Two thousand years these temples have been old.
Yet were they not more lovely the first day,
When o'er yon hills the young light blushed and lay
Along the tapering columns, and eve's gold
Over the Tyrrhene sea in glory rolled.
By power of truth, by beauty's royal sway,
While men, and creeds, and kingdoms pass away,
Their gift to charm and awe they calmly hold.
Beauty and truth! by that high grace divine
They force the tribute of the vassal years;
Clouds gloom, the blue wave dimples, the stars shine
To make them fairer; even Time that tears
And shames all other things, here can but bless
And beautify this crumbling loveliness.
At eve when the brief wintry day is sped,
I muse beside my fire's faint-flickering glare-
Conscious of wrinkling face and whitening hair-
Of those who, dying young, inherited
The immortal youthfulness of the early dead.
I think of Raphael's grand-seigneurial air;
Of Shelley and Keats, with laurels fresh and fair
Shining unwithered on each sacred head;
And soldier boys who snatched death's starry prize,
With sweet life radiant in their fearless eyes,
The dreams of love upon their beardless lips,
Bartering dull age for immortality;
Their memories hold in death's unyielding fee
The youth that thrilled them to the finger-tips.
Wise men I hold those rakes of old
Who, as we read in antique story,
When lyres were struck and wine was poured,
Set the white Death's Head on the board-
Love well! love truly! and love fast!
True love evades the dilatory.
Life's bloom flares like a meteor past;
A joy so dazzling cannot last
Stop not to pluck the leaves of bay
That greenly deck the path of glory,
The wreath will wither if you stay,
So pass along your earnest way
Hear but not heed, though wild and shrill,
The cries of faction transitory;
Cleave to your good, eschew your ill,
A Hundred Years and all is still
When Old Age comes with muffled drums,
That beat to sleep our tired life's story,
On thoughts of dying, (Rest is good!)
Like old snakes coiled i' the sun, we brood-
Two On The Terrace
Warm waves of lavish moonlight
The Capitol enfold,
As if a richer noon light
Bathed its white walls with gold.
The great bronze Freedom shining,
Her crest in ether shrining,
Peers eastward as divining
The new day from the old.
Mark the mild planet pouring
Her splendor o'er the ground;
See the white obelisk soaring
To pierce the blue profound.
Beneath the still heavens beaming,
The lighted town lies gleaming,
In guarded slumber dreaming-
A world without a sound.
No laughter and no sobbing
From those dim roofs arise,
The myriad pulses throbbing
Are silent as the skies.
To us their peace is given,
The meed of spirits shriven;
I see the wide, pure heaven
Reflected in your eyes.
Ah love! a thousand æons
Shall range their trooping years;
The morning stars their pæans
Shall sing to countless ears.
These married States may sever,
Strong Time this dome may shiver,
But love shall last forever
And lovers' hopes and fears.
So let us send our greeting,
A wish for trust and bliss,
To future lovers meeting
On far-off nights like this,
Who, in these walls' undoing
Perforce of Time's rough wooing,
Amid the crumbling ruin
Shall meet, clasp hands, and kiss.
As I lay at your feet that afternoon,
Little we spoke, you sat and mused,
Humming a sweet old-fashioned tune,
And I worshipped you, with a sense confused
Of the good time gone and the bad on the way,
While my hungry eyes your face perused
To catch and brand on my soul for aye
The subtle smile which had grown my doom.
Drinking sweet poison hushed I lay
Till the sunset shimmered athwart the room.
I rose to go. You stood so fair
And dim in the dead day's tender gloom:
All at once, or ever I was aware,
Flashed from you on me a warm strong wave
Of passion and power; in the silence there
I fell on my knees, like a lover, or slave,
With my wild hands clasping your slender waist:
And my lips, with a sudden frenzy brave,
A madman's kiss on your girdle pressed,
And I felt your calm heart's quickening beat,
And your soft hands on me one instant rest.
And if God had loved me, how endlessly sweet
Had he let my heart in its rapture burst,
And throb its last at your firm small feet!
And when I was forth, I shuddered at first
At my imminent bliss. As a soul in pain,
Treading his desolate path accursed,
Looks back and dreams through his tears' dim rain
That by Heaven's wide gate the angels smile,
Relenting, and beckon him back again,
And goes on, thrice damned by that devil's wile,
So sometimes burns in my weary brain
The thought that you loved me all the while.
Had we but met in other days,
Had we but loved in other ways,
Another light and hope had shone
On your life and my own.
In sweet but hopeless reveries
I fancy how your wistful eyes
Had saved me, had I known their power
In fate's imperious hour;
How loving you, beloved of God,
And following you, the path I trod
Had led me, through your love and prayers,
To God's love unawares:
And how our beings joined as one
Had passed through checkered shade and sun,
Until the earth our lives had given,
With little change, to heaven.
God knows why this was not to be.
You bloomed from childhood far from me,
The sunshine of the favored place
That knew your youth and grace.
And when your eyes, so fair and free,
In fearless beauty beamed on me,
I knew the fatal die was thrown,
My choice in life was gone.
And still with wild and tender art
Your child-love touched my torpid heart,
Gilding the blackness where it fell,
Like sunlight over hell.
In vain, in vain! my choice was gone!
Better to struggle on alone
Than blot your pure life's blameless shine
With cloudy stains of mine.
A vague regret, a troubled prayer,
And then the future vast and fair
Will tempt your young and eager eyes
With all its glad surprise.
