[5 blank pages]
ALONG THE WAY
WITH PEN AND PENCIL
[2 blank pages]
[unnumbered page, includes illustration: A BIT OF OLD COBOURG]
ALONG THE WAY
WITH PEN AND PENCIL
CARRIE MUNSON HOOPLE
THE GRAFTON PRESS
NEW YORK MCMIX
Copyright 1909 by
THE GRAFTON PRESS
I CANNOT sing of written things, Mine is not knowledge conned from books; How is it the bird of the meadow sings? What is the music we hear in brooks? There is a gift that is given to man, Given to him who looks and hears. He must forth tell it as well as he can, Just as of old did the ancient seers. So in small measure, whatever I find, Secret of nature unfolded to me. Treasure of happiness, visions of mind, Humbly I offer them all up to thee. [unnumbered page] [blank page]
ALONG THE WAY
A COMMON DISH.
‘TIS of a very common dish, A well known one, I’d sing, The same unto the pauper As it is unto the king; Known throughout the ages, Since first the world began, Food for modern people, And for pre-historic man. I fancy at creation, That the pot was set to boil, Ever-giving, ever filling, Like the widow’s cruse of oil. The elements within it, Are made up, I opine, Of a nature part Satanic And a nature part Divine. Stirred by Fate, or Chance, or Fortune, Or whatever we may call That unknown mysterious power Which doth ladle it to all. For a share of it is given At the moment of his birth, Spiced with hereditary flavoring To each soul upon the earth. [page 3] But alas! Sometimes the atoms Not being mixed so very fine, Some get more of the Satanic Than they get of the Divine. ‘Tis called “Human Nature,” The dish of which I sing, The same unto the pauper As it is unto the king. [page 4]
SHE was the little serving maid And he the grocer’s man, I really couldn’t tell you Just how it all began. It wasn’t for her beauty That he loved her, I am sure For I never saw a maiden Quite as plain as Ann McClure. Nor it wasn’t for her neatness Nor her brilliant shining tins, For that maid’s untidy habits Were among her greatest sins. Nor it wasn’t for her smartness For she was as slow as time If we ordered lunch for twelve, We were called as two would chime. She was, to word it mildly, Just a bundle of defects, But you know as Shakespeare puts it, “Love knows no respects.” [page 5] I often used to wonder, What in Ann he saw to like; But I wondered still more often What on earth she saw in Mike. Of all the homely Jehus That drive a butcher’s cart, The homeliest was Mike Gilroy, Who won our Annie’s heart. His hair stood up in bristles, One eye looked up, one down, His complexion like the roadway, On a muddy day downtown. And he had a sort of general Melancholy air That gave him the most horrible Expression of despair. But the men that women marry Are not what one expects, For you know, as Shakespeare puts it, “Love knows no respects.” [page 6]
AT THE FEAST.
THE guests are come, the feast is spread, Gay revelry doth claim the hour; Soft lights around their lustre shed And music wields its magic power. But seemeth it at second glace The merriment appeareath forced, Though loudly rings the laugh perchance And brightest are the strains discoursed. Who is the chosen guest tonight— The one for whom the feast is made? Behold him there so rich bedight! What deference to him is paid! Behold him in the honored place! But, do you mark how still he sits? No muscle changes in his face, No answering smile across it flits How fixed his eye! He wears a mask? Earth’s revelry for him hath ceased. You know him now, no need to ask “The Death’s Head at the Feast.” An ancient Scythian custom this, Unknown to us, that way at least; Though still we entertain, I wis, Our death’s heads at the feast. [page 7]
STATELY as a Calla Lily, Sweet as any Rose, Fresh as is a Daffodilly, In the Spring that blows. That is she. Would you know her? Would you see her? Would you touch her hand? Would you in her presence Like a sun-kissed rose expand? Then among the highways And the byways you must wind That, surely lead unto her Enthroned in my mind. And all the time I think of her I cannot help but feel That another maid will catch me Not a bit like my ideal. For I’m poor and she has money, And I can’t afford to wait. But I wonder if we’ll meet When perchance ‘twill be too late. [page 8]
THE NOTICE COLUMN.
“BIRTHS” and “Marriages,” “Deaths” and “Amusements”— So read the lines from day to day, But who shall decipher The lines of living That all unnoticed between them play? There was Jim: he was born Like every other An heir to a portion of God’s fair earth, Knocked about and beaten, Starved and abused, Almost from the day of his birth. ‘Tis a wonder he lived. But he did And thrived, and married too. He was sent to gaol, And staid for a week. They said he stole, but it wasn’t true. In gaol for a week! Amid the essence Of crime and sin from all the land, He went in pure, But he came out versed In many a craft of that hardened band. [page 9] He tried to get work— Just enough to buy bread To keep the breath in himself and wife, But work is scanty for such as he; “Gaol-bird” followed him all through life. Were it any wonder He’d put in practise What he’d learned in gaol (how to snatch a purse)? Driven by man’s Self-righteous justice To do that, aye, and a great deal worse! Just to be born! Perhaps to be married! To be amused, and then to die. But who shall decipher The lines in column That all unnoticed between them lie? [page 10]
THE OLD CRADLE.
THERE’S nothing grand about it, Just plain, old solid, oak. But it has a sort of elegance That somehow makes me choke. No muslin frills nor fancies, Nor fripperies of lace Such as Hiram’s wife has dangling Above her baby’s face. But ‘tis decked and ornamented Plenty good enough for me. For around it like a trimming Hangs a fringe of memory. And I can’t help thinking As I see it idling there, Of the busy days it used to have Its resting spells were rare. For there were a good many of us Rocked in it all told, Lil, and Sue, and Benny, Our soldier brave and bold. [page 11] Bess, our blue-eyed beauty, Then, forsooth, came I. And if I were as restless as I am now, I needed many a lullaby. One day I remember When the cradle stood quite still. In it like waxen doll Lay little baby Bill. I poked him with my finger, And asked them “If he slept.” Mother moaned, “He’s gone to heaven.” Then I asked her why she wept. For I said, “You always told us Heaven was a lovely place.” She smiled a sort of dreary smile And tried to dry her face. And I could not help thinking Young as I was then, That folks tell tales to little boys, They might not tell to men. Another time I think of, When the last babe came along, Mother sent me in to rock it, And soothe it with a song. [page 12] I had set my heart on fishing, My “Chum” was at the door, And my too eager efforts, Rocked the baby on the floor. Oh dear! The tender memories About that oaken thing! All the sweet, wild dreams of childhood, Drawn about it like a string Of pearls, that broke and scattered When the world’s enlightening beams Showed me knowledge for my visions, Gave me facts instead of dreams. [page 13]
THE WORLD OWES ME A LIVING.
THE world owes me a living,” The poor man said. “It owes me at least My daily bread. And I would not object To some butter too, Why should the many Have less than the few?” The demagogue smiled As he heard him speak, And started a strike That very week. For the demagogue Lives on the poor man’s gains, While the poor man’s family Starves for his pains. And the wise old world Jogs round the sun Paying attention To neither one. Doing the work It is meant to do. But there’s something wrong somewhere I think, don’t you? [page 14] “The world owes me a living,” The rich man said. “It owes me more Than my daily bread. It owes me of life “The sugar and spice,” And, as the rhyme says, “All things nice.” For why should any Have more than I? To beat them all I’m going to try.” The demagogue smiled As he heard him speak And when on with the strike He started that week. While the wise old world Jogged round the sun Paying attention To neither one, Doing the work It was meant to do. But there’s something wrong somewhere, I think, don’t you? Supposing the world Should stop and say “There’s another planet That goes my way [page 15] Has more circumference Than I, To take its place I’m going to try. The universe owes me A wider groove And so on my axis I’ll cease to move.” I wonder what Would the universe do? There’d be something wrong somewhere, I think, don’t you? [page 16]
RICH man, poor man, beggar man, thief, Merchant, tailor, doctor, chief,” So sang a maiden to tell her fate Counting the cherry stones on her plate. “‘Rich man, poor man,’ Ah, no,” she said, “The man must be rich whom I’m to wed— Must have his carriage and money a pile, For love in a cottage is not my style.” Then she ran away with a young bank clerk, With six hundred a year, (complexion dark). So maidens, beware how you scorn your fate Counting the cherry stones on your plate. “‘Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, Merchant, tailor, doctor, chief.’” [page 17]
A WHOLE SOUL.
HE was a little fellow, Five feet and an inch or so, The reason he wasn’t taller He used to tell us Was because he didn’t grow. He had acquired a habit, Which is rather rare, forsooth, (At least in these days, Seems to have grown old-fashioned) Of always telling truth. He hadn’t much to live on, The best men seldom do; But what little that he did have (He wasn’t stingy with the Lord) Was divided up in two. We all confided in him, From the old down to the young; And, as you will notice In such cases, about himself, He held his tongue. The children used to smile at him, Halfway down the street, The very busiest people Had time to talk When they would meet. [page 18] And because he was so kindly And followed the Golden Rule They called him just “the least bit soft.” I think an angel in our midst We’d likely dub a “Fool.” Well he died, of course, quite young, (Men always do like him) And the world goes on the same; But whenever his name is mentioned Some eye grows dim. [page 19]
DO YOU KNOW HER?
DO you know her—the girl I mean? She’s pretty as pretty girls go. A great chatterbox too, And so aristocratic, you know. She never knows anyone “Common,” By the way an unusual fate, Each friend and even acquaintance Seems related to somebody great. She’s travelled around quite a little Last season was down at the sea There met so many “Nice people,” Seemed so aristocratic to be. Mr. Jones was very attentive Son of Judge So and So there And young Mr. Smith, second cousin Of Sir Somebody Something, Somewhere. ‘Tis true that her grandpa Goodenough Went around with a plumber’s outfit But then, she’s so aristocratic That doesn’t matter a bit. [page 20]
THE BABY’S NAME.
THEY christened the baby Margaret, Such a grand old English name, So replete with associations Of old historic fame. And then they called her “Tottie,” Well—because she was so small, And such a dainty little wilful Bit of a human ball. And one whom they call Pussy, Will never get Winifrid Save in her wedding notice Or on her coffin lid. Now why in the name of justice And all that’s common sense Do you give your children names That are only a vain pretense? If you christen the baby Helen Call her Helen, and not Birdie, Petty, Pussy, Dolly, Daisy, Dot. [page 21]
‘TIS Spring! and all the air A dimmy dustiness holds That tells of beating carpets, Of the fire that smoulds In back yards; Where with lengthy poles The hired man labors, While the mistress scolds. Sweet Spring! Tell me ye winged winds That round my pathway roar Do ye not know some spot Where mortals sweep no more? Some lone and pleasant dell, Some valley in the west, Where free from toil and stain The weary man may rest? The loud wind dwindled to a whisper low And sighed for pity as it answered “No.” [page 22] Tell me thou mighty deep, Whose billows round me play, Knowst thou some favored spot, Some island far away, Where weary man may find The house for which he sighs— Where stove pipe never lives And whitewash never flies? The loud waves rolling in perpetual flow Stopped for a while, and sighed to answer, “No.” And thou, oh cleanest moon, That with such lovely face Dost look upon the earth Asleep in night’s embrace— Tell me, in all thy round Hast thou not seen some spot Where miserable man May live, and houseclean not? Behind a cloud the moon withdrew in woe, And a voice, sweet but sad, responded, “No.” [page 23]
THE WEEDS OF COBOURG.
THE dusty burdock reigns supreme In every path, and lane, and road, While close beside with noisome mien There grows that weed called “Toad.” And grasses rise not short nor few, And other weeds their tribute pay, So that a lady passing through Can hardly pick her way. Old Cobourg, once a cleanly town Before the cow by-law Is now a prey to thistle-down, Such weeds we never saw! And while we pass the Scot Act through, About which all are talking, Why can’t we have a weed act too? We need it for our walking. [page 24]
THE CANADIAN VOYAGEURS.
RIGHT gallantly went they, Five hundred strong, With jest and with laughter, With brave, manly song; Left father and mother, Left sweetheart and friend To succour a brave man Brave assistance to lend. Right gallantly sailed they O’er ocean’s wild wave, But one of their number Found ocean his grave. Right gallantly rowed they ‘Tween Nile’s sandy banks And in Nile’s murky waters More joined the death ranks. Right gallantly went they How did they come back? With numbers diminished And death on their track. But with duty accomplished, And courage proved high; Having shown Mother England, For her they could die. [page 25]
THE OLD KIRK.
