'The sky is clouded, the rocks are bare,
The spray of the tempest is white in air;
The winds are out with the waves at play,
And I shall not tempt the sea to-day.
'The trail is narrow, the wood is dim,
The panther clings to the arching limb;
And the lion's whelps are abroad at play,
And I shall not join in the chase to-day.'
But the ship sailed safely over the sea,
And the hunters came from the chase in glee;
And the town that was builded upon a rock
Was swallowed up in the earthquake shock.
The Two Ships
As I stand by the cross on the lone mountain's crest,
Looking over the ultimate sea,
In the gloom of the mountain a ship lies at rest,
And one sails away from the lea:
One spreads its white wings on a far-reaching track,
With pennant and sheet flowing free;
One hides in the shadow with sails laid aback,--
The ship that is waiting for me!
But lo! in the distance the clouds break away,
The Gate's glowing portals I see;
And I hear from the outgoing ship in the bay
The song of the sailors in glee.
So I think of the luminous footprints that bore
The comfort o'er dark Galilee,
And wait for the signal to go to the shore,
To the ship that is waiting for me.
To A Sea Bird (Santa Cruz 1869)
Sauntering hither on listless wings,
Careless vagabond of the sea,
Little thou heedest the surf that sings,
The bar that thunders, the shale that rings,-
Give me to keep thy company.
Little thou hast, old friend, that 's new;
Storms and wrecks are old things to thee;
Sick am I of these changes, too;
Little to care for, little to rue,-
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.
All of thy wanderings, far and near,
Bring thee at last to shore and me;
All of my journeyings end them here:
This our tether must be our cheer,-
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.
Lazily rocking on ocean's breast,
Something in common, old friend, have we:
Thou on the shingle seek'st thy nest,
I to the waters look for rest,-
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.
San Francisco [ From The Sea]
SERENE, indifferent of Fate,
Thou sittest at the Western Gate;
Upon thy height, so lately won,
Still slant the banners of the sun;
Thou seest the white seas strike their tents,
O Warder of two continents!
And, scornful of the peace that flies
Thy angry winds and sullen skies,
Thou drawest all things, small, or great,
To thee, beside the Western Gate.
O lion’s whelp, that hidest fast
In jungle growth of spire and mast!
I know thy cunning and thy greed,
Thy hard high lust and willful deed,
And all thy glory loves to tell
Of specious gifts material.
Drop down, O Fleecy Fog, and hide
Her skeptic sneer and all her pride!
Wrap her, O Fog, in gown and hood
Of her Franciscan Brotherhood.
Hide me her faults, her sin and blame;
With thy gray mantle cloak her shame!
So shall she, cowled, sit and pray
Till morning bears her sins away.
Then rise, O Fleecy Fog, and raise
The glory of her coming days;
Be as the cloud that flecks the seas
Above her smoky argosies;
When forms familiar shall give place
To stranger speech and newer face;
When all her throes and anxious fears
Lie hushed in the repose of years;
When Art shall raise and Culture lift
The sensual joys and meaner thrift,
And all fulfilled the vision we
Who watch and wait shall never see;
Who, in the morning of her race,
Toiled fair or meanly in our place,
But, yielding to the common lot,
Lie unrecorded and forgot.
A Greyport Legend
They ran through the streets of the seaport town,
They peered from the decks of the ships that lay;
The cold sea-fog that came whitening down
Was never as cold or white as they.
'Ho, Starbuck and Pinckney and Tenterden!
Run for your shallops, gather your men,
Scatter your boats on the lower bay.'
Good cause for fear! In the thick mid-day
The hulk that lay by the rotting pier,
Filled with the children in happy play,
Parted its moorings and drifted clear,
Drifted clear beyond reach or call,--
Thirteen children they were in all,--
All adrift in the lower bay!
Said a hard-faced skipper, 'God help us all!
She will not float till the turning tide!'
Said his wife, 'My darling will hear MY call,
Whether in sea or heaven she bide;'
And she lifted a quavering voice and high,
Wild and strange as a sea-bird's cry,
Till they shuddered and wondered at her side.
