What Are The Snow-Flakes?
Say, whence come the snow-flakes —the pure, fleecy snow-flakes,
That flutter so softly, so tremblingly by?
Are they foam from the ocean of ether above us,
Or petals from roses that blow in the sky?
Do seraphs who wander beside the still waters,
Or linger, entranced, in fair bowers above,
Keep culling the leaves of the blossoms around them
To scatter them earthward as tokens of love ?
Are they down, that the beautiful Angel of Summer,
At parting, so noiselessly shakes from her wings ?
Or heralds sent forth by the glittering Frost-King
To tell of the jewels he lavishly brings?
Oh ! I sometimes half dream, as I watch the flakes falling,
That 'tis Purity's self gliding down from the skies,
Till, meeting our earth-damps of sin and pollution,
They melt her to tears and of pity she dies.
Have you seen a gentle maiden
Flitting down your forest aisles,
With her shining tresses flowing,
And her red lips wreathed with smiles?
With the golden leaves of autumn
Round her white brow lightly pressed,
And its modest crimson berries
Blushing on her virgin breast ?
Have you heard her breezy footfalls
Trembling through the rustling grass?
Have you caught her mellow whispers
To the song-birds as they pass ?
Have you marked the wondrous brightness
Beaming from her tender eye,
When the rippling streamlets murmured
Blessings as she glided by?
Yes, you've seen her, fair October:
Since she sought your forest aisles,
She has lightened hill and valley
With the glory of her smiles.
She has crossed your babbling river,
Lingered on your wild-flower track,
Until now the gates of cloud-land
Softly ope to woo her back.
She has floated, floated upward,
Over meadow, stream, and wood,
Till her golden hair is dabbled
In the sunset's crimson blood.
She has breathed her latest blessing,
She has wrought her parting spell ;
Waning autumn's benediction, ―
Sweet October, fare thee well !
The scorching August rays fell fast,
As through a Western village passed
A youth, who bore, through sun and flame,
A banner bearing high the name,
The love that lit his lifted eye
Revenge and malice might defy,
And whether met by young or old,
His answer followed, firm and bold,
'Trust not Republicans, my son,'
An aged Copperhead begun ;
'They lurk along the mountain-side.'
But, jubilant, his voice replied,
' Beware of ' Rebs,' ' old Croaker cries ;
' Beware of trakors in disguise !'
But opening wide his arms for all,
He shouts aloud the magic call,
And later, when, his goal attained,
He paused where sunset's glory waned,
His whisper floated to the stars
That hid behind those crimson bars,
The young moon, too, too coy to speak,
Dropped golden kisses on his cheek;
Then, as he slept, she veiled her light
And murmured, with her soft ' Good-night,'
And thus, by Heaven's own touch caressed,
In dreams our hero's footfalls pressed
The golden streets, where patriots heard,
And softly breathed our Union-word,
The End Of The Rainbow
Written for little Etta Ayres.
' Come, Nellie !' I cried, on a clear April day,
When the sunbeams kept kissing the shadows away,
' The rainbow has lit on the hill, and, you know,
We might find heaps of gold at the end of the bow.'
We were young, foolish children, sweet Nellie and I,
And we thought that the hill-top was close to the sky;
Believed, too, because we were told it was so,
We should find 'lots' of gold at the end of the bow.
So onward we trudged, over meadows of green,
Whose clover-blooms brightened their emerald sheen;
Then down from the hill to the valley below,
And gazed all around for the end of the bow.
' Not here !' I said, sadly; but Nellie replied,
' It is hid in yon grass by the waterfall's side;
Run fast ! if you move o'er the pebbles so slow,
I'm sure I'll be first at the end of the bow.'
We found not the treasures we searched for till night,
But Nellie, the sweet, fragile blossom, was right;
From this valley of shades she was first called to go
To the clime where is resting the end of the bow.
Where rainbows of glory eternally play,
Our Nellie is singing with seraphs to-day;
And her beautiful pinions are folded, I know,
In the fullness of joy at the end of the bow.
Welcome To Teachers
Read before the Lee County Institute, at Fort Madison, Iowa, December 27, 1873.
Sculptors of the finest marble,
Molders of our plastic youth,
Sowers of such seed as ripen
Into everlasting truth,
Shepherds with the noblest calling
To be found in Life's broad way,
Welcome ! and may Heaven pour blessings
On your sacred cause to-day.
Be not weary of well doing !
Help, encourage, guard, and—
For you hold in trust the future
Of our young and rising State.
Whether, 'mid her regal sisters,
She the queen or vassal be,
Ye must say, for ye are molding,
Through our youth, her destiny.
Like our broad, unbounded prairies
Be your efforts, large and free;
Like our noble, chainless river,
As it courses to the sea,
Be your words to thrill their spirits,-
Words that rouse the daring soul;
Words that wake to life and action
Giant thoughts that spurn control.
Ask ye not a higher calling
Than the work ye dare to do,
For remember your Redeemer
Was a lowly teacher, too.
And upon these days that point us
Far away to Bethlehem's plain,
Most of all we feel a Saviour
Neither lived nor died in vain.
As ye thus recall the lessons
That His daily walks reveal,
Imitate His self-denial,
Imitate His holy zeal;
Then your years of patient labor
Will return you golden grain;
Ripened fields will bow in token
That ye have not toiled in vain.
O! And Oh!
O ! the enchanting hues that rise
To deck the morn's young features !
Oh ! see what clouds obscure the skies !
Oh ! back ! ye gloomy creatures !
O ! who's the churl that can refrain
From prospects so delightful!
Oh! tempest! lightning! thunder! rain!
How dreary ! Oh ! how frightful!
O ! pleasant 'tis at sea to view
The bright horizon round you !
Oh ! where' s the ship ! The storms burst through !
The raging waves have found you !
O ! grateful are the strains that pour
From every grove and bower !
Oh ! quaking is that thunder's roar !
It comes with deafening power !
O ! blooming as the rosy skies
That fair one's glowing beauty !
Oh ! loathsome those cadaverous eyes !
Complexion ! Oh ! how sooty !
O ! how that form regales the sense !
What symmetry is given!
Oh, ugly, graceless being, hence !
Earth claims thee not nor heaven !
O ! what a boon, in weal or woe,
Is health, life's fairest etching !
Oh ! oh ! this pain ! this sickness ! Oh !
Oh ! oh ! this morbid retching !
O ! favored they who never want
The man of pills to call up !
Oh ! torturing bolus ! oh ! avaunt,
This calomel and jalap !
O friends ! how true ! Oh, foes, how base !
O wealth ! Oh, hard dependence !
O blest abode ! Oh, wretched place,
With all its vile attendants !
And thus in O's ! our pleasures flow ;
In Ohs ! our pains ; Oh ! galling !
