The Poets and Poetry of Cecil County, Maryland
Part 2 out of 7
He heard his Master call.
"Brave soldier of the cross, well done,
You've fought a noble fight;
Come up, and claim the victor's crown,
And wear it as your right."
"For all your works of christian love
And heaven-born charity,
Are registered in Heaven above
As so much done to Me."
WRITTEN ON THE FLY LEAF OF A CHILD'S BIBLE.
Dear Mollie, in thy early days,
While treading childhood's dreamy maze,
Peruse this book with care:
Peruse it by the rising sun;
Peruse it when the day is done,
Peruse it oft with prayer.
Search it for counsel in thy youth,
For every page is bright with truth
And wisdom from on high.
Consult it in thy riper years,
When foes without and inward fears
Thy utmost powers defy.
And when life's sands are well nigh run
And all thy work on earth is done,
In patience wait and trust,
That He whose promises are sure
Will number you among the pure,
The righteous and the just.
CHRISTMAS GREETING, 1877.
Read before the Jackson Hall Debating Society.
The rolling seasons come and go,
As ebbs the tide again to flow,
And Christmas which seemed far away
A year ago, is near to-day.
And day and night in quick succession,
Are passing by like a procession.
While we like straws upon a stream,
Are drifting faster than we deem,
To that unknown, that untried shore,
Where days and nights will be no more,
And where time's surging tide will be,
Absorbed in vast eternity.
Where then shall we poor mortals go?
No man can tell, we only know
We are but strangers in the land.
Our fathers all have gone before,
And shortly we shall be no more.
This hall where we so often meet
Will soon be trod by other's feet,
And where our voices now resound,
Will other speakers soon be found.
And thus like wave pursuing wave,
Between the cradle and the grave
The human tide is prone to run,
The sire succeeded by the son.
May we so spend life's fleeting day,
That when it shall have passed away,
We all may meet on that blessed shore,
Where friends shall meet to part no more.
Read at the anniversary of the seventieth birthday of Mrs. Ann
No costly gifts have I to bring,
To grace your festive board,
This humble song, I've brought to sing,
Is all I can afford.
Then let my humble rhyme be heard
In silence, if you please,
You'll find it true in ev'ry word,
It flows along with ease.
We've met in honor of our friend
Who seventy years ago,
Came to this earth some years to spend,
How many none can know.
The world is using her so well,
I hope she'll tarry long,
And ten years hence I hope to tell,
"I have another song."
THE PETERSON GENEALOGICAL TREE.
I'll sing you a song of a wonderful tree,
Whose beauty and strength are a marvel to me;
Its cloud piercing branches ascend to the sky,
While its deep rooted trunk may the tempest defy,
Like the tree which the great king of Babylon saw,
Which fill'd him with wonder, amazement and awe.
This vision the wise men all failed to expound,
Till Daniel the Hebrew, its true meaning found.
What the king saw in vision, we lit'rally see,
In the Peterson genealogical tree;
It was feeble at first, and slowly it grew;
Its roots being small and its branches but few.
The whirlwinds and tempests in fury raved round it,
And the rains fell in floods, as if they would drown it.
Though slow in its growth it was steady and sure,
And like plants of slow growth 'tis bound to endure.
While the seasons roll round in their wanted succession,
And the ages move on in an endless procession,
While the sun in its glory reigns over the day,
And the moon rules the night with her gentler sway,
While the planets their courses pursue in the sky,
And far distant stars light their torches on high,
May this family tree grow taller and stronger
And its branches increase growing longer and longer.
May every branch of this vigorous tree,
Increase and spread wider from mountain to sea,
And under its shade may the poor and distressed
Find shelter and comfort and kindness and rest,
And when the great harvest we read of shall come
When the angels shall gather and carry it home
May this tree root and branch, trunk and fruit all be found,
Transplanted from earth into holier ground,
Where storms never rise and where frosts never blight,
Where day ever shines unsucceeded by night,
Where sickness and sorrow and death are no more,
And friends never part. On that beautiful shore,
May we hope that the friends who have met round this board,
And greeted each other in social accord,
May each meet the others to part never more.
Written on the death of Jane Flounders, a pupil of Cherry Hill
public school, and read at her funeral.
The mysteries of life and death,
Lie hidden from all human ken,
We know it is the vital breath
Of God, that makes us living men.
We also know, _that_ breath withdrawn,
And man becomes a lifeless clod,
The soul immortal having gone
Into the presence of its God.
Here knowledge fails and faith appears,
And bids us dry the scalding tear,
And banish all our anxious fears,
Which cluster round the loved ones here.
The deep, dark, cold, remorseless grave
Has closed o'er lovely Jennie's face,
No art, nor skill, nor prayers could save
Her from its terrible embrace.
Home now is dark and desolate,
And friends and schoolmates are in tears,
While strangers wonder at the fate,
Which crushed her in her tender years.
Death never won a brighter prize,
Nor friends a richer treasure lost,
Another star has left our skies,
But heaven is richer at our cost.
We mourn but not in hopeless grief,
In tears we kiss the chast'ning rod,
This sweet reflection brings relief,
That all is good that comes from God.
Through and beyond this scene of gloom,
Faith points the mourner's downcast eyes,
While from the portals of the tomb,
They see their lost loved one arise,
In blooming immortality;
As she comes forth they hear her sing
O! grave, where is thy victory!
O! monster death where is thy sting!
WHAT IS MATTER?
DEDICATED TO HIS FRIEND GEORGE JOHNSTON.
How are you, George, my rhyming brother?
We should be kinder to each other,
For we are kindred souls at least;
I don't mean kindred, like the beast,--
Mere blood and bones and flesh and matter,--
But what this last is makes no matter.
Philosophers have tried to teach it,
But all their learning cannot reach it;
'Tis matter still, "that's what's the matter"
With all their philosophic chatter,
And Latin, Greek, and Hebrew clatter,
Crucibles, retorts, and receivers,
Wedges, inclined planes, and levers,
Screws, blow pipes, electricity and light,
And fifty other notions, quite
Too much to either read or write.
Just ask the wisest, What is matter?
And notice how he will bespatter
The subject, in his vain endeavor,
With deep philosophy so clever,
To prove you what you knew before,
That matter's matter, and no more.
Well, this much then, we know at least,
That matter's substance, and the beast
And bird and fish and creeping thing
That moves on foot, with fin or wing,
Is matter, just like you and me.
Are they our kindred? Must it be
That all the fools in all creation,
And knaves and thieves of every station
In life, can call me their relation?
But that's not all--the horse I ride,
The ox I yoke, the dog I chide,
The flesh and fish and fowl we feed on
Are kindred, too; is that agreed on?
Then kindred blood I quite disown,
Though it descended from a throne,
For it connects us down, also,
With everything that's mean and low--
Insects and reptiles, foul and clean,
And men a thousand times more mean.
Let's hear no more of noble blood,
For noble brains, or actions good,
Are only marks of true nobility.
