The Poets and Poetry of Cecil County, Maryland
Part 3 out of 7
And ever, with the golden seeds,
He sowed an hundred gracious deeds--
Some act of helpful charity,
A saving word of cheer, may be,
To some poor soul in bitter need!
And life wore on from gold to gray;
The world went by, another way:
"Tho' long and wearisome my task,
Dear Lord, 'tis but a tithe I ask,
And Thou will grant me that, some day!"
One morn upon his humble bed,
They found Ben Hafed lying dead,
God's light upon his worn old face,
And God's ineffable peace and grace
Folding him round from feet to head.
And lo! in cloudless sunshine rolled
The glebe but late so bare and cold,
Between fair rows of tree and vine
Rich clustered, sweating oil and wine,
Shone all in glorious harvest gold!
And One whose face was strangely bright
With loving ruth--whose garments white
Were spotless as the lilies sweet
That sprang beneath His shining feet--
Moved slowly thro' those fields of light;
"Blest be Ben Hafed's work--thrice blest!"
He said, and gathered to His breast
The harvest sown in toil and tears:
"Henceforth, thro' Mine eternal years,
Thou, faithful servant, cease and rest!"
If I could live to see beyond the night,
The first spring morning break with fiery thrills,
And tremble into rose and violet light
Along the distant hills!
If I could hear the first wild note that swells
The blue bird's silvery throat when spring is here,
And all the sweet, wind ruffled lily bells
Ring out the joyous matins of the year!
Only to smell the budding lilac blooms
The balmy airs from sprouting brake and wold,
Rich with the strange ineffable perfumes
Of growing grass and newly furrowed mold!
If I could hear the rushing waters call
In the wild exultation of release,
Dear, I might turn my face unto the wall
And fall asleep in peace!
Thro' moss, and bracken, and purple bloom,
With a glitter of gorses here and there,
Shoulder deep in the dewy bloom,
My love, I follow you everywhere!
By faint sweet signs my soul divines,
Dear heart, at dawning you came this way,
By the jangled bells of the columbines,
And the ruffled gold of the gorses gay.
By hill and hollow, by mead and lawn,
Thro' shine and shade of dingle and glade,
Fast and far as I hurry on
My eager seeking you still evade.
But, were you shod with the errant breeze,
Spirit of shadow and fire and dew,
O'er trackless deserts of lands and seas
Still would I follow and find out you.
Like a dazzle of sparks from a glowing brand,
'Mid the tender green of the feathery fern
And nodding sedge, by the light gale fanned,
The Indian pinks in the sunlight burn;
And the wide, cool cups of the corn flower brim
With the sapphire's splendor of heaven's own blue,
In sylvan hollows and dingles dim,
Still sweet with a hint of the morn--and you!
For here is the print of your slender foot,
And the rose that fell from your braided hair,
In the lush deep moss at the bilberry's root--
And the scent of lilacs is in the air!
Do lilacs bloom in the wild green wood?
Do roses drop from the bilberry bough?
Answer me, little Red Riding Hood!
You are hiding there in the bracken, now!
Come out of your covert, my Bonny Belle--
I see the glint of your eyes sweet blue--
Your yellow locks--ah, you know full well
Your scarlet mantle has told on you;
Come out this minute, you laughing minx!
--By all the dryads of wood and wold!
'Tis only a cluster of Indian pinks
And corn flowers, under the gorses' gold.
"Coe, Berry-brown! Hie, Thistledown!
Make haste; the milking-time is come!
The bells are ringing in the town,
Tho' all the green hillside is dumb,
And Morn's white curtain, half withdrawn,
Just shows a rosy glimpse of dawn."
Tinkle, tinkle in the pail:
"Ah! my heart, if Tom should fail!
See the vapors, white as curd,
By the waking winds are stirred,
And the east is brightening slow
Tom is long a-field, I know!
"Coe, Bell! Come Bright! Miss Lilywhite,
I see you hiding in the croft!
By yon steep stair of ruddy light
The sun is climbing fast aloft;
What makes the stealthy, creeping chill
That hangs about the morning still?"
Tinkle, tinkle in the pail:
"Some one saunters up the vale,
Pauses at the brook awhile,
Dawdles at the meadow stile--
Well! if loitering be a crime,
Some one takes his own sweet time!
"So! Berry, so! Now, cherry-blow,
Keep your pink nose out of the pail!
How dull the morning is--how low
The churning vapors coil and trail!
How dim the sky, and far away!
What ails the sunshine and the day?"
Tinkle, tinkle in the pail:
"But for that preposterous tale
Nancy Mixer brought from town,
'Tom is courting Kitty Brown,'
I'd not walked with Willie Snow,
Just to tease my Tom, you know!
"So! stand still, my thistledown!
Tom is coming thro' the gate,
But his forehead wears a frown,
And he never was so late!
Till that vexing demon, Doubt,
Angered us, and we fell out!"
Tinkle, tinkle in the pail:
"Tom roosts on the topmost rail,
Chewing straws, and looking grim
When I choose to peep at him;
Wonder if he's sulking still,
All about my walk with Will?
"Cherry, Berry, Lilywhite,
Hasten fieldward, every one;
All the heavens are growing bright,
And the milking time is done;
I will speak to him, and see
If his lordship answers me:
'Tom!' He tumbles off the rail,
Stoops to lift the brimming pail;
With a mutual pleading glance
Lip meets lip--mayhap by chance--
And--but need I whisper why?--
Tom is happy--and so am I!"
THE SINGER'S SONG
O weary heart of mine,
Keep still, and make no sign!
The world hath learned a newer joy--
A sweeter song than thine!
Tho' all the brooks of June
Should lilt and pipe in tune.
The music by and by would cloy--
The world forgets so soon!
So thou mayest put away
Thy little broken lay;
Perhaps some wistful, loving soul
May take it up some day--
Take up the broken thread,
Dear heart, when thou art dead,
And weave into diviner song
The things thou wouldst have said!
Rest thou, and make no sign,
The world, O, heart of mine,
Is listening for the hand that smites
A grander chord than thine!
The loftier strains that teach
Great truths beyond thy reach;
Whose far faint echo they have heard
In thy poor stammering speech.
Thy little broken bars,
That wailing discord mars,
To vast triumphal harmonies
Shall swell beyond the stars.
So rest thee, heart, and cease;
Awhile, in glad release,
Keep silence here, with God, amid
The lilies of His peace.
AUNT PATTY'S THANKSGIVING.
[Transcriber's note: The original text titled this poem here as
"Aunt Patty's Thanksgiving" and in the table of contents as "Aunt
Betty's Thanksgiving." This discrepancy is intentionally preserved.]
Now Cleo, fly round! Father's going to town
With a load o' red russets, to meet Captain Brown;
The mortgage is due, and it's got to be paid,
And father is troubled to raise it, I'm 'fraid!
We've had a bad year, with the drouth and the blight
The harvest was short, and the apple crop light;
The early hay cutting scarce balanced the cost,
And the heft o' the after-math's ruined with frost;
A gloomy Thanksgiving to-morrow will be--
But the ways o' the Lord are not our ways, ah me!
But His dear will be done! If we jest do our best,
And trust Him, I guess He'll take care o' the rest;
I'd not mind the worry, nor stop to repine,
Could I take father's share o' the burden with mine!
He is grieving, I know, tho' he says not a word,
But, last night, 'twixt the waking and dreaming, I heard
The long, sobbing sighs of a strong man in pain,
And I knew he was fretting for Robert again!
Our Robert, our first-born: the comfort and stay
Of our age, when we two should grow feeble and gray;
What a baby he was! with his bright locks, and eyes
Just as blue as a bit o' the midsummer skies!
And in youth--why, it made one's heart lightsome and glad
Like a glimpse o' the sun, just to look at the lad!
But the curse came upon him--the spell of unrest--
Like a voice calling out of the infinite West--
And Archibald Grace, he was going--and so
We gave Rob our blessing, and jest let him go!
