The Home Book of Verse, Volume 1
Burton Egbert Stevenson

Part 9 out of 12

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar that renewed our woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
"The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall"

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

James Russell Lowell [1819-1891]


A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said:
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
- Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said,
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea;

"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven - I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."

Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie
Beneath the church-yard tree."

"You run about, my little Maid;
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied:
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.

"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

"So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."

"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]


I cannot make him dead!
His fair sunshiny head
Is ever bounding round my study chair;
Yet when my eyes, now dim
With tears, I turn to him,
The vision vanishes, - he is not there!

I walk my parlor floor,
And, through the open door,
I hear a footfall on the chamber stair;
I'm stepping toward the hall
To give my boy a call;
And then bethink me that - he is not there!

I thread the crowded street;
A satchelled lad I meet,
With the same beaming eyes and colored hair;
And, as he's running by,
Follow him with my eye,
Scarcely believing that - he is not there!

I know his face is hid
Under the coffin-lid;
Closed are his eyes; cold is his forehead fair;
My hand that marble felt;
O'er it in prayer I knelt;
Yet my heart whispers that - he is not there!

I cannot make him dead!
When passing by the bed,
So long watched over with parental care,
My spirit and my eye,
Seek him inquiringly,
Before the thought comes that - he is not there!

When, at the cool gray break
Of day, from sleep I wake,
With my first breathing of the morning air
My soul goes up, with joy,
To Him who gave my boy;
Then comes the sad thought that - he is not there!

When at the day's calm close,
Before we seek repose,
I'm with his mother, offering up our prayer;
Whate'er I may be saying,
I am, in spirit, praying
For our boy's spirit, though - he is not there!

Not there! - Where, then, is he?
The form I used to see
Was but the raiment that he used to wear.
The grave, that now doth press
Upon that cast-off dress,
Is but his wardrobe locked; - he is not there!

He lives! - In all the past
He lives; nor, to the last,
Of seeing him again will I despair;
In dreams I see him now;
And on his angel brow,
I see it written, "Thou shalt see me there!"

Yes, we all live to God!
Father, thy chastening rod
So help us, thine afflicted ones, to bear,
That, in the spirit-land,
Meeting at thy right hand,
'Twill be our heaven to find that - he is there!

John Pierpont [1785-1866]


Do you remember, my sweet, absent son,
How in the soft June days forever done
You loved the heavens so warm and clear and high;
And when I lifted you, soft came your cry, -
"Put me 'way up - 'way, 'way up in blue sky"?

I laughed and said I could not; - set you down,
Your gray eyes wonder-filled beneath that crown
Of bright hair gladdening me as you raced by.
Another Father now, more strong than I,
Has borne you voiceless to your dear blue sky.

George Parsons Lathrop [1851-1898]


This little child, so white, so calm,
Decked for her grave,
Encountered death without a qualm.
Are you as brave?

So small, and armed with naught beside
Her mother's kiss,
Alone she stepped, unterrified,
Into the abyss.

"Ah," you explain, "she did not know -
This babe of four -
Just what it signifies to go."
Do you know more?

Kenton Foster Murray [18 -


A little elbow leans upon your knee,
Your tired knee that has so much to bear;
A child's dear eyes are looking lovingly
From underneath a thatch of tangled hair.
Perhaps you do not heed the velvet touch
Of warm, moist fingers, folding yours so tight;
You do not prize this blessing overmuch, -
You almost are too tired to pray to-night.

But it is blessedness! A year ago
I did not see it as I do to-day, -
We are so dull and thankless; and too slow
To catch the sunshine till it slips away.
And now it seems surpassing strange to me
That, while I wore the badge of motherhood,
I did not kiss more oft and tenderly
The little child that brought me only good.

And if some night when you sit down to rest,
You miss this elbow from your tired knee, -
This restless, curling head from off your breast -
This lisping tongue that chatters constantly;
If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
And ne'er would nestle in your palm again;
If the white feet into, their grave had tripped,
I could not blame you for your heartache then!

I wonder so that mothers ever fret
At little children clinging to their gown;
Or that the footprints, when the days are wet,
Are ever black enough to make them frown.
If I could find a little muddy boot,
Or cap, or jacket, on my chamber-floor, -
If I could kiss a rosy, restless foot,
And hear its patter in my house once more, -

If I could mend a broken cart to-day,
To-morrow make a kite to reach the sky,
There is no woman in God's world could say
She was more blissfully content than I.
But ah! the dainty pillow next my own
Is never rumpled by a shining head;
My singing birdling from its nest has flown,
The little boy I used to kiss is dead.

May Riley Smith [1842-1927]


In the light of the moon, by the side of the water,
My seat on the sand and her seat on my knees,
We watch the bright billows, do I and my daughter,
My sweet little daughter Louise.
We wonder what city the pathway of glory,
That broadens away to the limitless west,
Leads up to - she minds her of some pretty story
And says: "To the city that mortals love best."
Then I say: "It must lead to the far away city,
The beautiful City of Rest."

In the light of the moon, by the side of the water,
Stand two in the shadow of whispering trees,
And one loves my daughter, my beautiful daughter,
My womanly daughter Louise.
She steps to the boat with a touch of his fingers,
And out on the diamonded pathway they move;
The shallop is lost in the distance, it lingers,
It waits, but I know that its coming will prove
That it went to the walls of the wonderful city,
The magical City of Love.

