The Dying Year
The year has been a tedious one--
A weary round of toil and sorrow,
And, since it now at last is gone,
We say farewell and hail the morrow.
Yet o'er the wreck which time has wrought
A sweet, consoling ray is shimmered--
The one but compensating thought
That literary life has glimmered.
Struggling with hunger and with cold
The world contemptuously beheld 'er;
The little thing was one year old--
But who'd have cared had she been elder?
He placed a rose in my nut-brown hair--
A deep red rose with a fragrant heart
And said: 'We'll set this day apart,
So sunny, so wondrous fair.'
His face was full of a happy light,
His voice was tender and low and sweet,
The daisies and the violets grew at our feet--
Alas, for the coming of night!
The rose is black and withered and dead!
'Tis hid in a tiny box away;
The nut-brown hair is turning to gray,
And the light of the day is fled!
The light of the beautiful day is fled,
Hush'd is the voice so sweet and low--
And I--ah, me! I loved him so--
And the daisies grow over his head!
The Twenty-Third Psalm
My Shepherd is the Lord my God,--
There is no want I know;
His flock He leads in verdant meads,
Where tranquil waters flow.
He doth restore my fainting soul
With His divine caress,
And, when I stray, He points the way
To paths of righteousness.
Yea, though I walk the vale of death,
What evil shall I fear?
Thy staff and rod are mine, O God,
And Thou, my Shepherd, near!
Mine enemies behold the feast
Which my dear Lord hath spread;
And, lo! my cup He filleth up,
With oil anoints my head!
Goodness and mercy shall be mine
Unto my dying day;
Then will I bide at His dear side
Forever and for aye!
When Father Time swings round his scythe,
Entomb me 'neath the bounteous vine,
So that its juices, red and blithe,
May cheer these thirsty bones of mine.
"Elsewise with tears and bated breath
Should I survey the life to be.
But oh! How should I hail the death
That brings that--vinous grace to me!"
So sung the dauntless Saracen,
Whereat the Prophet-Chief ordains
That, curst of Allah, loathed of men,
The faithless one shall die in chains.
But one vile Christian slave that lay
A prisoner near that prisoner saith:
"God willing, I will plant some day
A vine where liest thou in death."
Lo, over Abu Midjan's grave
With purpling fruit a vine-tree grows;
Where rots the martyred Christian slave
Allah, and only Allah, knows!
A Valentine To My Wife
Accept, dear girl, this little token,
And if between the lines you seek,
You'll find the love I've often spoken—
The love my dying lips shall speak.
Our little ones are making merry
O'er am'rous ditties rhymed in jest,
But in these words (though awkward—very)
The genuine article's expressed.
You are as fair and sweet and tender,
Dear brown-eyed little sweetheart mine,
As when, a callow youth and slender,
I asked to be your Valentine.
What though these years of ours be fleeting?
What though the years of youth be flown?
I'll mock old Tempus with repeating,
'I love my love and her alone!'
And when I fall before his reaping,
And when my stuttering speech is dumb,
Think not my love is dead or sleeping,
But that it waits for you to come.
So take, dear love, this little token,
And if there speaks in any line
The sentiment I'd fain have spoken,
Say, will you kiss your Valentine?
The Dead Babe
Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In agony I knelt and said:
"0 God! what have I done,
Or in what wise offended Thee,
That Thou should'st take away from me
My little son?
"Upon the thousand useless lives,
Upon the guilt that vaunting thrives,
Thy wrath were better spent!
Why should'st Thou take my little son -
Why should'st Thou vent Thy wrath upon
Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
Before mine eyes the vision spread
Of things that might have been:
Licentious riot, cruel strife,
Forgotten prayers, a wasted life
Dark red with sin!
Then, with sweet music in the air,
I saw another vision there:
A Shepherd in whose keep
A little lamb - my little child!
Of worldly wisdom undefiled,
Lay fast asleep!
Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In those two messages I read
A wisdom manifest;
And though my arms be childless now,
I am content - to Him I bow
Who knoweth best.
Armenian Folk-Song--The Stork
Welcome, O truant stork!
And where have you been so long?
And do you bring that grace of spring
That filleth my heart with song?
Descend upon my roof--
Bide on this ash content;
I would have you know what cruel woe
Befell me when you went.
