Upon His Sister-In-Law, Mistress Elizabethherrick

First, for effusions due unto the dead,
My solemn vows have here accomplished;
Next, how I love thee, that my grief must tell,
Wherein thou liv'st for ever.--Dear, farewell!

by Robert Herrick.

WHEN Sister Jane, who had produced a child,
In prayer and penance all her hours beguiled
Her sister-nuns around the lattice pressed;
On which the abbess thus her flock addressed:
Live like our sister Jane, and bid adieu
To worldly cares:--have better things in view.

YES, they replied, we sage like her shall be,
When we with love have equally been free.

by Jean De La Fontaine.

Sister Saint Luke

She lived shut in by flowers and trees
And shade of gentle bigotries.
On this side lay the trackless sea,
On that the great world's mystery;
But all unseen and all unguessed
They could not break upon her rest.
The world's far splendors gleamed and flashed,
Afar the wild seas foamed and dashed;
But in her small, dull Paradise,
Safe housed from rapture or surprise,
Nor day nor night had power to fright
The peace of God that filled her eyes.

by John Hay.

Loving Sister: every line
Of your last letter was so fine
With the best mettle, that the grayne
Of Scrivener's pindust were but vayne:
The touch of Gold did sure instill
Some vertue more than did the Quill.
And since you write noe cleanly hand
Your token bids mee understand
Mine eyes have here a remedy
Wherby to reade more easily.
I doe but jeast: your love alone
Is my interpretation:
My words I will recant, and sweare
I know your hand is wondrous faire.

by William Strode.

On The Conversion Of A Sister

'Tis the voice of my sister at home,
Resign'd to the treasures above,
Inviting the strangers to come,
And feast at the banquet of love.

'Tis a spirit cut loose from its chain,
'Tis the voice of a culprit forgiven,
Restored from a prison of pain,
With th' sound of a concert from heaven.

'Tis a beam from the regions of light,
A touch of beatific fire;
A spirit exulting for flight,
With a strong and impatient desire.

'Tis a drop from the ocean of love,
A foretaste of pleasures to come,
Distill'd from the fountain above,
The joy which awaits her at home.

by George Moses Horton.

The Sister Of Death

Ah, talk to me of something else, I pray ;
I'm weary of the dreams that bring nor sleep.
Nor rest, nor love, nor something from the deep,
Where buried are the gods of yesterday ;
Ah, talk to me of Death that takes away
My little sorrows, as they hide and peep.
My little joys, as they disport and leap,
My little vanities, my budless May.
The burden of my virtues and my sins.
The burden of authority that grins
At every effort, ah, the burden kills ;
I know that Death a Sister hath, but where.
Where can I find thee. Love, when shall I share
The sweetness of the silence of the hills ?

by Ameen Rihani.

Sister To Sister

'When I received that love which is a face,
When I perceived that face which is a love,
Two voices, like those two old nations, strove
Within my heart, and the first-born gave place
And served the younger. 'Ah this golden space
Doth cage the airy pinions of my dove!
And ah this value, which might prove and more
Another love, seems simony to the grace
Of ours!' Thus while one passion doth protest,
The other cries: 'I care not how it be!
For, givest thou much or little, worst or best,
Nor am I richer nor thou dispossest;
My fond subtraction is still thine in me,
And all thy dear remainder mine in thee!''

by Sydney Thompson Dobell.

About The Little Girl That Beat Her Sister

Go, go, my naughty girl, and kiss
Your little sister dear;
I must not have such things as this,
And noisy quarrels here.

What! little children scratch and fight,
That ought to be so mild;
Oh! Mary, it's a shocking sight
To see an angry child.

I can't imagine, for my part,
The reason for your folly;
She did not do you any hurt
By playing with your dolly.

See, see, the little tears that run
Fast from her watery eye:
Come, my sweet innocent, have done,
'Twill do no good to cry.

Go, Mary, wipe her tears away,
And make it up with kisses:
And never turn a pretty play
To such a pet as this is.

by Ann Taylor.

Our Little Sister

Weep, little shrinking spirits of the woods,
Hang down your fair, green faces, all ye leaves,
And dews be heavy on the year's firstborn,–
Yea, weep as rain, all ye that breathe of spring,
To-day I passed her in the city streets!

Surely the kind brown earth must pity her,
Nursing its young so safely at the breast,
All the great winds that no man may defile
Compassionate her, and the bending trees
Happy in fruitfulness and blest with song!

But where her feet are set of all God made
No stone remains; and wearing childhood's face
Fixed in an awful lethargy and calm,
Defiled, defiling, yet accusing not,
Avenged upon her race, she passes on.

by Laura Elizabeth McCully.

Qui Niera, Gillebert, S'Il Ne Veut Résister

Qui niera, Gillebert, s'il ne veut résister
Au jugement commun, que le siège de Pierre
Qu'on peut dire à bon droit un paradis en terre,
Aussi bien que le ciel, n'ait son grand Jupiter ?

Les Grecs nous ont fait l'un sur Olympe habiter,
Dont souvent dessus nous ses foudres il desserre :
L'autre du Vatican délâche son tonnerre,
Quand quelque roi l'a fait contre lui dépiter.

Du Jupiter céleste un Ganymède on vante,
Le tusque Jupiter en a plus de cinquante :
L'un de nectar s'enivre, et l'autre de bon vin.

De l'aigle l'un et l'autre a la défense prise,
Mais l'un hait les tyrans, l'autre les favorise :
Le mortel en ceci n'est semblable au divin.

by Joachim du Bellay.