But some—'tis wrong—use Oh ! for O !
And O ! for Oh ! appalling !
Dedicated to the students of the college of physicians and surgeons, at Keokuk, Iowa, classes of 1875-76.
Students ! as again ye gather
Where your feet have trod before,
Ope your minds to Wisdom's teachings,
Drink them in and thirst for more !
In your Alma Mater's shadow
Sages, men of learning, wait,
Ready, with the keys of Science,
To unlock her golden gate.
Those who dwell in mountain-passes,
Narrowed in by rock and vale,
Strive, and serve an humble purpose,
Make their little lives avail.
But, with prairies circling round you,
Stretching beyond human ken,
And this grand old river near you,
Need ye rank as common men?
Why, it seems such thoughts should thrill you
As would leap their prison-bars,
Mounting, eagle-plumed, above you,
Till they almost touched the stars !
Vastness, richness, boundless beauty
Urge you up to loftiest height ;
Rouse you to prolonged endeavor, ―
Nerve you for Life's coming fight.
Be ye watchful, patient, gentle,
Quick to soothe and strong to bear ;
For the healing of the nation
Is confided to your care.
Let your tones be glad and hopeful
If new life ye would impart ;
Let your cheering smiles of greeting
Fall, like sunlight, on the heart.
Oh, be firm as rocks of granite
When temptations bar your way !
Let not vice, with its allurements,
Turn your steadfast steps astray.
Pure should be the man who waiteth
Where a spirit's bonds are riven,
And the freed soul, angel-guided,
Wings its way to home and heaven.
The Mississippi River
There is not in the wide world a river as grand
As the one whose bright waves lave my own native land ;
From the dear mother-lake which it leaves with a sigh,
And murmurs, at parting, a tender good-by,
On down to the Gulf, that, with arms open wide,
Receives to her bosom the on-rushing tide,
Repeating the vow by her lover begun,
That henceforth, forever, their lives shall be one,
There are beauty and freshness and splendor untold
On its shores, on its isles, in its ripples of gold.
Past meadow and moorland, past forest and glade,
How grandly it courses in sunlight and shade !
Reflecting the blushes of morn's rosy light,
Or set with tiaras of star-gems at night;
So mirroring heaven that if loved ones might stray
Through portals of light in the regions of day,
Or mount its bright ramparts and fondly look down,
We might catch, in these waters, the gleam of a crown,
A glad smile of joy on a glorified face,
And white arms upheld for a tender embrace.
Say, River of rivers, what is't they implore
As thy ripples press forward to kneel on thy shore ?
I see them, at morn, lowly bending in prayer,—
At even their pleadings float soft on the air.
While up through the starlight comes, tender and low,
The trembling refrain of their murmuring flow.
What yearnings can move thee, what longings can start,
With heaven's own image clasped close to thy heart?
I think, when thy islands of verdure are seen,
Of Eden's still waters and pastures of green,
And feel, when my feet touch thy shore's dewy sod,
A sense of His presence, a nearness to God.
A picture floats up from thy blue waves to me
Of Him who sat down by Gennesareth's sea;
And e'en when thy storm-maddened billows mount high,
They waft me the whisper,—'Fear not, it is I.'
(Written during the Jubilee at Chicago)
While thousands throng each crowded mart,
And gaze around in mute surprise,
I turn with an adoring heart
To thee, fair mirror of the skies.
Yet not in silence can I pour
My full heart out, fair Lake, to thee,
So, humbly kneeling on thy shore,
I chant thy praise, my Jubilee.
The purple clouds are all drawn back
From heaven's blue vault, that I may trace
Its distant verge, —its shining track
Held to thy heart in close embrace.
The roseate flush that tinged the sky
Has slowly turned to burnished gold,
And every wave that hurries by
Clasps all of sunlight it can hold.
I saw thee not, Lake Michigan,
When all aglow —a sheet of flame;
When forth the frenzied people ran
To shriek for help —to- call thy name.
Chicago, thine own cherished bride,
Thou mightst not succor —couldst not save;
But fettered lay as flames spread wide
And scooped for her a yawning grave.
The loss was ours; we mourned with thee
That she should fall, —a nation mourned;
Nor deemed we then we e'er should see
Her hopes restored, her strength returned.
'Forever lost, forever gone! '
Came through thy murmuring wavelets' swell;
' Forever lost, forever gone! '
We echoed back, —her funeral knell.
Yet now, so soon, a wondering throng
Crowd to thy shore in hushed surprise,
And there behold (grand theme for song)
Chicago, Phcenix-like, arise.
A world lamented when she fell,
And now, 'neath turret, tower, and dome,
A multitude of voices tell
Her year of Jubilee has come.
Chicago, City of the Lake,
Bride of this lovely inland sea,
Thy resurrection-glories wake
A dream of what thou yet shalt be.
Undaunted in thy darkest hour,
Thyself hast brought the awakening dawn;
Thy energy has been the power
That led, and still shall lead thee on.
To A Night-Blooming Cereus.
Beautiful flower, with petals white,
That only blooms in the hush of night,
That never reveals to the sunlight bold
The inner beauty thy petals hold,
As I sit to night, keeeping watch o'er thee,
Thou seem'st to blossom alone for me.
I have known some hearts like thine own, fair one,
That never would ope to the glaring sun ;
Whose wealth of sweetness was treasured up
Like the golden threads in thy opening cup ;
Who had never a throb nor a glow at all,
Except for the heart that received them all.
And some hearts I have known that the gathering gloom
Has seemed to call into perfect bloom ;
Whose garnered brightness with magic power
Came blossoming out in life's darkest hour;
Who waited, like thee and the stars on high,
Ere they gave their splendor to earth and sky.
Beautiful flower, in thy robe of white,
Thou seem' st like an angel of peace to-night ;
But, like joys that have vanished, or fond hopes dead,
Thy wondrous beauty will all have fled
When I wake at morn, and I'll only see
The corpse of the flower that bloomed for me.
But, like other memories I treasure there,
And hide in my heart with a miser's care,
In that inner temple, that none may see
Except when I lift the veil for thee,
I will hold the thought of our converse sweet,
With hope and rapturous joy replete.
For we've talked together, thou and I,
When none but God and ourselves was nigh ;
I have touched my cheek to thy snowy tips,
And breathed a prayer on thy opening lips ;
And thou, in turn, to my weary heart
Didst strength and comfort and faith impart.
And now I will bid thee a fond 'good-night,'
With thy petals spread t as for upward flight ;
And my thoughts shall be of an angel flower
That blooms above in a fairer bower,
Where the dear ones, waiting, may turn to see
The beautiful bud that unclosed for me.
Dedicated To My Sister, Mrs. Sarah A. Ayres.