There, Cleo, your father is out at the gate:
Be spry as a cricket; he don't like to wait!
Here's the firkin o' butter, as yellow as gold--
And the eggs, in this basket--ten dozen all told.
Tell father be sure and remember the tea--
And the spice and the yard o' green gingham for me;
And the sugar for baking:--and ask him to go
To the office--there might be a letter, you know!
May Providence go with your father to town,
And soften the heart o' this rich Captain Brown.
He's the stranger that's buying the Sunnyside place,
We all thought was willed to poor Archibald Grace,
Along with the mortgage that's jest falling due,
And that father allowed Archie Grace would renew;
And, Cleo, I reckon that father will sell
The Croft, and the little real Alderney, Bel.
You raised her, I know; and it's hard she must go;
But father will pay every dollar we owe;
It's his way, to be honest and fair as the day;
And he always was dreadfully set in his way.
I try to find comfort in thinking, my dear,
That things would be different if Robert was here;
I guess he'd a stayed but for Archibald Grace.
And helped with the chores and looked after the place;
But Archie, he heard from that Eben Carew,
And went wild to go off to the gold-diggings, too;
And so they must up and meander out West,
And now they are murdered--or missing, at best--
Surprised by that bloody, marauding "Red Wing,"
'Way out in the Yellowstone country, last spring.
No wonder, Cleora, I'm getting so gray!
I grieve for my lost darling day after day;
And, Cleo, my daughter, don't mind if it's true,
But I reckon I've guessed about Archie and you!
And the Lord knows our burdens are grievous to bear,
But there's still a bright edge to my cloud of despair,
And somehow I hear, like a tune in my head:
"The boys are coming! The boys aren't dead!"
So to-morrow, for dear father's sake, we will try
To make the day seem like Thanksgivings gone by;
And tho' we mayn't see where Thanksgiving comes in,
Things were never so bad yet as things might a-been.
But it's nigh time the kettle was hung on the crane,
And somebody's driving full tilt up the lane--
For the land's sake! Cleora, you're dropping that tray
O' blue willow tea-cups! What startled you? Hey?
You're white as a ghost--Why, here's father from town!
And who are those men, daughter, helping him down?
Run! open the door! There's a whirr in my head,
And the tune's getting louder--"The boys aren't dead!"
Cleora! That voice--it is Robert!--O, Lord!
I have leaned on Thy promise, and trusted Thy word,
And out of the midst of great darkness and night
Thy mercy has led me again to the light!
IN HOC SIGNO VINCES!
(UNDER THIS SIGN THOU SHALT CONQUER.)
Beneath the solemn stars that light
The dread infinitudes of night,
Mid wintry solitudes that lie
Where lonely Hecla's toweling pyre
Reddens an awful space of sky
With Thor's eternal altar fire!
Worn with the fever of unrest,
And spent with years of eager quest,
Beneath the vaulted heaven they stood,
Pale, haggard eyed, of garb uncouth,
The seekers of the Hidden Good,
The searchers for Eternal Truth!
From fiery Afric's burning sands,
From Asia's hoary templed lands,
From the pale borders of the North,
From the far South--the fruitful West,
O, long ago each journeyed forth,
Led hither by one glorious quest!
And each, with pilgrim staff and shoon,
Bore on his scrip a mystic rune,
Some maxim of his chosen creed,
By which, with swerveless rule and line,
He shaped his life in word and deed
To ends heroic and divine!
Around their dreary winter world
The great ice-kraken dimly curled
The white seas of the frozen zone;
And like a mighty lifted shield
The hollow heavens forever shone
On gleaming fiord and pathless field!
Behind them, in the nether deep,
The central fires, that never sleep,
Grappled and rose, and fell again;
And with colossal shock and throe
The shuddering mountain rent in twain
Her garments of perpetual snow!
Then Aba Seyd, grave-eyed and grand,
Stood forth with lifted brow and hand;
Kingly of height, of mien sublime,
Like glorious Saul among his peers,
With matchless wisdom for all time
Gleaned from the treasure house of years;
His locks rose like an eagle's crest,
His gray beard stormed on cheek and breast,
His silvery voice sonorous rang,
As when, exulting in the fray,
Where lances hissed and trumpets sang,
He held the Bedouin hordes at bay.
"Lo! Here we part: henceforth alone
We journey to the goal unknown;
But whatsoever paths we find,
The ties of fellowship shall bind
Our constant souls; and soon or late--
We laboring still in harmony--
The grand results for which we wait
Shall crown the mighty years to be!
Now scoffed at, baffled, and beset,
We grope in twilight darkness yet,
We who would found the age of gold,
Based on the universal good,
And forge the links that yet shall hold
The world in common Brotherhood!
"O, comrades of the Mystic Quest!
Who seek the Highest and the Best!
Where'er the goal for which we strive--
Whate'er the knowledge we may win--
This truth supreme shall live and thrive,
'Tis love that makes the whole world kin!
The love sublime and purified,
That puts all dross of self aside
To live for others--to uphold
Before our own a brother's cause:
This is the master power shall mould
The nobler customs, higher laws!
"Then shall all wars, all discords cease,
And, rounded to perpetual peace,
The bounteous years shall come and go
Unvexed; and all humanity,
Nursed to a loftier type, shall grow
Like to that image undefiled,
That fair reflex of Deity,
Who, first, beneath the morning skies
And glowing palms of paradise,
A God-like man, awoke and smiled!"
* * * * Like some weird strain of music, spent
In one full chord, the sweet voice ceased;
A faint white glow smote up the east,
Like wings uplifting--and a cry
Of winds went forth, as if the night
Beneath the brightening firmament
Had voiced, in hollow prophecy,
The affirmation: "By and by!"
HOW KATIE SAVED THE TRAIN.
The floods were out. Far as the bound
Of sight was one stupendous round
Of flat and sluggish crawling water!
As, from a slowly drowning rise,
She looked abroad with startled eyes,
The engineer's intrepid daughter.
Far as her straining eyes could see,
The seething, swoolen Tombigbee
Outspread his turbulent yellow tide;
His angry currents swirled and surged
O'er leagues of fertile lands submerged,
And ruined hamlets, far and wide.
Along a swell of higher ground,
Still, like a gleaming serpent, wound
The heavy graded iron trail;
But, inch by inch, the overflow
Dragged down the road bed, till the slow
Back-water crept across the rail.
And where the ghostly trestle spanned
A stretch of marshy bottom-land,
The stealthy under current gnawed
At sunken pile, and massive pier,
And the stout bridge hung airily where
She sullen dyke lay deep and broad.
Above the hollow, droning sound
Of waves that filled the watery round,
She heard a distant shout and din--
The levees of the upper land
Had crumbled like a wall of sand,
And the wild floods were pouring in!
She saw the straining dyke give way--
The quaking trestle reel and sway.
Yet hold together, bravely, still!
She saw the rushing waters drown
The piers, while ever sucking down
The undermined and treacherous "fill!"
Her strong heart hammered in her breast,
As o'er a distant woody crest
A dim gray plume of vapor trailed;
And nearer, clearer, by and by,
Like the faint echo of a cry,
A warning whistle shrilled and wailed!
Her frightened gelding reared and plunged,
As the doomed trestle rocked and lunged--
The keen lash scored his silken hide:
"Come, Bayard! We must reach the bridge
And cross to yonder higher ridge--
For thrice an hundred lives we ride!"
She stooped and kissed his tawny mane,
Sodden with flecks of froth and rain;
Then put him at the surging flood!
Girth deep the dauntless gelding sank,
The tide hissed round his smoking flank,
But straight for life or death she rode!
The wide black heavens yawned again,
Down came the torrent rushing rain--
The icy river clutched her!
Shrill in her ears the waters sang,
Strange fires from the abysses sprang,
The sharp sleet stung like whip and spur!