In the light of the moon, by the side of the water,
I wait for her coming from over the seas;
I wait but to welcome the dust of my daughter,
To weep for my daughter Louise.
The path, as of old, reaching out in its splendor,
Gleams bright, like a way that an angel has trod;
I kiss the cold burden its billows surrender,
Sweet clay to lie under the pitiful sod:
But she rests, at the end of the path, in the city
Whose "builder and maker is God."

Homer Greene [1853-

From "The Spanish Gypsy"

The world is great: the birds all fly from me,
The stars are golden fruit upon a tree
All out of reach: my little sister went,
And I am lonely.

The world is great: I tried to mount the hill
Above the pines, where the light lies so still,
But it rose higher: little Lisa went
And I am lonely.

The world is great: the wind comes rushing by.
I wonder where it comes from; sea birds cry
And hurt my heart: my little sister went,
And I am lonely.

The world is great: the people laugh and talk,
And make loud holiday: how fast they walk!
I'm lame, they push me: little Lisa went,
And I am lonely.

George Eliot [1819-1880]

From "Mimma Bella"

Have dark Egyptians stolen Thee away,
Oh Baby, Baby, in whose cot we peer
As down some empty gulf that opens sheer
And fathomless, illumined by no ray?
And wilt thou come, on some far distant day,
With unknown face, and say, "Behold! I'm here,
The child you lost;" while we in sudden fear,
Dumb with great doubt, shall find no word to say?
One darker than dark gipsy holds thee fast;
One whose strong fingers none has forced apart
Since first they closed on things that were too fair;
Nor shall we see thee other than thou wast,
But such as thou art printed in the heart,
In changeless baby loveliness still there.

Two springs she saw - two radiant Tuscan springs,
What time the wild red tulips are aflame
In the new wheat, and wreaths of young vine frame
The daffodils that every light breeze swings;
And the anemones that April brings
Make purple pools, as if Adonis came
Just there to die; and Florence scrolls her name
In every blossom Primavera flings.
Now, when the scented iris, straight and tall,
Shall hedge the garden gravel once again
With pale blue flags, at May's exulting call,
And when the amber roses, wet with rain,
Shall tapestry the old gray villa wall,
We, left alone, shall seek one bud in vain.

Oh, rosy as the lining of a shell
Were the wee hands that now are white as snows;
And like pink coral, with their elfin toes,
The feet that on life's brambles never fell.
And with its tiny smile, adorable
The mouth that never knew life's bitter sloes;
And like the incurved petal of a rose
The little ear, now deaf in Death's strong spell.
Now, while the seasons in their order roll,
And sun and rain pour down from God's great dome,
And deathless stars shine nightly overhead,
Near other children, with her little doll,
She waits the wizard that will never come
To wake the sleep-struck playground of the dead.

Oh, bless the law that veils the Future's face;
For who could smile into a baby's eyes,
Or bear the beauty of the evening skies,
If he could see what cometh on apace?
The ticking of the death-watch would replace
The baby's prattle, for the over-wise;
The breeze's murmur would become the cries
Of stormy petrels where the breakers race.
We live as moves the walker in his sleep,
Who walks because he sees not the abyss
His feet are skirting as he goes his way:
If we could see the morrow from the steep
Of our security, the soul would miss
Its footing, and fall headlong from to-day.

One day, I mind me, now that she is dead,
When nothing warned us of the dark decree,
I crooned, to lull her, in a minor key,
Such fancies as first came into my head.
I crooned them low, beside her little bed;
And the refrain was somehow "Come with me,
And we will wander by the purple sea;"
I crooned it, and - God help me! - felt no dread.
O Purple Sea, beyond the stress of storms,
Where never ripple breaks upon the shore
Of Death's pale Isles of Twilight as they dream,
Give back, give back, O Sea of Nevermore,
The frailest of the unsubstantial forms
That leave the shores that are for those that seem!

What essences from Idumean palm,
What ambergris, what sacerdotal wine,
What Arab myrrh, what spikenard, would be thine,
If I could swathe thy memory in such balm!
Oh, for wrecked gold, from depths for ever calm,
To fashion for thy name a fretted shrine;
Oh, for strange gems, still locked in virgin mine,
To stud the pyx, where thought would bring sweet psalm!
I have but this small rosary of rhyme, -
No rubies but heart's drops, no pearls but tears,
To lay upon the altar of thy name,
O Mimma Bella; - on the shrine that Time
Makes ever holier for the soul, while years
Obliterate the rolls of human fame.

Eugene Lee-Hamilton [1845-1907]


Little Sister Rose-Marie,
Will thy feet as willing-light
Run through Paradise, I wonder,
As they run the blue skies under,
Willing feet, so airy-light?

Little Sister Rose-Marie,
Will thy voice as bird-note clear
Lift and ripple over Heaven
As its mortal sound is given,
Swift bird-voice, so young and clear?

How God will be glad of thee,
Little Sister Rose-Marie!

Adelaide Crapsey [1878-1914]



Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes,
In whose orbs a shadow lies
Like the dusk in evening skies!

Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
As the braided streamlets run!

Standing, with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Womanhood and childhood fleet!

Gazing, with, a timid glance,
On the brooklet's swift advance,
On the river's broad expanse!

Deep and still, that gliding stream
Beautiful to thee must seem,
As the river of a dream.

Then why pause with indecision,
When bright angels in thy vision
Beckon thee to fields Elysian?

Seest thou shadows sailing by,
As the dove, with startled eye,
Sees the falcon's shadow fly?

Hearest thou voices on the shore,
That our ears perceive no more,
Deafened by the cataract's roar?

Oh, thou child of many prayers!
Life hath quicksands, - Life hath snares!
Care and age come unawares!