One beautiful evening in summer,
Ere the sunbeams had vanished from sight,
When they stooped down to kiss the green prairies,
And bid all the flowers ' Good-night' ;
When the last lingering rays that descended
Fell full in the waterfall's face,
And caught the bright ripples, while dancing,
To give them a parting embrace;
Sad and doubting I sat by the brook-side,
And gazed on expiring Day,
Until Thought fell asleep in my bosom
And Memory flew softly away.
The clouds that hung lightly above me
Wore colors of beauty untold:
Displaying, in exquisite blending,
Their crimson and purple and gold.
The Breeze had forgotten its murmur,
The Zephyr had banished its sigh,
And echoes of heavenly anthems
Seemed dropping from harps in the sky.
Anon came the dim, dreamy twilight
To bend o'er our wild-flower track;
For, like truants, the sunbeams strayed earthward,
While darkness kept drawing them back.
Soon the long, waving grass of the meadow,
The waterfall sparkling and bright,
The trees and the church on the hill-side,
Were hid by the curtain of Night.
Then I sighed, in the fullness of sadness,
To think that the sunbeams had died,
Until white pinions fluttered around me,
And low whispers woke at my side :
' The gloom that the Night casts o'er nature
The splendor of Day ever mars,
But 'tis only the darkness, O mortal!
Can bring out the light of the stars.
' The soul, like the heavens above thee,
Has its seasons of sunlight and gloom;
And often the mental horizon
Is clouded by thoughts of the tomb.
' When the beams of Prosperity gladden,
Our troubles are laid in the dust ;
And 'tis only Adversity's mantle
Can bring out the starlight of Trust.
'Go ! learn of this emblem a lesson,—
Let Faith find a home in thy breast,
And Contentment will follow her footsteps,
And sing all repinings to rest.'
There was silence,—I gazed all around me
For the source of those whispers of love;
But naught met my wandering vision
Save the stars looking down from above.
Since then, when earth-shadows enfold me,
New strength to my spirit is given;
For I know it is only the darkness
Can brhvg oat the starlight of heaven.
The Saddest Thing
I've done the saddest thing to-day
That ever fell to woman's lot:
I've folded all her clothes away,
And every treasured plaything brought
To lay beside them, one by one;
Her birthday gifts and Christmas toys,
And then to weep, when all was done,
O'er buried hopes and vanished joys.
Her little -dress, in childish haste,
Her own dear hands had laid aside;
Upon the pins that held the waist
I pressed my lips, and softly cried.
Within her gaiters, 'neath my chair,
Two half-worn, crimson stockings lay,
And with a pang of wild despair
I bent and hid them all away.
The purple ribbon that she wore,
The coral trings and pin were there,
And just beneath them, on the floor,
The silken band that tied her hair.
A handkerchief that bore her name
Was folded like a tiny shawl;
And, wrapped within this snowy frame,
Just as she left it, lay her doll.
It bled afresh, this wounded heart,
As if with some new sorrow stung,
As, with a wild and sudden start,
I came to where her cloak was hung.
I caught it, sobbing, to my breast,
As if it held the missing form,
And in low murmurs fondly blest
What once had kept my darling warm.
Her gentle fingers seemed to glide
Across my brow to soothe my pain,
As from the pockets at the side
I drew the gloves that still retain
The impress of those loving hands,
Whose magic touch seemed fraught with power
To cheer me 'mid the scorching sands
Of sorrow, in life's desert hour.
Her little hat no more will take
To its embrace her sunny hair;
I felt that my poor heart must break
To see it lying, empty, there.
The beaming eyes it used to shade
No more with trustful glance will shine;
The grass the early spring hath made
Is growing 'twixt her brow and mine.
Her silk and thimble both were laid
With thread and scissors on the stand;
Her dolly's dress, but partly made,
Seemed waiting for the molding hand.
The drawing of a blighted vine,
Torn, ruthless, from a withered tree,
Meet emblems of her life and mine,
Were the last lines she traced for me.
Oh ! was there ever grief like this ?
Can sorrow take a form more wild
Than sweeps across us when we miss
The presence of a darling child ?
And is there any thought that cheers
Like this, the heart by anguish riven,—
That Time was given to mark our tears,
Eternity to measure Heaven ?
The Dying Soldier
With forehead throbbing from pain,
With lips that were burning and dry,
A soldier lay, between heaps of slain,
By his comrades left to die.
Moans ! moans ! moans !
The air reeled, sick as they fell,
Yet still he sang the ' Song of the War,'
In the tone of a funeral knell.
'Fight ! fight! fight!
Through the summer's fervid heat;
And fight ! fight ! fight !
'Mid rain and snow and sleet.
Scarcely an hour to rest,
Scarcely an hour to pray,
Until, like me, a comrade falls
In the midst of the deadly fray.
' March ! march ! march !
Till the limbs are numb and sore;
And march ! march ! march !
Till the feet are bathed in gore.
Grown so athirst for blood
That, while halting, by woods or streams,
We fall asleep to meet our foes,.
And shoot them down in our dreams.
'On! on! on!
Brave comrades, with purpose true !
Your steadfast souls must never swerve
From the work ye dare to do.
For the Union ye must defend,—
Ay ! barter your lives to save,—
Now stands, like a reeling, tottering ship,
On the brink of a yawning grave.
' Peace ! peace ! peace !
O God ! will it never come ?
I can almost hear that pleading cry
From lips now pale and dumb ;
Can almost catch the words,
As they echo, near and far,
Through the widow's plaint and the orphan's wail,
' We have had enough of War !'
Home ! home ! home !
What memories o'er me steal!
It were sweet to die with the loved ones there,
In the room where we used to kneel
And offer our evening prayer
For those who had gone to fight ;
Ah me ! what a bitter time was that
When I breathed a sad l Good-night !'
'I think that I tasted all
The wormwood in sorrow's cup,
When Mary covered her streaming eyes
And held the baby up,—
When mother, so old and frail,
Came in for a parting kiss,
And prayed we might meet in a better world,
If not again in this.
' Home ! home ! home !
Oh, would they. were with me here !
To press their lips to my burning cheeks,
Or dew them with a tear.
Fond heart ! it is hard to go
When life seems so full of joy !
Who will shield my wife and the aged one,
And my helpless baby boy?'
With forehead throbbing from pain,
With lips that were fevered and dry,
A soldier lay, between heaps of slain,
By his comrades left to die.
The struggle—the fight was o'er;
His soul, on that summer's even,
Had floated off from the field of blood,
To Home and Peace and Heaven.
It was years ago one October day
When a shadow fell on my Life's bright way;
And, with fond hopes blighted and glad dreams fled,
I turned with a weary, desolate tread
To the home I had left with light step and free,
Where my mother waited and prayed for me.