The fog drove down on each laboring crew,
Veiled each from each and the sky and shore:
There was not a sound but the breath they drew,
And the lap of water and creak of oar;
And they felt the breath of the downs, fresh blown
O'er leagues of clover and cold gray stone,
But not from the lips that had gone before.
They came no more. But they tell the tale
That, when fogs are thick on the harbor reef,
The mackerel fishers shorten sail--
For the signal they know will bring relief;
For the voices of children, still at play
In a phantom hulk that drifts alway
Through channels whose waters never fail.
It is but a foolish shipman's tale,
A theme for a poet's idle page;
But still, when the mists of Doubt prevail,
And we lie becalmed by the shores of Age,
We hear from the misty troubled shore
The voice of the children gone before,
Drawing the soul to its anchorage.
(MASSACHUSETTS SHORE, 1800)
I mind it was but yesterday:
The sun was dim, the air was chill;
Below the town, below the hill,
The sails of my son's ship did fill,--
My Jacob, who was cast away.
He said, 'God keep you, mother dear,'
But did not turn to kiss his wife;
They had some foolish, idle strife;
Her tongue was like a two-edged knife,
And he was proud as any peer.
Howbeit that night I took no note
Of sea nor sky, for all was drear;
I marked not that the hills looked near,
Nor that the moon, though curved and clear,
Through curd-like scud did drive and float.
For with my darling went the joy
Of autumn woods and meadows brown;
I came to hate the little town;
It seemed as if the sun went down
With him, my only darling boy.
It was the middle of the night:
The wind, it shifted west-by-south,--
It piled high up the harbor mouth;
The marshes, black with summer drouth,
Were all abroad with sea-foam white.
It was the middle of the night:
The sea upon the garden leapt,
And my son's wife in quiet slept,
And I, his mother, waked and wept,
When lo! there came a sudden light.
And there he stood! His seaman's dress
All wet and dripping seemed to be;
The pale blue fires of the sea
Dripped from his garments constantly,--
I could not speak through cowardness.
'I come through night and storm,' he said.
'Through storm and night and death,' said he,
'To kiss my wife, if it so be
That strife still holds 'twixt her and me,
For all beyond is peace,' he said.
'The sea is His, and He who sent
The wind and wave can soothe their strife
And brief and foolish is our life.'
He stooped and kissed his sleeping wife,
Then sighed, and like a dream he went.
Now, when my darling kissed not me,
But her--his wife--who did not wake,
My heart within me seemed to break;
I swore a vow, nor thenceforth spake
Of what my clearer eyes did see.
And when the slow weeks brought him not,
Somehow we spake of aught beside:
For she--her hope upheld her pride;
And I--in me all hope had died,
And my son passed as if forgot.
It was about the next springtide:
She pined and faded where she stood,
Yet spake no word of ill or good;
She had the hard, cold Edwards' blood
In all her veins--and so she died.
One time I thought, before she passed,
To give her peace; but ere I spake
Methought, 'HE will be first to break
The news in heaven,' and for his sake
I held mine back until the last.
And here I sit, nor care to roam;
I only wait to hear his call.
I doubt not that this day next fall
Shall see me safe in port, where all
And every ship at last comes home.
And you have sailed the Spanish Main,
And knew my Jacob? . . . Eh! Mercy!
Ah! God of wisdom! hath the sea
Yielded its dead to humble me?
My boy! . . . My Jacob! . . . Turn again!
'Have a care!' the bailiffs cried
From their cockleshell that lay
Off the frigate's yellow side,
Tossing on Scarborough Bay,
While the forty sail it convoyed on a bowline stretched away.
'Take your chicks beneath your wings,
And your claws and feathers spread,
Ere the hawk upon them springs,--
Ere around Flamborough Head
Swoops Paul Jones, the Yankee falcon, with his beak and talons red.'
