John Allister Currie
A Quartette of Lovers

Virginibus puerisque canto.—Horace. Lib. iii. Ode I.

A

QUARTETTE OF LOVERS.

                                                   We will live, my love, and play,

                                                   Let grey beards was as was they may;

                                                   Suns that set repair their light,

                                                   Our brief day has one long night.

                                                        —GOLDWIN SMITH’S Bay Leaves.

Love various minds does variously inspire.

                                                                                                     —DRYDEN.

JOHN ALLISTER CURRIE.

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TORONTO: WILLIAMSON & CO.

1892.

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Entered according to the Act of Parliament of Canada, in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two, by WILLIAMSON & Co., Toronto, at the Department of Agriculture.

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TO

MY CRITIC, MY FRIEND, AND MY INSPIRATION,

THIS VOLUME

IS

DEDICATED.

                                       

 THE AUTHOR.

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INTRODUCTION.

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   THERE is no excuse to offer for these verses. They were written more for pleasure than for publication, in the few spare moments that fall to the lot of newspaper man. If they meet with public approval, well and good; if not, the consolation remains, that few ever succeed in this department of literature.

   Much is demanded of the modern verse writer. His work must be clear and natural; it must combine the real with the romantic, and, above all, the treatment must be both robust and artistic. If I have failed in this respect is it not because I do not comprehend the ideal, but because of the greatness of the task.

                                                                                                       J. A. C.

   TORONTO, May 7th, 1892. [unnumbered page]

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TO MY BOOK.

I do not ask to rule in other hearts;

   I do not wish to govern other minds;

   I do not seek the goal Ambition finds,

Nor yet the pride and cares that Power imparts.

But all I ask is Love that ne’er departs:

   A heart that round my own for life entwines;

   A moment’s joy to those who read these lines,

My tribute to the Muses and their arts.

Dear little book, if such should be your lot,

   To please, and bring fresh hopes in darkest days,

To lead some hearts to Love—Life’s brightest spot—

   The author’s aim will live in you always.

And this is fame enough, it matters not

   Although his brow be not entwined with bays. [unnumbered page]

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A Quartette of Lovers.

                                                  Come live with me and be my love,

                                                  And we will all the pleasures prove

                                                  That valleys, groves, and hills, and fields,

                                                  Or woods or steepy mountain yield.

                                                                                 —CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE.

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A Quartette of Lovers.

THE SUN LOVER.

THE morning star burns brightly in the east,

   A herald for the coming God of day.

The moon has fled, the cricket’s song has ceased,

   Night’s curtains on the hills are growing gray:

The stillness of suspense steals through the air,

   Stirred with strange rustlings like the hurried flight

      Of darkness’ dusky wings,

Or ear-born pulses indicating care,

   That keep sweet slumber in the restful night,

      From weary workers in vain worldly things. [unnumbered page]

Hark! in the pause of morn’s expectancy

   A robin’s song comes, and the bubbling strain

Of stirring silver-fluted melody

   Awake the woodland choristers again:

The shore-lark to the golden-curtained dawn

   Soars higher and higher, singing and swinging until

      The rocks and lakes resound.

The oriole on the leafy, wooded lawn

   Warbles to the swallow on the hill,

      Life’s morning song of love, sublime, profound.

Brighter and brighter grows the eastern sky,

   As from their nest, beside some [x]edgy pool,

The wild ducks rise, and swiftly westward fly,

   Till lost in those blue lakes so calm and cool

Impictured in the ruddy western cloud.

   The owl, with weird hoot and ghostly flight,

      Seeks silence in the swamps.

Out on the lake the loon, with mirth endowed,

   Laughs at the quickly disappearing night,

      With all its stars, its mysteries and pomps. [page 12]

Sing, all ye silvery-throated songsters! sing,

   In one glad burst of music and of praise!

Sing sill the woods and valleys ring

   A joyous anthem to the God of days.

Now, as the orbed son of Light and Love

   O’er the horizon peeps in steadfast flight,

      Hail to the God of day!

O sovereign sun! that on thy path above

   Marks out the milestones of the day and night,

      Welcome at morn with nature’s gladdest lay!

Up from the grass and lily-cups the dew

   Springs like a bride to meet a bridegroom lorn.

The petals of the flowers unfold anew,

   And turn to offer incense to the morn.

Forth from his hive the bee, the drowsy hum,

   Sails with the wind to seek some quiet spot

      Where roses nod and smile.