Sister Jones's Confession

I thought the deacon liked me, yit
I warn't adzackly shore of it--
Fer, mind ye, time and time agin,
When jiners 'ud be comin' in,
I'd seed him shakin' hands as free
With all the sistern as with me!
But jurin' last Revival, where
He called on _me_ to lead in prayer,
An' kneeled there with me, side by side,
A-whisper'n' 'he felt sanctified
Jes' tetchin of my gyarment's hem,'--
That settled things as fur as them-
Thare other wimmin was concerned!--
And--well!--I know I must a-turned
A dozen colors!--_Flurried_?--_la_!--
No mortal sinner never saw
A gladder widder than the one
A-kneelin' there and wonderun'
Who'd pray'--So glad, upon my word,
I railly could n't thank the Lord!

by James Whitcomb Riley.

Sweet sister, if you knew, like me,
The charms of guileless infancy,
No more you'd envy riper years,
Or smiles, more bitter than your tears.

But childhood passes in an hour,
As perfume from a faded flower;
The joyous voice of early glee
Flies, like the Halcyon, o'er the sea.

Enjoy your morn of early Spring;
Soon time maturer thoughts must bring;
Those hours, like flowers that interclimb,
Should not be withered ere their time.

Too soon you'll weep, as we do now,
O'er faithless friend, or broken vow,
And hopeless sorrows, which our pride
In pleasure's whirl would vainly hide.

Laugh on! unconscious of thy doom,
All innocence and opening bloom;
Laugh on! while yet thine azure eye
Mirrors the peace that reigns on high.

by Victor Marie Hugo.

One Sister Have I In Our House


One Sister have I in our house,
And one, a hedge away.
There's only one recorded,
But both belong to me.

One came the road that I came—
And wore my last year's gown—
The other, as a bird her nest,
Builded our hearts among.

She did not sing as we did—
It was a different tune—
Herself to her a music
As Bumble bee of June.

Today is far from Childhood—
But up and down the hills
I held her hand the tighter—
Which shortened all the miles—

And still her hum
The years among,
Deceives the Butterfly;
Still in her Eye
The Violets lie
Mouldered this many May.

I spilt the dew—
But took the morn—
I chose this single star
From out the wide night's numbers—
Sue - forevermore!

by Emily Dickinson.

A fresh young voice that sings to me
So often many a simple thing,
Should surely not unanswered be
By all that I can sing.

Dear voice, be happy every way
A thousand changing tones among,
From little child's unfinished lay
To angel's perfect song.

In dewy woods-fair, soft, and green
Like morning woods are childhood's bower-
Be like the voice of brook unseen
Among the stones and flowers;

A joyful voice though born so low,
And making all its neighbours glad;
Sweet, hidden, constant in its flow
Even when the winds are sad.

So, strengthen in a peaceful home,
And daily deeper meanings bear;
And when life's wildernesses come
Be brave and faithful there.

Try all the glorious magic range,
Worship, forgive, console, rejoice,
Until the last and sweetest change-
So live and grow, dear voice.

by George MacDonald.

To My Sister Anne King, Who Chid Me In Verse For Being Angry

Dear Nan, I would not have thy counsel lost,
Though I last night had twice so much been crost;
Well is a Passion to the Market brought,
When such a treasure of advice is bought
With so much dross. And could'st thou me assure,
Each vice of mine should meet with such a cure,
I would sin oft, and on my guilty brow
Wear every misperfection that I ow,
Open and visible; I should not hide
But bring my faults abroad: to hear thee chide
In such a Note, and with a Quill so sage,
It Passion tunes, and calmes a Tempests rage.
Well I am charm'd, and promise to redress
What, without shrift, my follies doe confess
Against my self: wherefore let me intreat,
When I fly out in that distemper'd heat
Which frets me into fasts, thou wilt reprove
That froward spleen in Poetry and Love:
So though I lose my reason in such fits,
Thoul't rime me back again into my wits.

by Henry King.

We Are Coming, Sister Mary

On a stormy night in winter,
When the winds blew cold and wet,
I heard some strains of music
That I never can forget.
I was sleeping in the cabin,
Where liv'd Mary fair and young,
When a light shone in the window,
And a band of singers sung.

We are coming sister Mary,
We are coming bye and bye,
Be ready sister Mary,
For the time is drawing nigh.

I tried to tell my Mary,
But my tongue would not obey,
When the song so strange had ended,
And the singers flown away,
As I watch'd I heard a rustling,
Like the rustling of a wing,
And beside my Mary's pillow
Very soon I heard them sing.

Then again I called my Mary,
But my sorrow was complete
For I found her heart of kindness
Had forever ceas'd to beat
And I still am very lonely
From summer round to spring
And I oft in midnight slumber
Think I hear the same ones sing.

by Henry Clay Work.

If I die to-morrow
I shall go happily.
With the flush of battle on my face
I shall walk with an eager pace
The road I cannot see.

My life burnt fiercely always,
And fiercely will go out
With glad wild fighting ringed around.
But you will be above the ground
And darkness all about.

You will not hear the shouting.
You will not see the pride,
Only with tortured memory
Remember what I used to be,
And dream of how I died.

You will see gloom and horror
But never the joy of fight.
You'll dream of me in pain and fear,
And in your dreaming never hear
My voice across' the night.

My voice that sounds so gaily
Will be too far away
For you to see across your dream
The charging and the bayonet's gleam,
Or hear the words I say.

And parted by the warders
That hold the gates of sleep,
I shall be dead and happy
And you will live and weep.

by Ewart Alan Mackintosh.

Brother And Sister

"SISTER, sister, go to bed!
Go and rest your weary head."
Thus the prudent brother said.

"Do you want a battered hide,
Or scratches to your face applied?"
Thus his sister calm replied.

"Sister, do not raise my wrath.
I'd make you into mutton broth
As easily as kill a moth"

The sister raised her beaming eye
And looked on him indignantly
And sternly answered, "Only try!"

