Read IV.  MISCELLANEOUS of Complete Poetical Works of Bret Harte , free online book, by Bret Harte, on ReadCentral.com.

A GREYPORT LEGEND

(1797)

They ran through the streets of the seaport town,
They peered from the decks of the ships that lay;
The cold sea-fog that came whitening down
Was never as cold or white as they. 
“Ho, Starbuck and Pinckney and Tenterden! 
Run for your shallops, gather your men,
Scatter your boats on the lower bay.”

Good cause for fear!  In the thick mid-day
The hulk that lay by the rotting pier,
Filled with the children in happy play,
Parted its moorings and drifted clear,
Drifted clear beyond reach or call, ­
Thirteen children they were in all, ­
All adrift in the lower bay!

Said a hard-faced skipper, “God help us all! 
She will not float till the turning tide!”
Said his wife, “My darling will hear my call,
Whether in sea or heaven she bide;”
And she lifted a quavering voice and high,
Wild and strange as a sea-bird’s cry,
Till they shuddered and wondered at her side.

The fog drove down on each laboring crew,
Veiled each from each and the sky and shore: 
There was not a sound but the breath they drew,
And the lap of water and creak of oar;
And they felt the breath of the downs, fresh blown
O’er leagues of clover and cold gray stone,
But not from the lips that had gone before.

They came no more.  But they tell the tale
That, when fogs are thick on the harbor reef,
The mackerel fishers shorten sail ­
For the signal they know will bring relief;
For the voices of children, still at play
In a phantom hulk that drifts alway
Through channels whose waters never fail.

It is but a foolish shipman’s tale,
A theme for a poet’s idle page;
But still, when the mists of Doubt prevail,
And we lie becalmed by the shores of Age,
We hear from the misty troubled shore
The voice of the children gone before,
Drawing the soul to its anchorage.

A NEWPORT ROMANCE

They say that she died of a broken heart
(I tell the tale as ’twas told to me);
But her spirit lives, and her soul is part
Of this sad old house by the sea.

     Her lover was fickle and fine and French: 
       It was nearly a hundred years ago
     When he sailed away from her arms ­poor wench! ­
       With the Admiral Rochambeau.

     I marvel much what periwigged phrase
       Won the heart of this sentimental Quaker,
     At what gold-laced speech of those modish days
       She listened ­the mischief take her!

     But she kept the posies of mignonette
       That he gave; and ever as their bloom failed
     And faded (though with her tears still wet)
       Her youth with their own exhaled.

     Till one night, when the sea-fog wrapped a shroud
       Round spar and spire and tarn and tree,
     Her soul went up on that lifted cloud
       From this sad old house by the sea.

     And ever since then, when the clock strikes two,
       She walks unbidden from room to room,
     And the air is filled that she passes through
       With a subtle, sad perfume.

     The delicate odor of mignonette,
       The ghost of a dead-and-gone bouquet,
     Is all that tells of her story; yet
       Could she think of a sweeter way?

     I sit in the sad old house to-night, ­
       Myself a ghost from a farther sea;
     And I trust that this Quaker woman might,
       In courtesy, visit me.

     For the laugh is fled from porch and lawn,
       And the bugle died from the fort on the hill,
     And the twitter of girls on the stairs is gone,
       And the grand piano is still.

     Somewhere in the darkness a clock strikes two: 
       And there is no sound in the sad old house,
     But the long veranda dripping with dew,
       And in the wainscot a mouse.

     The light of my study-lamp streams out
       From the library door, but has gone astray
     In the depths of the darkened hall.  Small doubt
       But the Quakeress knows the way.

     Was it the trick of a sense o’erwrought
       With outward watching and inward fret? 
     But I swear that the air just now was fraught
       With the odor of mignonette!

     I open the window, and seem almost ­
       So still lies the ocean ­to hear the beat
     Of its Great Gulf artery off the coast,
       And to bask in its tropic heat.

     In my neighbor’s windows the gas-lights flare,
       As the dancers swing in a waltz of Strauss;
     And I wonder now could I fit that air
       To the song of this sad old house.

     And no odor of mignonette there is,
       But the breath of morn on the dewy lawn;
     And mayhap from causes as slight as this
       The quaint old legend is born.

     But the soul of that subtle, sad perfume,
       As the spiced embalmings, they say, outlast
     The mummy laid in his rocky tomb,
       Awakens my buried past.

     And I think of the passion that shook my youth,
       Of its aimless loves and its idle pains,
     And am thankful now for the certain truth
       That only the sweet remains.

     And I hear no rustle of stiff brocade,
       And I see no face at my library door;
     For now that the ghosts of my heart are laid,
       She is viewless for evermore.

     But whether she came as a faint perfume,
       Or whether a spirit in stole of white,
     I feel, as I pass from the darkened room,
       She has been with my soul to-night!

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 lion’s 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.

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 by bruised leaves.

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

GRIZZLY.

Coward, ­of heroic size,
In whose lazy muscles lies
Strength we fear and yet despise;
Savage, ­whose relentless tusks
Are content with acorn husks;
Robber, ­whose exploits ne’er soared
O’er the bee’s or squirrel’s hoard;
Whiskered chin and feeble nose,
Claws of steel on baby toes, ­
Here, in solitude and shade,
Shambling, shuffling plantigrade,
Be thy courses undismayed!

     Here, where Nature makes thy bed,
     Let thy rude, half-human tread
       Point to hidden Indian springs,
     Lost in ferns and fragrant grasses,
       Hovered o’er by timid wings,
     Where the wood-duck lightly passes,
     Where the wild bee holds her sweets, ­
     Epicurean retreats,
     Fit for thee, and better than
     Fearful spoils of dangerous man. 
     In thy fat-jowled deviltry
     Friar Tuck shall live in thee;
     Thou mayst levy tithe and dole;
       Thou shalt spread the woodland cheer,
     From the pilgrim taking toll;
       Match thy cunning with his fear;
     Eat, and drink, and have thy fill;
     Yet remain an outlaw still!