And I shall watch you, safe and far,
As some late traveller eyes a star
Wheeling beyond his desert sands
To gladden happier lands.
How It Happened
I pray you, pardon me, Elsie,
And smile that frown away
That dims the light of your lovely face
As a thunder-cloud the day.
I really could not help it,
Before I thought, 't was done,
And those great gray eyes flashed bright and cold,
Like an icicle in the sun.
I was thinking of the summers
When we were boys and girls,
And wandered in the blossoming woods,
And the gay winds romped with your curls.
And you seemed to me the same little girl
I kissed in the alder-path,
I kissed the little girl's lips, and alas!
I have roused a woman's wrath.
There is not so much to pardon,--
For why were your lips so red?
The blond hair fell in a shower of gold
From the proud, provoking head.
And the beauty that flashed from the splendid eyes,
And played round the tender mouth,
Rushed over my soul like a warm sweet wind
That blows from the fragrant south.
And where, after all, is the harm done?
I believe we were made to be gay,
And all of youth not given to love
Is vainly squandered away.
And strewn through life's low labors,
Like gold in the desert sands,
Are love's swift kisses and sighs and vows
And the clasp of clinging hands.
And when you are old and lonely,
In Memory's magic shine
You will see on your thin and wasting hands,
Like gems, these kisses of mine.
And when you muse at evening
At the sound of some vanished name,
The ghost of my kisses shall touch your lips
And kindle your heart to flame.
The Mystery Of Gilgal
THE darkest, strangest mystery
I ever read, or heern, or see,
Is 'long of a drink at Taggart's Hall,
Tom Taggart's of Gilgal.
I've heern the tale a thousand ways,
But never could git through the maze
That hangs around that queer day's doin's;
But I'll tell the yarn to youans.
Tom Taggart stood behind his bar,
The time was fall, the skies was fa'r,
The neighbors round the counter drawed,
And ca'mly drinked and jawed.
At last come Colonel Blood of Pike,
And old Jedge Phinn, permiscus-like,
And each, as he meandered in,
Remarked, "A whisky-skin."
Tom mixed the beverage full and fa'r,
And slammed it, smoking, on the bar.
Some says three fingers, some says two,-
I'll leave the choice to you.
Phinn to the drink put forth his hand;
Blood drawed his knife, with accent bland,
"I ax yer parding, Mister Phinn-
Jest drap that whisky-skin."
No man high-toneder could be found
Than old Jedge Phinn the country round.
Says he, "Young man, the tribe of Phinns
Knows their own whisky-skins!"
He went for his 'leven-inch bowie-knife:
"I tries to foller a Christian life;
But I'll drap a slice of liver or two,
My bloomin' shrub, with you."
They carved in a way that all admired,
Tell Blood drawed iron at last, and fired.
It took Seth Bludso 'twixt the eyes,
Which caused him great surprise.
Then coats went off, and all went in;
Shots and bad language swelled the din;
The short, sharp bark of Derringers,
Like bull-pups, cheered the furse.
They piled the stiffs outside the door;
They made, I reckon, a cord or more.
Girls went that winter, as a rule,
Alone to spellin'-school.
I've sarched in vain, from Dan to Beer-
Sheba, to make this mystery dear;
But I end with hit as I did begin,
"Who gotthe Whisky-skin?"
Ernst Of Edelsheim
I'll tell the story, kissing
This white hand for my pains:
No sweeter heart, nor falser
E'er filled such fine, blue veins.
I'll sing a song of true love,
My Lilith dear! to you;
The rule is old and true.
The happiest of all lovers
Was Ernst of Edelsheim;
And why he was the happiest,
I'll tell you in my rhyme.
One summer night he wandered
Within a lonely glade,
And, couched in moss and moonlight,
He found a sleeping maid.
The stars of midnight sifted
Above her sands of gold;
She seemed a slumbering statue,
So fair and white and cold.
Fair and white and cold she lay
Beneath the starry skies;
Rosy was her waking
Beneath the Ritter's eyes.
He won her drowsy fancy,
He bore her to his towers,
And swift with love and laughter
Flew morning's purpled hours.
But when the thickening sunbeams
Had drunk the gleaming dew,
A misty cloud of sorrow
Swept o'er her eyes' deep blue.
She hung upon the Ritter's neck,
She wept with love and pain,
She showered her sweet, warm kisses
Like fragrant summer rain.
"I am no Christian soul," she sobbed,
As in his arms she lay;
"I'm half the day a woman,
A serpent half the day.
"And when from yonder bell-tower
Rings out the noonday chime,
Farewell! farewell forever,
Sir Ernst of Edelsheim!"
"Ah! not farewell forever!"
The Ritter wildly cried,
"I will be saved or lost with thee,
My lovely Will-Bride!"
Loud from the lordly bell-tower
Rang out the noon of day,
And from the bower of roses
A serpent slid away.
But when the mid-watch moonlight
Was shimmering through the grove,
He clasped his bride thrice dowered
With beauty and with love.
The happiest of all lovers
Was Ernst of Edelsheim
His true love was a serpent
Only half the time!
The Curse Of Hungary
King Saloman looked from his donjon bars,
Where the Danube clamors through sedge and sand,
And he cursed with a curse his revolting land,-
With a king's deep curse of treason and wars.
He said: "May this false land know no truth!
May the good hearts die and the bad ones flourish,
And a greed of glory but live to nourish
Envy and hate in its restless youth.
