African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Majors and Minors" (Full Text) (1895)

IONE

Part I

Ah, yes, 't is sweet still to remember,
Though 'twere less painful to forget;
For while my heart glows like an ember,
Mine eyes with sorrow's drops are wet,
And, oh, my heart is aching yet.
It is a law of mortal pain
That old wounds, long accounted well,
Beneath the memory's potent spell,
Will wake to life and bleed again.

So 'tis with me; it might be better,
If I should turn no look behind,--
If I could curb my heart, and fetter
From reminiscent gaze my mind,
Or let my soul go blind--go blind!
But would I do it if I could?
Nay! Ease at such a price were spurned,
For, since my love was once returned,
All that I suffer seemeth good.

I know, I know it is the fashion,
When love has left some heart distressed,
To weight the air with wordful passion:
But I am glad that in my breast
I ever held so dear a guest.
Love does not come at every nod,
Or every voice that calleth "hasten,"
He seeketh out some heart to chasten,
And whips it, wailing up to God!

Love is no random road wayfarer
Who where he may must sip his glass.
Love is the King, the Purple-wearer,
Whose guard recks not of tree or grass
To blaze the way that he may pass.
What if my heart be in the blast
That heralds his triumphant way;
Shall I repine, shall I not say:
"Rejoice, my heart, the King has passed!"

In life, each heart holds some sad story--
The saddest ones are never told.
I too, have dreamed of fame and glory,
And viewed the future bright with gold;
But that is as a tale long told.
Mine eyes have lost their youthful flash,
My cunning hand has lost its art;
I am not old, but in my heart
The ember lies beneath the ash.

I loved! Why not? My heart was youthfu],
My mind was filled with healthy thought.
He doubts not whose own self is truthful,
Doubt by dishonesty is taught;
So loved I boldly, fearing naught.
I did not walk this lowly earth;
Mine was a newer, higher sphere,
Where youth was long and life was dear,
And all save love was little worth.

Her likeness! Would that I might limn it,
As Love did with enduring art;
Nor dust of days, nor death may dim it,
Where it lies graven on my heart,
Of this sad fabric of my life a part.
I would that I might paint her now
As I beheld her in that day,
Ere her first bloom had passed away,
And left the lines upon her brow.

A face serene that, beaming brightly,
Disarmed the hot sun's glances bold.
A foot that kissed the ground so lightly,
He frowned in wrath and deemed her cold,
But loved her still though he was old.
A form where every maiden grace
Bloomed to perfection's richest flow'r,--
The statued pose of conscious pow'r,
Like lithe-limbed Dian's of the chase.

Beneath a brow too fair for frowning,
Like moon-lit deeps that glass the skies
Till all the hosts above seem drowning,
Looked forth her steadfast hazel eyes,
With gaze serene and purely wise.
And over all, her tresses rare,
Which, when with his desire grown weak,
The Night bent down to kiss her cheek,
Entrapped and held him captive there.

This was Ione; a spirit finer
Ne'er burned to ash its house of clay;
A soul instinct with fire diviner
Ne'er fled athwart the face of day,
And tempted Time with earthly stay.
Her loveliness was not alone
Of face and form and tresses' hue;
For aye a pure, high soul shone through
Her every act: this was Ione.

Part II

'Twas in the radiant summer weather,
When God looked, smiling, from the sky;
And we went wand'ring much together
By wood and lane, Ione and I,
Attracted by the subtle tie
Of common thoughts and common tastes,
Of eyes whose vision saw the same,
And freely granted beauty's claim,
Where others saw but worthless wastes.

We paused to hear the far bells ringing
Across the distance, sweet and clear.
We listened to the wild bird singing
The song he meant for his mate's ear,
And deemed our chance to do so, dear.
We loved to watch the warrior Sun,
With flaming shield and flaunting crest,
Go striding down the gory West,
When Day's long fight was fought and won.

And life became a different story,
Where'er I looked, I saw new light.
Earth's self assumed a greater glory,
Mine eyes were cleared to fuller sight.
Then first I saw the need and might
Of that fair band, the singing throng,
Who, gifted with the skill, divine,
Take up the threads of life, spun fine,
And weave them into soulful song.

They sung for me, whose passion pressing
My soul, found vent in song nor line.
They bore the burden of expressing
All that I felt, with art's design,
And every word of theirs was mine.
I read them to Ione, ofttimes,
By hill and shore, beneath fair skies,
And she looked deeply in mine eyes,
And knew my love spoke through their rhymes.

Her life was like the stream that floweth,
And mine was like the waiting sea;
Her love was like the flower that bloweth,
And mine was like the searching bee--
I found her sweetness all for me.
God plied him in the mint of time,
And coined for us a golden day,
And rolled it ringing down life's way
With love's sweet music in its chime.

And God unclasped the Book of Ages,
And laid it open to our sight;
Upon the dimness of its pages,
So long consigned to rayless night,
He shed the glory of his light.
We read them well, we read them long,
And ever thrilling did we see
That love ruled all humanity,--
The master passion, pure and strong.

Part III

To-day my skies are bare and ashen,
And bend on me without a beam.
Since love is held the master-passion,
Its loss must be the pain supreme--
And grinning Fate has wrecked my dream.
But pardon, dear departed Guest,
I will not rant, I will not rail;
For good the grain must feel the flail;
There are whom love has never blessed.

I had and have a younger brother,
One whom I loved and love to-day
As never fond and doting mother
Adored the babe who found its way
From heavenly scenes into her day.
Oh, he was full of youth's new wine,--
A man on life's ascending slope,
Flushed with ambition, full of hope;
And every wish of his was mine.

A kingly youth; the way before him
Was thronged with victories to be won;
So joyous, too, the heavens o'er him
Were bright with an unchanging sun,--
His days with rhyme were overrun.
Toil had not taught him Nature's prose,
Tears had not dimmed his brilliant eyes,
And sorrow had not made him wise;
His life was in the budding rose.

I know not how I came to waken,
Some instinct pricked my soul to sight;
My heart by some vague thrill was shaken,--
A thrill so true and yet so slight,
I hardly deemed I read aright.
As when a sleeper, ign'rant why,
Not knowing what mysterious hand
Has called him out of slumberland,
Starts up to find some danger nigh.