Madroño

     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?

COYOTE

     Blown out of the prairie in twilight and dew,
     Half bold and half timid, yet lazy all through;
     Loath ever to leave, and yet fearful to stay,
     He limps in the clearing, an outcast in gray.

     A shade on the stubble, a ghost by the wall,
     Now leaping, now limping, now risking a fall,
     Lop-eared and large-jointed, but ever alway
     A thoroughly vagabond outcast in gray.

     Here, Carlo, old fellow, ­he’s one of your kind, ­
     Go, seek him, and bring him in out of the wind. 
     What! snarling, my Carlo!  So even dogs may
     Deny their own kin in the outcast in gray.

     Well, take what you will, ­though it be on the sly,
     Marauding or begging, ­I shall not ask why,
     But will call it a dole, just to help on his way
     A four-footed friar in orders of gray!

TO A SEA-BIRD

     (Santa Cruz, 1869)

     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.

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.”

DICKENS IN CAMP

Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting,
The river sang below;
The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting
Their minarets of snow.

The roaring camp-fire, with rude humor, painted
The ruddy tints of health
On haggard face and form that drooped and fainted
In the fierce race for wealth;

Till one arose, and from his pack’s scant treasure
A hoarded volume drew,
And cards were dropped from hands of listless leisure
To hear the tale anew.

And then, while round them shadows gathered faster,
And as the firelight fell,
He read aloud the book wherein the Master
Had writ of “Little Nell.”

Perhaps ’twas boyish fancy, ­for the reader
Was youngest of them all, ­
But, as he read, from clustering pine and cedar
A silence seemed to fall;

The fir-trees, gathering closer in the shadows,
Listened in every spray,
While the whole camp with “Nell” on English meadows
Wandered and lost their way.

And so in mountain solitudes ­o’ertaken
As by some spell divine ­
Their cares dropped from them like the needles shaken
From out the gusty pine.

Lost is that camp and wasted all its fire;
And he who wrought that spell? 
Ah! towering pine and stately Kentish spire,
Ye have one tale to tell!

Lost is that camp, but let its fragrant story
Blend with the breath that thrills
With hop-vine’s incense all the pensive glory
That fills the Kentish hills.

And on that grave where English oak and holly
And laurel wreaths entwine,
Deem it not all a too presumptuous folly,
This spray of Western pine!

July, 1870.

“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!

FATE

     “The sky is clouded, the rocks are bare,
     The spray of the tempest is white in air;
     The winds are out with the waves at play,
     And I shall not tempt the sea to-day.

     “The trail is narrow, the wood is dim,
     The panther clings to the arching limb;
     And the lion’s whelps are abroad at play,
     And I shall not join in the chase to-day.”

     But the ship sailed safely over the sea,
     And the hunters came from the chase in glee;
     And the town that was builded upon a rock
     Was swallowed up in the earthquake shock.

GRANDMOTHER TENTERDEN

     (Massachusetts shore, 1800)

       I mind it was but yesterday: 
     The sun was dim, the air was chill;
     Below the town, below the hill,
     The sails of my son’s ship did fill, ­
       My Jacob, who was cast away.

       He said, “God keep you, mother dear,”
     But did not turn to kiss his wife;
     They had some foolish, idle strife;
     Her tongue was like a two-edged knife,
       And he was proud as any peer.

       Howbeit that night I took no note
     Of sea nor sky, for all was drear;
     I marked not that the hills looked near,
     Nor that the moon, though curved and clear,
       Through curd-like scud did drive and float.

       For with my darling went the joy
     Of autumn woods and meadows brown;
     I came to hate the little town;
     It seemed as if the sun went down
       With him, my only darling boy.

       It was the middle of the night: 
     The wind, it shifted west-by-south, ­
     It piled high up the harbor mouth;
     The marshes, black with summer drouth,
       Were all abroad with sea-foam white.

       It was the middle of the night: 
     The sea upon the garden leapt,
     And my son’s wife in quiet slept,
     And I, his mother, waked and wept,
       When lo! there came a sudden light.

       And there he stood!  His seaman’s dress
     All wet and dripping seemed to be;
     The pale blue fires of the sea
     Dripped from his garments constantly, ­
       I could not speak through cowardness.

       “I come through night and storm,” he said. 
     “Through storm and night and death,” said he,
     “To kiss my wife, if it so be
     That strife still holds ’twixt her and me,
       For all beyond is peace,” he said.

       “The sea is His, and He who sent
     The wind and wave can soothe their strife
     And brief and foolish is our life.” 
     He stooped and kissed his sleeping wife,
       Then sighed, and like a dream he went.

       Now, when my darling kissed not me,
     But her ­his wife ­who did not wake,
     My heart within me seemed to break;
     I swore a vow, nor thenceforth spake
       Of what my clearer eyes did see.

       And when the slow weeks brought him not,
     Somehow we spake of aught beside: 
     For she ­her hope upheld her pride;
     And I ­in me all hope had died,
       And my son passed as if forgot.

       It was about the next springtide: 
     She pined and faded where she stood,
     Yet spake no word of ill or good;
     She had the hard, cold Edwards’ blood
       In all her veins ­and so she died.

       One time I thought, before she passed,
     To give her peace; but ere I spake
     Methought, “He will be first to break
     The news in heaven,” and for his sake
       I held mine back until the last.

       And here I sit, nor care to roam;
     I only wait to hear his call. 
     I doubt not that this day next fall
     Shall see me safe in port, where all
       And every ship at last comes home.

