Lines On Receiving Maymie's Picture
Artist, I thank thee for the pictured face,
Thy genius untranscended bade thee trace;
The perfect image of the darling one
Who waits for me when life's sad dream is done.
How bitter my regret, when last I pressed
Her marble cheek unto my yearning breast,
To feel that never more those earnest eyes
Could give returning look of glad surprise;
That never more those pale, cold lips could press
Mine own in their outgushing tenderness!
And when they thought to comfort me, and said
That was but dust,—the soul forever fled,—
It made me yearn more wildly for the clay,—
The precious features they had hid away.
One sunny tress was all that I might claim
To treasure up and link with her dear name;
And a rude picture, so unlike the real,
It pleased me best to fancy an ideal
Of what she was, and send Thought softly back
To meet her, bousding over Memory's track.
But, oh ! how like a vision from the skies
Now dawns on me the light of those dear eyes !
How my pulse quickens as those lips of flame
Seem waiting my approach, to breathe my name!
The silken lashes, brow and cheek so clear,
And sunny tresses too, all, all are here !
Ah ! Heaven forgive me if I dare to bow
To idol such as this, and teach me how
To hush my spirit, that expectant waits,
And flaps her pinions 'gainst her prison-gates,
Impatient to be gone. This mirrored face
Seems sent to comfort me—to fill her place;
To sit beside me in my silent room,
As was her wont, and cheat me of my gloom.
Artist, I love my lyre, and though each strain
That wakes beneath my touch may sleep again
Without evoking a responsive thrill
From other hearts, I love to sound it still.
But, were I called my treasure to resign
And choose a rarer gift, it would be thine,
The inspiration of thy magic Art ;
The power to soothe and thrill the yearning heart.
Nelly 's Story
It was on a lovely evening
In the merry month of June,
That we sailed upon the waters clear,
Beneath the rising moon.
We had often sat together thus,
Young Lawrence Grey and I,
And watched the Night-Queen rolling
Through her kingdom in the sky.
He spoke as he was wont to speak,
In whispers soft and low,
Of moonlit skies and slumbering flowers,
And wavelets' murmuring flow.
In vain I listened for the words
I longed to hear him say ;
He breathed them not, —my heart was sad,—
I loved young Lawrence Grey.
Long had I known him ; oft had sat
Within the leafy grove,
And hoped to hear him whisper low
An earnest tale of love ;
Or stood, expectant, by his side,
At twilight's stilly hour,
And felt across my senses steal
A spell of wondrous power.
But Hope, the siren, from my heart
Had well-nigh ta'en her flight ;
And dark despair sat brooding there
Upon that summer's night.
And when, at last, a sacred hush
Fell upon wood and stream,
My thoughts were busy with the past,
While Lawrence seemed to dream.
I touched the water with my hand,
And tried to catch each gem
That, with the moonbeams, formed a gay,
A sparkling diadem.
A sudden fancy seized my brain,—
' Suspense is worse than death;
'Twill test his love to run the risk,—
I can but lose my breath.'
One parting glance was all I gave ;
But 'he beheld me not,
So closely were his senses bound
By deep, unfathomed thought.
' Forgive me, Heaven !' I softly said ;
' Now love or death must win !'
And, with the words, the skiff upset,
And I — I tumbled in.
One moment dark dismay became
A tenant of my breast ;
Another, every doubt gave way,—
All fear was lulled to rest.
A strong arm bore me to the shore,
Upheld my sinking form,
While tear-drops fell upon my cheeks
All fresh and bright and warm.
' Gone, almost gone !' he wildly said,
And smoothed my dripping hair ;
Then pressed his lips upon my own,
And left love's signet there.
A 'wildering bliss, an untold joy,
Across my being stole ;
And eyelids, that till then were closed,
No longer brooked control.
'Lawrence !' I slowly, feebly said, —
A flush suffused his cheek ;
Then, quick, he told me all his lips
Had long refused to speak:
He said he worshiped —he adored ;
If I would be his own,
Henceforth his aim in life should be
My happiness alone.
What answered I? Ask of the moon,
That now, all radiant, shone ;
Or of the still, pale stars beyond,
That tremblingly looked on.
