Timothy Thomas Fortune, "Dreams of Life: Miscellaneous Poems" (Full Text) (1905)
TIMOTHY THOMAS FORTUNE
Page page verso
JESSIE AND FREDERICK WHITE,
MY BELOVED CHILDREN,
WHOSE AFFECTION AND DEVOTION HAVE BEEN AN
INSPIRING AND SUSTAINING INFLUENCE
IN MY LIFE,
THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED BY THEIR FATHER,
Dreams of Life,11
The Wildwood Rose Will Grow,18
I Make My Bed of Roses,19
Come Away, Love,19
Hear the Music of the Pines,20
Gentle Heart, Indulge Thy Dreaming,20
The Diamond in the Clay,31
Jessie and I,31
The Aspirations of the Soul,32
Love's Divinest Power,32
Sweetest Flower of the Wood,33
Slavery to the Slave,34
What Has Been Lost is Lost,34
Mutation's Voiceless Night,44
A Whisper Soft and Low,45
Love's Mystic Tide,45
We Know No More,59
Edgar Allan Poe,60
The Bird Has Vanished,60
A Homeless Spirit,68
What is Woman But a Song,68
Beyond the Veil,69
The Clime of My Birth,69
The Mocking Bird,70
A Legend of the Seminole Indians.
In Token of the Love You Gave,74
We Must Grow Old,75
High Above the Wrecks of Ages,76
The Heart That is Pining,76
Every Man a King,116
Byron's Oak at Newstead Abbey,117
The Bride of Ellerslee,119
You Will Forget,185
A False Maiden,186
It Fell, the Giant Oak,188
The Towering Cliffs,189
Words of Love Forevermore,190
The Wild Waves Toss the Driftwood High,190
But That Was Long Ago,191
Tell Me, Ye Sad Winds,192
The Savage Dreamer,192
IN submitting this collection of verse to the public I do not seek to gratify any personal vanity. During twenty years of active journalism in New York I have found it to be true that the successes we achieve in life, of whatever character, usually cost us so much in effort and anxiety that very little capacity for the enjoyment of the fruits of our labors is left us. I dare say this is a common experience. Very few men go to sleep unknown and wake up famous, as Byron did, while they are yet young; it more often happens that such good fortune comes after years of patient toil and waiting, and when the capacity to enjoy success is lacking. In our youth we are carried forward in every effort by an enthusiasm and a confidence which defy obstacles and laugh at criticism and judicious advice; in maturer age we are governed by a philosophy which comprehends in its calculation every obstacle, and invites rather than repels criticism and judicious advice. The confidence of youth is replaced by the skepticism of maturity. A piece of work which, at the age of twenty, we may regard as being well nigh perfect, is more than likely to be regarded as being very tame and commonplace and faulty at forty.
Of the accumulated mass of matter which I have com- posed for my own amusement and pastime during the past twenty-five years, I found by far the larger part more adapted to the grate than the public eye; and, perhaps, much that has been preserved and presented in this volume might more appropriately have been committed to the flames; because, after all is said and done, we are more partial to our
own progeny, of whatever sort, than others can be, and blind to faults in it which become apparent to others upon the most superficial observation. And yet I have the satisfac- tion of having labored earnestly not to impose upon the reader any scrap of work the reading of which might be re- garded as a waste of time; the chief aim of all writing being either to instruct or amuse the reader.
That the scene of most of the poems in this volume should be laid in Florida is natural, as I was born in that State and love it above all others, and shall always do so, and as early impressions exercise a more lasting influence, for weal or woe, upon the mind than any other. However we will, the impressions made upon the mind between the years of childhood and manhood color all of our future thought and effort. The home where we were born, the persons whose lives touched our own, however remotely; the public square in which we played marbles or "shinny," the ponds in which we bathed in summer, the little streams in which we fished, the fields in which we set traps for birds, the dear little church, the stately court house and the sombre jail, and the village schoolhouse—the remembrance of these abides with us in the hurly-burly of after years, however far we wander from them and whatever other associations may enter into our lives and become a part therof.
The various history and romance of Florida appeal more strongly to her own children than to others, and will probably do so more in the future than in the past. The long struggle of Spaniard and Englishman and Frenchman and Indian, and the too little known "Exiles of Florida"—of whom Joshua R. Giddings wrote with so much eloquence and sympathy and pathos—make the whole State a veritable storehouse of priceless treasure to the literary antiquary.
TIMOTHY THOMAS FORTUNE.
Maple Hall, Red Bank, N.J., June 1, 1905.
DREAMS OF LIFE.
O, Life of Dreams! O, Dreams of Life!
Ye mysteries are that breathe and thrill—
In times of peace, in times of strife—
Through all the pulses of our will.
In hours of joy, in hours of pain,
In all of Love, in all of Hate,
We strive t' evade thee, but in vain,
For ye are messengers of Fate!
How vain is man! How passing vain!
The son of Macedon see stride
His day upon the battle plain,
And sate with blood his vaulting pride!
Conquered he all of earth then known,
And for more worlds to conquer sighed!
Then, drunk with crime, Death claimed his own—
The cruel monster drank and died!
Then Cæsar took the world's command,
And savage millions cut he down!
E'en mighty Pompey, great and grand,
Fell like the fresh green grass, new mown!
And Rome, Imperial Rome! the Fates
Resigned to his corrupt embrace!
And all of Rome's dependent states
Implored the boon of Cæsar's grace!
He who had conquered from the Nile
To where the Rhone and Thamès stray,
Who basked in beauty's fickle smile
And thought supreme to end his day—
The master of the world was slain
In the swift movement of the eye;
In torture that subdued e'en pain
He went to judgment in the sky!
His grasp of power the world in thrall
As adamantine chains did hold;
No arm was raised to stay his fall—
And treason triumphed, treason bold!
The mind grows faint the blood to view
That selfish man has spilt—for what?
To dull his hate, or chain renew
That binds the helot to his lot!
That mad ambition may o'erleap
The bounds of Reason and of Right,
Or in cursèd chains doomed millions keep
On plea of Wisdom and of Might.
The Corsican, fierce Bonaparte,
Worse than the savage Hun, arose,
A war god born, with head and heart
That conquered heat and laughed at snows!
The burning sands of Egypt old—
Italia's peerless land and sky—
Bald Russia's blighting storm and cold—
These had he chained to misery
Ere Destiny upon him beamed
The torture of its withering frown—
Disarmed the purpose he had dreamed,
To make the world to him play clown!
This Corsican, whose name to speak
Made proudest nations quake with fear—
Caucasian, Latin, and the Greek—
This slave of Power was spent with care!
Above his murderous head the roar
Was heard of shot and shell and flame!
From every tribe, from every shore,
His foes in massive armies came!
The trembling world at Waterloo,
In dread suspense and fear, did wait,
Bowed in sackcloth and ashes low,
Upon the verdict of grim Fate!
What if the Corsican had won
The doubtful hazard of the day?
What if no Iron Wellington
To victory had led the way?
The course of empire still had been
In paths that titled rogues had hewn!
Some names in history's pages green
On other fields their fame had won!
O gracious Lord! forgive the crime
That rears on high itself a throne.
Which, like the pagan's idol, Time
Defaces—spurns the thing to own.
Prescriptive right is claimed to starve
The children of the fruitful soil,
Whose ceaseless labors do but carve
For those who thrive but do not toil.
'Twas Adam, first of sinners, sought
His cowardice to cover o'er;
The traitor, by the foeman bought,
Flies from his country's wrathful shore;
Still, conscience haunts the guilty soul,
Accuses and condemns him still;
Alone he staggers to the goal,
Hated, descends life's cheerless hill!
Where'er he skulks the angry sky
Hangs threatening o'er his guilty head;
E'en in his dreams do phantoms nigh
Make horrible his exile's bed.
Upon the future life we build,
As built the toilers of the Nile,
Whose rude and ruthless tyrants willed
That God's eternal sun should smile
On monuments of dust and stone
Which should defy the flight of Time,
Beneath dumb hieroglyphics groan,
The wonder of each age and clime!
And still they stand, in Winter's storms
And vernal Summer's rays benign,
Lifting on high grand, gloomy forms
Round which eternity may twine!
The Pyramids! When did they rear
Their sombre bulk to Time's stern gaze?
Canst estimate the thought—the care—
The lives condemned—the flight of days—
That went to consecrate the pile
Where Egypt's tyrants now repose,
The sentient serpents of the Nile,
At whose commands the phantoms rose?
Each stone cemented with the gore,
The tears and sweat of some poor slave!
For each dead king the millions bore
Into the gloomy vaults, his grave,
A thousand men, perchance, had bled,
Had sacrificed their all in death,
To guard the tyrant in his bed
And watch for his returning breath!
Yes; on the Future Life we build,
Rear crumbling monuments to fame,
When Death's remorseless clasp has stilled
The currents of the mortal frame!
Man's labors here are all in vain,
Are scattered on the cyclone blast—
Scattered afar like tiny seed,
Upon a barren desert cast,
If Duty and Justice be not
The objects of his care and zeal;
Or in the granary will rot,
As time eats up the blade of steel!
The universal law ordains,
Nor can we change the just decree,
That man to man, as man, remains,
By kindred ties, each as each free!
There were no kings of men till men
Made kings of men, and of the earth;
There were no privileged classes when
First Nature, man and beasts, had birth.
Man was sole monarch of his sphere,
And each with equal power was made;
Each from the earth partook his share;
Each shared with each earth's sun and shade.
No fetters on the limbs were bound;
The intellect was free as light;
Man's every wish abundance found;
He gloried in his earth-wide right.
God made the earth and sky—the breath
Of mountain and of smiling vale—
And filled them all with life, not death,
As bracing as the ocean gale!
The giant warrior clothed in steel,
The high-walled city, ravaged plain,
The angry millions as they reel
To battle, death, or woe and pain—
The world in thrall to him whose might
And cunning triumph o'er his kind—
Did God make Might the test of Right,
Or man—blind leader of the blind!
No; Vanity has reared on high
The grandeur of its fragile power,
But it will fall, will prostrate lie,
The broken idol of an hour.
O, Life of Dreams! O, Dreams of Life!
Ye mysteries are that breathe and thrill—
In times of peace, in times of strife—
Through all the pulses of our will.
THE WILDWOOD ROSE WILL GROW.
"Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid
them not; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
Our little boy has fled!
We know he is not dead!
"Of such the Kingdom is," Christ said.
The wildwood rose will grow,
And honeysuckles blow,
Where we have laid our Stewart low!
The birds will sing their song
All through the Summer long,
Above his grave, the trees among!
The brook will murmur by,
And glorious be the sky,
Where shattered now our fond hopes lie!
Sadly we bear the cross!
The world can give but dross,
As gain, for our too grievous loss.
We will not question now
Why death is on his brow!
Broken in hope, we bow, we bow!
I MAKE MY BED OF ROSES.
I make my bed of roses sweet!
I scorn the frowns of envious Fate!
I will my careless song repeat
While 'round may surge contending hate!
For life is what we make it still,
And I am master of my will.
Then let me quaff life's nectar wine
And live, a lord, the passing hour;
The world, and all therein, is mine,
Of fame or wealth or transient power;
For he, indeed, is all supreme
Whose dream of life is all a dream.
COME AWAY, LOVE.
Come away, love, come away
Where the men do gather hay;—
In the fruitful fields remote
Join with mine thy merry note,
In the toilsome pleasures where
Plenty drives away all care!
On the hills the flocks do browse,
And the dogs the echoes rouse;
All is life, and all is joy.
Where all hands do find employ.
HEAR THE MUSIC OF THE PINES.
Hear the music of the pines—
Murmuring through the climbing vines,
Sighing through the tree tops high,
Floating upward to the sky,
Then descending where I lie—
Hear the music of the pines!
What sweet thoughts the music brings,
What new gladness from it springs—
As reclining, in a dream,
Watch I, listless, a sunbeam
Dancing on the silvery stream—
What sweet thoughts the music brings!
Hear the music of the pines!
How it 'round my fancy twines—
While fragrances of flowers fill
All the pulses of my will
As I, lingering, linger still—
Hear the music of the pines!
GENTLE HEART, INDULGE THY DREAMING.
Gentle heart, indulge thy dreaming!
Wake not from thy peaceful mood!
The great world around thee streaming
Holds no joy one-half so good!
Soon thy dreams must have an ending!
Thou wilt wake some early morn
And, o'er shattered idols bending,
Find thy peace from thee is torn!
Emanuel is dead! I shall not see again,
In all the earth, his manly form, or hear
The music of his voice, in soothing strain,
Persuasive as a lute to my bent ear,
Wean from my mind all thought of wasting care.
The noble youth is dead! The earth no more
Will listen when he speaks; nor can it share
The fullness of the gracious love he bore
For all the race before his lease of life was o'er!
It seems not true to me; it seems not true,
That one so gifted and so young could die—
Fresh as a wild flower kissed by morning dew,
Blown to full life beneath the Southern sky,
As fragile as a flower, I know not why,
As sensitive withal to winter's blast;
Yet, on his fragile strength did he rely,
Among men towering as the ship whose mast
O'ertops the anchored fleet, the stormy passage past.
Emanuel is dead! Perhaps you may not know
The man who bore that charmèd name, until
So short a time, it seems an hour ago,
When He, who rules in life and death, did will
The proud heart should forevermore be still!
Yet, he was not unknown to fickle fame!
And he had power the sluggish sense to thrill
With eloquence that without effort came
When he did speak to men in Freedom's holy name!
And he did speak with all the force and fire
The ancient Tribunes spoke, when tyrants trod
Upon the rights of men with vengeance dire—
Invoked the wrath of earth and high heaven's God
To shield the human weaklings of the sod!
Contented slaves no longer wore their chains,
Content, obedient to the master's rod.
But roused to life their chafed and bruisèd brains,
When he compared their losses with their slender gains.
He was a Tribune of the people, true,
Unselfish in the people's righteous cause,
A giant for the Right, from which he drew
The strength to crush the force of unjust laws,
Sharp to destroy as are the lion's claws.
And he was young! The race of life begun,
Swift as the winds that sweep along the straws
Clenched in their grasp! Each hard-fought stage he won,
Rejoicing in the fray, its tragedy and fun.
Serious he was, and passing cold and stern;
For life is serious, and its work, to those
Intent to do their share, to those who yearn
To serve the race, is hard, and harder grows—
As the wild storm with fiercer fury blows,
Concentred—as they hide themselves from sight,
Laboring for human kind, for friends and foes,
Patiently plodding through the long. dark night.
Upward, to God! eternal Love, and Life, and Light!
Serious and cold and stern he was, or seemed,
In all the labors that engaged his hand,
Obedient to his mind; for life he deemed
Too short to waste a part thereof. He planned
His labor, as a soldier in command
Of certain duty, his strong mind imbued
With lofty purposes. In all this land
None to his duty, as a man, e'er stood
More resolute, however siren voices wooed!
His sternness some repelled; for men are light
Of heart, and, as the gorgeous butterfly,
Prefer the sunshine to the stars of night,
The man of mirth to him whose earnest eye
Upon the things of earth looks solemnly.
Yet, he was not unkind, not even stern;
Deep in his swelling soul's great mystery
A flame of tenderness did glow and burn
For all mankind, for whom his sympathies did yearn.
The richest jewels often come, we know,
In caskets that tell naught of wealth unseen,
So rough the casements are. The thoughtful brow,
The aspect cold, the eye that scorns a queen,
So lordly and commanding be the mien,
May not disclose the man, but rather hide
Him from the common gaze—they may but screen.
Or they may indicate, an honest pride,
That chafes at what the gods to mortals have denied!
We cannot always tell from out the face
One of the world's great masters may possess
What it conceals beneath; but we may trace,
If we shall study well, with some success,
The lofty thoughts that surge and burn distress
Where faithful Nature writes her tale of woe;
True, those who most the human race do bless,
Smile less than common men, and they bow low
Beneath their burden, as the years do come and go.
Like Atlas, they the busy world uphold;
They think for those who do not think withal,
But who prefer the role of common scold,
Thoughtless, finding the hidden flaws in all
The agents who have reared the mighty wall.
Go, read, who can, the Nazarene's calm eye—
Beaming in pity over man's sad fall,
The pulseless face where grief and sorrow lie—
Then read the soul that to the race did naught deny!
Go, read in Fame's illustrious pages, then,
The faces of the world's heroic dead,
The great array of earth's immortal men
Who to the nobler life the hosts have led—
The timid hosts—in what they did and said,
And you will find the furrowed thoughts stamped deep—
Like sabre strokes through which the life had fled—
In every line, stamped as they climbed the steep
Where weak men halt and faint and strong men often weep!
Such was Emanuel—for others felt
More than himself—to whom the race was dear—
The human race! Base-born selfishness ne'er knelt
At mortal shrine and plead to deafer ear
Than his—the noble dead! He had no fear,
Conscious of right, since just his mighty cause!
And he has gone away! He still seems near,
Constant as one of Nature's constant laws,
So that I seem to hear him breathe, as here I pause!
And do the dead we love go far away
And nevermore return? Can it be true,
They never come again? No; truth to say,
They come again to us and oft renew—
Unseen, unheard—the vanished moments few!
And thus it is with me! My solitude
Is oft disturbed, and he in life I knew
Sits with me through the hours I watch and brood,
Groping in silence after life's eternal good!
Somehow we feel, when it is solemn night,
When silence reigns in all, that not alone
Are we, but that the air is soft and light
And warm with other breath, by kind winds blown,
That makes us company of those, our own,
Who go away awhile, but come again!
We deem it so, as the sad winds sigh and moan
Without, or angel tears bedew with rain
The earth, washing away, perchance, its crimson stain!
We cannot tell! With close-shut eyes, we wait,
While fitful silence rules the slumbrous night,
And struggling flames burn low within the grate,
To hear a voice we love, a footfall light,
To see a form arrayed in raiment white,
Recall us to the earthly place and hour;
And darkness then is pierced with dazzling light,
And fear and pain lose all their dreaded power,
And hate and greed before its radiance bend and cower!
We dream—we sleep—and still we are alive—
Midway 'twixt life and death—living, but dead—
And break the spell cannot, howe'er we strive,
For earthly strength seems spent; and we are led,
In fancy led, though not a word is said,
Into the great Unknown, we know not where,
We do not wish to know, we have no dread;
A blissful state of earth and air we share—
Awake, yet sleeping! Dead, yet living! Here, yet there!
We know the dead is with us in that dream,
In that strange hour, so blissful and so true,
In which old memories and new all seem
To pass in quick processional review—
All we have done, all that we ever knew!
How strange it is! We would not wake again,
Though not asleep, but wander on, and through
The Night of Time—free from all care and pain,
Speechless—feeling no other bliss were worth the gain!
Then comes a blank! We plunge into the night!
Vanish the dead, and we become as they,
Or something less, where not a ray of light
Through all the mind falls on the darkened way!
What is it! Where the prophet who can say!
We sleep! How long! We start! A breath—a sound—
We wake! The night has passed into the day!
What was, seems but a dream, an echo sound,
Reverberating in the chambers of the mind around!
He was my brother, younger far than I,
And shared with me the sports of happy youth,
In that reposeful village where my eye,
Still constant, pleading ever, turns, forsooth,
To scenes of guileless innocence and truth!
It is a memory! Time was when he
And I found in some shaded grove or booth,
In field or forest wild, all that can be
The joy of youth—fun-loving, gay, and shackle-free!
How oft have we entrapped the wily hare,
Ensnared the bird, whose nest was rifled first,
Or raided apple trees, or luscious pear,
Fearless of jealous eyes! Boys have their thirst
Destructive, and, like pent-up waters, burst
O'er dykes into the basins of the main,
Restrainèd most appear to act the worst!
Those days will ne'er return to us again,
For one is dead—a broken link in life's short chain!
The days of youth have not for men the charm
They have for boys, save as a retrospect,
A backward reading of the tale of harm,
Of damage done, thoughtless, they little recked,
For boys ne'er think, but in their pranks reflect
Reverse of thought; a willful disregard
Of others' rights—a madness, I suspect;
And, if their wayward pleasure is not marred,
All twitchings of the guilty conscience are disbarred.
'Twas so with us. Forsooth, there were some years
Whose Summer sky was painted dark, indeed,
When childish laughter mingled with our tears,
And our young hearts, oft pierced with steel, did bleed;
The rank tares soon choke up the honest seed.
Let those years pass! Let them e'en be forgot—
Remembered only as the broken reed!
He lived to know a while a happier lot,
But far removed from that loved, consecrated spot!
He little dreamed in those delightful hours
The changes that the future years would bring;
He little dreamed the sunshine and the showers
That made our Southern life an endless Spring,
Whose joys the mocking bird delights to sing,
Would merge into the storms of Northern life
Intense, and wither him—a blasted thing!
The tropic plant, before the North Wind's strife,
Too often falls a victim to Death's pruning knife!
Why do the brave and good and true die young,
Or such we deem the noblest of their kind?
Do we mistake? Of such have poets sung
Since first their raptures moved the human mind,
As angels feel when harpists of the wind
The silver strings with fingers touch divine!
I do not know! It may be we are blind
With grief, that clouds the brain as too much wine,
When choicest buds of home are plucked from off the vine!
Or, it may be, we miss the one that goes
Out from the circle of our narrow sphere,
Seeming to slight the loving ones who close
Remain about us—constant, tender, dear—
The solace of the changing, treacherous year!
We see them, hear them; but the absent one
We never see, alas! we never hear!
And hence the void, when all is said and done,
That fills our life with grief profound, and grief alone!
And Moses stood on Pisgah's lofty height
And viewed the Promised Land his race possessed,
But reached it not himself! So, in the night.
Perchance, the grand old Prophet found his rest
In lonely Moab's consecrated breast!
Was it for this he worked and prayed and sighed
That God his wayward race, so often blessed,
Would lead from bondage, in their humbled pride,
To Freedom's heritage beyond the Jordan's tide?
