Robert William Service |
In the dark and damp of the alley cold,
Lay the Christmas tree that hadn't been sold;
By a shopman dourly thrown outside;
With the ruck and rubble of Christmas-tide;
Trodden deep in the muck and mire,
Unworthy even to feed a fire.
So I stopped and salvaged that tarnished tree,
And thus is the story it told to me:
"My Mother was Queen of the forest glade,
And proudly I prospered in her shade;
For she said to me: 'When I am dead,
You will be monarch in my stead,
And reign, as I, for a hundred years,
A tower of triumph amid your peers,
When I crash in storm I will yield you space;
Son, you will worthily take my place.
"So I grew in grace like a happy child,
In the heart of the forest free and wild;
And the moss and the ferns were all about,
And the craintive mice crept in and out;
And a wood-dove swung on my highest twig,
And a chipmunk chattered: 'So big! So big!'
And a shy fawn nibbled a tender shoot,
And a rabbit nibbled under my root.
Oh, I was happy in rain and shine
As I thought of the destiny that was mine!
Then a man with an axe came cruising by
And I knew that my fate was to fall and die.
"With a hundred others he packed me tight,
And we drove to a magic city of light,
To an avenue lined with Christmas trees,
And I thought: may be I'll be one of these,
Tinselled with silver and tricked with gold,
A lovely sight for a child to behold;
A-glitter with lights of every hue,
Ruby and emerald, orange and blue,
And kiddies dancing, with shrieks of glee -
One might fare worse than a Christmas tree.
"So they stood me up with a hundred more
In the blaze of a big department store;
But I thought of the forest dark and still,
And the dew and the snow and the heat and the chill,
And the soft chinook and the summer breeze,
And the dappled deer and the birds and the bees.
I was so homesick I wanted to cry,
But patient I waited for someone to buy.
And some said 'Too big,' and some 'Too small,'
And some passed on saying nothing at all.
Then a little boy cried: Ma, buy that one,'
But she shook her head: 'Too dear, my son.
So the evening came, when they closed the store,
And I was left on the littered floor,
A tree unwanted, despised, unsold,
Thrown out at last in the alley cold.
Then I said: "Don't sorrow; at least you'll be
A bright and beautiful New Year's tree,
All shimmer and glimmer and glow and gleam,
A radiant sight like a fairy dream.
For there is a little child I know,
Who lives in poverty, want and woe;
Who lies abed from morn to night,
And never has known an hour's delight.
So I stood the tree at the foot of her bed:
"Santa's a little late," I said.
"Poor old chap! Snowbound on the way,
But he's here at last, so let's be gay.
Then she woke from sleep and she saw you there,
And her eyes were love and her lips were prayer.
And her thin little arms were stretched to you
With a yearning joy that they never knew.
She woke from the darkest dark to see
Like a heavenly vision, that Christmas Tree.
Her mother despaired and feared the end,
But from that day she began to mend,
To play, to sing, to laugh with glee.
Bless you, O little Christmas Tree!
You died, but your life was not in vain:
You helped a child to forget her pain,
And let hope live in our hearts again.
A R Ammons |
You'll rejoice at how many kinds of **** there are:
gosling **** (which J.
Williams said something
was as green as), fish **** (the generality), trout
****, rainbow trout **** (for the nice), mullet ****,
sand dab ****, casual sloth ****, elephant ****
(awesome as process or payload), wildebeest ****,
horse **** (a favorite), caterpillar **** (so many dark
kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros
****, splashy jaybird ****, mockingbird ****
(dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin **** that
oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts,
chicken **** and chicken mite ****, pelican ****, gannet
**** (wholesome guano), fly **** (periodic), cockatoo
****, dog **** (past catalog or assimilation),
cricket ****, elk (high plains) ****, and
tiny scribbled little shrew ****, whale **** (what
a sight, deep assumption), mandril **** (blazing
blast off), weasel **** (wiles' waste), gazelle ****,
magpie **** (total protein), tiger **** (too acid
to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray ****, eerie
shark ****, earthworm **** (a soilure), crab ****,
wolf **** upon the germicidal ice, snake ****, giraffe
**** that accelerates, secretary bird ****, turtle
**** suspension invites, remora **** slightly in
advance of the shark ****, hornet **** (difficult to
assess), camel **** that slaps the ghastly dry
siliceous, frog ****, beetle ****, bat **** (the
marmoreal), contemptible cat ****, penguin ****,
hermit crab ****, prairie hen ****, cougar ****, eagle
**** (high totem stuff), buffalo **** (hardly less
lofty), otter ****, beaver **** (from the animal of
alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down
cloaca—macaw ****, alligator **** (that floats the Nile
along), louse ****, macaque, koala, and coati ****,
antelope ****, chuck-will's-widow ****, alpaca ****
(very high stuff), gooney bird ****, chigger ****, bull
**** (the classic), caribou ****, rasbora, python, and
razorbill ****, scorpion ****, man ****, laswing
fly larva ****, chipmunk ****, other-worldly wallaby
****, gopher **** (or broke), platypus ****, aardvark
****, spider ****, kangaroo and peccary ****, guanaco
****, dolphin ****, aphid ****, baboon **** (that leopards
induce), albatross ****, red-headed woodpecker (nine
inches long) ****, tern ****, hedgehog ****, panda ****,
seahorse ****, and the **** of the wasteful gallinule.
