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Title: Oberon and Puck

Verses grave and gay

Author: Helen Gray Cone

Release date: May 15, 2024 [eBook #73629]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: Cassell & Company, Limited, 1885

Credits: The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)



Oberon and Puck.



Oberon and Puck



739 & 741 BROADWAY


Copyright, 1885,
By O. M. Dunham.




Oberon 11
The Accolade 14
The Olive Bough 21
Flower Fancies:
I.—A Yellow Pansy 25
II.—A House Divided 27
III.—A Song of Failure 28
IV.—The Dandelions 29
V.—A Fairy Tale 30
Lepage’s Joan of Arc 32
The Merchant of Venice 34
A Nocturne of Rubinstein 37
An Epitaph on a Butterfly Drowned in the Sea 41
Emelie 43
Elsinore 46
Fiammetta 50[vi]
Haroun al Raschid 53
A Rondel of Parting 55
A Christmas Greeting 56
At Easter-Tide 57
To-Day 58
A Conservative 59
A Radical 60
A Retrograde 61
The Resolve 62
The Nooning 63
The Inheritance 64
Long Summer Days 66
The Goldenrod 67
Hey Robin, Jolly Robin! 69
The Undersong 71
The Passing of the Year 72
A Charmed Cup 73
In Hush of Night 74
The Wayfarers 76
An Invocation in a Library 78
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 80
Ralph Waldo Emerson 82
On Landor’s Hellenics 83
Bach’s St. Matthew Passion Music 84
Salvini’s Othello 85
Ellen Terry’s Beatrice 86
“Songs of a Semite” 87[vii]
On Reading the Poems of Edith Thomas 89
I.—Friendship 90
II.—A Rose 90
III.—Wistaria 91
IV.—On a Fly-Leaf 91
An Ivory Miniature 92
To My Goldfish 95
“As the Crow Flies” 97
Sprigs o’ Heather:
I.—To Comin’ Years 98
II.—Wonderfu’ Slee 99
III.—My Ain, Ain Lass 100
Evening Primroses 102
A Humming-Bird 103
Child Songs:
I.—Wool Gathering 104
II.—The Land Without a Name 105
III.—A Lullaby 106
Puck 109
Narcissus in Camden 110
The Song of Sir Palamede 118
A Merry Jest of a Modern Maid 123
The Rhyme of the Hercules Club 125
The Ballad of Cassandra Brown 129
The Sweet o’ the Year 132
The Tender Heart 138







Oberon, Elferon,
Pleasant Prince of Faery!
He should scarce be sung of me,—
Me, his humblest follower
Wheresoe’er a branch may stir
Signing, “This way hath he gone,
Oberon, Elferon,
Pleasant Prince of Faery!”
He should scarce be sung of me;
Yet, because, of his high grace,
I had glimpse once of his face,—
Moment sweet to think upon!—
I his celebrant will be.
Blood of Pan is in his veins,
And oft he goes in great Pan’s guise;
But not of Pan is all his mood,
Godlike-careless, dreamy-wise:
Conscious he of mortal pains!
He hath shadows in his eyes
Such as under hemlocks brood;
In his voice he hath a tone
Like unto the dark pine’s moan;
Northland bore him, not the South!
Yet rare laughters hath his mouth,
Birch-leaf laughters, rippling light.
Clear the sense of every sign
Is unto his perfect sight,
Sight as May-day morning young:
Sounds unto his hearing fine
Are as words of some known tongue.
Cuckoo-flower by Avon’s brim,
Muskrose rich, or eglantine,
Saith nor more nor less to him
Than arbutus softly saith
With its blush and with its breath.
Nightingale in Attic wood
Is no deeper understood
Than our bent-browed mocker gray,
With his bright eye cool and clear,
Sad and tender, wild and gay,
Dashing skeptic cavalier!
He hath not the virtue missed
In our violet’s amethyst,
All unscented as it grows:
Healings hid in jewel-tints
Of wing and petal well he knows!
Gems the shining black-bird shows
On his purple as he goes,
And the blue jay’s sapphire-glints,
And the burning, cordial gold
Of the oriole blithe and bold.
He can read the cipher-prints
On the vans of butterflies,
On the eggs of tiniest wren;
He can read the scarred rock’s hints
And the legends of the skies;
And he can read the hearts of men.
Ah, since thou hast smiled on me,
Though thy face no more I see,
Never win thy benison,
I must follow, follow thee,—
Oberon, Elferon,
Pleasant Prince of Poesy!



A Commencement Poem, read to the Graduating Class at Smith College, June 18th, 1884.

Now filled was all the sum
Of serving years, and past, forever past,
All duties, all delights, of young esquires:
And to the altar and the hour at last,—
The hour, the altar, of his dear desires,—
Clear-shriven and whitely clad the youth was come.
Full many a squire was in that household bred
To arms and honor and sweet courtesy,
Who wore that sojourn’s fragrant memory
As amulet in after-battles dread;
And meeting in kings’ houses joyously,
Or, wounded, in the sedge beside a lake,
Such men were bounden brothers, for the sake
Of the blade that knighted and the board that fed.
To eastward builded was the oratory:
There all the warm spring night,—while in the wood
The buds were swelling in the brooding dark,
And dreaming of a lordlier dawn the lark,—
Paced to and fro the youth, and dreamed on glory,
And watched his arms. Great knights in mailéd hood
On steeds of stone sat ranged along the aisle,
And frowned upon the aspirant: “Who is he
Would claim the name and join the company
Of slayers of Soldans swart and Dragons grim,
Not ignorant of wanded wizards’ guile,
And deserts parched, and waters wide to swim?”
He halted at the challenge of the dead.
Anon, in twilight, fancy feigned a smile
To curve the carven lips, as though they said,
“Oh welcome, brother, of whom the world hath need!
Ere the recorded deed
We trembled, hoped, and doubted, even as thou.”
And therewithal he lifted up his brow,
Uplift from hesitance and humble fear,
And saw how with the splendor of the sun
The glimmering oriel blossomed rosy-clear;
And lo, the Vigil of the Arms was done!
Now, mass being said, before the priest he brought
That glittering prophecy, his untried sword.
In some mysterious forge the blade was wrought,
By shadowy arms of force that baffle thought
Wrought curiously in the dim under-world;
And all along the sheath processions poured,
Thronged shapes of earth’s weird morn
Ere yet the hammer of Thor was downward hurled:
Not less it had for hilt the Cross of Christ the Lord,
And must thereby in battle aye be borne.
Cool-sprinkled with the consecrated wave,
That blade was blessed, that it should strike to save;
And next, pure hands of youth in hands of age
Were held upon the page
Of the illuminate missal, full of prayers,—
Rich fields, wherethrough the river of souls has rushed
Long, long, to have its passion held and hushed
In the breast of that calm sea whereto it fares:
And steadfastly the aspirant vow did plight
To bear the sword, or break it, for the Right;
And living well his life, yet hold it light,—
Yea, for that sovereign sake a worthless thing.
Thereon a troop of maids began to bring,
With flutter as of many-colored doves,
The hauberk that right martially did ring,
And weight of linkéd gloves,
And helmet plumed, and spurs ablaze with gold.
Each gave in gracious wise her guiding word,
As bade or fresh caprice, or usance old:
As, Ride thou swift by golden Honor spurred
Or, Be thou faithful, fortunate, and bold.
But scarce for his own heart the aspirant heard.
And armed, all save the head,
He kneeled before his master gray and good.
Like some tall, noble, ancient ship he stood,
That once swept o’er the tide
With banners, and freight of heroes helmeted
For worthy war, and music breathing pride.
Now, the walled cities won,
And storms withstood, and all her story spun,
She towers in sand beside some sunny bay,
Whence in the silvery morn new barks go sailing gay.
So stately stood the Knight:
And with a mighty arm, and with a blade
Reconsecrate at fiery fonts of fight,
He on the bowed neck gave the accolade.
Yet kneeled the youth bewildered, for the stroke
Seemed severance sharp of kind companionships;
And the strange pain of parting in him woke;
And as at midnight when a branch down dips
By sudden-swaying tempest roughly stirred,
Some full-fledged nested bird,
Being shaken forth, though fain of late to fly,
Now flickers with weak wing and wistful cry,—
So flickered his desires
’Twixt knighthood, and delights and duties of esquires.
But even as with the morrow will uprise,
Assured by azure skies,
The bird, and dart, and swim in buoyant air,—
Uprose his soul, and found the future free and fair!
And girded with Farewell and with Godspeed
He sprang upon his steed.
And forth he fared along the broad bright way;
And mild was the young sun, and wild the breeze,
That seemed to blow to lands no eye had seen;
And Pentecost had kindled all the trees
To tremulous thin whispering flames of green,
And given to each a sacred word to say;
And wind-fine voices of the wind-borne birds
Were ever woven in among their words.
Soft-brooding o’er the hamlet where it lay,
The circling hills stood stoled with holy white,
For orchards brake to blossom in the night;
And all the morning was one blown blue flower,
And all the world was at its perfect hour.
So fared he gladly, and his spirit yearned
To do some deed fit for the deep new day.
And on the broad bright way his armor burned,
And showed him still, a shifting, waning star,
To sight that followed far.
Till, last, the fluctuant wood the flash did whelm,
That flood-like rolled in light and shadow o’er his helm.
I know not more: nor if that helm did rust
In weed of some drear wilderness down-thrust,
Where in the watches lone
Heaven’s host beheld him lying overthrown,
While God yet judged him victor, God whose laws
Note not the event of battle, but the cause.
I know not more: nor if the nodding prize
Of lustrous laurels ere that helm did crown,
While God yet judged him vanquished, God whose eyes
Saw how his Demon smote his Angel down
In some forgotten field and left him low.
Only the perfect hour is mine to know.
O you who forth along the highway ride,
Whose quest the whispering wood shall close around,
Be all adventure high that may betide,
And gentle all enchantments therein found!
I would my song were as a trumpet-sound
To nerve you and speed, and weld its notes with power
To the remembrance of your perfect hour;
To ring again and again, and to recall
With the might of music, all:
The prescience proud, the morning aspiration,
But most the unuttered vow, the inward consecration!