We cannot say! But many since have stood
Upon the threshold of the Promised Land,
And perished in the dismal solitude,
While viewing nothing of the hopes they planned,
Seeing naught fruitful issue from their hand!
Oh, who will make our hopes a burning flame,
As potent as was Moses' magic wand,
When we are dead, returned to whence we came,
And are forgot in deed and act and e'en in name?
The good die young! Emanuel is dead!
Toll, solemn funeral bells, in anguish toll!
And all ye people bow the reverent head!
Eternity has claimed a noble soul
From out the dismal walls of Life's dread goal!
Peal forth, ye bells, your awful monotone!
And far and near upon the winds let roll
The wail of woe above the sod and stone!
Emanuel is dead! I am alone! Alone!
THE DIAMOND IN THE CLAY.
The man who finds a diamond in the clay
And knows its worth from common glass
That others trod upon or blindly pass—
Their dreamful eyes uplifted from the way,
The people of that all too common class
Diogenes rebuked, as we may still, alas!
For wisdom's children yet are prone to stray
In nature's sunlight groping through life's day,
And holds it at its value true, howe'er
The common sort may taunt him for his faith,
Until it nestles in Fame's fickle ear,
Brilliant, compelling Admiration's breath,
Is more to be esteemed of men by far
Than they who praise the stone become a star.
JESSIE AND I.
What time the August days were dying,
And leadened clouds hung dense and low,
And drowsy Summer winds were sighing,
And seagulls, far away, were crying,
And merry throngs passed to and fro,
We two, Jessie and I, together
Thought not of time or place or weather;
But, strolling on the golden sand,
We lived in "grand old ocean," dreaming,
Mute, watching white-caps dancing, gleaming,
Far to sea—we two, hand in hand.
THE ASPIRATIONS OF THE SOUL.
The pathway up the mountain may be plain,
But who can rob th' ascent of toil and pain?
Far up the valley's sloping sides we gaze
To where the summits tower in misty haze;
Or, when the sun dispels the clouds that lower,
The giant stands disclosed in matchless power.
Nature's eternal walls that pierce the clouds,
Pendant like gorgeous floating muslin shrouds,
Charm and o'erawe the soul that looks to God—
Who dwells in skies, in peaks afar, in sod—
And feels the force that made the prophets rear
Their sacred altars in the upper air.
The soul will lift itself above the clay
And seek beyond the earth eternal day.
And never can the man who once has seen
Unveiled the myst'ries of the mountain's sheen;
Its vastness and its strength and rugged brow,
Feel as he felt before, content to dwell
Cooped in the confines of his native cell.
Far out into th' unknown he takes his flight,
Seeking for sunbeams through the pathless night.
LOVE'S DIVINEST POWER.
Let mad ambition strive to gain
The cherished wish that yields but pain;
Let others seek for wealth alone,
And with its cares their lives atone;
But let me live my fleeting hour
The slave of Love's divinest power.
SWEETEST FLOWER OF THE WOOD.
I send thee from this Summer land,
Fair maiden of the Northern clime,
These sweet shrubs, gathered by my hand,
Where we two lingered in past time.
You loved so well no other flower
As this, the sweetest of the wood,
That prospers most in shaded bower,
In Nature's own grand solitude.
And as I pluck these from her breast,
The last to open to the sky,
You'll joy to know my lips them pressed
As on thy gentle breast they lie.
I once strode down a mountain's side,
A thoughtless boy, in youth's young pride,
And stopped to pluck a violet
With diamond dews of morn still wet;
But, as I paused, a poisonous snake,
Coiled near, dared me the flower to take!
So, all through life, a poisonous stream
Is mingled with the sweetest dream!
Our smiles and tears, like sun and rain,
Commingled are with joy and pain.
SLAVERY TO THE SLAVE!
On the hills of Hayti ring
Mandates of the Frenchman's king,
And the waves the tidings bring—
"Slavery to the slave!"
Toussaint, arm thee for the fight!
Strike a blow for human right!
Crush, O crush! the tyrant's might,
And thy country save!
Stay thy arm when every foe
From thy land in haste shall go,
Sick at heart beneath the blow
On the battlefield!
Long may Hayti's banners wave!
O'er her valiant few, so brave!
Heroes worthy patriots' grave,
Who would never yield!
WHAT HAS BEEN LOST IS LOST.
Why waste regrets on shattered hopes that beat
Themselves to death against a woman's breast?
Why seek in Arctic fields of snow and sleet
For sunbeams of the Gardens of the Blest?
What has been lost, is lost! and nevermore,
Through all the changes of the unborn years,
That sigh and waste away upon the shore
Of Time, can be recalled by prayers or tears!
She was young; old Conroy took her,
Took her for herself alone,
For no wealth had she to offer,
Love for him she had not shown.
But, he said, that did not move him;
He of wealth abundance had;
He was old, and she could make him
Less a recluse, lone and sad!
Age had robbed his breast of passion,
And had drained his eyes of tears;
He would leave his ample fortune
To the wife of his last years.
She was all that painters picture,
All that poets deem divine;
Beautiful and virtuous was she—
More than genius can define.
Little cared she for the glitter,
And the pomp of tinsel wealth,
For she knew that much that's deadly
Lurks beneath its show of health.
When her aged father urged her
To accept her suitor's hand,
As he soon fore'er must leave her
Poor and friendless in the land,
She consented without murmuring,
For no other choice had she;
Love, she thought, a vain delusion,
Fruitful source of misery.
So young Mary left a village
For a city's untried life,
Left an humble, happy cottage,
As rich banker Conroy's wife.
And a faithful partner made she,
Filled her husband's heart with pride;
Courted was she as the fairest,
Richest, on the social tide.
Conroy learned to love the maiden
Who was now his queenly bride;
But she smiled—'twas not love-laden—
On the husband at her side—
Told him she could never love him—
That she knew not what love meant—
But would constantly obey him;—
And with this he sought content.
But content was now a stranger
To the husband's love-torn breast,
And about him came and lingered
Jealous thoughts that broke his rest.
Sadly on his lot he pondered,
And him gold no more could charm;
All too late he knew he'd blundered—
Slipped his cable in life's storm!
Soon upon his bed they laid him—
Broken-hearted, silly man!
Mary ever was beside him,
Doing all a woman can;
But, for more than friendship sighed he,
And, since that was still denied,
What relief for crushed hopes had he!
In a short time Conroy died.
When the banker-prince was buried,
And his testament was brought,
It was found, since he was married,
That to spite his wife he'd sought,
As he had by will commanded
That his wife should single live;
But, if she again should marry,
To the poor his riches give!
Mary smiled, and said 'twas kindly
That her aged husband meant;
She'd not barter her blest freedom,
Lest by it she gained content.
So, she lived a life of pleasure,
Loved and sought by noble men,
Men who loved and strove to measure
Beauty with a poet's pen.
But to love she was a stranger,
And, without it, would not wed,
'Though about her men did linger
Pure of heart and wise of head.
And the poet and the artist,
In the Old World and the New,
Merit, worth, howe'er poor it,
Such adored her, such she knew.
All about her hovered fancy,
Wit and humor of the best,
And of such she ne'er grew weary—
Such, indeed, can soothe the breast.
But, a change of life impended,
Such as she, perhaps, ne'er dreamed;
She, whose smile with wealth was blended,
Turned her thoughts to love and deemed
'Twas a boon to her more precious
Than the treasures of Conroy—
Deemed that she could leave the splendid
Halls that gave her now no joy!
Freely had her word been given,
Faithful to the trust reposed,
And the duty now was ended
Which, she found, too much imposed.
He was but a struggling artist;
Little gold could he command;
She, a wealthy, lovely widow,
Rated fairest in the land.
Far too proud to leave his station
And to seek for joy so high,
He, with manly hope, probation
Fixed to labor to her sky.
To the future he committed
All he loved and cherished most:
He would conquer by persistence,
Or fall struggling at his post
And when he to her could offer,
With his love, no empty hand,
He would gladly go and ask her
All to take of love and land!
Mary read his brave intention,
Read it in his anxious eye,
And she knew that great devotion
Swelled his manly bosom high.
But no word by him was spoken
To disclose the burning thought;
Silence, when no longer silence,
Oft destroys the boon most sought!
Thus, the silence was unbroken,
Each content to have it so;
But their loving thoughts had voices—
Voices lovers so well know.
Since Bedell refused to utter
Words which he so longed to speak,
He resolved no more to see her—
For his love had made him weak!
He from her himself absented,
And he strove to her forget;
In his solitude he brooded;
Oft his checks with tears were wet!
Then he spread the friendly canvas,
And beneath his touch it glowed,
Till his cunning hand had painted
All his soul in secret vowed!
Thus, one day, he sat reviewing
That which he so well had done,
And in anguished silence dreaming
Of the love he longed to own,
When young Mary up behind him,
Softly, quickly treading, stole,
Much amazed so sad to find him—
Find him dreaming out his soul!
Young Bedell, intently musing,
Did not hear her gently sweep
Into his studio's warm stillness,
Into his sweet dream's half sleep!
On his shoulder Mary gently
Laid the pressure of her hand,
And the young Bedell, from musing,
Woke to hear some mild command!
Mary gazed, herself now dreaming,
On the glowing canvas near,
Then upon Bedell, low bending,
Waiting what she said to hear!
"Bedell," said she, "this your labor
Plainly tells me what I knew,
Knew, and sadly pondered over,
That, 'though absent, you were true;
"That, from some great pain to shield me,
You have sought your solitude!
But you more than pain have caused me—
Left me on your love to brood!"
"Mary, had I loved you idly,
Loved you with a love less strong,
Thought you less an angel saintly,
I had stayed and worked you wrong;
"But I knew full well my weakness,
And resolved to conquer all,
For I would not have your fortune
To my poor estate to fall.
"Noble men and noble women
Worship at your peerless shrine;
Leave Bedell, who long has striven
'Gainst your charms—they are divine!"
"Why, Bedell, should I now leave you,
When my heart to you is true?
Why should love's injunction pain you?—
Do what duty bids you do!
"You, to hide your love, had left me,
Yes, in haste from me had flown;
I have sought, and, unasked, given
What so long has been your own!
"Tell me why you made me seek you?
Tell me why you spurn my love?
Tell me why my picture moves you,
When I failed, 'though oft I strove?"
"I have ever loved you, Mary;
'Twas for that I left your side!
This, your pictured image, cannot
E'en that boundless love divide!
"I had schooled myself intently
To your cherished face forget,
But my hand, with loving cunning,
Taught me memory knew you yet!
"Why did I fly? You are happy—
You are rich, and, I—am poor!
Would I have you share my misery?
No! I should not see you more!
"Leave me, then, who long has striven
'Gainst your charms—they are divine!
Wealth like yours was never given
Save with equal wealth to twine!"
"Then, Bedell, we now are equal—
Rich, indeed, in equal love—
Richer than the mines of Ophir—
Rich as diamond courts above!
"He who took me from a cottage,
Made me mistress of Conroy,
Left the world in pain and anger,
Left the world without a joy!
"His estate I hold as trustee,
Hold it for the needy poor;
He who takes my hand in marriage
Takes a bride, and nothing more!"
Young Bedell, with joy, embraced her,
Pressed her to his beating heart,
And the world to him looked brighter
Since again they should not part!
But his joy died with the moment;
Cloudy grew his ample brow;
He would not, for his contentment,
Thus accept her marriage vow!
"Mary, you to me are dearer,
Dearer than all earth beside;
But, if marriage make you poorer,
Then, I single must abide!
"Leave me to my sore bereavement!
Leave me with the world to fight!
Time will bring you calmer judgment,
And you'll say Bedell was right!
"When I win the fame I covet,
Win the artist's golden dream,
I to you will then come, speaking
Words you cannot empty deem!"
"Then, I leave you, and shall never,
Never, speak again your name!
I'll not own a timid suitor,
One who waits on laggard fame!
"He who shrinks with life to grapple
Cheered by woman's constant love,
Is a coward, and in conflict
Will his craven nature prove!"
Mary would have left his presence,
But he faced her then and there,
And, with words whose fervent passion
Would have won a queen as fair,
Claimed her hand and ceased his dreaming—
Vowed that they for love would wed—
For her words of scorn and passion
Pointed where his duty led.
MUTATION'S VOICELESS NIGHT.
When life's fitful reign is over,
When its cherished dreams are dead,
When the spirit is a rover,
When the soul from earth has fled
To the realms of endless glory,
Mortals cannot comprehend—
Long the theme of song and story—
Where old joys and new joys blend,
We shall know and love each other,
Know and love each other there,
Where the angels dwell together—
Angels passing bright and fair.
Nothing lives but love's sweet essence,
And the soul's all quenchless light;
All else sinks its form and presence
In mutation's voiceless night.
A WHISPER SOFT AND LOW.
I heard a whisper soft and low,
Borne on the winds, that blow and blow,
That made me listen then;
For though the voice was changed in all,
Each weighted word seemed me to call
To some far-off Eden.
And then the silence reigned again;
Awful it was and full of pain,
For from the dead it came!
The message of an angel dove
That once had been my fondest love—
Unspoken be her name!
Whence come these thoughts that will not die
Of those who dwell beyond the sky?
These whispers in the night,
That bid us come from earth away—
Canst say, grim Doubt, from whence come they?
Canst say, and say aright?
LOVE'S MYSTIC TIDE.
When once the mountain stream has mingled with the sea,
Think you it can again a mountain stream e'er be?
Does it not take the grander and more awful form
Of the blue waters where abides the King of Storm?
So, lives that once have mingled in Love's mystic tide,
Not e'en the God of Fate can evermore divide.
No rule of church or state can turn the precious wine
Back to the grape that ripened on the fruitful vine.
The waves dashed high; the thunders echoed far;
The lightnings flashed into the dismal gloom
The bolts by Vulcan forged in Nature's womb,
And earth was shaken by the furious war!
The Ship of State was strained in every spar!
And strong men felt that now had come their doom;
And weak men scanned the dark heavens for a star
To save them from a fratricidal tomb.
But, one, amid the strife—collected, calm,
Patient and resolute—was firm, and trod
The deck, defiant of the angry storm,
Guiding the ship—like to some ancient god!
And high upon the scroll of endless fame,
In diamond letters, flashes Lincoln's name.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder,"
One who knew has wisely said,
Since it gives us time to ponder
Over love, though living, dead!
As we will the sweet face haunts us,
And the voice we love is heard,
Though the accent pains and taunts us
With a deathless hope deferred.
Could we die when love no longer
Lives but in one constant breast,
Would that be, forsooth, to wrong her
Who had cursed what she had blessed?
Argument.—Sébastien Fontaine, who was of French and Spanish ancestry, and John Lefair, who came of British parentage, grew up from childhood together. They were sons of rich Southern planters. When the young men came of age it was their misfortune to be rival suitors. This led to a duel, in which Fontaine was severely wounded. When he recovered from the effects of his wound Fontaine married the lady of his choice and immediately left the country for an extended stay in Europe.
A short time after Fontaine left the country Lefair married a lady of good family, and some seventeen months thereafter an heir was born to him, the same who figures in the narrative as Maurice Lefair. Among the possessions that Fontaine's wife brought to him was a slave girl, whose faultless figure, finely chiselled features, clear complexion and black straight hair, would have stamped her as an unmixed Anglo Saxon woman anywhere outside the Southern States of the United States. Fontaine early discovered a passion for this girl.
When the party reached France, Fontaine, against the wishes of his wife, placed the young girl in one of the convent schools of Paris. Possessing, naturally, a fine intellect, she made very rapid progress in the various branches of a liberal education. At the expiration of four years the party returned to the United States. A few days after their arrival in the South a child was born to the slave girl, and Mrs.
Fontaine, who had developed a case of quick consumption, died at about the same time. It was given out on the Fontaine estate that the child was Mrs. Fontaine's. This was stoutly discredited by many, and by none more so than John Lefair.
Poets may sing in raptured verse
The glory of Italian skies,
Or praise in language sweet and terse
The Spanish ladies' dazzling eyes;
But be it mine to languish in
The smiles of maids as rich and fair
As any that the world has seen,
And sing of balmy skies and air
And fields as peaceful and as green.
Marian, thou village of my joy!
I love thee as a babe its toy,
For thou art all that's dear to me—
Since 'neath thy oaks I first did see
My wealth of boyish hopes expand
And built those hopes in clay and sand.
O boyhood's dream! It is so fair!
A dream where joy is found in care.
Now, in my manhood, let me turn
To scenes for which I often yearn,
To forms departed that I knew—
The aged, young, the fickle, true—
Let me recount one simple tale
Of all the many on the scale
Where memory weighs her garnered store,
And lingers long its value o'er.
Some fifty years ago, I ween,
In Flora's vales, all rich and green,
There dwelt a man of sober mood
Who was not bad—who was not good;
And though his lands were rich and broad,
And he of many slaves was lord,
He yet did feel the common tie
That swells the heart and thrills the eye
Of all mankind, whate'er the state
Ordained them by all-ruling Fate.
And thus his rule was just and kind,
And did those closer to him bind
Who knew that though he was their chief
He sought to spare them needless grief.
Fontaine's young heiress took the name
Of Sadie, one he deemed
Was not too common, or too tame;
But it to me has seemed,
A name with more romance allied
Could just as well have been supplied.
To charming women name is much,
Since men delight to lisp all such
In accents mild and low and sweet
When empty nothings they repeat;
For love, although 'tis but a trance,
Must have all things in consonance.
The name, the form, the face, the voice,
With mental gifts, determine choice,
And make the man the willing tool
Of her who deems him god or fool.
Young Sadie was a gem, 'tis true,
The like of which we find but few
Existing to the sight of men
Or dancing on the poet's pen.
Her lips were such as gods would kiss
And deem it cream of earthly bliss;
Her eyes were such as through us thrill
The magic of a ruling will,
To which we yield with one accord
Our "right divine" as woman's lord.
Yet, we but make a beauty plain
When we attempt to it explain,
But all, and more than I have said,
Had pierced the heart and turned the head
Of one at least—Maurice Lefair—
For he it was who loved this rare
Young charmer of our Southern clime,
This meteor beauty of the time.
His love was of the furious kind
That robs a man of lucid mind:
For he was born wild passion's child,
And had from baby days been spoiled—
Untaught to curb his fretful ire,
Allowed each whim of his desire;
Manhood to him was childhood o'er,
His will less subject than before.
For him to love was to be mad,
Until possession made him glad.
The son, fit counterpart, was taught,
As soon as he could master thought,
All that his father's selfish mold
Contained, and his had room to hold.
In truth, he was a man whose mind
Was of that overbearing kind
He needed not to have been reared
To lord it o'er poor slaves—who feared
His smile or frown—to deem that he
Was more than mortal man can be.
The license of his will was known
No curb to brook. He would not own
His father's right to designate
When he should go, when he should wait.
As he was bent, just so he grew—
His wish the only law he knew.
The ancient honor of the South
Was in his lands, and in his mouth!
The Southern grandee scorns the claim
That would eclipse his knightly name,
Or law more binding than his own,
Unless by force such law be shown!
Fontaine regarded Maurice as
A venomed reptile, whom to pass
Was exercise of clemency
That scarcely could more humane be.
His boundless fund of insolence,
Which served him on most slight pretense,
Was felt by friends and met by foes
As oft with words as angry blows.
Yet some his many faults forgave,
For wealth the vilest wretch can save
From condemnation of the crowd,
When Virtue's claims are disallowed!
And many beauties—fair, select,
Of Southern soil the blest elect—
Would not have spurned his guilty hand,
But placed their love at his command.
As oft the case is found to be
With men who never can agree
With men, Lefair was not the same
When ladies on him had a claim.
Indeed, he held the gentle fair
As creatures of another air,
Whom men are bound by every tie
To show each mark of gallantry.
Thus, while the men with one accord
Denounced Lefair in every word,
The ladies vowed he was "too nice,
With wealth and looks and not a vice!"
And thus the ladies ever act,
A demonstration of their tact,
And likewise of their tender heart,
Which of their natures is a part—
The part that makes the soldier brave
And noodles primp and poets rave.
Earth's proudest, most historic names,
Were won in war's destructive games.
The rarest virtues are unsung,
Such as to deathless fame belong,
Great women who have given birth
To heroes who have moved the earth,
Who trained the sons to garner fame—
Who ever speaks their sainted name!
Young Maurice was by passion swayed,
And opposition now but made
Him more resolved and bent to gain
The maid's consent, whate'er the pain;
For, in the fatal moment that
He fell a victim to his fate,
All men appeared to him as foes,
And women, too, against him rose,
Reviling and reviled, because
He brooked no reason, spurned all laws.
There was but one for whom he felt
His wayward, stubborn, nature melt
Into a feeling just to feel—
From whom, indeed, was no appeal.
I will not tarry to relate
How Maurice met and won Sadie;
There are so many ways that wait
Upon those hearts that would agree.
Indeed, their parents' stern behest
But urged the lovers to the test—
But hastened on the tragic end
'Gainst which 'tis futile to contend.
They schooled themselves their friends were foes,
And, therefore, authors of their woes;
For love is loudest in complaint
When forced to feel the least restraint.
It will not list to reason's voice,
If reason bid it not rejoice.
So Sadie and her lover found
That earth is not all peaceful ground—
For sweetest joy can make us weep,
Can steal from us the boon of sleep.
Loudly the present they bewailed,
Nor with delight the future hailed,
But feared their troubles still would last
When those they suffered all had passed.
Our Southern fields were rich with light,
And green was nature's Summer dress;
The cotton fields were snowy white;
The corn crop tasseled in excess.
Far o'er the hillsides hastened all
The Negroes to their daily call,
And, with delight, their merry song
Echoed the hills and dales along.
What if the sun in glory rise,
Flooding the earth with his emprise?