I've tried a thousand times to think,
But tried, alas! in vain ;
Those words escaped from Memory's chart,
And ne'er came back again.
'Twas not till many years had fled
With many joys away,
And I had long been known to friends
As 'sober Nelly Grey,'
That I could venture to confess,
To him who used to dream,
That it was not an accident—
My falling in'the stream.
He scarce believed me when I said
I made the skiff capsize ;
Or that I heard the words he spoke
Before I oped my eyes.
He smiled, though, when he heard me say,
' If I were young once more,
And loved and doubted, I would act—
Just as I did before. ' '
The Shadows On The Wall
Fever sapped my very life-blood, frenzy fired my tortured brain,
And the friends who watched beside me, felt their lingering hopes were vain.
I was going —going from them, all unconscious of their fears ;
Hastening to the Silent Valley, deaf to moans and blind to tears.
But a change was wrought at midnight —the destroyer's hand was stayed,
And the frenzy and the fever fled, affrighted and dismayed.
And the dear ones who had trembled as I neared the mystic goal,
Spoke in glad, rejoicing whispers as light slumber held control ;
All, save one, the youngest —fairest— gentle friend of other years,
Who knelt reverently beside me, and returned her thanks with tears.
Since the sunny days of childhood we had known each other well,
And each fleeting year we numbered but increased love's magic spell ;
But, till sickness felled me, never did her acts of love divine
Seem to drop, like gems unnumbered, from a great exhaustless mine.
With a sister's sweet devotion would her young head o'er me bow,
As she bathed my cheeks with kisses, and with tear-drops dewed my brow,
Like a fond and gentle mother on her bosom lay my head,
And, in soft, endearing accents, speak of happy hours long fled.
When the dreadful dream was ended, when delirium's spell was broke,
When, with all an infant's weakness, I to consciousness awoke,
I could see the form of Emma round my darkened chamber glide,
And could hear her sweet voice breathing soothing whispers by my side
Not till stars were shining brightly in the blue sky overhead
Would she leave me to my slumbers with a Sibyl's noiseless tread,
Then, within the room adjoining, sat she with attentive ear,
Ready, at the slightest murmur, at my bedside to appear.
Well, one eve my eye had wandered from the bright and cheerful light
That came streaming through the doorway, to the wall so smooth and white,
When methought I heard a footfall ('twas not Emma's, I was sure)
Stepping lightly through the hall and pausing at the inner door.
It was opened —oh, so softly I could scarcely hear the sound ;
Had a human hand unclosed it, or were spirits stalking round ?
While I looked and thought and wondered, lo ! there glided from the hall,
With a stealthy tread, a shadow, and stood waiting on the wall.
'Twas as handsome as the 'photos' done by Emerson last week ;
Its two lips were slightly parted, as though just about to speak ;
And its eyes —I lost their color with their most bewitching flash,
Yet I saw it sported whiskers and a slightly-curled moustache ;
Then its nose was sharp and classic, —it was finely built and tall,
And a full round chin and forehead had this shadow on the wall.
Quick before my wondering vision did a second shadow glide ;
It excelled the air in fleetness till it reached the other's side.
Ah ! full well that face, that figure, and those graceful curls were known,
For, with sportive pencil, oft had I the self-same outline drawn.
And, so great was my amazement, I my voice could scarce suppress
When I saw these phantom figures meeting with a warm caress ;
And —my memory here grows faithless —I can only just recall
That I saw four lips of shadow meet upon the pictured wall.
When the pantomime was ended, I grew restless from surprise,
And, remembering not my weakness, I in vain essayed to rise ;
But the shadows heard my movement, and they fled before my gaze
With the swiftness of the lightning, choosing wisely different ways;
And when, in a moment after, bent a fair face o'er my bed,
Eyes were closed and breast was heaving: 'Sleeping sweetly,' Emma said;
Never dreamed she that the sleeper had been witness to it all,
Or, more truly, to the tableau of the shadows on the wall.
Often have I seen the substance of the shadow first since then,
And no nobler heart is numbered in the family of men.
He is worthy of his Emma, who, now standing by his side,
Does not note his beaming glance of mingled tenderness and pride.
