African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. "Links of Friendship" (1898)

Links of Friendship, by Joseph S. Cotter 

"I'11 take the showers as they fall, 
 I will not vex my bosom. 
 Enough if at the end of all 
 A little garden blossom." 
 Alfred Tennyson. 

 PERFORMANCE is to be judged by the means employed in attainment. The Eiffel tower is a marvelous structure for  this age of steam and iron, but it is no greater achievement than  the little boat which required two years for Robinson Crusoe to complete with the miserable tools at his command. An infant  may learn to talk in a few months, and may speak fluently at the  age of two. Wonderful as this is, no one remarks it, but that  Helen Keller has mastered speech is a marvel. 
 This little book is an unpretentious volume, but measured by  the toils and difficulties through which it came to light, it is noteworthy. The author is one of a race that has given scarcely any thing of literature to the world. The obstacles which he has surmounted were undreamed of by Burns and other sons of song who struggled up from poverty, obscurity, and ignorance to glory. 
 Joseph Seamon Cotter was born in Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1861, but has spent practically all his life in Louisville. He had the scantiest opportunity for schooling in childhood, though he could read before he was four years old. He was put to work  early, and from his eighth to his twenty-fourth year earned his  living by the roughest and hardest labor, first in a brick-yard, then in a distillery, and finally as^ a teamster. At twenty-two his scholarship was so limited that when he entered the first one of Louisville's night schools for colored pupils, he had to begin in the primary department. His industry and capacity were so great that at the end of two sessions of five months each he began to teach. He has persevered in this calling, educating htmself Avhile at' work, and is now the Principal of the Colored Ward School at Eighth and Kentucky streets. The man whose advice and encouragement  at the beginning chiefly enabled him to accomplish this was Prof. W. T. Peyton, a well-known colored educator of this city, whom he regards as his greatest benefactor. 
 Mr. Cotter is wholly self-taught in English literature and composition. He fell naturally into rhyming when he began to write, but he received no instruction beyond the most elementary hints as to meter. Whatever he has done since has been the result of unaided effort. Six years ago several of his poems appeared in the Courier-Journal, this being his first publication outside of one or two newspapers conducted by men of his own race. I was then city editor of the Courier-Journal, and his modest tender of some Christmas verses to me led to an inquiry which revealed his story of unpretentious but earnest and conscientious toil. He laid no claim to being a poet, but his verses were interesting and always worth publication. 
 Without referring to the merits of this little book, it is proper to call attention to the cheerful optimism and reverent faith that find expression in his lines. The author submits it with modesty, and only asks that it be judged in accordance with its claims. 
Links of Friendship

 To John G. Roach, Esq. 
 It needs no heaven-inspired eye 
 To scan the horde of passers-by, 
 And note therein worth's alchemy 
 Turning to gold 
 The dross of life — the levity — 
 Of young and old 
 Through some acute, far-reaching soul 
 That pierces life from pole to pole, 
 And sees it a consistent whole 
 Whose rhythmic beat 
 Chimes forth an ever-welcome dole 
 For weary feet. 
 As after lingering, wintry weather 
 A few bright days bear down together 
 And warm the air and cheer the heather 
 Through friendly rain, 
 And drive the herdsman forth to tether 
 Flocks on the plain ; 

 So all who have by contact found 
 That littleness and greed are bound 
 To most, as they unto the ground, 
 Must quickly see 
 And worship all who bear a sound 
 In every age such spirits tower 
 Above the crowd and wield a power 
 That gives to all a heavenly dower, 
 So strong and pure, 
 Though fate may frown and storms may lower 
 They still endure. 
 'Tis ours to boast one such we knew 
 Who stood within the public view, 
 And spread himself like friendly dew 
 Upon the earth, 
 And with a mighty impulse slew 
 Our mental dearth. 
 He moved among us as a man 
 Of lofty nature only can, 
 Fashioned upon so true a plan 
 That changing it 
 Would be like going forth to span 
 The sea with wit. 
 Misfortune's touch — somehow, somewhere — 
 So fringed his youthful soul with care 
 That evermore he strove to bear 
 His brother's load, so he might fare 
 On calm and free. 
 The true man's mission is to know 
 What pang has caused his brother's woe, 
 And by untiring efforts show 
 He is too great 
 To be at ease while others go 
 Those that are called the favored few 
 Because they boldly read anew 
 Some straggling thought as though they drew 
 Help from the skies 
 That straightway drops the plummet through 
 Life's mysteries 
 Are simply such as long have met 
 The trials that must needs beset 
 The glowing mind, if it would let 
 Its worth be seen; 
 All fail who scorn to pay this debt, 
 Trebly serene. 
 This weight but made his burden light, 
 And gave him inklings of the right, 
 So needful when his footsteps might 
 Be wont to stray 
 Beyond the bounds, beyond the sight 
 Of duty's ray. 
 And made full clear the mystic art 
 By which he probed the human heart 
 With many a friendly, barbed dart 
 Until he saw 
 That he who rules mankind must start 
 With will and law ; 

 And therefrom slowly climb the steep, 
 Exploring every dungeon-keep 
 Of his own soul, lest there should leap 
 Some stalwart fear, 
 And, leagued with failure, quickly sweep 
 Him to the rear; 
 And leave him there to fan the flame 
 That feeds on his self-nurtured shame 
 Until to him the very name 
 Of life grows dull, 
 And tells him how his own became 
 So damnable. 
 Thus mastering each secret phase 
 Of human nature's devious ways, 
 He found the means that spur and raise 
 From apathy 
 The lagging powers until they blaze 
 With energy. 
 And from such conquest comes a sense 
 Of rare and lasting eminence 
 That sets at naught all base pretense, 
 All idle show, 
 And forms a fertile background whence 
 True pleasures flow. 
 He felt this as the flowers feel 
 The airs of springtime gently steal 
 Along their veins, and there conceal 
 A nutritive 
 By which they silently reveal 
 How best to live. 

 A lofty, witty seriousness 
 Ran riot through him terrorless, 
 And, hence, became a means to bless, 
 A force to fire 
 Stupidity, and yet suppress 
 One's wonted ire. 
 His eyes were clear enough to see 
 This combination's mystery, 
 And how through guarded jollity 
 And calm repose 
 The struggling soul is led to free 
 Its path of foes. 
 And, like a seer, he saw wherein 
 The untrained hand, with clash and din, 
 May sow a laugh and reap a sin 
 So consummate 
 That naught can thwart its right to win 
 Relentless hate. 
 To him, in inarticulate speech, 
 Life's lessons nature deigned to teach 
 So simply not one failed to reach 
 The spirit's core, 
 And flare so men would fain beseech 
 It evermore. 
 Thereby he builded better than 
 A thousand others ever can 
 Who work upon some book-made plan 
 Whose stilted tone 
 Spurs not the groveling charlatan 
 To strive alone. 