He cannot rob the sightless night
Of its ill-omened, stealthy might
Maurice Lefair has won his bride—
Sadie Fontaine is at his side!
All Marian stands in mute amaze;
The country, too, is all ablaze.
Old John Lefair is in despair
And curses heaps upon his heir;
He'll cut him off with not a cent!
He'll show him that he can resent
A son who dares to take a bride
Who ne'er could be her father's pride.
Thus vowed Lefair, and stoutly swore
His son he'd never speak to more.
Yet was Fontaine enraged no less
Than John Lefair, and his distress
Aroused that slumbering Southern hate
Lefair had sought to aggravate;
But, had not Maurice now abused
His patience, he had still refused
To deal the crushing, vengeful blow,
Upon his long inveterate foe.
Then, though it cost him life and wealth,
He'd strike the man who won by stealth.
Thus moved by hate he sought the foe
Who robbed his home of its content,
Resolved to strike so hard a blow
That young Lefair could not resent—
If so his pride was of the type
His haughty tongue so loved to pipe;
For he would strike that Southern pride
Through her who was his peerless bride!
Then, if he still to her was true,
Time would disclose what he should do;
For had not Maurice dared to spurn
The name that his glib tongue must burn
In the rapt moment that he pressed
The charming Sadie to his breast,
And poured those words into her ear
Which none but lovers ought to hear—
Since none can speak who has not felt
And to that heaven-born rapture knelt.
Thus Fontaine spoke: "I, sir, must pray
"Your patience, while, in short, I say,
"That which, in justice, you should know,
"And fitter place and time than now
"May never come again, I vow.
"Sadie—my daughter, and your wife—
"Will end, I trust, the bitter strife
"That now has stood for many a year
"Between myself and John Lefair.
"An only cherished child is she,
"And nothing less can be to me.
"My plenteous wealth and this my arm
"Will shield her from whatever harm
"The present or the future brings—
"If you'll accept of such small things!
"Their wealth with you and her, your bride,
"Your common parents will divide;—
"For though her mother was a slave,
"Her father rated as a knave,
"Her husband now will soon forget
"His wife has Afric blood in veins
"He deemed as pure as old Fontaine's!
"I leave you, hoping you much health,
"And, when you please, come share our wealth!"
Wrath pinned Lefair fast to the spot!
His vengeance was e'en half forgot!
So sudden was the crushing blow
That fell upon his haughty brow;
For he were happier in the grave
Than know the offspring of a slave
Was wife to him! And she so dear
That e'en her charmed name to hear
Was dearer than all else is dear!
Fontaine took Sadie to his breast,
Where she so oft had found sweet rest,
And soothed her sorrow and her pain,
And strove to make her smile again;
For all the world to her was he,
And all the world to him was she.
Sadie ne'er learned why Maurice died
The coward's death of suicide!
She never knew he cursed her name
And deemed it linked with blackest shame:
Her hero still was he in death;
His last fond words love's parting breath.
How many hearts would bleed and die—
Grow lustreless the flashing eye,
Shrink matchless forms of queenly make—
Melt hearts as pure as new snow-flake—
If from the face the mask were torn,
The brow of fraud of fraud was shorn,
And lying hearts were turned to view,
That trusting ones might read them through!
Fontaine no longer cared to live
'Midst scenes which could no pleasure give;
And Sadie's listless step and eye
Urged him to seek a friendlier sky;
And hence he sold his old domain,
And left the scenes of so much pain,
And, too, of joy and hope and pride,
And wandered over th' ocean wide;
In France his future home he made,
Where from his mind the past might fade.
New faces, objects rare and strange,
Brought to young Sadie, with the change,
A heart to her lost love resigned
And hope renewed and peace of mind;
And, in her riper womanhood,
When by a noble Frenchman wooed,
She gave again her heart and hand
And lived, the merriest in the land.
WE KNOW NO MORE.
I sometimes feel that life contains
Nothing, in all its wealth, to pay
For half the sorrows and the pains
That haunt our day.
Ambition lures us on and on,
A dangerous and a treacherous guide!
With every vict'ry that is won
Goes humbled pride!
And, still, we labor, love, and trust,
And seek to conquer as we go!
We reap at last repose in dust—
Naught else we know!
We leave the gewgaws of our power,
The hearts that hate us, and adore!
And after life's distressing hour—
We know no more!
EDGAR ALLAN POE.
I know not why, but it is true—it may,
In some way, be because he was a child
Of the fierce sun where I first wept and smiled—
I love the dark-browed Poe. His feverish day
Was spent in dreams inspired, that him beguiled,
When not along his path shone forth one ray
Of light, of hope, to guide him on the way,
That to earth's cares he might be reconciled.
Not one of all Columbia's tuneful choir
Has pitched his notes to such a matchless key
As Poe—the wizard of the Orphic lyre!
Not one has dreamed, has sung, such songs as he,
Who, like an echo came, an echo went,
Singing, back to his mother element.
THE BIRD HAS VANISHED.
The bird has vanished from its cage—
Has left its prison house to me!
It will not fill its song with rage
Again—for it is free!
Will it forget, can it forget,
The love, the tender care, I gave,
Or feel one throb of sad regret
That 'tis no more my slave?
Go, nameless one, and find a mate
Which will be more than friend to thee,
But, in thy freedom, do not hate,
Do not think ill of me!
She dwelt near by the ocean wide;
The lighthouse was her earliest home;
From infancy she watched the tide
From out her elevated dome,
And saw the vessels swiftly glide
Upon the phosphorescent foam.
She came to love her eyry seat
Among the friendly clouds so high,
For there 'twas calm; her breast could beat
So free she ne'er had cause to sigh;
'Twas there life's pleasure came to greet
Her as the years went slowly by.
For miles along the stormy coast
Her praises loud by all were sung;
And many fearless lads did boast
Of deeds of strength from her that sprung;
And, too, the hardy fisher's toast
With the same theme as often rung.
It was when blew the winds a storm
In March, the month of wail and wind,
That from the ocean came alarm
From those the elements did blind;
And paralyzed was each stout arm,
And direst fear was in each mind.
And not a soul for miles around,
Upon the shore, was near to aid,
Except the lighthouse girl. The sound,
Borne on the breeze, in sadness played,
And every other wail was drowned;
But she, brave girl, was not dismayed!
Fearless she stood, a woman true,
A beauty and a joyous thing,
Amid the storm—as if she knew
Its furious rage to her could bring
No human fear, though it should brew
Dread death, and back her efforts fling!
'Twas Duty gave to her the post
To guide the mariner afar,
And Duty held her there. A host,
Bright as the morning's brightest star,
Or terrible as Hell at most,
Her constant purpose could not mar!
The elements did fiercer rage;
The vessel on the billows heaved,
And louder grew the din! The wage
Of war from such, I'm sure 's relieved,
For such the art of every age
Has taught to curb what Fury weaved.
Nearer the fated vessel came,
Careering to the treacherous shore;
A toy she rode, like men on fame,
And, short as theirs, her course is o'er,
For hidden rocks will sink her name
Too soon from sight forevermore.
The lifeboat from its place she swung
And launched it on the tempest wave,
Then grasped the oars, with courage young,
And with a skillful hand did lave
Their tips—while Ocean loudly sung
That those she sought she could not save!
But Ocean's wail, old Neptune's groan,
Could not her resolution check;
His vaunted power she would not own;
And, though she was a tiny speck,
Superior to his dismal moan
She was, amid the furious wreck.
About her on the vasty deep
Attendants there she knew were near,
Her constant company to keep!
What if she did the storm-king hear,
Who roused the finny tribes from sleep?
She was serene. Why should she fear?
There hovers o'er the brave and wise
A guardian not of this vain world;
A guide before them ever flies
Whose banner bright is never furled;
And 'gainst Him force of Hell may rise
But into atoms to be hurled!
Mirama on the billows rode,
Triumphant in her fragile might.
She was at ease, she knew the road,
Though hid from her far-reaching sight
By darkness all around, o'erflowed,
Creating phantoms of the night!
Still, as the lightning darts through air,
The vessel sped towards the shore;
A thing of fright, with danger near,
A living soul, could be no more
Affrighted with a ghastly fear
Than she, that knew not what she bore!
Her human freight dismayed, aghast,
Inactive were! They could but weep,
As ceaseless wailed the stormy blast
And shook afar the vasty deep!
Sweet Hope to them was of the past,
And in the past their hope must sleep!
She struck! Then madly forward sped!
While from her rose a cry of woe
Which must have reached the phantom dead,
Borne on the wings of winds below—
If there be access to that bed
Where rest the souls that from us go!
And she made haste to them relieve,
And soon was by them on the wave;
But sorely did the maiden grieve
That, of the valiant and the brave,
They most of them she needs must leave—
But one from death could she then save!
She stood with oars extended high;
Her craft was stout, 'gainst weather strong;
But death around her and so nigh
Bore life and fondest hopes along,
While wind and wave did roar and sigh,
And brazen Neptune led the song!
How much sore pain a generous heart
Must feel, when those it sought to aid,
By one dread stroke are borne apart
From Hope and prostrate, helpless laid,
Beyond the succor of man's art,
Which fails, as all by man that's made!
No life without a tearful page!
No man has lived who has not felt
The tempest in its stormy rage!
The virgin snow the sun will melt,
And beauty fade by strokes of age,
And forms be bent that never knelt!
Yet, from the ashes of our hope,
We often gain a strength unknown,
And, e'en in disappointment, grope
With surer tread our pathway lone!
Misfortune sometimes gives us scope
To feast on joys we thought had flown.
Although she mourned so many lost
To whom she sought their lives to give,
Men still did of her prowess boast—
For was not one of them alive!
Is not one heart that beats a host
When it is left with us to strive?
Yes, one brave heart that strongly beats—
Warm, pure, and to devotion true—
Is worth an army dead! The sweets
Of life he knows, and they're not few,
Who, coming home from roaming, greets
Those whom from infancy he knew.
That night of storm and death she ne'er,
In future works of love, forgot;
And, noble maiden! did revere
The giver of her happy lot
To cheer the wind-tossed mariner
And thwart the storm-king when he'd plot!
For she had learned by courage rare
The good that she alone could do;
'Tis oft we know, but will not dare,
The deeds which mark the hero true,
But in our servile nature bear
To see them done but by the few!
Long may she live and ever prove
A woman may be true and brave;
Nor made alone was she to love,
But deeds can dare which lives do save,
For He who rules us from above
Has crowned her "Mistress of the Wave"!
A HOMELESS SPIRIT.
A homeless spirit in a homeless world astray,
I chase forever shadows through the pathless way,
Yearning for joys beyond this world of care,
And leap the present, seeking future life to share—
But seek in vain! Some hearts are constant, always true,
But such, indeed, how rare they are, and Oh, how few!
Yet, from the galling present would we haste away,
Blindly groping, ever seeking eternal day.
WHAT IS WOMAN BUT A SONG!
There was love, and there was beauty,
In the face upturned to me;
And her hair was long and golden,
Soft to touch and good to see;
Her blue eyes were full of laughter
As they burned into my own,
Glowing like a priceless diamond—
Fascinating as that stone.
What is life but love, devotion!—
What is woman but a song—
But a lyric caught from Nature—
But an echo sounding long—
Filling all the earth with gladness—
Filling all the earth with madness—
What is woman but a song!
BEYOND THE VEIL.
Across our path a sunbeam gently lies;
We know not whence it came; we think we know;
But, as we watch its glories come and go,
It fades away! Whither? Into the skies?
We seek to follow it, with blinking eyes,
Beyond the Veil—of which we nothing know!
But e'en imagination is too slow
To chase a sunbeam as it heavenward flies.
The fairest and the dearest objects fade,
Just as a sunbeam comes and glides away;
But, e'en while lingering in the gloom and shade,
Struggling through sorrow's night into the day,
We feel "'tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved"—whate'er the cost.
THE CLIME OF MY BIRTH.
Oh, take me again to the clime of my birth,
The dearest, the fairest, to me on the earth,
The clime where the roses are sweetest that bloom,
And nature is bathed in the rarest perfume!
Where the songs of the birds awake us at morn
With a thrill of delight and pleasure new born;
For the mocking bird there is loudest in hymn,
With notes ever changing, none fettering him.
When the hills of the North are shrouded in snow,
When the winds of Winter their fiercest do blow—
Then take me again to the clime of my birth,
Dear Florida—dearest to me on the earth.
THE MOCKING BIRD,
Have you e'er heard, at early morn,
The feathered poet sing his song,
Clear as a huntsman's clarion horn,
Yet softer, sweeter, and as strong?
Have you e'er felt his magic power
Soothe, as a balm, your troubled breast,
Change into mirth the gloomy hour,
Cradle th' enchanted sense to rest?
Have you e'er heard in native bowers
The mocking bird's angelic lay,
In Summer's home, the "Land of Flowers,"
Where cooling streams refresh the way?
I've roamed the woods from morn till night
In that delicious Summer clime—
For there my eyes first saw the light,
There kissed I first the cheek of Time!
I've heard the feathered poet sing—
Electrify the peace around—
Make the wild echoes gladsome ring—
With melody's divinest sound.
The wild flowers all about in bloom—
The nodding pine—the winding stream—
The orange blossoms' sweet perfume—
Ah! was it not a blissful dream?
A Legend of the Seminole Indians.
List to the tale of Fah-Fah,
Fah-Fah, the Indian maid;
So brave and lovely was she
Her virtues should not fade.
The pride of the lone prairie,
With black and searching eyes,
She wandered free the forests
And slept beneath the skies.
Ogo, the Chief, her parent,
Regarded her with pride,
And claimed she was the beauty
Of all the prairie wide.
The youth who won his Fah-Fah
Must be a valiant brave,
A warrior wise in council
Whom Nature prowess gave.
And there were two young warriors
Who sought young Fah-Fah's hand,
And one was brave Lomnaker
Of Ogo's loyal band.
And none of all the warriors
Could better draw the bow,
Or mount the Indian pony,
Or wield the long lasso.
His voice was heard in council,
Where scars of honor spoke,
'Mongst men who had borne bravely
The light and heavy yoke.
And, next, the Chief, Amwamba,
His haughty claims preferred—
Amwamba, quick to anger,
To danger long inured.
Ogo disliked this Chieftain,
But more his warriors feared;
He wished to give his Fah-Fah
To one his counsels shared.
He dreaded a collision
With this great warrior Chief,
And pain him 'twould Lomnaker
To cause a cureless grief.
He shrewdly dropped the matter;
His Fah-Fah must decide
To which of her brave suitors
She wished to be a bride.
Then both the tribes did gather
Upon the level plain,
To know the lucky suitor
The Prairie Rose would gain.
Old Ogo signaled silence
And lifted up his voice:
"You must name now, my daughter;
The warrior of your choice;
"They both are brave and valiant,
To honor known and fame;
And your choice of a partner
Will cause you naught of shame."
And then there was excitement,
But yet no word arose;
And silent was young Fah-Fah,
While thinking which to choose.
The rival suitors fiercely
Upon each other glared,
And both the tribes in anger
About them wildly stared.
Young Fah-Fah raised her eyes up,
On young Lomnaker gazed,
Then to his side moved quickly,
By love and ardor dazed!
The human mass in silence
A moment did remain,
Then 'rose loud yells of fierceness
That echoed o'er the plain.
Lomnaker stood with valor
By his elected bride,
And, with the arm of courage,
Felled many at his side.
Amwamba rushed upon him
And aimed a deadly blow,
Which, had not Fah-Fah warded,
Would sure have laid him low,
The rival chieftains grappled,
With prowess laid about,
While from a thousand voices
Arose a deafening shout.
Then ceased the other warriors
The clatter of their bows,
To watch in breathless silence
Their champions deal the blows.
So valiant, well-matched warriors
We do not often see,
And long the time in coming
Their like again will be!
His foe Lomnaker conquered,
And trampled on his head!
He proudly stood the victor—
Amwamba now was dead.
IN TOKEN OF THE LOVE YOU GAVE.
In token of the love you gave,
The faith, the trust, reposed in me,
When our young hearts were gay and free,
I plant this flower upon thy grave!
The world is far too poor to give
A value like it took away!
I nevermore a joyous day,
Since you are gone, shall know or live.
WE MUST GROW OLD.
We must grow old! The years go by,
Sometimes on wings they seem to fly;
But why such haste? We know not why!
We only know that we grow old!
Sometimes, alas! the years they go
As if with leaden feet, so slow
We faint from pain. We cannot know
Wherefore or why, but we grow old!
Each vanished year its own sad tale
Of disappointment, woe, and wail,
Adds to the score, until we fail,
Since we grow old! We must grow old.
The broken links of life's short chain
Can never find their place again;
The heart will bleed when pierced with pain,
When loved ones die, and we grow old.
Into the dark unknown we take
The hopes misfortune could not shake,
Pure as the mountain's snowy flake,
Where all is well—when we are old.
HIGH ABOVE THE WRECKS OF AGES.
High above the wrecks of ages,
Brightening all of hist'ry's pages,
Love has shone,
Planet-like, in life's dark heaven,
"Sweetest boon to mortals given,"
Life is brief, but Love's eternal,
Always young, as Spring is vernal,
Give me love in largest measure,
From your hearts' abundant treasure,
Is my song.
THE HEART THAT IS PINING.
The heart that is pining for love that is vain
Will outlive its sorrow and conquer its pain,
Will seek where is hidden the balsam 'gainst woe,
And smile with the merry in pleasure's glad flow.
A few rashly seek to forget in red wine
Th' affection they strove with their love to entwine,
But they are far wiser who pine not, but choose
To seek and secure them an easier won rose.
This life is too short and this world is too fair
To bury existence in sorrow and care,
And hearts are too plenty to seek what is lost,
Thus making life's Summer a Winter of frost.
"Then, what is life," I cried—
And life is thorny, and youth is vain.
All my hopes, where'er thou goest,
Wither—yet, with thee they go.
Guy Dukalon of worth possessed his share;
With more than manly height endowed was he;
And long and silken was his golden hair.
He was a dreamer, careless, happy, free;
A creature to the human slavery bound—
A creature of the earth, the air, the sea;
But he was not a dreamer, ever found
In melancholy's train. Forsooth, some said
He was a poet, gifted in the sound
Of all the tuneful chords in heart and head;
The language knew of every blooming flower;
And, it was said, he could the fury dread
Of savage beasts, prone to their kind devour,
Disarm with his strange gifts. And his sweet song,
With trembling variations, filled the hour
With melody divine, when, clear and strong,
He used his art to banish haunting care.
But not to those did Dukalon belong
Who sing for empty praise. His songs did bear
A charmèd message to the gracious throne
Of endless Mercy, and the Lord did hear,
And angels blest. He sang to those alone,
The chosen dwellers of the earth and sky,
Whose deathless souls were kindred to his own—
Pitching his notes to auditors so high
That mortal man, as angels fair, unbent
To hear; and, when he ceased, a joyous sigh
Bore testimony that his raptures spent
Their force and sweetness where they'd live forever,
Reverberations into th' ages sent!
He looked into life as into a river,
And saw reflected not what others saw,
Or, with their finite vision, could see ever;
For, as the mocking bird in song can draw
More diverse, sweeter notes, the soul to move
Than all the feathered hosts, by that same law
Of matchless wisdom and exhaustless love,
Some visions see where others stare in space!
'Twas so with Dukalon. And high above,
And far beneath, he saw, and so could trace
A truer tale of human joy and pain,
Of love and hate, which actuate all the race!
He did not need to use his powers for gain;
He little cared for earth's delusive fame;
He knew inconstant man had always slain
The gods he honored most, covered the name
With execrations his false reverence
Had glorified! The rabble's praise may tame,
Intoxicate, the soul of Innocence;
Not so with him who knows its vulgar breath
To be a fetid exhalation, whence
Are generated seeds of woe and death!
And he deludes himself who plans to live
Beyond the years of th' inspired prophet's faith.
Thus mused young Dukalon. The world could give
Him much, and much had given, for he was blest
With robust youth and wealth, for which men strive,
And oft in vain; a rich-stored mind possessed,
And fancy that could soar to worlds unknown
And people them with more that e'er caressed
With trusting love or cursed with hate our own,
Since clothed in more ethereal form the while,
For life is life, lived in whatever zone.
His name was ancient—and you need not smile—
As antiquity in our country goes;
He ample acres owned, long mile on mile,
But turned from them. As birds of song repose,
Not long in field or tree, but flit and sing,
Or as the bee that hums from rose to rose,
Restless in the fresh gladness of the Spring,
Not pausing long, seeking new fields of sweets,
Sipping awhile, awhile upon the wing,
So Dukalon. Now gazes he on sheets
Of glassy water of a lake, or stream
Wildly leaping through a glade; now he repeats,
In woodland solitude, some thrilling theme
His wayward fancy caught; care-free in all,
A genius born. Such Dukalon did seem,
And such he was. Nor had the schools withal,
Nor residence afar, changed him a whir.
Still through the fields his jocund voice would call
The yelping hounds the hare to chase; still wit
And roguish pranks were his; still was a boy
In heart and soul. And the long years did sit
But lightly on him. Age did not destroy
His childhood dreams. But now misfortune's gloom
Came o'er his careless life and killed his joy!
It seemed to Dukalon a silent tomb
Had swallowed up the day in rayless night!
And all feel thus who face in youth the doom
Of their first love, sweet love!—sweet e'en in flight,
When it is fresh, and fair to see, and young,
Snatched from the feeling and the raptured sight
In its virginal morn, by the serpent stung!
And it seemed death to Dukalon, a sting
More awful than to die, since he among
His fellows hence must be a nameless thing,
Bereft of any save the voice of woe,
A harp unstrung, except the mournful string!
What had he lost? Ay, what? When fell the blow,
Though strong he was and brave, he reeled like one
By strong drink crazed; his cheeks' vermilion glow
Vanished to paleness; and his eyes scarce shone—
Dull, lustreless, and dead—bright orbs of light
Eclipsed that lit for him fair worlds alone!