Ah ! though crushed by woe, not of all bereft
Can we ever feel while this friend is left.
The love of a mother is strong and true,—
Unchanged, undiminished, our whole life through :
And her circling arms are our truest stay
When hopes we have cherished have passed away.
' Grandmother Dickey,' an aged dame,
Walked over to see me the day I came:
It was life's October with grandmother then,
While mother had passed her threescore and ten.
And they both would fain have soothed me there,
As I sat beside them jn mute despair.
'Grandmother' said it would not be long
Till my call would come from the ransomed throng ;
Life was only a span, and 'twould be so sweet
For friends, long parted, again to meet.
And she told me my duty was plain and clear
To comfort the dear ones left me here.
Then we all knelt down, the pilgrims twain,
With me between them ; and not in vain
Were the fervent prayers, as on bended knee
They asked the Father to comfort me.
For, like perfume wafted from fields of balm,
There came o'er my spirit a wondrous calm.
This was years ago, and a long, long while
It seemed as I passed o'er the grave-yard stile,
And on through the leaves of brown, crimson, and gold
That covered the graves from the Winter's cold;
Then sat me down where the maples wave
Their shadowy boughs o'er my mother's grave.
And my thoughts went back, as I bowed me there,
To an aged form, bent in earnest prayer;
And I said, She is old now as mother was then,—
If she lives, she has counted threescore and ten.
And musing thus, with my lifted eyes
Fixed on the dreary October skies,
I stood, while the branches above poured down
Their wealth of crimson and gold and brown;
Then turned to follow the sound they gave,
And to watch them fall on a new-made grave.
A rustling of feet 'mid the leaflets sere
Made me turn to look,—'twas a child drew near.
' Come hither, my lad ! Whose grave? Pray tell!'
' Why, Grandmother Dickey's : you knew her well.
She was old and feeble and wanted to go,
For so many were dead that she used to know.'
I measured the space. I was just between
The pilgrims' graves, as that day I had been
Between the twain when her voice arose
To the pitying Father to soothe my woes.
But the lips were silent that prayed for me
Whom Faith had forsaken on Life's rough sea.
And my heart wailed out a despairing moan,—
A cry for the earth-love forever flown ;
Until mother's voice through the silence came,
' Waiting and praying, love, all the same.'
And then 'Grandmother's' words, 'It will be so sweet
When friends, long parted, again shall meet ! '
Who loves not flowers?—a forest in its dress
Of verdure, rich with figures colored bright ?
Not gaudily, but with such hues as press
With a soft, mellow touch upon the sight,
Wooing the vision's love.
'Tis art alone
Yields gaudy tints to flowers by culture, which
Dame Nature ne'er employs when they are grown
In fields and forests; there they put forth rich,
Indeed, but unassuming forms, with cups
For dew and odors for the zephyrs. Naught ,
Intrudes there, nothing rude that interrupts
The plastic course of Nature ; all is wrought,
The smallest flower expanding, to emit
Unsullied fragrance, pure ambrosial drops,
Reflecting colors, by its structure fit
To enchain the mind in thought. The storm crops
Not a blossom, laying the forest bare;
From among the ruins every flower looks
Blooming still without a nurse's care,
Save Nature, to protect it ; and the brooks,
Though cumbered with the fragments, still gush free
To bathe the violet's head, lest Sol's fierce ray
Might else the floweret sear.
In childhood's glee,
When my light spirits bubbled up in play,
I thought with Darwin lovely flowers could feel,
Were sentient beings, and could laugh or weep.
It was my wont to sit for hours, or steal
Around to see the florid things asleep,
Or, waking up, give forth a cheerful smile
After a pleasant nap. Thus to employ
My time, or much of it, did oft beguile
With rosy bliss the too confiding boy.
Yet 'twas not all illusion. Years mature,
With notice and research, conviction brought,
That flowers at night enjoy repose, secure
From harm, as if the blooming gems were taught
By Nature to seek rest, awake as we,
Refreshed, and with the morn expand in bloom.
Who loves not flowers? At morn and noon, the bee
Within their nectaries, while they perfume
The air, sips honey for the hive, the boon
Imparted freely as the light of day;
And thus do flowers instruct us to attune
The heart to such emotions as display
Unstinted charity from private means,
And while we thus in secret give, around
Diffuse benevolence divine, which screens
The poor from wretchedness wherever found.
Who loves not flowers? To study them, to learn
The use of every organ, how it plies
Its power instinctive to one end, discern
The avenues of health, and when it dies,
To see a flower resign to death its form
With all its loveliness; these to the mind
Impressive truths convey, the bosom warms
With pure devotion, feelings all refined.
Who loves not flowers? 'Tis pleasant to converse
With them. As learned mutes their thoughts unfold
By signs, so Flora's pupils can rehearse
By symbols clear and cogent : they can mold
The callous heart so as to make it feel
The force of virtue, can convince, reclaim
The inward and the outward man, reveal
What Inspiration urges as the aim,
Design, and reason of our living here;
And thus with Heaven's own Book of faith and love,
Unite in yielding proof direct and clear
Of life hereafter. Then, who loves not flowers?
Morning's hush was all around me,
Silence brooded everywhere,
When the early dawning found me
Bowed and crushed by wild despair ;
For my eldest-born before me
Prostrate lay with faltering breath,
And the shudder that stole o'er me
Seemed the icy touch of death.
Then the solemn hush was broken,
Tones from distant bells were blent.
When I asked, ' What means this token?'
I was answered, ' Only Lent.'
Only Lent ! To fastings holy,
Soon to end at Easter-tide,
They referred, while I bent lowly
O'er the blossom at my side.
Tender plant, whose love had lighted
Days of toil and nights of gloom ;
But whose buds of hope were blighted,
Blighted in their early bloom.
Ten short years to bless and cheer me
Had this April flower been sent ;
Ten short springs to blossom near me,
Then to wither. Only lent.
Heavier seemed my cross unto me
Than before .was ever borne,
When she whispered that she knew me
As I wept that sacred morn.
I forgot Who once hung bleeding
While this Day was wrapped in gloom ;
For our ransom interceding,
Bearing thus the sinner's doom ;
And my soul cried out in sorrow
For the deep affliction sent,
Murmuring, ' He may claim to-morrow
Her whose life is only lent.'
But the morrow came and ended,
And another dawned and sped ;
Then the morn when He ascended―
Rose in triumph from the dead,
Crowned with resurrection glory;
Gladly rang the matin bells,
Pealing forth the wondrous story
Through our t plains and woods and dells.
Then the sweet, pale face beside me
Whiter grew by suffering spent;
Joy without, but hope denied me:
She, I knew, was only lent.
Days since then I've sadly numbered ;
Twelve young moons have come and gone,
And her precious form has slumbered,―
Cold and still has slumbered on.