The kindred which I claim with you,
Connects us with the just and true,
And great in purpose, heart and soul,
And makes us parts of that great whole
Whose bonds of all embracing love
A golden chain will ever prove
To bind us to the good above.
Then strive to elevate mankind
By operating on the mind;
The empire of good will extend,
A helping hand in trouble lend,
Go to thy brother in distress,
One kindly word may make it less,
A single word, when fitly spoken,
May heal a heart with sorrow broken,
A smile may overcome your foe,
And make his heart with friendship glow,
A frown might turn his heart to steel.
And all its tendencies congeal,
Be it our constant aim to cure
The woes our fellow men endure,
Teach them to act toward each other
As they would act toward a brother.
Thus may our circle wider grow,
The golden chain still brighter glow;
And may our kindred souls, in love
United live, here and above,
With all the good and wise and pure,
While endless ages shall endure.
Written for the anniversary of the Jackson Sabbath School, Aug.
The ever rolling flood of years,
Is bearing us, our hopes and fears,
With all we are or crave,
Into that fathomless abyss--
A world of endless woe or bliss,
Beyond the darksome grave.
One year of priceless time has passed,
Since we in Sabbath school were class'd,
To read and sing and pray;
To hear the counsels of the good;
Have we improved them as we should?
How stands the case to-day?
How have we used this fleeting year?
Have we grown wiser? O, I fear,
And tremble to reflect,
How sadly it has gone to loss,
How I have shunn'd my daily cross,
Some idol to erect.
To gain some trifling, selfish end,
It may be I have wronged a friend,
And turned his love to hate;
How many idle words I've said;
How many broken vows I've made;
How shunn'd the narrow gate!
O Lord! forgive our wanderings wide,
Our oft departures from thy side,
And keep us in thy fold;
Be thou our Shepherd and our all;
Protect these lambs, lest any fall,
And perish in the cold.
On this our Anniversary,
Help us to put our trust in Thee,
And lean upon Thy arm;
Direct us through the coming year;
Protect us, for the wolf is near,
And shield us from all harm.
Our Superintendent superintend;
On him Thy special blessings send,
And guide him in the way;
Enrich our Treasurer with Thy grace,
So that he may adorn the place,
He fills so well to-day.
Write on our Secretary's heart
Thy perfect law; and O, impart,
To our Librarian dear,
The volume of thy perfect love
Which cometh only from above,
And casteth out all fear.
In pastures green, O lead us still!
And help us all to do thy will,
And all our wants supply;
Help us in every grace to grow,
And when we quit thy fold below,
Receive us all on high.
Then, by life's river broad and bright,
Our blissful day will have no night;
On that immortal plain
May all the Jackson scholars meet,
And all their loving teachers greet,
And never part again.
THE INTELLECTUAL TELEGRAPH.
ADDRESSED TO MISS C. CASHO.
Dear friend! O, how my blood warms at that word,
And thrills and courses through my every vein;
My inmost soul, with deep emotion stirr'd--
Friend! Friend! repeats it o'er and o'er again.
I'll make a song of that sweet word, and sing
It oft, to cheer me in my lonely hours,
Till list'ning hills, and dells, and woodlands ring,
And echo answers, Friend! with all her powers.
'Tis truly strange, and strangely true; I doubt
If any can explain, though all have seen,
How kindred spirits find each other out,
Though deserts vast or oceans lie between.
Some golden sympathetic cords unseen,
Unite their souls as if with bands of steel,
So finely strung, so sensitively keen,
The slightest touch all in the circle feel.
Their pulses distance electricity,
And leave the struggling solar rays behind,
The slightest throb pervades immensity,
And instant reaches the remotest mind.
'Tis an inspiring, glorious thought to me,
Which raises me above this earthly clod,
To think the cords which bind our souls may be
Connected some way with the throne of God.
I sometimes think my wild and strange desires,
And longings after something yet unknown,
Are currents passing on those hidden wires
To lead me on and upward to that throne.
These visions often do I entertain,
And, if they are but visions, and the birth
Of fancy, still they are not all in vain;
They lift the soul above the things of earth.
They teach her how to use her wings though weak,
And all unequal to the upward flight--
The eaglet flaps upon the mountain peak,
Then cleaves the heavens beyond our utmost sight.
LINES ON AN INDIAN ARROW-HEAD.
Rude relic of a lost and savage race!
Memento of a people proud and cold!
Sole lasting monument to mark the place
Where the red tide of Indian valor rolled.
Cold is the hand that fashion'd thee, rude dart!
Cold the strong arm that drew the elastic bow!
And cold the dust of the heroic heart,
Whence, cleft by thee, the crimson tide did flow.
Unnumbered years have o'er their ashes flown;
Their unrecovered names and deeds are gone;
All that remains is this rude pointed stone,
To tell of nations mighty as our own.
Such is earth's pregnant lesson: through all time
Kingdom succeeds to kingdom--empires fall;
From out their ashes, others rise and climb,
Then flash through radiant greatness, to their fall.
TO MISS ANNIE ELIZA M'NAMEE.
My much respected, fair young friend
In youth's bright sunshine glowing:
Some friendly token I would send,
Some trifle, worth your knowing.
A lovely bird; the garden's pride;
Nurs'd with the utmost care,
No flow'r, in all the gardens wide;
Incited hopes so rare:
Each passing day develops more
Each beauty, than the day before.
Lovely in form, in features mild;
In thy deportment pure:
Zealous for right, e'en from a child,
A friend, both true and sure.
May thy maturer years be bright,
Cloudless and fair thy skies;
No storms to fright, nor frosts to blight,
And cause thy fears to rise.
May thy last days, in peace go past,
Each being better than the last;
Eternally thy joys grow brighter--
So prays D. Scott the humble writer.
OF THE JACKSON HALL DEBATING SOCIETY, DEC. 5, 1877.
My muse inspire me, while I tell
The weighty matters that befell
On Monday night at Jackson Hall
December fifth. I'll tell it all,
Day and year I'll tell you even,
'Twas eighteen hundred seventy-seven.
The Jacksonites were out in force,
No common thing was up of course,
But something rare and rich and great,
'Twas nothing short of a debate;
What was the question? Let me see,
Yes; "Can Christians consistently
Engage in war against a brother
And at the same time love each other?"
But first and foremost let me say,
My muse has taken me astray,
So I'll return to the beginning
Digression is my common sinning
For which your pardon I implore,
If granted, I will sin no more,
That is no more till the next time,
For when I'm forging out a rhyme,
The narrative which I would fix up,
I somehow rather oddly mix up.
A president must first be got,
So they elected James M. Scott,
He said he'd serve; (and that was clever,)
A little while, but not forever.
A paper called a "constitution,"
Was read and on some person's motion,
Was all adopted, at a word,
A thing that seemed to me absurd.
Then instantly to work they went,
And filled the chair of president,
And William Henderson they took,
They knew their man just like a book.
A scribe was wanted next to keep,
A record of their doings deep.
On looking round they cast the lot,
And so it fell on David Scott.