 Lift up mankind as high's you will, 
 You'll find them mostly lackeys still 
 Who live to act, and act to drill 
 Themselves into 
 Such sycophants as gladly fill 
 Shame's rendezvous. 
 All praise to him who scorns to yield 
 His manhood's right — by honor steeled — 
 And bears upon a blazoned shield 
 His changeless creed, 
 And scouts the hand that dares to wield 
 The cringer's meed. 
 He whose rare virtues shield this lay 
 From such assaults as else would slay 
 Added to man's imperial clay 
 A finer ring, 
 .And met each task in duty's way 
 The littleness that holds in trust 
 Life's bastard glitterings that must 
 Beneath wrath's oxide turn to rust, 
 He hurried by 
 And held as so much worthless dust 
 Blown to the sky. 
 As when clear sunlight pierces dew 
 And makes it iridescent through, 
 So all who felt his manhood drew 
 An influence 
 That tinged their fading hopes anew 
 Through why and whence. 
 To Thomas G. Watkins, Esq. 
 The last sweet notes the piper blew 
 Were heard by the people far and wide; 
 And one by one and two by two 
 They flocked to the mountain side. 
 Some came, of course, intensely sad, 
 And some came looking fiercely mad, 
 And some came singing solemn hymns, 
 And some came showing shapely limbs, 
 And some came bearing the tops of yews, 
 And some came wearing wooden shoes, 
 And some came saying what they would do, 
 And some came praying (and loudly, too), 
 And all for what ? Can you not infer ? 
 A-searching and lurching for the Pied Piper, 
 And the boys and girls he had taken away, 
 And all were ready now to pay 
 Any amount that he should say. 
 It seems that just relentless Fate 
 Ransacks her ever ample store, 
 And issues out the roughest ore 
 To all who basely hesitate. 
 The people stood at the mountain-side, 
 And listened to hear the merry strain 
 That gathered them from far and wide, 
 But they listened all in vain. 
 And if they could have heard his music, 

 Why, some of them were really too sick 
 To tell just what his notes were saying, 
 Or know it was the piper playing. 
 Their heads were many, but their hearts were one ; 
 And so the thoughts that came and went 
 Served only to kindle their discontent 
 Into a flame ere the set of sun. 
 Some thought that they could open wide 
 Another portal in the mountain-side, 
 And then that they could pass right through 
 And find the children and piper, too. 
 At last a stalwart man arose 
 And spoke as one who would interpose: 
 ' ' Rouse up, good sirs, like gallant people, 
 And quake no longer with consternation • 
 But ring the bells from every steeple, 
 And summon the mayor and corporation." 
 The bells rang out as never before 
 Within that ancient city; 
 They seemed to tell it o'er and o'er — 
 To tell that tale of pity, 
 And steadily the angry people 
 Stood gazing at each lofty steeple. 
 The stalwart man cried out again, 
 "Death's servant is procrastination; 
 Your grief and tears are all in vain, 
 Go, summon the mayor and corporation." 

 The people started in twos and threes 
 To seek the mayor and corporation, 
 And found them all upon their knees, 
 Imploring expiation. 
 The mayor winked and the mayor blinked, 
 And the councilmen, they listened; 
 The mayor's eyes gazed at the skies, 
 And the councilmen's eyes, they glistened. 
 " You are all to blame, " the people cried, 
 With a look of detestation, 
 " You know full well that you have lied, 
 And sold our rising nation. 
 "As enemies we hold you all, 
 Despite your loud lamenting; 
 Upon your recreant heads shall fall 
 The burden of repenting. 
 " Through you the little ones we nursed 
 Were taken we don't know where to ; 
 Through you our city has been cursed — 
 Deny it if you dare to. 
 "And you shall know that parleying 
 With that outlandish piper, 
 Shall be to you as deep a sting 
 As that of any viper." 

 The mayor bowed low, and then said, " Oh ! " 
 And the councilmen said, " What is it?" 
 The mayor grew red, and huskily said, 
 " I do not like this visit." 
 The mayor's teeth clattered, and the mayor's 
 tongue chattered, 
 And the councilmen's did also; 
 The mayor floundered, and the mayor wondered 
 How a brave man's voice could fall so. 
 The mayor did sup from no golden cup 
 That he could drown his grief in ; 
 The councilmen saw with deepest awe 
 Nothing to find relief in. 
 The mayor looked straight at the massive gate 
 (And it was a look of pity), 
 Then turned his face to leave the place, 
 And bid farewell to the city. 
 The councilmen turned, and their red cheeks 
 As the bells rang out in the steeple ; 
 And they heard the beat of a thousand feet, 
 And saw the angry people, 
 Who came by dozens and scores that way, 
 Intent upon their human prey. 

 They hadn't a single word to say, 
 But, oh, it was a woeful day 
 For the mayor whose hair was turning gray. 
 Some seized the mayor by the throat 
 As roughly as they could do, 
 And tore the buttons off his coat 
 To show him what they would do 
 Unless he eased their mental strain 
 By finding the boys and girls again. 
 And some arrested the corporation, 
 And poured into their ears 
 So free a strain of denunciation 
 It roused their latest fears, 
 Till one and all wished through and through 
 The piper would come and take them too. 
 And then they marched through that ancient city 
 With the mayor right before them, 
 And the corporation, who sang a ditty 
 That threw a madness o'er them, 
 And stirred their ire so it crept out 
 And put their better thoughts to rout. 
 " Let's drive them into the Weser waters," 
 Some cried out angrily 
 " Unless they find our sons and daughters, 
 And bring them back this way." 
 ' Agreed ! agreed ! " said high and low, 
 ' Right into the waters they shall go." 

 They marched them down to the river's brink, 
 And roughly drove them in; 
 But before the shortest one could sink 
 An inch above his chin, 
 They heard a muffled, deafening note, 
 Such as might come from a lion's throat. 
 And all the motley crowd grew mute, 
 For it was a blast from the piper's flute. 
 He stood on the edge of Koppleberg hill, 
 And blew till the feet of the people grew still, 
 And those of the mayor and corporation 
 Began to move as by incantation. 
 He took the flute from his honeyed lips 
 And pressed it between his finger tips, 
 And straightway a vapor began to rise 
 That tickled the nose and blinded the eyes ; 
 And when the people could see again 
 They looked for their victims all in vain, 
 And all about it they ever knew 
 Was that the piper had drawn from view, 
 And the mayor and corporation too. 
 How often is the tide of sin 
 Averted ere it reaches us 
 By ways just as mysterious 
 As those in the case of Hamelin ! 
 The people went to their homes as mute 
 As since has been the piper's flute, 

 And never were known to even dispute, 
 Among themselves or others, 
 As to how such things could come about, 
 Or whether or not they had a doubt 
 Concerning how they would turn out 
 For fathers, sons, or mothers. 
 The years passed by, as years will do 
 When trouble is the master, 
 And always strives to bring to view 
 A new and worse disaster; 
 And Sorrow, like a sorcerer, 
 Spread out her melancholy pall 
 So that its folds enveloped all, 
 And each became her worshiper. 
 And not a single child was born 
 Through all the years thereafter; 
 If words sprang from the lips of scorn 
 None came from those of laughter. 
 So hour by hour, and day by day, 
 The city's inmates passed away, 
 And left but one, then old and gray. 
 And that was he the piper left 
 That fatal day behind him, 
 Of whatsoe'er he was bereft, 
 He never strove to find him. 

