Jean Blewett’s Poems
JEAN BLEWETT’S POEMS.
McLELLAND & STEWART
PUBLISHERS * * TORONTO
Printed in Canada
by McLELLAND & STEWART, LIMITED, TORONTO
ROSES OF JUNE
|All Love Asks||12|
|The Day of Days||15|
|The Long Ago||17|
|Near One—Dear One||19|
|My Sweetbriar Maid||20|
|I Love Her Well||22|
|Old Fashioned Folk||26|
|The Old Valentine||31|
|The Long Engagement||36|
|What the Poppies Said||38|
|The Courtier’s Ladye||42|
|The Rustic’s Lassie||44|
|When I Have Gone||48|
|Beyond the Veil||50|
|Little Mary Ellen||51|
WITHIN THE THRESHOLD
|A Heart of Gold||56|
|She Just Keeps House for Me||57|
|The Wife of Adamis||59|
|The Way to Dreamland||63|
|Too Deep for Tears||64|
|The Lonesomest House||65|
|The Boy of the House||69|
EYES OF CHILDHOOD
|The Walk in the Wood||78|
|My Little Maid||80|
|A Lad’s Protest||83|
|The Day Before the Picnic||91|
|The Holiday March||94|
|The Mission Baby||95|
KING AND COUNTRY
|To the Queen||98|
|Queen Victoria (1837, 1901)||99|
|The Vision and the Dream||101|
|The Native Born||104|
|The Woman Patriot||107|
|What Time the Morning Stars Arise||112|
|A Highland Lad||115|
|Goes Marching On||121|
ROSE, THISTLE, AND SHAMROCK
|St. Andrew’s Day—A Toast||127|
|For He Was Scotch and So Was She||128|
|A Bit o’ Shamrock||130|
|St. Patrick’s Day||131|
|Settled by Arbitration||132|
|My Old Scotch Grannie||142|
|A Song of Cheer||146|
|A Song of Harvest Home||150|
|Decorating the Old Church||152|
FROM DAWN TO DUSK
|A Wasted Day||154|
|O Radiance of Life’s Morning||155|
|O Last Days of the Year||157|
|The Ladder of Gold||159|
|When the Dusk Comes Down||161|
|Our Host and His House||163|
|The Shores of Youth||165|
THE GUARDED PATH
|Life’s Grandest Things||173|
|The Ghosts of the Night||175|
|You Took Some Light and Laughter||177|
|My Lady of the Silver Tongue||181|
THE SHELTERING ARM
|The Creed of Love||186|
|In the Old Church||194|
|The World is Growing Old||198|
|The Two Marys||200|
|As It Began to Dawn||203|
|O Shepherd Kind||211|
|The Master and the Man||212|
|God’s Good Man||213|
|Where the Slim Trails Wind||216|
|Spring o’ the Year||218|
|Song of the Wind||222|
|In the Clover Field||225|
|By the Green Sea||226|
|The Mullein Meadow||228|
|Sweeping to the Sea||230|
|O the Warm October Days||231|
|A Country Road||235|
|The Barley Fields||236|
LAUGHTER OF LIFE
|All on an April Morning||239|
|Her First Sleigh-Ride||251|
|The London Bus Driver||256|
Roses of June
All love asks is a heart to stay in; A brave, true heart to be glad and gay in. [page 11]
ALL LOVE ASKS.
All Love asks is a heart to stay in; A brave, true heart to be glad and gay in; A garden of tender thoughts to play in; A faith unswerving through cold or heat Till the heart where Love lodges forgets to beat. [page 12]
”I have been thinking of a girl I knew When I was young,” grey Rupert said, and smiled, Half jealous woman and half trusting child, “A soft warm thing she was, all honey dew— “You’ve seen a pool of water in a wood, Grey in the shadow, sombre it may be Till some chance ray of sunshine changed its mood, And set a myriad singing ripples free. “Her eyes were like that pool, I see them yet— (What is the herb that’s for remembrance—rue?) There was a path—some things I do forget, But not that path—nor that her eyes were blue. “Three score and ten is the allotted span, Too brief it seems on tender days like these; And yet—betimes ‘tis long enough—a man With nothing left him but his memories! “There was a path—I said “your eyes are blue As yonder patch of sky, all shine and glow! I may have loved the slip o’ honeydew— I do forget—it was so long ago!” [page 13]
Her eyes—upon a summer’s day God’s skies are not more blue than they. Her hair—you’ve seen a sunbeam bold Made up of just such threads of gold. Her cheek—the leaf which nearest grows The dewy heart of June’s red rose. Her mouth—full lipped, and subtly sweet As briar drowned in summer heat. Her heart—December’s chill and snow— Heaven pity me, who love her so! [page 14]
THE DAY OF DAYS.
He is a boy, just a splendid boy, With his eager words and ways; And his soul made new by the youth and joy Of this wonderful “Day of Days.” She is a girl, just a glad young thing,— Not out of her teens, I swear; With a rose—his rose—like the breath of Spring In the braids of her warm dark hair. He is her hero, the One worth while; Her lover, but whisper it not; He thinks her beautiful (faith, I must smile, Poor Cupid is blind, God wot). In the workaday world, with its treadmills set, These two have won place and power. What matters, dear heart? It is good to forget; Be boy and girl for an hour. “My king among men,” comes her whisper low. He thinks her both sweet and fair; And maybe she is, with her eyes aglow, And his red rose in her hair. Pass, busy old world, with your ceaseless strife, And go your wearisome ways, ‘Tis a youth and a maid in love with life This wonderful Day of Days. [page 15]
The throng about her did not know, Her nearest friend could not surmise Whence came the brightness and the glow, The wondrous radiance of her eyes. One said, half enviously: “Your face Is beautiful with gladness rare, With that warm, generous heart of yours Some precious secret you must share.” Ah, true! beneath the filmy lace That rose and fell upon her breast, Her first love-token held its place— From him, from him whom she loved best! [page 16]
THE LONG AGO.
O life has its seasons joyous and drear, Its summer sun and its winter snow, But the fairest of all, I tell you, dear, Was the sweet old spring of the long ago— The ever and ever so long ago— When we walked together among the flowers, When the world with beauty was all aglow. O the rain and dew! O the shine and showers Of the sweet old spring of the long ago! The ever and ever so long ago. A hunger for all of the past delight Is stirred by the winds that softly blow. Can you spare me a thought from heaven to-night For the sweet old spring of the long ago?— The ever and ever so long ago. [page 17]
’Tis mine to stay, ‘tis thine to go— And long the way, I wis— But I’ll not lift a face of woe To take the farewell kiss, But send thee smiling on thy way; Since thou hast grown so dear I dare not lay upon thine heart The weight of one small tear, Nor burden thee with anxious thought, Or hold thee fast with sighs— Nay, look thy fill, thou wilt see naught But gladness is mine eyes. That love which clings and makes complaint Is love of self—ah me! I’d sing, although my heart were faint, A song of cheer for thee. The days stretch long, the days stretch lone, Yet why should we despair, Since love is strong to wait its own, And love is brave to bear. [page 18]
NEAR ONE—DEAR ONE.
Blossoming time of the fragrant May And my heart calling you day by day; Near one, dear one! The wood so green and the wood so still, The stream that sings to the old, old mill, The road that winds to the sunkissed hill; Near one, dear one! Such a lone, lost road: I lift my face, Your lips touch mine for a moment’s space; Near one, dear one! The hawthorn hedging the field below Is pink as a rose in the sunset glow, The wild plum waving her plumes of snow; Near one, dear one! ‘Tis hand and hand through the field and wood; O the world is fair! the world is good; Near one, dear one! And we are together, you and I With the wind, the sun, the blue, blue sky— Losses and heart-aches have passed us by— Near one, dear one! I feel you near me each blossoming May, Though far in God’s gardens your footsteps stray; Near one, dear one! Though youth and laughter have gone their way, It still is love and the breath of May, And my heart calling you day by day; Near one, dear one! [page 19]
MY SWEETBRIAR MAID.
I called her sweetbriar when first we walked, Deep down in the winding lane, The wild birds sang, and we laughed, and we talked, Deep down in the winding lane, We met in the sunshine of one spring day— Youthful, happy, and free, Into her keeping my heart flew straightway, Pretty and piquant was she. Her hazel eyes were so gentle and meek, But scornful her mouth and chin, Her brow was severe, but each rosy cheek Had a roguish dimple in, And I cried, “I love you, my sweetbriar maid!” And then, oh moment of bliss, My lips to her cherry-red lips I laid, And tasted my first love-kiss. It was ever and ever so long ago, But I remember it yet, Ah, the springtime of life, its bloom and its glow, The heart can never forget, My sweetbriar maid, I would give to-day, The wealth, the fame and the gold That the years have brought, if they’d roll away, And leave us the thrill of old. [page 20] If only straight backward old time would move— (Ah, wishing is all in vain), And leave us with youth, and joy, and love, Deep down in that winding lane. [page 21]
I LOVE HER WELL.
I love her well, day after day, I tell the old words over, They ring no change from grave to gay, It is enough, I love her! I love her well—nay never ask The reason why I do so. Ask flowers that in the sunshine bask The reason why they grew so. They’ll tell you heaven saw the need, And so, on earth’s brown bosom The angels scattered out the seed, The sunbeams kissed to blossom. I love her well, day after day I tell the old words over, They ring no change from grave to gay, It is enough—I love her! [page 22]
We have been something more than friends, Jacynth, You know that well, yet now you say “my friend, I give you welcome home,” in such cold way I scarce believe it is Jacynth who speaks— Jacynth, who used to give—but let it pass. The new year finds me with a heavy heart, I come to seek the girl I used to know, The happy, trusting, tender girl, and lo— I find her grown into a woman proud, With richer dower of beauty for her own, But far less lovable than my Jacynth.
We both are changed, I think.
It is not so. I am not of the sort that gets new friends Like fashions for each season as it comes.
Hark to the bells! a happy year, Derwent; Give me your hand and wish as much for me.
You wish me happiness, and yet deny My heart the highway to it. [page 23]
Happiness! I would that words might win the illusive Thing to carry with thee alway. How I Would wheedle! She cannot suit her step To ours for long, she wearieth of our slow And sober pace and flitteth where she will— Now near, now far away. We search in vain, And when we go with down-bent head and eyes Tear-filled, lo! on a sudden shineth round Our feet her rainbow hues, and to our breast She creepeth down with eager willingness.
There’s sweetness in thy words, such sweetness as Wells up from fragrant things tho’ they be dead, A violet’s breath lives longer than its bloom, So in this tender wish of thine I read Once on a time thy love was mine,
And Peace— Sweet Peace, whose softest note can drown the cry Of bitterness—Oh! I would have her keep Thy company, go with thee all the day, Sleep on thine heart from dusk till rosy dawn, And all such pretty joys be borne to thee As come with fragrant breath, and dewy lips, And subtle tender touch, to keep our love Toward God and man a warm and living thing. A Happy Year! A Happy, Happy Year! [page 24]
Nay, from the velvet heart of flower in bloom Comes this last wave of sweetness; My Jacynth, Love is not dead in that white breast of thine, O glad bells! ring ye out to all the world, A Happy Year! A Happy, Happy Year! [page 25]
OLD FASHIONED FOLK.
I call to mind the very hour I knocked at Janie’s door, The raindrops pattered thick and fast and loud the wind did roar, A chilly, murky Autumn night with dead leave drifting fast; ‘Twas my first call at Janie’s house and perchance would be my last. For Janie’s father owned the mill and owned the store beside, And I had nought to call my own save health and hope and pride; ‘Twas Janie opened up the door; she blushed like any rose Her frock it was a pretty blue, her braids were tied with bows. And Oh, she was the sweetest thing, and Oh, I loved her so That when she put her hand in mine I could not let it go; I heard her say, and every word was music in my ear, “It’s neighbor Allan’s oldest boy, you know him, mother dear.” “Come in my lad, and take a chair,” the mother gently spoke: [page 26] “Sit down and make yourself to home, we’re just old fashioned folk,” And Oh, it sounded good to me: “We’re just old fashioned folk.” The course of true love rarely run as smoothly as it should, This Janie was not always kind, and, woo her as I would, She still would have the banker’s son, a handsome dashing fop To walk with her and talk with her; no pleading made her stop. But Janie’s mother favoured me; when Janie broke my heart, With pleasing him and teasing me she always took my part, “Man of the world,” he called himself, my rival and my foe; Too free of manner look or speech, at least I thought him so. But Janie’s mother would not smile at flippant song or joke, “Please to remember, sir, she’d say, “we’re just old fashioned folk— Some things are very near and dear to us old fashioned folk.” One night, a bonnie night it was, with flowers, and breezes warm, [page 27] I walked, a king in common clothes, with Janie on my arm. And as the sleepy little birds were whispering in the grove I told her—what she must have known—she was my only love. And then, and then, this heart of mine leaped up in ecstasy, For Janie said—nay, I’ll not tell what Janie said to me: And when I kissed her on the lips she was so fair a sight, You’ll wonder not I made my plea to Janie’s folks that night. I could not tell them half I would, I feared them of a truth, And all my wits were drunken on the wine of love and youth, But, somehow made them understand she was my love, my life. And could they, would they, let her be so poor a laddie’s wife. Her father shook me by the hand, her mother gently spoke; “You’ll ay be good to Janie, lad, we’re just old fashioned folk, And love means all the world—and more—to us old fashioned folk.” [page 28] That providence which watches o’er the foolish ones of earth Has watched o’er us the last three years, for mark what we are worth, We have a garden full of flowers where Janie goes to read Or sew, and I to smoke my pipe—a happy man indeed. We have a cottage neat and trim as any you can see, And, best of all, the secret’s out, we have a nursery; A boy, a little dimpled thing with Janie’s eyes of blue, And Janie’s nose tip—tilted up—and that is Janie’s too. And Oh, when Janie’s mother comes he capers and he crows, For Grandma spoils him and I’m sure the dimpled villain knows, Last week, my cousin wondrous wise a nurse of high degree, Came in to tell us how to raise the youngster sensibly. “You must not lift this infant up the moment that he cries, Just let him cry, ‘twill give his lungs the proper exercise, Pay no attention should he ask for something more to eat; And never kiss your child—unless upon the feet. “You must not hold him in your arms or rock him on your knee, You must not kiss or cuddle him, it’s foolishness,” said she, [page 29] “It’s dangerous”—poor Janie’s face took in a look of care, But Janie’s mother sat severe in that low rocking chair. And rocked and rocked a dimpled boy, and sang him soft and sweet A lullaby until his joy and gladness was complete, I saw his pretty dimpled hand go up and pat her cheeks, I saw her smile of tenderness, and then I heard her speak: “When God gives mothers little ones, and bids them act their part Think you that he forgets to give a wisdom of the heart, That’s far ahead of foolish rules which bid a woman miss, The dearest joy her heart can know—the cradle and the kiss. “Poor little babies raised by rule”—her gentle voice it broke, “But ours shall have his share of love, we’re just old fashioned folk, With small regard for all your rules, we’re just old fashioned folk.” Methought he said, that dimpled babe, As chuckling he awoke; “I’m glad the angels left me here With these old fashioned folk— I love old fashioned folk.” [page 30]
THE OLD VALENTINE.
I sent my sweetheart a valentine on one St. Valentine’s day, A long time ago, when my hair was brown, ah, now it is sprinkled with grey! My sweetheart was pretty as she could be, a wild rose bloomed in each cheek, Her auburn hair rippled down to her waist, her eyes were tender and meek. And, O, my sweetheart was dear to me, though nobody could have guessed From my careless glance, or my careless word, the tenderness in my breast. I sent my sweetheart a valentine, a flowery and foolish thing, All covered with blue forget-me-nots, and cupids gay on the wing. Two hearts pierced through, a ruffle of lace, a knot of ribbon, a dove, And better than all, a space whereon I could write a message of love; So burning the midnight oil I wrote with infinite patience and care, This one earnest verse (for rhyming came hard) to send to my lady fair: [page 31] “I love you, I love you with all my heart, And fain would I call you mine, My Mary, my darling, my beautiful girl, Let me be your valentine!” This yellow old page from the book of youth was put in my hand to-day, As I growled, “Our Tom has fallen in love in a nonsensical way; He is making a fool of himself—ha! ha! he is writing poetry now, To his Anna’s lips, and his Anna’s hair, his Anna’s beautiful brow.” “Why, what rubbish is this?” I asked my wife, a portly but sweet-faced dame, Who smilingly showed me the verse underneath which I had written my name; Shamefaced, I read it again and again—let me confess to a truth— I felt like disowning the yellow thing that belonged to the days of youth. Till I pictured myself an excited lad penning the words of care, Knowing her answer would fill my heart with rapture or dark despair. It was yesterday, who says we are old? “I do,” says Mary, my wife, “But age has nothing to do with it, since the choosing was done for life.” [page 32] I bowed my grey head over her hand, “my sweetheart,” I whispered low, “On this Valentine’s day I tender you the verse written long ago. I love you, I love you with all my heart, And fain would I call you mine, My Mary, my darling, my beautiful girl, Let me be your valentine!” [page 33]
”I love her, yes,” the younger of them said, I think her beautiful beyond compare; How proudly does she carry that small head, With all its wealth of silky, night-black hair! And then her warm, red mouth—I see it now— Was it not made for kisses? And her chin, So round and firm—the smooth unwrinkled brow, Each cheek with such a cunning dimple in. She is so piquant, winsome, fair and good, I could not choose but love her if I would. Did I not love her well, think you her charms Would move my pulse in this delicious way, And make me long to fold her in my arms, Hold her love’s prisoner by night and day? ‘Tis joy to think of her white-lidded eyes— So full of dreams, so full of tender speech— Her slender form—and yet, it were not wise To be too rash—come, let your wisdom teach. She is so piquant, winsome, fair, and good, I could not choose but love her if I would. I fain would make her all my own, this maid, I love her well, but would it be quite right To risk so much? At times I grow afraid To lift her up to such a dizzy height. You know my prospects and you know my pride, [page 34] (It is a weighty matter to be wed) And yet, I only know when at her side That life is rich in joy and bliss.” He said “She is so piquant, winsome, fair, and good, I could not choose but love her if I would.” “I could not choose but love her if I would,” You boast, but if you loved her you would say, “I would not choose but love her if I could.” So answered him the old man, stern and grey. “There’s passion in your words, but you have fears, Your high position! Ah! you are afraid! Boy, learn this truth from, one of sober years, The man who really, truly loves a maid Knows only two things well—no more, no less— Her matchless worth—his own unworthiness.” [page 35]
THE LONG ENGAGEMENT.
(SOLILOQUY OF THE MALE.)