All up in the moody sky
(A shifting threat o'er head!)
They were breaking the snow and bidding it go
Cover the beautiful dead.
Came snow on garden spot,
Came snow on mere and wold,
Came the withering breath of white robed death,
And the once warm earth was cold.
Stork, the tender rose tree,
That bloometh when you are here,
Trembled and sighed like a waiting bride--
Then drooped on a virgin bier.
But the brook that hath seen you come
Leaps forth with a hearty shout,
And the crocus peeps from the bed where it sleeps
To know what the noise is about.
Welcome, O honest friend!
And bide on my roof content;
For my heart would sing of the grace of spring,
When the winter of woe is spent.
Soldier, Maiden, And Flower
'Sweetheart, take this,' a soldier said,
'And bid me brave good-by;
It may befall we ne'er shall wed,
But love can never die.
Be steadfast in thy troth to me,
And then, whate'er my lot,
'My soul to God, my heart to thee,'-
Sweetheart, forget me not! '
The maiden took the tiny flower
And nursed it with her tears:
Lo! he who left her in that hour
Came not in after years.
Unto a hero's death he rode
'Mid shower of fire and shot;
But in the maiden's heart abode
The flower, forget-me-not.
And when he came not with the rest
From out the years of blood,
Closely unto her widowed breast
She pressed a faded bud;
Oh, there is love and there is pain,
And there is peace, God wot,-
And these dear three do live again
In sweet forget-me-not.
'T is to an unmarked grave to-day
That I should love to go,-
Whether he wore the blue or gray,
What need that we should know?
'He loved a woman,' let us say,
And on that sacred spot,
To woman's love, that lives for aye,
We'll strew forget-me-not.
Sailor And Shade
You, who have compassed land and sea,
Now all unburied lie;
All vain your store of human lore,
For you were doomed to die.
The sire of Pelops likewise fell,--
Jove's honored mortal guest;
So king and sage of every age
At last lie down to rest.
Plutonian shades enfold the ghost
Of that majestic one
Who taught as truth that he, forsooth,
Had once been Pentheus' son;
Believe who may, he's passed away,
And what he did is done.
A last night comes alike to all;
One path we all must tread,
Through sore disease or stormy seas
Or fields with corpses red.
Whate'er our deeds, that pathway leads
To regions of the dead.
The fickle twin Illyrian gales
Overwhelmed me on the wave;
But you that live, I pray you give
My bleaching bones a grave!
Oh, then when cruel tempests rage
You all unharmed shall be;
Jove's mighty hand shall guard by land
And Neptune's on the sea.
Perchance you fear to do what may
Bring evil to your race?
Oh, rather fear that like me here
You'll lack a burial place.
So, though you be in proper haste,
Bide long enough, I pray,
To give me, friend, what boon shall send
My soul upon its way!
The Death Of Robin Hood
"Give me my bow," said Robin Hood,
"An arrow give to me;
And where 't is shot mark thou that spot,
For there my grave shall be."
Then Little John did make no sign,
And not a word he spake;
But he smiled, altho' with mickle woe
His heart was like to break.
He raised his master in his arms,
And set him on his knee;
And Robin's eyes beheld the skies,
The shaws, the greenwood tree.
The brook was babbling as of old,
The birds sang full and clear,
And the wild-flowers gay like a carpet lay
In the path of the timid deer.
"O Little John," said Robin Hood,
"Meseemeth now to be
Standing with you so stanch and true
Under the greenwood tree.
"And all around I hear the sound
Of Sherwood long ago,
And my merry men come back again,--
You know, sweet friend, you know!
"Now mark this arrow; where it falls,
When I am dead dig deep,
And bury me there in the greenwood where
I would forever sleep."
He twanged his bow. Upon its course
The clothyard arrow sped,
And when it fell in yonder dell,
Brave Robin Hood was dead.
The sheriff sleeps in a marble vault,
The king in a shroud of gold;
And upon the air with a chanted pray'r
Mingles the mock of mould.
But the deer draw to the shady pool,
The birds sing blithe and free,
And the wild-flow'rs bloom o'er a hidden tomb
Under the greenwood tree.
