Hail To The Chief

AGAIN we greet the patient heart,
The conference-guiding master-hand,
Who put illusive dreams apart,
And wrought as careful wisdom planned.
With welcoming hearts we strive in vain

To voice the unutterable cheers
That yearn for him whose works attain
For us the longing hopes of years.

For spirits twain possess the hearts
That hold our North from sea to sea;

The one a vigorous love imparts
Of self-dependent liberty,
The other, sweet with kinship’s thought,
Forever strives to bridge the main;
And all our country’s years were fraught

With hope to serve the spirits twain.

While cynics scorned the dual dream,
Proclaiming one must surely die,
Our lifted eyes beheld the gleam
Afar, of days now looming nigh;

The Voluntary Empire’s form
Of comrade commonwealths allied,
Stands fit, at last, to front the storm,
And thrust Time’s hurricane aside.

With countries Old and countries New,

All willing champions round the Throne,
With each to separate freedom true,
Yet shaped in league to hold their own;
We bless the Chief whose patriot soul
Held both our spirits reconciled,

And grasped the hour in firm control
When on our dreams Occasion smiled.

King Volsung And The Skald

HE sang on the Heath of the Volsungs,
Mid Volsung common men,
Shepherds, chafferers, delvers,
And the fowlers of the fen,
The beaters of the anvil,

Wights who mined the ore,
Tamers of the horsekind,
And fishers from the shore.

Tall through the press strode Sigmund,
Lord-warden of the Peace,

While, shrilling fierce, the blood song
Rang to the throng’s increase,
And some lips smiled the pleasure
Of Lynxes scenting prey,
And some brows frowned the anger

That holds the wolf at bay.

“Be dumb, O Skald!” spoke Sigmund,
“Thou singst a troublous song,—
The King of the kindly Volsungs
Shall judge thee right or wrong.”

Then slow to the Hall of The Mighty,
And silently under its roof,
Flowed the host of the mid-world people
To hear the thing at proof.

On the High-seat shone King Volsung,

His Champions gleamed anear,
And the voice of lordly Sigmund
Came welcome to his ear:—
“Father, King and Judger,
Now tell me what to do.

This Skald divides thy people—
Is praise or death his due?”

“Son Sigmund, tell thy story,
And whence the stranger came”.—
“I found him chanting on the Heath,

And no man knows his name.
Some think him even as Baldur
Come back to bless the Earth,
And some hear in his blood song
The Dwarf-kind’s cruel mirth.”

Then softly laughed King Volsung,
Yet pierced so keen his eyes
Men deemed he saw the stranger
As naked from disguise.
“O Skald!” he spoke, “fear nothing;

Though thou be Dwarf or Elf
Come back to trouble mankind,
Sing up, and be thyself.”

The stranger eyed the Father
As one who works a spell,

And from the board his fingers
Seized a sounding shell;
His touches thrilled its edges,
He sang, to words all changed,
A strain the brown seafarers

Oft chanted where they ranged.

Then round about the High-seat,
And through the huge-built Hall,
Did all men deem they listened
To waves whelm up and fall;

They heard the clash and clatter
Of shield-hung longships’ sides,
Straining sails gale-bellied,
The snarl of racing tides,

While, foul in seamen’s nostrils

Wallowing bilges stank
Of ale and meal long sea-borne,
Musty, wormy, rank;
Yet, half a-rot with scurvy,
They toppled up once more

To hail the enchanted looming
Of some unheard-of shore.

Out spoke the gracious Volsung,—
“The chant is good to me
That draws my shoremen closer

To their brothers of the sea.
And now, O Skald, I charge thee
To voice what song most brings
Joy to the hearts of heroes,
And men of worth and Kings.”


The stranger pondered, staring
So long on Volsung’s Pride
That soft-hand chafferers clamored:—
“Sing what thou sangst outside—
The song that stirred our pulses

As if through war-horn blown,
Thy chant of swords and corpses,
And blood on grass bestrown.
Hearing, we felt as Champions,
Our foes seemed beaten sore,

And fierce in exultation
We saw them free no more.”