Like the swell of some sweet tune,
Morning rises into noon,
May glides onward into June.

Childhood is the bough, where slumbered
Birds and blossoms many-numbered; -
Age, that bough with snows encumbered.

Gather, then, each flower that grows,
When the young heart overflows,
To embalm that tent of snows.

Bear a lily in thy hand;
Gates of brass cannot withstand
One touch of that magic wand.

Bear through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,
In thy heart the dew of youth,
On thy lips the smile of truth.

Oh, that dew, like balm, shall steal
Into wounds that cannot heal,
Even as sleep our eyes doth seal;

And that smile, like sunshine, dart
Into many a sunless heart
For a smile of God thou art.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [1807-1882]


Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting,

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

Robert Herrick [1591-1674]


Merry Margaret
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower:
With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,
All good and no badness;
So joyously,
So maidenly,
So womanly
Her demeaning
In every thing,
Far, far passing
That I can indite,
Or suffice to write
Of merry Margaret
As midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower,
As patient and still
And as full of good will
As fair Isaphill,
Sweet pomander,
Good Cassander;
Steadfast of thought,
Well made, well wrought,
Far may be sought,
Eye that ye can find
So courteous, so kind,
As merry Margaret,
This midsummer flower,
Gentle as falcon,
Or hawk of the tower.

John Skelton [1460?-1529]


What's she, so late from Penshurst come,
More gorgeous than the mid-day sun,
That all the world amazes?
Sure 'tis some angel from above,
Or 'tis the Cyprian Queen of Love
Attended by the Graces.

Or is't not Juno, Heaven's great dame,
Or Pallas armed, as on she came
To assist the Greeks in fight,
Or Cynthia, that huntress bold,
Or from old Tithon's bed so cold,
Aurora chasing night?

No, none of those, yet one that shall
Compare, perhaps exceed them all,
For beauty, wit, and birth;
As good as great, as chaste as fair,
A brighter nymph none breathes the air,
Or treads upon the earth.

'Tis Dorothee, a maid high-born,
And lovely as the blushing morn,
Of noble Sidney's race;
Oh! could you see into her mind,
The beauties there locked-up outshine
The beauties of her face.

Fair Dorothea, sent from heaven
To add more wonders to the seven,
And glad each eye and ear,
Crown of her sex, the Muse's port,
The glory of our English court,
The brightness of our sphere.

To welcome her the Spring breathes forth
Elysian sweets, March strews the earth
With violets and posies,
The sun renews his darting fires,
April puts on her best attires,
And May her crown of roses.

Go, happy maid, increase the store
Of graces born with you, and more
Add to their number still;
So neither all-consuming age,
Nor envy's blast, nor fortune's rage
Shall ever work you ill.

Edmund Waller [1606-1687]


O saw ye bonny Lesley
As she gaed owre the Border?
She's gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests farther.

To see her is to love her,
And love but her for ever;
For nature made her what she is,
And ne'er made sic anither!

Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects we, before thee;
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o' men adore thee.

The deil he couldna scaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee;
He'd look into thy bonny face,
And say, "I canna wrang thee!"

The powers aboon will tent thee;
Misfortune sha' na steer thee;
Thou'rt like themselves sae lovely
That ill they'll ne'er let near thee.

Return again, fair Lesley,
Return to Caledonie!
That we may brag we hae a lass
There's nane again sae bonny.

Robert Burns [1759-1796]


Sweet stream, that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid! -
Silent and chaste she steals along,
Far from the world's gay busy throng:
With gentle yet prevailing force,
Intent upon her destined course;
Graceful and useful all she does,
Blessing and blest where'er she goes;
Pure-bosomed as that watery glass,
And Heaven reflected in her face!

William Cowper [1731-1800]


She stood breast high among the corn,
Clasped by the golden light of morn,
Like the sweetheart of the sun,
Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush,
Deeply ripened; - such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn.

Round her eyes her tresses fell,
Which were blackest none could tell.
But long lashes veiled a light,
That had else been all too bright.

And her hat, with shady brim,
Made her tressy forehead dim;
Thus she stood amid the stooks,
Praising God with sweetest looks:

Sure, I said, Heaven did not mean,
Where I reap thou shouldst but glean;
Lay thy sheaf adown and come,
Share my harvest and my home.

Thomas Hood [1799-1845]


Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of Travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again!

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending; -
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]


How blest the Maid whose heart - yet free
From Love's uneasy sovereignty -
Beats with a fancy running high,
Her simple cares to magnify;
Whom Labor, never urged to toil,
Hath cherished on a healthful soil;
Who knows not pomp, who heeds not pelf;
Whose heaviest sin it is to look
Askance upon her pretty Self
Reflected in some crystal brook;
Whom grief hath spared - who sheds no tear
But in sweet pity; and can hear
Another's praise from envy clear.

Such (but O lavish Nature! why
That dark unfathomable eye,
Where lurks a Spirit that replies
To stillest mood of softest skies,
Yet hints at peace to be o'erthrown,
Another's first, and then her own?)
Such haply, yon Italian Maid,
Our Lady's laggard Votaress,
Halting beneath the chestnut shade
To accomplish there her loveliness:
Nice aid maternal fingers lend;
A Sister serves with slacker hand;
Then, glittering like a star, she joins the festal band.

How blest (if truth may entertain
Coy fancy with a bolder strain)
The Helvetian Girl - who daily braves,
In her light skiff, the tossing waves,
And quits the bosom of the deep
Only to climb the rugged steep!
- Say whence that modulated shout!
From Wood-nymph of Diana's throng?
Or does the greeting to a rout
Of giddy Bacchanals belong?
Jubilant outcry! rock and glade
Resounded - but the voice obeyed
The breath of an Helvetian Maid.

