened by His touch For our supremacy?
[E] These verses, true in every detail, are only preserved in remembrance of a pet cat of our family for many years.
A mountain hides within itself This message grand and true, Which at my bidding came to-day For me to give to you:
"Drink deep of Nature's sweetest life, While learning how to wait. Stand strong against the tempest's strife, Not questioning the fate. Then shalt thou live above the din Of petty things below, Absorbing depths of life within, The future to o'erflow."
_At the foot of Mount Holyoke._
Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.
Simple typographical errors were corrected; inconsistent hyphenation was retained.
Footnotes have been moved to the ends of the poems that reference them.
It sometimes was unclear whether or not a new stanza began on a new page.
Page 32: Unbalanced closing quotation mark retained after: God's thought.
Page 78: "In perfect harmony" was printed as "perect".