A Memorial Poem, read to the Associate Alumnae of the New York Normal College, June 30th, 1883.

As when, pursued by some swift Wind and bold
Freed from the hollow dark Æolian hold,
A cloud across the face of heaven is blown,
And sunshine ceases from the fields, as mown
By that long shadow sweeping o’er the wold,
And the kind world turns cold—
So o’er our chosen day
Sails now a shadowing cloud that sweeps the sun away.
Our chosen day, to Memory dedicate:
To Memory, goddess great,
A Proserpine that mid the dip and swell
Of her wide meadows dim with asphodel
Keeps aye one circle blest
Lit with purpureal light unlike the rest:
The field of our first youth, as luminous
Through soberer recollections, as the place
Where looked the Dardan on his father’s face
In the land nebulous.
The verdure of that valley is Spring’s own
Ampler the air—then, limits were not known
To us that breathed it; all that since has been
Has its free freshness to our spirits proved.
Oh circle blest indeed!
Dear, dear the faces that therein have moved,—
Sad, sad to know it changelessly decreed
We may no more behold them, save therein!
It was men’s wont of old,
Ere spoken was the Vale, deep, three-fold,
From the full heart above the unanswering lip
Of the bronze urn, in water clear to dip
A branch, and sprinkle all with pure light spray:
Or broken bough of bay
Or olive called the happy, since it yields
Fruit in unnumbered fields:
For thus they deemed the influence done away
Of barren Death, that else a spell might lay
On the warm living, subtly to annul
Their powers, and strike their fortunes cold and dull.
And we, who seek the soul in each old sign,
Pleased if we may divine
Likeness in difference, Proteus in disguise,
And gazing backward with anointed eyes
Across deep ages and the gulfs of race
Know yet a brother’s face,—
We hail, in this the antique olive gray,
A meaning of to-day.
For surely this pale bough, with hoary leaf,
Is symbol of one still thought that is ours
After the fire of grief:
Thought not unhappy, fruitful thought, that showers
A lustral rain of gentle tears and pure,
Breaking the spell of Death, that else were sure
To chain our living powers,
To lock Joy fettered in the frozen breast:
The one calm thought, the peaceful thought, They rest.
They rest: brief rest was theirs
Ere set of sun, and long and full of cares
The laboring day. ’Tis now as night, soft night,
Descending and enfolding, whereon bright
Old hours of toil are shining, sanctified
To stars that light and guide!
Ah, not with numbing of one noble hope
Turn we from facing Death inexorable,
But with strong souls and stable!
Deep heaven hath surely scope
To hold each earnest hour, a jewel new,
A star to light and guide:
And Toil, that shears all knotted puzzles through,
A stellar sword against the dark descried
Shall burn, like Perseus’ blade whereby the Gorgon died
Far, far the Colchian shores,
Weary the mid-sea laboring at the oars,
And hard to pass the rough Symplegades:
But, sail and storm-beat spars
And wave-worn rudder pictured all in stars,
Shines the ship Argo still above the Southern seas!




To the wall of the old green garden
A butterfly quivering came;
His wings on the sombre lichens
Played like a yellow flame.
He looked at the gray geraniums,
And the sleepy four-o’-clocks;
He looked at the low lanes bordered
With the glossy-growing box.
He longed for the peace and the silence,
And the shadows that lengthened there,
And his wee wild heart was weary
Of skimming the endless air.
And now in the old green garden,—
I know not how it came,—
A single pansy is blooming,
Bright as a yellow flame.
And whenever a gay gust passes,
It quivers as if with pain,
For the butterfly-soul that is in it
Longs for the winds again!



In some past sunny season
A shoot and stock were wed,—
Made one by gardener’s cunning,—
A white rose and a red.
And now the rosy brothers,
All wonder, wonder why
Their sister flowers are fragile,
And strangely pale, and shy.
Those flush and shake with laughter,
These blanch and thrill with fears,
And through the leaves come stealing,
Slow-shed, their dewy tears.



With green swords pointing to heaven,
When the dawn flushed, glad to see,
Like three gay knights in the garden
Were flaunting the Fleurs-de-lis.
And the plumes of two were purple,
The color of hope and pride,
And the last was snowy-crested,
As a maiden soul should ride.
But a wind from the west brought warning,
And at noontide, a sound of power,
We heard on the roofs loud-marching
The steady feet of the shower.
And the sharp green swords were broken,
When the dusk fell, sad to see,
And low, ah low, were lying
The plumes of the Fleurs-de-lis!



Upon a showery night and still,
Without a sound of warning,
A trooper band surprised the hill,
And held it in the morning.
We were not waked by bugle-notes,
No cheer our dreams invaded,
And yet, at dawn, their yellow coats
On the green slopes paraded.
We careless folk the deed forgot;
Till one day, idly walking,
We marked upon the self-same spot
A crowd of veterans talking.
They shook their trembling heads and gray
With pride and noiseless laughter;
When, well-a-day! they blew away,
And ne’er were heard of after!



There stands by the wood-path shaded
A meek little beggar maid;
Close under her mantle faded
She is hidden like one afraid.
Yet if you but lifted lightly
That mantle of russet brown,
She would spring up slender and sightly,
In a smoke-blue silken gown.
For she is a princess, fated
Disguised in the wood to dwell,
And all her life long has awaited
The touch that should break the spell;
And the Oak, that has cast around her
His root like a wrinkled arm,
Is the wild old wizard that bound her.
Fast with his cruel charm.
Is the princess worth your knowing?
Then haste, for the spring is brief,
And find the Hepatica growing,
Hid under a last year’s leaf!



Once, it may be, the soft gray skies were dear,
The clouds above in crowds, like sheep below,
The bending of each kindly wrinkled tree;
Or blossoms at the birth-time of the year,
Or lambs unweaned, or water in still flow,
In whose brown glass a girl her face might see.
Such days are gone, and strange things come instead;
For she has looked on other faces white,
Pale bloom of fear, before war’s whirlwind blown;
Has stooped, ah Heaven! in some low sheltering shed
To tend dark wounds, the leaping arrow’s bite,
While the cold death that hovered seemed her own.
And in her hurt heart, o’er some grizzled head,
The mother that shall never be has yearned;
And love’s fine voice, she else shall never hear,
Came to her as the call of saints long dead;
And straightway all the passion in her burned,
One altar-flame that hourly waxes clear.
Hence goes she ever in a glimmering dream,
And very oft will sudden stand at gaze,
With blue, dim eyes that still not seem to see:
For now the well-known ways with visions teem;
Unfelt is toil, and summer one green daze,
Till that the king be crowned, and France be free!



The dusky star-set blue of Southern night;
Music and song approaching and receding;
Sweet sudden laughter-showers of masquers leading
Across the moon-white square a merry flight,
With breeze-blown torch and tossing cresset bright;
Gay Love and glad impetuous Youth unheeding,
That float away to the lute’s lovely pleading
Down flowing hours smooth-silvered with delight.
And last, a figure of a race despised
Shadow in light, groan echoing to the laugh;
Bent haggard Age, with uplift shaken staff,
At night’s noon knocking, knocking at the door
Of a gray, silent house, of that he prized
Empty forever and forever more.
Lo, how the lips that Portia pressed but late
Against the opened casket, blessing lead
With the gold beauty of her bended head,
In proud abandonment to that dear fate
It gave her forth, the casket fortunate,—
Lo, how these lips forego their wreathéd red
Above the scroll that speaks his danger dread
Who holds her lover in sad heart and great!
Now in her spacious soul doth Sorrow meet
Warm Joy, that, generous, gives the pale one place,
And in the tremulous lines of her fair face
An exquisite and soft remorse appears
That Love, of right, must take the sovereign seat,
And Friendship lower pass, for all his years.
“I stand for law.” It is the hour: behold
The stem storm-buffeted, a spear grown strong
For sternest deed in wanton winds of wrong.
See Shylock from his sombre garment’s fold
The scales of Justice draw. No lavish gold
Shall weigh with vengeance now; he hears loud song
And triumphing of timbrels from the long
Dim ranks of Israel’s branded dead untold.
Oh, not alone this crooked blade unsheathes,
Empowered at last, one wan and patient Jew:
Just Judah stands for law. A spirit new
Gives answer gracious as from heaven it rained.
A powerful angel through a woman breathes:
“The quality of mercy is not strained.”



What now remains, what now remains but night?
Night hopeless, since the moon is in her grave!
Late came a glorious light
In one wide flood on spire and field and wave.
It found a flowing way
To secret places where the dead leaves lay;
It won the half-hid stream
To shy remembrance of her morning gleam;
Then on the sky’s sharp shore
Rolled back, a fading tide, and was no more.
No more on spire and ivied window bright!
No more on field and wave!
What now remains, what now remains but night?
Night hopeless, since the moon is in her grave!
Dumb waits the dim, broad land,
Like one who hears, yet cannot understand,
Tidings of grief to come.
The woods and waters, with the winds, are dumb.
But now a breeze has found
Sorrowful voice, and sobs along the ground:
“Oh the lost light, the last, the best lost light!
No more on field and wave!”
What now remains, what now remains but night?
Night hopeless, since the moon is in her grave!
Hark, how the wind outswells!
Tempting the wood’s dark heart till he rebels,
And, shaking his black hair,
Lifts up a cry of passion and despair!
The groaning branches chafe
Till scarce the small, hushed singing-birds are safe,
Tossed rocking in the nest,
Like gentle memories in a stormy breast.
A shudder, as good angels passed in flight,
Thrills over field and wave!
What now remains, what now remains but night?
Night lawless, while the moon is in her grave!
There falls a mighty hush:
And forth from far recesses fern-scents rush,
Faint as a waft from years
Long past; they touch in heaven the springs of tears.
In great drops, slow and warm,
Breaks all at once the spirit of the storm.
What now remains, what now remains but night?
Night grieving, while the moon is in her grave!
Behold! the rain is over: on the wave
A new, a flashing light!
Lo, she arises calm,
The pale, the patient moon, and pours like balm
Through the wet wood’s wrecked aisle
Her own unutterably tender smile!
There is no calm like that when storm is done;
There is no pleasure keen as pain’s release;
There is no joy that lies so deep as peace,
No peace so deep as that by struggle won.
Naught now remains, naught now remains but night—
Night peaceful, with the moon on field and wave!