Sometimes I tell myself—and her— ‘Tis toil prevents my visit; That strenuous duty holds me fast This day of days—but is it? Again the hour we meant to share, The weather makes me miss it; The rain, the wind, I do not dare— The storm’s to blame—but is it? Time was I’d run from here to Trent If Mary’s finger beckoned; In truth the hours with Mary spent Were all that really reckoned. I smile now at the foolishness That thought life worth the living If Mary’s mouth were mutinous, Or Mary’s eyes forgiving. The years have taken toll of us— We’re wiser, cooler, kinder; Now when my Mary beckons me Excuses fair I find her. [page 36] The blush is off the rose, the spring Has passed with bud and blossom, And love’s a fair forgotten thing— Yet, sometimes, in my bosom All unaware the longings start— Who cares for work or weather? ‘Tis sorrow jut to be apart— ‘Tis Heaven to be together. [page 37]
WHAT THE POPPIES SAID.
”Today is ours,” the poppies said To the west wind softly blowing,— “To-day to hold, in our bosom red, The great white tears that the night has shed And the sunbeams warm and glowing.” “To-day is ours,” said the lover bold, “To spell out the sweet old story,— My heart for thine, and the tale is told O, sweetheart, be not so shy and cold; See, the world is filled with glory!” The west wind sighed to the sea that night: “’Tis a thought to give one sorrow,— The poppy boasts of her pearls of white; The lover, his store of dear delight; But neither dreams of the morrow.” [page 38]
A step on the walk she’s waiting to hear— Waiting—waiting— There’s a frown on her face—pouting ‘tis clear, Ah, someone is late in coming I fear. All lovers are very fickle, my dear. Waiting—waiting! Only last week he was praising up Nell— Praising—praising— Saying her voice was clear as a bell, Thinking her fairer, and who is to tell All that he said as they walked through the dell? Praising—praising! Perhaps he is with her this summer night— Who knows? Who knows? Perhaps he is holding her hand so white, Perhaps he is watching her eyes so bright, Perhaps he is wooing with all his might, Who knows? Who knows? Perhaps he is saying, “I love you best!” Who cares? Who cares? No need to carry a weight on one’s breast, No need to worry and lose one’s rest, Life is a comedy, love is a jest, Who cares? Who cares? [page 39] What if he has quite forgotten to keep Old ways—old ways— There’s a path where the silver moonbeams creep, And the tangled flowers have fallen asleep, And the dew is heavy—the clover deep— Old ways—old ways! He’s not coming to-night, no need to wait, Ah me! Ah me! Hark, the clock is chiming the hour of eight, And once on a time he railed at the fate That kept him, if only a half-hour late— Ah me! Ah me! But who comes here with a swinging strife? Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Turns she away in her pique and pride, Turns she away, till he says at her side, “There’s but one for me in the world so wide!” Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Now in the blossoms the beaded dew slips, Sweetheart! Sweetheart! Someone is kissing two tremulous lips, And there lingers no sign of the past eclipse, Down in the clover a drowsy bee sips, Sweetheart! Sweetheart! [page 40]
”She is plain of face, she hath little grace,” They say when they speak of me, ‘Tis little I care, I am more than fair In the eyes of Somebody. “She is cold,” they say, “as a winter’s day,” It mattereth not to me, For the glow and heat of my true heart’s beat Is known unto Somebody. “She holdeth in hand neither gold or land”— Ah, the dull eyes cannot see How rich and great is my broad estate In the heart of Somebody. [page 41]
THE COURTIER’S LADYE.
My ladye’s face is proud and fair, My ladye’s eyes are grey, She goeth out to take the air On every sunny day. My ladye wears a gown of blue That falleth to her feet, All broidered o’er with pearls like dew, And daisies shy and sweet. My ladye wears a hat of silk, That fairy hands did spin, And strings it hath as white as milk, To tie beneath her chin. My ladye wears upon her breast A knot of ribbon gay, But who her heart doth love the best— My ladye will not say. And, O, the jewels rich and rare Do make the eye grow dim, That sparkle in her powdered hair, And on her fingers slim. My ladye wears a satin shoe, With silver buckle wide, A tiny thing from heel to toe That is my joy and pride. [page 42] My ladye wears upon her face A little touch of scorn, No fuller share of pride and grace Hath any woman born. My ladye’s face is sweet and fair, My ladye’s eyes are grey, She goeth out to take the air On every sunny day. [page 43]
THE RUSTIC’S LASSIE.
My lassie’s face is fair to see, My lassie’s eyes are blue, And always do they tell to me Her heart is fond and true. There’s silk, too, on my lassie’s head, As yellow as the gold, And woven is each shining thread Into a braided fold. But never fairy hands did spin Silk like my lassie’s hair, As for the strings beneath her chin, I would not have them there. Lest one dear dimple, growing shy, That everyone should see, Within those silken strings should try To hide itself from me. My lassie wears a gown of white, Which needs no pearls to deck, With lace like cobweb, soft and light, Full-gathered at her neck. My lassie wears upon her breast No knot of ribbon gay, Forget-me-nots she loves the best, Plucked at the dawn of day. [page 44] My lassie’s feet, like two white mice, Go slipping through the grass, And all the dew-drops think them nice, And kiss them as they pass. The satin shoe with buckle drest Is richer, it may be, But if the truth must be confest, Not half so good to see. My lassie’s face is fair to see, My lassie’s eyes are blue, And always do they tell to me Her heart is fond and true. [page 45]
Unbroken peace, I ween, is sweeter far Than reconciliation. Love’s red scar, Though salved with kiss of penitence, and tears, Remains, full oft, unhealed through all the years. [page 46]
”It is good-bye,” she said; “the world is wide, There’s space for you and me to walk apart. Though we have walked together side by side, My thoughts all yours, my resting-place your heart, We now will go our different ways. Forget The happy past. I would not have you keep One thought of me. Ah, yes, my eyes are wet; My love is great, my grief must needs be deep. “Yet I have strength to look at you, and say: Forget it all, forget our souls were stirred, Forget the sweetness of each dear, dead day, The warm, impassioned kiss, the tender word, The clinging handclasp, and the love-filled eyes— Forget all these; but, when we walk apart Remember this, though wilful and unwise, No word of mine did ever hurt your heart.” [page 47]
WHEN I HAVE GONE.
One summer’s morning I heard a lark Singing to heaven, a sweet-throated bird; One winter’s night I was glad in the dark Because of the wondrous song I had heard. The joy of life, I have heard you say, Is my love, my laughter, my smiles and tears; When I have gone on the long, strange way, Let these stay with you through all the years— These be the lark’s song. What is love worth That cannot crowd, in the time that’s given To two like us on this grey old earth, Such bliss as will last till we reach heaven? Dear one, think oft of the full, glad years, And, thinking of them, forget to weep. Whisper: “Remembrance holds no tears!” And kiss my mouth when I fall on sleep. [page 48]
She stood that night with a face so set, So filled with bitterness and despair, Closing my eyes, I can see her yet, Sorrowful, broken, but passing fair. Her eyes were fixed on the sky above, Where stars were shining so soft and clear; Did the ghosts of innocence and love Steal out of the gloom and stand quite near? So young to quiver beneath such smart! A fairer brow ‘twould be hard to find— The pity of it! a broken heart, And childhood lying so close behind. I heard her whisper, “’Twas long ago That I laughed for joy at the touch of morn, Kneeled down and prayed in the light and glow— Ah me! I cry now—tempest-torn: “‘Thank God for night, and the world asleep’— Their eyes pierce through me the long, long day— Thank God for the darkness, soft and deep, That folds me, and hides me quite away!’” [page 49]
BEYOND THE VEIL.
You lifted eyes pain-filled on me, Sad questioning eyes which did demand How I could thrust back churlishly The friendship true you offered me.— Ah, Sweet, to-day you understand! ‘Twas that my heart beat rapturously At smile of thine, at touch of hand, At tender glance vouchsafed to me, The while I knew it must not be.— Ah, Sweet, to-day you understand! There’s neither pain nor mystery In that far-off and fragrant land To which you journeyed fearlessly, By golden street and jasper sea.— Ah, Sweet, to-day you understand! [page 50]
LITTLE MARY ELLEN.
AN ONTARIO FARM IDYLL.
You’ve been gone a long, long time Little Mary Ellen, Left us just a year ago When the buds were swellin’ Big in every lilac bush. Lookin’ pink and pretty— You, I mean, not lilac buds— Now you’re from the city. So much learnin’ in your head, Wonder it can hold it, Boardin’ school’s the thing to take Young idea and mould it. My, but you look good to me, Precious little girlie, With your eyes as blue as blue, And your hair so curly! City walk and city ways Little Mary Ellen, Have you found a city beau— Or would that be tellin’? Kind of stylish, kind of proud, Annabelle, she told me. What! you can’t bear Annabelle, Well, you needn’t scold me. [page 51]
Annabelle’s a model girl—
Maybe not a charmer,
But a splendid wife she’ll make
Some young lucky farmer.
Callin’ names, oh, that’s not nice!
Annabelle has stirred you.
Hush-h, boardin’ school’d have a fit
If it ever heard you.
Oh, you’re going away again!
My, but I will miss you!
Goin’ to be my sister now,
Would I care to kiss you?
Since it is a real goodbye—
Since the dream is over,
Since you’ve found a better man
And a finer lover?
There’s a day back in the past—
Never be another—
Kissed you as your sweetheart then—
I’ll not be your brother.
Brother! can’t you hear my heart
Leapin’ up to claim you?
Dear, don’t hang that pretty head,
I’m not going to blame you.
Might of known ‘twas all a dream,
Pretty little fairy!
Couldn’t love a country lad
Well enough to marry. [page 52]
I’ve my pride as well as you,
Heart seems achin’, swellin’
Like the April lilac buds,
Little Mary Ellen!
What! say that blessed word again,
Say it, sing it, shout it!
I’ve gone mad with happiness,
That’s all there is about it.
Loves me best in all the world!
Sure you aren’t foolin’?
You with all your loveliness!
You with all your schoolin’!
I must say a little prayer,
Sort of glad thankgivin’—
Curly head upon my breast—
Lord, the joy of livin’!
This old world’s a heavenly spot—
Lilac buds a-swellin’—
All the robins watchin’ us,
Listen to ‘em tellin’;
Teasin’, tattlin’, listen girl;
“Oh, you! Oh you! Mary Ellen—Ellen-n-n
Little Mary Ellen!” [page 53]
Within the Threshold
Our children climb upon her knee And nestle on her breast, And ah! her mission seems to me The grandest and the best. [page 55]
A HEART OF GOLD.
A woman with a heart of gold I heard her called before I knew How noble was that heart and true, How full of tenderness untold. Her sympathies both broad and sure, Her one desire to do the right— Clear visioned from the inner light God gives to souls unworldly, pure. A heart of gold that loves and gives, God’s almoner from day to day, Of her there is but this to say: The world is better that she lives. [page 56]
SHE JUST KEEPS HOUSE FOR ME.
She is so winsome and so wise She sways us at her will, And oft the question will arise: What mission does she fill? And so I say with pride untold And love beyond degree, This woman with the heart of gold, She just keeps house for me— For me— She just keeps house for me. A full content dwells in her face, She’s quite in love with life, And for a title, wears with grace The sweet, old-fashioned “wife;” And so I say with pride untold, And love beyond degree, This woman with the heart of gold She just keeps house for me— For me— She just keeps house for me. What though I toil from morn till night, What though I weary grow, A spring of love and dear delight Doth ever softly flow; [page 57] And so I say with pride untold, And love beyond degree, This woman with the heart of gold She just keeps house for me. Our children climb upon her knee And lie upon her breast, And ah! her mission seems to me The highest and the best; And so I say with pride untold, And love beyond degree, This woman with the heart of gold She just keeps house for me. [page 58]
THE WIFE OF ADAMIS.
Homemaker, not housekeeper was Eileen The wife of Adamis; in truth ‘twas said By friendly gossips, that she did abate The diligence due the domestic round, And wasted golden working hours In God’s own out-of-doors. Of simple ways, And lacking in the cleverness that shines Abroad much oftener than at home; a slow, Heart-warming smile that found you in the gloom, But did not leave you there; a firm, sweet mouth, And eyes which ever seemed to search the world For undiscovered good. O, fair this wife Of Adami, and something more than fair! True, tender, strong, you sensed it in your soul That God, with gracious thought, had formed her for The comforting, and mothering of men. [page 59]
The harvest sun lay hot and strong On waving grain and grain in sheaf, On dusty highway stretched along, On hill and vale, on stalk and leaf. The wind which stirred the tasselled corn Came creeping through the casement wide, And softly kissed the babe new born That nestled at its mother’s side. That mother spoke in tones that thrilled: “My firstborn’s cradled in my arm, Upon my breast his cry is stilled, And here he lies o dear, so warm.” To her had come a generous share Of worldly honours and of fame, Of hours replete with gladness rare, But no one hour seemed just the same, As that which came when, white and spent With pain of travail great, she lay, Thrilled through with rapture and content, And love and pride, that August day. The fairest picture of the past— Life’s tenderest page till all is done— A glad young mother holding fast God’s wondrous gift—her little son. [page 60]
I’ve tied a ribbon in my hair Just where the two braids meet— I’m none so clever or so fair, But Jock must find me neat. I’ve laid the china plates, no less, Put posies on the board, Brought damask linen from the press Where it has long been stored. Spared nothing—long has he been gone In places far away, He’s coming home, my own guid mon, He’s coming home to-day! His arm chair and my rocker small Both hug the ingle-nook, Here on the table by the wall I’ve laid his pipe and book. And when the firelight flickers dim While in the chimney wide The night winds roar like dragons grim We’ll sit here side by side. My hand he’ll hold fast in his own And oh, my heart will thrill! [page 61] When Jock and I are by our lone He is my lover still. So warm, so soft the shadows fall On us and our content, The while I tell the guidmon all That’s happened since he went. And he in turn tells o’ the things He saw up in the town, And (mayhap) shows the comb he brings To deck my braids o’ brown. He’s coming home—e’en while I work Or sing, or kneel to pray, My soul keeps whisp’ring low and sweet “The guidmon comes to-day!” [page 62]
THE WAY TO DREAMLAND.
With an angel flower-laden, every day a dimpled maiden Sails away from off my bosom on a radiant sea of bliss; I can see her drifting, drifting, hear the snowy wings uplifting As he woos her into Dreamland with a kiss. Blissful hour, my pretty sleeper, guarded by an angel keeper, List’ning to the words he brings thee from a fairer world than this; Sweet! thy heart he is beguiling, I can tell it by thy smiling, As he woos thee into Dreamland with a kiss. Could there come to weary mortals such a glimpse through golden portals, Would we not drift on forever toward the longed-for land of peace, Would we not leave joys and sorrows, Glad to-days and sad to-morrows, For the sound of white wings lifting, and the kiss? [page 63]
TOO DEEP FOR TEARS.
I lost a sister in my youth, and wept For loneliness—a child forlorn, bereft Of playmate glad. To-day there fell asleep Another sister—comrade of the years, Sharer of joy and pain. I do not weep. Gone from my life! O grief too deep for tears! [page 64]
THE LONESOMEST HOUSE.
It’s the lonesomest house you ever saw, This big grey house where I stay. I don’t call it living at all, at all, Since my mother’s gone away. Only four weeks now—it seems a year— Gone to heaven, the preacher said, And my heart is just broke a-wanting her, And my eyes are always red. I stay out of doors till I’m almost froze, ‘Cause every identicl room Seems empty enough to scare a boy, And packed to the door with gloom. Oh, but I hate to come in to my meals, And her not there in her place, Pouring the tea, and passing the things, With that lovin’ shine on her face! But night-time is worse. I creep up the stairs And to bed as still ‘s a mouse, And cry in my pillow, it seems so hard To stay in this old grey house! And nobody giving me good-night hugs, Or smoothing my hair back—so; Things a boy makes fun of before his chums, But things that he likes, you know. [page 65] There’s no one to go to when things go wrong— Oh, she was so safe and sure! There wasn’t a thing could tackle a boy That she couldn’t up and cure. There’s lots of women, it seems to me, That wouldn’t be missed so much, The women whose boys are ‘most growed up, And old maid aunties, and such. I can’t understand it at all, at all, Why on earth she should have to go, And leave me here in this old grey house, Needin’ an’ wantin’ her so! Oh, the very lonesomest thing of all In the wide, wide world to-day Is a big boy of twelve whose heart’s just broke ‘Cause his mother’s gone away! [page 66]
It is time for bed, so the nurse declares, But I slip off to the nook, The cozy nook at the head of the stairs, Where daddy’s reading his book. “I want to sit here awhile on your knee,” I say, as I toast my feet, “And I want you to pop some corn for me, And give me an apple sweet.” I tickle him under the chin—just so— And I say, “Please can’t I, dad?” Then I kiss his mouth so he can’t say no To his own little black-eyed lad. “You can’t have a pony this year at all,” Says my stingy Uncle Joe, After promising it—and there’s the stall Fixed ready for it, you know. One can’t depend on his uncle, I see, It’s daddies that are the best, And I find mine and climb up on his knee As he takes his smoke and rest. I tickle him under the chin—just so— And I say, “Please can’t I, dad?” Then I kiss his mouth so he can’t say no To his own little black-eyed lad. [page 67] I want to skate, and oh, what a fuss For fear I’ll break through the ice! This woman that keeps our house for us, She isn’t what I call nice. She wants a boy to be just like a girl, To play in the house all day, Keep his face all clean and his hair in curl, But dad doesn’t think that way. I tickle him under the chin—just so— And I say, “Please can’t I, dad?” Then I kiss his mouth so he can’t say no To his own little black-eyed lad. “You’re growing so big,” says my dad to me. “Soon be a man, I suppose, Too big to climb up on your old dad’s knee And toast your ten little toes.” Then his voice it gets the funniest shake, And oh, but he hugs me tight! I say, when I can’t keep my eyes awake, “Let me sleep with you to-night.” I tickle him under the chin—just so— And I say, “Please can’t I, dad?” Then I kiss his mouth so he can’t say no To his own little black-eyed lad. [page 68]
THE BOY OF THE HOUSE.
He was the boy of the house you know, A jolly and rollicking lad, He never was tired, he was never sick, And nothing could make him sad. If he started to play at sunrise, Not a rest would he take at noon; No day was so long from beginning to end But his bed-time came too soon. Did someone urge that he make less noise, He would say with a saucy grin, “Why, one boy alone doesn’t make much stir— I’m sorry I isn’t a twin! There’s two of twins—oh, it must be fun To go double at everything, To holler by twos, and to run by twos, To whistle by twos, and to sing!” His laugh was something to make you glad, So brimful was it of joy, A conscience he had, perhaps, in his breast, But it never troubled the boy. You met him out in the garden path, With the terrier at his heels, You knew by the shout he hailed you with How happy a youngster feels. [page 69] The maiden auntie was half distraught With his tricks, as the day went by, “The most mischievous child in the world!” She said with a shrug and a sigh. His father owned that her words were true, And his mother declared each day Was putting wrinkles into her face, And turning her brown hair grey. His grown-up sister referred to him As a trouble, a trial, a grief, “The way he ignores all rules,” she said, “Is something beyond belief.” But it never troubled the boy of the house, He revelled in clatter and din, Had only one regret in the world— That he hadn’t been born a twin.