Then, nearing close to Volsung,
The singer whispered, “King,
Thou knowst how wild the feeble

Relish a deathful thing;
Here came I hungry, seeking
The means for rest and meat—
They love to dream them heroes,
And praise to Skalds is sweet.

But now, O Volsung Father,
I read thy kingly heart,
And I know the battle-mighty
From war-lust dwell apart.”

Frowned dark the lordly Volsung,—

“Shame drowneth as a flood
The fame of every singer
Who urgeth men to blood.
The scorn of sworded heroes
Is on the swordless wight

Who stirs the weak to clamor
That sends the strong to fight;
Behold, all blades of battle
Around my shield-hung wall
Are hid in sheath, lest baleful

Their deadly gleams should fall;
And yet thy plea shall save thee
If now thou singst what brings
Most joy to hearts of heroes,
And men of worth, and Kings.”

Then beamed so kind the stranger,
It seemed that Baldur there
Had rose from Niflheim’s torpor
To bless the shining air;
He grasped an iron hammer,

He tinkled on the steel,
And he sang the ancient stithy
Laboring mankind’s weal.

Spike and chain and crowbar,
Axes, bolts, and ploughs,

Mallet, wedge, and hammer,
Bonds to stiffen prows,
Every shape of iron
Listeners saw anew,
For the splendor of the labor

Rang the song-craft through.

So changed the tinkled measure
That looms rocked in the Hall,
Spindles twirled, and shuttles
Flew ’twixt wall and wall,—

Cloth for street and temple,
Cloth for sea and wold,
And the weavers’ patient pleasure
Wove in every fold.

Through all Man’s craft and labor

The runic rhythm changed,
As Valorous Endeavor
All useful works it ranged;
And the Idler was the Dastard,
And the Pleasure-seeker’s joy

More weak, and far more witless
Than the pastime of a boy.

“O Skald,” spoke gladdened Volsung,
“Thou sangst the truest song!
It endeth and amendeth

Labor’s ancient wrong;
Its glory none had chanted,
Its pride no ear had heard,
For the toiling held the toiler
From the finding of the Word.

Yet none, save to that throbbing
My harp hath in its strings,
Can sing what most joys heroes,
And men of worth, and Kings.”

He took the harp of Volsung,

His fingers lingered slow,
He sang of Love commingled
With Work, and Joy, and Woe,—
The lover’s love for lover,
The bridegroom and the bride,

The father love for children,
The wifely true-heart’s pride,
Brother’s love for brother,
Love of friend for friend,
The yearning, patient mother love

That hath no stint nor end;
And, even as all World-things
Forth from the World-tree start,
He sang all love forever flows
Back to All-father’s heart.

King Volsung and his heroes,
All people round the Hall,
Yearned and flushed and joyed and wept
As if one soul swayed all.
None saw the singer vanish,

So blinding was his spell;—
And was he of the Gods, or Dwarfs,
King Volsung would not tell.

The Vision At Shiloh

SHROUDED on Shiloh field in night and rain,
This body rested from the first’s day’s fight;
Fallen face down, both hands on rifle clutched,
A Shape of sprawling members, blank of thought
As was the April mud in which it lay.

Comrade, you deem that I shall surely lie
Torpid, forgetful, nevermore to march
After the flush of morning pales in day;
But I remember how I rose again
From Shiloh field to march three mighty years,

Until mine eyes beheld in Richmond streets
Our Father Abraham, homely conqueror,
So Son-of-Manlike, fashioned mild and meek,
Averse from triumph, close to common men,
Chief of a Nation mercifully strong.

In boyhood many a time I’d seen his face,
Knew well the accents of his voice serene,
Loved the kind twinkle of his sad-eyed smile,
Yet never once beheld him save with awe,
For that mysterious sense of unity

With the External Fortitude, which flowed
As from his gaze into my yearning heart.

The peace our Father’s four years’ Calvary wrought
Has bustled through his huge two-oceaned land
How busily since Shiloh’s blood-drenched field

Gave up from death this body men called me.—
Oh, paths of peace were, truly, pleasant ways!
The kindliest Nation earth has ever known
Gave to their veterans grateful preference
In every labor, mart, and council hall,

Which nobleness shall a thousand fold be paid
By soldier hearts in every future Age.

