FANCIES OF BOYHOOD
A Series of Poems, Original and Translated,
NOVA SCOTIA PRINTING COMPANY.
It is a common practice among writers, when they make their appearance—especially for the first time—before the public, to offer some general remarks to their readers (if they have the good fortune to have any) on the subject of their productions; and the present author must, though the task be hard, follow the prevailing custom.
“’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print, A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in’t,”—
says Byron, and some critics will probably give that as the only reason why the author of “Fancies of Boyhood” saw fit to publish. The remark may be true in part, but not as a whole. It is undoubtedly pleasant to see your name in print, that is providing it not be printed in the criminal list of some newspaper; but the pleasing sensation of seeing my name in print is not the only reason that led me on to the present undertaking. As a certain poet says:
“Lowly my lay, but yet, methinks, not wrong To pen these stanzas with an idle hand; The grey bird twitters out of his rugged song Beside the robin with the note so grand; The heavens do not but for one songster stand, The earth but for great bards was never made. To all who sing, her glorious realms expand, Some in fame’s sunlight stand, while some in shade. The last O may I claim its lesser realm to invade.”
The writer strikes the point exactly. Although Acadia boasts such favoured children of fame as Roberts, Vivien, Lockhart, Eaton, who occupy heights which the lowly author of those poor lines may [unnumbered page] never hope to gain, yet he pleads the excuse “That the grey bird may twitter out his rugged song beside the robin with the note so grand,” for both birds fill their destined place in nature.
As to the productions themselves, the title “Fancies of Boyhood” explain their nature. All were written between the ages of twelve and nineteen, and excepting three, “The Lost Child,” “The Wandering Jew,” and “Translation of the Pollio,” before the age of eighteen; which early age will account for some irregularities of metre and crudities of construction. As to the worth of the pieces, I must of necessity leave the judgement of that to the public, but will feel (Oh, sad resource!) that if they are worthy of no praise, but possess at least a good moral character, they deserve no censure, and thus left alone, will pass into oblivion.
Wolfville, November 18, 1889.
P.S.—I must not forget to tender my most sincere thanks to H. Sidney Davison, of “The Acadian,” for his many kindly suggestions and friendly and instructive criticisms. [page vi]
FANCIES OF BOYHOOD.
The following piece is supposed to be spoken by an Arabian—a character in an unfinished poem—which thus explains the peculiarity of thought and structure.
A fearful dream my soul oppressed. Methought I stood in a wide vale; before me straight A mountain towered aloft, so far that sight Grew dizzy gazing at his heavenly crown. The sun had reached the summit of his course, And o’er the mountain hung, when suddenly A voice, re-echoed by the fartherest orbs, From heaven resounded: “Now the end has come, And Truth and Justice o’er the earth shall reign.” The awful speaking ceased, when lo, the sun Burst in ten thousand fragments, with a roar So deep and mighty that from star to star, From great Orion to the northern Bear And starry Hercules, it swiftly rolled, Shaking the universe with horrid jar. Clashing together in destructive rage, The stars fled back to chaos. From the moon, [unnumbered page] Hung in the empyrean, drops of blood,— Red, fiery, ghastly,— ’gan to fall: and earth, Quaking with fear, received the direful flood Upon her heaving breast: the dying moon Thus shed herself in tears, weeping in death; And th’ impenetrable shroud of night came down. And oh! the silence that around did fall!— Silence so deep that Nature was appalled, And but the quivering of a leaf had seemed A sound as of a mountain overthrown. Then as I stood in terror, lo! a gleam Of light, pale as the beam of the young moon, Played round the summit of the mount, which now Emerged to view; and all the valley round Was bathed in spectral light. So feeling dense Had been the darkness, that the change, tho’ slight, Mine eyes bore not, but closed; and when again My sight uncovered was, upon the height ’Twas fixed, and in the pale sepulchral glare Two forms appeared, so vast that each one seemed As if a planet in her arms could rest; Of woman’s form they seemed, their circling robes Enormous thunder clouds. An arm of each Encircled other’s form; grasped by the hand Unprisoned, one a mighty balance held With Justice thereon blazoned, word of light. The free hand of her sister held a book High o’er her form, and TRUTH, a burning word, Blazed from the volume. [page 2] Then upon the face Of each I cast mine eye; how beautiful! From each the light came forth, whose gloaming beam Had lighted hill and valley all around With now increasing brilliance. Justice’ face Shone with a royal beauty, which repelled The tyrant and oppressor; and her eye Gazed on the form of Truth with heavenly love. On th’ other’s brow Frankness and Courage sat— A courage that defied both place and time— While her bright eyes gazed outward o’er the world. Upon the head of each a crown was set, Inwove with purest gold and costliest pearls; And from beneath it downward streamed their hair, In raven tresses to the middle zone. O’ercome with fear, prone on earth I fell, And swooned, as if the cold embrace of death Was round me; and when motion once again Returned, behold another universe Was there; on high a brighter sun the world Bathed in a brilliance all unknown before. The meadows smiled, in greener verdure clad, And fairer flowers bloomed; the lakes and seas Were hushed in mirrored calmness, and the streams Kept chorus with the birds; the world was peace. Justice and Truth dominion held o’er all. With this I woke, and on my ears the song Of birds fell soothing. Was’t it all a dream? [page 3]
Dark gloomed the falling night, The dreary wind howled wild, The moon refused her light, The river hoarse defiled Between his rocky cliffs In sullen grandeur down Unto the sea, where lifts Each wave his foaming crown. Yet in that dreadful hour, Beneath that threatening sky, When the thunder roared its power, And blasting lightnings fly, A white-robed maiden stood— Her hand stretched forth on high. Thus to the raging flood Rose her despairing cry: “Ye roaring heavens, oh, where May broken hearts find sleep Save where the billows rear Their crests along the deep? My love is false as Hell; My virgin honour stained— Farewell all earth, farewell! My latest hour is gained.” [page 4] Again a blinding flash That made the heavens glow— A leaping form— a plash— The waters closed below. As from the cliff she sprang, A deafening crash was given; Her spirit, as it rang, Had winged its way to heaven.
GLORY ONCE A GARLAND MADE.
Glory once a garland made And merrily she chanted: “The Thistle, Shamrock, Rose, have I, But yet another's wanted.” For many years she searched in vain, She could no flower discover, Until she crossed with bold De Monts, The stormy ocean over. And there she saw the flower of May* Forth from its covert peeking. “Oh there,” right joyfully she cried, “The flower I've been seeking.” She plucked, and soon the blossom sweet It's fair companions greeted; And Glory cried right joyfully: “My garland's now completed.”
*The Mayflower, the well-known emblem of Nova Scotia. [page 5]
A SONG OF THE WIND.
I've been to the land where the orange blows, And the palm-tree fair in its beauty grows, Where the flowers bedewed with their crystal tears, Are sleeping at night from their noonday cares; Where the laughing streamlets sweetly sing Away to their parent hurrying; Where the date-palm blooms and the camphor yields It's incense sweet to the breathing fields; Where summer keeps his eternal reign And the sun shines bright o’er the smiling plain, And the fair earth, kissed by the rosy morn, Sweet blushes her lovely face adorn. I’ve been to the land of the frozen north Where the frost king comes from his caverns forth; Where the wild deer bounds from his rocky home And the snowy bear for his prey doth come; Where the ice-bergs float I coldly sweep, While the sea gull sleeps on the lonely deep, And the midnight sun shines cold and far Like a shadow o’er the horizon’s bar, And the darkness drear of the endless night Is painted wide by the northern light. I laugh as I sweep o’er mount and glen, Then back to my cave to go forth again. [page 6]
AUGUSTUS’ ADDRESS TO HIS DAUGHTER JULIA.