Deep in the pinky petals, where the sun

   Warms but not lights, he dreams, the world forgot,

      Drunk with perfume, and with his love a while. [page 13]

What is this feeling in my tired heart,

   That stirs so strangely at the dawn of day?

What is it makes my sluggish pulses start,

   And drives my pain and anguish all away?

What is it makes the birds so blithely sing?

   Why is it that the forests find a voice

      To praise the sun above?

Why is it that the hills and valleys ring?

   Why is it that the sun makes earth rejoice?

      Is it because the sun is God of Love?

Then if it is, beloved my Sun art thou!

   Our life shall be one long and endless day;

I’ll press a thousand kisses on thy brow,

   And thus do homage to thy sovereign sway.

Why should I own a care? Why fear to die?

   Love is enough! The sun will rise again,

      And thus will love return.

Why mourn the past with either tear or sigh?

   Love is not lost; love always will remain;

      Then let us love while youth’s mad pulses burn. [page 14]

Then love I’ll follow like the vagrant bees,

   That seek the rose, and in its petals swoon.

Ah, those are days I have not drained the lees,

   And love is young, and life is at its noon.

A kiss to me is more than riches rare;

   A smile is heaven for a moment seen

      In some sweet, loving face;

The halo of the sun is in love’s hair;

   The blue of heaven is in her eyes, I ween,

      And in her arms I’ll find a resting place. [page 15]

THE STAR LOVER.

THERE is a rapture stirs my soul to-night;

   What it can be ah! well, I cannot say:

There is a love-song in my heart that might

   Stir sluggish pulses under passion’s sway,

Could it find words—alas! the thought is vain;

   Ah, well! I know my darlings thinks of me,

      And as she sees yon star,

Like some bright gem set in a rosy main,

   It speaks to her of love and constancy,

      Of faith in one true heart that loves afar.

Oft have we sat beneath the swaying vines,

   When Summer swooned in Autumn, and the rose

Scattered its petals on dame Nature’s shrines,

   Filling the air with fragrance at the close

Of some sweet day, when life was young:

   And as the pulse of love shot through my soul,

      So strong and yet so free,

I clasped her in my arms, and though the tongue

   Stirred not; the love-light to her dark eyes stole,

      ’Twas then, O star, our troth we pledged to thee! [page 16]

O star! how I have loved so long and well;

   Tell her, I pray thee, that I love her still.

Tell her when Winter’s icy mantle fell.

   Tossing the Autumn leaves in heaps at will,

When robins bade farewell to leafless wood,

   And southward fled in search of Summer days,

      My heart still yearned for her:

And in the long dark nights, in dreamy mood,

   I sat and thought of her, and watched thy rays,

      For thou art, star, to me love’s harbinger.

Tell her, O star! when sunny Spring at last

   Kissed all the Winter’s frosty frowns away,

When in the sky and northward hurrying fast,

   With many a “honk,” “hank,” honk” before ‘twas day,

The wild geese flew like white-robed angel throngs,

   With sun still set gleaming on waving wing,

      I thought alone of her;

And as the birds broke into woodland songs,

   To greet the morn, thy rays still lingering,

      Smiled sweet farewell like Love’s own messenger. [page 17]

June came, and roses came with June;

   My heart burned with unsatisfying love;

Birds sang to mate, in lyric, and in rune;

   Stars smiled on love-lorn lilies from above;

The crickets chirped along the winding lane,

   And Nature’s whirring lullaby at night

      Soothed fever-throbbing heart;

And as thy rays stole through my window pane,

   I thought of her and hailed thy silvery light,

      A pledge of constancy, to love apart.

O star! we do not live and hope in vain;

   Well have we named our honors after thee,

Faith, hope, renown, ambitions that remain,

   We call them stars, and wear, that all may see,

Those marks of honors won in stirring strife,

   On tented field, or in the realm of mind;

      But love compared to those

Frail honors won in dull and sordid strife,

   A rain-drop to the ocean unconfined—

      Love is a star, its acolyte the rose. [page 18]

If we have love what need we care for pain:

   Sorrow may come, but love will banish all;

Hopes may grow dim, but hopes return again;

   If love remains, no anguish can appal;

Storms hide the stars, but still the stars will shine;

   Though anguish stirs the soul, still love supreme

      Triumphant rules the soul.

