Sung by the graduating class of the Keokuk High School, May 3, 1872.
Our farewell must to-day be spoken,
The time draws near when we must part,
Yet Friendship holds our chain unbroken,
And clasps the links that bind each heart.
And ever, in the years before us,
Will Memory guard with jealous care
The golden hours that floated o'er us
When youth flew by with visions fair.
While o'er the Past our thoughts are yearning,
Our deepest gratitude is due
To him who, all our needs discerning,
Has kept life's highest aims in view.
The guiding hand so ready ever
To point our feet to Wisdom's way,
The voice that strengthened each endeavor,
We leave with fond regret to-day.
And ere we go take our places
'Mid changing scenes on earth's broad mart,
Love stamps these dear familiar faces
In deathless lines on every heart.
Though future joys be crushed by sorrow,
Though hopes be changed to doubts and fears,
Undimmed throughout our life's To-morrow
Will gleam the light of other years.
When sin came among us, and Eden was lone,
The pitying Father was kind ;
For He robbed not the woman of one melting tone,
Nor bade her leave beauty behind.
So, with all her sweet charms and her exquisite grace,
Young Eve left that love-hallowed bower,
Retaining for Adam her beautiful face,
And a voice full of pathos and power.
And he, although banished, though exiled for aye,
From shades so enticing to roam,
Was not without hope, for her love was his stay,
And her soft, witching voice was his home.
To soothe him at even with melody sweet
Till the desert around him grew bright,
At morn his awaking with anthems to greet,
Was her mission, her joy and delight.
Thus Woman and Melody gently combined
To banish each lingering regret ;
Though she lured him to err and leave Eden behind,
Resistless, he clings to her yet.
Her voice, full of sweetness, persuasive in love,
Entrancing in cadence or swell,
Still sways him, as when, in that lost Eden grove,
He listened and tasted and fell.
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.
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. ' '
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.
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.
Aged ten years.
Who that has seen some household idol fade
Like opening bud before the chilling blast,
Can faintly know His sufferings when He said,
' If Thou wilt, Father, let this cup be passed.'
And whosoever, when that life hath fled,
Can bow submissively and drain the cup,
And cry, 'Thy will be done,' though Hope has fled,
Has faith enough through life to bear her up.
I knelt beside her and, despairing, prayed;
Her little, pleading voice caught up the strain:
' Oh, spare me, Father, for her sake,' she said;
' Give me back life and strength and love again! '
' Or if, my Father, it seems best to Thee
From future woe to take my treasured one,
Do as Thou wilt, for Thou alone canst see:
Give me but faith to cry, ' Thy will be done! ' '
I rose and kissed her while she faintly smiled;
Her breath grew shorter and her pulse beat low;
' The morning dawneth; 'tis thy birthday, child!
God gave thee to me just ten years ago.
Thy father laid thee in these waiting arms
Amid the shadows of the morning dim,
And now, with all thy childhood's added charms,
I yield, and give thee back to God and him.'
The dying grasp was tightened round my own,
As if to bear me with her in her flight;
' Thou'rt going, love,' I said, 'but not alone:
He bears thee -upward to the world of light.
Thy mother's voice shall be the last on earth
To soothe her darling ere the cord is riven,
And, at thy spirit's new and glorious birth,
Thy father's first to welcome thee to heaven.'
Thus she went from us in the morning gray,
Her earthly and her heavenly birthday one;
Leaving behind her only pulseless clay,
And a crushed heart to cry, 'Thy will be done.'
We robed her, as she said, in spotless white,
And lifted grandma for a parting kiss;
Then bore the lovely burden from her sight
And bade the children come. How they would miss
The kindling eye, the earnest, welcoming voice,
The hand's warm pressure, and the beaming smile!
But they all gathered there, both girls and boys,
And as they stood around, and gazed, the while,
I bade them sing the songs she loved so well:
Their Sabbath greetings and their closing lays;
And, as their trembling accents rose and fell,
I felt an angel voice had joined their praise.
'Twas her delight in concert thus to meet
The children in the Sabbath morning's glow;
To sit and learn with them the story sweet
How Jesus came to bless them here below.