But her deathless soul ascended
To a loving Saviour's side,
Where, with angel voices blended,
Hers will chant at Easter-tide.
When I know her joyous spirit,
Resting thus in sweet content,
All heaven's transports may inherit,
Should I grieve, though only lent ?
Once again through tears I hearkened
To the deep-toned bells that rang,
Heralding the day that darkened
'Neath the crucifixion pang.
Then the angel of Bestowment,
Pitying my lonely hours,
Bent above my couch a moment
With a bud from Eden bowers;
As it touched my yearning bosom,
Life and hope and joy seemed sent
To enfold the tender blossom,
Given perhaps ; perhaps but lent !
Last year's crucifixion morning
Held for me a heavy cross ;
For 'twas then I heard the warning
Of my near approaching loss ;
Now again its dawn is over,
Prayers and matins all are said,
And an angel seems to hover,
Breathing blessings on my head.
Hark ! she whispers, 'lam near thee;
Let not life in gloom be spent,
Let this blossom soothe and cheer thee;
Christ himself was only lent.''
Legend Of The Indian Summer
I have learned a simple legend,
Never found in books of lore,
Copied not from old tradition,
Nor from classics read of yore ;
But the breezes sang it to me
With a low and soft refrain,
While the golden leaves and scarlet
Fluttered down to catch the strain.
And the grand old trees above me,
As their stately branches swayed,
Threw across my couch of crimson
More of sunlight than of shade.
I had lain there dreaming, musing
On the summer's vanished bloom,
Wondering if each penciled leaflet
Did not mark some flow'ret's tomb ;
Thinking how each tree could tell me
Many a tale of warrior's fame;
Gazing at the sky, and asking
How the ''Indian Summer' came.
Then methought a whispered cadence
Stole from out the haunted trees,
While the leaves kept dropping, dropping,
To the music of the breeze.
'I will tell thee,' said the whisper,
'What I've learned from Nature's book;
For the sunbeams wrote this legend
On the margin of a brook.
' 'Tis about an Indian maiden,
She the star-flower of her race,
With a heart whose soft emotions
Rippled through her soul-lit face.
'All her tribe did homage to her,
For her father was their chief;
He was stern, and she forgiving,—
He brought pain, and she relief.
'And they called him 'Indian Winter,'
All his actions were so cold ;
Her they named the 'Indian Summer,'
For she seemed a thread of gold
' Flashing through her native forest,
Beaming in the wigwam lone,
Singing to the birds, her playmates,
Till they warbled back her tone.
' When the summer days were ended,
And the chilling months drew near,
When the clouds hung, dull and leaden,
And the leaves fell, brown and sere,
' Brought they to the chieftain's presence
One, a ' pale-face,' young and brave,
But whom youth nor manly valor
Could from savage vengeance save.
' ' Bring him forth !' in tones of thunder
Thus the 'Indian Winter' cried,
While the gentle ' Indian Summer'
Softly flitted to his side.
' When the tomahawk was lifted,
And the scalping-knife gleamed high,
Pride, revenge, and bloody hatred
Glared within the warrior's eye;
'And the frown upon his forehead
Darker, deeper, sterner grew ;
While the lowering clouds above them
Hid the face of heaven from view.
' ' Spare him ! oh, my father, spare him!'
Friend and foe were thrust apart,
While the golden thread of sunlight
Twined around the red man's heart.
' And her eye was full of pity,
And her voice was full of love,
As she told him of the wigwam
On the hunting-ground above,
' Where great Manito was talking,—
She could hear him in the breeze ;
How he called the ' pale-face' brother—
Smoked with him the pipe of peace.
' Then the warrior's heart relented,
And the glittering weapon fell:
1 For the maiden's sake,' he muttered,
' Thou art pardoned,— fare thee well !'
' And the sun, that would have slumbered
Till the spring-time came again,
Earthward from his garnered brightness
Threw a flood of golden rain;
'And the 'Indian Summer' saw it,
She, the gentle forest child ;
And to ' Indian Winter' whispered,
* See how Manito has smiled !'
'All the tribe received the omen,
And they called it by her name :
Indian Summer, Indian Summer,
It will ever be the same.
'Though the ' pale-face' gave another
To the lovely maid he won,
Nature still receives her tribute
From the wigwam of the sun.
' Here, alone, this shining symbol
Gilds the streamlet, warms the sod,
For no Indian Summer cometh
Save where Indian feet have trod.'
Came she with the April dawning ;
Such a tiny, tender thing,
Little sisters thought a seraph
Bore her earthward 'neath its wing.
And they said her harp was heavy
As her golden, starry crown,
Else the kind bestowing angel
Would have tried to bring it down.
And they spoke in softest whispers
When she nestled to my breast,
Saying, as they gazed above them,
' 'Twas so far she needeth rest.'
So she slumbered, Baby Margie,
Dreaming of her native skies;
This we knew, for, on awaking,
Heaven still lingered in her eyes.
April flow' ret ! Spring's first blossom !
How our thoughts would onward rove,
Picturing, from her fair unfolding,
What the perfect flower might prove !
Thinking how new joy would thrill us,
Deeper transports still be stirred,
When her trembling voice came freighted
With the first sweet, lisping word.
Musing how her step uncertain
Soon our guidance would repay ;
Tender feet ! Life's paths were rugged,—
All too rough to lure her stay.
So she wandered, Baby Margie,
Upward to the golden strand,—
Left the hearts that could not hold her,
Reaching toward the spirit-land.
Earth seems lone and drear without her,
Home is robbed of half its bliss,
For our hearts' exultant morning
Broke with her awakening kiss.
Faith looks up, but Love still turneth,
Bruised and bleeding, to the dust ;
And, in tones of wildest anguish,
Cries to Him for perfect trust.
Lips whose gentlest pressure thrilled us,
Cheek and brow so saintly white,
Underneath the church-yard daisies
They have hid ye all from sight.
Though we yielded back her spirit
Trustingly to God who gave,
'Twas as if our hearts were buried
When we left our darling's grave.
There's an empty crib beside us,
And the wrappings still remain,
Showing, from their careful folding,
Where a precious form has lain.
Yestereve a string of coral,
In my searching, met my view,
And a half-worn, crimson stocking
Prisoned in a dainty shoe.
When the children's sports are over,
When their mimic work is done,
When they come and kneel before me,
Hushed and solemn, one by one,—
When their low-voiced 'Our Father'
Meekly from their young lips fall,
And they rise and wait in silence,
Then I miss her most of all.
'Twas her lips, while yet she lingered,
Claimed the last, the warmest kiss,
And their saddened, wistful glances
Tell me truly what they miss.
