>> / Francis Bret Harte

. . Poems Francis Bret Harte

. . Poems Francis Bret Harte.

 

/ Francis Bret Harte, (25 1836 5 1902) .

 

How Are You Sanitary?

Down the picket-guarded lane
Rolled the comfort-laden wain,
Cheered by shouts that shook the plain,
Soldier-like and merry:
Phrases such as camps may teach,
Sabre-cuts of Saxon speech,
Such as 'Bully!' 'Them's the peach!'
'Wade in, Sanitary!'

Right and left the caissons drew
As the car went lumbering through,
Quick succeeding in review
Squadrons military;
Sunburnt men with beards like frieze,
Smooth-faced boys, and cries like these,
'U. S. San. Com.' 'That's the cheese!'
'Pass in, Sanitary!'

In such cheer it struggled on
Till the battle front was won,
Then the car, its journey done,
Lo! was stationary;
And where bullets whistling fly,
Came the sadder, fainter cry,
'Help us, brothers, ere we die,
Save us, Sanitary!'

Such the work. The phantom flies,
Wrapped in battle clouds that rise;
But the bravewhose dying eyes,
Veiled and visionary,
See the jasper gates swung wide,
See the parted throng outside
Hears the voice to those who ride:
'Pass in, Sanitary!'

 

In The Mission Garden

I speak not the English well, but Pachita,
She speak for me; is it not so, my Pancha?
Eh, little rogue? Come, salute me the stranger
Americano.

Sir, in my country we say, 'Where the heart is,
There live the speech.' Ah! you not understand? So!
Pardon an old man,--what you call 'old fogy,'--
Padre Felipe!

Old, Senor, old! just so old as the Mission.
You see that pear-tree? How old you think, Senor?
Fifteen year? Twenty? Ah, Senor, just fifty
Gone since I plant him!

You like the wine? It is some at the Mission,
Made from the grape of the year eighteen hundred;
All the same time when the earthquake he come to
San Juan Bautista.

But Pancha is twelve, and she is the rose-tree;
And I am the olive, and this is the garden:
And 'Pancha' we say, but her name is 'Francisca,'
Same like her mother.

Eh, you knew HER? No? Ah! it is a story;
But I speak not, like Pachita, the English:
So! if I try, you will sit here beside me,
And shall not laugh, eh?

When the American come to the Mission,
Many arrive at the house of Francisca:
One,--he was fine man,--he buy the cattle
Of Jose Castro.

So! he came much, and Francisca, she saw him:
And it was love,--and a very dry season;
And the pears bake on the tree,--and the rain come,
But not Francisca.

Not for one year; and one night I have walk much
Under the olive-tree, when comes Francisca,--
Comes to me here, with her child, this Francisca,--
Under the olive-tree.

Sir, it was sad; . . . but I speak not the English;
So! . . . she stay here, and she wait for her husband:
He come no more, and she sleep on the hillside;
There stands Pachita.

Ah! there's the Angelus. Will you not enter?
Or shall you walk in the garden with Pancha?
Go, little rogue--st! attend to the stranger!
Adios, Senor.

PACHITA (briskly).

So, he's been telling that yarn about mother!
Bless you! he tells it to every stranger:
Folks about yer say the old man's my father;
What's your opinion?

 

In The Tunnel

Didn't know Flynn,--
Flynn of Virginia,--
Long as he's been 'yar?
Look 'ee here, stranger,
Whar HEV you been?

Here in this tunnel
He was my pardner,
That same Tom Flynn,--
Working together,
In wind and weather,
Day out and in.

Didn't know Flynn!
Well, that IS queer;
Why, it's a sin
To think of Tom Flynn,--
Tom with his cheer,
Tom without fear,--
Stranger, look 'yar!

Thar in the drift,
Back to the wall,
He held the timbers
Ready to fall;
Then in the darkness
I heard him call:
'Run for your life, Jake!
Run for your wife's sake!
Don't wait for me.'
And that was all
Heard in the din,
Heard of Tom Flynn,--
Flynn of Virginia.

That's all about
Flynn of Virginia.
That lets me out.
Here in the damp,--
Out of the sun,--
That 'ar derned lamp
Makes my eyes run.
Well, there,--I'm done!

But, sir, when you'll
Hear the next fool
Asking of Flynn,--
Flynn of Virginia,--
Just you chip in,
Say you knew Flynn;
Say that you've been 'yar.

 

Jack Of The Tules

Shrewdly you question, Senor, and I fancy
You are no novice. Confess that to little
Of my poor gossip of Mission and Pueblo
You are a stranger!

Am I not right? Ah! believe me, that ever
Since we joined company at the posada
I've watched you closely, and--pardon an old priest--
I've caught you smiling!

Smiling to hear an old fellow like me talk
Gossip of pillage and robbers, and even
Air his opinion of law and alcaldes
Like any other!

Now!--by that twist of the wrist on the bridle,
By that straight line from the heel to the shoulder,
By that curt speech,--nay! nay! no offense, son,--
You are a soldier?

No? Then a man of affairs? San Sebastian!
'Twould serve me right if I prattled thus wildly
To--say a sheriff? No?--just caballero?
Well, more's the pity.

Ah! what we want here's a man of your presence;
Sano, Secreto,--yes, all the four S's,
Joined with a boldness and dash, when the time comes,
And--may I say it?--

One not TOO hard on the poor country people,
Peons and silly vaqueros, who, dazzled
By reckless skill, and, perchance, reckless largesse,
Wink at some queer things.

No? You would crush THEM as well as the robbers,--
Root them out, scatter them? Ah you are bitter--
And yet--quien sabe, perhaps that's the one way
To catch their leader.

As to myself, now, I'd share your displeasure;
For I admit in this Jack of the Tules
Certain good points. He still comes to confession--
You'd 'like to catch him'?

Ah, if you did at such times, you might lead him
Home by a thread. Good! Again you are smiling:
You have no faith in such shrift, and but little
In priest or penitent.

Bueno! We take no offense, sir; whatever
It please you to say, it becomes us, for Church sake,
To bear in peace. Yet, if you were kinder--
And less suspicious--

I might still prove to you, Jack of the Tules
Shames not our teaching; nay, even might show you,
Hard by this spot, his old comrade, who, wounded,
Lives on his bounty.

If--ah, you listen!--I see I can trust you;
Then, on your word as a gentleman--follow.
Under that sycamore stands the old cabin;
There sits his comrade.

Eh!--are you mad? You would try to ARREST him?
You, with a warrant? Oh, well, take the rest of them:
Pedro, Bill, Murray, Pat Doolan. Hey!--all of you,
Tumble out, d--n it!

There!--that'll do, boys! Stand back! Ease his elbows;
Take the gag from his mouth. Good! Now scatter like devils
After his posse--four straggling, four drunken--
At the posada.

You--help me off with these togs, and then vamos!
Now, ole Jeff Dobbs!--Sheriff, Scout, and Detective!
You're so derned 'cute! Kinder sick, ain't ye, bluffing
Jack of the Tules!

 

Jim

Say there! P'r'aps
Some on you chaps
Might know Jim Wild?
Well,--no offense:
Thar ain't no sense
In gittin' riled!

Jim was my chum
Up on the Bar:
That's why I come
Down from up yar,
Lookin' for Jim.
Thank ye, sir! YOU
Ain't of that crew,--
Blest if you are!

Money? Not much:
That ain't my kind;
I ain't no such.
Rum? I don't mind,
Seein' it's you.

Well, this yer Jim,--
Did you know him?
Jes' 'bout your size;
Same kind of eyes;--
Well, that is strange:
Why, it's two year
Since he came here,
Sick, for a change.

Well, here's to us:
Eh?
The h--- you say!
Dead?
That little cuss?

What makes you star',
You over thar?
Can't a man drop
's glass in yer shop
But you must r'ar?
It wouldn't take
D----d much to break
You and your bar.

Dead!
Poor--little--Jim!
Why, thar was me,
Jones, and Bob Lee,
Harry and Ben,--
No-account men:
Then to take HIM!

Well, thar-- Good-by--
No more, sir--I--
Eh?
What's that you say?
Why, dern it!--sho!--
No? Yes! By Joe!
Sold!

Sold! Why, you limb,
You ornery,
Derned old
Long-legged Jim.

 

John Burns Of Gettysburg

Have you heard the story that gossips tell
Of Burns of Gettysburg?No? Ah, well,
Brief is the glory that hero earns,
Briefer the story of poor John Burns:
He was the fellow who won renown,
The only man who didn't back down
When the rebels rode through his native town;
But held his own in the fight next day,
When all his townsfolk ran away.
That was in July, Sixty-three,
The very day that General Lee,
Flower of Southern chivalry,
Baffled and beaten, backward reeled
From a stubborn Meade and a barren field.
I might tell how but the day before
John Burns stood at his cottage door,
Looking down the village street,
Where, in the shade of his peaceful vine,
He heard the low of his gathered kine,
And felt their breath with incense sweet
Or I might say, when the sunset burned
The old farm gable, he thought it turned
The milk that fell like a babbling flood
Into the milk-pail red as blood!
Or how he fancied the hum of bees
Were bullets buzzing among the trees.
But all such fanciful thoughts as these
Were strange to a practical man like Burns,
Who minded only his own concerns,
Troubled no more by fancies fine
Than one of his calm-eyed, long-tailed kine,
Quite old-fashioned and matter-of-fact,
Slow to argue, but quick to act.
That was the reason, as some folks say,
He fought so well on that terrible day.

And it was terrible. On the right
Raged for hours the heady fight,
Thundered the battery's double bass,
Difficult music for men to face;
While on the leftwhere now the graves
Undulate like the living waves
That all that day unceasing swept
Up to the pits the Rebels kept
Round shot ploughed the upland glades,
Sown with bullets, reaped with blades;
Shattered fences here and there
Tossed their splinters in the air;
The very trees were stripped and bare;
The barns that once held yellow grain
Were heaped with harvests of the slain;
The cattle bellowed on the plain,
The turkeys screamed with might and main,
And brooding barn-fowl left their rest
With strange shells bursting in each nest.

Just where the tide of battle turns,
Erect and lonely stood old John Burns.
How do you think the man was dressed?
He wore an ancient long buff vest,
Yellow as saffron,but his best,
And, buttoned over his manly breast,
Was a bright blue coat, with a rolling collar,
And large gilt buttons,size of a dollar,
With tails that the country-folk called 'swaller.'
He wore a broad-brimmed, bell-crowned hat,
White as the locks on which it sat.
Never had such a sight been seen
For forty years on the village green,
Since old John Burns was a country beau,
And went to the 'quiltings' long ago.

Close at his elbows all that day,
Veterans of the Peninsula,
Sunburnt and bearded, charged away;
And striplings, downy of lip and chin,
Clerks that the Home Guard mustered in,
Glanced, as they passed, at the hat he wore,
Then at the rifle his right hand bore;
And hailed him, from out their youthful lore,
With scraps of a slangy repertoire:
'How are you, White Hat? Put her through!'
'Your head's level!' and 'Bully for you!'
Called him 'Daddy,'begged he'd disclose
The name of the tailor who made his clothes,
And what was the value he set on those;
While Burns, unmindful of jeer and scoff,
Stood there picking the rebels off,
With his long brown rifle and bell-crown hat,
And the swallow-tails they were laughing at.

'Twas but a moment, for that respect
Which clothes all courage their voices checked:
And something the wildest could understand
Spake in the old man's strong right hand,
And his corded throat, and the lurking frown
Of his eyebrows under his old bell-crown;
Until, as they gazed, there crept an awe
Through the ranks in whispers, and some men saw,
In the antique vestments and long white hair,
The Past of the Nation in battle there;
And some of the soldiers since declare
That the gleam of his old white hat afar,
Like the crested plume of the brave Navarre,
That day was their oriflamme of war.

So raged the battle. You know the rest:
How the rebels, beaten and backward pressed,
Broke at the final charge, and ran.
At which John Burnsa practical man
Shouldered his rifle, unbent his brows,
And then went back to his bees and cows.

That is the story of old John Burns;
This is the moral the reader learns:
In fighting the battle, the question's whether
You'll show a hat that's white, or a feather!

 

Lines To A Portrait, By A Superior Person

When I bought you for a song,
Years ago--Lord knows how long!--
I was struck--I may be wrong--
By your features,
And--a something in your air
That I couldn't quite compare
To my other plain or fair
Fellow creatures.

In your simple, oval frame
You were not well known to fame,
But to me--'twas all the same--
Whoe'er drew you;
For your face I can't forget,
Though I oftentimes regret
That, somehow, I never yet
Saw quite through you.

Yet each morning, when I rise,
I go first to greet your eyes;
And, in turn, YOU scrutinize
My presentment.
And when shades of evening fall,
As you hang upon my wall,
You're the last thing I recall
With contentment.

It is weakness, yet I know
That I never turned to go
Anywhere, for weal or woe,
But I lingered
For one parting, thrilling flash
From your eyes, to give that dash
To the curl of my mustache,
That I fingered.

If to some you may seem plain,
And when people glance again
Where you hang, their lips refrain.
From confession;
Yet they turn in stealth aside,
And I note, they try to hide
How much they are satisfied
In expression.

Other faces I have seen;
Other forms have come between;
Other things I have, I ween,
Done and dared for!
But OUR ties they cannot sever,
And, though I should say it never,
You're the only one I ever
Really cared for!

And you'll still be hanging there
When we're both the worse for wear,
And the silver's on my hair
And off your backing;
Yet my faith shall never pass
In my dear old shaving-glass,
Till my face and yours, alas!
Both are lacking!

 

Lone Mountain

This is that hill of awe
That Persian Sindbad saw,--
The mount magnetic;
And on its seaward face,
Scattered along its base,
The wrecks prophetic.

Here come the argosies
Blown by each idle breeze,
To and fro shifting;
Yet to the hill of Fate
All drawing, soon or late,--
Day by day drifting;

Drifting forever here
Barks that for many a year
Braved wind and weather;
Shallops but yesterday
Launched on yon shining bay,--
Drawn all together.

This is the end of all:
Sun thyself by the wall,
O poorer Hindbad!
Envy not Sindbad's fame:
Here come alike the same
Hindbad and Sindbad.

 

Luke

Wot's that you're readin'?--a novel? A novel!--well, darn my skin!
You a man grown and bearded and histin' such stuff ez that in--
Stuff about gals and their sweethearts! No wonder you're thin ez a
knife.
Look at me--clar two hundred--and never read one in my life!

That's my opinion o' novels. And ez to their lyin' round here,
They belong to the Jedge's daughter--the Jedge who came up last year
On account of his lungs and the mountains and the balsam o' pine and
fir;
And his daughter--well, she read novels, and that's what's the
matter with her.

Yet she was sweet on the Jedge, and stuck by him day and night,
Alone in the cabin up 'yer--till she grew like a ghost, all white.
She wus only a slip of a thing, ez light and ez up and away
Ez rifle smoke blown through the woods, but she wasn't my kind--no
way!

Speakin' o' gals, d'ye mind that house ez you rise the hill,
A mile and a half from White's, and jist above Mattingly's mill?
You do? Well now THAR's a gal! What! you saw her? Oh, come now,
thar! quit!
She was only bedevlin' you boys, for to me she don't cotton one bit.

Now she's what I call a gal--ez pretty and plump ez a quail;
Teeth ez white ez a hound's, and they'd go through a ten-penny nail;
Eyes that kin snap like a cap. So she asked to know 'whar I was hid?'
She did! Oh, it's jist like her sass, for she's peart ez a Katydid.

But what was I talking of?--Oh! the Jedge and his daughter--she read
Novels the whole day long, and I reckon she read them abed;
And sometimes she read them out loud to the Jedge on the porch where
he sat,
And 'twas how 'Lord Augustus' said this, and how 'Lady Blanche' she
said that.

But the sickest of all that I heerd was a yarn thet they read 'bout
a chap,
'Leather-stocking' by name, and a hunter chock full o' the greenest
o' sap;
And they asked me to hear, but I says, 'Miss Mabel, not any for me;
When I likes I kin sling my own lies, and thet chap and I shouldn't
agree.'

Yet somehow or other that gal allus said that I brought her to mind
Of folks about whom she had read, or suthin belike of thet kind,
And thar warn't no end o' the names that she give me thet summer up
here--
'Robin Hood,' 'Leather-stocking' 'Rob Roy,'--Oh, I tell you, the
critter was queer!

And yet, ef she hadn't been spiled, she was harmless enough in her
way;
She could jabber in French to her dad, and they said that she knew
how to play;
And she worked me that shot-pouch up thar, which the man doesn't
live ez kin use;
And slippers--you see 'em down 'yer--ez would cradle an Injin's
papoose.

Yet along o' them novels, you see, she was wastin' and mopin' away,
And then she got shy with her tongue, and at last she had nothin' to
say;
And whenever I happened around, her face it was hid by a book,
And it warn't till the day she left that she give me ez much ez a
look.

And this was the way it was. It was night when I kem up here
To say to 'em all 'good-by,' for I reckoned to go for deer
At 'sun up' the day they left. So I shook 'em all round by the hand,
'Cept Mabel, and she was sick, ez they give me to understand.

But jist ez I passed the house next morning at dawn, some one,
Like a little waver o' mist got up on the hill with the sun;
Miss Mabel it was, alone--all wrapped in a mantle o' lace--
And she stood there straight in the road, with a touch o' the sun in
her face.

And she looked me right in the eye--I'd seen suthin' like it before
When I hunted a wounded doe to the edge o' the Clear Lake Shore,
And I had my knee on its neck, and I jist was raisin' my knife,
When it give me a look like that, and--well, it got off with its life.

'We are going to-day,' she said, 'and I thought I would say good-by
To you in your own house, Luke--these woods and the bright blue sky!
You've always been kind to us, Luke, and papa has found you still
As good as the air he breathes, and wholesome as Laurel Tree Hill.

'And we'll always think of you, Luke, as the thing we could not take
away,--
The balsam that dwells in the woods, the rainbow that lives in the
spray.
And you'll sometimes think of ME, Luke, as you know you once used to
say,
A rifle smoke blown through the woods, a moment, but never to stay.'

And then we shook hands. She turned, but a-suddent she tottered and
fell,
And I caught her sharp by the waist, and held her a minit. Well,
It was only a minit, you know, thet ez cold and ez white she lay
Ez a snowflake here on my breast, and then--well, she melted away--

And was gone. . . . And thar are her books; but I says not any for me;
Good enough may be for some, but them and I mightn't agree.
They spiled a decent gal ez might hev made some chap a wife,
And look at me!--clar two hundred--and never read one in my life!

 

Madrono

Captain of the Western wood,
Thou that apest Robin Hood !
Green above thy scarlet hose,
How thy velvet mantle shows !
Never tree like thee arrayed,
O thou gallant of the glade!

When the fervid August sun
Scorches all it looks upon,
And the balsam of the pine
Drips from stem to needle fine,
Round thy compact shade arranged,
Not a leaf of thee is changed!

When the yellow autumn sun
Saddens all it looks upon,
Spreads its sackcloth on the hills,
Strews its ashes in the rills,
Thou thy scarlet hose dost doff,
And in limbs of purest buff
Challengest the sombre glade
For a sylvan masquerade.

Where, oh, where, shall he begin
Who would paint thee, Harlequin ?
With thy waxen burnished leaf,
With thy branches' red relief,
With thy polytinted fruit,-
In thy spring or autumn suit,-
Where begin, and oh, where end,
Thou whose charms all art transcend?