Beranger's My Last Song Perhaps (January 1814)
When, to despoil my native France,
With flaming torch and cruel sword
And boisterous drums her foeman comes,
I curse him and his vandal horde!
Yet, what avail accrues to her,
If we assume the garb of woe?
Let's merry be,--in laughter we
May rescue somewhat from the foe!
Ah, many a brave man trembles now.
I (coward!) show no sign of fear;
When Bacchus sends his blessing, friends,
I drown my panic in his cheer.
Come, gather round my humble board,
And let the sparkling wassail flow,--
Chuckling to think, the while you drink,
"This much we rescue from the foe!"
My creditors beset me so
And so environed my abode,
That I agreed, despite my need,
To settle up the debts I owed;
When suddenly there came the news
Of this invasion, as you know;
I'll pay no score; pray, lend me more,--
I--I will keep it from the foe!
Now here's my mistress,--pretty dear!--
Feigns terror at this martial noise,
And yet, methinks, the artful minx
Would like to meet those soldier boys!
I tell her that they're coarse and rude,
Yet feel she don't believe 'em so,--
Well, never mind; so she be kind,
That much I rescue from the foe!
If, brothers, hope shall have in store
For us and ours no friendly glance,
Let's rather die than raise a cry
Of welcome to the foes of France!
But, like the swan that dying sings,
Let us, O Frenchmen, singing go,--
Then shall our cheer, when death is near,
Be so much rescued from the foe!
They told me once that Pan was dead,
And so, in sooth, I thought him;
For vainly where the streamlets led
Through flowery meads I sought him--
Nor in his dewy pasture bed
Nor in the grove I caught him.
"Tell me," 'twas so my clamor ran--
"Tell me, oh, where is Pan?"
But, once, as on my pipe I played
A requiem sad and tender,
Lo, thither came a shepherd-maid--
Full comely she and slender!
I were indeed a churlish blade
With wailings to offend 'er--
For, surely, wooing's sweeter than
A mourning over Pan!
So, presently, whiles I did scan
That shepherd-maiden pretty,
And heard her accents, I began
To pipe a cheerful ditty;
And so, betimes, forgot old Pan
Whose death had waked my pity;
So--so did Love undo the man
Who sought and pined for Pan!
He was not dead! I found him there--
The Pan that I was after!
Caught in that maiden's tangling hair,
Drunk with her song and laughter!
I doubt if there be otherwhere
A merrier god or dafter--
Nay, nor a mortal kindlier than
Is this same dear old Pan!
Beside me, as my pipe I play,
My shepherdess is lying,
While here and there her lambkins stray
As sunny hours go flying;
They look like me--those lambs--they say,
And that I'm not denying!
And for that sturdy, romping clan,
All glory be to Pan!
Pan is not dead, O sweetheart mine!
It is to hear his voices
In every note and every line
Wherein the heart rejoices!
He liveth in that sacred shrine
That Love's first, holiest choice is!
So pipe, my pipe, while still you can,
Sweet songs in praise of Pan!
Cometh the Wind from the garden, fragrant and full of sweet singing--
Under my tree where I sit cometh the Wind to confession.
"Out in the garden abides the Queen of the beautiful Roses--
Her do I love and to-night wooed her with passionate singing;
Told I my love in those songs, and answer she gave in her blushes--
She shall be bride of the Wind, and she is the Queen of the Roses!"
"Wind, there is spice in thy breath; thy rapture hath fragrance Sabaean!"
"Straight from my wooing I come--my lips are bedewed with her kisses--
My lips and my song and my heart are drunk with the rapture of loving!"
The Wind he loveth the red, red Rose,
And he wooeth his love to wed:
Sweet is his song
The Summer long
As he kisseth her lips so red;
And he recketh naught of the ruin wrought
When the Summer of love is sped!
(AGAIN THE TALE)
Cometh the Wind from the garden, bitter with sorrow of winter.
"Wind, is thy love-song forgot? Wherefore thy dread lamentations?"
Sigheth and moaneth the Wind: "Out of the desolate garden
Come I from vigils with ghosts over the grave of the Summer!"