And can it be that never, never more,
Her joyful voice will join the sacred songs?
That not till I have reached the shining shore
My ear will catch the tone for which it longs?
Yet hush! sad heart! my loss is her release!
What is the school below to that above?
How will our Sabbaths here compare in peace
With that serener day that dawns above?
What melody, what cadence half so sweet
As swells when angel-fingers sweep the strings?
What prayers, with such adoring love replete,
As when the seraphs bow with folded wings?
While here, she loved each prophet's life to trace,
And tell of all the trials they had passed;
But there, she sits with Moses, face to face,
In the fair Canaan that was his at last.
And father Abraham will not pass her by:
I thought of Isaac all the night she died,
And asked, as searchingly I turned my eye,
If aught for my pet lamb might be supplied.
O holy Samuel, guide her o'er the strands,
And through the Heavenly Temple, large and fair,
Because the picture of thy clasped hands
In early childhood bowed her soul in prayer.
Show her where Daniel sits,—where David sings,
In loftier measure, more seraphic Psalms,
Then lead her gently to the King of kings,
Who bade His children here to ' Feed His lambs.'
And, mother Mary, I must plead with thee
Sometimes to clasp her to thy loving breast;
Else her fond, yearning heart will long for me,
Though heaven be gained and all its joys possessed.
Not to the Virgin Mary do I kneel;
Not to the holy saint my numbers flow;
But to the mother, whose true heart can feel,
Because it once ensured a kindred woe.
And, Maymie, when thy golden harp is tried,
When strains of love fall sweetly from thy tongue,
Fold thy white wings, and at thy Saviour's side
Let the wild yearnings of thy heart be sung.
Kneel, darling, kneel, and ask for what thou wilt
I know the wish e'en angels may not smother:
Not to be made more free from sin and guilt,
But that thy mission be to guard thy mother.
And if my spirit falter ere this cup
Of bitterness be drained—this large supply,
Reach down thy little hands and hold me up,
Else I must wholly sink, and, helpless, die.
Yes, darling, pray! thy earnest voice can plead
That on thy viewless pinions thou may'st come,
To hover near, in this my greatest need,
And then be near, at last, to guide me home.
Oh! man may climb the topmost round of fame,
And smile in triumph on the rocky steep;
In characters of blood may write his name,
While woman's portion is to watch and weep.
Yet who would barter all the love that glows
With quenchless fervor in a mother's heart,
E'en though that love be bought with anguish-throes,
For all that man can reach or wealth impart?
And even though, like mine, her hopes be crushed,
Her blossom blighted and her day-star fled,
Though the glad voice is here forever hushed,
And the sweet lips that sang all cold and dead,—
'Tis not in hopeless grief her head is bowed,
'Tis not in wild despair she meets His will;
For, mounting past the coffin and the shroud,
Her soul is mother of an angel still.
How saintly was the look her features wore
Before I saw the coffin-lid go down!
That marble brow, I kissed it o'er and o'er,
And left my tears among her tresses brown.
That cold, cold cheek! Those lips, so pale and still,
Would never more unto mine own be pressed;
Those little hands, so quick to do my will,
Were crossed and quiet on a silent breast.
Oh! be ye guarded what ye do or say
Before a mother when her child is dead;
Move with hushed tread beside the pulseless clay,
And in low whispers let your words be said.
Remember of her life it was a part;
Remember it was nourished at her breast;
That she would guard it still from sudden start,
The ringing footfalj, or untimely jest.
We bore her back to the old home she left
With strange reluctance only months before;
How doubly there my poor heart seemed bereft
To miss her smiling welcome at the door!
The constant feet that used to stand and wait
To welcome me were gone: I could not see
Her form come bounding through the wicket-gate,
Or hear her tones of joyful, childish glee.
We moved the sod from off her father's breast,
And laid her down to her serene repose;
Upon his bosom she will sweetly rest,
As withered bud beside the parent rose.
Together may their dust be mingled there,
E'en as their souls are knit beyond the tide!
Together may their deathless spirits share
The boundless glory of the Other Side!
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.