 

Master Johnny's Next-Door Neighbor

It was spring the first time that I saw her, for her papa and mamma
moved in
Next door, just as skating was over, and marbles about to begin;
For the fence in our back yard was broken, and I saw, as I peeped
through the slat,
There were 'Johnny-jump-ups' all around her, and I knew it was
spring just by that.

I never knew whether she saw me, for she didn't say nothing to me,
But 'Ma! here's a slat in the fence broke, and the boy that is next
door can see.'
But the next day I climbed on our wood-shed, as you know Mamma says
I've a right,
And she calls out, 'Well, peekin' is manners!' and I answered her,
'Sass is perlite!'

But I wasn't a bit mad, no, Papa, and to prove it, the very next day,
When she ran past our fence in the morning I happened to get in her
way,--
For you know I am 'chunked' and clumsy, as she says are all boys of
my size,--
And she nearly upset me, she did, Pa, and laughed till tears came in
her eyes.

And then we were friends from that moment, for I knew that she told
Kitty Sage,--
And she wasn't a girl that would flatter--'that she thought I was
tall for my age.'
And I gave her four apples that evening, and took her to ride on my
sled,
And-- 'What am I telling you this for?' Why, Papa, my neighbor is
DEAD!

You don't hear one half I am saying,--I really do think it's too bad!
Why, you might have seen crape on her door-knob, and noticed to-day
I've been sad.
And they've got her a coffin of rosewood, and they say they have
dressed her in white,
And I've never once looked through the fence, Pa, since she died--at
eleven last night.

And Ma says it's decent and proper, as I was her neighbor and friend,
That I should go there to the funeral, and she thinks that YOU ought
to attend;
But I am so clumsy and awkward, I know I shall be in the way,
And suppose they should speak to me, Papa, I wouldn't know just what
to say.

So I think I will get up quite early,--I know I sleep late, but I know
I'll be sure to wake up if our Bridget pulls the string that I'll tie
to my toe;
And I'll crawl through the fence, and I'll gather the 'Johnny-jump-ups'
as they grew
Round her feet the first day that I saw her, and, Papa, I'll give
them to you.

For you're a big man, and, you know, Pa, can come and go just where
you choose,
And you'll take the flowers in to her, and surely they'll never
refuse;
But, Papa, don't SAY they're from Johnny; THEY won't understand,
don't you see?
But just lay them down on her bosom, and, Papa, SHE'LL know they're
from Me.

 

Miss Blanche Says

And you are the poet, and so you want
Something--what is it?--a theme, a fancy?
Something or other the Muse won't grant
To your old poetical necromancy;
Why, one half you poets--you can't deny--
Don't know the Muse when you chance to meet her,
But sit in your attics and mope and sigh
For a faineant goddess to drop from the sky,
When flesh and blood may be standing by
Quite at your service, should you but greet her.

What if I told you my own romance?
Women are poets, if you so take them,
One third poet,--the rest what chance
Of man and marriage may choose to make them.
Give me ten minutes before you go,--
Here at the window we'll sit together,
Watching the currents that ebb and flow;
Watching the world as it drifts below
Up the hot Avenue's dusty glow:
Isn't it pleasant, this bright June weather?

Well, it was after the war broke out,
And I was a schoolgirl fresh from Paris;
Papa had contracts, and roamed about,
And I--did nothing--for I was an heiress.
Picked some lint, now I think; perhaps
Knitted some stockings--a dozen nearly:
Havelocks made for the soldiers' caps;
Stood at fair-tables and peddled traps
Quite at a profit. The 'shoulder-straps'
Thought I was pretty. Ah, thank you! really?

Still it was stupid. Rata-tat-tat!
Those were the sounds of that battle summer,
Till the earth seemed a parchment round and flat,
And every footfall the tap of a drummer;
And day by day down the Avenue went
Cavalry, infantry, all together,
Till my pitying angel one day sent
My fate in the shape of a regiment,
That halted, just as the day was spent,
Here at our door in the bright June weather.

None of your dandy warriors they,--
Men from the West, but where I know not;
Haggard and travel-stained, worn and gray,
With never a ribbon or lace or bow-knot:
And I opened the window, and, leaning there,
I felt in their presence the free winds blowing.
My neck and shoulders and arms were bare,--
I did not dream they might think me fair,
But I had some flowers that night in my hair,
And here, on my bosom, a red rose glowing.

And I looked from the window along the line,
Dusty and dirty and grim and solemn,
Till an eye like a bayonet flash met mine,
And a dark face shone from the darkening column,
And a quick flame leaped to my eyes and hair,
Till cheeks and shoulders burned all together,
And the next I found myself standing there
With my eyelids wet and my cheeks less fair,
And the rose from my bosom tossed high in air,
Like a blood-drop falling on plume and feather.

Then I drew back quickly: there came a cheer,
A rush of figures, a noise and tussle,
And then it was over, and high and clear
My red rose bloomed on his gun's black muzzle.
Then far in the darkness a sharp voice cried,
And slowly and steadily, all together,
Shoulder to shoulder and side to side,
Rising and falling and swaying wide,
But bearing above them the rose, my pride,
They marched away in the twilight weather.

And I leaned from my window and watched my rose
Tossed on the waves of the surging column,
Warmed from above in the sunset glows,
Borne from below by an impulse solemn.
Then I shut the window. I heard no more
Of my soldier friend, nor my flower neither,
But lived my life as I did before.
I did not go as a nurse to the war,--
Sick folks to me are a dreadful bore,--
So I didn't go to the hospital either.

You smile, O poet, and what do you?
You lean from your window, and watch life's column
Trampling and struggling through dust and dew,
Filled with its purposes grave and solemn;
And an act, a gesture, a face--who knows?--
Touches your fancy to thrill and haunt you,
And you pluck from your bosom the verse that grows
And down it flies like my red, red rose,
And you sit and dream as away it goes,
And think that your duty is done,--now don't you?

I know your answer. I'm not yet through.
Look at this photograph,--'In the Trenches'!
That dead man in the coat of blue
Holds a withered rose in his hand. That clenches
Nothing!--except that the sun paints true,
And a woman is sometimes prophetic-minded.
And that's my romance. And, poet, you
Take it and mould it to suit your view;
And who knows but you may find it too
Come to your heart once more, as mine did.

 

Miss Edith Makes Another Friend

Oh, you're the girl lives on the corner? Come in--if you want to--
come quick!
There's no one but me in the house, and the cook--but she's only a
stick.
Don't try the front way, but come over the fence--through the
window--that's how.
Don't mind the big dog--he won't bite you--just see him obey me!
there, now!

What's your name? Mary Ellen? How funny! Mine's Edith--it's
nicer, you see;
But yours does for you, for you're plainer, though maybe you're
gooder than me;
For Jack says I'm sometimes a devil, but Jack, of all folks, needn't
talk,
For I don't call the seamstress an angel till Ma says the poor thing
must 'walk.'

Come in! It's quite dark in the parlor, for sister will keep the
blinds down,
For you know her complexion is sallow like yours, but she isn't as
brown;
Though Jack says that isn't the reason she likes to sit here with
Jim Moore.
Do you think that he meant that she kissed him? Would you--if your
lips wasn't sore?

If you like, you can try our piano. 'Tain't ours. A man left it
here
To rent by the month, although Ma says he hasn't been paid for a
year.
Sister plays--oh, such fine variations!--why, I once heard a
gentleman say
That she didn't mind THAT for the music--in fact, it was just in her
way!

Ain't I funny? And yet it's the queerest of all that, whatever I
say,
One half of the folks die a-laughing, and the rest, they all look
t'other way.
And some say, 'That child!' Do they ever say that to such people as
you?
Though maybe you're naturally silly, and that makes your eyes so
askew.

Now stop--don't you dare to be crying! Just as sure as you live, if
you do,
I'll call in my big dog to bite you, and I'll make my Papa kill you,
too!
And then where'll you be? So play pretty. There's my doll, and a
nice piece of cake.
You don't want it--you think it is poison! Then I'LL eat it, dear,
just for your sake!

 

Miss Edith Makes It Pleasant For Brother Jack

'Crying!' Of course I am crying, and I guess you would be crying,
too,
If people were telling such stories as they tell about me, about YOU.
Oh yes, you can laugh if you want to, and smoke as you didn't care
how,
And get your brains softened like uncle's. Dr. Jones says you're
gettin' it now.

Why don't you say 'Stop!' to Miss Ilsey? She cries twice as much as
I do,
And she's older and cries just from meanness,--for a ribbon or
anything new.
Ma says it's her 'sensitive nature.' Oh my! No, I sha'n't stop my
talk!
And I don't want no apples nor candy, and I don't want to go take a
walk!

I know why you're mad! Yes, I do, now! You think that Miss Ilsey
likes YOU,
And I've heard her REPEATEDLY call you the bold-facest boy that she
knew;
And she'd 'like to know where you learnt manners.' Oh yes! Kick
the table,--that's right!
Spill the ink on my dress, and go then round telling Ma that I look
like a fright!

What stories? Pretend you don't know that they're saying I broke
off the match
Twixt old Money-grubber and Mary, by saying she called him
'Crosspatch,'
When the only allusion I made him about sister Mary was, she
Cared more for his cash than his temper, and you know, Jack, you
said that to me.

And it's true! But it's ME, and I'm scolded, and Pa says if I keep
on I might
By and by get my name in the papers! Who cares? Why, 'twas only
last night
I was reading how Pa and the sheriff were selling some lots, and
it's plain
If it's awful to be in the papers, why, Papa would go and complain.

You think it ain't true about Ilsey? Well, I guess I know girls,
and I say
There's nothing I see about Ilsey to show she likes you, anyway!
I know what it means when a girl who has called her cat after one
boy
Goes and changes its name to another's. And she's done it--and I
wish you joy!

 

Miss Edith's Modest Request

My Papa knows you, and he says you're a man who makes reading for
books;
But I never read nothing you wrote, nor did Papa,--I know by his
looks.
So I guess you're like me when I talk, and I talk, and I talk all
the day,
And they only say, 'Do stop that child!' or, 'Nurse, take Miss Edith
away.'

But Papa said if I was good I could ask you--alone by myself--
If you wouldn't write me a book like that little one up on the shelf.
I don't mean the pictures, of course, for to make THEM you've got to
be smart
But the reading that runs all around them, you know,--just the
easiest part.

You needn't mind what it's about, for no one will see it but me,
And Jane,--that's my nurse,--and John,--he's the coachman,--just
only us three.
You're to write of a bad little girl, that was wicked and bold and
all that;
And then you're to write, if you please, something good--very good--
of a cat!

This cat, she was virtuous and meek, and kind to her parents, and
mild,
And careful and neat in her ways, though her mistress was such a bad
child;
And hours she would sit and would gaze when her mistress--that's me--
was so bad,
And blink, just as if she would say, 'Oh, Edith! you make my heart
sad.'

And yet, you would scarcely believe it, that beautiful, angelic cat
Was blamed by the servants for stealing whatever, they said, she'd
get at.
And when John drank my milk,--don't you tell me! I know just the
way it was done,--
They said 'twas the cat,--and she sitting and washing her face in
the sun!

And then there was Dick, my canary. When I left its cage open one
day,
They all made believe that she ate it, though I know that the bird
flew away.
And why? Just because she was playing with a feather she found on
the floor.
As if cats couldn't play with a feather without people thinking
'twas more!

Why, once we were romping together, when I knocked down a vase from
the shelf,
That cat was as grieved and distressed as if she had done it herself;
And she walked away sadly and hid herself, and never came out until
tea,--
So they say, for they sent ME to bed, and she never came even to me.

No matter whatever happened, it was laid at the door of that cat.
Why, once when I tore my apron,--she was wrapped in it, and I called
'Rat!'--
Why, they blamed that on HER. I shall never--no, not to my dying
day--
Forget the pained look that she gave me when they slapped ME and
took me away.

Of course, you know just what comes next, when a child is as lovely
as that:
She wasted quite slowly away; it was goodness was killing that cat.
I know it was nothing she ate, for her taste was exceedingly nice;
But they said she stole Bobby's ice cream, and caught a bad cold
from the ice.

And you'll promise to make me a book like that little one up on the
shelf,
And you'll call her 'Naomi,' because it's a name that she just gave
herself;
For she'd scratch at my door in the morning, and whenever I'd call
out, 'Who's there?'
She would answer, 'Naomi! Naomi!' like a Christian, I vow and declare.

And you'll put me and her in a book. And mind, you're to say I was
bad;
And I might have been badder than that but for the example I had.
And you'll say that she was a Maltese, and--what's that you asked?
'Is she dead?'
Why, please, sir, there ain't any cat! You're to make one up out of
your head!

 

Mrs. Judge Jenkins

Maud Muller all that summer day
Raked the meadow sweet with hay;

Yet, looking down the distant lane,
She hoped the Judge would come again.

But when he came, with smile and bow,
Maud only blushed, and stammered, 'Ha-ow?'

And spoke of her 'pa,' and wondered whether
He'd give consent they should wed together.

Old Muller burst in tears, and then
Begged that the Judge would lend him 'ten;'

For trade was dull, and wages low,
And the 'craps,' this year, were somewhat slow.

And ere the languid summer died,
Sweet Maud became the Judge's bride.

But on the day that they were mated,
Maud's brother Bob was intoxicated;

And Maud's relations, twelve in all,
Were very drunk at the Judge's hall.

And when the summer came again,
The young bride bore him babies twain;

And the Judge was blest, but thought it strange
That bearing children made such a change;

For Maud grew broad and red and stout,
And the waist that his arm once clasped about

Was more than he now could span; and he
Sighed as he pondered, ruefully,

How that which in Maud was native grace
In Mrs. Jenkins was out of place;

And thought of the twins, and wished that they
Looked less like the men who raked the hay

On Muller's farm, and dreamed with pain
Of the day he wandered down the lane.

And looking down that dreary track,
He half regretted that he came back;

For, had he waited, he might have wed
Some maiden fair and thoroughbred;

For there be women fair as she,
Whose verbs and nouns do more agree.

Alas for maiden! alas for judge!
And the sentimental,--that's one-half 'fudge;'

For Maud soon thought the Judge a bore,
With all his learning and all his lore;

And the Judge would have bartered Maud's fair face
For more refinement and social grace.

If, of all words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are, 'It might have been,'

More sad are these we daily see:
'It is, but hadn't ought to be.'

 

North Beach

Lo! where the castle of bold Pfeiffer throws
Its sullen shadow on the rolling tide,--
No more the home where joy and wealth repose,
But now where wassailers in cells abide;
See yon long quay that stretches far and wide,
Well known to citizens as wharf of Meiggs:
There each sweet Sabbath walks in maiden pride
The pensive Margaret, and brave Pat, whose legs
Encased in broadcloth oft keep time with Peg's.

Here cometh oft the tender nursery-maid,
While in her ear her love his tale doth pour;
Meantime her infant doth her charge evade,
And rambleth sagely on the sandy shore,
Till the sly sea-crab, low in ambush laid,
Seizeth his leg and biteth him full sore.
Ah me! what sounds the shuddering echoes bore
When his small treble mixed with Ocean's roar!

Hard by there stands an ancient hostelrie,
And at its side a garden, where the bear,
The stealthy catamount, and coon agree
To work deceit on all who gather there;
And when Augusta--that unconscious fair--
With nuts and apples plieth Bruin free,
Lo! the green parrot claweth her back hair,
And the gray monkey grabbeth fruits that she
On her gay bonnet wears, and laugheth loud in glee!

 

Off Scarborough

I

'Have a care!' the bailiffs cried
From their cockleshell that lay
Off the frigate's yellow side,
Tossing on Scarborough Bay,
While the forty sail it convoyed on a bowline stretched away.
'Take your chicks beneath your wings,
And your claws and feathers spread,
Ere the hawk upon them springs,--
Ere around Flamborough Head
Swoops Paul Jones, the Yankee falcon, with his beak and talons red.'

II

How we laughed!--my mate and I,--
On the 'Bon Homme Richard's' deck,
As we saw that convoy fly
Like a snow-squall, till each fleck
Melted in the twilight shadows of the coast-line, speck by speck;
And scuffling back to shore
The Scarborough bailiffs sped,
As the 'Richard' with a roar
Of her cannon round the Head,
Crossed her royal yards and signaled to her consort: 'Chase ahead'

III

But the devil seize Landais
In that consort ship of France!
For the shabby, lubber way
That he worked the 'Alliance'
In the offing,--nor a broadside fired save to our mischance!--
When tumbling to the van,
With his battle-lanterns set,
Rose the burly Englishman
'Gainst our hull as black as jet,--
Rode the yellow-sided 'Serapis,' and all alone we met!

IV

All alone, though far at sea
Hung his consort, rounding to;
All alone, though on our lee
Fought our 'Pallas,' stanch and true!
For the first broadside around us both a smoky circle drew:
And, like champions in a ring,
There was cleared a little space--
Scarce a cable's length to swing--
Ere we grappled in embrace,
All the world shut out around us, and we only face to face!

V

Then awoke all hell below
From that broadside, doubly curst,
For our long eighteens in row
Leaped the first discharge and burst!
And on deck our men came pouring, fearing their own guns the worst.
And as dumb we lay, till, through
Smoke and flame and bitter cry,
Hailed the 'Serapis:' 'Have you
Struck your colors?' Our reply,
'We have not yet begun to fight!' went shouting to the sky!

VI

Roux of Brest, old fisher, lay
Like a herring gasping here;
Bunker of Nantucket Bay,
Blown from out the port, dropped sheer
Half a cable's length to leeward; yet we faintly raised a cheer
As with his own right hand
Our Commodore made fast
The foeman's head-gear and
The 'Richard's' mizzen-mast,
And in that death-lock clinging held us there from first to last!

VII

Yet the foeman, gun on gun,
Through the 'Richard' tore a road,
With his gunners' rammers run
Through our ports at every load,
Till clear the blue beyond us through our yawning timbers showed.
Yet with entrails torn we clung
Like the Spartan to our fox,
And on deck no coward tongue
Wailed the enemy's hard knocks,
Nor that all below us trembled like a wreck upon the rocks.

VIII

Then a thought rose in my brain,
As through Channel mists the sun.
From our tops a fire like rain
Drove below decks every one
Of the enemy's ship's company to hide or work a gun:
And that thought took shape as I
On the 'Richard's' yard lay out,
That a man might do and die,
If the doing brought about
Freedom for his home and country, and his messmates' cheering shout!

IX

Then I crept out in the dark
Till I hung above the hatch
Of the 'Serapis,'--a mark
For her marksmen!--with a match
And a hand-grenade, but lingered just a moment more to snatch
One last look at sea and sky!
At the lighthouse on the hill!
At the harvest-moon on high!
And our pine flag fluttering still!
Then turned and down her yawning throat I launched that devil's pill!

X

Then a blank was all between
As the flames around me spun!
Had I fired the magazine?
Was the victory lost or won?
Nor knew I till the fight was o'er but half my work was done:
For I lay among the dead
In the cockpit of our foe,
With a roar above my head,--
Till a trampling to and fro,
And a lantern showed my mate's face, and I knew what now you know!

 

On A Cone Of The Big Trees

Brown foundling of the Western wood,
Babe of primeval wildernesses!
Long on my table thou hast stood
Encounters strange and rude caresses;
Perchance contented with thy lot,
Surroundings new, and curious faces,
As though ten centuries were not
Imprisoned in thy shining cases.