Love is a guest that comes, unbidden,
But, having come, asserts his right,
He will not be repressed nor hidden.
And so my brother's dawning plight
Became uncovered to my sight.
Some sound mote in his passing tone,
Caught in the meshes of my ear;
Some little glance, a shade too dear
Betrayed the love he bore Ione.

What could I do? He was my brother,
And young, and full of hope and trust;
I could not, dared not try to smother
His flame, and turn his heart to dust.
I knew how oft life gives a crust
To starving men who cry for bread;
But he was young, so few his days,
He had not learned the great world's ways,
Nor Disappointment's volumes read.

However fair and rich the booty,
I could not make his loss my gain.
For love is dear, but dearer, duty,
And here my way was clear and plain.
I saw how I could save him pain.
And so, with all my day grown dim,
That this loved brother's sun might shine,
I joined his suit, gave over mine,
And sought Ione, to plead for him.

I found her in an eastern bower,
Where all day long the am'rous sun
Lay by to woo a timid flower.
This day his course was well nigh run,
But still with lingering art he spun
Gold fancies on the shadowed wall.
The vines waved soft and green above,
And there where one might tell his love,
I told my pangs--I told her all.

I told her all and as she hearkened,
A tear-drop fell upon her dress.
With grief her flushing brow was darkened;
One sob that she could not repress
Betrayed the depths of her distress.
Upon her grief my sorrow fed,
And I was bowed with unlived years,
My heart swelled with a sea of tears,
The tears my manhood could not shed.

The world is Rome, and Fate is Nero,
Disporting in the hour of doom.
God made us men; times make the hero--
But in that awful space of gloom,

I gave no thought but sorrow's room.
All--all was dim within that bow'r,
What time the sun divorced the day;
And all the shadows, glooming gray,
Proclaimed the sadness of the hour.

She could not speak--no word was needed;
Her look, half strength and half despair,
Told me I had not vainly pleaded,
That she would not ignore my prayer.
And so she turned and left me there,
And as she went, so passed my bliss;
She loved me, I could not mistake--
But for her own and my love's sake,
Her womanhood could rise to this.

My wounded heart fled swift to cover,
And life at times seemed very drear.
My brother proved an ardent lover--
What had so young a man to fear?
He wed Ione within the year.
No shadow clouds her tranquil brow,
Men speak her husband's name with pride,
While she sits honored at his side--
She is--she must be happy now!

I doubt the course I took no longer,
Since those I love seem satisfied.
The bond between them will grow stronger
As they go forward, side by side;
Then will my pains be justified.
Their joy is mine, and that is best--
I am not totally bereft;
For I have still the mem'ry left--
Love stopped with me--a Royal Guest!
 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS

A hush is over all the teeming lists,
And there is pause, a breath-space in the strife;
A spirit brave has passed beyond the mists
And vapors that obscure the sun of life.
And Ethiopia, with bosom torn,
Laments the passing of her noblest born.

She weeps for him a mother's burning tears--
She loved him with a mother's deepest love
He was her champion thro' direful years,
And held her weal all other ends above.
When Bondage held her bleeding in the dust,
He raised her up and whispered, "Hope and Trust."

For her his voice, a fearless clarion, rung
That broke in warning on the ears of men;
For her the strong bow of his pow'r he strung
And sent his arrows to the very den
Where grim Oppression held his bloody place
And gloated o'er the mis'ries of a race.

And he was no soft-tongued apologist;
He spoke straight-forward, fearlessly uncowed;
The sunlight of his truth dispelled the mist
And set in bold relief each dark-hued cloud;
To sin and crime he gave their proper hue,
And hurled at evil what was evil's due.

Thro' good and ill report he cleaved his way
Right onward, with his face set toward the heights,
Nor feared to face the foeman's dread array--
The lash of scorn, the sting of petty spites.
He dared the lightning in the lightning's track,
And answered thunder with his thunder back.

When men maligned him and their torrent wrath
In furious imprecations o'er him broke,
He kept his counsel as he kept his path;
'Twas for his race, not for himself, he spoke.
He knew the import of his Master's call
And felt himself too mighty to be small.

No miser in the good he held was he--
His kindness followed his horizon's rim.
His heart, his talents and his hands were free
To all who truly needed aught of him.
Where poverty and ignorance were rife,
He gave his bounty as he gave his life.

The place and cause that first aroused his might
Still proved its pow'r until his latest day.
In Freedom's lists and for the aid of Right
Still in the foremost rank he waged the fray;
Wrong lived; His occupation was not gone.
He died in action with his armor on!

We weep for him, but we have touched his hand,
And felt the magic of his presence nigh,
The current that he sent thro'out the land,
The kindling spirit of his battle-cry
O'er all that holds us we shall triumph yet
And place our banner where his hopes were set!

Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the shore,
But still thy voice is ringing o'er the gale!
Thou'st taught thy race how high her hopes may soar
And bade her seek the heights, nor faint, nor fail.
She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring cry,
She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh,
And rising from beneath the chast'ning rod,
She stretches out her bleeding hands to God!

 

THE CHANGE HAS COME

The change has come, and Helen sleeps--
Not sleeps; but wakes to greater deeps
Of wisdom, glory, truth and light,
That ever blessed her seeking sight,
In this low, long, lethargic night,
Worn out with strife
Which men call life.

The change has come, and who would say?
"I would it were not come to-day."
What were the respite till to-morrow--
Postponement of a certain sorrow,
From which each passing day would borrow?
Let grief be dumb,
The change has come.

 

A MADRIGAL

Dream days of fond delight and hours,
As rosy-hued as dawn, are mine.
Love's drowsy wine,
Brewed from the heart of Passion flowers,
Flows warmly o'er my lips
And save thee, all the world is in eclipse.

There were no light if thou wert not;
The sun would be too sad too shine,
And all the line
Of hours from dawn would be a blot;
And Night would haunt the skies,
An unlaid ghost with staring dark-ringed eyes.

Oh, love if thou wert not my love,
And I perchance not thine--what then?
Could gift of men
Or favor of the God above,
Plant ought in this bare heart
Or teach this tongue the singer's soulful art?

Ah, no! 'Tis love, and love alone
That spurs my soul so surely on;
Turns night to dawn,
And thorns to roses fairest blown;
And winter drear to spring--
Oh were it not for love I could not sing!