 But wisely let the prowler go 
 Where'er his whim might take him, 
 And kiss his magic flute and blow 
 For all who might forsake him. 
 Alas, alas, there came a time 
 Too sad for even the saddest rhyme, 
 When this one mortal became immortal, 
 And flitted away through the heavenly portal. 
 Without a soul outside or in 
 Stood poor, deserted Hamelin, 
 Devoid for once of human sin. 
 You know a message went to Rat-land 
 By that strong rat that swam the Weser; 
 And, lo ! a race of rats was at hand 
 Outnumbering all the hosts of Caesar. 
 They came by ones and twos and threes, 
 And then in larger companies — 
 As single fours and double scores 
 And hundreds up to fifty, 
 And thousands up to twenty-five, 
 And all seemed more and more alive, 
 And, hence, were doubly thrifty. 
 They swarmed into the highest towers, 
 And loitered in the fairest bowers, 
 And sat down where the mayor sat, 
 And also in his Sunday hat; 

 And gnawed revengefully thereat. 
 With rats for mayor, and rats for people, 
 With rats in the cellar, and rats in the steeple, 
 With rats without, and rats within, 
 Stood poor, deserted Hamelin. 
 O eloquent and caustic sage ! 
 Thy long and rugged pilgrimage 
 To glory's shrine has ended ; 
 And thou hast passed the inner door, 
 And proved thy fitness o'er and o'er, 
 And to the dome ascended. 
 In speaking of thy noble life 
 One needs must think upon the strife 
 That long and sternly faced it; 
 But since those times have flitted by, 
 Just let the useless relic die 
 With passions that embraced it. 
 There is no evil known to man 
 But what, if wise enough, he can 
 Grow stronger in the bearing; 
 And so the ills we often scorn 
 May be of heavenly wisdom born 
 To aid our onward faring. 
 Howe'er this be, just fame has set 
 Her jewels in thy coronet 
 So firmly that the ages 

 To come will ever honor thee 
 And place thy name in company 
 With patriots and sages. 
 Now thou art gone, the little men 
 Of fluent tongue and trashy pen 
 Will strive to imitate thee ; 
 And when they find they haven't sense 
 Enough to make a fair pretense, 
 They'll turn and underrate thee. 
 To Colonel Bennett H. Young. 
 cruel Death ! thy lancet sharp 
 Spares not the peasant nor the lord. 
 It rudely cut the sweetest chord 
 That sounded in this century's harp. 
 1 know that on our sinful earth 
 Full many victims should be thine; 
 But why remove the half-divine — 
 The only ones of real worth ? 
 I turn from thy depressing gaze, 
 And wonder who shall be the last 
 On whom thy fatal gloom is cast, 
 And face the singer and his lays. 
 Old England, mother of the good, 
 Old England, mother of the wise, 
 Delighted in thy watchful eyes 
 Thy sons of song have ever stood; 
 And cherished that poetic fire, 
 And that incomparable skill, 
 And that indomitable will, 
 That ever grapple for a higher. 
 Love and unstinted praise belong 
 To all who have in any way 
 Added a single, genuine ray 
 To thy kaleidoscope of song. 
 From ancient down to modern dates, 
 Upon thy scroll of mighty names, 
 There is not one more wholly fame's 
 Than his, thy fallen laureate's. 
 I have in mind three tuneful souls 
 Whose words are life's philosophy, 
 And may they never cease to be 
 While wisdom through experience rolls. 
 One gathered up a thousand fears 
 With thousands of the heart's desires 
 And dipped them in dramatic fires, 
 And tossed them down the coming years. 
 In strains both simple and sublime 
 One sang of man's first happiness, 
 And weighed his numbers with a stress 
 Of thought that puzzles every clime. 
 And one laid bare his manly heart 
 To nature's every influence. 
 His song breathes forth the eloquence 
 Of artlessness that is pure art. 
 These lofty three, and these alone 
 Of all thy gifted, tuneful throng 
 Can rival in the race of song 
 Thy love-encircled Tennyson. 
 Thy diadem is cut in four, 
 The pieces separate and fall 
 Upon the lordly heads of all, 
 And Glory's goblet trickles o'er. 
 May English natures everywhere, 
 And all who love the English tongue, 
 Remember him whose songs were sung 
 To rob man's spirit of despair. 
 Great poet of thy race and age, 
 Thy roving, all-beholding eyes 
 Peered into Nature's mysteries 
 Like any dry, prosaic sage. 
 Thine was true English hardihood; 
 And unto thee kind Nature lent 
 Her wonderful embellishment — 
 The gift of being understood. 
 Love as an artist ever draws 
 Pointed and clear-cut likenesses; 
 And feasting thy clear eyes on these 
 Thou didst imbibe their subtle laws. 
 Sweet Sympathy with pen of fire 
 Wrote o'er and o'er thy yearning soul 
 Her heavenly creed as on a scroll, 
 And plumed the wings of thy desire. 
 The Muse passed by the minor throng 
 And bade thee of diviner blood 
 Pour on the world a lasting flood 
 Of pure and sweet and limpid song. 
 The sweetness of thy melody 
 And mighty harvest from thy pen, 
 Gathered from field and marsh and glen, 
 Attest how well thou didst comply. 
 Thy thoughts touched life at every part, 
 And robed themselves in burning phrase ; 
 Hence thy thought-ribbed and love-wrought lays 
 Should find a home in every heart. 
 Nature at times o'ersteps her bounds; 
 And, working by a newer plan, 
 She gives to us a gifted man, 
 And with his deeds the world resounds. 
 The Devil sat with the sons of God, 
 And listened so patiently 
 The preacher said: " It is certainly odd 
 That such a thing should be." 
 But the Devil kept his humble seat, 
 And kept his quiet tongue; 
 And the verdict was: " He is more discreet 
 Than most of the old or young." 
 The preacher said: "We would like to know 
 Just why you are so civil." 
 "I am not here for fun or show," 
 Gravely replied the Devil. 
 "For many a day I've met you here, 
 And now I am convinced, sir, 
 I haven't a single thing to fear 
 Where the Gospel is so minced, sir. 
 " In other times I sought my own, 
 And was both loud and rough, sir, 
 But since that day your whims have thrown 
 Out stumbling-blocks enough, sir. 
 "Now, all I have to do, you see, 
 Is just to sit and wait, sir, 
 While your advanced theology 
 Kills faster than your prate, sir. 
 "And I would thank you o'er and o'er 
 For all your worthy aid, sir ; 
 And hint that you will still do more, 
 When you are less afraid, sir." 
 How oft inflated hope carries us on 
 In search of ancient truth's deferred dawn, 
 And then, with eyes grown dim and lips grown mute ? 
 We hurry back in failure's parachute! 
 To Rev. J. H. Heywood, on his Eightieth Birthday. 
 A miser stands beside the sea 
 And counts his treasure grudgingly. 
 " It is not meet that I should be 
 Of those who give 
 An impulse whereby charity 
 May henceforth live." 
 He turns and sees, not far away, 
 A beggar who is old and gray. 
 "This dog may limp and mourn and pray 
 Until he dies. 
 My life's a light that sheds no ray 
 Of sacrifice. 
 "I see the point. I, too, am poor. 
 I'll take my precious, shining store 
 And place it here and heap it o'er 
 With this loose sand, 
 And of the beggar straight implore 
 A helping hand. 
 He moves some paces. " I'm in need. 
 For alms, good sir, I humbly plead." 
 And, lo, the rogue is poor indeed; 
 For the swift sea 
 Sweeps in and out and pays his greed 
 With usury. 
 A true man stands beside the sea 
 And says : " Heaven-blessed charity, 
 My all-in-all I find in thee." 
 Within his hands 
 He holds what he received as fee 
 For all his lands. 
 He looks and sees the angry wave 
 Is dragging downward to its grave 
 A little child. He is too brave 
 To reason why. 
 It is enough that he may save 
 One ere it die. 
 And it is saved. His manly eyes 
 Weep not because he lost the prize — 
 His worldly all-in-all that lies 
 Beneath the sea. 
 Ah, no, for joyous sacrifice 
 Now weepeth he. 
 He turns him round in act to go, 
 And there before him, pure as snow, 
 Lies a great pearl. The sea to show 
 That fate is fair, 
 And worth's reward through love shall grow 
 Has left it there. 
 O full-orbed soul ! O pioneer ! 
 Of dauntless will and vision clear, 
 Thou art the true man pictured here. 
 By right divine 
 Of noble parts and fellow-cheer 
 The meed is thine. 
 Too broad for hate, too pure for shame, 
 Too high for selfish, worldly aim, 
 Too fond of worth to worship fame 
 Through kindly acts thou'st won a name 
 That shall abide. 
 Sacred interpreter, we saw in thee 
 All that a man of God might hope to be. 
 Now, thou art gone, we see how ill we can 
 Afford to lose a noble fellow-man. 
 The dullest thing, when brought to thy attention, 
 Seemed rife with sturdy thought and quaint invention. 
 And, hence, thy hearers never wished for thee 
 A closer partnership with brevity. 
 Thou didst not dally with the lance of thought, 
 But hurled it as a Christian warrior ought. 
 So earnest was thy plea, so honest thy intent, 
 That seldom was an arrow vainly sent. 
 The sweetness of thy soul was so revealed 
 The wounds that followed were as quickly healed. 
 So wise and modest was thy great endeavor 
 Those thou didst pass bade thee God-speed forever. 
 If faults were thine, they were so girt about 
 With virtues that they seldom ventured out. 
 After deducting all the critic can 
 He must admit thou wast a model man. 