* * * * *
There’s nobody making noise to-day, There’s nobody stamping the floor, There’s an awful silence up-stairs and down, There’s crape on the wide hall door. The terrier’s whining out in the sun— “Where’s my comrade?” he seems to say, Turn your plaintive eyes away little dog, There’s no frolic for you to-day. The freckled-face girl from the house next door, Is sobbing her young heart out, [page 70] Don’t cry little girl, you’ll soon forget To miss the laugh and the shout. The grown-up sister is kissing his face, And calling him “darling” and “sweet,” The maiden aunt is holding the shoes That he wore on his restless feet. How strangely quiet the little form, With the hands on the bosom crossed! Not a fold, not a flower out of place, Not a short curl rumpled and tossed! So solemn and till the big house seems— No laughter, no racket, no din, No startling shriek, no voice piping out, “I’m sorry I isn’t a twin!” There’s a man and a woman pale with grief, As the wearisome moments creep; Oh! the loneliness touches everything— The boy of the house is asleep. [page 71]
(THE KNITTING NEEDLE SONG.)
This is Granny’s day all right— Granny’s busy day, ‘tis clear; With your hair grown snowy white, And your eyes grown dim of sight; Knitting, knitting, day and night— Heaven bless you, Granny dear! Lone and silent would you sit, When the social world drew near, And your wrinkled fingers knit, Hug-me-tights of perfect fit, Woollen sox—but now you’re It. Heaven bless you, Granny dear! None took notice of your task; (Woollen sox were harsh and queer,) Grandson Bob would sometimes ask You to stop, and May would mask Her contempt for such a task. Heaven bless you, Granny dear! Lo! the belles both proud and fair Flock to you with pleading air; One has dropped a stitch, and dare [page 72] Not proceed and leave it there— One has found a stitch to spare— Heaven bless you, Granny dear. Fashion dames with zeal on fire, Bookish dames with eyes severe, Working girls who never tire— Pretty girls we all admire— Homely girls who do aspire— Heaven, bless you, Granny dear! Two and one—please, Granny, show Where and how I’ve bungled here?” “Please, don’t take her time up so,” Cries another, “for you know I must learn to point this toe—” “Turn this heel, please, Granny dear.” Two and one—your fingers fly, Teaching others with good cheer; I can see with half an eye, As the busy days go by, And the tongues and needles fly, You grow younger, Granny dear! Soldier boys that march to-day— Soldier boys so brave and dear— As she knits your sox of grey, While her heart is far away, Send her thanks, and softly say, “Heaven bless you, Granny dear!” [page 73]
The neighbours ridicule his pride, And on him air their wit; They watch him, and they laugh at him, Yet envy him a bit, As down our quiet street he walks, With air which seems to say: “Behold the very richest man This old town boasts to-day!” His wealth—mark well the two young rogues With faces all aglow, Who clasp his hands, and set the pace, Uncertain, crooked, slow. The homely, happy, healthy things, So rosy-cheeked and strong, Whose laughter holds a gladder note Than any wild bird’s song. The big mill-owner meets the group; “Twin boys!” I hear him cry: “I’d give”—a pause, then, enviously, “You’re richer, friend, than I.” “Yes, twins,” the parent proud returns, “Both fair, and fat, and bold, And full of fun—take after me, So I am often told. [page 74] “They grow like weeds—another year It’s coats andpantaloons They’ll wear when walking with their dad On Sunday afternoons.” Oh, me! the pride of look and tone, The air which seems to say: “Behold the very richest man This old town boasts to-day!” [page 75]
Eyes of Childhood
When Sister takes us to walk in the wood You see our eyes begin to glisten. [page 77]
THE WALK IN THE WOOD.
When mother takes us to walk in the wood, She finds a seat in a corner shady; And she tells of children sweet and good, Till Alice acts like a grown-up lady In meetin’ time, and so do I, Though I’m only seven and very small, And I get so tired that, by and by, I laugh and laugh at nothing at all. When sister takes us to walk in the wood, You see our eyes begin to glisten, She makes no mention of children good, But she talks and talks, and we just listen; For there ‘mong the blossoms and bramble-berries,— She tells us of pixies, elves, and fairies, Shows us the spot where they meet together,— Moonlight, and starlight, and cloudy weather, Singing their maddest, merriest song, Skipping and dancing the whole night long! And sister says when the sunbeams come Kissing the flowers until they waken, All the little folk scamper home, Leaving the wonderful glade forsaken; Scamper home to the green and gold Of maidenhair ferns, and grass, and mosses, Make themselves cradles. Oh, aren’t they bold? High up where the oak tree sways and tosses! [page 78] The wind keeps the cradles all a-rocking, Low ones, and high ones. Oh, isn’t it shocking The risk they run if a gale should blow! But fairies aren’t like folks, you know. I told mother a fib to-day— That’s why my tongue-tip has a blister— Wasn’t it wicked of me to say I’d just as leave walk with her as sister? [page 79]
MY LITTLE MAID.
My little maid, my little maid, You grow too old, I am afraid, Your birthday, is it? Tell me dear, How long ago did you come here? What? five to-day—how tall you grow! I wish time would not hurry so, I wish he’d just go on his way, Nor call us on for many a-day. Stay in the baby-world so new, Its flowers are drowning in the dew, Its paths are soft to tender feet, Stay in the baby-world my sweet! My little maid, my little maid, You grow too old, I am afraid, The questions trembling on your tongue Tell me you are no longer young, How many hours are in the year? How high up is the heaven clear? And do the ships, so big and grand, Go sailing to some other land? Stay in the baby-world so new, Its flowers are drowning in the dew, Its paths are soft to tender feet, Stay in the baby-world my sweet! [page 80] My little maid, my little maid, You grow too old, I am afraid, The schoolhouse holds your steady gaze, Your mind is in a wondrous maze, So much to learn, so muc to see, You’re just as busy as can be, My nursery rhymes have all been told, Red Riding-Hood will soon be old. Stay in the baby-world so new, Its flowers are drowning in the dew, Its paths are soft to tender feet, Stay in the baby-world, my sweet! My little maid, my little maid, You grow too old, I am afraid, Your tender face it seems to me, Is filled full of expectancy. A spirit questioning and wise Looks out at me from your dark eyes, Till I am fain to hold you fast And hide you while old Time goes past. Stay in the baby-world so new, Its flowers are drowning in the dew, Its paths are soft to tender feet, Stay in the baby-world, my sweet! My little maid, my little maid, You grow too old, I am afraid, Five years! it seems a little while [page 81] Since you came here with slow, sweet smile On your wee mouth, your pretty chin, And each cheek with a dimple in, Your soft hands clutching at the air, Your birthright all our love and care. Stay in the baby-world so new, Its flowers are drowning in the dew, Its paths are soft to tender feet, Stay in the baby-world, my sweet! [page 82]
A LAD’S PROTEST.
My dad, he read it right out loud, so purp and me could hear it, That you won’t write no more at all—Oh, Whitcom’, we can’t bear it! We’ve been as good as we know how for weeks and weeks together, A-hopin’ for another book, and this here frosty weather Is just the sort for back-log fires, and stuff like yours, dear poet Chock full of giggles and of fun—its purp an’ me that know it. Your yarns they suit us to a dot (we’re both too old for fairies) The “Swimmin’ Hole” for purp ‘n’ me, an’ “Out to Old Aunt Mary’s.” I’ve one good uncle, name is John, who loves you like a brother; Knows every single rhyme o’ yours from one end to the other. Why! onct our folks they give a spread, an’ everyone was playin’ At auction bridge, an’ Uncle John, he just began a-sayin’ A piece o’ yours called “Thinking Back,” an’ gee! it sounded meller, [page 83] You sort o’ felt—oh, you know how—as if the poor old feller Was homesick for them friends of his, near friends he’d love to fly to— Just achin’ homesick for the days he’d had to say goodbye to. Sho! auction bridge it lost its hold, some tears they rose an’ glistened— Guess most of ‘em was “thinkin’ back” the while they sat and listened. We’re snifflin’ now, both purp an’ me, to think—to think—you’re ailin’, An’ we are sure it’s just your strength, an’ not your heart that’s failin’. The grown-ups care, but not the same; they just esteem you highly;” But purp an’ me, we miss a chum whose name is Whitcomb Riley. [page 84]
Jack’s dead an’ buried; it seems odd, A deep hole covered up with sod A lyin’ out there on the hill, An’ Jack, as never could keep still, A sleepin’ in it. Jack could race, And do it at a good old pace, Could sing a song, an’ laugh so hard That I could hear him in our yard When he was half-a-mile away. Why, not another boy could play Like him, or run, or jump so high, Or swim, no matter how he’d try; An’ I can’t get it through my head At all, at all, that Jack is dead. Jack’s mother didn’t use to be So awful good to him an’ me, For often when I’d go down there On Saturdays, when it was fair, To get him out to fish or skate, She’d catch me hangin’ round the gate, An’ look as cross as some old hen, An’ tell me, “Go off home again, It’s not the thing for boys,” she’d say, “A hangin’ round the creek all day, [page 85] You go off home and do your task— No, Jack can’t go, you needn’t ask;” An’ when he got in scrapes, why, she Would up and lay it on to me, An’ wish I lived so far away Jack couldn’t see me every day. But last night when I’d done the chores It seemed so queer like out of doors, I kept a listenin’ all the while, An’ looking down the street a mile; I couldn’t bear to go inside, The house is lonesome since he died, The robber book we read by turns Is lyin’ there—an’ no boy learns All by himself, ‘cause he can’t tell How many words he’ll miss or spell, Unless there’s someone lookin’ on To laugh at him when he gets done. An’ neighbor women’s sure to come A visitin’ a feller’s home, An’ talkin’, when they look at me, ‘Bout how thick us two used to be— A stealin’ off from school, an’ such— An’ askin’ do I miss him much? ‘Till I sneak off out doors—you see, They just can’t let a feller be! Well, I walked down the road a bit, Smith’s dog came out, I threw at it, [page 86] An’ do you know it never howled Same as it always did, or growled, It seemed to say, “Why! Jim’s alone, I wonder where’s that other one?” Afore I knew it I was down ‘Way at the other end of town, A hangin’ round in the old way For some one to come out an’ play. There wasn’t no one there to look, So I slipped in to our old nook; I found his knife hid in the grass Where we’d been Zulus at the pass, The can of bait, an’ hook an’ line Were lyin’ with the ball of twine, An’ “Jim,” I seemed to hear him say, “The fish will suffer some to-day!” ‘Twas more than I could stand just then, I got up to go off home, when Someone kissed me on the cheek, An’ hugged me so I couldn’t speak, You won’t believe it, like as not, But ‘twas Jack’s mother, an’ a lot Of great big tears came stealin’ down Right on my face; she didn’t frown A single bit—kept sayin’ low, “My blue-eyed boy! I loved you so!” Of course I knew just right away That she meant Jack—my eyes are grey— [page 87] But Jack, he had the bluest eyes, Blue like you see up in the skies, An’ shine that used to come and go— One misses eyes like his you know. An’ by-an’-by she up and tried To tell me that she’d cried and cried, A thinkin’ of the times that she Had scolded Jack an’ scolded me, An’ other things that I won’t tell To anyone, because—O, well, Boys can’t do much, but they can hold Tight on to secrets till they’re old. She’s Jack’s relation, that’s why she Feels kind of lovin’ like to me, But when she called me her own lad, Oh, say, I felt just awful bad; My head it went round in a whirl— I up an’ cried just like a girl. But say, if Jack did see us two, He laughed a little, don’t you know, For if I’d ever brag around That I’d lick some one, safe an’ sound, He’d laugh an’ say, “Jim, hold your jaw! You know you’re scared to death of maw.” Oh! I’d give all this world away If I could hear him laugh to-day; I get so lonesome, it’s so still, An’ him out sleepin’ on that hill! [page 88] For nothin’ seems quite worth the while A doin’ up in the old style, ‘Cause everything we used to do Seemed always just to need us two; My throat aches till I think ‘twill crack, I don’t know why—it must be Jack. There ain’t no fun, there ain’t no stir, His mother—well, it’s hard on her, But she can knit, and sew, and such— Oh, she can’t miss him half so much! [page 89]
She grew so tall, my tender maid, With braids like ripened wheat, A glad and joyous thing was she, With spirit high and sweet. The angels said: “Lest time, the thief, Should touch her tender truth, Or wilt her beauty like a flower, Or dim her radiant youth.” “We’ll bring her where child angels play The meads of heaven among, Where she will be forever glad, Forever sweet and young.” She’s safe at home in Paradise, Among the blossoms sweet, And God’s own shining silver sea Sings softly at her feet. I close my eyes and see her now, A thing of gladness rare, My little maid who never knew, And never will know care. The winsome, tender little maid— Why should my longing stir? She’s safe where neither time or pain Can steal her youth from her. [paged 90]
THE DAY BEFORE THE PICNIC.
Our Sunday-school picnic’s to-morrow and we— That’s Tom, and Runt Parker, and long Jim and me, Are planning to show off and make people stare A-doing the tricks that no other boys dare. The day ‘fore the picnic is not any fun, At our house they keep a chap right on the run. My legs are worn off me a-carryin’ coal To heat the big oven, and bringin’ a bowl To beat up the eggs in, then off on a race After chickens for roastin’, all over the place. It’s “Jim, bring the cream that you’ll find in the jug, That stone jar of pickles, and Jim, dust the rug In the democrat seat; now Jim, don’t you shirk.” And this is the way that they make a boy work. But Tom, and Runt Parker, and long Jim, and me Will have our fun to-morrow, watch out and you’ll see. My ma is so busy she’s cross as a bear, And my sister Sue, she is washing her hair And fixin’ her finery—picnic’s the thing. It’s “Jim, get the hay rope for makin’ a seing,” And “Jim, get the apples from under the tree.” It’s Tom an’ Runt Parker, an’ long Jim an’ me Will feast on them apples to-morrow, you’ll find, On the way to the picnic, sitting behind, [paged 91] A-danglin’ our feet from the rickety rig, Just foolin’, an’ scuffin’, and cuttin’ up big. Sister Sue won’t be with us, she’s promised to go In Dave Lester’s buggy—I guess he’s her beau. We try to torment ‘em the best we know how; This morning while David was mendin’ his plow, We emptied the rat trap, the rat it was dead, In the box of his buggy under the spread, And when Davy finds it, it’s wild he will be At Tom and Runt Parker, and Long Jim an’ me. But sho! this old world’d be poky and slow If we couldn’t play tricks on big sister’s beau. It is fun we are after to-morrow, and we— That’s Tom and Runt Parker, and long Jim’ an’ me— Are plannin’ to swim just as long as we please In a pool that we know is all hid by the trees, So no one can see us an’ give us the call: “Ho! boys, your folks want you, come here one an’ all.” If it keeps hot as this is we’ll stay in the pool (Except when we’re eatin’) an’ try to keep cool. The laughin’, an’ duckin’, an’ splashin’ we do Will make us so hungry we’ll sit in a row At them long picnic tables. Can just shut my eyes And see the roast chicken, the cakes an’ the pies, The salads an’ pickles an’ pink sliced up ham, That tarts an’ the doughnuts, the jellies an’ jam, An’ hear my ma sayin’, “Now Jim, don’t forget, If you go near the water don’t get your clothes wet/.” [page 92] Say aren’t ma’s funny, now do you suppose She thinks boys of our size’d swim in their clothes? “Jim, cream pie or cherry?” “Oh, both, if you please!” An’ Tom gives a giggle an’ long Jim a sneeze, And then we all laugh till we’re ready to fall, Just sit them a-laughn’ at nothin’ at all. Our Sunday-school teacher calls; “Ball game at three!” And we’re off for a practice, Oh, hip, hip, hurrah! If you want to know right where the most fun will be, Watch Tom an’ Runt Parker, an’ long Jim an’ me. [page 93]
Hark to the shout, “Ho, school is out!”
Hark to the laughter gaily ringing!
Hark to the song the clamorous throng
Storming our gates is blithely singing!
“Tramp! tramp! tramp! the world is our to tramp in,
All God’s world’s a playground for us to pitch our camp in!”
It’s holiday, with fun and play,
With outings grand and camp-fire story;
Recruits so bold and vet’rans old
Are marching on in all their glory!
“Tramp! tramp! tramp! the world is our to tramp in,
All God’s world’s a playground for us to pitch our camp in!”
It’s fishing pole and swimming hole
And long, long days of golden weather;
It’s wind and sun, and oh, the fun
Of being young and glad together!
“Tramp! tramp! tramp! the world is our to tramp in,
All God’s world’s a playground for us to pitch our camp in!” [page 94]
THE MISSION BABY.
The quaint old garden with its fragrant gloom Seems to enfold her in a warm embrace; A little, tender flower amid the bloom— A lovely human flower, all joy and grace! O, wells of wonder are the dear, dark eyes, And gravely tender the unsmiling face. Past the proud roses stray her dimpled feet— Red roses, white, and of a sunset glow, Past phlox and pinks and periwinkles sweet, To where the daisies wild dance to and fro To the mad piping of the winds that blow. Ah, then the wonder of the dear, dark eyes Is lost in laughter, and the dimpled feet With all the black-eyed Susans dancing go! [page 95]
King and Country
O Canada! for King and home sings forest, hill, and stream, For King and home the vision and the dream. [page 97]
TO THE QUEEN.
(Victoria, reigned May 24, 1837-1901.)
We send thee greetings on this morn in May: Long live the Queen, right fervently we pray! We daughters of this country young and fair Join all our voices, singing songs of thee; O may the words ring clearly on the air, And reach the island cradled in the sea. Our Queen! Lo, at the words a thrill of pride, Of tenderness, and trust springs into life; Our Queen, who rules so well her kingdom wide; Our Queen, so soft in peace, so bold in strife. Our Queen! the love of loyal hearts we give, We join our voices and we proudly say: God bless the sweetest Woman—and long live The greatest Ruler in the world to-day! [page 98]
The sunshine streaming through the stained glass Touched her with rosy colours as she stood, The maiden Queen of all the British realm, In the old Abbey on that soft June day. Youth shone within her eyes, where God had set All steadfastness, and high resolve, and truth; Youth flushed her cheek, dwelt on the smooth white brow Whereon the heavy golden circlet lay. The ashes of dead kings, the history of A nation’s growth, of strife, and victory, The mighty past called soft through aisle and nave: “Be strong, O Queen; be strong as thou art fair!” A virgin, white of soul and unafraid, Since back of her was God, and at her feet A people loyal to the core, and strong, And loving well her sweetness, and her youth.
Upon her woman’s head earth’s richest crown Hath sat with grace these sixty years and more. Her hand, her slender woman’s hand, hath held The weightiest sceptre, held it with such power All homage hath been hers, at home, abroad, [page 99] Where’er hath dwelt a chivalrous regard For strength of purpose and for purity, For grand achievement and for noble aim. To-day the cares of State no longer vex; To-day the crown is laid from off her brow. Dead! the great heart of her no more will beat With tenderness for all beneath her rule. Dead! the clear eyes of her no more will guard The nation’s welfare. Dead! The arm of her No more will strike a mighty blow for right And justice; make a wide world stand amazed That one so gentle as old England’s Queen Could be so fearless and so powerful! Full wearily the sense of grief doth press And weight us down. The good Queen is no more; And we are fain to weep as children weep When greedy death comes to the home and bears From thence the mother, whose unfailing love Hath been their wealth, their safeguard, and their pride. O bells that toll in every zone and clime! There is a sound of sobbing in your breath. East, west, north, south, the solemn clamour goes, Voicing a great, a universal grief! [page 100]
THE VISION AND THE DREAM.