And they wonder if she wants me
In her home so strange and new ;
'Tis a point I cannot answer,
For I often wonder, too.
Though I know the seraphs bore her
To the mansions of the blest ;
Still, I think, she must have missed me
When she left my longing breast.
And I trust some angel-mother,
Followed by her pleading eyes,
Took her gently to her bosom
When my cherub reached the skies.
Father-love, I know, is holy :
In the heavenly Parent's arms
All His spotless lambs are gathered,
Free from pain or earth's alarms.
But the thought that some fond mother,
Yearning for her babe below,
Clasped my little orphan -angel
To her heart, with love aglow,
Makes me feel that naught is wanting
To perfect her bliss above ;
For her gentle, trusting spirit
Needs a mother's tenderest love.
Kind Old Year ! thou gavest our treasure
With the opening buds of spring,
And our grateful spirits thanked thee
For thy vernal offering.
But, alas ! thou couldst not leave her
To the chance of coming woe,
So thou blessed her dreamless slumber
Ere thy summons came to go.
Fond Old Year ! Such tearful memories
Bind my mourning soul to thee !
In thy arms my baby tasted
Life and immortality.
Thou and she have gone together,—
Crossed the bounds of Time's dark swell,—
Therefore let my benediction
Mingle with thy parting knell.
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.
The Eastern Star
Read before the members of this degree at Hamilton, Illinois, on St. John's Day, June 24, 1875.
Most worthy Patron, Matron, friends,
The blue sky fondly o'er us bends;
This grand old river at our feet
Listens, as if 'twould fain repeat
To distant shore or passing breeze
A murmur of our melodies.
Oh, wisely chosen, the gentle Five,
Whose spotless virtues we should strive
To imitate, that we may be
Worthy adoptive Masonry ;
Worthy to learn their sacred rite
When heavenly Orders greet our sight;
Worthy to catch the mystic sign
When Eastern stars below us shine;
Worthy to learn the pass-word given
By the sweet Sisterhood of heaven,
When golden gates are open wide,
By loved ones on the other side.
Mizpah!* the very name is fraught
With sweet significance ; for thought
Carries the heart to other years;
The circlet on the hand appears
As first it glowed when, 'Only thine,'
Responded to the mystic sign.
On Gilead's mount the maiden stood,
Not dreaming of the vow of blood
That bound her, in her budding bloom,
To meet a dread, unaltered doom.
The father came, exultant, back,
Hoping a pet -lamb on the track
Would, bounding, welcome his return ;
But, ah ! sad fate the truth to learn !
His lovely child, with flying feet,
Hastened, her honored sire to meet.
Then Jephthah told his vow, and said,
' Would that my life might serve instead !'
But the proud daughter answered, ' No !
'Twas to the Lord,—it must be so.'
That answer stands, a first Degree,
In our adoptive Masonry.
O Constancy ! bright badge of love,
Ruth did thy mighty fullness prove.
' Where'er thou goest I will go;
Thy resting-place I, too, must know;
Thy fate, thy country, I will try,
And where thou diest I will die.'
Forsaking Moab's dewy sod,
Her kindred and her people's God,
Of faithful Mahlon's love bereft,
Her fond heart had Naomi left.
' Esther, my queen ! what wilt thou, say?
If half my kingdom, I obey !'
The golden sceptre near her bent,
Admiring numbers gazed intent;
She, kneeling, touched the shining thing,
And cried, ' My people ! O my king !'
Fidelity to kindred shone
In every feature, and her tone,
Though tremulous, was firm and brave
As the fond look of love she gave.
The Crown and Sceptre thus find place
Whene'er our third Degree we trace.
' Hadst Thou been here, he had not died !'
Weeping, the trusting Martha cried ;
'Yet, even now, O blessed Lord,
My soul hangs trembling on Thy word !'
Oh, love sublime ! Oh, wondrous power,
To stay her in affliction's hour!
Her white arms, raised in mute appeal,
Her spirit's eager hope reveal.
She sees,—she feels her Saviour nigh,
And Faith repeats its yearning cry :
'I know that he will rise again,
Yet even now'—and not in vain
The sweet voice plead,—she led the way
To where the lifeless Lazarus lay;
And then across His brow there swept
A mortal sorrow,—
Then His diviner nature spoke :
' Lazarus, come forth !' The dead awoke
To learn a woman's faith could prove
The largeness of a Saviour's love,
To learn His pitying heart could melt
When those He Joved in anguish knelt.
Our broken Column,—fourth Degree,
Is type of Death in Masonry;
The Evergreen, its shaft beside,
Emblem of fields beyond the tide,
Where, in Fidelity complete,
Sits Martha at her Saviour's feet.
' Forgive them, Father ! they are blind !'
Thus prayed Electa, ever kind;
Her husband, children, home were gone,
Yet, brave and true, she stood alone.
The tender hands that gently led
The needy in, the hungry fed,
That prisoned in their fervent hold
The wretched wanderer, pinched and cold,
That held her hospitable Cup
To famished lips so bravely up,
Those hands condemned (so soft and fair)
The Crucifixion pang to bear !
Her perfect confidence in God,
Her sweet submission 'neath the rod,
Form, of her attributes, the key
To ope our sacred fifth Degree.
Lo ! in the East the Magi saw
The star, and, filled with holy awe,
They followed, in their winding way,
To where the Babe of Bethlehem lay.
A woman's hand its brow caressed,—
'Twas pillowed on a woman's breast;
While its first look of pleased surprise
Found answer in a woman's eyes.
Then, may not Woman bear a part
In Masonry's exalted art?
And what bright emblem, near or far,
Significant as Eastern Star?
Our Worthy Matron long has stood
Crowned with her badge of Motherhood,
And knows full well the rapturous bliss
That woke with Mary's welcoming kiss.
Our Worthy Patron guardian stands,
Ready to guide with willing hands;
Explaining Emblem, Signet, Hue,
Exhorting us to honor true,
Telling how widowed Ruth 'could glean
Humbly the golden sheaves between ;
Extolling Martha's changeless trust,
When life had sought its kindred dust ;
Recalling Esther's pleading tone,
That moved* Assyria's mighty throne;
And holding, like a crystal cup,
Electa's pure devotion up.
Be ye, my sisters, tender, true,
As our sweet type, the Violet blue ;
Steadfast as flower that ne'er will shun
The rising nor the setting sun.
Pure as the spotless Lily shine;
Changeless and bright as leaves of Pine;
Fervent of soul as Life can be
When warmed by glowing Charity.
Friends, brothers of the mystic tie,
Can we, unnoticed, pass you by ?
You, who have dried the widow's tears
And hushed the trembling orphan's fears?
Who, linked as in a golden band,
With widening circles fill our land?
Can aged eyes, though dimmed by tears,
Shut out the home that still appears
Changeless and bright to memory's view
As when both life and hope were new?