Her beauty dazzles the thick wood;
Her courage animates the flood;
Her steps the elastic greensward meets
Returning unreluctant sweets;
The mountains (as ye heard) rejoice
Aloud, saluted by her voice!
Blithe Paragon of Alpine grace,
Be as thou art - for through thy veins
The blood of Heroes runs its race!
And nobly wilt thou brook the chains
That, for the virtuous, Life prepares;
The fetter which the Matron wears;
The patriot Mother's weight of anxious cares!

"Sweet Highland Girl! a very shower
Of beauty was thy earthly dower,"
When thou didst flit before mine eyes,
Gay Vision under sullen skies,
While Hope and Love around thee played,
Near the rough falls of Inversneyd!
Have they, who nursed the blossom, seen
No breach of promise in the fruit?
Was joy, in following joy, as keen
As grief can be in grief's pursuit?
When youth had flown did hope still bless
Thy goings - or the cheerfulness
Of innocence survive to mitigate distress?

But from our course why turn - to tread
A way with shadows overspread;
Where what we gladliest would believe
Is feared as what may most deceive?
Bright Spirit, not with amaranth crowned
But heath-bells from thy native ground,
Time cannot thin thy flowing hair,
Nor take one ray of light from Thee;
For in my Fancy thou dost share
The gift of immortality;
And there shall bloom, with Thee allied,
The Votaress by Lugano's side;
And that intrepid Nymph, on Uri's steep descried!

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]


The primrwose in the sheade do blow,
The cowslip in the zun,
The thyme upon the down do grow,
The cote where streams do run;
An' where do pretty maidens grow
An' blow, but where the tower
Do rise among the bricken tuns,
In Blackmwore by the Stour.

If you could zee their comely gait,
An' pretty feaces' smiles,
A-trippen on so light o' waight,
An' steppen off the stiles;
A-gwain to church, as bells do swing
An' ring within the tower,
You'd own the pretty maidens' pleace
Is Blackmwore by the Stour.

If you vrom Wimborne took your road,
To Stower or Paladore,
An' all the farmers' housen showed
Their daughters at the door;
You'd cry to bachelors at hwome -
"Here, come: 'ithin an hour
You'll vind ten maidens to your mind,
In Blackmwore by the Stour."

An' if you looked 'ithin their door,
To zee em in their pleace,
A-doen housework up avore
Their smilen mother's feace;
You'd cry - "Why if a man would wive
An' thrive, 'ithout a dower,
Then let en look en out a wife
In Blackmwore by the Stour."

As I upon my road did pass
A school-house back in May,
There out upon the beaten grass
Wer maidens at their play;
An' as the pretty souls did tweil
An' smile, I cried, "The flower
O' beauty, then, is still in bud
In Blackmwore by the Stour."

William Barnes [1801-1886]

"One name is Elizabeth" Ben Jonson

I will paint her as I see her.
Ten times have the lilies blown
Since she looked upon the sun.

And her face is lily-clear,
Lily-shaped, and dropped in duty
To the law of its own beauty.

Oval cheeks encolored faintly,
Which a trail of golden hair
Keeps from fading off to air:

And a forehead fair and saintly,
Which two blue eyes undershine,
Like meek prayers before a shrine.

Face and figure of a child, -
Though too calm, you think, and tender,
For the childhood you would lend her.

Yet child-simple, undefiled,
Frank, obedient, waiting still
On the turnings of your will.

Moving light, as all young things,
As young birds, or early wheat
When the wind blows over it.

Only, free from flutterings
Of loud mirth that scorneth measure -
Taking love for her chief pleasure.

Choosing pleasures, for the rest,
Which come softly - just as she,
When she nestles at your knee.

Quiet talk she liketh best,
In a bower of gentle looks, -
Watering flowers, or reading books.

And her voice, it murmurs lowly,
As a silver stream may run,
Which yet feels (you feel) the sun.

And her smile it seems half holy,
As if drawn from thoughts more far
Than our common jestings are.

And if any poet knew her,
He would sing of her with falls
Used in lovely madrigals.

And if any painter drew her,
He would paint her unaware
With a halo round her hair.

And if reader read the poem,
He would whisper - "You have done a
Consecrated little Una!"

And a dreamer (did you show him
That same picture) would exclaim,
"'Tis my angel, with a name!"

And a stranger, - when he sees her
In the street even - smileth stilly,
Just as you would at a lily.

And all voices that address her,
Soften, sleeken every word,
As if speaking to a bird.

And all fancies yearn to cover
The hard earth, whereon she passes,
With the thymy-scented grasses.

And all hearts do pray, "God love her!"
Ay and always, in good sooth,
We may all be sure HE DOTH.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning [1806-1861]


The nests are in the hedgerows,
The lambs are on the grass;
With laughter sweet as music
The hours lightfooted pass,
My darling child of fancy,
My winsome prattling lass.

Blue eyes, with long brown lashes,
Thickets of golden curl,
Red little lips disclosing
Twin rows of fairy pearl,
Cheeks like the apple blossom,
Voice lightsome as the merle.

A whole Spring's fickle changes,
In every short-lived day,
A passing cloud of April,
A flowery smile of May,
A thousand quick mutations
From graver moods to gay.

Far off, I see the season
When thy childhood's course is run,
And thy girlhood opens wider
Beneath the growing sun,
And the rose begins to redden,
But the violets are done.