A treasurer was next in order
When looking up and down the border,
For one to hoard the gold and silver,
The mantle fell on Joseph Miller.
The executive committee
Was now to fill and here we see
A piece of work I apprehend,
May lead to trouble in the end,
For while they only wanted five,
Yet six they got, as I'm alive,
First they installed Peter Jaquett,
Then John Creswell, two men well met,
James Law, but they were not enough,
And so they added William Tuft.
One more was wanted that was plain,
That one was found in John McKane,
But when the five were call'd to meet
There were but four came to the seat;
There are but four, said one so racy,
So they elected William Gracy.
Now you perceive this grave committee
Which numbers five both wise and witty,
Has got into a pretty fix
With but five seats and numbers six.
The question for the next debate
Was then selected, which I'll state
If I have only got the gumption
To make some word rhyme with resumption,
"Should Congress now repeal the act
To pay all debts in gold in fact."
The speakers now were trotted out
Their sides to choose and take a bout
Upon the question, which I stated
As having been so well debated,
Namely, "Can christians go to war,"
The very devil might abhor
To contemplate this proposition
Offspring of pride and superstition
That brothers by a second birth,
Should make a very hell of earth.
The war of words waxed loud and long,
Each side was right, the other wrong;
The speakers eager for the fray,
Wished their ten minutes half a day;
But time and tide will wait for none,
So glibly did the gabble run,
That nine o'clock soon spoiled the fun,
And all that rising tide of words,
Was smothered never to be heard.
The fight is o'er, the race is run,
And soon we'll know which side has won,
But this is not so easy done;
Indeed I have a world of pity
For the executive committee
Who hear in silence all this clatter
And then decide upon the matter;
To give each speaker justice due,
And sift the error from the true,
Is not an easy thing to do.
To decide what facts have any bearing
Upon the question they are hearing,
And generally keep in hand
The arguments, so strong and grand,
And draw from them a just conclusion
Without a mixture of confusion;
The negative got the decision
Unanimous, without division.
The speakers then took their position,
Upon the doubtful proposition
Of the repeal of gold resumption,
Upon the plausible presumption,
That those who pay must have the money,
That laws of Congress, (that seems funny,)
Are not above the laws of trade,
And therefore cannot be obeyed.
Here now my muse, poor worthless jade,
Deserted, as I was afraid
From the beginning she would do;
So I must say good-night to you,
And these long rambling minutes close,
In just the dullest kind of prose.
The phantoms have flown which I cherished;
The dreams which delighted have passed;
My castles in air have all perished--
I grieved o'er the fall of the last.
'Twas bright, but as frail as a shadow;
It passed like a vapor away--
As the mist which hangs over the meadow
Dissolves in the sun's burning ray.
The joys of my youth are all shattered;
My hopes lie in wrecks on the shore;
The friends of my childhood are scattered;
Their faces I'll see never more.
Some are estranged, some have gone under;
The battle of life is severe.
When I stand by their graves, the wonder,
The mystery, seems to be clear:
They were vet'rans more noble than I;
And placed in the van of the fight,
They fell where the hero would die,
When he bleeds for truth and the right.
The battle of life is proceeding--
The rear will advance to the van;
I'll follow where duty is leading,
And fall at my post like a man.
TO MISS FLORENCE WILSON M'NAMEE.
Maiden, lovely, young and gay,
In the bloom of life's young May!
Sweet perfumes are in the air;
Songs of gladness ev'rywhere!
Flowers are springing round thy way,
Lovely flowers, bright and gay:
Over head and all about
Rings one constant joyous shout!
Earth is carpeted with green,
Nature greets you as her queen.
Call the trees and flow'rs your own,
Each will bow before your throne.
While in youth's enchanting maze,
Incline thy steps to wisdom's ways!
Lead a quiet peaceful life;
Swiftly fly from noise and strife;
Own thy Lord before mankind;
'Neath his banner you will find
More than all this world can give;
Contentment while on earth you live,
Nearer to your journey's end,
All your aspirations tend:
May you end your days in peace;
Earthly ties in joy release;
Eternally thy joys increase;
That this may be thy joyous lot
Ever prays thy friend D. Scott.
THE BOOK OF BOOKS.
Written on a blank leaf of a Bible presented to Martha Cowan, June
Esteemed young friend
This book I send,
I know full well thou wilt receive;
For thou canst read
Its shining creed,
And understand it and believe.
Oh could I say
As much to-day,
What joys would thrill this heart of grief,--
I do believe.
Oh Lord, receive
My prayer--help THOU mine unbelief!
This book though small,
Is more than all
The wealth of India to thee;
Oh priceless treasure!
Rich beyond measure
Are all who build their hopes on thee.
THE LESSON OF THE SEASONS.
Written for a little girl on her eleventh birthday.
Fleeting time is on the wing--
Surely Winter, joyous Spring,
Glowing Summer, Autumn sere,
Mark the changes of the year.
Late the earth was green and fair,
Flowers were blooming everywhere;
Birds were singing in the trees,
While the balmy healthful breeze,
Laden with perfume and song,
Health and beauty flowed along.
But a change comes o'er the scene;
Still the fields and trees are green,
And the birds keep singing on,
Though the early flowers are gone;
And the melting noon-day heat,
Strips the shoes from little feet,
And the coats from little backs;
While the paddling bare-foot tracks,
In the brooklet which I see,
Tell of youthful sports and glee.
Hay is rip'ning on the plain,
Fields are rich in golden grain,
Mowers rattle sharp and shrill,
Reapers echo from the hill,
Farmer, dark and brown with heat,
Push your labor--it is sweet,
For the hope, in which you plow,
And sow, you are reaping now.
Corn, which late, was scarcely seen,
Struggling slowly into green,
'Neath the Summer's torrid glow--
How like magic it does grow;
Rising to majestic height,
Drinks the sunbeams with delight,
Sends its rootlets through the soil,
Foraging for hidden spoil;
Riches more than golden ore,
Silent workers they explore:
With their apparatus small,
Noiselessly they gather all.
When their work is done, behold
Treasures, richer far than gold,
Fill the farmers store-house wide--
And his grateful soul beside.
But the scene must change again,
Hill and dell and spreading plain,
Speak so all can comprehend
Summer's reign is at an end.
Forests, gorgeously arrayed,
(Queens such dresses ne'er displayed)
Grace the coronation scene
Of the lovely Autumn queen.
Birds, with multifarious notes,
Ringing from ten thousand throats,
Shout aloud that Summer's dead,
And Autumn reigns in her stead.
Now another change behold--
All the varied tints of gold,
Purple, crimson, orange, green--
Every hue and shade between,
That bedecked the forest trees,
Now lie scattered by the breeze.
The birds have flown. Faithless friends
Love the most when they're best fed;
And when they have gained their ends,
Shamefully have turned and fled.
Winter claims his wide domain,
And begins his frigid reign.
Thus the seasons come and go:
Spring gives place to Summer's glow;
Then comes mellow Autumn's sway,
Rip'ning fruits and short'ning day;
Gorgeous woods in crimson dress,
Surpassing queens in loveliness.
