A Dirge For Horace Greeley
Weep, weep, O my country ! the cord has been severed
That bound the great heart of a statesman to thee ;
The spirit has fled that so nobly endeavored
To save from Disunion the land of the Free.
The beautiful rod and the strong staff are broken,
A gem from the casket of glory is reft ;
He is gone, but his eloquent words as a token
Of genius unrivaled shall ever be left.
'Mid the storms of the past, though the billows swept o'er him,
He stood, all undaunted by tempest or tide ;
For the Nation, his idol, lay bleeding before him,
And he sprang to his duty and knelt by her side.
The Union, the home of the brave and true-hearted,
Half palsied through fear by War's startling command,
With white arms upraised, all her courage departed,
In silent despair gave the statesman her hand.
As tender as brave, with a patriot's devotion,
He held and sustained her till danger was past;
With whispers of cheer checked the rising commotion,
And led her, unharmed, to a haven at last.
And when the fierce roar of the battle was over,
And Peace brooded down over hill-side and plain,
He gathered the bands we thought scattered forever,
And tried, with firm hand, to unite them again.
The boon of a Nation we claimed as his dower,—
Of her he had struggled so nobly to save ;
But friends turned aside at the hope-freighted hour,
And freemen bestowed on their Greeley —a grave.
Yet it was not defeat, —he, unmurmuring, bore it,
Till stung by the venom of taunting and sneer ;
Then shrank his great heart from the clutches that tore it.
While mind fell a victim to torturing fear.
Ah, friends ! ye should learn that all brave hearts aie tender ;
That heroes stand firm 'mid the clash of the sword ;
But spirits like fris may be forced to surrender
When the weapon ye use is a low, scathing word.
I tell you 'twere kinder if blood had flowed freely,
Had our martyr been slain by an enemy's hand,
Than to sting him to madness, —to offer our Greeley
A sacrifice here, in his own native land !
Yet worth cannot die; and, on history's pages,
His record will tell what he dared for our sake ;
And proudly reveal to the oncoming ages
How a statesman can live and a true luart can break.
Oh, that generous heart ! it was full to o'erflowing
When the wife of his youth and his country were there ;
But the one had passed on, and the other was going
Far, far from his reach, and he died of despair.
All pale, yet beautiful in grief, she laid her down to rest,
And her head was softly pillowed on a loving sister's breast ;
A flower, exhaling to the skies, yet scarce of earth a part,
She was fading, drooping, dying, ―dying of a broken heart.
' Tell me, sister,' thus she murmured, and her whispered words scarce heard
Fell like strains from distant harp-strings by soft breezes lightly stirred,―
' Tell me, when my sands are wasted, when the silken cord is riven,
Will this memory cling about me ? can I bear it up to heaven ?
' Oh, answer yes, my sister, ―it were cruel to say No ;
He was false, but do not blame him, for I loved ―I loved him so !
I have suffered keenly, deeply, but the strife is almost o'er,
And my latest thoughts now wander to the sunny days of yore.
Do not tell him, should he seek you, how my heart by grief was wrung ;
Only say, I died with blessings and his name upon my tongue.
Tell him how I clasped his image fondly, wildly, to my breast,―
How I prayed that he would join me in the mansions of the blest ;
How the dearest hope I cherished was, that when my soul was free,
Its deep love might still be changeless through a long eternity.
Ask him if he has forgotten the quiet, mossy dell
Where we used to sit together when the twilight shadows fell;
Where he gently smoothed my tresses, drew me closer to his side,
Breathing low, in tenderest accents, ' Golden-haired and sunny-eyed.'
Where my forehead with the baptism of his lips was often wet;
Ah, those moments, gone forever, how I love, how prize them yet !
Their remembrance lingers o'er me, the dear star-light of my heart,
And, though all grow dim around me, this can nevermore depart.
'Ask him more, ―if he remembers one lovely eve in June,
How we wandered to the brook-side to watch the rising moon ;
How, in playfulness, his fingers traced my name upon the sand ;
How his own was writ beneath it in a trembling, fluttering hand.
Oh, he does not dream how sacredly those golden grains I've kept,
Or how, that moonlit evening, while others sweetly slept,
I glided o'er the dewy lawn, soft oped the garden-gate,
And, reaching thus the trysting-spot, ―now lone and desolate,―
I gathered up each tiny grain, and, with a miser's care,
Concealed them with my treasured gifts,―the tress of auburn hair,
The picture, and the withered bud, now hidden on my breast,―
There, sister, let them slumber when you lay me down to rest.