Off to the cook he quickly ran.
"Dear Cook, please lend a frying-pan
To me as quickly as you can."

And wherefore should I lend it you?"
"The reason, Cook, is plain to view.
I wish to make an Irish stew."

"What meat is in that stew to go?"
"My sister'll be the contents!"
"You'll lend the pan to me, Cook?"

Moral: Never stew your sister.

by Lewis Carroll.

The Nursing Sister

Maternity Hospital

Our sister sayeth such and such,
And we must bow to her behests.
Our sister toileth overmuch,
Our little maid that hath no breasts.

A field untilled, a web unwove,
A flower withheld from sun or bee,
An alien in the Courts of Love,
And--teacher unto such as we!

We love her, but we laugh the while,
We laugh, but sobs are mixed with laughter;
Our sister hath no time to smile,
She knows not what must follow after.

Wind of the South, arise and blow,
From beds of spice thy locks shake free;
Breathe on her heart that she may know,
Breathe on her eyes that she may see!

Alas! we vex her with our mirth,
And maze her with most tender scorn,
Who stands beside the Gates of Birth,
Herself a child--a child unborn!

Our sister sayeth such and such,
And we must bow to her behests.
Our sister toileth overmuch,
Our little maid that hath no breasts.

by Rudyard Kipling.

WHAT is balm for a soul distressed, O! sailor tell to me ?
“A good ship in a fighting wind glad of an angry sea.
The leaping timbers 'neath your feet, the salt upon your cheek,
Never soul could mourn, my sister, O! never heart could break.'

What is joy for a stricken heart, O! hunter tell me true ?
“A brave horse speeding o'er the plain beneath a sky storm blue.
The splendid life against your knee, the wind's hand in your hair,
Never heart could grieve, my sister, O! never soul despair.'

What is good for a soul outworn, O! soldier tell to me ?
“A bright sword in your eager hand, a coming foe to see.
When steel to steel breaks into song, and all the world is red,
How could hope be lost, my sister, how could joy be dead?'

I am woman born, my brother, such deeds are not for me.
“Then seek some solitary place beneath a Cyprus tree,
And dig a grave both wide and long, O! dig it wide and deep
To hold a woman's restless heart and hush her soul to sleep.'

by Dora Sigerson Shorter.

On My Sister Joanna's Entrance Into Her 33rd Year

On this thy natal day permit a friend -
A brother - with thy joys his own to blend:
In all gladness he would wish to share
As willing in thy griefs a part to bear.

Meekly attend the ways of higher heav'n!
Is much deny'd? Yet much my dear is giv'n.
Thy health, thy reason unimpaired remain
And while as new fal'n snows thy spotless fame
The partner of thy life, attentive - kind -
And blending e'en the interests of the mind.

What bliss is thine when fore thy glistring eye
Thy lovely infant train pass jocund by!
The ruddy cheek, the smiling morning face
Denote a healthy undegenerate race:
In them renew'd, you'll live and live again,
And children's children's children lisp thy name.
Bright be the skies where'er my sister goes
Nor scowling tempests injure her repose -
The field of life with roses thick be strow'd
Nor one sharp thorn lie lurking in the road.
Thy ev'ry path be still a path of peace
And each revolving year thy joys increase;
Till hours and years of time itself be o'er
And one eternal day around thee pour.

by Henry Livingston Jr..

To My Dear Sister, Mrs. C. P. On Her Nuptial

We will not like those men our offerings pay
Who crown the cup, then think they crown the day.
We make no garlands, nor an altar build,
Which help not Joy, but Ostentation yield.
Where mirth is justly grounded these wild toyes
Are but a troublesome, and empty noise.

But these shall be my great Solemnities,
Orinda's wishes for Cassandra's bliss.
May her Content be as unmix'd and pure
As my Affection, and like that endure;
And that strong Happiness may she still find
Not owing to her Fortune, but her Mind.

May her Content and Duty be the same,
And may she know no Grief but in the name.
May his and her Pleasure and Love be so
Involv'd and growing, that we may not know
Who most Affection or most Peace engrost;
Whose Love is strongest, or whose Bliss is most.

May nothing accidental e're appear
But what shall with new bonds their Souls endear;
And may they count the hours as they pass,
By their own Joys, and not by Sun or Glass:
While every day like this may Sacred prove
To Friendship, Gratitude, and Strictest Love.

by Katherine Philips.

To My Sister: On Her Twenty-First Birthday


Old fables are not all a lie
That tell of wondrous birth,
Of Titan children, father Sky,
And mighty mother Earth.

Yea, now are walking on the ground
Sons of the mingled brood;
Yea, now upon the earth are found
Such daughters of the Good.

Earth-born, my sister, thou art still
A daughter of the sky;
Oh, climb for ever up the hill
Of thy divinity!

To thee thy mother Earth is sweet,
Her face to thee is fair;
But thou, a goddess incomplete,
Must climb the starry stair.


Wouldst thou the holy hill ascend,
Wouldst see the Father's face?
To all his other children bend,
And take the lowest place.

Be like a cottage on a moor,
A covert from the wind,
With burning fire and open door,
And welcome free and kind.

Thus humbly doing on the earth
The things the earthly scorn,
Thou shalt declare the lofty birth
Of all the lowly born.


Be then thy sacred womanhood
A sign upon thee set,
A second baptism-understood-
For what thou must be yet.

For, cause and end of all thy strife,
And unrest as thou art,
Still stings thee to a higher life
The Father at thy heart.

by George MacDonald.