Then the Frost King mounts the throne,
Claims the empire for his own;
Hail and rain and sleet and snow
Are his ministers that go
On the swift wings of the blast,
At his bidding, fierce and fast.
Like the seasons of the year,
Your young life will change, my dear.
Now you're in your early Spring,
Hope and joy are on the wing;
Flow'rets blooming fresh and gay,
Shed their fragrance round your way.
Summer's heat is coming fast,
And your Spring will soon be past;
For, where you are, I have been;
All that you see, I have seen.
Hopes that beamed around my way,
Cast their light on yours to-day.
All that you do, I have done;
All your childish ways I've run,
All your joys and pangs I've had--
All that make you gay or sad;
I have sported in the brook,
Truant from my work or book;
Chased the butterfly and bee,
Robb'd the bird's nest on the tree;
Damm'd the brook and built my mill;
Flew my kite from hill to hill;
Sported with my top and ball--
Childish joys, I know them all.
Childish sorrows, too I've felt--
Anguish that my heart would melt;
Tears have wet my burning cheek,
Caused by thoughts I could not speak.
Mysteries then confused my brain,
Which have since become more plain;
Much that then seemed plain and clear
Has grown darker year by year;
When my artless prayers I said,
Skies were near--just over head;
And the angels seemed so near,
I could whisper in their ear.
All that I have learned since then,
I would give, if once again,
Those bright visions would return.
For I find, the more I learn,
Further off the skies appear,
And the angels come not near.
Though in better words I pray,
Heaven seems so far away,
That I wish, but wish in vain,
That the skies were near again;
That no other words I knew,
But those simple ones and few,
That the angels used to hear,
When I whispered in their ear.
I would barter all the fame,
Wealth and learning that I claim,
Which a life of toil have cost,
For those priceless seasons lost.
JOHN A. CALHOUN, MY JOE JOHN.
This poem was the outgrowth of a newspaper controversy between John
A. Calhoun, a school teacher of this county, and one of the trustees
of Jackson Hall, who wrote above the signature of "Turkey," in which
Mr. Calhoun said some rather hard things about the school trustees
of the county. The poem was written at the request of the trustee,
who was the other party engaged in the controversy.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, "I wonder what you mean?"
You're always getting in some scrape and getting off your spleen;
Keep cooler, John, and do not fret, however things may go;
You'll longer last and have more friends, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, don't pout about your name;
It never will disgrace you, John, but you may it defame
By doing silly things, John, and things, you ought to know,
Will but recoil upon yourself, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, the "Turkey" let alone;
My name is very humble, John, but then it is my own.
"There's nothing in a name," John, and this you ought to know,
That actions are the cards that win, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John; your temper must be sour;
Your scholars pester you, John; you flog them every hour.
But leave the rod behind you, John, when from the school you go,
Or else you may get flogged yourself, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, the terror of your name
Does not extend beyond the walls which for your own you claim;
So drop your haughty airs, John, and lay your wattle low,
And people will esteem you more, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, just take a friend's advice;
And drop your pedagogic ways (you know they are not nice;)
And treat grown people with respect, and they the same will show,
And use those "open eyes" of yours, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, the trustees of our schools
Are not so smart as you, John, but then they're not all fools;
And you have made yourself, John, appear a little low,
By your abuse of these poor men, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
John A. Calhoun, my Joe John, now let us part in peace,
And may your honest name, John, so mightily increase,
That half a score of sons, John, may like their father grow--
But just a little modester, John A. Calhoun, my Joe.
EMMA ALICE BROWNE.
Emma Alice Browne was born about forty-five years ago, in an
unpretentious cottage, which is still standing near the northeast corner
of the cross-roads, on the top of Mount Pleasant, or Vinegar Hill, as it
was then called, about a mile west of Colora. She is the oldest child of
William A. Browne and Hester A. Touchstone, sister of the late James
Touchstone. Her father was the youngest son of William Brown, who
married Ann Spear, of Chester county, and settled a few yards north of
the State Line, in what is now Lewisville, Chester county, Pennsylvania,
where his son William was born, early in the present century. He was a
stonemason by trade, and though comparatively uneducated, was possessed
of a brilliant imagination, and so highly endowed by nature with poetic
ability that he frequently amused and delighted his fellow-workmen by
singing songs which he extemporized while at his work. There is no doubt
that his granddaughter, the subject of this sketch, inherited much of
her poetic talent from him; though her family is connected with that of
Mrs. Felicia Hemans, the English poetess, whom though in some respects
she resembles, we hesitate not to say she greatly surpasses in grandeur
of conception and beauty of expression.
William Brown was a half-brother of the mother of the editor of this
book; consequently Emma and he are cousins. If, therefore, this sketch
should seem to exceed or fall short of the truth, the reader must
attribute its imperfections to the inability of the writer to do justice
to the subject, or to the great, but he hopes pardonable, admiration
which he has long entertained for his relative's literary productions.
The Brown family are of Scotch-Irish extraction, and trace their lineage
away back through a long line of ancestors to the time when the name was
spelled Brawn, because of the great muscular development of the rugged
old Scotch Highlander who founded it.
William Brown's early education was obtained at the common schools of
the neighborhood where he was born. He was endowed by nature with a
logical mind, a vivid imagination and great practical common sense; and
a memory so tenacious as to enable him to repeat a sermon almost, if not
quite, verbatim, a year after he had heard it delivered. Early in life
he became an exemplary member of the Methodist Church, and was ordained
as a Local Preacher in the Methodist Protestant persuasion, by the Rev.
John G. Wilson, very early in the history of that denomination, in the
old Harmony Church, not far south of Rowlandville. Subsequently he was
admitted to the Conference as a traveling minister and sent to
southeastern Pennsylvania, where he continued to preach the gospel with
much success until his death, which occurred when his daughter Emma was
a child about eight years of age.
Emma's education began on her father's knee, when she was little if any
more than three years old. Before she was four years old she could
repeat Anacreon's Ode to a Grasshopper, which her father had learned
from a quaint old volume of heathen mythology, and taught his little
daughter to repeat, by reciting it aloud to her, as she sat upon his
knee. Subsequently, and before she had learned to read, he taught her in
the same manner "Byron's Apostrophe to the Ocean," Campbell's "Battle of
Hohenlinden," and Byron's "Destruction of Sennacherib," all of which
seem to have made a deep impression upon her infantile mind,
particularly the latter, in speaking of which she characterizes it as "a
poem whose barbaric glitter and splendor captivated my imagination even
at that early period, and fired my fancy with wild visions of Oriental
magnificence and sublimity, so that I believe all my after life caught
color and warmth and form from those early impressions of the gorgeous
word-painting of the East." Emma's subsequent education was limited to a
few weeks' attendance at a young ladies' seminary at West Chester,
Pennsylvania, and a like experience of a few weeks in Wilmington,
Delaware, when she was about sixteen years old. But her mind was so full
of poesy that there was no room in it for ordinary matters and things,
and the duties of a student soon became so irksome that she left both
the institutions in disgust. Of her it may be truly said, "she lisp'd in
numbers, for the numbers came," for she composed verses at four years of
age, and published poems at ten. Her first effusions appeared in a local
paper at Reading, Pa. Being a born poetess, her success as a writer was
assured from the first, and her warmth of expression and richness of
imagery, combined with a curious quaintness, the outgrowth of the deep
vein of mysticism that pervades her nature, soon attracted the attention
of the _literati_ of this country, one of the most distinguished of
whom, the late George D. Prentice, did not hesitate to pronounce her the
most extraordinary woman of America; "for," said he, "if she can't find
a word to suit her purpose, she makes one." While some of her earlier
poems may have lacked the artistic finish and depth of meaning of those
of mature years, they had a beauty and freshness peculiar to themselves,
which captivated the minds and rarely failed to make a deep impression
upon the hearts of those who read them.