'Softly, softly! Oh, my sister, has the daylight faded quite?
Or does memory now bathe me in a flood of starry light?
I can see him, ―he is coming, ―now his arms are open wide;
Lay me, sister, on his bosom! What is all the world beside ?
Oh, I knew he would be constant! I was sure that he would come ;
Nearer, nearer, sister ―tell him―tell him―I ―am―going―home.
You will never call him faithless ―never censure, blame him― No !
Only tell him, sister dearest, that I loved ―I loved him so!'
Her voice was hushed ; twas over ; no murmur ―scarce a sigh ;
The silence was unbroken, save by seraphs floating by.
The watcher shed no tear-drop as she closed those rayless eyes,
For she knew she would awaken to the joys of Paradise.
The hectic flush had faded from those snowy cheeks of clay,
But she thought of bloom perennial in the climes of endless day.
The pallid lips seemed quivering with a soft angelic smile,
As though the soul, at parting, had lingered there awhile
To breathe its benediction o'er that form of matchless mold,
So calm, so pure, so beautiful, so young, yet, oh ! so cold.
And when they robed her for the tomb, they found a shining band
Of auburn hair, ―a withered bud, ―his pictured face,― and sand !
These, and that face so sadly sweet, a tale of suffering spoke ;
They told how much that gentle heart was tortured ere it broke.
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.
Iowa's Centennial Poem
A hundred years ago to-day
A barren wild our borders lay;
Our stately forests grandly stood
Wrapped in majestic solitude.
Our rivers, coursing to the sea,
Felt not the chain of tyranny;
Nor yet above their glittering sheen
Could Freedom's stripes and stars be seen.
The red man. moored his birch canoe
Where sweet wild-flowers luxuriant grew;
Where sumachs, o'er the pebbly brink,
Bent down their crimson lips to drink;
And violets, with their tender eyes,
Looked up in wondering surprise
At Indian maid, who, by the wave,
Waited to greet her warrior brave.
A hundred years ! Gone like a dream,
All, save our t woods and noble stream;
The red man, with his bended bow,
No longer fells the bounding doe.
The camp-fire's curling smoke no more
Is seen beside the chieftain's door,
As Black Hawk talks, in whispers grave,
To Gitchie Manito the Brave.
But on this broad, luxuriant plain
Wave golden fields of ripening grain;
Our pastures, with their gurgling rills,
Feed cattle on a thousand hills,
While giant steamers plow our streams,
From which our starry banner gleams.
The mansions on our prairies wide,
Oft with a rude cot by their side,
Show how, by years of patient toil,
The lordly tillers of our soil
Have reared such homes as freemen may
With all their shackles torn away.
The flying shuttle, whirling wheel,
Invention's mighty power reveal.
We sweep, by steam, o'er earth's broad track,
And lightning sends our whispers back.
We share the nation's glory, too,
By holding to the world's broad view
Our men of mark, of genius rare,
Scattered, like sunbeams, everywhere.
On history's page will shine most bright
Such names as Belknap, Kirkwood, Wright,
Howell, McCreary, Mason, Hall,
Dodge, faithful to his country's call,
And warriors who, through war's wild shock,
Anchored our ship on Union rock.
The call that rose at Lexington,
There Freedom's struggle was begun,
Reached not these shores, yet still we claim
This priceless heritage the same.
They were our ancestors who fought
When liberty with blood was bought.
And Concord, with her patriot band,
Whose sons to-day rejoicing stand,
Deserves no more the honors won
Than we, so near the setting sun.
Could our hearts bound with wilder thrill
If we had met on Bunker's Hill?
Are patriots truer on the sod
Whence those br^ave souls went up to God?
Not if, with loyal heart and hand,.
We held the heritage they planned;
Not if, along this verdant track,
When Dissolution's cloud hung black,
Our soldiers poured their blood like rain,—
Deluged our sod with crimson stain,—
And flung our starry banner out
With glad, prolonged victorious shout,
Proclaiming where its bright folds waved
Our fathers' boon—the Union—saved.
Yes, side by side with those who sped
Where'er the gallant Putnam led,
With those whose forms grew cold and still
Upon the brow of Bunker's Hill,
We proudly write, on History's page,
The heroes of the present age;
Our dauntless braves, who did not quail
Beneath the storm of iron hail,
But who, like valiant Warren, fell
Guarding the land they loved so well.