Thou bring'st me back the halcyon days
Of grateful rest, the week of leisure,
The journey lapped in autumn haze,
The sweet fatigue that seemed a pleasure,
The morning ride, the noonday halt,
The blazing slopes, the red dust rising,
And then the dim, brown, columned vault,
With its cool, damp, sepulchral spicing.

Once more I see the rocking masts
That scrape the sky, their only tenant
The jay-bird, that in frolic casts
From some high yard his broad blue pennant.
I see the Indian files that keep
Their places in the dusty heather,
Their red trunks standing ankle-deep
In moccasins of rusty leather.

I see all this, and marvel much
That thou, sweet woodland waif, art able
To keep the company of such
As throng thy friend's--the poet's--table:
The latest spawn the press hath cast,--
The 'modern popes,' 'the later Byrons,'--
Why, e'en the best may not outlast
Thy poor relation--Sempervirens.

Thy sire saw the light that shone
On Mohammed's uplifted crescent,
On many a royal gilded throne
And deed forgotten in the present;
He saw the age of sacred trees
And Druid groves and mystic larches;
And saw from forest domes like these
The builder bring his Gothic arches.

And must thou, foundling, still forego
Thy heritage and high ambition,
To lie full lowly and full low,
Adjusted to thy new condition?
Not hidden in the drifted snows,
But under ink-drops idly spattered,
And leaves ephemeral as those
That on thy woodland tomb were scattered?

Yet lie thou there, O friend! and speak
The moral of thy simple story:
Though life is all that thou dost seek,
And age alone thy crown of glory,
Not thine the only germs that fail
The purpose of their high creation,
If their poor tenements avail
For worldly show and ostentation.

 

On A Pen Of Thomas Starr King

This is the reed the dead musician dropped,
With tuneful magic in its sheath still hidden;
The prompt allegro of its music stopped,
Its melodies unbidden.

But who shall finish the unfinished strain,
Or wake the instrument to awe and wonder,
And bid the slender barrel breathe again,
An organ-pipe of thunder!

His pen! what humbler memories cling about
Its golden curves! what shapes and laughing graces
Slipped from its point, when his full heart went out
In smiles and courtly phrases?

The truth, half jesting, half in earnest flung;
The word of cheer, with recognition in it;
The note of alms, whose golden speech outrung
The golden gift within it.

But all in vain the enchanter`s wand we wave:
No stroke of ours recalls his magic vision:
The incantation that its power gave
Sleeps with the dead magician.

 

On William Francis Bartlett

O poor Romancer--thou whose printed page,
Filled with rude speech and ruder forms of strife,
Was given to heroes in whose vulgar rage
No trace appears of gentler ways and life!--

Thou who wast wont of commoner clay to build
Some rough Achilles or some Ajax tall;
Thou whose free brush too oft was wont to gild
Some single virtue till it dazzled all;--

What right hast thou beside this laureled bier
Whereon all manhood lies--whereon the wreath
Of Harvard rests, the civic crown, and here
The starry flag, and sword and jeweled sheath?

Seest thou these hatchments? Knowest thou this blood
Nourished the heroes of Colonial days--
Sent to the dim and savage-haunted wood
Those sad-eyed Puritans with hymns of praise?

Look round thee! Everywhere is classic ground.
There Greylock rears. Beside yon silver 'Bowl'
Great Hawthorne dwelt, and in its mirror found
Those quaint, strange shapes that filled his poet's soul.

Still silent, Stranger? Thou who now and then
Touched the too credulous ear with pathos, canst not speak?
Hast lost thy ready skill of tongue and pen?
What, Jester! Tears upon that painted cheek?

Pardon, good friends! I am not here to mar
His laureled wreaths with this poor tinseled crown--
This man who taught me how 'twas better far
To be the poem than to write it down.

I bring no lesson. Well have others preached
This sword that dealt full many a gallant blow;
I come once more to touch the hand that reached
Its knightly gauntlet to the vanquished foe.

O pale Aristocrat, that liest there,
So cold, so silent! Couldst thou not in grace
Have borne with us still longer, and so spare
The scorn we see in that proud, placid face?

'Hail and farewell!' So the proud Roman cried
O'er his dead hero. 'Hail,' but not 'farewell.'
With each high thought thou walkest side by side;
We feel thee, touch thee, know who wrought the spell!

 

Our Privilege

Not ours, where battle smoke upcurls,
And battle dews lie wet,
To meet the charge that treason hurls
By sword and bayonet.

Not ours to guide the fatal scythe
The fleshless Reaper wields;
The harvest moon looks calmly down
Upon our peaceful fields.

The long grass dimples on the hill,
The pines sing by the sea,
And Plenty, from her golden horn,
Is pouring far and free.

O brothers by the farther sea!
Think still our faith is warm;
The same bright flag above us waves
That swathed our baby form.

The same red blood that dyes your fields
Here throbs in patriot pride,--
The blood that flowed when Lander fell,
And Baker`s crimson tide.

And thus apart our hearts keep time
With every pulse ye feel,
And Mercy`s ringing gold shall chime
With Valor`s clashing steel.

 

Penelope

So you've kem 'yer agen,
And one answer won't do?
Well, of all the derned men
That I've struck, it is you.
O Sal! 'yer's that derned fool from Simpson's, cavortin' round 'yer
in the dew.

Kem in, ef you will.
Thar,--quit! Take a cheer.
Not that; you can't fill
Them theer cushings this year,--
For that cheer was my old man's, Joe Simpson, and they don't make
such men about 'yer.

He was tall, was my Jack,
And as strong as a tree.
Thar's his gun on the rack,--
Jest you heft it, and see.
And YOU come a courtin' his widder! Lord! where can that critter,
Sal, be!

You'd fill my Jack's place?
And a man of your size,--
With no baird to his face,
Nor a snap to his eyes,
And nary--Sho! thar! I was foolin',--I was, Joe, for sartain,--don't
rise.

Sit down. Law! why, sho!
I'm as weak as a gal.
Sal! Don't you go, Joe,
Or I'll faint,--sure, I shall.
Sit down,--anywheer, where you like, Joe,--in that cheer, if you
choose,--Lord! where's Sal?

 

Plain Language From Truthful James

Which I wish to remark,
And my language is plain,
That for ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,
Which the same I would rise to explain.

Ah Sin was his name;
And I shall not deny,
In regard to the same,
What that name might imply;
But his smile it was pensive and childlike,
As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye.

It was August the third,
And quite soft was the skies;
Which it might be inferred
That Ah Sin was likewise;
Yet he played it that day upon William
And me in a way I despise.

Which we had a small game,
And Ah Sin took a hand:
It was Euchre. The same
He did not understand;
But he smiled as he sat by the table,
With the smile that was childlike and bland.

Yet the cards they were stocked
In a way that I grieve,
And my feelings were shocked
At the state of Nye's sleeve,
Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers,
And the same with intent to deceive.

But the hands that were played
By that heathen Chinee,
And the points that he made,
Were quite frightful to see,--
Till at last he put down a right bower,
Which the same Nye had dealt unto me.

Then I looked up at Nye,
And he gazed upon me;
And he rose with a sigh,
And said, 'Can this be?
We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor,'--
And he went for that heathen Chinee.

In the scene that ensued
I did not take a hand,
But the floor it was strewed
Like the leaves on the strand
With the cards that Ah Sin had been hiding,
In the game 'he did not understand.'

In his sleeves, which were long,
He had twenty-four packs,--
Which was coming it strong,
Yet I state but the facts;
And we found on his nails, which were taper,
What is frequent in tapers,--that's wax.

Which is why I remark,
And my language is plain,
That for ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,--
Which the same I am free to maintain.

 

Poem Delivered On The Fourteenth Anniversary Of California's Admission Into The Union, September 9, 1864

We meet in peace, though from our native East
The sun that sparkles on our birthday feast
Glanced as he rose on fields whose dews were red
With darker tints than those Aurora spread.
Though shorn his rays, his welcome disk concealed
In the dim smoke that veiled each battlefield,
Still striving upward, in meridian pride,
He climbed the walls that East and West divide,--
Saw his bright face flashed back from golden sand,
And sapphire seas that lave the Western land.

Strange was the contrast that such scenes disclose
From his high vantage o'er eternal snows;
There War's alarm the brazen trumpet rings--
Here his love-song the mailed cicala sings;
There bayonets glitter through the forest glades--
Here yellow cornfields stack their peaceful blades;
There the deep trench where Valor finds a grave--
Here the long ditch that curbs the peaceful wave;
There the bold sapper with his lighted train--
Here the dark tunnel and its stores of gain;
Here the full harvest and the wain's advance--
There the Grim Reaper and the ambulance.

With scenes so adverse, what mysterious bond
Links our fair fortunes to the shores beyond?
Why come we here--last of a scattered fold--
To pour new metal in the broken mould?
To yield our tribute, stamped with Caesar's face,
To Caesar, stricken in the market-place?

Ah! love of country is the secret tie
That joins these contrasts 'neath one arching sky;
Though brighter paths our peaceful steps explore,
We meet together at the Nation's door.
War winds her horn, and giant cliffs go down
Like the high walls that girt the sacred town,
And bares the pathway to her throbbing heart,
From clustered village and from crowded mart.

Part of God's providence it was to found
A Nation's bulwark on this chosen ground;
Not Jesuit's zeal nor pioneer's unrest
Planted these pickets in the distant West,
But He who first the Nation's fate forecast
Placed here His fountains sealed for ages past,
Rock-ribbed and guarded till the coming time
Should fit the people for their work sublime;
When a new Moses with his rod of steel
Smote the tall cliffs with one wide-ringing peal,
And the old miracle in record told
To the new Nation was revealed in gold.

Judge not too idly that our toils are mean,
Though no new levies marshal on our green;
Nor deem too rashly that our gains are small,
Weighed with the prizes for which heroes fall.
See, where thick vapor wreathes the battle-line;
There Mercy follows with her oil and wine;
Or where brown Labor with its peaceful charm
Stiffens the sinews of the Nation's arm.
What nerves its hands to strike a deadlier blow
And hurl its legions on the rebel foe?
Lo! for each town new rising o'er our State
See the foe's hamlet waste and desolate,
While each new factory lifts its chimney tall,
Like a fresh mortar trained on Richmond's wall.

For this, O brothers, swings the fruitful vine,
Spread our broad pastures with their countless kine:
For this o'erhead the arching vault springs clear,
Sunlit and cloudless for one half the year;
For this no snowflake, e'er so lightly pressed,
Chills the warm impulse of our mother's breast.
Quick to reply, from meadows brown and sere,
She thrills responsive to Spring's earliest tear;
Breaks into blossom, flings her loveliest rose
Ere the white crocus mounts Atlantic snows;
And the example of her liberal creed
Teaches the lesson that to-day we heed.

Thus ours the lot with peaceful, generous hand
To spread our bounty o'er the suffering land;
As the deep cleft in Mariposa's wall
Hurls a vast river splintering in its fall,--
Though the rapt soul who stands in awe below
Sees but the arching of the promised bow,
Lo! the far streamlet drinks its dews unseen,
And the whole valley wakes a brighter green.

 

Ramon

Drunk and senseless in his place,
Prone and sprawling on his face,
More like brute than any man
Alive or dead,
By his great pump out of gear,
Lay the peon engineer,
Waking only just to hear,
Overhead,
Angry tones that called his name,
Oaths and cries of bitter blame,--
Woke to hear all this, and, waking, turned and fled!

'To the man who'll bring to me,'
Cried Intendant Harry Lee,--
Harry Lee, the English foreman of the mine,--
'Bring the sot alive or dead,
I will give to him,' he said,
'Fifteen hundred pesos down,
Just to set the rascal's crown
Underneath this heel of mine:
Since but death
Deserves the man whose deed,
Be it vice or want of heed,
Stops the pumps that give us breath,--
Stops the pumps that suck the death
From the poisoned lower levels of the mine!'

No one answered; for a cry
From the shaft rose up on high,
And shuffling, scrambling, tumbling from below,
Came the miners each, the bolder
Mounting on the weaker's shoulder,
Grappling, clinging to their hold or
Letting go,
As the weaker gasped and fell
From the ladder to the well,--
To the poisoned pit of hell
Down below!

'To the man who sets them free,'
Cried the foreman, Harry Lee,--
Harry Lee, the English foreman of the mine,--
'Brings them out and sets them free,
I will give that man,' said he,
'Twice that sum, who with a rope
Face to face with Death shall cope.
Let him come who dares to hope!'
'Hold your peace!' some one replied,
Standing by the foreman's side;
'There has one already gone, whoe'er he be!'

Then they held their breath with awe,
Pulling on the rope, and saw
Fainting figures reappear,
On the black rope swinging clear,
Fastened by some skillful hand from below;
Till a score the level gained,
And but one alone remained,--
He the hero and the last,
He whose skillful hand made fast
The long line that brought them back to hope and cheer!

Haggard, gasping, down dropped he
At the feet of Harry Lee,--
Harry Lee, the English foreman of the mine.
'I have come,' he gasped, 'to claim
Both rewards. Senor, my name
Is Ramon!
I'm the drunken engineer,
I'm the coward, Senor'-- Here
He fell over, by that sign,
Dead as stone!

 

Relieving Guard - Thomas Starr King Obit March 4, 1864

Came the relief. 'What, sentry, ho!
How passed the night through thy long waking?'
'Cold, cheerless, dark,--as may befit
The hour before the dawn is breaking.'

'No sight? no sound?' 'No; nothing save
The plover from the marshes calling,
And in yon western sky, about
An hour ago, a star was falling.'

'A star? There`s nothing strange in that.'
'No, nothing; but, above the thicket,
Somehow it seemed to me that God
Somewhere had just relieved a picket.'

 

San Francisco [From The Sea]

Serene, indifferent of Fate,
Thou sittest at the Western Gate;

Upon thy height, so lately won,
Still slant the banners of the sun;

Thou seest the white seas strike their tents,
O Warder of two continents!

And, scornful of the peace that flies
Thy angry winds and sullen skies,

Thou drawest all things, small, or great,
To thee, beside the Western Gate.

O lions whelp, that hidest fast
In jungle growth of spire and mast!

I know thy cunning and thy greed,
Thy hard high lust and willful deed,

And all thy glory loves to tell
Of specious gifts material.

Drop down, O Fleecy Fog, and hide
Her skeptic sneer and all her pride!

Wrap her, O Fog, in gown and hood
Of her Franciscan Brotherhood.

Hide me her faults, her sin and blame;
With thy gray mantle cloak her shame!

So shall she, cowled, sit and pray
Till morning bears her sins away.

Then rise, O Fleecy Fog, and raise
The glory of her coming days;

Be as the cloud that flecks the seas
Above her smoky argosies;

When forms familiar shall give place
To stranger speech and newer face;

When all her throes and anxious fears
Lie hushed in the repose of years;

When Art shall raise and Culture lift
The sensual joys and meaner thrift,

And all fulfilled the vision we
Who watch and wait shall never see;

Who, in the morning of her race,
Toiled fair or meanly in our place,

But, yielding to the common lot,
Lie unrecorded and forgot.

 

Seventy-Nine

Know me next time when you see me, won't you, old smarty?
Oh, I mean YOU, old figger-head,--just the same party!
Take out your pensivil, d--n you; sharpen it, do!
Any complaints to make? Lots of 'em--one of 'em's YOU.

You! who are YOU, anyhow, goin' round in that sneakin' way?
Never in jail before, was you, old blatherskite, say?
Look at it; don't it look pooty? Oh, grin, and be d--d to you, do!
But if I had you this side o' that gratin,' I'd just make it lively
for you.

How did I get in here? Well what 'ud you give to know?
'Twasn't by sneakin' round where I hadn't no call to go;
'Twasn't by hangin' round a-spyin' unfortnet men.
Grin! but I'll stop your jaw if ever you do that agen.

Why don't you say suthin, blast you? Speak your mind if you dare.
Ain't I a bad lot, sonny? Say it, and call it square.
Hain't got no tongue, hey, hev ye? Oh, guard! here's a little swell
A cussin' and swearin' and yellin', and bribin' me not to tell.

There! I thought that 'ud fetch ye! And you want to know my name?
'Seventy-nine' they call me, but that is their little game;
For I'm werry highly connected, as a gent, sir, can understand,
And my family hold their heads up with the very furst in the land.

For 'twas all, sir, a put-up job on a pore young man like me;
And the jury was bribed a puppos, and at furst they couldn't agree;
And I sed to the judge, sez I,--Oh, grin! it's all right, my son!
But you're a werry lively young pup, and you ain't to be played upon!

Wot's that you got?--tobacco? I'm cussed but I thought 'twas a tract.
Thank ye! A chap t'other day--now, lookee, this is a fact--
Slings me a tract on the evils o' keepin' bad company,
As if all the saints was howlin' to stay here along o' we.

No, I hain't no complaints. Stop, yes; do you see that chap,--
Him standin' over there, a-hidin' his eyes in his cap?
Well, that man's stumick is weak, and he can't stand the pris'n fare;
For the coffee is just half beans, and the sugar it ain't nowhere.

Perhaps it's his bringin' up; but he's sickenin' day by day,
And he doesn't take no food, and I'm seein' him waste away.
And it isn't the thing to see; for, whatever he's been and done,
Starvation isn't the plan as he's to be saved upon.

For he cannot rough it like me; and he hasn't the stamps, I guess,
To buy him his extry grub outside o' the pris'n mess.
And perhaps if a gent like you, with whom I've been sorter free,
Would--thank you! But, say! look here! Oh, blast it! don't give it
to ME!

Don't you give it to me; now, don't ye, don't ye, don't!
You think it's a put-up job; so I'll thank ye, sir, if you won't.
But hand him the stamps yourself: why, he isn't even my pal;
And, if it's a comfort to you, why, I don't intend that he shall.

 

Songs Without Sense: [For the Parlor and Piano]

Affection's charm no longer gilds
The idol of the shrine;
But cold Oblivion seeks to fill
Regrets ambrosial wine.
Though Friendships offering buried lies
Neath cold Aversions snow,
Regard and Faith will ever bloom
Perpetually below.

I see thee whirl in marble halls,
In Pleasures giddy train;
Remorse is never on that brow,
Nor Sorrows mark of pain.
Deceit has marked thee for her own;
Inconstancy the same;
And Ruin wildly sheds its gleam
Athwart thy path of shame.

II. THE HOMELY PATHETIC

The dews are heavy on my brow;
My breath comes hard and low;
Yet, mother dear, grant one request,
Before your boy must go.
Oh! lift me ere my spirit sinks,
And ere my senses fail,
Place me once more, O mother dear,
Astride the old fence-rail.

The old fence-rail, the old fence-rail!
How oft these youthful legs,
With Alice and Ben Bolts, were hung
Across those wooden pegs!
Twas there the nauseating smoke
Of my first pipe arose:
O mother dear, these agonies
Are far less keen than those.

I know where lies the hazel dell,
Where simple Nellie sleeps;
I know the cot of Nettie Moore,
And where the willow weeps.
I know the brookside and the mill,
But all their pathos fails
Beside the days when once I sat
Astride the old fence-rails.

III. SWISS AIR

Im a gay tra, la, la,
With my fal, lal, la, la,
And my bright
And my light
Tra, la, le. [Repeat.]

Then laugh, ha, ha, ha,
And ring, ting, ling, ling,
And sing fal, la, la,
La, la, le. [Repeat.]