O higher than thy hills! dear land of ours, Deeper than thy seas, fairer than thy flowers, Our vision and our dream of thee— Of all thou wilt become— Thou greater nation yet to be; Dear land of love and home! O Canada! for love and home sings forest hill and stream, For love and home the vision and the dream. The golden west is beckoning the world; Far north thy flags of welcome are unfurled. O Canada! the bountiful, Replete with love and life; Too grand for narrow boundaries, Too big for petty strife. O Canada! for love and home sings forest hill and stream, For love and home the vision and the dream. O land so near to Nature’s heart! we raise To Nature’s God our song of prayer and praise, O Canada! the bountiful, Wise counsel may He give And make thee strong in loyal hearts, And rich in deeds that live. O Canada! for love and home sings forest hill and stream, For love and home the vision and the dream. [page 101]
My Canada! I would that I, thy child, might frame A song half worthy of thy name. Proudly I say— This is our country, strong, and broad and grand, This is our Canada, our native land! My Canada! ‘Tis meet that all the world should know How far thy sweeping rivers flow, How fair to-day Thy bonnie lakes upon thy bosom lie, Their faces laughing upward to the sky. My Canada! We look alway with love and pride Upon thy forests deep and wide, And gladly say: “These giant fellows, mighty grown with age, Are part and parcel of our heritage.” My Canada! So rich in glow and bracing air, With meadows stretching everywhere, With gardens gay, With smiling orchards, sending forth to greet Full breaths of perfume from their burdens sweet. [page 102] My Canada! Thou art not old, thou art not skilled, But through the ages youth hath thrilled; ‘Tis dawn with thee, Thou hast a glorious promise, and thy powers Are measured only by the golden hours. My Canada! What thou art now we know full well, What thou wilt grow to be, ah! who can tell? We see to-day Thy lithe form running swiftly in the race, For all the things which other lands do grace. My Canada! With loyal sons to take thy part, To hold thee shrined within the heart, Proudly we say, “This is our country, strong, and broad, and grand, God guard thee Canada, our native land!” [page 103]
THE NATIVE BORN.
There’s a thing we love to think of when the summer days are long, And the summer winds are blowing, and the summer sun is strong, When the orchards and the meadows throw their fragrance on the air, When the grain-fields flaunt their riches, and the glow is everywhere. Something sings it all the day, Canada, fair Canada, And the pride thrills through and through us, ‘Tis our birthplace, Canada! There’s a thing we love to think of when the frost and ice and snow Hold high carnival together, and the biting north winds blow. There’s a thing we love to think of through the bitter winter hours, For it stirs a warmth within us—‘tis this fair young land of ours. Something sings it all the day, Canada, fair Canada, And the pride thrills through and through us, ‘Tis our birthplace, Canada! [page 104] Ours with all her youth and promise, ours with all her strength and might, Ours with all her mighty waters and her forests deep as night. Other lands may far outshine her, boast more charms than she can claim, But this young land is our own land, and we love her very name. Something sings it all the day, Canada, fair Canada, And the pride thrills through and through us, ‘Tis our birthplace, Canada! Let the man born in old England love the dear old land the most, For what spot a man is born in, of that spot he’s fain to boast; Let the Scot look back toward Scotland with a longing in his eyes, And the exile from old Erin think her green shores paradise, Native born are we, are we, Canada, fair Canada, And the pride thrills through and through us, ‘Tis our birthplace, Canada! Well we love that sea-girt island, and we strive to understand All the greatness, all the grandeur, of the glorious Mother Land; [page 105] And we cheer her to the skies, cheer her till the echoes start, For the old land holds our homage, but the new land holds our heart! Native born are we, are we, Canada, fair Canada, And the pride thrills through and through us, ‘Tis our birthplace, Canada! [page 106]
THE WOMAN PATRIOT.
Good-bye, dear lad, nay, never heed The tears I shed. Your country’s need— Our country’s need—comes first of all. Your ears have heard the clarion call, With patriot fire your soul’s a-thrill; Dear heart! the best of blood must spill Ere peace is won. I love your zeal; Yea, if a pang of grief I feel, ‘Tis only that my memory strays To tender, far-off yesterdays That held a dimpled, rosy, wight— A Man now, yea, a man of might— Brave, strong, and loyal to the core. My lad! my own! till life is o’er I will be glad, and proud, and hold My head up when the tale is told Of how you fought—and won, I pray— For God, and Right, and Canada. The bugle’s call comes shrill and clear, Give me the last kiss standing here; Heed not my tears, I can but cry, God keep you darling, and—good-bye! [page 107] Since never soldier fought and died For country’s honor, country’s pride, But owed his life, and courage strong To her who sang his cradle-song. Ah, blazon on each flag unfurled, The patriot women of the world! [page 108]
Ho! Bugler Jim bade a bold good-bye
To father, mother, and all.
“God keep him!” the mother softly said,
He’s so bonnie, bold—and small.”
But Bugler Jim felt big as the best—
‘Twas he had the gallant stride—
The bugle held to his khaki breast
His glory, his joy, his pride.
And oh, but he bugled jubilantly
The morning they marched away;
Through many a perilous day—
O’er many a perilous way.
Gold curls he had on his forehead white,
And dimples in cheek and chin,
Yet seemed to love the smell of the fight,
And joy in the crash and din.
And oh, but he bugled jubilantly
Spite of bullet, shrapnel, shell.
“Ho! come, lads, come!” rang his silver song,
Mid the smoke and reek of hell.
His “Come, lads, come!” helped to victory
On the hard-fought battlefield; [page 109]
“Ho! we’re here to fight, we’re here to win,
And we don’t know how to yield!”
In Freedom’s cause the battle was won
Ere the night fell chill and cold;
But Bugler Jim lay prone on the earth,
A stain in his curls of gold.
Men tenderly bore him back to camp,
And said as their eyes grew dim:
“There’s many a one could be better spared
Than hold little Bugler Jim.”
He rallied, murmured, with broken breath,
“We’ll all do the best we can.”
And the surgeon cried in ringing tones;
“I am going to save this man!”
“Ye heard him,” cam from the cupid mouth,
“Ye heard him call me a man!”
It helped to get him over the worst,
The days and the nights of pain;
And the long, inactive, homesick hours,
Till he stood erect again.
“Go home, gain strength at the old fireside,”
Said his colonel tall and grave.
“Show mother the scars hid in your curls,
And tell her we called you brave.”
Only to-day he came marching home;
A radiance on his face,
As he leaped the gate, and took the path
That led to the dear old place. [page 110]
He wasn’t the bugler strong and true,
Who had bugled boldest and best—
He was a little, homesick lad,
Flying straight to mother’s breast—
To the love of home, the care of home,
The joy of home, and the rest. [page 111]
WHAT TIME THE MORNING STARS ARISE.
(Lieutenant Reginald Warneford, while patrolling the skies above Belgium in his aeroplane at three o’clock of a June morning, 1915, destroyed a German Zeppelin, containing twenty-eight armed men, which was passing over Belgium. The young Canadian won instant fame by his heroic act. He received the Victoria Cross from King George of England, and the Legion of Honour from France.)
Above him spreads the purple skies, Beneath him spreads the ether sea; And everywhere about him lies Dim ports of space, and mystery. Ho, Admiral of a single fleet! What of the night? What of the night? “Methinks I hear,” he says, “the beat Of great winds rising for the flight.” Ho, Admiral neighbouring with the stars Above the old world’s stress and din! With Jupiter, and lordly Mars— “Ah, yonder sweeps a Zeppelin! “A bird with menace in its breath, A thing of peril, spoil and strife; The little children done to death, The helpless aged bereft of life. “The moan of stricken motherhood; The cowardice beyond our ken; The cruelty that fires the blood, And shocks the souls of honest men. [page 112] “These call for vengeance—mine the chase.” He guides his craft—elate and strong. Up, up, through purple seas of space, While in his heart there grows a song: “Ho! little ship of mine that soars ‘Twixt earth and sky, be ours to-day To free our harassed seas and shores, Of yonder evil bird of prey.” The gallant venture is his own, No friend to caution, pray, or aid; But strong is he who fights alone, Of loss and failure unafraid. He rises higher, higher still, Till poised above the startled foe— It is a fight to stir and thrill And set the dullest breast aglow. Old Britain hath her battles won On fields that are a nation’s pride, And oh, the deeds of daring done Upon her waters deep and wide! But warfare waged on solid land, Or on the sea, can scarce compare With this engagement, fierce yet grand; This duel to the death in air. He wins! he wins in sea of space! (Why prate we now of other wars?) Since he has won his name and place By deathless valour ‘mong the stars? [page 113] No more that Zeppelin will mock; No more will sound her song of hate;— With bursting bomb, and fire, and shock, She hurtles downward to her fate. A touch of rose in eastern skies, A little breeze that calls and sings; Look yonder where our hero flies Like homing bird on eager wings. He sees the white mists softly curl; He sees the moon drift pale and wan; Sees Venus climb the stairs of pearl. To greet the glory of the dawn. [page 114]
A HIGHLAND LAD.
He would go, they could not keep him, for he came of fighting stock; Though his widowed mother pleaded, he was firm as any rock. Well he loved the patient woman who had nursed him on her breast, Been quite blind to all his follies,—but he loved his country best. “I’ll come home again,” he told her; “I’ll come home again some day,” Laid his face to hers and kissed her, said good-bye and marched away. Stronger than the voice that pleaded, “Laddie, laddie, bide at home,” Was the shrill voice of the bugle and the deep voice of the drum, Calling to him all the day, calling to him in his dreams: “Come, lad! Come, lad! Come! Come! Come!” His face was like a maiden’s face, so smooth it was, and fair; The laughter in his eyes of gray, the sunshine in his hair; But a man’s heart, true and gallant, beat beneath the tartan plaid, And a strong right arm he boasted, did this bonnie Highland lad. [page 115] Oh, the beautiful battlefield is gruesome, with its dying and its dead, But ‘twas to the field of battle that the drum and bugle led— Magersfontein—and the bullets biting fiercely left and right, And the lad in kilt and hose there in the thickest of the fight. Fearful odds, and none to help them, fight they boldly, undismayed, Gallant clansmen of the north land! Brave old Highlander brigade! Someone blundered, this e know, When you met the ambushed foe, But you fought as heroes fight, and died as heroes die; This we know, this we know. Where the fighting had been fiercest, as the sun sank in the west, Did they find the widow’s laddie, with a bullet in his breast, And his smiling face turned upward. Did he dream at last—who knows— Of the far-off hills of Scotland? Lying there in kilt and hose, With the gold hair gleaming brightly underneath the bonnet blue, And the tartan plaid laid gently o’er the heart so brave and true. [page 116] Stilled forever! With death’s coming did there fall upon his ear Music that he loved to list to, bugle call so high and clear, Thrilling, stirring, sweeter, shriller, and the deep voice of the drum, Calling to him through the shadows, calling softly through the shadows, “Come, lad! Come, lad! Come! Come! Come!” [page 117]
Look yonder, where the Rose of Sunset leans— A Blessed Damosel on golden stair— Whose lightest touch illumes, incarnadines, And kindles flames of splendour everywhere. Mount Cavell but a little time ago Seemed typical of majesty severe, Aloof, far-off—with diadem of snow— Lo: gone the grimness, and the air austere. The Rose of Sunset, in a shining mood, Has paused to touch him with her fingers warm, To weave her crimson petals in a hood For his great head—O subtle is the charm! For cloak she shakes from out her royal lap Whole webs of vapour soft, of silken mist; The rarest colours ever dyed, mayhap, Mauve pink, and Persian rose, and amethyst. With blues of many shades, blues somber, gay, Blending together in a dream of light, The sun-thrilled blue of perfect summer day— The star-blessed blue of perfect winter night. That rarest blue, in midnight vision given To such as vigil keep, for His dear sake: Who see across the flowery meads of heaven The shining pathway that the angels take. [page 118] Fair, fair, this cloak the Rose of Sunset weaves, Ere the invading twilight dulls and blurs: Weaves out of golden mist, and ruby leaves, While all the glamour of the skies are hers. Mount Cavell did we dare to call the grim When first we saw thee standing bald and bare? Ere yet this glory clothed thee like a dream, Kindled to lip a thousand beauties fair! Nay, grandeur is thine own—staunch and immoved Thou stand’st forth a splendid monument To her, the brave, the steadfast, the beloved Who sleeps upon a foreign shore, content. A monument to woman’s matchless worth, To woman’s loyalty beyond compare; To all that Edith Cavell, saint on earth, Was great and good enough to do and dare! A monument the years will not efface— A speaking monument that will extol A woman’s tenderness, and truth, and grace The strength and courage of a woman’s soul! The Rose of Sunset steals away to sleep, And, following in her train of palest gold, Are soft-veiled, fleecy clouds, like flocks of sheep, That hurrying go to find some far-off fold. Above Mount Cavell mark the shadows grey, Shot through with one great opal tinted bar; And just between the darkness and the day Gleams down upon the hills one silver star. [page 119]
Quebec, the grey old city on the hill, Lies with a golden glory on her head, Dreaming throughout this hour so fair—so still— Of other days and all her mighty dead. The white doves perch upon the cannons grim, The flowers bloom where once did run a tide Of crimson, when the moon rose pale and dim Above the battlefield so grim and wide. Methinks within her wakes a mighty glow Of pride, of tenderness—her stirring past— The strife, the valour, of the long ago Feels at her heartstrings. Strong, and tall, and vast, She lies, touched with the sunset’s golden grace, A wondrous softness on her grey old face. [page 120]
GOES MARCHING ON.
They heard the bugle calling In the stillness of the dawn, They answered to a woman, And went bravely marching on. They had no time for grieving, And they had no time for tears, They prayed away their heartache, And they worked away their fears. And when at length came white robed Peace, In beauty and in power, There were those who did not answer In that solemn roll-call hour. The sacrifice supreme was theirs, O the bugle call at dawn! And the souls so true and steadfast That went marching, marching on! And the music of that marching, Like the tread of warriors fleet, Will go ringing down the ages In a measure grand and sweet. The women who come after, The daughters of the race, Will hear and answer to it. Forward step to take their place. [page 121] Proud of women’s splendid record, Thanking heaven in their prayers, For the heritage of service, And the courage that is theirs. Ah! though they sleep in silence, The women who have gone, Their souls so true and steadfast, Go grandly marching on— To the Hills of the Eternal Their souls go marching on! [page 122]
I search the pages of our history over, For a courageous one whose name would stand, For staunchest patriot, and for truest lover, And prove the same by deed done for the land; And my heart thrills, for ‘tis a woman bears it, You’ll find it, marble carved, on Laura Secord’s grave; And you, and I, and every woman shares it, The right to stand for what is good and brave. [page 123]
Rose, Thistle and Shamrock
The three sat at meat in a country inn, And Patrick’s face wore an elegant grin, For the Scotchman lean, and the Englishman stout Were having a nice little quarrel out. [page 125]
Sprig o’ heather, you were born Where the mountains greet the morn, Just within the shadow dim Of the grey rocks harsh and grim, Just beside the torrent’s brim, You were born; I, a naturalist, can trace In thy sweet sky-lifted face, Signs and tokens of the place Clear as morn. Breath that comes from ‘mong the firs, When the wet-faced sea-wind stirs In its flight; Night of gloom, and day of gold, Hill and vale, white flocks in fold, Ah, tonight, Dim my eyes grow as they see All thy dear heart shows to me, Blossom from across the sea, Heather White! [page 126]
ST. ANDREW’S DAY—A TOAST.
What cares if skies be dull and grey? What heeds November weather? Let ilka Scot be glad to-day The whole wide warl’ thegither. We’re a’ a prood and stubborn lot, And clannish—sae fowk name us— Ay, but with sic guid cause none ought Tae judge us, or tae blame us, For joys that are we’ll pledge to-day A land baith fair and glowing— Here’s tae the hames o’ Canada, Wi’ luve and peace o’erflowing! For joys that were, for auld lang syne, For tender cords that bind us, A toast—your hand, auld friend, in mine— “The land we left behind us!” Ho, lowlanders! Ho, hielandmen! We’ll toast her a’ thegither, Here’s tae each bonnie loch and glen! Here’s tae her hills and heather! Here’s tae the auld hame far away! While tender mists do blind us, We’ll pledge on this, St. Andrew’s day, “The land we left behind us!” [page 127]
FOR HE WAS SCOTCH AND SO WAS SHE.
They were a couple well-content With what they earned and what they spent, Cared not a whit for style’s decree,— For he was Scotch, and do was she. And O, they loved to talk of Burns,— Dear, blithesome, tender Bobby Burns! They never wearied of his song, He never sang a note too strong, One little fault could neither see,— For he was Scotch, and so was she. They loved to read of men who stood And gave for country, life and blood, Who held their faith so dear a thing They scorned to yield it to a king; Ah! proud of such they well might be— For he was Scotch, and so was she. From neighbour’s broil they kept away— No liking for such things had they, And O, each had a cannie mind! Each could be deaf, and dumb, and blind; Of words—nor pence—were none too free— For he was Scotch, and so was she. [page 128] I would not have you think this pair Went on in weather always fair, For well you know in married life Will come, sometimes, the jar and strife; They couldn’t always just agree— For he was Scotch, and so was she. But near of heart they ever kept, Until at close of life they slept; Just this to say when all was past— They loved each other to the last, They’re loving yet in heaven, maybe— For he was Scotch, and so was she. [page 129]
A BIT O’ SHAMROCK.
We met her on the hillside green Below old Castle Blarney; Her name, she whispered, was Eileen, Her home it was Killarney. I see her yet, her Irish eyes Blue-grey as seas in summer, And hear her welcome, on this wise, Vouchsafed to each new-comer; “I’ll guide ye up the stairway steep, And naught will ye be missing O’ battlement or donjon keep, Or blarney stone for kissing. “The tower that was McCarthy’s pride, The scene o’ battles thrilling, And where the Desmond kept his bride— Me fee is but a shilling. “Here’s for ye, now, a keepsake charm”— Her low tones grow caressing— “A bit o’ shamrock green and warm, To bring ye luck and blessing.” The “keepsake charm”—I have it yet— A thing of guile and blarney; Each green leaf dares me to forget Fair Eileen o’ Killarney. [page 130]
ST. PATRICK’S DAY.
There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea, Here’s to the Saint that blessed it! And here’s to the billows wild and free That for centuries have caressed it! Here’s to the day when the men that roam Send longing eyes o’er the water! Here’s to the land that still spells home To each loyal son and daughter! Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween, With the blue skies stretched above her! Here’s to her shamrock warm and green, And here’s to the hearts that love her! [page 131]
SETTLED BY ARBITRATION.