Myself was one whom Fortune favored much,
Children and children’s children, troops of friends
Have cheered this firelit chamber silken hung

Where now I rest me easy at the last,
In confidence that Shiloh’s miracle
Of Vision and of Song did true forecast
Repose in bliss surpassing mortal dream.

The night outside is black as Shiloh’s night,

Save for electric-litten streaks of rain;
My dripping eaves declare November’s shower
Falling as fast as early April’s did
When first this time-worn body grew aware
Of Death’s reluctant yielding to the Soul.

Utter oblivion could not be from Sleep
While battle roared, and dreaded evening fell,
And sullen foemen kept the plain unsearched,
And rain tempestuous stormed to midnight’s gloom.

Oh, let me talk! I’ve seldom told the tale,

And I care nothing if my strength be strained.
Our generation ever held that Strength
Was given only that it might be tried.
What matters it if so my term of hours
Ere second resurrection be forestalled?

First did this body dimly sense its form
As something vaguely unified in Space;
Powerless, motionless, unaware of aught
Save merely numbness, while a smothering nose
And mumbling lips and tongue mechanical

Strove for they knew not what, which was to breathe—
Strove as by instinct uncontrolled of Mind,
Which nowise ordered hands enormous-like
To fumble baffled till they slowly learned
The fast-clutched rifle which bewildered them

Was such a thing as fingers could let go.

Then, to restore the breath, the forearms come
Beneath the brow, and raised the face from mud;
Yet all was numbness, but for tiny blows
Patting behind the neck, and prankily

Creeping at random down the cheeks and hair.
I did not guess them pellets of cold rain
Until a stab came up as from the ground
Into my wounded breast. Then Mind awoke
To wetness, night, and all the agonies

That dogged resolution rose to bear.

Shocked Memory cried, That stroke one instant past
Was shrapnel shell! The reasoning power replied,
It laid the body dead on Shiloh field.
Then staunch the Soul, I live—and God is here.

Visions came lightning-quick, clear, unconfused,—
The City tumult in my childish ears,
Our tremulous Church at Sumter’s bulletin,
Me naked in the cold recruiting room
Stripped to the hurrying Doctor’s callous test;—

All the innumerable recollections flashed
On to that battle-moment when my chum
Charging beside me on red Shiloh field
Gasped out, “Oh, John,” clutched horribly his throat,
Frowned on his bloodied hands, stared wild at me

Who, in that moment, felt the stroke, and fell.

Was Harry nigh? I groped in puddled grass
Seeking his comrade corpse, and sought in vain.
The wound might not have killed him! Could I turn,
And so gain ground to search a little more?

Yes—but the agony! Yet turn I did,
And, groping farther, felt a little bush.
It seemed more friendly to the finger hold
Than emptiness, or muddy earth, or grass;
So there I lay, face up, in absolute night

Whose stillness deepened with the lessening rain.

How long, O Lord, how long the darkness held!
Despite the feverish wound my body chilled,
And oft my desperate fingers strove to loose
The soaking blanket roll which trenched my back

As if it lay diagonal on a ridge.

It may be true that slight delirium touched
My brain that night, for when a little wind
Came rustling through the bushes of the plain,
And drizzling ceased, how clearly my closed eyes

Could see within the house where I was born!

There sister voices conned their lesson books,
And Mother’s dress was trailing on the stair
As she were coming up to comfort me,
While in my heart an expectation flowed

Of some inexplicable joy anear,
Angelic, shining-robed, austerely fair.

With that I opened wondering eyes—and Lo
The heavenly host of stars o’er Shiloh field!

And oh the glory of them, and the peace,

The promise, the ethereal hope renewed!
Up rose my soul, supreme past bodily grief,
To rest enraptured as of Heaven assured.

In that blest trance my gaze became intent
On beams I deemed at first a rising moon,

Until mine eyes conceived the luminous space
Haloed a tall and human-seeming Form,
Of countenance uplifted unto God,
And palms breast-clasped as if entreating Him.

In vain my straining sight sought certainty

Whose was the sorrowing figure which I dreamed
To wear a visage as if Christ were come
In pity for the carnage of that plain.