 

WE WEAR THE MASK

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties,

Why should the world be over-wise.
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile,
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

 

THE POET AND HIS SONG

A song is but a little thing,
And yet what joy it is to sing.
In hours of toil it gives me zest,
And when at eve I long for rest;
When cows come home along the bars,
And in the fold I hear the bell,
As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars,
I sing my song and all is well.

There are no ears to hear my lays,
No lips to lift a word of praise;
But still with faith unfaltering,
I live and laugh and love and sing.
What matters yon unheeding throng?
They cannot feel my spirit's spell,
Since life is sweet and love is long,
I sing my song and all is well.

My days are never days of ease,
I till my ground and prune my trees.
When ripened gold is all the plain,
I put my sickle to the grain.
I labor hard and toil and sweat,
While others dream within the dell;
But even while my brow is wet,
I sing my song and all is well.

Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot,
My garden makes a desert spot.
Sometimes a blight upon the tree
Takes all my fruit away from me;
And then with throes of bitter pain
Rebellious passions rise and swell;
But--life is more than fruit or grain,
And so I sing, and all is well.

 

ODE TO ETHIOPIA

O Mother Race! to thee I bring
This pledge of faith unwavering,
This tribute to thy glory.
I know the pangs which thou didst feel,
When Slavery crushed thee with its heel,
With thy dear blood all gory.

Sad days were those--ah, sad indeed!
But through the land the fruitful seed
Of better times was growing.
The plant of freedom upward sprung,
And spread its leaves so fresh and young--
Its blossoms now are blowing.

On every hand in this fair land,
Proud Ethiope's swarthy children stand
Beside their fairer neighbor;
The forests flee before their stroke,
Their hammers ring, their forges smoke,--
They stir in honest labor.

They tread the fields where honor calls;
Their voices sound through senate halls
In majesty and power.
To right they cling; the hymns they sing
Up to the skies in beauty ring,
And bolder grow each hour.

Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul;
Thy name is writ on Glory's scroll
In characters of fire.
High 'mid the clouds of Fame's bright sky
Thy banner's blazoned folds now fly,
And truth shall lift them higher.

Thou hast the right to noble pride,
Whose spotless robes were purified
By blood's severe baptism.
Upon thy brow the cross was laid,
And labor's painful sweat-beads made
A consecrating chrism.

No other race, or white or black,
When bound, as thou wert, to the rack,
So seldom stooped to grieving;
No other race, when free again,
Forgot the past and proved them men
So noble in forgiving.

Go on and up! Our souls and eyes
Shall follow thy continuous rise;
Our ears shall list thy story
From bards who from thy root shall spring,
And proudly tune their lyres to sing
Of Ethiopia's glory.

 

A DROWSY DAY

The air is dark, the sky is gray,
The misty shadows come and go,
And here within my dusky room
Each chair looks ghostly in the gloom.
Outside the rain falls cold and slow,--
Half-stinging drops, half-blinding spray.

Each slightest sound is magnified,
For drowsy quiet holds her reign;
The burnt stick on the fireplace breaks,
The nodding cat with start awakes,
And then to sleep drops off again,
Unheeding Towser at her side.

I look far out across the lawn,
Where huddled stand the silly sheep;
My work lies idle at my hands,
My thoughts fly out like scattered strands
Of thread, and on the verge of sleep--
Still half awake--I dream and yawn.

What spirits rise before my eyes!
How various of kind and form!
Sweet memories of days long past,
The dreams of youth that could not last,
Each smiling calm, each raging storm,
That swept across my early skies.

Half seen, the bare, gaunt-fingered boughs
Before my window sweep and sway,
And chafe in tortures of unrest.
My chin sinks down upon my breast;
I cannot work on such a day,
But only sit and dream and drowse.

 

THE SPARROW

A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Then taps upon my window pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.

So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life's window sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic's rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.

 

SUNSET

The river sleeps beneath the sky,
And clasps the shadows to its breast;
The crescent moon shines dim on high;
And in the lately radiant west
The gold is fading into gray.
Now stills the lark his festive lay
And mourns with me the dying day,--

While in the south the first faint star
Lifts to the night its silver face,
And twinkles to the moon afar
Across the heaven's graying space;
Low murmurs reach me from the town,
As Day puts on her sombre crown,
And shakes her mantle darkly down.

 

COLUMBIAN ODE

I

Four hundred years ago a tangled waste
Lay sleeping on the west Atlantic side;
Their devious ways the Old World's millions traced
Content, and loved, and labored, dared and died,
While students still believed the charts they conned,
And wallowed in their thriftless ignorance,
Nor dreamed of other lands that lay beyond
Old Ocean's dense, indefinite expanse.

II

But deep within her heart old Nature knew
That she had once arrayed, at Earth's behest,
Another offspring, fine and fair to view,--
The chosen suckling of the mother's breast.
The child was wrapped in vestments soft and fine,
Each fold a work of Nature's matchless art;
The mother looked on it with love divine,
And strained the loved one closely to her heart.
And there it lay, and with the warmth grew strong
And hearty, by the salt sea breezes fanned,
Till Time with mellowing touches passed along,
And changed the infant to a mighty land.

III

But men knew naught of this, till there arose
That mighty mariner, the Genoese,
Who dared to try, in spite of fears and foes,
The unknown fortunes of unsounded seas.
O noblest of Italia's sons, thy bark
Went not alone into that shrouding night.
O dauntless darer of the rayless dark,
The world sailed with thee to eternal light.
The deer-haunts that with game were crowded then
To-day are tilled and cultivated lands;
The schoolhouse tow'rs where bruin had his den,
And where the wigwam stood the chapel stands;
The place that nurtured men of savage mien
Now teems with men of Nature's noblest types;
Where moved the forest-foliage banner green,
Now flutters in the breeze the stars and stripes!

October 21, 1892


 

THE MEADOW LARK

Though the winds be dank,
And the sky be sober,
And the grieving day
In a mantle gray
Hath let her waiting maiden robe her,--
All the fields along
I can hear the song
Of the meadow lark,
As she flits and flutters,
And laughs at the thunder when it mutters.
O happy bird, of heart most gay
To sing when skies are gray!