Can the fair bride forget the tone
That answers fondly to her own?
Or sister from remembrance tear
An elder brother's constant care ?
Till this can be will we disclaim
That Masonry is but a name;
Till this can be we'll chant afar
The praises of the Eastern Star,
That led the wandering shepherds on
Until, at the awakening dawn,
It rested, like a royal gem,
Upon the brow of Bethlehem.
Eighteen Hundred And Sixty-Two
I'd a dream last night : in the dim twilight
I was thrilled by a strange emotion ;
For the Old Year came, with his withered frame,
And led me on by a torch of flame
To the verge of the p&hless ocean.
In our onward flight, by the lurid light
Beamed his eye with a spectral brightness;
And he shivered so in the drifting snow,
While his silvered hairs fluttered to and fro
O'er a forehead of ghostly whiteness.
Yet he made no moan as we hurried on,
While the stars bent, pitying, o'er him;
Though from rock and dell rose a parting knell,
And the weird trees whispered a low farewell
As their shadows knelt before him.
But he paused with me by the grand old Sea,
Where the Nighty in her glory slumbered ;
And he gathered sand from the golden strand,
And said, as it dropped from his palsied hand,
' 'Tis thus that my hours are numbered.
' Yet before I go to my couch of snow
I will sing, though my voice may quiver;
For my heart is brave as yon dauntless wave
That laughs ere it leaps to its ocean grave,
To be locked in its depths forever.
' But no thought of earth, with her joy and mirth,
Upon memory's page is beaming;
Not her sweet spring flowers, or her summer hours,
Or the whispered echoes from love-lit bowers,
Or her bright autumnal gleaming.
'For these strains are old, you have heard them told
By the years that have dawned and perished ;
And the witching ways of their smiling Mays,
And their golden, dreamy October days,
Are like those I once fondly cherished.
' So my voice shall sweep to the boundless deep,
Far down 'neath the wild waves hoary,
That madly tore from their glittering floor
The magic chain, lest the listening shore
Might learn of their viewless glory.
* * * *
' Then list to me, and I'll sing to thee
Of the mystic depths where I've wandered free;
Of the coral halls and the diamond bed
Where old Neptune sits with his pale-faced dead;
Of the fairy grottoes of gold and pearl,
That the sea-nymphs weave for each fair young girl
That the storm-king bears from the ocean's crest
And lays, in her beauty, down to rest.
' Oh, wonderful things have I seen below,
Where the bright fern clings and the sea-flowers blow;
Where the mermaids gather and slyly hide
Their red-lipped shells from the amorous tide;
Where shattered wrecks, with their gold-heaped spars,
On the pebbles gleam like a heaven of stars.
' 'There is one bright spot that I love to scan:
'Tis the emerald couch of a valiant man,
Whom the breakers' roar nor the flame-lit sky,
Nor the prayers of kindred, could urge to fly.
The ship's on fire !' like a funeral knell
On the hearts of that startled crew it fell;
And strong men shook, as the lurid glare
On the waters gleamed like a hideous stare;
And women shrieked, as with fiendish sound
The fiery serpents hemmed them round,
And hissed in glee as their fangs were pressed
Through the babes that slept on their mothers' breast.
But the brave commander, with dauntless mien,
At the helm of the sinking ship was seen
And when maddened flames through the crackling shrouds
And the hot air leaped till they licked the clouds,
When the whirlwind force of the tempest's breath
Swept the tottering wreck in the jaws of death,
With the firm, strong grasp of an iron will
He clung to the mast, and he clings there still.
' The beautiful maidens adown the main
Have tried to untwine his grasp in vain;
They made him a couch of the greenest moss
And the snow-white down of the albatross;
And they placed at the head, for a funeral stone,
The shell that could utter the softest moan ;
And they tried to melt in their gentle hold
The icy touch of those fingers cold.
But they found it vain ; so with tender care
They wove a pillow of sea-weeds there,
And, circling around it, these matchless girls
Knelt as they severed their own bright curls,
And tossed them down till their sheen was pressed
By the brave man's feet they had wooed to rest.
And 'tis thus he stands, like a warrior bold,
Chained to the wreck with his iron hold.
'And far away, where the billows moan
In a sadder strain and with softer tone,
I have seen, in its infant beauty, lay
A bright creation of human clay,
As pure its cheek and its brow as fair
As dews from heaven or the snow-flakes are;
And the dimpled hands round that cherub face
Were fondly clasped in a long embrace,
While the sleep that closed its unconscious eye
Grew deep 'neath the waves' soft lullaby.
A. lonesome thing seemed that babe to me,
Rocked in the arms of the great, broad sea;
A wee, small thing to have come so far
All by itself, without spot or scar;
A frail, weak thing, with no hand to guide
Such tender feet down the rugged tide.
Yet I know when they launched that unguided barge
The void in its mother's heart seemed large
As the ocean's self, and her grief as wild
As the breakers dashing above her child.
' But my strain must cease :—through the starlight clear
I have heard the steps of the coming Year;
My pulses flutter, my eye grows dim,
Yet once I was merry and strong like him.
Oh, my brighter days !—they are crowding back :
I am gazing now on Spring's rosy track,
Till the Summer comes with her broad, bright smile,
And the Autumn follows her steps the while.
But they vanish now,—yes, they all have flown,
And left me here, with the Night, alone.
I'm a frail old man,—all my bright dreams sped,
My fond hopes crushed, and my loved ones dead.
Well, my snow-couch waits me,—yon phantom bell
Is tolling slowly my parting knell.
I will rest me here where the wild waves sweep :—
Good-night, fair Earth, I—must—sink—to—sleep.'
So the Old Year slept, and the New Year leaped
From the clouds to the moaning billow;
And he bade it stand on the golden strand,
And guide his steps with its jeweled hand
To the aged champion's pillow.
And the New Year bowed, while the starry crowd
That had thronged the verge of even
Marked his earnest gaze, and in hymns of praise
They told the birth of this Prince of Days
To the countless hosts of heaven.
And the clouds drew up, from their magic cup,
The tears that each gentle flower
Had wept unseen when the earth was green,
And faithless zephyrs, with flattering mien,
Went wooing from bower to bower.
And this treasured dew, when the year was new,
They poured from their crystal chalice,
Till it touched his brow, though I scarce knew how,
Nor yet who had breathed the baptismal vow
That rang through his midnight palace.
Then I saw him fly through the sapphire sky,
Earth's spells and her fetters scorning,
Till he sat alone where his sire had flown,
A crowned king on his royal throne:—
And when I awoke—it was morning.
Eighteen Hundred And Fifty-Nine
Oh, a grand old vessel was Fifty-Nine,
And a captain brave had she;
For eighteen hundred and more stout ships
He had steered over life's rough sea.