"In the barren soil may the ploughshare rust,
While the sword grows bright with its fatal labor,
And blackens between each man and neighbor
The perilous cloud of a vague distrust!
"Be the noble idle, the peasant in thrall,
And each to the other as unknown things,
That with links of hatred and pride the kings
May forge firm fetters through each for all!
"May a king wrong them as they wronged their king!
May he wring their hearts as they wrung mine,
Till they pour their blood for his revels like wine,
And to women and monks their birthright fling!"
The mad king died; but the rushing river
Still brawls by the spot where his donjon stands,
And its swift waves sigh to the conscious sands
That the curse of King Saloman works forever.
For flowing by Pressbourg they heard the cheers
Ring out from the leal and cheated hearts
That were caught and chained by Theresa's arts,-
A man's cool head and a girl's hot tears!
And a star, scarce risen, they saw decline,
Where Orsova's hills looked coldly down,
As Kossuth buried the Iron Crown
And fled in the dark to the Turkish line.
And latest they saw in the summer glare
The Magyar nobles in pomp arrayed,
To shout as they saw, with his unfleshed blade,
A Hapsburg beating the harmless air.
But ever the same sad play they saw,
The same weak worship of sword and crown,
The noble crushing the humble down,
And moulding Wrong to a monstrous Law.
The donjon stands by the turbid river,
But Time is crumbling its battered towers;
And the slow light withers a despot's powers,
And a mad king's curse is not forever!
I don't go much on religion,
I never ain't had no show;
But I've got a middlin' tight grip, sir,
On the handful o' things I know.
I don't pan out on the prophets
And free-will, and that sort of thing,
But I b'lieve in God and the angels,
Ever sence one night last spring.
I come into town with some turnips,
And my little Gabe come along,
No four-year-old in the county
Could beat him for pretty and strong,
Peart and chipper and sassy,
Always ready to swear and fight,
And I'd larnt him to chaw terbacker
Jest to keep his milk-teeth white.
The snow come down like a blanket
As I passed by Taggart's store;
I went in for a jug of molasses
And left the team at the door.
They scared at something and started,
I heard one little squall,
And hell-to-split over the prairie
Went team, Little Breeches, and all.
Hell-to-split over the prairie!
I was almost froze with skeer;
But we rousted up some torches,
And sarched for 'em far and near.
At last we struck hosses and wagon,
Snowed under a soft white mound,
Upsot, dead beat, but of little Gabe
No hide nor hair was found.
And here all hope soured on me,
Of my fellow-critter's aid,
I jest flopped down on my marrow-bones,
Crotch-deep in the snow, and prayed.
By this, the torches was played out,
And me and Isrul Parr
Went off for some wood to a sheepfold
That he said was somewhar thar.
We found it at last, and a little shed
Where they shut up the lambs at night.
We looked in and seen them huddled thar,
So warm and sleepy and white;
And thar sot Little Breeches and chirped,
As peart as ever you see,
"I want a chaw of terbacker,
And that's what's the matter of me."
How did he git thar? Angels.
He could never have walked in that storm;
They jest scooped down and toted him
To whar it was safe and warm.
And I think that saving a little child,
And fotching him to his own,
Is a derned sight better business
Than loafing around the Throne.
In The Firelight
My dear wife sits beside the fire
With folded hands and dreaming eyes,
Watching the restless flames aspire,
And wrapped in thralling memories.
I mark the fitful firelight fling
Its warm caresses on her brow,
And kiss her hands' unmelting snow,
And glisten on her wedding-ring.
The proud free head that crowns so well
The neck superb, whose outlines glide
Into the bosom's perfect swell
Soft-billowed by its peaceful tide,
The cheek's faint flush, the lip's red glow,
The gracious charm her beauty wears,
Fill my fond eyes with tender tears
As in the days of long ago.
Days long ago, when in her eyes
The only heaven I cared for lay,
When from our thoughtless Paradise
All care and toil dwelt far away;
When Hope in wayward fancies throve,
And rioted in secret sweets,
Beguiled by Passion's dear deceits,
The mysteries of maiden love.
One year had passed since first my sight
Was gladdened by her girlish charms,
When on a rapturous summer night
I clasped her in possessing arms.
And now ten years have rolled away,
And left such blessings as their dower,
I owe her tenfold at this hour
The love that lit our wedding-day.
For now, vague-hovering o'er her form,
My fancy sees, by love refined,
A warmer and a dearer charm
By wedlock's mystic hands intwined,
A golden coil of wifely cares
That years have forged, the loving joy
That guards the curly-headed boy
Asleep an hour ago up stairs.
A fair young mother, pure as fair,
A matron heart and virgin soul!
The flickering light that crowns her hair
Seems like a saintly aureole.
A tender sense upon me falls
That joy unmerited is mine,
And in this pleasant twilight shine
My perfect bliss myself appalls.
Come back! my darling, strayed so far
Into the realm of fantasy,-
Let thy dear face shine like a star
In love-light beaming over me.
My melting soul is jealous, sweet,
Of thy long silence' drear eclipse,
Oh, kiss me back with living lips
To life, love, lying at thy feet!
Jim Bludso Of The Prairie Belle
Wall, no! I can't tell whar he lives,
Becase he don't live, you see;
Leastways, he's got out of the habit
Of livin' like you and me.
Whar have you been for the last three year
That you haven't heard folks tell
How Jimmy Bludso passed in his cheeks
The night of the Prairie Belle?