In 1855, the family came to Port Deposit, where they remained about two
years, and then went West, Emma having secured a good paying position on
the _Missouri Republican_, for which she wrote her only continued story,
"Not Wanted." For the last twenty years she has been a regular
contributor to the _New York Ledger_.
In 1864, Emma came East and was married to Captain J. Lewis Beaver, of
Carroll county, Maryland, whose acquaintance she made while he was a
wounded invalid in the Naval School Hospital at Annapolis. After her
marriage, she continued to write under her maiden name, and has always
been known in the literary world as Emma Alice Browne, though all the
rest of the family spell the name without the final vowel. Her marriage
was not a fortunate one, and the writer in deference to the wishes of
his relative, will only say she is now a widow, with three sons, the
youngest of whom seems to have inherited much of his mother's poetic
talent, and who, though only about ten years of age, has written some
very creditable verses, which have been published.
Within a year or two, Emma has developed a talent for painting, which
seems to have been overshadowed and dwarfed by her poetic faculty, but
which now bids fair to make her as famous as an artist as she has long
been as a poetess. She resides in Danville, Illinois, and is about
publishing a volume of poems, which will be the first book from her pen.
The following selections have been made with the view of showing the
versatility, rather than the poetic beauty and power of their author.
Most, if not all, of those designated as earlier poems were written more
than thirty years ago.
Oh, brier rose clamber;
And cover the chamber--
The chamber, so dreary and lone--
Where with meekly-closed lips,
And eyes in eclipse,
My brother lies under the stone.
Oh, violets, cover,
The narrow roof over,
Oh, cover the window and door!
For never the lights,
Through the long days and nights,
Make shadows across the floor!
The lilies are blooming,
The lilies are white,
Where his play haunts used to be;
And the sweet cherry blossoms
Blow over the bosoms
Of birds in the old roof tree.
When I hear on the hills
The shout of the storm,
In the valley the roar of the river;
I shiver and shake,
On the hearth stone warm,
As I think of his cold "forever."
His white hands are folded,
And never again,
With the song of the robin or plover,
When the Summer has come,
With her bees and her grain,
Will he play in the meadow clover.
Oh, dear little brother,
My sweet little brother,
In the palace above the sun,
Oh, pray the good angels,
The glorious evangels,
To take me--when life is done.
IN MEMORIAM, 1857.
The late George D. Prentice in speaking of this poem used the
following language: "To our minds there is nothing in all the In
Memoriam of Tennyson more beautiful than the following holy tribute
to a dead father from our young correspondent at Pleasant Grove."
The poem was first published in the "Louisville Journal" of which
Mr. Prentice was the editor.
[Transcriber's note: The original text referred to the "Louirville
Journal" (clearly an erratum).]
My Father! Orphan lips unknown
To love's sweet uses sob the word
My father! dim with anguish, heard
In Heaven between a storm of moan
And the white calm that faith hath fixed
For solace, far beyond the world,
Where, all our starry dreams unfurled,
We drink the wine of peace unmixed.
Mine! folded in the awful trust
That draws the world's face down in awe,
Holding her breath, as if she saw
God's secret written in the dust--
My father! oh, the dreary years
The dreary winds have wailed across
Since his path, from the hills of loss,
Wound, shining, o'er the golden spheres.
What time the Angel at our door
Said soft, between our orphan-moan--
Arise! oh, soul! the night is done
And day hath bloomed forevermore!
I locked my icy hand across
My sobbing heart and sadly cried--
I lose thee in the glorified--
The world is darkened with my loss!
Oh, Angel! cried I--wrath complete!
With awful brows and eyes intense!
(For faith's white robe of reverence
Slid noiseless to my sorrow's feet)
Oh, Angel, help me out of strife!
I could have borne all mortal pain--
I could have lived my life in vain--
But this hath touched my inner life!
And eighteen hundred fifty-seven
Hath filled a decade of slow years
Since first my orphan cries and tears
Broke wild across the walls of Heaven.
This eve his grave is winter-white!
And 'twixt the snow-wind's stormy thrills
I hear across the Northern hills
The solemn footsteps of the night!
Blow wind! Oh, wind, blow wild and high!
Blow o'er the dismal space of woods--
Blow down the roaring Northern floods
And let the dreary day go by!
Blow, wind, from out the shining West,
And wrap the hazy world in glow--
Blow wind and drift about my snow
The summer of his endless rest!
For he has fallen fast asleep
And cannot give me moan for moan--
My heart is heavy as a stone
And there is no one left to weep!
My _soul_ is heavy and doth lie
Reaching up from my wretchedness--
Reaching up blindly for redress
The stern gray walls of entity!
Once in the golden spring-time hours,
In the sweet garden of my youth,
There fell a seed of bitter truth
That sprang and shadowed all the flowers--
Alone! The roses died apace
And pale the mournful violet blew--
Only the royal lily grew
And glorified the lonesome place!
In me the growth of human ills
Than human love had reached no higher,
But Seraphim with lips of fire
Have won me to the shining hills--
I cannot hide my soul in art--
I cannot mend my life's defect--
This thunderous space of intellect
God gave me for a peaceful heart!
Hush! oh, my mournful heart, be still,
The heavy night is coming on,
But heavier lie the shadows drawn
About his grave so low and chill--
From out the awful sphere of God,
Oh, deathly wind, blow soft and low!
My soul is weary and would go
Where never foot of mortal trod!
AT THE NIGHTFALL.
I muse alone in the fading light,
Where the mournful winds forever
Sweep down from the dim old hills of night,
Like the wail of a haunted river.
Alone! by the grave of a buried love,
The ghostly mist is parted,
Where the stars shine faint in the blue above,
Like the smile of the broken-hearted.
The living turn from my fond embrace,
As if no love were needed;
The tears I wept on thy young dead face
Were never more unheeded
Than my wild prayer for peace unwon--
One pure affection only,
One faithful heart to lean upon,
When life is sad and lonely.
The low grassy roof, my glorious dead,
Is bright with the buttercup's blossom,
And the night-blooming roses burn dimly and red
On the green sod that covers thy bosom.