BOARDED up its windows, Taken off its tower, Naught but graves around it— Graves without a flower. Silent are its preachers Darkened are its aisles; Gone to dust its elders In lonely grass-grown files. Moss-grown are the grave-stones Choked with weeds each walk, Broken are the railings— Rusted key and lock. Still, like a mother watching, When is done her long day’s work, O’er her children’s peaceful slumbers Stands the grey and time-worn kirk. [page 26]
THE OLD KIRK, COBOURG
A PICTURE of my little self, A tiny, chubby looking elf, With dimpled arms and face, Taken when just a few years old, An orange in one hand I hold With stolid baby grace. Taken when life was just the day On which I ope’d my eyes to play While strength would last. There was no future then to me, I never thought what was to be, I had not any past. Ah, little self who sittest there! Upon your face a solemn stare, Your slippered toes turned in. If wishing only could come true I’d wish that I again were you Just where life’s path begin. [page 27]
THE OLD CORNER CUPBOARD.
AN old corner cupboard Stands out in the shed. Gone is its beauty, Its glory has fled. Old turpentine bottles And much damaged delft, Repose in disgrace Side by side on the shelf. But e’en as I pass Doth a vision appear, For now it is spring And the house cleaning’s here. A little black paint Into ebon wood grows, Brass rod, silk curtains, And nobody knows; The old corner cupboard Will end its career In the studio corner A swell chiffonier. And when all my friends Into ecstasies go, I unblushingly say, “Just the latest, you know.” [page 28]
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ACROSS THE WAY.
SHE lived at number seventeen And he across the way. They used to play together Throughout the live-long day. At early morn we’d hear him call “Come out, Babette, come out.” And in a sweet high treble, “I’m coming, Jack,” she’d shout. He dressed in kilts and blouses then, She wore pinafores. Their hopes were centered on such things As tops and battledores. But days go by, their ways diverge, No more at morn he calls. He has taken to wearing cricket belts, And she to parasols. Gone are his kilts and sailor suits, All shaven off his curls. The head of an “Eleven” Would scorn to go with girls. [page 29] But time the changes of us all Has oft a subtle plan Of turning back to baby ways The habits of a man. Again across the way Jack goes As in the days of yore. The little beaux of five years old Are wed at twenty-four. Time moves along and once again These two are separated. He wears heavenly raiment now And she to sorrow mated, In widow’s garb Awaits the day When once again she’ll go to him “Across the way.” [page 30]
MY WINDOW BOX.
I MADE it all myself you know Of odds and ends of wood, The hammer seemed erratic But I did the best I could. And if I could not hit the nail As should be, on the head I never failed to make a hit— I hit my nail instead. This all took place last summer But I never shall forget That little window garden With its fragrant mignonette. True, there was blue Lobelia And crimson, blushing Phlox, And dainty pink gypsophela All in that window box. And though it grew last summer In my mind ‘tis blooming yet That little window garden With its fragrant mignonette. [page 31]
AN ATTIC TREASURE.
‘Mid the treasures of an attic Broken things and new Things that once have had their day And things that wouldn’t do. Here an army of half-worn boots Saved up for the poor. There a limp old darky doll That someone loved, I’m sure. Camping-out utensils Put by until the spring. Trunks with broken hinges And many another thing. That the careful housewife treasures, Thinking ‘twere a sin To throw away what some day “Might just happen to come in.” Stands a small velocipede As whole as when ‘twas new, Perfect is the saddle And the wheels are sound and true. [page 32] But the children when they’re playing Never take it from its place; It is sacred to the memory Of a little missing face. And the mother when she’s searching Perchance for something near Lets fall upon the senseless thing A mother’s saddened tear. [page 33]
THE POST BOX.
TIP, tap, there goes the lap, Another letter, I’ll just peep in. I take, and I take, but I never give back, Tick, tack, tickety, tack. This from a lady, I know the style, Dainty perfume and the daintiest paper Would it be wrong the time to beguile? “Thanks for the fan, just awfully sweet I’ll thank you better when next we meet,” Tick, tack, tickety, tack. I take, and I take, but I never give back. This I see is another kind, A wedding card in the latest fashion, And right on top in their sombre dress Two black-edged envelopes closely press. And the baby card in its tiny case Pushes its way to find a place, Thus you see I’m a world in myself, Joy and surprise, love and pleasure, Grief and despair, and life and death, All mixed up in common measure. Tick, tack, tickety, tack, I take, and I take, but I never give back. [page 34]
I CAN see it once more, the old sun dial Whitened and loosely set Around whose base on a grassy slope We children often met. To blow the puffs of the dandelions To tell the time of day; And never knew that the old sun dial Could have shown us another way. Until I heard some one grown up To a childish question tell That that quaint old wooden pillar “Could tell the time quite well.” Then I looked at it and I watched it Till my wonder grew to awe. Till instead of that old sun dial A mysterious thing I saw. How could it, (a pillar of wood, With never a hand to mark the hour And never a key to wind it up) Have such a wondrous power? [page 35] But now I, too, am quite grown up The mystery’s cleared away, I see how it was the old sun dial Could point out the time of day. Yet life hath still its mysteries That with wonder fill my heart; But I hope to grow once more to an age Where mystery hath no part. [page 36]
A SHIP A SAILING.
“I SAW a ship a sailing, A sailing on the sea,” How could I tell it was the ship That might come in for me? “I saw a ship a sailing, A sailing on the sea;” How could I tell it was my ship, My golden Argosy. “I saw a ship a sailing, A sailing on the sea;” How could I tell it was the ship That held my destiny? I saw her pass the harbor And vanish from the land, And did not make a signal Nor even raise my hand. I saw a ship a sailing, A sailing on the sea; How could I know it was the ship That might come in for me? [page 37]
THE TIME TO HOLD YOUR TONGUE.
WHEN your friend relates a story That he’s told you o’er and o’er, Turning first to coolly ask you “If you’ve heard it e’er before.” Though your provocation’s dreadful, And you’re bored almost to death That’s the time, oh, tired brother! That’s the time, to hold your breath. When the girl you hate so dearly Proudly tells you she’s engaged To the man you used to flirt with And thinks that you’re enraged. Don’t tell her that one small “No” You said, her fate has hung; But remember, worthy sister That’s the time to hold your tongue. In fact, on most occasions, When you think you’d like to speak It is sure to be much wiser Not to even give a squeak. For that bad “Unruly member” Is very lightly hung. And the wisest thing you ever did Was that time you held your tongue. [page 38]
OUR FELLOW MAN.
WHO is he, this mysterious person Before whose mandate all must bend? This omnipresent, calm, all-seeing judge of us, Now foe, now friend? It isn’t Smith, our next door neighbor, We would not give a rap for him, Nor his opinions on a subject, His principles are very dim. It isn’t Jones across the corner We care no more for him than Smith; But some way Smith and Jones together May constitute this potent myth. Who holds a power more great than Juno, Whose sceptre rules o’er land and sea, And from whose judgment, cool, unerring, There’s no reprieve for you nor me. He goads the lagging steps of genius, He deals award of praise and blame, And for his crown of commendation, “The great, the fair, the good” all aim. Who is he, this mysterious person? Who rules from Beersheba to Dan, Before whom all creation trembles This composite—Our Fellow Man. [page 39]
FAR greater he who carves Through poverty and toil himself a name Than he, who swims between the sunny banks of ease, Unto the golden shores of fame. [page 40]
I CANNOT sing the old songs now I sang long years ago. For some are lost, and some are gone And some I do not know. [page 41]
IN TEN MINUTES.
YOU ask me to write In not ten minutes quite A perfect piece of rhyme, Sir, And if I do, no thanks to you And no thanks to time, Sir. If mine’s the worst With my emotions I’ll burst Before me I‘ll be seen to cry, Sir, But if mine’s the best Why, then let it rest ‘Twon’t be that I’m any the wiser. [page 42]
ANOTHER year and here again We idle as we did of yore, We turn the night to day and then Late on into the morning snore. No thought have we of care or pain, Too lazy e’en to make a fuss When all the cold, relentless rain Comes through the hut and dampens us. [page 43]
THE CORDUROY ROAD.
HALF a log, half a log Half a log onward Shaken and out of breath, Rode we and wondered. Ours not to reason why, Ours but to clutch and cry While onward we thundered. [page 44]
ONLY a shrunken sunflower Withered and lean and tall; But ah, the tender memories To me, those blooms recall! I watch him woo a maiden, I see him raise his hand To pluck those golden blossoms That now all withered stand. He never plucked the flowers His words were all in vain, He left that maiden’s presence Stung by a cruel pain. Though he was a proud young lover And I but a humble bee; But what was sweet for lovers Wasn’t honey for me. [page 45]
UP the road and over the hill! Trot along quickly Jerry, There’s much of the road before us still And the friends that await us are merry. Up the road and over the hill! The moments drag slowly and tardy, Though Jerry is patient and jogs with a will And strong are his muscles and hardy. Now we have reached it, over we go Ho, for the friends that await us! Drat on the pitch holes that make us go slow, And drat on the roads that belate us! [page 46]
THERE are heroes too, who ne’er go forth to fight Never kill their fellow man as heroes do, But the honour is to him, whether it be wrong or right, To the man who at the helm commands the crew. And if things go wrong, it is he who takes the blame Not the man who’s down below or at the gun For the obloquy’s to him, the disgrace and the shame To the man who has command of everyone. Then if things go right it is he should have the fame, The honour, and the praise and fair renown, For the credit is to him, the reward and the name To the man who is the head for everyone. [page 47]
LITTLE ships that run to port When the weather’s stormy, Find their calm in mother’s arms Harbor safe and balmy. Little ships must drift away Out upon life’s ocean, Fain they’d sail another day To that calm devotion. Little boats must struggle on Battered, bruised, and broken, Till they anchor far away In that port unspoken. There the Harbor Master waits And the lights are steady, While the waters smooth and calm Give them welcome ready. [page 48] [blank page]
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THE MANITOBA FARMER.
WHERE wide and boundless prairies roll He turns the soil, as black as coal Six feet beneath him, mile on mile, Those uncut diamonds glowing smile. The earth below no longer sleeps, It feels the touch, and stirs, and leaps, Awakening from its centuries’ rest Like some strong infant, glad, refreshed; And breaking into gleeful smile It heaps its treasures pile on pile Of yellow wealth, a golden store, That only grows from taking more. No landlord’s foot upon his neck His new born manhood’s ardours check. No old world phantasy of caste Shall hold him now from out the past. New spirit, courage, and new soil Make him a king, the king of toil. [page 49]
THE hills lift up their gentian heads Where mellow ‘neath the skies The fields are ripening for the scythe, Where this breezy village lies. And on the crest of a nearby hill The village fathers sleep Among the fields they loved so well “Their silent watch they keep.” No fret nor toil can reach them now, Nor tumult of the mart, Quiet each hand and calm each brow, And still each honest heart. Not for the sound of a name they strove Nor shout of the world’s applause; But patiently turned their thoughts to the soil, And their minds to nature’s laws. Some went afar in search of fame, Of honour, wealth or power; But this sweet spot of their childhood’s days Has welcomed them home once more. [page 50]
WITH the speed we used to make those days The Railway wasn’t in it. The Automobile and Aeroplane Couldn’t begin to spin it. We fled in a trice to India And lived in a region tropic. Or transplanted ourselves to Rotten Row In a period microscopic. We aired our silks of the latest style With other dames of fashion, And only came to ourselves again When the rocking chair took to crashing. Into the furniture right behind, When we became too rocky (Of course our horses were spirited And sometimes would grow balky). And then when we grew tired of the “Row” We vanished off to France, And drove in Paris and other towns With considerable elegance. [page 51] We entered the drawing rooms of the great With manners chic and easy, And lolled in our chariot through the Bois Or down the Champs Elysees I was just enough older than she To win her admiration, And she took her cue as quick as a flash In every situation. She was a willing little slave To all my errant fancies, And lent herself with an air of grace To our wonderful elegancies. Now the little sister has travelled far In a chariot swifter still, And I am left to reach vain hands O’er that space we cannot fill. For I, alas, am sorry to say, Am neither here nor there! And I wish I had wings as I had those days In that dear old rocking chair. [page 52]
THE DESERTED FARM.
QUIET now the portal where once the children played, Hushed the merry prattle at the door, Smokeless the old chimney where erst the fire was laid Silent now the footsteps on the floor. But the house is haunted With joys that now are past Hospitality I never shall forget Memories of kindness that, aye, for time must last, And their sweetness surely lingers yet.