Belovèd, such as love I know is mine;

   I cannot give you else, and should you deem

      Love is enough, then love has found its goal.

Good night, O star! a kind, a sweet good night,

   Then welcome dreams, that bring my love to me;

Those moments when, in realms of sweet delight,

   My darling speaks, and as she smiles I see

The old love in her eyes, and snowy arms

   Clasped round my head, a thousand kisses burn

      Upon my cheek and brow,

O ecstacy of dreams! how sweet thy charms,

   In dreams the lover always would sojourn,

      And dream of her he loves, as I do now. [page 19]

THE SEA LOVER.

‘TIS evening, and heart-sore I seek the sea,

   To watch the waning glories, and once more—

Strange nurse of many moods and mystery—

   To listen to thy wild and weird roar.

Thy waves are breaking on the sandy breach,

   Like weary runners falling from the race;

      The pebbles grate and grind,

Like rain drops on a roof in lieu of speech;

   Nature’s own image is thy plastic face,

      Moulded to suit the currents of thy mind.

Awhile the sun in golden gory waits,

   Up-borne like victor on his brazen shield,

Without night’s dim and dusky gates

   Only a while, and then he sinks to yield

Unto the silver sickle in the west,

   With its bright pilot-star and milky way,

      The sovereignty of night.

Tremulous glimmerings of ghostly light invest,

   The starry sky and in the northward play;

      The sea moans mournfully in mysterious might. [page 20]

Dim and mysterious sea, so sadly strange,

   The music of thy song stirs in my heart

Responsive chords, and minor keys arrange

   Themselves, and strange vibrations in it start.

Is there no one to love me? nor an eye

   To kindle at my footsteps? Not a tear?

      No hand to soothe my brow?

No one to care or weep if I should die?

   I am alone with thee, O sea! and here

      We mingle sorrows and to sorrow bow.

Lost! is my love lost? Lost for evermore!

   Are there no deeper words my anguish to proclaim?

“Lost!” echoes back the Sea. “Lost!” in its roar

   The spirits of the dead in groans exclaim.

The foam flies on the beach, and in the west

   Dark clouds roll up, and now the vaporous breeze

      Sings as it stronger grows.

The stars are blotted out; my soul finds rest

   In the mad turmoil of the wind and seas,

      The horizon echoes as the tempest blows. [page 21]

Hark! now the surf if breaking on the rocks,

   The vault of heaven is searched with lightning red

The waves fall on the sand with mighty knocks,

   Wildly the gulls are screaming overhead;

And for a moment as the lightning lit

   The foam-wreathed waters, through the drifting rain,

      Fast driving sails reveal.

The warring elements in passions fit

   The anguish of my mind, the maddened main

      My heart uplifts, as loud the thunders peal.

Morn comes, and with the morn the calm,

   The passions of the elements are spent

In vain fury, and the morning psalm

   Of Nature polyphonic echoes lent,

With quiring woods, in motets to the day,

   And soothe tired hearts of nature and of man,

      With easeful melody.

The sun, with blazing axletree, its way

   Makes high in heaven, and only feathery fan

      Of frothy sands recalls the angered sea. [page 22]

Rock me to sleep, O sea! In thy embrace,

   So soft and yet so strong, I sometimes feel

As if ’twere happiness to swoon, and face

   Eternity which thy dark depths reveal.

Proud in my strength, I spurn thy spumy wave,

   And yet with all my youth, and vaunted power,

      I am a child to thee;

And as thy waters my hot pulses lave,

   Love is forgotten in thy foamy shower,

      Rest, tired heart, here in the heaving sea!

A shadow falls upon the shining sand;

   A smiling face looks sweetly out to me;

A moment, and I clasp a loving hand,

   All is not sadness on thy shore, O sea!

Heart-ache and passions burn the brain,

   Still hope lives on, like thy eternal power,

      To soothe the tired heart.

O darling! by this opalescent main,

   Love came to us like rainbow-tinted shower,

      God’s promise that we cannot live apart! [page 23]

THE MOON LOVER.

THE sun has set, and in the darkening east

   The pale-faced moon peeps o’er the distant hills;

Whilst in the woods all sounds of song have ceased,

   Save where the bob-o-link so blithely trills

His monody, so sprightly, sweet and clear,

   In one continuous ecstacy, until

A thousand echoes throb among the trees,

      That all who heed may hear:

   Love rules the woods, the vale, the twinkling rill;

Love breathes in song, and lingers on the breeze.