Robert William Service |
Oh the wife she tried to tell me that 'twas nothing but the thrumming
Of a wood-pecker a-rapping on the hollow of a tree;
And she thought that I was fooling when I said it was the drumming
Of the mustering of legions, and 'twas calling unto me;
'Twas calling me to pull my freight and hop across the sea.
And a-mending of my fish-nets sure I started up in wonder,
For I heard a savage roaring and 'twas coming from afar;
Oh the wife she tried to tell me that 'twas only summer thunder,
And she laughed a bit sarcastic when I told her it was War;
'Twas the chariots of battle where the mighty armies are.
Then down the lake came Half-breed Tom with russet sail a-flying,
And the word he said was "War" again, so what was I to do?
Oh the dogs they took to howling, and the missis took to crying,
As I flung my silver foxes in the little birch canoe:
Yes, the old girl stood a-blubbing till an island hid the view.
Says the factor: "Mike, you're crazy! They have soldier men a-plenty.
You're as grizzled as a badger, and you're sixty year or so.
"But I haven't missed a scrap," says I, "since I was one and twenty.
And shall I miss the biggest? You can bet your whiskers -- no!"
So I sold my furs and started .
and that's eighteen months ago.
For I joined the Foreign Legion, and they put me for a starter
In the trenches of the Argonne with the Boche a step away;
And the partner on my right hand was an apache from Montmartre;
On my left there was a millionaire from Pittsburg, U.
(Poor fellow! They collected him in bits the other day.
But I'm sprier than a chipmunk, save a touch of the lumbago,
And they calls me Old Methoosalah, and `blagues' me all the day.
I'm their exhibition sniper, and they work me like a Dago,
And laugh to see me plug a Boche a half a mile away.
Oh I hold the highest record in the regiment, they say.
And at night they gather round me, and I tell them of my roaming
In the Country of the Crepuscule beside the Frozen Sea,
Where the musk-ox runs unchallenged, and the cariboo goes homing;
And they sit like little children, just as quiet as can be:
Men of every crime and colour, how they harken unto me!
And I tell them of the Furland, of the tumpline and the paddle,
Of secret rivers loitering, that no one will explore;
And I tell them of the ranges, of the pack-strap and the saddle,
And they fill their pipes in silence, and their eyes beseech for more;
While above the star-shells fizzle and the high explosives roar.
And I tell of lakes fish-haunted, where the big bull moose are calling,
And forests still as sepulchres with never trail or track;
And valleys packed with purple gloom, and mountain peaks appalling,
And I tell them of my cabin on the shore at Fond du Lac;
And I find myself a-thinking: Sure I wish that I was back.
So I brag of bear and beaver while the batteries are roaring,
And the fellows on the firing steps are blazing at the foe;
And I yarn of fur and feather when the `marmites' are a-soaring,
And they listen to my stories, seven `poilus' in a row,
Seven lean and lousy poilus with their cigarettes aglow.
And I tell them when it's over how I'll hike for Athabaska;
And those seven greasy poilus they are crazy to go too.
And I'll give the wife the "pickle-tub" I promised, and I'll ask her
The price of mink and marten, and the run of cariboo,
And I'll get my traps in order, and I'll start to work anew.
For I've had my fill of fighting, and I've seen a nation scattered,
And an army swung to slaughter, and a river red with gore,
And a city all a-smoulder, and .
as if it really mattered,
For the lake is yonder dreaming, and my cabin's on the shore;
And the dogs are leaping madly, and the wife is singing gladly,
And I'll rest in Athabaska, and I'll leave it nevermore.