       And you have sailed the Spanish Main,
     And knew my Jacob?...  Eh!  Mercy! 
     Ah!  God of wisdom! hath the sea
     Yielded its dead to humble me? 
       My boy!...  My Jacob!...  Turn again!

GUILD’S SIGNAL

[William Guild was engineer of the train which on the 19th of April, 1813, plunged into Meadow Brook, on the line of the Stonington and Providence Railroad.  It was his custom, as often as he passed his home, to whistle an “All’s well” to his wife.  He was found, after the disaster, dead, with his hand on the throttle-valve of his engine.]

Two low whistles, quaint and clear: 
That was the signal the engineer ­
That was the signal that Guild, ’tis said ­
Gave to his wife at Providence,
As through the sleeping town, and thence,
Out in the night,
On to the light,
Down past the farms, lying white, he sped!

As a husband’s greeting, scant, no doubt,
Yet to the woman looking out,
Watching and waiting, no serenade,
Love-song, or midnight roundelay
Said what that whistle seemed to say: 
“To my trust true,
So, love, to you! 
Working or waiting, good-night!” it said.

Brisk young bagmen, tourists fine,
Old commuters along the line,
Brakemen and porters glanced ahead,
Smiled as the signal, sharp, intense,
Pierced through the shadows of Providence: 
“Nothing amiss ­
Nothing! ­it is
Only Guild calling his wife,” they said.

Summer and winter the old refrain
Rang o’er the billows of ripening grain,
Pierced through the budding boughs o’erhead,
Flew down the track when the red leaves burned
Like living coals from the engine spurned;
Sang as it flew,
“To our trust true,
First of all, duty.  Good-night!” it said.

And then, one night, it was heard no more
From Stonington over Rhode Island shore,
And the folk in Providence smiled and said
As they turned in their beds, “The engineer
Has once forgotten his midnight cheer.” 
One only knew,
To his trust true,
Guild lay under his engine, dead.

ASPIRING MISS DE LAINE

(A chemical narrative)

Certain facts which serve to explain
The physical charms of Miss Addie De Laine,
Who, as the common reports obtain,
Surpassed in complexion the lily and rose;
With a very sweet mouth and a retrousse nose;
A figure like Hebe’s, or that which revolves
In a milliner’s window, and partially solves
That question which mentor and moralist pains,
If grace may exist minus feeling or brains.

     Of course the young lady had beaux by the score,
     All that she wanted, ­what girl could ask more? 
     Lovers that sighed and lovers that swore,
     Lovers that danced and lovers that played,
     Men of profession, of leisure, and trade;
     But one, who was destined to take the high part
     Of holding that mythical treasure, her heart, ­
     This lover, the wonder and envy of town,
     Was a practicing chemist, a fellow called Brown.

     I might here remark that ’twas doubted by many,
     In regard to the heart, if Miss Addie had any;
     But no one could look in that eloquent face,
     With its exquisite outline and features of grace,
     And mark, through the transparent skin, how the tide
     Ebbed and flowed at the impulse of passion or pride, ­
     None could look, who believed in the blood’s circulation
     As argued by Harvey, but saw confirmation
     That here, at least, Nature had triumphed o’er art,
     And as far as complexion went she had a heart.

     But this par parenthesis.  Brown was the man
     Preferred of all others to carry her fan,
     Hook her glove, drape her shawl, and do all that a belle
     May demand of the lover she wants to treat well. 
     Folks wondered and stared that a fellow called Brown ­
     Abstracted and solemn, in manner a clown,
     Ill dressed, with a lingering smell of the shop ­
     Should appear as her escort at party or hop. 
     Some swore he had cooked up some villainous charm,
     Or love philter, not in the regular Pharm-
     Acopoeia, and thus, from pure malice prepense,
     Had bewitched and bamboozled the young lady’s sense;
     Others thought, with more reason, the secret to lie
     In a magical wash or indelible dye;
     While Society, with its censorious eye
     And judgment impartial, stood ready to damn
     What wasn’t improper as being a sham.

     For a fortnight the townfolk had all been agog
     With a party, the finest the season had seen,
     To be given in honor of Miss Pollywog,
     Who was just coming out as a belle of sixteen. 
     The guests were invited; but one night before
     A carriage drew up at the modest back door
     Of Brown’s lab’ratory, and, full in the glare
     Of a big purple bottle, some closely veiled fair
     Alighted and entered:  to make matters plain,
     Spite of veils and disguises, ’twas Addie De Laine.

     As a bower for true love, ’twas hardly the one
     That a lady would choose to be wooed in or won: 
     No odor of rose or sweet jessamine’s sigh
     Breathed a fragrance to hallow their pledge of troth by,
     Nor the balm that exhales from the odorous thyme;
     But the gaseous effusions of chloride of lime,
     And salts, which your chemist delights to explain
     As the base of the smell of the rose and the drain. 
     Think of this, O ye lovers of sweetness! and know
     What you smell when you snuff up Lubin or Pinaud.

     I pass by the greetings, the transports and bliss,
     Which of course duly followed a meeting like this,
     And come down to business, ­for such the intent
     Of the lady who now o’er the crucible leant,
     In the glow of a furnace of carbon and lime,
     Like a fairy called up in the new pantomime, ­
     And give but her words, as she coyly looked down
     In reply to the questioning glances of Brown: 
     “I am taking the drops, and am using the paste,
     And the little white powders that had a sweet taste,
     Which you told me would brighten the glance of my eye,
     And the depilatory, and also the dye,
     And I’m charmed with the trial; and now, my dear Brown,
     I have one other favor, ­now, ducky, don’t frown, ­
     Only one, for a chemist and genius like you
     But a trifle, and one you can easily do. 
     Now listen:  to-morrow, you know, is the night
     Of the birthday soiree of that Pollywog fright;
     And I’m to be there, and the dress I shall wear
     Is too lovely; but” ­ “But what then, ma chère?”
     Said Brown, as the lady came to a full stop,
     And glanced round the shelves of the little back shop. 
     “Well, I want ­I want something to fill out the skirt
     To the proper dimensions, without being girt
     In a stiff crinoline, or caged in a hoop
     That shows through one’s skirt like the bars of a coop;
     Something light, that a lady may waltz in, or polk,
     With a freedom that none but you masculine folk
     Ever know.  For, however poor woman aspires,
     She’s always bound down to the earth by these wires. 
     Are you listening?  Nonsense! don’t stare like a spoon,
     Idiotic; some light thing, and spacious, and soon ­
     Something like ­well, in fact ­something like a balloon!”