[WRITTEN AT THE AGE OF TWELVE]
Farewell! farewell! degraded child, Oh! must thou go from me? How can my heart be reconciled In parting thus from thee? How wretched seems all earthly things Since thou from me must part! Oh! why did sin her sable wings Spread o’er thy youthful heart? Oh! would thy seed in youthful days Sown in life’s garden been Pure as the heavenly sun's bright rays Cast on the earth so green. My prayer is answered not, ah! no— That thou should’st ever be Pure as the newly-fallen snow Or pearls beneath the sea. These locks so hoary thou did’st make By sorrow’s bitter knife; Man's time is as the snowy flake— Where are thy hopes, O life? [page 7]
Oh, youth is the fane of ambition! Vain fancies make captive the heart! And dreams of exalted position And fame in the future, impart A glow to our present condition, That soothes with its balm every smart. How sundered are dreaming and being; How our gilded dreams melt into the air; What pictures we paint, never seeing Realities come to our share; What hopes have been broke by the fleeting Of moment on moment each year! Shall the dreams of my childhood have being?— Their reality ever be mine? Shall my hopes for the future be springing, Or fall withered and blasted by time? Shall greatness attend on my clinging Fame’s shadowy mountain to climb? [page 8]
A youth once chancing by a brook to rove, With careless fingers traced a narrow course, For it to flow in; and the new-born stream Scarce trickled through its channel. Years on years Rolled by; the youth to manhood came, then age Whitened his locks and weakened all his limbs; Then as it chanced again beside that stream He wandered, and behold its course was changed. The channel he had made had wider grown, And wider—as the tiny wave crept through, Until deserted was its ancient course. The flowing stream is life; the narrow way Traced by the careless hand was Habit—grown Until the current of our life is changed.
Like a rose in the wilderness blooming, As a spring in the desert might be, As the sun to this heavens, sweet Jesus, Thy bountiful love is to me! Though darkly the tempests are gathering That threaten my soul with alarms, Their terrors can never appall me. Safe, safe in Thy sheltering arms. [page 9]
(On seeing a spur worn by Napoleon, in Acadia Museum.)
Strong iron, emblem of the heart of him Who once was thy possessor—him whose food Was glory, tarnished by the millions’ blood; And Europe bowed before his every whim, Awed by the form of Conquest fierce and grim. The foot that bore thy massive form hath trod O’er fallen nations with Destruction’s flood, Raging behind, o’erwhelming every rood Of fallen freedom; filling every land With shapeless desolation, till the world, Tired of bondage, grasped once more the brand, And the dread tyrant from his height was hurled To utter ruin, and on foreign strand He died, attended by a stranger's hand.
THE LOST CHILD.
A TRUE STORY.
On the sea beach one sunny afternoon Two children sported; one a happy boy, With clustering sable locks hung round a face Glowing with hues of health, and a dark eye Full of wild frolic and of childish glee; A sister, his companion, gold her hair And blue her eyes, as is the summer sky Cloudless at eve, yet her expression bore A likeness to the other’s. With the sand They builded towers and castles, and the shells Served them for ornaments and stately walks. And marking gardens round; and now and then Their structures would be levelled as the tide Rose onward up the beach; then would the shout And joyous laugh arise, and the fair boy Would say unto his fairer mate— “Oh! Nell, What fun ’twill be to build them up again— Up where the waves can’t reach them;" then would she Laugh too, and with her little apron filled With pretty shells tread lightly after him; Then soon another structure rose on high, Bedecked the same and thus they played with hearts O’erflowed with childish joy—a joy like Heaven’s. At last, with sudden start, cried Will: “Just think What fun ’twill be to bring our Rover down Upon the beach to play and romp with us; You wait here, Nell, and guard our castle; I Will just run home and bring dear Rover down.” “All right,” cried little blue-eyes, “I'll stay here.” Away ran Willie, full of hope and joy And expectation for the coming play With much-loved Rover. Soon he reached his home And called his pet, and they together both Went bounding towards the shore. Short space it took, But yet when there he came no child was seen, Though still the castle stood as when he left, [page 11] But Willie smiled and said: “So Nell has hid To try me, but I'll find her out for all.” He quickly searched behind the neighbouring rock, And in the alders and the spicy fir That grew upon the bank; then where the tide Kissed his feet murmuring; but all in vain. Fear seized his boyish heart; he cried aloud: “Nell, oh! dear Nell, my sister, answer me; Don't stay away so long; ’tis time to leave Our playing and go home to mamma now; Do please come home?" His pleading childish tones Were answered by their echoes; all was still. Short space he stood, and then with burning tears Wetting his glowing cheeks, he cried again: “Oh! Nell, come home to mamma, for the dark Is coming quickly, and tho’ I'm afraid I'll wait if you'll come now; oh! come, do come.” Again with feeling deep and bated breath He listened for her voice, but not a sound Save the dull boom of waves along the shore, Blent with the piteous whining of the dog, That seemed to know the loss, fell on his ears. And then with bursting heart he turned his steps Towards his home, with Rover at his side. He reached it, and in haste his mother sought, And with despairing voice: “Oh! mamma, mamma, Nell’s gone away—I left her on the beach When I came home for Rover; now she’s gone, I don't know where. Oh! find her, mamma, do, [page 12] For soon the night will come, and in the dark Poor Nell will be so ’fraid; oh! find her, do.” Quick through the mother’s heart there sped a shaft, So sharp it seemed of terror that her child Had fallen in the waves, and to her mind There came a picture of a tiny corpse, Swol’n and defaced, the little garments torn By ruthless rocks, and washed to and fro By angry tides within the slimy depths Of cruel ocean. Then with hurried step And words half-spoken, she the father told. Soon he with friends and neighbours off in search Was hurrying toward the shore; and every nook Among the rocks surveyed they, and beside The restless waters was the search renewed. Then in the neighbouring wood, but all in vain; No trace of her was found; and from that day Nought more was heard, while the grief-stricken pair Mourned their lost child, and thinking that she slept Where pearls are sleeping many a fathom down; And little Willie grew from day to day And played alone, and oft beside the sea He wandered sadly, tracing out the place Where last he saw her sitting, and her words, “All right, Will, I'll stay here,” rang in his ears, The last words she had spoken. But old Time Placed balm upon their sorrow as he passed. Will grew apace and other voices filled And other childish forms the vacant place. [page 13] Yet Nell was not forgotten tho’ new joys Lightened their grief for her. Years passed away Till twenty summers had flown by; the house Still stood with ivy climbing o’er its front, And the old couple lived, their locks besprinkled With the snow-flakes of age; and Will had grown A strong, broad shouldered man with honest heart, His parents’ chief support, when news one day Came that a band of Indians with their goods Had thither come to camp; and word went round That a white woman dwelt among the tribe, But merely a report which few believed. One day as Willie and the family sat Around the table at their noon-day meal, A gentle tap upon the door was heard. The kindly mother rose and opened the door With generous haste, and on the threshold stood A woman fair in sylvan garments clad, While two small children of a dusky hue Clasped either hand. What makes the mother’s blood Chill in her veins as she the stranger bids To enter and have food? The woman came Within, and as she passed the kitchen door Her eyes upon some scarce-seen marks were fixed. Marks made by Nell and Willie long ago To know their yearly growth; still, still she stood, And to her mind a memory seemed to rise, Long, long forgotten; then in broken words: “The—marks—I—made,” she cried and swooned away. Great God! the parents knew their long-lost child— [page 14] A wife, and mother to these dusky babes. O’erjoyed were they; but when the last dread thought Came o’er their minds they almost wished the sea Had won her ere the time. Soon she awoke And told how, when that day upon the beach Willie and she had played, and when that he Had gone for Rover, a canoe so swift Had landed, and its dusky occupant Did seize her ere she knew, and hurried her, Stifling her screams, on board, and with the oar Plied soon from sight and ere the day was done Had joined the tribe and off to distant climes They all departed. All her wanderings And sobs and sighings for her distant home She now remembered, though forgotten long. At last,—and here her voice a tremor took,— An Indian hunter claimed her for his bride; And as it happened their tribal wanderings led Back to the very home where she was ta’en; And the old marks upon the door recalled The memories of her youth. Her utterance sank; They pressed her with them ever more to stay, But with a glance upon her shrieking babes She murmured: “Them I never can forsake;” Then with a faint, low cry upon the floor Again she sank. Her parents raised her head And bathed her brow, but all in vain; the heart Had ceased its beating and her eyes were glazed, And her cold face a marble hue o’erspread— Death’s signet; then they raised her lifeless form And clothed it for the grave. Two days had passed, [page 15] And toward the little church-yard might be seen A funeral concourse wending, each one there With solemn step, and eyes with sorrow bent Upon the earth. Among the throng there walked A dark-eyed Indian, and beside the grave, When the rude coffin was in silence lowered, Few were the eyes whose tears outnumbered his; Then when the earth was covered o’er, with steps Slow and so sad he parted and was seen No more, though many years have since rolled by. The stricken parents waited Beside the grave till all wave were gone, and then On a rude slab above her head they wrote: “Our Long Lost Child.”
THE FATE OF BONSTETTIN.