O moon! what is there in thy silvery beams,

   That stirs strange feelings in my weary breast?

Can it be fear, or hate? and yet it seems—

   No—no—it cannot be—this sad and sore unrest

Cannot be love; the old, old love that clings

   Still to the heart like ivy to the wall

Of some old house, where once reign’d mirth and song,

      And to the ruin brings,

   With each recurring summer, spring and fall,

A wealth of verdure that the past prolongs. [page 24]

O moon! bring back the loving past to me,

The past that comes but in a fevered dream;

When we together sat, and watched the sea,

And saw thy silvery light in on broad stream

Flow from our feet, until it seemed to meet,

Like Love and Friendship, in the long ago,

Mingling in one intoxicating mist;

While throbbing pulses beat,

And, as I spoke of love in accents low,

Her eyes turned up to mine—I looked and kissed.

O moon! bring back those happy days of yore,

   When man was free, and in the tangled wood,

Thy fitful beams fell on the leafy floor,

   Where fair Diana with her crescent hood,

Her silver bow and her hoarse-throated hounds,

   Followed the chase from evening until morn:

When piping Pan, and all his merry crew,

      With mirth and mingled sounds

   Of revelry, drank deep, and Plenty’s horn

O’erflowed with fruit and everything that grew. [page 25]

O moon! bring back those brave old days again,

   When heroes stood upon the sounding shore,

And sang their love songs to the raging main—

   Love songs of those they’d left for evermore.

Bring back those days when, ‘neath the castle wall,

   The troubadour with his low, loving lute

Sang of his love to her who loved him well,

      Ere wealth appeared to pall

   The tide of passion, and to institute

That mockery, false love, and earthly hell.

O moon! pale and impassive as the grave,

   Thou beamest down upon the weary earth,

Fit emblem of the glorious past that gave

   Heroes and poets endless fame and birth;

Emblem of the immortal names that cling

   To those who lived and knew how passions burn

Deep in the human heart, and overflow

      Till future ages ring.

   What if their ashes find no costly urn,

Their names shine like eternal Alpine snow. [page 26]

O moon! fit emblem of a hopeless love!

   Stirring the secrets of the mighty deep

With thy mysterious power from above;

   Fanning the embers of the heart that sleep

Deep in the ashes of false Hope, to blaze

   One fleeting moment, then to sink and die,

With thy strange loving light so calm and cold.

      Oft from thy starry maze

   Hast thou looked down and heard the weary sigh,

That of a breaking heart so well betold.

Ah, it is well! draw o’er thy fickle face

   The fleeting mantle of a fleecy cloud,

Ah, it were well if I could thus efface

   Her image from my heart, and ’mid the crowd

Forget the e’er I loved.  Yet strange, to-night

   The old, old love comes, and I long to fly

Far, far away, perchance far up to thee,

      So that from thee I might

   Look down and see her once before I die,

Then swoon into Death’s strange, unfathomed sea. [page 27]

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Sonnets.

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                                       Ah, Love! could you and I with him conspire

                                       To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,

                                          Would not we shatter it to bits—and then

                                       Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

                                                      RUBAIGYT OF OMAR KHAYYAM;

                                                                                       Edward Fitzgerald.

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Sonnets.

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WORDS CANNOT TELL.

WORDS cannot tell how dearly I love thee,

   Nor yet the sweetest strains of music ever known;

   Bird notes in springtime or the ocean’s moan,

Are discords to those songs that come to me

Nightly in dreams, while in these dreams I see

   Thee by my side, my arms around thee thrown—

   You smile, and then I deem you all my own.

The vision fades in all its ecstacy,

And I am left alone; my love’s in vain;

   You love me not; no need to speak of this;

If I could hope—well, life would once again

   Seem worth the living, and I’d deem it bliss,

For thy dear sake, an empire to obtain;

   Or barter hope of Heaven for thy kiss. [unnumbered page]

PEACE AND LOVE.

I KNOW a valley where the wild-flowers grow,

   A valley in the dear and distant west,

   Where daffodils and daisies never pressed

By mortal foot are nodding, where the glow

Of summer’s sun is dancing to and fro,

   Like fairy fingers, on the rippling breast

   Of singing streams, that sighing seem caressed

By drooping alders, dreaming as they flow.