The three sat at meat in a country inn, And Patrick’s face wore an elegant grin, For the Scotchman lean, and the Englishman stout Were having a nice little quarrel out. Now, it all began when five times had gone The glass and the bottle to everyone; The Englishman, he had a stubborn jaw, And could quote whole pages of English law, While the Scotchman was as stern and as grey As the rocks of his country far away. The bottle it made him but look more stern, But the other one took a boasting turn; He talked of their big brave ships on the sea, Of their soldiers as brave as brave could be, Of the English beef that no land could beat, Of their puddings and pastries good to eat; And the Scotchman listened to every word And seemed agreeing with all that he had heard, Till the square-jawed fellow by-and-by claimed His country the wittiest ever named; “The Henglish wit, sir, hit shines like the sun;” “Aye! the sun in a fog,” the other one. Then the arguments flew so thick and fast They’d have come to blows ere the thing was past, Had not Patrick, good-hearted, blithe and gay, Chanced to travel with them that summer day. “Now sure,” said he, “you know ‘tis the fashion [page 132] To settle disputes by arbitration, Faith, a rale ould shindy’s the thing for me, But the rale ould shindy has ceased to be, Let’s be the powers, and raison a bit, Whist now! and ould Erin will settle it.” Then these two disputants they both agreed To take his finding in word and deed. “The English wit, sir—let’s take off our hats— Can’t be seen by folks that are blind as bats, ‘Tis none of your common every day stuff, Nor like that of Ireland, vulgar and bluff, Sure, ‘tis something I would only compare To what is well known as precious and rare, Say to the famous philosopher’s stone— Or elixir of life, to ould sages known; No Irishman from the hill or the bog Would say it was like the sun in a fog; That statement, sirs, on the face is untrue, For sometimes the fog will let the sun through.” One pacified man went off with good grace, And Patrick laughed at the other’s stern face, “You think me a blarney—hark what I say, Sure you know, and I know, and everyone, The fable of the philosopher’s stone, For stone, elixir, and Englishman’s wit Men have searched long, and found nivir a bit,” Then low to himself, “faith, that joke’s so clear That even a Scotchman may see it—next year!” [page 133]
The story of an Irish woman, who, with her husband, comes to America with the bloom o’ youth and Irish air upon her cheek, and who, in the midst of peace and full prosperity which she finds in the new land, is taken “wid a burning homesickness for the hills o’ old Kenmare.”
’Twas the shamrock brought the message with its breath of turf and sea air, Every bit o’ clinging greenness seemed to find a voice and say: The wild March winds are sweeping us, the golden sunbeams steeping us, Come back, come back, to Kenmare hills on this St. Patrick’s Day. Then the band outside the window—oh the madness of its shrilling The gladness and the sadness of that sweet old Irish air That set my eyes a-filling, set my bosom, glowing, thrilling And marched the heart and soul of me straight back to old Kenmare. The Canadian landscape faded with its homes o’ peace and plenty The husband and the childer with their places ‘mong the best I was far across the ocean, thrilling, throbbing with emotion [page 134] The Kenmare girls were laughing loud, and I—I was laughing with the rest. Tough Kileena in the twilight and the waters calling, calling, And I, a bare foot colleen, skipping gaily through the grove, Sheena Falls came down to meet me, threw her white arms out to greet me, Ah, the hills were warm with welcome and the valleys warm with love. The Galways waters murmured in the old soft tones o’ blarney We have her back, the merry child that never knew a care And a tender murmur reached me from the blue lakes o’ Killarney “Welcome, Nora darlin’,” to your home in old Kenmare, And oh, it seemed so good to be at home in old Kenmare! The new land’s fair and gracious with her stretch o’ golden harvests, Her liberty o’ thought and deed, her kindly care for all, And the childer I have borne her—the growing sons and daughters, They hold in their heart o’ hearts the dearest land o’ all. But I—ah I was born on Irish soil, and strive as best I may, The homesick thoughts come thronging, and I cannot still the longing O just to be in old Kenmare for one St. Patrick’s Day! [page 135]
I can see it all so clearly, see the dear familiar places
Carran Tual and Purple Mountain and the reeks so bald and bare
See the hardy shamrock growing, in the blustery March wind blowing
And the highway winding, winding down the hills to old Kenmare—
And the heart o’ me goes winding down the hills to old Kenmare.
I can see the wee stone cottage and the peat smoke curling, curling,
How I loved to watch it curling in the care free days of yore
And me mother’s voice is callin’, “Are ye comin’, Nora darlin’?”
And I am just a barefoot girl beside her knee once more—
So wild, so glad, so loving beside her knee once more!
The caressin’ names she whispers as she holds me, holds me, holds me—
I can feel her trembling fingers smoothin’ down my tangled hair—
Do you wonder that I’m cryin’, that the heart o’ me is flyin’
To the loving lonesome mother at Kenmare—
That my tears and love and longing form themselves into a prayer,
O, to be there, just to be there!
On the highway winding—winding—down the hills to old Kenmare—
To me mother and Kenmare! [page 136]
Up in the great house built of stone, with its turrets strong and high, Up in the Castle sombre and lone that frowned on each passer-by, Dwelt one so wealthy he hardly knew the millions that he was worth, (Judged by the gloom that sat on his brow you’d be certain he owned the earth) And of friends he had few to cheer his heart, a lone, grim creature was he, There in his lone grim castle of stone that stood by the lone, grim sea. Right at the back of the castle walls, in a cot some twelve foot square, Lived the great man’s neighbour, Whistling Dan, who hailed from the County Clare. The castle was grand, the owner proud, but Dan cared little for gold, He spread his nets in the shiny sea, a fisherman blithe and bold. His cot was gay, for the “childer” small, twin boys and a girl or two— Besides a baby with dimples deep—played merrily all day through, page 137 Now Dan’s great gift had won him his name of Whistling Dan, don’t you know, Some said the fairies had given it him in County Clare, long ago, A tickling thing this whistle of Dan’s, that rippled, quavered, and thrilled, Grew madder, wilder, fuller of mirth, essence of gladness distilled. The lark’s song is sweet, but lacking the power Dan threw in the warm, human note That made a grown man laugh, like a child, then feel an ache in his throat; That reached for smiles he thought all forgot, for tears he thought all gone dry, Dan’s whistle could, when he willed that it should, Make a stone man to laugh or to cry. Up in the castle the day was dull; at breakfast the great man scowled, “A dull old world, full of dull old fools, I hate it,” the great man growled. In through the open window there came the merriest peal on earth. It set the air of the castle grim a quiver with rarest mirth, “Heigho!” sighed he who hated the world, “I’ve not laughed aloud for years, Too old and too grim am I for mirth, too old and too grim for tears. [page 138] “Heigho! a fortune I’d gladly give, a fortune generous, fat, To any mortal on God’s green earth could teach me to laugh like that,” His flunkeys opened the castle door, and the great man stepped outside, Right then came Dan on his way to work, and he whistled “Dublin’s Pride,” The finest tune of them all Ochone! kissing and fighting galore, Youth and the wine of laughter and love, the merry mad tune, asthore! The merry-mad tune no Irishman yet, be he ever so nearly dead. But hearing minds him o’ fights and fairs until he is seeing red, So merry-mad his anger is dead before ‘tis born of a truth,— He hears the call of the Land O’ Delight and sees the love of his youth. The great man stared, stopped short in his tracks, up went his head in the air, And “Hark!” he cried, “’tis the very tune I danced to at old Kenmare,” “’Tis the self-same tune”—here the great man took to keeping time with his toes, The mad, sweet music swept him away from wealth, and worries and woes; [page 139] He saw once again the green, green sod of the blessed Irish shore, Eileen, his first love, with braids of gold, and he was a lad once more. Forgotten the pride, the lust for wealth—his treasure chests they were full, But ah! compared with Eileen’s gold hair, the gold in his chests was dull. An old time scene, and an old time air, stars a-gleam in the sky, Light are the feet and lighter the hearts—God bless us, how time goes by! How went that measure! He danced the steps, backward and forward, hurrah! His flunkeys whispered behind his back: “The master’s gone mad this day.” He danced to the tune of “Dublin’s Pride” until he could dance no more, Then, of a sudden, his laughter rang, and he laughed till his ribs were sore. Laughed at himself for being a fool, laughed at the world and its cares, Laughed, for the power of Whistling Dan had taken him unawares, “Ho! give me your hand my friend,” he cried to the fisherman big and bold, “And take the thanks of one you have cured—and take you this purse of gold. [page 140] “Not to get your grandeur, win your wealth, nor bring you a foolish pride, But to buy new nets for the shiny sea, and a boat called ‘Dublin’s Pride,’ Love and content are the things worth while, I tell you here, man to man, Tho’ the cot is yours, the castle mine, I envy you, Whistling Dan.” [page 141]
MY OLD SCOTCH GRANNIE.
My old Scotch Grannie looked a picture in her cap, Her cap with the big frilly border, And she had a way of her very, very own, For keeping the young folk in order. Did Jock ask leave to go fishing in the stream, Or Jamie begin planning for the dances, Or Donald talk of making a trip to the town, Our Grannie didna take any chances. “No, no, she’d begin, her voice as soft as silk. “Your Grandfather Roberts is saying, Ye may just bide at home with your books and your tasks And give far less thought to your playing. Now be good and dinna coax, for my heart’s that soft, It fair makes me weep to deny you;. But your Grandfather’s word is law, as ye ken, So put all such foolishness by you!” When Flora got a letter from Fergus o’ the Glen— A tender-worded, nicely written letter, And fain would have answered it without delay, Granny sighed and said: “You hadn’t better. Girl, dinna be thinking of Fergus o’ the Glen With his cap, and his hound, and his plaidie, For Grandfather says you’re much o’er young To be making up with a laddie” [page 142] “Now be good and dinna coax, for my heart’s that soft, It fair makes me weep to deny you, But your Grandfather’s word is law, as ye ken, So put all such foolishness by you!” Did we children love to linger by the hearth fire bright, When we should have been in bed soundly sleeping, Came Grannie in her cap, a candle in her hand, And bade us off to bed like mice be creeping. “Now be good, and dinna coax, for my heart’s that soft, It fair makes me weep to deny you; But your Grandfather’s word is law, as ye ken, So put all such foolishness by you!” And I really believed that Grandfather ruled, As Grannie was always saying, Till I chanced one day, by the old garden wall, To stumble on the truth while playing. For Grannie was there, her apron full of thyme, And other herbs she did gather, And she spoke flouting like, as to one of no account— And, mind you, she spoke to Grandfather! “Is it ordering me to come into the house, Because the dew’s wet on the grasses? Think shame to yourself, Sandy Roberts,” she cried, “Ordering me in like one of the lasses!” “I’m feared ye’ll be taking a cold, Isabel,” His tone was meek and beguiling, “I’d not dream of ordering you, Isabel.” “Ye’d best not,” said Grannie, unsmiling, [page 143] Amazed, I cried out, “You’ve always maintained, His word was a law quite unbroken;” And Grandfather winked a kindly blue eye, Laughed low to himself, and spoke then. “My word may be law, and I’m nothing loath To have my say, and to say it, But your auld Grannie’s word is law and gospel both, And I’d not dare disobey it.” [page 144]
Here’s a song of cheer For the whole long year. [page 146]
A SONG OF CHEER.
Here’s a song of cheer For the whole long year: We’ve only to do our best Take up our part With a strong, true heart— The Lord will do all the rest. [page 147]
The girl’s a slender thing and fair, With dimpled cheek and eyes a-shine; The youth is tall, with bashful air. Heigho! a fond and foolish pair— The day is yours, St. Valentine. He says: “My heart will constant prove, Since every beat of it is thine; The sweetest joy of life is love.” The birds are mating in the grove— The day is yours, St. Valentine. What matter that the wind blows chill Through leafless tree and naked vine, That snowdrifts linger on the hill, When warm love makes the pulses thrill? The day is yours, St. Valentine. [page 148]
Awake, O earth! the rose of dawn Flames softly over Olivet, The night of pain and death has gone, The air is full of fragrance drawn From blossoms of the thorn, dew-wet. Awake, O earth! awake and greet The day and all it brings to thee— Love’s crowning triumph, full, complete; Awake and sing with rapture sweet Thy song of Immorality! Awake, O earth! the rose of dawn Flames softly over Olivet. [page 149]
We thank Thee, Lord, and not alone For gold of gladness, full success, For wealth that we have called our own— The faith, the love, the happiness; But for the sorrow and the smart, The failure and the striving vain, The song we carolled in our heart When our poor lips were dumb with pain. Not for accomplishment complete, Not for the care-free, guarded way. Not for the paths of peace our feet Have found, we thank Thee, Lord, to-day; But for the highway’s dust and din, For perilous places safely passed, For every brier of doubt and sin Which clutched, but dare not hold us fast. For all Thy patience through the years— The years that come, the years that go; Thy patience with our faults and fears, Dear Lord, we thank Thee, kneeling low. [page 150]
A SONG OF HARVEST HOME.
Praise God for blessings great and small, For garden bloom and orchard store, The crimson vine upon the wall, The green and gold of maples tall, For harvest-field and thrashing floor! Praise God for children’s laughter shrill, For clinging hands and tender eyes, For looks that lift and words that thrill, For friends that love through good and ill, For home, and all home’s tender ties! Praise God for losses and for gain, For tears to be shed, and songs to sing, For gleams of gold and mists of rain, The year’s full of joy, the year’s deep pain, The grieving and the comforting! [page 151]
Praise God to-day for blessings given, The lease of life, the hope of heaven, For peace and plenty—O rejoice! Praise God to-day with heart and voice! Praise God for seed time and the spring, For autumn and the garnering, For all the glorious harvest hours, The golden fields, the sun, and showers! Praise God for peace, no clamour great, Nor shock of battle at the gate, For peace the white-robed child of grace Has reign and rule o’er all the place! Praise God for home—the shelter strong When skies are grey, and nights are long; For loyal hearts, and counsel wise, For home and all home’s tender ties! Praise God for losses and for gain, The year’s full joy, the year’s deep pain, For tears to weep, and songs to sing, For grieving and for comforting! Praise God, nor let a doubt assail, Seed time and harvest shall not fail Nor patient love, nor strength, nor stay, Praise God to-day! Praise God to-day! [page 152]
DECORATING THE OLD CHURCH.
Grey old gardener, what do you bring? “Laurel and ivy and bay, With palms for the crowning of a King— The morrow is Christmas Day. “Holly with thorns, and berries like blood On its shiny greenness flung. O the pierced side, and the thorny crown, And the cross whereon He hung! “The mistletoe, meaning All-healing, Hangs close to the holly’s thorn, Lest we forget that on Christmas Day The Healer of Souls was born. “Ivy’s for faith; on the altar rail Let it creep where all may see; It crept till it kissed a cheek so pale That night in Gethsemane. “Bay’s for remembrance, full and sweet; It speaks with its fragrant breath Of manger and cross and a lowly tomb, And a love that conquered death. “And laurel leaves for the wreath I bring, The laurel for victory, And palms for the crowning of a King— The morrow is Christmas Day.” [page 153]
From Dawn to Dusk
O radiance of life’s morning! O gold without alloy! O love that lives through all the years, O full, O perfect joy. [page 155]
A WASTED DAY.
We’ve wasted this long golden day— Nay, never heed. When we are grey, And old, and wondrous wise in truth, Up from the past this tender day Will come with breath and bloom of May To smile into our eyes and say, “O is there aught so sweet as Youth?” [page 156]
O RADIANCE OF LIFE’S MORNING.
O radiance of life’s morning! O gold without alloy! O love that lives through all the years! O full, O perfect joy! The hills of earth touch heaven, the heaven of blue and gold, And angel voices swell the song of love and peace untold! O radiance of life’s morning! The dew within the rose, The fragrance fresh from Eden That freights each breeze that blows! Dear Christ, the wine of Cana pour out in rich supply, These hearts keep young with gladness while all the years go by! O radiance of life’s morning! O gold without alloy! O love that lives through all the years, O full, O perfect joy! [page 157]
O when I say good-night, dear, And softly slip away To Land of Heart’s Delight, dear, Let those who love me say, “The sunshine of her tender eyes Made bright the darkest day.” [page 158]
O LAST DAYS OF THE YEAR.
”O last days of the year!” she whispered low, “You fly too swiftly past. Ah, you might stay Awhile, a little while, do you not know What tender things you bear with you away? I’m thinking, sitting in the soft gloom here, Of all the riches that were mine the day There crept down on the world the soft new year, A rosy thing with promise filled—and gay. But twelve short months ago! a little space In which to lose so much—a whole life’s wealth Of love and faith, you, and youth’s tender grace— Things that are wont to go from us by stealth. Laughter and blushes, and the rapture strong, The clasp of clinging hands, the burning kiss, The joy of living, and the glorious song That drew its sweetness from a full heart’s bliss. O gladness great! O wealth of tenderness! That were my own one little year ago; A bankrupt I—gone faith, gone warm caress, Gone love, gone youth, gone all. She whispered low. [page 159] “O last days of the year! You take away The riches that I held so close and dear, Go not so swiftly, stay a little—stay With one poor bankrupt, Last days of the year!” [page 160]
THE LADDER OF GOLD.
Each day that comes to us With dawn of rose— Each common day, filled full Of common toil, A ladder is, let down By one who knows Our passionate desire To rise above The littleness of life, The stain, the soil, The selfishness, the fear, Turmoil and strife; To rise to higher way And vision clear. A ladder stretching from The Hills of Gold To this old workshop which Men call the world— The top-most rung held fast In God’s right hand, The lowest at our feet, That we may climb by rungs of penitence [page 161] And broken prayer, and self-forgetfulness; By every lowly task Right grandly done, A little nearer heaven Each setting sun. [page 162]
WHEN THE DUSK COMES DOWN.
Do you know what I will love best of all To do when I’m old? At the close of day When the dusk comes down and the shadows play, And the wind sings loud in the poplars tall, I will love to get into my corner here— The curtains drawn, and never a one To break the stillness—to sit here alone And dreams of these good old times, my dear. In fancy you’ll come and sit by my side— I can see your face with my eyes close shut, With the pride and the softness clearly cut, The obstinate chin and the forehead wide, The oval cheek and the smile so warm, The dark eyes full of their fun and power, With the tender light for the tender hour, And the flash of fire that was half their charm. I’ll whisper: ‘Twas sweet when youth was our own— The laughter, the nonsense, the freedom from care, The castles we built high up in the air, The secrets told to each other alone! Not all of laughter; the world went wrong, And the shadows pressed till my heart was sore. I’ll never be glad, I said, any more, Never be happy, or gay, or strong. [page 163] Oh the sweetest thing in the hour of pain Is to have one near us who understands, To touch us gently and hold our hands, Till our strength and courage come back again. At love’s swift pace you hurried to me— Your tender words will ring in my ears When I sit and dream after long, long years— The shine in your eyes through the mists I’ll see. Our lives will be lying so far apart, And time, no doubt, will have given us much Of weary wisdom; put many a touch Of his withering hand on face and heart. But I know what I will love best of all To do at the end of the busy day, When the dusk comes down and the shadows play, And the wind sings low in the poplars tall. I will love to get into my corner here, With the curtains drawn, and never a one To break the stillness—to sit here alone And dream of these happy days, my dear, And take my treasures from memory’s hold— The tears, the laughter, the songs that were sung— O the friends we love when the heart is young Are the friends we love when the heart grows old! [page 164]
OUR HOST AND HIS HOUSE.