They thought that he would die, crushed by the blight
Of youth's first faith, he was so motionless
Who long had shown so much of manly might
In the fierce glare of social nothingness!
Crushed was young Dukalon! The world could give
Like that it took away, his grief the less
To make—why, nothing! What is life to live
When love is dead, or turned to hate, in man?
In vain against obdurate Fate we strive.
Let him assume indifference who can,
And play the Stoic's part, and such are few,
When Cupid's dart the trusting heart doth span,
And lingers there, and no fond hand and true,
Responsive to the bleeding victim's plea,
Is raised to pull it out and heal with dew,
Distilled from eyes of gentlest sympathy,
The cruel laceration! His loyal heart,
Faithful in all, so fickle could not be;
He mourned for what was lost. He could no part
Assume—so generous his nature was—
So free from all Deception's subtle art.
Sophine had come, a shadow from a glass,
Light as the breeze that fans the gorgeous rose,
And tore his tender heart to shreds, alas!
For he had worshipped when he saw repose
Stamped on her brow, and majesty withal,
And chafed his burning passion to disclose;
For youth is vain, and little recks 'twill fall
When lovely woman's smile allures it on
To the blind transports of her fatal thrall.
Freely the galling chain young Dukalon
Had gladly lettered on his life, and youth
With Orient pearls the untried way had strewn;
It was not love's unfailing charm, in truth,
But passion, fancy, equal wealth and birth,
That caused the twain to plight undying troth.
The veil withdrawn, of love a woeful dearth
Apparent was! Their thoughts and tastes unlike,
They neither could perceive the other's worth;
And discontent, like waters o'er a dike
Madly leaping, entered their loveless home,
And there abided! Law and custom strike
Dismay and fear to hearts of those who roam,
In thoughtlessness or pique, from changeless rules
Of nature, fixed. They rail in vain and foam
Who turn, in strength or weakness, the sharp tools
Of vengeance on themselves. And men will err;
For some are wise, some simple, some are fools;
Some err from over-confidence, some fear
And some because a passion to go wrong
Is bone of their bone. Wherever they steer
Their craft they find the rocks and shoals among
The breakers hid, or rashly seek them out.
Then, others, too, there are, by nature strong,
Who err from ignorance. These tossed about
Forever are, because they fell before
They learned to stand; and the cruel, heartless shout—
The fear of Scandal's tongue—forevermore
Makes cowards of them! Parents who should guide
And shape th' impulsiveness of youth do o'er
And o'er let it run wild, till, far and wide,
The seed that blossoms to a life of woe
Is sown. The poet's hopes had died
Because, before the struggling down did grow
Upon his classic lip, no parent's law,
Restraining power, was interposed to show
The man his duty. And great was the flaw
Infatuated youth had failed to see
In the picture his vanity did draw!
Young Dukalon had wed right thoughtlessly,
And dreamed a treacherous hour he loved, and well,
His blushing bride, as thoughtless as was he.
And all who loved the twain made haste to tell
How brilliant was the match, how sweet the bride,
How glowed her cheeks, how high their hopes must swell!
And thus the idle chatter ran. But wide
And turbulent the outstretched Future lay,
On whose storm-bosom they as one must ride
Forever on, through all the night and day,
Till death the farce—if farce it proved to be,
In which no love would smooth the tedious way—
Should end! Short was the dream! Then, misery
Of years was lived in hours, till bondage made
Each of them feverish—anxious to be free!
Be free! What human bondage can degrade
A man or woman as the law that binds
Unloving souls in wedlock! Nor can fade,
While life remains, remembrance from the minds
Of those so joined the everlasting shame
Of such disastrous folly; for it grinds,
Corrodes, eating the vitals as a flame
That never quenchèd is! It is a stain,
Indelible, upon fair hope and name.
He whose smile was magic against all pain,
Whose life was free as zephyrs of a morn
In Summer lands that blow o'er hill and plain,
Freighted with health, was now with doubts forlorn
And discontent made miserable, his voice
Of music and of careless gladness shorn.
The things that made him once in life rejoice
No longer could his fancy catch and hold;
Indifferent he was, bereft of choice.
The dross remained; evanished had the gold.
The world looked on, but little could it see.
To others' woes mankind are chill and cold.
He who would live in men's esteem must be
Encased in steel, harder than flinty rock,
Beyond their treacherous smile and sympathy,
Or be of every dunce the laughing stock!
And if, perforce, his grief should come to view,
He may not find his strength survive the shock!
The friends Misfortune has are always few,
And they are oft abashed by sneers and scorn,
And skulk away, too craven to be true!
Young Dukalon was proud. He would have drawn
His life-blood from his heart ere men should make
A by-word of his woe! He had been born
To scoff at jeers and scorn. Nothing could shake,
Therefore, his purpose to his pain conceal
From friends and foes, e'en though his heart should break.
He bore the torture of domestic steel,
Pierced deep into his lacerated heart,
And oft it made him faint and blindly reel,
So merciless it was! But, to his part
Assigned, he strove to be both brave and strong,
Wincing in silence from the pricking dart.
He was a child of passion and of song.
To love and to be loved, his faith repose
In womankind, to feel his friends among
No shadows dark his buoyant soul enclose,
Were parts of his young life, as much as scorn
And lofty condescension of his foes.
The poet's soul was his, a poet born;
And he was moved and felt as other men,
But in a stronger sense, as men are shorn
Of giant strength, I ween, who have not been
Endowed with giant form; and strength of mind
Was his, and weakness too; and these were seen
In two extremes, and stronger of their kind;
For all great virtues in the race are found,
Too oft, with vices just as great combined;
So Bacon great to Bacon base was bound;
So other men as great a double life
Have lived whose names through all the world resound!
Young Dukalon had lived beyond the strife
Of those who struggle from their youth for bread;
He had not felt the keenness of the knife
As some who Wisdom's thorny path do tread.
Seductive Knowledge in her richest guise
Before his eyes had her rare treasures spread;
And he had lingered 'neath the friendly skies
When the moon, and the stars, and solitude
And he were all alone, when spirit life flies
To spirit life, compelled by a kindred mood,
A sympathy, unearthly of its kind!
Then would he cease upon his woes to brood,
Lulled by the mystery sublime that twined
Itself about his life, like harmony
That soothes to rest the weary, troubled mind.
How strong and sweet the charm and force that lie
In meditation when so surrounded!
Then all things vain and crude within us die,
And all that's God-like, pure and good, doth shed
A calm and holy halo 'bout our dream;
'Tis then the human part of us is dead.
Unseen, unheard, Life's boisterous, treacherous stream,
As it rushes onward, in mad commotion,
More cruel and destructive than it can seem,
To where the dark unknown, the boundless ocean
Of destiny lies hid from human ken!
The poet felt, somehow, he was a portion
Of this vastness and this mystery when,
In the sweet silence of the voiceless night,
He tore himself apart from selfish men
And revelled in a feeling and a sight
Denied his fellows! And it was so sweet
To feel the presence of Eternal light!
But man is human. His lead-weighted feet
Will tread the earth, howe'er his soul may soar
Where angel choirs their psalms of joy repeat
Till the heav'ns' diamond-studded halls do o'er
And o'er with rhapsodies resound! And so
Young Dukalon, although he would no more
Have come to earth, oft found his classic brow
Damp with the dews of night, the stars all dead,
The moon grown pale, and feel his body grow
Alive to pain, and th' angel choirs hushed and fled—
The trance-hour vanished to its unknown goal!
Once he had cried aloud, with bended head:
"Great Ruler of the troubled human soul,
"If in Thy mandate thunders, as they sweep
"From burning tropic to the icy pole,
"A grain of hope remains for those who weep,
"Dragging a chain that causes endless pain,
"Oh, let me in its power my senses steep!
"Let me not hopeless hope, nor plead in vain!
"Oh, banish Thou the all-pervading gloom
"That erst so many trembling souls has slain!
"This earth for man is but a haunted tomb—
"Dread, fathomless—when spectre Doubt enthrones
"Itself within the mind and knells Hope's doom!
"How the vast ocean water heaves and groans,
"Lashed by the angry winds in tempest hour!
"So man, frail man, oppressed, wails long, and moans,
"Disconsolate, when Thy controlling power
"Tosts his frail life upon the storm's wild breast
"And makes him to its fury bend and cower!
"O Thou Spirit of the boundless air, if rest
"There be under the high o'er-arching sky,
"Let me the potence of its magic test!
"Let me unto its hidden treasures fly,
"That I may steep my senses in its calm,
"Dissolve my restless nature in a sigh,
"Live but one moment in its soothing balm,
"Measure one second what it is to be
"Supreme within myself, possess the charm
"Philosophers have sought in vain—be free!
"Then, when the precious moment's grace had fled,
"When nothing more in earth or heaven for me
"Remained, all spent, if Thou shouldst me then wed
"To sudden nothingness, quench the light
"Forever of my soul—where'er it led,
"I'd follow, satisfied, into the night!"
One moment man soars where th' angels abide;
The next he falls to earth, a wingless sprite!
"Oh, what is life to me?" the poet cried.
Sophine unsuited was to Dukalon
In all that makes community of aim
And purpose—that blest singleness alone
Which melts two lives in one, with common name
And aspiration, having only eyes
That see each other's beauties. They must tame,
Who wed, their soul's desire for change; be wise
And satisfied to live apart in that
They have absorbed; seeing no other skies
Than those that canopy their home. To rate
No other love as that which is their own
Resolves the dual into th' unit state.
The man and woman must become as one
When they assume the marriage obligation;
And if, in all and all, this be not done,
A deep unrest, and even desperation,
Will make their loveless lives an earthly hell.
Young Dukalon, in vain exasperation,
Lived this, and more, which, as the Voudoo's spell,
Was as a haunting madness in the brain,
Making his heart like ocean billows swell
With vainest of resolves; each one a chain
That bound him to the life he loathed, because
He could not 'scape it, but must bear the pain
Of constant friction with it, since the laws,
And his high sense of duty, held him fast
In hated bonds! The wind takes up the straws
The sturdy mowers on the wayside cast,
And then the light twigs where it listeth blows;
How oft th' unguarded actions of the past
The present with dread terrors fill—with woes,
With burnings of the heart, with wailing hate
That dies on th' air, with curses for our foes—
Until all th' earth to us seems desolate,
In which is heard no more a friendly voice
To cheer us in the fight with adverse Fate!
Actions are mysteries we cannot poise
Upon the vain philosophies we deem
Dissolvents of our doubts. The poet's choice
Had been to bear his yoke, howe'er his dream
Had bodied forth for him companion sweet,
Whose life should melt into his own and seem
A portion of his life. His untried feet
Had stumbled in the path! His mind, oppressed,
Trembled, as one who suffers dire defeat.
His manly resolution but distressed
Him all the more as fickle Time disclosed
How much of Discontent he was possessed—
How weak the vessel was in which reposed
The first rich fruit of his impulsive youth!
A towering Trojan wall had now enclosed
His life. How could he scale its heights, forsooth,
How 'scape the tyranny himself had made?
Alas! the dangers in a hasty troth!
Him should he let this tyranny degrade
When love, content, domestic harmony,
Had all dissolved, as does a twilight shade,
Leaving him nothing but regrets? Should he
The agony prolong, all hope forswear,
Endure a bondage whose slow misery
Tortures and destroys? Must he then bear
The strain until his strength could bear no more,
And wasted nature yield to phantom care?
As a vessel in the tempest's shock and roar,
Did Dukalon's emotions move and sway
His every purpose, and would evermore,
Shutting from him contentment's genial ray,
With all its inspiration, and making
Tartarean gloom! The future—had it a day
He saw not, wherein flowers of laughing Spring
Would gladden hedge, and garden, and the field,
And birds their joyous melodies would sing?
Or would the night forever throw its shield
Of cureless woe about his life, enchain
Him to a loveless mate, his lips be sealed,
Speechless, save in regret, remorse and pain?
The sun shone forth in royal majesty;
The flowers blossomed in field and dell and plain;
But Dukalon their beauties could not see.
The groves were vocal, but escaped his ears.
Stone-blind and deaf and speechless is mis'ry
In noble men. It finds in voiceless tears
Expression, all unseen, unheard; if, too,
That source be not dried up, as oft appears.
There are, indeed, degrees of human woe,
Not visible, that eat the vital parts
As fires within the earth that burn and glow
Forever, till a spiral column darts
Into the skies, and granite mountains heave
And mankind quake in homes and crowded marts.
So Nature works. All who rejoice or grieve,
In silence or loud lamentation, feel
The pain no earthly physic can relieve.
Accursed is Adam's seed! Does Death's sharp steel,
Cutting the thread of life, destroy the pains
To which the flesh is heir, for woe or weal?
Why fill the future state with woes, with chains,
Undreamed of in the justice of the Lord,
When present time more than its share contains?
Go! "Let the dead past bury its dead" horde!
Go! Let the future its dread secrets keep!
Go! Live the present! Why dread th' unseen sword
Suspended o'er our heads? What if it leap
From its hair chain this instant that we pause
And plunge us into gloom as Styx is deep!
Our destiny is shaped by binding laws,
Irrevocable! And none can estimate
One inch of space to right the seeming flaws
That lure us to our doom. The poet's fate
Had been a pleasing thing. His days had sped
Away like dreams. The future seemed to wait,
Expectant of his coming, but to lead
Him up the sacred mount of Fame and Power,
And crown him with ambition's glorious meed.
And he had built upon the happy hour
Thus pictured to his view, as dreamers will;
Nor reeked he of the furious storms that lower
Forever o'er the Future's path. And still,
When darkness came, he hoped and trusted Time
Would yet the promise of the past fulfill;
But all in vain! He upward ceased to climb—
Stood still. The burden was too great to bear—
Despair replaced his hopes and thoughts sublime.
His nature was to furious gales of care,
In all, untempered, and Misfortune's frown
Withered his hopes, as poison in the air,
And made him purposeless. As he had sown,
So must he reap. But all unused was he
To pluck the thistle where the rose had grown;
To find the bitters where the sweets should be;
To weep where he had smiled; to hate the thing
He had adored; to sigh and long to free
Himself from loveless chains! The bird may sing,
A prisoner in a cage; but will his song
With Freedom's rapturous joy and gladness ring?
No! No! His notes, however clear and strong,
Will ring with desolation of his state,
Will plead again his mates to be among.
You have upon sweet Freedom but the gate
To shut, and bolt the prisoner within,
T' arouse grim vengeance and relentless hate.
Nor can escape this hate the man of sin,
The man of blameless life, or brave, or meek;
Desperate resolves, where Freedom ends, begin.
Young Dukalon a prison strong and bleak,
In innocence and confidence, had made;
Nor through its walls could he a passage break,
Securely caged within its cheerless shade.
And never victim of Illusion yet
Felt loveless chains his manhood so degrade!
In home, in solitude, did sigh and fret
The hapless youth, unmindful of the things
That gave him pleasure once; could not forget
The irritations of the hour. The strings
Of hope were snapped asunder. All undone
Ambition was; dried up life's cooling springs!
And Dukalon a student was, and won
The honest praise of men, and women, too,
By loftiness of purpose. His life had run
In currents smooth till now. And, as is true
Of all who matchless genius do possess,
Much in himself he lived, and lessons drew
From Nature in her fadeless loveliness;
Scorning the social smallness of the day—
Its endless gossip and the emptiness
That passed for wit amongst the thoughtless gay,
And e'en the learned few, who can unbend,
And list to those who nothing have to say.
Not so with Dukalon. To condescend,
To waste the precious hours in idle prating,
With noodles for a woman's smiles contend,
In Fashion's vacuous haunts to seek his rating—
These Dukalon a passing notice gave;
All satisfied to see them through a grating,
Standing afar off—solemn, dreamful, grave.
When there came feelings of a sober kind,
'Twas not in crowded halls, where sane men rave
And women shriek, thinking they pleasure find
In sensual waltz and babalistic noise;
But, rather, in the fields and woods his mind
Congenial freedom found. There could rejoice
In nature's grand, surpassing loveliness,
Young Dukalon, his fancy give a voice;
And he would people the vast wilderness
With pulsing form and life; and human pain
And aspiration lost their bitterness,
Under the soothing spell that oft hath slain
The genius that had trusted in its power.
But now it seemed to him that not again
Would come the rapture of such halcyon hour.
The genii of the place, his dreams, had fled,
As flies the sun before a thunder shower.
"The concord of sweet sounds" that so had fed
His thirsting soul were heard no more, and he
Had lost the mastery of song; was dead
To every feeling, save the misery
Of domestic inharmony and woe.
Of this no word was said, and ne'er could be,
Of harshness or reproach. He could not show,
Save in silence studied, the discontent
That drove the animation from his brow,
The roses from his cheeks—which may have spent
Their bloom in his dead eyes, so dull they were
And lustreless. And so, where'er he went,
Whate'er he did, a haunting shadow near
Pursued and harassed him. The young Sophine,
Unlike her lord, gave not her life to care,
But sought and found, a reigning social queen,
Oblivion of the love her home denied;
Nor was she troubled. Love had never been,
E'en when she stood by young Dukalon's side,
Before the man of God, more than a thought,
Vague and unformed, in which to be a bride,
The bride of Dukalon, her fancy caught,
E'en as the spider's web ensnares the fly;
Thoughtless that precious jewels oft are sought
A fatal vanity to satisfy,
Since death or endless trouble follows fast
Possession. But stone-blind is vanity;
It recks not of the future, and the past—
Is past. The newest toy controls its whim;
And while the fancy, satisfied, doth last,
The pleasing thing before the eyes doth swim,
Seducing to sweet but treacherous repose
The thoughtless, yet all delighted victim.
Thus with Sophine. She was a gorgeous rose,
Charming to see, but odorless and cold,
That flourished in Dukalon's wintry snows.
Shallow in all her nature, she could hold
No serious thought; yet deemed that she had made
A splendid choice. She could not find the gold
Beneath the poet's brow of gloom and shade,
Nor cared a doit, so vain she was and blind.
In priceless fabrics when she was arrayed,
With social pleasures hedged about, her mind
And soul steeped in the splendors of the hour,
The poet's moods could not her fancy bind.
She loved him not a whit, nor thought him sour,
But shunned him, since she could not comprehend
The vastness of his mental depth and power;
She left him to himself. They could not blend
Their natures, so unlike were they. Thus wide
And wider grew the path they did descend!
And she was cheerful, full of empty pride,
Finding relief in ample wealth's display;
While gloomy he, brooding o'er joys denied,
Lost in the tortuous windings of life's way.
The noble Saint John's river murmured north,
Into the great Atlantic's heaving breast,
A giant careless of its strength and worth,
Disdaining haste and never needing rest;
A glorious stream. Upon its bank there stood
The home of Dukalon, and there caressed
His laureate brow the breath of solitude,
The fragrance of the orange blossoms, and
The tropic plants of garden, field and wood.
It was a Paradise, enchanted land,
Where the rapt mocking bird forever sings
The gladness of his soul; the curlew grand,
Spotless in the whiteness of his plumage, springs
Into the air, voiceless, but matchless in
His perfect grace, propelled on noiseless wings.
There Dukalon had lived and dreamed and seen
The sunshine and the shadow of the years;
There he had learned to love the forest green,
And diamond dews, that looked like virgin tears,
Shy nestling on the modest violet,
And wildwood rose and jasmine. And his cares,
How oft would he by that grand stream forget,
Watching its noiseless and majestic flow
Upward to th' ocean! Such a scene! And, yet—
The odorous air, vocal with song, soft, low,
Now swelling to a chorus wild and sweet,
Making the listener's cheeks with pleasure glow
And all his soul with intense rapture beat—
And, yet, young Dukalon but grieved and sighed—
For what! Some "daughter of the gods" to meet
Who would his boundless thoughts and love divide,
His aspirations stimulate; to be
In all his fit companion and his pride;
To share his gladness and his misery;
Be of himself a sympathizing part,
Unfettered by the world's dear vanity,
Content to be a portion of his heart
And hopes and home—for this he sighed and wailed,
Living within himself, from men apart,
Wasting his days, deploring he had failed
In all, since one discord had marred the whole!
Listless his footsteps grew; and his cheeks paled,
As if the fire had left for ay his soul—
So miserable he was! 'Twas in this state
Of frigid cold, numbing as th' Arctic pole,
Of gloom and discontent, that some great Fate,
Unknown, unseen of men, gave Dukalon
A taste of what he wished, to make him hate,
Perchance, himself the more. He was alone,
Surrounded by the forest wild; the stream
Before him lay. He sat upon a stone,
Wrapt in the reveries of a charming dream,
And, for the moment, lost to everything
Of earthly kind, when, suddenly, a scream
Rang out upon the air and made him spring
Erect, frightened; and, then, again! again!
Until the woodland with the cries did ring.
The dreamer to the spot did haste, and strain
His eyes to see the author of the cries;
Nor had he far to search the cause t' explain:
A small sailboat before his anxious eyes
Lay upturned near the shore, and to it clung
A maiden fair. When past his first surprise,
Forthwith into the royal stream he sprung,
For he could breast the waves with grace and ease,
And soon rescued the maiden, fair and young—
Minnette! She was a picture 'neath the trees—
The silent monarchs of the forest wild,
As gently fanned her brow the friendly breeze—
As on the gallant Dukalon she smiled,
Murmuring her gratitude in words so sweet,
So low, his wildly throbbing pulse was thrilled
Beyond control. All drenched from head to feet,
The snow-white drapery clinging to her form,
She stood erect, pale as a driven sheet,
Straight as a willow, with eyes that could disarm—
Such sympathy, such passion, they proclaimed—
The prince of skeptics by their witching charm.