 

St. Thomas

Very fair and full of promise
Lay the island of St. Thomas:
Ocean o'er its reefs and bars
Hid its elemental scars;
Groves of cocoanut and guava
Grew above its fields of lava.
So the gem of the Antilles--
'Isles of Eden,' where no ill is--
Like a great green turtle slumbered
On the sea that it encumbered.

Then said William Henry Seward,
As he cast his eye to leeward,
'Quite important to our commerce
Is this island of St. Thomas.'

Said the Mountain ranges, 'Thank'ee,
But we cannot stand the Yankee
O'er our scars and fissures poring,
In our very vitals boring,
In our sacred caverns prying,
All our secret problems trying,--
Digging, blasting, with dynamit
Mocking all our thunders! Damn it!
Other lands may be more civil;
Bust our lava crust if we will!'

Said the Sea, its white teeth gnashing
Through its coral-reef lips flashing,
'Shall I let this scheming mortal
Shut with stone my shining portal,
Curb my tide and check my play,
Fence with wharves my shining bay?
Rather let me be drawn out
In one awful waterspout!'

Said the black-browed Hurricane,
Brooding down the Spanish Main,
'Shall I see my forces, zounds!
Measured by square inch and pounds,
With detectives at my back
When I double on my track,
And my secret paths made clear,
Published o'er the hemisphere
To each gaping, prying crew?
Shall I? Blow me if I do!'

So the Mountains shook and thundered,
And the Hurricane came sweeping,
And the people stared and wondered
As the Sea came on them leaping:
Each, according to his promise,
Made things lively at St. Thomas.

Till one morn, when Mr. Seward
Cast his weather eye to leeward,
There was not an inch of dry land
Left to mark his recent island.
Not a flagstaff or a sentry,
Not a wharf or port of entry,--
Only--to cut matters shorter--
Just a patch of muddy water
In the open ocean lying,
And a gull above it flying.

 

Swiss Air

I'm a gay tra, la, la,
With my fal, lal, la, la,
And my bright--
And my light--
Tra, la, le. [Repeat.]

Then laugh, ha, ha, ha,
And ring, ting, ling, ling,
And sing fal, la, la,
La, la, le. [Repeat.]

 

Telemachus Versus Mentor

Don't mind me, I beg you, old fellow,--I'll do very well here alone;
You must not be kept from your 'German' because I've dropped in like
a stone.
Leave all ceremony behind you, leave all thought of aught but
yourself;
And leave, if you like, the Madeira, and a dozen cigars on the shelf.

As for me, you will say to your hostess--well, I scarcely need give
you a cue.
Chant my praise! All will list to Apollo, though Mercury pipe to a
few.
Say just what you please, my dear boy; there's more eloquence lies
in youth's rash
Outspoken heart-impulse than ever growled under this grizzling
mustache.

Go, don the dress coat of our tyrant,--youth's panoplied armor for
fight,--
And tie the white neckcloth that rumples, like pleasure, and lasts
but a night;
And pray the Nine Gods to avert you what time the Three Sisters
shall frown,
And you'll lose your high-comedy figure, and sit more at ease in
your gown.

He's off! There's his foot on the staircase. By Jove, what a bound!
Really now
Did I ever leap like this springald, with Love's chaplet green on my
brow?
Was I such an ass? No, I fancy. Indeed, I remember quite plain
A gravity mixed with my transports, a cheerfulness softened my pain.

He's gone! There's the slam of his cab door, there's the clatter
of hoofs and the wheels;
And while he the light toe is tripping, in this armchair I'll tilt
up my heels.
He's gone, and for what? For a tremor from a waist like a teetotum
spun;
For a rosebud that's crumpled by many before it is gathered by one.

Is there naught in the halo of youth but the glow of a passionate
race--'Midst the cheers and applause of a crowd--to the goal of a
beautiful face?
A race that is not to the swift, a prize that no merits enforce,
But is won by some faineant youth, who shall simply walk over the
course?

Poor boy! shall I shock his conceit? When he talks of her cheek's
loveliness,
Shall I say 'twas the air of the room, and was due to carbonic excess?
That when waltzing she drooped on his breast, and the veins of her
eyelids grew dim,
'Twas oxygen's absence she felt, but never the presence of him?

Shall I tell him first love is a fraud, a weakling that's strangled
in birth,
Recalled with perfunctory tears, but lost in unsanctified mirth?
Or shall I go bid him believe in all womankind's charm, and forget
In the light ringing laugh of the world the rattlesnake's gay
castanet?

Shall I tear out a leaf from my heart, from that book that forever
is shut
On the past? Shall I speak of my first love--Augusta--my Lalage?
But
I forget. Was it really Augusta? No. 'Twas Lucy! No. Mary!
No. Di!
Never mind! they were all first and faithless, and yet--I've forgotten
just why.

No, no! Let him dream on and ever. Alas! he will waken too soon;
And it doesn't look well for October to always be preaching at June.
Poor boy! All his fond foolish trophies pinned yonder--a bow from
HER hair,
A few billets-doux, invitations, and--what's this? My name, I
declare!

Humph! 'You'll come, for I've got you a prize, with beauty and money
no end:
You know her, I think; 'twas on dit she once was engaged to your
friend;
But she says that's all over.' Ah, is it? Sweet Ethel! incomparable
maid!
Or--what if the thing were a trick?--this letter so freely displayed!--

My opportune presence! No! nonsense! Will nobody answer the bell?
Call a cab! Half past ten. Not too late yet. Oh, Ethel! Why don't
you go? Well?
'Master said you would wait'-- Hang your master! 'Have I ever a
message to send?'
Yes, tell him I've gone to the German to dance with the friend of
his friend.

 

The Aged Stranger

I was with Grant'--the stranger said;
Said the farmer, 'Say no more,
But rest thee here at my cottage porch,
For thy feet are weary and sore.'

'I was with Grant'--the stranger said;
Said the farmer, 'Nay, no more,--
I prithee sit at my frugal board,
And eat of my humble store.

'How fares my boy,--my soldier boy,
Of the old Ninth Army Corps?
I warrant he bore him gallantly
In the smoke and the battle's roar!'

'I know him not,' said the aged man,
'And, as I remarked before,
I was with Grant'-- 'Nay, nay, I know,'
Said the farmer, 'say no more:

'He fell in battle,--I see, alas!
Thou'dst smooth these tidings o'er,--
Nay, speak the truth, whatever it be,
Though it rend my bosom's core.

'How fell he? With his face to the foe,
Upholding the flag he bore?
Oh, say not that my boy disgraced
The uniform that he wore!'

'I cannot tell,' said the aged man,
'And should have remarked before.
That I was with Grant,--in Illinois,--
Some three years before the war.'

Then the farmer spake him never a word,
But beat with his fist full sore
That aged man who had worked for Grant
Some three years before the war.

 

The Angelus

Bells of the Past, whose long-forgotten music
Still fills the wide expanse,
Tingeing the sober twilight of the Present
With color and romance:
I hear your call, and see the sun descending
On rock and wave and sand,
As down the coast the Mission voices blending
Girdle the heathen land.
Within the circle of your incantation
No blight or mildew falls;
Nor fierce unrest, nor lust, nor low ambition
Passes those airy walls.
Borne on the swell of your long waves receding,
I touch the farther past:
I see the dying glow of Spanish glory,
The sunset dream and last!
Before me rise the dome-shaped Mission towers,
The white Presidio;
The swart commander in his leathern jerkin,
The priest in a stole of snow.
Once more I see Portolas cross uplifting
Above the setting sun;
And past the headland, northward, slowly drifting
The freighted galleon.
O solemn bells! whose consecrated masses
Recall the Faith of old
O tinkling bells! that lulled with twighlight music
The spiritual fold!
Your voices break and falter in the darkness
Break, falter, and are still,
And veiled and mystic, like the Host descending,
The sun sinks from the hill!

 

The Babes In The Woods

Something characteristic,' eh?
Humph! I reckon you mean by that
Something that happened in our way,
Here at the crossin' of Big Pine Flat.
Times aren't now as they used to be,
When gold was flush and the boys were frisky,
And a man would pull out his battery
For anything--maybe the price of whiskey.

Nothing of that sort, eh? That's strange!
Why, I thought you might be diverted
Hearing how Jones of Red Rock Range
Drawed his 'hint to the unconverted,'
And saying, 'Whar will you have it?' shot
Cherokee Bob at the last debating!
What was the question I forgot,
But Jones didn't like Bob's way of stating.

Nothing of that kind, eh? You mean
Something milder? Let's see!--O Joe!
Tell to the stranger that little scene
Out of the 'Babes in the Woods.' You know,
'Babes' was the name that we gave 'em, sir,
Two lean lads in their teens, and greener
Than even the belt of spruce and fir
Where they built their nest, and each day grew leaner.

No one knew where they came from. None
Cared to ask if they had a mother.
Runaway schoolboys, maybe. One
Tall and dark as a spruce; the other
Blue and gold in the eyes and hair,
Soft and low in his speech, but rarely
Talking with us; and we didn't care
To get at their secret at all unfairly.

For they were so quiet, so sad and shy,
Content to trust each other solely,
That somehow we'd always shut one eye,
And never seem to observe them wholly
As they passed to their work. 'Twas a worn-out claim,
And it paid them grub. They could live without it,
For the boys had a way of leaving game
In their tent, and forgetting all about it.

Yet no one asked for their secret. Dumb
It lay in their big eyes' heavy hollows.
It was understood that no one should come
To their tent unawares, save the bees and swallows.
So they lived alone. Until one warm night
I was sitting here at the tent-door,--so, sir!
When out of the sunset's rosy light
Up rose the Sheriff of Mariposa.

I knew at once there was something wrong,
For his hand and his voice shook just a little,
And there isn't much you can fetch along
To make the sinews of Jack Hill brittle.
'Go warn the Babes!' he whispered, hoarse;
'Tell them I'm coming--to get and scurry;
For I've got a story that's bad,--and worse,
I've got a warrant: G-d d--n it, hurry!'

Too late! they had seen him cross the hill;
I ran to their tent and found them lying
Dead in each other's arms, and still
Clasping the drug they had taken flying.
And there lay their secret cold and bare,
Their life, their trial--the old, old story!
For the sweet blue eyes and the golden hair
Was a WOMAN'S shame and a WOMAN'S glory.

'Who were they?' Ask no more, or ask
The sun that visits their grave so lightly;
Ask of the whispering reeds, or task
The mourning crickets that chirrup nightly.
All of their life but its love forgot,
Everything tender and soft and mystic,
These are our Babes in the Woods,--you've got,
Well--human nature--that's characteristic.

 

The Ballad Of Mr. Cooke

Where the sturdy ocean breeze
Drives the spray of roaring seas,
That the Cliff House balconies
Overlook:
There, in spite of rain that balked,
With his sandals duly chalked,
Once upon a tight-rope walked
Mr. Cooke.

But the jester's lightsome mien,
And his spangles and his sheen,
All had vanished when the scene
He forsook.
Yet in some delusive hope,
In some vague desire to cope,
One still came to view the rope
Walked by Cooke.

Amid Beauty's bright array,
On that strange eventful day,
Partly hidden from the spray,
In a nook,
Stood Florinda Vere de Vere;
Who, with wind-disheveled hair,
And a rapt, distracted air,
Gazed on Cooke.

Then she turned, and quickly cried
To her lover at her side,
While her form with love and pride
Wildly shook:
'Clifford Snook! oh, hear me now!
Here I break each plighted vow;
There's but one to whom I bow,
And that's Cooke!'

Haughtily that young man spoke:
'I descend from noble folk;
'Seven Oaks,' and then 'Se'nnoak,'
Lastly 'Snook,'
Is the way my name I trace.
Shall a youth of noble race
In affairs of love give place
To a Cooke?'

'Clifford Snook, I know thy claim
To that lineage and name,
And I think I've read the same
In Horne Tooke;
But I swear, by all divine,
Never, never, to be thine,
Till thou canst upon yon line
Walk like Cooke.'

Though to that gymnastic feat
He no closer might compete
Than to strike a balance-sheet
In a book;
Yet thenceforward from that day
He his figure would display
In some wild athletic way,
After Cooke.

On some household eminence,
On a clothes-line or a fence,
Over ditches, drains, and thence
O'er a brook,
He, by high ambition led,
Ever walked and balanced,
Till the people, wondering, said,
'How like Cooke!'

Step by step did he proceed,
Nerved by valor, not by greed,
And at last the crowning deed
Undertook.
Misty was the midnight air,
And the cliff was bleak and bare,
When he came to do and dare,
Just like Cooke.

Through the darkness, o'er the flow,
Stretched the line where he should go,
Straight across as flies the crow
Or the rook.
One wild glance around he cast;
Then he faced the ocean blast,
And he strode the cable last
Touched by Cooke.

Vainly roared the angry seas,
Vainly blew the ocean breeze;
But, alas! the walker's knees
Had a crook;
And before he reached the rock
Did they both together knock,
And he stumbled with a shock--
Unlike Cooke!

Downward dropping in the dark,
Like an arrow to its mark,
Or a fish-pole when a shark
Bites the hook,
Dropped the pole he could not save,
Dropped the walker, and the wave
Swift engulfed the rival brave
Of J. Cooke!

Came a roar across the sea
Of sea-lions in their glee,
In a tongue remarkably
Like Chinook;
And the maddened sea-gull seemed
Still to utter, as he screamed,
'Perish thus the wretch who deemed
Himself Cooke!'

But on misty moonlit nights
Comes a skeleton in tights,
Walks once more the giddy heights
He mistook;
And unseen to mortal eyes,
Purged of grosser earthly ties,
Now at last in spirit guise
Outdoes Cooke.

Still the sturdy ocean breeze
Sweeps the spray of roaring seas,
Where the Cliff House balconies
Overlook;
And the maidens in their prime,
Reading of this mournful rhyme,
Weep where, in the olden time,
Walked J. Cooke.

 

The Ballad Of The Emeu

Oh, say, have you seen at the Willows so green--
So charming and rurally true--
A singular bird, with a manner absurd,
Which they call the Australian Emeu?
Have you
Ever seen this Australian Emeu?

It trots all around with its head on the ground,
Or erects it quite out of your view;
And the ladies all cry, when its figure they spy,
'Oh! what a sweet pretty Emeu!
Oh! do
Just look at that lovely Emeu!'

One day to this spot, when the weather was hot,
Came Matilda Hortense Fortescue;
And beside her there came a youth of high name,--
Augustus Florell Montague:
The two
Both loved that wild, foreign Emeu.

With two loaves of bread then they fed it, instead
Of the flesh of the white Cockatoo,
Which once was its food in that wild neighborhood
Where ranges the sweet Kangaroo,
That too
Is game for the famous Emeu!

Old saws and gimlets but its appetite whets,
Like the world-famous bark of Peru;
There's nothing so hard that the bird will discard,
And nothing its taste will eschew
That you
Can give that long-legged Emeu!

The time slipped away in this innocent play,
When up jumped the bold Montague:
'Where's that specimen pin that I gayly did win
In raffle, and gave unto you,
Fortescue?'
No word spoke the guilty Emeu!

'Quick! tell me his name whom thou gavest that same,
Ere these hands in thy blood I imbrue!'
'Nay, dearest,' she cried, as she clung to his side,
'I'm innocent as that Emeu!'
'Adieu!'
He replied, 'Miss M. H. Fortescue!'

Down she dropped at his feet, all as white as a sheet,
As wildly he fled from her view;
He thought 'twas her sin,--for he knew not the pin
Had been gobbled up by the Emeu;
All through
The voracity of that Emeu!

 

The Birds Of Cirencester

Did I ever tell you, my dears, the way
That the birds of Cisseter--'Cisseter!' eh?
Well 'Ciren-cester'--one OUGHT to say,
From 'Castra,' or 'Caster,'
As your Latin master
Will further explain to you some day;
Though even the wisest err,
And Shakespeare writes 'Ci-cester,'
While every visitor
Who doesn't say 'Cissiter'
Is in 'Ciren-cester' considered astray.

A hundred miles from London town--
Where the river goes curving and broadening down
From tree-top to spire, and spire to mast,
Till it tumbles outright in the Channel at last--
A hundred miles from that flat foreshore
That the Danes and the Northmen haunt no more--
There's a little cup in the Cotswold hills
Which a spring in a meadow bubbles and fills,
Spanned by a heron's wing--crossed by a stride--
Calm and untroubled by dreams of pride,
Guiltless of Fame or ambition's aims,
That is the source of the lordly Thames!
Remark here again that custom contemns
Both 'Tames' and Thames--you must SAY 'Tems!'
But WHY? no matter!--from them you can see
Cirencester's tall spires loom up o'er the lea.

A. D. Five Hundred and Fifty-two,
The Saxon invaders--a terrible crew--
Had forced the lines of the Britons through;
And Cirencester, half mud and thatch,
Dry and crisp as a tinder match,
Was fiercely beleaguered by foes, who'd catch
At any device that could harry and rout
The folk that so boldly were holding out.

For the streets of the town--as you'll see to-day--
Were twisted and curved in a curious way
That kept the invaders still at bay;
And the longest bolt that a Saxon drew
Was stopped ere a dozen of yards it flew,
By a turn in the street, and a law so true
That even these robbers--of all laws scorners!--
Knew you couldn't shoot arrows AROUND street corners.

So they sat them down on a little knoll,
And each man scratched his Saxon poll,
And stared at the sky, where, clear and high,
The birds of that summer went singing by,
As if, in his glee, each motley jester
Were mocking the foes of Cirencester,
Till the jeering crow and the saucy linnet
Seemed all to be saying: 'Ah! you're not in it!'

High o'er their heads the mavis flew,
And the 'ouzel-cock so black of hue;'
And the 'throstle,' with his 'note so true'
(You remember what Shakespeare says--HE knew);
And the soaring lark, that kept dropping through
Like a bucket spilling in wells of blue;
And the merlin--seen on heraldic panes--
With legs as vague as the Queen of Spain's;

And the dashing swift that would ricochet
From the tufts of grasses before them, yet--
Like bold Antaeus--would each time bring
New life from the earth, barely touched by his wing;
And the swallow and martlet that always knew
The straightest way home. Here a Saxon churl drew
His breath--tapped his forehead--an idea had got through!

So they brought them some nets, which straightway they filled
With the swallows and martlets--the sweet birds who build
In the houses of man--all that innocent guild
Who sing at their labor on eaves and in thatch--
And they stuck on their feathers a rude lighted match
Made of resin and tow. Then they let them all go
To be free! As a child-like diversion? Ah, no!
To work Cirencester's red ruin and woe.

For straight to each nest they flew, in wild quest
Of their homes and their fledgelings--that they loved the best;
And straighter than arrow of Saxon e'er sped
They shot o'er the curving streets, high overhead,
Bringing fire and terror to roof tree and bed,
Till the town broke in flame, wherever they came,
To the Briton's red ruin--the Saxon's red shame!

Yet they're all gone together! To-day you'll dig up
From 'mound' or from 'barrow' some arrow or cup.
Their fame is forgotten--their story is ended--
'Neath the feet of the race they have mixed with and blended.
But the birds are unchanged--the ouzel-cock sings,
Still gold on his crest and still black on his wings;
And the lark chants on high, as he mounts to the sky,
Still brown in his coat and still dim in his eye;
While the swallow or martlet is still a free nester
In the eaves and the roofs of thrice-built Cirencester.