“Dark, secret, infernal, dread hag as thou art, My fate through the blackest to me haste impart; Pierce the clouds of the future, reveal to my sight The doom that to mortals lies hidden in night: But thou, who hast dealings with spirits malign, Thro’ the dark shroud of nature canst know her design,— Grim servant of Satan, my doom thou shalt show, Or reddening my dagger, thy heart’s blood shall flow.” “Haughty lord of Bonstettin,” the witch then replied, “Mine would not be first that thy dagger hast dyed. [page 16] Remember the time when the green forest rang With the horns of the hunters, the clatter and clang Of galloping steeds; from the chase parted far The lord of Bonstettin and heir of Malar Are met and a dagger is lifted in air— Young Malar is pierced”—“Hag of darkness forbear; What power infernal to thee didst reveal That vision, a deed that ne’er worked for my weal? Speak not of the future,”—“Ha, ha! thou would’st know,” Said the witch of the cave, “what my power can show; Yon mirror behold, and the forms that appear Shall tell thee the future, proud lord that is near.” From the face of the mirror dark clouds rolled away, And revealed a green forest, and gallant array Of hunters; before them a stag, bound on bound, Swept away like the wind from the following hound. Through the glades swept the chase, but e’er long from the root On horsemen alone lags behind and falls out: In vain, all in vain, with both whip-stroke and heel He urged his steed onward; it totters and reels And the rider is hurled from his saddle afar, While the sound of the chase falleth faint on his ear. As he lay on the earth a blue sulphurous flame Arose and burned fiercely, and from it there came A form, grim and threatening, gigantic in height; His eyes they were meteors, his brow it was night. Close beside stood a youth, his breast was all bare, Where a red gaping wound streaming blood did appear; To the horseman dismounted he pointed, whose frame [page 17] The arch demon hurried to regions of flame. As the cloud on the landscape hides yellow and gold, Dark vaporous mists o’er the mirror have rolled. “Ha, ha! laughed the baron,” well hast thou, old crone, Revealed such a fate as would chill every bone: But I fear not, I care not, come good or come ill Bonstettin to meet it his courage and will.” From the cave rode the baron and forth to the chase With his vassals and hounds hath he taken his place. The sun high in heaven, the green of the wood, And horns sounding gaily as onward they rode. At length from a thicket a stag, bound on bound, Started forth with his feet proudly spurning the ground. Thro’ the glades swept the chase, but ere long from the rout Bonstettin alone lags behind and falls out. In vain, all in vain, with both whip-stoke and heel He urged his steed onward; it totters and reels, And the rider is hurled from his saddle afar, While the sound of the chase falleth faint on his ear. As he lay, deeply moaning, a sulphurous flame Arose and burned fiercely, and from it there came A form, grim and threatening, gigantic in height, His eyes they were meteors; his brow it was night; Close beside stood a youth and his breast was all bare Where a red gaping wound streaming blood did appear. “Oh, spare me! oh, spare me!” Bonstettin did say; “I meant not to slay thee; dread phantom away!” But with fingers transparent he pointed, then spoke: “Seize the traitor, to regions of fire and smoke [page 18] ‘And cataracts of sulphur and torrents of flame,’ Shalt thou bear him where demons shall rack all his frame.” The arch demon seized him and vanished away To his home in Perdition and aye.
THE HEROINE OF THE SIERRA MORENA.
A TALE OF SPAIN.
Oh Spain, thou land of sunny skies, What memories to the mind arise, Whene’er we hear thy name; When Arab foes pressed hard on thee, Thine was the land of chivalry, And heroes graced thee royally And minstrels sang thy fame. Great Carpio, that warrior bold, And the brave Cid were thine; And Pulgar’s frame of giant mould, And Gonzalez, that Knight of gold And Ferdinand of counsel cold, Within thine annals shine. Nor less was Saragossa’s maid Who, when the walls were lowly laid [page 19] By Gaul’s unceasing cannonade, Saw her undaunted lover die, And seized the sword his blood had stained, And waved it forth on high. Around her form the meanest came With hearts and courage all on flame, Impatient for the fray; And France ne’er felt a fiercer blow Than on her fell that day. But listen to a tale of one Less shone upon by fame’s bright sun, Although her deed and sacrifice No less deserve fame than theirs But they are great in history’s page; Few know, alas! her hopes and cares. Upon Morena’s dusky height, Where nature in her wildest mood Has tumbled cliff and mount, and flood That head-long falls with foaming might To some vast chasm’s depths below, A castle stood, long, long ago. Rondello’s lord his dwelling made Here in the mountain’s deepest glade; His sole delight to chase the deer, And drive the eagle from his lair With fire-lock in hand, and bound From crag to crag, where chamois found A footing scarce more sure than he And fell by his unerring shot; Then when the chase was done to see His fire blaze bright, and food was brought [page 20] By Doretha, the lithesome maid, Who made the castle bright with love, Whose smiles like sunshine o’er him played. A menial of his household she, An orphan of unknown degree. Now fifteen summers o’er her head The bloom of womanhood had shed, And she had grown to beauty’s prime— A flower of that southern clime. A rose that in the wilderness Had bloomed to brighten and to bless. But not alone the feet chamois These dusky mountain caverns saw, Nor yet the adventurous hunter trod Alone the rugged mountain sod; For fierce banditti held their lair The unwary traveller’s purse to share, And many a robber cheiftain bold, As king within his mountain hold, Claimed passage price from those who need To cross the Alpine heights decreed. Of those bold chiefs, Lartando’s name Was foremost in the ranks of fame: The peasant quaked within his cot, The boldest hand refused the shot, And wailing infants hushed their cry When fierce Lartando’s name was heard; And matrons swooned with fear away At the untimely word. [page 21] One eve when brave Rondello’s lord Sat ’mid his vassal round the board, A crash was heard against the door, A fearful voice this challenge bore: “Ope to lartando, or thy life Shall pay the forfeit of the strife.” The banquet ceased in wild uproar; The frightened vassels fled And left their lord to face the band The robber chieftain led. Soon ’neath their blows the portal fell; The fierce banditti with a yell On through the archway tread; With cries of treasure and of blood Through hall and chamber on they trod. And terror round them spread. The robber chieftain to the hall, Where late the feast was set, Advanced, and in the doorway tall Rondello’s lord he met. With giant strength upon the floor He hurled him, and with blazing eye He cried: “Ha stripling hunter, now Thy treasure yield or die!” “No, never robbing dog!” “Then feel The bandit chief’s unerring steel.” But ere the dagger fell—“Forbear And follow me; your wish lies there.” The robber turned and saw the maid Sweet Doretha, with candle held Within her lily hand. “What proof [page 22] Have I?” the daring robber cried. “The proof of blood,” the maid replied; “Thou art my brother, and beside My life is at thy will.” “Pass on, but still remember, maid, Though thou my sister art, this blade Thy traitor blood shall spill.” She led him to a stair of stone, And up its winding length they’ve gone; The cobwebs hung their grimy dust, The bats flew by with every gust Blown through the loop-holed wall; Yet onward still their way they made Till on the battlements they stayed, Where the cold moon with silver ray Kissed castle, crag and mountain gray. “And see, Lartando,” cried the maid, “That moving object in the shade Of yonder crag.” He turned his sight And trod three paces to the edge Of the high battlements steep ledge, When quick beside her feet she dashed The candle, and with sudden push She hurled him from the lofty brow Of the high wall. The stones below Received his form with sickening rush And crushed and torn, his life’s warm blood In pools upon the court-yard stood. But draw the veil, for many a year The flowers have waved above her tomb [page 23] And still at eve in many a vale The peasant oft repeats the tale That tells the outlaws doom; And how the maid one Christmas tide Became Rondello’s lovely bride.
A STRANGE TALE OF LOVE.