Eighteen hundred and more stout ships,
Bound not for different goals,
But all for the same, and freighted down
With cargoes of human souls.
And some of these souls were seared by crime;
Some, sin had made foul and black;
While others were pure as the flakes of snow
That cover our wild-flower track.
There were souls of monarchs, and souls of kings,
(The souls of their subjects, too ;)
And some were treacherous, false, and vile,
While others were heavenly true.
There were souls of brokers, bare, flinty things,
All shaved to tlie very core,
For even their honor was loaned on time,
At a hundred per cent, or more.
There were coquettes' souls of chameleon dyes,
And bachelors', knotty as pine,
And these unsocial and selfish souls
Came alone to old Fifty-Nine.
And old Captain Time, as they came aboard,
Counted all he could see;
But some were so narrow and shriveled up,
That they smuggled their passage free.
It was noon of night when the ship was launched,
But the ocean was calm and clear;
And merrily on, with her motley crew,
Went dancing the proud New Year.
On, past the glaciers of snow and ice
That decked the receding shore;
On to the isles where the spring-time sleeps,
Till she hears Time's distant oar.
And the forests woke when they heard afar
The flutter of coming sails ;
And whispered softly a low salute,
That was borne by the passing gales.
And every eye on the vessel's deck
Was turned toward that vision bright;
And those who worshiped at Nature's shrine
Were thrilled with a wild delight.
For those isles looked fair as a gleam of heaven
Through the sunset's golden bars;
Or like beauty's cheek, when its mantling flush
Is seen by the light of stars.
The ship was moored where the gentle flowers
Breathed fragrance on all around,
And the hours to some of the host within
Brought blessings and peace profound.
But, hark ! from the deck of old Fifty-Nine
A shout of defiance comes;
Then the tramp of feet, and the clang of war,
And the roll of advancing drums.
'To arms !' is echoed, in thunder-tones,
Through the din of the cannon's roar;
While sword and spear and the fair green earth
Are sated with human gore.
But Captain Time says never a word
To still the contending foes;
He has promised to steer the ship to port,
And has no hotirs to lose.
He is out, 'mid the blast and the shivering sails,
Tolling the funeral bell,
And every soul that can hear the sound
Sighs at the parting knell.
It tolls for one who has journeyed far,
Whose labors a world may boast;
Who has trodden Atlantic's crowded shore
And Pacific's quiet coast;
Whose wanderings led him o'er Southern plains,
Where eternal sunshine sleeps ;
And up to the loftiest Alpine height
Through snow-drifts' 'wildering steeps.
But Life's work is done, and the mourners pause
That the billows his dirge may sing,
As the dust of Humboldt is laid to rest
On the breast of the gentle Spring.
And slowly now is the vessel turned
From those bright, enchanting isles,
To hasten on where the Summer waits
With her witching, sunny smiles.
And it is not strange that those saddened hearts
Grew light as they neared her bowers,
And caught the gleam of her azure robes
Begirt with a zone of flowers;
Or that Captain Time, though his form is bent,
With labor and age and care,
Should feel a thrill through his palsied frame
When his ship was anchored there;
That the hoary seaman should half forget
The weight of unnumbered years,
When her rippling laugh, through ten thousand rills,
Was borne to his aged ears.
But see ! as they coast round those India isles,
Where the flowers of the orange blow,
Where the bulbul warbles its vesper hymns
By the light of the fire-fly's glow,
With the speed of thought he has left her side,
And fair Summer stands alone :
For off to the aft of old Fifty-Nine
Was a sound like a dying groan.
He has reached the spot, and he chants this dirge
As they bear the dust to shore,
And lay it down in its lonely bed
With a sigh of 'Nevermore' :
' Toll ! toll ! for a mighty soul
Is anchored in harbor now;
A mind creative, whose giant thoughts
Made men to his genius bow.
'Old Fifty-Nine, you are not so strong
Since you yielded up this prize;
You will feel no more his sustaining arm
When feuds and dissensions rise.
He will slumber here while incense sweet
From the date- and the palm-tree float ;
And a nation will hold in its heart of hearts
The name of the statesman Choate.
' But reef the topsail ! we may not wait
To sigh o'er the mighty dead,
For I know, from the surge of yon mountain waves,
There are breakers and shoals ahead.
Now cheerily, lads ! though the billows dash,
And the morrow bring cloudy weather,
We can bring her through with her motley crew
If we only ' pull together.''
And onward now, where grave Autumn sits
In her scarlet robes and golden,
And presses the juice from the purple grape
Like matrons in vineyards olden;
Where the blushing fruit from the ardent gaze
Of the sun drops down, to cover
The deepening flush that might else betray
Her heart to her distant lover:—
To this calm retreat Time hastens on,
To rest with the Autumn sober,
To gaze awhile on the cloudless skies
Of her dreamy, bright October.
But, hist ! there's an echo borne to his ear,
Too' feeble for distant thunder;
A sound as if fiends on old Fifty-Nine
Were tearing her shrouds asunder.
He turns and gazes ; no fleet of war
Has fired a signal warning;
He sees no speck upon sea or sky
On that fair autumnal morning.
And yet—'tis strange (he is very old,
And, perchance, he is frail and doting)—
But he fancies he sees the timbers shake
Where the Flag of the Free is floating.
And he thinks he hears (what absurd conceits
Make mortals unfit to reason !)—
He thinks he hears in that muffled sound
A murmur of 'Death and Treason.'
Yet he breathes no word of his doubts and fears,
Lest they call it imagination,
Until night comes on, and he finds the clan
At their murderous preparation.
And he looks aghast at the horrid work
The shadows of darkness cover,—
On the thirsty band that, like birds of prey,
O'er their slumbering victims hover.
And with scorn he turns from those dastard souls,
Their mutinous schemes bewailing,
While thought flies off to the days agone,
When old Fifty-Two was sailing.
And he thinks of one of its gallant crew,
Of his words of prophetic warning,
And sighs in vain for a Webster heart,
With patriot fervor burning.
'But, true hearts, rouse ye,' the captain cries,
As the tars from their hammocks spring ;
'We have traitors here we must urge to stay,
Till we let them off—with a swing.'
And once again is the vessel turned,
To stem the boisterous gales
That blow from the bleak December's shore
And moan through the shivering sails.
And hundreds of souls are landed here
On this coast so drear and bare,
While some are left on the vessel's deck
With looks of mute despair ;
For they see their captain's form on shore,
Afar o'er the waters wide,
And know that the ship is dashing on
To eternity's waiting tide.
And if ye list, at the dead of night,
To learn what her fate may be,
Ye may hear the wail of old Fifty- Nine
As she sinks in that soundless sea.
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.