     Here she paused; and here Brown, overcome by surprise,
     Gave a doubting assent with still wondering eyes,
     And the lady departed.  But just at the door
     Something happened, ­’tis true, it had happened before
     In this sanctum of science, ­a sibilant sound,
     Like some element just from its trammels unbound,
     Or two substances that their affinities found.

     The night of the anxiously looked for soiree
     Had come, with its fair ones in gorgeous array;
     With the rattle of wheels and the tinkle of bells,
     And the “How do ye do’s” and the “Hope you are well’s;”
     And the crush in the passage, and last lingering look
     You give as you hang your best hat on the hook;
     The rush of hot air as the door opens wide;
     And your entry, ­that blending of self-possessed pride
     And humility shown in your perfect-bred stare
     At the folk, as if wondering how they got there;
     With other tricks worthy of Vanity Fair. 
     Meanwhile, the safe topic, the beat of the room,
     Already was losing its freshness and bloom;
     Young people were yawning, and wondering when
     The dance would come off; and why didn’t it then: 
     When a vague expectation was thrilling the crowd,
     Lo! the door swung its hinges with utterance proud! 
     And Pompey announced, with a trumpet-like strain,
     The entrance of Brown and Miss Addie De Laine.

     She entered; but oh! how imperfect the verb
     To express to the senses her movement superb! 
     To say that she “sailed in” more clearly might tell
     Her grace in its buoyant and billowy swell. 
     Her robe was a vague circumambient space,
     With shadowy boundaries made of point-lace;
     The rest was but guesswork, and well might defy
     The power of critical feminine eye
     To define or describe:  ’twere as futile to try
     The gossamer web of the cirrus to trace,
     Floating far in the blue of a warm summer sky.

     ’Midst the humming of praises and glances of beaux
     That greet our fair maiden wherever she goes,
     Brown slipped like a shadow, grim, silent, and black,
     With a look of anxiety, close in her track. 
     Once he whispered aside in her delicate ear
     A sentence of warning, ­it might be of fear: 
     “Don’t stand in a draught, if you value your life.” 
     (Nothing more, ­such advice might be given your wife
     Or your sweetheart, in times of bronchitis and cough,
     Without mystery, romance, or frivolous scoff.)
     But hark to the music; the dance has begun. 
     The closely draped windows wide open are flung;
     The notes of the piccolo, joyous and light,
     Like bubbles burst forth on the warm summer night. 
     Round about go the dancers; in circles they fly;
     Trip, trip, go their feet as their skirts eddy by;
     And swifter and lighter, but somewhat too plain,
     Whisks the fair circumvolving Miss Addie De Laine. 
     Taglioni and Cerito well might have pined
     For the vigor and ease that her movements combined;
     E’en Rigelboche never flung higher her robe
     In the naughtiest city that’s known on the globe. 
     ’Twas amazing, ’twas scandalous; lost in surprise,
     Some opened their mouths, and a few shut their eyes.

     But hark!  At the moment Miss Addie De Laine,
     Circling round at the outer edge of an ellipse
     Which brought her fair form to the window again,
     From the arms of her partner incautiously slips! 
     And a shriek fills the air, and the music is still,
     And the crowd gather round where her partner forlorn
     Still frenziedly points from the wide window-sill
     Into space and the night; for Miss Addie was gone! 
     Gone like the bubble that bursts in the sun;
     Gone like the grain when the reaper is done;
     Gone like the dew on the fresh morning grass;
     Gone without parting farewell; and alas! 
     Gone with a flavor of hydrogen gas!

     When the weather is pleasant, you frequently meet
     A white-headed man slowly pacing the street;
     His trembling hand shading his lack-lustre eye,
     Half blind with continually scanning the sky. 
     Rumor points him as some astronomical sage,
     Re-perusing by day the celestial page;
     But the reader, sagacious, will recognize Brown,
     Trying vainly to conjure his lost sweetheart down,
     And learn the stern moral this story must teach,
     That Genius may lift its love out of its reach.

A LEGEND OF COLOGNE

Above the bones
St. Ursula owns,
And those of the virgins she chaperons;
Above the boats,
And the bridge that floats,
And the Rhine and the steamers’ smoky throats;
Above the chimneys and quaint-tiled roofs,
Above the clatter of wheels and hoofs;
Above Newmarket’s open space,
Above that consecrated place
Where the genuine bones of the Magi seen are,
And the dozen shops of the real Farina;
Higher than even old Hohestrasse,
Whose houses threaten the timid passer, ­
Above them all,
Through scaffolds tall,
And spires like delicate limbs in splinters,
The great Cologne’s
Cathedral stones
Climb through the storms of eight hundred winters.

Unfinished there,
In high mid-air
The towers halt like a broken prayer;
Through years belated,
Unconsummated,
The hope of its architect quite frustrated. 
Its very youth
They say, forsooth,
With a quite improper purpose mated;
And every stone
With a curse of its own
Instead of that sermon Shakespeare stated,
Since the day its choir,
Which all admire,
By Cologne’s Archbishop was consecrated.