She was not beautiful, as some are famed;
But there was majesty in form and face
And eyes and accents of the voice that tamed
Rebellion into loyalty. A space
Silent they stood, mute, in the scrutiny
Of kindred beings seeking to replace
Some long-lost vision they had prayed to see
In flesh, as they had seen in dreams before,
In hours that never could forgotten be:
For there are in the world, on some fair shore,
Always "two souls with but a single thought,"
And if they meet not, sigh forevermore,
Disconsolate! So Fate has for us wrought.
These two had never met, but each one knew
The other well, and more than this was naught.
"I live near by. I often sail, as you,
"Perhaps, have seen, my little craft. To-day,
"Howe'er, the wind too fiercely for me blew;
"Hence my mishap. I never can repay
"The debt of gratitude to you I owe.
"I thank you, Sir;" and then she went away,
Protesting that her savior should not go
With her, as she knew well the path that led
To her own home the river bend below.
But still he followed from afar, in dread
Some other mishap might befall the maid;
Then, from a knoll, he watched her as she fled
Till she was lost behind the ample shade
Of the tall oaks and orange trees that stood
About her home, near where the river strayed.
Then Dukalon turned back into the wood.
And stretched himself upon the moss and grass,
And closed his eyes, and dreamed his solitude
Was Paradise, in which for him, alas!
Only one face—one form—one smile—was seen
As swift the host of queenly maids did pass
Through his mad brain. She was, indeed, a queen—
Minnette! A queen of beauty and of grace,
With royal height and majesty of mien.
How long among the shadows of the place
He was—how long the dream controlled his sense—
How long he lived his life in her sweet face—
He could not say. The sun had vanished hence
When he awoke; the night had come; the moon
Rode high; the stars shone forth; vapors immense
Had settled o'er the river. 'Twas a boon
To linger yet awhile, in the still night,
Where she had been, to vanish all too soon.
And thus, alone, dreaming, the lovelorn wight
Lingered, where nature reigned in absolute
Supremacy, and where his fancy's flight
Could penetrate infinity, and, mute,
The aspirations of his soul reach where
The twinkling stars athwart the skies did shoot,
Idly disporting in the waste of air.
Guy Dukalon dreamed out his poet soul,
Enchained by the smile of a maiden fair—
A maiden fair who would in all control
His life forevermore! As strong as Fate,
Her siren power o'er all his nature stole,
And held him where he was, bidding him wait
To hear her footsteps on the sward, again
To see her face. She seemed his long-lost mate.
Then came a doubt that gave him sharpest pain:—
Was not Minnette a myth? Had he not been
The victim of a caprice of his brain?
Had it all been a dream? What had he seen?
Was it all real? It was so very queer—
The vanished hours, and all that came between!
He shuddered at his doubt. A sudden fear
Came over him. He from the stone arose
And sought the spot, the glassy river near,
Where all had passed so late that made repose
A stranger to him ever more. There lay
The tiny craft, that had o'erturned, and, close,
A dainty handkerchief, damp with the spray,
The modest moon revealed. This was a prize,
An argument to drive all doubt away.
Guy Dukalon stood there, with downcast eyes,
Deeply musing, his soul all stirred with fire;
While hope, sweet hope! ascended to the skies.
In his delirious bliss he did aspire
To-he knew not what! Her name unknown, wed
Or unwed, asked not, cared not. One desire,
A rash, o'ermastering wish, possessed his head.
His troubled life no longer seemed a waste,
Hopeless. He wished no more that he were dead!
Why? He the fruit forbidden to his taste
Had craved, the fruit in which lurked pain and woe
And lingering death! Again, he felt abased,
Revulsion came, that he could sink so low
As prove a traitor, e'en in thought, to one
He had forsworn himself all love to show!
In the dead stillness of the night a groan
Escaped the hapless Dukalon. Where turn
He would his path with shattered hopes was strown!
Into his soul despondency did burn,
Forever forcing on him gaunt despair,
From which no wholesome lesson could he learn.
He hovered near the spot until the air
Of dewy morning fanned his fevered brow,
On which gloom sat enthroned anew, and care;
Then wandered from the scene, with head bowed low,
And listless step, and trembling hand, and heart
From which the blood in sluggish streams did flow.
Henceforth his days were spent from men apart,
In solitude, and many hours of night,
Haunting the scenes that could alone impart
Some solace to his soul, some softening light
Diffuse, praying that she would come again—
And, then! He shut the selfish world from sight,
And mused and mused; and all to him was plain,
Though mad confusion reigned supreme in all
The treasured hopes that struggled in his brain.
Thus sat he, dreaming, as the leaves did fall
About him from the monarchs of the place,
When that longed presence—gracious, queenly, tall—
Before him stood, confusion in her face—
Since unsuspecting was she there to find
A living soul. But Dukalon, with grace
And easy courtesy, relieved her mind,
Calming her fears; and then, by slow degrees,
Minnette to his address herself resigned.
No one in converse could more aptly please
Than Dukalon, or hold attention more
Subservient to his will—master of ease.
The young Minnette, protesting o'er and o'er
That she must go, remained, and gladly, too,
Restrained as she had never been before
By man's persuasive voice; for it is true
That Dukalon possessed in large degree
A wondrous fascinating power, and drew
His kind, as magnet needles draw; and he
A royal host could be, or he could freeze
The social atmosphere till misery,
Without apparent cause, would replace ease
And merriment. Young Minnette felt his power
To charm, to fascinate, instruct, to please,
And yielded, e'en in that most parlous hour
When he rescued her from a watery grave.
And some had told her he was vain and sour—
Reserved and cold—took nothing—nothing gave—
Haunted the solitudes, seeking some nook
Umbrageous where to dream, or watch the wave
Not far removed, or read some favorite book—
Unsocial, morose, inaccessible;
But none of these was in his pleased look,
His brilliant eyes, his heart's impulsive swell;
As Minnette sat beside him near the stream,
Reading his soul and comprehending well
Its richness and its depth. And he did seem
In nothing strange to her, or cold, or vain,
But eloquent in all—such as her dream
Had bodied him who should not plead in vain
To share her life. And long beneath the trees
They sat, unheeding that the sun again
Had run his course, and that the gathering breeze
Was harsh and damp, until an owl's shrill hoot—
A bird of evil omen, if you please—
Warned them hence, ere the darkness should dispute
Their free egress. And many hours they spent
In this retreat, reaping the precious fruit
Of classic masters or discourse; content,
Withal, in Friendship's deferential ties,
Nor thought of else, nor more was ever meant.
All cloudless were th' ambrosial Southern skies;
All odorous was the perfume-ladened air;
Young Dukalon had what he most could prize;
Young Minnette lived, heart-free of any care.
Young Dukalon forgot the chains he wore—
Borne on the swirling tide, he cared not where.
The Winter fled away, and Spring once more
In gladness came; and Minnette woke one morn
To find her tropic dreams forever o'er.
"I go back to my Northern home," forlorn,
But resolute, to Dukalon she said,
"And we may meet no more; but whither borne,
"By wind or tide, the friendship that has shed
"So much of gladness 'round this spot I leave
"With me will live." The poet bowed his head;
He could not speak—could only inly grieve.
"Friends part to meet," she said, "and meet to part;
"But there is nothing, nothing! to relieve
"Our parting hour!" And, then, with troubled heart,
She told him, ere the Winter came again,
She would have wed. And Dukalon did start,
As if compelled by some internal pain,
And then was calm, but deathly cold and pale,
From desperate struggling to himself restrain.
It was a time for fortitude to fail,
For passion stronger is than fortitude,
However masterful, before the gale
Of vanished hopes! Young Dukalon now stood
Before the only woman he could love
Chained like a felon, in his hopeless mood,
Powerless to speak the words he'd die to prove—
If he were free! "O to be free!" he sighed
Upon the voiceless zephyrs of the grove,
In his despair. Minnette another's bride!
But he—what claim upon her love had he!
His own rash act that boon to him denied.
Nothing had he to offer her! And she—
What could she offer him! Silent they sat,
Undone! Could he, dare he, make her to see
The step that she would take was desperate,
Was fraught with desolation and with woe
And burnings of the heart, that end in hate!
For he could tell what he did feel and know,
Experience taught, of loveless wedded life;
But he could not this queenly woman show
How cuts the heart such two-edged knife,
Unasked. And Minnette had not even shown
She dreaded aught of such unnatural strife!
So he was dumb; escaped not e'en a groan
The agony he felt to indicate;
But he was sad beyond his wish to own—
Rebellious 'gainst the secret-working Fate
That snatched the woman he adored away
And left the one he could not love, or hate!
She placed her hand in his. "I cannot stay,"
She said. "I must be gone. But you, my friend,
"Think of Minnette, in secret, when you pray."
Then, o'er the hand he held, he low did bend,
And to it pressed his lips of ashen hue,
And thus resigned his more than earthly friend!
In silence thus to honor was he true,
And to Minnette! But O how much it cost!
A moment more, and she had gone! He knew,
He felt, that young Minnette to him was lost;
And earth to him became a barren waste—
In which forevermore he would be tossed,
A homeless, restless mortal, with no place
To rest his aching head—a dread expanse
Of desolation eye could never trace,
Or fancy body forth! Fixed was the glance,
And vacant, on the verdant sward he cast,
Insensible to all the "circumstance
And pomp" of earth! The hours unnoticed passed—
For what to him were hours or days or years,
When that sweet dream so short a time could last!
And long he sat; and down his cheeks the tears
Ran fast, but all unknown to him they fell,
The sacred emblems of Devotion's cares!
While there he sat a tropic storm did swell
To sudden fury; night in blackness came;
The earth and sky seemed all a seething hell
Of wild confusion, which the lightning's flame
Pierced thro' and thro'; thunders entoned afar,
Like furious cannonade, shaking the frame
Of earth with horrors on a field of war;
And torrent rains in massive sheets came down.
Unmoved was Dukalon! So deep the scar
Made by her words, no life in him was shown,
Save in the fitful breath that moved his breast.
Although to fiercer rage the storm had grown,
No terrors it for Dukalon possessed!
Prone on the earth, senseless, the young man lay,
Like one who finds in death long-sought-for rest.
The storm its fierceness spent; the genial day
Came forth again; the birds sang o'er his head;
Near by him paused a timid squirrel grey,
That seemed to wish to ask if he were dead,
But scampered off, not waiting a reply.
Young Dukalon upon his grassy bed,
Outstretched, from earthly joy and woe was free,
And love and hate; in all was crushed, undone,
A shattered reed! High in the radiant sky,
In matchless splendor, rode th' imperial sun,
Before his people sought him far and wide,
Nor sought in vain—the prostrate Dukalon!
They bore him to his home—'twas once his pride—
And faithful friends would have relieved his woe,
Had not that solace been to them denied.
Not one of all of them could hope to know
The tragic cause that in a single night
Had bleached his raven locks as white as snow,
And palsied every limb, and dimmed his sight,
And warped his mind; so that "My own Minnette!"
Was all he cried in calm or sudden fright;
For none was there who ever knew the fair Minnette,
Who ever heard before her name,
Save Dukalon, and he could not forget!
And she had gone, as sudden as she came—
As phantoms come and vanish as they pause—
Leaving behind, alas! a quenchless flame
To plead forevermore her wondrous cause.
EVERY MAN A KING.
From hill to hill let Freedom ring!
Let tyrants bend the knee!
Why should the people have a king,
When every man a king should be!
There is no law, save law of right!
All other law is made
By force of conquest, brutal might,
The sovereign masses to degrade.
Float high the standard of the free!
Loud let the welkin ring!
Each man within himself should be
No less a man than is a king.
BYRON'S OAK AT NEWSTEAD ABBEY.
Through thy battlements, Newstead, the hollow winds whistle;
Thou, the hall of my fathers, art gone to decay;
In the once smiling garden, the hemlock and thistle
Have choked up the rose that once bloomed in the way.
Lord Byron (1803)
The little twig that Byron planted here,
In manhood's hope and early prime,
The twig he gave his constant love and care
In Britain's far-famed classic clime,
Has grown to be a towering, stalwart tree;—
But Byron, master mind, O where is he!
And Newstead Abbey, where he lived and dreamed,
Still marks the sacred precincts well;
But long ago the stranger's banners streamed
O'er towers where Byron's heart did swell!
His lofty oak, with arms outstretched to God,
Speaks for the Bard—as Missolonghi's sod.
Old Newstead and its giant oak may stand
The fury of the storm and age,
But they must both decay, ere Byron's wand
Shall lose its power of love and rage!
Ere from the human heart shall fade away
The magic spell he breathed in life's short day!
I love him well, this wayward child of song,
Whose life in all was passing strange;
With mind so bitter sweet, so weak, so strong—
With power to soothe, to charm, estrange;—
Within his grasp the harp was made to flow
The sweetest, saddest notes the heart can know!
And he will live when Newstead and its tree
Have crumbled back to mother dust;
His name is linked with song and liberty,
And time such fame can never rust!
E'en Albion's glorious name must pale and wane,
While Byron's fame through endless time will reign!
Before the Ark on Ararat a lodgment found,
The Elsmeres dwelt in clouds of doubt and fear;
And, still, when Time has reached its closing year,
That doubt and fear the future's sky will bound.
No faith can make the hidden mysteries clear
That shroud the glories of the Eden where
Our hopes, through all the ages, circle 'round,
Like ships at anchor in a haven fair.
We fondly deem we know from whence we came,
And to what destiny at last shall go,
When vanish all of pomp and power and fame;
But, reason as we will, we do not know!
And, so, like Elsmere, many pine and die,
Victims of life's remorseless whence and why.
THE BRIDE OF ELLERSLEE.
Argument.— Florida was first settled by the Spaniards in 1565, although the first white man to visit the country was Ponce de Leon, in 1513. In 1819 the Spaniards ceded the whole Province to the United States. During the time of the Spanish occupation there was a constant clashing between the Spaniards and the Englishmen, between whom there was never any good blood.
Don Carlos Garcia y Artero was a typical Spanish nobleman—haughty, imperious, pompous, and fabulously rich. His hatred of the English people was an inherited infirmity, which the long contention of supremacy between the two peoples in Florida served to aggravate. He never could abide Ralph Bondly in any of the relations of life. He regarded him as embodying all of the objectionable and offensive traits in the English character.
This matter of racial aversion and antagonism, while very prevalent today in all parts of the world, has lost much of the bitterness that characterized it in past times. Modern inventions have brought the world into closer contact, and made men more dependent upon each other than they were even a century ago. The wars of conquest and reprisals waged between Spain and England from the earliest times would be sufficient explanation of individual likes and antagonisms wherever any two or more of these people should meet, as in Florida.
Ralph Bondly was Misfortune's child;
The gods on him but seldom smiled;
Yet he possessed the wealth men crave
As greatest boon this side the grave.
Restless as tides that come and go,
In Summer's calm or Winter's blow,
Something he sought and longed to grasp,
But ever failed its form to clasp.
In every land his feet had strayed;
He 'neath Italian skies had prayed,
And scoffed beneath the Othman's sign,
And loitered by the Seine and Rhine;
Siberian snows had swept his face
Where Afric's sun had left its trace;
But nowhere what he sought for found,
Though present oft to sight and sound.
E'en Europe gave him no relief
From gnawings of his nameless grief—
From tortured Self, the worst of foes
That breed Delusion's endless woes.
Delusion! O, who has not chased
Some Phantom through Life's trackless waste!
And there were times when Bondly's hate
Embraced the world, e'en cursing Fate!
At other times he felt not so,
But free, forsooth, to come and go,
To mingle with the social throng,
And lend himself to dance and song.
Some relaxation from the law
That governs life we all must draw,
Forget in Pleasure's treasured hour,
Perhaps in Beauty's charming bower,
The speedy coming of the morrow,
With its vain hopes and toil and sorrow!
O Life! O Death! We well may cry,
Who, dying, live, and living, die!
Ralph Bondly loved the solitude
Of mountain high and leafy wood;
The dreamy silence soothed his brain
And robbed his nerves of numbing pain.
And yet he shunned not womankind,
Nor to their queenly charms was blind.
And he was learned in the lore
The seers of eld have placed in store,
From which may draw all who incline
To drink of Wisdom's thoughts divine;
And he was eloquent of speech,
Since versed in all the schools could teach;
And if the social theme he led,
Or dance, or song, 'twas never said
That he was vain. From Vanity—
The meanest thing beneath the sky!—
From vain display of Self, he shrank,
As do all men of noble rank—
The masters of the world, the strong,
The brave, their weaker kind among.
His voice was sweet as music sung
By sirens when the world was young;
And he could sing as only they
Who have been bathed in heavenly spray.
The thoughtful noted with what care
Ralph Bondly bore his earthly share;
How firm he was, how gentle, too,
In all that he did say and do—
Precise, methodical. No mask
He wore, not he, whate'er the task
Assigned him in the day's just claim,
In Duty's e'er exacting name.
He was a riddle to the few
Who dwelt about him and he knew;
But to the gossip-loving crowd
He seemed but over-lordly, proud—
So proud he could have worn a crown,
Or, on a broader field, renown
In war's brave game or walks of peace,
Snatched from the hands of sluggard ease!
And none who sought them found the flaws
That mark a break in Nature's laws—
Shown most in conduct of the fools,
Earth's dunces on their little stools,
The noisy creatures of the hour,
Who scream for honor and for power.
Yet many failed the man to read,
Who gave to them such little heed.
The idle gossips of the earth—
'Tis strange why they were given birth!
They fill a place, 'tis true. But, why?
And thereby hangs a mystery!
Action, on life's strenuous field,
To do and dare, to never yield,
A soldier's duty is, or high
Or low the place whence he may fly
The standard of humanity!
No steel of isolation must
Within the human heart be thrust
And there remain, for it will kill
The stoutest heart that hope may thrill;
Yet such had been Ralph Bondly's fate—
To love the world and reap its hate.
Many there are who deem him blest
Upon whose slender shoulders rest
The weight of birth and wealth and fame,
The well-filled purse, the titled name,
Unheeding that the wise and strong—
Warrior, statesman, child of song—
Fall, as the humblest fall, borne down
By burdens all too heavy grown,
And even in Life's glorious prime
And long ere man's allotted time!
The lowly grumble at their fate
And have but curses and fierce hate
For those who rise above them far,
The chosen leaders in Life's war,
The valiant captains in the race,
Who reap the honors of the chase!
Forsooth, the wisest men agree
That wealth and power bring misery,
Bring cares the humble poor ne'er know
In Summer's sun or Winter's snow!
"Uneasy lies the head that wears
"A crown!" 'Tis filled with cares and fears!
Likewise the head upon a stone,
Reaping the whirlwind it has sown;
The head of him who plays the fool
Is tortured, too, by Nature's rule;
The head with learning stored, though proud,
Is restless oft, in sorrow bowed,
From garnering where some other head
Has sown the seed its blood had fed.
Masters of science and of art,
And speakers to the head and heart,
And bards who make all earth their prize
Seeking sometimes to pierce the skies—
How often in the lap of Fame
Their heads lie sleepless, the frail frame
Wasting to speedy death, while yet
Uncanceled is Life's honest debt!
We seek contentment here in vain!
There are in earth but woe and pain!
Or wealth or transient power or fame
Or outcast without home or name—
Back to the dust all mortals go
And vanish as a mimic show!
What boots the place to us assigned
In matter gross or God-like mind!
What boots if rags or furs are ours
To blunt the edge of Winter's powers?
The shepherd's hut, the prince's hall—
The two extremes of earth's grim thrall—
What matters where we sleep when locked
In earth's embrace, by grim Death shocked?
When he no longer cared to roam
Ralph Bondly came and made his home
Amid the glories of the South,
Where seldom comes a blighting drouth;
The magic land of sweetest flowers
That ever bloomed in Nature's bowers;
Where songs of birds fill all the trees
That blossom in the tropic breeze,
With melody divine. Fair land
Of chivalry and song, thy wand
Has touched with more than wizard power
The pulse that ruled the Nation's hour!
A land as rich in womankind,
In royal maiden charms that blind
By dazzlement the human mind,
As ever bard of old had found
Upon Enchantment's vanished ground!
He came, but why and whence, to dwell
With strangers all, no one could tell;
He deigned no word to speak but this:
"A British Earl!" That must suffice!
Ralph Bondly's home was all that heart
Could wish, or lavish wealth and art
Combined could body forth in form
To kiss the sun or brave the storm!
A glorious mansion, where was caught
The gloom its lord so long had fought;
And you could trace a master's hand
In every line the builders planned
Through all the palace, sombre, vast,
That 'gainst the sky its shadows cast.
Rich fields and wooded acres wide
And gardens fair in flowery pride
Held fast the eye—for in design
And richness they were most divine!
Here, hidden from all prying eyes,
Beneath the fairest, balmiest skies,
Where merriment of carnival
Was never heard in room or hall,
But silent, closed against the world,
Which e'er around him surged and swirled—
Here dwelt Ralph Bondly in his prime,
As princes dwell beyond our clime,
In grand but isolated state—
A child of sorrow and of hate,
The offspring of a loveless twain
That he would never see again!
His spacious mansion, his domain,
That stretched o'er hill and dale and plain;
The thousand slaves that claimed him lord,
And breathless hung upon his word;
The pleasures of the field and chase,
The ruling passion of his race;
And piscatorial toils—he cared
For these, and in their joyance shared.
And if he loved the solitude
Of mountain peaks or leafy wood,
Where silence held eternal reign,
And found forgetfulness of pain
Therein, shall he be charged with pride
And vanity? Not so! 'Twere well
If in such scene his heart could swell,
Responsive to great Nature's voice,
Which, silent e'en, bids us rejoice!
If by some gurgling, murmuring stream
He could forget himself and dream
Of happy days sometime to be,
Why grudge him such felicity?
He worshipped Nature—'twas his god—
Worshipped the air, the trees, the sod,
And all the living things that brood
And breathe in forest's solitude.
All knew his famous country seat,
For such a man a fit retreat;
And many sighed to own the prize,
Which was a bauble in his eyes.