UP through the ranks of men he sprung Meteor-like, alone. On his hold will the whole world hung While well he filled a throne. He named his family kings and queens, His hand was on the helm. He did not know what justice means, His game was making realm. To peaks unscaled before by man He climbed, and shone, and strayed, But having no strong grasp on God He wavered, flickered, swayed— Then, like a rocket, black and spent He dropped from out the height, Plumbed the dark depths of discontent And sputtered out of sight. [page 54] [blank page]
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SHE sat for us to paint her so A member of the class, With her beautiful auburn hair aglow A lithe and graceful lass. We said we’d make a “scheme” of her, With her glorious hair so Titian, That would make an artist dream of her And that manner so patrician. We said we’d like to have on her With that wonderful hair aglow Her soft kimona, lavender On her sloping shoulders so. The soft, cool tone of that pale green light, Was the sheen of the woodbine there, That rustled without in the summer night A background for her hair. The red of her hair, and the green of the leaves, And that old, silk, mauve, Kimona, Together a picture so queenly weaves That we gave her the name Corona. [page 55]
THIS cathedral, old and hoary, Was the nurse of England’s faith. Foster-mother of her glory, Reared the infant from its birth. On this lap, so broad, capacious Lay the baby safe, and warm, With her arms so strong and gracious Held the suckling safe from harm. Cradled it, and soothed and scolded; Watched its tottering baby feet, With her mother love enfolded Till it ventured out complete. Through these arches, once so stately, Many a history maker trod, Men who served their nation greatly, Served their sovereign and their God. Great Augustine, godly, wary, Paced this spot so hallowed now, Taught sweet Bertha, missionary, How to make her husband bow. [page 56]
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To the One God, and to love him, Baptized him in Christian rite, Turned his thoughts to things above him, From the darkness to the light. Chaucer, Odo, Anselm, Becket, Wandered here so long ago, And their memories bedeck it With a never fading glow. [page 57]
FROM every corner of the earth Our people are, From distant lands that gave them birth From near and far. Slav, Prussian, Hindu, border thief Come crowding in, With Mohawk and Comanche chief And such like kin. Old Sam proceeds to grind them fine With every man, Each one drops in and falls in line American. The native from far Afric’s sward Begins to fade; He’s part of us now fast and hard, Our brother made. And from that sweet and verdant spot Old Erin’s Isle, The mill wheel almost grows too hot And clogs awhile. [page 58] But who when he is minced the same With every man, Will fonder be of that proud name? American. I’d like to know what we’ll turn out, ‘Twixt you and me, When Sam’s been at it just about Another century. [page 59]
OLDE PLYMOUTH TOWNE.
WEARY and tired they put me down, A Pilgrim in Olde Plymouth Towne The spot I was to see at last Rich with the relics of the past. I’d dreamed of it for many a year— That hallowed place by all held dear, How leaning ‘gainst that sacred rock I’d hear the diapason shock Of waves, break on that rugged shore, Taking me back two hundred years and more. (Just here I’ll say I found the rock, And incidentally the shock) It lay up on a dusty street Surrounded by a paling neat, They locked at night for fear of thieves (A husky one, that weight, who heaves!) But then the shore, that rugged coast Of prose and poetry the boast! I found it, too, where sluggish waves Acted for old tin cans as graves, Refuse from names of ancient worth, Aldens and Brewsters, and so forth. They still remain to catch the eye On sign and placard raised on high, [page 60]
OLD PLYMOUTH TOWNE
And my sweet hostess, hospitable, gay, Carried the name of Hathaway. Of course I realized that time Had altered things since that old rhyme. The poet’s eye had pierced the past And that grand picture, which must last, Was true, for where the town, Dips now, so sudden down To that wide, stretching beach, In that far day, the waves did reach: And then a virgin forest stood Where now is house, and street and road. In this old lane I pictured there, Still can I see Priscilla fair. Tripping along, but not alone, For near that quaint old wall of stone John Alden comes to keep the tryst From other lanes that curve and twist. A man as trusted in his word As he was doughty with his sword. ‘Tis true this lane was surely trod By just those two, but every rod Was covered then by those great trees Whose “giant branches” stirred the breeze (Or words something like that, I haven’t got it very pat) The same old spring still runs as clear, As it did in that fateful year, “God’s Acre,” now so restful and so still, [page 61] Once echoed war whoops wild and shrill Where the sturdy little stockade stood Sheltering the dear ones from that brood Of stealthy red men, pouncing down To curdle the blood of Plymouth Towne, Ah, it was full of valient men! (But I’m glad I saw it now, not then.) [page 62]
[unnumbered page; includes illustration]
HIDDEN away, like the petals That cling to the heart of a rose, These dear old Flatbush gardens In the midst of the city repose. Its hurrying tumult crowds them, And soon the thirst for gold Will lick them up as the Simoon Licks up the streamlet cold. But now their paths are fragrant With garden flowers aglow— Old fashioned blooms of the country In sweet profusion blow. And when I hear my hostess Announcing in accents clear She “Must go to Brooklyn to market” I exclaim “Why, Brooklyn is here.” “Stealthy, solid, and busy, It has crept up to her door, But so strong is the force of habit That she goes “To town” as of yore.
[illustration] [page 63]
FORT MARION GATE.
NO Spanish sentry paces now, No guard is at the gate, Where those ruined entrance pillars Stand grim and desolate. The strong portcullis, broken, Now keeps no foe at bay Where old Fort Marion’s rampart Stands staunch, and dark, and gray. The dungeons long have loosed their bars And hold no stricken wretch, No forms within those sodden cells In dread and anguish stretch. But my mind as swift as the sea-gull Sweeps back to that long ago, And pictures of that other day Kaleidoscopic show. What gay Hidalgos enter From their galleys off the sea! What dark browed priests are gathered In this little colony! [page 64]
FORT MARION GATE
[unnumbered page] [blank page]
Did they come to preach the gospel To the errant redman’s soul? Or was it lust for booty Chose this garden for their goal? They builded well and surely, On this spot beside the sea, And their mission bells are calling Through four centuries to me. [page 65]
ROBERT L. STEVENSON AT BAKER COTTAGE
THE same old lilac guards at the gate Where once his footsteps strayed; The same old chimney stands today Where those sweet tales were laid. The kind old couple linger yet, Who catered to his wants; And with reverence they handle The relics of his haunts. But he has wandered far afield, Where wider vistas lure, And richer gems of thought he strings On golden chains more pure. The river glides below the same— The lazy Saranac. Reflecting gorgeous maples And the fragrant tamarack. [page 66]
THE BOOKS OF SARNAC
But he will watch its banks no more, Unless from higher plane, Nor weave his fancies on its edge With the shuttle of his brain. The beauteous mountains beckoned him To higher range of thought, Their mystery and color His glowing visions brought. And mind the lord of matter Laid the phantom for a time As he spun his woof of fiction And wove his web of rhyme.
THE LIGHTS OF SARNAC.
THEY sparkle in the village, They twinkle on the hill, They dance upon the water In the night air, soft and still, They light the river pathway A string of shining gems, And Lake Flower’s skirts embroider Where the town her border hems. They swing a dancing circlet Around Mt. Pisgah’s neck And up and down, and round about, The whole long town bedeck. They hang like fairy garlands Through pine and tamarack They flash like glowing fireflies The Lights of Sarnac.
[illustration] [page 68]
ROOFS OF SARNAC
THE ROOFS OF SARNAC.
SNUGGLED in the village, Sheltered ‘neath the hill, Toppling on the river Go where’ere I will. Spire, and tower, and turret, Picturesque and fair, Posing to be painted Await me everywhere. Clustered in the valley, Alone upon the height, Glimpses down an alley That fill me with delight. Like some old foreign city, Perched among the hills, What beauty here to study Its every roadway fills, Ahead, behind, and everywhere, Way off, and near, and back, Compose for me unconsciously The roofs of Sarnac.
[illustration] [page 69]
I HAVE a longing now and then A queer unsanctioned thought, That I might wander back again Down centuries that are not. That I might thread, in flesh and mind, The paths of other days, And leave this era’s dust behind From my adventuring ways. Not that I hold my own time least, “The heir of all the ages” But that I long like some chained beast For freedom, bold, courageous. To stroll where’er I would through time, To dally here or yonder, To rest in some fame scented clime Or through some epoch wander, Where joust and tournament took place And ladies fair awaited With gracious mien and beaming face To crown their lords elated. I’d like to press the hands of those I’ve loved in song and story, I’d like to watch the armies close In battle fierce and gory. [page 70] As, when on some fair English field The early Henrys wrested In Norman hauberk, bow and shield With Saxon knights all crested. And then to take a peep at France,— In all her pomp and splendor, Before the wild beast, passion, chance, Of revolution rent her. And even then, though slow my way, And loath to mix with madness, I’d like some pitying word to say To her, the queen of sadness, Who bore with dignity and grace Her cruel humiliations. Bereft of all, her throne, her place, Deserted by the nations. And when I thought I’d had enough Of other men and ways Come tramping up the time worn steps That lead to our own days. But here I am like some chained beast Tied to a peg of time, Condemned to dance until released My little runic rhyme, Around and round the same old peg The groove may deeper grow; But no far reaching circles spread That I may know. [page 71] Allowed to wear the groove so deep Around and round, and round, Or straining at my rope to creep An inch on further ground. Some, who content to gambol loose With lax untensioned string, Will never feel the galling noose That checks those wandering. For some will stretch their rope too much And strain toward the vast Out-lying worlds, whose borders touch Ahead, or from the past. Now I must neither chafe nor fret The good Lord tied me here. His meaning is not shown as yet, It has not been made clear. Each link connects with other link To make the chain complete And I must be content to think My little circle meet. [page 72]
I KNOW I am, and feel I am to be For evermore, and think it strange There could have been a time Without a me. What does forever more mean? If not always? And always means not just from now, Until the then of future days. Infinite, but from now till then, And back, so it doth seem to me, E’en unto now again. And I do feel that I have been before And in some other form perchance Did other spheres explore. Who’ll tell me whence my soul did spring? Or who can tell what sponsors stood At my soul’s christening? [page 73]
THERE is a point this side perfection Where genius halts, And carefully steps aside, For fear from one false move, One over touch, she ruin all That’s gone before. Success more often crowneth him Who wisely leaves a part undone, Than him who busily Does all too well. [page 74]
THE HALF WAY HOUSE.
“A LITTLE while we live,” We mortals say As though out living were a thing Of just today. As though the future wide and vast Had nought of life Nor yet the past. Forgetting this world’s But a traveller’s inn along the way, A stopping place, a half way house Where we may stay Until the plans unfold. Just holding back Until our guide Disclose the track. [page 75]
WE travel by the land And we travel by the sea But there is still a journey That is left for you and me. Out of the gates of custom, Beyond the walls of clay, Past the hedges of environment We all must take our way. On through the mind’s fair regions Until we reach the goal, The wide and glorious country Heaven-bounded, of the soul. Then pushing on within it, On beyond the mind, We smile at times to see how far We leave ourselves behind. Old habits lose their ancient power Old hate is turned to love, The world lies all beneath us And only God above. Till pushing on still further We almost think we see Beyond the merely visible Into eternity. [page 76]
A BUNCH OF FLOWERS.
LIFE threw me a bunch of flowers one day, A bunch of lilies rich and rare; But it was not lilies I wanted then And so I left them lying there. Again Life threw me from out her store, For she hath many both rich and sweet, But I sighed for only “The Rose, The Rose,” And left them lying at my feet. At last to my joy Life threw it down And oh! to my sight it looked so fair! But e’en as I stooped at my eager grasp The petals falling lay scattered there. Then turning back I sought again The flowers I had carelessly thrust aside; But not a bloom did I ever find, For all neglected they’d withered and died. [page 77]
THIS WORLD AND THAT.
THERE is no “This” world and no “That” We know that both are one, And our heaven, if we will it Here on earth may be begun. God works not as we do, And sees not in our way, He can weave into His heaven Our common every day. With its troubles and temptations That worry us and vex. Its sordid cares of living That do so sore perplex. Its routines and common places, Each petty mean detail, The things that we succeed in, And the things in which we fail. He can use them if we let Him In His own wondrous way So as to make of heaven Our common every day. [page 78]
WHY do we strive so hard to hold The New, we prize today so much? When it tomorrow as the Old May better prove as such. Why do we so regret the youth We think we’ve left so far behind, When age is but the door, forsooth Through which eternal youth we find? [page 79]
I SAW a man grown aged with care In counting o’er his treasured gold, Each stock, and bond, and railway share Had only helped to make him old. And as he reckoned up his wealth, Countless it seemed so great a store, I saw that it with subtle stealth Had made him sad and left him poor. Then I saw a little boy Run out into the wayside sand, And with a shout of happy joy He strained it shimmering through his hand, And gloated over it anew As though he’d found a gift untold. Which was the treasure of the two? The wayside dirt, or miser’s gold? [page 80]
SOME NEW THING.