There will be fly, my loved one, far away,

   Forgetful of all false and fickle friends;

Unmindful of the sorrows of the day,

   We’ll live for love, a love that never ends;

And in unbroken happiness for aye

   Find peace on earth which all true love attends. [page 32]

THE BOB-O-LINK.

THE bob-o-link is calling from the wood,

   And as his plaintive notes fall on my ear—

   Calling, yet calling, unto loved one near—

Darkness, and many mingled sorrows brood

Deep o’er my heart; thoughts constantly obtrude—

   Thoughts of love I have for thee, my dear,

   Love yet unanswered, and a foolish fear

Comes that I neither could nor would elude.

Oh! for one moment in my arms to hold

   Thee clinging to my breast, and thus to know

That thou art mine, and on thy lips untold

   Unnumbered kisses, dearest, to bestow;

Thy throbbing heart to mine thy love unfold,

   And make me happiest mortal here below. [page 33]

TO KEATS.

LIKE some cool draught quaffed from a living spring,

   Set in the shade of an eternal hill,

   Where nature broods, and all around is still,

Save for the song of birds or hum of wing,

That to a man fresh hopes and courage bring,

   So do thy soothing accents softly fill

   The veins with long forgotten fires, until,

Youth comes again, with love enthroned as king.

Dear mother Nature kissed thee on the brow,

   Whispered her sweetest songs into thine ear,

Taught thee to sing once more of myth and bough,

   Of piping Pan, of nymphs and Satyr’s sphere;

That we might at the shrine of nature bow,

   And learn the lessons that love longs to hear. [page 34]

TO NOTTAWASAGA RIVER.

FLOW on, like some fair, faint and fading dream,

   Suggestive of forgetfulness and love;

   Flow on, old Nottawasaga, whilst the dove,

Or golden swallow, in thy glassy stream

Kisses its fevered breast, and the shrill scream

   Of blue-jay, and of fisher high above,

   ’Mid drooping birches echoes.  The foxglove,

And ox-eyed daisy on thy margin, seem

Enamoured of their image in the wave.

   The tiger-lily’s flaming crest on high,

Rears in the verdure, like a belted brave.

   Here could I dwell unsighed, without a sigh,

Forever, and no other blessing crave

   From earth or Heaven, except that thou be nigh. [page 35]

TWIN SOULS.

YEARS ago, e’er yet the world began,

   Our souls were formed some future day to meet

   Here on this earth, and here with love to greet,

Obedient to a mighty power and plan

Fixed from eternity—this life a span—

   Some kindred soul, and thus one love complete.

   Love such as this is more than life replete,

For love rules life, the universe, and man.

What agony of happiness and bliss

   Mingled with sighs—unspoken love—there came

When our souls met, and one long, lingering kiss,

   Spoke from eternity, and we became

One soul.  What greater joy could come than this,

   To love and be beloved, one and the same! [page 36]

ACROSS THE STUBBLE FIELDS.

WE crossed the stubble fields at eventide;

   The sunset glinted in her golden hair,

   Kissing the rose-leaves on her cheeks so fair:

And as we slowly sauntered side by side,

I could not speak, my heart was filled with pride.

   An Autumn sadness filled the smoky air

   On every hand; the forests were a flare

Of gold and crimson, scattered far and wide.

But when we reached the wood, and far away

   We saw the silent sea, and overhead

The robins, grosbecks, and the blithe blue-jay,

   Sang their sweet carols to the summer dead,

I spoke, and learned she loved me from the way

   Her blue eyes softened as “good-bye” she said. [page 37]

TO A GRASSHOPPER.

How playfully you hop among the grass,

   Now clinging to the blades that droop and sway,

   Like clustering vines upon an Autumn day,

But for a moment; onward swift you pass,

A streak of light, in green and gold cuirass.

   You chirp and dream the happy hours away;

   No worldly cares upon your shoulders play;

Your pleasure-house it is not built of glass.

Well did the wise old Greeks thy image wear,

  Wrought of the finest gold, with rarest skill,

Upon their brows and in their wavy hair,

   Symbolical of Nature and her will.

Give you but ease, man is not half so fair,

   He grasping dies and never gets his fill. [page 38]

TO LAKE HURON.

How calm and still thy waters sleep to-day,

   Old Huron, bluer than the cloudless skies,

   And calmer than the myriad stars that rise

In midsummer, and nightly take their way

Majestically past island, rock and bay,

   To sink at morn, as darkness swiftly flies

   Before the day star, in immensities,

While thy deep waters turn to rosy gray.