He were n't no saint, them engineers
Is all pretty much alike,
One wife in Natchez-under-the-Hill
And another one here, in Pike;
A keerless man in his talk was Jim,
And an awkward hand in a row,
But he never flunked, and he never lied,
I reckon he never knowed how.
And this was all the religion he had,
To treat his engine well;
Never be passed on the river;
To mind the pilot's bell;
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire,
A thousand times he swore,
He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last soul got ashore.
All boats has their day on the Mississip,
And her day come at last,
The Movastar was a better boat,
But the Belle she wouldn't be passed.
And so she come tearin' along that night
The oldest craft on the line-
With a nigger squat on her safety-valve,
And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.
The fire bust out as she clared the bar,
And burnt a hole in the night,
And quick as a flash she turned, and made
For that willer-bank on the right.
There was runnin' and cursin', but Jim yelled out,
Over all the infernal roar,
"I'll hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last galoot's ashore."
Through the hot, black breath of the burnin' boat
Jim Bludso's voice was heard,
And they all had trust in his cussedness,
And knowed he would keep his word.
And, sure's you're born, they all got off
Afore the smokestacks fell,-
And Bludso's ghost went up alone
In the smoke of the Prairie Belle.
He were n't no saint, but at jedgment
I'd run my chance with Jim,
'Longside of some pious gentlemen
That would n't shook hands with him.
He seen his duty, a dead-sure thing,
And went for it thar and then;
And Christ ain't a-going to be too hard
On a man that died for men.
The Advance Guard
In the dream of the Northern poets,
The brave who in battle die
Fight on in shadowy phalanx
In the field of the upper sky;
And as we read the sounding rhyme,
The reverent fancy hears
The ghostly ring of the viewless swords
And the clash of the spectral spears.
We think with imperious questionings
Of the brothers whom we have lost,
And we strive to track in death's mystery
The flight of each valiant ghost.
The Northern myth comes back to us,
And we feel, through our sorrow's night,
That those young souls are striving still
Somewhere for the truth and light.
It was not their time for rest and sleep;
Their hearts beat high and strong;
In their fresh veins the blood of youth
Was singing its hot, sweet song.
The open heaven bent over them,
Mid flowers their lithe feet trod,
Their lives lay vivid in light, and blest
By the smiles of women and God.
Again they come! Again I hear
The tread of that goodly band;
I know the flash of Ellsworth's eye
And the grasp of his hard, warm hand;
And Putnam, and Shaw, of the lion-heart,
And an eye like a Boston girl's;
And I see the light of heaven which lay
On UIric Dahlgren's curls.
There is no power in the gloom of hell
To quench those spirits' fire;
There is no power in the bliss of heaven
To bid them not aspire;
But somewhere in the eternal plan
That strength, that life survive,
And like the files on Lookout's crest,
Above death's clouds they strive.
A chosen corps, they are marching on
In a wider field than ours;
Those bright battalions still fulfill
The scheme of the heavenly powers;
And high brave thoughts float down to us,
The echoes of that far fight,
Like the flash of a distant picket's gun
Through the shades of the severing night.
No fear for them! In our lower field
Let us keep our arms unstained,
That at last we be worthy to stand with them
On the shining heights they've gained.
We shall meet and greet in closing ranks
In Time's declining sun,
When the bugles of God shall sound recall
And the battle of life be won.
Remarks of Sergeant Tilmon Joy to the White Man's Committee of Spunky Point, Illinois
I reckon I git your drift, gents,-
You 'low the boy sha'n't stay;
This is a white man's country;
You're Dimocrats, you say;
And whereas, and seein', and wherefore,
The times bein' all out o' j'int,
The nigger has got to mosey
From the limits o' Spunky P'int!
Le's reason the thing a minute:
I'm an old-fashioned Dimocrat too,
Though I laid my politics out o' the way
For to keep till the war was through.
But I come back here, allowin'
To vote as I used to do,
Though it gravels me like the devil to train
Along o' sich fools as you.
Now dog my cats ef I kin see,
In all the light of the day,
What you've got to do with the question
Ef Tim shill go or stay.
And furder than that I give notice,
Ef one of you tetches the boy,
He kin check his trunks to a warmer clime
Than he'll find in Illanoy.
Why, blame your hearts, jest hear me!
You know that ungodly day
When our left struck Vicksburg Heights, how ripped
And torn and tattered we lay.
When the rest retreated I stayed behind,
Fur reasons sufficient to me,
With a rib caved in, and a leg on a strike,
I sprawled on that cursed glacee.
Lord! how the hot sun went for us,
And br'iled and blistered and burned!
How the Rebel bullets whizzed round us
When a cuss in his death-grip turned!
Till along toward dusk I seen a thing
I couldn't believe for a spell:
That nigger that Tim was a-crawlin' to me
Through that fire-proof, gilt-edged hell!
The Rebels seen him as quick as me,
And the bullets buzzed like bees;
But he jumped for me, and shouldered me,
Though a shot brought him once to his knees;
But he staggered up, and packed me off,
With a dozen stumbles and falls,
Till safe in our lines he drapped us both,
His black hide riddled with balls.
So, my gentle gazelles, thar's my answer,
And here stays Banty Tim:
He trumped Death's ace for me that day,
And I'm not goin' back on him!
You may rezoloot till the cows come home,
But ef one of you tetches the boy,
He'll wrastle his hash to-night in hell,
Or my name's not Tilmon Joy.
A hundred times the bells of Brown
Have rung to sleep the idle summers,
And still to-day clangs clamoring down
A greeting to the welcome comers.