 He was a man who lived a peaceful life, 
 Yet died from a continual round with strife. 
 His being born without a single fear 
 Made him of course an abject coward here. 
 He grew so fast his limbs were duly stunted, 
 And breathed so smoothly that he always grunted. 
 The more he learned, the more he saw he needed 
 To keep his empty mental-garden weeded. 
 When men were killed outright and resurrected, 
 He held such little things should be expected. 
 And to become, thought he, extremely wise 
 One simply has to misapply his eyes. 
 And seeing things as they will never be 
 Leads ever on to true philosophy. 
 By placing twilight at the early dawn 
 He stopped his motion while he still went on. 
 Humility in him was two-edged pride ; 
 And, likewise, sin was pure and glorified. 
 He made an everlasting truce with death, 
 Then straightway turned and drew his latest breath. 
 What boots it, Poet, that from realms above 
 Come messages for thee to tersely state, 
 If after scattering the seeds of love 
 Thou straightway chok'st them with the weeds of hate? 

 Men stagger in my light, yet are too dull 
 To see that my creed is infallible. 
 They rather worship God whose cruel laws 
 Are made up wholly of mistakes and flaws. 
 The time shall be when they will cease to follow 
 Views that are so disgusting and so hollow. 
 Let blinded Christians, ere they think or stir, 
 Confer with me, their great philosopher. 
 When they have steeped their souls in blasphemy, 
 And trodden under foot theology, 
 They will be fit to teach true piety. 
 As I have searched for light should Christians search, 
 They'll find that faith in God the soul will smirch, 
 And know that hell's another name for church. 
 Therefore, my fellow-men, on you I call. 
 I am your friend, and heartily extol 
 My creed of life to save you, one and all. 
 Here lies a man whose soul was so 
 Puffed up with pride it couldn't grow. 
 Yet, may be, in the life to be 
 The fates will give it liberty, 
 And let it reach, through steps severe, 
 The size it fancied it had here. 

 My worthy hearers, have you come to-night 
 To feast on comedy that's brisk and light, 
 And gladly spend an idle hour or two 
 In viewing pictures that are just like you? 
 If this be what you want, just let me say 
 You couldn't turn your heads a better way; 
 And for each cent you gave to enter here 
 You should take back a modicum of cheer, 
 And weigh yourselves so well that you will be 
 Arrayed against your insufficiency. 
 But this is preaching ? Well, the comic stage 
 Has preached through ridicule to every age. 
 Man scorns his shallow deeds and sordid pelf 
 When he's employed in laughing at himself. 
 So, let us preach in every way that can 
 Lift man up to the dignity of man. 
 Now, don't be too exact, but let good sense 
 Decide the point of honest eminence ; 
 And bear in mind that what is trite and true, 
 If well arranged, is worthy through and through. 
 But to the play. It comes in five long acts 
 In which the weapons used are naked facts. 
 There is no effort made to polish darts 
 That find a lodgment in deceitful hearts, 
 Nor to put on the rogue an honest mask, 
 For that would be, indeed, a fruitless task. 
 The characters are plain^ as you will see, 
 And richly freighted with humanity; 

 And, by the way, their actions prove in making 
 A man of noble parts the undertaking 
 Is such that nature seldom deigns to run 
 The same material on from sire to son. 
 The actors are a queer and jolly set, 
 Whose fun increases as you fume and fret; 
 So, should they hurl at you eccentric airs, 
 Just dodge as though they struck you unawares, 
 Or jesting strive to make a pointed hit, 
 Just hold your peace and let it pass for wit. 
 Now, my good hearers, hint what I shall say next. 
 You want to hear no more ? Bring on the play next? 
 Well, here it is, and if you don't grow wiser, 
 Censure yourselves as well as the adviser. 
 To Prof. W. T. Peyton. 
 The bachelor was old and sad, 
 His life was fast decaying ; 
 'Tis said he oft grew raving mad 
 While o'er the past surveying. 
 He dwelt within a little hut, 
 Surrounded by starvation ; 
 No woman called upon him but 
 By special invitation. 
 There lived with him a little boy 
 Who loved to romp and tumble 
 And see how much he could destroy 
 To hear the old man grumble. 

 He broke his pipe and spilled his snuff 
 And beat upon the kettle 
 Until, in truth, it was enough 
 To stir a preacher's mettle. 
 At last the old man hallooed out : 
 ' ' You surely are inhuman ; 
 I'd sooner far be buffed about 
 And bothered by a woman." 
 His words flew by like wind-tossed chaff 
 And only tickled Harry, 
 Who answered with a boyish laugh : 
 1 ' Then, sir, why don't you marry?" 
 " Now, boy, the question that you ask 
 Is somewhat out of season, 
 But yet it is an easy task 
 To give to you the reason. 
 " When I was in my eighteenth year, 
 And not a little frisky, 
 I stopped at everything to peer, 
 No matter howe'er risky. 
 "A few miles from my father's farm, 
 Between two little ditches, 
 I heard there dwelt, secure from harm, 
 Two very pretty witches. 
 "Then, thought I, this can not be so, 
 Such talk is so deceiving; 
 But to convince myself I'll go, 
 For ' seeing is believing.' 

 " So off I started, all alone, 
 Adown that muddy hollow; 
 But would have stopped had I but known 
 What was destined to follow. 
 "At last I saw the ruined cot 
 Between the little ditches, 
 And paused to think whether or not 
 'Twas wise to see the witches. 
 "Then slowly crept on hands and feet : 
 Don't think I meant to creep in, 
 Or with them face to face to meet, 
 But simply for to peep in. 
 " Soon as I reached an open crack 
 I gazed steadfastly through it; 
 But, ah ! a burden met my back 
 That made me doubly rue it. 
 ' ' Somehow I did not care to stay 
 For any further pleasure; 
 But when at last I got away 
 I had a double measure. 
 "And from that time on down to this, 
 Although it proves inhuman, 
 I never could find happiness 
 In being near a woman." 
 Far better take the word of Man, 
 And let the word of Prophets go, 
 Whose steady bickerings to and fro 
 Run counter to the Maker's plan. 