Poor Psyche, to a Power supernal wed,
How strong a fate on this thy frailness fell!
What strange ironic word shall here be read?
Dead sign of immortality, farewell!
I sigh not that the summer fields have lost
One flying flower: who counts the butterflies?
I sigh not that thy sunny hour was crossed
The self-same Shadow surely waits mine eyes.
Thy piteous terror of the appointed end,
For this I sigh! The billow, poised above,
Fell on thee like the beast that leaps to rend;
Thou couldst not know thy bridegroom Death was Love!
How otherwise thy sister, yea the Soul
Bent brooding o’er these broken wings of thine!—
Through all her house of mystery once she stole
To the inmost room, and found a Face benign.
Now whirl her where ye must, ye waves of Law—
Aye, tear her vans, her painted hopes, apart!
She cannot fear, remembering what she saw:
Dark bridegroom Death, she knows thee Who thou art!



O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene,
I am (thou wost) yet of thy compagnie,
A mayde, and love hunting and venerie,
And for to walke in the wodes wilde.
Chaucer’s “Knightes Tale.”
She greets the lily on the stalk;
She shakes the soft hair from her brows;
She wavers down the garden walk
Beneath the bloomy boughs.
She is the slenderest of maids;
Her fair face strikes you like a star;
The great stone tower her pathway shades—
The prison where the Princes are.
Across the dewy pleasance falls,
All in the clear May morning light,
The shadow of those evil walls
That look so black by night.
She is so glad, so wild a thing,
Her heart sings like the lark all day;
The unhooded falcon on the wing
Is not more freely gay.
In sun and wind doth she rejoice,
And blithely drinks the airy blue,
Yet loves the solemn pines that voice
The grief she never knew.
In silence of the woods apart
Her sure swift step the Dryads know;
Full oft she speeds the bounding hart,
And draws the bending bow.
Fine gleams across her spirit dart,
And never living soul, saith she,
Could make her choose for aye to lose
Her own sweet company.
But sometimes, when the moon is bright,
So bright it almost drowns the stars,
She thinks how some have lost delight
Behind the prison bars.
It makes her sad a little space,
And casts a shadow on her look,
As branches in a woody place
Do flicker on a brook.
Last night she had a dream of men,
Dark faces strange with keen desire;
She heard the blaring trumpet then,
She saw the shields strike fire.
The pomp of plumes, the crack of spears,
Beyond her happy circle lie:
Thank Heaven! she has but eighteen years,
And loves the daisies and the sky.
And yet across her garden falls,
All in the clear May morning light,
The shadow of the prison walls
That look so black by night.



It is strange in Elsinore
Since the day King Hamlet died.
All the hearty sports of yore,
Sledge and skate, are laid aside;
Stilled the ancient mirth that rang,
Boisterous, down the fire-lit halls;
They forgot, at Yule, to hang
Berried holly on the walls.
Claudius lets the mead still flow
For the blue-eyed thanes that love it;
But they bend their brows above it,
And forever, to and fro,
’Round the board dull murmurs go:
“It is strange in Elsinore
Since the day King Hamlet died.”
And a swarm of courtiers flit,
New in slashed and satined trim,
With their freshly-fashioned wit
And their littleness of limb,—
Flit about the stairways wide,
Till the pale Prince Hamlet smiles,
As he walks, at twilight tide,
Through the galleries and the aisles.
For to him the castle seems—
This old castle, Elsinore—
Like a thing built up of dreams;
And the king’s a mask, no more;
And the courtiers seem but flights
Of the painted butterflies;
And the arras, wrought with fights,
Grows alive before his eyes.
Lo, its giant shapes of Danes,
As without a wind it waves,
Live more nobly than his thanes,
Sullen carpers, ale-fed slaves!
In the flickering of the fires,
Through his sleep at night there pass
Gay conceits and young desires—
Faces out of memory’s glass,
Fragments of the actor’s art,
Student’s pleasures, college broils,
Poesies that caught his heart,
Chances with the fencing foils;
Then he listens oftentimes
With his boyhood’s simple glee,
To dead Yorick’s quips and rhymes,
Leaning on his father’s knee.
To that mighty hand he clings,
Tender love that stern face charms;
All at once the casement rings
As with strength of angry arms.
From the couch he lifts his head,
With a shudder and a start;
All the fires are embers red,
And a weight is on his heart.
It is strange in Elsinore:
Sure some marvel cometh soon!
Underneath the icy moon
Footsteps pat the icy floor;
Voices haunt the midnights bleak,
When the wind goes singing keen;
And the hound, once kept so sleek,
Slinks and whimpers and grows lean
And the shivering sentinels,
Timorous, on their lonesome round,
Starting count the swinging bells,
Starting at the hollow sound;
And the pine-trees chafe and roar,
Though the snow would keep them still.
In the state there’s somewhat ill;
It is strange in Elsinore.



In dream I passed the Gate that bears in black,
“Here lies dead Hope.” The ineffable gold sky
I saw between the pillars, looking back,
And one young cloud, that slowly wandered by
As though it wondered. Downward, all was dark,
And through the dark I heard the sad souls cry.
Anon, although alone, I whispered, “Hark!
What lifeless laughter, crackling thorny-thin?”
Then grew to sight what first I failed to mark
When from the accustomed light I entered in,—
A group that pleasured by that barren wall
As Hell some delicate-blossomed close had been:
One, gesturing, spake; the rest attended all.
“Declare, ye circled shades, your home on earth!
Declare the names your kindred used to call!”
I cried, much marveling at their mirthless mirth.
A woman wavered to the space half lit
By that lost sky: “In Florence had we birth;
That company thou seest, who chose to sit
Ten sunny days, a fountain’s flight beside,
Scattering the rose, and weaving tales of wit,
What time by Arno many cursing died.
Yes, Fiammetta am I. Thou little flame
(Thus the grave Angel, to this Gate my guide),
With what vain flickering hast thou proved thy name!
Hast given to no chilled spirit aught of cheer;
Shalt now be fed and kept alight with shame,
And flicker evermore.
Then did appear
Her set smile’s irony, and I discerned
Through those her long dark languid eyes, right clear
How far below her soul forever burned.
Her sleeves of scarlet hung in many a shred;
Her silver chains were all to tarnish turned,
And crisped were the laurels on her head.
“Alas! why camest thou to this place of pain,—
Why, Pampinea, Lauretta, why?” I said,
“Since many souls that bore the self-same stain
Tread the last ledge of Purgatory mount,
And trust, made pure, sweet Paradise to gain,
Where sings the grove, where flows the twofold fount.
Those, angels aid on fair green rustling wings;
Why then are these thus held to hard account?”
“Not such, O questioner, was the sin that brings
Us hither; but on earth so weak a part
We chose, that now no part in heavenly things
Is granted us, nor yet will Hell’s deep heart
Receive us, but in this dim borderland
We dwell, and follow here our hollow art
Of weaving tales, and are in semblance gay,
Moved by a might we never may withstand.
To our own dear delights we turned away;
Forgot the city full of tears, forgot
The tolling bells, abandoned even to pray;
But couched in some delectable safe spot
Saw breezy olives whiten like the sea,
And babbled, fools, of Love, and knew him not,
Who else had set us from the grim Gate free,
Being giant-strong to save the souls of men.
But Hate came to us, richly masked, and we
Esteemed him Love; and now among us ten
Sits very Hate. The life we prized is ours
For aye! Yet not so far, I deem, this den
From sound of suffering as our fields of flowers.”
With that weird smile, she turned as if to go.
Loud groaned the lurid City, the sullen fen
Of Styx, and all that grief that lies below.
“Farewell,” I sighed, “Fiammetta!” But she, “Not so!
What life is thine? Perchance we meet again!”



Golden pride and fragrant light
Are mine, and thereto was I born;
Thronéd pomp is mine of right,
Robes bestarred, or like the morn;
All words of pearl to me belong
Singers can string in shining song;
Jewels, as perfect song-notes rare,
Are mine own to waste or wear.
Not less hath this right hand power
Whereof such shows are but the flower,—
Power deep-rooted in the earth
That shakes to royal wrath or mirth.
Yet, on many a deep-blue night,
Clad and shod in coarsest wise,
All my splendors must I slight
For the smile of the common skies:
My feet, that inlaid courts forego,
Lanes of the dusty city know;
I jest among the bronzéd slaves,
And am well met with merry knaves,
And quaft poor drink, and feel it glow;
Steep me in simple weal and woe;
Yea, learn to swim in those dim waves
That, my palace flight before,
Fawning fall with plausive roar.
Hence rumors dear shall rise and rise
Of my descending and disguise;
Whereat the slave’s freed soul shall sing:
A Caliph looked into his eyes:
How is he, then, so mean a thing?
By torchlight of such memories
The Caliph in himself he sees.
Thus, being loved, shall live my name,
Glowing in the general flame
Of the people’s hearth and heart;
While men lie entombed apart
That were as glorious and as great,
Forgot, because they kept their state;
Crumbling with the crumbling Past
Into a dust unnamed at last,
Whence their gems procured shall be
By some wiser soul like me.



You leave it when spring blossoms fall,
The old house where the roses grew.
You gave them from the garden wall,
Your roses, faint of breath and hue,
Whose lovely like I never knew.
Can I my flock of memories call
To leave it when spring blossoms fall,
The old house where the roses grew?
No, no, they flit about the hall,
And beat their wings, and cry for you.
Be still: no more, no more at all,
She enters now: apart we two
Shall see in dreams, when late leaves fall,
The House of Youth, where roses grew!