But I have seen thee in thy wilder moods,

   When jagged lightnings searched thy inky dome,

Covering thy pulsing waves with silver hoods;

   Ships crushed like egg-shells in thy angry foam!

Even then I loved thee, and though dangers brood

   Upon thy waters, still they are my home. [page 39]

CUPID IS DEAD.

CUPID is dead! farewell to love’s desire!

   Farwell to the fond kiss that formed a part

   Of that sweet calm that soothed the stricken heart!

Farewell to love, with its inspiring fire,

Its warm embraces that seem not to tire!

   Farewell to sorrows sweet when friends depart,

   Farewell to meetings when the pulses start,

Cupid is dead! gold is his funeral pyre!

The last of all the Gods of ancient day,

   He held in homage human hearts below?

Venus and Juno he escaped till they

   Wove golden nets, then he was caught you know,

And in a coquette’s heart was stowed away—

   He lived a moment, then he died in woe. [page 40]

MY FIRST LOVE.

’TIS when the rosy petals of the day

   Are scattered softly on my bedroom floor,

   Chasing the shadows out night’s dusky door,

I wake, and all the old desires that stay

Locked up within my heart hold sovereign sway:

   I part the casement, and I seek the shore,

   To greet the one I love so well once more,

And for a moment on her bosom play.

There is no other face one half so kind;

   There is no other eye so blue to me;

Nor yet a bosom that I e’er could find,

   Filled with such moods and passions wild and free;

There is no fairer cheek kissed by the wind,

   Than my first love’s, that I love still—the Sea. [page 41]

A DROP OF INK.

A DROP of ink! and yet perhaps it will,

   Enshrine my love in monument more dear,

   And more enduring—this black, inky tear—

Than Parian marble carved with rarest skill,

Or castle set upon some lofty hill,

   For graven stones, or battlements, I fear,

   ’Nearth ravages of Time soon disappear,

And ashes leave, Fame’s purpose to fulfil.

Therefore belovèd, if this song should live,

   Time and decay its purpose cannot swerve;

’Tis all I have, this sonnet, and I’ll give

   It as a pledge of love to thee, to serve,

The part of monument more fugitive,

   And thus in Time’s decay our love preserve. [page 42]

APRIL.

REJOICE, O Earth! the icy bonds that long

   Have held thee in their Borean embrace

   Are melting one by one, as tears efface

Cold, stony grief; and overhead the song

Of Nature echoes all the woods among,

   Smoothing the frown upon thy rugged face;

   While Spring and youth and wooing we can trace

In wood and wold among the feathered throng.

Incarnate April, with her smiles and tears,

   Bedecks the daedal Earth in bright array,

Whilst at her girdle are the keys of years

   That lock the summer tomb where winters stay—

The broken whips of hail, the chilly fears—

   Rejoice, O Earth! Death reigns but for a day! [page 43]

CAMERON’S ISLAND.—GEORGIAN BAY.

THE sunlight twinkles through the trembling leaves;

   The wayward wind whispers its weird song

   Through poplar and through pine the live day long,

And in the waters of the channel weaves

Laughing webs of gold that blue relieves.

   The crickets chirp, and day and night, along

   The sobbing shore, the sea-gulls’ screams prolong

The sound of surf, where rock the billow cleaves.

Here in this solitude of rocks and bays,

   Far from the noise and tumult of mankind,

Give me but health and ideal summer days,

   Books, a near friend, the waters and the wind,

I would not ask for lands that others praise;

   A fairer spot than this they could not find. [page 44]

MY LADY’S SLIPPER.

HAVE you not seen some jewel quaintly set

   In cunning carving cut in massive gold,

   Whose workmanship and beauty such a hold

Takes of your fancy that you would forget

The jewel, though a priceless one?  And yet,

   Robbed of the jewel, you the work behold.

   Its beauty fades, no longer is extolled.

Not so this slipper with its red rosette.

Sweet satin, cabinet of all that’s dear,

   Fit setting for a jewel that I prize

Far more than diamond or an opal tear;

   Happy the mortal’s fate that kneeling ties

Those ribbons, and he well might worship near

   A shrine less worthy, or goddess less wise. [page 45]

MY MOTHER.