And far, like waves of morning, pours
Her call, in airy ripples breaking,
And wanders to the farthest shores,
Her children's drowsy hearts awaking.
The wild vibration floats along,
O'er heart-strings tense its magic plying,
And wakes in every breast its song
Of love and gratitude undying.
My heart to meet the summons leaps
At limit of its straining tether,
Where the fresh western sunlight steeps
In golden flame the prairie heather.
And others, happier, rise and fare
To pass within the hallowed portal,
And see the glory shining there
Shrined in her steadfast eyes immortal.
What though their eyes be dim and dull,
Their heads be white in reverend blossom;
Our mother's smile is beautiful
As when she bore them on her bosom!
Her heavenly forehead bears no line
Of Time's iconoclastic fingers,
But o'er her form the grace divine
Of deathless youth and wisdom lingers.
We fade and pass, grow faint and old,
Till youth and joy and hope are banished,
And still her beauty seems to fold
The sum of all the glory vanished.
As while Tithonus faltered on
The threshold of the Olympian dawnings,
Aurora's front eternal shone
With lustre of the myriad mornings.
So joys that slip like dead leaves down,
And hopes burnt out that die in ashes,
Rise restless from their graves to crown
Our mother's brow with fadeless flashes.
And lives wrapped in tradition's mist
These honored halls to-day are haunting,
And lips by lips long withered kissed
The sagas of the past are chanting.
Scornful of absence's envious bar
Brown smiles upon the mystic meeting
Of those her sons, who, sundered far,
In brotherhood of heart are greeting;
Her wayward children wandering on
Where setting stars are lowly burning,
But still in worship toward the dawn
That gilds their souls' dear Mecca turning;
Or those who, armed for God's own fight,
Stand by his word through fire and slaughter,
Or bear our banner's starry light
Far-flashing through the Gulf's blue water.
For where one strikes for light and truth
The right to aid, the wrong redressing,
The mother of his spirit's youth
Sheds o'er his soul her silent blessing.
She gained her crown a gem of flame
When Kneass fell dead in victory gory;
New splendor blazed upon her name
When Ives' young life went out in glory!
Thus bright forever may she keep
Her fires of tolerant Freedom burning,
Till War's red eyes are charmed to sleep
And bells ring home the boys returning.
And may she shed her radiant truth
In largess on ingenuous comers,
And hold the bloom of gracious youth
Through many a hundred tranquil summers!
Ef the way a man lights out of this world
Helps fix his heft for the other sp'ere,
I reckon my old friend Golyer's Ben
Will lay over lots of likelier men
For one thing he done down here.
You did n't know Ben? He driv a stage
On the line they called the Old Sou'-west;
He wa'n't the best man that ever you seen,
And he wa'n't so ungodly pizen mean,
No better nor worse than the rest.
He was hard on women and rough on his friends;
And he did n't have many, I'll let you know;
He hated a dog and disgusted a cat,
But he'd run off his legs for a motherless brat,
And I guess there's many jess so.
I've seed my sheer of the run of things,
I've hoofed it a many and many a miled,
But I never seed nothing that could or can
Jest git all the good from the heart of a man
Like the hands of a little child.
Well! this young one I started to tell you about,
His folks was all dead, I was fetchin' him through,
He was just at the age that's loudest for boys,
And he blowed such a horn with his sarchin' small voice,
We called him "the Little Boy Blue."
He ketched a sight of Ben on the box,
And you bet he bawled and kicked and howled,
For to git 'long of Ben, and ride thar too;
I tried to tell him it wouldn't do,
When suddingly Golyer growled,
"What's the use of making the young one cry?
Say, what's the use of being a fool?
Sling the little one up here whar he can see,
He won't git the snuffles a-ridin' with me,
The night ain't any too cool."
The child hushed cryin' the minute he spoke;
"Come up here, Major! don't let him slip."
And jest as nice as a woman could do,
He wropped his blanket around them two,
And was off in the crack of a whip.
We rattled along an hour or so,
Till we heerd a yell on the still night air.
Did you ever hear an Apache yell?
Well, ye needn't want to, this side of hell;
There's nothing more devilish there.
Caught in the shower of lead and flint
We felt the old stage stagger and plunge;
Then we heerd the voice and the whip of Ben,
As he gethered his critters up again,
And tore away with a lunge.
The passengers laughed. "Old Ben's all right,
He's druv five year and never was struck."
"Now if I 'd been thar, as sure as you live,
They'd'a' plugged me with holes as thick as a sieve;
It's the reg'lar Golyer luck."
Over hill and holler and ford and creek
Jest like the hosses had wings, we tore;
We got to Looney's, and Ben come in
And laid down the baby and axed for his gin,
And dropped in a heap on the floor.
Said he, "When they fired, I kivered the kid,
Although I ain't pretty, I'm middlin' broad;
And look! he ain't fazed by arrow nor ball,
Thank God! my own carcase stopped them all."
Then we seen his eye glaze, and his lower jaw fall,
And he carried his thanks to God.
The Pledge At Spunky Point
A tale of earnest effort and human perfidy
It's all very well for preachin',
But preachin' and practice don't gee:
I've give the thing a fair trial,
And you can't ring it in on me.
So toddle along with your pledge, Squire,
Ef that's what you want me to sign;
Betwixt me and you, I've been thar,
And I'll not take any in mine.
A year ago last Fo'th July
A lot of the boys was here.