When the clouds are full,
And the tempest master
Lets the loud winds sweep
From his bosom deep
Like heralds of some dire disaster,
Then the heart, alone,
To itself makes moan;
And the songs come slow,
While the tears fall fleeter,
And silence than song by far seems sweeter.
Oh, few are they along the way
Who sing when skies are gray!


 

THE SEEDLING

As a quiet little seedling
Lay within its darksome bed,
To itself it fell a talking,
And this is what it said:

"I am not so very robust,
But I 'll do the best I can";
And the seedling from that moment
Its work of life began.

So it pushed a little leaflet
Up into the light of day,
To examine the surroundings
And show the rest the way.

The leaflet liked the prospect,
So it called its brother, Stem;
Then two other leaflets heard it,
And quickly followed them.

To be sure, the haste and hurry
Made the seedling sweat and pant;
But almost before it knew it
It found itself a plant.

The sunshine poured upon it,
And the clouds they gave a shower;
And the little plant kept growing
Till it found itself a flower.

Little folks, be like the seedling,
Always do the best you can;
Every child must share life's labor
Just as well as every man.

And the sun and showers will help you
Through the lonesome, struggling hours,
Till you raise to light and beauty
Virtue's fair, unfading flowers.


 

LIFE

A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh but the moans come double;
And that is life!

A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
With the smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;
And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;
And that is life!

 

CHANGING TIME

The cloud looked in at the window,
And said to the day, "Be dark!"
And the roguish rain tapped hard on the pane,
To stifle the song of the lark.

The wind sprang up in the tree tops
And shrieked with a voice of death,
But the rough-voiced breeze, that shook the trees,
Was touched with a violet's breath.


 

WHY FADES A DREAM?

Why fades a dream?
An iridescent ray
Flecked in between the tryst
Of night and day.
Why fades a dream?--
Of consciousness the shade
Wrought out by lack of light and made
Upon life's stream.
Why fades a dream?

That thought may thrive,
So fades the fleshless dream;
Lest men should learn to trust
The things that seem.
So fades a dream,
That living thought may grow
And like a waxing star-beam glow
Upon life's stream--
So fades a dream.

 

THE SECRET

What says the wind to the waving trees?
What says the wave to the river?
What means the sigh in the passing breeze?
Why do the rushes quiver?
Have you not heard the fainting cry
Of the flowers that said "Good-bye, good-bye?"

List how the gray dove moans and grieves
Under the woodland cover;
List to the drift of the falling leaves,
List to the wail of the lover.
Have you not caught the message heard
Already by wave and breeze and bird?

Come, come away to the river's bank,
Come in the early morning;
Come when the grass with dew is dank,
There you will find the warning--
A hint in the kiss of the quickening air
Of the secret that birds and breezes bear.


 

HE HAD HIS DREAM

He had his dream, and all through life
Worked up to it through toil and strife.
Afloat fore'er before his eyes,
It colored for him all his skies:
The storm-cloud dark
Above his barque,
The calm and listless vault of blue
Took on its hopeful hue,
It tinctured every golden beam--
He had his dream.

He labored hard and failed at last,
His sails too weak to bear the blast,
The raging tempests tore away
And sent his beating barque astray.
But what cared he
For wind or sea!
He said, "The tempest will be short,
My barque will come to port."
He saw through every cloud a gleam--
He had his dream.


 

A CREED AND NOT A CREED

To J. E. Iliff

I am no priest of crooks nor creeds,
For human wants and human needs
Are more to me than prophets' deeds;
And human tears and human cares
Affect me more than human prayers.

Go, cease your wail, lugubrious saint!
You fret high Heaven with your plaint.
Is this the "Christian's joy" you paint?
Is this the Christian's boasted bliss?
Avails your faith no more than this?

Take up your arms, come out with me,
Let Heav'n alone; humanity
Needs more and Heaven less from thee.
With pity for mankind look 'round;
Help them to rise--and Heaven is found.


 

BEYOND THE YEARS

I

Beyond the years the answer lies,
Beyond where brood the grieving skies
And Night drops tears.
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise
And doff its fears,
And carping Sorrow pines and dies--
Beyond the years.

II

Beyond the years, the prayer for rest
Shall beat no more within the breast;
The darkness clears,
And Morn perched on the mountain's crest
Her form uprears--
The day that is to come is best,
Beyond the years.

III

Beyond the years, the soul shall find
That endless peace for which it pined,
For light appears,
And to the eyes that still were blind
With blood and tears,
Their sight shall come all unconfined
Beyond the years.


 

DIRGE

Place this bunch of mignonette
In her cold, dead hand;
When the golden sun is set,
Where the poplars stand,
Bury her from sun and day,
Lay my little love away
From my sight.

She was like a modest flower
Blown in sunny June,
Warm as sun at noon's high hour,
Chaster than the moon.
Ah, her day was brief and bright,
Earth has lost a star of light.
She is dead.

Softly breathe her name to me,
Ah, I loved her so.
Gentle let your tribute be,
None may better know
Her true worth than I who weep
O'er her as she lies asleep--
Soft asleep.

Lay these lilies on her breast,
They are not more white
Than the soul of her, at rest
'Neath their petals bright.
Chant your aves soft and low,
Solemn be your tread and slow,--
She is dead.

Lay her here beneath the grass,
Cool and green and sweet,
Where the gentle brook may pass
Crooning at her feet.
Nature's bards shall come and sing,
And the fairest flowers shall spring
Where she lies.

Safe above the waters swirl,
She has crossed the bar;
Earth has lost a precious pearl,
Heaven has gained a star,
That shall ever sing and shine,
Till it quells this grief of mine
For my love.


 

THE COLORED SOLDIERS

If the muse were mine to tempt it
And my feeble voice were strong,
If my tongue were trained to measures,
I would sing a stirring song.
I would sing a song heroic
Of those noble sons of Ham,
Of the gallant colored soldiers
Who fought for Uncle Sam!

In the early days you scorned them,
And with many a flip and flout,
Said "these battles are the white man's
And the whites will fight them out."
Up the hills you fought and faltered,
In the vales you strove and bled,
While your ears still heard the thunder
Of the foes' increasing tread.

Then distress fell on the nation
And the flag was drooping low;
Should the dust pollute your banner?
No! the nation shouted, No!
So when war, in savage triumph,
Spread abroad his funeral pall--
Then you called the colored soldiers,
And they answered to your call.