It seemed that nigh that Presence rose a voice
Most heavenly pure of note, and manlike strong;

“When I can read my title clear,” it sang
Triumphantly, “To mansions in the skies,”
Lifting the hymn in exultation high
Till other voices took it—wounded men
Lying, like me, in pain and close to death;

Myself chimed in, while all about me rang
The soldier chanting of that prostrate host,
Northern and Southern, one united choir
Solemnly glad in Man’s supernal dream.*

Comrade, when that high service of great song

Died down, there was no semblance of a moon!
And if indeed one rode the April sky
That wonder-night, I never yet have learned.

But I do know most surely this strange thing,—
That when, in Richmond, Father Abraham,

After three years grassed newly Shiloh plain,
Beheld my veteran men relieve his guard,
I saw the triumph in my countenance
Did grieve afresh his sad and infinite eyes
Which gazed with gentle meaning into mine

The while his silent lips seemed fashioning
For me alone, “Remember Shiloh Choir.”

Then clear I knew his brooding tenderness
Bewailed our vanquished brethren, waked from years
Of dreadful dream he was their enemy;

The exultation vanished from my heart,
A choking pity took me in the throat,
And forth I rushed to join the ranks of Blue
Fighting, as saviours, flames in Richmond Town,
The while his kindly look seemed blessing me.

Now in the contemplation of his eyes
I lie content as stretched on Shiloh field,
Dreaming triumphant, waiting for the dawn.

There it broke fair, till shattering musketry
And cheers of charging Blue right onward swept

So far, it seemed that utter silence fell,
And I lay waiting very peacefully,
As now, for friendly hands to bear me home.

The Many Mansioned House

THERE looms, upon the enormous round
Where nations come and nations go,
A many-mansioned house, whose bound
Ranges so wide that none may know
Its temperate lands of corn and vine,

Its solitudes of Arctic gloom,
Its wealth of forest, plain, and mine,
Its jungle world of tropic bloom.
Yet so its architects devise
That still its boundary walls extend,

And still its guardian forts arise,
And still its builders see no end
Of plan, or labor, or the call
By which the Master of their Fate
Urges to lay the advancing wall

Of Law beyond the farthest gate.

The mortar oft is red with blood
Of men within and men without,
For hate’s incessant storm and flood
Rage round each uttermost redoubt,

And bullets sing, and shrieks are loud,
And bordering voices curse the hour
That sees the builders onward crowd,
True to the Master Mind, whose power
Impels them build by plumb and line

To give the blood-stained wall increase
And forward push the huge design
Within whose mansions dwelleth peace.

The Master Mind is in no place,
It hath no settled rank nor name,

Its mood, as moulded by the race,
Shifts often, yet remains the same
To meditate what millions think,
And shape the deed to fit their thought,
Now raising high who seemed to sink,

Now flinging down their choice as naught.
It lauds what sons obey its calls
When time has come for hands to smite,
And when the hour to cease befalls
It chastens them it did requite;

Yet still so chooses that the change
From war to peace and peace to war
Confirms the mansions in their range,
And builds the far-built wall more far.

Within the many mansions dwell

Nations diverse of tongue and blood,—
Races whose primal anthems tell
How Ganges grew a sacred flood,
Tribes long fore-fathered when the birds
Of Egypt saw Osiris pass,

They that were ancient when the herds
Of Abraham cropped Chaldean grass,
People whose shepherd-priesthoods saw
The might of Nineveh begin,
And folk whose slaves baked mud and straw

Mid Babylon’s revelling fume of sin;
Blacks that have served in every age
Since first the yoke of Ham they wore,
Yellows who set the printed page
Ere Homer sang from shore to shore,

Swart Browns whose glittering kreeses held
In dread the far-isled Asian seas,
Fierce Reds who waged from primal eld
Their stealthy warfare of the trees;
Men of the jaguar-haunted swamp

Whose mountain masters dwelt in pride
Of golden-citied Aztec pomp
Ages ere Montezuma died;
Builders whose blood was in the hands
That propped the circled Druid stones,

And Odin-fathered men, whose bands
Storming all winds, laid warrior bones
Round all the Roman mid-world sea,
And held the Cæsars’ might in scorn,
And kept the Viking liberty

That fairer freedom might be born.