We all got corned and signed the pledge
For to drink no more that year.
There was Tilmon Joy and Sheriff McPhail
And me and Abner Fry,
And Shelby's boy Leviticus
And the Golyers, Luke and Cy.
And we anteed up a hundred
In the hands of Deacon Kedge
For to be divided the follerin' Fo'th
'Mongst the boys that kep' the pledge.
And we knowed each other so well, Squire,
You may take my scalp for a fool,
Ef every man when he signed his name
Didn't feel cock-sure of the pool.
Fur a while it all went lovely;
We put up a job next day
Fur to make Joy b'lieve his wife was dead,
And he went home middlin' gay;
Then Abner Fry he killed a man
And afore he was hung McPhail
Jest bilked the widder outen her sheer
By getting him slewed in jail.
But Chris'mas scooped the Sheriff,
The egg-nogs gethered him in;
And Shelby's boy Leviticus
Was, New Year's, tight as sin;
And along in March the Golyers
Got so drunk that a fresh-biled owl
Would'a' looked 'long-side o' them two young men,
Like a sober temperance fowl.
Four months alone I walked the chalk,
I thought my heart would break;
And all them boys a-slappin' my back
And axin', "What'll you take?"
I never slep' without dreamin' dreams
Of Burbin, Peach, or Rye,
But I chawed at my niggerhead and swore
I'd rake that pool or die.
At last the Fo'th I humped myself
Through chores and breakfast soon,
Then scooted down to Taggart's store-
For the pledge was off at noon;
And all the boys was gethered thar,
And each man hilt his glass
Watchin' me and the clock quite solemn-like
Fur to see the last minute pass.
The clock struck twelve! I raised the jug
And took one lovin' pull
I was holler clar from skull to boots,
It seemed I couldn't git full.
But I was roused by a fiendish laugh
That might have raised the dead
Them ornary sneaks had sot the clock
A half an hour ahead!
"All right!" I squawked. "You've got me,
Jest order your drinks agin,
And we'll paddle up to the Deacon's
And scoop the ante in."
But when we got to Kedge's,
What a sight was that we saw!
The Deacon and Parson Skeeters
In the tail of a game of Draw.
They had shook 'em the heft of the mornin',
The Parson's luck was fa'r,
And he raked, the minute we got thar,
The last of our pool on a pa'r.
So toddle along with your pledge, Squire,
I 'low it's all very fine,
But ez fur myself, I thank ye,
I'll not take any in mine.
The Monks Of Basle
I tore this weed from the rank, dark soil
Where it grew in the monkish time,
I trimmed it close and set it again
In a border of modern rhyme.
Long years ago, when the Devil was loose
And faith was sorely tried,
Three monks of Basle went out to walk
In the quiet eventide.
A breeze as pure as the breath of Heaven
Blew fresh through the cloister-shades,
A sky as glad as the smile of Heaven
Blushed rose o'er the minster-glades.
But scorning the lures of summer and sense,
The monks passed on in their walk;
Their eyes were abased, their senses slept,
Their souls were in their talk.
In the tough grim talk of the monkish days
They hammered and slashed about,
Dry husks of logic, old scraps of creed,
And the cold gray dreams of doubt,
And whether Just or Justified
Was the Church's mystic Head,
And whether the Bread was changed to God,
Or God became the Bread.
But of human hearts outside their walls
They never paused to dream,
And they never thought of the love of God
That smiled in the twilight gleam.
As these three monks went bickering on
By the foot of a spreading tree,
Out from its heart of verdurous gloom
A song burst wild and free,
A wordless carol of life and love,
Of nature free and wild;
And the three monks paused in the evening shade,
Looked up at each other and smiled.
And tender and gay the bird sang on,
And cooed and whistled and trilled,
And the wasteful wealth of life and love
From his happy heart was spilled.
The song had power on the grim old monks
In the light of the rosy skies;
And as they listened the years rolled back,
And tears came into their eyes.
The years rolled back and they were young,
With the hearts and hopes of men,
They plucked the daisies and kissed the girls
Of dear dead summers again.
But the eldest monk soon broke the spell;
"'T is sin and shame," quoth he,
"To be turned from talk of holy things
By a bird's cry from a tree.
"Perchance the Enemy of Souls
Hath come to tempt us so.
Let us try by the power of the Awful Word
If it be he, or no!"
To Heaven the three monks raised their hands.
"We charge thee, speak!" they said,
"By His dread Name who shall one day come
To judge the quick and the dead,
"Who art thou? Speak!" The bird laughed loud.
"I am the Devil," he said.
The monks on their faces fell, the bird
Away through the twilight sped.
A horror fell on those holy men,
(The faithful legends say,)
And one by one from the face of earth
They pined and vanished away.
So goes the tale of the monkish books,
The moral who runs may read,
He has no ears for Nature's voice
Whose soul is the slave of creed.
Not all in vain with beauty and love
Has God the world adorned;
And he who Nature scorns and mocks,
By Nature is mocked and scorned.
The Enchanted Shirt
Fytte the First: wherein it shall be shown how the Truth is too mighty a Drug for such as be of feeble temper
The King was sick. His cheek was red
And his eye was clear and bright;
He ate and drank with a kingly zest,
And peacefully snored at night.
But he said he was sick, and a king should know,
And doctors came by the score.
They did not cure him. He cut off their heads
And sent to the schools for more.
At last two famous doctors came,
And one was as poor as a rat,
He had passed his life in studious toil,
And never found time to grow fat.