Nay, rail not, dear, at Time in such rude way, ‘Tis scarcely fair, since he has been our host For such a while. And rail not at the world, This grey old ivy-covered manor-house wherein He long has entertained us both. Since we Have broken bread with him, danced in his halls, Let us not talk of him in slighting way. What though He has not given lavishly, For daily use, the rich things in his store? Rare things grow common, quite, when they are used In common way—you know this for yourself— And delicacies lose their flavour when The palate tires of them. But ah, on state Occasions has he not been prodigal? O wine of life that he has poured for us! Poured freely till it ran the goblet o’er, And trickled down in little rosy streams! Believe me, dear, for all his length of beard So snowy white, his venerable air, Enough of youth lurks in his bosom still To make him lenient with foolishness. For often has he stolen off and left Us standing heart to heart, [page 165]
And has he not
Sometimes, stilled all his house lest we should wake
Too soon from some rapt dream of tenderness?
Then, too, for playthings he has given us hours
Filled full enough of rapture unalloyed
To cover every day of all the years
With common happiness, if properly
As for this grey old world,
It is not half so murk, so wanting in
All light, all glow, and warmth, as some declare—
As we oft picture to ourselves, my dear,
It has its windows looking east and west,
It has its sunset and its morning gold;
The trouble is we will look toward the east
At eventide, and toward the sombre west
When heaven is shaking down upon the world
A lusty infant day. And so we miss
The glory of the sunset and the dawn. [page 166]
THE SHORES OF YOUTH.
A pretty port I sailed from, So long, so long ago, As day, down golden stairway, Climbed to the world below. Ho, mariner! come tell me, Come tell me of a truth, Know you a track will lead me back Unto the shores of youth? A pretty port I sailed from, So long, so long ago, The blue sky stretching over, Blessed all the world below. I laughed good-bye so lightly, Nor recked I then, forsooth, That leagues of years and mists of tears Would hide the shores of youth. Yet ever follows after, A breath of fragrance rare, From hearts of flowers that blossom But in its tender air. And ever hear I, sweet and clear, The music of its birds— The whistling flight of wings at night— The songs too sweet for words. [page 167] And ever see its beauty, The smiling of its shore, And ever wait, and ever long To anchor there once more. Ho mariner! Ho mariner! Come tell me of a truth, Know you a track will lead me back Unto the shores of youth? A pretty port I sailed from, So long, so long ago, As day, down golden stairway, Passed to the world below. Sail on! sail on! till light is done, Ho mariner, so wise! ‘Tis far behind—so far behind— This port I sailed from, lies. Sail on! sail on! you tell me, And in the twilight’s glow I’ll reach the port I sailed from, So long, so long ago. If this be so, then we may know That all whose lose will find Each ship will come to love and home, And all it left behind. Youth’s golden shore lies on before, So gaily sail we on, For the port we reach at even Is the port we leave at dawn. [page 168] The harbour bar shines golden, O sweetness of the truth, We’ll cross it o’er and come once more Unto the shores of youth. [page 169]
The workman fashioned a beautiful thing With workmanship wondrous rare; Early and late he wrought at his task And ever this was his prayer: Let the friend of my heart take note of me, Be glad for what I have done; I will be paid a thousand fold If he do but say, “Well done!” And he surely will say, “Well done!” For, loving me as my good friend does, He will glory in what I have done. It was finished at last, there were those Who cried, “It will bring you fame;” But hope in the heart of the workman died For his own friend never came To look on the work done for his sake Or to give him praise or blame. The workman cried, “Of what avail To have striven, laboured and wrought When he whose approval I worked to win Spares neither a glance nor a thought.” Then the angel came to the workman’s side And whispered, “Let grieving end; Better by far that your friend fail you [page 170] Than that you should fail your friend. It’s up and work for the love of work And work to the toil-crowned end.” Then the workman wrought with a grander thought, And the prayer that grew in his breast Was not, “Let my friend take note of me;” It was, “Dear Christ let me do my best.” Then the workman wrought with a grander thought, And higher his purpose ran, For now he worked for the love of work And not for the praise of man. And the angel whispers to you and to me, “What matters who pause or scan It is ours to work for the love of work And not for the praise of man.” [page 171]
The Guarded Path
The golden sunshine fills the air, And God has sent us with the dawn The strength and will to do and dare. [page 173]
Write on Life’s Tablet all things great and good, Unheeding if thou art misunderstood By such as run and read—the careless throng: Write on—what matters praise or blame? Be strong, True to the best; learn thou to say, “’Tis well,” If when thou writest heaven men spell out hell. [page 174]
LIFE’S GRANDEST THINGS.
What is the greatest work of all? The work that comes every day; The work that waits us on ev’ry hand Is work that, for us, is truly grand, And the love of work is our pay. What is the highest life of all? It is living, day after day, True to ourselves and true to the right, Living the truth from dawn till the night, And the love of truth for our pay. What is the grandest thing of all— Is it winning Heaven some day? No, and a thousand times say, no; ‘Tis making this old world thrill and glow With the sun of love till each shall know Something of Heaven here below, And God’s well done for our pay. [page 175]
When Satan sends—to vex the mind of man And urge him on to meanness and to wrong— His satellites, there is not one that can Acquit itself like envy. Not so strong As lust, so quick as fear, so big as hate— A pigmy thing, the twin of sordid greed— Its work all noble things to under-rate, Decry fair face, fair form, fair thought, fair deed, A sneer it has for what is highest, best, For love’s soft voice, and virtue’s robe of white; Truth is not true, and pity is not kind, A great task done is but a pastime light. Tormented and tormenting is the mind That grants to envy room to make its nest. [page 176]
THE GHOTS OF NIGHT.
When we were children, long ago, And crept to bed at close of day, With backward glance and footstep slow, Though all a-weary with our play, Do you remember how the room— The little room with window deep— Would fill with shadows and with gloom, And fright us so we could not sleep? For O! the things we see at night— The dragons grim, the goblins tall, And, worst of all, the ghosts in white That range themselves along the wall! We could but cover up our head, And listen to our heart’s wild beat— Such dreadful things about our bed, And no protection save a sheet! Then slept, and woke quite unafraid. The sun was shining, and we found Our shadows and our ghosts all laid, Our world a glorious playing-ground. For O! the things we see at night— The dragons grim, the goblins tall, And, worst of all, the ghosts in white That range themselves along the wall! [page 177] We are but children still, the years Have never taught us to be bold, For mark our trembling and our fears When sometimes, as in days of old, We in the darkness lie awake, And see come stealing to our side A ghostly throng—the grave Mistake, The Failure big, the broken Pride. How close they creep! How big they loom! The Task which waits, the Cares which creep; A child, affrighted in the gloom, We fain would hide our head and weep. When, lo! the coward fear is gone— The golden sunshine fills the air, And God has sent us with the dawn The strength and will to do and dare. For O! the things we see at night— The dragons grim, the goblins tall, And, worst of all, the ghosts in white That range themselves along the wall! [page 178]
YOU TOOK SOME LIGHT AND LAUGHTER.
You took some light and laughter From my life, Old Year; You took the friend I trusted, The faith I called my own; Took toll of love and happiness; But Old Year! bold year! You brought what most I longed for: Strength to walk alone! [page 179]
Someone had told her that a sea-nymph dwelt Within a murmuring shell, she called her own, And she did love to hold it to her ear, And always she could catch the meaning of Its song. When she was gay, the nymph she thought Sang joyously; when she was sad at heart The murmuring voice seemed full of plaint and tears. One day, when longings softly stirred her breast, She took the shell down to the shore and sat Listening to all the things it had to tell, Till, by-and-by, so homesick grew the voice That called back to the waves when they did call, A pity for its loneliness did make Her suddenly resolve to set it free, So with a stone she brake the shell in twain— ’Twas empty as the air. Who was it told Her such a fair untruth—a pretty lie? A mist fell down upon the wooded hills, And crept from thence out over all the sea; Her soft eyes caught it in their depth and held It prisoner, till presently it grew Too strong and subtle for the wide, white lids [page 180] Which made but timid trembling sentinels, And let it slip to liberty, unchallenged. The light unfeeling waves about her feet Laughed at her grieving over such a thing— Laughed, calling to her as they rushed and ran, “O pretty little one! That one bright day Didst think thyself so wise—didst count thyself So rich? O foolish, foolish child, to weep And break thy little heart o’er something that Is not—has never been, save, in thy thought!” [page 181]
The man who with the breath lent him by heaven Speaks words that soil the whiteness of a life Is but a murderer, for death is given As surely by the tongue as by the knife. He does the devil’s basest work—no less— Who deals in calumnies—who throws the mire On snowy robes whose hem he dare not press His foul lips too. The pity of it! liar, Yet half believed, by such as deem the good Or evil but the outcome of a mood. O slanderer, if fierce imps meet in hell For converse, when the long day’s toil is through, Of you they have this worthy thing to tell, He does the work we are ashamed to do! [page 182]
MY LADY OF THE SILVER TONGUE.
My Lady of the Silver Tongue, Do you not feel a thrill of shame? The woman is so fair and young— Why seek to steal away her fame? Nay, never mind that haughty stare, For you and I must measure swords, To tell you to your face I dare, A lie lurked in your pretty words. Did you not say awhile ago, “I am her friend?”—in earnest tone— And soft that voice of yours, and low— “I am her friend when all is done;” As though a friend a doubt would fling, And evil tongues to wagging start! I am her friend—ah, there’s the sting, No friend will grieve and hurt a heart! Your eyes are very warm and kind, And sweet the smile upon your lips, I read the truth—I am not blind— False are you to your finger-tips; And I would rather be, to-day, The slandered woman, fair and young, Than be yourself, so proud and gay, My Lady of the Silver Tongue! [page 183] A friend’s heart holds no wronging doubt, No envy—meaner far than hate— With tenderness it pieces out The small shortcomings, and the great. So when you slander—blush for shame— Or, to some gossip’s tale attend, I pray you take some other name, And never say, I am her friend. For loyalty is not a jest, No sweeter word is said or sung, Take time to learn that truth is best, My Lady of the Silver Tongue. [page 184]
The Sheltering Arm
All, all is His—His great arm shields That which is bare, and that which yields; Lord is he of the harvest fields, And of the barren land. [page 186]
Gracious the sceptre that He wields, Heart! do you understand? All, all is His—His great arm shields That which is bare, and that which yields; Lord is He of the harvest fields, And of the barren land. [page 187]
O soul on God’s high seas! the way is strange and long, Yet fling your pennons out, and spread your canvas strong; For though to mortal eyes so small a craft you seem, The highest star in heaven doth lend you guiding gleam. O soul on God’s high seas! look to your course with care, Fear most when winds are kind and skies are blue and fair. Your helm must sway at touch of no hand save your own— The soul that sails on God’s high seas must sail alone. O soul on God’s high seas! sail on with steady aim, Unmoved by winds of praise, untouched by seas of blame. Beyond the lonely ways, beyond the guiding star, There stretches out the haven safe, the golden harbour bar. [page 188]
THE CREED OF LOVE.
I have a creed, I’ll tell it you, Since you have asked me to define On what I build my hopes of heaven, My creed—yes, I can call it mine, Since it belongs to every soul That reaches upward toward the light, And trusts in Christ for guidance sure, And strength and will to do the right. You’ll find it written down, my friend, In that old Book upon the shelf, ‘Tis: Love the Lord with all thine heart And love thy neighbour as thyself. Not quite enough? ‘Twas counted so By One Who walked by Galilee, His creed of love to God and man Is quite enough for you and me. [page 189]
Teach us, dear Lord, all that it means to say The words, “Our Father,” when we kneel to pray, Our Father thou, then every child of thine Is, by the bond, a brother, Lord, of mine. Teach us, dear Lord, all that it means to say Thy will be done—then our proud wills must break And lose themselves in love for Thy dear sake. Teach us, dear Lord, all that it means to say Give us our daily bread, when thus we pray; We will be trustful when we understand, Nor grasp the loaf from out a brother’s hand. Teach us, dear Lord, all that it means to say, Forgive our trespasses, when, meek, we pray; Forgive! the word was made in Paradise, And this world’s hope and faith within it lies. Teach us, dear Lord, all that it means to say The words Christ gave us, when we kneel to pray, For when we know and live their meaning deep, No heart will need to break, no eyes to weep. [page 190]
The fluttering leaves above his grave, The grasses creeping toward the light, The flowers fragile, sweet, and brave, That hide the earth clods from our sight, The swelling buds on shrub and tree, The golden gleam of daffodil, The violet blooming fair and free Where late the winds blew harsh and chill, The lily lifting up its breath Where snowdrifts spread but yesterday— All cry: “Where is thy sting, O death? O grave, where is thy victory?” Each Eastertide the world sings Her anthem sweet and true and strong, And all the tender growing things Join in her resurrection song. [page 191]
O blessed Christ! O blessed Christ! The night is deep and long, And there is none to watch with me Of all the careless throng. O blessed Christ! O blessed Christ! The world lies fast asleep, Think Thou on dark Gethsemane And count the tears I weep. [page 192]
I thank Thee, Lord, For every joyous hour That has been mine! For every strengthening and helpful word, For every tender sound that I have heard, I thank Thee, Lord! I thank Thee, Lord, For work and weariness That have been mine! For patience toward one groping toward the light, For mid-day burden and for rest of night, I thank Thee, Lord. [page 193]
Say not, I love the Lord, unless you find Within you, welling up by day and night, A love, strong, full, and deep, for humankind— Unless you find it always a delight To show the weary one a resting-place To show the doubting one Faith’s shining way— To show the erring one the door of grace— To show the sorrowing ones where they may lay Their broken hearts—the heaviness—the care— The grief, the agony too sharp to bear. When each man is the neighbour whom we love, According to the gracious measure of His word, Then may we lift our eyes to heaven above, And say with rapture sweet: I love the Lord. [page 194]
I asked the Lord for happiness unclouded; He gave me sorrow through the length’ning years: “Dear Christ,” I prayed, “give me the wine of gladness.” He gave me tears. And since the hand that sent the gift was pierced— Was pierced with the nails on Calvary— Ah, can I question that the tears and sorrow Are best for me? [page 195]
How close will Jesus come to thee? So close thine eyes can trace The wondrous love He has for thee, Upon His shining face. How close will Jesus come to thee? So close that thou can’st feel The sense of safety that He brings O’er all thy being steal. How close will Jesus come to thee? So close that thou canst hear The whisper of His tender voice Ring softly on thine ear. How close will Jesus come to thee? So close that doubts will cease— Thy soul with sorrow weighed, and sin, Find healing—joy—and peace. [page 196]
IN THE OLD CHURCH.
”The fine new kirk is finished, wife—the old has had its day, ‘Tis like ourselves, a trifle worn, and out of date, and grey. Stained windows and a tower high—I like not such a show, Beside the cost is something great, and money does not grow. Now when they come to me for help I’m going to tell them, plain, That since they’ve built to please themselves they’ll ask my help in vain.” Then sat the woman at his side: “’Tis meet God’s house should be As good a one as we can give,” she answered tenderly; “And we who’ve worshipped all the years in that old church so grey, Should go with songs and thankful hearts into the new to-day; For think of all the precious hours we have had over there— The hours of penitence and tears, the hours of peace and prayer. I went to-day to say good-bye, and as I stood alone, The memory of blessings shared came to me, one by one [page 197] I heard the message from the Word, the sermon good and wise, I heard the songs of love and hope ring clearly to the skies; And looking over to the pew we’ve worshipped in for years, I seemed to see so many things—to see them through my tears. I saw us sitting there when we were young, and glad, and strong, Ere we had learned that sorrow lends a sweetness to life’s song; When every golden Sabbath day found us in love with life— The world was fair, and God was good, and we were man and wife. One pretty, far-off summer morn my dim eyes seemed to see, A morn when I say by your side, our first-born on my knee; His fair head lay upon my arm, and rich was I, and proud, I whispered in the Master’s ear things spoken not aloud; And then our other bonnies lads grew plain unto my eyes, And Belle—our lassie fair and good, our lassie sweet and wise; I felt again her little hand clasped tightly in my own— A mother holds her daughter dear, and I had but the one; [page 198]< My soft-eyed one, my loving one, with braids of yellow hair— Ah me! I could not help but know the little one was fair. In the old church I thought upon our hour of grief and pain, Of loneliness—she went away and came not back again— When broken-hearted ‘neath the loss we bowed beneath the rod, There, close about us in that hour we felt the arm of God. I saw us older grown and bent, each tall son in his place; I saw the minister who stood with heaven in his face, His worn old face we loved so well, his eyes that seemed to see The golden light that lights the shore of God’s eternity; And yet how simple was his heart, how kindly was his way, And how he cared for all his flock, nor wearied night nor day! If one strayed far, he followed it and won it back to fold, If one fell down he lifted it with tenderness untold; He fell asleep, his labour done—how sweet must be the rest Of one who made his motto this: The Lord shall have my best. [page 199] Good-bye, old church! Good-bye, I said, and left its portals wide, And then I turned and looked upon the new church just beside; Upon its windows, tall and stained, the yellow sunbeams played, It stood, the temple of the Lord, in loveliness arrayed. I thougt,” she said, and stroked his hand, “of one who takes his rest; I seemed to hear his deep voice say: The Lord shall have my best.” The sun scrept lower in the sky, the world lay sweet and fair, A bird trilled softly from its throat a song that was a prayer. The old man looked up at his wife, with tears his cheeks were wet, “Ay, there are many things” he said, “we may not, dear, forget; We’re growing old, wife, like the day; our sun sinks in the west, I’ll say with him we both loved well, The Lord shall have my best.” [page 200]
THE WORLD IS GROWING OLD.
I am so weary, Master dear, So very weary of the road That I have travelled year by year, Bearing along life’s heavy load, It is so long, it is so steep, This highway leading to the skies, And shadows now begin to creep, And sleep lies heavy on my eyes. I am so weary, Master dear, So very weary of the road, I pray I may be very near That snow-white City built of God, Where pain and heart-ache have not strayed, Where nought is known but peace and rest, Where thy dear hands have ready made A place for e’en the humblest guest. But come thou closer, Master dear, My weakness makes me sore dismayed, O, let me whisper in thine ear, For I am troubled and afraid. What if my soul its way should miss Between this and the world above, And never share the perfect bliss Provided by thy tender love? [page 201] But lo, He speaketh at my side So close I feel his shelt’ring touch, ”Thou art my guest, can harm betide One called of me, and known as such? Dear child, the journey is not long, Thy heart need not to fear or shrink An opening door, an angel’s song— Oh, heaven is nearer than you think! [page 202]
THE TWO MARYS.