Simple Sister Goes To Sydney

When Flo resolved to go to town from brothers three a yell went up,
Predicting ruin and distress. Bill in his horror dropped a cup.
“Gorstruth!” he said, “in Sydney there what is a simple girl to do?
They took me down. I lost me watch and seven quid. What ‘ope for you?”

Ben turned on her in pale dismay. “Look here, me girl, ain’t you bin told
How one iv them there spieler blokes done me for twenty pound in gold?
He was as nice a gentleman as any in the blessed shops:
He got away with all I had, and took a luner at the cops.”

“Me, too,” said Dave, “that time I went to Sydney town to see the Show
One trimmed me for me bran’ new suit. You stay where we can watch you, Flo.”
Flo packed. “If spieler comes at me his finish will be sharp,” she said;
And when the boys next heard of her she’d got a bloke, and then was wed.

She wrote: “He’s rather nice, I think, and I am putting him to work.
Next Chrissmiss we are comin’ up to see yous people back o’ Bourke.”
And when he came he brought for Bill a silver watch and seven quid,
For Dave a bran’ new suit of check, a ruby tie-pin and a lid.

To Ben he handed twenty pounds, in nice new minted sovereigns, too.
And still the brothers gaped at him, and still their great amazement grew.
He was a natty kind of chap, with gentle manners, small and slim.
And when they spoke ‘twas as one man. “So ‘elp me cat,” they said, “it’s ‘im!”

by Edward George Dyson.


A double worship hath the spring, my dear,
Triumph, and joy, and sweetness more than wont,
For, standing on the threshold of the year,
Your life's star shines, full in her flowery front.
For you, the blessed sun again doth pour
His golden bounty over hill and dale,
And shouting loud for joy, from Heaven's blue floor,
The glad wind sweeps the watery vapours pale.
For you, thro' the thorn lattice of the hedge,
The primrose, sitting on thick tufted leaves,
Peers smiling, and each smooth and lustrous wedge
Of sheathed green, the earth's brown bosom cleaves.
Each saffron-tinted cup, and snowy bell,
Starts up to cry you hail, with pleasant cheer,
And thro' the woods the buds make haste to swell,
To spread your leafy tap'stry far and near.

There's not a blade of grass that quivers light
In the pure air, but seems to me to say,
'O loving heart! O spirit brave and bright!
For you the fields again shall be made gay.'
To gild your head the evening stars do shine,
To kiss your feet the morning daisies blow,
To fill your soul with bliss the breath divine
Of God's great goodness doth the world o'erflow.
Beloved! the sweet pageant of the year
Its lovely homage all to you doth bring,
And the whole air rings with rejoicings clear,
And the whole earth bursts forth in blossoming,
That you are living yet to see the Spring!

by Frances Anne Kemble.

For The Sister’s Album

Soft lays, that dwell on lips and eyes.
Long since with me have had their day;
At fifty, hearts grow cold or wise;
This book receives a graver lay.
Ill suits with would-be-youthful rhyme
Clogged ink, for keeping all the worse;
Come, halting pen! grown stiff by time,
And limp admonitory verse.
Should he, who fawningly deceives,
His flatteries here be fain to write,
Then, budding volume! close thy leaves,
Like flowers, that shut them from the night.
Not wholesome every breeze that sighs;
And they who tend thee, Sister-pair,
Shall guard thy blossom from surprise
Of vulgar touch or baleful air.

E'en wit, too reckless in his game,
Might fray thy bloom; but biting sneer,
Though dignified with satire's name,
Let him not bring his canker here.
But here would open-hearted love,
Or friendship here inscribe his strain,
Then, gentle book! each fear remove,
And bid thy leaves expand again.
Nor needs it second-sighted eyes,
To know that both shall hither come,
(Sly love perchance in friendship's guise)
And join to feed the flow'ret's bloom.
But oh! if She, the matron Muse,
The loving Mother and the dear,
Some lay of her's should interfuse,
As sunny dew-drop bright and clear;
Then, Flower of Albums! clasp the gem
She hangs amid thy leaves; and tower,
With freshened hues and straighter stem,
A happy—fond—rejoicing flower.

by John Kenyon.

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.

My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done,
Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.

Edward will come with you;--and, pray,
Put on with speed your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living calendar:
We from to-day, my Friend, will date
The opening of the year.

Love, now a universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth:
--It is the hour of feeling.

One moment now may give us more
Than years of toiling reason:
Our minds shall drink at every pore
The spirit of the season.

Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey:
We for the year to come may take
Our temper from to-day.

And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,
We'll frame the measure of our souls:
They shall be tuned to love.

Then come, my Sister! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

by William Wordsworth.

The Little Sister Of The Prophet

'If there arise among you a prophet or dreamer. . .'
I HAVE left a basket of dates
In the cool dark room that is under the vine,
Some curds set out in two little crimson plates
And a flask of the amber wine,
And cakes most cunningly beaten
Of savoury herbs, and spice, and the delicate wheaten
Flour that is best,
And all to lighten his spirit and sweeten his rest.

This morning he cried, 'Awake,
And see what the wonderful grace of the Lord hath revealed!'
And we ran for his sake,
But 'twas only the dawn outspread o'er our father's field,
And the house of the potter white in the valley below.
But his hands were upraised to the east and he cried to us, 'So
Ye may ponder and read
The strength and the beauty of God outrolled in a fiery screed !'

Then the little brown mother smiled,
As one does on the words of a well-loved child,
And, 'Son,' she replied, 'have the oxen been watered and fed ?
For work is to do, though the skies be never so red,
And already the first sweet hours of the day are spent.'
And he sighed, and went.

Will he come from the byre
With his head all misty with dreams, and his eyes on fire,
Shaking us all with the weight of the words of his passion ?
I will give him raisins instead of dates,
And wreathe young leaves on the little red plates.
I will put on my new head-tyre,
And braid my hair in a comelier fashion.
Will he note ? Will he mind ?
Will he touch my cheek as he used to, and laugh and be kind ?

by Marjorie Lowry Christie Pickthall.