Put on the mask of jollity, oh muse, And let thy smile extend from ear to ear; For so each reader will my verse abuse; But if thou smilest, I’ll deride their jeer; For if the muse shall smile there is no harm in All others smiling at my simple carmen. Within a certain town, no matter where, Upon a time that’s past all finding out, There dwelt a lusty ancient widower, Three score a ten or somewhere thereabout, Who, having led a single life for years Fell, saith the phrase, in love head over ears. One son this reverend patriarch possessed, Some five and forty were the years he owned; Once with a loving wife he had been blest; But now for years her loss had deeply moaned, For she had died and left his life to be Lonely, besides a son just ten and three. [page 24] The time of which I write had brought him years Just one-and-twenty and a little over, When lo! he found (I write it through my tears) His widowed father had become a lover; With many sighs he moaned his abject lot, And almost wished he’d long ago been shot. But then he made resolve to be a man; His sobs, and sighs, and tears he’d quickly smother; Then, oh! the strangest since the world began! He lost his heart just as he found another; Thus oft in case of poisoning doctors give A stronger poison, and the patients live. Miss Jessie Smith, a name mayhap you’ve heard, (The Smith, I mean), had cast a glamour o’er him, Since first he met her, and ’tis not absurd To say that cruel Cupid rent and tore him; These are the cruel words he spoke, “Well, I declare! My heart gets crazy when I think of her.” One summer evening in the cozy parlor Of old John Smith, the lovers sat and talked;— He who would frown at this I call a snarl or Perhaps something worse, for love will not be balked; Love laughs at locksmiths, so the poet says, But John Smith laughed at love he thought of youthful days. [page 25] A word was trembling on the lover’s lip. But yet he spoke not, though he blushed and stammered, While Jessie thought, “Why don’t he let it slip, For such a man deserves to be well hammered.” But he at last gained courage from her look, And thus with beating heart the word he took: “Terrestrial Angel—will you be my bride?” For thus he ended not as he began; But she, quite unabashed, right soon replied: “Of course I will; if you had been a man You’d asked me sooner.” “Hip-hurrah!” he said, “This earth is heaven since with you I’ll wed.” Then both were silent; but at length she spoke: “Oh! Henry Jones, I’ve something strange to say, Your father comes to court me”—“Well, I’m broke,” Said he; “but stranger still,” without delay She said “Your grandpa, too, has oft been here, Now let us put a trick upon the pair.” “Your father’s name is Henry, as you know, And Henry is the name your grandsire bears, That makes three Henry Joneses here below; So on the evening when each one appears To ask my hand, I’ll tell him just for mirth That Henry Jones I’ll wed, none else upon the earth.” [page 26] “A good joke truly,” said the wicked son; “So you’re the maid that all have come to see; Just serves them right, ha! ha! ’twill be such fun; But now ’tis late; one kiss, sweet one, for me. Oh! speed the tenth of June, the happy day When all my troubles will have passed away.” Another eve has come. The father lover Has asked the youthful maiden for his bride; “To Henry Jones my heart is gone forever, None else on earth shall wed me,” Jessie cried. “Oh! name the day;” “the tenth of June,” said she, “Farewell, oh! may the days more swiftly flee.” And now the grandsire and the maid are met; “Be mine,” said he, “be mine forever more.” “Oh! none but Henry Jones my heart shall get,” Said she, “and him alone will I adore; The day the tenth of June,” when he did hear, For joy he danced a hornpipe then and there. Of this most cruel joke quite innocent, The elder lovers made due preparation, And divers bundles to the tailor sent, Each hiding from the other’s observation, Unknowing that, though strange the case may be, The same young maiden was beloved by three. [page 27] The day arrived; the sire and grandsire hurried From different parts, each hiding from the other, And to escape detection was much worried, And caused themselves unnecessary bother; But cares, howe’er so great, must have an ending, So both within the church their way are wending. And there they saw—oh! furies, death and rage, Their destined bride beside another person, The son of one, the grandson of the sage; Both stool confounded, and then rose a curse on The lips of both, but soon it died away As “I pronounce them one” the minister did say. Then shouted out the father, irritated Beyond all measure: “Ha! you prying rascal, You’ve stolen my bride; you’ll be incarcerated For life in prison; and you, hateful mask all, I’ll sue for breach of—.” Then the grandsire roared: “I’ll have you all imprisoned by the Lord.” “She’s mine, she promised to be mine forever;” “She’s not, you mean old fraud,” the father yelled; “She’s mine, I’ll never give her up, no, never; I’ll have that youthful rascal straight expelled The country; burn the church above his head.” You’re worse than he,” the angry grandsire said. [page 28] The uproar ceased; and then the bride began: “’Twas a joke, and both are well deceived; I said I’d marry Henry Jones; the man Is here”—she pointed to her lord. Believed By all the funny story was, and both The elder lovers parted with an oath.
They were standing in, the gloaming Close beside the heaving sea, And the billows ever foaming Sang of immortality. In the distance faintly gleaming, Sail the stately vessels past, As huge sea-gulls onward streaming, Out their snowy pinions cast. As the billows onward fleeting Gently laved the sandy beach, In their bosom’s rapid beating Moves the gentle heart of each. “Darling,” said the gallant lover, “Ere yon sun shall kiss the east, Sails my ship yon ocean over Borne upon her heaving breast. Would’st thou weep if ought befell me? Would thy heart-strings feel the pain? Would thy memory e’er recall me should I ne’er return again? [page 29] Cease, Clarissa, cease thy weeping, Dim not those bright eyes with tears! Be thy trouble ever sleeping Wake not into life thy fears.” They have parted—sad the parting; Now he’s on the swelling wave, And Clarissa, lone and lovely, Waits in vain for Albert brave. Two long years are past and over— Two long years of grief and pain, But, alas! her sailor lover To her ne’er returned again. When the sun was brightly shining, On the beach one summer day, Where her lover from her parted, Fair Clarissa chanced to stray. On the waves her eyes were gazing, When upon a billow’s crest Sailed a bottle swiftly forward, And beside her feet did rest. “Omen strange,” she gently whispered, “Tell me, dost thou bear to me News of him, my darling Albert, From far climes beyond the sea?” Soon her lily hand hath grasped it, Then within it lo! her eye Sees a scroll all neatly folded, By the waves untouched and dry. [page 30] Trembling now she hath unrolled it, And her swimming sight can see; “We are sinking in mid-ocean, Jesus help us! Albert Lee.” Six long months this scroll had floated, As the figures said above, “He is drowned,” she hoarsely whispered, “Rolls the ocean o’er my love; I am weary, dizzy, fainting, I must sleep though yet ’tis day.” While she slept a glittering angel Came and bore her soul away.
THE WANDERING JEW.
I’ve prayed for death, but God hears not my prayer; I’ve longed for death, but death comes not to me; I’ve sought out death, but death flies from me ever. And for the forgetfulness, I’ve prayed, and sought, And longed, until despair has half avenged My more than cursed lot. In desert wilds When nought but nature (dear to me no more) Shows but in blasted forms; o’er mountains rude, Snow capped and reaching to the very stars,— While down their sides the mighty torrents flow And madly falling with a hideous roar Seeming to shake the world, I’ve wandered there. In lonely isles I’ve dwelt where the fierce sea [page 31] All foaming white comes thundering on the shore As angry at the very sight of me; O’er oceans, continents, o’er lakes and isles, From lands of sunset to the rising sun, And where ’mong northern icebergs, the bright eye Of heaven sails around the Nadir’s line For six long months, to where his southern beam Gives equal day, I’ve wandered, oh! how oft. Then from the lonely desert solitudes My way was taken; and in cities long I’ve dwelt ’mong men and followed their pursuits. But all in vain! in vain! my memory still Is filled with pictures of the cursed past That rise and overwhelm it; and they live As clear as when the Savior bore His Cross Tho’ faint and bleeding to the fatal hill. Panting and slow along the street He passed, The angry rabble howling all around, Until He came before my lowly door; Then stopping weak and faint, He cast His eyes So full of suffering on my face and said: “Brother, may I but rest beside your door? My cross is heavy and the way is long; Thy God will sure reward thee.” His low voice Had into tears disolved a stone, but my Inhuman heart was harder far than that, So with my hammer on The shoulder bare I smote Him and I cried: “Pass on to death.” Then gazing on me with the same pale face He said: “Pass thou until I come again.” I left my tools and with the surging crowd [page 32] I saw Him crucified when the earth shook And darkness came upon the face of day. Then forth I wandered never to meet death. How oft I’ve sought Him! In the angry waves I’ve leaped, but the dark waters heaved me soon Upon the shore again and would not be Corrupted with my body; in the flames I’ve cast me, but the fire harmed me not, Its power gone; and when the Roman wrath Poured like a storm on doomed Jerusalem, I bowed my neck beneath the falling axe Which passed and left me scatheless. Then I joined The Roman ranks against my countrymen; Then gave them my captivity, that I Might as a traitor meet a traitor’s doom; But they forgave me, God! to such as I Say what forgiveness holy? Nay! ’twas not. Then when the iron warriors of the west Came to reclaim the Holy Savior’s tomb, Where the grim fight raged fiercest, to the blow I bent my form; but even there that death, So dark to others, but so bright to me, Came not; and though I’ve sought in every form To meet Him for a near two thousand years, Still I cannot; but when the time shall come When Christ, descending through the azure sky By Angel choirs attended, brings with Him Millennial brightness, shall I wander on Hoping and praying for that glorious day.
