29th Jun 2016Posted in: Others, Post-Confederation 0
Commonplace Sketches

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Albert Gorton Greene
Samuel Coffin Eastman
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Commonplace Sketches
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’Ere old Winter’s reign is over
     And the sun shines warm and bright,
Standing listening by the meadows
     Which are covered o’er in white.
You can hear a gentle rustle,
     Something murmuring, whispering;
It is but the slow awakening
     Of the spirit of the Spring.

Soon he comes with joyous greeting,
     Dressed out in his brilliant green,
Smiling radiantly he approaches
     Glancing ’round with interest keen.
Those bright flowers, called dandelions
     Shining, gleaming, everywhere
Are the wild, disordered tresses 
     Of his streaming, golden hair.

And the little so-called violets,
     Smiling up into the skies
Whence they stole their pretty color,
     Are his tender, laughing eyes.
Listen to the music playing,
     Making hill and valley ring;
’Tis the tabor for the dancing 
     Of the Spirit of the Spring.

Oh, he is a merry fellow!
     See him for the dance prepare;
Look! his silken robes are moving,
     See the waving of his hair.
Listen!.. He is coming, coming,
     Rushing brooks ’Tis no such thing;
’Tis the merry, dancing footsteps
     Of the Spirit of the Spring. [page 3]


The children come in laughing play to fill
My lonely heart, and home that is too still;
They hold some dainty in the hand stretched-out,
And as I move to take it, with a shout,
They close their fingers, draw the hand away,
And I, pretending disappointment, help them play.
And thus was life to me. In open hand it showed
Joy, sweetness, light, filling my whole abode,
But as I moved to take, the hand withdrawn,
Left me in sadness, and with sorrow torn.

My pleasant home lacked children’s merry noise
And happy laughter—best of all life’s joys.
Long I had hoped and prayed, at last I knew
I, among women, would be blessed too.
My cup of joy was full, soon would I hold
My longed-for child, and to my heart enfold.
At last, in eager tones, “Give me my child,” I cried;
They gently said, the child had breathed—and died.

In anguish sore I cried, “O, God, Thou mockest me.
Thou offerest joy, then snatched it back to Thee.”
Then, as a mother soothes her pain-worn child,
The answer came to me in accents mild.
“I mocked thee not. Didst thou not ask of Me
A little child to love? Behold, I gave her thee.
Dost thou not love her? Ask of thine own heart
If thou wouldst with that mother-love e’er part.
The child I took to keep her from the ill
And storm of life, but thou canst love her still.
She walks beside thee, holding tight thine hand,
And wonders why thou dost not understand.
No grief can write its imprint on her brow, [page 4]


She knows no earthly sorrow as dost thou;
No care of thine could keep her from earth’s wrong,
But now she joins with angels in their song.
Oh, mother-heart, canst thou not know and feel?
Thou hast he love; the loss My hand can heal,
But the sweet love that through thy bosom thrills 
Is thine forever. Not life’s woes nor ills
Can take it from thee.

                                    Thus the children play.
For when they think I too much grief display,
They open wide their hands, and give me then
The best they have.
                               And so God deals with men.


The prairies are sweeping afar, afar,
     In billows of grain, like a golden sea, 
The blue sky spreads smiling over the plain,
     But, oh! it’s the hills I’m longing to see.

The tall hills bathed in the rising sun’s light,
     The grey hills crowned with the sunset’s glow
That summer has clothed with a mantle of green,
     Or winter has covered with gleaming snow.

The hills that protected my childhood’s home,
     Or raised their proud heads to the bending sky,
Who, welcoming, beckoned the venturesome soul
     To climb, e’en in thought, to pinnacles high.

The sun brightly shines on the golden grain, 
     But my eyes are so dim I cannot see,
The air is crisp and sweet on the plain,
     But the hills, the hills, are calling to me. [page 5]


The road runs on.
     ’Tis hard at times for little feet,
     But the bordering meadows are very sweet,
     And the poppy with its petals bright
     Gleams from the grass on left and right;
     And out-stretched hands are there to guide
     The wanderers on its reaches wide.
                         The road runs on.

The road runs on.
     The child finds pleasure in its path,
     Sweet, without bitter aftermath,
     The meadows, too, are full of bloom,
     With sharp barbed weeds, with fleeting gloom,
     The hills are steep and hard to climb,
     But the effort of trying is sublime.
                         The road runs on.