To A Gentleman And Lady On The Death Of The Lady's Brother And Sister, And A Child Of The Name Of Avis, Aged One Year

ON Death's domain intent I fix my eyes,
Where human nature in vast ruin lies:
With pensive mind I search the drear abode,
Where the great conqu'ror has his spoils bestow'd;
There there the offspring of six thousand years
In endless numbers to my view appears:
Whole kingdoms in his gloomy den are thrust,
And nations mix with their primeval dust:
Insatiate still he gluts the ample tomb;
His is the present, his the age to come.
See here a brother, here a sister spread,
And a sweet daughter mingled with the dead.
But, Madam, let your grief be laid aside,
And let the fountain of your tears be dry'd,
In vain they flow to wet the dusty plain,
Your sighs are wafted to the skies in vain,
Your pains they witness, but they can no more,
While Death reigns tyrant o'er this mortal shore.
The glowing stars and silver queen of light
At last must perish in the gloom of night:
Resign thy friends to that Almighty hand,
Which gave them life, and bow to his command;
Thine Avis give without a murm'ring heart,
Though half thy soul be fated to depart.
To shining guards consign thine infant care
To waft triumphant through the seas of air:
Her soul enlarg'd to heav'nly pleasure springs,
She feeds on truth and uncreated things.
Methinks I hear her in the realms above,
And leaning forward with a filial love,
Invite you there to share immortal bliss
Unknown, untasted in a state like this.
With tow'ring hopes, and growing grace arise,
And seek beatitude beyond the skies.

by Phillis Wheatley.

Brother And Sister

The shorn moon trembling indistinct on her path,
Frail as a scar upon the pale blue sky,
Draws towards the downward slope: some sorrow hath
Worn her down to the quick, so she faintly fares
Along her foot-searched way without knowing why
She creeps persistent down the sky’s long stairs.

Some day they see, though I have never seen,
The dead moon heaped within the new moon’s arms;
For surely the fragile, fine young thing had been
Too heavily burdened to mount the heavens so.
But my heart stands still, as a new, strong dread alarms
Me; might a young girl be heaped with such shadow of woe?

Since Death from the mother moon has pared us down to the quick,
And cast us forth like shorn, thin moons, to travel
An uncharted way among the myriad thick
Strewn stars of silent people, and luminous litter
Of lives which sorrows like mischievous dark mice chavel
To nought, diminishing each star’s glitter,

Since Death has delivered us utterly, naked and white,
Since the month of childhood is over, and we stand alone,
Since the beloved, faded moon that set us alight
Is delivered from us and pays no heed though we moan
In sorrow, since we stand in bewilderment, strange
And fearful to sally forth down the sky’s long range.

We may not cry to her still to sustain us here,
We may not hold her shadow back from the dark.
Oh, let us here forget, let us take the sheer
Unknown that lies before us, bearing the ark
Of the covenant onwards where she cannot go.
Let us rise and leave her now, she will never know.

by David Herbert Lawrence.


Dear Sister! while the wise and sage
Turn coldly from my playful page,
And count it strange that ripened age
Should stoop to boyhood's folly;
I know that thou wilt judge aright
Of all which makes the heart more light,
Or lends one star-gleam to the night
Of clouded Melancholy.

Away with weary cares and themes!
Swing wide the moonlit gate of dreams!
Leave free once more the land which teems
With wonders and romances
Where thou, with clear discerning eyes,
Shalt rightly read the truth which lies
Beneath the quaintly masking guise
Of wild and wizard fancies.

Lo! once again our feet we set
On still green wood-paths, twilight wet,
By lonely brooks, whose waters fret
The roots of spectral beeches;
Again the hearth-fire glimmers o'er
Home's whitewashed wall and painted floor,
And young eyes widening to the lore
Of faery-folks and witches.

Dear heart! the legend is not vain
Which lights that holy hearth again,
And calling back from care and pain,
And death's funereal sadness,
Draws round its old familiar blaze
The clustering groups of happier days,
And lends to sober manhood's gaze
A glimpse of childish gladness.

And, knowing how my life hath been
A weary work of tongue and pen,
A long, harsh strife with strong-willed men,
Thou wilt not chide my turning
To con, at times, an idle rhyme,
To pluck a flower from childhood's clime,
Or listen, at Life's noonday chime,
For the sweet bells of Morning!

by John Greenleaf Whittier.

To My Friend Onthe Death Of His Sister

Thine is a grief, the depth of which another
May never know;
Yet, o'er the waters, O my stricken brother!
To thee I go.

I lean my heart unto thee, sadly folding
Thy hand in mine;
With even the weakness of my soul upholding
The strength of thine.

I never knew, like thee, the dear departed;
I stood not by
When, in calm trust, the pure and tranquil-hearted
Lay down to die.

And on thy ears my words of weak condoling
Must vainly fall
The funeral bell which in thy heart is tolling,
Sounds over all!

I will not mock thee with the poor world's common
And heartless phrase,
Nor wrong the memory of a sainted woman
With idle praise.

With silence only as their benediction,
God's angels come
Where, in the shadow of a great affliction,
The soul sits dumb!

Yet, would I say what thy own heart approveth
Our Father's will,
Calling to Him the dear one whom He loveth,
Is mercy still.

Not upon thee or thine the solemn angel
Hath evil wrought
Her funeral anthem is a glad evangel,--
The good die not!

God calls our loved ones, but we lose not wholly
What He hath given;
They live on earth, in thought and deed, as truly
As in His heaven.