And further still the summer,
When thy fair tree, fully grown,
Shall bourgeon, and grow splendid
With blossoms of its own,
And the fruit begins to gather,
But the buttercups are mown.

If I should see thy autumn,
'Twill not be close at hand,
But with a spirit vision,
From some far-distant land.
Or, perhaps, I hence may see thee
Amongst the angels stand.

I know not what of fortune
The future holds for thee,
Nor if skies fair or clouded
Wait thee in days to be,
But neither joy nor sorrow
Shall sever thee from me.

Dear child, whatever changes
Across our lives may pass,
I shall see thee still for ever,
Clearly as in a glass,
The same sweet child of fancy,
The same dear winsome lass.

Lewis Morris [1833-1907]


Where the thistle lifts a purple crown
Six foot out of the turf,
And the harebell shakes on the windy hill -
O the breath of the distant surf! -

The hills look over on the South,
And southward dreams the sea;
And with the sea-breeze hand in hand
Came innocence and she.

Where 'mid the gorse the raspberry
Red for the gatherer springs,
Two children did we stray and talk
Wise, idle, childish things.

She listened with big-lipped surprise,
Breast-deep 'mid flower and spine:
Her skin was like a grape, whose veins
Run snow instead of wine.

She knew not those sweet words she spake,
Nor knew her own sweet way;
But there's never a bird, so sweet a song
Thronged in whose throat that day!

Oh, there were flowers in Storrington
On the turf and on the spray;
But the sweetest flower on Sussex hills
Was the Daisy-flower that day!

Her beauty smoothed earth's furrowed face!
She gave me tokens three: -
A look, a word of her winsome mouth,
And a wild raspberry.

A berry red, a guileless look,
A still word, - strings of sand!
And yet they made my wild, wild heart
Fly down to her little hand.

For standing artless as the air,
And candid as the skies,
She took the berries with her hand,
And the love with her sweet eyes.

The fairest things have fleetest end:
Their scent survives their close,
But the rose's scent is bitterness
To him that loved the rose!

She looked a little wistfully,
Then went her sunshine way: -
The sea's eye had a mist on it,
And the leaves fell from the day.

She went her unremembering way,
She went and left in me
The pang of all the partings gone,
And partings yet to be.

She left me marveling why my soul
Was sad that she was glad;
At all the sadness in the sweet,
The sweetness in the sad.

Still, still I seemed to see her, still
Look up with soft replies,
And take the berries with her hand,
And the love with her lovely eyes.

Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in others' pain,
And perish in our own.

Francis Thompson [1859?-1907]


Yesterday it blew alway,
Yesterday is dead,
Now forever must it stay
Coiled about your head,
Tell me Whence the great Command
Hitherward has sped.
"Silly boy, as if I knew,"
Petronilla said.

Nay, but I am very sure,
Since you left my side,
Something has befallen you,
You are fain to hide,
Homage has been done to you,
Innocents have died.
"Silly boy, and what of that?"
Petronilla cried.

Petronilla, much I fear
Scarcely have you wept
All those merry yesterdays,
Slaughtered whilst you slept,
Slain to bind that pretty crown
Closer round your head.
"Silly boy, as if I cared,"
Petronilla said.

Henry Howarth Bashford [1880-


Passing I saw her as she stood beside
A lonely stream between two barren wolds;
Her loose vest hung in rudely gathered folds
On her swart bosom, which in maiden pride
Pillowed a string of pearls; among her hair
Twined the light bluebell and the stone-crop gay;
And not far thence the small encampment lay,
Curling its wreathed smoke into the air.
She seemed a child of some sun-favored clime;
So still, so habited to warmth and rest;
And in my wayward musings on past time,
When my thought fills with treasured memories,
That image nearest borders on the blest
Creations of pure art that never dies.

Henry Alford [1810-1871]

A Southern Blossom

Come and see her as she stands,
Crimson roses in her hands;
And her eyes
Are as dark as Southern night,
Yet than Southern dawn more bright,
And a soft, alluring light
In them lies.

None deny if she beseech
With that pretty, liquid speech
Of the South.
All her consonants are slurred,
And the vowels are preferred;
There's a poem in each word
From that mouth.

Even Cupid is her slave;
Of her arrows, half he gave
Her one day
In a merry, playful hour.
Dowered with these and beauty's dower,
Strong indeed her magic power,
So they say.

Venus, not to be outdone
By her generous little son,
Shaped the mouth
Very like to Cupid's bow.
Lack-a-day! Our North can show
No such lovely flowers as grow
In the South!

Anne Reeve Aldrich [1866-1892]


Just a picture of Somebody's child, -
Sweet face set in golden hair,
Violet eyes, and cheeks of rose,
Rounded chin, with a dimple there,

Tender eyes where the shadows sleep,
Lit from within by a secret ray, -
Tender eyes that will shine like stars
When love and womanhood come this way:

Scarlet lips with a story to tell, -
Blessed be he who shall find it out,
Who shall learn the eyes' deep secret well,
And read the heart with never a doubt.

Then you will tremble, scarlet lips,
Then you will crimson, loveliest cheeks:
Eyes will brighten and blushes will burn
When the one true lover bends and speaks.

But she's only a child now, as you see,
Only a child in her careless grace:
When Love and Womanhood come this way
Will anything sadden the flower-like face?

Louise Chandler Moulton [1835-1908]


Halfway up the Hemlock valley turnpike,
In the bend of Silver Water's arm,
Where the deer come trooping down at even,
Drink the cowslip pool, and fear no harm,
Dwells Emilia,
Flower of the fields of Camlet Farm.