The other had never looked in a book;
His patients gave him no trouble,
If they recovered they paid him well,
If they died their heirs paid double.
Together they looked at the royal tongue,
As the King on his couch reclined;
In succession they thumped his august chest,
But no trace of disease could find.
The old sage said, "You're as sound as a nut."
"Hang him up," roared the King in a gale,
In a ten-knot gale of royal rage;
The other leech grew a shade pale;
But he pensively rubbed his sagacious nose,
And thus his prescription ran,
The King will be well, if he sleeps one night
In the Shirt of a Happy Man.
Fytte the Second: tells of the search for the Shirt and how it was nigh found but was not, for reasons which are said or sung
Wide o'er the realm the couriers rode,
And fast their horses ran,
And many they saw, and to many they spoke,
But they found no Happy Man.
They found poor men who would fain be rich,
And rich who thought they were poor;
And men who twisted their waists in stays,
And women that shorthose wore.
They saw two men by the roadside sit,
And both bemoaned their lot;
For one had buried his wife, he said,
And the other one had not.
At last as they came to a village gate,
A beggar lay whistling there;
He whistled and sang and laughed and rolled
On the grass in the soft June air.
The weary couriers paused and looked
At the scamp so blithe and gay;
And one of them said, "Heaven save you, friend!
You seem to be happy to-day."
"Oh, yes, fair sirs," the rascal laughed,
And his voice rang free and glad,
"An idle man has so much to do
That he never has time to be sad."
"This is our man," the courier said;
"Our luck has led us aright.
I will give you a hundred ducats, friend,
For the loan of your shirt to-night."
The merry blackguard lay back on the grass,
And laughed till his face was black;
"I would do it, God wot," and he roared with the fun,
"But I haven't a shirt to my back."
Fytte the Third: shewing how His Majesty the King came at last to sleep in a Happy Man his Shirt
Each day to the King the reports came in
Of his unsuccessful spies,
And the sad panorama of human woes
Passed daily under his eyes.
And he grew ashamed of his useless life,
And his maladies hatched in gloom;
He opened his windows and let the air
Of the free heaven into his room.
And out he went in the world and toiled
In his own appointed way;
And the people blessed him, the land was glad,
And the King was well and gay.
Sunise In The Place De La Concorde
Paris, August, 1865
I stand at the break of day
In the Champs Elysees.
The tremulous shafts of dawning
As they shoot o'er the Tuileries early,
Strike Luxor's cold gray spire,
And wild in the light of the morning
With their marble manes on fire,
Ramp the white Horses of Marly.
But the Place of Concord lies
Dead hushed 'neath the ashy skies.
And the Cities sit in council
With sleep in their wide stone eyes.
I see the mystic plain
Where the army of spectres slain
In the Emperor's life-long war
March on with unsounding tread
To trumpets whose voice is dead.
Their spectral chief still leads them,-
The ghostly flash of his sword
Like a comet through mist shines far,
And the noiseless host is poured,
For the gendarme never heeds them,
Up the long dim road where thundered
The army of Italy onward
Through the great pale Arch of the Star!
The spectre army fades
Far up the glimmering hill,
But, vaguely lingering still,
A group of shuddering shades
Infects the pallid air,
Growing dimmer as day invades
The hush of the dusky square.
There is one that seems a King,
As if the ghost of a Crown
Still shadowed his jail-bleached hair;
I can hear the guillotine ring,
As its regicide note rang there,
When he laid his tired life down
And grew brave in his last despair.
And a woman frail and fair
Who weeps at leaving a world
Of love and revel and sin
In the vast Unknown to be hurled;
(For life was wicked and sweet
With kings at her small white feet!)
And one, every inch a Queen,
In life and in death a Queen,
Whose blood baptized the place,
In the days of madness and fear,-
Her shade has never a peer
In majesty and grace.
Murdered and murderers swarm;
Slayers that slew and were slain,
Till the drenched place smoked with the rain
That poured in a torrent warm,
Till red as the Rider's of Edom
Were splashed the white garments of Freedom
With the wash of the horrible storm!
And Liberty's hands were not clean
In the day of her pride unchained,
Her royal hands were stained
With the life of a King and Queen;
And darker than that with the blood
Of the nameless brave and good
Whose blood in witness clings
More damning than Queens' and Kings'.
Has she not paid it dearly?
Chained, watching her chosen nation
Grinding late and early
In the mills of usurpation?
Have not her holy tears
Flowing through shameful years,
Washed the stains from her tortured hands?
We thought so when God's fresh breeze,
Blowing over the sleeping lands,
In 'Forty-Eight waked the world,
And the Burgher-King was hurled
From that palace behind the trees.
As Freedom with eyes aglow
Smiled glad through her childbirth pain,
How was the mother to know
That her woe and travail were vain?
A smirking servant smiled
When she gave him her child to keep;
Did she know he would strangle the child
As it lay in his arms asleep?
Liberty's cruellest shame!
She is stunned and speechless yet.
In her grief and bloody sweat
Shall we make her trust her blame?
The treasure of 'Forty-Eight
A lurking jail-bird stole,
She can but watch and wait
As the swift sure seasons roll.
And when in God's good hour
Comes the time of the brave and true,
Freedom again shall rise
With a blaze in her awful eyes
That shall wither this robber-power
As the sun now dries the dew.
This Place shall roar with the voice
Of the glad triumphant people,
And the heavens be gay with the chimes
Ringing with jubilant noise
From every clamorous steeple
The coming of better times.