And she is with thee; in thy path of trial
She walketh yet;
Still with the baptism of thy self-denial
Her locks are wet.

Up, then, my brother! Lo, the fields of harvest
Lie white in view
She lives and loves thee, and the God thou servest
To both is true.

Thrust in thy sickle! England's toilworn peasants
Thy call abide;
And she thou mourn'st, a pure and holy presence,
Shall glean beside!

by John Greenleaf Whittier.

The Little Sister

The wind knocks at the window,
And my heart is full of fear,
For I know when it is calling
That some evil thing is near.
It whispers in the chimney,
And I strike the log to flame,
Lest it come down and take me
To the land that hath no name.
For once I had a sister,
Who now am left alone,
And here we sat together,
When the wind did sigh and moan.
There came a gentle knocking
Quick and sudden at the door,
And my sister hushed my terror,
Saying, ''Tis the wind, a-stór!'
She took my arms from round her,
She kissed me, cheek and chin,
But I cried, 'Oh, little sister,
Do not let the robber in!'
She rose up from me laughing,
But her face was strange and white,
And she opened wide the window,
Looking long into the night.

And I said, 'Oh, little sister,
There is on your cheek a tear!'
''Tis but the rain,' she whispered;
But my heart was full of fear.
And I said, 'Oh, little sister,
There's a hand upon the door.'
Soft she chid me from my crying,
Saying, ''Tis the wind, a-stór.'
And turning from me smiling,
She took down the bar and chain,
But her cheek was like the lily
As she went into the rain.
And I said, 'Oh, little sister,
Will you then return no more?'
But I only heard the pushing
Of the wind upon the door.
Long I cried, 'Oh, little sister,
Will you soon come back again?'
But I only heard the beating
Of the storm upon the pane.
Now my mother sits in sorrow,
Weeping all the livelong day;
And I think she dreads the robber
Who did take her child away.
So I put up bar and shutter
When the wind goes howling by,
For I know when it comes knocking
That some evil thing is nigh.

by Dora Sigerson Shorter.

Sister M. B.’s Arrival In Montreal , 1654.

It is now two hundred years and more
Since first set foot on Canadian shore
That saint-like heroine, fair and pure,
Prepared all things for Christ to endure;
Resigning rank and kindred ties,
And her sunny home ’neath France’s skies.

A lonely sight for her to see
Was the wilderness town of Ville Marie!
The proud St. Lawrence, with silver foam,
Touched softly the base of our island home,
But frowning forest and tangled wood
Made the land a dreary solitude.

Nor mansion, chapel, nor glinting spire
Reflected the sunset’s fading fire;
The wigwam sent up its faint blue smoke,
The owlet’s shrill cry the stillness broke,
While the small rude huts of the settlers stood
Within frail palisades of wood.

Undaunted by fear of the savage foe,
Wild midnight blaze or th’assassin’s blow;
Careless of suffering, famine, want,
That haunted the settlers like spectres gaunt,
Sister Bourgeois had but one hope, one aim—
To humbly work in her Master’s name.

Kindly she gathered around her knee
The dusky daughters, unfettered, free,
Of forest tribes, and, with woman’s art,
Ennobling, softening each youthful heart,
Fashioned them into true womanhood,
Slow unto evil but prompt to good.

And their pale-face sisters had full share
In this gentle teacher’s tender care;
And grew up, holding as holy and dear
The sacred duties of woman’s sphere;
Adding the firmness and courage high—
Chief need of our sex in days gone by.

Sister Bourgeois’ daughters have nobly all
Responded unto her gracious call;
Through sunshine and joy, through storm and pain—
In one unfailing, unbroken chain
Of teachers devoted—nought left undone
To fulfil the task by their foundress begun.

by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon.

Lines Upon My Sister’s Portrait

The castle towers of Bareacres are fair upon the lea,
Where the cliffs of bonny Diddlesex rise up from out the sea:
I stood upon the donjon keep and view'd the country o'er,
I saw the lands of Bareacres for fifty miles or more.
I stood upon the donjon keep—it is a sacred place,—
Where floated for eight hundred years the banner of my race;
Argent, a dexter sinople, and gules an azure field:
There ne'er was nobler cognizance on knightly warrior's shield.

The first time England saw the shield 'twas round a Norman neck,
On board a ship from Valery, King William was on deck.
A Norman lance the colors wore, in Hastings' fatal fray—
St. Willibald for Bareacres! 'twas double gules that day!
O Heaven and sweet St. Willibald! in many a battle since
A loyal-hearted Bareacres has ridden by his Prince!
At Acre with Plantagenet, with Edward at Poictiers,
The pennon of the Bareacres was foremost on the spears!

'Twas pleasant in the battle-shock to hear our war-cry ringing:
Oh grant me, sweet St. Willibald, to listen to such singing!
Three hundred steel-clad gentlemen, we drove the foe before us,
And thirty score of British bows kept twanging to the chorus!
O knights, my noble ancestors! and shall I never hear
St. Willibald for Bareacres through battle ringing clear?
I'd cut me off this strong right hand a single hour to ride,
And strike a blow for Bareacres, my fathers, at your side!

Dash down, dash down, yon Mandolin, beloved sister mine!
Those blushing lips may never sing the glories of our line:
Our ancient castles echo to the clumsy feet of churls,
The spinning-jenny houses in the mansion of our Earls.
Sing not, sing not, my Angeline! in days so base and vile,
'Twere sinful to be happy, 'twere sacrilege to smile.
I'll hie me to my lonely hall, and by its cheerless hob
I'll muse on other days, and wish—and wish I were—A SNOB.

by William Makepeace Thackeray.