They journey sadly, slowly on, The day has scarce begun, Above the hills the rose of dawn Is heralding the sun, While down in still Gethsemane The shadows have not moved, They go, by loss oppressed, to see The grave of One they loved. The eyes of Mary Magdalene, With heavy grief are filled; The tender eyes that oft have seen The strife of passion stilled. For nevermore His tender voice Will whisper, “God forgives;” How can the earth at dawn rejoice Since He no longer lives? O hours that were so full and sweet! So free from doubts and fears! When kneeling lowly at His feet She washed them with her tears! With head low bowed upon her breast The other Mary goes, “He sleeps,” she says, “and takes His rest, Untroubled by our woes.” [page 203] And spices rare their hands do hold For Him, the loved and lost, And Magdalene, by love made bold, Doth maybe bring the most. It is not needed; see, the stone No longer keeps its place, And on it sits a radiant one, A light upon his face. “He is not here, come near and look With thine own doubting eyes, Where once He lay—the earth is shook And Jesus did arise.” And now they turn to go away, Slow stepping, hand in hand, ‘Twas something wondrous he did say, If they could understand. The sun is flooding vale and hill, Blue shines the sky above, “All Hail!” O voice that wakes a thrill Familiar, full of love. From darkest night to brightest day, From deep despair to bliss, They to the Master run straightway And kneel, His feet to kiss. O Love! that made Him come to save, To hang on Calvary, O mighty Love! that from the grave Did lift and set Him free! [page 204] Sing, Mary Magdalene, sing forth— With voice so sweet and strong, Sing, till it thrills through all the earth— The Resurrection Song! [page 205]
AS IT BEGAN TO DAWN.
A coward heart I carry in my breast, Think you the soldiers stern will let us put These spices that we carry, in his grave, Or will they drive us hence? See how I start If but the breeze shakes on my head, From limb or vine, the heavy drops of dew— Art weary Mary, weary and afraid?
Nay, but so heavy-hearted, and so lost To hope, so full of horrors was that day, So full of grief, the mem’ry of it all Will weigh upon me till my life is done. And if I close my eyes, I see in dreams His arms stretched out upon that cross so wide, His head, His kingly head, crowned with the thorns.
Hush, Mary, Or I drop upon the ground in weakness. My friend! my tender, and my faithful friend! When down thy forehead crept those crimson drops The agony was more than I could bear. ‘Tis said that Peter and the rest did sleep, [page 206] Did sleep and take their rest that last night in Gethsemane, leaving Him there to keep His watch alone. O, poverty of love! Think, Mary, had we heard that sobbing prayer Could we have slept and out Lord sorrowful?
Nay, we would have had one thought, to share His grief, to comfort and to cheer, But man Is full at conning tasks of tenderness, He is well qualified to guard with sword, But not to keep long watches in the night; His, is the strength to fight, ours, is the strength To wait, and waiting, hold our faith in love. They loved Him well, but being men they slept. A loneliness Grows on me as the dawn Lights hill and valley, and the fertile plain. His feet have pressed the paths, oft has He gone Down this way to the gate, oft has He sought The stillness, and the quiet of that mount Lifting its head to heaven—Mount Olivet— And always will there be on Calvary The heavy shadow of a cross of wood, And if a hardy flower blossomed there, Blood red its hue would be. [page 207]
Surely it shuddered as it felt His weight, That heavy cross on which He hung till eve! How could they plunge the spear into His side, And mock at Him with all their cruel tongues? O Mary, When I think of His dear hands That ever held out succour to the lost,— That ever touched to heal the sons of men,— That ever took the burden and the pain From heavy hearts—His strong and tender hands That lifted up the fallen and the weak, That dwelt in blessing on the little ones, That broke the bread to feed a multitude,— Wounded and hurt, the sharp nails through each palm, My heart, it breaks with pity and with woe!
I wonder if he saw us standing there, So weak, and helpless, and so buffeted. One soldier pulled the covering from my head, Another scoffed ‘O woman ye are fools!’ And yet another, ‘Look now at young King!’ I cared not, nay, was glad to feel that we Shared in his trial, feared not their contempt, I hope He saw us, that He understood That love and faith were one with such as we. When He cried out, I thought upon a day When He did come to rest Himself with us, [page 208]
The harvest fields were yellow, and the sun
Beat down so fiercely that it hurt the head
Of Ruth’s fair little one. ‘The pain!’ he cried,
‘The pain! the pain!!’ with hot tears on his cheek,
And Ruth did lift him up and run with him
To where the Master was, who pushed the curls
Back with His hands, and touched the forehead white
The crying ceased, the quiver left the eyes,
The pallour crept away from off the cheek—
He fell asleep, a smiling, healthy child.
And I thought of a day when He did meet A woman, in her youth, but lost to all The joys of innocence. Love she had known, Such love as leaves the life filled full of shame, Passion was hers, hate and impurity, The gnawing of remorse, the longing vain To lose the mark of sin, the scarlet flush Of fallen womanhood, the hatred of The spotless, the desire that they might sink Low in the mire as she. O, what a soul She carried on that day! The women drew Their robes back from her touch, men leered, And little children seemed afraid to meet The devilish beauty of her form and face. Shunned and alone, [page 209] Till One came to her side, And took her hand in His, and what He said Is past the telling; there are things the soul Knows well, but cannot blazon to the world. And when He went His way, upon her brow, Where shame had lain, set the sweet word, Forgiveness. And Mary Magdalene Did follow Him, led by a wondrous love, Did wash His tender feet with grateful tears, And wipe them with the soft hairs of her head.
Joseph of Arimathea laid His form In a new tomb. I tremble as we come So near! and tell, do you note a light, Fairier than dawn, is cast on all things here. Behold! one sits upon the stone, robed all In white, a wondrous radiance upon his face; I fear and am perplexed. Let us go back.
Nay, we must put these spices in His grave— My fears have gone and left me strong and bold, Let us advance and question him, for he Is some good angel keeping watch and ward, It may be he has caused the heavy stone To roll away, that we might enter in With love’s last offering. What doth he say? [page 210]
He says that Jesus is alive to-day, And bids us come and see the empty grave, O what a joy, if this were only true! But, ‘tis too great a mystery. Come hence, Someone hath borne away our Lord, To wrest from us the sorrowful delight Of looking on His face, dead, with the lines Of mortal agony on brow and lips, Oh, Mary Magdalene, the world’s strong hate Might well have spared us this last cruel blow!
But it may be The angel tells us true, And that He has arisen from the grave, And is alive to love and keep His own— O blessed hope! which all my being yearns To grasp and hold—for is He is alive, It means that you, and I, and all that love And hold their faith in Him, can never die.
I never understood what He did mean By Life Eternal. So many things I had Hid in my heart to ask Him.
Look how the sunshine sweeps down on the world! There never was a yesterday so fair, [page 211] Something within me answers to the glow— And answers to the glad songs of the birds— And something seems to call out sweet and clear The night is gone—is gone! the night is gone!
I am amazed! the tears have quickly dried upon your cheek. I thought your grief was strong, Too strong to lose itself in Nature’s smile, The dazzling sunlight, and the song of birds, The fair————
Hush! ‘tis our Lord himself who comes this way, The wounds made by the thorns still on His brow, His hands and feet marked with the cruel nails.
It is the Master and my fears are gone— O hark! He speaks. How often have we heard That voice so filled with peace and tenderness? Dear Lord, we fall and worship at Thy feet.
O risen Son of God! Give me one hand pierced on the cross for me, That I may place it on my heart and say, For my transgression was He wounded sore, Bruised, shamed, and hurt for my iniquity. [page 212]
We walked, O Master, in a maze of doubt, Misgiving, grief, and great perplexity, Knowing not where to turn, what to believe; Then, through the tumult did we hear Thee say, ‘All Hail!’ O words of cheer! O greeting, glad!
These words shall be a song—a song of joy For a sad world to sing, a glorious song Of triumph, and immortality; The glad notes shall ring clearly up to heaven, And echo down through hell. All Hail! The Son of God Hath left the grave and given us Life, All Hail! [page 213]
O SHEPHERD KIND.
O shepherd kind, O shepherd kind, with tenderness untold, Guard thou the lambs, the little lambs that are within thy fold. From out our homes, from out our hearts, they stole with eager feet, To find the Joys of Paradise, the pastures warm and sweet. Not theirs the Gates of purest Pearl, the splendor of the Throne, They are so young—O Shepherd kind, lest they feel lost and lone. Call softly to them, lead them forth beside the waters still. Among the fields of living green that circle Zion’s hill; And if one wearies by the way and drooping lags behind, O lift it in thy tender arms, and bear it, Shepherd kind. [page 214]
THE MASTER AND THE MAN.
When Ammiel, worn with vigils and with fasting wan, Saw standing in the golden glory of the dawn The Master of all men, and cried, with soul a-thrill: “O, Blessed whom I serve! make known to me Thy will. Set me some holy task to do in Thy dear name— Some task that is Thy very own!” The answer came; “Be brother to the broken, to the bad, and lead My poor lost children home; be thy the holy deed That thou shalt do to prove thy faithfulness to me. Go, lift the fallen from the mire, lift tenderly, Make of thy human sympathy a sun to shine With warmth upon the worst—the worst is child of mine. So near unto my heart that when you pass him by With him I feel the shame, the hurt—with him I cry. Set not thy heaven too high for maimed and halt to find, But bring it near to such as need it most; be kind. Be very kind. The task thou prayest for is thine, Go forth to heal my outcast, and my leper, mine, Ah, if thou wilt, dear son, thy faith and fitness prove, Thy life must be all service and thy soul all love.” [page 215]
GOD’S GOOD MAN.
Out of the good deeds of a simple life, The helping hand to those who stood in need, The sympathy to such as sorrow made Companion of through grey and bitter days; Wise, kindly counsel to the wayward one. Handclasp so warm it made the outcast feel He had in this old weary world a friend Who truly cared. Love for the little ones; Sweet memories kept green and fragrant still; And human kindness and courtesies; The hope of brighter skies and better things; The charity so filled with Christliness It covered from the curious eyes the sin It strove to heal—from such as these was brewed The balm that did anoint his own hurt heart. [page 214]
Here in this nook of silence, hidden quite away In London’s busy heart, he sleeps. Above his head No glowing panegyric writ in stone to say How great, how tender, how beloved the dead. No need for him to court remembrance, or lay claim To honours due—the grass, a silken coverlet, Creeps softly till it hides from sight the very name; Yet who of all who knows and love him can forget? [page 215]
Shut up the workshop, lock the door We’re off where the slim trails wind. [page 217]
WHERE THE SLIM TRAILS WIND.
Shut up the workshop, and lock the door, We’re off where the slim trails wind— Tang of cedar and sweat of pine, Brawling stream, and the dappled shine Of haunts that we loved of yore; The workaday world lies far behind, And the broad highway before. [page 218]
I kiss the stream that has been bound, I brush the supple willow, I lay my soft cheek on the ground— Beneath it springs a pillow Of moss, and grass, and wild flower stalks— Ah! summer, you are older, And gayer bloom will deck your walks, But mine is sweeter, bolder God’s garden is the deep old wood, And I, the fickle vagrant; I am the gardener he sends To make it fair and fragrant. [page 219]
SPRING O’ THE YEAR.
“Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year!” Was there ever a song so gay, As the song the meadow-lark sings to me When we meet in the fields each day? “Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year!” Then pauses a moment to look At soft green leaves on shrub and tree, And buttercups gay in the brook. “Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year!” No more weather gloomy and sad, Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year! Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad? “Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year!” Isn’t it blue—the sky above? Watch ‘em, watch ‘em, these mates of mine, Building their nests, and making love. “Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year!” Ho! I sing it morning and night, Never were meadows quite so green, Never were posies quite so bright. “Spring o’ the year! Spring o’ the year!” Out rings his song so sweet and shrill, Its gladness catches you unawares, With its gurgle, and laugh, and thrill. [page 220]
O the frozen valley and frozen hill make a coffin wide and deep, And the dead river lies, all its laughter stilled within it, fast asleep. The trees that have played with the merry thing, and freighted its breast with leaves, Give never a murmur or sigh of woe—they are dead—no dead things grieves. No carol of love from a song-bird’s throat; the world lies naked and still, For all things tender, and all things sweet, have been touched by the gruesome chill. Not a flower,—a blue forget-me-not, a wild rose or jessamine soft, To lay its bloom on the dead river’s lips, that have kissed them all so oft; But look, a ladder is spanning the space twixt earth and the sky beyond, A ladder of gold for the Maid of Grace—the strong, the subtle, the fond! SPRING, with the warmth in her footsteps light, and the breeze and the fragrant breath, Is coming to press her radiant face to that which is cold in death. [page 221] SPRING, with a mantle made of the gold held close in a sunbeam’s heart, Thrown over her shoulders, bonnie and bare—see the sap in the great trees start; Where the hem of this flowing garment trails, see the glow, the colour bright, A-stirring and spreading of something fair—the dawn is chasing the night! SPRING, with all love and all dear delights pulsing in every vein, The old earth knows her, and thrills to her touch, as she claims her own again. SPRING, with the hyacinths filling her cap and the violet seeds in her hair, With the crocus hiding its satin head in her bosom warm and fair; SPRING, with its daffodils at her feet and pansies a-bloom in her eyes, SPRING, with enough of the God in herself to make the dead to arise! For see, as she bends o’er the coffin deep—the frozen valley and hill— The dead river stirs, Ah, that ling’ring kiss is making it heart to thrill! [page 222] And then as she, closer and closer leans, it slips from its snowy shroud, Frightened a moment, then rushing away, calling and laughing aloud! The hill where she rested is all a-bloom—the wood is green as of old, And ‘wakened birds are striving to send their songs to the Gates of Gold. [page 223]
SONG OF THE WIND.
O wind you come singing, singing, Gaily about the eaves, I think you are bringing, bringing, The secret of the leaves; Secrets you learned in the Maytime, Down in the wood so cool, Learned in the night-time and day-time, By bank, and brook, and pool. O wind, you go shrilling, shrilling, Over the chimney’s high, While the clouds are softly spilling Rain on the gardens dry: ‘Tis autumn, the wild new-comer Has taught you how to sing, But the voice of the sweet dead summer Through it all seems to ring. O wind, you are railing, railing, ‘Tis the voice of a shrew, Wearied at length, and failing, Then beginning anew: Here you come sighing, sighing, Down to my casement wide, A moment and you are flying Away in pique and pride. [page 224] I love your chasing and panting, I love the melody That you go so gaily chanting To earth, and sky, and sea. Our birds go southward soaring, When sighs of frost appear, You, with your sighing and roaring, Sing to us all the year. [page 225]
”O sweet white rose, I pray you tell Why in that fragrant heart of thine Where golden sunbeams seldom fell, All grace and gladness seem to dwell, And summer fragrance holds it shrine?” “Sweet, am I, west wind, sweet and white? Then leave me in the shadow, pray, Here soft dews bathe me all the night, And no harsh sunbeam comes at light To kiss the great white tears away.” [page 226]
IN THE CLOVER FIELD.
The air is sweet as sweet can bem The azure sky spread smoothly over, And rest and joy keep company, In this wide field of sun-kissed clover. Among the heavy heads of pink, The avaricious bees are straying, A glad full-throated bobolink, His highes note is now essaying. The earth is holding on her breast, The sweetest flowers of all her growing; The white clouds float, from out the west A soft delicious wind is blowing. Oh, life is good on such a day, The blue sky bending smoothly over, For neither care nor cross will stay, In this wide field of sun-kissed clover. [page 227]
BY THE GREEN SEA.
This hour I think is best of all: The fresh wind crooning merrily; The sea-mews on the old sea well Call to each other cheerily. One white star in a saffron sky— One soft, white star that glows on me— A rose-red cloud that lingers nigh, And, Oh, the gladness grows on me! The green sea from the sky above A myriad tints is borrowing; To-day is ours for life and love, And who spares thought for sorrowing? Why say the dew of life is tears? That death stands waiting greedily? That grief lives on through all the years? While joy is ended speedily? It is enough, high over all God’s eye is watching carefully; A psalm of praise the great waves call; The very wind goes prayerfully. One white star in a saffron sky— One soft white star that glows on me— A rose-leaf cloud that lingers nigh; And, Oh, the gladness grows on me! [page 228]
The glad, glad days, and the pleasant ways— Ho! for the fields and the wildwood! The scents, the sights, and the dear delights— Ho! for our care-free childhood! Heavy the air with a fragrance rare, Strawberries ripe in the meadow, Luscious and red where the vines are spread Thickly in sun and shadow. The glad, glad days, and the pleasant ways, Chorus of wild birds calling: “Strawberry ripe! Ho! strawberry ripe!” From dawn till the dew is falling. [page 229]
THE MULLEIN MEADOW.
Down in the mullein meadow The lusty thistle springs, The butterflies go criss-cross, The lonesome catbird sings, The alderbush is flaunting Her blossoms white as snow— The same old mullein meadow We played in long ago. The waste land of the homestead, The arid sandy spot, Where reaper’s song is never heard, Where wealth is never sought, But where the sunshine lingers, And merry breezes come To gather pungent perfumes From the mullein-stalks a-bloom. There’s a playground on the hillside, A playhouse in the glade, With mulleins for a garden, And mulleins for a shade. And still the farmer grumbles That nothing good will grow In this old mullein meadow We played in long ago! [page 230]
September comes across the hills, Her blue veil softly flowing; Her flagons deep of wine she spills, And sets the old world glowing. Yon robin’s piping her a tune— How runs his carol tender? “I knew you once as pretty June, When you were young and slender. And though you’ve grown a gracious thing, Full-blossomed, grand and stately, I still can see a hint of spring— Your youth’s but left you lately.” [page 231]
SWEEPING TO THE SEA.
O river, sweeping to the sea! How clear your waters are— So clear they mirror faithfully Each fleecy cloud and star. O river, running to the sea! How fresh the breath you fling, As on you speed right merrily From winds that chase and sing! [page 232]
O THE WARM OCTOBER DAYS.
Sweet and shrill the crickets hiding in the grasses brown and lean Pipe their gladness—sweeter, shriller—one would think the world was green. O the haze is on the hilltops, and the haze is on the lake! See it fleeing through the valley with the bold wind in its wake! Mark the warm October haze! Mark the splendour of the days! And the mingling of the crimson with the sombre brown and greys! See the bare hills turn their furrows to the shine and to the glow; If you listen you can hear it, hear a murmur soft and low— “We are naked,” so the fields say, “stripped of all our golden dress.” “Heed it not,” October answers, “for I love you nonetheless. Share my beauty and my cheer While we rest together here, In these sun-filled days of languor, in these late days of the year.” [page 233] All the splendour of the summer, all the springtime’s light and grace, All the riches of the harvest, crown her head and light her face; And the wind goes sighing, sighing, as if loath to let her pass, While the crickets sing exultant in the lean and withered grass. O the warm October haze! O the splendour of the days! O the mingling of the crimson with the sombre brown and greys! [page 234]
”Poet by the grace of God.”