And like hounds unleashed and eager
For the life blood of the prey,
Sprung they forth and bore them bravely
In the thickest of the fray.
And where'er the fight was hottest,--
Where the bullets fastest fell,
There they pressed unblanched and fearless
At the very mouth of hell.

Ah, they rallied to the standard
To uphold it by their might,
None were stronger in the labors,
None were braver in the fight.
At Forts Donelson and Henry
On the plains of Olustee,
They were foremost in the fight
Of the battles of the free.

And at Pillow! God have mercy
On the deeds committed there,
And the souls of those poor victims
Sent to Thee without a prayer.
Let the fulness of thy pity
O'er the hot wrought spirits sway,
Of the gallant colored soldier
Who fell fighting on that day!

Yes, the Blacks enjoy their freedom,
And they won it dearly, too;
For the life blood of their thousands
Did the southern fields bedew.
In the darkness of their bondage,
In the depths of slavery's night;
Their muskets flashed the dawning
And they fought their way to light.

They were comrades then and brothers,
Are they more or less to-day?
They were good to stop a bullet
And to front the fearful fray.
They were citizens and soldiers,
When rebellion raised its head;
And the traits that made them worthy,--
Ah! those virtues are not dead.

They have shared your nightly vigils,
They have shared your daily toil;
And their blood with yours commingling
Has made rich the Southern soil.
They have slept and marched and suffered
'Neath the same dark skies as you,
They have met as fierce a foeman,
And have been as brave and true.

And their deeds shall find a record,
In the registry of Fame;
For their blood has cleansed completely
Every blot of Slavery's shame.
So all honor and all glory
To those noble Sons of Ham--
The gallant colored soldiers,
Who fought for Uncle Sam!


 

DEAD

A knock is at her door, but she is weak;
Strange dews have washed the paint streaks from her cheeks;
She does not rise, but, ah, this friend is known,
And knows that he will find her all alone.
So opens he the door, and with soft tread,
Goes straightway to the richly curtained bed.
His soft hand on her dewy head he lays.
A strange white light she gives him for his gaze.
Then, looking on the glory of her charms,
He crushes her resistless in his arms.

Stand back! look not upon this bold embrace,
Nor view the calmness of the wanton's face,
With joy unspeakable and 'bated breath,
She keeps her last, long, liaison with death!


 

TO THE MEMORY OF MARY YOUNG

God has his plans, and what if we,
With our sight be too blind to see
Their full fruition; can not He,
Who made it, solve the mystery?
One whom we loved has fall'n asleep,
Not died; although her calm be deep.
Some new, unknown and strange surprise
In Heaven holds enrapt her eyes.

And can you blame her that her gaze
Is turned away from earthly ways,
When to her eyes God's light and love
Have giv'n the view of things above?
A gentle spirit sweetly good,
The pearl of precious womanhood;
Who heard the voice of duty clear,
And found her mission soon and near.

She loved all nature, flowers fair,
The warmth of sun, the kiss of air,
The birds that filled the sky with song,
The stream that laughed its way along.
Her home to her was shrine and throne,
But one love held her not alone;
She sought out poverty and grief,
Who touched her robe and found relief.

So sped she in her Master's work,
Too busy and too brave to shirk,
When through the silence, dusk and dim,
God called her and she fled to him.
We wonder at the early call,
And tears of sorrow can but fall
For her o'er whom we spread the pall;
But faith, sweet faith is over all.

The house is dust, the voice is dumb,
But through undying years to come,
The spark that glowed within her soul
Shall light our footsteps to the goal.
She went her way; but oh, she trod
The path that led her straight to God.
Such lives as this put death to scorn;
They lose our day to find God's morn.


 

COMPARISON

The sky of brightest gray seems dark
To one whose sky was ever white.
To one who never knew a spark,
Thro' all his life, of love or light,
The grayest cloud seems over bright.

The robin sounds a beggar's note
Where one the nightingale has heard,
But he, for whom no silver throat,
Its liquid music ever stirred,

 

BY THE STREAM

By the stream I dream in calm delight, and watch as in a glass,
How the clouds like crowds of snowy-hued and white-robed maidens pass,
And the water into ripples breaks and sparkles as it spreads,
Like a host of armored knights with silver helmets on their heads.

And I deem the stream an emblem fit of human life may go,
For I find a mind may sparkle much and yet but shallows show,
And a soul may glow with myriad lights and wonderous mysteries,
When it only lies a dormant thing and mirrors what it sees.


 

CONSCIENCE AND REMORSE

"Goodbye," I said to my conscience--
"Goodbye for aye and aye,"
And I put her hands off harshly,
And turned my face away,
And conscience smitten sorely
Returned not from that day.

But a time came when my spirit
Grew weary of its pace;
And I cried: "Come back, my conscience,
I long to see thy face."
But conscience cried: "I cannot,
Remorse sits in my place."


 

THE LOVER AND THE MOON

A lover whom duty called over the wave,
With himself communed: "Will my love be true
If left to herself? Had I better not sue
Some friend to watch over her, good and grave?
"But my friend might fail in my need," he said,
And I return to find love dead.
Since friendships fade like the flow'rs of June,
I will leave her in charge of the stable moon.

Then he said to the moon: "O dear old moon,
Who for years and years from thy throne above
Hast nurtured and guarded young lovers and love,
My heart has but come to its waiting June,
And the promise time of the budding vine;
Oh guard thee well this love of mine.
And he harked him then while all was still,
And the pale moon answered and said "I will."

And he sailed in his ship o'er many seas,
And he wandered wide o'er strange far strands:
In isles of the south and in Orient lands,
Where pestilence lurks in the breath of the breeze.
But his star was high, so he braved the main,
And sailed him blithely home again;
And with joy he bended his footsteps soon
To learn of his love from the matron moon.

She sat as of yore, in her olden place,
Serene as death, in her silver chair.
A white rose gleamed in her whiter hair,
And the tint of a blush was on her face.
At sight of the youth she sadly bowed
And hid her face 'neath a gracious cloud.
She faltered faint on the night's dim marge,
But "how," spoke the youth, "have you kept your charge?"