 To Prof. F. L. Williams. 
 There lived a man of low degree, 
 Far in a land obscure, 
 Who daily thanked the fates that he 
 Was born so very poor. 
 "The multitudes of wicked men 
 Who plan and steal and lie 
 Can never rob my wallet when 
 I am too poor to buy. 
 ' ' Kind is the fate that will not let 
 Great riches bother me, 
 And so the poorer that I get 
 The happier I will be." 
 He swore this by as many gods 
 As ever lived of Did. 
 Meanwhile he turned the heavy clods 
 In search of precious gold. 
 He sang of rustic Genevieve 
 At the approach of dawn, 
 Then slept until the dewy eve 
 And danced upon the lawn. 
 Whatever made all other folks 
 The cup of sorrow quaff 
 Seemed unto him but witty jokes 
 To make men sing and laugh. 

 And so he lived for many a year 
 And sang his own rude hymns; 
 And still the people, far and near, 
 Wondered at his strange whims. 
 Some said his eyes would never view 
 The fast-approaching fall; 
 And others swore by all they knew 
 He would not die at all. 
 Straightway, on hearing this, grim Death 
 Passed king and artisan, 
 And most politely took the breath 
 Away from this strange man. 
 But as the people gazed on him 
 And thought him stark and dead, 
 He cried: "I'll give you one more whim 
 While on my dying bed : 
 " Play loudly on the fife and drum, 
 Let flags of triumph wave ; 
 And let the jolly peasants come 
 And dance upon my grave." 
 My Muse, thou art a laggard by the way. 
 To every thought that comes thou sayest nay. 
 Art thou like critics whose delight is ever 
 To numb the heart-throbs of Life's poor endeavor? 

 To Prof. C. W. Houser. 
 Man does not know. He daily looks around him 
 And tries to master earth and air and skies ; 
 But some mysterious power has firmly bound him 
 Unto a plane from which he may not rise. 
 Man does not know. He plunges into science 
 As urchins plunge into the wooing wave ; 
 Yet nature's highest works still bid defiance 
 And rear up bulwarks that he may not brave. 
 Man does not know. He says that on to-morrow 
 He will be in a state of ecstasy ; 
 But when it comes his head is bowed with sorrow, 
 And he is in the depths of misery. 
 Man does not know. He tries to look before him 
 And view the bright side of his future way; 
 Yet who can tell but what this may throw o'er him 
 A veil to hide the bright side of to-day ? 
 Man does not know. He claims to have a spirit 
 (And may he never cease believing so) 
 That some far day or other will inherit 
 Eternal pleasure or eternal woe. 
 Man does not know. Has he a valid reason 
 To deem this ignorance a grave offense ? 
 To look for anything before its season 
 Shows there is urgent need of common sense. 
 Man does not know. Suppose he were partaker 
 Of all that now lies hidden from his sight, 

 Not even meeting with his blessed Maker 
 Could thrill his bosom with a new delight. 
 Man does not know. Yet why should he take pleasure 
 In doubting what perchance he can not see ? 
 Or why should he believe there is no treasure 
 Awaiting mortals in eternity ? 
 Man does not know. Each day he is receiving 
 Assistance from a power out of sight ; 
 So he should never, never cease believing 
 That God will some day bring it all to light. 
 Man does not know. O Thou Almighty Power ! 
 As thy great ways are past man's finding out, 
 Do teach him day by day and hour by hour 
 That lofty faith that overpowers doubt. 
 To Dr. F. G Fowler. 
 Now, first, let each one estimate 
 To what extent he owes it 
 Unto his neighbor not to state 
 A thing just as he knows it. 
 I make no war upon the truth, 
 Nor on its rigid stating, 
 But hold that tact may be, forsooth, 
 A factor in relating. 
 It profits naught to bolster up 
 The point of outright lying, 
 For that's the devil's brewing cup 
 Whose pottage is denying. 
 But you know what I'm striking at 
 Without so much detailing; 
 Just issue out the portion that 
 Will cause the. least bewailing, 
 And keep the rest until you must, 
 In honor of truth's calling, 
 Disrobe it wholly though the dust 
 You stir up be appalling. 
 What right have we to make up plans 
 For weighing one another? 
 Are we not daily taught that man's 
 The keeper of his brother? 
 And then, in all sincerity, 
 How can we dwell together 
 Without observing what will be 
 Our neighbor's future weather ? 
 My brother, when the time shall come 
 (And may it not while I live) 
 Men's polish serves to make them dumb, 
 The ones that ought to die live. 
 It is a great temptation to behold 
 The thoughts of one whose fibre's beaten gold; 
 They pass so easily into our own 
 And make our feldspar seem like diamond stone. 

 To Albert S. White, Esq. 
 The demagogue is grave and gay, 
 And almost everything 
 It takes to bring success his way 
 With gracious leavening. 
 He's made upon a special plan 
 That puzzles wit to see 
 How nature makes a common man 
 With such variety. 
 And places in his hands the tools 
 Adapted to his trade, 
 Wherewith he decks the veriest fools 
 In wise men's masquerade. 
 If you attempt to analyze 
 Whate'er his tact ordains, 
 You'll reap a dreadful sacrifice 
 Of patience for your pains. 
 Should you think otherwise, perchance, 
 The facts on every hand 
 Will lend their meaning to enhance 
 Your power to understand. 
 And teach a lesson many a sage 
 Has learned at the expense 
 Of shortening life's dull pilgrimage 
 And brightening common sense. 
 So, see his actions as you see 
 Some bright and distant star 

 That seems in close proximity, 
 Yet well you know 'tis far. 
 And should you view his conscience till 
 It seems a gloomy wraith, 
 Discharge your weak and lagging will 
 And trust the rest to faith. 
 To William H. Steward, Esq. 
 Thrice blessed is he who wields the flail 
 Upon this century's threshing floor. 
 A few slight strokes by him avail 
 More than a hundred would of yore. 
 Around him lies the ripened grain 
 From every land and every age. 
 The weakest thresher should attain 
 Unto the wisdom of the sage. 
 Ambitious youth, this is the wealth 
 The ages have bequeathed to thee. 
 Thou canst not take thy share by stealth, 
 Nor by mere ingenuity. 
 Thy better self must spur thee on 
 To win what time has made thy own • 
 No hand but labor's yet has drawn 
 The sweets that labor's hand has sown. 
 Genius may serve thee well indeed, 
 If thou wilt treat it like a guest 
 Thou makest bring more than his need 
 And with thee freely share the rest. 
 Or thou hadst better humbly pass, 
 Wedded to noble industry. 
 Greater a glow-worm in the grass 
 Than yon orb roving lazily. 
 What boots it to mankind, O youth ! 
 That thou hast studied well and long, 
 And delved in million-veined truth 
 And learned to sever right from wrong ; 
 Unless thou strikest wide and deep 
 Below the planes where men have gone 
 Until thy honest labors heap 
 Truth's coffers as they journey on ? 
 There is a time to sit and muse 
 Upon what other hands have wrought, 
 If thou canst wisely find and use 
 Such as will strengthen thy own thought. 
 If not, thy time is spent in vain. 
 Go, seek some other, humbler way 
 To prove the part thou calPst the brain 
 Is all the Master made of clay. 
 This is, indeed, a worthy task, 
 But thou art simply gathering 
 Another's sowing. Who shall ask 
 What of thy own fruit's harvesting ? 
 Do not remorse and bitter shame 
 Possess thy feelings now and then ? 
 Strike out for self, and let thy name 
 Swell earth's vast list of mighty men. 
 So many brains are playing at 
 The game of study in the schools, 
 And ply their trade so deftly that 
 Mankind won't die for want of fools. 
 Not unto him whose eyes ne'er ope 
 Without the help of others' eyes, 
 Not unto him who fain would grope 
 And guess out nature's mysteries, 
 Is given the divine insight 
 That pierces through the warp and woof 
 Of earthly things until the light 
 Springs upward from the torch of proof. 
 Ready-noted katy-did, 
 Slender-throated katy-did, 
 Ever-ready katy-did, 
 Ever-steady katy-did, 
 Never-changing katy-did, 
 Ever-ranging katy-did, 
 Novelty-hating katy-did, 
 Tersely-prating katy-did, 
 Thou canst say thy say as plainly 
 As thy make-up is ungainly; 
 Thou canst speak so very tersely 
 That thy lastly is thy firstly. 