You sing of winter grey and chill, Of silent stream and frozen lake, Of naked woods, and winds that wake To shriek and sob o’er vale and hill. And straight we breathe the bracing air, And see stretched out before our eyes A white world spanned by brooding skies, And snowflakes drifting everywhere. You sing of tender things and sweet, Of field, of brook, of flower, of bush, The lilt of bird, the sunset flush, The scarlet poppies in the wheat. Until we feel the gleam and glow Of summer pulsing through our veins, And hear the patter of the rains, And watch the green things sprout and grow. You sing of joy, and we do mark How glad a thing is life, and dear; Of sorrow, and we seem to hear The sound of sobbing in the dark. [page 235] The subtle power to sway and move, The stamp of genius strong and true, This, friend, wa heaven’s gift to you, This made you great and won you love. Your song goes ringing clear and sweet— Though on earth’s bosom, bare and brown, All willingly you laid you down, The music is not incomplete. Sleep on, it is not by the years We measure life when all is done; Your rest is earned, your laurels won; Sleep, softly sleep, we say with tears. [page 236]
A COUNTRY ROAD.
Not this road, friend, ‘tis whim of mine To turn my back on beech and pine And running brooks that sing and shine, The while your prospects you define, And press your suit with ease. I went this road another day, A glowing, pulsing, a perfect day. The growing grasses laughed with me; The young leaves quivered in their glee; The ox-eyed daisies peeped to see So glad a thing as I. As I, a-tremble with sweet fear, Because of one who lingered near, Because he whispered in my ear The very words I longed to hear; Because—because he was so dear— Not this road, friend; I pray. Of this one spot my thought doth make A garden rare for old sake’s sake; And should your foot crush fern or brake, Or ox-eyed daisy, wide awake, This worldly heart of mine would ache— Not this road, friend, I pray. [page 237]
THE BARLEY FIELDS.
The sunset has faded, there’s but a tinge, Saffron pale, where a star of white Has tangled itself in the trailing fringe Of the pearl-grey robe of the summer night. O the green of the barley fields grow deep, The breath of the barley fields grow rare; There is rustle and glimmer, sway and sweep— The wind is holding high revel there. Singing the song it has often sung— Hark to the troubadour glad and bold: “Sweet is the earth when the summer is young And the barley fields are green and gold.” [page 238]
Laughter of Life
I am Joy— The rarest, fairest thing that slips Down to earth from the finger tips Of the God who made it! [page 240]
I am Joy— The rarest, fairest thing that slips Down to earth from the finger tips Of the God who made it! Joy! that ripples in leaf and rill, Stirs the pulses and wakes a thrill; Free as the vagrant breeze that blows, Warm as the heart of a velvet rose. For I am Joy! The rarest, fairest thing that slips Down to earth from the finger tips Of the God who made it! Joy! [page 241]
ALL ON AN APRIL MORNING.
The teacher was wise and learned, I wish, All nonsense she held in scorning, But you never can tell what the primmest miss Will do of a bight spring morning. What this one did was to spread a snare For feet of a youth unheeding, As March, with a meek and lamb-like air, To its very last hour was speeding. Oh, he was the dullard of his class, For how can a youth get learning With his eyes aye fixed on a pretty lass And his heart aye filled with yearning? “Who finds ‘mong the rushes which fringe a pool,” She told him, “the first wind blossom, May wish what he will”—poor April fool, With but one wish in his bosom. Her grey eyes danced—on a wild-goose chase He’d sally forth on the morrow, And, later, she’d laugh in his sombre face, And jest at his words of sorrow. But penitence and a troubled mind Were fruits of the night’s reflection; After all, he was simple, and strong, and kind— ‘Twas wrong to flout his affection. [page 242] They met on the hill as she walked to school; He said, unheeding her blushes, “Here’s the early flower your April fool Found growing among the rushes. “Take it or leave it as you will”— His voice ringing out so clearly Awoke in her heart a happy thrill— “You know that I love you dearly.” Day-dreams indulged as she taught the school Held lovers kneeling and suing; “Take it or leave it”—her April fool Was masterful in his wooing. He gave her the flower—he gave him a kiss— His suit she had long been scorning; But you never can tell what the primmest miss Will do of a bright spring morning. [page 243]
I was the slyest boy at home, The slyest boy at school, I wanted all the world to know That I was no one’s fool. I kept my childish hopes and schemes Locked closely in my breast, No single secret shared with Bob, The chum I liked the best. I never showed my squirrel’s nest, Nor beaver dam, nor cave, Nor fortress where I used to go To be a soldier brave. Oh, I was sly, just awful sly, In winter, summer, spring, While bob would tell me all he knew, I never told a thing. And yet Bob always got ahead; I’d find the careless knave Asleep within my fortress walls, And fishing in my cave. “What, yours!” he said, in great surprise, “You should have told me so. You never said a word, old chum, And how was I to know?” [page 244] My slyness hurt more than it helped; If Bob had known, you see, He was too kind to do his best To get ahead of me. I still was sly when I grew up. I fell in love with Nan, But scorned to own it to myself Or any other man. So sly was I, Nan never guessed— No more did handsome Bob— That every time she looked my way My heart, it stirred and throbbed. The same old story! Ere I knew, My chum had loved and won. When I explained I’d picked her out To be my very own, “What, yours!” he said in great surprise, “You should have told me so. You never said a word, old chum, And how was I to know?” [page 245]
”Men, give more frankness and less flattery,” So read Minerva from her essay fine; “Men, give more frankness and less flattery,” Much emphasis she laid upon this line. “We are no foolish children to be fed On empty words of unearned praise; forsooth, Too long in such poor ways have we been led. Give us no compliment—give us the truth, Think not a woman pines to hear you tell How beautiful her form, how fair her face, Think not she whispers to herself, “’Tis well!” When you proclaim her rich in every grace. You think to please her—Ah, sir, vain your dream. When next such fulsome praises you may speak, Mark well her eyes, and read their scornful gleam, And note the angry blush, on brow and cheek. Be fair; speak out your thoughts as they may rise, Nor seek to hide them, since the truth is grand; All praise unmerited we do despise, If you could read our mind, and understand. Men, give more frankness and less flattery, Remember, we are neither dull nor blind; Men, give more frankess and less flattery, If you would win the trust of womankind.” [page 246] Much marvelled I at dear Minerva’s lay, But thought she truly meant each earnest word, And so neglected telling her straightway How much her genius had my bosom stirred; Neglected telling her that if two wings But grew out from her shoulders soft and white, Fair would she be as seraph mild that sings The songs of love in Paradise to-night; Neglected telling her the flowers she wore Drooped with the heat of their own jealousy, And whispered to each other o’er and o’er: “Ah, how much sweeter is this maid than we?” She begged for frankness from all men—from me— For this her wondrous eloquence was poured. So afterwards when she did question me, I—foolish man—confessed that I was bored; And when she showed her gown of palest blue, Shook for me all its dainty ruffles out, I would not praise it, though I wanted to; Her red lips straight took on a pretty pout. “Did not we graduates look very nice?” She asked, and patted one rebellious curl. “Frankness, not flattery,” I murmured twice, “Let me remember it my own dear girl! I’ve seen you looking lovelier,” I said, “I like your hair best when it softly flows— Not piled in one big bunch upon your head; The powder showed quite plainly on your nose.” [page 247] Who was it said, “O, inconsistency, Thy name is woman!” Surely he was right; I spoke my thoughts, refrained from flattery, Lo, for reward comes this brief note to-night: “I think to longer be engaged to you Would be a foolish thing, and very wrong. POST-SCRIPT: Grey says he dreamed, the whole night through, Of me, and of my essay wise and strong. If you should call to-night, at eight, pray bring My notes—and—and—the photo, and the curl; I will return your presents and your ring— To think that you should grow into a churl.” I’m going to tell Minverva when we meet, That it was just a little joke of mine, And nevermore—my cure is quite complete— Will I believe a woman’s essay fine. [page 248]
Being an episode from the life of a bank clerk as narrated by himself when the years have taught him wisdom, and given him grey hairs and a bank presidency.
We were bank clerks in that town— Blaine and Harris, McBride and Brown And I—not, “We’re seven”—only five, The gayest wildest lot alive— All but Brown—old Tortoise Brown, He was slow as the slow old town, Never ready for fun or lark, Day’s work took him almost till dark. “Ah, come on Brown,” we’d urge him oft, But he would answer slow and soft: “Go on fellows, don’t you wait, Likely I’ll be a little late, No use hurrying that I see— Take your time is the text for me.” ‘Twas handsome Blaine that christened him “Old Tortoise Brown”—his name was Jim, But “Tortoise” suited we allowed, So he was “Tortoise” to the crowd. He smiled and said he would not mind The swift hares leaving him behind; Went on working the same old way, Plugging along from day to day. [page 249] And though we liked him we looked down A little bit on Tortoise Brown; Thought it just a capital joke For Blaine to mimic the old poke With: “Go on fellows, don’t you wait, Likely I’ll be a little late. No use hurrying that I see. Take your time is the text for me.” Blaine was handsome, clever as well, Sang like a lark, dressed like a swell, Invitations from east and west— Social life was what he liked best, What all liked best, just put that down You know how ‘tis in a country town, Where girls are many and fair to see, And boys are scarce as scarce can be, Bank clerks not so taking as Blaine Get notice enough to make them vain. To that slow old town there chanced to come, To build a scrumptious country home, A city man of wealth and note— Saddle horse, drivers, and motor boat. Town went wild with delight and pride, And very shortly Blaine, McBride With the rest of us, ‘gainst our will, Haunted the great house on the hill Where the rich man’s daughter Madeline— Fair as a rose, proud as a queen— Made fools of us as women will, Of all but Brown, his song was still: [page 250] “Go along fellows, don’t you wait Likely I’ll be a little late, Just a rube in that soft felt hat, Coat old style, and shiny at that; Asked him to take our picnic in, But Tortoise doesn’t care a pin For a pretty girl, or first-rate time, He reeled me off that old fool rhyme: “Go along fellows, don’t you wait Likely I’ll be a little late No use hurrying that I see Take your time is the text for me.” Picnic it was the finest yet, Every girl in the town, I bet, Most of the boys, you may be sure, Supper fit for an epicure, Ten mile ride in a tallyho, With songs to sing and horns to blow, Couldn’t help but enjoy it all, Though later it began to pall, Truth was that more than handsome Blaine Had looked, and looked, but looked in vain, For golden curls and muslin gown— The rarest, fairest girl in town, Madeline Marshall had not come— Query: “What could have kept her home?” Late at night and our spirits down We found ourselves once more in town, There we heard news of a startling kind, A fire had broken out behind [page 251]
The house on the hill—grass and trees
All dry tinder if you please,
Who was it rushed to fight the flame?
Our old friend, Tortoise Brown by name.
I’m certain sure a dozen told
How cool he was, how swift, how bold,
The things he did, the things he said,
Buckets emptied on barns and shed,
And how by strength of arm and will
He saved the great house on the hill.
And one chap added: Seems to me,
There is some talk—or used to be—
Boy and girl sweetheart—good boy, Brown”—
Blaine he laughed the gossip down,
“Rubbish.” he snorted, “Every word
Brown! old Brown! Oh, it’s too absurd!
I’d give the world had I been here
To help and succour, soothe and cheer.
Come, we must proffer sympathy
‘Tis all that’s left to do,” groaned he.
So we trudged hill-ward feeling small,
No hope for us at all, at all,
Blaine was the man, his winning ways,
Right here came into public gaze
Madeline of the golden hair,
And with her, we could only stare,
Old Tortoise Brown in his shiny suit,
Wearing that old felt hat to boot.
There at the gate—you know the way—
Hands a-touching—not much to say— [page 252]
Sort of a ling’ring tender mood,
Soon as we saw we understood,
And turned to fly with footsteps light,
But Blaine he saw, and called: “Goodnight.”
And as we paused we heard him say
The same old words the same old way:
“Go along fellows, don’t you wait,
Likely I’ll be a little late;
No use hurrying that I see.
Take your time is the text for me!” [page 253]
HER FIRST SLEIGH-RIDE.
All night the snowflakes sought the earth—the snowflakes big and white— They covered up the meadows brown, they bent the bushes slight! At morn the sun with wondrous pomp came climbing o’er the hill, And lent a thousand beauties to the world so fair and still. Ruth at the old manse window stood, a wonder in her gaze, “The earth was turned to fairyland,” she cried out in amaze! Her cousin Ronald laughed and said, “This is no fairyland, But a Canadian landscape clothed in beauty wild and grand.” “In Georgia you have naught like this—ice, snow and wintry gale— The southern air is warm and soft, the southern girls are pale,” Not pale the face she turned to him, in each soft cheek the red Flamed up, “You need not say a word against the south,” she said, [page 254] “I envy not your rosy maids their colour, or their land, I love the warmth of our blue sky, the bloom on every hand, Far more than all your snow-capped hills, and forests ghostly white, And mournful winds that love to play a dirge both day and night!” Thereat his father—kindly soul as ever put to sleep Both saint and sinner in the pew, with sermon long and deep— Bade him not tease a sister so, “Come, make your peace straightway, Then harness and bring out Black Bess, for on this glorious day My Ruth shall have a rare, good treat—a sleigh-ride, do you hear? The air will warm up towards noon, for see the sky is clear, Come, you should love each other well, so near of kin are you, My child, in Ronald you shall have a brother good and true.” “No bother I,” the graceless youth did hastily exclaim, And Ruth, affronted, bade him wait until she made such claim, Black Bess came prancing from her stall, so smooth, so shiny-skinned, Give her the rein and she would race as swiftly as the wind, [pge 255] She tossed her slender head and pawed the snow-drifts as she stood, And shook her bells until they chimed, so eager was her mood, “Whoa, Bess, be patient for awhile?” said Ronald, as with care He tucked the robes so thick and warm about his cousin fair. Then off they sped away—away, the snow-birds flew afraid, The frost came in the air to touch the cheeks of man and maid, The yellow sunbeams raced with them, and made a glow and gleam, Put rainbow colours on the bridge that spanned the frozen stream. A white highway they followed down into the valley wide, And whiter yet the sun-kissed hills that rose on either side; Black Bess made all her chiming bells flow music clear and sweet As on she sped, and on, and on—a handsome thing and fleet. But when the forest wide was reached she took a sober pace, As though to give them time to note the beauty of the place, The giant heads were crowned with snow, the giant limbs were dressed, [page 256] And close about the giant girths the snowy drifts were pressed. And Ruth, a fair and radiant Ruth, said softly: “This is grand; Old winter makes his home I trow, in this wide northern land, You lacked in courtesy to-day, but this ride makes amends, So Ronald now, a truce, I say; let us be loyal friends.” “No friend am I,” he said, and laughed to note her look of pride! “What boots you are, here in the north!” the angry maiden cried; “And now for home and supper warm, we’ll need them without doubt.” Homeward they flew, Black Bess as fresh as when she started out; The sun with all his gorgeous train went down behind the crest Of one tall hill, but left a glow of crimson in the west, So soft, so pure, the old world lay as the young night came down, For covered all her gardens were, her meadows bare and brown. He spoke at length, “I will not be your brother or your friend.” But I will be your lover true till life and love shall end,” The blue eyes looked into the brown, he bent his head full low, [page 257] He may have kissed her tender mouth—but this no one can know.
* * * * *
”Ho! Ho! this winter air is fine!” the old man cried with glee! “Did you enjoy my treat? Your cheeks are rosy as can be,” “I did,” Ruth owned, and stretched her hands out to the cheerful blaze, “I like Canadian scenery—I—like—Canadian—ways.” [page 258]
THE LONDON BUS DRIVER
SCENE—Top of a London bus. CHARACTERS:An American tourist, slight, dark man in well-cut clothes; and the bus driver, fat, ruddy, white-whiskered, and smoking a pipe.
Monologue by the Bus driver.
So you’ve come ‘cross the ‘erring pond to take a passing look At Lunnon—wot’s that? Certainly, I knows her like a book. Friend, I was born in Lunnon town and all my blooming life I’ve lived in this old Lunnon town, and so has Jane, my wife. We made a change once on a time, when we was young and gay, Jane says: “Let’s leave this awful place, and go so far away We’ll never see its smoke and grime, its wickedness and want But live among the fields an’ woods.” Says I, “W’y Jane, I cawnt.” But I was young, an’ Jane an’ me was courting middling ‘ard— ‘Er ‘ome was back o’ Petticoat lane and mine down Coster’s yard— [page 259] So when Jane took the name o’ Brown we said a long farewell An’ started out to spend our lives a-farming in a dell— A-farming in bloomin’ dell all grass an’ flowers an’ bees— It wasn’t long till we was sick, yes, bloomin’ sick o’ these. There wasn’t nothing goin’ on, no stirring sounds or sights, No toughs a-getting took by copy, no funerals or fights. No jokes a-passing on the street, w’y damn my eyes! at dark The population went to bed—it got up with the lark. Says little Jane, “The country’s made for country folks, you see, And I’ve ‘ad ‘eaps and ‘eaps of it,” says little Jane to me. “I want to feel that I’m alive an ‘ave my share of fun, To pick a scrap with Cousin Mag, and heat a cresss and bun With Susan Ann some Saturday, and see her flounce about, The while she tells ‘ow ‘Ants come ‘ome, and ‘ow they fought it hout O there’s such ‘eaps and ‘eaps o’ things I’d like to do,” says she, “I’d like a walk on Lunnon bridge,” says little Jane to me. “O, let’s go back!” she coaxes ‘ard, “I get such ‘omesick spells For Lunnon’s noise, an’ dirt, an’ stir, And Lunnon’s sights an’ smells.” [page 260] “My dear,” says I, an’ says it quick for fear the tears will come, “Since both of us ‘ave ‘ad enough, let us be starting ‘ome— Friend, when you’re bred in Lunnon town no other spot is ‘ome.” “Wot! leave the country!” folks all cried, “the birds all sing in June!” “Oh yes, says Jane, but all your birds they sing the same old tune, An’ us folks likes a bit of change, a Covent Garden spree, A picnic out at ‘Amstead ‘Eath is country ‘nough for me!” So Jane and me we comed away, ‘twas ho! for Lunnon town. I ain’t seen little Jane so brisk since she’s been Mrs. Brown. But when the city showed her lights, her miles and miles of lights, Jane fell a-whimpering, said it set her thinking of them nights When there was only moon and stars and rustling leaves—and things, And then just like two bloomin’ kids we hold o’ hands and sings: “Lunnon bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down! Lunnon bridge is falling down, my fair lady!” “My! but she’s big and fine,” says Jane, “this Lunnon town of ours, [page 261] W’ot fools we was to try and fill her place with fields and flowers A-farming in a bloomin’ dell—she’s right is Mrs. Brown. There’s no place—no place—under ‘eavens like this old Lunnon town, This noisy, smelly, woful, good old Lunnon town! Our own old Lunnon town!” [page 262]
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