Her yellow hair, blown wild and wide,
Streamed like a meteor o'er the tide;
Her set white face yet whiter grew,
As lashed by furious flood and rain,
Still for the bridge, with might and main,
Her gallant horse swam, straight and true!
They gained the track, and slowly crept
Timber by timber, torrents swept,
Across the boiling hell of water--
Till past the torn and shuddering bridge
He bore her to the safer ridge,
The engineer's intrepid daughter!
The night was falling wild and black,
The waters blotted out the track;
She gave her flying horse free rein,
For full a dreadful mile away
The lonely wayside station lay,
And hoarse above his startled neigh
She heard the thunder of the train!
"What if they meet this side the goal?"
She thought with sick and shuddering soul;
For well she knew what doom awaited
A fell mischance--a step belated--
The grinding wheels, the yawning dyke--
Sure death for her--for them--alike!
Like danger-lamps her blue eyes glowed,
As thro' the whirling gloom she rode,
Her laboring breath drawn sharply in;
Pitted against yon rushing wheels
Were tireless grit and trusty heels,
And with God's favor they might win!
And soon along the perilous line
Flamed out the lurid warning sign,
While round her staggering horse the crowd
Surged with wild cheers and plaudits loud.--
And this is how, thro' flood and rain,
Brave Kate McCarthy saved the train!
OFF THE SKIDLOE.
With leagues of wasteful water ringed about,
And wrapped in sheeted foam from base to peak,
A sheer, stupendous monolith, wrought out
By the slow, ceaseless labor of the deeps,
In awful isolation, old as Time,
The gray, forbidding Rock of Skidloe stands--
Breasting the wild incursions of the North--
The grim antagonist of a thousand waves!
Far to the leeward, faintly drawn against
A dim perspective of perpetual storms,
A frowning line of black basaltic cliffs
Baffles the savage onset of the surf.
But, rolled in cloud and foam, old Skidloe lifts
His dark, defiant head forever mid
The shock and thunder of contending tides,
And fixed, immovable as fate, hurls back
The rude, eternal protest of the sea!
Colossal waters coil about his feet,
Deep rooted in the awful gulfs between
The measureless walls of mountain chains submerged;
An infinite hoarse murmur wells from all
His dim mysterious crypts and corridors:
The inarticulate mutterings that voice
The ancient secret of the mighty main.
In all the troubled round of sea and air,
No glimpse of brightness lends the vivid zest
Of life and light to the harsh monotone
Of gray tumultuous flood and spectral sky;
Far off the black basaltic crags are heaved
Against the desolate emptiness of space;
But no sweet beam of sunset ever falls
Athwart old Skidloe's cloudy crest--no soft
And wistful glory of awakened dawn
Lays on his haggard brows a touch of grace.
Sometimes a lonely curlew skims across
The seething torment of the dread abyss,
And, shrieking, dips into the mist beyond;
But, solitary and unchanged for aye,
He towers amid the rude revolt of waves,
His stony face seamed by a thousand years,
And wrinkled with a million furrows, worn
By the slow drip of briny tears, that creep
Along his hollow cheek. His hidden hands
Drag down the drowned and tossing wrecks that drive
Before the fury of the Northern gales,
And mute, inscrutable as destiny,
He keeps his sombre secrets as of yore.
The slow years come and go; the seasons dawn
And fade, and pass to swell the solemn ranks
Of august ages in the march of Time.
But changeless still, amid eternal change,
Old Skidloe bears the furious brunt of all
The warring elements that grapple mid
The mighty insurrections of the sea!
Gray desolation, ancient solitude,
Brood o'er his wide, unrestful water world,
While grim, unmoved, forbidding as of yore,
He wraps his kingly altitudes about
With the fierce blazon of the thunder cloud;
And on his awful and uplifted brows
The red phylactery of the lightning shines;
And throned amid eternal wars, he dwells,
His dread regality hedged round by all
The weird magnificence of exultant storms!
"O life! O, vailed destiny!"
She cried--"within thy hidden hands
What recompense is waiting me
Beyond these naked wintry sands?
For lo! The ancient legend saith:
'Take ye a rose at Christmas tide,
And pin thereto your loving faith,
And cast it to the waters wide;
Whate'er the wished-for guerdon be,
God's hand will guide it safe to thee!'
"I pace the river's icy brink,
This dreary Christmas Eve," she said,
"And watch the dying sunset sink
From pallid gold to ashen red.
My eyes are hot with weary tears,
I heed not how the winds may blow,
While thinking of the vanished years
Beyond the stormy heave and throe
Of yon far sea-line, dimly curled
Around my lonely island-world.
"The winds make melancholy moan;
I hear the river flowing by,
As, heavy-hearted and alone,
Beneath the wild December sky,
I take the roses from my breast--
White roses of the Holy Rood--
And, filled with passionate unrest,
I cast them to the darkening flood.
O, roses, drifting out to sea,
Bring my lost treasures back to me!
"Bring back the joyous hopes of youth!
The faith that knew no flaw of doubt!
The spotless innocence and truth
That clothed my maiden soul about!
Bring back the grace of girlhood gone,
The rapturous zest of other days!
The dew and freshness of the dawn,
That lay on life's untrodden ways--
The glory that will shine no more
For me on earthly sea or shore!
"Call back the sweet home-joys of old
That gladdened many a Christmas-tide--
The faces hidden in the mould,
The dear lost loves that changed or died!
O, gentle spirits, gone before,
Come, from the undiscovered lands,
And bring the precious things of yore
To aching heart and empty hands;
Keep all the wealth of earth and sea,
But give my lost ones back to me.
"Vain are my tears, my pleadings vain!
O, roses, drifting with the tide,
To me shall never come again
The glory of the years that died!
Thro' gloom and night, sweet flowers, drift on--
Drift out upon the unknown sea;
Into the holy Christmas dawn
Bear this impassioned prayer for me:
O, turn, dear Lord, my heart away
From things that are but for a day;
Teach me to trust thy loving will,
And bear life's heavy crosses still."
NATHAN COVINGTON BROOKS, A.M., LL.D.
The following sketch is principally from the Third Volume of
Biographical Sketches of Eminent Americans.
"Nathan Covington Brooks, the youngest son of John and Mary Brooks, was
born in West Nottingham, Cecil county, Maryland, on the 12th of August,
1809. His education was commenced at the West Nottingham Academy, then
under the charge of Rev. James Magraw, D.D., and subsequently he
graduated as Master of Arts, at St. John's College, Annapolis, Md. His
thesis was a poem on the World's Changes. Diligent and persevering in
his studies, his rapid progress and high attainments won the regard of
his teachers, while his amiable manners endeared him to his classmates.
While his principal delight was in the study of the Classics, he devoted
much attention to mathematics and other studies. Like many other
writers, some of his earliest efforts were in verse. Indeed it may be
said of him, as of Pope, that he 'lisped in rhyme.'
Though we have no Shakespeares, or Miltons, or Byrons, there is no
scarcity of literary amateurs who, in their hours of recreation and
dalliance with letters, betake themselves to poetry as an amusement for
their leisure hours or a solace amid the rude trials of life. High in
the rank of these writers of occasional poetry stands Dr. Brooks.
Nature, in all her forms, he has made the subject of close observation
and profound reflection, and in looking at Nature, he has used his own
eyes and not the spectacles of other writers. He has a keen relish for
the beautiful, and a deep sympathy with the truthful and the good. His
taste, formed on the finest models, has been ripened and chastened by a
patient study of the great monuments of antiquity. His thoughts seem to
be the natural development of his mind; and his words the unstudied
expression of his thoughts. The music of his verse reminds us sometimes
of the soft cadences of Hemans, and not unfrequently of the mournful
harp of Byron."