Ah!  That was a day,
One well might say,
To be marked with the largest, whitest stone
To be found in the towers of all Cologne! 
Along the Rhine,
From old Rheinstein,
The people flowed like their own good wine. 
From Rüdesheim,
And Geisenheim,
And every spot that is known to rhyme;
From the famed Cat’s Castle of St. Goarshausen,
To the pictured roofs of Assmannshausen,
And down the track,
From quaint Schwalbach
To the clustering tiles of Bacharach;
From Bingen, hence
To old Coblentz: 
From every castellated crag,
Where the robber chieftains kept their “swag,”
The folk flowed in, and Ober-Cassel
Shone with the pomp of knight and vassal;
And pouring in from near and far,
As the Rhine to its bosom draws the Ahr,
Or takes the arm of the sober Mosel,
So in Cologne, knight, squire, and losel,
Choked up the city’s gates with men
From old St. Stephen to Zint Marjen.

What had they come to see?  Ah me! 
I fear no glitter of pageantry,
Nor sacred zeal
For Church’s weal,
Nor faith in the virgins’ bones to heal;
Nor childlike trust in frank confession
Drew these, who, dyed in deep transgression,
Still in each nest
On every crest
Kept stolen goods in their possession;
But only their gout
For something new,
More rare than the “roast” of a wandering Jew;
Or ­to be exact ­
To see ­in fact ­
A Christian soul, in the very act
Of being damned, secundum artem,
By the devil, before a soul could part ’em.

For a rumor had flown
Throughout Cologne
That the church, in fact, was the devil’s own;
That its architect
(Being long “suspect”)
Had confessed to the Bishop that he had wrecked
Not only his own soul, but had lost
The very first Christian soul that crossed
The sacred threshold:  and all, in fine,
For that very beautiful design
Of the wonderful choir
They were pleased to admire. 
And really, he must be allowed to say ­
To speak in a purely business way ­
That, taking the ruling market prices
Of souls and churches, in such a crisis
It would be shown ­
And his Grace must own ­
It was really a bargain for Cologne!

Such was the tale
That turned cheeks pale
With the thought that the enemy might prevail,
And the church doors snap
With a thunderclap
On a Christian soul in that devil’s trap. 
But a wiser few,
Who thought that they knew
Cologne’s Archbishop, replied, “Pooh, pooh! 
Just watch him and wait,
And as sure as fate,
You’ll find that the Bishop will give checkmate.”

One here might note
How the popular vote,
As shown in all legends and anecdote,
Declares that a breach
Of trust to o’erreach
The devil is something quite proper for each. 
And, really, if you
Give the devil his due
In spite of the proverb ­it’s something you’ll rue. 
But to lie and deceive him,
To use and to leave him,
From Job up to Faust is the way to receive him,
Though no one has heard
It ever averred
That the “Father of Lies” ever yet broke his word,
But has left this position,
In every tradition,
To be taken alone by the “truth-loving” Christian! 
Bom! from the tower! 
It is the hour! 
The host pours in, in its pomp and power
Of banners and pyx,
And high crucifix,
And crosiers and other processional sticks,
And no end of Marys
In quaint reliquaries,
To gladden the souls of all true antiquaries;
And an Osculum Pacis
(A myth to the masses
Who trusted their bones more to mail and cuirasses) ­
All borne by the throng
Who are marching along
To the square of the Dom with processional song,
With the flaring of dips,
And bending of hips,
And the chanting of hundred perfunctory lips;
And some good little boys
Who had come up from Neuss
And the Quirinuskirche to show off their voice: 
All march to the square
Of the great Dom, and there
File right and left, leaving alone and quite bare
A covered sedan,
Containing ­so ran
The rumor ­the victim to take off the ban.

They have left it alone,
They have sprinkled each stone
Of the porch with a sanctified Eau de Cologne,
Guaranteed in this case
To disguise every trace
Of a sulphurous presence in that sacred place. 
Two Carmélites stand
On the right and left hand
Of the covered sedan chair, to wait the command
Of the prelate to throw
Up the cover and show
The form of the victim in terror below. 
There’s a pause and a prayer,
Then the signal, and there ­
Is a woman! ­by all that is good and is fair!

A woman! and known
To them all ­one must own
too well known to the many, to-day to be shown
As a martyr, or e’en
As a Christian!  A queen
Of pleasance and revel, of glitter and sheen;
So bad that the worst
Of Cologne spake up first,
And declared ’twas an outrage to suffer one curst,
And already a fief
Of the Satanic chief,
To martyr herself for the Church’s relief. 
But in vain fell their sneer
On the mob, who I fear
On the whole felt a strong disposition to cheer.

A woman! and there
She stands in the glare
Of the pitiless sun and their pitying stare, ­
A woman still young,
With garments that clung
To a figure, though wasted with passion and wrung
With remorse and despair,
Yet still passing fair,
With jewels and gold in her dark shining hair,
And cheeks that are faint
’Neath her dyes and her paint. 
A woman most surely ­but hardly a saint!

She moves.  She has gone
From their pity and scorn;
She has mounted alone
The first step of stone,
And the high swinging doors she wide open has thrown,
Then pauses and turns,
As the altar blaze burns
On her cheeks, and with one sudden gesture she spurns
Archbishop and Prior,
Knight, ladye, and friar,
And her voice rings out high from the vault of the choir.

“O men of Cologne! 
What I was ye have known;
What I am, as I stand here, One knoweth alone. 
If it be but His will
I shall pass from Him still,
Lost, curst, and degraded, I reckon no ill;
If still by that sign
Of His anger divine
One soul shall be saved, He hath blessed more than mine. 
O men of Cologne! 
Stand forth, if ye own
A faith like to this, or more fit to atone,
And take ye my place,
And God give you grace
To stand and confront Him, like me, face to face!”