The only excuse I have for writing on such a world-known subject as this is the strong impression made upon me when reading the old ballad in “Percy’s Reliques.” [page 33]
THE POLLIO OF VIRGIL RENDERED INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
Sicilian muses to diviner strains Inspire my song. The humble Tamarisk groves Please not for all, and though the sylvan theme Still numbers claim allow my verse to be Fit for a consul’s hearing. Comes the age— The latest age told by Cumean song, When the great order of the rolling years Begins anew. The virgin Justice comes. Old Saturn reigns once more, and from the skies Another race descends. Lucina pure, Prosper the infant’s birth, with whom this age Of iron terminates, and o’er the earth A golden time begins—thy Phoebus reigns. In thine, O Pollio, thy consulship, This age begins, the glorious months go forth; Beneath thy leadership each trace of crime Waits powerless and frees the land from dread. This offspring of the gods shall live like them And see divinely and with godlike souls Shall intermix, and all the peaceful world Shall with his father’s wisdom rule forever, To thee, O boy, the earth her earliest gifts Spontaneous pours; the ivy’s twining wreath, The sweet Acanthus, and all flowers that bloom. [page 34] The goats undriven to their homes shall bring Udders with milk o’erflowing, and the herds Fear not the lion fierce. For thee, O boy, The flowers spring thy fragrant cradle round; The serpents die, the poisonous plants expire, The Asyrian Pride shall blossom everywhere. Yet still thou mayest praise ancestral deeds. But, when thou knowest valour and shall hear Of heroes, then the uncultivated field Shall gleam as gold with yellow ears of corn; The blushing grape shall hang from every briar; And dewy honey from the oak distil. But yet some vestiges of ancient fraud Shall still remain; still some with restless oar Shall tempt the sea, and some with mighty walls Great cities fence, and some furrow bid To cleave the fertile earth; another Typhus’ hand Shall steer another Argo o’er the sea, Bearing her chosen heroes, other wars Arise, a great Achilles shall again Go forth to strive against another Troy. But when the years have brought thee manhood’s strength, the trader shall desert the sea; no more The sailor pine exchangeth distant wares, For every land shall bring forth every fruit The ground receive no hoe; the growing vine Know not the pruning blade; and from the yoke The sturdy farmer free the o’erlaboured ox. The wool no longer learnt to feign false hues, The ram himself in verdant pastures fed [page 35] Shall give his fleece a red and purple hue, Then change to gold and scarlet, and the lambs Glow with vermillion: thus the Fates concurring In the fixed wheel of Destiny, have said Unto their spindles, “On such ages run”. Claim, O beloved offspring of the gods And seed of Jesus, thy mighty honors now, For the great time is near. Behold the world With convex mass is swaying to and fro, And all the earth, the oceans broad expanse, The lofty heavens and all things besides Joy at thy coming with the sons of man: If life exist to me until that time, And inspiration in my breast remain, How shall my song dilate upon thy deeds! Not Thracian Orpheus could o’ercome me then, Nor Linus, though the parents aid their strains— The first Calliope, the last Apollo. E’en in acadia though with Pan I strove, His own Arcadia gives the palm to me. Begin, O infant, with thy smile to please Thy happy mother, when the months shall bring Thy form to light, which parent ne’er shall nurse Nor god shall love, nor goddess entertain. [page 36]
(Extempore on reading a description of the Battle of Hastings.)
In cloudless skies the summer sun went down, Yet waged the desperate fight for England’s crown; And as he slowly sank to rest, it seems That England’s hope fell with his dying beams; And when the night had veiled the field of dead, The Island Crown did grace the Norman’s head.
THE OPENING LINES OF ILLIAD.
The wrath destructive of Achilles sing, Oh, heavenly goddess!—wrath that to the Greeks Brought woes unnumbered, and to Hades hurled The valiant soul of many a hero down; But to the dogs and gorging vultures gave Their bodies on the shore (accomplishing Jove’s will). What time Atrides, king of men, And brave Achilles first contending, wrought Dire discord. What thousands have trod o’er the pathway of life And left not a foot-print behind! What thousands have sunk in the billows of strife And bequeathed not a thought to mankind!
Those happy days are past; Their sunlight falls but now O’er scenes, where fancy bright Plays round sweet memory’s brow. [page 37]
TO THE FIRST ROBIN.
How thy liquid notes are swelling, Bidding us to learn, Thou art from thy southern dwelling Joying thy return! Thrice we welcome thee, sweet singer, To thine ancient home again; Music floats around, above thee, Summer follows in thy train.
ON THE HEROES OF THERMOPYLAE.
How glorious is the fate, how fair the doom, Of those who die in famed Thermopylæ; Their graves are altars, and for tears they bear An endless fame; their dirge a chant of praise. Such winding sheet as theirs, nor rust, nor time Shall bring to naught, and on their sepulchres The fame of Hellas has her temple built, To witness which Leonidas hath left A crown of valor and a name undying. The present state of Art and Man Hath naught to do with me; I love to tread the solemn halls Of dim Antiquity. [page 38]
Some count their wealth in coin and land, In houses, sheep and kine; But wiser far I count my wealth In the love of my Caroline. Her smile is worth a thousand pounds, And lordly mansions nine; But the gift of a world could ne’er repay The kiss of my Caroline.
Blind to the outer world and only saw Himself, and on the same mean subject though At all times and the theme of all his words.
EPITAPHS AND EPIGRAMS.
He lied in the chamber, He lied in the hall, He lied at the council, He lied at the pall, He lied to the noble, He lied to the knave, He lied all his life, And lies still in the grave. [page 39]
Here lies a man who far from his home, And from his own fireside never did roam; But at last having died, his sins being forgiven, The first journey he took was his journey to heaven.
A USELESS PERSON
Beneath this pleasant grassy mound There lies a wretched sinner, Who while on earth a use ne’er found, Nor makes the work a dinner.
Thro’ life my last received the sole; Alas! but life is passed; My pegging blows fell hard until My soul received the last.
ON A POET.
Here lies a youth while in his pride Fierce Pegasus he did bestride; But the fiery steed he could not check, So he soon fell off and broke his neck. [page 40]
ON A GREAT MAN
The God-like form, once great, lies low, Its powers all are wasted; And the mighty brain that moved the world The loathsome worms have tasted.
ANSWER TO A LADY.
WHO PLAYFULLY ASKED THE AUTHOR “WHERE IS PARADISE?”
“Oh, tell me where is Paradise?” The smiling maiden said; “That's easy,” I replied; “Why, ’tis Where'er thou art sweet maid.”
We render thanks for this good beef That gives us all our dinners, And may such blessings ever fall Upon this crowd of sinners.
When man from the clay first was formed His happiness seemed superhuman; God said; “Lest his joy give him pride, I'll mar it;” and so he made woman. [page 41]
ODE ON THE DEATH OF JOHN B. FINCH,
THE FAMOUS TEMPERANCE ADVOCATE, DIED OCT., 1887.
How the mighty are fallen; our leader lies cold As the clay that encircles his form; Like an Atlas he fell, who the world did uphold Unmoved by its sunshine or storm. He has toiled, he has suffered, our case to proclaim O’er the passions and hearts of mankind; But his sun now in glory has set, yet his name Like a beacon still lingers behind. Whose light shall direct to that glorious goal Our cause, when in triumph we'll sing: “Intemperance has fallen; the inebriate's soul Is saved, and fair Temperance is king.” Oh, brother, with spirit as broad as the earth, And with sympathies deep as the sea, Mankind knows thy heart for its goodness and worth, And in sorrow are weeping for thee. Though thy spirit now soars to that glorious land Where the throne of the Eternal is set, And thy voice now is heard in that heavenly band, May thy spirit watch over us yet. [page 42] And when our cause triumphs, engaged for the right, Which it shall, though the time may be long, May the Angelic choir their voices unite To join in our triumphing song. When the names are emblazoned of heroes who fought To accomplish intemperance, fall, Let there be for our love without one ’posing thought, The name of Finch placed above all?
FAREWELL TO THE SCHOOL.
READ ON THE AUTHOR’S LAST DAY AT THE PUBLIC SCHOOL.
Farewell to the school where in childhood’s bright hour I first did embark on this ocean of life, Where the fair sunlight falls, and the dark storming clouds lower, And joy intermingles with sorrow and strife. What changes has time, in my short recollection, Wrought o’er each remembrance to me now so dear; How pleasant those scenes now, once viewed with dejection! How often I wish that once more they were here! [page 43] But the ills of the schoolboy, so numerous and trying, Have passed like a dream with the years vanished long; But their memories return each new pleasure descrying, Like the pleasing impression of some vanished song. Some youthful companions, alas! now are sleeping Forever within their cold shroud, the dull clay; One, breathed forth his spirit where billows are keeping Their songs ringing loudly in yon sunny bay. Oh! scenes, now departed, departed for ever, A long, sad farewell to thy dear vanished forms; And time, as I sail down thy dark rolling river, Those memories return as a sunburst in storms.