 To Gertrude and Frances. 
 I often think the truly wise 
 Are such as seek through doubts and fears 
 To understand the mysteries 
 That have out-run the vanished years ; 
 And question long and reverently 
 The smallest as the greatest things 
 Until truth's winnowing wings shall free 
 The mind of crude imaginings. 
 With doubts and fears and reverence, 
 O Master, must thy work be wrought ! 
 Whatever fosters bold pretense 
 Is but the garbage house of thought. 
 And from it shall the soul be fed 
 Until its heavenly tone is spent, 
 And in its place is harvested 
 A passion wild and turbulent. 
 As at the future's ample door 
 The soul is tapping knowingly, 
 May it remember o'er and o'er 
 How slow and rare is certainty. 
 And, Master, may thy wisdom still 
 Direct us as it did of old, 
 And check each weak and erring will 
 That in itself grows over-bold. 
 [The following is an answer to a poem written by Paul L. Dunbar after his 
 visit to Kentucky.] 
 So, you be'n to ole Kentucky, 
 An' you want to go ag'in ? 
 Well, Kentucky '11 doff her kerchief 
 An' politely ask you in. 
 An 7 she '11 loosen from her girdle 
 What perhaps you didn't see — 
 Keys that fit the other cupboards 
 Of her hospitality. 
 Not that she's inclined to hold back 
 With the good, and give the worst; 
 But, you know, in all fair dealin', 
 What is first must be the first. 
 So, when she takes key the second 
 An' gives it a twist er two 
 (Maybe I ought not to say it) 
 It '11 most nigh startle you. 
 An' then keys the third and fourth, sir, 
 (Not to speak of all the rest) 
 Wouldn't stop at crackin' buttons, 
 They'd jest smash that Sunday vest. 
 And your happiness would find, sir, 
 A momentum then and there 
 That would carry it a-sweepin' 
 Through the stronghold of despair. 
 Now, the grippin' o' the hand, sir, 
 An' the welcome that you say 

 Was so firm an' true an' all that 
 Has a kind o' curious way. 
 At the first it's sorter slow like, 
 Till it forms a league with you, 
 Then it makes a kind o' circuit 
 That jest thrills you thro' an' thro'. 
 But it may be I had better 
 Not discuss this aftermath 
 Fur it might stir up your feelings 
 To the righteous point of wrath 
 As you brood o'er what you lost, sir, 
 By not stayin' with us longer. 
 . Ah, well, come to see us often, 
 Ole Kentucky '11 make you stronger. 
 So, you be'n to ole Kentucky, 
 An' you want to go ag'in ? 
 Well, Kentucky's standin' waitin' 
 Jest to take you wholly in, 
 An' she'll loosen her vast girdle 
 So that you can fully see 
 All the roots, fruits, leaves, an' branches 
 Of her hospitality. 
 Faith is essential to prosperity, 
 Although no mortal knoweth what it be; 
 For, without it, the wise man, like the fool, 
 Would swap the ocean for a stagnant pool. 
 [From a Kentucky standpoint.] 
 To tell the truth, each piece he read 
 Set up a jingle in my head 
 That bumped and thumped and roared about, 
 Then on a sudden just crept out, 
 Gently and slowly at the start, 
 Then made a bee-line for my heart. 
 And more than once I thought maybe 
 His charming Hoosier poetry 
 Would be a guide to lead me over 
 To the Elysian fields of clover. 
 To find fault with his worst or best 
 Would be like finding fault with rest 
 After a fellow has been in 
 .The dirt and dust up to his chin, 
 And bathed and stretched beneath the trees 
 Whose branches fairly hug the breeze. 
 In these hackneyed and sordid days, 
 When censure thorns the bud of praise 
 And many think they ought not to 
 Give genius half its honest due, 
 And never fail to bombard it 
 With silly quips and shallow wit, 
 I like to just go hunt it up 
 And sup and sip and sip and sup; 
 And then I like to speak my praise 
 In honest thought and simple phrase, 

 And let the giver know that I 
 Delight in him and tell him why, 
 And not go wavering to and fro 
 But just come out and tell him so. 
 Life's fibres we are wont to separate 
 And nourish such as yield to pleasantry 
 A few scant sheaves. Thereby we sow a fate 
 Whose reapings choke the soul's vast granary. 
 Tread we, if need be, over thorny ways, 
 Rejoicing ever it is ours to dare ; 
 Nor heed the million-footed throng that stays, 
 Nor stop to heal our bleeding feet and bare. 
 He was, in truth, a man whose genius dwelt 
 In mystic corners of the universe ; 
 And Nature, couched in what he saw and felt, 
 Appears in garments simplified and terse. 
 He tilled the old deserted fields with zeal, 
 And honored every common thing he saw 
 By making it a part of the great seal 
 That holds secure the universal law. 

 To Bis:iop Walters, D. D. 
 Tune — "My Cotintry, ' Tzs of Thee!' 
 The Past with all its wrong 
 Deserves a joyous song 
 From every soul; 
 For, be it as it may, 
 It sheds a dazzling ray 
 That lights our tedious way 
 With ample dole. 
 The Present speaketh thus 
 In accents glorious : 
 The times to be 
 Will check man's selfish ways 
 And yield him better days 
 And ever be ablaze 
 With liberty. 
 O Zion ! dost thou ask 
 What daily, hourly task 
 Thy God has set 
 To see if thou wilt still 
 Thy noble creed fulfill 
 And hearken to His will 
 However met ? 
 It is to place His love 
 All earthly dross above 
 And let men know 
 Howe'er they be depraved, 

 If Christ's name be engraved 
 Within they will be saved 
 From lasting woe. 
 O Zion ! true and tried, 
 By faith and hope abide, 
 And steer right on. 
 And as thou mov'st spread out 
 No tempting sail of doubt 
 Whose ample folds may flout 
 The promised dawn. 
 Her eyes gave forth a light that softened so 
 The rugged metal of my inner soul 
 I straightway reckoned loneliness and woe 
 Would flee, if we approached them as a whole. 
 Sin smirched thy garments, and thy lot was cast 
 Within the cold embrace of discontent; 
 Still thou didst blow so clear and pure a blast 
 Its echo warrants censure's banishment. 
 As one would rob a reptile of its sting 
 And make it tame and trustful in the end, 
 So by sheer tact and kindly ministering 
 Convert each foe you meet into a friend. 

 As I stood beside the ocean, 
 Gazing silently 
 At the wild waves in commotion, 
 Thus it spoke to me : 
 ' i Thousands now are sweetly sleeping 
 In my wide embrace, 
 While my waves are slowly creeping 
 O'er each silent face. 
 " In the dark primeval ages 
 That so long have flown 
 Holy men and mighty sages 
 Loved to sleep in stone. 
 "So vast sepulchres were hollowed 
 By the hands of slaves, 
 And by thousands they were followed 
 To their rocky graves. 
 ' ' But the loved ones whom my billows 
 Now are raging o'er 
 Sank to sleep on briny pillows, 
 Mid my awful roar." 
 Now, firstly, from my text I stray 
 To where my discourse is begun; 
 And then I just say on and say 
 Until, well, I am done. 