In his eighteenth year he was a contributor of prose and poetry to the
_Minerva and Emerald_, and _Saturday Post_, of Baltimore; subsequently
contributed to _The Wreath_, _Monument_, _Athenaeum_, and _Protestant_,
of the same city. In 1830 he edited _The Amethyst_, an annual and soon
after became a contributor of prose and poetry to _Atkinson's Casket_,
and _The Lady's Book_, of which latter he was the first paid
contributor; wrote for _Burton's Magazine_, and _Graham's_, _The New
York Mirror_, _The Ladies' Companion_, and the _Home Journal_; and the
following annuals, _The Gift_, _The Christian Keepsake_, and _The
Religious Souvenir_. He contributed also prose and poetry to _The
Southern Literary Messenger_, _The Southern Quarterly_ of New Orleans,
_The London Literary Gazette_, and _The London Court Journal_.
In 1837 Marshall, of Philadelphia, published a volume of his religious
poems, entitled "Scriptural Anthology." In 1840, Kay Brothers, of
Philadelphia, published a volume of his prose and poetry, under the name
of "The Literary Amaranth." Besides these Dr. Brooks has edited a series
of Greek and Latin classics, has written four volumes on religious
subjects, one on "Holy Week," just issued from the press, "The History
of the Mexican War," which was translated into German, "Battles of the
In his literary career he has won three prizes that will be cherished as
heirlooms in the family, a silver pitcher, for the best prose tale,
entitled "The Power of Truth," and two silver goblets, one a prize for
the poem entitled "The Fall of Superstition," the other a prize for a
poem, "The South-sea Islander," for which fifteen of our leading poets
Though in his leisure moments Dr. Brooks has achieved so much in
literature, his profession has been that of an educator, in which he has
had the mental training of males and females to the number of five or
six thousand. In 1824, he was appointed to the village school in
Charlestown, Cecil county, in 1826, established a private school in
Baltimore city; in 1831 was elected principal of the Franklin Academy,
Reistertown, and in 1834 principal of the Brookesville Academy,
Montgomery county, both endowed by the State; in 1839, he was
unanimously elected over forty-five applicants as principal of the
Baltimore City High School which position he held for nine years, until
asked by the Trustees of the Baltimore Female College, in 1848, to
accept the organization of the institution. The College is chartered and
endowed by the State of Maryland, has graduated over three hundred young
ladies, and trained and sent forth two hundred teachers. Emory College,
Oxford, Georgia, conferred the degree of LL.D., on Professor Brooks in
1859, and in 1863 his name was presented, with others, for the
presidency of Girard College. Though Major Smith, a Philadelphian of an
influential family, was elected president, Professor Brooks received
more votes than any of the other competitors. In 1827, he married Mary
Elizabeth, eldest daughter of William Gobright, a lady of great beauty
and excellence, and in 1867, married Christiana Octavia, youngest
daughter of Dr. William Crump, of Virginia. Of the former union four
sons and two daughters are living; of the latter union a son. The
following poems are selected as specimens of his style.
THE MOTHER TO HER DEAD BOY.
The flowers you reared repose in sleep
With folded bells where the night-dews weep,
And the passing wind, like a spirit, grieves
In a gentle dirge through the sighing leaves.
The sun will kiss the dew from the rose,
Its crimson petals again unclose,
And the violet ope the soft blue ray
Of its modest eye to the gaze of day;
But when will the dews and shades that lie
So cold and damp on thy shrouded eye,
Be chased from the folded lids, my child,
And thy glance break forth so sweetly wild?
The fawn, thy partner in sportive play,
Has ceased his gambols at close of day,
And his weary limbs are relaxed and free
In gentle sleep by his favorite tree.
He will wake ere long, and the rosy dawn
Will call him forth to the dewy lawn,
And his sprightly gambols be seen again,
Through the parted boughs and upon the plain;
But oh! when will slumber cease to hold
The limbs that lie so still and cold?
When wilt thou come with thy tiny feet
That bounded my glad embrace to meet?
The birds you tended have ceased to sing,
And shaded their eyes with the velvet wing,
And, nestled among the leaves of the trees,
They are rocked to rest by the cool night breeze.
The morn will the chains of sleep unbind,
And spread their plumes to the freshening wind;
And music from many a warbler's mouth
Will honey the grove, like the breath of the south;
But when shall the lips, whose lightest word
Was sweeter far than the warbling bird,
Their rich wild strain of melody pour?
They are mute! they are cold! they will ope no more!
When heaven's great bell in a tone sublime
Shall sound the knell of departed Time,
And its echoes pierce with a voice profound
Through the liquid sea and the solid ground,
Thou wilt wake, my child, from the dreamless sleep
Whose oblivious dews thy senses steep,
And then will the eye, now dim, grow bright
In the glorious rays of Heaven's own light,
The limbs, that an angel's semblance bore,
Bloom 'neath living trees on the golden shore,
And the voice that's hushed, God's praises hymn
'Mid the bands of the harping seraphim.
TO A DOVE.
MOURNING AMID THE RUINS OF AN ANCIENT CHURCH.
The fields have faded, the groves look dead,
The summer is gone, its beauty has fled,
And there breathes a low and plaintive sound
From each stream and solemn wood around.
In unison with their tone, my breast
With a spirit of kindred gloom is opprest,
And the sighs burst forth as I gaze, the while,
On the crumbling stone of the reverend pile,
And list to the sounds of the moaning wind
As it stirs the old ivy-boughs entwined,--
Sighs mournful along through chancel and nave,
And shakes the loose panel and architrave,
While the mouldering branches and withered leaves
Are rustling around the moss-grown eaves.
But sadder than these, thou emblem of love,
Thy moanings fall, disconsolate dove,
In the solemn eve on my pensive ear,
As the wailing sounds of a requiem drear,
As coming from crumbling altar stone
They are borne on the winds in a dirge-like tone,
Like the plaintive voice of the broken-hearted
O'er hopes betrayed and joys departed.
Why dost thou pour thy sad complaint
On the evening winds from a bosom faint?
As if thou hadst come from the shoreless main
Of a world submerged to the ark again,
With a weary heart to lament and brood
O'er the wide and voiceless solitude.
Dost thou mourn that the gray and mouldering door
Swings back to the reverent crowd no more?
That the tall and waving grass defiles
The well-worn flags of the crowdless aisles?
That the wild fox barks, and the owlet screams
Where the organ and choir pealed out their themes?
Dost thou mourn, that from sacred desk the word
Of life and truth is no longer heard?
That the gentle shepherd, who to pasture bore
His flock, has gone, to return no more?
Dost thou mourn for the hoary-headed sage
Who has sunk to the grave 'neath the weight of age?
For the vanquished pride of manhood's bloom?
For the light of youth quenched in the tomb?
For the bridegroom's fall? For the bride's decay?
That pastor and people have passed away,
And the tears of night their graves bedew
By the funeral cypress and solemn yew?
Or dost thou mourn that the house of God
Has ceased to be a divine abode?
That the Holy Spirit, which erst did brood
O'er the Son of Man by Jordan's flood,
In thine own pure form to the eye of sense,
From its resting place has departed hence,
And twitters the swallow, and wheels the bat
O'er the mercy-seat where its presence sat?
I have marked thy trembling breast, and heard
With a heart responsive thy tones, sweet bird,
And have mourned, like thee, of earth's fairest things
The blight and the loss--Oh! had I thy wings,
From a world of woe to the realms of the blest
I would flee away, and would be at rest.
FALL OF SUPERSTITION.
A PRIZE POEM.
The star of Bethlehem rose, and truth and light
Burst on the nations that reposed in night,
And chased the Stygian shades with rosy smile
That spread from Error's home, the land of Nile.
No more with harp and sistrum Music calls
To wanton rites within Astarte's halls,
The priests forget to mourn their Apis slain,
And bear Osiris' ark with pompous train;
Gone is Serapis, and Anubis fled,
And Neitha's unraised vail shrouds Isis' prostrate head.
