ELIZABETHAN DAYS

A misty night two winters past
Discolored snow is melting fast,
A street that stretches up a rise
And blends itself into the midnight skies,
Crosses a bridge above the tracks,
Where now a noisy engine backs
And rows of tiny lanterns, white and green,
Give to the rails a silvery sheen,
Glimmering through the foggy pall
Clear to the great, gloomy terminal.
A street lamp with a weary look,
A gutter gurgling like a brook,
And high above unsteady at this hour
Are lights are blinking by the Tower;
A mellow odor from the dripping trees,
A distant church bell tolls eternities,
And all deserted is the dismal street.
We are alone, our isolation is complete;
We pause to gaze down on the shining cut;
"There's something I would tell you-but"
Said you, "but I'll say nothing now."
I'd thought of something too, yet how
To say it had perplexed my mind
And to the future I was blind---
A pusher engine's wave of smoke
Our midnight reverie awoke.
We passed along, both left unsaid
The words that in our souls we read,
Each satisfied that we would meet
Full many a time, and then repeat
With confidence that is not bold
The sweetest story ever told.
I left you at your steps, and nevermore
Was I to near that sacred door;
But still I see you when in dreaming ways
And live again Elizabethan Days.

December 11, 1911.



PASSING BY

THE little country village where you live,
At mid-day when the train came in
And stopped, I gazed out through the open sash
Across the fields and groves of linn
Which line the sauntering, shrunken stream;
The trees were tinted by the early fall
And had lost leaves enough to show a gleam
Of the quiet main street and the old hotel
Near where in some deep shaded bower
Your cottage stands---you were at this same hour
Unmindful of my nearness, how my heart beat fast
Inspired by fond memories of the happy past---
Perchance it be a shadow crossed your path
As if cast by a bird in flight above the trees
At this same moment, and a thought of me
Vibrates your spirit, and has vanished instantly.
The car-trucks creak, the train is moving on
Along the calm valley of the cloudless skies,
But I had flashed a message forth
The message of the love that never dies!

September 8, 1908.




AT THE BRONX

OH Let me live again that winter day;
The little horse stood by the door impatiently
'Till we got in, and through the Park we flew---
And I was happy, that was all I knew!

Oh, let me live again that winter day;
How soon we reached the Zoo and put away
Our modest trap, and in the gate we went---
On this, the happiest day I ever spent!

Oh, let me live again that winter day;
How well I cherish every word you'd say.
We paused before a cage of doves, quoth you---
"They're redder breasts than heart's blood hue."

Oh, let me live again that winter day;
Closing time came, when we must turn away.
I looked at you, your beauty breathed in me---
A vision that then and now, and always I will see!

Oh, let me live again that winter day;
We started homeward through the dusk so gray.
Down the broad boulevard bright lights were lit---
I wished there'd never be an end of it!

Oh, let me live again that winter day;
Crossing the bridge winds swept full sway;
You did the driving, and I wore your muff---
Until my frozen hands were warmed enough.

Oh, let me live again that winter day;
Little I thought "good bye" would end all aspects gay.
That day I saw the Perfect Life, ordained for few---
And I was happy, that was all I knew!

HALLOWE'EN

WHEN shades from every recess stalk,
And goblin, wraith and sprite are free;
Pale, angry ghosts in silence walk---
There is a Spirit comes to me.

When hidden graves give up their dead
From lonely wood or trackless sea,
And whispering witches fly o'erhead---
There is a Spirit comes to me.

When every man, though king or slave,
Feels unseen presence in his sleep;
Unwelcome, or the one he'd crave---
A Spirit gives me sorrow deep.
For all I would forget comes back,
In earthly form to live anew,
And rising from the midnight black
I see the Spirit of my love for you!

November 1, 1908.




THE CHOIR INVISIBLE

LAST night some one who talked like you
Sat next to me at dinner, and I drew
Expressions from her, and I would rejoice
To hear this counterfeit possessor of your voice.

This morning some one who had just seen you
Told me of the meeting and I drew
The story from him, how you looked and seemed;
You mentioned me, the fondest hope I dreamed.

And every day I wonder whether fate will grant
That I may see you, greatest joy extant!
And listen to your voice with its perplexing tone
And talk to you as if you were my own,
And marvel o'er the charms that have for years
Cause all my happiness--and all my tears.

March 18, 1909

THE NEW REGIME

YES, the old barn's going to be a garage,
They've begun to tear down the stalls,
And the harness and pictures must come out quick,
For They're concreting the walls.

For five years in that box over yonder
We kept that great pacin' mare,
Nellie S., with a mark of seventeen,
She belonged to poor Jakey Baer.

And in those two high stalls next it
We boarded Ike Swartz's span,
Two long-tailed blacks that could road like hell--
He let 'em be drove by no other man.

And a sorrel cob by the name o' Dan,
A cribber for sure was he---
You can see the marks on his feed-box yet,
Though he's been dead since 'ninety-three.

A drunk took him an' a big bay mare,
Her stall was right beside;
An' drove 'em in front of the day express,
Killed the team, and he himself died.

Doc. Snyder's stud, a silver gray,
With a tail that swept the ground,
For six years stood in the 'joining stall
They swapt him when he went unsound.

The two hearse teams were next in line,
What stories they could tell---
When Irish and Dutch and Polish Jews
Trailed their dead to the church's knell;

The white team took fright one Christmas Day,
At the funeral of Mose Green's child,
You mind that old darkey at the hotel?
Gee! they made a smash-up wild.

Another time crazy Billy Good
Was a-drivin' them down the street,
An' ran over and killed a little girl,
Then two were dead within a few feet.

In the last stall, by the entry stood
Old Simon, the trusty and true;
A skinny roan, with one-watch eye,
But if you'd your best girl out he knew.

In the cellar we kept old Harbor Lights,
Since they killed the Gloucester game,
Says his owner, `They'll open again some day,'
When he died it was shut the same.

The Judge's saddler stood beside,
He called him Missouri King---
Paid a thousand for him in the West;
How he loved that mean knee-sprung thing!

Upstairs the surreys, and buggies, and sleighs
To the auction-block must go---
Along with the coach where the Governor rode,
And the shoo-fly and Tally-ho;


And we who have worked here twenty years
Must a double hustle take,
They've got no use for such as we,
Every horseman they say's a fake.

And the young chauffeurs with their leather suits
Will brush us roughly out,
And the smoke and smell of gasoline
Will put the old days to rout;

And the hissing sparkers, and carbide lights,
And the siren's deafening scream
Will forever blot out the livery days
In the dawn of the new regime.

But one word more, can they have such fun
As we had, while we stabled here---
Will a soulless machine know you like a horse?
If so, we'll quit without a tear!"

November 2, 1909

THE OLD HACKMAN'S LAMENT

FOR twenty-five years I had the stand
At the back of the Union depot,
And met the east-bound mail each night
In rain or sleet or snow.

"Five horses I used in all those years,
Nig, Sam, and Bill and Bourbon Prince,
Poor Prince once ran at Guttenberg,
But, gee, he saw some hard work since.

"Judges, bankers, and traveling men
All called me `Pat,' for that's my name,
For though the train was six hours late,
They knew they'd find me there the same.

"One night a rumor reached my ears,
I only heard it second hand,
That some rich men had formed a scheme,
To put a taxi on the stand.

"And not long after in she steamed,
All painted green, with blazing lights;
Run by a fresh kid from New York
Who poked at me no end of slights.

"My old friends dropped me one by one, '
Twas as a red-haired show girl said---
'To think we onc't rode in them slow things,'
But they've deprived us of our bread.


"On Christmas eve the taxi took
A girl and drummer out of town,
And the flyer brought in Big Bill Gheen,
Who 'phoned to send the taxi down.

"It didn't come in half an hour,
He had to take my creaking hack;
Up the hill I drove as best I could,
On through the fog that hung so black.

"At Main street corner, I just heard a roar,
An awful crash and then a horse's squeal,
The taxi had come 'round the turn,
And knocked us over and took off a wheel.

"As Bill Gheen crawled from out the wreck,
He cursed me like a scab---
He said he'd sue me, and put me in jail,
And then he climbed into the taxicab.

"Oh, I'm afraid my driving days are done,
I'm much too old to start again,
But if I ever take another ride,
It's to the Port of Missing Men."

PATHWAYS

YOU crossed my path---
Your footsteps in the sands of life
Can never be effaced,
By gales or tempests rife.

I see you now, far, far away,
Against my mental horizon,
High are the rocks and ridges you have crossed,
Many the miles that you have gone.

There is a place where all paths meet,
The Wayside Inn of Dreams Come True,
Some never reach there all through life,
I hope to get there and greet you.

January 3, 1910




THE CORD OF HOPE

WHAT does life guarantee?
Nothing, but hope for me;
Pray tell me what is hope?
Naught but a slackened rope,
That when you pull it fair Its end is blank despair.

What does hope guarantee?
It promised new life to me,
I found it and I rejoiced
Real gratitude I voiced---
Found when I drew the silken band
Dead ashes in my hand.

January 5, 1910

BERLIN

LAST night I dreamed I was at the Chancellery,
Living again those days so gloriously free,
Days when I sported epaulets and sword
And passed my time as if I were a lord.
I sauntered up the marble stairs and in the door,
Old Wilhelm bowing met me "Some news in store.
Mein Herr, the Baroness has asked that you
Call her at once" and to the 'phone I flew,
Which hung upon the wall, beside
The lounge where Bayard Taylor died.
To hear from her my heart could hardly wait,
But soon I heard her voice "You are a trifle late;
Oh, won't you come up to our home at three
And go to the Winter Garden skating with me?"
"Of course I shall---Wilhelm a droschky quick."
I met the little Baroness, done out in furs and sweater chic.
Soon on the crowded ice we glided, not a cloud I knew,
Success in life seemed only what I choose to do.
At last I spoke my heart: "In one short month I leave for home
To make my fortune, it does not pay to roam,
Else, truly, you must come to the States with me."
Her red lips pouted, she replied, "You must stay here and be---"
A knock upon the door---I wake---it is a morning fair,
The sun is streaming through my windows from Penn Square.


January 6, 1910

THE PAIN THAT LASTS THROUGH LIFE

SMALL sorrows smart and leave their scars,
But never fail to heal;
A million in our lives may come
Each poignant and each real.
But touch the heart, no earthly power,
No balm, nor thread, nor knife
Can ever stanch the constant flow,
The pain that lasts through life.

To outward eyes we stand and meet
All comers with a smile,
Our head is high, our voices clear,
We cheerfully beguile;
But underneath there is the flow,
The inward throbbings rife,
That drip from out the injured heart,
The pain that lasts through life.

Small sorrows smart and leave their scars,
And cover us with gloom;
Throw highest hopes into a rut,
And send us to our doom;
But when our heart is touched we rise
Triumphant in the strife;
We win, but ever bleeds the wound,
The pain that lasts through life.

January 10, 1910

RED DRESS

TURNING pictures into wood
Has long been quite a fad
Some do it with consummate art
With others it is bad.

Burning pictures in the heart
Depends who the models be,
Some make an impress very faint
No hawkish eye can see.

You burnt a picture in my heart,
'Twill never fade, I guess,
Your eyes of blue, your golden hair,
Your flaming bright red dress.

I've tried to have it scraped away,
It merely clearer grows---
Shutting my eyes, I only see
You, in your gown of rose.

January 11, 1910


BEECH TREE IMMORTALITY

OUT in the groves of locust, linn and pine,
Near where a clear brook whispers to the moss,
Down where the grape vines and the creepers sigh,
Four slender beech trees stand close by the floss.
In earlier day, in some staid English park
A sandstone cupid or a marble urn would be
Established just betwixt them on the velvet turf,
And pebbled paths would lead up to the shrine of reverie.
But here, vast black-topped mountains loom,
That moan when winds sweep o'er their crest,
And straying cattle are the only signs of life;
Few dreamers come to soothe their minds to rest.
One sultry August morn' a wanderer appeared
And lolled away an hour beneath the leafy shade;
His spirit throbbed with echoes of a recent strife;
His future had been bettered or unmade;
But ere he left he drew his knife and deftly cut
On the smooth bark of beech that all might see,
Two names, (___) (___)
And turned them over to the God of Beech Tree Immortality.

August 9, 1910.

MY VALEDICTORY

UPON the sad, grey shore I stand,
Watching your ship fade out of sight,
Towards the horizon of the new life,
Leaving my soul back in the night.

And, as the silken sail goes out,
Behind the line of cloud and sky,
I marvel that with all my fervent love
I lost you, dare I ask God why?

Yet I must turn, and steps retrace
Into the empty mansion of my soul,
And set aright the bric-a-brac of days
Of which you were the everlasting whole.

I touch each hanging lamp or statuette,
Or damask curtain, couch or chair,
To brush away in dust forgetfulness,
Only to feel your prescience everywhere.

The rustle of your dress is in the hall,
Your breath is in each flowering urn,
Your finger tips are on the books I read
I seem to see you every time I turn.

And from the haunted mansion of my soul,
I'll go to seek the open air divine,
Only to hear the accents of your voice
Lilted from out the honeysuckle vine.

I wander, solitary, to the shore,
Where your fair bark has passed from sight,
Throbbing, glowing, with the new life,
Leaving my soul to stumble in the night.

April 19, 1911.


ARBUTUS

THE rose and violet when they fade
Spread odors sickening and impure,
'Tis only in the freshness of their bloom
Their scent and presence can endure,
Most love affairs and friendships, too,
In ending like the violet and the rose,
Wither away but leave a reek behind
That they were bad at heart we must suppose,
The pale arbutus when it fades,
Like some frail woman in a ballroom's glare
Grows limp and waxy; totters into musk,
Shedding an odor that none can compare.
Like the arbutus nature fashioned you
In beauty, sweetness, and in the decay
Of our brief romance, although sere and dead,
It wafts a perfume that will last alway.

May 13, 1911

MAGNOLIA

YOUR radiant presence seemed to me,
Like some white-robed magnolia tree,
Graceful, scented, one mass of flowers,
The reigning spirit of Maytime's hours.

But as the Spring advances into June
The petals fall, in ashen loveliness atune
With the soft breezes, and the misty sky,
And on the grass like snows of winter lie.

The while I gaze upon the tree so bare,
Its broken flowers scattered everywhere,
Methinks it is the way your love has flown
And vanished when it ought have been my own.

May 18, 1911

AND WITH THAT MEASURE YE METE ***

IN the days when faith was real and God could hear,
Pilgrims from valleys far and near,
Journeyed afoot, by horse, by boat,
That the dull course of things had stirred,
A blessed miracle had occurred---
How their steps quickened when they drew
Near and rested on grass where faith proved true.

My faith was real, I felt that God could hear;
Angels of joy came whispering in my ear,
And made my lips murmur this one line,
"I am at peace, life is divine."

But miracles occur, and quickly pass,
Though scared still is every wisp of grass,
Even the gas-lamps on the street where you
For a few minutes told me faith was true.

May 30, 1911

THE MORNING DOVE

ACROSS the rolling prairie,
Perched in a dead beech tree,
Against the setting sun aflame,
A dove is calling mournfully;
And the thought occurs to me,
Is his lament like mine---
Is he telling of a loved one nestling
By another on the fox-grape vine?
Drowsy with happiness supreme,
Leaving him forage, flit and rest
Alone, often by the sheltered maple
He had chosen for their nest.
And when he sings 'tis mournfully,
Just as I strive to impart,
In verse, out on the prairie,
The gnawing sorrow at my heart.

July 9, 1911

ACQUAINTANCE

YOU said acquaintance as it moves along,
"Always results in disillusionment."
That first impressions then are wholly wrong
To make a brilliant pose is all that's meant.

If this be so, then what a tragedy
It is to meet, be pleased, idealize---
And each successive day to have to see
Our judgment faulty and unwise.

Then friendship is no rock, but shifting sand,
Glossed over by the sunlight of our hopes,
And disenchantment is the promised land,
Bare trees of knowledge growing on its slopes.

Love cannot be exception to this rule,
For there 'tis thought perfection's surely found
'Till in stalks undiscovered faults to fool
And dash the precious structure to the ground.

The greatest optimists admit this sad lament,
In fact it only is too true---
But there could come no disillusionment,
To anyone in knowing you.

BELATED TELEPHONE GIRLS

STORMBOUND at the old hotel,
In the Quaker City, too;
Let blizzards rage until they're tired,
If I may gaze at you.

Across the marble dining hall
What feasting for my eyes,
And when your glance meets mine,
Your look is of surprise.

That in this early morning hour,
While blizzards rage and roar;
That I would look at you alone,
And not at the other four.


THE LAST DRIVING HORSE

HE'S the last light driving horse in town,
The others have all been sold
And shipped to the North, and East and West,
One went to Brazil, I'm told.

So spoke the tall, slim liveryman
With his pea-jacket and mustache
Rigged out as they were in 'eighty-nine
When the horsemen had all the cash.

Say, this was a cracking good horse town
Before the autos came,
Then horsemen sold out with a rush,
I say that to their shame.

Why, right here in this very alley were kept
Wild Archey, two seventeen;
Harlem Maid, Echo Lass, and Middlemarch,
And also Broncho Queen;

Annie Pixley, she won in two fourteen,
Parnell, and Sleepy Fred,
Wilkes Boy, Eight Bells, and Emma D.,
I suppose all of 'ems dead.

The racers all went, and the roadsters next
Until but the one remained;
His owner swore `No autos for him,'
He would drive even when it rained.

But his wife she had a social bee,
`All her neighbors were getting cars'
She said, and she'd storm and fret
And bring on the worst family jars.

At last she vowed that `never again'
Behind a horse she'd ride,
It was buy a machine or get a divorce
And it didn't take long to decide.

They'll sell him cheap, he'll step mighty fast,
Lands, I hate to see him go,
It means one more victory for the machines,
But it's the spirit of the day, you know."


TWO VISIONS---AND A REALITY

WE stood upon the stucco battlement and saw the Invalides,
The leaden dome outlined against the streaked sky---
Wintry and smooth the Place de la Concorde lay
Dotted with lights. We hear the newsmen cry
Running across the square "La Patrie, La Patrie,"
And tinkling bells upon the cabs that glide
Out to the Champs Elysee' from the Rue de Rivoli---
And lights come up from steamers on the Seine---
But soon the skies grow darker, and the dome less plain---
'Till in its place we see---a towering mountain height
Leaden and resolute in the evening light---
No Place de Concorde stretches out between
But in its stead a clearing vast and green---
The dancing lights are but reflected glow
Of stars upon the North Fork down below---
The newsmen are the crickets, almost out of breath
Chirping their last sad song of fall and death---
The tinkling bells, there's only one we hear,
A dismal cow bell, on the hilltop near---
The skies grow bright---again a change of scene,
We look around and wonder where we've been---
Electric lights, noise, motors, crowds that ebb and flow,
Why, we've been dreaming in the balcony at the Auto Show!

December 1, 1906.

IN THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM AT BERLIN

FIVE thousand years have come and gone:
Still the unanswering world moves on,
And with mere curiosity we stand
In a damp museum in a foreign land,
And peer into the faces of the dead---
The very young, high priests, and newly wed,
Who grew and faded in this distant time
As flowers do, in our own clime:
We wonder why they're here, or why are we
Leaving sunlight and facts to stare at mystery!

1904


CLARA PRICE

OVER the lonely mountain pike
That runs from Snow Shoe to Boak's, Pine Glen,
Passes the deserted log tavern, then
Crosses the ridge towards the river's course;
The old stage rattles, each wheezing horse
Tugs his utmost; the light hearted driver sings---
(He is Harry St. Cloud, born in far Quebec)---
And the mud is making our clothes a wreck!

As we gain the summit and start down hill
Through the sombre slashings, 'neath the grey sky
St. Cloud stops his song, and tells us why,
And points to a marble block by the road---
"It's been chipped by travelers, but once it showed
In letters plain, like a warning sign---
'Clara Price, murdered November 27, 1889.'

The poor girl was going to fetch the cows
When the---of a---attacked her here;
She fought her best, for she knew no fear,
But she gave her life in this awful spot"---
And then with a crack from the blacksnake lash,
The wheezy team makes a forward dash,
And old Mike Morrissey, in the back seat,
Says, "God rest her soul in peace complete."

THE MYSTIC'S GRAVE

POOR Ben Langdon, quite forgotten,
Save by those who knew him well,
Mystic, student, poet, and dreamer
He was, so his friends will tell.

Long ago he left this living world,
Where he might have won renown
And they laid him in the graveyard
In the quaint old Muncy Town.

With one, who admired his talents;
'Twas in the glorious golden hour---
I visited his grass grown tomb,
In May, the trees were all in flower!

We left the sleepy main street
Where at the close of day
The old folks sit along the walks
And doze the hours away.

We passed by shady cottage yards,
And crossed a little brook;
Crawled through a shady white-washed gate
To the sequestered burial nook.

An old man raked the new-cut grass---
"Right here," he said to me,
"Ben Langdon stood and made his speech,
It was back about 'seventy-three,


When they dedicated this marble shaft
To John Brady, the pioneer,
And Muncy was crowded as never before
Nor will be ever again, I fear."

A robin hopped among the stones
That marked the ancient dead---
I followed to where the grass grew tall,
"There's Langdon's grave," he said.

I gazed on the modest granite block
Where now gleamed the sunset rays
That shot through the wavering spruce tree boughs
And thought of this World and its ways!

How easy it is for a man to die---
Be remembered for years to come
For some vain act or selfish strike,
But for mind alone we are dumb.

THE AFTERNOON TRAIN

ON the afternoon train from Harrisburg
When the sun shines deep and the cars run slow,
And the shadows along the river bank creep,
Where the buttonwoods and the birches grow.
On the afternoon train from Harrisburg
I traveled one day in the last July;
As we left the smoking depot hot
What across the car should greet my eye
But a girl who was young and fair to see:
I smiled on her, and she smiled on me.
And I figured out as the train jogged on,
"When that old woman who sits by her side
Gets out, I'll hurry across the aisle
And a pretty companion I'll have this ride.
For no doubt she knows many friends of mine
Who live in the Valley that God Loves Best;"
And I looked out the window and then at her
And waited for time to do the rest.
And soon to a station the train slowed down
"Dauphin, Dauphin," the brakeman cried
My maiden fair got quickly out
And left me considerably stupefied.
And the quiet scenes of Inglenook,
Or the mountain crags of Liverpool,
Or the bustling crowds at Sunbury
And Dewart's evening stillness cool.
Or the rifles at sunset near Muncy Town
Could not interest me as before,
For what fun we'd had, if we'd only met,
But through life we will meet no more!

August 7, 1900.


THE SLASHINGS

FOR miles and miles, by hill and dale,
The chalky-white stumps gleam
Where once the hemlock forest waved
By the banks of the mountain stream.

Each forest king that was felled and peeled,
Has left a tombstone behind
In the bleached white stumps that everywhere
The wilderness days remind.

When the endless hills were a swaying mass
That stretched to the horizon
Of hemlock and pine, and completely hid
The streams as they rushed along!

But now all is still in this lonely land,
Save only the j ay bird's peep
And the drowsy drip of the shrunken brook,
O'er the stones where it used to leap.

And man, the destroyer, has quite forgot
These scenes where his axe did ply
But the hemlock graves put their curse on man
Every year when the wells go dry!

NEW AND OLD BERLIN

TWAS but a year ago I drove into the streets
Of New Berlin, in the New World;
Two double rows of maples form an arch
That spreads completely o'er the grass-grown way,
Lined by green-shuttered homes, neat gardens, too;
Old-fashioned stores with little window panes
Displaying trinkets and dust-covered crockeryware
An old-time tavern stand, with swinging sign,
With graybeards grouped upon the porch expectantly
And out a lane, a once well-known academy
Stands now deserted, the windows gaping, fences down;
And not a sound except a rooster's crow
In some well-shaded yard, and lots of sunshine warm
And this is New Berlin, in the New World!

'Twas one year later that I drove into the streets
Of Old Berlin, in the Old World;
A roar of voices, hammers, wheels, first greeted me,
And cracking whips of several hundred cabs,
And rolling trucks, and trams and motor cars
Rushed past, and eager, busy human crowds
Thronged the wide thoroughfares, while officers
In uniforms of red and blue rode gaily by
And as my eyes, expanded, reaching out,
I saw Grand palaces, vast squares, and columns high,
Of marble, gold and bronze, which seemed to breathe
The very spirit of a vast World Power
And everywhere Progression ruled the hour
And this is Old Berlin, in the Old World!

CASSIE GEORGE'S GHOST

WE lost my whip, gosh what a place
To leave my rig, my steps retrace.
Whoa, Jen, stay there till I return
And feed a little on leaves and fern
And up the road I went with easy tread,
Carefully watching things overhead
To see the twigs that caught my whip
And gave me this unnecessary trip
I'd gone a hundred yards or more
Not knowing what I had in store,
Until right in the woods beside the road
I spied a log cabin-the moonlight showed
Through the spare pine trees - with streaky gleams
When all at once I heard some screams,
`Hold on, young feller-one word to you,
I'll show you something before I'm through,
And soon I saw an old woman come
Hobblin' out of the hut, it struck me dumb.
The moon shone through her-her awful eyes
Were wide and twice their natural size,
`I'm Cassie George,' she said to me,
`I was born in Knox County, Tennessee,
But I lived in Kansas, Nebraska and here
Until I died in July this year
Say, take a message and give it straight,
Don't run away, the hour haint late,
They've buried my bones in the town below
But's to Williamsport I want to go
Along with my friends when I was rich,
I don't like them here, it makes me twitch
And say-I will haunt this road every night,
Until they get me planted right,
And those who knew me will tell ye, son,
That Cassie George, won't talk for fun,
Now here's yer whip,' she said with glee,
As she handed the whalebone over to me.
`I give it to you-now bear my tale
Or else I'll foller upon yer trail.'
`Thank you, old woman,' I tremblingly said,
And down the hill I quickly fled
`Git up, Jen, hurry me on to town,
I'll tell every man from the preacher down,
If they don't believe me, let Cassie be
And she'll prove I'm telling the truth, just see!"

THE COUNTRY CHURCH

RIGHTLY I love the little country church,
With the big yellow pine before the door,
Yew-like shedding its venerable shade
Above this home of hymns and Bible-lore;

Where stalwart dwellers from the mountain side
Dressed in the styles of eighteen sixty-one,
And hearty youths, and pretty maids
Have worshiped since their lives begun.

And in the evening service, by the light
Of a great hanging lamp, they hear
A doctrine suited to their normal minds,
And not a faith of forms or fear.

And as the freshening mountain breeze
Blows through the open windows wide,
And sincere songs of praise ring out,
I always feel that God was close beside!

For, though I've visited in tabernacles grand,
With vaulted roofs and windows of stained glass,
And seats of costly carved wood
And flowers upon the altar in a showy mass---

Yet God seemed absent, and unsatisfied
I sat the phases of the service through,
But though I missed Him in these spacious halls,
I'd felt His presence in that country pew!




LYCOMING CREEK

OH, treacherous Lycoming Creek,
If you could only speak, I'd ask the reason
Why at most every season
Like a tame serpent
You glide by!

And, through your innocence,
Won the confidence
Of dwellers by your edge.
And those who crossed the bridge,
You can't deny?

Sudden a torrent you became,
Tearing with wild acclaim,
Ripped out the bridge's span---
Wrecked a freight, drowned a man---
Yes, two or three now lie below
Buried where your currents flow,
Forever and aye!

SPOOK HILL'S GHOST

AT best Spook Hill's a lonely space,
The very top a graveyard, through a fringe
Of graceful locusts one can see the stones
That tell Wayne's founders' resting place;
And close beside, the unsightly signal tower,
Where brave Clendenin died by coward's hand.,
And in the gully grows a maple tree
All hollowed out that it could hide a man
Low scrubby pines, and brush and briers sway,
And make it awesome---even in midday.

For Spook's Hill Ghost is not a thing of night,
But chooses when the brightest daylight shines
To stalk, a headless figure in a soldier suit,
Poking among the elders and the vines
In search, perchance, for its own missing head
Chopped off by Indians, so legends repeat---
And when one meets it, blind the spectre seems,
As it will face you, and you will retreat,
Leaving the mutilated sprite pursue its way,
This ghost that haunts not night, but day!




THE PEEPERS

JUST a word about the peepers---
You know them well, of course,
Have heard them on the warm spring nights,
In every marshy source.

I like to hear their cheery note
When I step from the train,
They seem to gladly welcome me To the Mountain Home again.

Each one his rival strives to beat,
Like a minor college yell,
Until the solemn country-side
In blithe harmony doth swell.

But later in the season, when
The night birds haunt the lea
As if ashamed, the peepers cease,
Though their songs sound sweet to me.

THE BURNT FOREST
(Near Clearfield, Pa.)

SENTINELED by sharp mountain peaks
Like martyrs in a gateless pit
Ten thousand fire swept warriors of the forest stand
Voiceless awaiting a certain doom---
To drop forgotten through the gloom---
Be buried in the soft black swamp.
Mockingly the evening zephyr speaks
Among the fragile charred top boughs
In gentle tones, as though to palliate
A fate which seems so needless and so hard---
But every cracking branch repels the breeze
And, pain-racked, bids it to be still---
Repeating the story how that lying wind
Filled full of life the striped flame
Whose warm caresses did the forest kill.
As abashed the murmur vanishes,
Over the imperishable hills
A laughing sunset, bright as the killing fire appears
Flooding the valley of wide expanse
With countless fresh-born fears.
But after blazing forth its narrows to a frown
And then behind the hills (imperishable) goes down.
And upon the stricken valley darkness does gently bend
Bringing the humbled forest one day nearer to its end.

1900.


THE FAIR LADY ANNA

TWAS at Latonia, in the early fall,
On the third race I staked my all,
Upon the Fair Lady Anna's chance
To win at seven-furlongs distance.

I'd read the entries, which was nothing new,
And having that day little else to do
Except indulge my fondness for the horse,
I went by early train to the race-course.

For I had seen Fair Lady Anna down
A chestnut filly of some renown,
And for her Name's Sake I declared I'd play
Her---It's all in a lifetime, anyway!

I watched the first and second races through,
I placed my bet, and then emerged to view
The horses as they passed the grandstand, one by one.
Cogswell, his black coat glistening in the sun,
And Dan McKenna, Lily of the West,
The long-legged Haviland, and all the rest.
Soon the Fair Lady Anna cantered up the track,
With little black Sidney Bonner bouncing on her back.
"They're off!" the shout comes from the stand
And cries of partisans arise on every hand---
With Dan McKenna leading at three-quarter's post,
But the fleet Lady Anna moving toward him like a ghost---
And in less than a minute more the race is run
The numbers hoisted, "Fair Lady Anna's won!"

VALENTINE

WHOEVER tries to win must lose,
Even the thought is heresy to Fate;
Ours is the right to love and not to choose---
Those who hope are barred without the gate.

To-day is all-especially if it brought
Someone into our life---who fills a place
Deeper and dearer than we ever thought---
Make best of it, as evidence of grace!

If we still wish---and try to seize the power
That joins and severs, gives and takes
We rank ourselves as gods----an awful hour
Of retribution our presumption makes.

But if we go on our way and fain implore---
The Lord of Fate will smile upon our path
If it is best he should----why ask for more?---
Ingratitude deserves the divine wrath.

Therefore I dare not hope that you'll be mine,
But simply be my Valentine!


IN INTROSPECT

BENEATH the reflex of the yellow sky
(Which smiles upon the earth,)
Marshaling forebodings which will come
In days deserted, days of dearth,
When joy to Nowhere has departed
And left a little fear in place of mirth.

The nights of those days will be haunted
By a reality (not a dream)
Which will cast, unaccountable,
Its shadow 'cross some pale moonbeam,
Then sink to earth, as if disheartened,
Shimmering reluctant on each stagnant stream.

The unsettled ones of this world
(Which is the unseen world of Now)
Beholding this speechless phantasm.
To rede its silence, all will vow,
And follow in its wake, unguided,
Like unto a ship without a prow.

Towards the end some earth enchanters
Possessed of reasonability (braves)
Will cry to this moonbeam obscurer,
And ask it what it craves,
But it shall answer not,
And they-return to their graves.

THE STUFFED EAGLE

SUSPENDED from a dusty string
In a dingy down-town store
With wings wide-spread, a stuffed bald-eagle hangs.
And as the summer breezes blow
Filth-laden through a small window,
This regal bird, which once did soar
Above the clouds, above the storms,
Swings gently round and round.

The fierce eyes, aggressive and proud,
Replaced by glass beads, stare at space;
And as in swinging faces to the left,
Reflected in a mirror sees its image face to face
Then silently anon it swings.

If there is a spark of spirit left,
Can it but feel that some time there will come
A day when that vile cord will break,
Released of its humbled burden dumb?

When a vast black age will reign,
And, every feather in its proper place,
Will gaze upon a jeweled mirror then,
And see its living image face to face.


THE SPAN OF LIFE

TWENTY-THREE, and twenty-three, make forty six,
Another span of life, and youth has fled!
Forty-six and thirty, make seventy-six,
The chances are by that time I'll be dead!
I'll sink to rest, alas! but no, I'm brave,
God, there is life beyond the grave!

THE WORLD OF NOW

GO slowly, Time,
I know not what the future brings,
The Present's joys are everything!

The evening light,
The mountain height,
Are of to-day !

The family that I love so well,
The home where I am proud to dwell,
To-morrow's change may take away!

I know not what the future brings,
The Present's joys are everything.


THE LAWS OF CHANCE

SOMEWHERE, I know not where,
Where the laws of chance work slow,
Someone has won the love of her
Whom, perhaps, I'll never know.

Well, I'm aware we may not meet,
(I and my earthly shrine),
But if we do, the laws of chance
Will surely make her mine.

So I place my trust in the laws of chance,
For they'll guard my love until---
Until by right she'll belong to me,
As the laws of chance shall will.

MEMORIES

DIM shapes of Yesterday,
Where will you be To-morrow?
I hold the key which sets you free,
Dim shapes clothed with sorrow.

Out through the rainy fog,
Guided by a weeping light,
This shadow band from the lowland---
Dim shapes who thrive by night--

Grasping the corniced walls,
Scaling the sharpest window ledge,
Open the gate; the hour is late.
Dim shapes, fly home below the sedge!

For see, where the dull eastern line
Rises like a strangled throat!
Away, away, dim shapes of Yesterday,
Farewell, as through the mist you float!


THE TUBE ROSE

ON a deserted mountain top,
Where a pine waved desperately,
I entered the cave,
With a swinging lantern before me;
Wearing her token,
The jealous-eyed tube rose,
(But longing for you),
Who dwell many miles from where the flowers grow.

As deeper I went, and shadows deployed me,
Seeking, it seemed, to offer me aid;
While the tube-rose encompassed me,
Drowning your memory, (sweet memory, Heaven born memory),
By cruel substitution
But it could not last long, (For I awakened)
And seizing the tube rose I flung it away,
And your image now flourishes,
And shall ever flourish,
As long as I bear 'gainst the storms.

1898.

TO--------, 1896-1904

I THINK of many nights at dusk---
When the last streaks of light
Were passing from the sky,
We strolled along the silent river bank
My youthful arm around your waist, You and I.

The evening air was still and cool
Sweet with the smell of growing grass and corn,
A lonely cricket chirped among the weeds
And nature ruled the scene, until the evening train
Up the wide valley sent its whistle shrill---
I kissed you often, for full well I knew
Soon that I would be far from you!

And as the night drew closer to our side,
And the dark mountains darker loomed,
We came before your gate, and kissed goodnight
And out the muddy road I tramped
Alone---but I could feel delight!


Eight years had passed and, still a boy,
One night I landed from the evening train,
The same kind faces met me as of yore,
The trees, and mountains seemed the same---
I passed a lowly hut, and something made me see
Seated upon the porch with sunken eyes and ghastly face
Wrapped in blankets, almost in Death's embrace
You were----instead of by me!

And I was told you had not long to live
And should your short life end, and I live still
No pomp nor riches can obliterate
The thoughts of many nights at dusk---
When the last streaks of light
Were passing from the sky---
We strolled along the silent river bank
You and I.

THE FERRY-HOUSE AT HOBOKEN

THE gas light's glitter gleams,
The conversation lulls
Among the crowd---
The dull, despondent crowd
At midnight, in the oak-ribbed Ferry House
Outside a patient engine pants;
The windows rattle in their sills---
Two doors are flung aside---
And like great toads
The sullen crowd
Hops from the Ferry House
Into the sphinx-like ferry-boat.
The black water churns;
Tobacco smoke in whirls
Blurs us as dust,
As in the cabin silently
We listen to the steamer break the waves---
A sudden dismal lurch,
A creak of ropes and chains---
Then out we surge
To separate forever---
Each to his secret way.
Here did I see a face
Which might have haunted me
But that I knew
How wide the world,
How small its particles!

April, 1900.


THE DRIVE

WILL you ever forget the drive we took
Over the sunset hills?
For the old horse which bore us along
Was not going the pace that kills,
And gave us plenty of time to gaze
On valley, forest and stream;
And feel upon our faces there
The force of the night's cold gleam.

Will you ever forget that ferry boat
Which we tried to work ourselves?
When it took us an hour-and-a-half to cross
The river's sandy shelves?
And lastly, do you remember
The drive on the mountain top,
When you looked straight down at the sheer descent
Into which you thought we'd drop?

Remember the ghost stories I told you
As we passed each shadowy grove?
Until you "got on" to my little trick,
And very much faster you drove.
But safely home we got at last,
With not a single mishap;
And we prided ourselves on our subtle skill,
In escaping that mountain death-trap.

September, 1898.

SONG TO ____________

I LOVED a mountain solitude,
Where Heaven and earth were one,
And Hell could not intrude
Its palsied arm upon,
(For that was long ago).

I loved each withering pine tree,
Ragged on vale or mount,
And often vowed in childhood's days
To leave on no account,
(But waited patiently).

I loved a maid in that mountain solitude,
But sadder, she lived not there,
Her home was down the valley
In a city where steeples stare,
(Vacantly in the sky).

Enticing winds blew down the mountain,
Drawing me down the slopes
To the dim-sighted city,
Where only a blind man gropes,
(For all there see too well).


Into its hollow streets (new to me)
My love for her started to die,
Vainly I looked on the seeded park,
And then to the blackened sky,
(To renew my distant love).

Each day brought me less love,
Leaving me more forlorn,
For I longed for the solitude uncouth
Whence I myself had torn,
(And thought of love).

Storms blow from the city,
But I, wondering, cannot leave,
For I wait to take her from it,
Pit without reprieve!
(And patiently wait the day).

TO A LILY OF THE VALLEY

LILY of the Valley,
I love you most purely,
Because you are loved by her
Fondly and surely.

For you have been plucked,
You have been pressed
To her fair bosom,
Loved haven of rest.

You wish not to wander,
No, neither would I,
But in her sweet presence
To wither and die.

Your life is but short,
Still your pleasures are great,
For but a time
You are with her in state.

O poor withered flower,
With your usefulness over,
I don't envy you there,
You're a cast-away lover.

Though we can't both survive,
Sweet Lily so true,
So the one that's to perish
I hope will be you.

1897.



DEATH

DARK, unbefriended and alone,
With skulking feet and held-in breath
He goes his way; short is his stay,
This leveler of joy, this Death.

Whene'er a smiling group appears,
By wayside cot, through palace door,
He whets his steel, his victims reel,
He looks not twice, but looks for more.

The storm, with whom we mortals fight,
Is but his ally, staunch and staid;
And with the snow, and haily blow,
They make all creepers be afraid.

The hissing fire, which upward leaps,
To join its twin, the sunset red,
Turns us to dust, with laughing lust,
We of the future dead.

The precipice which in our road
A yawning, open chasm heaves
On every crag, a sharpened snag
With death, a richer torment weaves.

The ocean wash, and crashing stream,
Look beseechingly at him,
To laughing hurl unto their swirl,
Some children of his whim.

We look unto the friendly sun,
We learned we looked too well;
For that same sun will gladly run,
To build for us a hell.

Away from such, to softer night,
We on its bosom rest at last;
Our stay is brief, for on some reef
Through darkness we are cast.

We hope the mountain to be strong,
Stronger than any oaken branch;
We snugly hide down at its side,
Then comes the avalanche.

What feelings of impotency
Drive us to devious strife;
Then in despair, we breathe the air;
Are poisoned by its life.

We wait, as prophecies have told,
Till Death will shoulder up the scythe that kills,
His work all done, his battles won,
And vanishes o'er the evening hills.




THE SPIRIT OF THE CANDLE-LIGHT

HERE and ever candle-light
Beams this wide-walled room to-night,
While outside in lightning flash,
Silence blank, rain's slipping splash.
(Ever dancing, living sprite,
The spirit of the candle-light
Burns radiant with the storm to-night.)

Shadows flickering, flying, yet
Streaked with yellow, buff and jet,
In askance wander round about,
Unmindful of the storm without.
(Filling with awe each crevice trite,
The spirit of the candle-light
Burns radiant with the storm to-night.)

Dreams, unmindful of the past,
Are coming, leaving, or will last
Through the darkness' noisy fray,
Fighting its battle, fraught with day.
(But sombre, silent in its might,
The spirit of the candle-light
Burns radiant with the storm to-night.)

Spirits unseen, unknown, and not,
Shimmer, and die, a wasted lot,
While raindrops pour through window shade
Enveloped, sheathed, like icy glade.
(Yet, though unconscious of the sight,
The spirit of the candle-light
Burns radiant with the storm to-night.)

Vanish all but candle-light,
Still is this gloomy room to-night.
In wood and bush the storm has stopped,
And the last blade of rain has dropped.
(But in the darkness, breathless quite,
The spirit of the candle-light
Is dying with the storm to-night.)




EPITAPH FOR A DEAD PINE TREE

STRAIGHT and noble the pine tree stood,
Staunch through years 'gainst storm and flood,
Until the lightning's cruel stroke
On its dark crest, dread hatred broke;
Then, dying, to the winds the tree did call
To smite it, from its barkless pall;
A skeleton, so bleak and grim,
A warning of the tempest's vim,
Until the north wind's kindly gust
Will send it tottering to the dust.



THAT EVENING

IN pensive mood my mind recalls
That pretty maid below in the stalls,
On the night we saw the "Power of the Press,"
And a sigh for joy I can't repress,
When I think of the evening so pleasantly spent
(But alas, the moments too quickly went).

They told me it was a wonderful play,
But I read my play-bill dreamily,
And thanked kind fate for an evening like this,
Within the presence of Beatrice.




FALSE LOVE

IT is needless to say we have said
And thought and acted and prayed;
In unrealized days that have fled,
In the time that couldn't have stayed.

We look in directions blank,
Half frightened, yet boldly, too,
And in moments did afterwards thank
The Creator, for creating you.

We knew that the change would come,
Vast, like an open plain;
And what did it matter, to more than one,
That I never saw you again?

The slipping veil, that viciously
Parts, and snaps and rends,
Importuned Time can never send me;
And I take whatever it sends.

In the fleeting visions which lasted
In truth and in memory gray,
Have fled, broken and blasted,
Like clouds on a far-off day.

1898.



THE MOUNTAIN

FEARLESSLY jutting into the sky,
Into the sky (not the above)
Clad in a dress of darkest green,
Which to the west wind's call doth move,
Whose eyelets are torrents brash
(Verily, less eyelets than orbs),
In whose far reaching pathway
Hillside and valley absorbs;
Adding a luster unmeant,
As if by chance 'twere sent.

Heartless, forsooth, is the mountain of stone
(I can tell by averted glance),
As when o'erhead and underneath
The setting sun in redness slants;
The birds which circle now and then,
And shriek in frightened accents shrill,
And pierce the sea of sodden clouds
When another storm is due,
A requiem seem to call for you,
But the requiem is for them. 1898.