The Passionate Printer To His Love

Come live with me and be my Dear;
And till that happy bond shall lapse,
I'll set your Poutings in Brevier,
Your praises in the largest CAPS.

There's Diamond-'tis for your Eyes;
There's Ruby-that will match your Lips;
Pearl, for your Teeth; and Minion-size
To suit your dainty Finger-tips.

In Nonpareil I'll put your Face;
In Rubric shall your Blushes rise;
There is no Bourgeois in your Case;
Your Form can never need 'Revise.'

Your Cheek seems 'Ready for the Press';
Your laugh as Clarendon is clear;
There's more distinction in your Dress
Than in the oldest Elzevir.

So with me live, and with me die;
And may no 'Finis' e'er intrude
To break into mere 'Printer's Pie'
The Type of our Beatitude!

(Erratum.-If my suit you flout,
And choose some happier Youth to wed,
'Tis but to cross 'Amanda' out,
And read another name instead.)
Amandus Typographicus

A Gage D’amour

Charles,—for it seems you wish to know,—
You wonder what could scare me so,
And why, in this long-locked bureau,
With trembling fingers,—
With tragic air, I now replace
This ancient web of yellow lace,
Among whose faded folds the trace
Of perfume lingers.

Friend of my youth, severe as true,
I guess the train your thoughts pursue;
But this my state is nowise due
To indigestion;
I had forgotten it was there,
A scarf that Some-one used to wear.
Hinc illæ lacrimæ,—so spare
Your cynic question.

Some-one who is not girlish now,
And wed long since. We meet and bow;
I don’t suppose our broken vow
Affects us keenly;
Yet, trifling though my act appears,
Your Sternes would make it ground for tears;—
One can’t disturb the dust of years,
And smile serenely.

“My golden locks” are gray and chill,
For hers,—let them be sacred still;
But yet, I own, a boyish thrill
Went dancing through me,
Charles, when I held yon yellow lace;
For, from its dusty hiding-place,
Peeped out an arch, ingenuous face
That beckoned to me.

We shut our heart up nowadays,
Like some old music-box that plays
Unfashionable airs that raise
Derisive pity;
Alas,—a nothing starts the spring;
And lo, the sentimental thing
At once commences quavering
Its lover’s ditty.

Laugh, if you like. The boy in me,—
The boy that was,—revived to see
The fresh young smile that shone when she,
Of old, was tender.
Once more we trod the Golden Way,—
That mother you saw yesterday,
And I, whom none can well portray
As young, or slender.

She twirled the flimsy scarf about
Her pretty head, and stepping out,
Slipped arm in mine, with half a pout
Of childish pleasure.
Where we were bound no mortal knows,
For then you plunged in Ireland’s woes,
And brought me blankly back to prose
And Gladstone’s measure.

Well, well, the wisest bend to Fate.
My brown old books around me wait,
My pipe still holds, unconfiscate,
Its wonted station.
Pass me the wine. To Those that keep
The bachelor’s secluded sleep
Peaceful, inviolate, and deep,
I pour libation.

The Dance Of Death

He is the despots' Despot. All must bide,
Later or soon, the message of his might;
Princes and potentates their heads must hide,
Touched by the awful sigil of his right;
Beside the Kaiser he at eve doth wait
And pours a potion in his cup of state;
The stately Queen his bidding must obey;
No keen-eyed Cardinal shall him affray;
And to the Dame that wantoneth he saith-
'Let be, Sweet-heart, to junket and to play.'
There is no King more terrible than Death.

The lusty Lord, rejoicing in his pride,
He draweth down; before the armed Knight
With jingling bridle-rein he still doth ride;
He crosseth the strong Captain in the fight;
The Burgher grave he beckons from debate;
He hales the Abbot by his shaven pate,
Nor for the Abbess' wailing will delay;
No bawling Mendicant shall say him nay;
E'en to the pyx the Priest he followeth,
Nor can the Leech* his chilling finger stay . . . [doctor]
There is no King more terrible than Death.

All things must bow to him. And woe betide
The Wine-bibber,-the Roisterer by night;
Him the feast-master, many bouts defied,
Him 'twixt the pledging and the cup shall smite;
Woe to the Lender at usurious rate,
The hard Rich Man, the hireling Advocate;
Woe to the Judge that selleth Law for pay;
Woe to the Thief that like a beast of prey
With creeping tread the traveller harryeth:-
These, in their sin, the sudden sword shall slay . . .
There is no King more terrible than Death.

He hath no pity, - nor will be denied.
When the low hearth is garnished and bright,
Grimly he flingeth the dim portal wide,
And steals the Infant in the Mother's sight;
He hath no pity for the scorned of fate:-
He spares not Lazarus lying at the gate,
Nay, nor the Blind that stumbleth as he may;
Nay, the tired Ploughman,-at the sinking ray,-
In the last furrow,-feels an icy breath,
And knows a hand hath turned the team astray . . .
There is no King more terrible than Death.