Sitting sewing by the western window
As the too brief mountain sunshine flies,
Hast thou seen a slender-shouldered figure
With a chestnut braid, Minerva-wise,
Round her temples,
Shadowing her gray, enchanted eyes?

When the freshets flood the Silver Water,
When the swallow flying northward braves
Sleeting rains that sweep the birchen foothills
Where the windflowers' pale plantation waves -
(Fairy gardens
Springing from the dead leaves in their graves), -

Falls forgotten, then, Emilia's needle;
Ancient ballads, fleeting through her brain,
Sing the cuckoo and the English primrose,
Outdoors calling with a quaint refrain;
And a rainbow
Seems to brighten through the gusty rain.

Forth she goes, in some old dress and faded,
Fearless of the showery shifting wind;
Kilted are her skirts to clear the mosses,
And her bright braids in a 'kerchief pinned,
Younger sister
Of the damsel-errant Rosalind.

While she helps to serve the harvest supper
In the lantern-lighted village hall,
Moonlight rises on the burning woodland,
Echoes dwindle from the distant Fall.
Hark, Emilia!
In her ear the airy voices call.

Hidden papers in the dusty garret,
Where her few and secret poems lie, -
Thither flies her heart to join her treasure,
While she serves, with absent-musing eye,
Mighty tankards
Foaming cider in the glasses high.

"Would she mingle with her young companions!"
Vainly do her aunts and uncles say;
Ever, from the village sports and dances,
Early missed, Emilia slips away.
Whither vanished?
With what unimagined mates to play?

Did they seek her, wandering by the water,
They should find her comrades shy and strange:
Queens and princesses, and saints and fairies,
Dimly moving in a cloud of change: -
Mariana of the Moated Grange.

Up this valley to the fair and market
When young farmers from the southward ride,
Oft they linger at a sound of chanting
In the meadows by the turnpike side;
Long they listen,
Deep in fancies of a fairy bride.

Sarah N. Cleghorn [1876-


With breath of thyme and bees that hum,
Across the years you seem to come, -
Across the years with nymph-like head,
And wind-blown brows unfilleted;
A girlish shape that slips the bud
In lines of unspoiled symmetry;
A girlish shape that stirs the blood
With pulse of Spring, Autonoe!

Where'er you pass, - where'er you go,
I hear the pebbly rillet flow;
Where'er you go, - where'er you pass,
There comes a gladness on the grass;
You bring blithe airs where'er you tread, -
Blithe airs that blow from down and sea;
You wake in me a Pan not dead, -
Not wholly dead! - Autonoe!

How sweet with you on some green sod
To wreathe the rustic garden-god;
How sweet beneath the chestnut's shade
With you to weave a basket-braid;
To watch across the stricken chords
Your rosy-twinkling fingers flee;
To woo you in soft woodland words,
With woodland pipe, Autonoe!

In vain, - in vain! The years divide:
Where Thamis rolls a murky tide,
I sit and fill my painful reams,
And see you only in my dreams; -
A vision, like Alcestis, brought
From under-lands of Memory, -
A dream of Form in days of Thought, -
A dream, - a dream, Autonoe!

Austin Dobson [1840-1921]

An Exquisite Picture In The Studio Of A Young Artist At Rome

She rose from her untroubled sleep,
And put away her soft brown hair,
And, in a tone as low and deep
As love's first whisper, breathed a prayer -
Her snow-white hands together pressed,
Her blue eyes sheltered in the lid,
The folded linen on her breast,
Just swelling with the charms it hid;
And from her long and flowing dress
Escaped a bare and slender foot,
Whose shape upon the earth did press
Like a new snow-flake, white and "mute";
And there, from slumber pure and warm,
Like a young spirit fresh from heaven,
She bowed her slight and graceful form,
And humbly prayed to be forgiven.

Oh God! if souls unsoiled as these
Need daily mercy from Thy throne;
If she upon her bended knees,
Our loveliest and our purest one, -
She, with a face so clear and bright,
We deem her some stray child of light; -
If she, with those soft eyes in tears,
Day after day in her first years,
Must kneel and pray for grace from Thee,
What far, far deeper need have we!
How hardly, if she win not heaven,
Will our wild errors be forgiven!

Nathaniel Parker Willis [1806-1867]


Ah, be not false, sweet Splendor!
Be true, be good;
Be wise as thou art tender;
Be all that Beauty should.

Not lightly be thy citadel subdued;
Not ignobly, not untimely,
Take praise in solemn mood;
Take love sublimely.

Richard Watson Gilder [1844-1909]


There! little girl, don't cry!
They have broken your doll, I know;
And your tea-set blue,
And your play-house, too,
Are things of the long ago;
But childish troubles will soon pass by. -
There! little girl, don't cry!

There! little girl, don't cry!
They have broken your slate, I know;
And the glad, wild ways
Of your school-girl days
Are things of the long ago;
But life and love will soon come by. -
There! little girl, don't cry!

There! little girl, don't cry!
They have broken your heart, I know;
And the rainbow gleams
Of your youthful dreams
Are things of the long ago;
But Heaven holds all for which you sigh. -
There! little girl, don't cry!

James Whitcomb Riley [1849-1916]


The Lord God Speaks To A Youth

Bend now thy body to the common weight:
(But oh, that vine-clad head, those limbs of morn!
Those proud young shoulders, I myself made straight!
How shall ye wear the yoke that must be worn?)