And the dawn of Freedom waking
Shall fling its splendors far
Like the day which now is breaking
On the great pale Arch of the Star,
And back o'er the town shall fly,
While the joy-bells wild are ringing,
To crown the Glory springing
From the Column of July!
A Dream Of Bric-A-Brac
I dreamed I was in fair Niphon.
Amid tea-fields I journeyed on,
Reclined in my jinrikishaw;
Across the rolling plains I saw
The lordly Fusi-yama rise,
His blue cone lost in bluer skies.
At last I bade my bearers stop
Before what seemed a china-shop.
I roused myself and entered in.
A fearful joy, like some sweet sin,
Pierced through my bosom as I gazed,
Entranced, transported, and amazed.
For all the house was but one room,
And in its clear and grateful gloom,
Filled with all odors strange and strong
That to the wondrous East belong,
I saw above, around, below,
A sight to make the warm heart glow,
And leave the eager soul no lack,-
An endless wealth of bric-a-brac.
I saw bronze statues, old and rare,
Fashioned by no mere mortal skill,
With robes that fluttered in the air,
Blown out by Art's eternal will;
And delicate ivory netsukes,
Richer in tone than Cheddar cheese,
Of saints and hermits, cats and dogs,
Grim warriors and ecstatic frogs.
And here and there those wondrous masks,
More living flesh than sandal-wood,
Where the full soul in pleasure basks
And dreams of love, the only good.
The walls were all with pictures hung:
Gay villas bright in rain-washed air,
Trees to whose boughs brown monkeys clung,
Outlineless dabs of fuzzy hair.
And all about the opulent shelves
Littered with porcelain beyond price:
Imari pots arrayed themselves
Beside Ming dishes; grain-of-rice
Vied with the Royal Satsuma,
Proud of its sallow ivory beam;
And Kaga's Thousand Hermits lay
Tranced in some punch-bowl's golden gleam.
Over bronze censers, black with age,
The five-clawed dragons strife engage;
A curled and insolent Dog of Foo
Sniffs at the smoke aspiring through.
In what old days, in what far lands,
What busy brains, what cunning hands,
With what quaint speech, what alien thought,
Strange fellow-men these marvels wrought!
As thus I mused, I was aware
There grew before my eager eyes
A little maid too bright and fair,
Too strangely lovely for surprise.
It seemed the beauty of the place
Had suddenly become concrete,
So full was she of Orient grace,
From her slant eyes and burnished face
Down to her little gold-bronze feet.
She was a girl of old Japan;
Her small hand held a glided fan,
Which scattered fragrance through the room;
Her cheek was rich with pallid bloom,
Her eye was dark with languid fire,
Her red lips breathed a vague desire;
Her teeth, of pearl inviolate,
Sweetly proclaimed her maiden state.
Her garb was stiff with broidered gold
Twined with mysterious fold on fold,
That gave no hint where, hidden well,
Her dainty form might warmly dwell,
A pearl within too large a shell.
So quaint, so short, so lissome, she,
It seemed as if it well might be
Some jocose god, with sportive whirl,
Had taken up a long lithe girl
And tied a graceful knot in her.
I tried to speak, and found, oh, bliss!
I needed no interpreter;
I knew the Japanese for kiss,
I had no other thought but this;
And she, with smile and blush divine,
Kind to my stammering prayer did seem;
My thought was hers, and hers was mine,
In the swift logic of my dream.
My arms clung round her slender waist,
Through gold and silk the form I traced,
And glad as rain that follows drouth,
I kissed and kissed her bright red mouth.
What ailed the girl? No loving sigh
Heaved the round bosom; in her eye
Trembled no tear; from her dear throat
Bubbled a sweet and silvery note
Of girlish laughter, shrill and clear,
That all the statues seemed to hear
The bronzes tinkled laughter fine;
I heard a chuckle argentine
Ring from the silver images;
Even the ivory netsukes
Uttered in every silent pause
Dry, bony laughs from tiny jaws;
The painted monkeys on the wall
Waked up with chatter impudent;
Pottery, porcelain, bronze, and all
Broke out in ghostly merriment,
Faint as rain pattering on dry leaves,
Or cricket's chirp on summer eves.
And suddenly upon my sight
There grew a portent: left and right,
On every side, as if the air
Had taken substance then and there,
In every sort of form and face,
A throng of tourists filled the place.
I saw a Frenchman's sneering shrug;
A German countess, in one hand
A sky-blue string which held a pug,
With the other a fiery face she fanned;
A Yankee with a soft felt hat;
A Coptic priest from Ararat;
An English girl with cheeks of rose;
A Nihilist with Socratic nose;
Paddy from Cork with baggage light
And pockets stuffed with dynamite;
A haughty Southern Readjuster
Wrapped in his pride and linen duster;
Two noisy New York stock-brokérs
And twenty British globe-trottérs.
To my disgust and vast surprise
They turned on me lack-lustre eyes,
And each with dropped and wagging jaw
Burst out into a wild guffaw:
They laughed with huge mouths opened wide;
They roared till each one held his side;
They screamed and writhed with brutal glee,
With fingers rudely stretched to me,-
Till lo! at once the laughter died,
The tourists faded into air;
None but my fair maid lingered there,
Who stood demurely by my side.
"Who were your friends?" I asked the maid,
Taking a tea-cup from its shelf.
"This audience is disclosed," she said,
"Whenever a man makes a fool of himself."