COME poet now, and book me Some new thing.” Thus to the poet Spoke the unhappy king. From our first baby days When nothing pleases like a shining shoe, Through all life’s older, varied ways The mind delights in something new. That which we have always doth tire, As words repeated oft their meaning lose, To what we have not do we all aspire So from the beaten tracks we turn to choose The fresher good, that beckons from afar; But often when we hold it near We find it like some bright star That’s fallen, all dull appear. No longer shining as we thought, As we approached its brilliancy withdrew. But lo! a marvel has been wrought! That which was old is once again the new. So when this world grows stale and old, And nought seems fresh to me and you, [page 81] We do but leave it and behold! Another world all bright and new. Though I do think the next may be, But after all this same old life, Made fresh and bright eternally, Without the pain, without the strife. [page 82]
OUR life is like a harp Which we may tune, for well, or ill, But on which God will play And make the music of our days In His own way. He will not always strike the notes of gladness Each joyous chord of life Is close beside some minor key, Which must be sometimes struck To well the tune to perfect melody. [page 83]
YOU AND DEATH.
DID you ever brush ‘gainst death? Feel the breath Of the monster on your face? Then some grace Interposed, he withdrew; But for you Ever after life was changed, Rearranged. Side by side with your joys— Earthly toys, Phantom-like and grim Knowing him Still he talks. You forget? Never yet. Though at times dimly shown, Never thrown. Turn and speak and maybe He will answer, ask him why You must die. Turn and wrestle with him now, Never bow, Till he whisper mid the strife— I am Life! [page 84]
NOT WHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD.
THE bird had its place to nest, The flower its spot to bloom, But in all this God created earth His Son could find no room. The little child that slept, Was lulled on its mother’s breast, But the child of the Lord who had given all Could find no place to rest. Human he was, though God, Tired by His human care, But so homeless on this cold earth of ours As to envy the beast his lair Heir though He was to a crown,— Son of the Lord and King, There was no beggar in all the land So poor in each earthly thing. Who was to blame, the Jew? Who was to blame, the Greek? Ye who reject him now reply, And ye who refuse him speak. [page 85]
To M. H.
I LIKE her not so much for what she is, As what she means to be. For like an open manuscript Her spirit is to me. Not by cold words, The awkward chain of speech, But by the joining hands of thought Each answers unto each. And we hold converse sweetest often When our tongues are still. No distance can divide us! No space we cannot fill! She has her faults, I know them She also knoweth mine. But e’en our very failings, Our spirits do entwine. No aspersions, nor calumny, Could have effect on me. Because, you see, I love her For what she means to be. [page 86]
A HEAVENLY TOUCH.
WAS it a dream, or was it a fancy? Was it some errant thing round in the night? That breathed on my soul with a soft necromancy And filled all my heart with a subtle delight? It wasn’t a dream, nor it wasn’t a vision, That faded and left me at breaking of day, And I’m sure as I slept that something Elysian Had brushed ‘gainst my soul as it sped on its way. I can’t say how far my spirit had travelled To meet and commune with that heavenly guest, But I know in the morning I wakened and marvelled To feel, that my care burdened soul was at rest. [page 87]
THE WIRELESS WORD.
A CROSS my soul on vibrant string The message of his love is set, The soul attuned that found me here Across the abyss can reach me yet. Wireless and soundless, true and straight, As falcon’s wing that cleaves the air, The message from the other side Vibrates, and keeps me from despair. With such a mind he could not die, The flesh but loosed him, set him free, And I who follow far behind Can feel him turn and beckon me. There is so much we do not know, That little else it matters not— Why we should live, why we should die, Or why we should have been begot. But this is all I feel I know Somewhere, somehow, he waits for me. Meanwhile the messages he sends Find me across that soundless sea. [page 88]
THE WORLD IS SMALL.
“THE world is small.” Our neighbor flees To hide in parts unknown, But when we take a trip that year His face next door is shown. “The world is small.” We travel far To leave our pain behind, But when we get there, cheek by jowl The same old pain we find. And worlds are small, and when we flee And leave this world behind, My other someone says to me The same old world we’ll find. So what’s the use of rushing off These fields so green to see When the dear, old, arid wastes I know Are good enough for me. [page 89]
A SONG OF NOW.
ARE there no songs worth singing Save those that have been sung? Are there no tunes worth ringing But the tunes already rung? We sigh for the days that are vanished And dream of days to be. But is all beauty banished From the present for you and me? No, the days that are should be better Than the days that were by far No thought of the past should fetter Our joy in the days that are. For the past has shut forever Its adamantine door And it may be that never Shall we traverse the days before. So I’ll sing my song of the present I’ll sing my song of now, For there is much that is pleasant In the days that are, I trow. [page 90]
I STOOD by the shore of the lake And watched the waves at my feet Come up to rise and break, Go back with a sure retreat. Some rose with a mightier force, Broke in a grander crest, Left for a while in their course A mark higher up than the rest. But just as surely went back Into the infinite deep, Their foam submerged in the track Of the incoming waves in their sweep. Some that were weak and small Went back with the undertow, Scarce making a song at all, Just a soft murmur and low. Which lingers long in the heart With a cadence far more sweet, Than the noisier, brilliant part Of some of the waves at my feet. [page 91] And I liken the waves of the lake Unto the lives of men On the shores of time that break And then go back again. Back to the boundless sea, The ocean from which they sprang, Where, methinks, with a fuller melody Shall the rest of their song be sung.
[illustration] [page 92]
TO AN EGYPTIAN MUMMY.
COLD tenement of clay, From which the soul is fled, Why lingerest yet among us Though numbered with the dead? What mockery of nature, What mystic art of man, Has kept thy poor form shapely While countless ages ran? If thy shrunk eyes could open, With power thy voice could swell, What marvels of antiquity Thy parchment tongue could tell. While we who gaze upon thee With consciousness of power, Would shrink before thy knowledge Thy wisdom’s mighty dower. And how wouldst thou regard us, With wonder in thine eyes, For wonders which we call our own, Discoveries which we prize? [page 93] Or wouldst thou smile upon us With pity in thy face To think that we may never know The science of thy race? And as mid night for ages Thy sharpen form did lie So it may now mid sunshine As ages more go by. While he who brought thee hence, From far and ancient lands, “Dust unto Dust” hath since returned With meekly folded hands. Still this thy lesson teach, With this our minds imbue That what to us seems latest found From age has been made new. [page 94]
“POOR Jones is dead!” The words go out from mouth to mouth, ‘Tis all that is or can be said, Just those two words in many tones— “Poor Jones!” “Poor Jones!” Perhaps a word or two,— ‘Tis always thus when that is old Which yesterday did seem so new, Will mingle now, of what he owns, Or did, alas! Poor Jones! Why do we call him poor? Who dreamed at night of phantom griefs, And wakened but to trials more sure, Who looked on death as some sweet, dim, And restful touch, awaiting him. It is our little earthly way, We mean it well for lack of else; And we repeat (‘tis hard to look beyond the clay) Just those two words in many tones “Poor Jones!” “Poor Jones!” [page 95]
THE WINDOW OF SELF.
I LOOKED out at life one day, Out of the window of self, And all the world looked hard and gray— Hard with the hardness from gold that starts, And gray with the grayness of lonely hearts. I looked out at life one day, Out of the window of self And all the world looked bright and gay— Gay with the gayness of happy hearts. And bright with the brightness That love imparts. So do we look each day, Out of the window of self, Judging life by our own alway Whether our hearts Be happy or sad, So will the world Seem goodly or bad, Thought I to myself one day. [page 96]
I HELD a treasure in my heart, But, when I wish it to impart Its riches unto me, I found, alas, I had no key. Then happiness was mine. And for awhile I basked in strong sunshine. Ah, now! I thought! I tuned my lyre, I sang, But through it all a dullness rang, Then I despaired and I forgot. Till all at once, unasked, unsought, My treasure emptied at my feet, In accents pure, and strong, and sweet, At last, at last, I’d found the key! When Sorrow laid her hand on me. [page 97]
SHE stayed when all the congregation went. When down the lengthy aisles In long decorous files The people gently trod. While from the organ loft, The music sweet, and soft, Breathed of a forgiving God. I did not know her sin, Nor if, when she were all confessed, The priest with absolution blessed, Or painful penance dealt. I only know while in her eyes Like some poor hare’s before it dies Her agony was spent. She stayed, when all the congregation went. [page 98]
I AM adrift upon a wide, wide sea. The pitiless sun beats down on me By day, and when there comes the night I see no guiding harbor light. My anchor gone, my rudder lost I’m pitched and driven, tempest-tossed, I hear the distant, grinding boom Of waves that break in that dark gloom On dangerous cliff, and treacherous beach That I am heading fast to reach, And yet through all that black despair I feel my Harbor Master’s there. [page 99]
TIME EVENS ALL.
THOUSANDS of years ago— When Moses over Egypt reigned, Almost a king, the records show, And Pharaoh’s daughter scarce obtained More faithful love— One day upon a temple stair As Moses sought the door above, A fleeing sailor met him there, Anguished his face and wild his eye; “Oh save me print by thy great power. Oh save me prince!” but vain the cry No might had prince nor king that hour. The raging people seized their prey And trampled him beneath their feet Until a shapeless mass he lay, His fate considered meet. “What was his sin?” Ye ask with bated breath. It was that then and long years after that, He merited such awful death, Who killed a sacred cat. Now ton loads of this one time god, (Oh, how our gods do fall!) Are sold for fertilizing sod, Time evens all. [page 100]
OH, Egypt! I could weep for thee, Is there no hand to stay thy desecration? Cradle once for all the world, Now foot ball for each nation That needs a plaything. Shall it be that Cleopatra’s bones Be hacked about a “Penny Show”? Her needle crumble In a western snow? The very gods stooped down To make thee great. And must I see thee now So desolate? I’d rather dream of thee In all thy proud entirety Than see thee scattered Piece meal round Thy relics cumbering Barbarous ground. [page 101]
TRANSLATION OF THE LORELEI
I WONDER why such great sadness Disturbs me, as I tell Of this old tale of madness, (Like a tolling funeral knell.) The air is cool and darkling And rapidly flows the Rhine, Where the mountain peaks are sparkling In the evening sunshine. The beautiful maiden queen Upon that throne so fair With wonderful gems is seen, As she combs her golden hair. She combs it with comb of gold, And singeth gleefully With a sweetness that can’t be told An enchanting melody. The sailor in little boats Is seized with a wild desire. He sees not the cliff as he floats, His gaze on that glittering spire. I believe the waves will devour, In the end, both sailor and boat; If he cannot resist the power Of the Lorelei, afloat. [page 102]
HER DAILY BREAD.
SHE works all day for her daily bread, Aye, and most of the night. And the pittance she earns as her reward Isn’t worth the candle light. Some must struggle, and strive, and pinch, They dare not wait nor stop, On one side starvation and death, On the other the grim sweat shop. And what is her life when its all been told, But the grind of a great sweat shop, Where she earns her pittance as long as she can, Then must falter, and faint, and drop. [page 103]
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ALONE, to be alone, When leaves are blown In rustling droves athwart the way, And grasses bend their heads to say Some leafy gossip of the wind. Some whispered secret of their kind. Alone? When chipmunks scold, And in their loneliness made bold Throw villanelles into my face, With gay, full-throated, saucy grace. Alone? When stooping down to nature’s shell I catch the far reverberate swell Of nature’s mysteries out thrown. If this be loneliness, how sweet to be alone!
[illustration] [page 107]
HE stoops to paint the lines Beside the vein that marks a blade of grass— And misses all the pageants of the sky that pass The shifting of the shadows on the hill, The dancing of the light upon the rill He cannot paint. He sees alone By some small pool, a tiny stone Which he would make so real That, being boys, we fain would steal. He cannot reach the setting Of the sun behind the pines. Some shrivelled twig, born by the winds, That hangs in limpness from a bough Will strain his every effort now Until he will produce again A thing of deadness of more pain Than was the first to look upon. Meanwhile another sunset’s gone. He tears up green things by the roots To see how they may grow. Is only true what we may know? And what we touch alone the real? Are not the hidden things we feel Much more reality Than those we see? For things that show, to him who looks Are but the title words of books. [page 108]
MY WINDOW PANE.