Thy pale hands are folded, oh beautiful saint,
Like lily-buds chilly and dew-wet,
And the smile on thy lip is as solemn and faint
As the beams of a norland sunset.
The angel that won thee a long time ago
To the shore of the glorious immortals,
In the sphere of the starland shall wed us, I know,
When I pass through the beautiful portals.
THE MIDNIGHT CHIME.
Suggested by the tolling of the bell on the sash factory in Port
Deposit on a stormy night in January, 1856.
The rain is the loudest and wildest
Of rains that ever fell;
And the winds like an army of chanters
Through the desolate pine-woods swell,
And hark! through the shout of the tempest,
The sound of the midnight bell.
Now close on the storm it rises,
Now sadly it sinks with a moan--
Like a human heart in its anguish,
Crushing a fruitless groan--
Like a soul that goes wailing and pining,
Thro' the motherless world, alone.
Is it hung in an ancient turret?
Is it swung by a mortal hand?
Is it chiming in woe or gladness,
Its symphonies sweet and grand?
Is it rung for a shadowy sorrow,
In the shadowy phantom land?
Alas for the beautiful guesses
That live in a poet's rhyme--
'Tis only the bell of the factory
Tolling its woe sublime;
And the wind is the ghostly ringer,
Ringing the midnight chime.
Toll, mournful bell of the tempest,
Through my dreams by sleep unblest;
My bosom is throbbing as madly
To surges of wild unrest--
E'en as thy heart of iron
Is beating thy brazen breast!
TO THOMAS HEMPSTEAD.
Thy lay--a sweet sung bridal hymn,
Wedding the Old year to the New,
'Mid starry buds, and silver dew,
And brooks, and birds in woodlands dim--
That touched the hidden veins of thought
With the electric force of strife,
Thrilled the dumb marble of my life
Unto a perfect beauty wrought.
And straight, unclasping from my brow
The thorny crown of lost delight,
The solemn grandeur of the night
Flashed on me from old years, as now.
The budding of my days is past!
And May sits weeping in the shade
The weeds on April's grave have made,
Blown slantwise in the sobbing blast.
Ah me! but in the Poet's heart
Some pools of troubled water lie!
The hidden founts of agony,
That keep the better springs apart.
What comfort is there in the Earth!
What height, or depth, where we may hide
Our life long anguish, and abide
The ripening unto newer birth!
But Poet, in thy song is power
To lift the flood gates of my woe,
And bid its solemn surging flow
Far from the triumph of this hour.
Yea, rising from life's evil things,
My soul, long blinded from the light,
Starlit across the purple night
Sweeps the red lightning of her wings!
I will be free! there is a strength
In the full blowing of our youth
To climb the rosied hills of truth
From the dry desert's burning length.
From far a voice shouts to my fate
As shout the choiring Angels, when
The fiery cross of suffering men
Falls broken at the narrow gate!
Be brave! be noble, and sublime
Thyself unto a higher aim--
Keeping thy nature white of blame
In all the dreary walks of time!
Oh musty creeds in mouldy books!
Blind teachers of the blind are ye--
A plainer wisdom talks with me
In God's full psalmody of brooks.
The rustling of a leaf hath force
To wake the currents of my blood,
That sweep, a wild Niagara-flood,
Hurled headlong in its fiery course.
The moaning of the wind hath power
To stir the anthem of my soul,
Unto a mightier thunder roll
Than ever shook a triumph hour.
Betwixt the gorgeous twilight bars
Rare truths flow from melodious lips--
God's all-sublime Apocalypse--
His awful poem writ in stars!
Each ray that spends its burning might
In the alembic of the morn,
Is, in the Triune splendors, born
Of the great uncreated light!
To me the meanest creeping thing
Speaks with a loud Evangel tongue,
Of the far climes forever young
In His all-glorious blossoming.
And thus, oh Poet! hath thy lay--
Woven of brightest buds and flowers
Blowing, in breezy South-land bowers,
Against the blushing face of May--
A passion, and a power, that thrills
My hidden nature unto strife,
To battle bravely, for the life
Across the dim Eternal hills!
While the wild north hills are reddening
In the sunset's fiery glow,
And along the dreary moorlands,
Shine the stormy drifts of snow,
Sit I in my voiceless chamber
From the household ones apart,
And again is Memory lighting
The pale ruins of my heart.
And again are white hands sweeping,
Wildly, its invisible chords,
With the burden of a sorrow
That I may not wed to words.
Vainly I this day have striven,
List'ning to the snow-wind's roll,
To forget the haunting music
That is throbbing in my soul.
Not my pleasant household duties,
Nor the rosied light of Morn,
Nor the banners of the sunset
On the wintry hills forlorn,
Could unclasp the starry yearning
From my mortal, weary breast,
Nor interpret the weird meaning
Of the phantom's wild unrest.
All last night I heard the crickets
Chirping on the lonely hearth,
And I thought of him that lieth
In the embraces of the earth;
Till the lights died in the village,
And the armies of the snow,
In the bitter woods of midnight
Tracked the wild winds to and fro.
Oh my lover, safely folded
In the shadow of the grave,
While about my low-roofed dwelling
Moaning gusts of winter rave.
Well I know thy pale hands, folded
In the silence of long years,
Cannot give me back caresses
For my sacrifice of tears.
Oh ye dark and vexing phantoms--
Ghostly memories that arise,
Keeping ever 'twixt my spirit
And the beauty of the skies--
Memories of a faded splendor,
And a lost hope, long ago,
Ere my April grew to blushing
And my heavy heart to woe.
Saw ye in your solemn marches
From the citadel of death,
In our bridal halls of beauty
Burning still the lamp of faith?
Doth a watcher, pale and patient,
Folded from the tempest's wrath,
Wait the coming of my footsteps
Down the grave's long, lonesome path?
No reply!--the dreary shadows
Lengthen from the silent hills,
And a heavy boding sorrow
Still my aching bosom fills.
Now the moon is up in beauty,
Walking on a starry hight,
While her trailing vesture brightens
The gray hollows of the night.
Things of evil go out from me,
Leave this silence-haunted room,
Full enough of darkness keepeth
In the chamber of his tomb.
Full enough of shadow lieth
In that dim futurity--
In that wedding night, where, meekly,
My beloved waits for me!
THE OLD HOMESTEAD.
I remember the dear little cabin
That stood by the weather-brown mill,
And the beautiful wavelets of sunshine
That flowed down the slope of the hill,
And way down the winding green valley,
And over the meadow--smooth shorn,--
How the dew-drops lay flashing and gleaming
On the pale rosy robes of the morn.
How the blush-blossoms shook on the upland,
Like a red-cloud of sunset afar,
And the lilies gleamed up from the marsh pond
Like the pale silver rim of a star;
How the brook chimed a beautiful chorus,
With the birds that sang high in the trees;
And how the bright shadows of sunset
Trailed goldenly down on the breeze.