Look thou, my son, what wisdom comes to thee:
(But oh, that singing mouth, those radiant eyes!
Those dancing feet - that I myself made free!
How shall I sadden them to make them wise?)

Nay, then, thou shalt! Resist not - have a care!
(Yea, I must work my plans who sovereign sit;
Yet do not tremble so! I cannot bear -
Though I am God - to see thee so submit!)

Margaret Steele Anderson [1869-1921]


There are gains for all our losses,
There are balms for all our pain:
But when youth, the dream, departs,
It takes something from our hearts,
And it never comes again.

We are stronger, and are better,
Under manhood's sterner reign:
Still we feel that something sweet
Followed youth, with flying feet,
And will never come again.

Something beautiful is vanished,
And we sigh for it in vain:
We behold it everywhere,
On the earth, and in the air,
But it never comes again.

Richard Henry Stoddard [1825-1903]


Days of my youth,
Ye have glided away;
Hairs of my youth,
Ye are frosted and gray;
Eyes of my youth,
Your keen sight is no more;
Cheeks of my youth,
Ye are furrowed all o'er;
Strength of my youth,
All your vigor is gone;
Thoughts of my youth,
Your gay visions are flown.

Days of my youth,
I wish not your recall;
Hairs of my youth,
I'm content ye should fall;
Eyes of my youth,
You much evil have seen;
Cheeks of my youth,
Bathed in tears have you been;
Thoughts of my youth,
You have led me astray;
Strength of my youth,
Why lament your decay?

Days of my age,
Ye will shortly be past;
Pains of my age,
Yet awhile ye can last;
Joys of my age,
In true wisdom delight;
Eyes of my age,
Be religion your light;
Thoughts of my age,
Dread ye not the cold sod;
Hopes of my age,
Be ye fixed on your God.

St. George Tucker [1752-1827]


Farewell my Youth! for now we needs must part,
For here the paths divide;
Here hand from hand must sever, heart from heart, -
Divergence deep and wide.

You'll wear no withered roses for my sake,
Though I go mourning for you all day long,
Finding no magic more in bower or brake,
No melody in song.

Gray Eld must travel in my company
To seal this severance more fast and sure.
A joyless fellowship, i' faith, 'twill be,
Yet must we fare together, I and he,
Till I shall tread the footpath way no more.

But when a blackbird pipes among the boughs,
On some dim, iridescent day in spring,
Then I may dream you are remembering
Our ancient vows.

Or when some joy foregone, some fate forsworn,
Looks through the dark eyes of the violet,
I may re-cross the set, forbidden bourne,
I may forget
Our long, long parting for a little while,
Dream of the golden splendors of your smile,
Dream you remember yet.

Rosamund Marriott Watson [1863-1911]


Where art thou gone, light-ankled Youth?
With wing at either shoulder,
And smile that never left thy mouth
Until the Hours grew colder:

Then somewhat seemed to whisper near
That thou and I must part;
I doubted it; I felt no fear,
No weight upon the heart.

If aught befell it, Love was by
And rolled it off again;
So, if there ever was a sigh,
'Twas not a sigh of pain.

I may not call thee back; but thou
Returnest when the hand
Of gentle Sleep waves o'er my brow
His poppy-crested wand;

Then smiling eyes bend over mine,
Then lips once pressed invite;
But sleep hath given a silent sign,
And both, alas! take flight.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


Oh, talk not to me of a name great in story;
The days of our youth are the days of our glory;
And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty
Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.

What are garlands and crowns to the brow that is wrinkled?
'Tis but as a dead-flower with May-dew besprinkled:
Then away with all such from the head that is hoary!
What care I for the wreaths that can only give glory?

Oh Fame! - if I e'er took delight in thy praises,
'Twas less for the sake of thy high-sounding phrases,
Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover,
She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.

There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;
Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee;
When it sparkled o'er aught that was bright in my story,
I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.

George Gordon Byron [1788-1824]


There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away,
When the glow of early thought declines in feeling's dull decay;
'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere youth itself be past.

Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness
Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess:
The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain
The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again.

Then the mortal coldness of the soul like death itself comes down;
It cannot feel for others' woes, it dare not dream its own;
That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears,
And though the eye may sparkle still, 'tis where the ice appears.

Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and mirth distract the breast,
Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest;
'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruined turret wreathe,
All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and gray beneath.

Oh could I feel as I have felt, - or be what I have been,
Or weep as I could once have wept o'er many a vanished scene;
As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be,
So, midst the withered waste of life, those tears would flow to me.

George Gordon Byron [1788-1824]


When, as a lad, at break of day
I watched the fishers sail away,
My thoughts, like flocking birds, would follow
Across the curving sky's blue hollow,
And on and on-
Into the very heart of dawn!

For long I searched the world! Ah me!
I searched the sky, I searched the sea,
With much of useless grief and rueing,
Those winged thoughts of mine pursuing -
So dear were they,
So lovely and so far away!

I seek them still and always will
Until my laggard heart is still,
And I am free to follow, follow,
Across the curving sky's blue hollow,
Those thoughts too fleet
For any save the soul's swift feet!

Isabel Ecclestone Mackay [1875-


Around the child bend all the three
Sweet Graces - Faith, Hope, Charity.
Around the man bend other faces
Pride, Envy, Malice, are his Graces.

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


When I was a beggarly boy,
And lived in a cellar damp,
I had not a friend nor a toy,
But I had Aladdin's lamp;
When I could not sleep for the cold,
I had fire enough in my brain,
And builded, with roofs of gold,
My beautiful castles in Spain!