 

The Copperhead

There is peace in the swamp where the Copperhead sleeps,
Where the waters are stagnant, the white vapor creeps,
Where the musk of Magnolia hangs thick in the air,
And the lilies` phylacteries broaden in prayer.
There is peace in the swamp, though the quiet is death,
Though the mist is miasma, the upas-tree`s breath,
Though no echo awakes to the cooing of doves,--
There is peace: yes, the peace that the Copperhead loves.

Go seek him: he coils in the ooze and the drip,
Like a thong idly flung from the slave-driver`s whip;
But beware the false footstep,--the stumble that brings
A deadlier lash than the overseer swings.
Never arrow so true, never bullet so dread,
As the straight steady stroke of that hammer-shaped head;
Whether slave or proud planter, who braves that dull crest,
Woe to him who shall trouble the Copperhead`s rest!

Then why waste your labors, brave hearts and strong men,
In tracking a trail to the Copperhead`s den?
Lay your axe to the cypress, hew open the shade
To the free sky and sunshine Jehovah has made;
Let the breeze of the North sweep the vapors away,
Till the stagnant lake ripples, the freed waters play;
And then to your heel can you righteously doom
The Copperhead born of its shadow and gloom!

 

The Ghost That Jim Saw

Why, as to that, said the engineer,
Ghosts ain't things we are apt to fear;
Spirits don't fool with levers much,
And throttle-valves don't take to such;
And as for Jim,
What happened to him
Was one half fact, and t'other half whim!

Running one night on the line, he saw
A house--as plain as the moral law--
Just by the moonlit bank, and thence
Came a drunken man with no more sense
Than to drop on the rail
Flat as a flail,
As Jim drove by with the midnight mail.

Down went the patents--steam reversed.
Too late! for there came a 'thud.' Jim cursed
As the fireman, there in the cab with him,
Kinder stared in the face of Jim,
And says, 'What now?'
Says Jim, 'What now!
I've just run over a man,--that's how!'

The fireman stared at Jim. They ran
Back, but they never found house nor man,--
Nary a shadow within a mile.
Jim turned pale, but he tried to smile,
Then on he tore
Ten mile or more,
In quicker time than he'd made afore.

Would you believe it! the very next night
Up rose that house in the moonlight white,
Out comes the chap and drops as before,
Down goes the brake and the rest encore;
And so, in fact,
Each night that act
Occurred, till folks swore Jim was cracked.

Humph! let me see; it's a year now, 'most,
That I met Jim, East, and says, 'How's your ghost?'
'Gone,' says Jim; 'and more, it's plain
That ghost don't trouble me again.
I thought I shook
That ghost when I took
A place on an Eastern line,--but look!

'What should I meet, the first trip out,
But the very house we talked about,
And the selfsame man! 'Well,' says I, 'I guess
It's time to stop this 'yer foolishness.'
So I crammed on steam,
When there came a scream
From my fireman, that jest broke my dream:

''You've killed somebody!' Says I, 'Not much!
I've been thar often, and thar ain't no such,
And now I'll prove it!' Back we ran,
And--darn my skin!--but thar WAS a man
On the rail, dead,
Smashed in the head!--
Now I call that meanness!' That's all Jim said.

 

The Goddess Contributed To The Fair For The Ladies Patriotic Fund Of The Pacific

'Who comes?' The sentry`s warning cry
Rings sharply on the evening air:
Who comes? The challenge: no reply,
Yet something motions there.

A woman, by those graceful folds;
A soldier, by that martial tread:
'Advance three paces. Halt! until
Thy name and rank be said.'

'My name? Her name, in ancient song,
Who fearless from Olympus came:
Look on me! Mortals know me best
In battle and in flame.'

'Enough! I know that clarion voice;
I know that gleaming eye and helm,
Those crimson lips,--and in their dew
The best blood of the realm.

'The young, the brave, the good and wise,
Have fallen in thy curst embrace:
The juices of the grapes of wrath
Still stain thy guilty face.

'My brother lies in yonder field,
Face downward to the quiet grass:
Go back! he cannot see thee now;
But here thou shalt not pass.'

A crack upon the evening air,
A wakened echo from the hill:
The watchdog on the distant shore
Gives mouth, and all is still.

The sentry with his brother lies
Face downward on the quiet grass;
And by him, in the pale moonshine,
A shadow seems to pass.

No lance or warlike shield it bears:
A helmet in its pitying hands
Brings water from the nearest brook,
To meet his last demands.

Can this be she of haughty mien,
The goddess of the sword and shield?
Ah, yes! The Grecian poet`s myth
Sways still each battlefield.

For not alone that rugged War
Some grace or charm from Beauty gains;
But, when the goddess` work is done,
The woman`s still remains.

 

The Hawk's Nest

We checked our pace, the red road sharply rounding;
We heard the troubled flow
Of the dark olive depths of pines resounding
A thousand feet below.

Above the tumult of the canyon lifted,
The gray hawk breathless hung,
Or on the hill a winged shadow drifted
Where furze and thorn-bush clung;

Or where half-way the mountain side was furrowed
With many a seam and scar;
Or some abandoned tunnel dimly burrowed,--
A mole-hill seen so far.

We looked in silence down across the distant
Unfathomable reach:
A silence broken by the guide's consistent
And realistic speech.

'Walker of Murphy's blew a hole through Peters
For telling him he lied;
Then up and dusted out of South Hornitos
Across the Long Divide.

'We ran him out of Strong's, and up through Eden,
And 'cross the ford below,
And up this canyon (Peters' brother leadin'),
And me and Clark and Joe.

'He fou't us game: somehow I disremember
Jest how the thing kem round;
Some say 'twas wadding, some a scattered ember
From fires on the ground.

'But in one minute all the hill below him
Was just one sheet of flame;
Guardin' the crest, Sam Clark and I called to him,
And,--well, the dog was game!

'He made no sign: the fires of hell were round him,
The pit of hell below.
We sat and waited, but we never found him;
And then we turned to go.

'And then--you see that rock that's grown so bristly
With chapparal and tan--
Suthin crep' out: it might hev been a grizzly
It might hev been a man;

'Suthin that howled, and gnashed its teeth, and shouted
In smoke and dust and flame;
Suthin that sprang into the depths about it,
Grizzly or man,--but game!

'That's all! Well, yes, it does look rather risky,
And kinder makes one queer
And dizzy looking down. A drop of whiskey
Ain't a bad thing right here!'

 

The Heathen Chinee

Which I wish to remark,
And my language is plain,
That for ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,
Which the same I would rise to explain.

Ah Sin was his name;
And I shall not deny,
In regard to the same,
What that name might imply;
But his smile it was pensive and childlike,
As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye.

It was August the third,
And quite soft was the skies;
Which it might be inferred
That Ah Sin was likewise;
Yet he played it that day upon William
And me in a way I despise.

Which we had a small game,
And Ah Sin took a hand:
It was Euchre. The same
He did not understand;
But he smiled as he sat by the table,
With the smile that was childlike and bland.

Yet the cards they were stocked
In a way that I grieve,
And my feelings were shocked
At the state of Nye's sleeve,
Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers,
And the same with intent to deceive.

But the hands that were played
By that heathen Chinee,
And the points that he made,
Were quite frightful to see, --
Till at last he put down a right bower,
Which the same Nye had dealt unto me.

Then I looked up at Nye,
And he gazed upon me;
And he rose with a sigh,
And said, 'Can this be?
We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor,' --
And he went for that heathen Chinee.

In the scene that ensued
I did not take a hand,
But the floor it was strewed
Like the leaves on the strand
With the cards that Ah Sin had been hiding,
In the game 'he did not understand.'

In his sleeves, which were long,
He had twenty-four packs, --
Which was coming it strong,
Yet I state but the facts;
And we found on his nails, which were taper,
What is frequent in tapers, -- that's wax.

Which is why I remark,
And my language is plain,
That for ways that are dark
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar, --
Which the same I am free to maintain.

 

The Homely Pathetic

The dews are heavy on my brow;
My breath comes hard and low;
Yet, mother dear, grant one request,
Before your boy must go.
Oh! lift me ere my spirit sinks,
And ere my senses fail,
Place me once more, O mother dear,
Astride the old fence-rail.

The old fence-rail, the old fence-rail!
How oft these youthful legs,
With Alice' and Ben Bolt's, were hung
Across those wooden pegs!
'Twas there the nauseating smoke
Of my first pipe arose:
O mother dear, these agonies
Are far less keen than those.

I know where lies the hazel dell,
Where simple Nellie sleeps;
I know the cot of Nettie Moore,
And where the willow weeps.
I know the brookside and the mill,
But all their pathos fails
Beside the days when once I sat
Astride the old fence-rails.

 

The Idyl Of Battle Hollow

No, I won't,--thar, now, so! And it ain't nothin',--no!
And thar's nary to tell that you folks yer don't know;
And it's 'Belle, tell us, do!' and it's 'Belle, is it true?'
And 'Wot's this yer yarn of the Major and you?'
Till I'm sick of it all,--so I am, but I s'pose
Thet is nothin' to you. . . . Well, then, listen! yer goes!

It was after the fight, and around us all night
Thar was poppin' and shootin' a powerful sight;
And the niggers had fled, and Aunt Chlo was abed,
And Pinky and Milly were hid in the shed:
And I ran out at daybreak, and nothin' was nigh
But the growlin' of cannon low down in the sky.

And I saw not a thing, as I ran to the spring,
But a splintered fence rail and a broken-down swing,
And a bird said 'Kerchee!' as it sat on a tree,
As if it was lonesome, and glad to see me;
And I filled up my pail and was risin' to go,
When up comes the Major a-canterin' slow.

When he saw me he drew in his reins, and then threw
On the gate-post his bridle, and--what does he do
But come down where I sat; and he lifted his hat,
And he says--well, thar ain't any need to tell THAT;
'Twas some foolishness, sure, but it 'mounted to this,
Thet he asked for a drink, and he wanted--a kiss.

Then I said (I was mad), 'For the water, my lad,
You're too big and must stoop; for a kiss, it's as bad,--
You ain't near big enough.' And I turned in a huff,
When that Major he laid his white hand on my cuff,
And he says, 'You're a trump! Take my pistol, don't fear!
But shoot the next man that insults you, my dear.'

Then he stooped to the pool, very quiet and cool,
Leavin' me with that pistol stuck there like a fool,
When thar flashed on my sight a quick glimmer of light
From the top of the little stone fence on the right,
And I knew 'twas a rifle, and back of it all
Rose the face of that bushwhacker, Cherokee Hall!

Then I felt in my dread that the moment the head
Of the Major was lifted, the Major was dead;
And I stood still and white, but Lord! gals, in spite
Of my care, that derned pistol went off in my fright!
Went off--true as gospil!--and, strangest of all,
It actooally injured that Cherokee Hall!

Thet's all--now, go 'long! Yes, some folks thinks it's wrong,
And thar's some wants to know to what side I belong;
But I says, 'Served him right!' and I go, all my might,
In love or in war, for a fair stand-up fight;
And as for the Major--sho! gals, don't you know
Thet--Lord! thar's his step in the garden below.

 

The Latest Chinese Outrage

It was noon by the sun; we had finished our game,
And was passin' remarks goin' back to our claim;
Jones was countin' his chips, Smith relievin' his mind
Of ideas that a 'straight' should beat 'three of a kind,'
When Johnson of Elko came gallopin' down,
With a look on his face 'twixt a grin and a frown,
And he calls, 'Drop your shovels and face right about,
For them Chinees from Murphy's are cleanin' us out--
With their ching-a-ring-chow
And their chic-colorow
They're bent upon making
No slouch of a row.'

Then Jones--my own pardner--looks up with a sigh;
'It's your wash-bill,' sez he, and I answers, 'You lie!'
But afore he could draw or the others could arm,
Up tumbles the Bates boys, who heard the alarm.
And a yell from the hill-top and roar of a gong,
Mixed up with remarks like 'Hi! yi! Chang-a-wong,'
And bombs, shells, and crackers, that crashed through the trees,
Revealed in their war-togs four hundred Chinees!
Four hundred Chinee;
We are eight, don't ye see!
That made a square fifty
To just one o' we.

They were dressed in their best, but I grieve that that same
Was largely made up of our own, to their shame;
And my pardner's best shirt and his trousers were hung
On a spear, and above him were tauntingly swung;
While that beggar, Chey Lee, like a conjurer sat
Pullin' out eggs and chickens from Johnson's best hat;
And Bates's game rooster was part of their 'loot,'
And all of Smith's pigs were skyugled to boot;
But the climax was reached and I like to have died
When my demijohn, empty, came down the hillside,--
Down the hillside--
What once held the pride
Of Robertson County
Pitched down the hillside!

Then we axed for a parley. When out of the din
To the front comes a-rockin' that heathen, Ah Sin!
'You owe flowty dollee--me washee you camp,
You catchee my washee--me catchee no stamp;
One dollar hap dozen, me no catchee yet,
Now that flowty dollee--no hab?--how can get?
Me catchee you piggee--me sellee for cash,
It catchee me licee--you catchee no 'hash;'
Me belly good Sheliff--me lebbee when can,
Me allee same halp pin as Melican man!
But Melican man
He washee him pan
On BOTTOM side hillee
And catchee--how can?'

'Are we men?' says Joe Johnson, 'and list to this jaw,
Without process of warrant or color of law?
Are we men or--a-chew!'--here be gasped in his speech,
For a stink-pot had fallen just out of his reach.
'Shall we stand here as idle, and let Asia pour
Her barbaric hordes on this civilized shore?
Has the White Man no country? Are we left in the lurch?
And likewise what's gone of the Established Church?
One man to four hundred is great odds, I own,
But this 'yer's a White Man--I plays it alone!'
And he sprang up the hillside--to stop him none dare--
Till a yell from the top told a 'White Man was there!'
A White Man was there!
We prayed he might spare
Those misguided heathens
The few clothes they wear.

They fled, and he followed, but no matter where;
They fled to escape him,--the 'White Man was there,'--
Till we missed first his voice on the pine-wooded slope,
And we knew for the heathen henceforth was no hope;
And the yells they grew fainter, when Petersen said,
'It simply was human to bury his dead.'
And then, with slow tread,
We crept up, in dread,
But found nary mortal there,
Living or dead.

But there was his trail, and the way that they came,
And yonder, no doubt, he was bagging his game.
When Jones drops his pickaxe, and Thompson says 'Shoo!'
And both of 'em points to a cage of bamboo
Hanging down from a tree, with a label that swung
Conspicuous, with letters in some foreign tongue,
Which, when freely translated, the same did appear
Was the Chinese for saying, 'A White Man is here!'
And as we drew near,
In anger and fear,
Bound hand and foot, Johnson
Looked down with a leer!

In his mouth was an opium pipe--which was why
He leered at us so with a drunken-like eye!
They had shaved off his eyebrows, and tacked on a cue,
They had painted his face of a coppery hue,
And rigged him all up in a heathenish suit,
Then softly departed, each man with his 'loot.'
Yes, every galoot,
And Ah Sin, to boot,
Had left him there hanging
Like ripening fruit.

At a mass meeting held up at Murphy's next day
There were seventeen speakers and each had his say;
There were twelve resolutions that instantly passed,
And each resolution was worse than the last;
There were fourteen petitions, which, granting the same,
Will determine what Governor Murphy's shall name;
And the man from our district that goes up next year
Goes up on one issue--that's patent and clear:
'Can the work of a mean,
Degraded, unclean
Believer in Buddha
Be held as a lien?'

 

The Legends Of The Rhine

Beetling walls with ivy grown,
Frowning heights of mossy stone;
Turret, with its flaunting flag
Flung from battlemented crag;
Dungeon-keep and fortalice
Looking down a precipice
O'er the darkly glancing wave
By the Lurline-haunted cave;
Robber haunt and maiden bower,
Home of Love and Crime and Power,--
That's the scenery, in fine,
Of the Legends of the Rhine.

One bold baron, double-dyed
Bigamist and parricide,
And, as most the stories run,
Partner of the Evil One;
Injured innocence in white,
Fair but idiotic quite,
Wringing of her lily hands;
Valor fresh from Paynim lands,
Abbot ruddy, hermit pale,
Minstrel fraught with many a tale,--
Are the actors that combine
In the Legends of the Rhine.

Bell-mouthed flagons round a board;
Suits of armor, shield, and sword;
Kerchief with its bloody stain;
Ghosts of the untimely slain;
Thunder-clap and clanking chain;
Headsman's block and shining axe;
Thumb-screw, crucifixes, racks;
Midnight-tolling chapel bell,
Heard across the gloomy fell,--
These and other pleasant facts
Are the properties that shine
In the Legends of the Rhine.

Maledictions, whispered vows
Underneath the linden boughs;
Murder, bigamy, and theft;
Travelers of goods bereft;
Rapine, pillage, arson, spoil,--
Everything but honest toil,
Are the deeds that best define
Every Legend of the Rhine.

That Virtue always meets reward,
But quicker when it wears a sword;
That Providence has special care
Of gallant knight and lady fair;
That villains, as a thing of course,
Are always haunted by remorse,--
Is the moral, I opine,
Of the Legends of the Rhine.

 

The Lost Galleon

In sixteen hundred and forty-one,
The regular yearly galleon,
Laden with odorous gums and spice,
India cottons and India rice,
And the richest silks of far Cathay,
Was due at Acapulco Bay.

Due she was, and overdue,--
Galleon, merchandise and crew,
Creeping along through rain and shine,
Through the tropics, under the line.
The trains were waiting outside the walls,
The wives of sailors thronged the town,
The traders sat by their empty stalls,
And the Viceroy himself came down;
The bells in the tower were all a-trip,
Te Deums were on each Father's lip,
The limes were ripening in the sun
For the sick of the coming galleon.

All in vain. Weeks passed away,
And yet no galleon saw the bay.
India goods advanced in price;
The Governor missed his favorite spice;
The Senoritas mourned for sandal
And the famous cottons of Coromandel;
And some for an absent lover lost,
And one for a husband,--Dona Julia,
Wife of the captain tempest-tossed,
In circumstances so peculiar;
Even the Fathers, unawares,
Grumbled a little at their prayers;
And all along the coast that year
Votive candles wore scarce and dear.

Never a tear bedims the eye
That time and patience will not dry;
Never a lip is curved with pain
That can't be kissed into smiles again;
And these same truths, as far as I know,
Obtained on the coast of Mexico
More than two hundred years ago,
In sixteen hundred and fifty-one,--
Ten years after the deed was done,--
And folks had forgotten the galleon:
The divers plunged in the gulf for pearls,
White as the teeth of the Indian girls;
The traders sat by their full bazaars;
The mules with many a weary load,
And oxen dragging their creaking cars,
Came and went on the mountain road.

Where was the galleon all this while?
Wrecked on some lonely coral isle,
Burnt by the roving sea-marauders,
Or sailing north under secret orders?
Had she found the Anian passage famed,
By lying Maldonado claimed,
And sailed through the sixty-fifth degree
Direct to the North Atlantic Sea?
Or had she found the 'River of Kings,'
Of which De Fonte told such strange things,
In sixteen forty? Never a sign,
East or west or under the line,
They saw of the missing galleon;
Never a sail or plank or chip
They found of the long-lost treasure-ship,
Or enough to build a tale upon.
But when she was lost, and where and how,
Are the facts we're coming to just now.