Speed, my Thought, oh speed, my Thought,
Over the miles of snow!
Never before, to bear to her door
Love, with his looks aglow,
Hadst thou so far to go!
Take for a chime bells of my rhyme
Over the miles of snow!
Stand, my Thought, oh stand, my Thought!
Fled are the miles of snow.
Call, O Love! to her window above,
In the voice her heart must know.
’Tis the time of mistletoe:
Sing in the night to her window alight,
In the night of stars and snow!



At Easter-tide, when lilies blow
For font and altar, virgin things,
When spikes of maple scarlet show,
And thin clouds white as angels’ wings,
While some fresh voice the message flings
“The Lord is risen!”—from long ago
Rise purified the tombéd Springs,
At Easter-tide, when lilies blow.
Oh, when the hallowed hour not brings
Those gloried ghosts, whose brows we know,
Nor I o’er change and distance throw,
In midmost prayer, an arm that clings,
Ah then, the deep-toned bell that rings
I shall not hear, nor hear whatso
The clear young voice triumphant sings,
At Easter-tide, when lilies blow!



Voice, with what emulous fire thou singest free hearts of old fashion,
English scorners of Spain, sweeping the blue sea-way,
Sing me the daring of life for life, the magnanimous passion
Of man for man in the mean populous streets of To-day!
Hand, with what color and power thou couldst show, in the ring hot-sanded,
Brown Bestiarius holding the lean tawn tiger at bay,
Paint me the wrestle of Toil with the wild-beast Want, bare-handed;
Shadow me forth a soul steadily facing To-day!



“Your Spring,” he said, “I hate: now blast, now breeze;
All weathers mixt; sharp change, confusion dire.
An easy-chair, a vast December fire,
A fine old russet folio—give me these!
Birds’ twitterings at the dawn my ear displease,
My dreams disturb. What eye could ever tire
Of orderly white ways? could e’er desire
The foolish haze of May? Such wishes tease
No sober mind!”
But none the less did break
Green from the glebe; the conéd chestnuts gave
Faint fragrance out; the robin’s breast would make
A flame a-field; the snow he could not save.
And Spring on Spring, as wave in strong wave’s wake,
Still rolls a bloomy billow o’er his grave.



He never feared to pry the stable stone
That loving lichens clad with silvery gray;
Torn ivies trembled as they slipped away,
Their empty arms now loose and listless blown.
Then turning, with that ardor all his own,
“Behold, my better building!” he would say.
“I rear as well as raze: nor by decay
Nor foe nor fire can this be overthrown!”
What was it? Had he keener sight than we?
We saw the ruin, more we could not see;
His blocks were jasper air, a dream his plan.
We called him, Stormer; ever he replied,
“Unbroken calm within my breast I hide.”
Now God be judge betwixt us and this man!



“What, you!” his comrades cried, “who led us long
Against the dense arrays of dullards’ thought,
You quit us on the march, so quickly caught
By such a strain, a simple peasant-song?
That breath of old brown earth is strangely strong,
To lure you to the fields where hinds untaught
Toil slavish, or by common coinage bought,
Or meanly fearful of the Master’s thong!”
“Yea, dear the song,—although I may not sing;
Yea, dear the soil,—although I delve it not!
I fall not back, but peaceful pass beyond.
For freedom’s sake your hearts are fiery-hot,
Yet through the tramp I hear your fetters ring!
Denial is the straitest kind of bond.”



Thou intimate, malign, benumbing power
I cannot name, since names that men have made
For shapes of evil shine beside thy shade,
Who from the seat of mine own soul dost lower,—
Darkness itself, that doth the light devour,—
I feel thine urgency upon me laid
To voice despair! Thou shalt not be obeyed;
Thou art my master only for thine hour!
As some sad-eyed, wan woman that is slave
To the swart Moor, being bid her lute to bring,
Since song of her strange land her lord doth crave,
With lip a-tremble dares the scourge’s sting,
Refusing,—thy brute might so far I brave:
I will not sing what thou wouldst have me sing!



Oh soft, soft, soft, thou slender-footed maid,
Cool-clad and fair, along the sultry street
At broad blue blinding noon! Light fall thy feet
As e’er the wood-nymphs’ fell while Pan was laid
At mid-day in some choice Arcadian shade
Where not an oak-leaf laughed, and if there beat
Loud the wild heart of any Dryad fleet,
Hearing, she girded her warm side afraid!
For where, against yon hourly-growing wall,
Dull-red, the ailantus-blossoms brighter show,
A little while his weariness forgot,
Outstretching in a chosen shadow small,
With hot wet forehead on his lax arm low,
Swart Labor sleeps, without whom thou wert not!



Conceive that Perfect Man, to whom we tend,
The great Inheritor, on some sheer cape
Between the morn and morn-bright main: a shape
Wherein dead racer and dead wrestler blend
In living speed and power. Dead sages send
Their wisdom’s wine, matured like juice of grape,
His heart to strengthen. Songs his lips escape
That silenced lips of long-dead singers lend.
Enough for such, such immortality!
Well-paid, the press of trampling cares! the pains
That bore the embodied joy! the home-stretch sobs!
The doers passed: their best of deed remains,
And still through many a mightier artery
To feed a larger life their life-blood throbs.
But those, whose useless breath was mixed with groans?
Weak flesh, sick spirits, poor dumb dog-like eyes
That could not read the star-signs in the skies,
Now closed forever, sealed beneath their stones!
In this fair-colored scheme what line atones,—
Old hopes being calmly cancelled by the wise,—
To those that died as any dull brute dies,
And propped the Future but with bleaching bones?
O Man to be, if perfect thou indeed,
A horror thine inheritance appears,
A Titan torture-fire thy rising day!
For ancient ocean’s chant to thee must need
Be all one wail of creatures cast away,
And heaven’s own rainbow-smile a thing of tears!



Long summer days are my desire:
Red suns, that drop as globes of fire
Behind the sloped fields white with weed:
Warm winds, that waft the wandering seed
With silvery plume, now low, now higher:
Pale clematis that o’er the brier
Runs with frail feet that never tire
Beside rough roads: your gifts I need,
Long summer days!
Yet come not, O profane ones! nigher,
If in your stars be severance dire
Of dear companionship decreed:
For then, alas! ye were indeed,
Too far outstripping my desire,
Long summer days!



When daisy-snow abides no more
In fields that long for freshening rains,
The goldenrod, the flower you wore,
Leans out beside the lanes:
Leans softly, with the look of one
Who has a tender word to say;
Then, feeling breezes warm with sun,
Turns unconfessed away.
O’er lichened wall, o’er languid brook,
By her my spirit is caressed,
This golden girl, whom oft you took,
Companion, to your breast:
Who strives, with deftest maiden art,
Your moods and manners to repeat,
As stirred her still the gentle heart
She felt so often beat.
Forgive her, dear, for friendship’s sake,
Though all too close she feign your ways!
Since now the sight of her can make,
In sad and sunless days,
On all the world a sudden shine,
A flood of sunlight glad and mild,
Till song, in these still thoughts of mine,
Breaks forth as though you smiled!



Twelfth Night.

Robin of the valiant air
And the ebon head,
Proud, perhaps, that thou dost bear
Breast so brave a red:
Robin of the rounded throat,
Straight of back and slim,
Robin sending fearless note
Through the dawn-haze dim:
Through this haze of spring-time dawn,
Tell me, hast thou seen,—
From thy cool untrodden lawn,
Shimmering silver-green,
Where the broken blossoms lie,
Colored like a shell,—
Seen the maid I’d meet pass by?
Dearest Robin, tell!
How shouldst thou my true-love know
From another one?
By her pure cheek’s welcoming glow,
Thee to look upon!
By her eyes, that at thy call
Straightway would declare
Sister is her soul to all
Fearless things and fair!
Gone, with such a dashing dart,
Such a whistle clear?
What canst mean?—Ah, gallant heart,
Bless thee! She is here.



When restful at the farmhouse we abode,
One August mild whose memory lingers long,
Not always did we note the happy song
Of that brown brook that through the pastures flowed,
Whose haunt the field-flowers tall would hide, yet showed;
For farmstead sounds full oft would do it wrong,
Or speech, or laughter light, or wheels along
The shaded windings of the elmy road.
Yet ever it flowed and sang to the warm day,
As to a drowsy child old running rhymes,
And ever at a pause was in the ear,
Low-whispering where the goldenrod was gay,
The assuring utterance of all still times.
So is it with the voice the heart holds dear.



O Gentle Year, I’ll not entreat thee stay,
Since now thy face is set to some far land
Not named of men, untrod, a shadow-strand!
And those most powerful prayers that lips could pray
Would not obtain thy tarrying for a day.
Yet, gliding from us with the sliding sand,
Thou shalt not pass till I have kissed the hand
That gave me joys, and took but time away.
Can Love, that of the soul’s delight is born,
Being matched in stature to the soul, increase?
Not so: but Memory, leaning at his side,
Waxes with every rosy draught of morn,
And gathers to her every moon’s full peace,
And dreaming on dark seas of summer, grows deep-eyed.



As drinking-cups whereof old rhymers tell,
In twilight ages all with wonders rife,
Were given, by mystic herb and midnight spell,
The gift to summon Love—to summon Life!—
So this for thee, lest aught should come between,
This little claspéd cup, and charm of wine
Love singing trod with feet of heavenly sheen,
I set away: it shall be always thine.
Thine to restore, with magic strong and strange,
The might of meeting eyes and near, warm breath;
That there shall be no Time nor any Change,
Nor any room for such a thing as Death!



