Elinor Wylie |
When the world turns completely upside down
You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.
The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.
The squirrels in their silver fur will fall
Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.
The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass
Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.
The misted early mornings will be cold;
The little puddles will be roofed with glass.
The sun, which burns from copper into brass,
Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold
Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold
Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.
Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover;
A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year;
The spring begins before the winter's over.
By February you may find the skins
Of garter snakes and water moccasins
Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.
When April pours the colours of a shell
Upon the hills, when every little creek
Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake
In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell,
When strawberries go begging, and the sleek
Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak,
We shall live well -- we shall live very well.
The months between the cherries and the peaches
Are brimming cornucopias which spill
Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black;
Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches
We'll trample bright persimmons, while you kill
Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasback.
Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There's something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There's something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
Sidney Lanier |
How tall among her sisters, and how fair, --
How grave beyond her youth, yet debonair
As dawn, 'mid wrinkled Matres of old lands
Our youngest Alma Mater modest stands!
In four brief cycles round the punctual sun
Has she, old Learning's latest daughter, won
This grace, this stature, and this fruitful fame.
Howbeit she was born
Unnoised as any stealing summer morn.
From far the sages saw, from far they came
And ministered to her,
Led by the soaring-genius'd Sylvester
That, earlier, loosed the knot great Newton tied,
And flung the door of Fame's locked temple wide.
As favorable fairies thronged of old and blessed
The cradled princess with their several best,
So, gifts and dowers meet
To lay at Wisdom's feet,
These liberal masters largely brought --
Dear diamonds of their long-compressed thought,
Rich stones from out the labyrinthine cave
Of research, pearls from Time's profoundest wave
And many a jewel brave, of brilliant ray,
Dug in the far obscure Cathay
Of meditation deep --
With flowers, of such as keep
Their fragrant tissues and their heavenly hues
Fresh-bathed forever in eternal dews --
The violet with her low-drooped eye,
For learned modesty, --
The student snow-drop, that doth hang and pore
Upon the earth, like Science, evermore,
And underneath the clod doth grope and grope, --
The astronomer heliotrope,
That watches heaven with a constant eye, --
The daring crocus, unafraid to try
(When Nature calls) the February snows, --
And patience' perfect rose.
Thus sped with helps of love and toil and thought,
Thus forwarded of faith, with hope thus fraught,
In four brief cycles round the stringent sun
This youngest sister hath her stature won.
Nay, why regard
The passing of the years? Nor made, nor marr'd,
By help or hindrance of slow Time was she:
O'er this fair growth Time had no mastery:
So quick she bloomed, she seemed to bloom at birth,
As Eve from Adam, or as he from earth.
Superb o'er slow increase of day on day,
Complete as Pallas she began her way;
Yet not from Jove's unwrinkled forehead sprung,
But long-time dreamed, and out of trouble wrung,
Fore-seen, wise-plann'd, pure child of thought and pain,
Leapt our Minerva from a mortal brain.
And here, O finer Pallas, long remain, --
Sit on these Maryland hills, and fix thy reign,
And frame a fairer Athens than of yore
In these blest bounds of Baltimore, --
Here, where the climates meet
That each may make the other's lack complete, --
Where Florida's soft Favonian airs beguile
The nipping North, -- where nature's powers smile, --
Where Chesapeake holds frankly forth her hands
Spread wide with invitation to all lands, --
Where now the eager people yearn to find
The organizing hand that fast may bind
Loose straws of aimless aspiration fain
In sheaves of serviceable grain, --
Here, old and new in one,
Through nobler cycles round a richer sun
O'er-rule our modern ways,
O blest Minerva of these larger days!
Call here thy congress of the great, the wise,
The hearing ears, the seeing eyes, --
Enrich us out of every farthest clime, --
Yea, make all ages native to our time,
Till thou the freedom of the city grant
To each most antique habitant
Of Fame, --
Bring Shakespeare back, a man and not a name, --
Let every player that shall mimic us
In audience see old godlike Aeschylus, --
Bring Homer, Dante, Plato, Socrates, --
Bring Virgil from the visionary seas
Of old romance, -- bring Milton, no more blind, --
Bring large Lucretius, with unmaniac mind, --
Bring all gold hearts and high resolved wills
To be with us about these happy hills, --
Bring old Renown
To walk familiar citizen of the town, --
Bring Tolerance, that can kiss and disagree, --
Bring Virtue, Honor, Truth, and Loyalty, --
Bring Faith that sees with undissembling eyes, --
Bring all large Loves and heavenly Charities, --
Till man seem less a riddle unto man
And fair Utopia less Utopian,
And many peoples call from shore to shore,
`The world has bloomed again, at Baltimore!'
Paul Laurence Dunbar |
I 's feelin' kin' o' lonesome in my little room to-night,
An' my min 's done los' de minutes an' de miles,
Wile it teks me back a-flyin' to de country of delight,
Whaih de Chesapeake goes grumblin' er wid smiles.
[Pg 203]Oh, de ol' plantation 's callin' to me, Come, come back,
Hyeah 's de place fu' you to labouh an' to res',
'Fu my sandy roads is gleamin' w'ile de city ways is black;
Come back, honey, case yo' country home is bes'.
I know de moon is shinin' down erpon de Eastern sho',
An' de bay 's a-sayin' "Howdy" to de lan';
An' de folks is all a-settin' out erroun' de cabin do',
Wid dey feet a-restin' in de silvah san';
An' de ol' plantation 's callin' to me, Come, oh, come,
F'om de life dat 's des' a-waihin' you erway,
F'om de trouble an' de bustle, an' de agernizin' hum
Dat de city keeps ergoin' all de day.
I 's tiahed of de city, tek me back to Sandy Side,
Whaih de po'est ones kin live an' play an' eat;
Whaih we draws a simple livin' f'om de fo'est an' de tide,
An' de days ah faih, an' evah night is sweet.
Fu' de ol' plantation 's callin' to me, Come, oh, come.
An' de Chesapeake 's a-sayin' "Dat's de t'ing,"
W'ile my little cabin beckons, dough his mouf is closed an' dumb,
I 's a-comin, an' my hea't begins to sing.