Take, if you please, the chart of that day,
Published at Madrid,--por el Rey;
Look for a spot in the old South Sea,
The hundred and eightieth degree
Longitude west of Madrid: there,
Under the equatorial glare,
Just where the east and west are one,
You'll find the missing galleon,--
You'll find the San Gregorio, yet
Riding the seas, with sails all set,
Fresh as upon the very day
She sailed from Acapulco Bay.

How did she get there? What strange spell
Kept her two hundred years so well,
Free from decay and mortal taint?
What but the prayers of a patron saint!

A hundred leagues from Manilla town,
The San Gregorio's helm came down;
Round she went on her heel, and not
A cable's length from a galliot
That rocked on the waters just abreast
Of the galleon's course, which was west-sou'-west.

Then said the galleon's commandante,
General Pedro Sobriente
(That was his rank on land and main,
A regular custom of Old Spain),
'My pilot is dead of scurvy: may
I ask the longitude, time, and day?'
The first two given and compared;
The third--the commandante stared!
'The FIRST of June? I make it second.'
Said the stranger, 'Then you've wrongly reckoned;
I make it FIRST: as you came this way,
You should have lost, d'ye see, a day;
Lost a day, as plainly see,
On the hundred and eightieth degree.'
'Lost a day?' 'Yes; if not rude,
When did you make east longitude?'
'On the ninth of May,--our patron's day.'
'On the ninth?--you had no ninth of may!
Eighth and tenth was there; but stay'--
Too late; for the galleon bore away.

Lost was the day they should have kept,
Lost unheeded and lost unwept;
Lost in a way that made search vain,
Lost in a trackless and boundless main;
Lost like the day of Job's awful curse,
In his third chapter, third and fourth verse;
Wrecked was their patron's only day,--
What would the holy Fathers say?

Said the Fray Antonio Estavan,
The galleon's chaplain,--a learned man,--
'Nothing is lost that you can regain;
And the way to look for a thing is plain,
To go where you lost it, back again.
Back with your galleon till you see
The hundred and eightieth degree.
Wait till the rolling year goes round,
And there will the missing day be found;
For you'll find, if computation's true,
That sailing EAST will give to you
Not only one ninth of May, but two,--
One for the good saint's present cheer,
And one for the day we lost last year.'

Back to the spot sailed the galleon;
Where, for a twelvemonth, off and on
The hundred and eightieth degree
She rose and fell on a tropic sea.
But lo! when it came to the ninth of May,
All of a sudden becalmed she lay
One degree from that fatal spot,
Without the power to move a knot;
And of course the moment she lost her way,
Gone was her chance to save that day.

To cut a lengthening story short,
She never saved it. Made the sport
Of evil spirits and baffling wind,
She was always before or just behind,
One day too soon or one day too late,
And the sun, meanwhile, would never wait.
She had two Eighths, as she idly lay,
Two Tenths, but never a NINTH of May;
And there she rides through two hundred years
Of dreary penance and anxious fears;
Yet, through the grace of the saint she served,
Captain and crew are still preserved.

By a computation that still holds good,
Made by the Holy Brotherhood,
The San Gregorio will cross that line
In nineteen hundred and thirty-nine:
Just three hundred years to a day
From the time she lost the ninth of May.
And the folk in Acapulco town,
Over the waters looking down,
Will see in the glow of the setting sun
The sails of the missing galleon,
And the royal standard of Philip Rey,
The gleaming mast and glistening spar,
As she nears the surf of the outer bar.
A Te Deum sung on her crowded deck,
An odor of spice along the shore,
A crash, a cry from a shattered wreck,--
And the yearly galleon sails no more
In or out of the olden bay;
For the blessed patron has found his day.

-------

Such is the legend. Hear this truth:
Over the trackless past, somewhere,
Lie the lost days of our tropic youth,
Only regained by faith and prayer,
Only recalled by prayer and plaint:
Each lost day has its patron saint!

 

The Lost Tails Of Miletus

High on the Thracian hills, half hid in the billows of clover,
Thyme, and the asphodel blooms, and lulled by Pactolian streamlet,
She of Miletus lay, and beside her an aged satyr
Scratched his ear with his hoof, and playfully mumbled his chestnuts.

Vainly the Maenid and the Bassarid gamboled about her,
The free-eyed Bacchante sang, and Pan--the renowned, the
accomplished--Executed his difficult solo. In vain were their
gambols and dances;
High o'er the Thracian hills rose the voice of the shepherdess,
wailing:

'Ai! for the fleecy flocks, the meek-nosed, the passionless faces;
Ai! for the tallow-scented, the straight-tailed, the high-stepping;
Ai! for the timid glance, which is that which the rustic, sagacious,
Applies to him who loves but may not declare his passion!'

Her then Zeus answered slow: 'O daughter of song and sorrow,
Hapless tender of sheep, arise from thy long lamentation!
Since thou canst not trust fate, nor behave as becomes a Greek maiden,
Look and behold thy sheep.' And lo! they returned to her tailless!

 

The Miracle Of Padre Junipero

This is the tale that the Chronicle
Tells of the wonderful miracle
Wrought by the pious Padre Serro,
The very reverend Junipero.

The heathen stood on his ancient mound,
Looking over the desert bound
Into the distant, hazy South,
Over the dusty and broad champaign,
Where, with many a gaping mouth
And fissure, cracked by the fervid drouth,
For seven months had the wasted plain
Known no moisture of dew or rain.
The wells were empty and choked with sand;
The rivers had perished from the land;
Only the sea-fogs to and fro
Slipped like ghosts of the streams below.
Deep in its bed lay the river's bones,
Bleaching in pebbles and milk-white stones,
And tracked o'er the desert faint and far,
Its ribs shone bright on each sandy bar.

Thus they stood as the sun went down
Over the foot-hills bare and brown;
Thus they looked to the South, wherefrom
The pale-face medicine-man should come,
Not in anger or in strife,
But to bring--so ran the tale--
The welcome springs of eternal life,
The living waters that should not fail.

Said one, 'He will come like Manitou,
Unseen, unheard, in the falling dew.'
Said another, 'He will come full soon
Out of the round-faced watery moon.'
And another said, 'He is here!' and lo,
Faltering, staggering, feeble and slow,
Out from the desert's blinding heat
The Padre dropped at the heathen's feet.

They stood and gazed for a little space
Down on his pallid and careworn face,
And a smile of scorn went round the band
As they touched alternate with foot and hand
This mortal waif, that the outer space
Of dim mysterious sky and sand
Flung with so little of Christian grace
Down on their barren, sterile strand.

Said one to him: 'It seems thy God
Is a very pitiful kind of God:
He could not shield thine aching eyes
From the blowing desert sands that rise,
Nor turn aside from thy old gray head
The glittering blade that is brandished
By the sun He set in the heavens high;
He could not moisten thy lips when dry;
The desert fire is in thy brain;
Thy limbs are racked with the fever-pain.
If this be the grace He showeth thee
Who art His servant, what may we,
Strange to His ways and His commands,
Seek at His unforgiving hands?'

'Drink but this cup,' said the Padre, straight,
'And thou shalt know whose mercy bore
These aching limbs to your heathen door,
And purged my soul of its gross estate.
Drink in His name, and thou shalt see
The hidden depths of this mystery.
Drink!' and he held the cup. One blow
From the heathen dashed to the ground below
The sacred cup that the Padre bore,
And the thirsty soil drank the precious store
Of sacramental and holy wine,
That emblem and consecrated sign
And blessed symbol of blood divine.

Then, says the legend (and they who doubt
The same as heretics be accurst),
From the dry and feverish soil leaped out
A living fountain; a well-spring burst
Over the dusty and broad champaign,
Over the sandy and sterile plain,
Till the granite ribs and the milk-white stones
That lay in the valley--the scattered bones--
Moved in the river and lived again!

Such was the wonderful miracle
Wrought by the cup of wine that fell
From the hands of the pious Padre Serro,
The very reverend Junipero.

 

The Mission Bells of Monteray

O Bells that rang, O bells that sang
Above the martyrs' wilderness,
Till from that reddened coast-line sprang
The Gospel seed to cheer and bless,
What are your garnered sheaves to-day ?
O Mission bells ! Eleison bells !
O Mission bells of Monterey !

O bells that crash, O bells that clash
Above the chimney-crowded plain,
On wall and tower your voices dash,
But never with the old refrain;
In mart and temple gone astray !
Ye dangle bells ! Ye jangle bells !
Ye wrangle bells of Monterey !

O bells that die, so far, so nigh,
Come back once more across the sea;
Not with the zealot's furious cry,
Not with the creed's austerity;
Come with His love alone to stay,
O Mission bells ! Eleison bells !
O Mission bells of Monterey !

 

The Mountain Heart's-Ease

By scattered rocks and turbid waters shifting,
By furrowed glade and dell,
To feverish men thy calm, sweet face uplifting,
Thou stayest them to tell

The delicate thought that cannot find expression,
For ruder speech too fair,
That, like thy petals, trembles in possession,
And scatters on the air.

The miner pauses in his rugged labor,
And, leaning on his spade,
Laughingly calls unto his comrade-neighbor
To see thy charms displayed.

But in his eyes a mist unwonted rises,
And for a moment clear
Some sweet home face his foolish thought surprises
And passes in a tear, -

Some boyish vision of his Eastern village,
Of uneventful toil,
Where golden harvests followed quiet tillage
Above a peaceful soil.

One moment only, for the pick, uplifting,
Through root and fibre cleaves,
And on the muddy current slowly drifting
Are swept thy bruised leaves.

And yet, O poet, in thy homely fashion,
Thy work thou dost fulfil,
For on the turbid current of his passion
Thy face is shining still!

 

The Old Camp Fire

Now shift the blanket pad before your saddle back you fling,
And draw your cinch up tighter till the sweat drops from the ring:
We've a dozen miles to cover ere we reach the next divide.
Our limbs are stiffer now than when we first set out to ride,
And worse, the horses know it, and feel the leg-grip tire,
Since in the days when, long ago, we sought the old camp-fire.

Yes, twenty years! Lord! how we 'd scent its incense down the trail,
Through balm of bay and spice of spruce, when eye and ear would fail,
And worn and faint from useless quest we crept, like this, to rest,
Or, Rushed with luck and youthful hope, we rode, like this, abreast.
Ay! straighten up, old friend, and let the mustang think he 's nigher,
Through looser rein and stirrup strain, the welcome old camp-fire.

You know the shout that would ring out before us down the glade,
And start the blue jays like a fight of arrows through the shade,
And sift the thin pine needles down like slanting, shining rain,
And send the squirrels scampering back to their holes again,
Until we saw, blue-veiled and dim, or leaping like desire,
That flame of twenty years ago, which lit the old camp-fire.

And then that rest on Nature's breast, when talk had dropped, and slow
The night wind went from tree to tree with challenge soft and low!
We lay on lazy elbows propped, or stood to stir the flame,
Till up the soaring redwood's shaft our shadows danced and came,
As if to draw us with the sparks, high o'er its unseen spire,
To the five stars that kept their ward above the old camp-fire,-

Those picket stars whose tranquil watch half soothed, half shamed our sleep.
What recked we then what beasts or men around might
lurk or creep ?
We lay and heard with listless ears the far-off panther's cry,
The near coyote's snarling snap, the grizzly's deep-drawn sigh,
The brown bear's blundering human tread, the gray wolves' yelping choir
Beyond the magic circle drawn around the old camp-fire.

And then that morn! Was ever morn so filled with all things new?
The light that fell through long brown aisles from out the kindling blue,
The creak and yawn of stretching boughs, the jay-bird's early call,
The rat-tat-tat of woodpecker that waked the woodland hall,
The fainter stir of lower life in fern and brake and brier,
Till flashing leaped the torch of Day from last night's old camp-fire!

Well, well! we'll see it once again; we should be near it now;
It 's scarce a mile to where the trail strikes off to skirt the slough,
And then the dip to Indian Spring, the wooded rise, and-strange!
Yet here should stand the blasted pine that marked our farther range;
And here-what 's this? A ragged swale of ruts and stumps and mire!
Sure this is not the sacred grove that hid the old camp-fire!

Yet here's the ' blaze ' I cut myself, and there's the stumbling ledge,
With quartz ' outcrop ' that lay atop, now leveled to its edge,
And mounds of moss-grown stumps beside the woodman's rotting chips,
And gashes in the hillside, that gape with dumb red lips.
And yet above the shattered wreck and ruin, curling higher-
Ah yes!-still lifts the smoke that marked the welcome
old camp-fire!

Perhaps some friend of twenty years still lingers there to raise
To weary hearts and tired eyes that beacon of old days.
Perhaps-but stay; 't is gone! and yet once more it lifts as though
To meet our tardy blundering steps, and seems to move, and lo!
Whirls by us in a rush of sound,-the vanished funeral pyre
Of hopes and fears that twenty years burned in the old camp-fire!

For see, beyond the prospect spreads, with chimney, spire, and roof,-
Two iron bands across the trail clank to our mustang's hoof;
Above them leap two blackened threads from limb-lopped tree to tree,
To where the whitewashed station speeds its message to the sea.
Rein in! Rein in! The quest is o'er. The goal of our desire
Is but the train whose track has lain across the old camp-fire!

 

The Old Major Explains

Well, you see, the fact is, Colonel, I don't know as I can come:
For the farm is not half planted, and there's work to do at home;
And my leg is getting troublesome,--it laid me up last fall,--
And the doctors, they have cut and hacked, and never found the ball.

And then, for an old man like me, it's not exactly right,
This kind o' playing soldier with no enemy in sight.
'The Union,'--that was well enough way up to '66;
But this 'Re-Union,' maybe now it's mixed with politics?

No? Well, you understand it best; but then, you see, my lad,
I'm deacon now, and some might think that the example's bad.
And week from next is Conference. . . . You said the twelfth of May?
Why, that's the day we broke their line at Spottsylvan-i-a!

Hot work; eh, Colonel, wasn't it? Ye mind that narrow front:
They called it the 'Death-Angle'! Well, well, my lad, we won't
Fight that old battle over now: I only meant to say
I really can't engage to come upon the twelfth of May.

How's Thompson? What! will he be there? Well, now I want to know!
The first man in the rebel works! they called him 'Swearing Joe.'
A wild young fellow, sir, I fear the rascal was; but then--
Well, short of heaven, there wa'n't a place he dursn't lead his men.

And Dick, you say, is coming too. And Billy? ah! it's true
We buried him at Gettysburg: I mind the spot; do you?
A little field below the hill,--it must be green this May;
Perhaps that's why the fields about bring him to me to-day.

Well, well, excuse me, Colonel! but there are some things that drop
The tail-board out one's feelings; and the only way's to stop.
So they want to see the old man; ah, the rascals! do they, eh?
Well, I've business down in Boston about the twelfth of May.

 

The Personified Sentimental

Affection's charm no longer gilds
The idol of the shrine;
But cold Oblivion seeks to fill
Regret's ambrosial wine.
Though Friendship's offering buried lies
'Neath cold Aversion's snow,
Regard and Faith will ever bloom
Perpetually below.

I see thee whirl in marble halls,
In Pleasure's giddy train;
Remorse is never on that brow,
Nor Sorrow's mark of pain.
Deceit has marked thee for her own;
Inconstancy the same;
And Ruin wildly sheds its gleam
Athwart thy path of shame.

 

The Return Of Belisarius

So you're back from your travels, old fellow,
And you left but a twelvemonth ago;
You've hobnobbed with Louis Napoleon,
Eugenie, and kissed the Pope's toe.
By Jove, it is perfectly stunning,
Astounding,--and all that, you know;
Yes, things are about as you left them
In Mud Flat a twelvemonth ago.

The boys!--they're all right,--Oh! Dick Ashley,
He's buried somewhere in the snow;
He was lost on the Summit last winter,
And Bob has a hard row to hoe.
You know that he's got the consumption?
You didn't! Well, come, that's a go;
I certainly wrote you at Baden,--
Dear me! that was six months ago.

I got all your outlandish letters,
All stamped by some foreign P. O.
I handed myself to Miss Mary
That sketch of a famous chateau.
Tom Saunders is living at 'Frisco,--
They say that he cuts quite a show.
You didn't meet Euchre-deck Billy
Anywhere on your road to Cairo?

So you thought of the rusty old cabin,
The pines, and the valley below,
And heard the North Fork of the Yuba
As you stood on the banks of the Po?
'Twas just like your romance, old fellow;
But now there is standing a row
Of stores on the site of the cabin
That you lived in a twelvemonth ago.

But it's jolly to see you, old fellow,--
To think it's a twelvemonth ago!
And you have seen Louis Napoleon,
And look like a Johnny Crapaud.
Come in. You will surely see Mary,--
You know we are married. What, no?
Oh, ay! I forgot there was something
Between you a twelvemonth ago.

 

The Reveille

Hark! I hear the tramp of thousands,
And of armed men the hum;
Lo! a nation`s hosts have gathered
Round the quick alarming drum,--
Saying, 'Come,
Freemen, come!
Ere your heritage be wasted,' said the quick alarming drum.

'Let me of my heart take counsel:
War is not of life the sum;
Who shall stay and reap the harvest
When the autumn days shall come?'
But the drum
Echoed, 'Come!
Death shall reap the braver harvest,' said the solemn-sounding drum.

'But when won the coming battle,
What of profit springs therefrom?
What if conquest, subjugation,
Even greater ills become?'
But the drum
Answered, 'Come!
You must do the sum to prove it,' said the Yankee answering drum.

'What if, `mid the cannons` thunder,
Whistling shot and bursting bomb,
When my brothers fall around me,
Should my heart grow cold and numb?'
But the drum
Answered, 'Come!
Better there in death united, than in life a recreant.--Come!'

Thus they answered,--hoping, fearing,
Some in faith, and doubting some,
Till a trumpet-voice proclaiming,
Said, 'My chosen people, come!'
Then the drum,
Lo! was dumb,
For the great heart
of the nation, throbbing, answered, 'Lord, we come!'

 

The Ritualist

He wore, I think, a chasuble, the day when first we met;
A stole and snowy alb likewise,--I recollect it yet.
He called me 'daughter,' as he raised his jeweled hand to bless;
And then, in thrilling undertones, he asked, 'Would I confess?'

O mother dear! blame not your child, if then on bended knees
I dropped, and thought of Abelard, and also Eloise;
Or when, beside the altar high, he bowed before the pyx,
I envied that seraphic kiss he gave the crucifix.

The cruel world may think it wrong, perhaps may deem me weak,
And, speaking of that sainted man, may call his conduct 'cheek;'
And, like that wicked barrister whom Cousin Harry quotes,
May term his mixed chalice 'grog,' his vestments 'petticoats;'

But, whatsoe'er they do or say, I'll build a Christian's hope
On incense and on altar-lights, on chasuble and cope.
Let others prove, by precedent, the faith that they profess:
'His can't be wrong' that's symbolized by such becoming dress.

 

The Society Upon The Stanislaus

I reside at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
I am not up to small deceit or any sinful games;
And I'll tell in simple language what I know about the row
That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow.

But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan
For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man,
And, if a member don't agree with his peculiar whim,
To lay for that same member for to 'put a head' on him.

Now nothing could be finer or more beautiful to see
Than the first six months' proceedings of that same Society,
Till Brown of Calaveras brought a lot of fossil bones
That he found within a tunnel near the tenement of Jones.