He hath no pity. For the new-made Bride,
Blithe with the promise of her life's delight,
That wanders gladly by her Husband's side,
He with the clatter of his drum doth fright.
He scares the Virgin at the convent grate;
The Maid half-won, the Lover passionate;
He hath no grace for weakness and decay:
The tender Wife, the Widow bent and gray,
The feeble Sire whose footstep faltereth,-
All these he leadeth by the lonely way . . .
There is no King more terrible than Death.

ENVOY
Youth, for whose ear and monishing of late,
I sang of Prodigals and lost estate,
Have thou thy joy of living and be gay;
But know not less that there must come a day,-
Aye, and perchance e'en now it hasteneth,-
When thine own heart shall speak to thee and say,-
There is no King more terrible than Death.

I DREW it from its china tomb;—
It came out feebly scented
With some thin ghost of past perfume
That dust and days had lent it.

An old, letter,—folded still!
To read with due composure,
I sought the sun-lit window-sill,
Above the gray enclosure,

That glimmering in the sultry haze,
Faint flowered, dimly shaded,
Slumbered like Goldsmith’s Madam Blaize,
Bedizened and brocaded.

A queer old place! You ’d surely say
Some tea-board garden-maker
Had planned it in Dutch William’s day
To please some florist Quaker,

So trim it was. The yew-trees still,
With pious care perverted,
Grew in the same grim shapes; and still
The lipless dolphin spurted;

Still in his wonted state abode
The broken-nosed Apollo;
And still the cypress-arbor showed
The same umbrageous hollow.

Only,—as fresh young Beauty gleams
From coffee-colored laces,—
So peeped from its old-fashioned dreams
The fresher modern traces;

For idle mallet, hoop, and ball
Upon the lawn were lying;
A magazine, a tumbled shawl,
Round which the swifts were flying;

And, tossed beside the Guelder rose,
A heap of rainbow knitting,
Where, blinking in her pleased repose,
A Persian cat was sitting.

“A place to love in,—live,—for aye,
If we too, like Tithonus,
Could find some God to stretch the gray
Scant life the Fates have thrown us;

“But now by steam we run our race,
With buttoned heart and pocket;
Our Love’s a gilded, surplus grace,—
Just like an empty locket!

“‘The time is out of joint.’ Who will,
May strive to make it better;
For me, this warm old window-sill,
And this old dusty letter.”

II
“Dear John (the letter ran), it can’t, can’t be,
For Father’s gone to Chorley Fair with Sam,
And Mother’s storing Apples,—Prue and Me
Up to our Elbows making Damson Jam:
But we shall meet before a Week is gone,—
‘’T is a long Lane that has no turning,’ John!

“Only till Sunday next, and then you ’ll wait
Behind the White-Thorn, by the broken Stile—
We can go round and catch them at the Gate,
All to Ourselves, for nearly one long Mile;
Dear Prue won’t look, and Father he’ll go on,
And Sam’s two Eyes are all for Cissy, John!

“John, she ’s so smart,—with every ribbon new,
Flame-colored Sack, and Crimson Padesoy;
As proud as proud; and has the Vapours too,
Just like My Lady;—calls poor Sam a Boy,
And vows no Sweet-heart’s worth the Thinking-on
Till he ’s past Thirty … I know better, John!

“My Dear, I don’t think that I thought of much
Before we knew each other, I and you;
And now, why, John, your least, least Finger-touch,
Gives me enough to think a Summer through.
See, for I send you Something! There, ’t is gone!
Look in this corner,—mind you find it, John!”

III
This was the matter of the note,—
A long-forgot deposit,
Dropped in an Indian dragon’s throat,
Deep in a fragrant closet,

Piled with a dapper Dresden world,—
Beaux, beauties, prayers, and poses,—
Bonzes with squat legs undercurled,
And great jars filled with roses.

Ah, heart that wrote! Ah, lips that kissed!
You had no thought or presage
Into what keeping you dismissed
Your simple old-world message!

A reverent one. Though we to-day
Distrust beliefs and powers,
The artless, ageless things you say
Are fresh as May’s own flowers,

Starring some pure primeval spring,
Ere Gold had grown despotic,—
Ere Life was yet a selfish thing,
Or Love a mere exotic!

I need not search too much to find
Whose lot it was to send it,
That feel upon me yet the kind,
Soft hand of her who penned it;

And see, through twoscore years of smoke,
In by-gone, quaint apparel,
Shine from yon time-black Norway oak
The face of Patience Caryl,—

The pale, smooth forehead, silver-tressed;
The gray gown, primly flowered;
The spotless, stately coif whose crest
Like Hector’s horse-plume towered;

And still the sweet half-solemn look
Where some past thought was clinging,
As when one shuts a serious book
To hear the thrushes singing.

I kneel to you! Of those you were,
Whose kind old hearts grow mellow,—
Whose fair old faces grow more fair
As Point and Flanders yellow;

Whom some old store of garnered grief,
Their placid temples shading,
Crowns like a wreath of autumn leaf
With tender tints of fading.

Peace to your soul! You died unwed—
Despite this loving letter.
And what of John? The less that ’s said
Of John, I think, the better.

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