She paused.  Yet aloof
They all stand.  No reproof
Breaks the silence that fills the celestial roof. 
One instant ­no more ­
She halts at the door,
Then enters!...  A flood from the roof to the floor
Fills the church rosy red. 
She is gone! 
But instead,
Who is this leaning forward with glorified head
And hands stretched to save? 
Sure this is no slave
Of the Powers of Darkness, with aspect so brave!

They press to the door,
But too late!  All is o’er. 
Naught remains but a woman’s form prone on the floor;
But they still see a trace
Of that glow in her face
That they saw in the light of the altar’s high blaze
On the image that stands
With the babe in its hands
Enshrined in the churches of all Christian lands.

A Te Deum sung,
A censer high swung,
With praise, benediction, and incense wide-flung,
Proclaim that the curse
is removed ­and no worse
Is the Dom for the trial ­in fact, the Reverse;
For instead of their losing
A soul in abusing
The Evil One’s faith, they gained one of his choosing.

Thus the legend is told: 
You will find in the old
Vaulted aisles of the Dom, stiff in marble or cold
In iron and brass,
In gown and cuirass,
The knights, priests, and bishops who came to that Mass;
And high o’er the rest,
With her babe at her breast,
The image of Mary Madonna the blest. 
But you look round in vain,
On each high pictured pane,
For the woman most worthy to walk in her train.

Yet, standing to-day
O’er the dust and the clay,
’Midst the ghosts of a life that has long passed away,
With the slow-sinking sun
Looking softly upon
That stained-glass procession, I scarce miss the one
That it does not reveal,
For I know and I feel
That these are but shadows ­the woman was real!

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 débonnaire;
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!

ON A CONE OF THE BIG TREES

     (Sequoia gigantea)

     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.

LONE MOUNTAIN

(Cemetery, San Francisco)

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.

ALNASCHAR

Here’s yer toy balloons!  All sizes! 
Twenty cents for that.  It rises
Jest as quick as that ’ere, Miss,
Twice as big.  Ye see it is
Some more fancy.  Make it square
Fifty for ’em both.  That’s fair.

     That’s the sixth I’ve sold since noon. 
     Trade’s reviving.  Just as soon
     As this lot’s worked off, I’ll take
     Wholesale figgers.  Make or break, ­
     That’s my motto!  Then I’ll buy
     In some first-class lottery
     One half ticket, numbered right ­
     As I dreamed about last night.

     That’ll fetch it.  Don’t tell me! 
     When a man’s in luck, you see,
     All things help him.  Every chance
     Hits him like an avalanche. 
     Here’s your toy balloons, Miss.  Eh? 
     You won’t turn your face this way? 
     Mebbe you’ll be glad some day. 
     With that clear ten thousand prize
     This ’yer trade I’ll drop, and rise
     Into wholesale.  No!  I’ll take
     Stocks in Wall Street.  Make or break, ­
     That’s my motto!  With my luck,
     Where’s the chance of being stuck? 
     Call it sixty thousand, clear,
     Made in Wall Street in one year.

     Sixty thousand!  Umph!  Let’s see! 
     Bond and mortgage’ll do for me. 
     Good!  That gal that passed me by
     Scornful like ­why, mebbe I
     Some day’ll hold in pawn ­why not? ­
     All her father’s prop.  She’ll spot
     What’s my little game, and see
     What I’m after’s her.  He! he!

     He! he!  When she comes to sue ­
     Let’s see!  What’s the thing to do? 
     Kick her?  No!  There’s the perliss! 
     Sorter throw her off like this. 
     Hello!  Stop!  Help!  Murder!  Hey! 
     There’s my whole stock got away,
     Kiting on the house-tops!  Lost! 
     All a poor man’s fortin!  Cost? 
     Twenty dollars!  Eh!  What’s this? 
     Fifty cents!  God bless ye, Miss!

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.

ADDRESS

(Opening of the California theatre, San Francisco, January 19, 1870)

Brief words, when actions wait, are well: 
The prompter’s hand is on his bell;
The coming heroes, lovers, kings,
Are idly lounging at the wings;
Behind the curtain’s mystic fold
The glowing future lies unrolled;
And yet, one moment for the Past,
One retrospect, ­the first and last.

     “The world’s a stage,” the Master said. 
     To-night a mightier truth is read: 
     Not in the shifting canvas screen,
     The flash of gas or tinsel sheen;
     Not in the skill whose signal calls
     From empty boards baronial halls;
     But, fronting sea and curving bay,
     Behold the players and the play.

     Ah, friends! beneath your real skies
     The actor’s short-lived triumph dies: 
     On that broad stage of empire won,
     Whose footlights were the setting sun,
     Whose flats a distant background rose
     In trackless peaks of endless snows;
     Here genius bows, and talent waits
     To copy that but One creates.

     Your shifting scenes:  the league of sand,
     An avenue by ocean spanned;
     The narrow beach of straggling tents,
     A mile of stately monuments;
     Your standard, lo! a flag unfurled,
     Whose clinging folds clasp half the world, ­
     This is your drama, built on facts,
     With “twenty years between the acts.”

     One moment more:  if here we raise
     The oft-sung hymn of local praise,
     Before the curtain facts must sway;
     here waits the moral of your play. 
     Glassed in the poet’s thought, you view
     What money can, yet cannot do;
     The faith that soars, the deeds that shine,
     Above the gold that builds the shrine.

     And oh! when others take our place,
     And Earth’s green curtain hides our face,
     Ere on the stage, so silent now,
     The last new hero makes his bow: 
     So may our deeds, recalled once more
     In Memory’s sweet but brief encore,
     Down all the circling ages run,
     With the world’s plaudit of “Well done!”