"Thy breath that was fragrant anon with rapture of music and loving,
It grieveth all things with its sting and the frost of its wailing
The Wind maketh ever more moan and ever it giveth this answer:
"My heart it is numb with the cold of the love that was born of the
I come from the garden all white with the wrath and the sorrow of Winter;
I have kissed the low, desolate tomb where my bride in her loveliness
And the voice of the ghost in my heart is the voice that forever
(AGAIN THE SONG)
The Wind he waileth the red, red Rose
When the Summer of love is sped--
He waileth above
His lifeless love
With her shroud of snow o'erspread--
Crieth such things as a true heart brings
To the grave of its precious dead.
The mountain brook sung lonesomelike, and loitered on its way
Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play;
The wild-flowers uv the hillside bent down their heads to hear
The music uv the little feet that had somehow grown so dear;
The magpies, like winged shadders, wuz a-flutterin' to an' fro
Among the rocks an' holler stumps in the ragged gulch below;
The pines an' hemlocks tosst their boughs (like they wuz arms) and made
Soft, sollum music on the slope where he had often played;
But for these lonesome, sollum voices on the mountain-side,
There wuz no sound the summer day that Marthy's younkit died.
We called him Marthy's younkit, for Marthy wuz the name
Uv her ez wuz his mar, the wife uv Sorry Tom,--the same
Ez taught the school-house on the hill, way back in '69,
When she marr'd Sorry Tom, wich owned the Gosh-all-Hemlock mine!
And Marthy's younkit wuz their first, wich, bein' how it meant
The first on Red Hoss Mountain, wuz truly a' event!
The miners sawed off short on work ez soon ez they got word
That Dock Devine allowed to Casey what had just occurred;
We loaded up an' whooped around until we all wuz hoarse
Salutin' the arrival, wich weighed ten pounds, uv course!
Three years, and sech a pretty child!--his mother's counterpart!
Three years, an' sech a holt ez he had got on every heart!
A peert an' likely little tyke with hair ez red ez gold,
A-laughin', toddlin' everywhere,--'nd only three years old!
Up yonder, sometimes, to the store, an' sometimes down the hill
He kited (boys is boys, you know,--you couldn't keep him still!)
An' there he'd play beside the brook where purpul wild-flowers grew,
An' the mountain pines an' hemlocks a kindly shadder threw,
An' sung soft, sollum toons to him, while in the gulch below
The magpies, like strange sperrits, went flutterin' to an' fro.
Three years, an' then the fever come,--it wuzn't right, you know,
With all us old ones in the camp, for that little child to go;
It's right the old should die, but that a harmless little child
Should miss the joy uv life an' love,--that can't be reconciled!
That's what we thought that summer day, an' that is what we said
Ez we looked upon the piteous face uv Marthy's younkit dead.
But for his mother's sobbin', the house wuz very still,
An' Sorry Tom wuz lookin', through the winder, down the hill,
To the patch beneath the hemlocks where his darlin' used to play,
An' the mountain brook sung lonesomelike an' loitered on its way.
A preacher come from Roarin' Crick to comfort 'em an' pray,
'Nd all the camp wuz present at the obsequies next day;
A female teacher staged it twenty miles to sing a hymn,
An' we jined her in the chorus,--big, husky men an' grim
Sung "Jesus, Lover uv my Soul," an' then the preacher prayed,
An' preacht a sermon on the death uv that fair blossom laid
Among them other flowers he loved,--wich sermon set sech weight
On sinners bein' always heeled against the future state,
That, though it had been fashionable to swear a perfec' streak,
There warn't no swearin' in the camp for pretty nigh a week!
Last thing uv all, four strappin' men took up the little load
An' bore it tenderly along the windin', rocky road,
To where the coroner had dug a grave beside the brook,
In sight uv Marthy's winder, where the same could set an' look
An' wonder if his cradle in that green patch, long an' wide,
Wuz ez soothin' ez the cradle that wuz empty at her side;
An' wonder if the mournful songs the pines wuz singin' then
Wuz ez tender ez the lullabies she'd never sing again,
'Nd if the bosom of the earth in wich he lay at rest
Wuz half ez lovin' 'nd ez warm ez wuz his mother's breast.