Where Jove shook heaven when the red bolt was hurled,
Neptune the sea--and Phoebus lit the world;
Where fair-haired naiads held each silver flood,
A fawn each field--a dryad every wood--
The myriad gods have fled, and God alone
Above their ruined fanes has reared his throne.[A]
No more the augur stands in snowy shroud
To watch each flitting wing and rolling cloud,
Nor Superstition in dim twilight weaves
Her wizard song among Dodona's leaves;
Phoebus is dumb, and votaries crowd no more
The Delphian mountain and the Delian shore,
And lone and still the Lybian Ammon stands,
His utterance stifled by the desert sands.
No more in Cnydian bower, or Cyprian grove
The golden censers flame with gifts to Love;
The pale-eyed Vestal bends no more and prays
Where the eternal fire sends up its blaze;
Cybele hears no more the cymbal's sound,
The Lares shiver the fireless hearthstone round;
And shatter'd shrine and altar lie o'erthrown,
Inscriptionless, save where Oblivion lone
Has dimly traced his name upon the mouldering stone.
Medina's sceptre is despoiled of might--
Once stretched o'er realms that bowed in pale affright;
The Moon that rose, as waved the scimetar
Where sunk the Cross amid the storm of war,
Now pale and dim, is hastening to its wane,
The sword is broke that spread the Koran's reign,
And soon will minaret and swelling dome
Fall, like the fanes of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
On other lands has dawned immortal day,
And Superstition's clouds have rolled away;
O'er Gallia's mounts and on Iona's shore
The Runic altars roll their smoke no more;
Fled is the Druid from his ancient oak,
His harp is mute--his magic circle broke;
And Desolation mopes in Odin's cells
Where spirit-voices called to join the feast of shells.
O'er Indian plains and ocean-girdled isles
With brow of beauty Truth serenely smiles;
The nations bow, as light is shed abroad,
And break their idols for the living God.
Where purple streams from human victims run
And votive flesh hangs quivering in the sun,
Quenched are the pyres, as shines salvation's star--
Grim Juggernaut is trembling on his car
And cries less frequent come from Ganges' waves
Where infant forms sink into watery graves.
Where heathen prayers flamed by the cocoa tree
They supplicate the Christians' Deity
And chant in living aisles the vesper hymn
Where giant god-trees rear their temples dim.
Still speed thy truth!--still wave thy spirit sword,
Till every land acknowledge Thee the Lord,
And the broad banner of the Cross, unfurled
In triumph, wave above a subject world.
And here O God! where feuds thy church divide--
The sectary's rancor, and the bigot's pride--
Melt every heart, till all our breasts enshrine
One faith, one hope, one love, one zeal divine,
And, with one voice, adoring nations call
Upon the Father and the God of all.
[Footnote A: The Pantheon that was built to all the gods was transformed
into a Christian temple.]
THE INFANT ST. JOHN, THE BAPTIST.
O sweeter than the breath of southern wind
With all its perfumes is the whisper'd prayer
From infant lips, and gentler than the hind,
The feet that bear
The heaven-directed youth in wisdom's pathway fair.
And thou, the early consecrate, like flowers
Didst shed thy incense breath to heaven abroad;
And prayer and praise the measure of thy hours,
The desert trod
Companionless, alone, save of the mighty God.
As Phosphor leads the kindling glory on,
And fades, lost in the day-god's bright excess,
So didst thou in Redemption's coming dawn,
The fading herald of the Sun of Righteousness.
But when the book of life shall be unsealed,
And stars of glory round the throne divine
In all their light and beauty be revealed,
The brightest thine
Of all the hosts of earth with heavenly light shall shine.
Ibi tu calentem
Debita sparges lacryma favillam
Percy Bysshe Shelley, an eminent English poet, while sailing in the
Mediterranean sea, in 1822, was drowned off the coast of Tuscany in
a squall which wrecked the boat in which he had embarked. Two weeks
afterwards his body was washed ashore. The Tuscan quarantine
regulations at that time required that whatever came ashore from the
sea should be burned. Shelley's body was accordingly placed on a
pyre and reduced to ashes, in the presence of Lord Byron and Leigh
Hunt, who are the "brother bards" referred to in the last stanza of
Beneath the axle of departing day
The weary waters on the horizon's verge
Blush'd like the cheek of children tired in play,
As bore the surge
The poet's wasted form with slow and mournful dirge.
On Via Reggio's surf-beaten strand
The late-relenting sea, with hollow moan
Gave back the storm-tossed body to the land,
As if in tone
Of sorrow it bewailed the deed itself had done.
There laid upon his bed of shells--around
The moon and stars their lonely vigils kept;
While in their pall-like shades the mountains bound
And night bewept
The bard of nature as in death's cold arms he slept.
The tuneful morn arose with locks of light--
The ear that drank her music's call was chill;
The eye that shone was sealed in endless night,
And cold and still
The pulses stood that 'neath her gaze were wont to thrill.
With trees e'en like the sleeper's honors sered
And prows of galleys, like his bosom riven,
The melancholy pile of death was reared
Aloft to heaven,
And on its pillared height the corpse to torches given.
From his meridian throne the eye of day
Beheld the kindlings of the funeral fire,
Where, like a war-worn Roman chieftain, lay
Upon his pyre
The poet of the broken heart and broken lyre.
On scented wings the sorrowing breezes came
And fanned the blaze, until the smoke that rushed
In dusky volumes upward, lit with flame
All redly blushed
Like Melancholy's sombre cheek by weeping flushed.
And brother bards upon that lonely shore
Were standing by, and wept as brightly burned
The pyre, till all the form they loved before,
To ashes turned,
With incense, wine, and tears was sprinkled and inurned.
THE FOUNTAIN REVISITED.
Let the classic pilgrim rove,
By Egeria's fount to stand,
Or sit in Vancluse's grot of love,
Afar from his native land;
Let him drink of the crystal tides
Of the far-famed Hippocrene,
Or list to the waves where Peneus glides
His storied mounts between:
But dearer than aught 'neath a foreign sky
Is the fount of my native dell,
It has fairer charms for my musing eye
For my heart a deeper spell.
Dear fount! what memories rush
Through the heart and wildered brain,
As beneath the old beech I list to the gush
Of thy sparkling waves again;
For here in a fairy dream
With friends, my childhood's hours
Glided on like the flow of thy beautiful stream,
And like it were wreathed with flowers:
Here we saw on thy waves, from the shade,
The dance of the sunbeams at noon;
Or heard, half-afraid, the deep murmurings made
In thy cavernous depths, 'neath the moon.
I have heard thy waves away
From thy scenes, dear fount, apart;
And have felt the play, in life's fevered day,
Of thy waters through my heart;
But oh! thou art not the same:
Youth's friends are gone--I am lone--
Thy beeches are carved with many a name
Now graved on the funeral stone.
As I stand and muse, my tears
Are troubling the stream whose waves
The lullaby sang to their infantile years,
And now murmur around their graves.
DEATH OF SAMSON.
Within Philistia's princely hall
Is held a glorious festival,
And on the fluctuant ether floats
The music of the timbrel's notes,
While living waves of voices gush,
Echoing among the distant hills,
Like an impetuous torrent's rush
When swollen by a thousand rills.
The stripling and the man of years,
Warriors with twice ten thousand spears,
Peasants and slaves and husbandmen,--
The shepherd from his mountain glen,
Vassal, and chief arrayed in gold
And purple robes--Philistines all
Are drawn together to behold
Their mighty foeman held in thrall.
Loud pealed the accents of the horn
Upon the air of the clear morn,
And deafening rose the mingled shout,
Cleaving the air from that wild rout,
As, guarded by a cavalcade
The illustrious prisoner appeared
And, 'mid the grove the dense spears made,
His forehead like a tall oak reared.
He stood with brawny shoulders bare,
And tossed his nervous arms in air--
Chains, leathern thongs, and brazen bands
Parted like wool within his hands;
And giant trunks of gnarled oak,
Splintered and into ribbons rent,
Or by his iron sinews broke,
Increased the people's wonderment.