With one hand upon his shoulder and the other clasped in mine,
She's been coaxing for a poem about ' Charles and Emmeline ;'
And I've quickly snatched my pencil for the first time to recall
To the twain the summer's eve I saw the shadows on the wall.
Recollections Of Pittsburg
Arouse thee, my muse !
From thy lethargy start,
And weave into words
What thou' It find in my heart.
Let thy harp be new-strung,
And obey my command,
To sing me a song
Of my own native land,—
Of the clime where I roamed,
With a heart light and free
As the ripples that dance
On the breast of the sea;
Where I flitted along
With my innocent dreams,
As free as the breezes
That dimpled our streams.
Where, stretched on the greensward,
Grown weary of play,
I slept through the noon
Of the long summer's day.
Where winter brought sledges
And mountains of snow ;
And bridged all the streams
In the valley below.
Where I wished some good fairy
Would give me the power
To turn to a zephyr,
A bird, or a flower ;
A sunbeam—a dewdrop,
A sprite free and wild;
It mattered not what
So I was not a child.
How well I remember
How urchins, in crowds,
Would scale some tall spire
That seemed reaching the clouds,
To prove to the timorous,
To what wonderful heights
Silken bubbles could go !
What shouts rent the air
When each miniature thing
Rode off on the wind,
With the pride of a king !
What wondrous surmises
By all were begun,
As to where it would stop,—
At the moon, stars, or sun !
Then the hill that surrounded
The ' City of Smoke ;'
What scenes of enchantment
Its vistas awoke !
The meeting of waters,—
The trio in view ;
Their jeweled hands clasping,—
How steadfast, how true,
The union of hearts,
Whose High-Priest was the sun !
Whose vows were, ' Henceforward,
Name, purposes, one!'
What wonder that picture
In memory is laid,
Too faithful to perish,
Too constant to fade.
I've a brother (God bless him !)
Whose joy used to be
To sit in the twilight
With ' Sis' on his knee,
And tell her in whispers
Of angels of light
Floating down through earth-shadows
To watch her by night;
That no good little girl
Need be ever afraid,
For His arms were about her
In sunlight and shade;
That even the babe
On a fond mother's breast
Nor shudders, nor shrinks,
When He calls it to Rest.
Years have fled, and now ' Sis'
Has to matronhood grown ;
While the 'brother' calls sons
In ripe manhood his own.
But those lessons of Faith,
His sweet pictures of Trust,
Will live when the lips
That portrayed them are dust.
With the wealth of the Indies
Can never be bought
The rapturous bliss
Of each beautiful thought,
That has sprung from the seed
That were sown in Life's spring,
When no grief bowed my spirit
Nor trammeled its wing.
'Tis a chilling remembrance,
(It frightens me yet,)
The day I trudged homeward
Had played truant from school,
And, most shocking of all,
Had taken a bath
In our famous canal.
' How father will threaten!
How mother will scold !'
I whispered, while trembling
From terror and cold.
And when sister came in
And wet garments descried,
' Oh, my I' I returned to her
'Sis, you must hide.'
How gently and softly
In bed was I laid,
And never was told
The excuse she had made!
Yet that night, when our household
All quietly slept,
I knew that my mother
Bent o'er me and wept.
One tender hand lifted
My pillow of down,
The other moved soft
O'er my tresses of brown,
While lips that might banish
My dream, did they speak,
Left the seal of their pardon
And love on my cheek.
I am changed from the truant
Of life's early spring ;
Am no longer a dreamer,
A light-hearted thing.
Yet, could Fancy transport me
To where I command,
I'd be off in a trice
To my own native land.
Would fly to the common,
And search for the swing;
Would clamber the hill-side,
And drink at the spring ;
On the meeting of waters
Would gaze with delight,
And watch the balloons
As they hurry from sight;
Would haste to the homestead,—
The homestead—ah me !
Where now are the boughs
Of our family tree?
No father to welcome,
No mother to bless;
No sister to shield,
And no brother's caress;
The hearthstone deserted,—
The love-light all fled ;
The children far distant,
The parent tree—dead.
While the dreamer of old,
With her lyre in her hand,
Essayeth to sing
Of her dear, native land.