The camp is gone; but Red Hoss Mountain rears its kindly head,
An' looks down, sort uv tenderly, upon its cherished dead;
'Nd I reckon that, through all the years, that little boy wich died
Sleeps sweetly an' contentedly upon the mountain-side;
That the wild-flowers uv the summer-time bend down their heads to hear
The footfall uv a little friend they know not slumbers near;
That the magpies on the sollum rocks strange flutterin' shadders make,
An' the pines an' hemlocks wonder that the sleeper doesn't wake;
That the mountain brook sings lonesomelike an' loiters on its way
Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play.
To-day I strayed in Charing Cross as wretched as could be
With thinking of my home and friends across the tumbling sea;
There was no water in my eyes, but my spirits were depressed
And my heart lay like a sodden, soggy doughnut in my breast.
This way and that streamed multitudes, that gayly passed me by--
Not one in all the crowd knew me and not a one knew I!
'Oh, for a touch of home!' I sighed; 'oh, for a friendly face!
Oh, for a hearty handclasp in this teeming desert place!'
And so, soliloquizing as a homesick creature will,
Incontinent, I wandered down the noisy, bustling hill
And drifted, automatic-like and vaguely, into Lowe's,
Where Fortune had in store a panacea for my woes.
The register was open, and there dawned upon my sight
A name that filled and thrilled me with a cyclone of delight--
The name that I shall venerate unto my dying day--
The proud, immortal signature: 'John Smith, U.S.A.'
Wildly I clutched the register and brooded on that name--
I knew John Smith, yet could not well identify the same.
I knew him North, I knew him South, I knew him East and West--
I knew him all so well I knew not which I knew the best.
His eyes, I recollect, were gray, and black, and brown, and blue,
And, when he was not bald, his hair was of chameleon hue;
Lean, fat, tall, short, rich, poor, grave, gay, a blonde and a brunette--
Aha, amid this London fog, John Smith, I see you yet;
I see you yet, and yet the sight is all so blurred I seem
To see you in composite, or as in a waking dream,
Which are you, John? I'd like to know, that I might weave a rhyme
Appropriate to your character, your politics and clime;
So tell me, were you 'raised' or 'reared'--your pedigree confess
In some such treacherous ism as 'I reckon' or 'I guess';
Let fall your tell-tale dialect, that instantly I may
Identify my countryman, 'John Smith, U.S.A.'
It's like as not you are the John that lived a spell ago
Down East, where codfish, beans 'nd bona-fide school-marms grow;
Where the dear old homestead nestles like among the Hampshire hills
And where the robin hops about the cherry boughs and trills;
Where Hubbard squash 'nd huckleberries grow to powerful size,
And everything is orthodox from preachers down to pies;
Where the red-wing blackbirds swing 'nd call beside the pickril pond,
And the crows air cawin' in the pines uv the pasture lot beyond;
Where folks complain uv bein' poor, because their money's lent
Out West on farms 'nd railroads at the rate uv ten per cent;
Where we ust to spark the Baker girls a-comin' home from choir,
Or a-settin' namin' apples round the roarin' kitchen fire:
Where we had to go to meetin' at least three times a week,
And our mothers learnt us good religious Dr. Watts to speak,
And where our grandmas sleep their sleep--God rest their souls, I say!
And God bless yours, ef you're that John, 'John Smith, U.S.A.'
Or, mebbe, Colonel Smith, yo' are the gentleman I know
In the country whar the finest democrats 'nd horses grow;
Whar the ladies are all beautiful an' whar the crap of cawn
Is utilized for Bourbon and true dawters are bawn;
You've ren for jedge, and killed yore man, and bet on Proctor Knott--
Yore heart is full of chivalry, yore skin is full of shot;
And I disremember whar I've met with gentlemen so true
As yo' all in Kaintucky, whar blood an' grass are blue;
Whar a niggah with a ballot is the signal fo' a fight,
Whar a yaller dawg pursues the coon throughout the bammy night;
Whar blooms the furtive 'possum--pride an' glory of the South--
And Aunty makes a hoe-cake, sah, that melts within yo' mouth!
Whar, all night long, the mockin'-birds are warblin' in the trees
And black-eyed Susans nod and blink at every passing breeze,
Whar in a hallowed soil repose the ashes of our Clay--
Hyar's lookin' at yo', Colonel 'John Smith, U.S.A.'!