ODE TO THE DEATH OF L.L. DAVISON.
Cold, cold he is sleeping; the flowers shall grow From the earth where in silence and darkness below His form is forever reposing The summer shall smile and the autumn winds sigh, And the fierce blasts of winter sweep freezingly by, But no change to Leslie disclosing. [page 44] Oh! ’tis sad that the young and the pure and the fair Must be pierced like the blackest by Death’s cruel spear, To ashes and dust back returning; But God has decreed the dominion of death To extend over all that existeth by breath, And end all their passionate yearning. A rose from our garland has fallen, not torn By a blast of the whirlwind and sudden uptorn On the wings of the tempest ascending; But fading and fading as slowly each day As the gold from the cloud slowly fadeth away, When day to her sister is bending.
DEUCE TAKE OLD TIME.
Deuce take old time! how fast he flies! His coat-tails slip my fingers; Why can't he be a gentleman Of leisure where he lingers? Why can't he stop and take a nap, And cease his hours flying; His naughty boys, the minutes, too The lightning's speed defying? Why can't he let a person rest. Not keep him from always trying, And frown upon him all his life, Then smile to see him dying. Why can't he leave our heads alone. [page 45] Not always keep a-tearing, Until he leaves no hair at all, Or else ’tis gray we’re wearing? Why don’t he let our bodies be, Become a little civilled, Not throw them here and throw them there, Then leave them parched and shrivelled? Why can't he let our limbs be strong, Our hand for work ne’er falling, Not sap our blood, then leave us here Our fallen strength bewailing?
TRANSLATED FROM THE SCANDINAVIAN EDDA.
Trembles Igdrasil’s oak, Groaning while standing, Loke is loosed! And on the ways of Hel, Groan the dark shadows Till burnt is the tree By the fire of Surt. Rhym from the east comes, Rise the black waters, And coiled in his Jotun rage, Glares the earth-girdling snake Into white foam the while, Lashing the water. Loud screams the eagle, [page 46] Tearing the carcasses, Nag-far sails forward. Surt from the south comes With flames of destruction, And from his sword, shines The sun of the Val God. Dashed are the stony hills Fiercely together, Totters each giantess. Men tread the path to Hell, Heaven is cloven; Dark grows the sun, the earth Sinks in the ocean And from the high heaven, Falls every bright star; While the all-nourishing tree, Fire beneath assails, And rising high from earth Flames ’gainst the heavens.
He who would fain attain to greatness, must Attempt great things. Not wish to be among The glorious stars and grovel in the dust. Let thy whole thought and effort urge thee on, Be every act a step upon the way To that desired goal; and not as he Who fain would yonder lordly mountain climb, Spends his time toiling up the puny hills Raised by the industry of swarming ants. [page 47] Kind deeds and words though small have never yet, Though thrown at random, failed to reach some mark, However aimless sent; and as a seed Thrown by the wayside in a careless mood, Hath grown into goodly tree, which bends Laden with fruit delightful to the taste Which now we pluck with joy we reap The gathered blessing.
Did’st e’er attempt at highest noon To gaze upon the glorious sun? Thy sight is blasted ere his orb By keenest vision can be won. And thus whene’er I fain would sing Of beauteous Stella, lo! my mind Doth dwell in awe upon the theme And equal words I cannot find. Though all the world were sleeping cold But thee, and thou art near to me, I'd miss thee not, but live in joy, My hope, my joy, my life, in thee. [page 48]
THE GREATEST JOY
A gaysome throng of youths and maids With farmer Green and wife, sat round The old oak-tree, the young all mirth, The old folks listening to its sound. When Jessie, brightest of the throng, Said: “Let us cease our mirth and say In turn, what gives us most delight Of all things that make us gay; I think a dance.” Then Annie cried (Annie most gentle maid of all): “Why mamma’s praise for what I do For me the greatest far I call.” “A swing,” said May; “A horse,” cried John; “Give me,” cried Doll, “a flower pot;” But Albert looked at Fan and blushed, Then bowed his head and answered not. “Now farmer Green,” they all did cry, “Tell what most pleases you.” “’Tis this,” He answered, and with loving grace He gave his aged wife—a kiss. [page 49]
FROM ILLIAD, BOOK I.
Praying he spoke; and Phœbus heard his prayer; Then from Olympus’ lofty heights he came, Enraged in heart. Upon his shoulders hung His bow and mighty quiver; as he moved, Rattled the arrows of the god enraged. Like to the night he came; then from the ships Apart he sat, and hurled a dreadful shaft Amid them, and the fatal silver bow Clanged terrible. First on the mules and dogs He shed, then man received his deadly bolt, And frequent funeral fires were blazing round.
ON THE FIRST SNOWSTORM
The cold wind blows, The wintry snows Around our path are flying. No more is seen In robes of green The landscape round us lying. The naked trees Sway to the breeze For their lost glorious sighing. The birds that sung The groves among, To southern climes are flying. [page 50]
HORACE. BOOK I. ODE IV.
Loosed is the winter so keen, by the genial spring and the west wind, Again the vessels tempt the bounding billows. No longer the flocks now enjoy their stalls; nor the farmer his fire. Dressed now in white no longer gleam the meadows. Cytherean Venus now leads forth the dance ’neath the moon o'erhanging. And the sweet nymphs have joined the beauteous Graces. Shaking with alternate foot the earth, while the fiery Vulcan The flames rekindles in Cyclopian forges. Becoming the shining head be adorned with green garlands of myrtle. Or every flower which the frigid earth beareth. Becoming in shady groves to Faunus us a sacrifice offered, A lamb or tender kid if he desire. Pale death with equal foot now knocks at the hut of the pauper And monarch’s palace. Oh, most happy Sestus, Short is the span of our life that forbids us on long hopes relying; Soon, night shall claim thee and the fabled Manes And Pluto’s most dreary domain; when as soon as thou shalt have arrived. [page 51] None choose the die for the sweet flowing nectar. Nor Lycidas wilt thou admire—for whom all the youth’s burn with love now, And soon the virgins be enamoured of him.
Light glides our boat o’er the bounding bay, Blithely the boatman sings; For his arms are strong and his heart is gay As the spray from the oar he flings. Soft falls the twilight, the sun’s going down, The sea gulls are flown to their nest; Yon mountain stands out, there is gold on his crown, While darkness envelopes his breast. Soft o’er the billows the song ringeth clear, Oh! sweet ’tis to glide through the foam, And think of the faces of kindred so dear That smile as they welcome us home. CHORUS— Then row for the darkness is coming apace, The night rises up from the east; While the stars peep out from the depths of space, And the day of toil has ceased. [page 52]
BE PROUD, YE LORDLINGS.
ON THE PREVAILING PRIDE OF DRESS.
Be proud ye lordlings and look down Upon your fellow-man! Know not thy mother’s son if he Be in the bonds of poverty Or ’neath the social ban. If e’er thou meetest, one whose coat Is not as new as thine, Let scorn be in thy lordly eye, And pass that man unheeded by A blot in God’s design. Or if thou meetest one who toils To earn his daily bread, Regard him as a low-born knave; Not fit to fill a decent grave, Nor on the earth to tread. See yonder poor but honest man Along the highway toil! Move quick! or else his homespun grey May touch your garments bright and gay, And straight their beauty soil. The scriptures say John Baptist's robe Of camel’s hair was made; Ye deem it strange the Hebrews then Like you mine honored brother man Should mock him when he prayed? [page 53] And Christ, the Savior of mankind, Nor silks nor jewels knew, But humble was His garb and fare For gods to eat, for gods to wear, But not for such as you. So when I meet a man whose pride Swells, on his robes to gaze, That tale upon my mind will press The jackdaw in the peacock’s dress Found scorn while seeking praise.
THE PRISONER OF THE BASTILLE.
