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

Olivia Seivis, "Rural Night Scenes" (1907)

Olivia Seivis, "Rural Night Scenes" 
(Kansas City, Kansas. Sumner High School, '08)

'Twas in the gloaming , deep in forest shade
When shadows darken, and the ghost, unlaid,
Wrapping himself about in garments white
Prepares to stalk away into the night.
Above, the jewelled canopy stretched out
Piercing the sable gloom of Erebus;
And darkness summoning her couriers fleet
Each hastily despatched on errands meet.

The herdsman in his cheerful cot hard-by
Offered a sample prayer to Him on high.
His fare was poor---a dish of pulse, some bread,---
Yet he was happier than if better fed.
Each day his hands their humble task essayed;
At even-tide he felt himself well-paid.

The rich man in his palace on the hill
His larder filled with trophies of the kill;
His cellars overflowed with rich old wine,---
Old Rhenish, which was mellowed much by time.
No prayer, no word of thanks , came from his mouth;
Even to bow his head the man was loath.

The hermit sat before his cheerless board
Scanning with glut'nous eyes his glittering hoard.
To him it was a feast, a feast indeed;
For other food than this he felt no need.
And thus the miser sat through half the night,
Basking in his treasure's reflected light .

Down in the vale in still sequestered nook
A farmhouse nestled near the purling brook;
And through the half dim light a pace before
Behold the genial farmer in the door!
Within the busy house-wife bustled 'round
Spreading the homely board with viands sound,
With herbs, maize bread and other wholesome messes,
Which soon the jovial good -man warmly blesses.

'Tis night:
Two youthful lovers thread the mountain path,
Waking the slumb'ring Echo with each laugh.
Some ancient jest the jocund swain essayed,---
With trilling laughter then replied the maid:
" Kind sir , when first mine ears thou didst assail,
With ever ready wit and pleasing tale,
Methought that ne'er before was swain so bright,
Who could with minstrel speech surpass the knight.
But now, most valiant sir, I must confess
That common usage under-rates the best---"
"And like enow 'tis true,' observed the lad,
'Abuses make the very best, seem bad."

'Tis late :
The Great Bear in the sky begins to fade,
My Reverie is broken---the Muse is fled.
A roseate hue the misty East o'erspreads
Pronouncing blessings on each sleepiug head.
The Dreamer rose, the tolling bell said one,
Aurora, Herald of the Dawn, had come.

Published in Colored American Magazine, October 1907

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