The road runs on.
     Youth speeds along with eager tread,
     And seeks the hills it sees ahead;
     The bright fields tempt with brilliant flowers,
     Bird voices fill the sun-lit hours;
     The clouds at times lie dark and low,
     But roseate-edged with the bright sun’s glow.
                         The road runs on.
The road runs on.
     With cautious step but measured pace
     The man moves down its endless space;
     The meadow flowers tempt no more,
     Nor grey skies daunt; ecstasy’s oer;
     Then death comes out his guest to greet.
                          The road runs on.[page 6]


I planned me a mansion stately
     With battlements, halls and towers,
Terraced grounds o’erlooking the sea,
     And parterres brilliant with flowers;
With soft-shod servants to come at my will,
     Grandeur from lawn to dome,
But it lacked—I knew not what—but yet
     I could not call it Home.

I planned me a house in the city,
     With bright rooms high and wide,
I placed in it every comfort,
     I thought of it with pride;
I sat as its mistress in solemn state,
     With guests to go and come,
But I felt the chill of its dignity,
      I could not call it Home.

I planned me a little cottage
     Which I placed on a village street,
Its rooms were small and comfortless,
     But I thought it was quite complete,
For I filled it with children’s voices 
     Little feet through it to roam,
Ah, then, my heart was satisfied,
     At last I could call it Home. [page 7]


I met a Cupid straying 
     In a garden fair,
Where silver moonlight filtered
     Through the perfumed air;
But the child was crying 
     As though in sorrow sore,
Heedless of the beauty 
     The flowers had in store.

I met Cupid straying
     In a desert wild,
Where the vicious briar and thorn
     Tore the pretty child.
But the rogue was singing
     In voice soft and sweet,
Heedless of the lowering storm,
     Or rough stones ’neath his feet.

Then I asked, bewildered,
     Why he sang this song
In a desert bleak and wild,
     And wept where smiles belong?
But the urchin laughed in glee,
     Then sighed soft and low,
“I know not why I laugh or cry,
     I am Love, you know.” [page 8]


Angel of the flowers!
     Flora surely smiled
When she saw her loved ones placed
     In your charge, my child.

Then to draw you nearer
     She chose snowdrops rare;
The snowy white for your smooth throat
     And your brow so fair.

Geraniums gave their color
     To tinge your damask cheek,
For the bright red that stains your lips
     She from the rose did seek.

The grace that sways your slender form
     Within the lily lies,
The pansies gave the velvet
     That softens large dark eyes.

The dainty violet’s modesty
     In your manner has its part;
The sweetness of the mignonette
     Has filled your mind and heart.

While Flora for your beauty
     Among her flowers doth range,
I send a wish she cannot give,
     Dieu vous garde, Fleurange. [page 9]


My little dream boy has wide brown eyes,
Such wonder and tenderness in them lies!
In their limpid depths is a country unknown,
Where he reigns, with my heart as his royal throne;
                         My little dream boy.

My little dream boy has small soft hands,
Whose touch is more gentle than silken strands,
On my face they flutter with healing balms,
For he holds my heart in his rosy palms,
                         My little dream boy.
My little dream boy has tiny plump toes,
That patter along wherever he goes,
No noise can muffle them in the street
For my heart is a path for his little feet;
                         My little dream boy.

O, little dream boy, can you hear me call?
Can my longing pierce through the mystic wall?
Will you answer some day in your dear sweet voice,
That my heart may cease its long quest and rejoice,
                         O little dream boy? [page 10]


Shade of brown and tinge of green,
Gusts of tears, smiles in between,
Friendly greeting, haughty mien,
                    ’Tis that we call April.

Boisterous laughter in her wild mood,
Softly singing in the wildwood,
Spring the loveliest, gayest childhood,
                    ’Tis that we call April.


The world is very still. The murmuring winds 
Have ceased their whisperings, and through
The opening of the dawn, the earth,
Adorned in bridal white, reveals herself
Slowly, as one wakes from pleasant dreams.
The busy frost, working throughout the night,
Had spun a robe of filmy white, so pure,
So soft; the mist, added a silver veil.
The sun had sent his messengers, the birds,
And the earth, awakened, blushes.
The sun lifts the thin veil, and sees
The robe glistening with brilliant gems,
The train, falling in folds around earth’s feet.
Life rouses, glances at the glory,
Then goes its way. Day has begun. [page 11]


Happiness is made up of little things;
The graceful movement of a sea-gull’s wings
     Against the brilliant azure of the sky;
The warming of the expectant sky at dawn,
The iris-tinted dew drops on the lawn,
     The white sail on the water gliding by.
The wild, exultant waving of the trees
To meet the challenge of the freshening breeze;
The mists that veil the purple of the hills;
The dancing footsteps fo the merry rills;
The trilling laughter of a happy child;
The antics of a pup with joy gone wild;
The evening’s gentle peace the heart to bless;
Just little things—but such spell happiness.