“Oh! take me back to yonder living tomb! My soul is bursting with the light of heaven! So long my years have passed in utter gloom, My thanks I give not for this freedom given, I yearn once more in yonder prison dim To end my life; a few short fleeting hours: Within those walls grown aged has each limb, And welcome o’er my path death’s shadow lowers. Full thirty years have passed since yonder walls Enclosed me from this outer world of light, As in a living tomb; whose gloom apalls The blithest spirit filled with earth’s delight. [page 54] The glow of youth was then upon my brow, Elastic was my step, my spirit saw Nothing but joy; no sorrow came as now Till fell that mandate of tyrannie law. My bride of but one day! Oh God! cane’er My soul forget the parting look she gave? Which seemed to say, “Naught’s left us but despair, Soon shall I sink within the silent grave.” They tore her from my arms, and dragged me forth Within ruffian hands, to yonder loathsome cell; My brain seemed dust; oh then was welcome death, How welcome then no human tongue can tell. Three days thus passed, it seemed as in a dream; I lay exhausted, loaded down with care, No mortal face I saw, no golden gleam Of sunlight came to pierce the darkness there. Oh God! pent in these gloomy walls of stone For long years thirty and my dwelling now! Oh! take me back to rest once more alone, And heaven's blessing rest upon thy brow.” They led him back into his narrow cell; Feeble his step and labouring was his breath; And with a joy no human lips can tell He shuddering sank clasped in the arms of death. [page 55]
ODE TO THE MOON.
[The following was written at the age of fourteen, and was printed in the Acadian.]
All heavenly moon, refulgent lamp of night, Softly thou shinest over land and sea, The whole earth gladdening with thy glorious light, As in thy course thousrollest silently. Bright is thy face, as when the Creator’s word From darkest chaos bade thy form appear, And on earth thy lovely beams first poured, In heaven placed a new born rolling sphere. When first the flowers came forth to bless the light, And man first trod upon this earthly mould; When evening came, rejoiced he at the sight, To see thee rise from out where ocean rolled. When sinks the sun behind the western hills, And rests the day, her labours all are done, The place of fiery Sol thy radiance fills, And bright thy beams o’er the earth and sea are thrown. Thou art the image of God's lasting word, And like His word shall last till time is o’er, And th’trumpet’s call for judgement shall be heard, And earth, and heaven and man shall be no more. [page 56]
A SUMMER SUNSET
The clouds drawn out in slender threads of gold Or piled in banks of deeper jasper, tinged With purple fire, turned sunset to a smile Which else were gloom, and made the farewell seem Fair as the greeting of the blushing morn. Then lost the clouds their brilliant tints, then changed Into a sullen grey. And the fair jasper then Lost its purpureal blush and sudden grew A mass of dreary vapour, floating wide Like some dim phantom on the soulless air. Then fades a dream; when in our slumber deep We dream of beauty and of happiness, And of fair fields wherein are golden fruits Embalmed in crystal dew and tended by A band of angels clad in rainbow hues; And ’neath the cooling shades, fair crystal streams, Flowing o’er beds of amber, gaily sing Hymns that none but angel choirs produce, And timing chorus to the birds o’erhead; Then, as thou seemest to see far brighter fields. And hear a sweeter-chorus, lo! thy dream Vanished; and the glories pass away, Leaving the stern reality. Thus fades The dying glory of the sinking sun, Leaving the gold and blood-red jasper all Change to dull gray: and o’er both earth and sky Come the sad gloaming; then in silent train [page 57] But one by one the stars come peeping forth. “Those thousand lamps of heaven,” and make the sky Gleam like a crown with jewels studded o’er. Then in the pause while twinkling out their rays, The stars now busy, in the east appears A sudden light, and the majestic moon Rose crowded in splendor, and in royal state Rode over all, the heavenly Queen of Night.
[The following song and scene belong to an unprinted poem called the Lovers of Mysore.]
The lightning is flashing, The thunder it roars; And fierce waves are dashing On surf-beaten shores, The ocean is rolling Its billows along, But our might is controlling Their death-teaching song. The hoarse winds are sweeping From yon sable clouds And mortals are weeping O’er friends in their shrouds. Great Brahma we fear not, His might we defy, His menials they dare not, Our dwelling come nigh, [page 58] Come cast our spell over Young Azim, our foe, And Myrza his lover Shall view him with woe.
MYRZA’S SONG, WITH SCENE.
The scene is changed; the dying ray Of sunlight tells of fading day; The earth with heavenly beauty fills Ere yet he touched the western hills. His slanting rays of burnished gold Cast lengthened shadows o’er the wold, And, stealing soft the leaves between Of statley palms that flourished green, Like molten drops of gold they fell Upon a cottage, shaded well. While scenting all the listless air, Grew many a flower of beauty rare. But on those flowerets reclined One lovelier than all combined, When first thine eyes behold her there, She seemed not of this earthly sphere. But seemed as come from Brahma’s shrine— A goddess; face and form divine. She listless lay, her fairy lute Lay by her side, as if to mute To breath the things she longed to say, To wait her absent lover’s stay. So the dim forest glades along Re-echoed faint her plaintive song. [page 59]
When shall we happy be By my love’s blessing? When shall he come to me Sweetly caressing? When shall these stormy days Part and forever? When shall life’s brighter rays Come parting never?
I CAUGHT A PRETTY BRID CALLED LOVE.
I caught a pretty bird called Love, And thought it a harmless plaything; So sweet it seemed to dote upon, It gave my soul a dayspring. And so to keep it from the cold, (Of cold it could bear “naething”) I placed it in my bosom warm; Alas! the harmless plaything! For suddenly with steely claws It rent my heart, that gay thing, And thus that pretty bird to me Proved not a harmless plaything. [page 60]
THE FLOWERS THAT GREW ON MOTHER’S GRAVE.
WRITTEN AT THE REQUEST OF A FRIEND.
A clustered wreath of daisies white Within my hand I lightly hold; The simplest flowers kissed by the light, More sweet than Ophir's wealth of gold. Beside my path bedlocked with smiles, The rose and lily sweetly wave; But fairer far those daisies seem; The flowers that grew on mother’s grave. Oh! simple flower, that in the field, Or by the brooklet loves to bloom, Oh! fair and joyous is thy face, Though thou didst blossom on the tomb. I love thee as the light of day— Not for thy smiles the storms that brave— So full of beauty, but because Ye grew on mother’s lonely grave. While on this earth she loved your forms And many a garland hath she wove, And on her breast we laid the last, Her now cold silent heart above. She loved your simple form, and you Mayhap, returned the love she gave, And still, as guardians of her dust, Ye grew upon her lonely grave. [page 61]
[In memory of Aubrey H. Jones, who was drowned in Minas Basin in August of the year 1885. He and the author were classmates in the public school of Wolfville for four years, and were always firm friends.]
Why pensive by the babbling brook dost thou, Cerinthus, thus reclining, sob and moan, With thy dark eyes, so wont to gleam with joy, Blinded by tears? Hath some sweet nymph deceived Thee loving, and with cruel strokes abused Thy heart given to her keeping? Or hast thou A tender lamb torn by the wolves that howl Nightly around our fold? Rise! dry thy tears! See! lo! thy flock has wandered to the hills Raft of thy care, where haply dangers lurk.
Amyntas, Oh Amyntas, stifling sobs Do choke the words that tell thee of my grief. Alas! my eyes so wont to glow with joy Shall ne’er again be dry; but no sweet nymph Deceiving, neither lamb by wolves devoured Has torn away the flood-gates of my tears. O let my flocks be strayed, for ne’er again Shall I them gather on the verdant meads, And with my tuneful reed fill up the hours Else vacant, till the ear of Phoebus sink In western seas, and leave the gentle shade, For oh! sad time, loved Lyeidas is dead. [page 62]
Dead! Didst thou say? What! Lyeidas is dead! Why yester eve I saw him by this brook Piping his rural lay; all unawares I came and stood beside him ere he knew, And, when he saw me, he did grasp my hand And said; “Amyntas, overjoyed am I To meet thee here; the morrow eve do thou And loved Cerinthus, when the folds receive Their fleecy dwellers, come and gather here. And we will play upon the tuneful reed, And sing our songs for mutual delight, While verdant hills re-echo back our strains.” Then we did part; and coldly now he sleeps Forever! Say, Gerinthus, how he died.
The task is hard, Amyntas, and my tears In greater floods rush forth when I would speak. Wo worth the time when e’er a god conceived A jealousy for youths of godlike mould, And sought out their destruction! Lycidas, As well thou knowest, was of manly form And nature gentle. Neptune,— whom the floods Obey, sole ruler, filled with strong desire To place the youth within his court and wed Some lovely Nereid to him, on a morn,— A summer morn before the early sun Had dried the tear drops which a night the flowers Had shed in sorrow for the parted day,— [page 63] Made all his waves with scintillating light Quiver and playfully cross the shore, Inviting Lycid as he passed that way To bathe his limbs within the azure wave. Long Lycid stood him by the bank and gazed Upon the curling ripples as they kissed His snowy feet: then tempted by the sight He cast his robes aside and inward plunged. When, oh! dread time, how many my tongue relate? The hoary god in triumph seized and drew Our dearest comrade to his watery home, While slowly o’er his head the billows rolled, Changing to tears at this most cruel deed.