How we laughed!--my mate and I,--
On the 'Bon Homme Richard's' deck,
As we saw that convoy fly
Like a snow-squall, till each fleck
Melted in the twilight shadows of the coast-line, speck by speck;
And scuffling back to shore
The Scarborough bailiffs sped,
As the 'Richard' with a roar
Of her cannon round the Head,
Crossed her royal yards and signaled to her consort: 'Chase ahead'
But the devil seize Landais
In that consort ship of France!
For the shabby, lubber way
That he worked the 'Alliance'
In the offing,--nor a broadside fired save to our mischance!--
When tumbling to the van,
With his battle-lanterns set,
Rose the burly Englishman
'Gainst our hull as black as jet,--
Rode the yellow-sided 'Serapis,' and all alone we met!
All alone, though far at sea
Hung his consort, rounding to;
All alone, though on our lee
Fought our 'Pallas,' stanch and true!
For the first broadside around us both a smoky circle drew:
And, like champions in a ring,
There was cleared a little space--
Scarce a cable's length to swing--
Ere we grappled in embrace,
All the world shut out around us, and we only face to face!
Then awoke all hell below
From that broadside, doubly curst,
For our long eighteens in row
Leaped the first discharge and burst!
And on deck our men came pouring, fearing their own guns the worst.
And as dumb we lay, till, through
Smoke and flame and bitter cry,
Hailed the 'Serapis:' 'Have you
Struck your colors?' Our reply,
'We have not yet begun to fight!' went shouting to the sky!
Roux of Brest, old fisher, lay
Like a herring gasping here;
Bunker of Nantucket Bay,
Blown from out the port, dropped sheer
Half a cable's length to leeward; yet we faintly raised a cheer
As with his own right hand
Our Commodore made fast
The foeman's head-gear and
The 'Richard's' mizzen-mast,
And in that death-lock clinging held us there from first to last!
Yet the foeman, gun on gun,
Through the 'Richard' tore a road,
With his gunners' rammers run
Through our ports at every load,
Till clear the blue beyond us through our yawning timbers showed.
Yet with entrails torn we clung
Like the Spartan to our fox,
And on deck no coward tongue
Wailed the enemy's hard knocks,
Nor that all below us trembled like a wreck upon the rocks.
Then a thought rose in my brain,
As through Channel mists the sun.
From our tops a fire like rain
Drove below decks every one
Of the enemy's ship's company to hide or work a gun:
And that thought took shape as I
On the 'Richard's' yard lay out,
That a man might do and die,
If the doing brought about
Freedom for his home and country, and his messmates' cheering shout!
Then I crept out in the dark
Till I hung above the hatch
Of the 'Serapis,'--a mark
For her marksmen!--with a match
And a hand-grenade, but lingered just a moment more to snatch
One last look at sea and sky!
At the lighthouse on the hill!
At the harvest-moon on high!
And our pine flag fluttering still!
Then turned and down her yawning throat I launched that devil's pill!
Then a blank was all between
As the flames around me spun!
Had I fired the magazine?
Was the victory lost or won?
Nor knew I till the fight was o'er but half my work was done:
For I lay among the dead
In the cockpit of our foe,
With a roar above my head,--
Till a trampling to and fro,
And a lantern showed my mate's face, and I knew what now you know!
The Lost Galleon
In sixteen hundred and forty-one,
The regular yearly galleon,
Laden with odorous gums and spice,
India cottons and India rice,
And the richest silks of far Cathay,
Was due at Acapulco Bay.
Due she was, and overdue,--
Galleon, merchandise and crew,
Creeping along through rain and shine,
Through the tropics, under the line.
The trains were waiting outside the walls,
The wives of sailors thronged the town,
The traders sat by their empty stalls,
And the Viceroy himself came down;
The bells in the tower were all a-trip,
Te Deums were on each Father's lip,
The limes were ripening in the sun
For the sick of the coming galleon.
All in vain. Weeks passed away,
And yet no galleon saw the bay.
India goods advanced in price;
The Governor missed his favorite spice;
The Senoritas mourned for sandal
And the famous cottons of Coromandel;
And some for an absent lover lost,
And one for a husband,--Dona Julia,
Wife of the captain tempest-tossed,
In circumstances so peculiar;
Even the Fathers, unawares,
Grumbled a little at their prayers;
And all along the coast that year
Votive candles wore scarce and dear.