The country people canvassed well
All that was his or him befell.
Did they not envy him? Oh, no!
But what he owned. 'Twas ever so!
His gloom of mind they feared; and none
Desired his hermit life to share,
His seeming load of endless care!
'Tis always true that Life's hard yoke
Will e'en the stoutest heart provoke!
Do what we will, the smiles and tears
Go hand in hand with hopes and fears!
The changeless laws of Nature, Life,
Ordain in all that ceaseless strife
Prevail; so, what the world to-day
Proclaims and worships, falls away
When comes another morrow morn—
Discarded for some newer horn,
Some newer toy, more pleasing yet—
And that it, too, will soon forget!
The rich man, poor man, and the fool,
Attend alike Delusion's school!
Each fondly dreams, in some new way,
His vagrant thoughts, where'er they stray,
Will lead him to the fount of youth,
Or to the well of endless truth,
Or to the gold and diamonds hid
Beneath the earth's unyielding lid!
Like the dread sword of Damocles,
Their hopes are strung on hairs the breeze
Will strain and snap, so frail the thread,
And leave them mangled, bleeding, dead!
And many die in reaching after
That which provokes but honest laughter—
So absurd are some things men chase
Through all of Life's exciting race—
While others, without striving, find
All that they seek, and would, if blind!
Bondly was not devout in creeds;
But many knew him such in deeds.
"Ye have the poor always," He said,
Who followed where the Father led!
He knew that life is like a flower
That blooms in sweetness in morn's hour,
And droops and withers when the day
In royal splendor fades away!
He did not strive to bridge the gaps
In Nature's large and varied maps,
But left them as he found them, sure
They would be there forevermore!
The music of a brook was sweet,
As, dreaming on a mossy seat,
He watched the waters rush away
To some reposeful, land-locked bay;
He loved the odor of a rose,
The loveliest flower that ever grows,
And violets, by the dews caressed,
Sweet-scented, in their wildwood nest;
The baying of his hounds in chase,
The fox afar, would flush his face.
And what is love, but death? Although
The parent of all life, we know,
'Tis still the parent of decay—
But blood to blood and clay to clay!
And is it well to love that death
May fatten on the vital breath!
Oh, life of death! Oh, death of life!
In all of earth ye breed but strife.
Ralph Bondly often thought had he
Some queen of earth with him to be,
To share his life and wealth, a mate,
He would not ask for more of Fate;
But put the thought away in fear,
As something fatal all too near!
It could not be! His path must still
Be lone and sad! It was God's will!
'Twas his allotted share. But—Why?
So all the sons of Adam cry
When longed-for bliss the Fates deny!
Yet Bondly would have lain his head
Against a heart that ne'er had bled
Except in pity for such woe
As only noble souls can know,
When love has lit the deathless flame
That burns undimmed, fore'er the same!
But he had never loved—ne'er felt
The sternness of his nature melt
Into the tenderness that He
Showed Mary at far Bethany!
"Yes; love indeed is light from heaven,
The sweetest boon to mortals given!"
Three years had come and gone since he,
The stranger lord, at Ellerslee,
Had made his home, fair Bondly Hall—
His pride—his neighbors' pride withal;
And he a stronger man had grown,
And dreamed he might yet claim his own;
The earth became a fairer place
In all its matchless charm and grace;
A newer life was his to live,
With power to nobler thoughts to give
The active force of soul and mind,
As he had always been inclined.
A wise seaman distrusts the clouds,
Floating above, like myriad shrouds,
Although the waters of the sea
In placid slumber all may be;
He knows the storm is coming fast,
To strain his spars, to strain his mast,
Until the ship shall creak and groan,
While round him wild winds sigh and moan!
But Bondly revelled in the calm—
To him 'twas more than magic balm—
As boys disport them in the sun
When Spring, fierce Winter's season run,
Has chased the snows to Alpine heights
To glisten in the moon's pale nights!
The future was remote, unknown;
The present, ah! it was his own!
We do not estimate how much
A limb is worth until a crutch
Has ta'en its place, shattered by shell
Or shot or knife in war's fierce hell;
Nor know how dear is Fatherland
Until we tread a foreign strand,
And strangers mingle with, and hear
Words that confuse the anxious ear;
We do not prize the glorious sun
Until the frost its work has done,
In killing every flower and leaf,
And filling all the earth with grief;
The precious gem possessed, the cost
Outrageous seems, until 'tis lost;
And past misfortunes do not teach
There are some things beyond our reach.
Yes, there was balsam in the air
That gave to Bondly courage rare.
Close by his favorite silvery stream,
He sat him down to dream and dream,
While Nature's smile, pervading all,
Presaged a future bright withal!
So vigorous manhood feels its power,
When no black clouds above it lower.
And moments of depression still
Come to us all, and ever will;
But from despair a strength we gain
That makes our living not in vain!
"Life is a curse!" Ralph Bondly mused—
To whom the gods so much refused;
"Nor can the poet's gentle song,
"Of love and hate, of right and wrong;
"Nor braggart's swagger; nor wealth's joys,
"With all the ills that wealth destroys;
"Nor wedding bells, where grim despair
"Rides on a fairy in the air;
"Nor incantations of the wise,
"That rule the lightnings from the skies
"And what beneath earth's surface lies—
"Make blessings of the curse! Eden,
"Thy awful curse still rests on men!
"We laugh and sing this hour; we weep
"The next, and groan, and, perchance, die!
"And what is death—the hidden hand
"Lifted 'gainst life in every land!
"I do not know, and never knew
"One who could read the riddle true,
"The present and the future state,
"The one we love, the one we hate!
"And no man in the ages past,
"In tropic sun or Arctic blast,
"Has grown one single inch withal
"Since the dread hour of Adam's fall,
"By railing at the laws that rule
"Alike the wise man and the fool!
"Man's stature steadily has grown
"Shorter as Time has swiftly flown
"Toward the desolation of the earth
"And dread cessation of all birth!
"As life began with giants, may
"It not wind up with pigmies, pray,
"Or creatures smaller yet—so small
"That they cannot be seen at all!
"In truth, the pathway to the sky
"Runs o'er rough fields and mountains high!
"From whence we came we do not know,
"Nor to what destiny we go;
"Knowledge stops here and science gropes
"And Faith fills in the void with hopes!
"The mountain streams of ice and snow
"At last into the ocean flow
"And form a part thereof; but man—
"Whence came he and, pray, whither goes
"When o'er his grave the willow grows?
"The flesh returns to earth; the mind—
"Does it become part of the wind?
"Does Reason vanish with the breath
"That yields—resisting still—to Death?
"And so we live, and so we die,
"Victims of whence, of whither, why?"
There is no clime beneath the sun
Where man predominance has won,
Can match the women of our clime
In beauty and in virtue prime,
In charms of person and of mind
In one harmonious whole combined!
They are the glory and the pride
Of all the beauteous Southland wide,
The chiefest treasure of the land
O'er which some wizard threw his wand!
Thus thought the lord of Ellerslee
While dreaming of the galaxy
That passed before his mental gaze
And made it bright with Beauty's blaze.
He had so long enjoyed a state
Of single blessedness that Fate,
He deemed, had shut his heart to all
The charms that dazzle men withal;
And, yet, of late, his thoughts had dwelt
More kindly on the themes that melt
The stubborn heart than e'er before;
And this he pondered o'er and o'er,
As now love's dream did not affright
Him as a phantom of the night,
But lured him as a beacon light.
All love—all hate—all laugh—all weep—
As through our lives the passions sweep!
The noblest passion of the breast,
Love makes a man the noblest, best,
Or meanest of the human race,
In whom the brute we well can trace.
Oft when the object sought is won
Man's ardor cools; and she, undone,
Who dreamed of love and happiness,
Is left the lips of sorrow to caress!
And love, like everything possessed,
Grows valueless, too oft, with years,
And garners naught but sighs and tears.
Thought Bondly so? He was not now
What he had been. His noble brow
Unwrinkled was; his eagle eye
No more was blurred with mystery.
Reason had come into its own,
And this in all his acts was shown.
Within the law Ralph Bondly came
That operates on all the same—
On things that breathe, on things that grow,
On things unknown, on things we know—
He fell in love! For months he felt
His sterner nature slowly melt
Into a softer mood—the mood
That shuns the haunts of solitude,
And runs from darkness of the night
Into the glamour of day's light!
He worshipped her, but from afar,
As dreamers of th' Orient a star,
New gleaming on th' enraptured sight
In the soft splendors of the night;
For she was fairest of her kind
That ever flashed upon his mind.
Just as the waters madly flow,
From mountain heights of ice and snow,
O'er rocks and sands into the sea,
As if rejoicing to be free,
Gathering from resistance force
And momentum in their wild course,
So love leaps forward—restless free—
A thing of life and mystery!
'Twill brook no curb, no counsel take,
From those who seek its faith to shake!
In ancient times its hate has lit
The flames that hoary empires split,
Or crumbled in the dust, to rise
No more to noble enterprise!
Yes, love will dare the world to arms
And glory in war's dread alarms!
The greatest dangers it will face
And thrive on shadows with good grace;
Nor cold nor heat nor hunger, pain,
Its burning ardor can restrain.
And, yet, from vulgar eyes to hide
'Twill seek, in modest, blushing pride,
If all goes well, if flowers are spread
Along the path that it must tread!
O, love is life, and life is love—
The union of the hawk and dove!
She was, indeed, a royal maid—
As all maids are, when all is said—
Whom Bondly loved, with dreamful eyes
That beamed upon you in surprise,
And face as beautiful and fair
As ever blushed in Southern air,
Or smiled from canvas, or from bust,
That survives even human dust!
A Southern beauty, whom the brave
A ready, willing, homage gave,
As well the statesman and the bard—
Who sang her praises by the yard.
From far and near had gallants sought
Her smiles, by her sweet beauty caught;
But, no; the same reply she gave
To giddy youth and aged grave.
She was heart-free; no passion's word
The damped fires of her soul had stirred.
She revelled in the gracious power
That makes the weak and strong to cower—
To humbly kneel at Beauty's shrine
And crave to own its charms divine.
Throughout the South her magic name
Had traveled on the wings of fame;
In Beauty's Court she was supreme—
In Beauty's Court she was a dream!
She traced her blood to royalty,
From noblest blood of Spain came she;
For of her house had men defied
The tyranny of princely pride
And trod the earth where prowess won,
As knights of old have always done.
So great in other days, long past,
When men were all as warriors classed,
Were men of Garcia's haughty tribe,
Whom flattery nor pelf could bribe!
Ah, glorious days of chivalry,
Too bad Cervantes' wit killed ye!
This should decide the question then:
"Which mightier is—the sword or pen?"
Still college youths will argue o'er
This settled point forevermore!
But now in Flora's sunny clime,
And had since his young manhood's prime,
Don Garcia lived in quiet ease,
Nor sighed for scenes beyond the seas;
And while he loved his native land,
Where he was born to rule, command,
He better loved th' adopted State
Where he was greatest of the great.
Good Fortune and the Kings of Spain
Had filled his coffers well; and vain
And Naughty was the little Don—
To whom the gods denied a son.
A miser with his wealth was he,
And little gave to charity.
E'en spare of words the old man was,
Economized on breath, alas!
His neighbors did not love the Don,
And ridiculed him pro and con,
But did it well his back behind,
After the nature of their kind—
Who curse in private those they hate,
Or envy, but would emulate,
While publicly they cringe and bow
And fawn—so glad the Don to know!
It has been so in every age,
And will be up to Time's last page.
A title and a bag of gold
Will make the mob grow hot and cold,
However base the owner be—
However proud and miserly!
But what cared Garcia for the blame
Or praise that from the rabble came!
What need had he to bother, pray,
About what men should think and say
Of him! He knew, but did not care;
He was supreme in his own sphere.
Was he not strong in all men crave
Beyond themselves this side the grave—
Abundant wealth and titles clear
And acres vast his soul to cheer!
He loved but one in all the earth,
And she had loved him from her birth—
The queenly daughter of his pride,
Who came when his young wife had died!
He had grown old in selfishness,
And found in it his happiness;
E'en selfish with young Nada was,
While fondly loving her, alas!
He grudged the smiles she scattered wide
O'er all the flowery country side—
For she was lavish with her smiles—
The human sunshine that beguiles—
And with her charity; so high
And low could naught to her deny
Of love and gracious courtesy.
Much time had Senor Garcia spent
In lands where lavish splendors lent
The glamour and the pageantry
Of pomp and power to majesty;
And in his castles in old Spain—
Which he might never see again!—
He much of hospitality
Had shown his noble peers—for he
Was not always the slave of gold,
Nor selfish was and harsh and cold!
These came when she who made his youth
Sublime passed as the breath of truth,
And as old age upon him crept
While all his generous nature slept—
Vindictive that his chiefest joy
Death could so cruelly destroy!
For this he left his native Spain
And went not back to it again
The social reins to Nada he
Long since resigned, and cheerfully.
The years that still were his, he knew,
And did not grieve to know, were few,
For he had drained the cup of pleasure,
And, in his hours of ample leisure,
Had learned its worth o'errated is—
As fatal as the Judas kiss!
Nothing was left to him but name
And wealth, and these had e'en grown tame—
Had lost the worth that made them dear
Before his eyes had shed a tear—
For Garcia had the gout; or, say,
The gout had him—a difference, pray,
As any victim will agree
Who has endured its misery!
In her he lived whose fairy life
Was image of his vanished wife!
The cold sod and the eglantine—
The rich grass and the creeping vine—
While Nada lived, hid not from view
This youthful love that Garcia knew.
Linked to the present was the past,
And o'er his life dark shadows cast—
The living joy—the vanished joy—
Which brooding years could not destroy!
The thoughtless world for loyal grief,
That wavers not, has no relief—
Not even sympathy—but sneers,
Too oft, it gives and ribald jeers!
True love, indeed, can never die;
It lives in spiritual form for ay!
Young Nada was an alien flower,
Transplanted to our matchless power—
A power whose Eagle yet shall be
Greater than Rome's when Rome was free!
And, though she knew the toil and care
Of those who gave so rich a share
To her of wealth and titled name,
Snatched from the field of war's red flame,
She sighed not for the castles and
The pomp, the royal splendors grand,
Of Merry Spain, which she had seen,
For she had knelt to King and Queen;
She left the pride of them and boast
To Garcia; but, e'en he, at most,
No longer prized them as when he
A young Knight was of chivalry;
For time had taught him this great truth—
Age laughs at vanities of youth!
Garcia despised the Saxon race,
And treated none with generous grace;
No word escaped his lips or pen
In praise of England, or its men.
He held this virtue sacred as
His love of Pope and Holy Mass.
He well could love, he well could hate—
This spoilt old Spanish child of Fate!
Ralph Bondly could not hope to find
Favor—if so he had a mind—
In Garcia's eyes, the pompous Don
Who thought the country was his own,
Or seemed to do so in his acts
And words, despite the living facts.
Proud of his land and of his race,
Bondly had looked in Garcia's face
With hatred and contempt and scorn—
Which suggest rapiers in the morn
When other men are sleeping fast,
Dreaming, perchance, of combats past;
And Garcia th' insult had returned,
While all his soul with anger burned,
Lighting his face with scarlet flame,
While from his eyes fierce flashes came.
'Twas mutual hate—the hate of race
Which through all history we trace—
The darkest and the bloodiest page
Writ in the annals of each age.
And are we brothers—we who hate
And rob each other—we who wait.
With murder in our hearts, to slay
Our kind in stealth or open fray?
Are we who make each other bleed
And starve all sprung from Adam's seed?
Will all the children of the Lord
E'er sheathe eternally the sword—
The black, the yellow and the white—
And banish Might and enthrone Right?
Go, get the answer from the wind
That speaks the language of the Mind
From which the universe, and all
That in it is, came forth withal!
But changes come! Sometimes they creep
Upon us in our hours of sleep—
Come as a thief with muffled tread
When slumber holds the living dead!
And what, in truth, is sleep, but death,
In all except the gasping breath!
But changes come! 'Twas even so
With Bondly of the sombre brow.
He learned before it was too late
That love can blunt the edge of hate!
Old Garcia seemed not now the same
When seen through love's entrancing flame!
It all hangs on the single point,
If all is right or out of joint.
Whether we are concerned or not
In casting here or there our lot!
Let love or greed come on the scene,
And hate of race will find a screen—
Will take itself clear out of sight—
Will vanish in the starless night!
'Twas even so when man was young—
Before the stars their psalm had sung!
We often crave for sunshine fair
When angry storms pervade the air;
Yes, sigh for objects of desire,
That may the heart or fancy fire,
Beyond our reach, and knowing, too,
This law of Nature to be true.
'Tis better with a cur to be
On friendly terms than enmity;
However high the eagle flies,
E'en circling in the cloud-fringed skies,
It must return for food and drink
To earth; we may not always think
A common beggar has a claim
Upon our pity in his shame,
But if we spurn his hungry plea,
We may provoke the hate that he
Will find a way to gratify,
To our great hurt and misery.
Ralph Bondly had not felt the need
Old Garcia's words and acts to heed;
They lived in separate worlds nor cared,
Withal, how each the other fared.
The county held them both, 'tis true,
But it was all that it could do;
Neighbors they, dwelling side by side,
Yet separate as the earth is wide!
And, no strange thing in any clime,
But everywhere a social crime!
Bondly could not the time foresee
When Nada Garcia's love would be
To him the dearest thing the sun
Beneath—whether 'twas lost or won.
So many tricks have love—sweet love!—
And caprice played, at every move,
That on few courtships have fair winds
E'er blown. The howling storm that blinds—
The rains that beat—the thunders dread,
And lightning darting overhead—
Have rocked in tempests, sweeping wide,
Love's trusting hopes! Many have died,
Dashing against the storm-hid rocks,
Too frail to stand the furious shocks—
As sea fowls in their desperate plight
Oft dash against a lighthouse light;
While others, yet, have ridden high
Upon the waves of Mystery,
And found at last the paradise
Of wedded bliss—life's dearest prize!
They had not known each other long,
And first had met in a vast throng,
Where stately dames and maidens fair
Had met to banish earthly care.
There wit and beauty claimed their own,
And joy and mirth and love alone
Held captive statesmen—warriors bold—
And country squires, both young and old;
But in the festive throng, I vow,
There was no face, there was no brow,
As beautiful, as fair, as free,
As Nada Garcia's was to see!
So mused Ralph Bondly, as apart
He mutely stood with anxious heart,
Watching the movements of the maid
In the ballroom's soft light and shade;
He had no eyes for others there,
However beautiful and fair.
To him no woman ever seemed
More to possess all that he dreamed
Of ideal womanhood—the force
That shapes the busy world's rough course;
True, one of Wisdom's sons once said,
Before his Star of Fortune fled,
"The hand that rocks the cradle rules
"The world"—savants alike and fools.
'Tis sweet to rule the social hour,
Perhaps the sweetest of all power,
To know the strong of earth, the great,
Upon a smile with pleasure wait.
Ralph Bondly lived another age
While standing on that narrow stage,
And gazing on one woman fair—
The fairest of all women there;
And all the past, by him forgot,
Was in his mind as if 'twas not.
The giddy waltz they glided through
With perfect grace and measure, too;
And through his soul there seemed to pass
A thrill of joy divine, alas!
They seemed to float upon the air,
All full of joy, all free of care,
Bewitched by some mysterious power
That ruled them in the festive hour.
The close-pressed hands, the dreamful eyes,
The rhythmic dance, the low-breathed sighs—
Assisted all the flame to light
That glows forever in the night
And in the day—the quenchless flame
That burns eternally the same!
Love's magic dream! How old—how young—
It is! How valiant and how strong!
The sweetness of the roses red,
Or violets in their wildwood bed,
Or honey in the comb, alas!
Cannot Love's magic sweet surpass!
From its excess have died in bliss
Many the world paused not to miss
When they had sunk in Time's abyss!
The wrecks that litter Time's highway
Are of all kinds—the grave and gay,
The wise and foolish, rich and poor—
Borne down and crushed to rise no more:
No record in the minds of men.
Or history's page, or why or when:
The storm just swept them down. leaving
No trace of them, and no grieving!
Or bootless love, or vengeful hate,
Or poverty, or drunkard's fate—
What matters it, for none can tell
Or when or why the weaklings fell!
The towering shaft and lettered page
Are held for those, in every age.
Who, stout of heart and strong of hand,
The forces of the world command!
"None but the brave deserve the fair;"
No coward should Love's archery dare.
'Twas even so in days of old
When all were knights and warriors bold;
If there were other sorts of men
They dodged the frenzied poet's pen;
And e'en the weavers of romance
Gave common mortals little chance
To show that they possessed the flame
Divine, just as the lord and dame;
But in the hut of old, as now,
Was breathed and kept love's honest vow!
To Bondly's touch so yielding seemed
The fair young maid. while bright lights gleamed:
She bent so willingly her ear
Each of his whispered words to hear,
Each whispered nothing, murmured low,
He felt his courage stronger grow;
For faintest heart to faint will cease
When seems not hard the adored to please!
And when the dreamful waltz was o'er,
And all deserted was the floor,
He led her from the glare and heat
Into the night; a rustic seat,
An arbor in, was their retreat.
The queenly moon in heaven rode high,
While lustrous stars attended nigh,
And roses filled with sweets the air—
Yes, flowery sweets were everywhere!
Have you e'er lingered in the night,
When moon and stars diffused the light,
In some fair summer land, and drunk,
Until to languorous slumber sunk,
The perfume of a thousand flowers
That bathed you in its soothing showers?
They paused and drank the cooling breeze
That music made high in the trees—
The giants of a distant age
That had outlived Time's stormy rage—
The breeze that swept their noble brows,
As gentle as a lover's vows!
How furiously his heart did beat
With fear and hope—ah, hope, so sweet!—
How nerveless was his tongue! Their eyes
Had met beneath the fairest skies
And told the tale that needs no word
To make its heavenly message heard!