Then Brown he read a paper, and he reconstructed there,
From those same bones, an animal that was extremely rare;
And Jones then asked the Chair for a suspension of the rules,
Till he could prove that those same bones was one of his lost mules.

Then Brown he smiled a bitter smile, and said he was at fault,
It seemed he had been trespassing on Jones's family vault;
He was a most sarcastic man, this quiet Mr. Brown,
And on several occasions he had cleaned out the town.

Now I hold it is not decent for a scientific gent
To say another is an ass,--at least, to all intent;
Nor should the individual who happens to be meant
Reply by heaving rocks at him, to any great extent.

Then Abner Dean of Angel's raised a point of order, when
A chunk of old red sandstone took him in the abdomen,
And he smiled a kind of sickly smile, and curled up on the floor,
And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more.

For, in less time than I write it, every member did engage
In a warfare with the remnants of a palaeozoic age;
And the way they heaved those fossils in their anger was a sin,
Till the skull of an old mammoth caved the head of Thompson in.

And this is all I have to say of these improper games,
For I live at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
And I've told in simple language what I know about the row
That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow.

 

The Spelling Bee At Angels

Waltz in, waltz in, ye little kids, and gather round my knee,
And drop them books and first pot-hooks, and hear a yarn from me.
I kin not sling a fairy tale of Jinnys fierce and wild,
For I hold it is unchristian to deceive a simple child;
But as from school yer driftin' by, I thowt ye'd like to hear
Of a 'Spelling Bee' at Angels that we organized last year.

It warn't made up of gentle kids, of pretty kids, like you,
But gents ez hed their reg'lar growth, and some enough for two.
There woz Lanky Jim of Sutter's Fork and Bilson of Lagrange,
And 'Pistol Bob,' who wore that day a knife by way of change.
You start, you little kids, you think these are not pretty names,
But each had a man behind it, and--my name is Truthful James.

There was Poker Dick from Whisky Flat, and Smith of Shooter's Bend,
And Brown of Calaveras--which I want no better friend;
Three-fingered Jack--yes, pretty dears, three fingers--YOU have five.
Clapp cut off two--it's sing'lar, too, that Clapp ain't now alive.
'Twas very wrong indeed, my dears, and Clapp was much to blame;
Likewise was Jack, in after-years, for shootin' of that same.

The nights was kinder lengthenin' out, the rains had jest begun,
When all the camp came up to Pete's to have their usual fun;
But we all sot kinder sad-like around the bar-room stove
Till Smith got up, permiskiss-like, and this remark he hove:
'Thar's a new game down in Frisco, that ez far ez I can see
Beats euchre, poker, and van-toon, they calls the 'Spellin' Bee.''

Then Brown of Calaveras simply hitched his chair and spake,
'Poker is good enough for me,' and Lanky Jim sez, 'Shake!'
And Bob allowed he warn't proud, but he 'must say right thar
That the man who tackled euchre hed his education squar.'
This brought up Lenny Fairchild, the schoolmaster, who said
He knew the game, and he would give instructions on that head.

'For instance, take some simple word,' sez he, 'like 'separate:'
Now who can spell it?' Dog my skin, ef thar was one in eight.
This set the boys all wild at once. The chairs was put in row,
And at the head was Lanky Jim, and at the foot was Joe,
And high upon the bar itself the schoolmaster was raised,
And the bar-keep put his glasses down, and sat and silent gazed.

The first word out was 'parallel,' and seven let it be,
Till Joe waltzed in his 'double l' betwixt the 'a' and 'e;'
For since he drilled them Mexicans in San Jacinto's fight
Thar warn't no prouder man got up than Pistol Joe that night--
Till 'rhythm' came! He tried to smile, then said 'they had him
there,'
And Lanky Jim, with one long stride, got up and took his chair.

O little kids, my pretty kids, 'twas touchin' to survey
These bearded men, with weppings on, like schoolboys at their play.
They'd laugh with glee, and shout to see each other lead the van,
And Bob sat up as monitor with a cue for a rattan,
Till the Chair gave out 'incinerate,' and Brown said he'd be durned
If any such blamed word as that in school was ever learned.

When 'phthisis' came they all sprang up, and vowed the man who rung
Another blamed Greek word on them be taken out and hung.
As they sat down again I saw in Bilson's eye a flash,
And Brown of Calaveras was a-twistin' his mustache,
And when at last Brown slipped on 'gneiss,' and Bilson took his chair,
He dropped some casual words about some folks who dyed their hair.

And then the Chair grew very white, and the Chair said he'd adjourn,
But Poker Dick remarked that HE would wait and get his turn;
Then with a tremblin' voice and hand, and with a wanderin' eye,
The Chair next offered 'eider-duck,' and Dick began with 'I',
And Bilson smiled--then Bilson shrieked! Just how the fight begun
I never knowed, for Bilson dropped, and Dick, he moved up one.

Then certain gents arose and said 'they'd business down in camp,'
And 'ez the road was rather dark, and ez the night was damp,
They'd'--here got up Three-fingered Jack and locked the door and
yelled:
'No, not one mother's son goes out till that thar word is spelled!'
But while the words were on his lips, he groaned and sank in pain,
And sank with Webster on his chest and Worcester on his brain.

Below the bar dodged Poker Dick, and tried to look ez he
Was huntin' up authorities thet no one else could see;
And Brown got down behind the stove, allowin' he 'was cold,'
Till it upsot and down his legs the cinders freely rolled,
And several gents called 'Order!' till in his simple way
Poor Smith began with 'O-r'--'Or'--and he was dragged away.

O little kids, my pretty kids, down on your knees and pray!
You've got your eddication in a peaceful sort of way;
And bear in mind thar may be sharps ez slings their spellin' square,
But likewise slings their bowie-knives without a thought or care.
You wants to know the rest, my dears? Thet's all! In me you see
The only gent that lived to tell about the Spellin' Bee!

------

He ceased and passed, that truthful man; the children went their way
With downcast heads and downcast hearts--but not to sport or play.
For when at eve the lamps were lit, and supperless to bed
Each child was sent, with tasks undone and lessons all unsaid,
No man might know the awful woe that thrilled their youthful frames,
As they dreamed of Angels Spelling Bee and thought of Truthful James.

 

The Stage-Driver's Story

It was the stage-driver's story, as he stood with his back to the
wheelers,
Quietly flecking his whip, and turning his quid of tobacco;
While on the dusty road, and blent with the rays of the moonlight,
We saw the long curl of his lash and the juice of tobacco descending.

'Danger! Sir, I believe you,--indeed, I may say, on that subject,
You your existence might put to the hazard and turn of a wager.
I have seen danger? Oh, no! not me, sir, indeed, I assure you:
'Twas only the man with the dog that is sitting alone in yon wagon.

'It was the Geiger Grade, a mile and a half from the summit:
Black as your hat was the night, and never a star in the heavens.
Thundering down the grade, the gravel and stones we sent flying
Over the precipice side,--a thousand feet plumb to the bottom.

'Half-way down the grade I felt, sir, a thrilling and creaking,
Then a lurch to one side, as we hung on the bank of the canyon;
Then, looking up the road, I saw, in the distance behind me,
The off hind wheel of the coach, just loosed from its axle, and
following.

'One glance alone I gave, then gathered together my ribbons,
Shouted, and flung them, outspread, on the straining necks of my
cattle;
Screamed at the top of my voice, and lashed the air in my frenzy,
While down the Geiger Grade, on THREE wheels, the vehicle thundered.

'Speed was our only chance, when again came the ominous rattle:
Crack, and another wheel slipped away, and was lost in the darkness.
TWO only now were left; yet such was our fearful momentum,
Upright, erect, and sustained on TWO wheels, the vehicle thundered.

'As some huge boulder, unloosed from its rocky shelf on the mountain,
Drives before it the hare and the timorous squirrel, far leaping,
So down the Geiger Grade rushed the Pioneer coach, and before it
Leaped the wild horses, and shrieked in advance of the danger
impending.

'But to be brief in my tale. Again, ere we came to the level,
Slipped from its axle a wheel; so that, to be plain in my statement,
A matter of twelve hundred yards or more, as the distance may be,
We traveled upon ONE wheel, until we drove up to the station.

'Then, sir, we sank in a heap; but, picking myself from the ruins,
I heard a noise up the grade; and looking, I saw in the distance
The three wheels following still, like moons on the horizon whirling,
Till, circling, they gracefully sank on the road at the side of the
station.

'This is my story, sir; a trifle, indeed, I assure you.
Much more, perchance, might be said--but I hold him of all men most
lightly
Who swerves from the truth in his tale. No, thank you-- Well, since
you ARE pressing,
Perhaps I don't care if I do: you may give me the same, Jim,--no
sugar.'

 

The Station-Master Of Lone Prairie

An empty bench, a sky of grayest etching,
A bare, bleak shed in blackest silhouette,
Twelve years of platform, and before them stretching
Twelve miles of prairie glimmering through the wet.

North, south, east, west,--the same dull gray persistence,
The tattered vapors of a vanished train,
The narrowing rails that meet to pierce the distance,
Or break the columns of the far-off rain.

Naught but myself; nor form nor figure breaking
The long hushed level and stark shining waste;
Nothing that moves to fill the vision aching,
When the last shadow fled in sullen haste.

Nothing beyond. Ah yes! From out the station
A stiff, gaunt figure thrown against the sky,
Beckoning me with some wooden salutation
Caught from his signals as the train flashed by;

Yielding me place beside him with dumb gesture
Born of that reticence of sky and air.
We sit apart, yet wrapped in that one vesture
Of silence, sadness, and unspoken care:

Each following his own thought,--around us darkening
The rain-washed boundaries and stretching track,--
Each following those dim parallels and hearkening
For long-lost voices that will not come back.

Until, unasked,--I knew not why or wherefore,--
He yielded, bit by bit, his dreary past,
Like gathered clouds that seemed to thicken there for
Some dull down-dropping of their care at last.

Long had he lived there. As a boy had started
From the stacked corn the Indian's painted face;
Heard the wolves' howl the wearying waste that parted
His father's hut from the last camping-place.

Nature had mocked him: thrice had claimed the reaping,
With scythe of fire, of lands she once had sown;
Sent the tornado, round his hearthstone heaping
Rafters, dead faces that were like his own.

Then came the War Time. When its shadow beckoned
He had walked dumbly where the flag had led
Through swamp and fen,--unknown, unpraised, unreckoned,--
To famine, fever, and a prison bed.

Till the storm passed, and the slow tide returning
Cast him, a wreck, beneath his native sky;
Here, at his watch, gave him the chance of earning
Scant means to live--who won the right to die.

All this I heard--or seemed to hear--half blending
With the low murmur of the coming breeze,
The call of some lost bird, and the unending
And tireless sobbing of those grassy seas.

Until at last the spell of desolation
Broke with a trembling star and far-off cry.
The coming train! I glanced around the station,
All was as empty as the upper sky!

Naught but myself; nor form nor figure waking
The long hushed level and stark shining waste;
Naught but myself, that cry, and the dull shaking
Of wheel and axle, stopped in breathless haste!

'Now, then--look sharp! Eh, what? The Station-Master?
THAR'S NONE! We stopped here of our own accord.
The man got killed in that down-train disaster
This time last evening. Right there! All aboard!'

 

The Tale Of A Pony

Name of my heroine, simply 'Rose;'
Surname, tolerable only in prose;
Habitat, Paris,--that is where
She resided for change of air;
Aetat twenty; complexion fair;
Rich, good looking, and debonnaire;
Smarter than Jersey lightning. There!
That's her photograph, done with care.

In Paris, whatever they do besides,
Every lady in full dress rides!
Moire antiques you never meet
Sweeping the filth of a dirty street
But every woman's claim to ton
Depends upon
The team she drives, whether phaeton,
Landau, or britzka. Hence it's plain
That Rose, who was of her toilet vain,
Should have a team that ought to be
Equal to any in all Paris!

'Bring forth the horse!' The commissaire
Bowed, and brought Miss Rose a pair
Leading an equipage rich and rare.
Why doth that lovely lady stare?
Why? The tail of the off gray mare
Is bobbed, by all that's good and fair!
Like the shaving-brushes that soldiers wear,
Scarcely showing as much back hair
As Tam O'Shanter's 'Meg,'--and there,
Lord knows, she'd little enough to spare.

That stare and frown the Frenchman knew,
But did as well-bred Frenchmen do:
Raised his shoulders above his crown,
Joined his thumbs with the fingers down,
And said, 'Ah, Heaven!'--then, 'Mademoiselle,
Delay one minute, and all is well!'
He went--returned; by what good chance
These things are managed so well in France
I cannot say, but he made the sale,
And the bob-tailed mare had a flowing tail.

All that is false in this world below
Betrays itself in a love of show;
Indignant Nature hides her lash
In the purple-black of a dyed mustache;
The shallowest fop will trip in French,
The would-be critic will misquote Trench;
In short, you're always sure to detect
A sham in the things folks most affect;
Bean-pods are noisiest when dry,
And you always wink with your weakest eye:
And that's the reason the old gray mare
Forever had her tail in the air,
With flourishes beyond compare,
Though every whisk
Incurred the risk
Of leaving that sensitive region bare.
She did some things that you couldn't but feel
She wouldn't have done had her tail been real.

Champs Elysees: time, past five.
There go the carriages,--look alive!
Everything that man can drive,
Or his inventive skill contrive,--
Yankee buggy or English 'chay,'
Dog-cart, droschky, and smart coupe,
A desobligeante quite bulky
(French idea of a Yankee sulky);
Band in the distance playing a march,
Footman standing stiff as starch;
Savans, lorettes, deputies, Arch-
Bishops, and there together range
Sous-lieutenants and cent-gardes (strange
Way these soldier-chaps make change),
Mixed with black-eyed Polish dames,
With unpronounceable awful names;
Laces tremble and ribbons flout,
Coachmen wrangle and gendarmes shout--
Bless us! what is the row about?
Ah! here comes Rosy's new turnout!
Smart! You bet your life 'twas that!
Nifty! (short for magnificat).
Mulberry panels,--heraldic spread,--
Ebony wheels picked out with red,
And two gray mares that were thoroughbred:
No wonder that every dandy's head
Was turned by the turnout,--and 'twas said
That Caskowhisky (friend of the Czar),
A very good whip (as Russians are),
Was tied to Rosy's triumphal car,
Entranced, the reader will understand,
By 'ribbons' that graced her head and hand.

Alas! the hour you think would crown
Your highest wishes should let you down!
Or Fate should turn, by your own mischance,
Your victor's car to an ambulance,
From cloudless heavens her lightnings glance!
(And these things happen, even in France.)
And so Miss Rose, as she trotted by,
The cynosure of every eye,
Saw to her horror the off mare shy,
Flourish her tail so exceedingly high
That, disregarding the closest tie,
And without giving a reason why,
She flung that tail so free and frisky
Off in the face of Caskowhisky.

Excuses, blushes, smiles: in fine,
End of the pony's tail, and mine!

 

The Thought-Reader Of Angels

We hev tumbled ez dust
Or ez worms of the yearth;
Wot we looked for hez bust!
We are objects of mirth!
They have played us--old Pards of the river!--they hev played us for
all we was worth!

Was it euchre or draw
Cut us off in our bloom?
Was it faro, whose law
Is uncertain ez doom?
Or an innocent 'Jack pot' that--opened--was to us ez the jaws of the
tomb?

It was nary! It kem
With some sharps from the States.
Ez folks sez, 'All things kem
To the fellers ez waits;'
And we'd waited six months for that suthin'--had me and Bill Nye--in
such straits!

And it kem. It was small;
It was dream-like and weak;
It wore store clothes--that's all
That we knew, so to speak;
But it called itself 'Billson, Thought-Reader'--which ain't half a
name for its cheek!

He could read wot you thought,
And he knew wot you did;
He could find things untaught,
No matter whar hid;
And he went to it, blindfold and smiling, being led by the hand like
a kid!

Then I glanced at Bill Nye,
And I sez, without pride,
'You'll excuse US. We've nigh
On to nothin' to hide;
But if some gent will lend us a twenty, we'll hide it whar folks
shall decide.'

It was Billson's own self
Who forked over the gold,
With a smile. 'Thar's the pelf,'
He remarked. 'I make bold
To advance it, and go twenty better that I'll find it without being
told.'

Then I passed it to Nye,
Who repassed it to me.
And we bandaged each eye
Of that Billson--ez we
Softly dropped that coin in his coat pocket, ez the hull crowd
around us could see.

That was all. He'd one hand
Locked in mine. Then he groped.
We could not understand
Why that minit Nye sloped,
For we knew we'd the dead thing on Billson--even more than we
dreamed of or hoped.

For he stood thar in doubt
With his hand to his head;
Then he turned, and lit out
Through the door where Nye fled,
Draggin' me and the rest of us arter, while we larfed till we
thought we was dead,

Till he overtook Nye
And went through him. Words fail
For what follers! Kin I
Paint our agonized wail
Ez he drew from Nye's pocket that twenty wot we sworn was in his own
coat-tail!

And it WAS! But, when found,
It proved bogus and brass!
And the question goes round
How the thing kem to pass?
Or, if PASSED, woz it passed thar by William; and I listens, and
echoes 'Alas!

'For the days when the skill
Of the keerds was no blind,
When no effort of will
Could beat four of a kind,
When the thing wot you held in your hand, Pard, was worth more than
the thing in your mind.'

 

The Two Ships

As I stand by the cross on the lone mountain's crest,
Looking over the ultimate sea,
In the gloom of the mountain a ship lies at rest,
And one sails away from the lea:
One spreads its white wings on a far-reaching track,
With pennant and sheet flowing free;
One hides in the shadow with sails laid aback,--
The ship that is waiting for me!

But lo! in the distance the clouds break away,
The Gate's glowing portals I see;
And I hear from the outgoing ship in the bay
The song of the sailors in glee.
So I think of the luminous footprints that bore
The comfort o'er dark Galilee,
And wait for the signal to go to the shore,
To the ship that is waiting for me.

 

The Willows

The skies they were ashen and sober,
The streets they were dirty and drear;
It was night in the month of October,
Of my most immemorial year.
Like the skies, I was perfectly sober,
As I stopped at the mansion of Shear,--
At the Nightingale,--perfectly sober,
And the willowy woodland down here.

Here, once in an alley Titanic
Of Ten-pins, I roamed with my soul,--
Of Ten-pins, with Mary, my soul;
They were days when my heart was volcanic,
And impelled me to frequently roll,
And made me resistlessly roll,
Till my ten-strikes created a panic
In the realms of the Boreal pole,--
Till my ten-strikes created a panic
With the monkey atop of his pole.

I repeat, I was perfectly sober,
But my thoughts they were palsied and sear,--
My thoughts were decidedly queer;
For I knew not the month was October,
And I marked not the night of the year;
I forgot that sweet morceau of Auber
That the band oft performed down here,
And I mixed the sweet music of Auber
With the Nightingale's music by Shear.

And now as the night was senescent,
And star-dials pointed to morn,
And car-drivers hinted of morn,
At the end of the path a liquescent
And bibulous lustre was born;
'Twas made by the bar-keeper present,
Who mixed a duplicate horn,--
His two hands describing a crescent
Distinct with a duplicate horn.

And I said: 'This looks perfectly regal,
For it's warm, and I know I feel dry,--
I am confident that I feel dry.
We have come past the emeu and eagle,
And watched the gay monkey on high;
Let us drink to the emeu and eagle,
To the swan and the monkey on high,--
To the eagle and monkey on high;
For this bar-keeper will not inveigle,
Bully boy with the vitreous eye,--
He surely would never inveigle,
Sweet youth with the crystalline eye.'