Never a tear bedims the eye
That time and patience will not dry;
Never a lip is curved with pain
That can't be kissed into smiles again;
And these same truths, as far as I know,
Obtained on the coast of Mexico
More than two hundred years ago,
In sixteen hundred and fifty-one,--
Ten years after the deed was done,--
And folks had forgotten the galleon:
The divers plunged in the gulf for pearls,
White as the teeth of the Indian girls;
The traders sat by their full bazaars;
The mules with many a weary load,
And oxen dragging their creaking cars,
Came and went on the mountain road.
Where was the galleon all this while?
Wrecked on some lonely coral isle,
Burnt by the roving sea-marauders,
Or sailing north under secret orders?
Had she found the Anian passage famed,
By lying Maldonado claimed,
And sailed through the sixty-fifth degree
Direct to the North Atlantic Sea?
Or had she found the 'River of Kings,'
Of which De Fonte told such strange things,
In sixteen forty? Never a sign,
East or west or under the line,
They saw of the missing galleon;
Never a sail or plank or chip
They found of the long-lost treasure-ship,
Or enough to build a tale upon.
But when she was lost, and where and how,
Are the facts we're coming to just now.
Take, if you please, the chart of that day,
Published at Madrid,--por el Rey;
Look for a spot in the old South Sea,
The hundred and eightieth degree
Longitude west of Madrid: there,
Under the equatorial glare,
Just where the east and west are one,
You'll find the missing galleon,--
You'll find the San Gregorio, yet
Riding the seas, with sails all set,
Fresh as upon the very day
She sailed from Acapulco Bay.
How did she get there? What strange spell
Kept her two hundred years so well,
Free from decay and mortal taint?
What but the prayers of a patron saint!
A hundred leagues from Manilla town,
The San Gregorio's helm came down;
Round she went on her heel, and not
A cable's length from a galliot
That rocked on the waters just abreast
Of the galleon's course, which was west-sou'-west.
Then said the galleon's commandante,
General Pedro Sobriente
(That was his rank on land and main,
A regular custom of Old Spain),
'My pilot is dead of scurvy: may
I ask the longitude, time, and day?'
The first two given and compared;
The third--the commandante stared!
'The FIRST of June? I make it second.'
Said the stranger, 'Then you've wrongly reckoned;
I make it FIRST: as you came this way,
You should have lost, d'ye see, a day;
Lost a day, as plainly see,
On the hundred and eightieth degree.'
'Lost a day?' 'Yes; if not rude,
When did you make east longitude?'
'On the ninth of May,--our patron's day.'
'On the ninth?--YOU HAD NO NINTH OF MAY!
Eighth and tenth was there; but stay'--
Too late; for the galleon bore away.
Lost was the day they should have kept,
Lost unheeded and lost unwept;
Lost in a way that made search vain,
Lost in a trackless and boundless main;
Lost like the day of Job's awful curse,
In his third chapter, third and fourth verse;
Wrecked was their patron's only day,--
What would the holy Fathers say?
Said the Fray Antonio Estavan,
The galleon's chaplain,--a learned man,--
'Nothing is lost that you can regain;
And the way to look for a thing is plain,
To go where you lost it, back again.
Back with your galleon till you see
The hundred and eightieth degree.
Wait till the rolling year goes round,
And there will the missing day be found;
For you'll find, if computation's true,
That sailing EAST will give to you
Not only one ninth of May, but two,--
One for the good saint's present cheer,
And one for the day we lost last year.'
Back to the spot sailed the galleon;
Where, for a twelvemonth, off and on
The hundred and eightieth degree
She rose and fell on a tropic sea.
But lo! when it came to the ninth of May,
All of a sudden becalmed she lay
One degree from that fatal spot,
Without the power to move a knot;
And of course the moment she lost her way,
Gone was her chance to save that day.