Or wuz you that John Smith I knew out yonder in the West--
That part of our republic I shall always love the best?
Wuz you him that went prospectin' in the spring of sixty-nine
In the Red Hoss mountain country for the Gosh-All-Hemlock Mine?
Oh, how I'd like to clasp your hand an' set down by your side
And talk about the good old days beyond the big divide;
Of the rackaboar, the snaix, the bear, the Rocky Mountain goat,
Of the conversazzhyony 'nd of Casey's tabble-dote,
And a word of them old pardners that stood by us long ago
(Three-Fingered Hoover, Sorry Tom and Parson Jim, you know)!
Old times, old friends, John Smith, would make our hearts beat high again,
And we'd see the snow-top mountain like we used to see 'em then;
The magpies would go flutterin' like strange sperrits to 'nd fro,
And we'd hear the pines a-singing' in the ragged gulch below;
And the mountain brook would loiter like upon its windin' way,
Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play.
You see, John Smith, just which you are I cannot well recall,
And, really, I am pleased to think you somehow must be all!
For when a man sojourns abroad awhile (as I have done)
He likes to think of all the folks he left at home as one--
And so they are! For well you know there's nothing in a name---
Our Browns, our Joneses and our Smiths are happily the same;
All represent the spirit of the land across the sea,
All stand for one high purpose in our country of the free!
Whether John Smith be from the South, the North, the West, the East--
So long as he's American, it mattereth not the least;
Whether his crest be badger, bear, palmetto, sword or pine,
He is the glory of the stars that with the stripes combine!
Where'er he be, whate'er his lot, he's eager to be known,
Not by his mortal name, but by his country's name alone!
And so, compatriot, I am proud you wrote your name to-day
Upon the register at Lowe's, 'John Smith, U.S.A.'
Prof. Vere De Blaw
Achievin' sech distinction with his moddel tabble dote
Ez to make his Red Hoss Mountain restauraw a place uv note,
Our old friend Casey innovated somewhat round the place,
In hopes he would ameliorate the sufferin's uv the race;
'Nd uv the many features Casey managed to import
The most important wuz a Steenway gran' pianny-fort,
An' bein' there wuz nobody could play upon the same,
He telegraffed to Denver, 'nd a real perfesser came,--
The last an' crownin' glory uv the Casey restauraw
Wuz that tenderfoot musicianer, Perfesser Vere de Blaw!
His hair wuz long an' dishybill, an' he had a yaller skin,
An' the absence uv a collar made his neck look powerful thin:
A sorry man he wuz to see, az mebby you'd surmise,
But the fire uv inspiration wuz a-blazin' in his eyes!
His name wuz Blanc, wich same is Blaw (for that's what Casey said,
An' Casey passed the French ez well ez any Frenchie bred);
But no one ever reckoned that it really wuz his name,
An' no one ever asked him how or why or whence he came,--
Your ancient history is a thing the Coloradan hates,
An' no one asks another what his name wuz in the States!
At evenin', when the work wuz done, an' the miners rounded up
At Casey's, to indulge in keerds or linger with the cup,
Or dally with the tabble dote in all its native glory,
Perfessor Vere de Blaw discoursed his music repertory
Upon the Steenway gran' piannyfort, the wich wuz sot
In the hallway near the kitchen (a warm but quiet spot),
An' when De Blaw's environments induced the proper pride,--
Wich gen'rally wuz whiskey straight, with seltzer on the side,--
He throwed his soulful bein' into opry airs 'nd things
Wich bounded to the ceilin' like he'd mesmerized the strings.
Oh, you that live in cities where the gran' piannies grow,
An' primy donnies round up, it's little that you know
Uv the hungerin' an' the yearnin' wich us miners an' the rest
Feel for the songs we used to hear before we moved out West.
Yes, memory is a pleasant thing, but it weakens mighty quick;
It kind uv dries an' withers, like the windin' mountain crick,
That, beautiful, an' singin' songs, goes dancin' to the plains,
So long ez it is fed by snows an' watered by the rains;
But, uv that grace uv lovin' rains 'nd mountain snows bereft,
Its bleachin' rocks, like dummy ghosts, is all its memory left.