The moon was sad at a trust ill-kept;
The blush went out in her blanching cheek,
And her voice was timid and low and weak,
As she made her plea and sighed and wept.
"Oh another prayed and another plead,
And I couldn't resist," she answering said,
"But love still grows in the hearts of men,
Go forth dear youth and love again."

But he turned him away from her proffered grace.
"Thou art false, Oh moon, as the hearts of men,
I will not, will not love again."
And he turned sheer 'round with a soul-sick face,
To the sea, and cried: "Sea, curse the moon,
Who makes her vows and forgets so soon."
And the awful sea with anger stirred,
And his breast heaved hard as he lay and heard.

And ever the moon wept down in rain,
And ever her sighs rose high in wind:
But the earth and sea were deaf and blind,
And she wept and sighed her griefs in vain.
And ever at night, when the storm is fierce,
The cries of a wraith through the thunders pierce:
And the waves strain their awful hands on high
To tear the false moon from the sky.


 

SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT

Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing,
I look far out into the pregnant night
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun
And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
For I would hail and check that ship of ships.
I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,
My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips
And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing.

Oh Earth, oh Sky, oh Ocean, both surpassing,
Oh heart of mine, Oh soul that dreads the dark!
Is there no hope for me? Is there no way
That I may sight and check that speeding bark,
Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?


 

NATURE AND ART

To my friend, Charles Booth Nettleton

I

The young queen Nature, ever sweet and fair,
Once on a time fell upon evil days.
From hearing oft herself discussed with praise,
There grew within her heart the longing rare
To see herself; and every passing air
The warm desire fanned into lusty blaze.
Full oft she sought this end by devious ways,
But sought in vain, so fell she in despair.

For none within her train nor by her side
Could solve the task or give the envied boon.
So day and night, beneath the sun and moon,
She wandered to and fro unsatisfied,
Till Art came by, a blithe inventive elf,
And made a glass wherein she saw herself.

II

Enrapt, the queen gazed on her glorious self,
Then trembling with the thrill of sudden thought,
Commanded that the skillful wight be brought
That she might dower him with lands and pelf.
Then out upon the silent sea-lapt shelf
And up the hills and on the downs they sought
Him who so well and wondrously had wrought;
And with much search found and brought home the elf,
But he put by all gifts with sad replies
And from his lips these words flowed forth like wine:
"Oh, queen, I want no gift but thee," he said.
She heard and looked on him with love-lit eyes,
Gave him her hand, low murmuring, "I am thine,"
And at the morrow's dawning they were wed.


 

PREMONITION

Dear heart, good-night!
Nay, list awhile that sweet voice singing
When the world is all so bright,
And the sound of song sets the heart a-ringing,
Oh, love, it is not right--
Not then to say, "good-night."

Dear heart, good-night!
The late winds in the lake weeds shiver,
And the spray flies cold and white.
And the voice that sings gives a tell-tale quiver--
"Ah, yes, the world is bright,
But, dearest heart, good-night!"

Dear heart, good-night!
And do not longer seek to hold me!
For my soul is in affright
As the fearful glooms in their pall enfold me.
See him who sang how white
And still, so dear, good-night.

Dear heart, good-night!
Thy hand I'll press no more forever,
And mine eyes shall lose the light:
For the great white wraith by the winding river
Shall check my steps with might.
So, dear, good-night, good-night!


 

ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAY

Done are the toils and the wearisome marches,
Done is the summons of bugle and drum.
Softly and sweetly the sky over-arches,
Shelt'ring a land where Rebellion is dumb.
Dark were the days of the country's derangement,
Sad were the hours when the conflict was on,
But through the gloom of fraternal estrangement
God sent his light, and we welcome the dawn.
O'er the expanse of our mighty dominions,
Sweeping away to the uttermost parts,
Peace, the wide-flying, on untiring pinions,
Bringeth her message of joy to our hearts.

Ah, but this joy which our minds cannot measure,
What did it cost for our fathers to gain!
Bought at the price of the heart's dearest treasure,
Born out of travail and sorrow and pain;
Born in the battle where fleet Death was flying,
Slaying with sabre stroke bloody and fell:
Born where the heroes and martyrs were dying,
Torn by the fury of bullet and shell.
Ah, but the day is past: silent the rattle,
And the confusion that followed the fight,
Peace to the heroes who died in the battle,
Martyrs to truth and the crowning of Right!

Out of the blood of a conflict fraternal,
Out of the dust and the dimness of death,
Burst into blossoms of glory eternal
Flowers that sweeten the world with their breath.
Flowers of charity, peace, and devotion
Bloom in the hearts that are empty of strife;
Love that is boundless and broad as the ocean
Leaps into beauty and fullness of life.
So with the singing of p├Žans and chorals,
And with the flag flashing high in the sun,
Place on the graves of our heroes the laurels
Which their unfaltering valor has won!

 

THE RISING OF THE STORM

The lake's dark breast
Is all unrest,
It heaves with a sob and a sigh.
Like a tremulous bird,
From its slumber stirred,
The moon is a-tilt in the sky.

From the silent deep
The waters sweep,
But faint on the cold white stones,
And the wavelets fly
With a plaintive cry
O'er the old earth's bare, bleak bones.

And the spray upsprings
On its ghost-white wings,
And tosses a kiss at the stars;
While a water sprite,
In sea-pearls dight,
Hums a sea hymn's solemn bars.

Far out in the night,
On the wavering sight
I see a dark hull loom;
And its light on high,
Like a Cyclops' eye,
Shines out through the mist and gloom.

Now the winds well up
From the earth's deep cup,
And fall the sea and shore,
And against the pier
The waters rear
And break with a sullen roar.

Up comes the gale,
And the mist-wrought veil
Gives way to the lightning's glare,
And the cloud-drifts fall,
A sombre pall
O'er water, earth, and air.

The storm-king flies,
His whip he plies,
And bellows down the wind.
The lightning rash
With blinding flash
Comes pricking on behind.

Rise, waters, rise,
And taunt the skies
With your swift-flitting form.
Sweep, wild winds, sweep,
And tear the deep
To atoms in the storm.

And the waters leapt,
And the wild winds swept,
And blew out the moon in the sky,
And I laughed with glee,
It was joy to me
As the storm went raging by!


 

PASSION AND LOVE

A maiden wept and, as a comforter,
Came one who cried, "I love thee," and he seized
Her in his arms and kissed her with hot breath,
That dried the tears upon her flaming cheeks.
While ever more his boldly blazing eye
Burned into hers; but she uncomforted
Shrank from his arms and only wept the more.