The eyes can speak a joy or woe
The faithful tongue may never know—
Can flash a secret from the soul
While the fierce thunders rumbling roll
And piercing lightnings stifle voices,
O'erawed by elemental noises!
But, now, alone—a time that might
Not come again—silent as night
Were they, voiceless, dreading and hoping,
While through the present blindly groping!
Who can portray the thoughts that swell
Two hearts that love each other well
When first they learn that they adore,
And shall—or hope!—forevermore!
And who can tell one-half the fears
That then dissolve a maid in tears!
And how the strongest man so weak
Becomes he cannot even speak—
So overcome with nameless dread
A child may lead him by a thread!
Their love unspoken cowards made
Them in the slumberous vine-clad shade.
So silence brooded on the deep—
Heedless of those who laugh or weep—
Pervasive in its noiseless sweep!
All nature seemed in league—the sky
And earth—to fill with majesty
And awe divine the time and place
Where love had sought to hide its face!
Thus Nature works, through God supreme,
To chasten love's delirious dream!
His trembling tongue but uttered ill
The words conjured by his strong will.
"I love but thee!" he hoarsely said;
"And could I claim thee, with thee wed,
"I'd give a world, if mine to give,
"And joy alone with thee to live!
"I crave thy love! 'Tis life to me,
"Or death! Give it, and I shall be
"The happiest man that walks the earth
"Since mortals first had troublous birth!
"Refuse it, and, dear maid, I die,
"The saddest soul beneath the sky,
"For life would be a worthless toy
"That I should hasten to destroy!
"O, speak! Say I may live and be
"Thy willing slave and worship thee!"
But not a word spake she! Hushed—scared—
Th' emotions of her nature warred!
Her hand he still held in his own,
A trembling captive he had won;
It fed the flames whose violent heat
Quenched never is by rain or sleet!
The captive hand he dared to kiss!
O, bliss of life! O, life of bliss!
The seconds seemed to run to hours,
'Midst th' exhalations of the flowers,
To him who knelt in dread suspense,
While every nerve and sense was tense,
Silently pleading for a bride,
Pleading his suit be not denied!
And, when she said: "I love but thee!"
His soul dissolved in ecstasy.
He gently drew her to his breast,
Never before by woman pressed,
And they did vow—but why repeat
What they did vow? But it was sweet!
The mortal who has never known
The rapture of a kiss, alone
The token of affection true,
Course all his nature through and through,
Has missed the chiefest joy of earth
Since love in Eden had its birth!
A moment lingered they, as loath
To break the spell of their betroth;
And, then, a moment more, and they
Were borne along in circles gay,
To music's soft alluring strain,
That ne'er so sweet might sound again.
Changed were the currents of their fate,
For conquering love had vanished hate;
Th' English Earl o'er the Spanish Don
A bloodless victory had won.
Don Garcia saw them leave the hall—
Saw them return—he saw it all—
And 'twas as wormwood and the gall!
He marked the color come and go—
The tell-tale eyes—the glances low—
The looks they sought in vain to screen,
That slyly passed the two between—
He marked it all, and but too well,
And all his soul with hate did swell!
So here the two extremes had met,
Of love and hate, which oft upset
The best laid plans and hopes of men,
Earth filling with "what might have been!"
O, love! O, hate! Ye tigers are
When roused to vengeance or to war!
Don Garcia and his daughter fair
Rode homeward in the morning air,
While shook himself th' imperial sun
For the long race he had to run;
It was so still, it was so calm,
No one could dream of coming storm.
And they were silent then awhile.
Unruffled seemed as Nature's smile.
They were unlike as earth and sky
In all of life's dark mystery;
For he was peevish, gouty, old,
In whom the fires of youth were cold;
While she was beautiful and young,
And dreamed of love and of love sung,
And now the vanished night had brought
To her a happier, sweeter thought,
That made the earth still fairer seem
In which to live, in which to dream.
This was her thought, when Garcia spoke
And from the revery her awoke:
"Nada, I charge thee, mark it well—
'''Tis thy salvation or thy knell!—
"In thy mad course no further go!
"'Twill lead thee straight to endless woe.
"The man is mad! This thou must know.
"I'd rather see the willow wave
"Above thy too untimely grave
"Than have thee wed the man I scorn—
"This man with brain disordered born!
"It must not be! Let him be gone!
"I hate him, and, if you were one,
"I still should hate him! 'Twixt his race
"And mine no truce can be—no grace!
"Thou art the solace of my years,
"The object of my hopes and fears;
"There's nothing left of all my line,
"Save thee, 'round which my love can twine.
"All else has gone the way I soon
"Shall go; my life has passed high noon.
"I love thee with my life, and live
"Alone my life to thee to give.
"Make not my old heart for thee grieve.
"I feel thou wilt my warning heed."
He calmly spoke, this man of steel,
Who crushed inferiors 'neath his heel,
And all his enemies defied
To scale the ramparts of his pride;
But he was furious through and through
And his great mantle closer drew
About him, not to ward the air,
But to conceal his load of care.
There is no hate like hate of race
In all the climes of earthly space.
She spake no word; she could not speak,
For love and reverence made her weak;
But with each perfumed breath she drew
She vowed to Bondly to be true.
Could she forget the moments past,
Moments too sweet to longer last!
She closed her eyes, as if in sleep,
And plunged into Love's pathless deep,
Beginning with the vanished night
That ope'd new worlds of sun and light
To her bewildered, startled sight.
Oh, trackless was the deep blue sea
On which her bark danced merrily!
But ere it left the home port far
It ran into a tempests' war.
The present o'er the future casts
A spell that oft forever lasts;
And maidens grow reserved, whose eyes
Had been as free as heaven's fair skies,
Before love's magic wand had shown
Them life and love indeed are one;
And childish innocence may take
The wisdom of the crawling snake,
To shield it from the prying mind
That seeks its hidden thought to find.
When love invades a woman's breast,
A long farewell to peace and rest—
To days of innocence and truth—
The charming innocence of youth.
Th' expectant groom becomes a god,
Too good to tread his mother sod;
Ethereal form is his; the air
His fit abode, with angels fair;
His power the fiercest oath can break
That irate parents ever make;
Indeed, such interdict but serves
To re-enforce the lovers' nerves.
Within themselves they are supreme,
Lapped in Illusion's blissful dream,
And headlong plunge into Life's roar,
And oft fair ports see nevermore.
Through all of life there runs a vein
Of mystery—of joy and pain,
Of hope and disappointment, and
Of hate and love. In every land,
In every age, the wise and good—
In cloister cell's dark solitude,
In private homes and college walls,
In humble huts and stately halls—
Have sought this riddle to unmask,
But found it was a hopeless task.
Nothing we do has made it plain—
The why of Joy, the why of Pain.
As 'twas when Father Time began—
With but one woman and one man—
So it is now, a mystery still,
To thwart the soul, to curb the will.
We need, indeed, celestial light
To read Life's darksome riddle right.
The savage chief, under the spell
Of love, howe'er he may rebel,
Pursues no more th' exciting chase,
Nor courts grim war's forbidding face,
Nor lingers by the rambling stream;
Or slumberous lake's unruffled dream;
But spends his hours the woods among,
Stolid, by soft desires unstrung;
And all his fancies colored are
By rays of Love's resplendent star;
A god or devils in the shade
Primeval, by his passion made!
His dusky choice becomes a queen,
Present to him in every scene,
Eclipsing all of womankind
In form and face and gifts of mind,
With eyes in which he clearly reads
Th' inspiration of heroic deeds.
His narrow world grows narrower still
While yielding to her gentle will;
And he is happier, manlier, far,
Than when the chase or barbarous war
Called him o'er winding dale and hill
His mission in the world to fill.
Suppose he wins the woman's love,
Ensnares her as he would a dove,
And sinks into a brute again—
A crafty, haughty, savage, vain—
Love made him for a fleeting hour
As Romeo was in Juliet's power.
So lords and princelings of the earth,
Born to luxury and ease and mirth,
Do barter often everything
That to one woman they may cling;
And, not unlike the savage, they
Too often put the wife away,
Or torture her with taunts and jeers
And base neglect, till woe and tears
Drive her to madness or divorce—
There's not much choice in either course!
The savage chief and brutal lord
Are neither bound by oath nor word;
The faithful record plainly shows
That each one gives but takes no blows,
Because the victim is too weak
Upon the brute revenge to wreak!
The object gained, the longings cease,
Too oft, for man is hard to please,
And spurious love, from friendship grown,
Returns to friendship as its own,
Or hate or desperate, bloody, crimes,
That shock the purists of the times.
But love, true love! The beggar blind,
Groping, brooding, sick of mind,
Sees, through the mists of vanished time,
Her who had made his youth sublime,
Nerved him to work, in joy and pain,
Conscious he labored not in vain!
The blackness of his sightless night
Was bright with love's all-conquering light;
A woman's tender voice and care
Were with him always, everywhere;
And though her spirit long since had fled,
With him she lived! She was not dead!
Go tell it to the moaning seas—
Go tell it to the sighing trees—
Go tell it to the whistling winds—
Go tell it to the lords and hinds—
That love is life and life is love
And rule in earth and heaven above!
Ralph Bondly built his castles high
Upon his life's new mystery;
What time or heart had he to waste
Upon his haughty Spanish grace!
And all the world for him became
A smaller sphere—in which one name,
One form, one voice, was all that made
His life of hope, of sun and shade.
The harshness of his nature fled
When love its radiance o'er him shed!
As lovers will, the lovers met,
For ne'er has law been found as yet
That could prevent two lovers true
From meeting to their vows renew.
Sometimes they met in solitude,
'Neath oaks which had through ages stood,
Where Nature reigned in solemn state,
Unruffled by man's love and hate.
Here, undisturbed, they conversed long
The forest sentinels among,
Or gazed into each other's eyes
And read, as in the open skies,
The secrets of the soul therein,
The secrets love alone can win.
He was so like a prince in all
That makes for royal rank—so tall,
So handsome, and so dignified,
He bore himself with such rare pride—
That in his presence she became
As hypnotized—held by the flame
That fills the soul with heavenly light
Or with the darkness of the night.
And happiness few mortals know,
Who love and trust the sun below,
Was hers in these brief interviews,
In twilight hours or morning dews;
For hers was faith to all else blind,
Save his o'er-mastering will and mind.
How oft we find, in woe and pain,
Our confidence reposed in vain!
The gameful trout, disporting free—
Nothing more joyous, sure, than he
In all the waters of the brook—
Thus finds himself on th' angler's hook!
Now darted he to catch the fly—
Till danced the waters in ferment,
He was so gay, so confident!
But hooked, in seeking life, his own
He gave, his rashness to atone!
Through all of Nature runs a chord
That binds us to the common horde;
In all, the same great thread is found
Of love and hate, the world around.
They did not always coo and dream;
Sometimes the burden of their theme
Was full of weight, and sadness, too,
From which, alas! escape but few.
"And we shall always happy be,
"Forgetting in our joy," said he
"The world beside, by it forgot
"Contented with our generous lot,
"Nor sigh for other, richer treasure,
"Joy stealing e'en from Sorrow's measure!
"Life is so sweet, when love divine
"Thrills all the soul with its rich wine;
"Each stool becomes a sacred shrine,
"And constant hearts more constant grow
"Each hour that they each other know!
"Yon glassy stream, meandering hence
"Through vale and brake, beneath the lens
"Of love, assumes, I say not why,
"A thousand shapes to charm the eye;
"This rose sends forth a wealth of sweet,
"As well the violets at our feet,
"A garden might exhale; the trees,
"Low murmuring in the gentle breeze,
"Are richer in their dress of green
"While shading me and thee, my queen;
"The landscape far more grandly rises
"Against the skies in sweet surprises,
"As softly o'er the world the sun
"Diffuses light and warmth, which run
"Through all of life, and it sustain,
"With the sweet moisture of the rain;
"The tuneful birds their songs now sing
"For us! How sweet their voices ring!
"The mocking bird leading the choir—
"Now clear, now low, now soft, now higher!
"How full of joy and glad delight
"His numbers echo in their flight,
"As if all seasons were his Spring
"In which the praise of God to sing!
"He puts all carking care to shame—
"Makes love and music seem the same!
"But louder, clearer, hear him sing,
"As if more joy he could us bring!
"His care-free life is one long psalm
"To Him who rules the storm and calm!
"So shall it be with me and thee
"In that wished time, so soon to be,
"When you in word and truth are mine,
"And I, no less, my love, am thine!
"We think not now of less than joy
"That time nor sorrow can destroy—
"A perfect state, when we are one!
"And have we not that state begun—
"Our love, so holy and so pure—
"It must forevermore endure!
"All heaven and earth upon us smile!
"Soon comes the hour. We pause awhile!"
So spake the lord of Ellerslee,
And, as he spoke, e'en so felt he,
Controlled by Passion's burning fires,
And swayed at will by fond desires.
Not so the maiden at his side
He hoped so soon to make his bride;
Her wits were sharper than the man's,
Who saw no flaws in all his plans;
And this, though strange, is often true,
When with the heart we have to do;
For man is prone in his survey
To sweep from Peru to Cathay—
Measuring mountains vast and sky
With swiftest movement of the eye,
And levelling barriers in his flight
By his volition's simple might!
For mad is almost always vain
And selfish to his object gain!
The woman treasures little joys
As children do their favorite toys,
And seldom looks beyond the sky
'Neath which her hopes and pleasures lie!
Young Nada plainly saw the wrath
Of Garcia flash across her path,
And heard his protest 'gainst the suit
Of him he styled "the English brute!"
And vowing vengeance fierce and dread
Upon her young, defenceless head,
Should she persist in her mad course
'Gainst his commands and wish, perforce!
She knew his violent nature well
When he was under Passion's spell;
For she had seen his little form
Convulsed in Anger's mighty storm,
And all the vast estate, in fear,
Tremble, in awe, as he drew near;
Or thundered oaths that seemed to be
Bigger and uglier than was he—
For he would at no Beauty show
Have ta'en a seat in the front row!
Don Garcia was a ball of fire
When was aroused his Spanish ire,
For his, indeed, was martial blood
That came down to him from the Flood;
At least, that was his haughty boast,
Ere he became a living ghost,
Ere age and gout made him forget
He was a knight of Castile yet,
Or gave the fact but scanty thought,
Such as a proud Castilian ought—
For Spanish knights have always been
The proudest, vainest of all men!
Nada well knew her parent proud
Would rather see her in a shroud
Than joined in wedlock to the lord
'Gainst whom he longed to draw the sword.
No blessing on their vows would he
Pronounce, when long and merrily
The marriage bells to all should tell
That two were one and all was well!
So in the gladness of the hour
She felt his presence and his power,
Whose love, though masterful and great,
Was never stronger than his hate.
Ne'er blushless could she face again
The parent who ne'er caused her pain;
Whose life, indeed, was all her own,
In all its depth, and hers alone.
This made her sad. She loved him well,
How well, perchance, she could not tell;
She loved him with a daughter's pride,
Who loved but her in all earth wide!
From out the present there arose
A cloud, though small, like little woes,
That larger grew and larger still,
Till all the skies it seemed to fill,
As through the shadows glanced her eyes
Where the dread Future's secret lies.
And she possessed an ample share
Of amorous fire and courage rare
And hate as strong as gentleness—
She was a Garcia, nothing less!
Still, she could be, in hours serene,
As happy as a reigning queen,
Whose open heart and generous hand
Spread blessings through the grateful land.
"I love but thee, my noble lord!
"I love but thee!" she said. "Thy word
"Is pleasant law always to me,
"And joy is mine to be with thee!
"And I have prayed my patron saint
"Our future life withal to paint
"As thou hast pictured it—all fair,
"All free from sorrow and from care,
"All full of love and fond devotion,
"Life's dearest and its sweetest portion—
"But I'm suspicion-haunted still,
"And constant fears my musings fill!
"I would no cloud hung o'er the way
"Our journey leads! O, loved one, pray
"That we may find my fears are vain,
"Our love be free from woe and pain!
"O, pray with me, no curse may fall
"Upon the lord of Bondly Hall!"
Oppressed by such distressing fears,
Her cheeks suffused with scalding tears,
Her tongue refused to further speak
The thoughts, it seemed, her heart would break!
So droops the plant a boy has bruised,
Seeking alone to be amused,
All thoughtless that the tender flower
To grieve and bleed and die has power!
Nada's two loves, by tempests tossed,
Made her to feel that all was lost.
Her life had been a summer dream,
As placid as a woodland stream,
With just a ripple here and there,
With just a little bit of care;
Her father's love was all she knew
Of love, and from that love she drew
The beauty and the queenly pride
That made her famous far and wide.
She had reposed in his strong love
Confidingly, as would a dove,
As free from care, as free from grief,
As the sweet dew-drop on the leaf.
Lord Bondly's presence in her life
Had filled her soul with constant strife.
When once we hasten from the past
And rush into the future's blast;
When once the beaten path we shun
And into unknown by-paths run;
When once we leave the home port far
And confide in the Sailor's Star,
The pathless seas to brave and roam,
We may come back again to home!
"We may!" "We may!" many have sighed,
Hoping, but lost their way and died!
The wreckage, bleaching in the sand,
May still be found in every land!
A passing sigh, a vain regret,
A clinging hope that lingered yet,
Was all she to the past could give—
The past in which she longed to live!
The present held her captive still,
Obedient to a master will—
A will so strong she could no more
Resist its power than she could soar
To castles in the ambient air—
If there should be such castles there.
"I go!" she said, "but we shall meet
"Again and soon, when I can greet
"Thee in a happier, cheerfuller mood,
"But now my heart is sore and sad
"Beneath this vast o'erhanging shade;
"Not that I love not this abode,
"Through which primeval mankind strode;
"I love it, and I love thee well!
"Joy of my life, farewell! Farewell!"
Such power has love—a potion dread
That kills or cures the heart and head!
Filling the soul with glorious light
Or darkness of the fearsome night!
It lifts to heaven's fruition fair,
Or dashes down to hell's despair!
It leads through valleys where the blooms
Are ripening for the mills and looms,
By streams that oaks and cedars shade,
While wildly rushing through the glade!
It toils o'er rugged mountains steep,
Where snows in wakeless slumber sleep!
Alone, the strong man sat upon
A monarch of the woods, moss-grown,
Whose form a lightning bolt had split
And splintered as a boy would slit
A leaf, and doubt entered his mind,
Responsive to the questioning wind.
Suppose this dream should fade away,
As night engulfs the brightest day,
And leave a haunting memory—
Could such calamity e'er be?
Suppose Nada should vanish now,
Despite the beauty of her vow,
As she had come, from out his life—
What then? Grim Death! He drew a knife
From out its sheath—a dagger keen
And sharp as razor e'er had been,
With golden hilt, and o'er and o'er
Turned it, and felt the edge it bore,
With the deliberate calm and care
Which make the timid quake with fear.
"If she be false, thou wilt be true!"
Drawing the blade his fingers through.
"If she be false, thou wilt be true!
"And thou hast served me well; thou art
"My friend, cold blade! Close to my heart
"I hold thee! And, while I so hold
"Thee—sharp, keen, pitiless and cold—
"The antidote is surely mine,
"And safer, deadlier, than is wine,
"'Gainst treachery and the agony
"That woman's fickleness for ay
"Provokes! For what is life to me,
"With this love dead, but misery,
"But Death! Aye, what! Then you,
"If she be false, will still be true!"
And then his head drooped on his breast;
His limbs relaxed; his eyes expressed
Nothing—vacant—blank! O'er him fell
The potence of the old-time spell!
So blasted was the noble tree,
In lightning's rage, on which sat he.
Among the slaves Garcia did own
Was one in service aged grown,
The trusted mother of the place—
A part of Garcia's ancient race.
Nada she gave her Christian name,
And nursed her beauty into fame;
For she was present when the maid
First to earth's smile her tribute paid—
The baby nursed; she watched at play
The child through many a laggard day.
A mother she had joyed to be
To the sweet baby on her knee
And to the girl whose winsome smile
Even indulgence could not spoil,
And to the maiden—fair as morn,
When first the huntsman winds his horn,
Or when the slaves, their work begun,
Sing paeans to the rising sun—
A mentor she had been, and was—
Nada no other mother had, alas!
And many a Southern beauty fair
Rejoices in her "mammy's" care—
The dear black face, the tender heart,
Untutored in Refinement's art—
Devotion's slave, a willing slave,
With soul as good as God e'er gave
The freest, noblest, of her kind,
Of generous heart, of subtle mind!
Through all of Garcia's vast estate
Her word was law. She held the fate
Of high and low within her hands;
None dared dispute her wise commands.
Not e'en the master's curb restrained
Aunt Sara's sway. E'en he complained,
Sometimes, against her tyranny,
And, laughing, swore he would be free;
He did but jest. Full well he knew
The value of her service true!
She came and went as fancy moved her;
All feared her and, forsooth, all loved her—
A contradiction, if you will,
And, yet, a truth that hedged her still.
And many called her "Voudoo Queen"—
Perhaps their ignorance to screen.
She seldom spoke; but full of tact,
Deliberate in speech and act,
She easily controlled the strong,
And those who had committed wrong,
While timid mortals quaked with fear
Her stealthy step to even hear;
The urchins of the vast estate
Hung on her movements soon and late;
And, it is not too much to say,
Her eyes were on them night and day—
For boys are boys, or black or white—
Preferring darkness to the light,
Preferring evil to the good—
For mischief seems childhood's chief food!
No one could penetrate the source
From which Aunt Sara drew the force,
The nervous strength of soul and mind,
To rule her white and sable kind.
There was no mystery at all;
Her age and ready wit withal
Gave her the words and looks and acts—
The wit that grasps and controls facts—
That men respect and defer to,
In priests of Gentile and of Jew;
E'en as old age and clinging vines
Give to a tower its sharp-drawn lines,
That brave the flight of laggard years
And fury of the storm's mad tears!