It's ten o'clock at night; in the room in semidarkness
My sister is asleep, hands on her chest;
Her face is very white and very white her bed,
As if it understood, the light is almost unlit

She sinks into the bed like rosy fruit,
from smooth pastures into the depths of the mattress.
The air enters her chest and raises it chastely
With its rhythm measuring the fleeting minutes.

I tuck her tenderly into the white covers
And protect from the air her two divine hands;
Walking on tiptoe I close all the doors,
leave the shutters half-open and draw the drapes

There's a lot of noise outside, drowning so much noise
The men are suing each other, whisper the women,
Words of hate go up, the shouts of the merchants:
Oh, voices, stop it. Don't enter till you come to your nest.

My sister is weaving her silk cocoon
Like a skilled caterpillar: her cocoon is a dream.
With thread of gold she weaves the silken ball:
Spring is her life. I am already summer.

She counts with only fifteen Octobers in her eyes,
And so her eyes are so clean and clear;
She beleives that storks, from strange countries,
Come down carrying beautiful babies with little red feet.

Who wants to enter now? Oh, is it you, good wind?
Do you want to watch her? Come in. But first,
Warm up a moment; don't go so soon
and freeze the gentle dream in her present.

Like you, it's well that the rest would like to come in
and watch that whiteness, those immaculate cheeks,
Those fine bags under her eyes, those simple lines,
You would see them, wind, and kneel and weep.

Oh, if you love her, be good a day, because she
flees from the light if it hurts her. Watch your words,
and your intention. Her soul, like wax, can be carved,
But like wax, too much touch destroys her.

Do as that star that watches her by night,
Filtering its eye through a crystalline veil:
That star rubs its eyelashes and spins,
But does not wake her, silent in the sky.

Fly away, if it's possible, for your snow-white orchard:
Piety for your soul! She is immaculate.
Piety for your soul! I know it all, it's true.
But she is like the sky: She knows nothing.

by Alfonsina Storni.

Korner And His Sister

Green wave the oak for ever o'er thy rest,
Thou that beneath its crowning foliage sleepest,
And, in the stillness of thy country's breast,
Thy place of memory, as an altar keepest;
Brightly thy spirit o'er her hills was pour'd,
Thou of the Lyre and Sword!

Rest, bard! rest, soldier! by the father's hand
Here shall the child of after years be led,
With his wreath-offering silently to stand,
In the hush'd presence of the glorious dead.
Soldier and bard! for thou thy path hast trod
With freedom and with God.

The oak wav'd proudly o'er thy burial-rite,
On thy crown'd bier to slumber warriors bore thee,
And with true hearts thy brethren of the fight
Wept as they vail'd their drooping banners o'er thee.
And the deep guns with rolling peal gave token,
That Lyre and Sword were broken.

Thou hast a hero's tomb: a lowlier bed
Is hers, the gentle girl beside thee lying,
The gentle girl, that bow'd her fair, young head
When thou wert gone, in silent sorrow dying.
Brother, true friend! the tender and the brave
She pined to share thy grave.

Fame was thy gift from others; but for her,
To whom the wide world held that only spot,
She loved thee! lovely in your lives ye were,
And in your early deaths divided not.
Thou hast thine oak, thy trophy:–What hath she?
Her own blest place by thee!

It was thy spirit, brother! which had made
The bright earth glorious to her thoughtful eye,
Since first in childhood midst the vines ye play'd,
And sent glad singing thro' the free blue sky.
Ye were but two and when that spirit pass'd,
Wo to the one, the last!

Wo, yet not long! She linger'd but to trace
Thine image from the image in her breast,
Once, once again to see that buried face
But smile upon her, ere she went to rest.
Too sad a smile! its living light was o'er,
It answer'd hers no more.

The earth grew silent when thy voice departed,
The home too lonely whence thy step had fled;
What then was left for her, the faithful-hearted?
Death, death, to still the yearning for the dead!
Softly she perish'd: be the Flower deplor'd
Here with the Lyre and Sword!

Have ye not met ere now? so let those trust
That meet for moments but to part for years,
That weep, watch, pray, to hold back dust from dust,
That love, where love is but a fount of tears.
Brother, sweet sister! peace around ye dwell:
Lyre, Sword, and Flower, farewell!

by Felicia Dorothea Hemans.

Tribute To The Memory Of The Rev. Sister The Nativity, Foundress Of The Convent Of Villa Maria

Oh, Villa Maria, thrice favored spot,
Unclouded sunshine is still thy lot
Since first, ’neath thy mortal old,
The spouses of Christ—working out God’s will,
Meekly entered, their mission high to fill
’Mid the “little ones” of His fold.

But grief’s dark hour, that to all must come,
At length is on thee, and as a tomb,
Hushed, joyless, art thou to-day,
For the lofty mind that thy councils led,
To womanly sweetness so closely wed,
Has been called by death away.

“One ’mid a thousand!” no words could tell
The peerless worth that, like holy spell,
Won all souls to saintly love;
And that knowledge rare of the human heart
That, with heavenly patience and gentle art,
The coldest breast could move.

Oh! girlish natures, good blended with ill,
That she trained with such watchful, wondrous skill
To be noble women and true—
The bliss of those households whose hope you are,
Where your worth shines steady as vesper star,
Unto her is surely due.

And those chosen souls, called to holier state,
That on the Heavenly Bridegroom wait,
Their cell an Eden below,
Whom she guided safely through wile and snare,
Making virtue appear so divinely fair,
How much unto her they owe!

And many now sleeping ’neath churchyard sod,
But whose souls are reigning on high with God
Through her teachings true and blessed—
With what strains of rapture, ravishing, sweet,
Their teacher and guide did they once more meet,
As she entered on her rest.