When nightfall on the Dardan plain
Brings truce, and stilled are sounds of Mars,
And mournful, mournful moans the main,
And Simois’ ripples take the stars,—
When thoughts of home float o’er the sea
From fields afar, and heroes’ breasts,
At last from brazen corselet free,
Soft-heaving take those gentle guests,—
Ah then, who sinks to sleep away,
In tent, or galley scarlet-prowed,
Nor doubts some deed he did to-day?
That taunt was harsh, that boast was loud.
How failed his eyes to recognize
The god behind the foeman bold?
Why gave he, under friendship’s guise,
That mail of brass for mail of gold?
Oh, is there one, of either host,
Who never, sighing, weighs his cause
At this grave hour, nor feels a ghost,
Cool-handed, bid his courage pause?
Two: dog-like droops the dreaming head
Of mean Thersites evil-eyed;
And Paris on his broidered bed
Sleeps well at swan-white Helen’s side.
No scruple sharp the selfist finds;
The wrangler no remorses fret:
The loved of gods in lofty minds
Have room to house a high regret.



Young man with the keen blue eyes,
Clear and bold!
Why, as thou dost fare,
With so searching air,
Scannest thou each face thou dost behold,
Each small flower, faint-colored like the skies,
Growing by the way? Why gazest thou
O’er the round hill’s brow?
“Ah, in every bearded face,
Looking deep,
My heart’s friend seek I!
In each maiden shy
My heart’s dearest, dreamed upon in sleep;
And in each fair flower a hope I trace;
And the hill may hide the flashing sea
That doth call to me!”
Old man with the pale blue eyes,
Mild and clear!
Why, as thou dost fare,
With that pondering air
Into passing faces dost thou peer?
Why dost pause, where dim like autumn skies
Starry asters grow? Why gazest thou
O’er the round hill’s brow?
“Ah, from each gray-bearded face
Would I know
What that heart hath found;
And in youths that bound
See a youth who vanished long ago!
In each flower a memory can I trace;
O’er the hill the green, still place may be
That doth wait for me!”



O brotherhood, with bay-crowned brows undaunted,
Who passed serene along our crowded ways,
Speak with us still! For we like Saul are haunted:
Harp sullen spirits from these later days!
Whate’er high hope ye had for man your brother,
Breathe it, nor leave him like a prisoned slave
To stare through bars upon a sight no other
Than clouded skies that lighten on a grave.
In these still alcoves give us gentle meeting,
From dusky shelves kind arms about us fold,
Till the New Age shall feel her chilled heart beating
Restfully on the warm heart of the Old.
Till we shall hear your voices mild and winning
Steal through our doubt and discord, as outswells
At fiercest noon, above a city’s dinning,
The chiming music of cathedral bells:
Music that lifts the thought from trodden places
And coarse confusions that around us lie,
Up to the calm of high cloud-silvered spaces,
Where the tall spire points through the soundless sky.



“High as my heart!” Orlando answered thus,
In careless Arden, Arden green to-day,
Parrying with gallant wit the question gay
Touching his lady’s stature. When of us
Lips yet to be, in years lying yet before,
Make question of the stature of thy fame,
The words that we shall answer are the same:
High as our hearts he stood.
What man would more?
Wide-sunned with love thy last late winter days,
Whose blue mild morns were memories of the spring.
To thee spring voices had not ceased to sing,
Nor ever closed to thee fresh woodland ways
Where underneath old leaves the violets are,
And, shy as boyhood’s dream, spring beauties like a star.
Thou wast not robbed of wonder when youth fled,
But still the bud had promise to thine eyes,
And beauty was not sundered from surprise,
And reverent, as reverend, was thy head.
Thy life was music, and thou mad’st it ours.
Not thine, crude scorn of gentle household things;
And yet thy spirit had the sea-bird’s wings,
Nor rested long among the chestnut-flowers.
Spain’s coast of charm, and all the North Sea’s cold
Thou knewest, and thou knewest the soul of eld,
And dusty scroll and volume we beheld
To gold transmuted—not to hard-wrought gold,
But that clear shining of the eastern air,
When Helios rising shakes the splendor of his hair.



With that Sir Gawain departed, joyful and sorrowful: joyful because of what Merlin had assured him should happen to him; and sorrowful, that Merlin had thus been lost.

Morte d’Arthur.

Thou Merlin, shut in the still wood of Death,
Yet living! who through forest-calm dost roll
A voice of guidance to the venturous soul
As when thou hadst the common blood and breath:
Far for thy praise my Fancy wandereth
Through all wide lands, and fain would spoil the whole
To heap crown-jewels at thine oak-tree’s bole.
“Seek no bright words!” a wiser spirit saith.
“Not such the sage can please: no seeker he!
The world came to him in his tower, and told
Secrets of might, unforced and loving-free;
Nor held he Fancy’s choice true gems and gold.
Kneel but and say:
One grateful here behold!
Of mine own treasure thou didst give the key!



Two sauntering, hand in hand, one happy day,
Along a pleasant path that neither knew,
Came, glad and startled, on the sudden blue,
With sails unclouded, of a sunny bay,
And hollowing toward the wave a meadow, gray
With honey-giving growths thick-spread as dew.
There goatskin-girt, with limbs like bronze in hue,
Free-bathed in sun and wind, a shepherd lay.
Asleep, his reed pipe fallen by his knee;
And late, it seemed, a song had left his lips.
We heard but lapping ripple, prattling bee
Above the thyme’s dim-purple, downy tips;
Beyond, once beat by oars of beakéd ships,
Far outward swept the calm, the storied sea.



Hark! on this wind eternal Voices ride.
Oh, hark! out of the deep mysterious East
The Voices of Disciple and High-Priest,
Betrayer, and Denier, and Denied:
Strong prayers at midnight by a streamlet-side,
And broken sayings at a solemn feast;
A sea-like sound: “Barabbas be released!”
A fiercer wave: “Let Him be crucified!”
And now arise new voices blent with these,
In sober chorals, linkéd like the beads
Of some brown chaplet; breathing pieties
Of faithful souls that sifted not the creeds.
The names of those that sang the loiterer reads
In God’s green acre, spired with poplar-trees.



Not most the crouching spring, the forest-roar,
The lion-pace, the lion-power express;
By such strong signs as these he conquers less
Than in that pulse-beat’s time, when, wounded sore,
He gathers all himself, and stands once more
Unshaken in his sombre kingliness,
Too great the deadly keenness to confess
Of traitor steel sent clean to the heart’s core:
Sighs Iago, bent in soothing half-embrace,
“A little this hath dashed your mood, I wot!”
Then, majesty at full in eyes and face,
Large soul to the lower’s level stooping not,
Dark head thrown back, with that grand Southern grace
He waves his eloquent hands—“Nay, not a jot!”



A wind of spring that whirls the feignéd snows
Of blossom-petals in the face, and flees:
Elusive, made of mirthful mockeries,
Yet tender with the prescience of the rose;
A strain desired, that through the memory goes,
Too subtle-slender for the voice to seize;
A flame dissembled, only lit to tease,
Whose touch were half a kiss, if one but knows.
She shows by Leonato’s dove-like daughter
A falcon, by a prince to be possessed,
Gay-graced with bells that ever chiming are;
In azure of the bright Sicilian water,
A billow that has rapt into its breast
The swayed reflection of a dancing star!



Armed soul that ridest through a land of peace,
Her borders filled with finest of the wheat,
Her children reaping, where with weary feet
Sad sowers trod who taste not the increase:
We hear thy trump, whose echo shall not cease,
In hush of night resounding, while we meet
Around unthreatened fires, but pressing fleet
Thou passest, proud, to claim thy kin’s release;
Thy trump, that doth arraign the entombèd Past,
Till shapes that march as if with martyr-psalm
In glow and gloom of kindly hearths we see:
And now to present war a keener blast
Calls loud, and spirits late content and calm
Spring up enforced, and spur to follow thee!
To war? What words are mine, that do thee wrong!
Whose suit is powerful Peace, resplendent-shod,
Fair on the mountains; who wouldst set the rod
Borne as a staff o’er stony ways and long
Yet withered not, to strike new root and strong
Deep in its nursing earth. Oh, there the clod
Were virtue, and the sun the smile of God,
And buds should break to bloom, as maids to song!
Aye, would for thee that,—even as the dove
Whose silver wings have o’er waste places passed,
When in the lonely west the evening burns,
Her unforgetful breast a-throb with love,
To her own pillared porch of flight returns,—
On the old hills might Israel rest at last!



Then will I, tasting, say—
This is arbutus’ gift,
Reached from the leafy drift
On a glistening April day.
Wild Honey.
Arbutus’ gift, in very truth, I deem
These gathered, golden songs that keep the gleam
Of early sunlight through the awakened wood;
The vernal spirits of the sisterhood
There cloistered, rosy-cool and vestal-shy,
Are in these lucent cells enforced to lie;
Here bides the baffling fragrance, here the charm.
Henceforth I fear not frosty Hiems’ harm,
Though all his bluff besiegers he should bring;
Behold, my bookshelf lodges Ver, the Spring!



Is this ... the posy of a ring?


I were not worth you, could I long for you;
But should you come, you would find me ready.
The lamp is lighted, the flame is steady:
Over the strait I toss this song for you!


Too-perfect Rose, thy heavy breath has power
To wake a dim, an unexplained regret:
Art body to the soul of some deep hour
That all my seasons have not yielded yet?
But if it be so—Hour, too-perfect Hour,
Ah, blow not full, though all the yearning days
Should tremble bud-like, since the wind must shower
Thine unreturning grace along the ways!



lumenque juventæ
O smile of spring, that o’er the worn gray brow
Of some old many-memoried house dost run,
The very light of purple Youth art thou
The laughing goddess shed upon her son!


“It is the nightingale, and not the lark!”
O poet-heart, enamored of the Past,
That Romeo with the ruby in his ear!
No longer sicken to detain the dark:
Thine eyes along the clear horizon cast:
Behold, a fresh imperious dawn is here!