A PICTURE lies before me Pure are its tints and clear, Surely the touch of a master Has lately lingered here. Bits of frozen meadows Glint ‘neath a frozen moon, And glimpses of stilly brooklets That melt not ‘neath the noon. Against a sky all sparkling As if with diamonds set Pine-like trees lift up their heads In sombre silhouette. Flowers in starry bas-relief Intaglios of gold Like fabled, fairy dancing grounds My dazzled vision hold. Was it the North Wind’s spirit That homesick passing by Wrought with his chilly fingers These beauties for mine eye? [page 109] Methinks he brought on his palette, From regions of endless snow, Sketches of his native land A land we do not know. And I feel I have taken a journey Through parts man hath never seen. But alas! Is it only fancy, And the North Wind’s mystic sheen? [page 110]
DEAR little English violets How sweet and shy you are! Hidden away in your green leaves Yet I find you out from afar. You, you purple beauty, Decked out like a royal queen, And you, you little girl fairy All in white with a tucker of green Breathe you never so softly You cannot hide from me. I will track you by your sweetness Though never a flower I see. And though when you are blooming Your sweetness fills the air ‘Tis when you’re plucked and fading You are sweet beyond compare. Like friends, who when around us Though their virtues all may show, ‘Tis only when they leave us Their real worth we know. [page 111]
TO A DANDELION.
AH, Dandelion yellow! Ah, Dandelion dear! For me you have no fellow In all the flowery sphere. You do not grow in choice spots, Nor flourish under glass; But smile in common garden plots And gild the roadside grass. I know you are plebeian Your life no culture knows, You are no blossom queen Like the lily and the rose. But then you look so cheerful, I can almost hear you sing, As you come in April tearful The first warm tint of spring. [page 112]
DOES your life seem full of worry, Do its daily cares oppress, Is your pathway sometimes shadowed By some passing bitterness? Then this lesson e’en from nature I would teach you, worried one— Like the happy little clover Turn your face unto the sun. Does your trouble seem too heavy For your weary heart to bear? Is your pathway wholly shadowed By some overhanging care? Then remember, darkest objects ‘Gainst the brightest lights are seen, And for having known the dark spots ‘Twill seem brighter in between. Life is full of little shadows Lying darkly all around, And of course we needs must see them If our eyes are on the ground. [page 113]
A HANDFUL OF LEAVES.
THROWING some leaves in a brook one day,— A handful of crimson autumn leaves; And idly watching them float away My mind a fanciful vision weaves. I’ll take each leaf for a human soul Thrown down on the busy stream of life And watch each one to its chosen goal Mid the rocky channels with danger rife. But of all the leaves save the last that fell Floated lazily into a sheltered nook, There to their end content to dwell Useless alike to rock or brook. But the smallest of them all that day, The one that fell so far behind, I watched it float o’er each narrow way And through each rocky channel wind. Till, torn by many a jagged end, And cut by many a sharpened stone, Its way to a mossy bank did wend Where at last in peace it laid it down. [page 114] And in the spring when the snows are gone, And the moss springs up with fresher hue, We will bless the leaf that struggled on From whose sweet dust its beauty grew. We would not chide the leaves in the brook That sought their lives in peace to spend, But nobler far was the leaf that took The troublesome way to a useful end. [page 115]
A BIRD CALL.
THERE is a bird that calls to me Throughout the live-long day, A plaintive little melody That plainly seems to say— Hark! Listen! there is one That’s singing now afar— “You are too late, you are too late, You are too late, you are.” I wonder what bygone event In its bird history Gave cause for such a sad lament, That breathes of mystery. I wonder why through all the day It should reiterate— Hark! there is one that’s singing now “You are too late, too late” And as it doth chirp unto me With sweet bird-like persistence It wakens up a memory That to an echo listens. Which like the bird doth seem to sing That same, sad, plaintive bar, “You are too late, you are too late, You are too late, you are.” [page 116]
A DUAL TONGUE.
THE English think they hear it say, Near and shrill, and far away, Far and faint, and near and shrill,— “Whip, Poor Will, Whip Poor Will.” The Frenchman listens at his door Hark! ‘tis singing now once more! In purest French it seems to be “Bois Pourri, Bois Pourri!” Oh wily bird so politic! Thou knowest such a clever trick, Methinks thou knowest too, Of course ‘twould never do In Canada, to sing thy lay In English, while across the way, The Frenchman listens too. As premier thou wouldst do. [page 117]
A VALLEY where a river flows And wild sweet flowers bloom And every living thing has joy, And peace, and room. Where wide and sunny meadows reach All odorous ‘neath the sky, While folded round in purple rims The circling mountains lie. I saw it all as I passed by And carried it away To lull the fret of city strife, And warm the winter’s day. [page 118]
I SAW the tiny petal of a rose Torn by a passing breath of air; But held by thread invisible It hung rotating there. A storm was brewing. In the sky. Like leaden chariots The clouds rolled by. Then nature held her breath And for a space Each leaf in terror Turned its face. ‘Twas past, fell havoc reigned! Upon the ground lay giant trees! I turned, and still I saw That little flower rotating in the breeze. [page 119]
TO own some land, all by thyself! To have each tree and stone Hold thee as overlord And for their rental dues Pay thee with beauty, rest and peace! And all the sweet green reaches of the wood Makes pictures for thine eye, And music for thy soul So that it is a goodly rent They pay to thee in toll. [page 120]
THE waves are lapping on the shore In rhythmed cadence, soft and low, One by one they come and go, One by one they ebb and flow. A lullaby they’re singing Unto the setting sun. And all the peace of eventide, And all of nature’s sweet refrain, Fall back upon my heart again; And resting there in sweetest strain A lullaby keep singing; A lullaby to pain. [page 121]
MISSISQUOI IN JUNE.
OH! fair art thou Missisquoi In the smiling June time light When the fields are full of clover And daisied armies white. When shines the little buttercup Along the roadside way, Where happy in their innocence The little children play. And fair art thou, Missisquoi When the mystic twilight fills All the air with dimmest shadows Lying soft o’er vale and hills. Like the stealthy scouts of darkness Sent to find the night a place Where in ambush it may hide it ‘Til the sun resumes the chase. Oh! fair are thou, Missisquoi In the scented month of June, And my heart to thee in memory Will beat a pleasant tune. [page 122]
“SOMEWHERE there’s a rest,” I hear it When unto my weary mind Comes the message soft, and gentle, In the murmur of the wind. When every throbbing heart beat Jars upon some tensioned string, And the phantom of the darkness Haunteth still awakening. When the tireless flute of memory Pipeth all in minor keys Dwelling longest on the saddest Making mournful melodies. Even then with whisper gentle, In the murmur of the sea, Or the glimmer of the moonlight, Comes this message unto me, “Somewhere there’s rest.” [page 123]
A YELLOW light is in the north, A light that glows to red, A paler moon through broken clouds Shines faintly overhead. The birds from out the neighboring trees Their good night message call, Upon my heart the benison Of twilight peace doth fall. And as I drink the beauty in A wish comes unto me That as the closing of this day May my life’s closing be. A mellow glow within my heart, The glow of love for all The shining of my little light E’en though through clouds it fall. [page 124]
A DIMPLE on a woman’s face should be Like sunshine on a rose, Which with every passing breath Gently trembles, fades and goes. [page 125]
ROAR on proud ocean! Dash thyself against thy crags, Bellow forth thy fierce emotion, Tear thyself in foaming rags! Mighty thou art, and grand, But a Mightier than thou there is Who holds thee as in the hollow of His hand. [page 126]
THE NEREID’S DANCE.
COME my maidens, come ye Nereids, Hasten when I call! Now we’ll step a merry movement, Trip it one and all. Sea-weed wreathings be your garlands, Sea-foam drops your gems, For the brows of Doris’ daughters Fitting diadems. Come, ye dainty, dallying creatures! Haste ye lithesome maids! (Not the sunbeams dancing Lighter fleck Aegean glades) Unto Nature’s tuneful music Shall we dance today Hark! the waves are beating time Let Aeolus play! [page 127]
Heigh-ho, merry, heigh-ho! Now we’re ready, off we go! Who shall stop a Nereid’s pleasure When the hour is ripe? All together, keep the measure While the winds do pipe! Heigh-ho, merry, heigh-ho! Naught shall stay us, Waves obey us, The Present is all ours, And we lay upon the Future Hands that rob her of her stores. Heigh-ho, merry, heigh-ho! Now the Sun has sought his pillow The sleepy waves beat low. And the tired zephyrs Sighing, cease to blow. Come ye dainty, dallying creatures, Hasten back with me Ere the shadows wholly falling Cloud the Aegean Sea. [page 128]
THE MAID OF THE MIST.
OH, mariner upon the sea Beware, beware! She’s blind this night Who guideth thee. Her long damp hair Streams like a banner Far behind. Her face is fair, but oh, beware! She’s blind, she’s blind! The bells are ringing on the shore, The bells may ring, but nevermore Shalt thou thy native country reach, Save thy dead body by the tide Be cast upon the beach, If thou this night shalt guided be By the fair spirit of the mist. For oh, beware! she’s blind, she’s blind Who guideth thee! [page 129]
THE OLD LOG HUT.
VACANT the doorway, Rotted the floor, Gone all the glass Where the wind blows through. Sunk in a bed Of long, lank grass, Wet all day with the morning dew. Giant pines shelter it, Maple trees shade it, Little birds sing to it Many a song. Who was it fashioned it, Planned it and made it, Building so perfect, so straight, and so strong? Falling nuts pelt it As though they felt it A pity to see it So sad and alone, Wanton winds fling through it Wing through it, sing through it Hoping their company sweet may atone. [page 130] Who was it planned it, Fashioned it, scanned it? Placed those old rafters?— So brown and so true, Clouds of smoke hung in it, Lullabys sung in it, Soothed Young America, long years ago. Who was it lived in it, Loved in it, died in it? Oh, all the memories Around this old hut! They seethe in it, wreathe in it Breathe in it, hide in it Making alive a past that is not. [page 131]
LIGHT AND SHADE.
I LOOKED on a deep bow window While the moonbeams glinted in, Painting the sleeping flowers With a brightness soft and dim. Their shadows are lying before them, Like the hours that are past and dead. The brightness so mingled with darkness One hardly knows when it is fled. So the moonbeams and shadows, they teach us, Though sorrow and trouble are ours, That the brightness will mingle with darkness As well with us as with flowers. [page 132]
AN OLD NEW HAMPSHIRE INN.
OLD stone fences mark the way, Tumbled down and rough and gray, Efforts of another day. Door stones mark the entrance where Formerly good warmth and cheer Welcomed weary travellers here. Three great chimneys built of brick,— Wide, and generous, and thick, Former haunts of old St. Nick, Now are lying on the ground, Scattered widely all around. Where the wild sweet flowers abound. Degenerated apple trees Murmur sadly in the breeze Of other days than these, When ruddy children sampled too, Throwing old away for new, Just indeed as now we do. This old well!—What waters clear For man and beast were drawn up here, Away back many a year. [page 133] Inside stronger waters flowed For those wanderers on the road, But I’m sure they weren’t as good As this crystal shining spring Free to all for the asking, Leaving in its wake no sting. And this bunch of lilac trees! Marks the garden boundaries, Once so full of flowers like these, Purple mountains gird it round Wild deer browse on nearby ground. Where the partridge tame is found. Roadways leading off unseen Covered up in boundless green Once were highways not so mean. Poor old caravansary! Nothing much is left of thee Thou art but a memory!
THE STORM SIGNAL.
WHAT means this low unceasing moan,— This never changing monotone, That falls from the waters, storm presaging, Ere yet the stormy battle’s raging? Meaneth it only that waves in breaking Over the stones this wail are making? Or doth it means that up from the deep, Come the spirit voices of those who sleep? Sleep, ah yes! but no rest have they, Drifted by current and eddy away; For awhile they lie in some shelly groove Then on with the current again they move. And ever when the storm is nigh They send aloft this mournful cry, A warning for some their lives to save, But a knell for others who find their grave. [page 135]
SWEET lanes that lead to nowhere, Quaint streets that guide to naught. Cow paths that wandering go where The moors are beauty fraught. With golden rod, and aster, With mist, and purple haze, And time goes fast and faster Through the happy “S’conset” days.
[illustration] [page 136]
A FANCY OF MINE.
WAS it only a fancy of mine, Was it only a fancy of mine? That as I walked in a garden fair A little bird that was singing there Sang, “Twit a wee, I love thee” “Twit a wee, do you love me?” But hush, don’t tell For ‘twas only a fancy of mine. Was it only a fancy of mine, Was it only a fancy of mine? That as I walked by the shining lake The little waves o’er the stones that break Sang, “I love you, do you love me, I love you, do you love me?” But hush! don’t tell For ’twas only a fancy of mine. Was it only a fancy of mine, Was it only a fancy of mine? That as I walked in the garden fair That somebody else who was walking there Said, “I love you, do you love me?” But I’ll not tell, no, I’ll not tell, For it wasn’t a fancy of mine. [page 137]
THE PATH THROUGH THE WOOD.