There’s a blare of martial music, there’s the tread of marching feet,
     There’s the dull and sullen thunder of the guns,
But a sobbing breath has followed in the silence of the street,
     It’s a mother, stricken, crying for her sons.

There’s the gallant ship that’s fighting, there’s the deadly one that sinks,
     There’s the airship, swift and subtle in its flight,
There’s a glory in the onrush, there’s no time for him that thinks
      Of the wife and mother weeping in the night.

There’s the upright stern commander, there’s the private from afar,
     (Though the rank but little matters when they’re dead,)
But there’s still another picture at the closing of the war,
     It’s the mother working for her children’s bread. [page 12]


Going West into the sunset, West into the light,
Leaving behind the shadows, beckoning to the night;
Soul uplifted with color, marching forward with zest,
Eyes fixed on glory
                              Going West.

Going West when Death calls you, leaving sorrow behind,
Into the unknown country, seeing the tangle unwind;
Face to the light that is fading, feeling that God knows best,
Fearing naught in His presence,
                              Going West.

CANADA, 1914

Regardless of her heritage, she played
With empty toys, or sought in gold her goal;
“In restful ease, or pleasure gay,” she said,
“Canada finds her soul.”

From pleasant dreams she raised her gold crowned head,
The war-drums sounded harshly in her ear;
Her message sent, unshaken, unafraid,
“Mother, you called. I’m here.”

“You need my sons? Behold, they come with pride;
And thine, for freedom’s sake, my wealth, my power;
I ask for naught, but to stand by thy side
In this, thy fateful hour.”

Not in the pleasant ease of peaceful years,
But in the fearful strife where Death claims toll
Championing the weak, assuaging another’s tears
Canada finds her soul. [page 13]


Under my window a robin is singing;
     (Deep lies his nest ’mid the glistening leaves;)
Lilting of summer the May rains are bringing,
     Magic the pattern in music he weaves.

Patient and still sits his little brown helpmate
     Waiting in love till the nestlings appear,
Cheerily robin announces the daybreak
     Who could feel sad when his carol we hear?

Sing to us, robin, of hope and of patience,
     Work does not daunt of the nest be secure,
Happiness rings through your rare tuneful cadence,
     Love and the home are the things that endure.


“I will not offer that which costs me nothing.”
     The crumbs that from the festal table fall,
The tattered remnants from a life of pleasure,
     Shall I give these to Thee Who givest all?

The cool, detached lip-service for devotion,
     The wearied, muddled mind to enter prayer,
The ends and tags of an out-worn emotion
      Offered to Thee, still thinking Thou art there.

The grudging giving of the bits of silver
     Left in the hand when self is satisfied;
Are these the gifts we offer to our Saviour?
     Gifts that our friends would sneeringly deride.

O David, may we learn your kingly spirit,
      And to our Lord to offer of our best;
Not idle time or just left-over fragments,
      But the first fruits, and giving will be blest. [page 14]


The night was dark; the moon, a careful guard,
Had gone to reconnoitre, and the stars,
Their charge forgot, had drawn within their cloudy tents.
All was still without. The gently moving leaves.
The rustle of the restless river, alone
Disturbed the murmuring silence.
The frowning cliff, its rugged walls,
Clothed with the garments woven by the centuries
Towered above; beneath the river flowed.

Upon its surface, by swift current drawn,
Floated a few small boats; with muffled oars
The rowers moved their charges down its tide.
One, whose frail and weakened form gave token slight
Of lion soul enshrined, in lowered tones
Gave order, and with grave sad voice repeated
His best-loved poem, “The Elegy,” saying,
“Rather I would write that poem than take Quebec.”

Far, far above their heads the sentinel paced
His weary round. Suddenly he paused,
To list, with trained intent, but careless mind,
The fire from an attack below the town.
“Another try,” quoth he, “The mad English
Know not when to stop. Surely that weak boy, 
Their general, can see our hold is sure.
This is a goodly land, forest, hill and rivers great,
And France must hold it for her own.
For me, gladly would I give it all,
Trackless forests, frowning hills and river deep,
For one small spot, where in her vine-clad hut,
Waits my Marguerite, the sweetest girl in France.