Cerinthus, whilst thou spoke, it seemed a voice Said to me: “Weep no more, for Lycid treads Elysian fields of ever-blooming flowers, Happy with spirits that have gone before!”
In vain, Amyntas, never may my heart Assuage its sorrow; never shall my eyes View with delight the brooklet, plain and hill, For all the world is dark since Friendship’s lamp Is quenched by the icy hand of Death. Oh, Death, thou art the measure of our love. [page 64]
Why, O Canadian bards, for themes pursue The annals of a foreign race and shore? Why sing the glories to the stranger due, And thine own land’s immortal deeds ignore? Hath she no names that in the ranks of war Heroic proved and wrapped in glory fell? Amid the dying groan and battle roar That shook the land, can none a story tell Of valor proved, none raise the harps heroic swell? Seek not that annals of a foreign land; Search through the page historic of thine own; There themes for poet meet on every hand Lie all unsung; and heroes, now unknown, Await the rising of the minstrel tone To give to them that immortality O’er valour by poetic numbers thrown; And though the deed be all unmeet for me, Still Canada, will I sing thine own Thermopylæ. Eastward the sun his shadows flung, Though high in heaven his orb still hung, And made the landscape glow, Where, girdled by her forest pall, Arose the town of Montreal Two hundred years ago. [page 65] That day upon the village street An eager group was met, And woful tidings filled the ear, That made the boldest quake with fear; Pale cheeks and pallid lips were there, And eyes with sorrow wet. For ’mid the throng a hunter told Twelve hundred red men fierce and bold Advanced, who deeply swore That every town should sink in flame, And all who bore the Frankish name Should tread the earth no more. Nor seven suns with glowing ray Should light the orient fires of day, Ere many a swift canoe would chide, Dark Ottawa, thy mighty tide, Bearing the forest chieftains down To ravage Mary’s secret town. This news in Champlain’s city late, Showing the future big with fate, Told, writhing in the fires of death, The dying Wolfe with latest breath. The message ended, from the throng A youth of active form and strong, Whose manly looks revealed his worth, Clad in a martial garb stepped forth. Within his breast the patriot ire Kindled his dark eyes slumbering fire, And as in clarion tones he spoke, No other voice the silence broke. [page 66] “My countrymen, you all have heard,” He said, “this warnings timely word, Nor yet alone this message tells The future great with horror swells. A comet blazing in the sky Portending death and ruin nigh. Through liquid air a flaming bark Careers along, an omen dark, And mighty voices echoing loud As thunder from the rolling cloud, Bursting the silence of the sky Mortals destruction cowers nigh.’ Thus God above and man below Have warned you of the coming foe. Now shall ye tamely stand and see All perish that are dear to thee? Your sons go down beneath the blow Of savage blade: your dwellings low In ashes sink, your daughters, wives, Condemned to live thrice cursed lives? Frenchmen? and will ye now behold A foe’s approach nor yet be bold? Kindle anew your martial fires, And emulate your valiant sires. Who? who? will follow me to save Our land or win a hero’s grave? The time draws near, the Mohawk foe Is nigh; let him who fears to go, Scorned by the valiant and the free. Sink to a dark eternity; [page 67] While saints before the gate of heaven Welcome the soul for country given.” He ceased, and o’er the listening crowd Fell silence as of death. Mute every tongue, awed every heart, And bated every breath. Then rose a shout of wild acclaim That echoed to the sky: “Brave Daulac, we will win with thee Or with thee we will die.” And from the throng brave men came forth— A band of seventeen. Oh! ne’er since war first crimsoned earth More valiant hearts were seen! They grasped their leader’s hand and swore To victors live or death so sure Their dark defeat should hide. And many a foeman’s corse around Encumb’ring close the battle ground, Bear witness where they died. Amid that band were men whose feet Trod sundered paths of life. The smith, the trader, had their place, The follower of the forest chase, The soldier nursed in strife. Youth burned on every hero’s brow. A score and ten to soothly vow, But one the passing years allow, Yet what mean years when freedom’s strife Demands the sacrifice of life? [page 68] Another day. The solemn bell Has toiled as if of death a knell, And in the house of God for aid The white robed priest the mass has said. And ’mid farewells the sacred band Embarked has sundered from the strand, And soon their restless oars are plied Within St. Anne thy raging tide. Then o’er their bows the heroes saw The darkling stream of Ottawa. Two Mountain Lake is swiftly crossed, And now upon the rapids tossed, Slowly they strive against the dashing Of torrents in their fury clashing. Then spent with toil they sought the shore, Where Long Sault’s troubled water’s roar. Here where the shore with mild incline All tree-clad met the river line, A welcome sight their eyes surveyed; Built long before, a palisade Of rugged trunks built tier on tier With saplings guarding front and rear. But ruined now by time, at length No more arose in pristine strength. Here while they stayed a friendly band Of valient Hurons came; By Aunabataka led on, And Mitumeg, to victory won Or death in endless fame. Here brothers though of different race, When evening shadows grew apace, [page 69] In mutual friendship stood. Their sacred strains the warriors sung, And evening hymns in various tongue, Adown the gleaming river rung, And charmed the listening wood. Few days have passed. The heroes scan Adown thy rapids, fierce St. Anne, Full many a light canoe, Laden with warriors drawing near, Horrid with paint and axe and spear, And arrows swift and true. They land and form; while like a hail That rattles down December’s gale, The shafts shoot whistling forth. While some with crackling flames advance, To shed upon the sons of France, Destructions fiery breath. Oh! what a sound was there! loud roared The guns that from embrasures poured Their blasts of unseen death, And mingled with the direful hiss Of shafts o’erhead, and flames that kiss The barriers dark beneath. But all in vain the fierce attack; The foeman, wearied, halt, fall back And breathe from fight once more. And thrice their valour thus was tried, But victory thrice to them denied Her mantle as before. [page 70] They now retreat to wait the aid Of reinforcements long delayed, But with close siege the fort invest, Nor let the wearied heroes rest. Hunger and thirst and sleep delayed. Dread havoc in the strength had made Of Daulac’s band: but, still undaunted, Each at his post of danger planted, Stood ready on the foe to cast, Fraught with red death, the fiery blast. The fifth day came; new foes appeared, And twice five hundred braves prepared, ’Mid barbarous dance and savage breath, To wake anew the work of death. Within the fort for heavenly aid A soul outpouring prayer is made By every tongue, for in that hour What trust but in Jehovah’s power? Short time for prayer; for now the foe Advances to the storm. As numberless as sands that sleep Beside the hoarse resounding deep, Or fallen leaves, they swarm. And the loud shouts that rose around, Swelled like redoubled thunder’s sound. Triumphant first, but then the moans Of stricken life, and dying groans, Till changing oft, now low, now high, Deepened to one confused cry. [page 71] They come. The first by mighty shields Of plank were hidden all, And chosen by the lot’s award Have sworn to win or fall. Horrid the front their lines present; In vain, no bullet outward sent, May pierce those mantels through. Reeling from thirst and many a wound, The band of heroes held their ground, And fought and prayed in turn around, While death fast nearer drew. The foeman reach the palisade, And furiously with gleaming blade Have hewed the piles away. A breach is made!—the demons gain An entrance!—the defenders spring To guard it, and the foremost foes In death are weltering. Brave Daulac falls; like madmen now Rush the survivors on the foe; With fury fired they cleave and thrust, And many a red man bites the dust: No heart betrays his country’s trust; But one by one they fall Beneath the shafts that poured like rain, Till all lay dead upon the plain Amid their slaughterers’ yell. The fight was o’er, the work was done, And slowly sank the evening sun, [page 72] Kissing the scene with a farewell ray Where death’s destructive labours lay; And Ottawa still flowed along, Unchanged the tenor of her song. Though crimson drops bedimmed her wave Shed by the bravest of the brave.
The above is a description of a comparatively well-known event in Canadian history. In the year 1660, Canada, being invaded by the Iroquois, seventeen young men of Montreal, led by Daulac Des Ormeaux, resolved to drive back the foe or perish in the attempt, and sheltered by a palisade built of trunks of trees near Long Sault for eight days they repulsed the Indians, but at length were all slain. This show of coverage daunted the savage and saved Canada.