To cut a lengthening story short,
She never saved it. Made the sport
Of evil spirits and baffling wind,
She was always before or just behind,
One day too soon or one day too late,
And the sun, meanwhile, would never wait.
She had two Eighths, as she idly lay,
Two Tenths, but never a NINTH of May;
And there she rides through two hundred years
Of dreary penance and anxious fears;
Yet, through the grace of the saint she served,
Captain and crew are still preserved.
By a computation that still holds good,
Made by the Holy Brotherhood,
The San Gregorio will cross that line
In nineteen hundred and thirty-nine:
Just three hundred years to a day
From the time she lost the ninth of May.
And the folk in Acapulco town,
Over the waters looking down,
Will see in the glow of the setting sun
The sails of the missing galleon,
And the royal standard of Philip Rey,
The gleaming mast and glistening spar,
As she nears the surf of the outer bar.
A Te Deum sung on her crowded deck,
An odor of spice along the shore,
A crash, a cry from a shattered wreck,--
And the yearly galleon sails no more
In or out of the olden bay;
For the blessed patron has found his day.
Such is the legend. Hear this truth:
Over the trackless past, somewhere,
Lie the lost days of our tropic youth,
Only regained by faith and prayer,
Only recalled by prayer and plaint:
Each lost day has its patron saint!
Cadet Grey - Canto Ii
Where West Point crouches, and with lifted shield
Turns the whole river eastward through the pass;
Whose jutting crags, half silver, stand revealed
Like bossy bucklers of Leonidas;
Where buttressed low against the storms that wield
Their summer lightnings where her eaglets swarm,
By Freedom's cradle Nature's self has steeled
Her heart, like Winkelried, and to that storm
Of leveled lances bares her bosom warm.
But not to-night. The air and woods are still,
The faintest rustle in the trees below,
The lowest tremor from the mountain rill,
Come to the ear as but the trailing flow
Of spirit robes that walk unseen the hill;
The moon low sailing o'er the upland farm,
The moon low sailing where the waters fill
The lozenge lake, beside the banks of balm,
Gleams like a chevron on the river's arm.
All space breathes languor: from the hilltop high,
Where Putnam's bastion crumbles in the past,
To swooning depths where drowsy cannon lie
And wide-mouthed mortars gape in slumbers vast;
Stroke upon stroke, the far oars glance and die
On the hushed bosom of the sleeping stream;
Bright for one moment drifts a white sail by,
Bright for one moment shows a bayonet gleam
Far on the level plain, then passes as a dream.
Soft down the line of darkened battlements,
Bright on each lattice of the barrack walls,
Where the low arching sallyport indents,
Seen through its gloom beyond, the moonbeam falls.
All is repose save where the camping tents
Mock the white gravestones farther on, where sound
No morning guns for reveille, nor whence
No drum-beat calls retreat, but still is ever found
Waiting and present on each sentry's round.
Within the camp they lie, the young, the brave,
Half knight, half schoolboy, acolytes of fame,
Pledged to one altar, and perchance one grave;
Bred to fear nothing but reproach and blame,
Ascetic dandies o'er whom vestals rave,
Clean-limbed young Spartans, disciplined young elves,
Taught to destroy, that they may live to save,
Students embattled, soldiers at their shelves,
Heroes whose conquests are at first themselves.
Within the camp they lie, in dreams are freed
From the grim discipline they learn to love;
In dreams no more the sentry's challenge heed,
In dreams afar beyond their pickets rove;
One treads once more the piny paths that lead
To his green mountain home, and pausing hears
The cattle call; one treads the tangled weed
Of slippery rocks beside Atlantic piers;
One smiles in sleep, one wakens wet with tears.
One scents the breath of jasmine flowers that twine
The pillared porches of his Southern home;
One hears the coo of pigeons in the pine
Of Western woods where he was wont to roam;
One sees the sunset fire the distant line
Where the long prairie sweeps its levels down;
One treads the snow-peaks; one by lamps that shine
Down the broad highways of the sea-girt town;
And two are missing,--Cadets Grey and Brown!