None loved, none feared, Aunt Sara more
Than she whose life she had watched o'er,
The charming woman who had grown
From childhood as her pet, her own.
She loved, she feared, she knew not why,
This woman wrapt in mystery;
Or seemed to be, and that's the same
As being, since she had the name,
And disdained not to take the fame.
A strange freak, that, in all the race—
Earth's phantom power to love and chase,
To be distinguished from the mob,
With right of Might to rule and rob,
To grind to dust or starve and slay—
The tyrant right the fool to play.
Aunt Sara let th' ignorant think
That she could walk upon the brink
Of Life's abyss, and converse hold
With gri-gri dread of Afric old;
It gave her power and consequence
And satisfied her common sense;
If people wished to act the fool,
So well and good, was her safe rule;
If they were wise, and acted wise,
She simply sagely winked her eyes.
Nada's rich love and confidence
She gave Aunt Sara, whose good sense
Repaid her well; and, yet, with awe,
Aunt Sara's word with her was law;
She told her all her maiden woes
And joys—the hope that grows and grows
From childish joys to woman's fears,
From care-free smiles to heart-sore tears.
When Nada told Aunt Sara of
Ralph Bondly and her infant love,
She was so stunned she could not speak,
The crushing truth made her so weak.
"My dear," she said, "be not so mad!
"Forsooth, the Englishman is mad!
"A thing like that such noise would make
"That it would all our estates shake,
"Both here and in our Merry Spain!
"Indeed, we should not hear again
"The last of it! And, mark it well,
"Joy of my heart, yea, mark it well,
"Before the end, alive or dead,
"Thy father's curse upon thy head
"Would crush thee to th' unfeeling earth
"And all of thine that should have birth!
"No! No! Retrace the step, I pray,
"Retrace it, Nada, while you may!
"No error that we cannot mend,
"If we but listen to our friend,
"And with our stubborn wills contend!
"Take thou the wise, the better course,
"And save thyself lifelong remorse!
"The Fates decree," Aunt Sara said,
"That, if thou shouldst this stranger wed,
"Misfortune—lynx-eyed, fierce, and gaunt—
"Through all the earth thy life will haunt,
"Thy cherished hopes to foil and blight,
"Turning thy brightest day to night!
"Thy cup of anguish and of woe
"With sighs and groans will overflow,
"Till death shall come, thy sorrows past,
"The saddest chapter still the last!
"Be warned! Rush not to such a life
"Of vain regrets and ceaseless strife.
"'Tis written on the wall. Pause now!
"Retract thy foolish, hasty vow!
"Reflect whilst yet thou may'st, whilst yet
"The way is broad and free, nor let
"Thy evil genius of a day
"From the straight path lead thee astray!"
Young Nada shook as if a chill
Had griped her fragile form and will.
Where she had hoped for sympathy
To temper her sweet misery,
And counsel grave to do the right,
As God should give her Wisdom's light,
A warning found her hopes to blight!
The new-born woman in her cried
In anguish for the thing denied—
The wish to be Ralph Bondly's bride!
"'Tis false!" young Nada Garcia cried,
Touched in her love and in her pride;
"'Tis false! Ralph Bondly is not mad!
"And, if he be, am I not mad?
"Or sane or mad, I vow, we wed!
"I'll not recall my vow! 'Tis said!
"If that be death, to live apart
"Is crucifixion of the heart!
"Between the two my course is plain;
"Be mine the joy, be mine the pain;
"And, if I die, I'll be content,
"If all my life in woe be spent!"
Aunt Sara raised her hand. "Sweet one,
"The very ground thou treadst upon
"Trembles beneath thy feet. Beware,
"For woe and death are in the air!
"An hour of bliss for years of woe
"Is idle talk, as you well know.
"To die? For what? The thought is wild,
"And ill beseems my gentle child.
"Thou used not always thus to speak;
"Thou wast not always thus so weak.
"Life's sweetest roses grow for thee,
"And all the winds blow fair and free;
"With health and happiness they groan,
"Sweeping afar from zone to zone—
"For thee they ladened are, my own.
"Banish the idle thought of death—
"'Tis poison to thy queenly breath!—
"And conquer love, if love but lead
"To death—fair Eden's worst of seed!—
"For life is sweet; yes, life is sweet,
"While love is oft a spurious cheat.
"The wounds of disappointed love
"Will heal, my dear, as time will prove,"
"And what is life when love is gone?
"What?" cried she. "Love and life are one.
"We cannot separate the twain;
"As one they will for ay remain!
"When my sweet love—sweet love!—is dead,
"When my fond dream of love has fled,
"No more for me the royal sun
"His daily, stately course will run;
"No more the queenly moon will ride
"Triumphant through the milky tide;
"My life will go from whence it came,
"And vanish all of Garcia's name!
"Why should I live when love is dead
"And gloom through all the earth is spread?
"O, loyal, faithful, friend of mine,
"Thou ne'er hast felt the flame divine,
"Or thou wouldst plainly with me see
"That what thou wish'st can never be!
"When naught remains of all the hope
"That makes me no more blindly grope,
"But lifts my soul to Paradise,
"Where dwell alone the good and wise,
"But ashes, then, this earth would be
"A prison house, indeed, for me.
"O, let me love, or let me die,
"And, dreamless, in the cold earth lie!
"Say not he's mad! Or say I'm mad!
"It well may be we both are mad!
"Is love but madness—saneness—both?
"Is cursed or blessed love's binding oath!
"I do not know. I only know
"I love; and joy to have it so!"
Aunt Sara grieved, sincerely grieved,
To see that love such spell had weaved;
But firm in her position still,
She strove to bend the maiden's will.
"My dear," she said, "thou canst not know
"How much I share thy joy and woe;
"Thy every thought appeals to me,
"Just as it must appeal to thee;
"No hope thy gentle soul can move
"That does not rouse my constant love;
"I'd give my life to save thee pain,
"To know thee free from care again—
"The joyous, trusting child at play
"About my knee the long, long day—
"The days before Ralph Bondly came
"And fanned to fire love's smouldering flame.
"O, woe is me, in mine old age,
"With thee such angry war to wage,
"To plead with thee, in vain to plead,
"Thou wouldst preserve the Garcia seed;
"For, mark my words, thou wilt destroy
"Thy peace of earth and heaven's great joy,
"If thou shalt still persist, perforce,
"In thy unholy, fatal course!
"O, let my words persuade thee, dear,
"And swerve thee from the danger near!
"I would not have thee wreck thy life,
"Unwarned to plunge into the strife,
"For one whose mind thou canst not know,
"A changing mind as th' winds that blow!
"Remain with those whose love hath made
"Thy life all sunshine, and no shade,
"Sweet years to thee of peace and joy,
"Which one false step may now destroy.
"Remain with us! No evil wind,
"E'en from the Arctic unconfined,
"Shall fan thy face that we can ward
"By valiant act or loving word!
"Between thee and the world we'll stand,
"With love as our magician's wand,
"With tenderness to smooth thy brow—
"Where sadness hovers even now!"
All pleading was, alas! in vain—
But magnified her sense of pain—
Her isolation from the hearts
That practiced not Deception's arts,
The faithful, honest, loyal few
Who to her always had been true—
The narrow domain of the home,
We reap our chiefest pleasures from!
Her mind was set—set as the oak
Which braved the storm and lightning stroke
Of ages in their mystic flight
Into the Past's confusing night!
For, when a woman will, she will,
Or be it good or be it ill!
Persuasive words nor ugly threats
Have ever cancelled love's just debts,
Or won o'er love's young dream, forsooth,
A victory—for love is truth
And truth is love! So strangely are
The victims bound, they do not care,
They do not heed, but follow where
They hope to find a haven fair!
No warning voice, no danger feared,
Have e'er two loving souls deterred;
Still constant, true, young hearts remain—
An hour of bliss! an age of pain!
The fearful cost! The little gain!
And yet, as 'twere a fashion's fad,
The whole world seems to be love mad.
The courtship ended, life they face,
And Romance drops to commonplace;
The skies grow black, the path grows long,
The strong grow weak, the weak grow strong,
And hearts once young too soon grow old,
And hearts once warm too soon grow cold,
And beauty fades and backs are bent
And all the fires of Hope are spent;
For dreams are dreams, the real is real—
"For better or for worse"—for woe or weal!
Don Garcia, with advancing age,
For he was living life's last page,
Became more headstrong and more vain,
If to that state he could attain;
More pronounced in his hates and spites,
Less careful, too, of others' rights.
The name of Bondly stirred his ire
As pitch-pine does a smouldering fire,
And, when with Nada's linked—O, shame!—
He like a crazy man became.
'Tis comical, at times, to see
How big a fool a man can be
When he allows his prejudice
To fall into a common vice.
He would not reason out the case
'Bout Bondly and the English race;
He hated them, and ever should,
And would not like them if he could;
Young Nada trembled when the spell
Of passion on her father fell.
We pity him, the brave old knight,
On whom old age had fixed its blight!
Nada to him made her last plea.
He said: "My child, it cannot be!
"Thy plea cannot prevail! I hate
"The man! I hate him! Not e'en Fate
"Can alter my unbending scorn
"Of every thing of England born.
"Vex not my patience more. No thing
"In earth I love as I do thee,
"But, on thy natal day shall be
"My curse, if thou shouldst rashly wed
"The man I hate! Mark well! 'Tis said.
"Thou art of age, and, in thy right,
"Mistress of ample wealth. 'Tis thine;
"Take it, and, soon, all that is mine
"As well. Thou wilt thy father lose,
"A husband gain—is 't hard to choose?—
"And, with him, honest prayer of mine,
"Thou be the last of Garcia's line!
"Go, then! A father's curse is all
"I place between thee and thy fall!"
"I go!" she said, with erect form
And flashing eyes, facing the storm.
"I go! A blessing asked! Instead,
"A curse thou hurlest at my head!
"So be it! I love thee well! Yet,
"I will the past—thy love!—forget,
"As thou hast willed, though it should break
"The heart thy curses cannot shake!
"I am thy daughter, it is true—
"Forget not, I'm a Garcia, too!
"Be mine the blame, if death be mine!
"And peace and joy and life be thine!
"I go! Be mine the curse—the pain!
"Betwixt ye two my path is plain!"
Don Garcia shook with angry rage,
Regardless of his gout and age,
Surprised and shocked in her to find
The fury of the desperate hind,
Rebellious 'gainst his will and word,
Who was her parent and her lord—
A thing she never dared before
And never should again, he swore.
"Then, go!" he hissed, "Why longer stay
"To vex me with thy presence, pray?
"Go—meet thy doom, thy tragic fate!
"Go—wed the Englishman I hate!
"For thou shalt reap as thou shalt sow!
"Take thou my parent curse, and go!"
And thus they parted—they whose pride
The love of years could override!
The new love bade the old love go;
And so it was, and will be so,
Till all of Adam's scattered seed
Shall cease to hope, shall cease to bleed.
Forever from the past we fly—
We know not whence, we know not why—
Out of the day, into the night,
All heedless in the headlong flight!
Don Garcia bowed his aged head
And wished, alas! that he were dead!
His eagle eyes grew dim with tears;
Remorse filled his proud breast with fears;
And desolation—awful, dread—
Settled on his devoted head!
From her all joy he long had gleaned,
Upon her as a staff he leaned—
The hope and prop of his old age,
Which he had blasted in his rage!
He well could drown his woe in tears
And sigh away his haunting fears!
The bitter words had burned his tongue
E'en from his mouth as they had sprung,
Charged as the lightning's forkèd flame,
To blast the thing that bore his name—
The only thing! E'en as he spake
Nada's resolve he hoped to break
By working on her maiden fear—
Nor was he first in that to err!
He could have won his child anew,
To his old self had he been true,
Now she had gone, and he was crushed—
While voice of love and hate was hushed!
He had the sorrow and the woe
As first fruits of his vengeful blow;
But, e'en thus weighted, left alone,
Garcia would not his error own—
Would not his heartless words recall—
Temper the wormwood and the gall.
His word was law! Who disobeyed,
Who braved his wish, was promptly flayed—
Had he the power. So, sad to tell,
The only thing that he loved well,
Committed th' unpardonable crime
For the first and the only time!
But what had been, had been! The past
Was past! The present held him fast,
And it was full of gloom—the gloom
That settles o'er a new-made tomb!
The future—'twas one ball of night,
Through which there pierced no ray of light!
He felt as one whose craft the gale
Had robbed of compass, mast and sail,
While all about him spread the sea
That soon his luckless grave might be!
And sudden fell the mighty stroke
That rent the craft of steel and oak!
Awhile upon the waves 'twill ride
Then sink—its glory and its pride!
Old age makes man a child again—
Peevish, irritable and vain,
Who thinks and plans for self alone,
Nor cares how others weep and groan—
The selfishness that fills all life
With bickerings and petty strife.
And sometimes giant wrongs and crimes
That blot the annals of the times!
We make the bed on which we rest,
Or tortured are, by grief distressed;
We hew the paths we daily tread
Towards the City of the Dead,
Or smooth or rough, just as we will,
Or through the vale or o'er the hill;
We make the storm, the sunshine make,
Our hopes to bolster or to shake,
The smiles that dissipate our fears,
Or heartbreaks that o'erflow in tears.
These are our works; and, as we sow,
We reap, a crop of joy or woe.
The havoc of a word could we,
In all its ghastliness, foresee,
Or, yet, the terror a frown may cause,
The consequence might make us pause.
We ne'er on man or beast a wound
Inflict but, in the end, 'tis found,
It hurts us too, as much somehow,
And as we least expect the blow!
A wrong to one, a wrong to all,
Comes down to us from Adam's fall,
And governs in our actions still
For woe or weal, and ever will!
Let pleasing notes escape the lyre,
Notes that uplift, enthuse, inspire,
As o'er its strings the fingers stray,
To cheer our fellows on life's way;
Nor seek in Nature, or its laws,
Or in its lord, in man, for flaws,
To serve a selfish whim of thine;
Be generous all thou may'st design.
The best of marksmen may o'ershoot
His mark—his victim man or brute!
Th' imperious judge, who, in his pride,
Refused with Bondly to divide
Affection in a lovely bride—
The daughter exiled from his breast,
Which long had been her place of rest—
Joy of his home, pride of his eye,
And hope of his posterity—
Th' imperious judge, Don Garcia, fell
So low and was so miserable,
That e'en the slave within his gate
Envied him not his poor estate!
Old age and gout, but half his woe,
And wounded pride, laid Garcia low!
A raging fever burned his brain
And rioted in every vein,
So that he raved and swore like one
That demons foul had seized upon!
The once stout heart, the once strong will,
Were mastered by a stronger still,
In the death grapple—hopeless fight!—
Or waged in darkness or in light,
Which all must wage, or soon or late,
Who live and hope and love and hate!
And all the hist'ry of the past,
All that to earth had held him fast,
The social triumphs and the wars,
The laurels won, the ugly scars,
Passed through his fevered brain again—
A grotesque and a tragic train!
AND THEN HE DIED! None of his blood,
That came down to him from the Flood,
Was near him in the final hour
When vanished all of mortal power;
But old Aunt Sara stood beside
The noble column's broken pride,
As she had done when he was born,
With none but slaves with her to mourn!
The age of Seers and Prophecy
Has passed, like that of chivalry!
It came out of the lap of Faith,
So record and tradition saith,
And has returned to whence it came—
The Rod divine and Bush of Flame!
Men hoped and prayed and cursed and blest,
When Faith was all that they possessed!
So Nada and Ralph Bondly found
All prophecy but empty sound—
All curses harmless as the wind
That whistles through the broken blind.
And still they live and love, while seers
And curses fill them not with fears!
YOU WILL FORGET!
You will go hence, sweetheart, and leave me,
And may forget
We ever met—
And that it is, alas! will grieve me!
And, yet, the past—
How could it last!
And could I know you would deceive me!
The fleeting hours we spent together—
The rambles far
'Neath sun and star
In peaceful calm and stormy weather,
By hedge and stream—
A Summer dream—
Our hearts as light as lightest feather—
Can you forget
That we have met!
A FALSE MAIDEN.
Here is the oak beneath whose friendly shade
We spent one charming, fleeting, Summer day,
And talked the gathering gloom of woe away—
Duping ourselves that earth for us was made
A fairy land, where we might hope and pray
A path of peaceful love before us lay,
Leading to some rare spot, where ne'er could fade
The vows for which we had so dearly paid.
But all is changed! The Oak remains as then—
And I remain! But, where, O where! art thou?
Gone—vanished as a vision! Doubt I, when
I look around, if we, as I do now,
E'er stood together here, and dreamed that earth
Held other than a curse for our love's birth.
Yes, changes came; and circumstance, or fate,
Hath led us far apart, and made the past
But as a memory—which, yet, will last,
Surviving all, and bidding me to wait,
And trust, and brave the angry skies o'ercast,
As storm-tossed sailors lash them to the mast,
Hoping 'gainst hope all will be well, and late,
But sure, return to me my long-lost mate!
So spreads the prospect to the anxious eye!
So stilled is Reason's cold but friendly voice!
The storm-charged clouds may hide the gorgeous sky,
But soon the sunshine comes, and we rejoice!
And love will hope when hope is bruised and dead
And all but mem'ry of the past hath fled!
The dream has ended, as a tale that's told!
The past is dead—aye, dead!—and nevermore
Shall you and I be as we were before
The dream, once young, grew commonplace and old.
Whence vanished it—aye, to what blissful shore?
But, still, the love that I for you once bore
Is warm, and never, never, can grow cold,
E'en though you sell yourself for serpent gold.
A thing that I have loved can I e'er hate?
Not so! A sacred thing must it remain
While I, through sun and shadow, wait and wait,
The coming of the hour when, free from pain,
I pass away—as things of earth must do—
True, even though you are to me untrue.
Go, then! I will not, would not, bid you stay!
Go, reap the agony and pain that lower,
And ever lower, upon the fatal hour
When selfishness alone points out the way
That leads to Love's retreat, its sacred bower!
Go! oh, remember, I have not the power,
If you would go, to bid you longer stay!
Leave me in life's fierce storm to bend and cower!
True, I have loved you well and loved you long,
And followed you where'er, afar, you went,
Followed in thought and silent prayer and song—
Followed you still with hope, and discontent.
Enough! The Fates decree! The past—is past!
Know you, false one, it was too sweet to last?
IT FELL, THE GIANT OAK.
It fell, the giant oak
Around whose head the years had rolled!
The towering column broke
We deemed of most enduring mold!
No man could say when fell
The little germ from which it sprang!
Perchance the Indian's yell
Around its base for ages rang!
Or, else, in times remote,
That stalwart oak had shelter been
To tribes of whom no note
Was left to keep their mem'ry green.
But, full of years, it cowered
Before the fury of the storm!
Its age, its bulk, o'erpowered,
'Twill lapse into its primal form!
So men and nations rise
By painful, slow, and steady stage,
Fill earth with high emprise,
Until they reach a ripe old age—
And then they fall—borne down
By their own greatness, as it were—
Give back to God the crown
They wore with pride or manly fear.
All mundane things decline!
The proudest nations soon must fall!
The tendrils of the vine
But hide the breaches in the wall.
THE TOWERING CLIFFS.
Here let us pause awhile, fair one, and rest!—
The toilsome ascent hence has wearied thee,
And much, I fear, it has not rested me—
Here let us pause awhile, here rest, 'tis best.
How beautiful the scene! How fair to see!
No Eastern scene, I ween, can fairer be.
I am, at such a time and place, possessed
With joy supreme, with thee, dear one, to be.
The towering cliffs are eloquent; and so
The calm and peaceful river at our feet,
Flowing in stately measure far below,
From which the hum of voices e'en is sweet.
But what is all the world to me beside
The hope that thou wilt be my loving bride!
WORDS OF LOVE FOREVERMORE.
There is rapture in the thought,
From thy words of constance caught,
That the world contains no prize
Like the peace thy love supplies.
And I ponder o'er and o'er
Words of love forevermore,
As they come in tenderest tone
From thy heart—which is my own.
THE WILD WAVES TOSS THE DRIFTWOOD HIGH.
The wild waves toss the driftwood high
Upon the rocks or gleaming sands
And there in scattered sort they lie,
The spoils of many distant lands.
And now and then a pleading face,
In mute appeal to God, is turned,
In which we seek in vain to trace
The perished thought that glowed and burned.
And once I saw upon the sands
A baby with bright golden hair;
Clinched were the darling's little hands
And on its lips a smile was there.
BUT THAT WAS LONG AGO.
One day, 'twas long ago,
I met a maiden fair to see,
A maiden fair and dear to me—
But that was long ago.
She was so fair, I know;
How fair she was I cannot say,
But fairer than a morn of May—
But that was long ago.
And we did make a vow
That we some day would wed,
Following where sly Cupid led—
But that was long ago.
The years went slowly by—
I know not where they went,
Into what other forms were blent—
Perhaps into a sigh.
And then, we met, I know;
But all the fire of youth had fled,
And all the love of youth was dead—
But that was long ago.
And not a word, I vow,
Of that dead past by us was said—
We each some other one had wed!
But that was long ago.
TELL ME, YE SAD WINDS.
Tell me, ye sad winds sighing,
With the long night fast dying,
Whither ye go,
Halting and slow,
When the birds, sweet singing,
Come, the young dawn bringing!
THE SAVAGE DREAMER.
Nor fleeting time, nor space, can change
The nature of the savage strange
Whose heart was touched long years ago
By love fruition ne'er could know!
She seemed a fairy queen who won
His savage love, at set of sun,
Where Montauk's point looks on the sea,
That ne'er was restless as was he!
But she was daughter of the race
Who spurn the children of the chase,
And, though they loved, they could not wed—
And that was worse than to be dead!