DOLLY VARDEN

     Dear Dolly! who does not recall
     The thrilling page that pictured all
     Those charms that held our sense in thrall
       Just as the artist caught her, ­
     As down that English lane she tripped,
     In bowered chintz, hat sideways tipped,
     Trim-bodiced, bright-eyed, roguish-lipped, ­
       The locksmith’s pretty daughter?

     Sweet fragment of the Master’s art! 
     O simple faith!  O rustic heart! 
     O maid that hath no counterpart
       In life’s dry, dog-eared pages! 
     Where shall we find thy like?  Ah, stay! 
     Methinks I saw her yesterday
     In chintz that flowered, as one might say,
       Perennial for ages.

     Her father’s modest cot was stone,
     Five stories high; in style and tone
     Composite, and, I frankly own,
       Within its walls revealing
     Some certain novel, strange ideas: 
     A Gothic door with Roman piers,
     And floors removed some thousand years,
       From their Pompeian ceiling.

     The small salon where she received
     Was Louis Quatorze, and relieved
     By Chinese cabinets, conceived
       Grotesquely by the heathen;
     The sofas were a classic sight, ­
     The Roman bench (sedilia hight);
     The chairs were French in gold and white,
       And one Elizabethan.

     And she, the goddess of that shrine,
     Two ringed fingers placed in mine, ­
     The stones were many carats fine,
       And of the purest water, ­
     Then dropped a curtsy, far enough
     To fairly fill her cretonne puff
     And show the petticoat’s rich stuff
       That her fond parent bought her.

     Her speech was simple as her dress, ­
     Not French the more, but English less,
     She loved; yet sometimes, I confess,
       I scarce could comprehend her. 
     Her manners were quite far from shy. 
     There was a quiet in her eye
     Appalling to the Hugh who’d try
       With rudeness to offend her.

     “But whence,” I cried, “this masquerade? 
     Some figure for to-night’s charade,
     A Watteau shepherdess or maid?”
       She smiled and begged my pardon: 
     “Why, surely you must know the name, ­
     That woman who was Shakespeare’s flame
     Or Byron’s, ­well, it’s all the same: 
       Why, Lord!  I’m Dolly Varden!”

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.

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!

HALF AN HOUR BEFORE SUPPER

     “So she’s here, your unknown Dulcinea, the lady you met on the train,
     And you really believe she would know you if you were to meet her
        again?”

     “Of course,” he replied, “she would know me; there never was
        womankind yet
     Forgot the effect she inspired.  She excuses, but does not forget.”

     “Then you told her your love?” asked the elder.  The younger looked
        up with a smile: 
     “I sat by her side half an hour ­what else was I doing the while?

     “What, sit by the side of a woman as fair as the sun in the sky,
     And look somewhere else lest the dazzle flash back from your own to
        her eye?

     “No, I hold that the speech of the tongue be as frank and as bold as
        the look,
     And I held up herself to herself, ­that was more than she got from
        her book.”

     “Young blood!” laughed the elder; “no doubt you are voicing the mode
        of To-Day: 
     But then we old fogies at least gave the lady some chance for delay.

     “There’s my wife (you must know), ­we first met on the journey from
        Florence to Rome: 
     It took me three weeks to discover who was she and where was her home;

     “Three more to be duly presented; three more ere I saw her again;
     And a year ere my romance began where yours ended that day on the
        train.”

     “Oh, that was the style of the stage-coach; we travel to-day by
        express;
     Forty miles to the hour,” he answered, “won’t admit of a passion
        that’s less.”

     “But what if you make a mistake?” quoth the elder.  The younger half
        sighed. 
     “What happens when signals are wrong or switches misplaced?” he
        replied.

     “Very well, I must bow to your wisdom,” the elder returned, “but
        submit
     Your chances of winning this woman your boldness has bettered no whit.

     “Why, you do not at best know her name.  And what if I try your ideal
     With something, if not quite so fair, at least more en règle and real?

     “Let me find you a partner.  Nay, come, I insist ­you shall follow ­
        this way. 
     My dear, will you not add your grace to entreat Mr. Rapid to stay?

     “My wife, Mr. Rapid ­ Eh, what!  Why, he’s gone ­yet he said he
        would come. 
     How rude!  I don’t wonder, my dear, you are properly crimson and
        dumb!”

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?

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, flushed 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 flight 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 swab 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; ’tis 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 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 MISSION BELLS OF MONTEREY

     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!

      This poem was set to music by Monsieur Charles Gounod.

“CROTALUS”

     (Rattlesnake bar, Sierras)

     No life in earth, or air, or sky;
     The sunbeams, broken silently,
     On the bared rocks around me lie, ­

     Cold rocks with half-warmed lichens scarred,
     And scales of moss; and scarce a yard
     Away, one long strip, yellow-barred.

     Lost in a cleft!  ’Tis but a stride
     To reach it, thrust its roots aside,
     And lift it on thy stick astride!

     Yet stay!  That moment is thy grace! 
     For round thee, thrilling air and space,
     A chattering terror fills the place!

     A sound as of dry bones that stir
     In the dead Valley!  By yon fir
     The locust stops its noonday whir!

     The wild bird hears; smote with the sound,
     As if by bullet brought to ground,
     On broken wing, dips, wheeling round!

     The hare, transfixed, with trembling lip,
     Halts, breathless, on pulsating hip,
     And palsied tread, and heels that slip.

     Enough, old friend! ­’tis thou.  Forget
     My heedless foot, nor longer fret
     The peace with thy grim castanet!

     I know thee!  Yes!  Thou mayst forego
     That lifted crest; the measured blow
     Beyond which thy pride scorns to go,

     Or yet retract!  For me no spell
     Lights those slit orbs, where, some think, dwell
     Machicolated fires of hell!