I remember the mossy-rimmed springlet,
That gushed in the shade of the oaks,
And how the white buds of the mistletoe,
Fell down at the woodman's strokes,
On the morning when cruel Sir Spencer
Came down with his haughty train,
To uproot the old kings of the greenwood
That shadowed his golden grain.
For he dwelt in a lordly castle
That towered half-way up the hill,
And we in a poor little cabin
In the shade of the weather-brown mill,
Therefore the haughty Earl Spencer
Came down with his knightly train,
And uprooted our beautiful roof-trees
That shadowed his golden grain.
Ah! wearily sighed our mother,
When the mistletoe boughs lay shed;
But never the curse of the orphan
Was breathed on the rich man's head;
And when again the gentle summer
Had gladdened the earth once more,
No branches of gnarled oaks olden
Made shadows across the floor.
The lone winds creep with a snakish hiss
Among the dwarfish bushes,
And with deep sighing sadly kiss
The wild brook's border rushes;
The woods are dark, save here and there
The glow-worm shineth faintly,
And o'er the hills one lonely star
That trembles white and saintly.
Ah! well I know this mournful eve
So like an evening olden;
With many a goodly harvest sheaf
The upland fields were golden;
The lily moon in bridal white
Leaned o'er the sea, her lover,
And stars with beauty filled the Night--
The wind sang in the clover.
The halls were bright with revelry,
The beakers red with wassail;
And music's grandest symphony
Rung thro' the ancient castle;
And she, the brightest of the throng,
With wedding-veil and roses,
Seemed like the beauty of a song
Between the organ's pauses.
My memory paints her sweetly meek,
With her long sunny tresses,
And how the blushes on her cheek
Kissed back their warm caresses;
But like an angry cloud that cleaves
Down thro' the mists of glory,
I see the flowers a pale hand weaves
Around a forehead gory.
The road was lone that lay between
His, and her father's castle,
And many a stirrup-cup, I ween,
Quaffed he of generous wassail.
My soul drank in a larger draught
From the burning well of hate,
The hand that sped the murderous shaft
Was guided by my fate.
Red shadows lay upon the sward
That night, instead of golden--
And long the bride's maids wait the lord
In the bridal-chamber olden;
Ah, well! pale hands unwove the flowers
That bound the milk-white forehead--
The star has sunk, the red moon glowers
Down slopes of blackness horrid.
JOHN B. ABRAHAMS, OF PORT DEPOSIT, AGED 22 YEARS.
He giveth His beloved sleep.
From heaven's blue walls the splendid light
Of signal-stars gleams far and bright
Down the abyssmal deeps of night.
Against the dim, dilating skies
Orion's radiant mysteries
Of belt, and plume, and helmet rise--
I see--with flashing sword in hand,
With eyes sublime, and forehead grand--
The conquering constellation stand!
And on one purple tower the moon
Hangs her white lamp--the night wind's rune
Floats faint o'er holt and black lagoon.
Far down the dimly shining bay
The drifting sea-fog, cold and gray,
Wraps all the golden ships away--
The fair-sailed ships, that in the glow
Of ghostly moon and vapor go,
Like wandering phantoms, to and fro!
With mournful thought I sit alone--
My heart is heavy as a stone,
And hath no utterance but a moan.
I think of him, who, being blest,
With pale hands crossed on silent breast,
Taketh his long unending rest;
While lone winds chant a funeral stave,
And pallid church-yard daisies wave
About his new unsodded grave.
The skies are solemn with their throng
Of choiring stars--and deep and strong
The river moans an undersong.
Oh mournful wind! Oh moaning river,
Oh golden planets, pausing never!
His lips have lost your song forever!
His lips, that done with pleadings vain--
And human sighing, born of pain--
Are hymning heav'ns triumphal strain.
The ages tragic Rhythm of change
Clashing on projects new and strange--
The tireless nations forward range--
Can ne'er disturb the perfect rest
Wherein he lieth--being blest,
With chill hands cross'd on silent breast.
Oh mourning heart! whose heavy plaint
Drifts down the deathly shadows faint,
Why weep ye for this risen saint?
His life's pale ashes, under foot
That cling about the daisies' root
Will bear at last most glorious fruit!
'Tis but the casket hid away
Neath roof of stone and burial clay;
The jewel shines in endless day!
And thus I gather for my tears
Sweet hope from faith in after years;
And far across the glimmering spheres
Height over height the heavens expand--
I see him in God's Eden land,
With palms of vict'ry in his hand;
O'er brows of solemn breadth profound,
With fadeless wreaths of glory wound,
He stands a seraph, robed and crowned.
Aye! in a vision, see I now;
Christ's symbol written on his brow--
Found worthy unto death art thou!
And ever in this heart of mine,
So won to glorious peace, divine
This vision of our lost shall shine;
Not with pale forehead in eclipse
With close-sealed lids and silent lips,
But grand in Life's Apocalypse!
For very truly hath been said--
For the pale living--not the dead--
Should mourning's bitterest tears be shed!
MISSIVE TO ----.
Purple shafts of sunset fire
Glory-crown the passionate sea,
Throbbing with a fierce desire
For the blue immensity.
Floods of pale and scarlet flame
Sweep the bases of the hills,
With a blushing unto shame
Thro' their rosy bridal-thrills.
Slowly to the gorgeous West
Twilight paces from the East,
Like a dark, unbidden guest
Going to a marriage feast.
Dian--palaced in the blue--
O'er the eve-star, newly born,
Shakes a sweet baptismal dew
From her pearly drinking-horn.
Not the Ocean's fiery soul
Throbbing up thro' all his deeps--
Not the sunset tides that roll
Gloriously against the steeps
Of the hills, that to the stars
Lift their regal wedded brows,
Glittering, through the golden bars
Clasping close their nuptial snows.
Not the palace lights of Hesper
In the Queendom of the Moon,
Win me from that lovely vesper--
The last one of our last June.
Oh the golden-tressed minutes!
Oh the silver-footed hours!
Oh the thoughts that sang like linnets,
In a woodland full of flowers!
When my wild heart beat so lightly
It forgot its mortal shroud;
And an Angel trembled brightly
In the fold of every cloud.
Wo! That storms of sorrow-strife
Hold the pitying light apart,
And the golden waves of life
Beat against a breaking heart.
Saddest fate that e'er has been
Woven in the loom of years,
Our sworn faith has come between,
Heavy with the wine of tears.
Broken vow and slighted trust--
Hope's white garments soiled and torn--
Passion trampled in the dust
By the iron heel of scorn.
Thou art dead, to me, as those
Folded safe from mortal strife;
Dead! as tho' the grave-mould froze
The red rivers of thy life!
Oh! My Sweet! My Light! My Love!
With my grief co-heir sublime!
Storms and sorrows ever prove
True inheritors of Time.
Hush! An Angel holds my heart
From its breaking--tho' I stand,
From the happy world apart,
On a broad and barren sand.
I will love thee tho' I die!
Love thee, with my ancient faith!
For immortal voices cry:
Love is mightier than Death!