Much as I grieve to chronicle the fact,
That selfsame truant known as 'Cadet Grey'
Was the young hero of our moral tract,
Shorn of his twofold names on entrance-day.
'Winthrop' and 'Adams' dropped in that one act
Of martial curtness, and the roll-call thinned
Of his ancestors, he with youthful tact
Indulgence claimed, since Winthrop no more sinned,
Nor sainted Adams winced when he, plain Grey, was 'skinned.'
He had known trials since we saw him last,
By sheer good luck had just escaped rejection,
Not for his learning, but that it was cast
In a spare frame scarce fit for drill inspection;
But when he ope'd his lips a stream so vast
Of information flooded each professor,
They quite forgot his eyeglass,--something past
All precedent,--accepting the transgressor,
Weak eyes and all of which he was possessor.
E'en the first day he touched a blackboard's space--
So the tradition of his glory lingers--
Two wise professors fainted, each with face
White as the chalk within his rapid fingers:
All day he ciphered, at such frantic pace,
His form was hid in chalk precipitation
Of every problem, till they said his case
Could meet from them no fair examination
Till Congress made a new appropriation.
Famous in molecules, he demonstrated
From the mess hash to many a listening classful;
Great as a botanist, he separated
Three kinds of 'Mentha' in one julep's glassful;
High in astronomy, it has been stated
He was the first at West Point to discover
Mars' missing satellites, and calculated
Their true positions, not the heavens over,
But 'neath the window of Miss Kitty Rover.
Indeed, I fear this novelty celestial
That very night was visible and clear;
At least two youths of aspect most terrestrial,
And clad in uniform, were loitering near
A villa's casement, where a gentle vestal
Took their impatience somewhat patiently,
Knowing the youths were somewhat green and 'bestial'--
(A certain slang of the Academy,
I beg the reader won't refer to me).
For when they ceased their ardent strain, Miss Kitty
Glowed not with anger nor a kindred flame,
But rather flushed with an odd sort of pity,
Half matron's kindness, and half coquette's shame;
Proud yet quite blameful, when she heard their ditty
She gave her soul poetical expression,
And being clever too, as she was pretty,
From her high casement warbled this confession,--
Half provocation and one half repression:--
Not yet, O friend, not yet! the patient stars
Lean from their lattices, content to wait.
All is illusion till the morning bars
Slip from the levels of the Eastern gate.
Night is too young, O friend! day is too near;
Wait for the day that maketh all things clear.
Not yet, O friend, not yet!
Not yet, O love, not yet! all is not true,
All is not ever as it seemeth now.
Soon shall the river take another blue,
Soon dies yon light upon the mountain brow.
What lieth dark, O love, bright day will fill;
Wait for thy morning, be it good or ill.
Not yet, O love, not yet!
The strain was finished; softly as the night
Her voice died from the window, yet e'en then
Fluttered and fell likewise a kerchief white;
But that no doubt was accident, for when
She sought her couch she deemed her conduct quite
Beyond the reach of scandalous commenter,--
Washing her hands of either gallant wight,
Knowing the moralist might compliment her,--
Thus voicing Siren with the words of Mentor.
She little knew the youths below, who straight
Dived for her kerchief, and quite overlooked
The pregnant moral she would inculcate;
Nor dreamed the less how little Winthrop brooked
Her right to doubt his soul's maturer state.
Brown--who was Western, amiable, and new--
Might take the moral and accept his fate;
The which he did, but, being stronger too,
Took the white kerchief, also, as his due.
They did not quarrel, which no doubt seemed queer
To those who knew not how their friendship blended;
Each was opposed, and each the other's peer,
Yet each the other in some things transcended.
Where Brown lacked culture, brains,--and oft, I fear,
Cash in his pocket,--Grey of course supplied him;
Where Grey lacked frankness, force, and faith sincere,
Brown of his manhood suffered none to chide him,
But in his faults stood manfully beside him.
In academic walks and studies grave,
In the camp drill and martial occupation,
They helped each other: but just here I crave
Space for the reader's full imagination,--
The fact is patent, Grey became a slave!