When State Street homes were stately still;
When out of town was Murray Hill;
In late-deceased “old times”
Of vast, embowering bonnet-shapes,
And creamy-crinkled Canton crapes,
And florid annual-rhymes,
He owned a small suburban seat
Where now you see a modern street,
A monochrome of brown;
The sad “brown-brown” of Dante’s dreams,
A twilight turned to stone, that seems
To weight our city down.
Through leafy chestnuts whitely showed
The pillared front of his abode:
A garden girt it ’round,
Where pungent box did trim enclose
The marigold and cabbage-rose,
And “pi’ny” heavy-crowned.
Yea, whatso sweets, the changing year’s,
He most affected. Gone: but here’s
His face who loved them so.
Old eyes like sherry, warm and mild;
A cheek clear-hued as cheek of child;
Sleek head, a sphere of snow.
His mouth was pious, and his nose
Patrician; with which mould there goes
A disaffected view.
In those sublime, be-oratored,
Spread-eagle days, his soul deplored
So much red-white-and-blue!
In umber ink, with S’s long,
He left behind him censure strong
In stiffest phrases clothed;
But Time—a pleasant jest enough!—
Has turned the tory leaves to buff,
The liberal hue he loathed.
Of many a gentle deed he made
Brief simple record. Never fade
Those everlasting-flowers
That spring up wild by good men’s walks;
Opinions wither on their stalks,
And sere grow Fashion’s bowers.
Erect, be-frilled, in neckcloth tall,
His semblance sits, removed from all
Our needs and noises new;
Released from all the rent we pay
As tenants of the large To-day,
Cool, in a background blue.
And he, beneath a cherub chipped,
Plump, squamous-pinioned, pouting-lipped,
Sleeps calm where Trinity
Points finger dark to clouds that fleet;
A warning, seen from surging street,
A welcome, seen from sea.
There fall, ghosts glorified of tears
Shed for the dead in buried years,
The silver notes of chimes;
And there, with not unreverent hand
Though light, I lay this “greene garlànd,”
This woven wreath of rhymes.



O my gorgeous-mailéd knight,
Whom a finger-tip can fright!
At my touch upstarting shy,
With a silvery-rolling eye,
Leaping, winding, sudden splashing,
This way dashing, that way flashing!
I’ll not harm thee; lie thou still;
Heave not fin nor glittering gill;
Globe-kept captive, thou shalt find
Fellow-feeling makes me kind.
I, too, own a hermit’s heart,
Swift at aught unknown to start:
And I, too, am walled about,
Though the sunbeams find me out.
Scarce I see the stirring world
More than thou the brook breeze-curled,
But must make, like thee, delight
From a few small pebbles white;
Trifles, that may fancy bear
To some rippled pleasance rare.
Let thy thought, free-swimming, make
This, thy globe, a spring-fed lake,
And with water crystal-bright
I’ll refresh it morn and night,
That such dreams the easier be:
Deal, sweet Fates! as well by me.



Buccaneer with blackest sails,
Steering home by compass true,
Now that all the rich West pales
From its ingot-hue!
Would that compass in thy breast
Thou couldst lend, for guiding me
here my Hope hath made her nest—
In how far a tree!
Swerving not, nor stooping low,
To that dear, that distant mark
Could I undiverted go,
What were coming dark?
—Careless of the twilight ground,
O’er the wood and o’er the stream
Still he sails, with hollow sound
Strange, as in a dream!




Here’s awa’ wi’ bairnies’ fears!
Here’s a health to comin’ years!
They maun bring me smiles wi’ tears;
Smiles are wisdom’s wealth.
Sae I’ll sing it in their ears:
“I’m na scared o’ ye, my dears!
To ye canty comin’ years
Here’s a hearty health!
“Just a line o’ lasses ye,
Steppin’ shy, but blinkin’ slee;
There’s a spark in ilk sweet e’e
To my soul declares
Frowns o’ yours are light to dree;
Ilka lip so bright o’ blee
Keeps in guard a kiss to gie
To the lad that dares!”



O Jamie MacPherson! Ye’re sic a slee person!
I kenned ye for keen ever sin’ we were wee;
Ye hae stown my ain mither, hae stown my ain brither,
Hae stown my ain sister awa’ frae me!
At kirk door they see’d ye—sic follies, I rede ye,
Are na for the likes o’ that Sabbath-day place;
Ye leukit at me wi’ the tear in your e’e,
And ye staw them awa’ wi’ your lang droopit face.
Sic knittin’ o’ brows, mon, sic shakin’ o’ pows, mon,
Sic praisin’ of ye, mon, for douce and genteel!
Mither canna get sleep for the thocht o’ your sheep,
Nor Meg for the thocht o’ the dool ye maun feel.
E’en dumb dozin’ Collie has heard o’ my folly,
And leuks at me sidelang whenever I pass,
His e’e sadly blinkin’, and sighs while down-sinkin’,
As though he were thinkin’, “Puir daft feckless lass!”
Naught for it but roamin’ late into the gloamin’
(Sin’ now it’s na canty beside the hearthstane),
When the pale primsie moon she is walkin’ aboon,
But nae lass below her gaes roamin’ alane!
A lad I hae seen, he has witchin’ black e’en—
O Jamie MacPherson, ye’re wonderfu’ slee!
Ye hae stown my ain mither, hae stown my ain brither,
But Robin has stown my ain heart frae me!


I’m fain for toys o’ Fortune whyles;
I hae no hate for ranks and styles;
But lairdship o’ the braw blue isles
I’d e’en let pass
For are o’ her fine tremblin’ smiles—
My ain, ain lass!
I aiblins dream on days to be,
An’ feel my heart leap out a wee;
But friendly Fate can grant nae fee
Could e’er surpass
Her e’en, sae dark wi’ luve to me—
My ain, ain lass!
Whyles, gray and ghaistly, by me stand
Auld memories in an eerie band;
But swift as prints on slidin’ sand
Sic phantoms pass,
If sae I baud her warm, warm hand,
My ain, ain lass!
The past she sweetens through and through,
An’, far as heaven, the future too;
For, surely, as her dear soul’s due,
They’ll let me pass!
Wi’out me there what wad she do,
My ain, ain lass?



While gray was the summer evening,
Hast never a small sprite seen
Lighting the fragrant torches
For the feast of the Fairy Queen?
The buds on the primrose-bushes
Upspring into yellow light
But ever the wee deft spirit
Escapes my bewildered sight.
Yet oft, through the dusky garden,
A dainty white moth will fly,
Or, pink as a pink rose-petal,
One lightly will waver by.
Perhaps ’tis the shape he comes in,
Perhaps it is he indeed,
Sir Moth, or the merry Cobweb,
Or the whimsical Mustard-seed!



Twelve daughters of the Trumpet-vine
Spread wide their scarlet silks to-day.
Sir Summer Breeze, my gossip fine,
Can you the reason say?
“Oh listen while I whisper low!
The Honeysuckle told the Bee,
(Her girls wore out their gowns, you know!)
And Master Buzz told me.
“’Twas done for Some One’s sake, I ween,
Who by and by will hither float,
All gay in gold and emerald green,
With rubies round his throat!
“You doubt me? Hearken! There he went,
The flashing Prince of Idle Hours,
Whose silvery sing-song compliment
Delights the flattered flowers!”




“Where are my Five Wits gone,
And will they come back soon?”
They’re gone a-gathering wool
In the Valleys of the Moon.
There the little Dream-Sheep,
That look like mounds of snow,
Through the green, green meadows
Go grazing to and fro.
Thither have I sent them,
Those Five Wits of mine,
Two with bags, and two with crooks,
And one with shears that shine.
They catch the little Dream-Sheep
And cut their fleece away,
All to weave a story from
Upon another day!



Where the Sun sails bold on the Sea of Gold
Past the Violet Islands fair,
And the ragged shapes of the Rosy Capes
And the Castles of the Air,
Can you call aright all that country bright
That is washed by waves like flame?
’Tis the coast admired, ’tis the clime desired—
’Tis the Land Without a Name!
And the way to go, since you fain would know,
Is to charter the Crescent Ship,
All of silver pale, with a cobweb sail,
And merrily does she dip!
There’s a crew of Hopes at her filmy ropes,
And on board that ship of fame
Many a longing Dream seeks the shores agleam
Of the Land Without a Name!



Now while rest the happy herds,
And in folds the fleecy sheep,
All the boughs are full of birds,
Crowding, sound asleep.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
Under the fair, fair flocks of stars
That roam all night and know no bars,
Sleep, sweet, sleep!
Now if we an Owl could ride,—
Yes, an Owl with yellow eyes,
Globy lanterns, clear and wide,
Flaming while he flies,—
We should see the pretty things,
Pretty little sleepy souls!
All their heads beneath their wings,
Blind with sleep as moles!
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
Under the wild, winged winds that fly
All night long across the sky,
Sleep, sweet, sleep!






Ask not my master, Oberon, why still
He keeps among his train this freakish sprite:
For sooth to say, the elf intends no ill;
He never changed a word with Goblin Spite,
Else Oberon had banished him outright.
Not his to flee at cock-crow; he was born
Of blameless Mirth, and looks upon the morn.
“Good-fellow, and sweet Puck,” some folk do name him;
I pray you of your kindness not to blame him!
—Lo, while I would bespeak you, here he rides!
A columbine he bears upon his head
For jester’s cap, and for a steed he guides
A mocking catbird with a spider’s thread.



(“In the course of his lecture Mr. ⸺ remarked that the most impressive room he had yet entered in America was the one in Camden town where he met ⸺ ⸺. It contained plenty of fresh air and sunlight.... On the table was a simple cruse of water.” ...)