Sweet, sweet, sweet!
High up in the budding vine
I've woven and hidden a dainty retreat
For this little brown darling of mine!
Along the garden borders,
Out of the rich dark mold,
The daffodils and jonquils
Are pushing their heads of gold;
And high in her bower-chamber
The little brown mother sits,
While to and fro, as the west winds blow,
Her pretty shadow flits.
Weet, weet, weet!
Safe in the branching vine,
Pillowed on woven grasses sweet,
Our pearly treasures shine;
And all day long in the sunlight,
By vernal breezes fanned,
The daffodil and the jonquil
Their jeweled discs expand;
And two and fro, as the west winds blow,
In the airy house a-swing,
The feeble life in the pearly eggs
She warms with brooding wing!
Sweet, sweet, sweet!
Under a flowery spray
Downy heads and little pink feet
Are cunningly tucked away!
Along the shining furrows,
The rows of sprouting corn
Flash in the sun, and the orchards
Are blushing red as morn;
And the time o' the year for toil is here,
And idle song and play
With the jonquils, and the daffodils,
Must wait for another May.
TO MY SISTER.
"God's dear love is over all."
Dear, the random words you said
Once, as we two walked apart,
Still keep ringing in my head,
Still keep singing in my heart:
Like the lone pipe of a bird,
Like a tuneful waterfall
Far in desert places heard--
"God's dear love is over all!"
Thro' the ceaseless toil and strife
They have taught me to be strong!
Fashioned all my narrow life
To the measure of a song!
They have kept me brave and true--
Saved my feet from many a fall,
Since, what ever fate may do,
God's dear love is over all!
Lying in your chamber low,
Neath the daisies and the dew,
Can you hear me? Can you know
All the good I owe to you?
You, whose spirit dwells alway
Free from earthly taint and thrall!
You who taught me that sweet day
God's dear love is over all!
From your holy, far off Heaven,
When the beams of twilight wane,
Thro' the jasper gates of even
Breathe those trustful words again;
They shall aid and cheer me still,
What-so-ever fate befall,
Since thro' every good and ill
God's dear love is over all!
MEASURING THE BABY.
We measured the riotous baby
Against the cottage wall:
A lily grew at the threshold,
And the boy was just so tall;
A royal tiger lily,
With spots of purple and gold,
And a heart like a jeweled chalice,
The fragrant dews to hold.
Without the blue birds whistled,
High up in the old roof trees;
And to and fro at the window
The red rose rocked her bees;
And the wee pink fists of the baby
Were never a moment still,
Snatching at shine and shadow,
That danced on the lattice sill!
His eyes were wide as blue-bells,
His mouth like a flower unblown,
Two little barefeet, like funny white mice,
Peept out from his snowy gown;
And we thought, with a thrill of rapture.
That yet had a touch of pain--
When June rolls around with her roses
We'll measure the boy again!
Ah me! In a darkened chamber,
With the sunshine shut away,
Thro' tears that fell like a bitter rain
We measured the Boy to-day!
And the little bare feet, that were dimpled,
And sweet as a budding rose,
Lay side by side together,
In the hush of a long repose!
Up from the dainty pillow,
White as the rising dawn,
The fair little face lay smiling
With the light of Heaven thereon!
And the dear little hands, like rose leaves
Dropt from a rose, lay still,
Never to snatch at the sunshine,
That crept to the shrouded sill!
We measured the sleeping baby
With ribbons white as snow,
For the shining rose-wood casket
That waited him below;
And out of the darkened chamber
We crept with a childless moan:
To the height of the sinless Angels
Our little one had grown!
THE LIGHT OF DREAMS.
Last night I walked in happy dreams,
The paths I used to know;
I heard a sound of running streams,
And saw the violets blow;
I breathed a scent of daffodils;
And faint and far withdrawn,
A light upon the distant hills,
Like morning, led me on.
And childish hands clung fast to mine,
And little pattering feet
Trod with me thro' the still sunshine
Of by-ways green and sweet;
The flax-flower eyes of tender blue,
The locks of palest gold,
Were just the eyes and locks I knew
And loved, and lost--of old!
By many a green familiar lane
Our pathway seemed to run
Between long fields of waving grain,
And slopes of dew and sun;
And still we seemed to breathe alway
A scent of daffodils,
And that soft light of breaking day
Shone on the distant hills.
And out of slumber suddenly
I seemed to wake, and know
The little feet, that followed me,
Were ashes long ago!
And in a burst of rapturous tears
I clung to her and said:
"Dear Pitty-pat! The lonesome years
They told me you were dead!
"O, when the mother drew, of old,
About her loving knee
The little heads of dusk and gold,
I know that we were three!
And then there was an empty chair--
A stillness, strange and new:
We could not find you anywhere--
And we were only two!"
She pointed where serenely bright
The hills yet glowed afar:
"Sweet sister, yon ineffable light
Is but the gates ajar!
And evermore, by night and day,
We children still are three,
Tho' I have gone a little way
To open the gates," said she.
Then all in colors faint and fine
The morning round me shone,
The little hands slipt out of mine,
And I was left alone;
But still I smelled the daffodils,
I heard the running streams;
And that far glory on the hills--
Was it the light of dreams?
BEN HAFED'S MEED.
Ben Hafed, when the vernal rain
Warmed the chill heart of earth again,
Tilled the dull plot of sterile ground,
Within the dank and narrow round
That compassed his obscure domain;
With earnest zeal, thro' heat and cold,
He wrought and turned the sluggish mold,
And all in furrows straight and fair
He sowed the yellow seed with care,
Trusting the harvest--as of old.
Soft fell the rains, the suns shone bright,
The long days melted into night,
And beautiful, on either hand,
Outspread the shining summer land,
And all his neighbor's fields were white.
Long drawn, beneath the genial skies,
He saw deep-fruited vineyards rise;
On every hill the bladed corn
Flashed like the falchions of the morn
Before Ben Hafed's wistful eyes.
But in the garden, dull and bare,
Where he had wrought with patient care,
No cluster purpled on the vine,
No blossom made the furrows shine
With hints of harvest anywhere!
Ben Hafed, scorning to complain,
Bent to his thankless toil again:
"I slight no task I find to do,
Dear Lord, and if my sheaves be few,
Thou wilt not count my labor vain?"
His neighbors, rich in flocks and lands,
Stood by and mocked his empty hands:
"Why wage with ceaseless fret and toil
The grim warfare that yields no spoil?
Why spend thy zest on barren sands?
The circling seasons come and go,
And others garner as they sow;
But year by year, in sun and rain,
Thou till'st these fields with toil and pain,
Where only tares and thistles grow!"
With quiet mien Ben Hafed heard,
And answered not by sign or word,
Tho' some divine, all-trustful sense
Of loss made sweet thro' recompense,
In God's good time, within him stirred.
With no vain protest or lament,
Low to the stubborn glebe he bent:
"I till the fields Thou gavest me,
And leave the harvest, Lord, to thee,"
He said--and plodded on, content.
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