A tool, a fag, a 'pleb'! To state it plainer,
All that blue blood and ancestry e'er gave
Cleaned guns, brought water!--was, in fact, retainer
To Jones, whose uncle was a paper-stainer!
How they bore this at home I cannot say:
I only know so runs the gossip's tale.
It chanced one day that the paternal Grey
Came to West Point that he himself might hail
The future hero in some proper way
Consistent with his lineage. With him came
A judge, a poet, and a brave array
Of aunts and uncles, bearing each a name,
Eyeglass and respirator with the same.
'Observe!' quoth Grey the elder to his friends,
'Not in these giddy youths at baseball playing
You'll notice Winthrop Adams! Greater ends
Than these absorb HIS leisure. No doubt straying
With Caesar's Commentaries, he attends
Some Roman council. Let us ask, however,
Yon grimy urchin, who my soul offends
By wheeling offal, if he will endeavor
To find-- What! heaven! Winthrop! Oh! no! never!'
Alas! too true! The last of all the Greys
Was 'doing police detail,'--it had come
To this; in vain the rare historic bays
That crowned the pictured Puritans at home!
And yet 'twas certain that in grosser ways
Of health and physique he was quite improving.
Straighter he stood, and had achieved some praise
In other exercise, much more behooving
A soldier's taste than merely dirt removing.
But to resume: we left the youthful pair,
Some stanzas back, before a lady's bower;
'Tis to be hoped they were no longer there,
For stars were pointing to the morning hour.
Their escapade discovered, ill 'twould fare
With our two heroes, derelict of orders;
But, like the ghost, they 'scent the morning air,'
And back again they steal across the borders,
Unseen, unheeded, by their martial warders.
They got to bed with speed: young Grey to dream
Of some vague future with a general's star,
And Mistress Kitty basking in its gleam;
While Brown, content to worship her afar,
Dreamed himself dying by some lonely stream,
Having snatched Kitty from eighteen Nez Perces,
Till a far bugle, with the morning beam,
In his dull ear its fateful song rehearses,
Which Winthrop Adams after put to verses.
So passed three years of their novitiate,
The first real boyhood Grey had ever known.
His youth ran clear,--not choked like his Cochituate,
In civic pipes, but free and pure alone;
Yet knew repression, could himself habituate
To having mind and body well rubbed down,
Could read himself in others, and could situate
Themselves in him,--except, I grieve to own,
He couldn't see what Kitty saw in Brown!
At last came graduation; Brown received
In the One Hundredth Cavalry commission;
Then frolic, flirting, parting,--when none grieved
Save Brown, who loved our young Academician.
And Grey, who felt his friend was still deceived
By Mistress Kitty, who with other beauties
Graced the occasion, and it was believed
Had promised Brown that when he could recruit his
Promised command, she'd share with him those duties.
Howe'er this was I know not; all I know,
The night was June's, the moon rode high and clear;
''Twas such a night as this,' three years ago,
Miss Kitty sang the song that two might hear.
There is a walk where trees o'erarching grow,
Too wide for one, not wide enough for three
(A fact precluding any plural beau),
Which quite explained Miss Kitty's company,
But not why Grey that favored one should be.
There is a spring, whose limpid waters hide
Somewhere within the shadows of that path
Called Kosciusko's. There two figures bide,--
Grey and Miss Kitty. Surely Nature hath
No fairer mirror for a might-be bride
Than this same pool that caught our gentle belle
To its dark heart one moment. At her side
Grey bent. A something trembled o'er the well,
Bright, spherical--a tear? Ah no! a button fell!
'Material minds might think that gravitation,'
Quoth Grey, 'drew yon metallic spheroid down.
The soul poetic views the situation
Fraught with more meaning. When thy girlish crown
Was mirrored there, there was disintegration
Of me, and all my spirit moved to you,
Taking the form of slow precipitation!'
But here came 'Taps,' a start, a smile, adieu!
A blush, a sigh, and end of Canto II.
Fades the light,
Goeth day, cometh night;
And a star
To their rest!
Must thou go
When the day
And the light
Need thee so,--
That is best?