Who may this be?
This young man clad unusually, with loose locks, languorous, glidingly toward me advancing,
Toward the ceiling of my chamber his orbic and expressive eye-balls uprolling,
As I have seen the green-necked wild-fowl the mallard in the thundering of the storm,
By the weedy shore of Paumanok my fish-shaped island.
Sit down, young man!
I do not know you, but I love you with burning intensity,
I am he that loves the young men, whosoever and wheresoever they are or may be hereafter, or may have been any time in the past,
Loves the eye-glassed literat, loves also and probably more the vender of clams, raucous-throated, monotonous-chanting,
Loves the Elevated Railroad employee of Mannahatta, my city;
I suppress the rest of the list of the persons I love, solely because I love you,
Sit down élève, I receive you!
O clarion, from whose brazen throat
Strange sounds across the seas are blown,
Where England, girt as with a moat,
A strong sea-lion, sits alone!
A pilgrim from that white-cliffed shore,
What joy, large flower of Western land,
To seek thy democratic door,
With eager hand to clasp thy hand!
Right you are!
Take then the electric pressure of these fingers, O my Comrade!
I do not doubt you are the one I was waiting for, as I loaf’d here enjoying my soul,
Let us two under all and any circumstances stick together from this out!
Seeing that isle of which I spake but late
By ignorant demagogues is held in fee,
The grand Greek limbs of young Democracy
Beckoned me thence to this ideal State,
Where maiden fields of life Hellenic wait
For one who in clear culture walks apart
(Avoiding all rude clamors of the mart
That mar his calm) to sow the seeds of great
Growths yet to be—the love of sacred Art,
And Beauty, of this breast queen consecrate,
Whose throne mean Science seeks to violate;
The flawless artist’s lunacy serene,
His purely passionate and perfect hate
And noble scorn of all things Philistine.
Hold up there, Camerado!
Beauty is all very good as far as it goes, and Art the perpetuator of Beauty is all very good as far as it goes, but you can tell your folks,
Your folks in London, or in Dublin, or in Rome, or where the Arno flows, or where Seine flows,
Your folks in the picture-galleries, admiring the Raphaels, the Tintorettos, the Rubenses, Vandykes, Correggios, Murillos, Angelicos of the world,
(I know them all, they have effused to me, I have wrung them out, I have abandoned them, I have got beyond them,)—
Narcissus (aside, with tenderness).
Ah, Burne-Jones!
Tell them that I am considerably more than Beauty!
I, representing the bone and muscle and cartilage and adipose tissue and pluck of the Sierras, of California, of the double Carolinas, of the Granite State, and the Narragansett Bay State, and the Wooden Nutmeg State!
I, screaming with the scream of the bald-headed bird the eagle in the primitive woods of America my country, in the hundred and sixth year of these States!
Dear son, I have learned the secret of the Universe,
I learned it from my original bonne, the white-capped ocean,
I learned it from the Ninth-month Equinoctial, from the redwood tree, and the Civil War, and the hermit-thrush, and the telephone, and the Corliss engine,
The secret of the Universe is not Beauty, dear son, nor is it Art the perpetuator of Beauty,
The secret of the Universe is to admire one’s self.
Camerado, you hear me!
Ah, I too loitering on an eve of June
Where one wan Narciss leaned above a pool,
While overhead Queen Dian rose too soon,
And through the Tyrian clematis the cool
Night airs came wandering wearily, I too,
Beholding that pale flower, beheld Life’s key at last, and knew
That love of one’s fair self were but indeed
Just worship of pure Beauty; and I gave
One sweet, sad sigh, then bade my fond eyes feed
Upon the mirrored treasure of the wave,
Like that lithe beauteous boy in Tempe’s vale,
Whom hapless Echo loved—thou know’st the Heliconian tale!
And while heaven’s harmony in lake and gold
Changed to a faint nocturne of silvern-gray,
Like rising sea-mists from my spirit rolled
The grievous vapors of this Age of Clay,
Beholding Beauty’s re-arisen shrine,
And the white glory of this precious loveliness of mine!
I catch on, my Comrade!
—You allow that your aim is similar to mine, after all is said and done.
Well, there is not much similarity of style, and I recommend my style to you.
Go gaze upon the native rock-piles of Mannahatta, my city,
Formless, reckless,
Marked with the emerald miracle of moss, tufted with the unutterable wonder of the exquisite green grass,
Giving pasture to the spry and fearless-footed quadruped the goat,
Also patched by the heaven-ambitious citizens with the yellow handbill, the advertisement of patent soaps, the glaring and vari-colored circus poster:
Mine, too, for reasons, such arrays;
Such my unfettered verse, scorning the delicatesse of dilettantes.
Try it, I’ll stake you my ultimate dollar you’ll like it.
Narcissus (gracefully waiving the point).
Haply in the far, the orient future, in the dawn we herald like the birds,
Men shall read the legend of our meeting, linger o’er the music of our words;
Haply coming poets shall compare me then to Milton in his lovely youth,
Sitting in the cell of Galileo, learning at his elder’s lips the truth.
Haply they shall liken these dear moments, safely held in History’s amber clear,
Unto Dante’s converse bland with Virgil, on the margin of that gloomy mere!
Do not be deceived, dear son;
Amid the choruses of the morn of progress, roaring, hilarious, those names will be heard no longer.
Galileo was admirable once, Milton was admirable,
Dante the I-talian was a cute man in his way,
But he was not the maker of poems, the Answerer!
I Paumanokides am the maker of poems, the Answerer,
And I calculate to chant as long as the earth revolves,
To an interminable audience of haughty, effusive, copious, gritty, and chipper Americanos!
What more is left to say or do?
Our minds have met; our hands must part.
I go to plant in pastures new
The love of Beauty and of Art.
I’ll shortly start.
One town is rather small for two
Like me and you!
So long!



Came Palamede, upon a secret quest,
To high Tintagel, and abode as guest
In likeness of a minstrel with the king.
Nor was there man could sound so sweet a string.
To that strange minstrel strongly swore King Mark,
By all that makes a knight’s faith firm and strong,
That he, as guerdon of his harp and song,
Might crave and have his liking.
...’O King, I crave
No gift of man that king may give to slave,
But this thy crowned queen only, this thy wife.’”
Swinburne. Tristram of Lyonesse.
With flow exhaustless of alliterate words,
And rhymes that mate in music glad as birds
That feel the spring’s sweet life among light leaves
That ardent breath of amorous May upheaves
And kindles fluctuant to an emerald fire
Bright as the imperious seas that all men’s souls desire:
With long strong swell of alexandrine lines,
And with passion of anapæsts, like winds in pines
That moan and mutter in great gusts suddenly,
With whirl of wild wet wings of storms set free:
In mirth of might and very joy to sing,
Uplifting voice untired, I sound one sole sweet string.
Love, that is ever bitter as salt blown spray,
Yet sweet, yea sweet as wrath or wine alway,
As red warm mouths of Mænads subtly sweet;
Love, that is fleeter than the wind’s fleet feet
Soft-shod with snowflakes; love, that hath the name
And fury and force of swift bright shuddering flame:
Fate, that is foe to love and lovely life,
Yea foe implacable, and hath death to wife;
Fate, that is bitterer than the salt spray blown
And colder than soft snow yet hard as stone;
Fate, that makes daily fare of heart’s desire,
Being found thereunto a devouring fire:
Death, that is friend to fate and fair love’s foe;
Death, that makes waste the wolds of life with snow;
Death, harsh as spray of seas that wild winds blow:
Life, that is strangely one of all these three,
Being bitter as is the sharp salt spray of sea,
And thereto colder than the blown white rose
And soft brief blossom of unmothered snows,
And fiercer than the forceful feathered fire,
Fed as a flame with hope of heart and high desire:
All these I sing, and sound the same sweet string.
And as fresh-gathered leaves of bay I bring
Green praises to all dear dead lute-players,
Whom Pluto’s passionate queen holds fast as hers,
Yea all sad souls that have smiled and sinned and sung,
With whose gold-colored hairs and hoar this harp is strung.
And blame of the high great gods that do amiss,
Being cruel and crowned and bathed complete in bliss,
And careless if this world be out of tune,
And deaf to dithyrambs of bards that bay the moon:
And all perfections of all those I love,
Each bettering still the best and still above
The last this violent voice proclaimed the best,
And blown by stormy breath still starward o’er the rest;
And all large loathsomeness of all I hate,
Whose poisonous presence doth Caïna wait,
And better it were that they had ne’er been born,
I being dowered with hate of hate and scorn of scorn,
And shrinking not to name them newts and snakes,
Lepers and toads and frogs and hooting owls and crakes:
All these with ease of measureless might I sing,
And sound, though sheer stark mad, the same sweet string.
And many a theme I choose in wayfaring,
As one who passing plucks the sunflower
And ponders on her looks for love of her.
Yea, her flower-named whose fate was like a flower,
Being bright and brief and broken in an hour
And whirled of winds: and her whose lawless hand
Held flickering flame to fawn against the brand,
Till Meleager splendid as the sun
Shrank to a star and set, and all her day was done:
And her who lent her slight white virgin light
For death to dim, that Athens’ mastering might
Above all seas should shine, supernal sphere of night:
And her who kept the high knight amorous
Pent in her hollow hill-house marvelous,
And flame of flowers brake beauteous where she trod,
Her who hath wine and honey and a rod,
And crowneth man a king, and maketh man a slave
Her who rose rose-red from the rose-white wave:
And her who ruled with sword-blue blade-bright eyes
The helpless hearts of men in queenly wise,
And all were bowed and broken as on a wheel,
Yet no soft love-cloud long could sheath that stainless steel,
Her tiger-hearted and false and glorious,
With flower-sweet throat and float of warm hair odorous;
These sing I, and whatso else that burns and glows,
And is as fire and foam-flowers and the rose
And sun and stars and wan warm moon and snows.
Who hath said that I have not made my song to shine
With such bright words as seal a song to be divine?
Who hath said that I have not sweetness thereon spread
As gold of peerless honey is poured on bread?
Who hath said that I make not all men’s brains to ring,
And swim with imminent madness while I sing,
And fall as feeble dykes before strong tides of spring?
And now as guerdon of my great song I claim
The swan-white pearl of singers, yea Queen Fame,
Who shall be wed no more to languid lips and tame,
But clasp me and kiss and call me by my name,
And be all my days about me as a flame,
Though sane vain lame tame cranes sans shame make game and blame!