THE highway may be straight and wide That leads right to the town And I be late and far from home As the setting sun goes down. But though it may be farther round, And longer than it should, I can’t help going home that way Down the pathway through the wood. For there I brush the leaves aside That rustle as I walk, And there the garrulous chipmunk Confides to me his talk. The tall straight trees stand sentinel To guard me on my way, And the little birds foregather At the closing in of day. Many a woodsy secret They tell me as I stroll, And it’s wonderful the things I hear That are soothing to my soul. And though the highway is more direct, And go that way I should I’m sure to choose that little path That leads me through the wood. [page 138]
THE Hare bell sped with the news afar, The Jonquil wrote it up. The Day’s-Eye spied it and hurried away To fill the Butter cup. The Buttercup full to the brim sped on To tell the Dandelion, Who roared it forth in the boldest way To his friend the Columbine. She straightway carried it along, As a proper Columbine ought, To a nice little friend she met that day, Who was called Forget-me-not. She remembered it all and more, For a friend who had the blues Lobelia by name, and a nice little flower Who was shocked at the terrible news. Nevertheless she took it on To a neighbor, the Hollyhock Who started out to seek a friend And found ‘twas Four O’Clock. [page 139] The Star of Bethlehem shed her light Where the deadly Nightshade fell, Who whispered it forth in a blighting tone That chilled the sweet Bluebell. She shivered but tolled the news forthwith, To confessor true Monkshood Who inflicted a penance on all the flowers As a proper confessor should. The Canterbury Bell rang out To call them all to mass. While Jack-in-the-pulpit made himself clear That things were at a bad pass. Now what was the gossip that all these flowers Were worried so much about? They said that the Rose and the Lily From the straight path had fallen out. And what was more No flower that blows Was as frail as the Lily Nor as full as the Rose.
[illustration] [page 140]
THE stealthy Dusk creeps down apace In velvet stockinged feet. The noiseless shadows fall away Like soldiers in retreat. The hillside slides into the plain, The plain into the sea, And all the world falls back in space, A hollow harmony. I stand upon the brink and gaze Far down, where out of sight, The solid things I knew by day Are melted, in the night. [page 141]
A SUMMER NIGHT.
THE sun has fallen from the sky, The signals of the dark, unfurled, Shake out their pennants there on high And trail like kite strings, o’er the world. A myriad tapers flash and leap Before Jehovah’s altar vast. I catch the breath of flowers asleep, Like incense, swinging past. The great heart of the darkness throbs And pulsates with tremendous stroke. The mystery of my being robs My senses of their sense, I choke And strangle with the food for thought, The scintillating stars display. The unknown things around are not The tangibilities of day. [page 142] The why, the how, the where, the when, I leave them all, Oh God, to Thee! Just give me my lost youth again And all it might have meant to me! Thy heaven they say is simply love, A thing we neither see nor grasp, So those bright things so far above More real are than things we clasp. If love is God, and God is love; Then heaven submerged in love must be. Oh, spare a little from above To knit this lower world to Thee! We reason round in circles wide, We swing far out beyond our ground, But our momentum fully tried Come back with sure rebound. The orbit of our circle true Will surely hold us in our place, These little journeys out from You But make us long to see Thy face. [page 143]
I LOVE a meadow When the grass is long And every tiny thing Can sing its little song. I love a meadow When the grass is cut Though every tiny Throat be shut. When all the clover Blossoms gay Lie trampled ‘neath The scented hay. I love a meadow Where its reaches wide Beckon me on To scenes untried Where I’m repaid As the hill dips down, Disclosing farms And woods, and town. I love a meadow On the hilltop too, Whose summit gained Unfolds a view That stretches wide Like the “Promised Land” [page 144] Before the Israelites, Where I stand. I love a meadow When the twilight falls And from the dusk The brown thrush calls To his mate upon The neighboring hill Who answers with note Antiphonal. And heaven would be To me I think That grove beyond Where the thirsty drink In a crystal spring, Whose waters clear Through shimmering sand, Bubble all the year. And where the song Of old maple trees Croons me to sleep In the summer breeze. [page 145]
WESTERN skies may fairer be And reach in a higher dome; But there are no skies, like the skies to me, That bend o’er my childhood’s home. They tempted me forth with their tales of gold And joy in a land so new, But the ache in my heart can never be told For my country, to which I am true. My children’s children may wave the flag That floats o’er the land of the free; But my old flag while there’s left a rag Is banner enough for me. It takes more generations than one To water the blood of a Celt, And though I may bask in a warmer sun My fondness for home will not melt. I stand on the shore and watch the track Of the vessels, that call to me, To follow the track of their salt spray back To my home far over the sea.
[illustration] [page 146]
THE perfume of a flower, That’s wafted on the breeze, Brings back another hour With unknown subtleties. That moan, that’s in the wind, Like cry of anguished thing, Or hopeless one who’s sinned Beyond all pardoning, Stirs unplumbed depths of soul, Pre-natal histories, Whose echoes round me roll In unsolved mysteries. Some accent, sudden, nigh, Wakes slumberings of pain, Like restless infant’s cry, That will not hush again. A bird note on the air Wrings soundless sobs from me, And still hands everywhere Strike chords of memory. And many a spirit takes Our earthways, from above, To soothe some heart, that breaks, With memories of love. [page 147]
MY FOREST QUEEN
[unnumbered page] [blank page]
MY FOREST QUEEN.
OH Nature, grand are all thy works! The ocean where the monster lurks, And powerful currents run. The mountain, with its heights sublime, And snow-clad points, that e’en from time, Have glistened neath the sun. The river and the desert main, The valley, and the fertile plain, That food for all out-pourest. All these are great and wonderful, Each do I love, but over all, I love the verdant forest. Its shady depths and vistas green, Its mossy nooks, where ne’er I ween, A shy sunbeam would venture. Its swaying boughs, and grand old trees, Its never-ceasing melodies, From leaf and stream and creature. Here a sweet flower in wildness blows, And there a tiny brooklet flows Known only by its singing. Between a moss clad limb reclines, And up above the clambering vines, To branch and bough are clinging. [page 151] And here aside some leaves we turn, To find the airy lady fern, That hides in wild nooks flowery. And there a bolder kind, beyond, That opens out with feather frond In verdant, bell-like glory. No dreadful depths to terrorize, No awful heights that meet the skies And show man all his smallness. But fairy dells, and rounded knolls, And birds that pay their forest tolls In carols full of sweetness. And I should love thee, forest glades. ‘Twas ‘mid thy cool and grassy shades That I first met My Queen. It chanced one day in idle mind, Weary of work and all mankind, I lingered in thy green. The sun, far westward in its flight, Shed o’er the earth that mellow light At close of day. A breaking twig, and someone there; Then looking up, a picture fair, Before my vision lay. [page 152] Between me and the crimsoning west A girlish form, in light robe dressed, Unconsciously did stand. Her graceful sun crowned head was bent And on the ground her eyes intent Saw me not near at hand. Something she sought without success, For with a gesture of distress She quickly searched the ground. And as she turned she raised her eyes, And looked in mine with sweet surprise As though she were spell bound. Fearful of frightening her, I broke The silence then, and spoke And asked what she would find. A girlish blush o’er spread her face And with a shy and childlike grace She answered “Sir, you’re kind!” So taking this for full consent My eyes and searching powers I lent To find her missing ring. Her mother’s wedding ring she said And from her mother long since dead She owned no other thing. [page 153] As she talked I studied her And wondered that a child so fair, For little more she seemed, Should be in such poor garb arrayed, Coarse was her gown and roughly made; But all her face redeemed. Her eyes, in color, gentian blue Just when that flower is drenched with dew, By curling jet seemed guarded. Her hair a molted, copperous gold In soft, caressing waves unrolled Around a snow-white forehead. The sweet, shy mouth was somewhat sad, As though through all her life she had Some secret sorrow carried. Each feature some fresh tribute paid, And each and all a fair shrine made Where I would fain have tarried. Full often I had trod that road To linger idly in the wood, And rest amid its green; But I would go more often now And with another aim I trow, To find my Forest Queen. [page 154] Three days passed by, of busy case, Such as men know who working, share A lawyer’s hard vocation. But on the fourth, the court adjourned, Toward the wood I fondly turned In happy expectation. Perhaps I’d meet her on the way, Or to that pleasant glade I’d stray And find her searching there; As when the sunbeams gliding fell O’er leaf and flower o’er glade and dell And made her e’en more fair. But no one met me on the road And through the path and in the wood A whispering silence reigned. Still on I trod full hopefully, Followed the track, but fearfully The little clearing gained. Was this the house I’d seen before, Was this the sheltering, opening door, That now stood strongly locked? No curling smoke arose on high, And no footsteps approaching nigh Responded when I knocked. [page 155] And she was gone, my wildwood flower! My love so beauteous, that an hour Had stolen my man’s heart. If I had only asked her name, Or who she was or whence she came, Before we had to part! Then turning back I paced the way That coming had seemed all so gay, But now was dull as night. For when the heart is full of hope All Nature sings, when sad we grope Through life, though all be bright. At last I reached that pleasant glade In which I met the little maid And helped her in her search. And thinking here ‘twould be less pain To know her gone I sat again, Beneath an aged birch. Glancing sadly on the ground My eye was caught by something round, A little, shining thing. So this was what we sought that day, And now when she was far away I found her missing ring. [page 156] Oh, bitter irony of fate, That tells us when it’s all too late, The words we should have spoken! Or gives to one who prizes not, The treasure that another sought, Like this small, rounded token. But I did prize thee little ring And I did love thee precious thing Because of thy possessor. Something to have that she had worn, Something to touch that did adorn And clingingly caress her. Then holding it up to the light I saw within the circlet bright Engraved an Irish name. Her mother’s name, no doubt, Eileen And if her mother’s, then my queen Might too be called the same. And ever with that fair young face My memory kept a sacred place For that sweet, Irish sound. Its music filled my lonely heart And in my thoughts it took a part As each new day came round. [page 157] But days came round and weeks went by, And though I searched both low and high No trace of her I found. She’d vanished from my longing sight As darkness flees before the light Or dew sinks in the ground. But hope dies hard when love’s the goal, And something whispered to my soul That we should meet again. So shaking off my restlessness I gave my mind to business And mingled more with men. For work’s the best of all the cures, For all the woes, which man endures That cometh from the heart. The busy hand or active brain Will often give a balm to pain That nought else could impart. And so I struggled hard for fame And safely built myself a name On Fortune’s favored road. Until at last it almost seemed So full my life I must have dreamed That forest episode. [page 158] But dream or not I had the ring And kept it as a cherished thing While six full years did run Six years that brought me wealth and power And many a pleasant, happy hour; But no hour dear as one. One that I spent with a fair maid ‘Mid whispering leaves, and forest shade, And golden sunlight sheen. One that I never can forget Whose memory sweet lives with me yet Though years have gone between. And many another maid I’ve met Who well could wear a coronet, Or grace a royal throne. Beauties who favored me with smiles With gentle arts, and maiden guiles And e’en not maids alone. For matrons too oft smiled on me And thought a pleasant thing ‘twould be To call me son, perchance, Not for myself, but for my gold Which in their minds, though left untold My worth did much enhance. [page 159] One there was a woman true Whose hand, and even heart I knew I might have won with ease. She seemed to like me for myself And not for rank, nor sordid pelt, But e’en she could not please. Sometimes I thought it was to be, That she was very dear to me And my lost queen dethroned. Whose beauty had, from absence, grown Until at last through years it shone With brightness never owned. ‘Twas thus I reasoned with my heart Until cold reason had in part Though not quite conquered love; But might have save for her dear ring; That little golden, shining thing Which all my heart did move. For when I felt it in my hand It seemed to me a golden band Between me and Eileen, And brought to me all fresh again The love that I had first felt, when, Her fair young face I’d seen. [page 160] So I put the thought aside Of ever winning other bride Than the owner of the ring, And if I ne’er should meet with her Still would my heart her memory wear As its most precious thing. Now that those six years have flown I find myself, strange and alone, On England’s sea-girt strand. For I have left my boyhood’s home And hence in search of health have come To roam through many a land. First I linger with a friend, Whom I have met, where Cornwall’s End, Stands out to sea so far. Then together we depart For England’s busy, throbbing heart Where souls, by millions are. Where wealth keeps up its revels high, While poverty slinks vicious