The toons wich the perfesser would perform with sech eclaw
Would melt the toughest mountain gentleman I ever saw,--
Sech touchin' opry music ez the Trovytory sort,
The sollum "Mizer Reery," an' the thrillin' "Keely Mort;"
Or, sometimes, from "Lee Grond Dooshess" a trifle he would play,
Or morsoze from a' opry boof, to drive dull care away;
Or, feelin' kind uv serious, he'd discourse somewhat in C,--
The wich he called a' opus (whatever that may be);
But the toons that fetched the likker from the critics in the crowd
Wuz not the high-toned ones, Perfesser Vere de Blaw allowed.
'T wuz "Dearest May," an' "Bonnie Doon," an' the ballard uv "Ben Bolt,"
Ez wuz regarded by all odds ez Vere de Blaw's best holt;
Then there wuz "Darlin' Nellie Gray," an' "Settin' on the Stile,"
An' "Seein' Nellie Home," an' "Nancy Lee," 'nd "Annie Lisle,"
An' "Silver Threads among the Gold," an' "The Gal that Winked at Me,"
An' "Gentle Annie," "Nancy Till," an' "The Cot beside the Sea."
Your opry airs is good enough for them ez likes to pay
Their money for the truck ez can't be got no other way;
But opry to a miner is a thin an' holler thing,--The
music that he pines for is the songs he used to sing.
One evenin' down at Casey's De Blaw wuz at his best,
With four-fingers uv old Wilier-run concealed beneath his vest;
The boys wuz settin' all around, discussin' folks an' things,
'Nd I had drawed the necessary keerds to fill on kings;
Three-fingered Hoover kind uv leaned acrosst the bar to say
If Casey'd liquidate right off, he'd liquidate next day;
A sperrit uv contentment wuz a-broodin' all around
(Onlike the other sperrits wich in restauraws abound),
When, suddenly, we heerd from yonder kitchen-entry rise
A toon each ornery galoot appeared to recognize.
Perfesser Vere de Blaw for once eschewed his opry ways,
An' the remnants uv his mind went back to earlier, happier days,
An' grappled like an' wrassled with a' old familiar air
The wich we all uv us had heern, ez you have, everywhere!
Stock still we stopped,--some in their talk uv politics an' things,
I in my unobtrusive attempt to fill on kings,
'Nd Hoover leanin' on the bar, an' Casey at the till,--
We all stopped short an' held our breaths (ez a feller sometimes will),
An' sot there more like bumps on logs than healthy, husky men,
Ez the memories uv that old, old toon come sneakin' back again.
You've guessed it? No, you hav n't; for it wuzn't that there song
Uv the home we'd been away from an' had hankered for so long,--
No, sir; it wuzn't "Home, Sweet Home," though it's always heard around
Sech neighborhoods in wich the home that is "sweet home" is found.
And, ez for me, I seemed to see the past come back again,
And hear the deep-drawed sigh my sister Lucy uttered when
Her mother asked her if she 'd practised her two hours that day,
Wich, if she hadn't, she must go an' do it right away!
The homestead in the States 'nd all its memories seemed to come
A-floatin' round about me with that magic lumty-tum.
And then uprose a stranger wich had struck the camp that night;
His eyes wuz sot an' fireless, 'nd his face wuz spookish white,
'Nd he sez: "Oh, how I suffer there is nobody kin say,
Onless, like me, he's wrenched himself from home an' friends away
To seek surcease from sorrer in a fur, seclooded spot,
Only to find--alars, too late!--the wich surcease is not!
Only to find that there air things that, somehow, seem to live
For nothin' in the world but jest the misery they give!
I've travelled eighteen hundred miles, but that toon has got here first;
I'm done,--I'm blowed,--I welcome death, an' bid it do its worst!"
Then, like a man whose mind wuz sot on yieldin' to his fate,
He waltzed up to the counter an' demanded whiskey straight,
Wich havin' got outside uv,--both the likker and the door,--
We never seen that stranger in the bloom uv health no more!
But some months later, what the birds had left uv him wuz found
Associated with a tree, some distance from the ground;
And Husky Sam, the coroner, that set upon him, said
That two things wuz apparent, namely: first, deceast wuz dead;
And, second, previously had got involved beyond all hope
In a knotty complication with a yard or two uv rope!