The amphitheatre, where stood
Spell-bound the mighty multitude,
Rested its long and gilded walls
Upon two pillars' capitals:
His brawny arms, with labor spent,
He threw around the pillars there,
And to the deep blue firmament
Lifted his sightless orbs in prayer.
Anon the columns move--they shake,
Totter, and vacillate, and shake,
And wrenched by giant force, come down
Like a disrupted mountain's crown,
With cornice, frieze, and chapiter,
Girder, and spangled dome, and wall,
Ceiling of gold, and roof of fir,
Crumbled in mighty ruin all.
Down came the structure--on the air
Uprose in wildest shrieks despair,
Rolling in echoes loud and long
Ascending from the myriad throng:
And Samson, with the heaps of dead
Priest, vassal, chief, in ruin blent,
Piled over his victorious head
His sepulchre and monument.
AN INFANT'S PRAYER.
The day is spent, on the calm evening hours,
Like whispered prayer, come nature's sounds abroad,
And with bowed heads the pure and gentle flowers
Shake from their censers perfume to their God;
Thus would I bow the head and bend the knee,
And pour my soul's pure incense, Lord, to Thee.
Creator of my body, I adore,
Redeemer of my soul, I worship Thee,
Preserver of my being, I implore
Thy light and power to guide and shelter me;
Be Thou my sun, as life's dark vale I tread,
Be thou my shield to guard my infant head.
And when these eyes in dewy sleep shall close,
Uplifted now in love to Thy great throne,
In the defenceless hours of my repose,
Father and God, oh! leave me not alone,
But send thy angel minister's to keep
With hovering wings their vigils while I sleep.
JOHN MARCHBORN COOLEY.
John Marchborn Cooley, the eldest son of the late Corbin Cooley, was
born at the Cooley homestead, on the Susquehanna river, in Cecil county,
a short distance below the junction of that stream and the Octoraro
creek, on the first of March, 1827; and died at Darlington, Harford
county, Maryland, April 13th, 1878.
In childhood he showed a taste for learning, and in early youth was sent
to West Nottingham Academy, where he received his education. While at
the Academy he is said to have been always willing to write the
compositions of his fellow students, and to help them with any literary
work in which they were engaged.
Mr. Cooley studied law in the office of the late Col. John C. Groome,
and was admitted to the Elkton bar on the 4th of April, 1850. He
practiced his profession in Elkton for a short time, during a part of
which he was counsel to the County Commissioners, but removed to Warsaw,
Illinois, where he continued to practice his profession for six years,
after which he came to Harford county, where he resided until the
outbreaking of the war of the rebellion, when he joined the Union army
and continued to serve his country until the close of the war. In 1866,
he married Miss Hattie Lord, of Manchester, New Hampshire, and settled
in Darlington, Harford county, Maryland, where he was engaged in
teaching a classical school until the time of his death.
Mr. Cooley was born within a few miles of the birthplace of William P.
and E.E. Ewing, and Emma Alice Brown and almost within sight of the
mansion in which Mrs. Hall wrote the poems which are published in this
Mr. Cooley was a born poet, a voluminous and beautiful writer, and the
author of several poems of considerable length and great merit.
Mr. Cooley's widow and son, Marvin L. Cooley, still survive, and at
present reside in Darlington.
A STORY WITH A MORAL.
One ev'ning, as some children play'd
Beneath an oak tree's summer shade,
A stranger, travel-stained and gray,
Beside them halted on his way.
As if a spell, upon them thrown,
Had changed their agile limbs to stone,
Each in the spot where it first view'd
Th' approaching wand'rer mutely stood.
Ere silence had oppressive grown
The old man's voice thus found a tone;
"I too was once as blithe and gay--
My days as lightly flew away
As if I counted all their hours
Upon a dial-plate of flowers;
And gentle slumber oft renew'd
The joyance of my waking mood,
As if my soul in slumber caught
The radiance of expiring thought;
As if perception's farewell beam
Could tinge my bosom with a dream--
That twilight of the mind which throws
Such mystic splendor o'er repose.
Contrasted with a youth so bright
My manhood seems one dreary night,
A chilling, cheerless night, like those
Which over Arctic regions close.
I married one, to my fond eyes
An angel draped in human guise.
Alas! she had one failing;
No secret could she keep
In spite of all my railing,
And curses loud and deep.
No matter what the danger
Of gossiping might be,
She'd gossip with a stranger
As quickly as with me.
One can't be always serious,
And talking just for show,
For that is deleterious
To fellowship, and so
I oft with her would chatter,
Just as I felt inclined,
Of any little matter
I chanced to call to mind.
Alas! on one ill-fated day,
I heard an angry neighbor say,
'Don't tell John Jones of your affairs,
Don't tell him for your life,
Without you wish the world to know,
For he will tell his wife.'
'For he will tell his wife' did ring
All day through heart and brain;
In sleep a nightmare stole his voice,
And shouted it again.
I spent whole days in meditating
How I should break the spell,
Which made my wife keep prating
Of things she shouldn't tell.
Some awful crime I'll improvise,
Which I'll to her confide,
Upon the instant home I rushed,
My hands in blood were dyed.
'Now, Catharine, by your love for me,
My secret closely hide.'
Her quiet tongue, for full three days,
The secret kept so well,
I almost grew to hope that she
This secret wouldn't tell.
Alas! upon the following day
She had revealed it, for I found
Some surly men with warrants arm'd
Were slyly lurking round.
They took me to the county jail
My tristful Kate pursuing,
And all the way she sobb'd and cried
'Oh! what have I been doing?'
Before the judge I was arraigned,
Who sternly frowning gazed on me,
And by his clerk straightway inquired,
What was the felon's plea.
May't please your honor, I exclaim'd
This case you may dismiss--
Now hearken all assembled here,
My whole defence is this:
I killed a dog--a thievish wretch--
His body may be found,
Beneath an apple tree of mine,
A few feet under ground,
This simple plot I laid in hope
To cure my tattling wife;
I find, alas! that she must talk,
Though talking risk my life.
So from her presence then I fled,
In spite of all the tears she shed,
And since, a wand'ring life I've led,
And told the tale where'er I sped."
FORTY YEARS AFTER.
For twenty guests the feast is laid
With luscious wines and viands rare,
And perfumes such as might persuade
The very gods to revel there.
A youthful company gathered here,
Just two score years ago to-day,
Agreed to meet once ev'ry year
Until the last one passed away.
And when the group might fewer grow
The vacant chairs should still be placed
Around the board whereon should glow
The glories of the earliest feast.
One guest was there, with sunken eye
And mem'ry busy with the past--
Could he have chosen the time to die,
Some earlier feast had been his last.
"But thrice we met" the old man said,
But thrice in youthful joy and pride,
When all for whom this board was spread
Were seated gaily at my side.
Then first we placed an empty chair
And ev'ry breast was filled with gloom,
For he we knew, who should be there,
That hour was absent in the tomb.
The jest and song were check'd awhile,
But quickly we forgot the dead,
And o'er each face th' arrested smile
In all its former freedom spread.
For still our circle seem'd intact.
The lofty chorus rose as well
As when our numbers had not lack'd
That voice the more in mirth to swell.
But we parted with a sadder mien
And hands were clasped more kindly then,
For each one knew where death had been
We might expect him o'er again.
Ah! wondrous soon our feast before
A lessening group was yearly spread,
And all our joys were ruffled o'er
With somber mem'ries of the dead.
The song and jest less rude became,
Our voices low and looks more kind,
Each toast recall'd some cherish'd name
Or brought a buried friend to mind.
At length, alas! we were but two
With features shrivel'd, shrunk, and changed,
Whose faded eyes could scarcely view
The vacant seats around us ranged.
But fancy, as we passed the bowl,
Fill'd ev'ry empty chair again.
Inform'd the silent air with soul
And shaped the shadowy void to men.
The breezy air around us stirr'd
With snatches of familiar song,
Nor cared we then how fancy err'd
Since her delusion made us strong.