When to Villa Maria will come again
Spring, with opening buds and gentle rain,
Though her place be vacant there,
The spirit of her teachings will ever dwell
In the earthly home she loved so well,
Treasured with sacred care.

The winds of winter, with sob and sigh,
And dirge-like voices go wailing by,
Waking echoes in every breast.
As they sweep o’er the snow-clad reaches wide,
And the cold pale shroud where, on every side,
The eyes are forced to rest.

And the stars shed their radiance pure, yet faint,
Like aureole round the brow of a saint,
As on earth they calm look down;
And raising our tearful and heavy gaze
On high, to their solemn, silvery rays,
We whisper—“Thus shines her crown.”

Mother beloved, O sainted nun,
Disciple true of the Crucified One,
Thy teachings we keep for aye,
Till, our life’s brief course wrought out, we meet
At our Father’s glorious judgment-seat,
In realms of cloudless day!

by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon.

A Legend of Tyrol
I through the valley of Klausen went
By a little stream, and heard it sigh,
Down by its bed I crouched and bent
A listening ear as it hurried by.
'Lord, have mercy,' it murmured low,
'Sainted Mother, oh, pray for me!'
I laid my hand in the water's flow
'Say, little stream, what your troubles be.'
'Virgin Mary, for my soul pray,
Lord, have pity,' it sighed again,
I through the valley did wend my way,
Heard it singing the odd refrain.
The stream stole by, 'O Christ, on me
'Take mercy, Lord, a soul afraid.'
I looked around and there did see
No thing to fear—a peasant maid.

'A fair good-day,' she shyly smiled;
'A fair good-day to you,' said I,
'And can you tell me why, sweet child,
So loud with prayer the stream goes by.'
''Tis Sister Marie's voice, they say,
(God give her soul for ever rest),
Who in yon convent walls did pray
As Christ's pure bride she dreamt her blest.
'But came at last a bitter day
When out of France flew flame and strife,
To still the singing birds and lay
Shamed flowers in the red stream of life.
'And ruthless soldiers climbed the hill,
Broke through the convent walls and ran
Mad through the house to spoil and fill
The home that God's pure peace began.
'Before the Saviour's Cross she knelt
The fairest nun in all the place,
Bowed down until her shoulders felt
Rough hands to turn her hidden face.

'She screamed, and up the marble stair
Flew like a creature of the wood,
And as the hunters on the hare
They turned—the chase was in their blood.
'Their shouts came to her like the call
Of baying hounds upon her track,
The turret roof she reached—the wall—
No hiding there—no going back.
'Loud came the soldiers, but she prayed
No mercy from her fellows there;
Death was more kind—she stood and swayed
On the high wall above the glen.
'A moment faltered—then she sprang
To the sweet air and God's embrace,
And where she fell, the little stream
Flowed soft across her dying face.
'So on the wall a cross is made
Lest we forget for her to pray,
For in God's sight she is afraid
Who took her own sweet life away.'

She pointed where upon the hill
There frowned the old grey convent wall,
And there I saw half pictured still,
A holy cross rise red and tall.
Down on her knees the fair child bent,
'And pity her, dear Lord,' she cried—
On through the vale the strange stream went,
'Ah! pity me, dear Lord,' it sighed.

by Dora Sigerson Shorter.

Sister Songs-An Offering To Two Sisters - The Proem

Shrewd winds and shrill--were these the speech of May?
A ragged, slag-grey sky--invested so,
Mary's spoilt nursling! wert thou wont to go?
Or THOU, Sun-god and song-god, say
Could singer pipe one tiniest linnet-lay,
While Song did turn away his face from song?
Or who could be
In spirit or in body hale for long, -
Old AEsculap's best Master!--lacking thee?
At length, then, thou art here!
On the earth's lethed ear
Thy voice of light rings out exultant, strong;
Through dreams she stirs and murmurs at that summons dear:
From its red leash my heart strains tamelessly,
For Spring leaps in the womb of the young year!
Nay, was it not brought forth before,
And we waited, to behold it,
Till the sun's hand should unfold it,
What the year's young bosom bore?
Even so; it came, nor knew we that it came,
In the sun's eclipse.
Yet the birds have plighted vows,
And from the branches pipe each other's name;
Yet the season all the boughs
Has kindled to the finger-tips, -
Mark yonder, how the long laburnum drips
Its jocund spilth of fire, its honey of wild flame!
Yea, and myself put on swift quickening,
And answer to the presence of a sudden Spring.
From cloud-zoned pinnacles of the secret spirit
Song falls precipitant in dizzying streams;
And, like a mountain-hold when war-shouts stir it,
The mind's recessed fastness casts to light
Its gleaming multitudes, that from every height
Unfurl the flaming of a thousand dreams.
Now therefore, thou who bring'st the year to birth,
Who guid'st the bare and dabbled feet of May;
Sweet stem to that rose Christ, who from the earth
Suck'st our poor prayers, conveying them to Him;
Be aidant, tender Lady, to my lay!
Of thy two maidens somewhat must I say,
Ere shadowy twilight lashes, drooping, dim
Day's dreamy eyes from us;
Ere eve has struck and furled
The beamy-textured tent transpicuous,
Of webbed coerule wrought and woven calms,
Whence has paced forth the lambent-footed sun.
And Thou disclose my flower of song upcurled,
Who from Thy fair irradiant palms
Scatterest all love and loveliness as alms;
Yea, Holy One,
Who coin'st Thyself to beauty for the world!

Then, Spring's little children, your lauds do ye upraise
To Sylvia, O Sylvia, her sweet, feat ways!
Your lovesome labours lay away,
And trick you out in holiday,
For syllabling to Sylvia;
And all you birds on branches, lave your mouths with May,
To bear with me this burthen,
For singing to Sylvia.

by Francis Thompson.