by In starving irony. Where stone work towers over head That towered there when martyrs bled From sovereign tyranny. [page 161] Buildings whose gloomy massiveness Make me feel all my littleness As never felt before. Thinking of all the countless souls Who passed them by for earthly goals That know them now no more. Men in their day, much more than I And yet forgotten all they lie As dust when the wind endeth. Perchance a few to memory cling, Who by brave deed, or evil thing, A page to history lendeth. But London has another side, Its cheerful parks, and pleasant Ride, Its noted Rotten Row, Where beauty loves to sun itself, And where poor pride, and low born pelf, Together come and go. And here it is one pleasant day My friend and I both take our way, To spend an idle hour. And while we watch the shifting scene Two riders swiftly pass between, And one I’ve seen before. [page 162] At first I do not know her face Though on my heart its matchless grace Seems graven deep and clear. Puzzling over it in vain My glance rests on a golden chain, And a ring hanging there. Then clear, as leafless branches show Against the sunset’s golden glow, A scene comes back to me. A scene within a forest glade A sinking sun, a fair young maid And an old birchen tree. I seem to hear the birds again Trill out their joy as they did then, For life so glad and free. I seem to feel the self same joy; But with it mingles this alloy. How can I know ‘tis she? So fast she rode, had it not been For my old friend, I had not seen The swiftly passing pair. But he had seen them first and said “Here comes the noble Lord Gontred And his grand daughter fair.” [page 163] How could it be, that stately girl The one I knew, and he an earl Who rode past by her side? It seems impossible and yet I have the ring, and e’en by that I’ll prove if memory lied. I’ve found the house, a stately place And at a window see a face, The same and yet ‘tis not. The eyes and head and shining hair All but the mouth, just as they were In that fair forest spot! The lips that then looked shy and sweet, Now in proud hauteur firmly meet, With a slight touch of scorn. As though she found the world unfair And discontentedly did wear The lot where she was born. The pompous servant ushers me With most profound solemnity Into a stately room. Presently I hear a sound, A silken rustle on the ground, Soft footsteps and she’s come. [page 164] She stops halfway between the door, And bows, and then looks on the floor In haughty silence waiting. I ask her pardon if I’m wrong And tell my mission, and how long I’ve had the little ring. The haughty look deserts her lips The blue eyes fill, and then she steps And takes the ring from me, And holding it with trembling hand Examines close the little band, Her mother’s name to see. I stand and study her again As I did years ago, but then She was almost a child. And now her costly draperies fall Around a woman, queenly tall, And all my hopes seem wild. What chance have I to win her love? So high she seems, so far above My new world, self won rank. But sad thoughts flee before her smile And then we sit and talk awhile And she my care would thank. [page 165] I, who cannot tell her all Just pass it by and ask to call Again, some other day. She little knows how loath to part I am, nor how my happy foolish heart Beats music on my way. What need to tell how oft we meet, At home, abroad and on the street, Or riding in the row. One day she tells me all that passed Between this time and that, when last We met six years ago. How she had lived in that green wood With her grandsire in solitude Save for a maiden aunt. They were her mother’s kin, and she Brought up with them from infancy No other friends did want. Her grandsire was an Irishman And hated as the Irish can All English noblemen. He had two daughters, one so fair She won the heart of Contred’s heir, Who was in Ireland then. [page 166] She was the darling of his heart, His baby girl, who had in part Atoned her mother’s loss, And he was loath to give Eileen To Gontred’s son whose rank had been To him the heaviest cross. Eight years of poverty and care The young pair lovingly did share When Eileen’s father died. And not long after she was left Of all a mother’s care bereft Who faded from her side. The poor old father’s bitter grief In baby Eileen found relief, Who grew up almost wild, And after years the Lord Gontred Lonely in the life he lad Sent for the winsome child. Perhaps he felt remorse at last And thought to make up for the past By caring for Eileen. The Irishman declared the earl Should never have the little girl, And left his home unseen. [page 167] He wandered here, and wandered there Forever haunted by the fear That he should lose the child. Until at last they crossed the sea And after years were found by me In that fair forest wild. And, so it seems he thought that I Must be some clever English spy Who’d found them out at last. And taking all his little store Wandered from place to place once more As he had in the past. But soon enfeebled by his years He lost in part his brooding fears And sought his native land. Gontred soon found that they were there And anxious still to claim his heir Held out a friendly hand. Eileen would not leave him then Whose love for her had ever been The truest and the best. And nursed him with the tenderest care Until the old man journeyed, where All wanderers are at rest. [page 168] Disliking her aunt’s means to share She took the home was offered her Mid London’s stately halls. But used to all a gypsy’s life, The rooms with costly treasures rife To her were prison walls. She chafed beneath the formal rule Of London life, whose only school Had Nature’s lessons been. And held aloof from revels, where, Had she but wished, she was so fair She might have reigned as queen. All this worried Lord Gontred Who wanted his grand child to wed Someone of noble name. She did not tell all this to me But I who watched them both could see What went and came. I knew the old lord hated me, I read it in his eyes when he Saw me near Eileen. She told him I was an old friend And he could scarce his courtesy bend His strong dislike to screen. [page 169] One day, when she was out, he said, That his grand child was soon to wed A man of her own choice. And in insulting manner, did My visits to the house forbid, When we both heard a voice. ‘Twas Eileen who had just returned And seeing me so rudely spurned She stood between the two, With flashing eye and quiet tone And haughty air that matched his own She said it was not true. He, enraged at being foiled, Over with fuming passion boiled And bade her choose between Me and him, with all his land. One look she gave, I clasped her hand She’d chosen me, My Queen. [page 170]
“YOUR FATHER’S A BRAVE”
THE CHILDREN’S BOOK
THE HOLE IN THE FENCE.
JUST a picket or two, Left off for our use. There was scarcely a day That we did not go through. Our friendship was very intense; Got acquainted that way— Through the hole in the fence. She always wore plaid, With a yoke and full skirt, (I remember just how we dressed) My style wasn’t bad; Gabrielle with a frill But some way or other As children all will I used to like hers the best. We aped “Lady ways”— Wore rhubarb sunshades And burdock leaf fans. (They were good enough those days) Called on each other With much of pretense And a great deal of state, Through the hole in the fence. Now we go around by the gate [page 173] Leave our cards, have a “day,” Go to parties full dress And come home very late. Have arrived, as they say, At years of good sense, But life isn’t half that it was When we played Through the hole in the fence. 1890. [page 174]
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GRIMM AND GRUFF.
GRIMM and Gruff Were good dogs enough, But horribly given to fighting. Grimm came out flat For chasing the cat And Gruff had a habit of biting. No matter what spat They were busy at, No matter what bones discussing, Let a cat show her nose Or tread on their toes, And whew! they were off and fussing. Now one Pussy Mew, Who was fond of the two, And strange it is what I’m recounting: Took liberties great Were it early or late, Almost to danger amounting. She’d sleep on the rug With each little pug, No matter what the weather. And eat from one dish As sweet as you’d wish; So happy all together. [page 175] Now one day they saw Under pussie’s front paw A bundle of soft grey fur, And more that seemed Unless they dreamed A family had come to her. Now what more fitting Such friends unremitting Should call with congratulation. So each little pug With a happy “mug” Started off with great elation. Now it was one thing for kit, When she saw fit To have lived with each dog as a brother; But a different tale Which turned her pale When she’d become a mother. Her back rose up Like a reversed cup Her eyes blazed balls of fire, Her temper rose, and rose, and rose And rose, and rose Up higher. [page 176] She bit poor Grimm Till he cried for him Enough, enough, enough! And clawed and scratched Till almost despatched, That poor old doggie, Gruff. The two slunk off With a bark and a cough, Never to call any more. With such manners, they said She had better be dead And her temper they did deplore.
[illustration] [page 177]
THE STRAIGHT LINE.
“KEEP to the straight line,” My mother used to say, When I was but a small child And used to write that way. “Keep to the straight line,” I tried with honest might But the letters would go crooked And the words not go quite right. It’s not as easy as it seems Nor as simple as it looks When walking down the paths of life Or filling copy-books. But ‘tis well to have a straight line And keep it well in sight, Though the lines may still go crooked And the words not look quite right. [page 178]
SHE used to play so nice with me When we were all alone, And let me be The mother And things I liked the best, Like pour the tea, And all the rest. And she’d be baby And cry nice And let me pet her so; But in a trice Before you’d know When Susie Jones came in She’d sniff her nose And point her chin And look just like a bear And act like that And say to me “Go home, go home. You ‘Follow Cat.’” Then Susie Jones Would stick her tongue out Most a mile And they would whisper so And smile, And when I’d try to follow them [page 179] And wonder why They’d act like that, They’d both call out “I wouldn’t be a ‘Follow Cat.’” Then I would run into the house And cry, and cry, and cry, And wish that I was awful sick So that I most could die, And make them sad And sorry too. Of course she was much more growed up Than me. And it was awful good of her To let me have the bestest cup And let me pour the tea. So when she would Come in at night And say, “Why, Sis, What makes you cry? You look just like A great big fright,” And give me such a kiss, And be as sweet as pie, Why I’d just blame That Susie Jones For it always happened that When she came in, they’d run off so And call me “Follow Cat.” [page 180]
THE BOLD RAT.
A BAD cat Met a rat In a downtown flat. “Scat!” said the cat. “Drat!” said the rat “I will not do that.” “Spit! Spat!” Said the cat. “My hat!” Said the rat, And bit her a bat. Then they fought and fought, Till the day was done, And nothing was left Of either one. [page 181]
A GAME we played when we were boys, With all its bluster and its noise, As men, a game we have outgrown And yet, methinks, it could be shown There are some we play at even yet If to its pattern closely set In many points would coincide; But now, as then, we oft forget To “Shinny on your own side.” We cannot call it out so bold, The rules are different that hold The order of the game man plays; And fairness judged from youthful ways Has lost its old control. Riches the ball and self the goal, We follow after far and wide Regardless now where’er it roll, To “Shinny on your own side.” There’s much we cast off with our youth ‘Twould be better be if kept forsooth, As boyish games on larger plan Are but the pastime of the man. ‘Tis different not at “Shinny” when With boys we play who’ve grown to men; By boyhood’s rules no longer tied, ‘Tis harder now than it was then To “Shinny on your own side.” [page 182]
THE CASH GIRL.
ALL day long, On their little feet, Trot, trot, trot, Some untidy, some of them neat, Hot, hot, hot, While outside the broiling street Blisters the air Where they chance to meet, To catch a breath, Ere the strident call— “Cash, cash, cash,” Shall summon all. They seem too young For the task imposed, They are too tired Ere the shop is closed, They grow too old While they still are young, They grow too bold With a saucy tongue, Who was so foolish To place them here? Surely to someone They must have been dear; [page 183] Ah! The grind for bread Is a hard, hard grind, They have to be fed And their food they must find, So all day long on their little feet Trot, trot, trot; Some untidy, some of them neat, They scamper and push And struggle and call As they answer the summons That hurries all. So all day long on their little feet The cash girls scamper And push and run, No time for mischief Or play or fun, Just to be glad When the day is done. [page 184]
I HEAR them calling on the street, Their voices carried by the wind, Small boys who grudge another’s treat, “Whip behind!” “Whip behind!” And with the words and with the wind, A thought doth into being start, How down the path of life we find Boys older grown to play their part. How eager ever man to call When unto others luck’s inclined, (Jealous of good that may befall) “Whip behind!” “Whip behind!” Ah! easier far our way might be If all these tongues we could but bind, Which for themselves call fruitlessly, “Whip behind!” “Whip behind!” [page 185]
THERE are so many things about I like so very, very much, And yet my mother says to me, “Don’t touch, don’t touch.” I wonder why they leave them here To tease me so, when they are such Delightful things, then say to me, “Don’t touch, don’t touch.” But father says it’s just the same Though he is grown up ever so much. That there are many things he likes He must’nt dare to even touch. It’s my big mother says to me That I’m not to handle such, But he says it’s a “wee small voice” That says to him he mustn’t touch. So I suppose it’s best for us Not to handle and have no choice; But isn’t it queer when he’s so big That he should hear so small a voice? [page 186] It seems to me that things are turned All upside down since I came here And if I only knew the way I’d go right back, this very year. I’m sure up there they’d never have A lot of stuff we’d like so much, All lying round, and then cry out— “Don’t touch, don’t touch.” [page 187]
POOR LITTLE THING.
