By Charles Sangster



               Mary, do you Remember—
Do you remember the ancient house,
The moss to its brown roof clinging—
The old open roof, where the swallows each year
Reared their downy broods without let or fear—


          The moss in the eaves,
          And the birds ’mong the leaves,
          The flute-toned Robin and his spouse,
          A vermeil tinge on his rounded breast,
          In the plumb and apple trees singing?


          The yellow-bird’s nest
Woven with skill in the forkéd boughs
Of the currant trees in the garden walk, [Page 139]
Where we’d thoughtfully meet, and sparingly talk,
Sometimes aloud, but oftener mute,


Pulling the juicy coral-hued fruit,
Conversing of books, and of learnéd men,
In the grassy walk of the garden then—
          Mary, do you Remember?

Do you remember the hollyhock


That stood at the foot of the garden walk,
          With its rich purple flowers,
          And around it, in showers,
The rose-trees dropping their delicate leaves,
Like the tears shed by Beauty when she grieves;


The hardy rockets, pink, lilac and white,
The morning-glory that clomb in the night
Up the slender rod, as if some spirit bright
          Beckoned it up
          With its dew-filled cup,


To bask in the pale moon’s loving light?
The marygold’s deep-yellow hue,
The sweet-pea blossoms, red and blue,
The mignonette, scenting the morning air,
With a perfume as sweet as an infant’s prayer;


And over them all the humming-bird,
Like a living flower, gold and green,
Pleasing the eye with its glancing sheen,
Scenting the odors, was often heard,
Oft was heard, and oft was seen,


Like a beautiful thought the leaves between—
          These, Mary, do you Remember? [Page 140]

Do you remember the little windmill,
On the long, slim pole, that would never be still?
Ever by night, and ever by day,


In its easy, rollicking, careless way,
Buffing the zephyrs, grave or gay,
Ever warning dull spirits away,
With its clattering, chattering roundelay?
In the warm sunny noon, when the bees were abroad,


          Kissing the flowers,
          Or when the Hours
          Stepp’d down at night,
          Golden and bright,
Gently pressing the warm, green sod,


Chanting the Hymn of Departing Day;
          When the rain fell merrily,
          Or the cricket cheerily
          Chirped its strange melody,
Singing of Home, in the long, green grass;


When the winds piped loud, or the zephyrs sang low,
That mill was scampering fast or slow,
Mocking at sorrow, and winking at woe—
Do you remember that talkative mill?
That wrangling, mischievous, mirth-loving mill?


               Mary, do you Remember?

Do you remember the marsh near by,
Where the winds would moan, and the rushes would sigh—
The rushes that grew nearly five feet high, [Page 141]
Screening the houses the muskrats built,


Where the brown-bearded bulrush rose a-tilt,
Ruffling the flowers of purplish blue,
That blossomed and bloomed the summer through?
Do you remember the lilies that grew,
The white water-lilies that grew, and lay


Rocking themselves in the sun all day,
Like a Neriad fleet, along the bay;
And the mossy nest of the saucy wren,
          Swinging and swaying
          All day long; and when


          The hounds’ distant baying
Told that the star-watch was set in the skies,
Then, do you remember the fire-flies,
          Startling the air
          With a mystic glare,


Like the Borealis streaming forth
Up the blue skies of the crispéd North,—
Now here—now there—now everywhere?
And strangest of all, the bullfrogs’ croaking!
Called you it singing, or vamping, or joking?


For I never can tell, for the life of me,
What these musical wretches sing or say!
               Mary, do you Remember?

Do you remember the meadow-field,
Where the red-ripe strawberries lay concealed,


Close to the roots of the scented grass,
That bowed to let the sunbeams pass [Page 142]
To smile on the buttercups clustering over
The drooping heads of honied clover?
Or the golden dandelions, milky-stemmed,


With which the spring fields were begemmed?
Do you remember the hawthorn hedge,
     In its virginal bloom,
     Breathing perfume
Far along the water-worn ledge;


The crows, with their signals of raven-like caws,
Like Ethiope sentinels over the haws?
     The wild roses flinging
     Their sweets to the breeze,
     While perched on the trees


     The sparrow sat, singing
Its plain, homely melody, and the brown thrush
Flung mellowy peals from thickets of rush,
As the blackbird piped from his vocal throat
His one soft-syllabled, graceful note?


          Gentlier breezes never blew,
          Lovelier roses never grew,
          Honeysuckles nowhere ever
          Had a more delicious flavor,
          Never hedge that ever budded


          Was more delicately studded,
          Never buttercups more yellow,
          Clover sweeter or more mellow,
          Than along this bank of flowers
          Cheered the rosy-pinioned hours,


          Passing o’er the swaying meadow, [Page 143]
          Passing, leaving not a shadow,
          But bearing odors to the brain,
          Binding the senses as with a chain
          Of linkéd sounds, that pleased the ears,


          Of sights, that charmed the eye to tears!
Do you remember the little snipe,
Whenever surprised how shrill he’d pipe?
A comical, restless, industrious snipe,
With a piccolo-sound to this three-note pipe—


          Mary, do you Remember?

Do you remember the old school-room
That seemed little else than a solemn tomb?
          Though on looking back
          On life’s beaten track,


Those hours were happier far than they seemed,
Dearer than ever we thought or dreamed!
Do you remember, each holiday,
When old Winter came, muffled up to the ears,
Like a frigid old fellow, his eyes all tears,


Congealed as they fell—a sparkling chain
Of frost-pearls, clanking a cold refrain—
How the schoolboys would skate o’er the frozen bay,
Making old Boreas as tricksy at play
As the liveliest sprite of a summer’s day?—


Old Boreas that killed all the delicate leaves,
               Dried the moss in the eaves,
Withered the rushes, and trampled the flowers
Raised by the spring in her sunniest hours, [Page 144]
Whitened the bosom of valley and hill—


But he never could quiet that little wind-mill,
               That winter and summer
               Was its own drummer,
Playing one season out, and another one in,
A perfect young Topsy for mischief and din!


Do you remember the fine old bell,
That warned us home with its silvery knell?
          Mary, do you Remember?

Do you Remember!  Yes.—The slave at the oar
Of the galley he knows he can quit nevermore,


No chain can more firmly, more hopelessly bind,
Than time has enwoven those scenes with thy mind;
And more that in memory’s heart will remain,
More than these, too, are struggling in memory’s chain:
Happy faces that met you in life’s happy dawn,


Of her that is living, and they that are gone;
Happy faces that cluster, like hopes, round you still,
Like the sunbeams that linger the last on the hill;
And though sad or though pleasant these memories be
They are fraught with the noblest of lessons to thee. [Page 145]