     I only know thee humble, bold,
     Haughty, with miseries untold,
     And the old Curse that left thee cold,

     And drove thee ever to the sun,
     On blistering rocks; nor made thee shun
     Our cabin’s hearth, when day was done,

     And the spent ashes warmed thee best;
     We knew thee, ­silent, joyless guest
     Of our rude ingle.  E’en thy quest

     Of the rare milk-bowl seemed to be
     Naught but a brother’s poverty,
     And Spartan taste that kept thee free

     From lust and rapine.  Thou! whose fame
     Searchest the grass with tongue of flame,
     Making all creatures seem thy game;

     When the whole woods before thee run,
     Asked but ­when all was said and done ­
     To lie, untrodden, in the sun!

ON WILLIAM FRANCIS BARTLETT

     Dead at Pittsfield, mass., 1876

     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!

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.

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!

HER LAST LETTER

Being A reply toHis answer

June 4th!  Do you know what that date means? 
June 4th!  By this air and these pines! 
Well, ­only you know how I hate scenes, ­
These might be my very last lines! 
For perhaps, sir, you’ll kindly remember ­
If some other things you’ve forgot ­
That you last wrote the 4th of December, ­
Just six months ago I ­from this spot;

     From this spot, that you said was “the fairest
       For once being held in my thought.” 
     Now, really I call that the barest
       Of ­well, I won’t say what I ought! 
     For here I am back from my “riches,”
       My “triumphs,” my “tours,” and all that;
     And you’re not to be found in the ditches
       Or temples of Poverty Flat!

     From Paris we went for the season
       To London, when pa wired, “Stop.” 
     Mama says “his health” was the reason. 
       (I’ve heard that some things took a “drop.”)
     But she said if my patience I’d summon
       I could go back with him to the Flat ­
     Perhaps I was thinking of some one
       Who of me ­well ­was not thinking that!

     Of course you will say that I “never
       Replied to the letter you wrote.” 
     That is just like a man!  But, however,
       I read it ­or how could I quote? 
     And as to the stories you’ve heard (No,
       Don’t tell me you haven’t ­I know!),
     You’ll not believe one blessed word, Joe;
       But just whence they came, let them go!

     And they came from Sade Lotski of Yolo,
       Whose father sold clothes on the Bar ­
     You called him Job-lotski, you know, Joe,
       And the boys said her value was par. 
     Well, we met her in Paris ­just flaring
       With diamonds, and lost in a hat
     And she asked me “how Joseph was faring
       In his love-suit on Poverty Flat!”

     She thought it would shame me!  I met her
       With a look, Joe, that made her eyes drop;
     And I said that your “love-suit fared better
       Than any suit out of their shop!”
     And I didn’t blush then ­as I’m doing
       To find myself here, all alone,
     And left, Joe, to do all the “sueing”
       To a lover that’s certainly flown.

     In this brand-new hotel, called “The Lily”
       (I wonder who gave it that name?)
     I really am feeling quite silly,
       To think I was once called the same;
     And I stare from its windows, and fancy
       I’m labeled to each passer-by. 
     Ah! gone is the old necromancy,
       For nothing seems right to my eye.

     On that hill there are stores that I knew not;
       There’s a street ­where I once lost my way;
     And the copse where you once tied my shoe-knot
       Is shamelessly open as day! 
     And that bank by the spring ­I once drank there,
       And you called the place Eden, you know;
     Now I’m banished like Eve ­though the bank there
       Is belonging to “Adams and Co.”

     There’s the rustle of silk on the sidewalk;
       Just now there passed by a tall hat;
     But there’s gloom in this “boom” and this wild talk
       Of the “future” of Poverty Flat. 
     There’s a decorous chill in the air, Joe,
       Where once we were simple and free;
     And I hear they’ve been making a mayor, Joe,
       Of the man who shot Sandy McGee.

     But there’s still the “lap, lap” of the river;
       There’s the song of the pines, deep and low. 
     (How my longing for them made me quiver
       In the park that they call Fontainebleau!)
     There’s the snow-peak that looked on our dances,
       And blushed when the morning said, “Go!”
     There’s a lot that remains which one fancies ­
       But somehow there’s never a Joe!

     Perhaps, on the whole, it is better,
       For you might have been changed like the rest;
     Though it’s strange that I’m trusting this letter
       To papa, just to have it addressed. 
     He thinks he may find you, and really
       Seems kinder now I’m all alone. 
     You might have been here, Joe, if merely
       To look what I’m willing to own.

     Well, well! that’s all past; so good-night, Joe;
       Good-night to the river and Flat;
     Good-night to what’s wrong and what’s right, Joe;
       Good-night to the past, and all that ­
     To Harrison’s barn, and its dancers;
       To the moon, and the white peak of snow;
     And good-night to the canyon that answers
       My “Joe!” with its echo of “No!”

     P. S.

     I’ve just got your note.  You deceiver! 
       How dared you ­how could you?  Oh, Joe! 
     To think I’ve been kept a believer
       In things that were six months ago! 
     And it’s you’ve built this house, and the bank, too,
       And the mills, and the stores, and all that! 
     And for everything changed I must thank you,
       Who have “struck it” on Poverty Flat!

     How dared you get rich ­you great stupid! ­
       Like papa, and some men that I know,
     Instead of just trusting to Cupid
       And to me for your money?  Ah, Joe! 
     Just to think you sent never a word, dear,
       Till you wrote to papa for consent! 
     Now I know why they had me transferred here,
       And “the health of papa” ­what that meant!

     Now I know why they call this “The Lily;”
       Why the man who shot Sandy McGee
     You made mayor!  ’Twas because ­oh, you silly! ­
       He once “went down the middle” with me! 
     I’ve been fooled to the top of my bent here,
       So come, and ask pardon ­you know
     That you’ve still got to get my consent, dear! 
       And just think what that echo said ­Joe!