But Mary, uplifting her finger,
Said: 'Sadly this bar I mistrust,--
I fear that this bar does not trust.
Oh, hasten! oh, let us not linger!
Oh, fly,--let us fly,--are we must!'
In terror she cried, letting sink her
Parasol till it trailed in the dust;
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Parasol till it trailed in the dust,--
Till it sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

Then I pacified Mary and kissed her,
And tempted her into the room,
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the warning of doom,--
By some words that were warning of doom.
And I said, 'What is written, sweet sister,
At the opposite end of the room?'
She sobbed, as she answered, 'All liquors
Must be paid for ere leaving the room.'

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober,
As the streets were deserted and drear,
For my pockets were empty and drear;
And I cried: 'It was surely October,
On this very night of last year,
That I journeyed, I journeyed down here,--
That I brought a fair maiden down here,
On this night of all nights in the year!
Ah! to me that inscription is clear;
Well I know now, I'm perfectly sober,
Why no longer they credit me here,--
Well I know now that music of Auber,
And this Nightingale, kept by one Shear.'

 

The Wonderful Spring Of San Joaquin

Of all the fountains that poets sing,--
Crystal, thermal, or mineral spring,
Ponce de Leon's Fount of Youth,
Wells with bottoms of doubtful truth,--
In short, of all the springs of Time
That ever were flowing in fact or rhyme,
That ever were tasted, felt, or seen,
There were none like the Spring of San Joaquin.

Anno Domini eighteen-seven,
Father Dominguez (now in heaven,--
Obiit eighteen twenty-seven)
Found the spring, and found it, too,
By his mule's miraculous cast of a shoe;
For his beast--a descendant of Balaam's ass--
Stopped on the instant, and would not pass.

The Padre thought the omen good,
And bent his lips to the trickling flood;
Then--as the Chronicles declare,
On the honest faith of a true believer--
His cheeks, though wasted, lank, and bare,
Filled like a withered russet pear
In the vacuum of a glass receiver,
And the snows that seventy winters bring
Melted away in that magic spring.

Such, at least, was the wondrous news
The Padre brought into Santa Cruz.
The Church, of course, had its own views
Of who were worthiest to use
The magic spring; but the prior claim
Fell to the aged, sick, and lame.
Far and wide the people came:
Some from the healthful Aptos Creek
Hastened to bring their helpless sick;
Even the fishers of rude Soquel
Suddenly found they were far from well;
The brawny dwellers of San Lorenzo
Said, in fact, they had never been so;
And all were ailing,--strange to say,--
From Pescadero to Monterey.

Over the mountain they poured in,
With leathern bottles and bags of skin;
Through the canyons a motley throng
Trotted, hobbled, and limped along.
The Fathers gazed at the moving scene
With pious joy and with souls serene;
And then--a result perhaps foreseen--
They laid out the Mission of San Joaquin.

Not in the eyes of faith alone
The good effects of the water shone;
But skins grew rosy, eyes waxed clear,
Of rough vaquero and muleteer;
Angular forms were rounded out,
Limbs grew supple and waists grew stout;
And as for the girls,--for miles about
They had no equal! To this day,
From Pescadero to Monterey,
You'll still find eyes in which are seen
The liquid graces of San Joaquin.

There is a limit to human bliss,
And the Mission of San Joaquin had this;
None went abroad to roam or stay
But they fell sick in the queerest way,--
A singular maladie du pays,
With gastric symptoms: so they spent
Their days in a sensuous content,
Caring little for things unseen
Beyond their bowers of living green,
Beyond the mountains that lay between
The world and the Mission of San Joaquin.

Winter passed, and the summer came
The trunks of madrono, all aflame,
Here and there through the underwood
Like pillars of fire starkly stood.
All of the breezy solitude
Was filled with the spicing of pine and bay
And resinous odors mixed and blended;
And dim and ghostlike, far away,
The smoke of the burning woods ascended.
Then of a sudden the mountains swam,
The rivers piled their floods in a dam,
The ridge above Los Gatos Creek
Arched its spine in a feline fashion;
The forests waltzed till they grew sick,
And Nature shook in a speechless passion;
And, swallowed up in the earthquake's spleen,
The wonderful Spring of San Joaquin
Vanished, and never more was seen!

Two days passed: the Mission folk
Out of their rosy dream awoke;
Some of them looked a trifle white,
But that, no doubt, was from earthquake fright.
Three days: there was sore distress,
Headache, nausea, giddiness.
Four days: faintings, tenderness
Of the mouth and fauces; and in less
Than one week--here the story closes;
We won't continue the prognosis--
Enough that now no trace is seen
Of Spring or Mission of San Joaquin.

 

Thompson Of Angels

It is the story of Thompson--of Thompson, the hero of Angels.
Frequently drunk was Thompson, but always polite to the stranger;
Light and free was the touch of Thompson upon his revolver;
Great the mortality incident on that lightness and freedom.

Yet not happy or gay was Thompson, the hero of Angels;
Often spoke to himself in accents of anguish and sorrow,
'Why do I make the graves of the frivolous youth who in folly
Thoughtlessly pass my revolver, forgetting its lightness and freedom?

'Why in my daily walks does the surgeon drop his left eyelid,
The undertaker smile, and the sculptor of gravestone marbles
Lean on his chisel and gaze? I care not o'er much for attention;
Simple am I in my ways, save but for this lightness and freedom.'

So spake that pensive man--this Thompson, the hero of Angels,
Bitterly smiled to himself, as he strode through the chapparal musing.
'Why, oh, why?' echoed the pines in the dark olive depth far
resounding.
'Why, indeed?' whispered the sage brush that bent 'neath his feet
non-elastic.

Pleasant indeed was that morn that dawned o'er the barroom at Angels,
Where in their manhood's prime was gathered the pride of the hamlet.
Six 'took sugar in theirs,' and nine to the barkeeper lightly
Smiled as they said, 'Well, Jim, you can give us our regular fusil.'

Suddenly as the gray hawk swoops down on the barnyard, alighting
Where, pensively picking their corn, the favorite pullets are
gathered,
So in that festive bar-room dropped Thompson, the hero of Angels,
Grasping his weapon dread with his pristine lightness and freedom.

Never a word he spoke; divesting himself of his garments,
Danced the war-dance of the playful yet truculent Modoc,
Uttered a single whoop, and then, in the accents of challenge,
Spake: 'Oh, behold in me a Crested Jay Hawk of the mountain.'

Then rose a pallid man--a man sick with fever and ague;
Small was he, and his step was tremulous, weak, and uncertain;
Slowly a Derringer drew, and covered the person of Thompson;
Said in his feeblest pipe, 'I'm a Bald-headed Snipe of the Valley.'

As on its native plains the kangaroo, startled by hunters,
Leaps with successive bounds, and hurries away to the thickets,
So leaped the Crested Hawk, and quietly hopping behind him
Ran, and occasionally shot, that Bald-headed Snipe of the Valley.

Vain at the festive bar still lingered the people of Angels,
Hearing afar in the woods the petulant pop of the pistol;
Never again returned the Crested Jay Hawk of the mountains,
Never again was seen the Bald-headed Snipe of the Valley.

Yet in the hamlet of Angels, when truculent speeches are uttered,
When bloodshed and life alone will atone for some trifling
misstatement,
Maidens and men in their prime recall the last hero of Angels,
Think of and vainly regret the Bald-headed Snipe of the Valley!

 

To A Sea Bird

Sauntering hither on listless wings,
Careless vagabond of the sea,
Little thou heedest the surf that sings,
The bar that thunders, the shale that rings,-
Give me to keep thy company.

Little thou hast, old friend, that 's new;
Storms and wrecks are old things to thee;
Sick am I of these changes, too;
Little to care for, little to rue,-
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

All of thy wanderings, far and near,
Bring thee at last to shore and me;
All of my journeyings end them here:
This our tether must be our cheer,-
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

Lazily rocking on ocean's breast,
Something in common, old friend, have we:
Thou on the shingle seek'st thy nest,
I to the waters look for rest,-
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

 

To The Pliocene Skull

'Speak, O man, less recent! Fragmentary fossil!
Primal pioneer of pliocene formation,
Hid in lowest drifts below the earliest stratum
Of volcanic tufa!

'Older than the beasts, the oldest Palaeotherium;
Older than the trees, the oldest Cryptogami;
Older than the hills, those infantile eruptions
Of earth's epidermis!

'Eo--Mio--Plio--whatsoe'er the 'cene' was
That those vacant sockets filled with awe and wonder,--
Whether shores Devonian or Silurian beaches,--
Tell us thy strange story!

'Or has the professor slightly antedated
By some thousand years thy advent on this planet,
Giving thee an air that's somewhat better fitted
For cold-blooded creatures?

'Wert thou true spectator of that mighty forest
When above thy head the stately Sigillaria
Reared its columned trunks in that remote and distant
Carboniferous epoch?

'Tell us of that scene,--the dim and watery woodland,
Songless, silent, hushed, with never bird or insect,
Veiled with spreading fronds and screened with tall club mosses,
Lycopodiacea,--

'When beside thee walked the solemn Plesiosaurus,
And around thee crept the festive Ichthyosaurus,
While from time to time above thee flew and circled
Cheerful Pterodactyls.

'Tell us of thy food,--those half-marine refections,
Crinoids on the shell and Brachipods au naturel,--
Cuttlefish to which the pieuvre of Victor Hugo
Seems a periwinkle.

'Speak, thou awful vestige of the earth's creation,
Solitary fragment of remains organic!
Tell the wondrous secret of thy past existence,--
Speak! thou oldest primate!'

Even as I gazed, a thrill of the maxilla,
And a lateral movement of the condyloid process,
With post-pliocene sounds of healthy mastication,
Ground the teeth together.

And from that imperfect dental exhibition,
Stained with express juices of the weed nicotian,
Came these hollow accents, blent with softer murmurs
Of expectoration:

'Which my name is Bowers, and my crust was busted
Falling down a shaft in Calaveras County;
But I'd take it kindly if you'd send the pieces
Home to old Missouri!'

 

Truthful James To The Editor

Which it is not my style
To produce needless pain
By statements that rile
Or that go 'gin the grain,
But here's Captain Jack still a-livin', and Nye has no skelp on his
brain!

On that Caucasian head
There is no crown of hair;
It has gone, it has fled!
And Echo sez 'Where?'
And I asks, 'Is this Nation a White Man's, and is generally things
on the square?'

She was known in the camp
As 'Nye's other squaw,'
And folks of that stamp
Hez no rights in the law,
But is treacherous, sinful, and slimy, as Nye might hev well known
before.

But she said that she knew
Where the Injins was hid,
And the statement was true,
For it seemed that she did,
Since she led William where he was covered by seventeen Modocs, and--
slid!

Then they reached for his hair;
But Nye sez, 'By the law
Of nations, forbear!
I surrenders--no more:
And I looks to be treated,--you hear me?--as a pris'ner, a pris'ner
of war!'

But Captain Jack rose
And he sez, 'It's too thin!
Such statements as those
It's too late to begin.
There's a MODOC INDICTMENT agin you, O Paleface, and you're goin' in!

'You stole Schonchin's squaw
In the year sixty-two;
It was in sixty-four
That Long Jack you went through,
And you burned Nasty Jim's rancheria, and his wives and his papooses
too.

'This gun in my hand
Was sold me by you
'Gainst the law of the land,
And I grieves it is true!'
And he buried his face in his blanket and wept as he hid it from view.

But you're tried and condemned,
And skelping's your doom,'
And he paused and he hemmed--
But why this resume?
He was skelped 'gainst the custom of nations, and cut off like a rose
in its bloom.

So I asks without guile,
And I trusts not in vain,
If this is the style
That is going to obtain--
If here's Captain Jack still a-livin', and Nye with no skelp on his
brain?

 

Twenty Years

Beg your pardon, old fellow! I think
I was dreaming just now when you spoke.
The fact is, the musical clink
Of the ice on your wine-goblet's brink
A chord of my memory woke.

And I stood in the pasture-field where
Twenty summers ago I had stood;
And I heard in that sound, I declare,
The clinking of bells in the air,
Of the cows coming home from the wood.

Then the apple-bloom shook on the hill;
And the mullein-stalks tilted each lance;
And the sun behind Rapalye's mill
Was my uttermost West, and could thrill
Like some fanciful land of romance.

Then my friend was a hero, and then
My girl was an angel. In fine,
I drank buttermilk; for at ten
Faith asks less to aid her than when
At thirty we doubt over wine.

Ah, well, it DOES seem that I must
Have been dreaming just now when you spoke,
Or lost, very like, in the dust
Of the years that slow fashioned the crust
On that bottle whose seal you last broke.

Twenty years was its age, did you say?
Twenty years? Ah, my friend, it is true!
All the dreams that have flown since that day,
All the hopes in that time passed away,
Old friend, I've been drinking with you!

 

What Miss Edith Saw From Her Window

Our window's not much, though it fronts on the street;
There's a fly in the pane that gets nothin' to eat;
But it's curious how people think it's a treat
For ME to look out of the window!

Why, when company comes, and they're all speaking low,
With their chairs drawn together, then some one says, 'Oh!
Edith dear!--that's a good child--now run, love, and go
And amuse yourself there at the window!'

Or Bob--that's my brother--comes in with his chum,
And they whisper and chuckle, the same words will come.
And it's 'Edith, look here! Oh, I say! what a rum
Lot of things you can see from that window!'

And yet, as I told you, there's only that fly
Buzzing round in the pane, and a bit of blue sky,
And the girl in the opposite window, that I
Look at when SHE looks from HER window.

And yet, I've been thinking I'd so like to see
If what goes on behind HER, goes on behind ME!
And then, goodness gracious! what fun it would be
For us BOTH as we sit by our window!

How we'd know when the parcels were hid in a drawer,
Or things taken out that one never sees more;
What people come in and go out of the door,
That we never see from the window!

And that night when the stranger came home with our Jane
I might SEE what I HEARD then, that sounded so plain--
Like when my wet fingers I rub on the pane
(Which they won't let ME do on my window).

And I'd know why papa shut the door with a slam,
And said something funny that sounded like 'jam,'
And then 'Edith--where are you?' I said, 'Here I am.'
'Ah, that's right, dear, look out of the window!'

They say when I'm grown up these things will appear
More plain than they do when I look at them here,
But I think I see some things uncommonly clear,
As I sit and look down from the window.

What things? Oh, the things that I make up, you know,
Out of stories I've read--and they all pass below.
Ali Baba, the Forty Thieves, all in a row,
Go by, as I look from my window.

That's only at church time; other days there's no crowd.
Don't laugh! See that big man who looked up and bowed?
That's our butcher--I call him the Sultan Mahoud
When he nods to me here at the window!

And THAT man--he's our neighbor--just gone for a ride
Has three wives in the churchyard that lie side by side.
So I call him 'Bluebeard' in search of his bride,
While I'm Sister Anne at the window.

And what do I call you? Well, here's what I do:
When my sister expects you, she puts me here, too;
But I wait till you enter, to see if it's you,
And then--I just open the window!

'Dear child!' Yes, that's me! Oh, you ask what that's for?
Well, Papa says you're 'Poverty's self,' and what's more,
I open the window, when you're at the door,
To see Love fly out of the window!'

 

What The Bullet Sang

O joy of creation
To be!
O rapture to fly
And be free!
Be the battle lost or won,
Though its smoke shall hide the sun,
I shall find my love,--the one
Born for me!

I shall know him where he stands,
All alone,
With the power in his hands
Not o'erthrown;
I shall know him by his face,
By his godlike front and grace;
I shall hold him for a space,
All my own!

It is he--O my love!
So bold!
It is I--all thy love
Foretold!
It is I. O love! what bliss!
Dost thou answer to my kiss?
O sweetheart! what is this
Lieth there so cold?

 

What The Chimney Sang

Over the chimney the night-wind sang
And chanted a melody no one knew;
And the Woman stopped, as her babe she tossed,
And thought of the one she had long since lost,
And said, as her teardrops back she forced,
'I hate the wind in the chimney.'

Over the chimney the night-wind sang
And chanted a melody no one knew;
And the Children said, as they closer drew,
'`Tis some witch that is cleaving the black night through,
`Tis a fairy trumpet that just then blew,
And we fear the wind in the chimney.'

Over the chimney the night-wind sang
And chanted a melody no one knew;
And the Man, as he sat on his hearth below,
Said to himself, 'It will surely snow,
And fuel is dear and wages low,
And I`ll stop the leak in the chimney.'

Over the chimney the night-wind sang
And chanted a melody no one knew;
But the Poet listened and smiled, for he
Was Man and Woman and Child, all three,
And said, 'It is God`s own harmony,
This wind we hear in the chimney.'

 

What The Engines Said

What was it the Engines said,
Pilots touching,--head to head
Facing on the single track,
Half a world behind each back?
This is what the Engines said,
Unreported and unread.

With a prefatory screech,
In a florid Western speech,
Said the Engine from the west:
'I am from Sierra's crest;
And if altitude's a test,
Why, I reckon, it's confessed
That I've done my level best.'

Said the Engine from the east:
'They who work best talk the least.
S'pose you whistle down your brakes;
What you've done is no great shakes,
Pretty fair,--but let our meeting
Be a different kind of greeting.
Let these folks with champagne stuffing,
Not their Engines, do the puffing.

'Listen! Where Atlantic beats
Shores of snow and summer heats;
Where the Indian autumn skies
Paint the woods with wampum dyes,--
I have chased the flying sun,
Seeing all he looked upon,
Blessing all that he has blessed,
Nursing in my iron breast
All his vivifying heat,
All his clouds about my crest;
And before my flying feet
Every shadow must retreat.'

Said the Western Engine, 'Phew!'
And a long, low whistle blew.
'Come, now, really that's the oddest
Talk for one so very modest.
You brag of your East! you do?
Why, I bring the East to you!
All the Orient, all Cathay,
Find through me the shortest way;
And the sun you follow here
Rises in my hemisphere.
Really,--if one must be rude,--
Length, my friend, ain't longitude.'

Said the Union: 'Don't reflect, or
I'll run over some Director.'
Said the Central: 'I'm Pacific;
But, when riled, I'm quite terrific.
Yet to-day we shall not quarrel,
Just to show these folks this moral,
How two Engines--in their vision--
Once have met without collision.'

That is what the Engines said,
Unreported and unread;
Spoken slightly through the nose,
With a whistle at the close.

 

What The Wolf Really Said To Little Red Riding-Hood

Wondering maiden, so puzzled and fair,
Why dost thou murmur and ponder and stare?
'Why are my eyelids so open and wild?'
Only the better to see with, my child!
Only the better and clearer to view
Cheeks that are rosy and eyes that are blue.

Dost thou still wonder, and ask why these arms
Fill thy soft bosom with tender alarms,
Swaying so wickedly? Are they misplaced
Clasping or shielding some delicate waist?
Hands whose coarse sinews may fill you with fear
Only the better protect you, my dear!

Little Red Riding-Hood, when in the street,
Why do I press your small hand when we meet?
Why, when you timidly offered your cheek,
Why did I sigh, and why didn't I speak?
Why, well: you see--if the truth must appear--
I'm not your grandmother, Riding-Hood, dear!

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. . Poems Francis Bret Harte
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