But now, I am the only guest,
The grave--the grave now covers all
Who joined me at the annual feast
We kept in this deserted hall.
He paused and then his goblet fill'd,
But never touch'd his lips the brim,
His arm was stay'd, his pulses still'd,
And ah! his glazing eyes grew dim.
The farther objects in the room
Have vanish'd from his failing sight;
One broad horizon spreads in gloom
Around a lessening disc of light.
And then he seem'd like one who kept
A vigil with suspended breath--
So kindly to his breast had crept
Some gentlest messenger of death.
Still--still the Earth each primal grace renews,
And blooms, or brightens with Creation's hues:
Repeats the sun the glories of the sky,
Which upward lured the earliest watcher's eye;
Yet bids his beams the glowing clouds adorn
With all the charms of Earth's initial morn,
And duplicates at eve the splendors yet
That fixed the glance, that first beheld him set.
LOVED AND LOST.
Love cannot call her back again,
But oh! it may presume
With ceaseless accents to complain,
All wildly near her tomb.
A madd'ning mirage of the mind
Still bids her image rise,
That form my heart can never find
Yet haunts my wearied eyes.
Since Earth received its earliest dead,
Man's sorrow has been vain;
Though useless were the tears they shed,
Still I will weep again.
The breast, that may its pangs conceal,
Is not from torture freed,
For still the wound, that will not heal,
Alas! must inly bleed.
Vain Sophist! ask no reason why
The love that cannot save,
Will hover with despairing cry
Around the dear ones grave.
Mine is not frenzy's sudden gust,
The passion of an hour,
Which sprinkles o'er beloved dust
Its brief though burning shower.
Then bid not me my tears to check,
The effort would but fail,
The face, I hid at custom's beck,
Would weep behind its veil.
The tree its blighted trunk will rear,
With sap and verdure gone,
And hearts may break, yet many a year
All brokenly live on.
Earth has no terror like the tomb
Which hides my darling's head,
Yet seeking her amid its gloom,
I grope among the dead.
And oh! could love restore that form
To its recovered grace,
How soon would it again grow warm
Within my wild embrace.
DEATH OF HENRY CLAY, JR.
KILLED IN ONE OF THE BATTLES OF THE MEXICAN WAR.
Fierce as the sword upon his thigh,
Doth gleam the panting soldier's eye,
But nerveless hangs the arm that swayed
So proudly that terrific blade.
The feeble bosom scarce can give
A throb to show he yet doth live,
And in his eye the light which glows,
Is but the stare, that death bestows.
The filmy veins that circling thread
The cooling balls are turning red;
And every pang that racks him now,
Starts the cold sweat up to his brow,
But yet his smile not even death
Could from his boyish face unwreath,
Or in convulsive writhing show
The pangs, that wring the brain below.
To the far fight he seeks to gaze,
Where battling arms yet madly blaze,
And with a gush of manly pride,
Weeps as his banner is descried
Above the piling smoke-clouds borne,
Like the first dubious streaks of morn
That o'er the mountains misty height
Will kindle in a lovely sight.
"A foreign soil my blood doth stain,
And the few drops that yet remain
Add but still longer to my pain.
Land of my birth! thy hills no more
May these fast glazing eyes explore,
Yet oh! may not my body rest
Beneath that sod my heart loves best?
My father--home! Joys most adored
Dwell in that simple English word--
Go, comrades! Till your field is won
Forget me--father, I die thy son."
Hark the wild cry rolls on his ear!
The foe approach who hovered near;
Rings the harsh clang of bick'ring steel
In blows his arm no more may deal.
"Beside me now no longer be,
Ye need not seek to die with me;
Go, friends"--his manly bosom swell'd
With life the stiff'ning wounds withheld;
And struggling to his knees, he shook
The sword his hand had not forsook,
But to his arm it was denied
To slay the foe his heart defied.
The faintly wielded steel was left
In the slight wound it barely cleft.
Borne to the earth by the same thrust,
That smote his en'my to the dust,
His breast receiv'd their cowardly blows--
The fluttering eye-lids slowly close,
Then parting, show the eye beneath
White with the searching touch of Death.
The last thick drops congeal around
The jagged edge of many a wound;
See breaking through the marble skin
The clammy dews that lurk within,
The lip still quivers, but no breath
Seeks the unmoving heart beneath.
Thou gallant Clay--thy name doth cast
A halo o'er the glorious past;
For in the brightness of such blaze
Even Alexander fame decays,
Yes--yes, Columbia's noble son
Died! Monarchs could no more have done.
Oh! for a brief poetic mood
In which to write a merry line--
A line, which might, could, would or should
Do duty as a Valentine.
Then to the woods the birds repair
In pairs, prepared to woo
A mate whose breast shall fondly share
This world's huge load of ceaseless care
Which grows so light when borne by two.
But ah! such language will not suit,
I'd better far have still been mute.
My mate is dead or else she's flown
And I am left to brood alone,
To think of joys of vanish'd years
And banish thus some present tears;
But then our life is but a dream
And things are not what they seem.
SUGGESTED ON VISITING THE GRAVE OF A DEAR FRIEND.
Like him who mourns a jewel lost
In some unfathomable sea,
The precious gem he cherish'd most--
So, dearest, do I mourn for thee.
For oh! the future is as dark
As is the ocean's barren plain,
Whose restless waters wear no mark
To guide his eyes, who seeks in vain.
True, reckless Fancy dares invade
The realm of time's uncounted hours,
As fondly gay, as if she stray'd
In safety through a land of flowers.
And still doth hope shine bright and warm--
But oh! the light with which it cheers,
My darling one, but glows to form
A rainbow o'er a vale of tears.
GEORGE WASHINGTON CRUIKSHANK.
George W. Cruikshank was born in Fredericktown, Cecil county, Md., May
11th, 1838. He received his early education in the common school of
Cecilton, and was afterwards sent to a military academy at Brandywine
Springs, in New Castle county, Delaware, and graduated at Delaware
College in 1858.
He is among the very best classical and literary scholars that his
native county has produced. Mr. Cruikshank studied law for about a year
in the office of Charles J.M. Gwinn, of Baltimore, but was compelled by
the threatened loss of sight to relinquish study until 1865, when he
completed the prescribed course of reading in the office of Colonel John
C. Groome, in Elkton, and was admitted to the Elkton Bar on September
18th, 1865, and on the same day purchased an interest in _The Cecil
Democrat_, and became its editor, a position he still continues to fill.
In 1883 Mr. Cruikshank became connected with the Baltimore _Day_, which
he edited while that journal existed.
Mr. Cruikshank, in 1869, married his cousin Sarah Elizabeth Cruikshank.
They are the parents of five children--three of whom survive.
Mr. Cruikshank is one of the most forcible and brilliant editorial
writers in the State, and the author of a number of chaste and erudite
poems written in early manhood, only two or three of which have been
AN IMPROMPTU ON HEARING OF HIS DEATH.
Bury the mighty dead--
Long, long to live in story!
Bury the mighty dead
In his own shroud of glory.
Question not his purpose;
Sully not his name,
Nor think that adventitious aid
Can build or blight his fame,
Nor hope, by obloquizing what
He strove for, glory's laws
Can be gainsaid, or he defiled
Who'd honor any cause.
Question not his motives,
Ye who have felt his might!
Who doubts, that ever saw him strike,
He aimed to strike for right?
His was no base ambition;--
No angry thirst for blood.
Naught could avail to lift his arm,
But love of common good.
Yet, when he deigned to raise it,
Who could resist its power?
Or who shall hope, or friend, or foe,
E'er to forget that hour?
His life he held as nothing.
His country claimed his all.
Ah! what shall dry that country's tears
Fast falling o'er his fall?
His life he held as nothing,
As through the flame he trod;
To duty gave he all of earth
And all beyond to God.
The justness of his effort
He never lent to doubt.
His aim, his arm, his all was fix'd
To put the foe to rout.