YOU look like a mouse that is caught in a trap Or a bird that is clipped in the wing And I wonder just how when you’re taking a nap You manage, you poor little thing. Can your toes rub together as baby toes will? Can you not give them a fling? Must you forever be resting so still And cramped, you poor little thing? Your body is plump and your cheeks are as fat As a prairie bird shot on the wing And I’m sure I’d no reason to christen you that And call you “A poor little thing.” Your moss bag is broidered with beads that are bright, The Lake of the Woods had no tree Too grand in its beauty, too great in its height To be felled and shapen for thee. Your father’s a brave, your mother for you Croons sweet an Indian song, As she binds the ribs of her staunch canoe Or paddles it swift along. [page 188]
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And after a while when you’re leased from your bands Your back shall be supple and straight. Strong shall your arms be and your hands, Powerful your muscle and great. Free as a bird, where you will may go. Your dominions are fit for a king And I’m sure I’d no reason to christen you so, And call you “A poor little thing.” [page 189]
THE chickens strut about the yard “Cock A Doodle Doo.” They pick the crumbs up fast and hard, And so indeed would you, If you were just a nice fat hen With nothing else to do.
SOME must be beggars, And some must be kings, But only the looker, it is, who sees The beauty that lies in common things. Have you noticed the form of the common weed, That grows in the wayside dirt? Have you seen the sparrow, that dullest bird, Twitter, and preen, and flirt? Have you lain with your face on a summer day Turned down to the meadow grass, To watch the tribes of that underworld As they struggle and seethe, and pass? Have you studied the haunts of the busy ant As it fetches and carries and saves? The Egyptians building the pyramids Were not more active slaves. I have seen a chipmunk, with babies two, Exploring an old stone fence. With what motherly patience she urged them along, On one and another pretence! [page 191] When they came to a crevice, so big to them, And shrank from its edges rude, How she chattered, and gabbed, and coaxed them on, With a mother’s solicitude! I have seen two parents, mud-turtles, they were With their brood, on a log in the sun. And when they saw me in a language unknown, They called “Duck.” And they did, every one. I was not flattered as you may think, To know I frightened them so; But ‘tis wonderful how much common sense A common mud-turtle can show. It would have been nice for some little boy To have kept them at home in a pail; But they preferred the beautiful lake And so every one turned tail. I have not told half the things I have seen In this underworld looking glass; But ‘tis well to have eyes in the back of your head For these common things that you pass.
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WHAT is this on the window pane? A bunny rabbit as plain as plain! It seems to be nibbling the pretty grass That grows so tall on the window glass. The artists who painted it seems to be lost, But I have my suspicions ‘twas old Jack Frost. [page 193]
LITTLE Billy went to school Didn’t follow any rule. Got there just as he would strike it, Sometimes would walk it, sometimes bike it; But his teachers didn’t like it: Set the girls to tittering, giggling And the boys to snickering, wriggling. That was why they called him silly. Just because his name was Billy And because when he would come He would sit and suck his thumb. Sit there winking, blinking, blinking, They didn’t know that he was thinking. Now they all have grown up big. Billy wears a gown and wig. Doesn’t follow any rule Any more than when at school. Blinks no more than others do, Had his eyes attended to. ‘Twas with his eyes he did the blinking But ‘twas with brain he did the thinking. [page 194]
THREE piggies sought their fortunes” A nursery tale retold in verse. It might be told better And might be told worse. Mother Nature spoke up To three sons one day As they started forth On life’s bleak highway. I have three gifts. Which one most endures? Just make your choice And the gift is yours. The eldest called out In a voice so bold And said “Dear Mother, I’ll take the gold.” So on with his heavy Pack he rolled. It kept him down To the dusty row, It blinded his eyes With its glittering glow. It kept him from knowing His friend from his foe. [page 195] The second spoke up When his mother came With her gifts, and said “Just give me fame.” And he rose like a bird And travelled far To the lands of delight Where the famous are. Then she came to the last Her baby boy, Her pride and delight, Her greatest joy. “My son,” she said, “I have nought for you But this bundle of words, With no choice you drew The gift of all gifts, If you use them, true.” The weight was light As he stepped away; But he sang a tune As he went that day. He whistled and trilled A roundelay. He picked his words From his bundle light, And joined them together From day to night. [page 196] He wove them in patterns Of quaintest design, And strung them in couplets Line on line. He chose them with care, And puzzled them out, Twisted them in And turned them about And though they were light When he started along They soon grew quite rich, With the weight of his song. He shook them together Like dice in his brain To see what new wonders Might greet him again, And though he could never Their value have told. They brought him both glory And plenty of gold, And the words that he dropped As he trod on his way Leave a trail of delight For all travellers to-day; And a shining chain links us Like stringlet of pearls, Though he long has been travelling More glorious worlds. [page 197]
THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS.
‘TWAS the night after Christmas And all through the house Not a creature was stirring, Not even a mouse. Mamma in her kerchief, Papa in his cap Were settling themselves For a Night-Mary nap. The children all tired out, Were tucked up in bed With a pain in the tummy And one in the head. Old Nick with delight, And I don’t mean the saint, Was entering more names In his book of complaint, For intemperance he said Is not just what we drink, But the food that we eat And the things that we think. And Christmas was never intended to be, Just a jolly, old, rollicking sort of a spree. [page 198]
THREE YEARS OLD
SWEET as sugar, Merry as fun, Bright as a cricket This little one. Playing with scissors Needle or knife, Burning his fingers, Risking his life, Telling a story, Singing a song, From this to that thing The whole day long. But we wouldn’t change him For angel or gold. This dear little mischief, Just three years old. [page 199]
THE EXTRA HANDED CRAB AND OTHER STRANGE THINGS
DEAR me! What would we do If the houses took to grinning? I’d be sure to lose my head And up a tree go “skinning.” To meet the household broom As I went out to walk, In the middle of the room, Gave me such a shock. It stood there quite alone, Like our grandma’s silken dress, I nearly turned to stone, A little more, or less. And then there’s what they call The wrong side of the bed. I’d push it to the wall And have just one instead. It is a dreadful loss When we get up that way. It makes us tired and cross All through that dreadful day. [page 200] It is an awful age When things inanimate Can walk, and grin, and rage, At such a dreadful rate. Once upon the rug Oh my! I felt so queer! I saw a horrid bug That grinned, from ear to ear. I knew an apple tree, That blossomed in the fall. If I, so slow, should be I would not grow at all. The very worst I know Was a crab with extra hands. One day I thought I’d go Out strolling on the sands. I took it for thin air Out walking on two legs. I thought it wouldn’t care So knocked it off its “pegs.” Its eyes stuck out with fright A quarter of an inch, But it pushed them in quite tight With two tiny hands. “A cinch.” [page 201] They were a special pair Crossed beneath its chin, For using when it had a scare To push its eyeballs in. I’d heard of eyes that stuck Right, straight, out of one’s head. So wasn’t it the greatest luck To meet that crab, we said. I saw a heap of snow They showed to each new comer, It didn’t know enough to go Although ‘twas then mid-summer. I suppose the next we’ll hear Is that animals can talk, But if they do I fear Right off this earth I’ll walk. [page 202]
I HEARD a mouse at midnight stealing Down the oaken stair I heard a kit itself concealing To catch a treat so rare. Then pitter patter, pitter patter, Down the oaken stair Frisky frisking, whisky whisking, Went that cautious pair. I heard no more, I heard no more, So dropped me off to sleep. Next morn when I descended For poor mousie took a peep, And there in the corner sittin’ Was the house to a huge rat grown, While nought was left of poor kitten But an eye tooth and wish bone. So now my little readers, A moral I’d relate When you would like to play the cat, Just mews on Pussy’s fate. [page 203]
THE COUNTRY OF LOOK-INTO-THINGS
THERE’S a land that I know, And it’s not very far, Where there’s much to be seen But where travellers are Inclined to go through With their eyes shut. There is much to be seen And there’s more to be thought, We will just take a journey Our tickets are bought, Through the country Of Look-into-things. Here’s a blot on my paper That fell from my pen, I wonder just what I was writing at then? Perhaps ‘twas a sketch of the war, For the blot is a soldier As plain as can be With only one arm, And, oh dear me! How terribly sad he is looking. His thoughts on his troubles Seem all to be set. [page 204] Perhaps on a pension He never may get For serving so well in the war. And here is a milk jug Of quaintest design With a bas-relief pattern So daintily fine You are sure to ask if its Wedgewood? ‘Twas formed from a milk drop That fell from a glass And isn’t it wondrous Congealed it should pass To the shape of a beautiful pitcher? A piece of old paper That somebody tore I see in its edge As it lies on the floor The face of a Psyche Or Milo. Now I’m sorry to leave you, But have to go home, Though I’m sure by yourselves You often will roam Through the country Of Look-into-things. [page 205]
A LITTLE FLY.
A LITTLE fly on a window pane, That was buzzing away With might and main, Stopped all at once and sadly said, “’Twill soon be winter, And I’ll be dead. So what’s the use of buzzing like this My work, I’m sure, No one will miss.” Then off to a quiet spot she went To idly rest Till her life was spent. But a spider who watched her As she slept Closer and closer Softly crept. Till a dainty café of silken net All around her Was safely set. And long ere winter That poor little fly Found out alas, What it meant to die. [page 206] Now you see, if the fly At her work had kept The spider could never So near have crept. So if all you can do is just to buzz Why, buzz and buzz and buzz and buzz. [page 207]
NELL AND LOU
‘TWAS the work of two small maidens, Pretty Nell and dainty Lou, To pick all the ripened currants That on Grandma’s bushes grew. For several years they had done it And had always done it well, So with interest one fine day, They heard their Grandpa tell How the worms on the currant bushes Were just beginning to show And he must have them “hellebored,” So that the fruit might grow. Said Nell, “Oh, please dear Grandpa, Let them eat the leaves all up And then ‘twill be so easy To fill the big tin cup.” But Grandpa only muttered, As old folks often will, “Tut, tut, my little maidens,” And so the two kept still. [page 208] That evening in the garden Two little maidens strolled, And put two heads together, Which makes just one, I’m told. Said Lou, “They are so horrid,” Said Nell, “They wriggle so, And even when they’re hellebored They don’t all die, you know.” Why here’s a bush they’ve eaten at And nibbled up the worst, And I’m sure they are the currants That are ripening the first.” A few days after grandpa Came in in such a state To say the worms had beaten And the sprinkling was too late. “There’s scarce, if you’d believe it,” To Grandma, “A leaf upon a tree.” Then two small two-legged worms Felt just as mean as mean could be. Said Nellie to her mutton sleeve, “I wish we didn’t do it.” Thumped Louie’s heart into her ear, “I told you you would rue it.” [page 209] Then with a pretty lisp, A stammer and a cough, “Oh, pleathe, dear grandmamma,” she said, “’Twuth uth who picked them off.” And grandma crossly grumbled “You naughty little Lou, They’ll be as sour as vinegar, And take more sugar too.” “Yeth, but grandma dear, They won’t take tho much more, And what you lothe on sugar, You’ll thave on hellebore.” Then grandma only muttered, As old folks often will, “Tut, tut, my little maidens,” And so the two kept still. [page 210]
LITTLE girls who like to climb Should chose most likely places, For if they don’t they’re apt to fall And scratch their little faces. [page 211]
A LITTLE MAN.
THERE is a little man called Rolf When he grows up big He’ll go outdoors And play at golf. Like to play at football, too, And let his hair grow long, Mother’ll let him do all those things If he won’t do things that are wrong. Like to go into the back yard Throw the stones at cats, Throw sticks at the little boys And knock off all their hats. Like to go into the forest, Climbing up the trees, Wearing off his stockings Scratching off his knees. Like to go into the water, Try to learn to swim, Mother’ll let him do all those things Though she’ll be afraid for him. [page 212]
A LITTLE LADY.
IT isn’t that she’s dressed so neat Or always looks so fresh and sweet: It isn’t that she’s round and fair, With such blue eyes and pretty hair. All of these things of course I see. It’s her manner that appeals to me. She never sits when grown ups stand, And always offers the proper hand. She tries to think, not to slam the door, Nor to leave her playthings on the floor And though these things all right may be It’s her manner that appeals to me. It isn’t that she’d never stare, Nor rudely say she “Didn’t care” Nor take the biggest piece of cake, Nor sit too late up, wide awake Nor speak too loud, nor cry, nor call. It’s her manner that’s the best of all. So modest, gentle, childish, sweet! You’d almost think you’d like to eat Her right up, like a great big bear; But that of course would not be fair. It’s the manner that appeals to me Of this little chubby, sweet, ladye. [page 213]
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