Since then I have toiled day and night,
I have money and power good store,
But I'd give all my lamps of silver bright
For the one that is mine no more.
Take, Fortune, whatever you choose;
You gave, and may snatch again;
I have nothing 'twould pain me to lose,
For I own no more castles in Spain!

James Russell Lowell [1819-1891]


It was a heavenly time of life
When first I went to Spain,
The lovely land of silver mists,
The land of golden grain.

My little ship through unknown seas
Sailed many a changing day;
Sometimes the chilling winds came up
And blew across her way;

Sometimes the rain came down and hid
The shining shores of Spain,
The beauty of the silver mists
And of the golden grain.

But through the rains and through the winds,
Upon the untried sea,
My fairy ship sailed on and on,
With all my dreams and me.

And now, no more a child, I long
For that sweet time again,
When on the far horizon bar
Rose up the shores of Spain.

O lovely land of silver mists,
O land of golden grain,
I look for you with smiles, with tears,
But look for you in vain!

Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz [?-1933]


"My birth-day" - what a different sound
That word had in my youthful ears!
And how, each time the day comes round,
Less and less white its mark appears!
When first our scanty years are told,
It seems like pastime to grow old;
And, as Youth counts the shining links
That Time around him binds so fast,
Pleased with the task, he little thinks
How hard that chain will press at last.
Vain was the man, and false as vain,
Who said - "were he ordained to run
His long career of life again,
He would do all that he had done."

Ah, 'tis not thus the voice, that dwells
In sober birth-days, speaks to me;
Far otherwise - of time it tells
Lavished unwisely, carelessly;
Of counsel mocked: of talents, made
Haply for high and pure designs,
But oft, like Israel's incense, laid
Upon unholy, earthly shrines;
Of nursing many a wrong desire;
Of wandering after Love too far,
And taking every meteor-fire
That crossed my pathway, for a star.
All this it tells, and, could I trace
The imperfect picture o'er again,
With power to add, retouch, efface
The lights and shades, the joy and pain,
How little of the past would stay!
How quickly all should melt away -
All - but that Freedom of the Mind,
Which hath been more than wealth to me;
Those friendships, in my boyhood twined,
And kept till now unchangingly;
And that dear home, that saving-ark,
Where Love's true light at last I've found,
Cheering within, when all grows dark,
And comfortless, and stormy round!

Thomas Moore [1779-1852]

On His Having Arrived To The Age of Twenty-Three

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
That I to manhood am arrived so near;
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.
Yet, be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven:
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-master's eye.

John Milton [1608-1674]


'Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move:
Yet, though I cannot be beloved,
Still let me love!

My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze -
A funeral pile.

The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of love, I cannot share,
But wear the chain.

But 'tis not thus - and 'tis not here -
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now,
Where glory decks the hero's bier,
Or binds his brow.

The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see!
The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.

Awake! (not Greece - she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home!

Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood I - unto thee
Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of beauty be.

If thou regret'st thy youth, why live?
The land of honorable death
Is here: - up to the field, and give
Away thy breath!

Seek out - less often sought than found -
A soldier's grave, for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy ground,
And take thy rest.

George Gordon Byron [1788-1824]

"On a l'age de son caeur."
A. D'Houdetot

A little more toward the light; -
Me miserable! Here's one that's white;
And one that's turning;
Adieu to song and "salad days;"
My Muse, let's go at once to Jay's,
And order mourning.

We must reform our rhymes, my Dear, -
Renounce the gay for the severe, -
Be grave, not witty;
We have, no more, the right to find
That Pyrrha's hair is neatly twined, -
That Chloe's pretty.

Young Love's for us a farce that's played;
Light canzonet and serenade
No more may tempt us;
Gray hairs but ill accord with dreams;
From aught but sour didactic themes
Our years exempt us.

Indeed! you really fancy so?
You think for one white streak we grow
At once satiric?
A fiddlestick! Each hair's a string
To which our ancient Muse shall sing
A younger lyric.

The heart's still sound. Shall "cakes and ale"
Grow rare to youth because we rail
At schoolboy dishes?
Perish the thought! 'Tis ours to chant
When neither Time nor Tide can grant
Belief with wishes.

Austin Dobson [1840-1921]


The wisest of the wise
Listen to pretty lies
And love to hear'em told.
Doubt not that Solomon
Listened to many a one, -
Some in his youth, and more when he grew old.

I never was among
The choir of Wisdom's song,
But pretty lies loved I
As much as any king,
When youth was on the wing,
And (must it then be told?) when youth had quite gone by.

Alas! and I have not
The pleasant hour forgot
When one pert lady said,
"O Walter! I am quite
Bewildered with affright!
I see (sit quiet now) a white hair on your head!"

Another more benign
Snipped it away from mine,
And in her own dark hair
Pretended it was found . . .
She leaped, and twirled it round . . .
Fair as she was, she never was so fair!

Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]


Our youth began with tears and sighs,
With seeking what we could not find;
Our verses all were threnodies,
In elegiacs still we whined;
Our ears were deaf, our eyes were blind,
We sought and knew not what we sought.
We marvel, now we look behind:
Life's more amusing than we thought!

Oh, foolish youth, untimely wise!
Oh, phantoms of the sickly mind!
What? not content with seas and skies,
With rainy clouds and southern wind,
With common cares and faces kind,
With pains and joys each morning brought?
Ah, old, and worn, and tired we find
Life's more amusing than we thought!

Though youth "turns spectre-thin and dies,"
To mourn for youth we're not inclined;
We set our souls on salmon flies,
We whistle where we once repined.


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