Mistrusting earth's tribunals,
Scorning the tyrant's rod,
He chose the fittest Arbiter,
'Twixt foe and sword, his God.
And doubted not, a moment,
That, when the fight was won,
Who rules the fate of nations
Would bid His own:--Well done!
And doubted not, a moment,
As fiercest flashed the fire,
The bullet's fatal blast would call:--
Glad summons!--Come up higher!
And who would hence recall thee?--
Thy work so nobly done!
Enough for mortal brow to wear
The crown thy prowess won:--
Grim warrior, grand in battle!
Rapt christian, meek in prayer!--
Vain age! that fain would reproduce
A character as rare!
The world has owned its heroes;--
Its martyrs, great and good,
Who rode the storm of power,
Or swam the sea of blood:--
Napoleons, Caesars, Cromwells,
Melancthons, Luthers brave!
But, who than Jackson ever yet
Has filled a prouder grave?
The cause for which he struggled,
May fall before the foe:
Stout hearts, devoted to their trust,
All moulder, cold and low.
The land may prove a charnel-house
For millions of the slain,
And blood and carnage mark the track
Where madmen march amain,--
Fanatic heels may scourge it,
Black demons blight the sod;
And hell's foul desolation
Mock Liberty's fair God.--
The future leave no record,
Of mighty struggle there,
Save hollowness, and helplessness,
And bitter, bald despair.--
Proud cities lose their names e'en;
Tall towers fall to earth.--
Mount Vernon fade, and Westmoreland
Forget illustrious birth;--
And yet, upon tradition,
Will float the name of him
Whose virtues time may tarnish not,
Eternity not dim.
Whose life on earth was only,
So grand, so free, so pure,
For brighter realms and sunnier skies,
A preparation sure.
And whose sweet faith, so child-like,
Nor blast, nor surge nor rod,
One moment could avert from
The bosom of his God.
Bury the mighty dead!
Long, long to live in story!
Bury the hero dead
In his own shroud of glory!
FRANK M. CRUIKSHANK, DIED 1862.
Frank is dead! The mournful message
Comes gushing from the ocean's roar.
Frank is dead! His mortal passage
Has ended on the heavenly shore.
In earthly agony he died
To join his Saviour crucified.
Frank is dead! Time's bitter trials
Drove him a wanderer from home,
To meet life's lot, share its denials,
Or gain a rest where cares ne'er come.
His frail form sinking, his grand spirit
Careered to realms the blest inherit.
Frank is dead! In life's young morning,
When heavenly promise lit his day,
His smitten spirit, homeward turning,
Forsook its tenement of clay.
No more to battle here with sin;
No more to suffer mid earth's din.
Frank is dead! By fever stricken,
How long he suffered, and how deep!
With none to feel his hot blood quicken,
No loved one near to calm his sleep.
No mother's presence him to gladden:
Naught, naught to cheer--all, all to sadden.
Frank is dead! His pangs are over.
His gentle spirit hence has flown.
Strangers, with earth, his body cover,
Strangers attend his dying moan.
On stranger forms his eyes last close,
To meet A FRIEND in their repose.
Frank is dead! Aye! weep, fond mourner!
The grand, the beautiful is lost.
Too pure for earth, the meek sojourner,
On passion's billows tempest-tossed,
Has found a source of sweeter bliss
In realms that sunder wide from this.
Frank is dead! Yes, dead to sorrow,
Dead to sadness, dead to pain.
Dead! Dead to all save the tomorrow
Whose light eternally shall reign.
He's dead to young ambition's vow
And the big thought that stamped his brow.
Frank is dead! Dead to the labors
He'd staked his life to triumph in:--
To win his friends, his dying neighbors,
And fellows all from death and sin.
With steady faith he toiled to fit
Christ's armor on and honor it.
Frank is dead! Omniscient pleasure
Has closed his bright career too soon
To realize how rich a treasure
The ranks had entered ere high noon.
His brilliant promise, dashed in youth,
One less is left to fight for truth.
Frank is dead! Yes, dead to mortals.
No more we'll see his noble brow
Or flashing eye; but in the portals
Above, by faith I see him now
With gladden'd step and fluttering heart,
Marching to share the better part.
Frank is dead!! No, never, never!
Not dead but only gone before.
Back,--back! Thou tear-drop, rising ever;
Nor Heaven's fiat now deplore.
Wail not the sorrows earth can lend
To banish spirits that ascend.
And fare thee well, my noble brother!
'Tis hard to think that thou art not;
To realize that never other
Footstep like thine shall share my cot,
And think of all thy heart endured,
By sore besetments often tried.
But,--Heaven be thanked,--all now is cured
And thou, fair boy, art glorified.
Let the bier move onward.--Let no tear be shed.
The midnight watch is ended: The grim old year is dead.
His life was full of turmoil. In death he ends his woes.
As fraught with toil his pilgrimage, may peaceful be its close.
Let the bier move onward.--Let no tear drop fall.
The couch of birth is waiting the egress of the pall.
Haste! Hasten the obsequies:--the natal hour is nigh.
Waste not a moment weeping when expectation's high.
* * * * *
Draw back the veil; the curtain lift.
Ho! Thirsting hearts, rejoice!
The new-born is no puny gift:--
Time's latest, grandest choice.
Nurseling and giant! Infant grown!
Majestic even now!
'Tis well that such a restless throne
Descends to such as thou.
* * * * *
Dame nature's travail bore thee;
Her pangs a world upheaved.
A world now bending o'er thee
Awaits those pangs relieved.
A world is waiting for thee:
And shall it be deceived?
Ah no! Such pangs were never
To mother giv'n in vain.
Rise, new-born! Rise and sever
Tyranny's clanking chain.
Rise, Virtue! Rise forever!
The New-Year comes amain!
O! Give him welcome ever!
Can bleeding hearts refrain?
* * * * *
All hail! Oh beautiful New-Year!
Full, full of promise fraught with cheer.
Bright promise of the glad return
Of glowing fires that erst did burn
On hearths long desolate!
Hail! Great deliverer from wrath,
Brave pioneer upon the path
That leads to better fate!
Joy be to thee thy natal day,
As dawns Aurora's earliest ray,
While youth is fresh and faith is clear
And hope is bright with coming cheer!
Thou promisest eventful life
As, giant-like, thou leap'st to earth,
Robed in full majesty at birth;
With power to do and will to dare
And arm to shield from threat'ning care,
And eye to ken the dead past's strife.
Thy young life's hand knows yet no stain
Of blood, or greed, or guilt, or gain.
But, know, Oh Friend! thou'rt ushered in
To feel the jar and note the din
Of war-blast's rude alarms.
Thy elder brother, gone before,
Has left upon this nether shore
A burden for thine arms.
'Tis thine to choose the part thou'lt take,
Oh giant mighty! Thine to make
An early choice; lose not an hour.
'Tis crime to waste prodigious power.
Great, vast, appalling, is the task
By fate assigned to thee. No mask
Of indecision now is given.
The bolt of Mars the rock has riven.
The hour is dark:--the danger nigh.
The ravens caw: the eagles cry.
The breakers dash--the chasm yawns:
The skies are lurid:--chaos dawns.
Thunder with thunder-peal is riven
As if to shake earth's faith in heaven!
All, all is wild! No sun! No moon!
Earth, air and sky, in dire commune,
Demand--what hand shall guide them now?
New-Year, stand forth and bide the call
To thee address'd.
We stand or fall
As thou decree'st.
Frown, and we perish. Smile, we rise
To joys that savor of the skies.
Bid lethargy depart thy brow
And strike for right and truth.
Young, thou; but hast no youth.
No hours are thine for sportive mirth.
Minerva-like, mature from birth,
Great deeds and valiant thine must be,
In wisdom guided, fair and free.--
Deeds that no year hath known before;
Fraught not with strife;--drenched not in gore.
Free from old taint of fell disease
And ancient forms of party strife.
Rich in the gentler modes of life
With sweeter manners, purer laws,
Forerunner of those years of ease
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