Then one came and gazed mutely in her face
With wide and wistful eyes; but still aloof
He held himself; as with a reverent fear,
As one who knows some sacred presence nigh.
And as she wept he mingled tear with tear
That cheered her soul like dew a dusty flow'r,--
Until she smiled, approached, and touched his hand!


 

A BORDER BALLAD

Oh, I haven't got long to live, for we all
Die soon, e'en those who live longest;
And the poorest and weakest are taking their chance
Along with the richest and strongest.
So its heigho for a glass and a song,
And a bright eye over the table,
And a dog for the hunt when the game is flush,
And the pick of a gentleman's stable.

There is Dimmock o' Dune, he was here yesternight,
But he's rotting to-day on Glen Arragh;
'Twas the hand o' MacPherson that gave him the blow,
And the vultures shall feast on his marrow.
But its heigho for a brave old song
And a glass while we are able;
Here's a health to death and another cup
To the bright eye over the table.

I can show a broad back and a jolly deep chest,
But who argues now on appearance?
A blow or a thrust or a stumble at best
May send me to-day to my clearance.
Then its heigho for the things I love,
My mother'll be soon wearing sable,
But give me my horse and my dog and my glass,
And a bright eye over the table.


 

IF

If life were but a dream, my Love,
And death the waking time;
If day had not a beam, my Love,
And night had not a rhyme;
A barren, barren world were this
Without one saving gleam
I'd only ask that with a kiss
You'd wake me from the dream.

If dreaming were the sum of days,
And loving were the bane;
If battling for a wreath of bays
Could soothe a heart in pain;
I'd scorn the meed of battle's might,
All other aims above
I'd choose the human's higher right,
To suffer and to love !


 

A CORN-SONG

On the wide veranda white,
In the purple failing light,
Sits the master while the sun is lowly burning;
And his dreamy thoughts are drowned
In the softly flowing sound
Of the corn-songs of the field-hands slow returning.

Oh, we hoe de co'n
Since de ehly mo'n
Now de sinkin' sun
Says de day is done.

O'er the fields with heavy tread,
Light of heart and high of head,--
Tho' the halting steps be labored, slow, and weary;
Still the spirits brave and strong
Find a comforter in song,
And their corn-song rises ever loud and cheery.

Oh, we hoe de co'n
Since de ehly mo'n
Now de sinkin' sun
Says de day is done.

To the master in his seat,
Comes the burden, full and sweet,
Of the mellow minor music growing clearer;
As the toilers raise the hymn,
Thro' the silence dusk and dim,
To the cabin's restful shelter drawing nearer.

Oh, we hoe de co'n
Since de ehly mo'n
Now de sinkin' sun
Says de day is done.

And a tear is in the eye
Of the master sitting by,
As he listens to the echoes low-replying
To the music's fading calls
As it faints away and falls
Into silence, deep within the cabin dying.

Oh, we hoe de co'n
Since de ehly mo'n
Now de sinkin' sun
Says de day is done.


 

RETROSPECTION

When you and I were young, the days
Were filled with scent of pink and rose,
And full of joy from dawn till close,
From morning's mist till evening's haze.
And when the robin sung his song
The verdant woodland ways along,
We whistled louder than he sung.
And school was joy, and work was sport
For which the hours were all too short,
When you and I were young, my boy,
When you and I were young.

When you and I were young, the woods
Brimmed bravely o'er with every joy
To charm the happy-hearted boy.
The quail turned out her timid broods;
The prickly copse, a hostess fine,
Held high black cups of harmless wine;
And low the laden grape-vine swung
With beads of night-kissed amethyst
Where buzzing lovers held their tryst,
When you and I were young, my boy,
When you and I were young.

When you and I were young, the cool
And fresh wind fanned our fevered brows
When tumbling o'er the scented mows,
Or stripping by the dimpling pool,
Sedge-fringed about its shimmering face,
Save where we'd worn an ent'ring place.
How with our shouts the calm banks rung!
How flashed the spray as we plunged in--
Pure gems that never caused a sin!
When you and I were young, my boy,
When you and I were young.

When you and I were young, we heard
All sounds of Nature with delight,
The whirr of wing in sudden flight,
The chirping of the baby-bird.
The columbine's red bells were rung;
The locust's vested chorus sung;
While every wind his zithern strung
To high and holy-sounding keys,
And played sonatas in the trees--
When you and I were young, my boy,
When you and I were young.

When you and I were young, we knew
To shout and laugh, to work and play,
And night was partner to the day
In all our joys. So swift time flew
On silent wings that, ere we wist,
The fleeting years had fled unmissed;
And from our hearts this cry was wrung--
To fill with fond regret and tears
The days of our remaining years--
"When you and I were young, my boy,
When you and I were young."


 

NOT THEY WHO SOAR

Not they who soar, but they who plod
Their rugged way, unhelped to God
Are heroes; they who higher fare,
And flying, fan the upper air,
Miss all the toil that hugs the sod.
'Tis they whose backs have felt the rod,
Whose feet have pressed the path unshod,
May smile upon defeated care,
Not they who soar.

High up there are no thorns to prod,
Nor boulders lurking 'neath the clod
To turn the keenness of the share;
For flight is ever free and rare;
But heroes, they the soil who've trod,
Not they who soar!


 

THE MASTER-PLAYER

An old, worn harp that had been play'd
Till all its strings were loose and fray'd,
Joy, Hate and Fear, each one essay'd,
To play. But each in turn had found
No sweet responsiveness of sound.

Then Love the Master-Player came
With heaving breast and eyes aflame;
The Harp he took all undismayed,
Smote on its strings, still strange to song.
And brought forth music sweet and strong.



 

AFTER THE QUARREL

So we, who've supped the self-same cup,
To-night must lay our friendship by;
Your wrath has burned your judgment up,
Hot breath has blown the ashes high.
You say that you are wronged--ah, well,
I count that friendship poor, at best--
A bauble, a mere bagatelle,
That cannot stand so slight a test.

I fain would still have been your friend
And talked and laughed and loved with you,
But since it must, why, let it end;
The false but dies, 'tis not the true.
So we are favored, you and I,
Who only want the living truth.
It was not good to nurse the lie;
'Tis well it died in harmless youth.