 Oliver Wendell Holmes. 
 Who can hold up the intellect and say : 
 " From here to there scampers a vein of wit 
 With laughing humor by the side of it, 
 Assisting cold philosophy to play 
 The game of thinking?" Not a single ray 
 That boldly shines therefrom will e'er admit 
 Of close analysis. So, bit by bit, 
 We fall to guessing out the mind's true way 
 Of forming wholes. O astute analyst ! 
 And royal merchant in the mart of song ! 
 Because of this we see as through a mist 
 Thy charming whole. Yet know to thee belong, 
 Howe'er they be arranged, the God-like three — 
 Wit, humor, and sublime philosophy. 
 O England ! mother England ! hast thou come 
 To dally with the love of victory 
 That flashes forth thy sometime cruelty 
 Thou visitest on nations wearisome? 
 And would'st thou start a wound the blood therefrom- 
 Mingled with blood that will come forth with glee 
 To meet thy own upon both land and sea — 
 Shall curse eternally all Christendom ? 
 Mother ! the great West has no will to mar 
 Thy glory's currents that so grandly run ; 

 But would remind thee it has grown a star 
 That borrows naught from thy resplendent sun. 
 Let us not winnow chaff till its increase 
 Sever the girdle of the whole world's peace. 
 Homage is thine because, forsooth, thy face 
 Brooks not an entrance to thy fickle soul; 
 So, untrained eyes think they have reached life's goal 
 If but allowed thy lineaments to trace. 
 He who looks deeply will at once erase 
 Thy outer image till worth's sacred stole 
 Warm into active being powers that dole 
 Out inward beauties he must needs embrace. 
 Thus, richly blended, thou wilt have the power 
 To wield an influence whose magic dart 
 Will find each victim in Love's crowded bower, 
 And leave thy message on his throbbing heart. 
 Then he who flinches 'neath thy chastening rod 
 Belies his nature and defies his God. 
 Disloyal to my native land ? 
 A traitor to the stripes and stars ? 
 I lift this tried and sturdy hand 
 To forge my brother's prison bars ? 
 Perish the hellish thought ! 
 My all shall go as a true patriot's ought. 
 For him who doth unwisely prate 
 Of my good will to bloody Spain, 
 I brew the patriot's righteous hate, 
 And hurl it at him with disdain. 
 May the avenging rod 
 Wed his foul dust to the o'er-welcome sod. 
 Justice at times may slightly swerve, 
 And turn the course of freedom back, 
 Her blinded presence tend to nerve 
 The mob that puts me to the rack; 
 Yet, I am what I am — 
 A force to guard the rights of Uncle Sam. 
 My faith looks up through blood and tears 
 And tarries at the golden dawn 
 Whose beams slant out across the years, 
 Proclaiming freedom fully born. 
 I must do what I can 
 To hasten on this boon to struggling man. 
 God bless this land of corn and wine ! 
 God bless her loyal, fighting sons ! 
 May each one say : ' ' The cause is mine ; 
 I'll stand beside the roaring guns, 
 And play a hero's part 
 In striking terror to Spain's cruel heart." 

 Old Mr. Goody had a goat 
 That was quiet and genteel; 
 His mustache started on his chin 
 And ended on his heel. 
 This goat thought he was just as smart 
 As anything could be ; 
 He said no other goat alive 
 Knew half so much as he. 
 He knew that corn is made to grow, 
 And eggs are made to hatch ; 
 But, lo, he never yet had seen 
 The thing you call a match. 
 So, one day as he pondered o'er 
 The many things he knew, 
 He chanced to see this very thing 
 Lying plainly in his view. 
 Said he : " Of all the things I've seen 
 Not one of them I've feared; 
 So I will take this something up 
 And hang it in my beard." 
 Just then a monkey came along, 
 And sneeringly he spoke : 
 "The thing that dangles from your beard 
 Was clearly made to smoke." 
 "And how?" the goat made quick reply. 
 The monkey said: "Just so;" 

 And gave the match a kind of stroke 
 That monkeys only know. 
 And in a trice there stood a goat 
 As beardless as a flea, 
 And one that thought the smallest thing 
 Knew just as much as he. 
 Thou art the daysman of the human soul, 
 Thou giv'st thy timely warning loud and long; 
 And all who hearken unto thy control 
 Will never tread the noxious paths of wrong. 
 Oh, brother mine, let this true herald cease 
 To guide thee as thou movest on thy way, 
 And, soon or late, the fires of love and peace 
 Will dwell in thee as dormant as the clay. 
 Therefore, at every point be vigilant 
 Lest thy own action thwart the soul's emprise; 
 And numb the pulse that otherwise would grant 
 The key to earth's unearthy paradise. 
 It is a blessed thing to look into 
 The many-sided mysteries of man ; 
 But for each point secured is ever due 
 The servile homage of the charlatan. 
 To Sarah. 
 She was the prettiest little maid 
 That ever tripped along, 
 Or sat beneath the pleasant shade 
 To sing an evening song. 
 And ever at her work she sang 
 Some sinple, rustic lay 
 Until the cliffs around her rang 
 With its sweet melody. 
 Her cot, beneath a rocky hill, 
 Stood by an aged tree; 
 And far below a little rill 
 Ran rippling to the sea. 
 Along its banks she often strayed 
 To fill her lap with flowers, 
 Or in some grassy cranny played 
 At building fairy towers. 
 Now, sunny April came to wake 
 All nature from its sleeping ; 
 And here and there a little brake 
 Above the soil was peeping. 
 And Lily thought the gentle spring 
 Did never fairer seem, 
 And hurried through her work to sin£ 
 Beside the little stream. 
 While sitting on its grassy brink, 
 Singing her rustic lay, 

 She saw the songsters light and drink 
 Then quickly flit away. 
 Just then some school-boys came along 
 Upon the farther shore ; 
 And straightway did she cease the song 
 To row them safely o'er. 
 She tried to take the little boat 
 Across the stream in vain, 
 And sank beneath the current swift, 
 And never rose again. 
 When you roam the garden over, 
 When you trip across the lea, 
 When you play amid the clover, 
 Mary, do you think of me ? 
 When you sit beside the fire 
 In the closing of the year, 
 Have you still the same desire 
 That once made my presence dear? 
 When the banquet hall is lighted 
 For the youthful and the gay, 
 And you are with the invited, 
 Do you sigh that I'm away ? 
 When you hear that some disaster 
 Has befallen ship and crew, 
 Do you wish the hours were faster 
 That will bring me back to you ? 
 And if I, perchance, should perish, 
 While upon the briny sea, 
 Mary, will you ever cherish 
 All the gifts you have from me ? 
 I put salt water to my thirsty lip, 
 And drew it back as quickly as I could. 
 Do likewise, man, whene'er you chance to dip 
 Into those things you have not understood. 
 I separated both immediately, 
 And drank the water to my soul's content, 
 Then threw the worthless salt into the sea. 
 Drink pleasures, man, after sin's banishment. 
 " The paths of glory lead but to the grave." — Gray. 
 Let none ignobly halt because 
 They tell us glory's fickle wave 
 Rolls on in keeping with set laws 
 And bears but to the cold, dark grave; 
 For whatsoever course we take 
 Leads straight to this unwelcome goal, 
 So, spur the will and grandly make 
 The voyage with elated soul. 