“Halt! Who goes there?” The silence was disturbed;
Some loosened stones had bounded down the cliff, [page 15]


The sleepy chirp of newly-wakened birds,
The sweep of bushes filled the air
With something heard, not seen,
                                               “Who goes there?”

Again the cry. “La France,” the answer sharp.
The earth seemed suddenly to ope her mouth,
And ’ere he sank, he saw her vine-clad cot
On the sunny hills of France the fair.
For many years the sweetest girl in France
Wept for her lover, lost to her here forever.

Now all upon the lonesome height is changed;
And men, in serried ranks, file on the plain.
The General gives orders, and as the dawn,
More faithful than the stars, comes to his watch,
He sees ordered array, ready for battle.
Word was brought Montcalm, the leader of the French,
“The attack below was but a feint; the English,
Scaling the cliff, stand ready for the fray
Upon the heights above.”
                                       Then the General knew
That all was lost. With heavy heart,

But strong in courage, willing, nay anxious
To die, if death would give his well-loved France
This new and vast domain, prepared his men,
Though wearied with their long night’s fight,
To again face those who would not know defeat.
But, step by step, with progress slow but sure,
The English pushed their way towards the town,
Until, at close of day, the English cross
Replaced the golden lilies of fair France.

And Death, whose claims are endless,
Surely rejoiced that day, as on his list he wrote 
Two names, the pride and glory of our land.
Montcalm and Wolfe, bravely they died
Together in our hearts today they live. [page 16]


I walk with thee, dear love, in the clam even,
     At thy approach each fair rose droops its head;
Compared to thine, how faded are their colors!
     Thy cheek’s clear pallor, and thy lips bright red.

The evening star shines softly through the twilight;
     Poor trembling star! whose light thine eyes can dim;
The scented breeze grows faint, as if it envied 
     The breath that lightly leaves thy lips’ sweet rim.

The thrush’s evening hymn, how harsh it soundeth!
     Whene’er I hear the sweetness of thy voice.
All Nature sighs to see in thee her rival,
     But as I love thee, dear one, I rejoice.


When my airship comes in from my castle in Spain
      What will it bring to me?
Joy and prosperity, freedom from pain,
      Sunshine and birdsong and thee?

If prosperity blessed me, how could I guess
     I was loved for myself alone?
If pain came no more to me, would I then miss 
     The caress in your deep loving tone?

How can I wish for my airship again
     Far from across the sea?
For my airship came in from my castle in Spain
     When it brought you to me. [page 17]


My  little love lies sheltered in the valley,
     Alone, upon the hill-top here, I stand;
The wild, sweet wind is calling to me madly,
     The ardent sun caressing head and hand.

The valley lies in stillness and in shadow, 
     The tree, with out-stretched arms, a shelter hold,
The birds sing sweetly and the fields are verdant,
     The flowers are pretty with their cups of gold.

Upon the hill the flowers hide their beauty,
     But oh! they are so fragrant and so rare;
The paths are rough, the broken rocks are jagged,
     But sweet and fresh and clean I breathe the air.

With panting haste I strive to reach the summit,
     Then, far above another hill awaits,
This conquered, still another flaunts a challenge,
     Ambition urges and my soul elates.

O little love, contented in the valley,
     Do you not hear the calling of the wind?
Then come and hand-in-hand we scale the hillside,
     And leave the prudent, futile life behind. [page 18]


Winter is coming! the old earth stands
With bended head and folded hands,
Silently waiting the king, whose throne
Is one-half the whole world, and he reigns alone.

Regally, splendidly, comes he in his might;
His garments are royal, ermine, pure white,
Diamonds and pearls are the jewels he wears,
Glittering with brilliants the sceptre he bears.

Favorites has he, this haughty old king,
List to the song the sleigh-bells sing!
And the schoolboy’s shout, as he hurries along,
Is caught and tossed back by the merry throng.

But others there are who dread to hear
That the time for his reign is drawing near,
For hunger and cold are in his train,
And they shrink from his hand, for his touch brings pain.

This fierce old king has a temper, too,
Then his courtiers rush his bidding to do,
And everyone tries to keep out of his way,
As he blusters and storms the livelong day.