I go from you to-night to sleep.
Why, what's the odds? why should I grieve?
I have no fund of tears to weep
For happenings that undeceive.
The days shall come, the days shall go
Just as they came and went before.
The sun shall shine, the streams shall flow
Tho' you and I are friends no more.

And in the volume of my years,
Where all my thoughts and acts shall be,
The page whereon your name appears
Shall be forever sealed to me.
Not that I hate you over-much,
'Tis less of hate than love defied;
Howe'er, our hands no more shall touch,
We'll go our ways--the world is wide.


 

UNEXPRESSED

Deep in my heart that aches with the repression,
And strives with plenitude of bitter pain,
There lives a thought that clamors for expression,
And spends its undelivered force in vain.

What boots it that some other may have thought it?
The right of thoughts' expression is divine;
The price of pain I pay for it has bought it,
I care not who lays claim to it--'tis mine!

And yet not mine until it be delivered;
The manner of its birth shall prove the test.
Alas, alas, my rock of pride is shivered--
I beat my brow--the thought still unexpressed.


 

ERE SLEEP COMES DOWN TO SOOTHE THE WEARY EYES

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes,
Which all the day with ceaseless care have sought
The magic gold which from the seeker flies;
Ere dreams put on the gown and cap of thought,
And make the waking world a world of lies,--
Of lies most palpable, uncouth, forlorn,
That say life's full of aches and tears and sighs;
Oh, how with more than dreams the soul is torn,
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes,
How all the griefs and heartaches we have known
Come up like pois'nous vapors that arise
From some base witch's caldron, when the crone
To work some potent spell, her magic plies.
The past which held its share of bitter pain,
Whose ghost we prayed that Time might exorcise,
Comes up, is lived and suffered o'er again,
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes,
What phantoms fill the dimly lighted room;
What ghostly shades in awe-creating guise
Are bodied forth within the teeming gloom.
What echoes faint of sad and soul-sick cries,
And pangs of vague inexplicable pain
That pay the spirit's ceaseless enterprise,
Come thronging through the chambers of the brain,
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes,
Where ranges forth the spirit far and free?
Thro' what strange realms and unfamiliar skies
Tends her far course to lands of mystery?
To lands unspeakable--beyond surmise,
Where shapes unknowable to being spring,
Till faint of wing, the Fancy fails and dies
Much wearied with the spirit's journeying,
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes,
How questioneth the soul that other soul--
The inner sense which neither cheats nor lies,
But self exposes unto self, a scroll
Full writ with all life's acts unwise or wise,
In characters indelible and known;
So, trembling with the shock of sad surprise,
The soul doth view its awful self alone,
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes.

When sleep comes down to seal the weary eyes,
The last dear sleep whose soft embrace is balm,
And whom sad sorrow teaches us to prize
For kissing all our passions into calm,
Ah then, no more we heed the sad world's cries,
Or seek to probe th' eternal mystery,
Or fret our souls at long-withheld replies,
At glooms thro' which our visions cannot see,
When sleep comes down to seal the weary eyes.


 

A STARRY NIGHT

A cloud fell down from the heavens,
And broke on the mountain's brow;
It scattered the dusky fragments
All over the vale below.

The moon and the stars were anxious
To know what its fate might be;
So they rushed to the azure op'ning,
And all peered down to see.

 

THE LESSON

My cot was down by a cypress grove,
And I sat by my window the whole night long,
And heard well up from the deep dark wood
A mocking bird's passionate song.

And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
And my ]ife's cold winter that knew no spring;
Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
Of my heart too sad to sing.

But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song,
A thought stole into my saddened heart,
And I said, "I can cheer some other soul
By a carol's simple art."

For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
Come songs that brim with joy and light,
As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
The mocking-bird sings at night.

So I sang a lay for a brother's ear
In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
Tho' mine was a feeble art.

But at his smile, I smiled in turn
And into my soul there came a ray:
In trying to soothe another's woes
Mine own had passed away.

 

DAWN

An angel, robed in spotless white,
Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night.
Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone.
Men saw the blush and called it Dawn.



 

A LYRIC

My lady love lives far away,
And oh my heart is sad by day,
And ah my tears fall fast by night,
What may I do in such a plight.

Why, miles grow few when love is fleet,
And love, you know, hath flying feet:
Break off thy sighs and witness this,
How poor a thing mere distance is.

My love knows not I love her so,
And would she scorn me, did she know?
How may the tale I would impart
Attract her ear and storm her heart?

Calm thou the tempest in thy breast,
Who loves in silence loves the best,
But bide thy time, she will awake,
No night so dark but morn will break.

But tho' my heart so strongly yearn,
My lady loves me not in turn,
How may I win the blest reply
That my void heart shall satisfy.

Love breedeth love, be thou but true,
And soon thy Love shall love thee, too;
If Fate hath meant you heart for heart,
There's naught may keep you twain apart.


 

PHYLLIS

Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day,
Few are my years, but my griefs are not few,
Ever to youth should each day be a May-day,
Warm wind and rose-breath and diamonded dew--
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day.

Oh for the sunlight that shines on a May-day;
Only the cloud hangeth over my life.
Love that should bring me youth's happiest hey-day,
Brings me but seasons of sorrow and strife;
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day.

Sunshine or shadow, or gold day or gray day,
Life must be lived as our destinies rule;
Leisure or labor or work day or play day--
Feasts for the famous and fun for the fool;
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day.
 

RIGHT'S SECURITY

What if the wind do howl without,
And turn the creaking weather-vane;
What if the arrows of the rain
Do beat against the window pane.
Art thou not armored strong and fast
Against the sallies of the blast?
Art thou not sheltered safe and well
Against the flood's insistent swell?

What boots it, that thou stand'st alone,
And laughest in the battle's face
When all the weak have fled the place
And let their feet and fears keep pace?
Thou wavest still thine ensign, high,
And shoutest thy loud battle cry;
Higher than e'er the tempest roared,
It cleaves the silence like a sword.

Right arms and armors, too, that man
Who will not compromise with wrong;
Tho' single, he must front the throng,
And wage the battle hard and long.
Minorities, since time began,
Have shown the better side of man;
And often in the lists of Time
One man has made a cause sublime!

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