Miss Pallas Eudora Van Blurky,
She didn’t know chicken from turkey;
High-Spanish and Greek she could fluently speak,
But her knowledge of poultry was murky!
She could tell the great-uncle of Moses,
And the dates of the Wars of the Roses,
And the reasons of things—why the Indians wore rings
In their red aboriginal noses;
Why Shakspere was wrong in his grammar,
And the meaning of Emerson’s Brahma,
And she went chipping rocks with a little black box
And a small geological hammer.
She had views upon co-education,
And the principal needs of the nation,
And her glasses were blue, and the number she knew
Of the stars in each bright constellation.
And she wrote with a handwriting clerky,
And she talked with an emphasis jerky,
And she painted on tiles in the sweetest of styles,
But she didn’t know chicken from turkey!




There was once a young man of the medium size,
Who, by keeping a ledger, himself kept likewise.
In the matter of lunch he’d a leaning to pies,
And his chronic dyspepsia will hence not surprise;
And his friends often told him, with tears in their eyes,
Which they did not disguise, that a person who tries
To live without exercise generally dies,
And declared, for the sake of his family ties,
He should enter the Hercules Club.
Tom Box and Dick Dumbell would suasively say,
If they met him by chance in the roar of Broadway,
“It’s bad for a fellow, all work and no play;
Come, let us propose you! You’ll find it will pay
To belong to the Hercules Club!”
And he yielded at last, and they put up his name,
Which was found without blame; and they put down the same
In a roll-book tremendous; and straight he became
A Samson, regarding his tame past with shame;
Called for “Beef, lean and rare!” and cut off all his hair,
Had his shoulders constructed abnormally square,
And walked out with an air that made people declare,
He belongs to the Hercules Club!”
And he often remarked, in original way:
“It’s bad for a fellow, all work and no play;
Without recreation, sir, life doesn’t pay!
And I for my part am most happy to say
I belong to the Hercules Club.”
And frequently during a very hot “spell,”
In thick woolen garments clad closely and well,
“Reducing,”—for he was resolved to excel,—
rowed in the sun at full speed, in a shell
That belonged to the Hercules Club.
And for weeks, while the dew on the racing-track lay,
He ran before breakfast a half mile a day,
Improving his style and increasing his “stay”;
And was first at the finish, and fainted away,
At the games of the Hercules Club.
Six nights in succession he sat up to pore
“The Laws of Athletics” devotedly o’er
(Which number ten thousand and seventy-four),
With a view to proposing a very few more
In a speech to the Hercules Club.
And his coat upon festal occasions was gay
With medals on medals, marked “H. A. A. A.,”[1]
With a motto in Greek (which, my lore to display,
Means “Pleasure is business”), a splendid array
Of the spoils of the Hercules Club.
But acquaintances not of the muscular kind
Began to observe that his brow was deep-lined,
Too brilliant his eye, and to wander inclined;
He appeared, in a word (early English), “fore-pined”;
And one morning his ledger and desk he resigned,
Explaining, “I can’t have my health undermined
By this ‘demnition grind’; and I’m getting behind
In my duties as Captain” (an office defined,
Page hundred and two, in the by-laws that bind
With red tape the great Hercules Club).
And he further remarked, in most serious way:
“Give it up, did you say? ’Twill be frigid, that day![2]
Why, without relaxation, sir, life wouldn’t pay!
And I, for my part, will remain till I’m gray
On the roll of the Hercules Club!”
You perceive, gentle reader, the rub.
Is it nobler to suffer those arrows and slings
Lack of exercise brings—or take clubs, and let things
Unconnected with matters athletic take wings;
Till all interests beside, like the Arabs, shall glide
From the landscape of life, once a plain free and wide,
But now fenced for the “Games” which we lightly began,
Grown our serious aims and the chief end of Man?
There’s an aureate mean these two courses between,
But I humbly submit that it seldom is seen,
With all proper respect for that organization,
Of benevolent purpose and high reputation,
The excellent Hercules Club!


[1] “H. A. A. A.”: Hercules Amateur Athletic Association.

[2] Frigid day, or day of low temperature: A singular idiom of the American language, expressing grave improbability.



Though I met her in the summer, when one’s heart lies round at ease,
As it were in tennis costume, and a man’s not hard to please,
Yet I think at any season to have met her was to love,
While her tones, unspoiled, unstudied, had the softness of the dove.
At request she read us poems in a nook among the pines,
And her artless voice lent music to the least melodious lines;
Though she lowered her shadowing lashes, in an earnest reader’s wise,
Yet we caught blue gracious glimpses of the heavens that were her eyes.
As in paradise I listened. Ah, I did not understand
That a little cloud, no larger than the average human hand,
Might, as stated oft in fiction, spread into a sable pall,
When she said that she should study Elocution in the fall!
I admit her earliest efforts were not in the Ercles vein;
She began with, “Lit-tle Maaybel, with her faayce against the paayne,
And the beacon-light a-trrremble,”—which although it made me wince,
Is a thing of cheerful nature to the things she’s rendered since.
Having learned the Soulful Quiver, she acquired the Melting Mo-o-an,
And the way she gave “Young Grayhead,” would have liquefied a stone.
Then the Sanguinary Tragic did her energies employ,
And she tore my taste to tatters when she slew “The Polish Boy.”
It’s not pleasant for a fellow when the jewel of his soul
Wades through slaughter on the carpet, while her orbs in frenzy roll;
What was I that I should murmur? Yet it gave me grievous pain
That she rose in social gatherings and Searched among the Slain.
I was forced to look upon her, in my desperation dumb,
Knowing well that when her awful opportunity was come
She would give us battle, murder, sudden death at very least,
As a skeleton of warning, and a blight upon the feast.
Once, ah! once I fell a-dreaming; some one played a polonaise
I associated strongly with those happier August days;
And I mused, “I’ll speak this evening,” recent pangs forgotten quite.
Sudden shrilled a scream of anguish: “Curfew shall not ring to-night!”
Ah, that sound was as a curfew, quenching rosy warm romance:
Were it safe to wed a woman one so oft would wish in France?
Oh, as she “cull-imbed” that ladder, swift my mounting hope came down.
I am still a single cynic; she is still Cassandra Brown!
Coroebus Green.



This trifle may derive interest from the music, by Mr. E. C. Phelps, in Scribner’s Monthly for August, 1880.


SCENE.—A Lowly Cot.

How happy is our lot,
Beneath our vines and fig-trees,
In this suburban spot,
Among so many big trees!
Our landlord’s very kind,
His speech is mild and gentle,
He never was inclined
To go and raise the rental.
How happy is our lot
Beneath our vines and fig-trees,
In this suburban spot,
Among so many big trees;
How happy is our lot!
How happy is our lot!
Enter Landlord. BASSO.
How do you do?
Aside. I’ll try a few devices;
I’ve paid a five-cent fare,
To see if my premises
Were wanting much repair.
Sir, the whole house neat and nice is,
And requires no extra care.
Aside. Got him there!
Direct. This is indeed a lovely spot.
Beyond compare.
Aside. Got him there!
Direct. I think you never find it hot?
Fine cool air.
Aside. Got him there!
Direct. Handy to the cars and boats?
Pretty fair.
Aside. Got him there!
Direct. Far removed from geese and goats?
So we air.
Aside. Got him there!
Think I’ve got him everywhere.
Direct. Bless you! after so much praise
I shall really have to raise.
Mother-in-law. CONTRALTO.
To Tenor. Oh, oh, oh!
No, no, no!
Have you the feelings of a man
To stand such wicked imposition?
An old house built on such a plan,
And in the very worst condition.
The paper’s hanging on the wall.
The plaster’s tumbling from the ceiling.
The front piazza is liable to fall.
Oh, are you a man of any feeling?
I won’t pay!
First of May.

IntermissionAgent heard without tacking up bill.



Enter LeftChorus of Feminine House-Seekers and Chorus of Masculine House-Seekers, waving permits.

I want to see⸺
Oh, certainly!
Be kind enough to follow me.
This parlor’s rather nice;
This parlor’s rather small;
Are you troubled with rats and mice?
Will the landlord paint the wall?
Does the roof leak when it’s clear?
Are the bedrooms tinted blue?
How long have you lived here?
Will the range cook oyster stew?
Exeunt, R.
FULL CHORUS (re-entering, R.)
It wouldn’t do!
It’s warm!
It’s cold!
It’s quite too new!
It’s quite too old!
I wanted gas!
I wanted grass!
We all expected fine plate-glass!
And shelves for cheese!
And orange trees!
And beds for raising strawberries!
I dwell in a marble hall,
And I couldn’t make it do;
And I don’t see how you live at all;
And I’m much obliged to you.



She gazed upon the burnished brace
Of plump ruffed grouse he showed with pride
Angelic grief was in her face:
“How could you do it, dear?” she sighed.
“The poor, pathetic, moveless wings!
The songs all hushed—oh, cruel shame!”
Said he, “The partridge never sings.”
Said she, “The sin is quite the same.
“You men are savage through and through.
A boy is always bringing in
Some string of bird’s eggs, white and blue,
Or butterfly upon a pin.
The angle-worm in anguish dies,
Impaled, the pretty trout to tease⸺”
“My own, I fish for trout with flies⸺”
“Don’t wander from the question, please!”
She quoted Burns’s “Wounded Hare,”
And certain burning lines of Blake’s,
And Ruskin on the fowls of air,
And Coleridge on the water-snakes.
At Emerson’s “Forbearance” he
Began to feel his will benumbed;
At Browning’s “Donald” utterly
His soul surrendered and succumbed.
“Oh, gentlest of all gentle girls,”
He thought, “beneath the blessed sun!”
He saw her lashes hung with pearls,
And swore to give away his gun.
She smiled to find her point was gained,
And went, with happy parting words
(He subsequently ascertained),
To trim her hat with humming-birds.


—So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.