Mills, Baker, Torrence, Worthington,
Martyrs to Freedom dearly won,
Beside their tombs our patriots cry,
'As much of valor as could die!'
Ask ye if Woman shrinking stood,
When rang War's cry o'er field and flood?
Did mothers, racked by dire alarms,
Prison their sons with clinging arms?
No ; worthy of the patriot sires
That lit the Revolution fires,
They forced the tears, that needs must start.
Backward, to trickle through the heart,
And said, in accents firm and low,
' Our prayers will follow, —go, boys, go!'
So when ye boast, as boast ye will,
Of the green slopes of Bunker's Hill,
And vow that ne'er shall be forgot
How Shiloh and Pea Ridge were fought;
When, with fond pride, you teach your son
How Tuttle's men took Donelson;
When to Alltoona you refer,
And tell how Corse defended her;
Or when you link with Archer's name
The sword his son will proudly claim,
Forget not Woman, who, through tears,
Read how the form that other years
Had seen soft-pillowed on her breast,—
The lips her own* so fondly pressed
Had murmured forth their dying moan—
Had paled and chilled, unsoothed —alone,—
Remember, every gallant one
Who fell was some fond mother's son.
I stood beneath our State's proud dome,
And saw the dear old Flag* come home.
Weary and worn and well-nigh spent,
To you, O statesmen ! it was sent,
To hold as a more priceless gem
Than England's royal diadem.
On shattered staff the wounded bars
Held feebly up the golden stars,
While the scarred veteran seemed to say,
'E'en death is sweet in Iowa.'
I fancied, as they bore it by,
Its red stripes glowed with deeper dye,
Since it had cheered each patriot one
Whose life-blood crimsoned Donelson.
Purer its lines of spotless white
Since trusting mothers knelt at night,
Lifting their yearning souls above
On the white wings of Faith and Love,
Pleading His arm might be the stay
Of valiant hearts from Iowa.
Deeper its blue since dimming eyes
Had faintly smiled in sweet surprise
Upon the silken folds that spread
Their pitying shadows o'er the dead,—
The loyal dead, for whom 'twas meet
Their Flag should be their winding-sheet.
Brighter its stars of deathless sheen
Since it had waved o'er fields of green,
Floated where giant steamers sailed,
Swayed —trembled —reeled— yet never trailed.
Well may we celebrate this day
With glad, triumphant shout;
Well may we bid dull care 'Away,'
And fling our banners out.
E'en Nature joins the welcome sounds
By grateful hearts begun,
Till from our rocks and vales rebounds
The name of Washington.
England her Wellington may claim;
France of Napoleon boast;
Scotia extol the deathless fame
Of Wallace and his host;
But more ecstatic is the thrill
That fires Columbia's son,
When lip and voice grow strangely still
At thought of Washington.
Perchance e'en now the shades of those
Who first in battle led
Have left their Eden of repose
To hover o'er our head.
They were the sowers of the seed
That made our country free,
And we, the reapers, loud indeed
May shout forth ' Victory !'
Nor to the arm of flesh alone
Attribute our success;
But to the One who led us on—
The God who deigned to bless.
And while, to-day, our banners wave
For battles dearly won,
We bless the power that victory gave
To our own Washington.
Bought with the life-blood of the brave,
Held through dissension's shock,
The heritage our fathers gave
Stands firm on Freedom's rock.
Then send your welcomes near and far,
Let party discord cease;
And learn of him who, first in War,
Was first alike in Peace.
Yes, patriot brothers, awaken!
Leave the red field of carnage behind;
Be former contentions forsaken,
And thus prove all brave hearts are kind.
Would ye make this, our glorious Centennial,
A type of the Union above?
Then join in our earthly millennial,
And crown it with brotherly love.
Oh, be not by prejudice blinded!
Our wanderers had something to learn;
And by parable all are reminded
That e'en prodigal sons may return.
Then let generous welcomes be proffered;
Give them robes of a right royal hue;
Let the rings that restore them be offered
By victors who honor the Blue.
They have desolate hearthstones among them,
And hearts that still moan in their pain,
When the thought of the anguish that wrung them
Floats over remembrance again.
Then when come your tear-drops, upstarting,
For friends who passed over the tide,
Forget not that many a parting
Brought woe on the Southern side.
In the names of our patriots ascended;
In the names of our heroes who bled; .
By the cause they so nobly defended;
By the Rachels who moaned o'er our dead;
We ask you to pledge them, true-hearted,
A covenant-promise anew;
Remembering 'mong patriots departed
No line parts the Gray from the Blue.