THERE are no colors in God’s heaven-bent bow,

   Nor is there music in the quiring spheres,

   Can paint thy smile from out these youthful years,

Recall the music of thy voice so low

And sweet, dear mother, in the long ago.

   But gone art thou, Ah! how the bitter tears

   Burned deep into my heart! How memory sears,

But cannot heal those wounds, while tears still flow.

Back from those bright and happy days gone by,

   Echoes of childish mirth and cradle song.

Thy guiding hand and presence then were nigh,

   And I am weary, and life’s road seems wrong.

I miss thy smiling face, thy watchful eye.

   Life’s heaven was short.  Eternity’s is long. [page 46]

RONDEAUX.

——————

                                       With fairest ideas my bosom I stored,

                                       Allusive to none but the nymph I adored;

                                       And the more I wish study my fancy refined,

                                       The deeper impression she made on my mind.

                                                                                       –WILLIAM SHENSTONE.

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RONDEAUX.

——————

BREAK, MIGHTY SEA.

BREAK, mighty sea, upon thy silvery shore!

Thy voice to me sounds of the evermore;

   In foam-edged flatness waste thy giant power,

   Thy wrath is but the creature of an hour;

A calm, a storm, a tempest, all is o’er!

But can the wounded heart forget its sore,

As lightly as the sands the ocean’s roar,

   Its surf-wreaths and its storm-swept shower?

                                    Break, mighty sea!

Break, mighty sea, and let thy voice adore

The Hand that tempests makes and calms restore,

   That Hand can heal the wounds that griefs devour,

   And guard the soul like castellated tower.

Forget and rest, O heart! for evermore.

                                                Break, mighty sea! [unnumbered page]

WHEN NEW YEAR COMES.

WHEN New Year comes, old friendships we renew,

The past we scan, ’tis oft a sad review;

   The good done, opportunities embraced,

   The promises we’ve kept, and years effaced,

Are jumbled up in memory’s New Year stew.

Acquaintance with ourselves, ’tis true—

We seldom keep this little thing in view—

   Had been forgotten, but must be retraced

                                     When New Year comes.

Farewell to folly, falsehood and their crew

Of mocking phantoms, let the tried, the true,

   Be the new motto on our banners traced,

   And let that motto never be disgraced.

So then, old year, a long, a last adieu

                                                 When New Year comes. [page 50]

THOU ART NOT HERE.

THOU art not here, my heart is sad to-night,

Hours follow hours in slow and sullen flight;

   The wind is sighing through the city near;

   Its sobbing moan falls on my weary ear,

I cannot rest, and tears bedim my sight.

The world no longer seems so glad and bright;

Song does not charm nor poesy delight

   The heart.  Hope and ambition disappear,

                                         Thou art not here.

Could’st thou but read this loving heart alright;

Could’st thou but know my soul has lost its light;

   A sigh might come, perchance would fall a tear,

   For one who sighs, beloved, with heart sincere,

                                   Thou art not here. [page 51]

WHEN MORNING COMES.

WHEN morning comes, the robin’s roundelay,

Welcomes the advent of another day.

   The busy bee that toils so oft in vain,

   Gathering his luscious store for others’ gain,

Is on the wing for clover meadows gay.

The rising sun, with golden-fingered ray,

Brushes aside night’s shadows dim and gray/

   Nature heralds the dawn with sweetest strain,

                              When morning comes.

The glittering dew-drops linger not to stay;

A brighter color glints the fountain’s spray,

   And earth is filled with gladness once again.

   ’Tis thus in life, for after care and pain

Comes death, then heaven, and sorrows pass away

                                         When morning comes. [page 52]

COULD I FORGET.

COULD I forget your fragrant hair,

The glints of gold that linger there;

   Your sparkling eyes in loving mood,

   Like dewy violets from the wood;

Your cheeks like roses bright and fair,

No roses with them can compare;

Your smile so sweet dispels despair,

   Your voice so low, how it deludes,

                                                     Could I forget?

Could I forget that love affair;

It was last summer—on the stair,

   I held your hand, and as you stood—

   But it’s unkind to thus allude

To wounds that Time should soon repair,

                                                 Could I forget. [page 53]

A FRIEND I’LL BE.

A FRIEND I’ll be, when summer days so sweet

Strew all their treasures at her twinkling feet;

   When on the lawn or sauntering ’mid the trees,

   Love spasms other fellows sometimes seize,

If “blazer” coats or tennis shoes they meet.