But come with me, gently, to yon hill-side,
Where the great and the lowly together abide;
Here the king guards them all with the tenderest care,
As he covers each bed with his swansdown rare.

He tucks them all in with his coverlid white,
Decks each bed with jewels that glitter so bright;
The smile that he gives them is tender and kind,
And a lullaby sings with the low-voiced wind. [page 19]


Hark! the pipes of Pan are calling;
       Do you not hear?
Moaning, lilting, rising, falling,
       Surely he’s near.
Can you slight his offered treasures,
Dreams of youth and sylvan pleasures?
Don’t you hear his tuneful measures
       Hauntingly clear?

Stop a moment in your hasting,
       List to his call.
Ah! the precious moments wasting
       In the world’s hall.
Come and see the trees’ soft veiling,
Come and see the shadows sailing,
Over hill and valley trailing,
       Aiding Pan’s thrall.

From the trees’ warm russet branches
       Happy birds sing;
Through the fields the brooklet dances,
       Welcoming Spring.
Rainbow-tinted sunrise glowing,
Ribbon-hued the flowers showing,
Perfumed breezes gently blowing,
       Pan’s homage bring. [page 20]


When I go home
     My duties unprepared
          My tasks undone.
     Will gladly be fulfilled,
          When I am home.

When I am home
     Glad faces beam upon me,
          Sweet voices bid me come
     And taste the sweets of welcome,
          When I am home.

When I am home,
     Mother with gentle smile and kindly glance
           Quiets my longing wish to roam
     To find the happiness which only comes
          To those at home.

I’m trying to go home;
     O, Father guide me there,
          When into the broader, easier, path I roam.
     Keep me, O Father, safe from every snare,
           And take me Home. [page 21]


Oh, a thief of the world is Thomas Malone;
     He has stolen my heart from me;
My heart, it was barred by the icy wall
     That was reared by my dignity.
With a glint in his eye, and a merry smile,
     He has entered right merrily.

Oh, a saddened thief is Thomas Malone,
     A chastened spirit is he;
He’s been exiled for life on the island of love
     That lies in the shining sea.
Where the waves softly sing to the silver sands,
     And the winds whisper melody.

Oh, hardened thief is Thomas Malone,
     He has whispered low to me,
I must share his exile on the sunlit isle
     That lies in the smiling sea.
It’s myself will be glad when the good day comes 
     When he pays for his villainy. [page 22]


“I’m tired of life” with passion she cried,
     “What does it give that is good?
Toil and trouble is all that I get,
     It could give so much if it would.”
But Youth tripped joyously by her side,
     Why, it gives you me,” he gaily replied

“I’m tired of Life,” she mournfully said,
     “Even Youth has left me now;
What can it give to offset the pain
     That scars its mark on my brow?”
But Love walked quietly by her side,
     “It gives you me,” he gently replied.

“I’m tired of Life,” she patiently said,
     “It has given its all to me;
But Youth departed so long ago,
     And Love; what more can there be?”
But Death came tenderly by her side,
     “It gives you me,” he softly replied. [page 23]


Have you seen them, have you heard them
     Dancing in the white moonlight?
Have you heard the harps oelienne
     Sounding through the summer night?

Have you felt the pleasant tremor 
     Of the music-laden air
As they dance among the flowers,
     Bowing, passing, here and there?

Did you know that they were near you?
     Did you join them in their play?
Has your heart grown light with gladness
     Dancing ’neath the moon’s soft ray?

If you have, then life holds pleasure
     Far beyond what mind can tell,
You have caught the dearest treasure
     In the happy childish spell.

Far away from cares and sorrows,
     Goading wants and garish light;
Mundane thoughts are lost when watching 
     Fairies dancing in the night. [page 24]


I slowly am brought to the iron gates
     That hide a garden from sight;
The gates open silently at my approach,
     But the garden is veiled in night.

Though many have come to this garden with me
     I must enter its precincts alone,
What flowers will greet me as I advance
     Into its paths unknown?

The roses of love are blooming there
     And the lilies that whisper of death,
The cypress of mourning, the rue of despair,
     And the laurel for victory’s wreath.

The thorns are many and tell of pain,
     And nettles of remorse speak
But the pansy that brings me thoughts of you
      Is the heartcease which I seek.

Which flowers shall be my portion to pick 
     In the garden of the year?
Love or pleasure, pain or woe?
     But the heartcease is always there. [page 25]

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