 They please me so — these solemn lays 
 That tell what God to man decrees. 
 The world so seldom mends its ways 
 That poets should by swift degrees 
 Put back the frail, bring forth the strong, 
 And wed stern facts to sober song 
 With a ring so clear that our barks must steer 
 To the haven where the God-kissed air 
 Makes the soul-wine sweet through its earth-brewed lees. 
 As one who stands beside a magic pool 
 And cries to every nymph that lifts its head : 
 "Come, bring me gold," and only hears : " Thou fool, 
 Repent or journey on disquieted ;" 
 So he who stranger is to his own soul 
 Will find him face to face with the unreal, 
 And spend his time in trying to read the scroll 
 Whereon he thinks is writ life's great ideal. 
 "Lend me thy fire," I said unto my soul; 
 "Give me a thought," I pleaded with my brain. 
 The first said: " Cultivate thy needed strain." 
 The second whispered: " Search from pole to pole." 

 Johnny was smart as he was good, 
 But still he never understood 
 Why Santa Claus, with his reindeer, 
 Can only come 'round once a year. 
 The more he thought about the thing, 
 The more it set him wondering. 
 " Now, why," said he, "can't Santa Claus 
 Throw off those old and binding laws, 
 And always have his little pack 
 Ready to fling across his back; 
 And, mounted on his fleet reindeer, 
 Come 'round at least four times a year ? 
 1 [ I'm sure that all the little boys 
 Who find such sport in Santa's toys, 
 And all the girls who love to play 
 With dolls and such the live-long day, 
 Would welcome him whene'er he comes 
 With songs and plays and fifes and drums." 
 His eyelids closed, his head drooped low, 
 And he was where the sleepers go. 
 He dreamed that he was sitting by 
 The fireside, musing silently, 
 When all at once he heard a shout 
 Ring loud and merrily without; 
 And as he gazed into the flame 
 Santa Claus down the chimney came. 

 His voice was low, but round and sweet, 
 His beard., it almost touched his feet. 
 With eyes as bright as they could be 
 He looked at Johnny curiously, 
 And said, 'Til tell you why my deer 
 And I can come but once a year. 
 " When they were given unto me 
 I had to promise faithfully 
 That whatsoever might betide, 
 I'd always keep them at my side. 
 Now, I can't live and be untrue, 
 So they can't come unless I do. 
 "And of the many promises 
 Concerning me, I give you these : 
 My beard must be as white as snow, 
 And just as long as it can grow. 
 My eyes must be so bright that I 
 Can see a speck up in the sky. 
 u When I have given out my toys 
 To all the little girls and boys, 
 And scampered over hill and plain, 
 And driven my deer back home again, 
 My beard turns black and all drops out — 
 A fact, perchance, that you may doubt. 
 "And then it creeps out leisurely 
 Till it's as long as it should be, 
 Then, bit by bit, each day and night, 
 It turns and turns till it turns white. 
 About the time this task is through, 
 The Old Year sadly hails the New. 
 " My eyes grow dim and dimmer still, 
 Until I can not see at will ; 
 And then they turn and grow so bright 
 That I can see the darkest night. 
 But this, too, takes a whole round year — 
 Another fact to doubt, my dear. 
 "And now, perchance, you'd like to know 
 Just why these things should vary so. 
 About the beard I will not speak 
 (I see that you are growing weak), 
 My sight grows dim, so I can't view 
 The naughty things .that children do. 
 ' ' I can not give my precious toys 
 To any little girls and boys 
 That I know have been bad at school, 
 And violated every rule 
 That ma and pa so lovingly 
 Have made for their prosperity. 
 "Since I am anxious every one 
 Should get some toys and have some fun, 
 It is as plain as plain can be 
 The only thing that's left for me 
 Is not to see them when they do 
 The very things they ought not to. 
 "And so I wait till near the morn 
 On which the blessed Christ was born, 
 When, like the Master, every child 
 Is striving to be meek and mild." 
 Then, seated on the brightest flame, 
 Old Santa went the way he came. 

 Johnny awoke in great surprise, 
 And, as he slowly rubbed his eyes, 
 He turned his mind aback to see 
 The flaws in his past history, 
 And they were such he had to say : 
 " Old Santa's is the better way. 
 "And if he and his fleet reindeer 
 Will not come more than once a year 
 I'm sure that it will just suit me, 
 And I don't know but there may be 
 Some others who, like me, will say 
 That Santa's is the better way." 
 "What's that you got there in your hand? 
 You think that I don't understand ? 
 Let's see! er I'll chug you in the ribs. 
 Ho, boys ! come here ; old Tricky Tibbs 
 Got his report. Say, Trick, I'll bet 
 You anything that you can get 
 That thing don't say you're going to pass, 
 You know you done been giving sass 
 The whole month through. You, snigger, you! 
 That teacher's bound to out figger you 
 On that deportment. Well, let's see! 
 I told you so ; he's just got three. 
 Got six? Well, now, just listen to that! 
 Goose! you don't know where 'bouts you're at." 
 " You bet I do," said Tricky, wearing 
 A smile the boys thought had no bearing 
 Upon said case. " I have some doubts 
 As to you seeing the ins and outs 
 Of this here thing. There is a point 
 That in my case becomes a joint 
 And fastens this three to enough 
 To make it six. You say it's stuff? 
 Let's figger then. Even you can see 
 To make my six takes one more three. 
 Now, ain't that right? You sleepy dunce, 
 You ought to see the rest at once, 
 Or from your eyes the scales be picking. 
 I got the other three in licking." 
 "Well, Uncle Zeb, it seems that you 
 Are always peeping 'round 
 As if in search of some queer spot 
 Where wisdom may be found." 
 " Now, child, you see this head of mine 
 Has been a kind of bin 
 For all the things around me to 
 Store up their valuables in. 
 "And, child, I tell you what I b'lieve 
 About this here affair ; 
 I b'lieve this world's a kind of thing 
 Whose breath you call the air. 
 "And this is alway blowing and 
 A-sputtering, and so 
 The moon and sun and all the rest 
 Are just obliged to go. 
 "Just look out there! Now, ain't that sun 
 A-running 'round and 'round ? 
 And ain't this breath you call the wind 
 A-keeping it from the ground ? 
 " Now, child, the winds that get out there 
 Are mighty far from home 
 And lonely-like. So they just take 
 The sun and have a roam." 
 When Time was laggard in the long ago, 
 And stopped to pilfer dainty things to eat, 
 Dispatch, his master, vowed him lasting woe 
 By putting bells about his lazy feet. 
 Now, had Dispatch been master of the tongue 
 And served it likewise for his pleasure's sake, 
 Reason and Silence would have long since wrung 
 His nose and ears for making the mistake. 
 Make not a law to rule another 
 That you yourselves would not obey ; 
 In this, as in the ancient day, 
 Man is the keeper of his brother. 
 Let not the States about you see 
 That you are great in all that goes 
 To banish friends and harbor foes 
 Around the base of freedom's tree. 
 A poet shyly sang a ditty 
 To Lady Bonnevare, 
 And hinted she was wise and witty 
 As well as wondrous fair. 
 " Upon my word I will forsake you," 
 She said and laced him coldly, 
 " And may the devil come and take you 
 Till you can warble boldly." 
 This life of mine is poor indeed, 
 If it be measured by 
 The little mankind, in their need, 
 Reap from my charity. 
 But rich it is beyond the power 
 Of my dull eyes to see, 
 When measured by the gracious dower, 
 Which they bequeath to me. 

This page has paths: