Songs and Other Verse

Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Keren Vergon, Charles Bidwell
and PG Distributed Proofreaders


Vol. IX




“It is about impossible for a man to get rid of his Puritan grandfathers,
and nobody who has ever had one has ever escaped his Puritan grandmother;”
so said Eugene Field to me one sweet April day, when we talked together of
the things of the spirit. It is one of his own confessions that he was
fond of clergymen. Most preachers are supposed to be helplessly tied up
with such a set of limitations that there are but a few jokes which they
may tolerate, and a small number of delights into which they may enter.
Doubtless many a cheerful soul likes to meet such of the clergy, in order
that the worldling may feel the contrast of liberty with bondage, and
demonstrate by bombardment of wit and humor, how intellectually thin are
the walls against which certain forms of skepticism and fun offend. Eugene
Field did not belong to these. He called them “a tribe which do unseemly
beset the saints.” Nobody has ever had a more numerous or loving clientage
of friendship among the ministers of this city than the author of “The
Holy Cross” and “The Little Yaller Baby.” Those of this number who were
closest to the full-hearted singer know that beneath and within all his
exquisite wit and ludicrous raillery—so often directed against the
shallow formalist, or the unctuous hypocrite—there were an aspiration
toward the divine, and a desire for what is often slightingly called
“religious conversation,” as sincere as it was resistless within him. My
own first remembrance of him brings back a conversation which ended in a
prayer, and the last sight I had of him was when he said, only four days
before his death, “Well, then, we will set the day soon and you will come
out and baptize the children.”

Some of the most humorous of his letters which have come under the
observation of his clerical friends, were addressed to the secretary of
one of them. Some little business matters with regard to his readings and
the like had acquainted him with a better kind of handwriting than he had
been accustomed to receive from his pastor, and, noting the finely
appended signature, “per —— ——,” Field wrote a most effusively
complimentary letter to his ministerial friend, congratulating him upon
the fact that emanations from his office, or parochial study, were “now
readable as far West as Buena Park.” At length, nothing having appeared in
writing by which he might discover that —— —— was a lady of his own
acquaintance, she whose valuable services he desired to recognize was made
the recipient of a series of beautifully illuminated and daintily written
letters, all of them quaintly begun, continued, and ended in
ecclesiastical terminology, most of them having to do with affairs in
which the two gentlemen only were primarily interested, the larger number
of them addressed in English to “Brother ——,” in care of the minister,
and yet others directed in Latin:

Ad Fratrem —— ——

  In curam, Sanctissimi patris ——, doctoris divinitatis,

    Apud Institutionem Armouriensem,



{Ab Eugenic Agro, peccatore misere}

Even the mail-carrier appeared to know what fragrant humor escaped from
the envelope.

Here is a specimen inclosure:

BROTHER ——: I am to read some of my things before the senior class of
the Chicago University next Monday evening. As there is undoubtedly more
or less jealousy between the presidents of the two south side institutions
of learning, I take it upon myself to invite the lord bishop of
Armourville, our holy père, to be present on that occasion in his
pontifical robes and followed by all the dignitaries of his see, including
yourself. The processional will occur at 8 o’clock sharp, and the
recessional circa 9:30. Pax vobiscum. Salute the holy Father with a kiss,
and believe me, dear brother,

Your fellow lamb in the old Adam,


(A. Lamb) SEAL.

The First Wednesday after Pay day,

September 11, 1895.

On an occasion of this lady’s visit to the South-west, where Field’s
fancied association of cowboys and miners was formed, she was fortunate
enough to obtain for the decoration of his library the rather
extraordinary Indian blanket which often appears in the sketches of his
loved workshop, and for the decoration of himself a very fine necktie made
of the skin of a diamond-back rattlesnake. Some other friend had given his
boys a “vociferant burro.” After the presentation was made, though for two
years he had met her socially and at the pastor’s office, he wrote to the
secretary, in acknowledgment, as follows:

DEAR BROTHER ——: I thank you most heartily for the handsome specimens of
heathen manufacture which you brought with you for me out of the land of
Nod. Mrs. Field is quite charmed—with the blanket, but I think I prefer
the necktie; the Old Adam predominates in me, and this pelt of the serpent
appeals with peculiar force to my appreciation of the vicious and the
sinful. Nearly every morning I don that necktie and go out and twist the
supersensitive tail of our intelligent imported burro until the profane
beast burthens the air with his ribald protests. I shall ask the holy
father—Pere —— to bring you with him when he comes again to pay a
parochial visit to my house. I have a fair and gracious daughter into
whose companionship I would fain bring so circumspect and diligent a young
man as the holy father represents you to be. Therefore, without fear or
trembling accompany that saintly man whensoever he says the word. Thereby
you shall further make me your debtor. I send you every assurance of
cordial regard, and I beg you to salute the holy father for me with a
kiss, and may peace be unto his house and unto all that dwell therein.

Always faithfully yours,

CHICAGO, MAY 26, 1892.

He became acquainted with the leading ladies of the Aid Society of the
Plymouth Church, and was thoroughly interested in their work. Partly in
order to say “Goodbye” before his leaving for California in 1893, and
partly, no doubt, that he might continue this humorous correspondence, as
he did, he hunted up an old number of Peterson’s Magazine, containing a
very highly colored and elaborate pattern for knit slippers, such as
clergymen received at Christmas thirty years ago, and, inclosing it with
utmost care, he forwarded it to the aforesaid “Brother ——” with this

DEAR BROTHER ——: It has occurred to me that maybe the sisters of our
congregation will want to make our dear pastor a handsome present this
Christmas; so I inclose a lovely pattern for slippers, and I shall be glad
to ante up my share of the expense, if the sisters decide to give our dear
pastor this beautiful gift. I should like the pattern better if it had
more red in it, but it will do very nicely. As I intend to go to
California very soon, you’ll have to let me know at once what the
assessment per cap. is, or the rest of the sisters will be compelled to
bear the full burthen of the expense. Brother, I salute you with an holy
kiss, and I rejoice with you, humbly and meekly and without insolent
vaunting, that some of us are not as other men are.

Your fellow-lamb,


This was only one phase of the life of this great-hearted man, as it came
close to his friends in the ministry. Other clergymen who knew him well
will not forget his overflowing kindness in times of sickness and
weariness. At least one will not forget the last day of their meeting and
the ardor of the poet’s prayer. Religion, as the Christian life, was not
less sacred to him because he knew how poorly men achieve the task of
living always at the best level, nor did the reality of the soul’s
approach to God grow less noble or commanding to him because he knew that
too seldom do we lift our voices heavenward. I am permitted to copy this
one letter addressed to a clerical friend, at a time when Eugene Field
responded to the call of that undying puritanism in his blood:

DEAR, DEAR FRIEND: I was greatly shocked to read in the Post last night of
your dangerous illness. It is so seldom that I pray that when I do God
knows I am in earnest. I do not pester Him with small matters. It is only
when I am in real want that I get down on my wicked knees and pray. And
I prayed for you last night, dear friend, for your friendship—the help
that it is to me—is what I need, and I cannot be bereft of it. God has
always been good to me, and He has said yes to my prayer, I am sure.
Others, too—thousands of them—are praying for you, and for your
restoration to health; none other has had in it more love and loyalty than
my prayer had, and none other, dear friend, among the thousands whom you
have blessed with your sweet friendship, loves you better than I do.


I am still sick abed and I find it hard to think out and write a letter.
Read between the lines and the love there will comfort you more than my
faulty words can.

I have often thought, as I saw him through his later years espousing the
noblest causes with true-hearted zeal, of what he once said in the old
“Saints’ and Sinners’ Corner” when a conversation sprang up on the death
of Professor David Swing. His words go far to explain to me that somewhat
reckless humor which oftentimes made it seem that he loved to imitate and
hold in the pillory of his own inimitable powers of mimicry some of the
least attractive forms of the genus parson he had seen and known. He
said: “A good many things I do and say are things I have to employ to keep
down the intention of those who wanted me to be a parson. I guess their
desire got into my blood, too, for I have always to preach some little
verses or I cannot get through Christmastide.”

He had to get on with blood which was exquisitely harmonious with the
heart of the Christ. He was not only a born member of the Society for the
Prevention of Sorrow to Mankind, but he was by nature a champion of a
working Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This society was
composed of himself. He wished to enlarge the membership of this latter
association, but nobody was as orthodox in the faith as to the nobility of
a balky horse, and he found none as intolerant of ill-treatment toward any
and every brute, as was he. Professor Swing had written and read at the
Parliament of Religions an essay on the Humane Treatment of the Brutes,
which became a classic before the ink was dry, and one day Field proposed
to him and another clergyman that they begin a practical crusade. On those
cold days, drivers were demanding impossible things of smooth-shod horses
on icy streets, and he saw many a noble beast on his knees, “begging me,”
as he said, “to get him a priest.” Field’s scheme was that the delicate
and intelligent seer, David Swing, and his less refined and less gentle
contemporary should go with him to the City Hall and be sworn in as
special policemen and “do up these fellows.” His clear blue eye was like a
palpitating morning sky, and his whole thin and tall frame shook with
passionate missionary zeal. “Ah,” said he, as the beloved knight of the
unorthodox explained that if he undertook the proposed task he would
surely have to abandon all other work, “I never was satisfied that you
were orthodox.” His other friend had already fallen in his estimate as to
fitness for such work. For, had not Eugene Field once started out to pay a
bill of fifteen dollars, and had he not met a semblance of a man on the
street who was beating a lengthily under-jawed and bad-eyed bull-dog of
his own, for some misdemeanor? “Yea, verily,” confessed the poet-humorist,
who was then a reformer. “Why didn’t you have him arrested, Eugene?” “Why,
well, I was going jingling along with some new verses in my heart, and I
knew I’d lose the tempo if I became militant. I said, ‘What’ll you take
for him?’ The pup was so homely that his face ached, but, as I was in a
hurry to get to work, I gave him the fifteen dollars, and took the beast
to the office.” For a solitary remark uttered at the conclusion of this
relation and fully confirmed as to its justness by an observation of the
dog, his only other human prop for this enterprise was discarded. “Oh, you
won’t do,” he said.

Christianity was increasingly dear to him as the discovery of childhood
and the unfolding of its revelations. Into what long disquisitions he
delighted to go, estimating the probable value of the idea that all
returning to righteousness must be a child’s returning. He saw what an
influence such a conception has upon the hard and fast lines of habit and
destiny to melt them down. He had a still greater estimate of the
importance of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth came and lived as a child;
and the dream of the last year of his life was to write, in the mood of
the Holy-Cross tale, a sketch of the early years of the Little Galilean
Peasant-Boy. This vision drifted its light into all his pictures of
children at the last. He knew the “Old Adam” in us all, especially as he
reappeared in the little folk. “But I don’t believe the depravity is
total, do you?” he said, “else a child would not care to hear about Mary’s
Little One;”—and then he would go on, following the Carpenter’s Son about
the cottage and over the hill, and rejoicing that, in following Him thus,
he came back to his own open-eyed childhood, “But, you know,” said he,
“my childhood was full of the absurdities and strenuosities” (this last
was his word) “of my puritan surroundings. Why, I never knew how naturally
and easily I can get back into the veins of an old puritan grandfather
that one of my grandmothers must have had—and how hard it is for me to
behave there, until I read Alice Morse Earle’s ‘The Sabbath in New
England.’ I read that book nearly all night, if haply I might subdue the
confusion and sorrows that were wrought in me by eating a Christmas pie on
that feast-day. The fact is, my immediate ecclesiastical belongings are
Episcopalian. I am of the church of Archbishop Laud and King Charles of
blessed memory. I like good, thick Christmas pie, ‘reeking with sapid
juices,’ full-ripe and zealous for good or ill. But my ‘Separatist’
ancestors all mistook gastric difficulties for spiritual graces, and,
living in me, they all revolt and want to sail in the Mayflower, or hold
town-meetings inside of me after feast-day.”

Then, as if he had it in his mind,—poor, pale, yellow-skinned sufferer,—
to attract one to the book he delighted in, he related that he fell asleep
with this delicious volume in his hand, and this is part of the dream he
sketched afterward:

“I went alone to the meeting-house the which those who are sinfully
inclined toward Rome would call a ‘church,’ and it was on the Sabbath day.
I yearned and strove to repent me of the merry mood and full sorry humors
of Christmastide. For did not Judge Sewall make public his confession of
having an overwhelming sense of inward condemnation for having opposed the
Almighty with the witches of Salem? I fancied that one William F. Poole
of the Newberry Library went also to comfort me and strengthen, as he
would fain have done for the Judge. Not one of us carried a cricket,
though Friend Poole related that he had left behind a ‘seemly brassen
foot-stove’ full of hot coals from his hearthstone. On the day before,
Pelitiah Underwood, the wolf-killer, had destroyed a fierce beast; and now
the head thereof was ‘nayled to the meetinghouse with a notice thereof.’
It grinned at me and spit forth fire such as I felt within me. I was glad
to enter the house, which was ‘lathed on the inside and so daubed and
whitened over workmanlike.’ I had not been there, as it bethought me,
since the day of the raising, when Jonathan Strong did ‘break his thy,’
and when all made complaint that only £9 had been spent for liquor, punch,
beere, and flip, for the raising, whereas, on the day of the ordination,
even at supper-time, besides puddings of corn meal and ‘sewet baked
therein, pyes, tarts, beare-stake and deer-meat,’ there were ‘cyder,
rum-bitters, sling, old Barbadoes spirit, and Josslyn’s nectar, made of
Maligo raisins, spices, and syrup of clove gillyflowers’—all these given
out freely to the worshippers over a newly made bar at the church door—
God be praised! As I mused on this merry ordination, the sounding-board
above the pulpit appeared as if to fall upon the pulpit, whereon I read,
after much effort: ‘Holiness is the Lord’s.’ The tassels and carved
pomegranates on the sounding-board became living creatures and changed
themselves into grimaces, and I was woefully wrought upon by the red
cushion on the pulpit, which did seem a bag of fire. As the minister was
heard coming up the winding stairs unseen, and, yet more truly, as his
head at length appeared through the open trap-doorway, I thought him
Satan, and, but for friend Poole, I had cried out lustily in fear. Terror
fled me when I considered that none might do any harm there. For was not
the church militant now assembled? Besides, had they not obeyed the law of
the General Court that each congregation should carry a ‘competent number
of pieces, fixed and complete with powder and shot and swords, every
Lord’s-day at the meeting-house?’ And, right well equipped ‘with
psalm-book, shot and powder-horn’ sat that doughty man, Shear Yashub
Millard along with Hezekiah Bristol and four others whose issue I have
known pleasantly in the flesh here; and those of us who had no pieces wore
‘coats basted with cotton-wool, and thus made defensive against Indian
arrows.’ Yet it bethought me that there was no defence against what I had
devoured on Christmas day. I had rather been the least of these,—even he
who ‘blew the Kunk’—than to be thus seated there and afeared that the
brethren in the ‘pitts’ doubted I had true religion. That I had found a
proper seat—even this I wot not; and I quaked, for had not two of my kin
been fined near unto poverty for ‘disorderly going and setting in seats
not theirs by any means,’ so great was their sin. It had not yet come upon
the day when there was a ‘dignifying of the meeting.’ Did not even the
pious Judge Sewall’s second spouse once sit in the foreseat when he
thought to have taken her into ‘his own pue?’ and, she having died in a
few months, did not that godly man exclaim: ‘God in his holy Sovereignity
put my wife out of the Foreseat’? Was I not also in recollection by many
as one who once ‘prophaned the Lord’s Day in ye meeting-house, in ye times
of ye forenoone service, by my rude and Indecent acting in Laughing and
other Doings by my face with Tabatha Morgus, against ye peace of our
Sovereign Lord ye King, His crown and Dignity?'”

At this, it appears that I groaned in my sleep, for I was not only asleep
here and now, but I was dreaming that I was asleep there and then, in the
meeting-house. It was in this latter sleep that I groaned so heavily in
spirit and in body that the tithing-man, or awakener, did approach me from
behind, without stopping to brush me to awakening by the fox-taile which
was fixed to the end of his long staffe, or even without painfully
sticking into my body his sharp and pricking staffe which he did sometimes
use. He led me out bodily to the noone-house, where I found myself fully
awakened, but much broken in spirit. Then and there did I write these
verses, which I send to you:

  ”Mother,” says I, “is that a pie?” in tones akin to scorning;

  ”It is, my son,” quoth she, “and one full ripe for Christmas morning!

  It’s fat with plums as big as your thumbs, reeking with sapid juices,

  And you’ll find within all kinds of sin our grocery store produces!”

                    ”O, well,” says I,

                    ”Seein’ it’s pie

     And is guaranteed to please, ma’am,

                    By your advice,

                    I’ll take a slice,

     If you’ll kindly pass the cheese, ma’am!”

  But once a year comes Christmas cheer, and one should then be merry,

  But as for me, as you can see, I’m disconcerted, very;

  For that pesky pie sticks grimly by my organs of digestion,

  And that ‘t will stay by me till May or June I make no question.

                    So unto you,

                    Good friends and true,

     I’ll tip this solemn warning:

                    At every price,

                    Eschew the vice

     Of eating pie in the morning.


Chicago, March, 1896.






Out yonder in the moonlight, wherein God’s Acre lies,

Go angels walking to and fro, singing their lullabies.

Their radiant wings are folded, and their eyes are bended low,

As they sing among the beds whereon the flowers delight to grow,—

        ”Sleep, oh, sleep!

        The Shepherd guardeth His sheep.

  Fast speedeth the night away,

  Soon cometh the glorious day;

  Sleep, weary ones, while ye may,

        Sleep, oh, sleep!”

The flowers within God’s Acre see that fair and wondrous sight,

And hear the angels singing to the sleepers through the night;

And, lo! throughout the hours of day those gentle flowers prolong

The music of the angels in that tender slumber-song,—

        ”Sleep, oh, sleep!

        The Shepherd loveth His sheep.

  He that guardeth His flock the best

  Hath folded them to His loving breast;

  So sleep ye now, and take your rest,—

        Sleep, oh, sleep!”

From angel and from flower the years have learned that soothing song,

And with its heavenly music speed the days and nights along;

So through all time, whose flight the Shepherd’s vigils glorify,

God’s Acre slumbereth in the grace of that sweet lullaby,—

        ”Sleep, oh, sleep!

        The Shepherd loveth His sheep.

  Fast speedeth the night away,

  Soon cometh the glorious day;

  Sleep, weary ones, while ye may,—

        Sleep, oh, sleep!”


When the world is fast asleep,

    Along the midnight skies—

As though it were a wandering cloud—

    The ghostly dream-ship flies.

An angel stands at the dream-ship’s helm,

    An angel stands at the prow,

And an angel stands at the dream-ship’s side

    With a rue-wreath on her brow.

The other angels, silver-crowned,

    Pilot and helmsman are,

And the angel with the wreath of rue

    Tosseth the dreams afar.

The dreams they fall on rich and poor;

    They fall on young and old;

And some are dreams of poverty,

    And some are dreams of gold.

And some are dreams that thrill with joy,

    And some that melt to tears;

Some are dreams of the dawn of love,

    And some of the old dead years.

On rich and poor alike they fall,

    Alike on young and old,

Bringing to slumbering earth their joys

    And sorrows manifold.

The friendless youth in them shall do

    The deeds of mighty men,

And drooping age shall feel the grace

    Of buoyant youth again.

The king shall be a beggarman—

    The pauper be a king—

In that revenge or recompense

    The dream-ship dreams do bring.

So ever downward float the dreams

    That are for all and me,

And there is never mortal man

    Can solve that mystery.

But ever onward in its course

    Along the haunted skies—

As though it were a cloud astray—

    The ghostly dream-ship flies.

Two angels with their silver crowns

    Pilot and helmsman are,

And an angel with a wreath of rue

    Tosseth the dreams afar.


Cinna, the great Venusian told

  In songs that will not die

How in Augustan days of old

  Your love did glorify

His life and all his being seemed

  Thrilled by that rare incense

Till, grudging him the dreams he dreamed,

  The gods did call you hence.

Cinna, I’ve looked into your eyes,

  And held your hands in mine,

And seen your cheeks in sweet surprise

  Blush red as Massic wine;

Now let the songs in Cinna’s praise

  Be chanted once again,

For, oh! alone I walk the ways

  We walked together then!

Perhaps upon some star to-night,

  So far away in space

I cannot see that beacon light

  Nor feel its soothing grace—

Perhaps from that far-distant sphere

  Her quickened vision seeks

For this poor heart of mine that here

  To its lost Cinna speaks.

Then search this heart, beloved eyes,

  And find it still as true

As when in all my boyhood skies

  My guiding stars were you!

Cinna, you know the mystery

  That is denied to men—

Mine is the lot to feel that we

  Shall elsewhere love again!


Prudence Mears hath an old blue plate

  Hid away in an oaken chest,

And a Franklin platter of ancient date

  Beareth Amandy Baker’s crest;

What times soever I’ve been their guest,

  Says I to myself in an undertone:

“Of womenfolk, it must be confessed,

  These do I love, and these alone.”

Well, again, in the Nutmeg State,

  Dorothy Pratt is richly blest

With a relic of art and a land effete—

  A pitcher of glass that’s cut, not pressed.

And a Washington teapot is possessed

  Down in Pelham by Marthy Stone—

Think ye now that I say in jest

  ”These do I love, and these alone?”

Were Hepsy Higgins inclined to mate,

  Or Dorcas Eastman prone to invest

In Cupid’s bonds, they could find their fate

  In the bootless bard of Crockery Quest.

For they’ve heaps of trumpery—so have the rest

  Of those spinsters whose ware I’d like to own;

You can see why I say with such certain zest,

  ”These do I love, and these alone.”


Prince, show me the quickest way and best

  To gain the subject of my moan;

We’ve neither spinsters nor relics out West—

  These do I love, and these alone.


Suppose, my dear, that you were I

  And by your side your sweetheart sate;

Suppose you noticed by and by

  The distance ‘twixt you were too great;

Now tell me, dear, what would you do?

  I know—and so do you.

And when (so comfortably placed)

  Suppose you only grew aware

That that dear, dainty little waist

  Of hers looked very lonely there;

Pray tell me sooth—what would you do?

  I know, and so do you.

When, having done what I just did

  With not a frown to check or chill,

Suppose her red lips seemed to bid

  Defiance to your lordly will;

Oh, tell me, sweet, what would you do?

  I know, and so do you.


As once I rambled in the woods

  I chanced to spy amid the brake

A huntsman ride his way beside

  A fair and passing tranquil lake;

Though velvet bucks sped here and there,

  He let them scamper through the green—

Not one smote he, but lustily

  He blew his horn—what could it mean?

As on I strolled beside that lake,

  A pretty maid I chanced to see

Fishing away for finny prey,

  Yet not a single one caught she;

All round her boat the fishes leapt

  And gambolled to their hearts’ content,

Yet never a thing did the maid but sing—

  I wonder what on earth it meant.

As later yet I roamed my way,

  A lovely steed neighed loud and long,

And an empty boat sped all afloat

  Where sang a fishermaid her song;

All underneath the prudent shade,

  Which yonder kindly willows threw,

Together strayed a youth and maid—

  I can’t explain it all, can you?


How trifling shall these gifts appear

  Among the splendid many

That loving friends now send to cheer

  Harvey and Ellen Jenney.

And yet these baubles symbolize

  A certain fond relation

That well beseems, as I surmise,

  This festive celebration.

Sweet friends of mine, be spoons once more,

  And with your tender cooing

Renew the keen delights of yore—

  The rapturous bliss of wooing.

What though that silver in your hair

  Tells of the years aflying?

‘T is yours to mock at Time and Care

  With love that is undying.

In memory of this Day, dear friends,

  Accept the modest token

From one who with the bauble sends

  A love that can’t be spoken.


Away down East where I was reared amongst my Yankee kith,

There used to live a pretty girl whose name was Mary Smith;

And though it’s many years since last I saw that pretty girl,

And though I feel I’m sadly worn by Western strife and whirl;

Still, oftentimes, I think about the old familiar place,

Which, someway, seemed the brighter for Miss Mary’s pretty face,

And in my heart I feel once more revivified the glow

I used to feel in those old times when I was Mary’s beau.

I saw her home from singing school—she warbled like a bird.

A sweeter voice than hers for song or speech I never heard.

She was soprano in the choir, and I a solemn bass,

And when we unisoned our voices filled that holy place;

The tenor and the alto never had the slightest chance,

For Mary’s upper register made every heart-string dance;

And, as for me, I shall not brag, and yet I’d have you know

I sung a very likely bass when I was Mary’s beau.

On Friday nights I’d drop around to make my weekly call,

And though I came to visit her, I’d have to see ’em all.

With Mary’s mother sitting here and Mary’s father there,

The conversation never flagged so far as I’m aware;

Sometimes I’d hold her worsted, sometimes we’d play at games,

Sometimes dissect the apples which we’d named each other’s names.

Oh how I loathed the shrill-toned clock that told me when to go—

‘Twas ten o’clock at half-past eight when I was Mary’s beau.

Now there was Luther Baker—because he’d come of age

And thought himself some pumpkins because he drove the stage—

He fancied he could cut me out; but Mary was my friend—

Elsewise I’m sure the issue had had a tragic end.

For Luther Baker was a man I never could abide,

And, when it came to Mary, either he or I had died.

I merely cite this instance incidentally to show

That I was quite in earnest when I was Mary’s beau.

How often now those sights, those pleasant sights, recur again:

The little township that was all the world I knew of then—

The meeting-house upon the hill, the tavern just beyond,

Old deacon Packard’s general store, the sawmill by the pond,

The village elms I vainly sought to conquer in my quest

Of that surpassing trophy, the golden oriole’s nest.

And, last of all those visions that come back from long ago,

The pretty face that thrilled my soul when I was Mary’s beau.

Hush, gentle wife, there is no need a pang should vex your heart—

‘T is many years since fate ordained that she and I should part;

To each a true, maturer love came in good time, and yet

It brought not with its nobler grace the power to forget.

And would you fain begrudge me now the sentimental joy

That comes of recollections of my sparkings when a boy?

I warrant me that, were your heart put to the rack, ‘t would show

That it had predilections when I was Mary’s beau.

And, Mary, should these lines of mine seek out your biding place,

God grant they bring the old sweet smile back to your pretty face—

God grant they bring you thoughts of me, not as I am to-day,

With faltering step and brimming eyes and aspect grimly gray;

But thoughts that picture me as fair and full of life and glee

As we were in the olden times—as you shall always be.

Think of me ever, Mary, as the boy you used to know

When time was fleet, and life was sweet, and I was Mary’s beau.

Dear hills of old New England, look down with tender eyes

Upon one little lonely grave that in your bosom lies;

For in that cradle sleeps a child who was so fair to see

God yearned to have unto Himself the joy she brought to me;

And bid your winds sing soft and low the song of other days,

When, hand in hand and heart to heart, we went our pleasant ways—

Ah me! but could I sing again that song of long ago,

Instead of this poor idle song of being Mary’s beau.


When I remark her golden hair

  Swoon on her glorious shoulders,

I marvel not that sight so rare

  Doth ravish all beholders;

For summon hence all pretty girls

  Renowned for beauteous tresses,

And you shall find among their curls

  There’s none so fair as Jessie’s.

And Jessie’s eyes are, oh, so blue

  And full of sweet revealings—

They seem to look you through and through

  And read your inmost feelings;

Nor black emits such ardent fires,

  Nor brown such truth expresses—

Admit it, all ye gallant squires—

  There are no eyes like Jessie’s.

Her voice (like liquid beams that roll

    From moonland to the river)

Steals subtly to the raptured soul,

    Therein to lie and quiver;

Or falls upon the grateful ear

    With chaste and warm caresses—

Ah, all concede the truth (who hear):

    There’s no such voice as Jessie’s.

Of other charms she hath such store

    All rivalry excelling,

Though I used adjectives galore,

    They’d fail me in the telling;

But now discretion stays my hand—

    Adieu, eyes, voice, and tresses.

Of all the husbands in the land

    There’s none so fierce as Jessie’s.


There—let thy hands be folded

    Awhile in sleep’s repose;

The patient hands that wearied not,

But earnestly and nobly wrought

      In charity and faith;

    And let thy dear eyes close—

The eyes that looked alway to God,

Nor quailed beneath the chastening rod

        Of sorrow;

Fold thou thy hands and eyes

      For just a little while,

      And with a smile

        Dream of the morrow.

And, O white voiceless flower,

    The dream which thou shalt dream

Should be a glimpse of heavenly things,

For yonder like a seraph sings

      The sweetness of a life

    With faith alway its theme;

While speedeth from those realms above

The messenger of that dear love

        That healeth sorrow.

    So sleep a little while,

      For thou shalt wake and sing

      Before thy King

        When cometh the morrow.


Good editor Dana—God bless him, we say—

  Will soon be afloat on the main,

    Will be steaming away

    Through the mist and the spray

  To the sensuous climate of Spain.

Strange sights shall he see in that beautiful land

  Which is famed for its soap and its Moor,

    For, as we understand,

    The scenery is grand

  Though the system of railways is poor.

For moonlight of silver and sunlight of gold

  Glint the orchards of lemons and mangoes,

    And the ladies, we’re told,

    Are a joy to behold

  As they twine in their lissome fandangoes.

What though our friend Dana shall twang a guitar

  And murmur a passionate strain;

    Oh, fairer by far

    Than those ravishments are

  The castles abounding in Spain.

These castles are built as the builder may list—

  They are sometimes of marble or stone,

    But they mostly consist

    Of east wind and mist

  With an ivy of froth overgrown.

A beautiful castle our Dana shall raise

  On a futile foundation of hope,

    And its glories shall blaze

    In the somnolent haze

  Of the mythical lake del y Soap.

The fragrance of sunflowers shall swoon on the air

  And the visions of Dreamland obtain,

    And the song of “World’s Fair”

    Shall be heard everywhere

  Through that beautiful castle in Spain.


Many a beauteous flower doth spring

  From the tears that flood my eyes,

And the nightingale doth sing

  In the burthen of my sighs.

If, O child, thou lovest me,

  Take these flowerets fair and frail,

And my soul shall waft to thee

  Love songs of the nightingale.


When I am in New York, I like to drop around at night,

To visit with my honest, genial friends, the Stoddards hight;

Their home in Fifteenth street is all so snug, and furnished so,

That, when I once get planted there, I don’t know when to go;

A cosy cheerful refuge for the weary homesick guest,

Combining Yankee comforts with the freedom of the west.

The first thing you discover, as you maunder through the hall,

Is a curious little clock upon a bracket on the wall;

‘T was made by Stoddard’s father, and it’s very, very old—

The connoisseurs assure me it is worth its weight in gold;

And I, who’ve bought all kinds of clocks, ‘twixt Denver and the Rhine,

Cast envious eyes upon that clock, and wish that it were mine.

But in the parlor. Oh, the gems on tables, walls, and floor—

Rare first editions, etchings, and old crockery galore.

Why, talk about the Indies and the wealth of Orient things—

They couldn’t hold a candle to these quaint and sumptuous things;

In such profusion, too—Ah me! how dearly I recall

How I have sat and watched ’em and wished I had ’em all.

Now, Mr. Stoddard’s study is on the second floor,

A wee blind dog barks at me as I enter through the door;

The Cerberus would fain begrudge what sights it cannot see,

The rapture of that visual feast it cannot share with me;

A miniature edition this—this most absurd of hounds—

A genuine unique, I’m sure, and one unknown to Lowndes.

Books—always books—are piled around; some musty, and all old;

Tall, solemn folios such as Lamb declared he loved to hold;

Large paper copies with their virgin margins white and wide,

And presentation volumes with the author’s comps. inside;

I break the tenth commandment with a wild impassioned cry:

Oh, how came Stoddard by these things? Why Stoddard, and not I?

From yonder wall looks Thackeray upon his poet friend,

And underneath the genial face appear the lines he penned;

And here, gadzooks, ben honge ye prynte of marvaillous renowne

Yt shameth Chaucers gallaunt knyghtes in Canterbury towne;

And still more books and pictures. I’m dazed, bewildered, vexed;

Since I’ve broke the tenth commandment, why not break the eighth one next?

And, furthermore, in confidence inviolate be it said

Friend Stoddard owns a lock of hair that grew on Milton’s head;

Now I have Gladstone axes and a lot of curious things,

Such as pimply Dresden teacups and old German wedding-rings;

But nothing like that saintly lock have I on wall or shelf,

And, being somewhat short of hair, I should like that lock myself.

But Stoddard has a soothing way, as though he grieved to see

Invidious torments prey upon a nice young chap like me.

He waves me to an easy chair and hands me out a weed

And pumps me full of that advice he seems to know I need;

So sweet the tap of his philosophy and knowledge flows

That I can’t help wishing that I knew a half what Stoddard knows.

And so we sit for hours and hours, praising without restraint

The people who are thoroughbreds, and roasting the ones that ain’t;

Happy, thrice happy, is the man we happen to admire,

But wretched, oh, how wretched he that hath provoked our ire;

For I speak emphatic English when I once get fairly r’iled,

And Stoddard’s wrath’s an Ossa upon a Pelion piled.

Out yonder, in the alcove, a lady sits and darns,

And interjects remarks that always serve to spice our yarns;

She’s Mrs. Stoddard; there’s a dame that’s truly to my heart:

A tiny little woman, but so quaint, and good, and smart

That, if you asked me to suggest which one I should prefer

Of all the Stoddard treasures, I should promptly mention her.

O dear old man, how I should like to be with you this night,

Down in your home in Fifteenth street, where all is snug and bright;

Where the shaggy little Cerberus dreams in its cushioned place,

And the books and pictures all around smile in their old friend’s face;

Where the dainty little sweetheart, whom you still were proud to woo,

Charms back the tender memories so dear to her and you.


I shall tell you in rhyme how, once on a time,

Three tailors tramped up to the inn Ingleheim,

     On the Rhine, lovely Rhine;

They were broke, but the worst of it all, they were curst

With that malady common to tailors—a thirst

     For wine, lots of wine.

“Sweet host,” quoth the three, “we’re hard up as can be,

Yet skilled in the practice of cunning are we,

     On the Rhine, genial Rhine;

And we pledge you we will impart you that skill

Right quickly and fully, providing you’ll fill

     Us with wine, cooling wine.”

But that host shook his head, and he warily said:

“Though cunning be good, we take money instead,

     On the Rhine, thrifty Rhine;

If ye fancy ye may without pelf have your way

You’ll find that there’s both host and the devil to pay

     For your wine, costly wine.”

Then the first knavish wight took his needle so bright

And threaded its eye with a wee ray of light

     From the Rhine, sunny Rhine;

And, in such a deft way, patched a mirror that day

That where it was mended no expert could say—

     Done so fine ‘t was for wine.

The second thereat spied a poor little gnat

Go toiling along on his nose broad and flat

     Towards the Rhine, pleasant Rhine;

“Aha, tiny friend, I should hate to offend,

But your stockings need darning”—which same did he mend,

     All for wine, soothing wine.

And next there occurred what you’ll deem quite absurd—

His needle a space in the wall thrust the third,

     By the Rhine, wondrous Rhine;

And then all so spry, he leapt through the eye

Of that thin cambric needle—nay, think you I’d lie

     About wine—not for wine.

The landlord allowed (with a smile) he was proud

To do the fair thing by that talented crowd

     On the Rhine, generous Rhine.

So a thimble filled he as full as could be—

“Drink long and drink hearty, my jolly friends three,

     Of my wine, filling wine.”


A tortuous double iron track; a station here, a station there;

A locomotive, tender, tanks; a coach with stiff reclining chair;

Some postal cars, and baggage, too; a vestibule of patent make;

With buffers, duffers, switches, and the soughing automatic brake—

This is the Orient’s novel pride, and Syria’s gaudiest modern gem:

The railway scheme that is to ply ‘twixt Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Beware, O sacred Mooley cow, the engine when you hear its bell;

Beware, O camel, when resounds the whistle’s shrill, unholy swell;

And, native of that guileless land, unused to modern travel’s snare,

Beware the fiend that peddles books—the awful peanut-boy beware.

Else, trusting in their specious arts, you may have reason to condemn

The traffic which the knavish ply ‘twixt Jaffa and Jerusalem.

And when, ah, when the bonds fall due, how passing wroth will wax the


From Nebo’s mount to Nazareth will spread the cry “Repudiate”!

From Hebron to Tiberius, from Jordan’s banks unto the sea,

Will rise profuse anathemas against “that —— monopoly!”

And F.M.B.A. shepherd-folk, with Sockless Jerry leading them,

Will swamp that corporation line ‘twixt Jaffa and Jerusalem.


How calm, how beauteous and how cool—

  How like a sister to the skies,

Appears the broad, transparent pool

  That in this quiet forest lies.

The sunshine ripples on its face,

  And from the world around, above,

It hath caught down the nameless grace

  Of such reflections as we love.

But deep below its surface crawl

  The reptile horrors of the night—

The dragons, lizards, serpents—all

  The hideous brood that hate the light;

Through poison fern and slimy weed

  And under ragged, jagged stones

They scuttle, or, in ghoulish greed,

  They lap a dead man’s bleaching bones.

And as, O pool, thou dost cajole

  With seemings that beguile us well,

So doeth many a human soul

  That teemeth with the lusts of hell.


If our own life is the life of a flower

    (And that’s what some sages are thinking),

We should moisten the bud with a health-giving flood

      And ’twill bloom all the sweeter—

      Yes, life’s the completer

    For drinking,

          and drinking,

                and drinking.

If it be that our life is a journey

    (As many wise folk are opining),

We should sprinkle the way with the rain while we may;

      Though dusty and dreary,

      ’Tis made cool and cheery

    With wining,

          and wining,

                and wining.

If this life that we live be a dreaming

    (As pessimist people are thinking),

To induce pleasant dreams there is nothing, meseems,

      Like this sweet prescription,

      That baffles description—

    This drinking,

          and drinking,

                and drinking.


How cool and fair this cellar where

    My throne a dusky cask is;

To do no thing but just to sing

    And drown the time my task is.

        The cooper he’s

        Resolved to please,

And, answering to my winking,

        He fills me up

        Cup after cup

For drinking, drinking, drinking.

        Begrudge me not

        This cosy spot

In which I am reclining—

        Why, who would burst

        With envious thirst,

When he can live by wining.

A roseate hue seems to imbue

    The world on which I’m blinking;

My fellow-men—I love them when

I’m drinking, drinking, drinking.

And yet I think, the more I drink,

    It’s more and more I pine for—

Oh, such as I (forever dry)

    God made this land of Rhine for;

      And there is bliss

      In knowing this,

As to the floor I’m sinking:

      I’ve wronged no man

      And never can

While drinking, drinking, drinking.



Once a fowler, young and artless,

  To the quiet greenwood came;

Full of skill was he and heartless

  In pursuit of feathered game.

And betimes he chanced to see

Eros perching in a tree.

“What strange bird is that, I wonder?”

  Thought the youth, and spread his snare;

Eros, chuckling at the blunder,

  Gayly scampered here and there.

Do his best, the simple clod

Could not snare the agile god!

Blubbering, to his aged master

  Went the fowler in dismay,

And confided his disaster

  With that curious bird that day;

“Master, hast thou ever heard

Of so ill-disposed a bird?”

“Heard of him? Aha, most truly!”

  Quoth the master with a smile;

“And thou too, shall know him duly—

  Thou art young, but bide awhile,

And old Eros will not fly

From thy presence by and by!

“For when thou art somewhat older

  That same Eros thou didst see,

More familiar grown and bolder,

  Shall become acquaint with thee;

And when Eros comes thy way

Mark my word, he comes to stay!”


Once came Venus to me, bringing

  Eros where my cattle fed—

“Teach this little boy your singing,

  Gentle herdsman,” Venus said.

I was young—I did not know

  Whom it was that Venus led—

That was many years ago!

In a lusty voice but mellow—

  Callow pedant! I began

To instruct the little fellow

  In the mysteries known to man;

Sung the noble cithern’s praise,

  And the flute of dear old Pan,

And the lyre that Hermes plays.

But he paid no heed unto me—

  Nay, that graceless little boy

Coolly plotted to undo me—

  With his songs of tender joy;

And my pedantry o’erthrown,

  Eager was I to employ

His sweet ritual for mine own!

Ah, these years of ours are fleeting!

  Yet I have not vainly wrought,

Since to-day I am repeating

  What dear lessons Eros taught;

Love, and always love, and then—

  Counting all things else for naught—

Love and always love again!



The Northland reared his hoary head

  And spied the Southland leagues away—

“Fairest of all fair brides,” he said,

  ”Be thou my bride, I pray!”

Whereat the Southland laughed and cried:

  ”I’ll bide beside my native sea,

And I shall never be thy bride

  Till thou com’st wooing me!”

The Northland’s heart was a heart of ice,

  A diamond glacier, mountain high—

Oh, love is sweet at any price,

  As well know you and I!

So gayly the Northland took his heart

  And cast it in the wailing sea—

“Go, thou, with all thy cunning art,

  And woo my bride for me!”

For many a night and for many a day,

  And over the leagues that rolled between,

The true-heart messenger sped away

  To woo the Southland queen.

But the sea wailed loud, and the sea wailed long,

  While ever the Northland cried in glee:

“Oh, thou shalt sing us our bridal song,

  When comes my bride, O sea!”

At the foot of the Southland’s golden throne

  The heart of the Northland ever throbs—

For that true-heart speaks in the waves that moan,

  The songs that it sings are sobs.

Ever the Southland spurns the cries

  Of the messenger pleading the Northland’s part;

The summer shines in the Southland’s eyes—

  The winter bides in her heart!

And ever unto that far-off place

  Which love doth render a hallowed spot,

The Northland turneth his honest face

  And wonders she cometh not.

The sea wails loud, and the sea wails long,

  As the ages of waiting drift slowly by,

But the sea shall sing no bridal song—

  As well know you and I!



O heart of mine! lift up thine eyes

And see who in yon manger lies!

Of perfect form, of face divine—

It is the Christ-child, heart of mine!

O dearest, holiest Christ-child, spread

Within this heart of mine thy bed;

Then shall my breast forever be

A chamber consecrate to thee!

Beat high to-day, O heart of mine,

And tell, O lips, what joys are thine;

For with your help shall I prolong

Old Bethlehem’s sweetest cradle-song.

Glory to God, whom this dear Child

Hath by His coming reconciled,

And whose redeeming love again

Brings peace on earth, good will to men!


Star of the East, that long ago

  Brought wise men on their way

Where, angels singing to and fro,

  The Child of Bethlehem lay—

Above that Syrian hill afar

Thou shinest out to-night, O Star!

Star of the East, the night were drear

  But for the tender grace

That with thy glory comes to cheer

  Earth’s loneliest, darkest place;

For by that charity we see

Where there is hope for all and me.

Star of the East! show us the way

  In wisdom undefiled

To seek that manger out and lay

  Our gifts before the child—

To bring our hearts and offer them

Unto our King in Bethlehem!


There are two phrases, you must know,

  So potent (yet so small)

That wheresoe’er a man may go

  He needs none else at all;

No servile guide to lead the way

  Nor lackey at his heel,

If he be learned enough to say

  ”Comme bien” and “Wie viel.”

The sleek, pomaded Parleyvoo

  Will air his sweetest airs

And quote the highest rates when you

  ”Comme bien” for his wares;

And, though the German stolid be,

  His so-called heart of steel

Becomes as soft as wax when he

  Detects the words “Wie viel.”

Go, search the boulevards and rues

  From Havre to Marseilles—

You’ll find all eloquence you use

  Except “Comme bien” fails;

Or in the country auf der Rhine

  Essay a business deal

And all your art is good fuhr nein

  Beyond the point—”Wie viel.”

It matters not what game or prey

  Attracts your greedy eyes—

You must pursue the good old way

  If you would win the prize;

It is to get a titled mate

  All run down at the heel,

If you inquire of stock effete,

  ”Comme bien” or “Wie viel.”

So he is wise who envieth not

  A wealth of foreign speech,

Since with two phrases may be got

  Whatever’s in his reach;

For Europe is a soulless shrine

  In which all classes kneel

Before twin idols, deemed divine—

  ”Comme bien” and “Wie viel.”



There were three cavaliers, all handsome and true,

On Valentine’s day came a maiden to woo,

And quoth to your mother: “Good-morrow, my dear,

We came with some songs for your daughter to hear!”

Your mother replied: “I’ll be pleased to convey

To my daughter what things you may sing or may say!”