When, Love’s light in her eyes, my footsteps greet,

I know too much to seek and court defeat,

   So simply say, if only her to teaze,

                                                 “A Friend I’ll be.”

But often when we seek some quiet seat,

The music of her voice makes life complete:

   I wonder if I dropped upon my knees,

   And said, “I love you,” would she be displeased,

Or answer “Yes,” or simply say so neat,

                                           “A Friend I’ll be.” [page 54]

LISTEN, ROSE.

LISTEN, Rose, attentive, pray,

To the words I fain would say!

   It was “love” I should have writ,

   “Love” to “friendship” must submit,

If a rhyme it would delay.

Rhyme we always must obey,

Though our thoughts it won’t convey,

   So this message please transmit.

                                                  Listen, Rose.

Cleverness we must display,

If our thoughts are led astray,

   Love we never can permit

   To usurp the place of wit,

Still ’twas “love” I meant to-day.

                                                  Listen, Rose. [page 55]

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Songs.

                                       Alas! by some degree of woe

                                            We every bliss must gain:

                                       The heart that ne’er a transport knows,

                                            That never feels a pain.

                                                                         –GEORGE LYTTLETON.

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Songs.

—————

THE REASON.

WHY do you love me, tell me?

   Why do you kiss my cheek?

Why do you sigh so often?

   Why do you seldom speak?

Why do you look so sadly?

   Why do you whisper low?

Is it you love another?

   Tell me if that is so?

Why do I love you, darling?

   Dearest, I cannot tell.

Why do I sigh so often?

   ’Tis that I love so well.

Why do I look so sadly?

   Dearest you ought to know.

’Tis not that I love another,

   But that I love you so. [unnumbered page]

THE LACLOCHE MOUNTAINS.

SING not to me of stately parks,

   With solitude oppressed,

Speak not to me of level plains,

   With sultry winds caressed;

Nor yet a stretch of silver sand,

   Kissed by an ocean wave;

Nor dusty city with its filth,

   Suggestive of the grave.

But give me majestic hills,

   With hoary-headed peaks;

For there ’mid rocks, in silent tones,

   The voice of nature speaks.

There, where the storm-king wastes his power,

   Where foot of man ne’er trod,

I see the weakness of mankind,

   The majesty of God. [page 60]

MY FAIRY.

FAIRY’S eyes are sapphire blue,

   Brighter than the summer skies;

Love shines in them fond and true,

   Faithful love that never dies.

Fairy’s lips are rubies red,

   Set beneath a Grecian nose;

He who kisses them forgets

   Earthly fears and earthly woes.

Fairy’s heart, a diamond pure,

   Rarer than yet set in ring;

He who gets it well might feel

   Prouder than a crownèd king. [page 61]

ONLY A SONG.

THE road is dark and dreary,

   And the night is bitter and cold,

As I stand in the street, with the world, alone,

   And my heart so sad and weary;

The hopes of my youth are gone,

   And my limbs are growing old;

Not a friend do I meet, no home of my own,

   And the road so dark and dreary.

A song comes through a window—

   A song of the long ago,

That my mother sang, and my darling, too;

   But my heart is so sad and weary.

Was it the singer’s voice?

   Was it the accents low?

Gave my heart a pang. Ah me! it is true

   That the road is dark and dreary. [page 62]

Gone is the singer’s voice,

   Dead are the lights within.

There is nothing left but the falling tears,

   And a heart so sad and weary.

Was it the music stirred?

   Something the soul may win,

Though of Love bereft, and hopeless for years,

   And the road so dark and dreary. [page 63]

THOSE HAPPY HOURS

AT evening when the shadows fall,

   And softly o’er the seas

The weird songs of sea-birds come

   Borne on the fitful breeze,

I think of one who used to sit

   With me at eventide;

And someway I can’t help but think

   She still sits by my side.

Aa darkness onward steals apace,

   And shadows longer grow,

I dream once more of happy days

   Spent many years ago;

I feel once more the loving kiss,

   Which still clings to my brow;

And snow-white arms about my neck.

   I think I feel them now. [page 64]

’Tis but a dream, a changeful dream,

   Alas! I sit alone,

The night has come, the music ceased,

   The sea-birds all have flown.

Those cherished wounds in secret scanned,

   We love them well, it seems,

The happiest hours we ever spend

   Are those we spend in dreams.

THE END.

[page 65]

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