The wall defendeth all alike,
The Master Mind on all ordains:—
Within my bound no sword shall strike,
Nor fetter bind, save law arraigns;

No prisoner here shall feel the rack,
No infant be to slavery born,
The wage shall labor’s sweat not lack,
Nor skill of just reward be shorn.
The king and hind alike shall stand

Within the peril of my law,
And though it change at time’s demand
Shall every change be held in awe.
Here every voice may freely speak
Wisdom or folly as it choose,

And though the strong must lead the weak,
The weak may yet the strong refuse;
Thus shall no change be wrought before
The wise who seek a better way
Can win, to share their vision, more

Than praise the wise who wish delay,—
That so the Master Mind be strong
Through every drift of time and change,
To fashion either right or wrong
At will, within the mansions’ range.

Of what is wrong and what is right
The Master Mind doth ceaseless hear,
Listens intent to counselling might,
Pity or fury, hope or fear,
Sways to the evil, yet repents,

Sways to the good, yet half denies,
Follows revenge, but quick relents,
And makes its wondering foes allies;
In memory sees its frenzied hours,
And holds those fury-fits in scorn;

In gentlest aspiration towers,
Or grovels as of faith forlorn,
Yet never, never loses quite
The thought, the hope, the glory-dream,
That beacon of supernal light,

The shining, holy Grail-like beam,
The Ideal—in which alone it dares
Advance the circuit of the wall—
The faith that yet shall happy shares
Of circumstance be won for all,—

This is the vision of its law,
This is the Asgard of its dream—
That what the world yet never saw
Of justice shall arise supreme.

The Master Mind proclaims as free

Alike, all creeds that men may name,
All worships they devise to be
Their help in hope, or ease in shame;
In Buddha, Mahmoud, Moses, Christ,
Outspokenly may any trust,

Or he whom no belief enticed
May hold the soul a dream of dust,
Yet all alike be free to teach,
And all alike be free to shun,
Because the law of freeman’s speech

Impartial guardeth every one;
If but all rites of blood be banned,
Then may each life select its God,
And every congregation stand
Past dread of persecution’s rod,—

Lo now! Is thus not Jesus set
Transcendent o’er the broad domain—
The gentle Christ whose anguished sweat
Bled for a world-wide mercy’s reign?

Yet in many Mansions flaunt,

As if they deem their place secure,
Legion, whose Christ-defying vaunt
How long, O Lord, dost Thou endure!
Belshazzar’s Feast is multiplied,
Mammon holds fabulous parade,

Thousands of Minotaurs divide
The procurers’ tribute of the maid,
Circe enchants her votary swine,
Moloch, though veiled his fire, consumes,
And all the man-made Gods assign

Their victims self-elected dooms.

In large, the suffering and the sin
(Full well the Master Mind doth know),
From luxury and want begin,
And through unequal portions flow.

This ancient wrong doth worst defeat
The immortal yearning of His plea
To save the little, wandering feet,—
“Suffer the children come to me”;

Wherefore, on streets that Mammon makes

The Master Mind bends ruthless eye,
Yet calm withholds the blow that breaks,
And leaves that stroke to by and by,
Since faithful memory, backward cast,
Beholds how much hath freedom won,

And lest a pomp-destroying blast
Might shrivel many a guiltless one,
And since it knows that freedom’s plan
To build secure alone is skilled,
And that firm-grounded gain for man

Is only by what man hath willed.—
Hence waits the Master Mind, in trust
That yet the hour shall Mammon rue,
Since, as the mansions grow, so must
Freedom upraise The Christ anew.

But whether He prevail at last,
Or whether all shall pass away,
Even as Rome’s great Empire passed
When wrought the purpose of its day,
Still must the builders heed the call

By which the Master of all Fate
Ordains they lay the advancing wall
Of peace beyond the farthest gate.

And, oh! the Master Mind may well
In pride of gentleness rejoice

That in the Mansions none may quell
The lilt of any nation’s voice;
But every race may sing their joy,
May hymn their pride, their glories boast
To listeners glad without alloy—

The primal, wall-extending host,
The founding, freedom-loving race
Whose generous-visioning mind doth see
No worth in holding foremost place,
Save in an Empire of the Free.